The Ins and Outs of an Ordinary Life

Friday, June 30, 2006

A Poem about the Lifecycle

In my attempt to appreciate poetry, I found an anthology of poems entitled Boomer Girls: Poems by women of the baby boomer generation.  Edited by Pamela Gemin & Paula Sergi. Here’s one that immediately connected.

Fitness Club: Riding the Lifecycle
By Judith Hougen

The control panel counts time, calories, miles
gone, outlining hills to come, the red lights
beating calmly, saying the place you need to go
is at least 15 pounds from here, how willing

are you?  mile after mile.  I could have pedaled
these phantom wheels across America by now.
Anchored to this amputee of the modern age,
I give away the last thickness of fat to computerized

inclines, to a blinding honesty that must negotiate
with everything I see.  After years of struggling through
a life fed by half-truths, I am laying down the past like
the careful molasses of asphalt: a thick methodical

roadway.  It doesn’t solve everything, but it’s real.
I am willing to hold the sad weight of every lie
I told while raging at the world through my body.
These days movement is no longer

optional.  I have learned to welcome
the sanity of each mile, to love the woman
inside this engine, who reinvents the wheel
daily and now has important places to go.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Hurts So Good

I've spent the last week (since the kids went to camp) kicking my own ass, with a little help from a personal trainer. To prove what a warrior woman I am, today I went to the gym twice! Today I didn't have to commute into NYC and I didn't have to be at work until 9:30, so I went to the gym early, did a little cardio to warm up, then got beaten up by aforementioned personal trainer. I was done with work in the late afternoon, but since the weather has sucked for the last 5 or 6 days and taking the Trek out was not a good option, and DH had to work late, I went back for a spin class. That proved to be the proverbial "icing on the cake." I am officially beat! The abs, the inner thighs, the triceps, you know the feeling. It hurts so good!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Odds and Ends

I’m feeling the pain!  Yesterday’s workout used bands, steps, balls and a dab of free weights—no machines.  The lunges and squats got me good!  Walking up the stairs at the train station this morning with my backpack, well, I’m glad it was only 1 flight!  

Other news—sons #1 and #2 are both at camp.  So we borrowed a child for a couple of days.  A friend of ours went out of town for a few days and he was going to take his son with him.  The boy child would have had to spend 2 or 3 days doing nothing but hang out in a hotel.  Now while I would jump at the opportunity to watch TV/movies, order room service, read, use the fitness center and can you throw in a massage, more than a day of mindless activities would make me crazy.  Boy child must feel the same way because when I offered to have him stay with DH and I, he was very happy.  So far he has been the perfect house guest! He even brought his own computer and wiggled into the wireless network in 10 seconds flat.  

Sons #1 and #2 both have summer reading lists.  I abhor this practice. If you want to turn a kid off to reading and fill him with resentment on the first day of school, assign summer reading.  Require the honor students to read more than the “regular” students so they feel like they are being punished for being smart.  Son #1 complains bitterly about summer reading because summer should be a time when he can read what he wants to read instead of what someone else wants him to read.  So instead of digging into Liberalism and the Limits of Justice (I kid you not! This is on his Amazon Wishlist), he has to suffer Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.  Son #2 dislikes reading, so when given a choice of books, he selects the shortest, regardless of the content.  He won’t read an extra 100 words even if he would potentially enjoy the book 100 X more.  Luckily, the shorter books on his list are probably better choices for him—Into the Wild by Krakauer and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Haddon.  

While on the topic of books, tonight is my Bookclub meeting.  This month’s selection is The Ha-Ha by Dave King.  I’m having trouble getting through it and for the first time since joining the club, I may not finish it.  I still have the train ride home this evening, but I don’t think I’ll get through 100 pages.

And lastly, I have a new hobby—T-shirt transformation.  I bought this book, Generation T, 108 Ways to Transform a T-shirt.  This is perfect for my level of sewing skills.  So far I transformed a tanktop that DH was getting rid of and I added an iPod pocket to a sleeveless V neck.  Nothing extraordinary, but I will try to get some pictures up.  I need to get to work on making digital photography a habit in my everyday life.  

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I Ride C

On Sunday I made the transition to level C. There was a self-paced ride for levels C and up. There was a choice of a long (44 miles) and short (35 miles) route with a sweeper riding at the back of each ride, instead of a leader at the front. This offered several advantages. First DH and I could both ride, even though we did not ride together. We both chose the shorter option. He found some guys that rode his pace and I found some folks that rode my slower pace. At the end of the ride, his bike was already on the car and he put my bike on the rack while I visited Dunkin’ Donuts. Second and more important, having a leader at the back gave me the security of knowing that I would not be left in the dust or struggle to keep up the pace set by the faster riders. I ended up riding faster than my usual pace and finished with the middle of the pack. Woohoo! It was a hot day, but we were done before things really heated up. I actually emptied my Camelback at mile 28, which was good and bad. Good that I drank that much water but obviously bad that I had to ride the last 7 miles on empty. Overall I declared the ride a major success. DH enjoyed it, too, and the iced coffee was excellent.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Finding Motivation

I have been doing better, but still feel like I’m not 100% there. Yesterday, I took advantage of not having to commute to work and went to the gym early. This was good! And it felt great to be pushing and pulling those weights. I was home early enough to go out for a bike ride on a really beautiful day but I never got off my butt. This was bad, a lost opportunity. I have been lazy about preparing food, and I know I have gained back a few pounds. I’m not worried about that, as long as I get my act together those pounds will come off fairly easily. So I have been searching for some motivation to get it together. I have been reading the blogs of some totally awesome women and they certainly inspire me—check out the accomplishments of Heather and Nancy. Then there’s the perseverance of Slem and the wisdom of Kyra. I thank Flo for the reminder that once in a while, you’re going to have an off day, and Skwigg for reminding me why it’s important to keep going even if you have an off day. So in the spirit of moving on and getting my act together, I have been doing a good job with food today and working on emptying the bottle of water on my desk. I am going to the Yankee game tonight so I won’t be working out, but I will get my gym bag packed up tonight so I can get there tomorrow. The last few weeks have been very busy, but next week son #2 is off to camp to join his brother, and DH and I will have 7 weeks without children. Yes, I am spoiled. My kids have been going to sleep-away camp for 6 years now! Although we don’t have a big vacation planned, we do hope to put together some getaway weekends. We will be spending July 4th weekend at a resort in the Poconos with my mom, brother, sister-in-law and nieces. Plan to bring the bikes up to provide opportunity to burn some of the extra calories we are bound to consume. The last weekend in July DH and I are going to ride the Harlem Valley Rail Ride and I made a reservation at a B&B for the weekend. I am planning on riding the 50 mile option. Looking forward, taking it one day at a time.

Friday, June 09, 2006

CD Swap

It is time for the Summer CD Swap.  Everyone summer I organize this illegal activity among a group of friends, who live in various locations across this fair land.  Many of these people (but not all) are friends from high school (so we’re talking 30+ years ago), and this is a unique way for us to stay in touch—with music!  Every person in the swap creates their own unique mix of music, burns a CD for everyone in the swap, and mails them out.  I have found the ideal number of swappers is about 7 or 8.  So, over the course of the summer, you receive 6 or 7 CDs filled with a musical surprise.  Every CD is bound to hold at least a song or two that you have never heard and a couple of tunes that bring back memories, fond or other wise.  The CD Swap for which I am the Commissioner has a few other rules:
  1. There is a theme, and you have to have at least one song on the CD that relates to that theme (most swappers have more than 1 song, and often every song related to the theme).  

  2. You can’t have more than 2 songs by the same artist.  This just keeps it interesting.  As much as I and some of my friends love the Grateful Dead, I prefer to expand my musical horizons during the swap. You can always send a 2nd  CD along, if you’re in the mood to rip and burn!  

  3. There is a deadline, but no overdue fines.

  4. If you accept the challenge and fail to mail out the CDs, nobody gets too bent out of shape, but you probably won’t be asked to join the next swap.  

A friend of mine IMed me this morning that she was ripping a stack of CDs that fell into her lap like manna from a VW Passat.  Her car is being serviced and she picked up a loaner from the guy who owns the dealership.  In it was a huge stack of his CDs.  She was very excited and reminded me that it is time for the swap!  My iPod awaits.

Monday, June 05, 2006

XY and XX Hikers

On Saturday I had to get up early to deposit son#1 at non-local HS to take his SATs. So, I got to the gym early, had plenty of time to stretch, do assorted core activities, take a spin class, do UBWO, and stretch out some more! I sure felt it the next day, but it was a great feeling.

On Sunday I did some trail maintenance with my hiking buddies. Our first task was to clean up the "white trail." It made me realize how much maintenance these trails really need. There were several downed trees across the trails, and since we were not carrying a chain saw, all we could do was cut off as many of the branches as possible so you could easily hop over the trees. We hammered some new trail markers onto the trees (leave a half inch of the nail out, to allow the tree to grow without popping off the marker), and lopped off overhead branches that could poke your eye out! Our second assigned task was to try to finish the yellow trail so it connected back to the blue trail. It was like a dream come true for the people in our hiking group with gender XY. Wander around in the woods without having to ask for directions. Tell hikers with gender XX that all you need is a compass and a topographical map to succeed in this mission. When mission fails, blame it on lack of adequate number of XY hikers. When we finished a little walk in the woods and found ourselves at a trailhead about a mile away from where the cars were parked, XX hikers walked down the road to the deli to enjoy refreshments and conversation while XY hikers made their way back to the cars (we assume on marked trails, but we can never be sure). We walked up and down some big hills, had some good laughs, and definitely burned some calories. We saw some incredible wildlife, including a very new faun sleeping in the tall grass.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Sweat and Balance

It’s been hot, and we have no AC.  We’ve been “sweating it out” for the past 3 days.  AC Man came yesterday and it’s an electrical problem (bad breaker).  DH will be home early today and he will wait for the electrician.  The boys have been sleeping in locations other than their bedrooms which has caused some minor disagreements but nothing major.  Neither one has suffered bodily injury.  DH and I have been sleeping in our fairly hot bedroom, with the windows wide open, jealously listening to the compressor for our neighbor’s AC unit going on and off.  I’m sure it will get fixed today because the heat wave is over, but at least we will be ready for the next one.

So, the last few days have been about balance.  On Tuesday I didn’t get to the gym because I had to work late.  I had to take a phone call from Chicago at 5 pm and that took about an hour.  By the time I got off the train, it was almost 8 pm.  On Wednesday I was just plain lazy.  I blew an opportunity.  I took the day off because I had a doctor’s appt at 1 pm.  Did I get up early and go to the gym?  No.  Did I get up at a normal time and go for a bike ride? No.  I did get up at a normal time, and I did get things done around the house that absolutely needed to be done, but I could have gone for a bike ride and then gotten down to chores.  Did I really do laundry instead of going for a bike ride?  How sick is that?  On Thursday, I had my training session with trainer, then I packed veggies for the organic food coop, then I had to be home in the afternoon for aforementioned AC Man.  Of course, all they can do is tell you “he’ll be there between 1:00 and 4:30.”  But the poor overworked AC Man did not ring my doorbell until 6:00.  I was hoping to either take a bike ride after AC Man had fixed the AC or get to the gym for spin class.  What a total disappointment, since AC is still not fixed, could not leave for bike ride, bike ride probably not feasible anyway considering violent thunderstorms, and AC Man came too late, even for spin class.  At least I did some cooking and I have packed a very nice lunch for today.

The bottom line is I need to commit anew.  May and June have been about standing still, not moving forward.  Actually, my body fat has crept up a little bit.  I have been indulging in some bad habits and not practicing good habits very consistently.  I have really been sliding on my strength training.  It’s a good thing I still work with a trainer—I know I am going to get pounded on Thursday mornings! It’s definitely more difficult to get to the gym because I want to spend time outdoors, so strength training and cardio have become separate events.  I expect things will get easier in a few weeks when the boys are off to camp for 7 weeks, and the next two weeks are going to be very busy getting them ready.  So once again, it’s about balance.  But whatever way the scales tip, I can’t make it worse with bad habits and laziness!