Medium Roast just got a little bit fancier.

My blog just got a little bit fancier. The thing is, it’s not hosted here on wordpress.com anymore!

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Please change your bookmarks! Update your blog readers! Follow me on this exciting transition!

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And here’s a fancy drink!

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Big, scary, life-changing news.

I’ve been in Ohio for the past six years–for college, for grad school, and for my very first job. This state has been the backdrop for so many of my biggest accomplishments. But I’m not originally from Ohio. I was actually born in Colorado, but my family moved when I was three years old. We spent six years in California, and then moved again across the country to Maryland, where my family still lives today. And after six years away from my family….I’m headed back.

I’m moving back to Maryland….in three weeks.

welcome to Maryland

This is big for me because Ohio has become my home. I have so many friends here. I have a job here! And I’m headed back to Maryland with out any of those things. Everyone I went to high school with has moved away and I’ve been busy sending out job applications, but everyone knows how hard that process is.

I admit it, I’m scared. Like really scared.

But I have to keep reminding myself that I have a ton of great reasons to move home:

  • Ben is going to grad school at Georgetown.
  • I’ll be close to my family instead of a 7-hour drive away.
  • I’ll be able to save money by living at home for a while.
  • I’ll be able to help out around the house and build a real relationship with my little brother.
  • I have the time to pick the perfect job rather than accept the first one offered to me.
  • I can sort of start over.

And what I am really excited about it being able to really become a part of a running community. I’ll be really close to Annapolis and their running community is amazing. The Annapolis Running Store is where I bought my first pair of real running shoes — the Mizuno Wave Inspires that sparked this new passion and reminded me what it was like to run without pain.

I want to participate in group runs and take yoga classes and join a gym to lift weights. And I want to get back into Tae Kwon Do, which I haven’t done in years because I left my amazing school back in Maryland and no school in Ohio could ever compare. I can really use this time to better myself, make new friends, become a part of something. And I am so excited about it.

leaving Ohio

But I’m sad too. Columbus has been an amazing place to live. I’m a five-minute run from the most beautiful park. I’m a 15 minute walk from all of the Short North bars and restaurants. My commute for my awesome job is exactly 5 minutes. I can watch the biggest fireworks display in the Midwest from my doorstep. And so many of my friends are here.

It’s a lot to leave behind.

But at the same time, I have so much to look forward to.

So that’s it. That’s my big news, my big announcement. In August, I will no longer be a resident of Columbus. I’ll once again be a Marylander, eating steamed crabs and celebrating flag day.

And rather than think of it as a right or wrong choice to leave, I am thinking of it as my next step in life. I was never meant to stay in one place forever and I’m excited to see where I might end up next. Who knows where it will be? All I know is that to get there, I have to make a stop off back in Maryland and then see where my life takes me from there.

How many times have you moved?
Are you from the MD/DC area?
Any tips for me?


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Review: Inferno by Dan Brown

Dan Brown Inferno [ This Post Contains Spoilers & Extreme Snarkiness ]

 So I finished Inferno by Dan Brown, finally.

What I expected would take me two days ended up taking me closer to two weeks, and I’ll tell ya, I’m not super pleased about it.

Now, I’m not usually a Dan Brown basher. I know he isn’t a great writer, but his books sell. And I enjoyed his previous books. You can’t hate a guy just because his books make money. But now, after reading this book, I think I officially give up on trying to defend him.

I originally picked up Inferno because I was interested to see how Brown used Dante’s Divine Comedy as a backdrop to a thriller plot. I mean, levels of hell? Come on, it’s ripe of interesting conflict! Sure, I knew there would be another scavenger hunt of historical clues and some ridiculous melodrama – that’s exactly what his other books had, so I figured I knew was I was getting into. But what I really got was a book full of tired cliches and exhausting repetition.

The book opens to Robert Langdon in a hospital room in a foreign country with amnesia having just suffered a bullet wound to the head. Okay, interesting! I mean, it felt a little forced, and the visions/hallucinations were kind of lame, but it still an interesting, page-turning way to start a story. But as soon as we cut to the spiky-haired woman in an all-black, skin-tight body suit garnishing a gun with a silencer, I wanted to throw the book across the room. So freaking cliche. Why was she wearing a body suit? What is this, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? And then we meet the beautiful blond doctor who saves his life and also happens to be an incredible super genius with an IQ over 20o. Groan.

We then spend the next half of the book basically catching up to where Robert Langdon was before the “head injury,” following clues focused around Dante and his famous works in the Divine Comedy. This was pretty standard in comparison to the previous books. Find ridiculously obscure clue, try to figure out what it means, be baffled, then suddenly remember something from a lecture ten years ago and then find the next clue. Rinse and repeat.

Did I mention that he is being chased by a ton of people with guns and drone planes? But he just keeps giving them the slip….

Eventually we learn the underlying plot to this story, which is actually not that bad. Apparently there is a famous doctor who has been concerned about the world collapsing due to overpopulation to the point where he sort of goes mad and creates a super virus that will kill a big chunk of the world’s population similar to what the Black Plague did to Europe, paving the way for a Renaissance.

Considering over-population is a real concern, I was intrigued. Why the doctor felt the need to go all Dante on us is not certain since the only real explanation we get for that is because no one would have a meaningful discussion about a solution with him so he felt angry and isolated, thus driving him insane. Oh, and he sort of jumped off a building and killed himself before all of this nonsense even really got started. But not before planting a super virus to be released on a certain date and time. Cue ticking time bomb plot trope.

In all seriousness, seeing how Brown was going to tackle the whole over-population thing is what kept me reading this book. There were so many times I wanted to put it down and never finish, but I was determined. Sure I could have just skipped to the end, but I consider reading to have a code of honor – and skipping to the end is just not allowed.

So around 75% of the way into the book, we are still chasing down clue after clue, following Langdon and his brilliant, sexy blond doctor all over Europe. The thing is, they don’t exactly know why they have to solve this mystery. As far as they know, some Dante man has hid a bunch of clues and the woman from Langdon’s visions is tied up in the back of a car. Otherwise, they are flying blind. The only real pressure on them to keep moving is that this mysterious group of people might catch them so they have to get to the end of the bread crumb trail to figure out what they are even looking for…because as I said, THEY DON’T EVEN KNOW.

There is one specific thing about this book that I really, really liked. But it is a HUGE spoiler and reading this will ruin the effect should you choose to read this book. DO NOT READ BELOW THIS LINE IF YOU DON’T WANT IT SPOILED FOR YOU. Simply skip this section and get to my take on the book in general.

———

The best part about this book was the one major twist that I did not see coming. And it was because the setup was actually pretty well done. Brown essentially introduces a new character to the bread crumb crew while the B-plot characters realize that a specific character is actually a bad guy. Cut to a phone call we don’t get to listen to and a chapter entirely in flashback about meeting the crazy Dante scientist and becoming his lover. So logically, we assume that this new character is evil (and infected with a plague), which colors our reading of him for the next few chapters. Then, after Langdon is picked up by the B-plot people who were chasing him, and who are actually good guys…sort of, we find out that the flash back we saw wasn’t from the new character’s point of view…but actually from Langdon’s hot blond doctor! And that it was actually her who was the doctor’s lover. And that, GASP, she is a bad guy! The old switch-a-roo!

I thought this was actually pretty clever on Brown’s part. It was the one twist I didn’t see coming and it was a pretty cool realization to come so late in the book since it completely changed the playing field.

(Except not really because we find out that she was never really a bad guy at all…. which is a whole other issue with this book that I’ll talk about later.)

Then they head to the end of the trail only to find that the specific date on which the virus was to be released was not the release date, but instead it was the saturation point for the plague to have affected everyone on earth. Okay, Interesting!

And then we find out what the virus does. Apparently, it manipulates the human DNA to make people infertile, meaning no more babies, thus curbing human overpopulation. But it doesn’t happen to everyone! It only works on 1/3 of the population (a number taken from Dante and the Black Plague). So it is just this DNA defect now built into everyone so some people can have babies and some can’t. No one dies, they just stop having kids.

Okay, this might sound horrible, but my first reaction when reading this was, “that’s not a the worst solution to global overpopulation…” I know, that’s an awful thought, but after spending the entire book thinking people were going to die horrible deaths, things ended in sort of a “could be worse” type of situation.

Oh, and since everyone was infected, the book just sort of ends with “guess we’ll just have to deal with it.” What? Okay… I guess…

It was the first time one of these books felt separated from our reality.

———

I found the book’s ending to be really interesting, but not satisfying at all. It felt like we had departed from our reality and now Robert Langdon is part of a completely different universe. It just took away some of the “oh cool, maybe that’s true” from the story.

5 thoughts on this book:

1) Cliches. Cliches everywhere. Seriously, assassins in tight body suits brandishing guns. Hot blond brilliant doctors. Epiphanies for every single clue. It felt tired, old, and not original at all. I mean, it’s the same story over and over again, and I knew that going in, but it got to the point where it just felt so forced and contrived. Couldn’t he have tried to do things differently at all?

2) Repetitive. Repetitive. Repetitive. I swear I did more skimming in this book than actual reading. Brown kept telling me the same things over and over again, as though he were trying to reach his word count through repetition. A video was a critical part of the story, and every time we sat down to watch it with a new character (which was like, 4-5 times), we sat through almost the entire script of the video again. And just constant reminders about the plague and Dante and amnesia, etc. etc. etc. I know that emphasis is important, but I don’t need eight different instances of contemplating the exact same thing.

3) No one was actually a bad guy. So the woman trying to kill Langdon is the bad guy. Oh wait, no, she’s not. Must be the other guy trying to catch him. Wait, no. Maybe the guy ordering those two people around? Nope, he’s not so bad either. How about this random new character? He must be evil. Okay…how about this other character who is clearly made out to be the villain. Nope, not that one either? Okay, crazy doctor guy for sure. Well, he didn’t really…er….okay, who is evil here because seriously, I feel like that was a lot of work and effort for nothing.

4) Not enough Dante. I don’t think Brown did as much research for this book as his others because the interesting Dante facts were few and far between. There just weren’t as many clues or steps to take before reaching the end of the trail. In fact, once they reached the location of the virus, it felt like all of the tension was pulled out of the story. And anything related to Dante felt like an afterthought to the actual bio-terrorism plot that was actually kind of interesting.

5) A little bit of interesting character work and a lot of running around for nothing. Some of the characters had potential to be so interesting but then twists upon twists made them lame again. It just sort of felt cheap at the end.

Overall: Don’t read this book. Seriously, it took way too much of my time to force myself to read this book and it was mostly skimming anyway. It would be a waste of your time to pick up this book. There isn’t all that much Dante so it’s not like you’ll learn anything and I’m pretty sure any summer blockbuster movie would be better than this — and that’s saying something.

Sorry Dan Brown. I tried, I really did. But this book was bad and you should feel bad (while you roll around in your piles of money.)


Do you finish books even if you aren’t enjoying them?

What are your guilty pleasure books?

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Filed under Bandwagon Fiction, Books

Fancy Drinks & Cosmic Subs.

Even though I spent the 4th of July running in the rain and hanging out with my cat, I was a little more social over the weekend when I went up to visit Ben in Cleveland. He used to live down in Columbus with me, but after being accepted Georgetown University in DC for grad school, he let his lease run out and decided to live at home for the last month or so before he heads east.

We try to get together every few weekends or so, really whenever our busy schedules allow. This weekend was my turn so I left the dreary, rainy weather of Columbus and drove up to see him. We ended up finally seeing Star Trek: Into Darkness, which as a part of the “Cumber Collective” (previously known as “Cumberbitches”), I was very eager to see. I would critique it the same as I did the first: really fun, great action, but a very strange story structure. Overall, I enjoyed it! And I’m glad I got to see it on the big screen. Movies like that never as fun at home on a tiny screen in your living room.

After the movie we stopped for drinks and appetizers at the Latin restaurant, Paladar.

I had “The Chairman’s Cocktail” ~ Chairman’s Reserve Spiced Rum, nutmeg, fresh orange juice, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, served on the rocks.

fancy drink kristen

And Ben had “The 1944 Mai Tai” ~ Chairman’s Reserve 5 Yr Aged Rum, fresh orange juice, fresh lime juice, curacao, orgeat syrup, served on the rocks.

fancyben

We got an order of the Spicy Guacamole and Charred Tomato & Sweet Corn with the restaurant’s special blend of chips.

guac&salsa

And then split an order of the Mango Chimichurri Crusted Calamari – it was SO GOOD. As you can see, we had already started eating before I remembered to get a picture.

calimari

I would definitely recommend this place to anyone in the Cleveland area. It’s a bit on the pricy side, but a good drink on a patio with tasty finger food is worth a few extra dollars to me – especially when I almost never eat out during the week so moments like these are like special occasions.

Later that night, we went to hang out at Chagrin Falls, the beautiful home of the creator of Calvin & Hobbs. It has a quaint little main street with cute restaurants and shops – perfect for an afternoon of strolling by the water.

chigrinfalls

Eventually it started to rain and the restaurants were all packed so we decided on grabbing some food to go from Dave’s Cosmic Subs.

dave's cosmic subs

The inside of the shop was awesome, and I am in love with their door! Neither Ben nor I had ever been there before so they guys that served us were great about explaining the subs and making suggestions.

cosmic subs door

I ended up taking their suggestion and getting The Grateful Dave ~ Turkey, Tomatoes, Red Onions, Mayo, Dave’s Cosmic Sauce, Avocado, Alfalfa Sprouts, and Marinated Hot Pepper Juice.

And it was AMAZING. Seriously, this is going to be my must-go sandwich shop every time I am in Cleveland from now on.

cosmic sub

Like my wine glass? It’s Chip from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast!

We spent the rest of the weekend visiting friends and hanging out with Ben’s parents. Unfortunately, it seems I brought the Columbus rain with me so by the end of the trip, it was a pretty steady downpour and there wasn’t much we could do outside, which resulted in lots of napping – not that I’m complaining! I was a little let down that I couldn’t get out to go for a run since there are so many nice parks nearby, but oh well – maybe next time.

How was your weekend?
What do you put on your favorite sandwich?

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A quick check-in.

I just got back from a weekend up in Cleveland visiting Ben. Even though he is only two hours away, a short weekend feels so rushed and exhausting. I’d hoped to get some running done up there in some new-to-me metro parks, but we ended up being too busy for that. Between the rain and the hot weather, it just seemed like a better idea to go to the movies or nap. More on that tomorrow.

Workout Check-in

Sun - 6 miles (treadmill – 1m walk, 4 m run, 1 m walk)
Mon – Off
Tues – 4 miles (morning run)
Wed – Off
Thurs – 6 miles (afternoon)
Fri – Off
Sat – Off

Total: 16 miles

I’m really pleased that I ran more miles this week than last! But still, only running 3 out of 7 days just doesn’t cut it for me. Next week’s goal is to, once again, run more miles than this week and to run at least four days out of the seven. I was too tired to run today after the drive back, so I have to fit four runs into six days. Shouldn’t be too hard, really, but life always seems to get in the way. I really need to pick out my half marathon training plan and start on that. Structured plans seems to keep me more accountable, plus, October isn’t all that far away…

Oh, and this totally cracked me up last week. I love when brands let their social media managers have some fun.

Lululemon being funny on twitter

How was your weekend?
What’s your favorite corporate twitter account?

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Filed under Living the Dream, Running

Caffeine Roundup.

Caffeine Roundup

RUNNING//

For Everyone Who Says They Cant.
Anne from FANNEtastic Foods did an amazing interview with Jeff Le who shares his incredible story of never giving up.

Why Taking a Break Isn’t the end.
We’ve all had to take time off and it can be really, really hard to get back in the game.  But it can be done.

Is Being Lean Really Worth It?
Not specifically running related, but it raises a really interesting question about lifestyle and what’s right for each of us.

WRITING//

Revising your writing again? Blame the Modernists
I’ve always thought that revision is where the magic of writing really happens, but I guess that hasn’t always been the case.

7 Things Dungeons & Dragons Taught Me About Storytelling
Another fun list about great story telling.

Comfort Writing and How To Avoid It
A great post about keeping your writing fresh.

READING//

Etsy: An Unlikely Source for Children’s Books
If you’re looking for fun children’s book, why not check out Etsy? Never would have thought of this!

The Legacy of Franz Kafka As Seen Through His Impact on Gabriel García Márquez
In honor of Franz Kafka’s birthday this past week.

Famous Books Inspired By Dreams
I found this list really interesting. I’ve definitely had some strange dreams, but I can’t imagine any of them becoming full-fledged stories.

FOODING//

Low-Fat Lemon Bars
I made these last night and they were fantastic! The ingredients a little confusing in some parts, but definitely worth it.

Fish in a Tin
Still not sold on sardines as an alternative to tuna? Then check out this post.

roasted cherry bourbon milkshakes with hot fudge.
I haven’t had a chance to make this yet, but it looks incredible. Definitely on my to-make list for this summer.

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Filed under Books, Caffeine Roundup, Fooding, Running, Writing

Good news & long runs.

I have two bits of good news today! First, I’m already way over my total miles from last week! In fact, my run yesterday almost totaled last week in miles run.

4thrun

splits

I made the mistake of trying to run around the park and completely forgot about 4th of July celebrations. I was dodging people left and right! So I made my way down to the trail I usually take for longer runs. I had no idea how long this run was going to be when I started out but once I hit the trail, I was already 2 miles in and I figured, why not just keep going? I ran about a mile and half on the trail, and it started to rain, so I turned around and started back, eventually totaling just over a 10k.

runningtrail2

I love this trail–long and quiet–it’s really peaceful. But it really freaks me out when the cyclists blow past me without warning.

runningtrail3

And it follows a river!

By the time I finished, it was raining pretty hard and my phone was so wet that I couldn’t get the touch screen to work in order to end my run! Maybe I shouldn’t take my phone with me next time it looks overcast… It was a great run though – my longest in a while. It felt good to hit a stride again and not feel like I was dying the whole time. I still had to take a few breaks because my knee was starting to hurt — the post ACL surgery one — bleh. But there is definitely a difference for me between morning runs and afternoon runs, and I think I might just have to accept that.

My second bit of good news is that I just got a new part-time freelance gig! I’ll be starting soon with the Arundel Voice newspaper picking up a few stories on the side. I’m really excited about this opportunity. I haven’t worked in journalism for just about two years and I was starting to miss it.

arundel voice

The best part about the Arundel Voice is that they don’t cover “hard” news, things like political scandals or crime reports. They focus mainly on positive stories in the community — something I’m really pleased about because positive news is really fun to write about.

There were times when I was covering stories during my very first reporting internship when it was hard to sit through interviews because the stories were just so sad or uncomfortable. My very first assignment was covering jury selection for a murder trial for a 16-year-old. That was not so fun…

So my time with the Arundel Voice should be much more positive! Seriously, I am SO excited.

Do you run in the rain?
What are you excited about this week?

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Filed under Working Girl