Monday, October 11, 2010
Okay, that title is sure to alarm some Sparkers out there. That amuses me.
Anyway, a few things.
I went to NYC over the weekend. Now, I despise NYC. It's not that I don't like cities. I love Boston. I love Providence, I love Philly and Wilmington (DE), too. I love Charlotte. I like DC (not love). Hartford and New Haven are okay. Honolulu is meh (although the scenery is a delight). San Francisco is glorious. LA is fair to middling. Both Portlands are good. Seattle is great.
But I really and truly cannot stand NYC. It's possibly the combination of overly crowded streets, arrogant natives (I'm married to a native, BTW, and he doesn't like NYC, either) and a lack of basic services for any kind of a price or convenience level that approaches reason.
Anyway, enough of that.
Mr. J and I went for a gathering of people from the website we manage. And we had a ball. It's interesting, though, seeing people in their (semi-) natural habitat and not only interacting with them but also observing how they are when it comes to food and exercise.
Gatherings, of course, centerpiece around food and drink.
I had a grilled chicken sandwich. The woman sitting near me is a vegetarian so she ended up having a plain omelet. My husband had a pastrami on rye but he has those less than once per year. Our guest of honor had chicken soup and barely had a quarter of what was served (I don't think she realized how large the order would be). This was, of course, a kosher deli. As in, truly kosher, meat-style. No cream, no milk, no cheese and God knows no shellfish.
Those were the more or less healthy choices (oh and two guys did split a larger pastrami sandwich so I suppose that counts as healthy-esque, and another ate half and got the other half to go). Knishes (for those who do not know what knishes are, they are dough pockets filled with meat, buckwheat or potato -- most were potato though I did see one that was kreplach, which is ground beef), sour salty pickles, piled high sandwiches which were finished. One guy goy a turkey leg that looked like it came from a pterodactyl, it was so huge. He also got the only green vegetable -- broccoli -- which he promptly slathered with mayonnaise. Oof.
Walking? We actually walked a lot. Well, most of us did. Mayo and broccoli man left early and took a cab back to, er, somewhere. Three others took a cab to the next place although, in all fairness, one is asthmatic (but also a smoker. Huh?) so the other two kept her company. The rest of us hoofed it. And fast, too.
The leader of the pack was walking very, very fast. He was one of the half sandwich guys. He was a little hard to keep up with.
Yes, you read that right.
He is 74.
Now, we did even more walking later and after a while he finally said he really could not do any more. Understandable, but we had already walked a good four miles together!
I walked a total of five miles that day, all in about two hours or so. I came back to my inlaws' apartment exhausted but glad I'd done all of that walking.
And, it paid off, with the first loss since we got the new scale. I am almost back to what I was when we replaced the old scale! So, yay me!
Earlier that week, I had gone to the gym twice, which also helped.
So, to review: two trips to the gym during the week. Humongous walking on the weekend. Careful food choices all around. Water, of course. Enough sleep. Did my best to balance nutrients and not overdo it on the salt, despite what was around me. Plus fun and fellowship with good friends.
Result: 3.8 pounds off, almost three years after I started doing all of this. And a helluva great example in the 74-year-old. I suspect the guy with broccoli and mayo is a good 5 - 10 years younger but looks older.
This stuff, dear friends, this diet, this exercise, the water, the watching, the life -- it is not just for losing weight. Losing weight is an intended consequence, to be sure. But it's actually only a peripheral. The real prize is getting to 74 and being in totally freakin' awesome shape. It's in outrunning/outwalking people who are as young as less than half your age. It is in not being on oxygen. It is in not using a cane or a walker. It is in getting there and ruling your 74-year-old (or older!) roost.
We are all gonna die.
I know, I know, that is no great shock to anyone, or at least it shouldn't be. And some of us will be hit by buses and the like. But for those who make it past accidents and suicide and HIV and warfare and murder to our elder years, to the years that are eventually eclipsed by strokes, heart attacks, broken hips, cancer and, sadly, Alzheimer's, the best thing we can do for ourselves NOW is to put those days off as long as possible.
There are three stages of being old. Young old, middle old, and old old. Young old are vigorous and alive. My 74-year-old pal. My father. Middle old are slowing down. Grabbing canes and walkers. May have had cancer or strokes. Old old need more active care and may be close to bedridden. These definitions overlap and are not set in concrete. When I was a child, my father's mother was old old, never really younger than middle old. Wanna know how old she was, by the calendar, when I was born?
Yep. And she'd already resigned herself to the end, her fate. Oh, poor her. Oh, the suffering.
She lived another 22 years but never seemed to be truly happy or pain-free.
My father will be 80 next year.
He still walks faster than I do, and I'm pretty damned fast these days.
So I ask you.
Which one do YOU want to be?
Monday, October 04, 2010
I have been thinking lately about anger.
Anger at myself. Anger at others.
I spent -- hell, I wasted -- many, many years being an angry person.
I don't show it online, never really have. Perhaps it was the combination of knowing that it would be more or less permanent, along with the fact that the written word can have some reasoned delay behind it. Plus I'm such a nitpicky speller much of the time, so I look over most long posts (including this one). I have a chance to think things over, so the fuse is lengthened and I don't explode as much or at least I tend to temper it with some reason. I often read long posts out loud (not in public of course). Does it sound conversational? Then go. Nasty? Then put on the brakes, regroup and rewrite.
My brother and I did not get along for the longest time, and it is still a struggle, at least on my end, to assure that we do. There is nothing wrong or very little wrong with what he says or does. I know that it is me. I am too impatient. And, we are different. We grew up apart (although we lived in the same home), uninterested in one another's lives. We are now geographically apart and still not too interested but we try. I know of people who contact their siblings -- even of the other gender -- on a weekly basis or more frequently. With my brother and me, if less than a month goes between phone calls or emails, that's amazing. And usually if there is an email, it is him sending me something work-related. There are few personal or family-related things but, we are different. I have no children. I am really not religious at all. I work wacky freelance. He has a steady job, a wife and son. He's Treasurer (maybe he still is -- or maybe he isn't any more; I truly do not know) of his synagogue. He knows all the holidays. Me? I remember if I remember to look them up. Maybe I should set a reminder for myself.
And then there are our parents, who have to navigate our disparate personalities. I was rather PO'd at them last week. They came up and through a combination of bad luck and inertia, ended up staying here, even as we explicitly kept telling them -- the house is a godawful disaster area. But it all falls into a particular place and I bite my lip and pretend like it's all hunky dory for this to be happening even though, inside, I am seething.
And yeah, this is online, and somewhat permanent, and yes, I've put THAT out there.
But, yeah, I was PO'd.
See, anger isn't an awful thing, not if it's wielded with some discretion and, dare I say it, grace. There is nothing wrong with being angry. It is as valid an emotion as happiness. In fact, they are all valid emotions, and I get ticked off when I see people so hell-bent on everyone drinking the happiness Kool-Aid that they will push everyone to smile, smile, smile even when life is just not dictating that.
I well recall a funeral. This was over fifteen years ago. My great-aunt was telling the fresh, new widower, oh, just, you'll feel better soon. Well, no. He didn't. And while I think mourning for a decade and a half is excessive (and he isn't), if you can't feel sad at a funeral, when the hell CAN you?
And if you can't feel angry when you've been wronged or hurt or slighted or ignored or trampled on, when the hell CAN you?
I think fuses that are super-duper long get trampled on. I am not saying to walk around every day with a chip on your shoulder. I am not saying to alienate the people you love, or engage in violence or get yourself fired or arrested.
What I am saying is: give yourself permission to be angry. Permission to be sad. Permission to not get along with everyone. Permission to not always see things someone else's way.
A big part of this journey is seeing, and understanding, your own value. The wealth that is YOU. And that wealth comes with things that are sometimes not so nice. And they are as real and as important and valid as the things that are nice. You have to let those in, too.
Monday, September 27, 2010
You would think that, at age 48, there would be little for me to learn about my body. But there still is.
Last Friday, I went into the office. Now, ya gotta understand, the "office" is incubator space in Worcester. Cheap, cheap, cheap. As in $100/month. Of course you get what you pay for. But we are a startup. There is no money.
Hence we have electricity, and HVAC, and lights and a lock on the door. And, quite literally, that is it.
Spent the time moving furniture in. Desks and chairs being thrown out by WPI (Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the alma mater of everyone in the company but me), whiteboards, er, "found" somewhere, a few bits bought at Ikea.
The floor is a godawful mess of less than perfectly smoothed concrete. There are a few interesting small holes in the floor (note to self: do not drop pens, paper clips or the like. Ever.). There is a small separate room which we are calling the kitchen although there is no water source. But the fridge (it reeks of bleach, which is better than when it earlier reeked of old takeout) and coffee maker (I donated that) are in there. Plus every kind of tea known to mankind (another donation by me) but no way to boil water except to run it through the coffee maker, which I hope still works.
Finally got everything in and more or less to our liking, then we spent time straightening, cleaning. They had me taking apart small robotic arms (lots of fine detail work) and sorting the screws and nuts and servos that go in there. Little motors about the width of two fingers and the length of two finger joints. I put up my Wegman calendar. We (mostly) cleared the conference table of robot parts. Soldering station is up and ready. About the only thing we don't have (and will need to continue borrowing from the school) is a laser cutter.
And then it was 3 so it ended up being lunchtime. Pizza. Oof. At least they got me a veggie one. I had the equivalent of 2 large slices. Plus diet Gatorade. Frankly, I have eaten better in my life but, like I said, we have no money.
Next day, I felt awful, like I was hung over a thousand times. Foggy head. Arms hurting. Huh, what?
I am thinking the combo of pizza plus salt (Gatorade) plus too much caffeine (we had coffee in the morning) plus different exercises than usual did it to me. It took a couple of days for that all to purge out. This morning, I feel great although I am up a coupla pounds. But that's fine -- it was a salty week. I figure the weight will be off in a week or so.
But it is telling me -- eating like a 25-year-old is something I truly cannot do any longer. I need to insist on a salad of some sort. I know, I know, there is no money. Then I need to chip in for it. Because this is absurd. It should not take me three days to recover, and not just from lifting and hauling (which, fortunately, we're done with for now). So I need to position myself better. Another thing I want to do is find an area nearby where I can walk or run safely. Probably the school is my best bet. There are a lot of hills -- some are truly substantial -- so that will be good for me.
And that brings me to two things we did that were not moving stuff. One was, heh, a coworker has a remote controlled helicopter. So he christened the space and flew the 'copter around a bit. Very amusing lil toy. We're going to play with it, see if we can get it to work with the thing we make. That should be a fun project.
The other thing was, we started talking about The Robot Run.
I have run about a dozen 5Ks by now. And I love them! So I checked around in Worcester to find one I could run there. And ... nothing. There are only two 5Ks in a year over there. Then I talked to the guy who puts them on in my area. He gave me an idea on price and what it all entails. And -- remember, we have no money -- we could potentially actually make some $$ on the deal.
So my idea (which my colleagues like, but we need more info) is for the company to put on a 5K. It would have to be in April, September, October or November in order to get the students in, but while the weather is decent and before Final exams. Of course we'd call it The Robot Run because we're a robotics company. We'd need to get sponsors and whatnot. I cannot guarantee that we would do it but I think it would be a blast. This would be -- eep -- my project.
So -- just to throw it out there -- would anyone wanna come to Worcester, Mass. and run a 5K next year? I can promise you major, massive amounts of quirkiness/geekiness. Helfino what the prizes will be. We will think of something (remember, we have access to a laser cutter).
Monday, September 20, 2010
So, like, what's new?
Me, oh nothing. Just a thirty-seven pound increase. In one week.
Huh? That's impossible.
Yeah, oops, you're right. It was actually 37.6 pounds.
Huh? So, er, jes, are ya pregnant? You know, with the World's Fastest-Growing Mutant Super Alien Ninja Baby?
So you had surgery and they put hardware in? Artificial leg, perhaps?
Incredible, Guinness Book of World Records-worthy parasitic infection?
Is it -- uh -- really possible to gain that much in a week? Like, lard cake for every meal, all week long?
No way. A pound is 3,500 calories, my metabolic rate is something like 2,000/day, so just to gain seven pounds in a week is to eat 5,500 calories/day, every day, with no working out whatsoever, and this is over five times that. Hence I'd probably have precipitated a heart attack by Thursday or so.
So what is it?
It's a new scale.
Yes, the old one was THAT bad.
It was lying, lying, lying to me even as my 5K times declined, and even as my clothes started to give me a hard time. And, looking at my measurements, they are comparable to when I was last between 195 and 205 pounds. I am certain that this one is accurate.
So I was never in the 170s, and God knows I was never in the 160s, although I definitely hit the 190s and may very well have hit the 180s. There was a slide, but it was not as huge a skid as the numbers would imply.
And it also got me thinking (and you know that's dangerous). If I can put out there, for the world to see, this crazy super mutant ninja weight "gain" (or difference, or correction, if you prefer those words), then surely every moment of shared intimacy is all right. I suspect, at some point, you will all yell "TMI!" at me. But until you do, my life to you is an open book.
Of course I have privacy. I have secrets and hidden things, just like everyone else. And I try to respect others' privacy (particularly my family's). But me you can get.
Am I disappointed? Only slightly. I love seeing happy, pretty numbers as much as anyone else does, I won't lie. But they are merely numbers.
Today's number is comparable to, I kid you not, late April of 2009. And what has happened since then? I've run, what, 11 5Ks. I've pushed myself into a new job and industry that I love. I've made friends. I've had surgery. I've blogged my head off.
Pretty numbers, ugly numbers. Heh, it's all good, dawg. Like I said in the most recent vlog, I'm catching myself before things become truly dire. I am righting the ship. I am going back to basics. I never stopped tracking, I never stopped drinking the water and I never stopped weight training, but I have been slacking off in the cardio department and I haven't been getting enough sleep. Both of those things are on my fix-it agenda. And I'm carrying all of you along with me, too (see, I toldja I do strength training).
Come along, my Super Mutant Ninja Rock and Roll friends. There are more and newer and better places to go, more than have been dreamed of in your philosophy, Horatio.
Hey, let's go all over the world.
Monday, September 13, 2010
The reason for the song is because I was recently in a car accident.
Oh, don't worry, It was nothing, a minor fender bender. Extraordinarily, I've now been rear-ended, I kid you not, ten times. In three different states. Heh, I must have a sign in the back of my car or something.
And, my ticker is all messed up. I *SO* did not lose seven pounds this week. The numbers are all over the place because the scale needs to be replaced. It's been faithful to me (despite my kicking it on more than one occasion) for over 2 1/2 years, so it's about to go to that great measurement paradise in the sky. The new scale will arrive in a few days, and I strongly suspect that my numbers are a good 20 pounds heavier than the ticker says -- this is because of how slow I've been running 5Ks and how my measurements are looking and my clothes are fitting.
My work life is semi-messed up in that I am beginning to really need more structure. Working for a startup is all well and good, and I enjoy the freedom but, at the same time, I also would love to get some plans nailed down, If you don't count this work, then I am rapidly approaching a year since I worked at the publishing company. This is a long time. I don't love long-term unemployment and, sad to say, I have already experienced it twice in my life. This is, essentially, time #3. With a startup, there is always the promise that somehow, someday, it will be funded and wonderful and off we'll go and our lives will change and all.
But ... that doesn't always happen and, in a continuingly poor economy, the likelihood is not as good. If nothing else, I need a day job, I am still waiting to hear about the most recent interviews so I am not totally out of the running but it is just so much more limbo and lemme tell ya, I really and truly despise limbo.
So. My car is disordered. My weight is disordered. My job is disordered. We are going on vacation in a few days and, while I love that idea, I know that the eating is going to be disordered. And that won't happen until we've gone through the Mass Innovation company appearance this Wednesday, which I am excited about, and want to go well, but I am tired of the ramp-up and kinda just want it done already.
Life is disordered.
But then again, it has always been so.
Have you ever had a perfect week, where everything went wonderfully? The dog didn't knock your sandwich off the table? The kids did their homework on time? Your spouse came home early, with flowers or a nutritious dinner so you wouldn't have to cook? Your boss gave you a raise (or, hell, while we're at it, a promotion)? Your car ran like a top? Your lawn was gorgeous? Your in-laws gave you the perfect gift? Your parents had a beautiful sharing day with you as you all gloried about the past? The world was living in peace and harmony? The lottery numbers came up for you? Yadda yadda yadda?
So, what do we do, when the dishes overflow the sink, the cat misses her box, the kids don't pick up their clothes despite you telling them for the umpteenth time, the news is depressing, the weather stinks, your favorites sports team loses, the toilet backs up and someone mentions termites and they're talking about your house?
Eating caused none of those things and it does no good for getting rid of them anyway. It doesn't prevent the wreckage and it doesn't clean it up. It hides it. It pushes the cracked bumper, the brown lawn, the child with the F on her report card and the yelling boss into the background, but only temporarily. And when they return, those things are worse. They're dirtier, louder, smellier, more insistent.
Denial is oh, so easy. So many of us have lived in that mansion for so long. But it's not a mansion. It's a car wreck. It's broken glass and shattered plastic and dented metal. Sitting there and eating is not going to get you out. You need to unlock the door and lift the handle.
Get out of denial. Stop pacifying your problems with food. You are far, far stronger than you think. Go out and meet your problems head on. And I bet you'll find that, much of the time, they're not as big as you though they were.
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