It’s just a game that can’t go on (pt. 4)

16 01 2018

Cont.

59. I think this’ll be the last iteration of the list. It’ll end on the number it ends on.

60. I was never a super-fan of the Cranberries (although I did have 2 of their cds), but I did like them. Hearing of Dolores O’Riordan’s death has made me more wistful for the time I listened to her music than the music itself—after all, I can still listen to the music—but I’m sorry for whatever she went through prior to her death.

61. No, I don’t know if she killed herself, but, well, it’s a damned shame she died so young.

62. I don’t go out a lot, and when I do go out, I generally mind my sixes. However, once a year or so I light up the night.

63. So, yeah, got that whole lit thing checked off for 2018.

64. I don’t know if Donald Trump is either physically or cognitively impaired and I don’t care.

65. What makes him unfit is not his physique, and it’s not as if he were less self-aggrandizing when younger.

66. His policies are terrible, but there are many people with terrible policies (including slim senator Tom Cotton or Mr. Workout, Paul Ryan) who are not unfit in the same ways.

67. Cotton and Ryan have commitments—terrible, wretched commitments—beyond their own selves. These men should be opposed for their policies, but they do manifest, it pains me to say, some understanding of principle and of public service.

68. God, I think I died a little writing that. But yeah, those two are old-school shitty, terrible in an ordinary way.

69. Trump, on the other hand, untethered to any idea or person beyond himself, is so far out there that the usual partisan epithets cannot capture the wrongness of his presidency.

70. So, no, I don’t care why he’s so wrong, just that he’s so wrong, and all the damage this wrongness combined with his (and his fellow Republicans) old-school wretchedness will inflict on so many of us.

71. In the first installment of this list I noted that I liked Kirsten Gillibrand, and, yeah, I do.

72. But two things: one, the elections this November matter more immediately than who might run for president in 2020.

73. I have no predictions about the midterms.

74. I trust no predictions about the midterms.

75. Let’s see who the candidates are and the races they run and then. . . I still will make no predictions.

76. And two, I’d like to see a big ol’ stuffed Democratic primary, with candidates from all over the country, from both state and federal levels, and with all kinds of backgrounds.

77. I don’t particularly want to see Oprah run, and don’t know why she would—the presidency, remember, is an exercise in failure, and she’s someone who likes to win—but hell, if she wants to jump in, that’ll, huh, that would be interesting.

78. I don’t particularly want to see Joe Biden run. I enjoyed his “Uncle Joe” schtick as vice president and thought he was a pretty good veep for Obama, but, man, no.

79. He’s too old, his legislative policy record isn’t great, and I am not encouraged by what he says today about his treatment of Anita Hill back then.

80. I don’t particularly want to see Bernie Sanders run—too old, and, goddammit, if you want to run as a Democrat, then join the goddamned party—but he has inspired a lot of people with his give-’em-hell approach to econ issues, so having him in the race wouldn’t be the worst thing.

81. I don’t particularly want to see Elizabeth Warren run–she’s veering on too old—but, as with Sanders, her critique of business as usual in the governments—and the Dem’s—approach to the economy is sharp.

82. Again, if neither she nor Sanders were to run, I hope multiple someones with their left-econ agendas do.

83. Back to the midterms: I am deeply ambivalent about Chelsea Manning’s actions, and almost certainly would not vote for her in a primary.

84. I am in general in favor of greater transparency at all levels of government and think far too much info is over-classified and for too long a time.

85. However, I also accept, reluctantly, that some info should, in the moment, be secret.

86. I don’t know where that line is “in the moment”—I think after some reasonable period of time all info should be released to the public—and, honestly, I don’t know enough to know if or when Manning (or Snowden) crossed it. Hence my ambivalence.

87. But I do think that whistleblowers do have to be prepared to discuss this, at some length and in public, with those who can thoughtfully make an argument against disclosure.

88. Man, this is tough: my default sympathies are with the leakers. But. But sometimes leakers may be wrong to leak.

89. Anyway, I’m glad her sentence was commuted and that she seems to be doing well in life: I thought her treatment in the brig and in prison was unjust, so was glad she was released.

90. But I still think if Manning wants to serve the public, then she needs a fuller accounting of the actions which brought her to the public’s notice.

91. So, how to end this list? How about a plea for recommendations for solid histories on the Hapsburgs, on Napolean, and on the French Revolution? I have Furet’s 2-vol set on the revolution, but I always prefer multiple takes on complex events.

92. Oh, wait, let’s instead end with Henry, my great-nephew: he’s now walking and teething and is a happy, laid-back boy.

93. Chill-baby Henry, yeah, let’s end there.

Fin.

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Love the one you’re with

8 06 2014

I know we’re supposed to love our bodies, accept our imperfections, and work on being fit rather than on being thin.

But.

Nothing like staring at oneself in a mirror under overhead fluorescent lights in a dressing room at an Old Navy to make an old broad want to give up eating.

Jeeeeezus.





They was a rapping the flat scat

11 02 2013

Since I only have small thoughts in my head right now, just a few quick hits:

On the pope’s smell-you-later:

Too bad he’s not stepping down as an atonement for the abuse scandals in the US. And Canada. And Mexico. And Ireland. And Australia. And Belgium. And. . . .

As for who comes next, pfft, more of the same.

On Chris Christie’s weight and Hillary Clinton’s age and (god help me), the 2016 race:

I won’t be voting for Christie for policy reasons, but, yeah, if he could be my candidate, I’d be concerned about his weight—just as I’ll be concerned about Clinton’s age if she decides to toss her bra into the ring.

While I think extra weight or extra years are not and should not be barriers to most jobs, the presidency is an impossible position, one which presses down on whoever holds it with tremendous force. All other things being equal, I think younger and fitter is better than older and unfitter.

Of course, all other things are rarely equal, and I’ll take a 69-year-old Hillary over a young ‘un like Marco Rubio—just as I’m sure Republicans would have voted for a fat Christie over a trim Obama.

Either way, I’ll have no influence on who the parties pick in 2016, so this is just so much spitballin’.

What the fuck is going on with Lindsay Graham and Benghazi?

Is it really all just about staving off a primary challenge from the right? Does he really think that THIS will protect him if some mouth-foamer decides to come after him?

Jeez. Get a better issue already.

Winter storms should not be named.

Call me a traditionalist.

Okay, back to weight:

I gained this fall and winter, and am now stepping up my workouts to try to wrestle myself back to trim.

The problem began when I hurt my back in October: While I was only out of the gym (biking, weights) for 3 weeks, I pretty much stopped my out-of-gym workouts. Yeah, I still managed to put in a few laps around Prospect Park on my bike, but I completely stopped running.

And then, y’know, holidays, and I was working at an office, and my mom sent me cookies and bars, and blorp: there it is.

So now I’ve added some at-home free-weight lifting, and I’ve started running again (which I prefer to biking), and I’m paying more attention to my diet—more veggies, fewer carbs—and not eating past full.

The problem, of course, is the usual one with any kind of change: I want to see results RIGHTNOW, and when I don’t,  I haz a sad.

Yeah, yeah, suck it up.

On changing my default from “stay” to “go”:

This has been good, and I’d like to do more. I’ve seen three (cheap) Broadway shows with friends, and I’ve drunk a lot of Guinness—good for the soul!

The downside? I’ve drunk a lot of  Guinness—not so good for the bod.

Yeah, whatever: no need to be a fanatic.





Running to stand still

18 11 2012

What is the line between acceptance and resignation? Is there a line?

I do not accept my body.  No, wait, that’s not right: It’s my body, and it feels like my body, and some parts are fine and some parts are not, blah blah.

But it is rounder than I would like and I wonder if this is what inevitably happens with age or with the shifting assertion of my Absurd and Beat genes or if this is simply the result of my unwillingness to give up cheese and beer and chocolate or to work out more than I do.

If it is a battle of wills, then my will for my kick-ass home-made peanut butter bars is kicking my will for a taut ass.

I’ve been going to the gym for over two (three?) years and have “progressed”: I am stronger and my muscles have more definition and despite my recent back-induced sabbatical, I’m confident that this trend will continue.

Why the scare quotes for “progress”? Because in this context I’m not sure what it means. Is progress about gaining strength, or staving off decline? Is it about being healthy for my age, or to be healthier than others my age—to be healthy for someone younger than me? Is there some point at which I won’t add be able to add more weight, to increase my speed on the bike or treadmill or loop around the park? Will it be progress simply to be able to do anything at all?

I’d like to run the New York marathon some day, and to do that I will train, with a clear goal in mind (finish within a respectable period of time).

But I’m not now training for that marathon, I’m training for. . . huh: I’m not training at all. I want to look better and feel better even if I don’t know what “better” means, I know that it’s not what I look like now. I’d like to be leaner, tighter: I’d like my discipline apparent in my body.

Ah, and there it is: my discipline is apparent in my body.

*Sigh*





This heart was born feet runnin’

30 11 2010

I go to the gym to work out.

Radical concept, I know, but I remember how many people at the gym at the U of Minnesota apparently thought the weight machines and stationary bikes and stair steppers and treadmills were merely obstacles in their wanderings around the floor, saying ‘hi’ to friends, and checking themselves out in the mirrors.

There are people like that at the gym I go to now—you can find them most easily on the weekends—but as this gym is a pretty spartan and non-hip place, most of the folks are there for the same reason I am.

We’re all shapes and [adult] ages, and I’ve seen people with canes and wheelchairs maneuver themselves into the weight machines, so, again, this gym is serving its purpose as a place for people to get into or maintain shape.

All of this is a very long way of saying, Hey, I’m there to work out! Got it? Work. Out. That’s it.

Still. One of the benefits of hitting the gym is there are others there who are clearly much more dedicated to working out than oneself, and which results are apparent in these personages.

Great fucking shoulders, in other words. I have a weakness for, and thus pay attention to, well-sculpted shoulders. Yes, I have a general aesthetic appreciation for an athletic body, an appreciation tinged with the sadness that I am unlikely ever to manipulate my body into any category beyond the merely ‘fit’, but there is something about shoulders which gets me.

Yes, I am objectifying my fellow-gym-goers, gazing for perhaps a second or two too long at the gents doing pull-ups and otherwise taking note of the muscle-shirted men with the taut lines running up the forearms and over the biceps and rippling across broad backs. These men aren’t Mr. Universe, with muscle tumoring out of muscle, but regular guys with, jesus, beautiful, beautiful shoulders.

It’s so wrong. I’m there to work out, not to check out other people who are working out.

I mean, the treadmill should be enough to get my heart racing, shouldn’t it?





Let’s get into physical

4 07 2010

I thought I’d be more sore.

Yeah, a bit of tightness across the shoulders, down my triceps, and I can now feel muscles just above my ass that I forgot I had, but, overall, I’m unexpectedly able to move.

The first day at the gym was a success.

It’s silly, that I need a gym, but I do. Having Prospect Park a less-than-10-minute run/from my house was not enough. Clear weather, open-enough sidewalks, not enough. Unhappiness with my body, not enough.

Remember when I said that I’d start walking 4 or 5 days a week as a way to ease myself into a running schedule? Yeah, didn’t work.

I do walk a fair amount, but not enough to counteract the tremendous amount of sitting I do. And while my diet is pretty good, I like cheese—I really like cheese—and I’d rather think about what I eat in terms of taste and balance rather than calories—what I want instead of what I avoid.

I’m not fat, probably not, by most accounts, terribly out of shape. We Americans are apparently packin’ on the pounds in record numbers, and all to the detriment of our hearts and knees and insulin levels, so perhaps I should feel comparatively good.

But that’s not how it works. While I do agree that health and fitness matter, I hate the moralizing that accompanies so many conversations on diet and well-being, as if to be fat is to be bad. I think to be fat is to be fat, and that’s all. There are unhappy consequences to carrying around extra weight, but those consequences accrue to the person carrying such weight, not me, so it’s not for me to pile moral pounds on top of the rest.

After all, I have plenty of my own excess baggage to lug around; it’s just not as obvious as fat.

I’m not without judgment, of course, but I have learned to ask what the point of it is before I let my criticisms loose. And there is no point to thinking that body size is in any way related to moral worth.

That’s how I try to view others, at least; for myself, well, I can come up with plenty of reasons for judgment.

I don’t want to be skinny, I don’t want to look like a 14-year-old boy, but I also don’t want to look—or more accurately, to feel—how I do now. I have a sense of myself as someone who is fit and able to take care of herself, and right now, I don’t feel fit and can’t count on my body to do what I want it to do. I like to be active, and to think of myself as active, and since I’m not the former I’m can’t do the latter.

And that makes me unhappy.

Perhaps I should ease up, be more accepting of this fortimpth body and the limits those fortimpth years impose. There is wisdom in the notion of letting things be.

But there is also wisdom in recognizing unconditional self-acceptance is not one of my strong points. I should perhaps be less harsh in how I view my body, and worry less about what others, especially possible intimate-others, might think about my body.

Yet telling myself to ease up on myself rarely works. No, I’m the kind of person who has to do, first, and only then can I say, This is enough.

And so, the gym. I won’t have to haunt the place 7 days a week, or freak out if I miss a day or two; three or 4 days a week should suffice, allow me to get my bod into a shape which makes sense to me, allow me to say, This is enough.





One foot in front of the other

23 01 2010

I’ve become such a lard ass.

It’s not (just) that my diet has gone to hell, but that I’ve basically stopped moving.

Oh, I get up to get my coffee and I walk to the train and I take the stairs, but beyond that and some basic weight-lifting, nada.

I’ve been physically active my entire life. The 1970s were a time of mothers shoving their kids out the door and saying ‘Go play!’, as in, Get out my hair for awhile.

The adults did what they had to do, and we did what we had to do—which involved a combination of innocent exploring and things best not revealed to the adults.

Both sides preferred it that way.

So we went off roaming around backyards and alleys and streets, racing our bikes and clambering up trees and over fences, and trying to scrape off any excess mud and blood before making our ways through the back doors at dinner- or bed-time.

We didn’t call it exercise, of course. We called it play.

I did start ‘exercising’, I guess, in high school, where I ran cross-country and track and played basketball, but even then, it more about ‘going out for sports.’

College was running and biking and ‘staying in shape.’

Only in grad school did I really start ‘exercising,’ as in, joining a gym, lifting weights, swimming laps, and running or biking in place.

It  was fine, really, especially once I fell into a routine: hit the gym in the late morning, then head over to the poli sci department for the rest of my day.

There was, of course, down time in grad school and after, but it was rare that exercise lapsed for more than half a year.

Until I moved to New York. I biked a lot my first summer here, but after that, not so much. There was also some running, but I never managed to keep at it long enough to stick. My job at the bookstore at least required that I move around a fair bit, and when working three jobs there was lots of veryfastwalking to and from the trains.

But it’s been awhile since I worked at the bookstore, and I spend a laaaaahhhhht of time online.

Hence: lard ass.

I’m not fat, although I have gained weight, but I don’t feel right. I’m used to feeling fit, that I can take care of myself, and lately I’ve just felt bogged down. I’ve also had a few issues with my gut, which was well-behaved before I, well, stopped moving.

As mentioned in early January, I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions, but it did occur to me that if I were dissatisfied with my degeneration into an indigestion-ridden blob, I might just consider doing something about it.

So many excuses not to: I can’t afford a gym. I need to find a job. I don’t have time. Later, I promise.

Well, I did find another job, and while I still can’t afford a gym, it’s not truly necessary. [*Update: There’s a gym in DT Brooklyn which is mighty cheap, so perhaps. . . .] Furthermore, instead of thinking I need to give 90 minutes every day over to sweating, maybe I could start small, by, say, walking. Briskly.

I do prefer to run, but starting a running routine from too far in out-of-shape-land is a recipe for failure. Nope, I need to trim myself up a bit, remind myself of what it’s like to propel myself along, and then, once it’s light enough long enough after work, I can start running or biking again. Hell, I’m less than a 15-minute walk to the southern end of Prospect Park, which is a lovely place in which to breathe deeply.

So, I’ve begun taking those walks. I’ll be working an office job M-F and teaching Th & F nights, but I figure I can simply get off the train at my usual transfer point and walk the remaining leg at least the nights I’m not teaching and, depending upon my mood, the trains, and the weather, perhaps even those nights as well. And then on the weekends, longer walks in the park.

If I manage to keep to the highly-manageable schedule of 5 days of walking a week, I figure I can graduate to running and biking by the time the light lasts into the night.

That’s the plan, at least.

I miss those days in which I didn’t even have to think about my body, when I could simply jump off the back stoop and tear off to the nearest trouble.

C’est la vie. My jumping and tearing off days may be over, but I can still move.

Oh yeah, for an old broad, I can still get around.