Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Having a Ferris Bueller Moment

I'm kind of a boring with age.  I am tentative about using the term conservative because it has distinctly political connotations and I don't want to deal with any of that but my choices as I age are less crazy and risk taking.  Plus as I understand economics better I feel the need to put my money where my thoughts and beliefs are.  Example, I don't do that whole Kardashian thing.  Like, at all.  I don't watch the shows, I don't have the apps, I don't buy the makeup or the clothes or any of the things that they shill on the regular.  I don't do it because a.) I genuinely don't believe there's that much quality assurance that goes into their products b.) if you keep buying into it they'll keep thinking you want more and they'll keep pushing out more.  I'd like for it all to quietly go away.  Much like I'd like Jessica Simpson to please stop "designing" clothes, shoes and bags.  I didn't care for her music or shows in the 00's and I find her a sad example of a not especially talented person who is a multimillionaire because of several circumstances and some PR opportunities.

I don't watch anything anymore actually, trash tv or otherwise. The kids want to watch kid shows and I don't want them to inadvertently catch some disturbing moments of violence if I'm watching some grown up movie.  I was watching Beetlejuice and thought nothing of it because it's not really violent or vulgar and even the dead people are pretty cartoonishly dead but forgot about that scene where he turns the banister into a big snake and starts shaking someone upside down.  It's actually pretty darn creepy in comparison to the tone of the rest of the movie so I had to change it to hedge being up 10 times that night due to bad dreams.  The kids understand zombies and vampires and pointy hat wearing witches aren't real but regular things in their normal life magically turning into snakes (which are real) can be pretty hard to kindly dance around.  So since my eldest could form opinions we pretty much watch PBS kid programming and NickJr whenever the television is on.  It'll be that way for a while since we reset the clock a bit when we had a 2nd child.

Does anyone else have that sentiment? I feel like if I had a 3rd then I would basically reset my 18 year prison sentence.  I'm not saying that to be depressing or anti-children but once you have two kids you realize that you should have grown 2 more hands in order to juggle it all so the thought of a third is pretty ridiculous to me.  I guess if money is no object you can just pay enough nannies and housekeepers and groundskeepers to do the lame stuff and just sit back and take your kid to the park and eat ice cream cones then yes, let's have dozens of kids.  I'm used to feeling trapped now so I stock up on wine knowing I can't very well drop everything and go to the liquor store with two kids in tow.  Other than looking like the worst parent in the world there's way too high of a likelihood they'll break something.  Those stores are full of glass! I can't afford to pay for that toppled champagne display.  Actually I stock up on everything except milk and bread.  Frozen loaves of bread do not defrost well in my opinion; I always have overly soft mushy spots from condensation.  I want to like it because it'd make life easier but bread is cheap enough I'll just buy it every week.  I'm trying to reverse this hoarding tendency though because we'll be drowning in body wash and laundry detergent if I keep up at this rate.  Thankfully my friends are good sports when I purge 8 bottles of surplus shampoo onto them.

I read Marie Kondo's book "The Life Changing Art of Tidying" and though I think I'll pass on a few of her ideas I do like the overall zen-like Japanese perspective.  Japanese people are so interesting because the aesthetic is so spare and controlled but then the culture is so based on innovation and like cutesy anime collectibles and out of the ordinary fashion choices.  You'd think all of those things wouldn't work together and apparently it doesn't if they need self help books about tidying their lives.  I like to know everyone struggles with everyday boring stuff, not just me.  If you are unfamiliar she instructs others on how to tidy and she has a general philosophy regarding what to keep and what to chuck based on if that object "sparks joy." That sweater your mom got you for your birthday that's kind of too itchy and a bit too bright for your coloring? Chuck it.  If it's only hanging around out of obligation then it's not bringing you any more joy. That disgusting teeshirt from middle school with Sailor Moon on it that you love to death and wear to bed in secret shame? Keep it.  While everyone else hates it if you love it so badly then allow it to spark further joy in your life.  I can't really apply this joyful philosophy to say, my toilet brush or that bottle of generic Tylenol bopping around in the drug cabinet it's kind of nice to be told that we don't need to feel an obligation to objects.  I try not to collect too much stuff anyway.  In a world of digital files and portable devices why do I need stacks of DVDs, Blu-Ray and CDs in my life?  It's not 2001.

But I have to admit many people do like collecting things.  I don't really collect in a traditional sense, I just like makeup and clothes and shoes but I don't actively collect say, the entire set of McDonald's toys or Pokemon cards or anything.  I like having fun colors and styles that feed into my aesthetic but I don't care about having a "full set" of anything.  My parents collect nothing. No figurines, no books, no movies, no ever expanding music library...nothing.  They pick up music when they like it, they watch movies here and there, but they don't collect and in that way I never learned how to bite my nails I never learned the joy of collecting piles of dusty beanie babies with hard plastic covered tags to protect their value.  In my parents defense they left Vietnam as boat people and lived in a refugee camp before they ever came to America.  To say they came with nothing but the clothes on their back is not hyperbole, so I think in many ways that has an effect on how they live their lives now and therefore that's just what I have always known to be "normal."  When I was really little I collected stickers because they were so pretty, especially in the Lisa Frank laden 90's with such awesome graphics and the advent of scratch and sniff technology, but then I realized it was dumb because I never got to enjoy the stickers.  I had them in a box for safekeeping but because they were "safe" I didn't see them.  And then I was scared of actually sticking them to things because that's pretty much the entire life span of a sticker. The moment you use it then it reverts to being a small piece of paper with fuzz on one side.  So once I realized that simply having them exist nearby me was boring I was over it.

That sentiment follows me even now.  I have some expensive random objects I desired to have and I use them whenever I feel like and often everyday.  I abuse my Coach sneakers every bit as much as my other shoes, I don't give it any preferential treatment or save it for special lounging occasions since they're not fit for true athletic endeavors.  I don't even know what a special lounging occasion is.  Shoes are meant to be worn.  I wear my "wedding" shoes whenever I feel like because it's not like someone's going to suddenly put them in a museum when I die as an artifact of my greatness.  I liked them enough to buy them and I like them enough to wear them. If they get ruined and I have to toss them at least I had several years of rocking them out and feeling great because they are the world's must comfortable heels without looking old and matronly.  I wear my "fancy" earrings whenever the mood strikes me.  I don't wear them when I think I'd look like a lunatic of course but I think saving things for a special occasion tends to backfire.  You save and save and save it and eventually realize you only enjoyed it for like 5 days over the course of 10 years.  I'm not about to tell you it's silly to spend your money any way you want but you should enjoy the fruit of your labor.  If you worked hard to earn your money, spent time away from your loved ones to work and toil at your job, spent your precious free time shopping and browsing for just the right thing, then why is it so crazy that whatever lucky object you picked should "spark joy" for you?

I'm not advocating excessive consumption, just that you should enjoy the things that surround you.  It's easy to get caught in the "it's not my favorite thing but I guess it's okay" trap.  Or the "my mom bought me this and I think she expects me to keep it" obligation trap.  Or the "maybe bell bottoms will come back around if I wait long enough" argument.  If you hate it, dislike it, can't fit in it, don't have room for it then stop letting it boss you around.  Life is too short for a pair of very expensive Diesel jeans manipulate you. I'm not overly sentimental anyway but I even get mad at myself for being overly precious about things because the truth is that no one cares.  No one wants to look at the tattered old ancient playbills from middle school plays I was in...not even me.  I was in them and I don't care, but somehow it seems uncouth to throw it away, as though the paper has feelings and will be hurt I don't want them. I'm actually much more concerned about the "feelings" of the things than I am about the actual thing.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Run, run as fast as you can

I don't post frequently but in my mind I do.  Kind of like how I feel like I've replied to text messages but in reality I thought the reply but never actually created words and sent them. Um...do I get points for at least mentally replying? Anyway, mild momnesia aside my point was that I organized a group of a few coworkers and a few non coworkers to run a local 5k.  Actually I can't hold a gun to anyone's head and make them run so a few are walking but their participation warms my heart.  Nothing like forced social situations to make us feel guilty about not remaining active!

Actually as silly as it may sound to pay money to participate in running in circles I'm fond of it because it's a good clean healthy thing to do with others that involves no drinking, no arguing about movies and not spending copious amounts of money eating out and trying to accommodate everyone's dietary restrictions and preferences.  It used to be so easy to hang out with people, maybe because we were young and could all eat junk?  Now I'm terrified of inviting people over in case they're allergic to nuts or gluten or chronically dirty houses and suddenly I've poisoned them.  I'm not ready to take on that kind of guilt.

Plus I enjoy the anticipation of a 5K because it really amps up my running schedule.  If left to my own devices I just plateau and don't push especially hard.  Not that I have any interest in pushing it much further than a 5k, maybe a 10k; it seems more like torture to my old-lady joints to go much further than that.  My knees have been cracking since I was a teenager, I think I was just born to be a grumpy old lady. I can run for a little while but I'm not especially fast.  With time I have vastly improved my stamina and ability to continue pushing through that tight horrible feeling of mile 1 to get to the euphoria of mile 2 and 3.  Truly the first mile is the worst and likely why I always detested running.  In school all they ever made you do was 1 mile for the physical fitness test and then you were set free.  They also didn't teach me how to run.  What pace should I set? How should I pattern my breathing? How do I know when I'm pushing too hard? How do I know when I need to push harder?  I appreciate explicit instruction in all things.  I still often refresh my memory by reading recipes on how to boil eggs, something you'd imagine is easy but I still either end up either constantly under or over cooking and if not that then I can't get the shell of cleanly and make a huge mess.

I love eating so sadly I probably won't be size zero any day in my immediate future even with my fondness for the runners high and being able to hold boat position in yoga.  I really love seeing how strong my body is and after having two kids, seriously? A little agonizing eagle pose is no comparison to childbirth.  I definitely have a renewed sense of strength, competency and just overall composure.  In the last six days I've run almost 12 miles and did 3-30 minute blocks of yoga and surprisingly though I'm a tad sore I'm not in agony.  It's a pace I can handle and when I feel overwhelmed by the combination of a full time job, full time parenting, this exercise regime I've taken on and the general upkeep of my days, I take a run rest day and pick it up again afterwards.  Yoga is great in tandem with running.  I was just running prior years and it was fine but I was almost always sore the next day no matter what pace I was going at.  I think that at least for me, it's a great combo to keep my blood pumping.  I know Yoga gets this like hippy new age feeling to it, but that's like saying you don't like comedy.  There are so many kinds of comedy that yeah maybe you don't like slapstick but some dry British humor really gets you going.  It's the same thing with yoga because there are several different methodologies and variations.  I practiced Kundalini in college and while it really worked my body hard I found the breathing technique difficult to keep up with and lately I've been into Vinyasa Flow.  You have to get into something that works for you.  I've never tried "hot yoga" that seems to be popular now but I also don't care for being hot.  It's too suffocating and stifling. Also I just do like 20 to 30 minutes of yoga and it's not quite such a big to-do.

Eating.  I don't talk about food as much in great part to the fact that if I run after dinner I can't be stuffed or I'll want to barf.  I just can't deal with overfullness.  I can't work out on an empty stomach either because I get light headed and faint so in order to be a functional human I have to just cut it down and eat light.  This pains me because I hate eating light and part of me is irritated it works and I feel so much better eating less and eating more fresh foods.  I'm not above admitting that bathing suit season scares the heck out of me.  When I was 20 and never had to work at my flat stomach life was easy.  Now I really got to get some serious sweat in to get my stomach looking where I wouldn't be mortified to show it in public.  There are always people who are WAY more fit than I am and there are people who are way LESS fit than I am.  That is not the point.  I'm never going to be 5'1" and 82lbs.  It's never going to happen.  I can't beat myself up over it because it's impossible to shrink that far even with old age. I try hard not to envy what other people have and just focus on what I have.

I'm not a dieter because I hate it.  I hate being told what to eat.  I hated it when I had gestational diabetes and I hate it now. It is no fun being told what to eat, when to eat it and in what quantity.  It's all a catch 22 anyway because it seems like if you restrict your diet and cut down your calories to lose the weight eventually once you lose the weight you feel justified in finally eating a cookie and gain all the weight back.  That is literally every person I have ever met that has ever been on a diet ever in the history of mankind.  Your body rejects what you want it to do and your metabolism slows to the rate of a slug. Then if you try a different diet you have to work twice as hard to be successful because that first failed diet already took a dent out of your metabolism.  I have no solutions for you, I'm just stating my simple observations.  If you maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle FOREVER then it's a different story and you're a frickin' machine and I wish I had your determination. There was an interesting article about how pretty much every single contestant in the biggest loser gained a certain chunk of weight after the show ended no matter how much they tried to fight it. When you go from a situation where you work out 8 hours a day to normal life again where you need to work your body fights your intentions to keep the weight off. No huge shocker but it's good to use such a public example to give normal folks some perspective.