Premature Whining

I am going to share a whiny post, and I am sure plenty of people will think I am being whiny prematurely, but that won’t prevent me from writing this.

I have lost about 80 pounds since starting my weight loss surgery journey, and I feel fantastic. I am absolutely in the best shape of my life. I am eating (mostly) healthy foods, not really overeating, exercising regularly, moving more in general, and just feeling really, really good overall. So I decided to try running again. I still do have the neuropathy in both feet, resulting in foot drop in both feet. I have a special brace I wear on my left foot to mitigate the foot drop because it is worse in that foot; the right foot isn’t anywhere near as bad. I ran Saturday morning, and I ran this morning. Both runs were pretty much the same: about 30 minutes, and a distance of 1.62 miles and 1.66 miles. During both runs, my heart rate was elevated, but not a lot. Both my legs feel like they weigh about 1000 pounds each, and I just can’t seem to lengthen my stride or move my legs faster. I try, but then I find myself getting a bit unstable and I REALLY don’t want to fall! I also am a bit “clop clop clop” when I run, which I suppose is good, considering when I ran years before, I was a bit of a heel striker. But this morning, I was really discouraged. I want to be able to run. I love running. I know my pace is slow partially because I am doing run/walk intervals, but in all honesty, there’s not a huge difference in my pace between running and walking. I just can’t seem to get the lower half of my body to move better or faster. Most of the time, I coexist just fine with this body of mine and its limitations, but every now and then, I still get sad about it and have a, “Why me?” moment. This morning was one of those moments.

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#AtoZChallenge — School Shootings

As an educator, I am intensely concerned with school shootings. I am hopeful that something tragic will never happen in my school district, but I’m not na├»ve enough to think it could never happen. What frustrates me immensely is the lack of action on trying to curb school shootings. It seems to me that what happened at Sandy Hook should have been the watershed moment, but if a whole bunch of murdered 1st graders can’t spur any action, then I am not sure what will.

I know that the gun lobby and those who seem to live and die by the 2nd Amendment like to say that the issue isn’t guns (the whole guns don’t kill people, people kill people mantra). In my opinion, the guns sure do make it easy. Sometimes a false equivalency is used (if we outlaw guns, should we also outlaw knives and cars since they can be used to kill people). Well, my response to that is twofold: first, knives and cars have purposes, and their purposes are not killing even though they can be used for that; guns, however, have only one purpose: killing. Second, I suggest we go ahead and outlaw guns and then see if we start to see a major uptick in school stabbings or school car attacks, and if so, then we can either outlaw knives and cars, too, or we can go back to allowing guns.

In all seriousness, I wish the powers that be would do something, anything, beyond offering thoughts and prayers. I have ideas, but my ideas are not unique (outlaw assault-style weapons, universal background checks, mandatory waiting periods are some) and the gun-loving folks seem to balk at these ideas, saying it infringes on their 2A rights. I guess I don’t see how that works — you can still own guns, just not any gun you want, and you have to have some requirements to qualify.

Sadly, it is just a matter of time until the next school shooting happens. They’re very much an American experience. Maybe someday they’ll be a thing of the past.

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#AtoZChallenge — Renee

As you know, my name is Renee. When I was a kid, I HATED my name. I didn’t know anyone else with the name Renee, so I assumed it was a weird name. Now, to be fair, I also recall that when I was a child, I decided if I ever grew up to have any daughters, they would have names like Charity and Sweet Honesty and Clarissa and Priscilla because clearly those names were so very common haha! Regardless, I didn’t like that no one else had my name.

As I got older, I met a few more Renees. One spelled her name the same way I did. Another one spelled it Renae. Then I learned that my name was French, and for some reason, that started to help me feel like my name was okay. It spurred me to learn what my name meant in French — reborn or born again — and it inspired me to want to learn French (and despite a year of French in junior, 4 years in high school, 1 year in college, and a trip to France, I’m not fluent in it).

Once I got to college, I finally learned to love my name. I appreciated that there were not many Renees out there, and I decided it sounded pretty. I like that it’s unique but not weird. Sorry to all the parents out there giving your kids strange names (like Abcde) in an attempt to make them unique. There’s a difference between having a name that is different and one that’s just plain weird. That’s my unpopular opinion.

And I have also decided that it fits me perfectly, as I have seen myself have to be “reborn” many times, most notably after my back surgery and my weight loss surgery. Being reborn more than once is a good thing, I think, and I’ve kind of decided that I want to use my name to create a mission for myself, so I plan to be Renee in every sense of the word!

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#AtoZChallenge — Quoting Twister

I am not the least bit embarrassed to share that one of my favorite movies is Twister. If I come across it, I’m watching it. Full stop. My daughter also happens to adore the movie. My husband, not so much. And THAT is part of the reason why quoting great lines from that movie is one of my favorite things to do! Here, I share some of my favorites with you!

“Red meat. We crave sustenance.” — Dusty. This line is just so funny, the way it’s presented! The immensely talented Philip Seymour Hoffman played Dusty in this film, and it’s just one of the reasons I am so impressed with him as an actor — his ability to play such an wide range of characters was unmatched. This line is super quotable because it can be used every time I want to eat!

“Rabbit is good, rabbit is wise.” — Rabbit. I love being able to use this quote whenever I want to let someone know how smart I am LOL!

“When you used to tell me that you chase tornadoes, deep down I always thought it was a metaphor.” — Melissa. One of the corniest lines ever, it makes no sense. Really, how is it a metaphor for a meteorologist? He literally chased tornadoes. If you didn’t know that bit about his life, Melissa, do you really have any business marrying Bill?

“He really is in love with himself. I thought it was just a summer thing.” — Jo. This line is hilarious! Jo is talking about Jonas, but it’s such a great line to use whenever you’re talking about someone who just can’t seem to stop being so in love with themselves!

“…imminent rueage.” — Dusty. Seriously, this is such an awesome quote! Anytime someone is going to make a huge mistake, just whip this out and tell them it’s gonna be imminent rueage!

“Loser! Move on!” — Dusty. The scene in the movie where Dusty says this is classic, and it’s such a great line to use when joking around with someone! It’s also important to use the hand gestures with it as well haha!

“…it’s like Bob’s Road.” — Rabbit. I just love using, “Bob’s” anything when talking about something being on the generic side! And the way Rabbit delivered this line in the movie just cracks me up!

And now, my all time favorite……

“Debris?!” — Bill. A tornado tosses a combine in the road in front of Bill and Jo and she says on the radio, “We’ve got debris!” Bull’s reply is an incredulous, “Debris?!” and for some reason, that just sets me off into peals of laughter! I admit, I find the strangest things funny in movies — they’re usually super short and likely nothing anyone else would notice, but for some reason, I latch onto it and find it utterly hilarious! You can see the “Debris?!” scene here!

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#AtoZChallenge — Prince

As someone who went to high school and college in the ’80s, I think I am required to be a Prince fan! It was certainly easy to do — his music was fun and he was edgy, and yep, sexy! Back then, I didn’t even know the word “androgynous” but Prince’s androgyny was part of his appeal. I just loved seeing him in ruffles and high heels! It helped that he was a little on the dirty side, too, because that just made it seem more fun to listen to his music, like I was doing something naughty! So, I present to you some of my absolute favorite Prince songs! How about you? Are you a fan of Prince?

And how about some music that is Prince adjacent, music I never would have explored had it not been for Prince!

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#AtoZChallenge — Ozark

Yes, I was one of those people, absolutely obsessed with Ozark! Truly one of Jason Bateman’s best performances — he did so well in his role of Marty Byrde that when I see him in anything else now, I always think it’s Marty Byrde, not Jason Bateman. Laura Linney did so well as Wendy Byrde, too! There were many, many times I said she was more dangerous than Marty! She was absolutely chilling at times in that role! I found myself cheering for Sofia Hublitz and Skylar Gaertner as Charlotte and Jonah Byrde, wanting them to come out of their whole experience unscathed. And I especially cheered for Jonah as he became his own scary kind of bad guy! That’s what makes this show so fun, being able to cheer for the bad guys! Lisa Emery was brilliant as Darlene Snell — talk about someone who is heartless and just plain terrifying! My heart absolutely broke for Carson Holmes, who played Three Langmore. He did not deserve the life he ends up with. All he ever did was love his family, and look where he ends up (trying not to give any spoilers for anyone who hasn’t watched but would like to). Felix Solis as Omar Navarro will stay with me — in fact, the other day, I was at my mom’s house and she had Rookie Feds on, and I heard his voice and immediately, my head snapped up to look at the screen. Honestly, I react the same way when I hear someone’s cell phone chirp like a cricket — I immediately start to look around for Marty! Tom Pelphrey’s performance as Ben Davis ripped my heart out. I can’t remember the last time my emotions were so impacted by a character. In fact, I can’t talk about him anymore, it just upsets me too much!!!!

But finally, I must speak about Ruth Langmore, played by the brilliant Julia Garner. Ruth is truly one of the most complex characters I’ve ever encountered. She is so incredibly human, it’s breathtaking. She’s impossible to love, impossible to hate, easy to love, and easy to hate. She’s such a good person, and she’s such a bad person. She’s actually the only character I wanted to emerge victorious and live happily ever after.

In tribute to Ruth, here is a video of The Best of Ruth Langmore! NSFW, do not watch with kids around, which you know if you’re a fan or Ruth or Ozark!

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#AtoZChallenge — Novel

It has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember to write a novel. I actually started one in April 2014, and have worked on it on and off since then, but the problem I have had with it is that I am not sure where to go with it. The idea kind of came to me ala Stephenie Meyer — I had a dream. When I woke up, I immediately started making some notes and trying to flesh out the story and the characters. The title came to me in my dream, Living Without Dying. I worked on it like gangbusters, and then came to a screeching halt. And now, it’s been so long, that I worry that one of the key elements in my story. virtual reality, may be out of date. I’ve got 117 pages completed, but I am still not sure how I want it to end, and without that, I don’t have a direction to go.

Here is a synopsis I wrote of the story: (genre: women’s fiction): Some people find comfort in the familiar, in routine. Not Lianne. Despite having a wonderful marriage to a devoted husband, a daughter with a promising life ahead of her once she graduates college, a steady job, and terrific friends, Lianne yearns for more. The comfort, the familiarity is suffocating her. As she looks for ways to shake up her life, she finds herself seeking out more and more extreme experiences. Her husband Mark tries to be supportive through it all, but Lianne’s dissatisfaction with the life they have is baffling to him and it becomes harder and harder to be the supportive husband. Mark and Lianne need to find their way back to each other, but it is possible that they will be lost forever if they can’t find some way to continue living life together instead of separately at the same time.

I am also willing to share the first 4 pages. In those pages, I am trying to establish the feelings and the voices of the main characters, Lianne and Mark. Initially, I had written everything from Lianne’s point of view, but I received some feedback that told me it felt incomplete, so I added Mark’s as well. I was also told that there wasn’t a lot of sympathy for Lianne from the person who read my initial draft, so as I have come back to work on this, I have tried to make Lianne relatable, and maybe sympathetic. I want women to read Lianne’s story and get her. They may not feel sympathy for her, but I want them to at least be able to say, “I know what she means. I know what she’s talking about. I’ve been through this, too.” And then have them measure their own decisions against Lianne’s. That’s why sympathy isn’t as important to me as understanding the character — in fact, I think Lianne’s decisions aren’t super responsible, and that’s okay because that’s what I was going for.

Anyway, I hope someday to find the time and patience with myself and my process to finish this novel. It may suck, but I don’t care. I almost always write for me as opposed to other people, so that is probably the wrong attitude to have if I want to be a novelist. But writing for me has always been my creative and emotional outlet, so I guess it’s more important to me to finish my novel for me than anyone else out there.

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#AtoZChallenge — Maggie May

If I had to compile a list of my top 10 favorite songs, “Maggie May” by Rod Stewart would be on that list, probably in the top 5.

One of the things I love about this song is the mandolin. When I was a little girl, my dad used to play the mandolin and I always loved the way it sounded. That the mandolin is featured so prominently in “Maggie May” is part of what makes the song so appealing, in my opinion. It has a unique sound to it, and it adds more character to a song than an acoustic guitar does (but make no mistake, I love acoustic guitar as well).

I also really like the story it tells. I know that Rod Stewart has said it’s based on his own experience, but it tells a good story all on its own. I feel like we’re getting a glimpse into the mind of the narrator of the song, and we get to feel torn as well, not knowing what to do, not being able to tear himself away even though he knows he should.

I think part of what also makes the song and the story so appealing to me is I really like some of the imagery and the phraseology in the song. I really enjoy digging into song lyrics. One part of the lyrics I like is, “The mornin’ sun when it’s in your face really shows your age, but that don’t worry me none, in my eyes, you’re everything.” I remember thinking that Maggie May was probably mad at him for this back-handed compliment, but he’s a young guy, so maybe he didn’t realize how back-handed it was. This verse, “All I needed was a friend to lend a guiding hand, but you turned into a lover, and mother, what a lover, you wore me out! All you did was wreck my bed, and in the morning, kick me in the head.
Oh, Maggie, I couldn’t have tried any more,” also appeals to me because I like the way Rod Stewart sings it. He sounds playful and loving when he sings this verse. It always brings a smile to my face when I hear this part of the song! This verse as well also seems to tug at my heartstrings, too, because he sounds so lost: “I suppose I could collect my books and get on back to school, or steal my daddy’s cue and make a living out of playin’ pool, or find myself a rock and roll band that needs a helpin’ hand. Oh Maggie, I wish I’d never seen your face.” He sounds stuck in love, and he knows he should do something different, but he just can’t.

Maybe I am over-analyzing this song, but that’s okay! It’s one I can listen to anytime it comes on. I sing it at the top of my lungs, no matter how lousy my voice is! Take a listen for yourself, and maybe you’ll have a new appreciation for this song that so sweetly expresses how it feels to be in love with someone you know you shouldn’t but you can’t help it!

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#AtoZChallenge — Little Miss Magic

When my daughter got married almost 2 years ago, I suggested to her and my husband that the daddy-daughter dance song for them should be “Little Miss Magic: by Jimmy Buffett. They both heartily agreed, and the night they danced to that song was the only time I cried at her wedding. Even though Jimmy Buffett wrote the song about his daughter Savannah’s childhood, growing up in St. Bart’s, he explains that he didn’t write it for himself, but instead, he wrote it for other people to connect with, and it sure did with my husband and daughter! So many of the lines in that song just sound like Jim and Becky!

“She loves to ride into town with the top down, feel that warm breeze on her gentle skin.” — Makes me think about how much Jim and Becky love riding in a convertible!

“I see a little more of me every day.” — Becky is so much like her dad, from his driving (aka road rage) to his sense of humor and quick wit. Plus she looks so much like him, with her big, soft brown eyes.

A picture the photographer captured of me watching Jim and Becky (blurry in the foreground).
Jim and Becky dancing to “Little Miss Magic.” If you thought they were having a nice time reminiscing while they were dancing, you would be wrong. According to Becky, they were, “…saying all sorts of dumb things and laughing about them.”

“Sometimes I catch her dreamin’ and wonder where that little mind meanders. Is she strollin’ along the shore or cruisin’ over the broad savannah? I know someday she’ll learn to make up her own rhymes. Someday she’s gonna learn how to fly. Oh, that I won’t deny.” — Jim was always such a big proponent of Becky growing up to be strong and independent even though he wanted to keep her as a little girl so he could protect her. And now that she’s grown, he is so proud of her. She learned how to fly, just like her daddy wanted her to, and it’s really wonderful seeing the relationship they have!

“I see those big brown eyes just start to lookin’ astray.” — How hard it was for Jim to see his baby girl start to be independent and maybe find a guy she wanted to spend more time with than her daddy, but he knew that’s how it’s supposed to be, so he let her grow up, and now she’s got a husband who is seriously one of the most wonderful people in the world, and he’s just like her dad — it makes Becky roll her eyes when Jim and Ben get going, but I know she loves them both so much!

This picture says it all — Jim’s face is a mixture of pride in his beautiful, grown up daughter and sadness that she’s not a little girl anymore.

Check out this song for a sweet song about dads and daughters.

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#AtoZChallenge — Kicking into High Gear

I am wayyyyy behind on my blog posts for April, but I am bound and determined to do them all, even if they’re late, so I am KICKING IT INTO HIGH GEAR this week! In fact, I am kicking lots of things into high gear this week!

Writing: obviously, since I am behind, I am going to have to be doubling up on blog posts until I get myself caught up. I actually love to write, so I really just need to make it a priority in my life. I usually have time — the excuse of being too busy won’t work for me. I mean, I am busy, but I also have time to write when I’m watching TV or right before I go to bed.

Packing: I am in the process of moving out of my house and into my mom’s house, and since the closing on my house is next week, I have to finish packing anything that’s still at the house. There’s not much, the big stuff is done, but the big stuff never seems to be the problem. It’s all the little stuff that makes packing and moving a pain!

Cleaning: gotta get the house cleaned up once the packing is done, so that’s going to be happening very soon!

Reading: I need to get back to my reading! I’m following a syllabus for my ACE preparation, and I am now behind schedule, so I need to get working on that. I am also reading a book on AI in the classroom that I want to get back to, AND my dad sent me a book I want to read as well. I can kick my reading into high gear for sure once the school year is done!

Writing, reading, packing, cleaning — such a life!

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