Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Mea Culpa, Skinny Hippies.

About 15 years ago, I bought a Yoga DVD.  Every day for about a week I would circle the thing, warily eyeing it, and thinking about popping it in. But knowing how inflexible and clumsy and generally uncoordinated I am, I was too afraid to try it. At the time, I was fairly broke, so the 20 bucks it cost represented a huge amount of money for me, so I was unable to throw it away. It moved around with me, getting packed and unpacked over the years, always relegated to the bottom shelf of my DVD case. 

Over the years, I heard about ways to make yoga safer and easier for beginners, so I purchased a yoga mat, a yoga brick, and a yoga strap. Still, I  never quite got around to trying it out, and the equipment lived in the darkest corner of whatever closet was least useful to me.

Then I met Husband, and became a bit of an exercise snob. Husband, a 6'4, 300 pound boxer, was into weightlifting in a big way. He followed a program called Heavy Duty, developed by a professional weightlifter named Mike Mentzer. (Check it out, it's actually a pretty cool program.) We both did Heavy Duty for a few months, until life interfered: A job change for both of us, and a move, ended up costing us our gym membership. The muscle gym we liked was just too far away, and we couldn't find another affordable one near us. Husband has free weights, and has kept up his training, mostly. I don't have the nerve to do reps to failure on free weights--I want the safety factor of a machine, so I eventually lost everything I'd gained from the program. Anyway, I told you all that, to tell you this: In my mind, strenuous exercise is hard cardio followed by Heavy Duty. Yoga? That's for skinny hippies.

So, flash forward to now, where I am very heavy and out of condition and trying to claw my way back to good health. I decided to give the yoga dvd a tryout. This particular dvd  features four people. One does straight-up yoga, one does slightly modified moves, one does slightly more modified moves, and one does VERY modified, beginners-look-here moves. Despite my assumption that yoga was an easy workout, I figured my lack of coordination and flexibility warranted a slow approach, so I did the fully modified workout.

You guys. I was so very wrong about yoga, and I apologize. Fifteen minutes in, my feet were cramping. I kept having to stop for a few seconds and wiggle my toes and flex my feel to soothe them. Twenty minutes in, and I was struggling to keep my breathing at the pace the dvd wanted. I needed MOAR AIR. At the thirty minute mark, I turned off the heater in the living room. By the end, 45 minutes later, I collapsed gratefully into the relaxation post (rolled blanket under my spine, head supported, just breathe) and seriously considered never getting up again. I was exhausted. I spent the rest of the afternoon, fighting the urge to take a nap, and finally forced myself to hit the treadmill for half an hour. That gave me enough of a boost to get through the rest of the evening, and by nine-thirty, I was ready for bed. My head hit the pillow, and that was that. I don't think I moved, let alone woke up, at any point until Husband's alarm went off.

Today, I am sore, but not in a bad way. In fact, I feel really, really good today. Still kind of tired, but good. I'm trying to decide what to do today. Part of me really wants to do the dvd again, but I'm afraid of overdoing it. I'm thinking I might just do a treadmill routine today, and do yoga tomorrow. Then again, a repeat of yesterday also sounds really appealing. I seriously cannot make up my mind here.

I also feel weirdly taller, but I think that's just from hearing the instructor talk about lengthening my muscles on every move.

Monday, November 4, 2013


When I look back on 2013, it's gonna be remembered as the year my feet sucked nonstop.

First, there was the ingrown toenail of January, caused, I am certain, by my going on a running kick for three weeks. As evidence, I present the fact that by February, both my urge to jog and the ingrown were both gone, and neither has recurred.  Science, bitches!

Then came the long, drawn-out drama of the plantar wart.  One day in early March, I noticed a pain in the ball of my left foot. Upon examination, I found a tiny red dot. That's it. Very insignificant looking for the amount of irritation it was causing, but it was right on that part of the sole that one's weight rolls onto as one walks, and directly on the spot where all pressure from walking lands if one is wearing heels. When I brushed my finger over the dot, the feeling was very reminiscent of having a splinter. I thought this was odd, as I am not a go outside barefoot kind of person, but then I remembered that I had dropped a wineglass the previous weekend. I had cleaned up afterward, of course, but whose to say I got every tiny little splinter and sliver of glass? Since I couldn't actually see anything under the skin, my assumption that it was a tiny piece of glass was bolstered, and I assumed it would work its way out on its own.

I have rarely been more wrong.

A callous developed over the site, and the pain increased to the point where I was always limping. I couldn't wear any shoes other than Keds, and even with those I had to add extra insoles to cushion the callous. I consulted Dr. Google and discovered it was a plantar wart. I spent the next six months alternating between surprisingly painful cryosurgical treatments at my doctor's office (IT BUUUURNSSSS!!) and treating it with salicylic acid at home. But that wasn't the worst part. The worst was this: I couldn't get a pedicure all summer.  I couldn't stand the thought of anyone touching that foot, for one thing, and for another, I felt it would not be a good citizen-type move to risk exposing others to the virus that causes this type of wart. This is a big deal to me, because I don't like my feet unless they're dressed up, and I am terrible at doing my own nails. I hate having hot feet, and because of the combo of no pedicure plus limp-making pain in non-sneaker shoes, I spent my summer wearing close-toed shoes. I am a girl who loves her strappy sandals and peep-toe pumps.  Then, about two weeks ago, I was walking the dog and realized my foot didn't hurt. Over the last few days,  the callous has completely gone and I have no more pain.

In that foot, anyway.

Suddenly the plantar fasciitis that I've had off and on over the years in my right foot flared up again. Now I can only wear shoes that my orthotics will fit into. I've also had to step down my cardio routine a little bit, which is annoying, because now I feel caught in a trap: I need to lose weight to stop the fasciitis, but I can't exercise as much because it causes the pain to flare up. Very frustrating.

I told you all that to tell you this: I got a pedicure yesterday, and I was so happy! I cranked the massage chair up to eleven, settled in with a People magazine and blissed out.

Until it was time for color, and no one, including me, in the entire salon could get the top of my color unscrewed. And it was the last bottle of that color in the shop.

Well played, feet.

I went with an inferior color and could only laugh in agreement when Erica said "Man, these first world problems are so hard!"

That's alright, though. Inferior color or no, my feet are looking pretty damn cute right now.  

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Cicada Parenting

I'm pretty sure I saw this somewhere else online, years ago. It has more of the ring of memory about it than of original thought, but anyway: Cicadas have the right idea. They bury their young in a hole until they turn 17.  

Erica is thirteen. For the most part, she is a pleasant, fun child to be around. She's a huge foodie, she loves anime and weird Korean robot singers called vocaloids. She likes Doctor Who, and has been known to sneak up behind me and trill "Are you my mummy?" in a faux British accent, making me shriek and flee the room. Doctor Who fans know why. (OMG. Those gas masks! Eeeugh!) 


She is a firm believer in the idea that once she's gotten an inch, she really does deserve a mile. And if I don't agree with her, it's because I'm stupid and unfair, not because she's wrong. Take Halloween this year as an example. Erica wanted to go trick or treating with a few of her girlfriends. That's fine, I said, but you have to do it in our neighborhood. Our neighborhood isn't great, but it beats the one these particular girls live in. I wouldn't walk around that block after dark, let alone turn a bunch of thirteen-year-olds loose there. I told her that the girls could come by after five, because I didn't want to deal with a bunch of kids at dinner time, not knowing who likes what and who's allergic to this or that. I would be happy to take everyone home, they just needed a ride to our place. After a few days, it was apparent that none of the other parents were interested in driving kids to my house, so I amended the plan to allowing the girls to walk home with Erica, and be here all afternoon. I told Erica to inform the girls and their parents that we would leave our house to take people home at 8:30, since it was a school night. Erica was furious. "That means we have to be home by 8:15! That's not fair! We only have one more day of school after Halloween, it doesn't matter if we're tired! I want to stay out til nine!" 

We went back and forth on this for a couple of rounds, with me pointing out that it's not just about it being a school night, although that's the biggest part of it. It's also about the fact that everyone will be amped up, both on sugar and the high of hanging out with friends, and costumes, and being out alone after dark, and will need some quiet time at home to come down. It's about the fact that I am tired, and I will  be the one cooking and providing entertainment for people until it's time for trick or treating. It's about the fact that I get up early on school days, too, and if I drive everyone home at 8:30 it will be 9:30 before we're home, and I like to go to bed around 10 on weeknights. I pointed out that my entire afternoon, evening, and night are being given over to her, and she should be grateful this is happening at all. She said, "I don't see why that matters. I never get to do anything, it won't kill you to be tired on a Friday, either!" 

Seriously? That pissed me right off. By now, we were parked in front of her school. (Oh yeah, this conversation occurred during school dropoff, because nothing beats arguing in the morning.) I put the truck in park, took off my seatbelt and turned to face her. I could see by her face that she knew she'd stepped in it. In a deadly calm voice I said, "Well, that's it, then. I'm done with this whole thing. Your friends can find somewhere else to trick or treat, and you can plan on staying in on Halloween. Go to school." She stormed out of the car, and I went home and suffered guilt for several hours. 

You see, she doesn't do a lot of socializing. She has these three good friends, and one of them has very strict Tiger-mom parents. Tiger Kid never gets permission to come out, so the fact that her parents had unbent enough to allow her to walk home with another kid, go trick or treating, and come home after 8 on a school night was a big deal. The other two kids are siblings, and spend every other weekend with their non-custodial parent, like Erica does,  and usually their weekend away doesn't match up with Erica's so it's tough to schedule fun stuff with them. We finally had a night where it all works out, and I quash it because a teenager got a little attitude-y. Plus, I know she's acting up because she's nervous and excited about this night, plus PLUS she is very rarely a difficult teen--I really should be a little more patient. And at the bottom of it all was this: I am tired, and I didn't really want to do this. In some ways, I'd almost been hoping she'd step out of line so I had an excuse to cancel. I felt a bit small.

So I backed off my righteous anger and allowed the event to go on. It wasn't fun, because there were four thirteen-year-olds in my house at once, but it went well. I made a dinner which all the girls ate eagerly (in fact, they didn't leave any leftovers) they giggled and watched movies and adjusted their costumes until it was time to leave, and they returned home precisely on time. They were all polite and thanked me for driving them, and they laughed whenever I told lame parent jokes. 

The whole thing left me a bit nervous, though. I'm not very patient when it comes to being argued with, and teens LOVE to argue. This was just a tiny little skirmish. How will I manage full-on battles with Erica? Right now, at 10:23 on a Saturday, I can feel my  blood beginning to simmer, because I asked Erica to get out of bed 45 minutes ago, because I want the dishes done and the floor swept early today, in case the power goes off (it's stormy here)and we have to spend the day huddled around the only fireplace in the house with a stack of board games. I know she's out of bed; however, her bedroom door is still closed, and the dishes are still on the counter. If I call her out here right now, she's going to drag herself out, and when I tell her again to do the dishes, she's going to spend ten  minutes pouring cereal and making tea, and then twenty minutes to eat, and ARGH!!! My head will explode, and so will my voice. And this is just a dispute about doing chores in a timely manner and getting up before noon on the weekends. What am I gonna do when it's about a baggie of weed found in a pocket, or sneaking out to see a boy? 

I'm doomed.

Friday, November 1, 2013


Back when I first started this blog, one of the things I looked forward to was NaBloPoMo. After all, it was my favorite time of year as a blog reader, so obviously I would love it as a blog author, right? 

Hahahaha. Oh, my sweet summer blogger self! Fast forward a few months to my paltry store of published posts, and it's obvious that I can barely post once a month, let alone once per day. Still, I'd like to give it a try. I can't swear that you're gonna get thirty high-quality posts--hell, I can't swear you're gonna get thirty posts, of whatever quality. But, one must try.

The nice thing about being such a slacker is that the first post back almost writes itself. I spend a bit of time updating previous posts and handing out excuses for why I haven't written. Easy! So without further ado...:

Nothing But a Family Thing, Part Two: Aunt Violet has made a complete recovery. Like, she's so recovered that I find myself wondering if my cousins exaggerated the seriousness of her condition. I'm not the believe in miracles type, so that's really the only explanation I can come up with as to how one goes from comatose for nearly a week with an almost non-existent EEG to a few weeks of physical therapy to back on Facebook pestering me with game invites and posting Inspirational Jesus quotes on my wall. It's weird. I should call her myself. After all, her suicide attempt/accidental overdose (depends on which version of events you believe) caused a slight Tragic Blue Screen of Death to happen in my brain, as I flashed back to awful things best forgotten and her kindness during the awful things. Unfortunately, I've had to build a wall around myself, in order to shut out the people responsible--and since she stays in close, happy contact with those people, I have to keep her at arm's length as well. I've worked too hard to be the just barely functioning human I am today. I can't let the wall wobble. It's not safe. Besides, how awkward would that conversation be?  "Hullo, there, Auntie. So, was it suicide or what? Also, were your kids full of shit when they told me that they might have to unplug you and leave it up to Jesus? 'Cause you seem pretty damn healthy for someone they were about to send into the light?" Yeah, no. Can't do it.

Depression, Yet Another Update Upon: Eh. Still feel exhausted every single day. Still have to force myself to hit the treadmill. Still manage to be very healthy til about 6 p.m. when I realize I am STARVING and proceed to eat all the food.  I'm doing a lot better though, since leaving the Temp Job From Hell, where I was simultaneously stressed out and bored to death, resulting in some EPIC emotional eating.  I managed to cold turkey the need to eat chocolate from 2:30 p.m. to 4:56 p.m. every single weekday, and am now weaning myself off my pre-bedtime bowl of cereal.  As to exercise, I've discovered a new way to motivate myself on the treadmill: NETFLIX.  I suddenly remembered that I have Netflix on my Kindle Fire. Twice a week, I cue up a 45-50 minute show on the Kindle, and walk briskly up and down simulated hills for the entirety of the program. I'm at nearly 3 miles in that time, which for legs as short as mine, especially considering how heavy I am right now (see EPIC emotional eating, above) is actually a pretty good pace. In the next few days I plan to add in basic body weight stuff like squats, pushups, planks, etc. into the routine.  I alternate the 50 minute workouts with 20-30 minute workouts two or three times a week, courtesy of Songza. Which program I cannot say enough nice things about, so thanks again MariaMelee for introducing me to it. 

Speaking of the Kindle Fire, the first show I picked for workout viewing was Orange is the New Black, about which I have many, many things to say, but for now will just mention this: I watched it through once and loved it. LOVED. I got pretty tired of Piper pretty quickly, but with such a big, awesome ensemble (Crazy Eyes! Poussey! Captain Jane-Er, I mean, RED!!! Love!) it's pretty easy to ignore Piper. Then I read the book. And I really, really liked the real-life Piper. She's nothing like the character Piper. Now, on re-watch, I find the show less wonderful. After seeing the depth and dignity of the real-life people, the show characters seem shallow and cheap. And show Piper is INSUFFERABLE. I swear to god, she mentions Barney's one more time... Anyway. It's still a good show, don't get me wrong. But it was a very striking example to me of the way TV (or Streaming Media, in this case) will alter things for the sake of drama, and it made me feel a little small to realize how eagerly I had consumed that drama, much--most--of it untrue. Still, I highly recommend reading the book.