Saturday, August 20, 2016

Tomato juice and flying

July 12:  "For some reason, on flights I always drink tomato juice. I never drink tomato juice at other times, maybe because it's too filling or there's too much sodium. I don't know. But I'm sitting here right now on my flight to Portland waiting for the beverage service to come around because, predictably, I'm looking for some tomato juice."

I wrote the above as I headed out for a work trip last month, simply noting the weirdness of it, and then LO AND BEHOLD, National Geographic came through with an explanation. Apparently noise level affects taste and cravings, and my weirdness about tomato juice is a weirdness shared by many other people (meaning it's not really a weirdness).

Image stolen from here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

USA! USA! USA!* (*misleading title)

I know I've told the story before on some blog of mine (this one?) about how I took gymnastics in third grade, and after about two lessons my coaches told my parents I could be in the Olympics. It was a ridiculous claim regarding someone who grew to be 5'9" and has the competitive drive of a three-toed sloth, but at the time all that mattered was that I seemingly had no fear of falling on my head.

My gymnastics career died as quickly and abruptly as it began (amid a lot of screaming and crying on my part — I really did not want to compete), but it did leave me the legacy of compulsively watching the women's gymnastics competition during the Olympics every four years.

Displaying the tendencies one day my coaches would love.
This year, the American women's team is so good they might be the best ever. And when they won gold in the team competition earlier this week, one of the commenters on TV described what being the "best ever" means. Paraphrasing here: they weren't perfect, but they were steady, they did hard things, and they didn't make any fatal mistakes.

I need to, like, fucking tape that to my wall or something. Because that, right there, is the recipe for a well-lived life.

Back in March, when I was on my miniature spiritual quest, I hit a serious meditation groove, and I wrote about how once I passed a certain threshold, I just cruised for a while in a state of Zen. I was doing so well that I even set aside time to meditate every day that I was in Vegas visiting my brother. The day after we saw Britney Spears, when I was as close to death as a hangover has ever brought me, I still managed to get 10 minutes of meditation in.

But then I hit a wall with it; after 41 meditating days in a row, I sat down and I thought, you're only doing this to continue your streak, not because you really want to. And of course I was right (if I'm not willing to be honest with myself, then who will be?). I took it easier after that...maybe too easy...and well, it didn't take long before I saw myself staring down the barrel of all the things that inspired my miniature spiritual quest in the first place.

I heard someone speak recently who's a go-getter who used to run a lot. All she did, she pounded. She pounded at work, she pounded in her personal life, she pounded the ground as she ran...and she said that's why she started doing yoga. She was concerned that if she ever lost the ability to pound, she wouldn't be able to live with herself. Her words gave me chills. Out again came the meditation app...out again came my desire to shift my focus and steady my gaze. Except this time, with the understanding that I don't have to pound so hard. That's my real work.

I'm not perfect. But I'm steady, and I like doing hard things, and pounding a little too much in my life so far hasn't been a fatal mistake. (Yet.) (I don't think.) There's no gold medal for mastering yourself, but there's little in life more worthwhile than continuing to train anyway.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Happy birthday, Slider Inn

Over the weekend, the Slider Inn, a bar that has generated more stories in my life than any other, turned five.

My first visit to Slider was September 1, 2011, mere weeks after it opened, and I know the date because I wrote about it in my daily journal (where I mislabeled it as "Sliders"):

Stayed late [after the Breakaway run] to help with the Runner of the Month profile. Then Sliders with a group. Also got some new shoes.

The following week (by which point I'd sorted out the name), I got my first taste of what could happen there if I let the night rule me instead of the other way around:

3.6 miles --> beautiful weather and a 9:24 pace. Then...what happened?! Got home at, like, 2:00. DRUNK. Slider Inn.

The saying at Breakaway was “the best nights happen there and the worst nights happen there,” and true to that, Slider saw me through some really good times and some really, really bad ones. Even more so than my best races, my favorite Breakaway memories primarily come from the Slider Inn, with the parties and the people and the feelings of acceptance and home that greeted me during some stressful and painful years.

Those years and those memories were the product of those who worked there and drank there and the life that I was living, and it will never be the same, and that's okay because it's good to evolve.

But sometimes I miss it. And I know it's not just me. My cameo at the 5-year anniversary party was brief, but one of the patrons I talked to lamented that "things had changed." And he was right. Five years may not seem like a lot, but in the life of a bar, and of a person, it can be.

Today, I'm glad I'm here, I'm glad I'm the person I am, I'm thankful for the experiences I've had that have shaped me.

And I'm thankful that not far away from me is a place where I have had WAY too much to drink, where I have made really questionable life decisions, where I have cried, where I have laughed, where I have enjoyed Jameson slushies and Tiki Tuesdays, and where I hope to the Lord Jesus that I have progressed past the worst of it, because everyone should have a safe place where they can act like a damn idiot, and then take what they need from there, and grow.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Spoiler-free Cursed Child post

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was released over the weekend, the eighth story of the Harry Potter saga (a saga whose influence cannot be measured in hyperbole alone), gifted to the public in two formats: a play in London and a script of that play in bookstores worldwide.

The plot is "based on a story by J.K. Rowling" and two other authors, which isn't the same as J.K. Rowling writing the story herself, and the script based on that story wasn't written by her either, although her name is larger on the book cover than the actual author's...

It was a strange trip to read — worth the ride for the novelty, but also cracking the door open for a lot of confusion if you think about things too much.

I'm glad I read it, but looking ahead, I'll probably start back with the originals the next time I feel the urge to revisit Hogwarts.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Taking aside all else... 1992, when Bill Clinton was running for president, his wife was rumored to be making an appearance at Freeman Park in Bartlett, Tennessee.

This was before the internet, before 24-hour news, and for some reason, my 10-year-old self was in the car with my mom, my brother, and one of the four boys who lived across the street from us.

A local reporter, named Rod Starnes, was at the park when Mom drove through, and my mother, exhibiting the kind of casual self-possession that I long, to this day, to emulate, rolled down her window and yelled, as if she knew him (and her), "Hey, Rod! Is Hillary going to be here?"

Rod didn't know. So we drove around for a while and then went home.

Hillary didn't make an appearance, but Mom's line has been repeated more times than I can count at family gatherings. And now here we are, with Hillary Clinton as the first female nominee of a major political party for President of the United States.

I was at my parents' over the weekend and I found a report I did in the eighth grade that covered all of the presidents. As a 13-year-old, I had earnestly written: "Even though [Bill] Clinton is a Democrat, most other politicians he works with are Republicans. This makes it very hard to get anything accomplished."

Over twenty years later, those words ring so steadfastly true it's almost painful.

The first day of the Democratic National Convention went better than expected yesterday (three words: Michelle fucking Obama), but the road ahead is long and scary and I care, I care even if I try to distance myself emotionally to spare my sanity.

But today I will settle for being happy that my gender has achieved something pretty damned remarkable. Yes we can, girls. Yes. We. Can.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Becky finally weighs in on the political climate, uses rhyme

I thought last week was way perverse,
But this week's start might yet be worse!
I'm not quite sure where I should look.
America, just what the fook?

That's really all I've got on politics. I'm going to happily vote for Hillary Clinton...and if Armageddon befalls us, I'll probably just throw away my television, begin a cash-only money diet, and start growing all of my own crops or something.

Actually, I might do that anyway. This "keeping up with everything" thing is overrated, man...

Saturday, July 23, 2016

On being wrong

I let it pass quietly, but last Friday marked a pretty significant anniversary in my life. July 15 was ten years since my first post on a little blog called Jake Watch. I've reflected quite a bit this past week on the impact of that decade and there's an inescapable conclusion I keep returning to: the me of back then would have been incredibly disappointed in the person I am now. Where is my bestselling book series? Where are my millions? Where is my series of famous exes? (Thinking back, it's funny how my vision of life in the fast lane didn't include any stable relationships, just a bunch of high-profile flings. #iwastaylorswiftbeforeitwascool) Where is the me whose live-out-loud life made all of her former classmates jealous?

And what the hell is with all the running?

There's another inescapable conclusion, however, I keep returning to, and that's that I'd be miserable right now if I'd achieved the things that I deemed so important back then. Fame is a much cheaper currency than it once was, and no longer has any appeal to me. Books aren't the way anyone makes a fortune anymore. The pressure of being any sort of public figure in our increasingly tiny world drives far more people to madness than it does happiness, and the mistake that I made, which is such a common one, was in thinking that there was some accomplishment, some success or triumph, that would be The Answer.

I was wrong back then in knowing what I wanted (or needed).

But I think I was right to chase after the wrong things.


I was talking to someone just yesterday who has far-reaching dreams, and he said to me, "You just have to want it enough."

But that's not true. Wanting it isn't enough. Every person on this Earth wants something so badly they can taste it, so if all it took was desire, who among us would ever be disappointed?

And it's not purely hard work, either. Some of the hardest workers I know are also the least productive. Hard work alone means nothing unless it's paired with focus and that one piece of the puzzle that none of us can control: luck.

Success, it seems, is being ready when an opportunity comes and taking advantage of it. Wanting it and working hard are how you prepare. Taking care of yourself in the meantime is how you prepare. And being flexible mentally gives you an edge when it comes to identifying an opening.

I am where I am right now in my life because my experiences have given me a set a tools, and instead of chucking it all in when those tools didn't get me what I initially wanted, I repurposed them to my advantage when other openings came my way.

No, this isn't the life I imagined. It's much less glamorous, and it's real, and sometimes it's hard, and I can sleep at night, and when I look in the mirror I feel good about the person looking back at me, and though I have my issues (we all do) it's a good life. It's not a profile on It's deeper and better than that. And one of the things that I am most grateful for every day, even on the hard days, is that I grew into the person I am right now instead of the person I once thought I should be.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Today in other Heinekes...

You know, it's not just me who's great, you guys. ALL HEINEKES ARE SPECTACULAR HUMAN BEINGS.

My parents were in the July issue of Southern Living, honored as such simply for being Heinekes (and, okay, for living in an awesome place and working their asses off to make that place increasingly more awesome all the time).

Unfortunately, there is no online version of the article, and further unfortunately, I'm not sure that the scans below are actually readable...but that is not stopping me from posting them. If nothing else, enjoy the photos, which are a tiny-but-soothing snapshot of their version of living in the South.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Becky watches the Tony Robbins documentary, weeps as profusely as a newly-birthed babe

I've been quite ill for the last week and a half (fun fact: I've gotten two shots in my butt in the past seven days), and thus have been walking around looking like something out of a zombie apocalypse movie. But despite finally being on the mend, today I look worse than ever, and that's because I spent two hours of my life yesterday leaking my eyes out over the documentary Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru. Should I be admitting this in public? Absolutely not. But Tony Robbins has inspired me to say things to an audience of strangers that I would normally shut up about.

I read some reviews that criticized the film (now streaming on Netflix) for its worshipful view of the self-help guru it focuses on. Which is a fair point. But there was something deeply moving about watching the emotional exposure of a group of people desperate to change their lives. The honesty surrounding their pain was refreshing and, for reasons I can't entirely attribute to the various medications I'm on, caused me to cry a lot. I don't know enough about Tony's techniques to comment on them, but I can't deny the genuine passion that underlies his mission to alleviate suffering, and oh, how much different the world would be if we were all motivated to relieve people of their burdens instead of adding to them.

Of all the things in the movie though, the single thing that resonated with me most was the subtitle of one of the chapter titles: "Push will wear you out." I was in Portland much of last week on a work trip, and before I left, I pushed very hard to get a lot of things done at my job that, honestly, someone else could have done. It makes me feel important to do things at work on my own, to make it known that people can rely on me, and "feeling important" is something I haven't had in any job prior to this one, so it's something I chase.

But it's a lie. Things may be different if I weren't there, but nothing would crumble, nothing would cease without me...and even if it did, so what? When I got home from Portland, I called my parents and my mom said, apropos of nothing (and everything), "You're too damned responsible. Your dad and I think you should go rob a bank."

I doubt it'll go that far, but I concede her point. And that's why the documentary made me weepy, I think. The people who go to Tony Robbins conventions are, by and large, responsible people who spend their lives trying to do the right thing. They aren't fuck-ups. But even overachievers - maybe especially overachievers - occasionally benefit from a metaphorical slap upside the head.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Titles of articles I saved long ago

Here are some of the things I thought important enough to clip out of the newspaper and put in a scrapbook, circa 2000 - 2006:

  • "11th century England online with posting of 'Domesday'"
  • "Blame her British accent on stroke"
  • "Hey, grads: Get a life"
  • "Folded $20 bill bears eerie images of 9/11 mayhem; get the picture?"
  • "Annual Bartlett Celebration four mile run a success"
  • "Fans dig deep for roots music, boosting 'O Brother' soundtrack"
  • "Spider-Man shatters box office records"
  • "Go ahead, take a walk on the wild side of swamp"
  • "For the time of your life, have that crisis now"
  • "Cher to perform at Pyramid March 4 on farewell tour; 1st solo show here"
  • "Success no fluke, and that's sweet for Sugar Ray: Pop-rock band stays aloft after 1997 hit 'Fly'"
  • "Population density facts"
  • "'Brokeback' may not play well in 'burbs"
  • "Names in the news: Randy Quaid"
  • This quote from Dick Cheney: "I'm the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend."
  • And this quote from Dwight Schrute: "I never smile if I can help it. Showing one's teeth is a submission signal to primates. When someone smiles at me, all I see is a chimpanzee begging for its life."

Yeah, that probably covers most of the things I deemed important back then...