Movement

Post-workout ponytail…


At the start of the month, I joined an exercise class (total body conditioning) offered on campus. It meets twice a week after work and costs only $60 for the entire session and goes until June. I tend to delude myself into thinking that I’m in reasonable shape. I can walk two miles to work in no time, and I can get on elliptical machine for 30 minutes and feel fine and, hey! I ran a half-marathon last year. I can hold a plank for 30-60 seconds. I can climb several flights of stairs everyday. Yeah. Good shape.

I went off to this class, where I learned quite quickly that I have no idea what I’m talking about. I knew I might be in for trouble when I was totally and utterly winded by the WARM UP. The warm up, people. And the hour of work got harder as it went along. I left with mat burns on my elbows from planks. Two days later, I could barely walk the stairs. 

But today–two weeks in–I’m starting to feel the benefits. I had a searing headache yesterday for much of the day and kept thinking I might skip the workout. Not only that, I might go downstairs to the vending machine and get some cheeze its and a chocolate bar. (Did I mention I haven’t eaten chocolate in the month of January? And I know we’re only 17 days in, but that’s remarkable for me. I could eat chocolate for every meal. It’s part of my effort to give up as much sugar as possible.) So, yesterday afternoon, I was on the verge of throwing in the towel and gorging on chocolate and going straight home from work and taking a nap. But, I decided to take an ibuprofen instead to see if that would make me feel any better. Slowly the pain faded and I ate my oranges instead and thought, well, I may as well go and do my class since I’m paying for it anyway.

And I did. And I’m getting better at some of the exercises. I was able to do four regular form pushups, which is nothing short of staggering improvement because I have no upper arm strength at all. And this morning I realized I feel really good.  A bit more energy, my body feel sore but loose and flexible. I feel good and I’m thankful for it.

A new year

Happy New Year, friends!

Ours was subdued but enjoyable. At home, watched Ohio State get their clocks cleaned by Clemson. Once that game reached the point of no return, I turned to a book, hubby turned to a show, and we sat next to each other, drinking champagne. The dogs kept us company, too.

Today I woke up a bit blue. I can’t pinpoint the cause. I woke with a headache, likely due to the beer and champagne from last night. Aleve hasn’t done much to help. I got my nose pierced the Thursday before Christmas, and I’m dealing with a bump that’s started to rise around the top of the piercing. A part of the healing process, and it will likely go down soon, but I’m bummed that it’s there. My husband said it’s not really visible, but I think he’s legally obligated to say such things.

I had a great visit with my mom, brother, and stepdad and I’m sad I don’t know when I’ll see them next. Madre was feeling quite like herself when I left to return to Massachusetts, but on Christmas Day, three days after her chemo, she felt absolutely dreadful. Her tumor markers are going down with each chemo session, but she told me the side effects are lingering longer and longer, and on the third day, she feels like she would like to lie down, close her eyes, and not wake up because she feels so terrible. It’s those moments when she considers the necessity of all the treatments and whether she wants to keep going. By the fifth day, she’s pretty much back to herself, only to have to start the process again a few weeks later. This next session will be her fifth in this series. She gets a total of six sessions in each series, so we’re hoping she can take a few months off after the last session, particularly since her numbers are low, low, low. 

I don’t really set new year’s resolutions anymore because I’m a believer than you can change the path of your life any day of the year, but it’s always a good time to think about larger goals. I think the primary goal I want to work on is becoming a better cook. I’m always struggling with weight issues and I’m confident if I took control of the food I’m eating by cooking it myself, some of these struggles would ease. I’m reading a fascinating book on the ways sugar destroys your body overtime, and I know I eat too much sugar–both directly in the form of chocolate and such, and indirectly in the form of sugar added to processed foods. I also eat a lot of pasta/carbs, which turn into sugar once you’ve eaten them. So, my larger goal is to focus on cooking and to become decent at it. To enjoy the process of cooking and maybe make some good stuff.

I have my jar of Good Things from 2016 sitting next to me. Here are a few highlights:

1/10/16 Delicious lunch with Meagan/Holly/Spence/Anna

1/19/16 So grateful for another birthday for my mom and for the selfie she sent me and Gary.

4/2016 Ran a half marathon. What?!

5/15/16 Got my dream job!

6/2016 Said goodbye to Paul cat in June. So thankful for 17 years with him and for our last morning together.

6/28/16 Spent two weeks with madre while relocating to Massachusetts.

8/22/16 Cydney is first friend to visit! We go to Mt. Greylock!

9/5/16 Finally reunited with my baboo and puppers.

 Here’s hoping to more good meals, good conversations, and good trips in 2017.

afraid of nothing

I have been repeating this Audre Lorde quote over and over since the election results. I have been forlorn, scared, inconsolable. Angry. 

Angry. 

I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.

I will not give haters the pleasure of my fear.

I thought that when I read about the possibility that poll watchers would be out on election day, trying to intimidate voters. Fuck them, I thought. I saw a photo of a guy with a gun in his holster and a Trump shirt, and a woman had called authorities because she was fearful. He may have asked her who she was voting for…I can’t remember. Fuck him, I thought. I’m not going to be intimidated by poll watchers, guns or no.

After Trump won, my mom texted me her fears about discrimination. She’s experienced plenty and is concerned it may get worse. She asked if I’d seen on the news that these white kids at an elementary school in California (I think) were chanting Build the Wall, and the Mexican kids were crying. She was angry about this. She said she’d like for those white kids to get their DNA tested to see how mixed we all are. (She and I have both done this and were floored by the results. I have more sub-Saharan African blood than I knew; she has more Native American blood than she knew.) 

Those poor kids are scared. It’s nauseating and terrifying being picked on for being who you are…something you have nothing to do with.

I was scared once.

I’ve written on this blog about my experience with racism, particularly when I was growing up in rural Ohio and attending a primarily white school. It was not as bad as it could have been, but there was enough nastiness to shape my views of rural life and my interest in getting as far from that life as I could. 

I was a fat couch potato during this time. I would ride the bus home, find something to eat (typically a box of mac and cheese) and flop on the couch to watch television. I turned often to the Geraldo Rivera show, and he often had on neo-Nazis on. They frightened me. Truly. Everyone would be screaming and yelling, racial slurs and spittle everywhere. It deeply bothered me. The idea that these white guys hated me so much. Eventually I would turn it off, roll over on the couch and bury my face in the cushion, pushing out all the hate I had just heard. Trading fear for sleep.

When you’re a young person, racial hatred is inexplicable and frightening (not to say it’s not frightening as an older person, but as one ages, one sees these actions and words differently).  My fear of it shaped much of my life as a teenager–the downcast eyes, the hunched shoulders, the desire to blend in with the walls.

My experience studying at a large college and working as a journalist in diverse communities (along with encouragement from my mom) helped me shed those feelings of inferiority and helped to reshape me into who I am today–proud of my brown skin, my mixed heritage, my thick lips and broad nose. 

So much improves with age, including developing the intellectual understanding of what racism means, how people use it, and why they use it. It’s not as scary. It’s not the boogeyman in the closet in the way it feels like when you’re brown kid. 

Looking back on the Geraldo Rivera episodes, I see them for the absurd clown shows they always were. They are laughable. 

I hope those kids suffering through the stupid comments by their classmates–comments their classmates likely don’t comprehend themselves–have the support they need to overcome the stupidity with their self-confidence in tact.

As for me, I am deliberate and afraid of nothing. 

I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.

Middle fingers up.

How do you deal with the devastating world?

I’d really like to know.

I ask after weeping over a photo and story shared by The Dodo of a starving orangutan, who’s home had been deforested in the harvesting for palm oil, that approached villagers with her baby, and the villagers proceeded to tie her up and torture her. They took photos (hence my weeping), and they eventually let the baby join the mother, so the photo shows the orangutan tied up with the baby clinging to her. Eventually someone came across the scene (a vet? A human aid worker? I forget), and took the animals away. The mother died but the baby is doing well. 

And so that’s how my Saturday morning started. Weeping over a story thousands of miles away, with the dogs licking my face, and with me wondering what to do. The obvious answer is to boycott palm oil, and I will try, but I know that is a salve to make me feel better and is unlikely to change anything on a grand scale for a long time. It seems we don’t learn anything about how to save ourselves and help each other until huge populations of people/animals suffer and die. 

I do the best I can, but it’s on such a small scale, ineffective perhaps…but what else can I or we do? Short of having tons of money to throw at these causes (I make small donations to some effect, I hope), what else can we do but live lives that reflect our values? I don’t eat meat in hopes of staying out of factory farming or the slaughter of animals, generally. There are certain food delicacies I would never try, initially because I wouldn’t have been able to afford them, and now because I find the preparation practices abhorrent.

As I get older, I understand more and more the benefit of focusing on the hyper local–volunteering with local animal shelters, kid groups, donating to local charities–but that doesn’t change what’s happening in the world. There’s beauty everywhere and also so much heartbreak. 

TMI, perhaps?

file_000

Some of you may see this photo and already know what it means. I’m prepping for my first colonoscopy, which means for the next 3 hours I’m drinking 48 ounces of Gatorade mixed with a bottle (a bottle!!) of ClearLax. And then another bottle and 48 ounces more tomorrow morning. The amount of ClearLax seems almost dangerous! It’s absurd! The only perk is that I get to use my giant sugar skull mug that tends to be too big most of the time. In this case, it’s perfect.

The primary reason I’m posting this is because this process makes me think of my dad. I’m doing this ten years earlier than most because of his diagnosis when he was 53. He had a tumor so large, it blocked his ability to evacuate. The doctor couldn’t even complete the colonoscopy because she couldn’t get past the tumor. They speculated it could have been growing for 10 years or more.

Now, as a 40-year-old woman, I look back and wonder how in the hell someone can live with that kind of discomfort for so long? When I spoke with him about it later, he admitted to the telltale symptoms, but simply brushed them off. Blood in the stool? Hemorrhoids. Inability to defecate completely? Constipation (which could also explain the bloating).

I look back at pictures just prior to his diagnosis and he looks swollen. But not in a way that looks ill, if that makes sense. He had always been a big guy, overweight. The quality of his gut (which has always been there, and had always been firm) seemed to change…it was broader, and maybe flabbier? But his spirit was no different. He was always easy going and funny. One of my favorite pictures of him is when Spence and I surprised him with a birthday cake during his visit to Florida. He was all smiles. He had a great time during that trip. But, god, he must have felt awful if he wasn’t able to evacuate his bowels completely, and if he hadn’t been able to for some time. He was diagnosed a year later.

One of the first things he said to me after he had surgery and started on chemo was that he hadn’t felt so good in years. In hindsight, that makes me so sad…that he lived in discomfort for so long.