Sunday, March 02, 2008

backlog 31

Bipolar chaos
On my desktop I have three folders. [The neatness of my computer's desktop is in stark contrast to the room in which it resides. I hate having icons splattered all over my virtual workspace but sitting in a room piled high with office and project detritus (you were right, my daughter! It's pronounced di-TRY-tuss) doesn't seem to irritate me enough into organizational fits.]
  • stuff to do: pretty self-explanatory, my to-do lists, worry lists, project lists. I say organize your anxiety, people. Put it in labeled folder. You won't be less neurotic but you'll be a compartmentalized neurotic.
  • shit that won't delete: bit more of a mystery. Swear to god some of those files have been there for five years and I have done everything I could think of to dump them but they cling to the hard drive like a lifeline. I've stopped giving a shit. They can stay as long as they're quiet and remain in their folders.
  • blag: all the Athena stuff–ideas springing full grown from my cranium–that my day-to-day life prevents me from sitting down and spewing at sharing with you, my dear cadre of readers.
From the blag bag, then
About a year ago, I got some annual health inspection physical blood work back from my doctor. For a big girl, I have been relatively free from the dire consequences of my largess predicted by all the fat-haters masquerading as we're-only-thinking-about-your-health advisors. This time, for the first time, my cholesterol was high and coincided with an uncharacteristic spike in my blood pressure.

Why, oh, why?
I knew exactly why this had happened: I stopped cooking. My kids were out of the house and my inner child screamed "Fuck it, I'm no domestic slave. I quit. Let them/us eat [box] cake. Or mac & cheese or order Chinese or go get some burgers." This unfortunate liberation dovetailed with an exquisitely painful bout of plantar fasciitis and a tilted patella that felt more like a tilt-a-wheel kneecap that was threatening secession. So processed foods joined immobility on their crusade to clog up the works.

Anyway. Almost two years of this neglect and the blood-lipids fairy went all Carol Kane on me, smacking me hard with the cholesterol toaster oven.
My doctor, bless her pharmaceutical-loving heart, wanted to start me on medication to lower the ugly number of 257. I wasn't having any of it. I was already sick of taking too many pills (that, for another post) and pretty damn certain that this was nothing less than self-induced stupidity. (Let me make it clear that I enjoyed every freakin' moment of my junk sabbatical. Just didn't want to die from it.)

Onward Cursing Soldeirs
So I dusted off the kitchen utensils and started meal-planning again. Not dieting, for the love of all that is holy.
A note about dieting.
I began my body hate-fest early, at the ripe old age of 10. Many people today are not disturbed by this, especially now as we witness the rise in childhood obesity. As if all 10-year olds should be so concerned about their bodies that dieting books are lined up alongside Roald Dahl, Charlotte's Web and Harry Potter on their brightly painted shelves.

And I say that is bullshit. Absolute bullshit.

A ten-year old should be more concerned about streamers on her bike handles than munching celery sticks to erase love handles. A ten-year old should be outside playing or making a pillow fort or giggling with her friends. We feed our children shit and park them in front of the TV or CRT. Of course we have an obesity problem. Self-hate will not solve this problem.

And let me say again (and I'm not done with this) that the motivation for "good health" is not the fire under the ample ass that fuels the diet cult in America. It is the worship of a narrow-hipped, colt-like-leggy, über-skinny prepubescent ideal. This, combined with the predictable tendency of most adult women to be curvy (dare I say fecund? dare! dare!) in form, leads us to hate our body shapes for that which they are so beautifully designed.

This self-hatred, coupled with lousy, lazy food choices and a sedentary workforce, is murder. And an evil, lucrative business.

ANYWAY, last May we returned to healthy eating.

I didn't walk until I was 15-months old and other thoughts on a lifetime love affair with staying put
In June, I began a clandestine movement. What I mean is: an effort to leave the cube and try locomotion, that I kept to myself.

At some point, I realized that I was giving Corporate America my daily eight hours plus an extra hour working through lunch. Corporate America does not love me unconditionally. Corporate America does not even love me conditionally. My family, on the other hand does. Barbara, specifically, would love to have me around for a healthy lifespan.

Visualizing clear arteries
Thinking creatively, methought, should help solve this problem. But, I remained stymied and unmoved. If I couldn't do it for myself, like a smart feminist, then, goddammit, I could do it to avoid leaving my loving family prematurely. Barbara was my inspiration. You know, imagining her dealing with all my stuff postmortem. Leaving 10 or 15 years too early. Not getting to grow old older and cranky crankier with the person I love, etc., etc.

The Convenience, Proximity and Simplicity Trifecta
I started walking. Houston has a downtown tunnel system. Full of restaurants and mediocre card shops and the like. It's not pretty but you don't have to stop at stoplights. You are not subjected to the "how can it be this humid on the surface of the sun”weather. Also, the tunnel starts under my building, which means I don't have to do more than go down the stairs to start.

Mythically whiny
Over the course of 6 months, with no significant exterior change, I sometimes despaired. I am Sisyphus, pushing this cholesterol boulder up the slope with no hope of getting over the peak. I am Prometheus, serving up daily paté to an eagle without hopes of sating the ravenous raptor. I am Tantalus, reaching for water and fruits always receding from my grasp. I am Pathos, feeling like this almost 40-year battle is waa, waa, waa my unfair cross to bear. I HATE when I get like this.

Holding my breath
Finally, I go to the doctor for my annual physical. I've lost weight (an amount which, and I say this self-love, at my size is not earthshaking) and my doctor is all congratulatory. I stop her and say, my weight numbers can not be my focus, else I fail. Weight is too connected to self-hate, I rhyme. She nods and understands (but doesn't). I tell her my main focus is blood pressure numbers and cholesterol numbers. My pressure is fine. Normal. My blood is drawn for tests and I wait. A week later the nurse calls with my results.

The payoff
226. Two hundred, twenty-six. That would be a 31-point drop in cholesterol.
THIRTY-ONE motherfucking points
, people.
I am thrilled. Vindicated. Talking-to-strangers-exhuberant. I know the next 26+ plus will be slower but this is one healthy shot in the arm.

And the boulder rolls over the first peak, the gluttonous eagle explodes and Tantalus crams a fistful of grapes in his mouth.


Menchuvian Candidate said...

In a word: Amen.

Damned fine post.

Anonymous said...


Some day you and I and our bad feet (in my case, zipcode-owning bunions from 10+ years of public service on concrete flooring) will go for a slow, very leisurely walk. And then we will go for some gelato. All the while gesticulating lavishly, which, dammit, should count as exercise.