Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ten Books that Affected Me

ELS by Dawson Rambo: ELS is X-Files fanfic and how I met my husband. I could not stop reading this book I found online, staying up until the wee hours of the morning and rushing home at night from work so I could read it. It was thrilling, fun, insightful and affected me deeply. When I finished, I wrote the author a gushing fan email and the rest is history. :)

The Lord of the Rings - Read this trilogy when I was 12/13 and for many months became a part of Middle Earth. I wanted to live in that world, forever, and be with Elves and Hobbits and ride the horses of Rohan and walk with the Ents and fight for good and cast out evil. While daydreaming about Middle Earth, I didn't care that we'd moved to a new town where I had no friends and no more extended family. I didn't care that I walked through the halls of my junior high unknown and alone. I had this rich, colorful world to be a part of and it was far more beautiful than anything in real life. When I finally finished the last book, allowing myself only a chapter a day to stave off the inevitable ending, I felt a great emptiness inside because it was over. Then I thought hopefully, "Maybe one day I can read it again and enjoy it as much?" So I did. Several times.

Lies My Teacher Told Me - Long before we had Wikipedia and the unbelievable amount of information available online today about the world and human history, this book opened my eyes for the first time on how much information we'd been taught in school had been carefully filtered to make sure our culture was usually shown in the best light possible. Even if that meant changing or omitting facts. A real eye opener.

Animal Farm - Orwell: I think I was only 11 or so when I first read this but even then I grasped the gist; where there is power to be gained, beware. Realize there are people who will lie, cheat, steal and even kill to gain power/wealth. Always pay more attention to what people actually do than what they say. I forever looked at the world differently after that, another step into adulthood.

Brave New World - Huxley: I think I was 15 or so when I first read this, maybe younger. Huxley's soulless world of the future, written in 1931, was scarily close to what we had become as a society when I first read it back in the 70's and also spookily close to what we have become since.

I Robot and the The Rest of the Robots - Asimov: Started reading Asimov around ...9? Yes. Robots. And more Robots. I am still obsessed with Robots and All Things Tech. Especially the interaction part. Yup.

Mandingo - Onstott: I was only 15 or 16 when I read this book and the no-holds-barred sex and violence blew my young mind. Yes, I'd learned about slavery in school, as did we all. But that education had been white-washed (no pun intended); this book laid it all out in all its ugliness and I was shocked, titillated and outraged, all at once.

Johnny Got His Gun - This is exactly why war sucks.

The Shining - I was pregnant with Laura and already home on maternity leave with nothing to do but wait. This book helped me pass the last few molasses-slow weeks. Almira, our cat, who was also pregnant, insisted on laying on my large stomach with her smaller but equally distended stomach while I raced through this book as fast as I could. It was creepy, well-written, and stayed in my head for days until both Almira and I gave birth and my life changed direction forever. It was a while before books became important again.

Stranger In A Strange Land - Heinlein: Back in the '70's when I read this, it was different from anything else I'd read before; a blend of sci-fi futuristic brilliance combined with contemporary language, all the while flipping around social structures in a way that was quite new and exciting. I wanted to live in this world in reality and, for a while,...I sorta did.

Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchell: C'mon, it's a great read, although not PC at all. But, oh, so, so very romantic.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


I did my first 5k last Sunday. I don't know what got into me. I mean, I've never run in any kind of race before. But I figured if I entered an actual race and put up my hard-earned money to do it (I know, crazy, right? Who pays for torture like that?) I'd have to force myself up out of bed every morning to avoid coming in dead last and making a fool of myself.

So back in May, I started walking/running as many times a week as I could, anywhere from 2 to 5 miles a pop, being slow and careful due to my bad knees.

Here are some newbie thoughts on running a 5k race:

*I was blown away by how many people passed me in the very beginning, like, I was so panicked by the sheer number of people passing me at the start, I started running myself much faster than I had planned or was really very safe; finally looked behind me dreading what I'd see, certain with a sick feeling in my stomach that *everyone* had passed me by and I was now the very last person in the whole 5k. Of course, there were tons of people behind me, masses of them, haha! I felt a bit better after that

*I gradually became annoyed by the people I ended up being grouped with; nothing wrong with them or anything like that, they are nice people, I'm sure, it's just that I'd pass them, then I'd have to slow down to catch my breath and then they'd pass me! Of all the nerve! Repeat, repeat, repeat. It never stopped! One girl ahead of me in a yellow shirt about my size and weight that I made a goal to catch up with, well, I NEVER DID CATCH UP WITH HER! Infuriating! haha!

*This all made my fastest time ever! I was so determined to pass people in front of me and busy staving off the ones behind me that I ended up finishing in the middle of my age group and took 7 whole minutes off my previous best time.

*I misjudged where the finish line was and did a sprint (passing those infuriating people ahead of me for the LAST TIME! Take THAT, you anonymous people), thinking I had enough time before the last stretch so I could catch my breath and finish strong at the end but GAH! No! Turned the corner right after my sprint and there was the finish line right there, just a few hundred yards away! It was all I could do to force myself into a breathless slow crawl jog so at least I wasn't walking across the finish line. I was dying!

*I was startled to hear my name announced over the loudspeaker as I approached the finish line, followed by my family cheering and going nuts, then the announcer following up with, "And Annie Rambo's whole family is here, too!". This was embarrassing but it touching as well. I mean, I've never even watched a marathon or 5k race before so everything was completely new to me.

*I didn't realize they put the medal around your neck when you finish and say, "congrats", that caught me by surprise. I had assumed they would point us somewhere where they'd hand us our medal from a box. But no, I got a medal put around my neck like a legitimate real runner-type person and everything!

*I needed water like crazy but I was kinda in a daze and I couldn't see where the water was, so someone directed me to the water table. Best water of my life!

*My husband Daws had tears in his eyes when he hugged me, and my daughter was like, "Why is he crying?", bewildered, but I knew it was because only he knew that I had decided not to do the race just a few weeks ago; because of my knees, because of my weight, plus I just felt so discouraged and didn't want to embarrass myself. In fact, I called the marathon people to see if I could transfer my ticket to someone else but they said, no, you can't. But Daws encouraged me and said I could do it, don't give up, he said. Do it even if you walk the whole thing, do it just for you. So he knew that I had to overcome quite a bit, for me, just to do it at all.

Plus I wasn't about to waste $40 and not go.

So I did do it. And I can't wait to do it again! :)