Monday, January 27, 2014

“My God, but you are hard to love." - Ayana Mathis

I finished The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis. More on that in a bit.

On Saturday night, we watched the movie Captain Phillips. It was good, but mostly forgettable. But there was one scene, at the end of the movie, that really stuck with me. Tom Hanks as Captain Phillips has just been rescued, and is being looked over by a medic. He's visibly stunned by the change in situation that's occurred in a matter of moments - from the terror of impending death by Somali kidnappers in a hijacked lifeboat, to the brightly-lit rigidity of a military rescue ship.The emotion Hanks displays is so incredibly real and moving. He conveys fear, confusion, gratitude, joy and horror all in just a couple of moments, with very few words. He's great, that guy.

I should rewatch The Money Pit again.

On Sunday, we got up bright and early and headed to the Hunt Midwest SubTropolis to participate in the 32nd annual Children's TLC Groundhog Run 5K. Children’s TLC works with young children with disabilities, developmental delays, and fragile medical conditions to provide educational and therapeutic services in an environment that fosters their independence and celebrates their successes.

The race was incredibly well-organized. We parked at the casino across the street, and school buses shuttled us back and forth to the race site. Inside the caves, the temperature stays around 67 degrees year-round, and with no wind or weather to contend with, and a flat course, we both thought that this race would be a breeze. Turns out, not so much, and neither of us really knows why. All we know is that we both struggled cardio-wise with this one, and neither of us posted a personal record time.

That said, our times were very respectable for each of us, and now we know we need to push it just a little bit more if we want to improve at a faster rate.

We had to line up in waves, based on how long we thought it would take each of us to finish the race. Mr. Awesome was in the Blue wave, meaning he expected to finish in 25 to 30 minutes. I was in the Orange wave, expecting to finish in 35 to 40 minutes. Both of our times fell into the expected windows.

The course was predictably flat, and there was a good mix of turns and long straightaways. We don't know if it was the air in the cave, or the people, or that we haven't been running much (we've been doing elliptical, mostly) in the last month, but both of us got pretty winded and struggled to maintain a good pace. I'm sure it was the lack of actual running, which is why we're going to start adding a mile run around the gym track to our regular workout schedule.

Mr. Awesome's stats:

Time: 25:05

Age group place: 28th out of 93

238 out of 1801

My stats:

Time: 37:08

Age group place: 97 out of 146

1223 out of 1801

Not bad, but we've both done better. Which is why the quote I chose from The Twelve Tribes of Hattie as a title of this post is fitting - races where the race fights back sure make running hard to love. But I guess that's what makes the ones we do well at that much more rewarding.

As for the book...

Books that are filled with struggles, sadness, oppression and all that aren't easy to love. But they aren't easy to forget, either.

Mathis spends each chapter in the book telling about one or more of Hattie's children, from the first twins she loses to pneumonia as a young mother of seventeen, to the granddaughter she inherits as an old woman of seventy-one. Each child's story like a glimpse through a dusty window into a moment of their lives, be they infants, or teenagers, or adults - we get just enough of a view to have an impression, but we can't really know the whole story. Hattie's children love and hate her, just as she loves and hates her circumstances. Nothing is easy for any of them, and love is expressed in a multitude of ways, with varying degrees of success.

The storytelling is like looking through a book of photographs - here's a little bit here, there's something in the background there that colors the next photo a few pages later. By the end, we don't really know Hattie or her children, but we get a sense of who they are and can imagine their legacies. There is a feeling, at the end of the book, of hopefulness and the possibility of new beginnings, which helps smooth over some of the rough parts.

I haven't picked a next book yet... it will probably be a GRE study guide.

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