Friday, October 05, 2012

It's Banned Books Week!

I was going to write a post about a banned book that has affected me or meant a lot to me, and there are plenty of them out there. But as I perused the lists of books that have been challenged over the years, I just kept getting so mad/annoyed/headdesky.

Looking at the top 100 books challenged in the 90's & 2000's, I've read a handful on each list, and some are books I truly love, some don't interest me, and many make me shake my head. And Tango Makes Three is a 7 year old book about the cute, true story of two male penguins who tried to hatch a rock and were given an egg to care for, which eventually hatched into their "daughter." You can go visit them all today, if you like.
It's not a mystery as to why some people would get their panties in a knot about this, but seriously, have you seen the kid's section of a library lately? Do you know how many picture books are there? It's not like there are 3 books the kids can choose from so someone always gets stuck with the gay penguins. I'm certain that there are people, likely without kids, who search library catalogs for books they don't like, then lodge complaints to fill their free time. Yep, the Lord's work, clearly.

Harry Potter and The Hunger Games are obviously challenged, because who wants kids to actually read and get sucked into engaging stories? I know, I know, Hogwarts is evil and the world is now beset with roaming gangs of Satan-worshipping youngsters who accio your soul and wallet with you being none the wiser. It's a battle we all must fight.

I'm joking around because it's all so ridiculous, but it's also sad. Many of the challenged/banned books aren't even children's or YA books; they're for adults. Though I don't agree, I can understand the "we must protect the children!" line of reasoning, but why would you not want other adults to be able to read what they want? Especially as some of the books are challenged for "religious viewpoint," I wonder what, exactly, people are afraid of. Is your faith so weak that you're worried that if someone even reads a book from a non-Christian point of view that the world will end?

I know: it's about their souls. You're worried for them. And I get it. Stories are powerful and they can change lives. Harry Potter has added value to my life and I'm certain it has inspired and changed many people who have read it. Reading, hearing, or watching a compelling story about something you may not have thought of before can completely open  your eyes to new things and can change the direction of your life. But isn't that one of the most amazing and beautiful things about human beings and our lives?

We are all stories and we're part of a million other stories. I believe that we're part of the story God is telling about his love for the world and how he wants to be with people. Some people may not believe that, and that's okay. My job is not to stop them from telling or reading their stories, but to live a life of love that invites others to both share and hear, and we'll both be changed.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Here's a copy of my latest post from ye ole training blog:

 Since about July 2011 through now, I haven't been doing a ton of running due to one injury or another. First there was some wicked tendonitis on the tops of my feet. I saw a sports podiatrist who gave me some exercises to do & I also got custom inserts. Hooray.

With the exercises & some rejiggered Super Feet inserts, I made it through the Rock n' Roll Half Marathon in San Jose on 10/3, but it wasn't pretty. I was still in a lot of pain & hadn't been able to train enough to make it a good race. I finally got my custom inserts at the end of October. On the 27th, I was going for my first run with the inserts. I was on a trail that I knew, it wasn't hard, and I wasn't pushing myself too hard, but when I went to dodge a pothole, while my foot was still in the air, I felt a pop in my knee. There was no running back to the car at all. I thought I had torn something, but an MRI showed no tear, so I just went to physical therapy for a few months.

It seems that the foot issues & the leg/back/knee issues I've had over the years are all related (who knew?), so I was actually glad to be addressing things, hoping I'd nip it all in the bud. It has taken a lot longer than I wanted it to or expected, and things aren't as perfect as I'd hoped, but I'm getting there. If I had needed surgery, it would have been at least 6 months of recovery afterwards.

I've slowly moved from elliptical only (barf) with no resistance, to some resistance, to taking "brisk" walks outside or on the treadmill with bursts of fast walking. It has been almost 6 months since the knee pop, and I ran for the first time 2 days ago. I haven't been to physical therapy in about 2 months, and my therapist told me not to even think about running until I had been pain-free for a month, but I just couldn't quite do it. I'd say I had a couple weeks pain-free (meaning no "Oh, my Lord! My knee is going to break!" moments or days where I just want to ice my knee, have Seth rub it, and I cry), but then had another "Oh, crap!" day. But I've been doing little pre-running things like jumping and just barely-not-running times in my walks on the treadmill, so I thought it was time. A little competition (even in my own mind) doesn't hurt, either. I ran into some people I knew at the gym the other day, so of course, I wanted to run instead of just walking on the treadmill.

So after a warm-up and a few rounds of 4.2 mph walking, I decided to try the jog. Just 4.3 for 30 seconds. And it was great. I walked for 3 more minutes then decided to try it again. I wasn't hurting, so I planned on just repeating that for a while. It was VERY difficult to not push it too far, so I kept telling myself what I needed to do and that I do NOT want to be injured again/longer. I focused on my stride, being sure my feet weren't rolling, I wasn't pounding, and I crouched a tiny bit, while still keeping my torso long. I did end up shortening my walk breaks to 2.5 minutes, but I stayed at 30 seconds of running. I did that until I had about 5.5 minutes of running total, then I noticed that I was at 2.9 miles. Well, I might as well do a 5k, right? Of course. So, I may have been dumb. I ran out the last .2 miles, which ended up being 2 minutes, which may have not been the smartest thing I've ever done, but it didn't come back to bite me.

So, 7 minutes or so of running out of 50, and I felt good. My knee was definitely sore and very stiff, so I've been icing & stretching a lot. Yesterday, I just went on the stationary bike for 30 minutes or so. My knee was definitely stiff, but the bike didn't really hurt. Then today, I did an outside run for the first time in almost 6 months. The dog & I walked down to the creek, and I let myself run for 30 seconds at a time for only 3 minutes total, with 3 minutes of walking between runs. Oh man, was it hard to not do more, but I am really trying to be smart about this. I wanted to run more, but I was outside and it didn't hurt, so I'm happy. The tendons on the back of my knee were pretty tight, but no sharp pain or real aching.

I've signed up for The Color Run on July 14th, and I wasn't sure if I'd be walking or running, but I think I'll be running, which is a lovely thought. I'm going to find a good training plan and stick with it, so I hope that I can do a half this fall and actually get a PR. If I'm smart & listen to my body, I'm pretty sure I can do this. Here's to trying to get into Nike this year!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

YA Lit & Judgment

The Hunger Games came out yesterday (the movie). I saw it and liked it a lot. Love it. I'll buy it when it comes out on DVD. I've read the three Hunger Games books and enjoyed them very much.

You know what I also love and have read and enjoy and bought? Twilight. You know what? I'm allowed to like both, and so is everyone else.

Sure, Twilight  is cheesy with its teenage drama, love triangles, and sparkling vampires. And The Hunger Games doesn't have crap like teenage drama, love triangles, or genetically modified dog-creatures wearing the faces of dead contestants. Oh, wait. It does.

In the movie, Katniss is strong and smart, and I can understand someone calling her their hero. In the book? Not so much. All the way through, she is just as stupid, self-involved, and annoying as Bella is. One of the best part of the movie is NOT having to deal with her internal monologue.

Also, the HG books aren't a paragon of great literature while the Twilight books are the scribblings of a deranged 12 year-old. I place The Hunger Games in the same category as The DaVinci Code, though they are a bit above that: a good, page-turner of a story with crappy writing. Or at least lazy writing.
What Collins does have over Meyers is her world-building and a more long-form plot she's following. That is more interesting for a lot of people. (I don't comment on the writing style of Meyers here because, truly, it has been a couple years since I read them, and I don't remember being revolted by the writing, but I was in a weird place & was quite wrapped up in the stories.)

What I think many people are ripping on when they compare the two is the fact that the Twilight books are unashamedly girly. They're romances, written for teenage girls, but many adults and also plenty of guys have read them and enjoyed them. The Hunger Games books are full of violence and politics, so they appeal to even more guys and adults, and that's fine.

Am I saying that Bella is someone to be admired and that the Twilight books are to be held up as full of quality and role models? Not at all. Just double-check your vitriol and be sure that it isn't based mostly on the fact that something is girly. Everything fills a different niche and desire in people, and something you loved 4 months ago doesn't have to be trashed now because you love something else that happens to be loosely in the same genre. The world is big. Read lots and see lots of movies. Like them all, if you want.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I know, I know. I'm a terrible blogger.

I've just been overwhelmed. Sneaky carbonara post aside, the last time I wrote here was the day before I became a mom. On May 25, 2011, we got our first foster child. She was two and a half, super smart and cute, and we adored her. The first five days were extremely difficult, and I questioned our decision. I missed our old life and I didn't feel attached to her at all. Then it clicked, and I was in love. I felt like God had given me the child I had asked for (down to how she looked), and I was certain we would adopt her.

We had her with us for 9 weeks, and then she moved in with someone who had adopted her sister. She is there now, will likely be adopted there, and it is where she belongs. But our hearts were broken. Before I met the woman who is now her mom, I was prepared to fight it as much as I could. I wept and made phone calls and mourned and cried out to God for answers. Even though I know now that she's where she belongs and we weren't a good match, I could cry about her at any time at all if I wanted to. I haven't seen her since Halloween weekend, I have presents for her and her siblings in the corner of the living room, and I'm freaking out a bit about her mom not calling me for the past three weeks.

But I have to relax. One of the first things I learned as a parent was that God adores me and wants me to be loved and have wins just as much as I want those things for her. That was hard for me to grasp at first. I would pray for wisdom on how to react to her or think about how God would act, but I figured that I didn't deserve the same treatment since I'm an adult and should know better. Silly girl, I'm not an adult compared to God!

Even when I was in mourning, it wasn't as if I was worried about her. I was just so sad. My prayers started sounding a lot like her fits and crying jags. -Why are you crying? -Because I am! or -Because I'm sad! I'd like to think that I've progressed beyond the maturity of a 2-year-old, but apparently not. That's okay.