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Filed under my oh-so-exciting life, ten things Tuesday

The Wrong Message

So, I got an email from the Map My Walk people about a sale they’re having on their smartphone apps.  It came with this picture:


I’ve been focused on getting fit and losing weight since February.  From then until now, I’ve lost 23 pounds and have gotten some very positive returns on my most recent blood tests (which, if I’m being honest, is more than half the reason I’m doing this; while I really like the “wow, you look GREAT!” compliments (who wouldn’t?!), I am constantly aware that I come from a long line of enthusiastically and insistently unhealthy people, and I’d like to not continue that tradition).

I often talk to my best friend/brother about my adventures in this effort; he, too, is working on regaining some control, and we both have a strong background in the fitness industry.  We compare workouts, check in on each other for support (and accountability), ask and answer questions, and bitch about the aches and pains (and lack of motivation) that go along with what we’re trying to do.

One of the things I keep coming back to in our conversations is the ease with which diet and exercise can become an obsession.  As a fitness instructor, I’ve been trained to keep an eye on my participants for signs of what we call “fitness addiction;” people who talk about nothing but their fitness routine, people who attend back-to-back-to-back classes, people who lose too much weight too fast, people who don’t understand proper nutrition and think only in terms of calories, calories, calories, that sort of thing.  I had someone in my strength class at Local U. who worried me last year; she would brag that mine was the 3rd hour she’d exercised that day (my class started at 7:30 in the morning and she’d regularly stay for the cycle class that came after) and she lost a lot of weight from September to December.  I reported her to the Rec. Director who referred her to a counselor, and she got the help she needed.

Before I started getting serious about managing my own weight, though, I didn’t understand how people could get like that.  I never got how people could obsess over everything they nibbled, or how they’d pour enormous amounts of energy into logging every move they made and then worry whether it was “enough.”  I couldn’t fathom how some people would think in terms of cost and benefit until I started really focusing on my own behavior.

Now, though?  I get it.

Part of it is diligence.  Before I knuckled under and made a plan, my lifestyle was not bad, it was just insufficient to the effect that I was after.  My diet was reasonably healthy and I had regular (though not enough) exercise built into my week.  The modifications I needed to make to my baseline, though, required that I be – at least, in the short term – hyper-focused on the details; I found that the little things I did (or didn’t do) during the course of a day really added up, but I only found that out because I decided to keep track of EVERY LITTLE THING for a period of time so that I could discern a pattern (and hopefully see where the pitfalls were).

Once you get in that habit, it’s hard to break.  The fact that we get messages like the one above – where food is thought of in terms of what one would have to do in order to “burn it off,” rather than as a source of fuel (or – gasp! – enjoyment!) and a means through which we create and nurture social bonds – doesn’t help those who are already predisposed to be obsessive.  I can’t find it now, but the other day I saw an image on facebook that was something like “I don’t need nutrition information; just a label that tells me how many burpees I’ll have to do to burn this off.”  That’s TOTALLY the wrong message, and I think it and others like it contribute to the unhealthy attitude so many people have about food.

I’ll admit that I’ll do a “do I want this badly enough to justify the calories it’s going to cost me” calculation every once in a while, and I’ll choose not to eat things that don’t bring me the commensurate enjoyment (I don’t like cheese doodles much at all, for example, so I would pass them up if they were offered.  I love Doritos, though, and will grab a handful whenever they’re made available).  One of the big lessons I got from my investigation of my habits is portion control, so I’ve learned that I can have everything I want, I just don’t have to have as much as I used to.

I think that’s the big trick in this whole “get fit, lose weight” equation that most people never figure out.  They start thinking in the terms that inspired that image – that food is some sort of enemy that you have to be punished for enjoying.  I’m working hard not to buy into that attitude, though; I prefer to think of food as a means of nourishing my body.  I want to enjoy the things I take in – to share them with friends and family, to relish the flavors and textures, and to acknowledge the energy and nutrition they give me.  Thinking that way is a conscious choice, though, and it’s one I think too few people are taught that they can make.


Filed under concerns, cooking, critical thinking, doing my duty, frustrations, General Bitching, health, messages from the Universe, my oh-so-exciting life, ruminating, this is NOT a drill, yoga - theory and practice

Ten Things Tuesday

Ten things occupying my attention at the moment:

1.  I know I shouldn’t be, but I continue to be drop-jawed astonished at what Republicans are doing.  Seriously?  No, I mean… SERIOUSLYGo here, watch this.  The Iowa governor personally gets to decide if a certain group of women (specifically poor women) get to exercise their constitutionally protected right to an abortion.  This moron thinks that a rape kit is akin to an abortion.  THIS one thinks that abortion should be outlawed because male fetuses masturbate (no, really!  And this guy’s an OB/GYN by profession!).  Wisconsin is following in Virginia’s footsteps and mandating state-sanctioned rape in the form of vaginal ultrasounds, and Texas is trying to close nearly all its women’s health clinics (even some which don’t provide abortions).  At what point are we going to say “here and no further”?

2.  Bean is an orphan in the ensemble for Quaint Coastal City’s theatre-in-the-park production of Annie this year.  We’ve reserved our table for opening night on Friday!  I’m very excited; I think the show’s going to be great.

3.  Mr. Chili has secured us tickets to see Matchbox 20 and the Goo Goo Dolls in Central City tonight.  We haven’t told the girls yet that we’re going; it’s a surprise.

4.  He’s also scored tickets for the two of us to see Vertical Horizon down the Cape late next month.  That will be a just-the-two-of-us trip as Punk will be at her music camp at Local U. and Bean will stay with a friend.  I’m looking forward to that trip.

5.  I don’t know yet if I’m allowed to spill the proverbial beans, but something good happened to a dear friend of mine (which, tangentially, means good things for me, too).  As soon as I’m permitted, I’ll write about it in less opaque terms.

6.  I’m down 23 pounds since my whole “get Chili fit” adventure began.  I had blood drawn this morning for a re-work of my chemistry; I come from such a long line of insistently unhealthy people that it’s a good idea for me to be vigilant about knowing what my numbers are.  I’ll be interested to see how the weight loss has affected my standings.

7.  Father Chili was diagnosed last week with bladder cancer.  He’s supposedly scheduled for surgery tomorrow, but in true in-law fashion, neither of them has been especially forthcoming about the details.  One of the things on my to-do list today is to get the information about the procedure out of them.  I’ve gotten a sub for my fitness class tomorrow so I can be on call.

8.  It is looking as though the world is about to lose Nelson Mandela.  This makes me sad on the one hand, and infinitely grateful that I appreciated him while we had him.  I’ve been aware of Mandela and his work since the mid 70’s; I became interested in South African Apartheid when I was about 9 or 10, and that interest led me to a study of Mandela and a deep admiration for his ethic.

9.  I really want to see Monster’s University and Despicable Me 2.  There are other films I’m looking forward to, but I think it’s kind of funny that the two on the top of my list are those.

10.  Still no word on the job search.  A friend of mine said that there’s often a flurry of openings in late July, early August (when people who’ve secured other positions give their current employers notice).  I may give myself permission to take a vacation from job hunting; it’s really starting to affect my energy in a negative way.  Being a qualified, passionate professional who can’t find a job is really demoralizing.


Filed under Home and Family, Little Bits of Nothingness, movies, my oh-so-exciting life, technical difficulties, ten things Tuesday

Ten Things Tuesday

Ten things on my to-do list this week:

1.  Exercise.  I’m finding that I’m not liking it any more, but it is getting easier (which, in a sort of sick, ironic twist, means that I have to work harder to a.) motivate myself and b.) get my heart rate up to an acceptable level).  As of this weekend, I’m down 20 pounds.

2.  Thin out my facebook friends.  There are a couple of people for whom I’ve been holding open a door, and I’m done with that.  It’s been a year; it’s time for me to let go or be dragged.

3.  Submit MORE applications.  I’ve sent out 5 so far this week; I’m planning to get another 5 out before Friday.

4.  Have a visit/conversation with my in-laws.  In a completely unexpected turn of events, Father Chili was diagnosed with bladder cancer on Monday and is scheduled for surgery next Wednesday.  Keep in mind, the man is 91 years old, so the best they can give for a prognosis is “guarded.”  Please fasten your seat belts and keep your arms and legs inside the car for the duration of the ride.

5.  Have dinner with Anne from the health club.  I haven’t spent time with her in literally a year – maybe longer.  We were a lot closer when I was part of the group exercise team; since I’ve gone exclusively to the yoga/pilates side of things, we’ve lost touch.  She saw me on an elliptical machine the other day and stood there chatting with me for about 15 minutes, until we decided, “screw this; let’s meet for dinner.”  I’ll see her tomorrow.

6.  Have lunch with my yoga Weeble.  He’s been working in upstate New York for a few months now (and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future), but he’s home for this week, so I’m taking advantage.  I see him on Thursday.

7.  Schedule a date with my friend/mentor, Terry.  I need some professional encouragement, and she’s just the person I need to see.

8.  Convince Mr. Chili to buy tickets for us to see Vertical Horizon on the Cape this summer (and maybe convince Gerry to sneak out to see us while we’re there).

9.  Schedule doctor’s appointments.  I think the girls are due for their check-ups, and I’d like to have my blood re-worked now that I’ve lost 20 pounds.  I have the misfortune to hold very true to my paternal family’s genetic tendencies, so I have to keep a close eye on things like blood sugar, cholesterol, and hypertension.  The last test showed that my numbers were “acceptable,” but I’d like to see how the weight loss has affected them.

10.  Arrange a date with my husband.  I feel like we could do with some ‘us’ time.

How about you?  What’s on your to-do list?


Filed under concerns, doing my duty, family matters, General Bitching, Little Bits of Nothingness, my oh-so-exciting life, randomness, technical difficulties, ten things Tuesday, the jobs, this is NOT a drill

Quick Hit

I’m not going to lie; my motivation is half “healthy” and half “hot.”


image credit

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Filed under health, Little Bits of Nothingness, my oh-so-exciting life

Wordy Wednesday, Part I

I was thinking about holding off on this until tomorrow, but it’s been rattling around in my head for a while now and really wants an outlet, so I decided to write a couple of posts in an attempt to get it all out.  Tune back in tomorrow for more thinking.

So, everyone knows about the controversy over the spate of whistleblowers we’ve been hearing about lately; Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden, Julian Assange.  Facebook has been lit up with articles and memes about the most recent outing of information, and I keep coming across three in particular (which have been what’s inspiring my thinking).  Since they all ask very different questions, let’s take them one at a time.

This is, I think, the one that’s gotten the most air time:


This may make me a bad liberal, but I am very, very conflicted about the idea that we should be able to expect complete sanctity where our privacy is concerned.  Honestly; I can’t remember a time – in my entire life – when someone, somewhere, didn’t have some sort of personal information about me.  Every school I ever attended had/has my birth date and immunization records (not to mention records of every class I ever took and the resulting grades from those courses).  The DMV has all kinds of information about me, up to and including my height, weight, and blood type.  All of my doctors have my social security number and the results of every medical test I’ve ever taken and every medication I’ve ever been prescribed.  The advent of the internet (and my extensive use of blogs and other social media) means that my electronic fingerprint is all over the fucking place, from my purchases with online retailers (and the online presence of brick-and-mortar stores) to donations I’ve made to the Red Cross and Donors Choose, to surveys I’ve taken and petitions I’ve signed.  Data mining means that I get advertisements targeted at me based on the websites I visit (and maybe even the key words I use), and only the astronomically savvy know how to obscure their identity enough to foil all of the programs in place to collect all this information.

Phone companies have always kept logs of transactions between numbers; always.  I remember seeing a phone bill way back in the 70’s (my paternal unit was waving it around angrily at the maternal unit who, apparently, had been making extended long distance calls without heed to the cost).  Each month, an itemized bill would come in the mail, listing every call made from the number being billed, along with the duration of the call.  This is not new information that suddenly popped up with the advent of cell phones; it’s been the case that calls are itemized for as long as I can remember.

I completely understand the anxiety that comes from powerful entities having too much access to people’s personal information (I’m a Holocaust scholar, for crying out loud; I get that atrocities start small – the retraction of little, “inconsequential” rights that eventually led to the ovens).  In fact, I was teaching freshmen in high school about the Holocaust when word leaked of Bush’s warrantless wiretapping scandal.  A student had asked how the Holocaust could possibly have happened, and I answered “little by little; take away this one little right that only affects a small part of the population, then move on from there.”  My kid answered with, “good thing that can’t happen anymore,” to which I replied, “really?  Heard the news about the wiretapping?”  “If you don’t have anything to hide, what’s the big deal?” another kid piped up, “The government can listen to my phone calls all day if they want; they’re not going to hear anything bad.”  “Yeah?” says I.  “Go watch Enemy of the State and get back to me on that.”

I am not comfortable with anyone – especially someone in power – having unfettered access to every facet of my life.  I LIKE that law enforcement should have to go through channels to obtain records of my interactions, and that they have to provide compelling evidence that I’ve done something wrong before they can have information about my phone use or my computer transactions or get access to data from my EZ pass – and don’t even get me STARTED about my DNA (though I also wish that we didn’t appoint judges for life terms, and that there were periodic reviews of procedures by an independent body or spot checks and oversight on the decisions that get made by said judges, but one thing at a time, I suppose).  I railed against the so-called Patriot Act when it was first forwarded, and again when it was renewed (permanently, which really burned my biscuits) back in 2005.  I’ve seen enough espionage films to know that data can be manipulated, misinterpreted, or outright fabricated, and by anyone with an interest in doing so.

At the same time, though, I’m trying to look at this latest outrage with some perspective.  I am not so frightened of my government that I think that it has anywhere NEAR the capacity to analyze the incredible amounts of data that I understand have been collected (seriously; spend an afternoon at the DMV or the employment offices – not to mention the VA – and then tell me how efficient the government is).

I also recognize that we live in very dangerous times.  The global political, educational, and economic policies have created tensions unlike we’ve ever experienced before.  Add to that the volatility of religious extremism (which, I believe, is really just a way for smart, power-hungry people to manipulate those less intelligent or aware than they) and we’ve got some pretty untenable situations – uncompromising terrorists (not to mention uncompromising politicians), businessmen and politicians conspiring to rape the economy and disenfranchise the rest of us, peaceful popular uprisings met with brutal and unwarranted force, poverty, despair, and hopelessness (the most dangerous man in the world is the man who believes he has nothing to lose).

I do not begin to assume that I understand what’s required to make our country even reasonably safe.  I have no idea what kinds of threats are presented every day around the world – the vulnerability of transportation systems, open marketplaces, the food or water or medical supply – but I’m sure that the people whose job it is to try to discover and disable plots to attack the general population (wherever that population is – here or abroad) need information in order to do their work.  Do they need MY information?  No, they don’t; there’s nothing about any of my activities that would indicate that anything I do or say or have would be helpful in any kind of investigation, domestic or otherwise.  The question then becomes, though; how do they decide whose information they DO need?

Two months ago, a bomb went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.  I understand that CCTV systems (another thing privacy advocates absolutely hate) and access to phone records were important tools in helping find the bombers (and their associates).  The public were unrelenting; they wanted law enforcement to find the culprits NOW, damn it (in fact, there was a general outcry that they hadn’t been stopped before the bombs went off).  We can’t have it both ways, though; we can’t expect to have absolute security AND absolute privacy.  We can’t expect law enforcement (or any other authority) to prevent crimes (or solve them in the one-hour Law and Order episode fashion we’ve come to demand) while at the same time insisting that they be denied access to our records.

The short answer is that I’m terribly conflicted about all of this.  As an American who loves the unprecedented freedom I enjoy, I’m not eager to give up my rights – even just a little – because I’m also a scholar of history and I understand that rights have to be guarded with a kind of jealous vigilance afforded to little else.  At the same time, though, I want to support law enforcement in their efforts to keep us all as safe as possible in our current environment.  I want to be safe in the grocery store.  I want my children to be safe in their schools.  I want everyone who boards a bus or a train or an airplane to arrive safely at their destination.  I’m willing to undergo background checks and fingerprinting to work in schools.  I’m willing to submit to metal detectors and bag searches in government buildings.  I’m willing to take off my shoes in airports.

I respect the people who are sounding the general alarm about all that’s happening now.  At the same time, though, I know that there has to be some willingness on the part of the public to tolerate some inconveniences in the name of the greater good.

I’m just not sure where the line is.


Filed under Civics on Saturday, concerns, critical thinking, doing my duty, Holocaust Study and Outreach, Home and Family, ideas and opinions, my oh-so-exciting life, politics, ruminating, technical difficulties, this is NOT a drill, Worries and Anxieties, WTF?!


I was passed over for the job I was hoping to get.

While this comes as exactly no surprise, it’s still pretty devastating; in a whole year of searching, this was the closest I’ve ever come to the hope of landing a position, and I’m starting to really get discouraged (yesterday, I was listening to a report on NPR about the unemployment rate.  The analyst said that it’s likely that the unemployment rate would be lower if not for all of the long-term unemployed people who’ve simply given up the search.  I sympathize with them, I really do).

When I made the announcement to my extended circle, a bunch of people chimed in to offer me (much appreciated) condolences.  Along with the “they don’t know what they’re missing” and the “I’m so sorry to hear that” messages, though, were a number of people who expressed the idea that I didn’t get this job because it wasn’t the “right” one.  The theme of these notes were that this was a false lead; that I’m somehow being saved for the perfect job and that “something better” is coming for me.

While I desperately wish that were true, I’m not sure that I can believe it.  The grit of this experience – the totality of it; from the nightmare of the last 6 months of my last job, to the shitty way I was treated by people I trusted, to the confidence-killing repetition of either deafening silence or polite rejection from the places I’ve applied to – has ground some pretty deep and painful grooves in my psyche.

I really need a lucky break, but I don’t see one coming on the horizon.  It’s difficult to fight against feeling hopeless.

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Filed under frustrations, General Bitching, my oh-so-exciting life, ruminating, Worries and Anxieties