Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Day of Cray-Cray

Man oh man! From the sublime to the beyond ridiculous, this day has had it all so far. And it's not even dusk yet.
My day opened with a coffee date at Blogger Dawn's house. I met her several years ago, right after the awesometastic Book Club Girl got the high school Betsy-Tacy books back into print, and Blogger Dawn was helping with promotion. She interviewed me and Brunie over tea at the Colonial Inn (I believe we actually drank tea at that event; since then, we've met at the Colonial Inn many times but have always slugged down cocktails), and I won't link to that interview because I am the size of a Winnebago in the accompanying photo. But I instantly pegged her as the kindredest of spirits and she's become a great friend — though, as is the case with so many of my great friends, I don't see her often enough.

But this morning I had a solid 90 minutes of her company; she plied me with excellent coffee and home-baked banana bread, and we talked of everything under the sun. It's a beautiful day, and soft light streamed through her gorgeous, multi-windowed Concord home. I left with four boxes of Girl Scout cookies and that happy glow you get after some good girlfriend time.

And then it was on to Math Practice, where not one, not two, but three of my kids wept through my math session!! And we actually did something relatively easy and fun today! In my first group, Princess Drama and Princess Entitlement were paired, never a good thing, and they almost came to blows — because Princess Entitlement used Princess Drama's pencil without asking, causing Princess Drama to weep copiously. As you do. In my second group, Marky-Mark was having a bad day and would barely lift his (wet) eyes from his paper. (The Princesses drive me bonkers, but Marky-Mark is one of my top-two favorite kids — not that I have favorites, of course not. I don't think his extreme sadness had anything to do with me, but still — seeing him so sad made my heart hurt.) Then I get to the third group, where two of my four kids slammed into their seats; JJ said bitterly, "This had better be a short class," and Tinkerbelle whined, "I don't waaaannnnt to beeeeee here."

At that point every one of my nerves was screaming for mercy, so I called the teacher over to give the group a pep talk/death threats, at which point my bitter boy shaped up somewhat, but my whiny T-belle dissolved into tears of wretchedness, from which there was no turning back. Oh, she stayed in the group and did her work, she just sobbed through the whole thing. I would say, "So, if there are two tens and two ones, what number is that, T-belle?", and she would sob, "Twenty-" sniffle sniffle, weep, "two?", tears dripping, dripping. Good times.

And then — remember how I said that I had four editing jobs floating in the ozone, and they'd probably all hit at once? Yeah, guess what was waiting for me when I got home?  Not all four, but close — three of them. Busy busy busy, like I wasn't already.

Well, it's money, anyway, which as usual is sorely needed. I'll focus on that.

I just went for a long brisk walk and entertained the neighbors by singing lustily along with Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend," ". . . and hell yeah I'm the motherf***ing princess!" It just fit my mood.

More to say, but I'm currently debating the merits of hot shower now and getting a jump on all my work vs. lift weights and work my core, which I haven't done since Saturday (then shower and work). Can't wait to see what wins. If you've got a vote, cast it now!

—Lady C, in a quandary

p.s. Despite zumba and a hot bath and not eating after 6:30 p.m., I'd lost nary a pound this morning, which is unusual for a post-zumba weigh-in.

Bloody cookie. I'm still bitter.

p.p.s. Katie, I know you're wondering: Glum Albie was a prince today. He didn't smile, of course, I think that would break his face, but he hung in there despite all the Girl Drama. Go figure.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Well, That Pisses Me Off

It's the end of an era in these parts – the Panera Bread at the bottom of my hill, my source of a quick tasty meal, a favorite breakfast sandwich, three different delicious scones, yada yada — is closing. Today was their last day, and we decided to get our dinner there — we and the rest of Arlington Heights. It was rather entertaining, reading the list of what they'd already run out of: avocados, feta, field greens, artichoke spread . . . the local Yuppies ate well today!

Since I had zumba, I ate a lightish dinner, a Spinach Power Salad (I'd never had it before; I'm a fan of their Greek salad, but they were out of it . . . ! And it wasn't that great, I'm sad to report), a small bag of chips, and a chocolate walnut cookie.

And, as you know, I'm faithfully logging my food these days, so I just went to tally today's calories. And almost fell out of my chair.

The freaking cookie had as many calories as the salad, which contained bacon, frizzled (meaning: fried) onions, chopped egg, and an oil-based dressing! Four hundred and five freaking calories!!!

And it put me over my limit today by about 20 calories, which also irks me. Panera does a good job of listing the calories in all of its entrees, but I don't think it does so for its baked goods (or not visibly from where I was standing, anyway). I rarely buy a cookie there, sweets aren't even my thing, but today I did it mostly for nostalgia. And now I am nostalgically kicking my own butt.

For my height and weight and (moderate) activity level, Fat Secret says I can eat 2200 calories a day and lose a pound a week. I've logged my food for six days straight; I can't say that I'm eating all that healthfully (see: fried pickles, potato chips), but for the most part I'm staying well within that calorie limit (and doing well at reaching my personal daily goal of 25 grams of fiber). My exercise goal is a minimum of 20 minutes a day or 140 minutes a week; I'm easily hitting that with my twice-a-week zumba and at least two long walks. (Yay! Love the warming weather!!) So I would say that I'm doing quite well and hitting my own goals.

And I haven't lost a single pound. I'm as stuck as I was before.

In terms of weight loss, does my body honestly know the difference between half an order of fried pickles and a big salad with salmon and edamame on it, if their calorie counts are exactly the same? Obviously, my body will function differently after each of those meals, but shouldn't the caloric math problem give you the same result? I don't know.

Anyway — I will keep on keeping on. What else can I do?

I'm in the middle of a trillion projects right now, and I'm so tunnel-visioned I can only think about and work on one at a time, so I fear that everyone I'm working with thinks I'm ignoring them if it doesn't happen to be "their" day — but that's how I have to roll, otherwise I go nuts. Here's a peek at what's on my plate:
  • Helping to transcribe Snowy (sequel to my all-time favorite book The Cheerleader) from typewritten pages to e-book format, which is bringing up all sorts of fun questions, such as "Which words should we cap in the phrase 'Saran-Wrapped fudge'?"
  • Reading and critiquing the 450-page novel written by one of my writers group friends before our next meeting (fortunately, it's quite good)
  • Putting the finishing touches on the list of committees and groups at my church (new groups keep springing out of the woodwork, this thing will never be done)
  • Helping to finish the Policy Handbook for my church before April 9
  • Starting to make calls to potential leaders in my church, as part of my Leadership Development Committee responsibilities — this is our hot time of year; we need to come up with five good nominees for the Parish Committee, our governing body, before our Annual Meeting in May
  • Preparing my lesson for the next OWL class
I've also had an enormous pile of books in my dining room since January, which I mean to sell online, and I want to thoroughly clean the house and maybe put out some Easter decorations before Sunday, and I have to pull together a nice birthday package for my nice sister-in-law, and I really really really need to upgrade the operating system on my computer, and I have a new work project to move forward with that I'm excited about . . . busy busy busy.

But no paying editing work at the moment, just four jobs floating in the ozone that could materialize at any second. So it's good to get all this other stuff done now, while I technically have the time.

I'm also doing some data entry for my Math Practice boss, and she asked me to take on another project: writing a guidebook for teachers with an overview of what we Math Practice Guides are doing with the kids. I would adore to do this, and she said she thought of me for it right away, which was cool.

I'm still mad about that cookie, though.

Off to the tub. I have three excellent library books to read, and when I finish those I'll start my next Improving Work: Frankenstein.

It just fits my mood.

—Lady C, mutter mutter

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Side by Side by Soderbergh

Just got home from seeing Side Effects with Brunie, and I have only one word: holycow. What a fun twisty movie!! I've been dying to see it since I first saw its preview seventy million months ago. I especially liked that the preview seemed to be about four different movies; I had no clear idea what this movie was about, except two hours of awesome. (The first shots showed some citylike buildings, and I whispered, "Okay, yeah, I've got the plot figured out now," and Brunie roared. Actually, Brunie roars at everything semi-funny I say, she is such a satisfying friend. A perfect Tib, except not daft.)

Other funny things:
  • I told a friend about Brunie's experience with yoga; she rented a video from the library and totally fell in love with it, though she thought it was strange that she was instructed to do the entire routine sitting down. Later her husband pointed out that the video was titled Yoga for People Recovering from Spinal Surgery. My friend said, "Yoga sitting down? Isn't that just . . . meditation?"
  • Brunie is always cold and I am always hot, so our outerwear frequently . . . differs. Today I pulled on my jacket and then waited patiently while she adjusted her layered garments and then put on a coat, and then a scarf, and then a hat, and then I swear to God another coat, and at this point I began to sing, "Feed the birds . . . tuppence a bag," and she hit me, because she has no self-control and doesn't appreciate an awesomely apt musical reference. But then later she bought me a super cutey square plate with poppies painted on it, so I take it all back; Bird Lady fashion is the new black, and if Mr. Blackwell says a single word to her, I will brain him with my cutey new plate.
I have faithfully logged my food for three days now, and today I dutifully logged my lunch: fried pickles, mini corn dogs, and multi glasses of cheap bad wine. But I also had a salad, sans dressing, so that is something.

And I'm still significantly under my calorie limit for the day! I will likely have a bowl of high-fiber cereal and a banana soon, then call it a night.

Three days of logging food, two days of eating less than my allotted calories, and I've still lost nary a pound. But I persevere . . .

Today was zumba with the new guy, and I totes love him! He's Armenian and young and bouncy, and his music is very loud, and I am old, and all three combined meant that I couldn't always hear or understand him, but he seemed to take a great liking to me and kept coming over to my corner (my preferred zumba spot is front-row left, and I get very territorial; yes, I will leave my spray if I see you sniffing around there) to murmur things to me, not a single one of which I understood. Once he gestured to a spot on his midriff and said "Something something something three something," which I think meant he was up till 3 a.m. or possibly that he'd had a threesome. Brunie suggested that he was asking me to join a threesome, which, oh dear, because my response to everything he said was to nod and smile sympathetically.

But it was a super-fun class, communication obstacles aside, because I speak the international language of zumba! Ha. No, because his routines are very sexy and dancey, but much more energetic than Sexi Danci Nanci's; I was a sweaty drippy quivery mess by 11:30, which is exactly how I wanted to feel. It's going to be fun.

Even if I'm not losing any weight, I'm continuing to sculpt and reshape my body. Seriously — I was smokin' in my zumba outfit today. Husband ran his hands up and down my taut waist and got very distracted. Now, I think it's been clearly demonstrated that Husband gets "distracted" watching me floss, but still. I felt viva cute.


—Lady C

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Every Bite You Take, I'll Be Watching You

Thanks for hanging in there with me while I raked up some old stuff — leading that zumba class triggered all kinds of things for me, I guess!

As I said, I will never see myself as an athlete, for many many reasons, but it is good to have a reminder that I am in fact an active person who is getting more and more fit every day. Last summer Good Neighbor Anne invited a bunch of us to join her for a 2K Run/Walk, and I laughed, saying, "You sent me this by accident, right?" and she grew very stern with me and said, "Lady C! You are walking 12 miles a week! You could totally do this!"

(I didn't, because I had a conflict. But it was very cool to have her point out that I totally could have, because I would never have thought of it on my own, believe me!)

In fact, I have in fact been quite active for many days now. Between zumba class and taking advantage of the warm weather to walk outside, and also doing my own zumba in my basement and lifting weights, I've been keeping plenty of sports bras in the laundry, believe me.

And I've lost nary a pound. I'm stuck at 251, for days and days and days now.

Exercise isn't hurting, of course, but clearly it isn't the solution. I need to go back to tracking my food and being a lot more serious about what goes into my mouth. I just logged today's food on Fat Secret (first time since last November! crazy) and readjusted my Daily Calorie Intake number, based on my new lower weight (that part was cool — though I'm stuck now and feeling quite fat and fleshy, I'm still so much lower than when I started, and that will always make me happy), and I shall become quite tunnel-visioned and focused — and extremely fun to eat with a for a week or so, I'm sure, till I get back in the habit. (Brunie and I are having lunch together on Saturday at a restaurant that's new to me, and I'm very "excited" by the Skin and Pork Rolls the menu offers. Skin of whom? one wonders.)*

They've secured a zumba instructor, so the Saturday morning class is a go, and I can also drop in on Sexi Danci Nanci's class any Thursday I want (or the Spitfire's Wednesday class), so that should be plenty of zumba, and even though it's snowing again the sun really is coming out, and I do love my outdoor walks. I will eat my yummy salads and my fruit and my turkey breast and my salmon and my hummus and my multi-twig fiber, and I will stick to my calorie limit, and I will start losing weight again. Spring is traditionally a good weight-loss time for me. All will be well.

See my good attitude? Isn't it shiny and pretty?!

Off to thoroughly floss my teeth — a good trick to keep me from eating anything else this evening.

Good night!

—Lady C

* OK, I'll put you out of your misery. The "skin" in the title is a potato skin.

But seriously — ew. Right??

Monday, March 18, 2013

More Youthful Scars and Shaming

I asked Husband, "Did my last post make my parents sound like monsters?", which they most definitely are not. He said, "Not at all." He thinks, and I agree, that particularly for my dad, a child like me was simply incomprehensible. Sports are such a huge part of my dad's life — how could someone not find this world as fascinating and engaging as he does? Or at the very least — fun?

They did their best. They were very young when they became parents. Neither had exceptional models of parenting. I cut them a lot of slack. And, as I've said — we're fine now. I've had a lot of therapy, the three of us have talked a lot over the years — our relationship is great. I actually feel very lucky. If I had to choose between a kinda sucky childhood and a kinda sucky adulthood, I'd pick the former, no question.

But here's the other thing that haunted my childhood and had a huge impact on my feelings and choices regarding my body: My mother (despite all of her softball-playing) was fat. She was as big as I am now. And in fact, I just wrote that sentence incorrectly. It should read like this: My mother was fat.

We never said that word out loud. Never. It was the elephant in the room that nobody discussed. But it was clear, from how everyone in the family talked "around" it, that being fat was the worst possible thing that a woman could be.

Dad would buy Mom clothes for Christmas and birthdays, and they were almost always slightly too small, and Dad would sigh and Mom would cry. Every damn year. Periodically, Mom would go on diets, and Dad would get very excited and encourage us all to support her. And then she'd fail (because most diets don't work, as we all know. But facts had no role in this dynamic. It was a character failing on my mother's part, and that was clear to all of us) and two clouds would descend over our home: the black cloud of Dad's disappointment and anger, and the blue cloud of Mom's misery. And I, as the oldest and the only daughter, learned to do the Caretaker Dance, tiptoeing carefully around Dad's wrath and shielding Mom from any more pain.

In my first memory of consciously doing this, something bad had happened at school, and I came home crying . . . but then I saw that Mom was crying, so I wiped my tears, put on a smile, and set about cheering her up.

I was 8.

At this time, I began to shred my cuticles, picking at and ripping off the skin around every finger until it bled. (Before my cuticles it had been my lips. For most of my elementary school career, some part of me was visibly bleeding.) A therapist later pointed out that this was my way of begging for help. (And of course I still do it, but I truly think that now it's just a terrible habit, without any deeper psychological meaning.)

So, obviously, this was a fairly intense environment, and I absorbed all sorts of life lessons from it, mostly along the lines of I will never never never let this happen to me. But then there were all those other life lessons doing their part: Food is love! Food is comfort! Food is a reward! Exercise is for "other" people!

Two things happened to me in my 20s:
  • Mom got thin. When I was 22, Mom went on the Optifast diet (the one Oprah famously lost a ton of weight on) and she started exercising, and she lost all the weight she needed to. During one phone conversation, she said, sadly, "You're the only one who never asks me how my diet is going." I was speechless. Here I thought I was doing a good thing. I'd assumed that like all of her other diets, this one wouldn't work either, but for whatever reason this one did the trick; she's been thin ever since.
  • I met Husband and got fat. The two events may not be connected.But these are the facts: I was at the high end of a reasonable weight when we met, and I promptly began to gain, five pounds a year. I'd gone up 10 pounds by the time we got married, and I remember looking at my honeymoon pictures in dismay. And I've steadily gained five pounds a year ever since. Twenty years = 100 pounds. And here we are.
But remember that life lesson I'd absorbed: I will never never never let this happen to me? Turns out, that is the right lesson, I just interpreted it incorrectly. I did get fat, despite my best intentions — but I do not let anyone treat me the way Dad treated Mom, and I do not feel ashamed of myself the way Mom did. This is what I weigh. This is how I look. It is not a character failing, it has nothing to do with my worth as a person. I would like to be thinner and healthier for a variety of reasons, and I'm working on it — and that's that.

My parents and brothers know that I have a blog, but they don't read it, which is fine — and I didn't personally invite them to read it, either. Weight is just such a weird, crazy issue in my family. I don't want my parents getting all excited because I'm "on a diet." I don't want to hear that they're so proud of me for losing weight. I do other things that I'd like them to be proud of. In this realm, it's enough for me to be proud of myself.

OK, enough reminiscences for today!

In other life news:

  • Aw, my funny friends. I appreciate your good intentions and your faith in me, but I need you to listen carefully: It is huge that I have found an activity that I love, namely, zumba. Huge! And I will do as much of it as I can afford and can fit into my crazy schedule. But I will not take this activity that I love and turn it into a livelihood (so that I now have all this work associated with it: Find a venue! Attract clients! Get CPR-trained! Keep my certification current! Attend zumba conferences!) No, no, no. That is not the reward for finding "my" activity. Please let it go now.
  • And speaking of zumba: The instructor whose mother-in-law died seems to have vanished from the earth, so they may have to cancel my Saturday class. Weep! I will likely go back to Sexi Danci Nanci's class if they can't line up another instructor. But this past Saturday, since I didn't have zumba, I took a long brisk walk, up and down many hills, and lifted weights and worked my core and did all that stuff I haven't been doing, and since then my body aches like I've got the flu. Exercise will kill you, man.
  • I love love LOVE my Sunday night UU sex class!! I'm teaching OWL (Our Whole Lives — incredibly stupid name, IMHO) to seventh graders, and I adore all of them, and it is the funnest Sunday School teaching experience evah!!! It's the job I was born for.
  • I'm reading my third Lesley Kagen book and I am crazy about this author!!! Highly recommended. Check her out. 
  • I also just got a book from the library that was on Brunie's summer reading list; I couldn't resist the cover. Creepy as all giddy-up. I'll let you know how it is.

I have no idea what I'm going to do with my Math kids today . . . an hour from now. And tomorrow I've got jury duty at 8 a.m., and I don't know where I'm going. Oh, life — what a bewitching bevy of mysteries you are!

—Lady C, proud fat girl

Friday, March 15, 2013

Bad Memories from My Youth

Thank you, everyone who left a comment about my zumba-teaching story! Much food for thought there, particularly those of you who alluded to "certain experiences when we are young."

Here's the thing: I love my parents and we have a great relationship today, but they couldn't have been more successful at raising an overweight, sports-and-movement-hating daughter with a poor body image.

My family — we are athletes. Dad played almost every sport in his youth and was an avid golfer as an adult. Mom captained a softball team. Both brothers were groomed to be star athletes. Sports were serious business in our house. Dad followed the Northern California teams — the Giants and the 49ers — and we could only watch TV during dinner if a game was on.

And then there was me. Oh, how they tried. I played softball, every damn summer. I was on a soccer team and took tennis lessons. I did gymnastics and ballet and synchronized swimming. My dad taught me to play golf. Every family member made me play catch and shoot baskets and play H-O-R-S-E with them. My youngest brother invented ping-pong tennis (hitting a tennis ball back and forth across the driveway with ping-pong rackets — need me to go over the rules?), and Mom made me play it with him after school. I also did daily PE and rode my bike to school, a six-mile round trip.

And I loathed every second of it. It wasn't just that I wasn't particularly good at anything (which I was not — and I was picked last for every single team, accordingly), I also didn't find any of it fun. I did get better — you shoot baskets with your brothers and catch the balls they throw at you regularly over the course of several years, you eventually get better at it — but I never enjoyed it. And when you're a bad player and also a sensitive kid who cries on demand, team sports are excruciating. I would stand in right field, praying that the ball wouldn't come near me, so I wouldn't drop it and let down our entire team. If I'd had the wherewithal to suggest an individual sport — say, running cross-country — that probably would have been a better fit. But my parents never suggested it, and I was a child — all I could think was Please, please, please let me stop. Please let this be over.

But not playing something wasn't an option in our house. As my brothers became their school's stars in baseball and basketball and blazed their way through the town's soccer league, Mom and Dad would look at their sad trudging daughter and sigh, "Well, let's try something else."

So my childhood years were pretty grim. I was not pretty (glasses, braces, head gear, bushy red hair, freckles), I was not good at sports, and I was a misfit in my own family.

But when I became a teen, it suddenly occurred to me: Other families don't operate like this. I had lots of friends — and not one of them was on a sports team. No surprise, my friends were the nerdy drama kids — and that was just fine with their parents. And I was good at so many things — reading! writing! acting! math! Why weren't any of these valued the way that sports were? I grew to thoroughly resent the fact that loathsome, pointless activities were the nucleus of our family, the entity that our entire family revolved around.

To be fair, it wasn't that my interests weren't valued at all. My parents are both avid readers, they came to most of my plays, and they were always happy when I brought home a good report card. But it wasn't exactly the same. I was required to attend every single sporting event my brothers participated in, but they did not come to my plays. We didn't talk about books at the dinner table, we talked about sports. Mom drove all over creation, transporting my brothers and teammates to away games, but she refused to take me to a writing conference an hour away because "writing isn't my thing."

Here are some other things I remember:
  • Ninth grade, I brought home my report card, beaming with pride. It was my best one yet! Five A's and a B+ in PE. Mom and Dad read it and hugged me. Then they looked at it again and sighed, together. "Too bad about PE," Mom said. "If you can get straight A's, I'll take you to dinner at any restaurant you want," said Dad. Silly me, I thought I'd just gotten straight A's, in the subjects that mattered.
  • Around eighth grade, my thighs got larger, a problem that has plagued me ever since; I always have disproportionately large thighs, no matter what I weigh. (Attractive, oh yes.) Flash forward a few years: I stopped taking PE as soon as I was allowed to drop it (my junior year of high school), but I still had to do all that other crap, including the six-mile daily bike ride. In April or May of that year, Mom and I went shopping for a new bathing suit for me. I tried on my favorite one and then grabbed my thighs, kinda regretfully, saying, "I know it doesn't look that great." Mom's response? "This wasn't a problem when you were still taking PE."
  • Senior year of high school, I took a year-long writing seminar and wrote a short "book" each quarter, four books total. I was particularly proud of one of them and gave it to both parents to read. Mom read it right away and complimented me, Dad put it on his stack of things to read . . . where it sat. For seven months. I finally took it away, and he never noticed.
The minute I got away from home and had a chance to redefine myself, I did. I am a reader, a writer, an actress! I plan party games and invent cocktails! I work, I volunteer, I adopt kittens. I'm a wife and a mom, a good friend and a good daughter. And lately, I'm a zumba goddess.

But I am not an athlete.

Wow, look at the time. I have more to say, but Part 2 will have to wait.

—Lady C

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Getting Picked Last for Zumba, and Other Groundless But Weirdly Specific Life Fears

You'll never guess what just happened to me.

My brand-new Saturday morning zumba class started today, and I was my usual cool competent bundle of hot mess, fretting about a class full of snooty fit hardbodies who would shun me, or a scary Hun teacher who'd mock me because I can't grab my own foot, or (new fear!) a lame teacher who would barely get my pulse above "mildly entertained," or a nasty clique who'd hog my preferred area on the dance floor, or or or.

But I mustered my wits and girded my loins and buffed my resolve and whatever else one does, and headed out into the bright blue snow-white morning that is New England in March. This class is held at the Episcopalian church, so after trying two doors and being wrong, I trudged down the sidewalk trying not to slip, fall, and break a hip before my first class, then heard two ladies chirp, "We're following you!" "Excellent," I said, "this will be my third door. I'm feeling good." Yep, third door was the charm; we entered the church basement, where another eight women were gathered, looking nervous and awkward, waiting for the class to start.

And I cheered right up; they are women of all sizes and ages and shapes, I will fit in perfectly, even if the instructor was a Hun.

The instructor, however, remained a mystery, because she still hadn't arrived.

We waited.

We waited.

I saw a boombox on a shelf in the corner and joked with the woman standing next to me that if there were any CDs, I could lead the class in a warm-up while we waited for the teacher. She said, "Oh, I bet they've got some great CDs," and I did a jazzy finger-snapping version of "Jesus Loves Me," and we laughed.

And we waited some more.

The program coordinator was there, nervously tapping on her cellphone, and at 10:45 she said, "Oh, man, I've got an e-mail from the teacher — her mother-in-law just died, like, an hour ago, she has to go home, she has to cancel class. Oh, dear!" And as we're all kind of sighing and saying, "Oh, well, these things happen, so sorry about mother-in-law," the program coordinator suddenly grabbed my arm, looked deeply into my eyes, and said, "Could you really do it? Would you?"


I looked at the disappointed class, who, to a woman, had just perked up. They looked hopefully back at me. I said, ". . . sure? But we don't have music . . . and it's going to be totally half-assed . . ."

They leaped into action, quickly polling the various music-playing devices available — iPods, phones, etc. — but nothing was going to work. (If I'd had my wits about me, I could have retrieved a CD from my car in less than three minutes — however, my wits had taken a little vacay.) But then we noticed that the boombox had a radio, we quickly found KISS 108 and cranked the volume . . . and we were off!!

Here's the thing: I do know many of the Italian Spitfire's routines by heart (I did some in my basement just the other night), but my muscle memory is completely tied to the music. It was so hard to remember a single routine out of context! But one thing I know about zumba is: Just keep moving. It doesn't matter what you do, just do something. So — we did something! And the program coordinator made the brilliant suggestion of forming a circle and having each woman take turns doing a "move" in the middle that the rest of us would copy, and that ended up being so awesome. One woman did boxing moves. One taught us the cha-cha. One basically ran in a circle pumping her fists in the air, and we all did that and screamed "Wooooo!!!!!" It was hilarious and also incredibly bonding.

At the end, as we did our cool-down, I realized I was dripping with sweat and so was everyone else. It was off the cuff, it was totally half-assed, and yet I think we all got a good workout.

And oh, how they applauded at the end!!

I e-mailed the Italian Spitfire and Sexi Danci Nanci right away:
Two years ago, I could never have imagined feeling confident enough to do something physical in front of people. You two have completely changed my life!!!!!!
Nanci replied, "That was without a doubt the best e-mail I have ever received. So when are you going to get licensed to teach Zumba?" And the Spitfire said, "I can so see you doing it too. You look great — you're one of my sexiest Chicas!"

Love my girls!!

And now I must finish my chores, sigh. Such a comedown! But I'm still glowing, even as I vacuum.

—Lady C, happily starring in her own totally awesome so-called life

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sweet Little Lies

Here's the thing:

You know that I've been panicked about work, right? I try to be chill, but Anxiety is my constant companion, pretty much 24/7. Do I need to find a new or an additional job? Do I need to start marketing my editing services, and how would I do that? What am I doing wrong?

Things have been light for my major client as well — they're not shunning me, they just don't have a lot of work to send. So when an editing job appears, I leap on it! And that's what I'm doing right now: editing 49 single-spaced dense pages about teacher education in Pakistan.

And if that's not the first rung on the Ladder of Enjoyment, I don't know what is.

When I have a job, especially a big job, I get very tunnel-visioned and only want to work on it . . . and that's why my pants are now on fire:
  • I told some friends that I'd attend their wine-and-jewelry-selling party last night. My usual practice is to RSVP yes to parties and then cancel at the last minute, but with my closest friends I'm starting to 'fess up to my partyphobia. However, I really did think I could handle this one, though I know I'm too broke to buy any jewelry (and I usually buy cheap jewelry at Claire's anyway, which suits me perfectly) — a glass of wine with my Dallin Auction pallies, then I'd duck out and be home in time to watch Survivor with Martini. But instead I chose to stay home and get more work done, so I feigned a migraine and e-mailed my excuses.
  • This morning I was supposed to have my teeth cleaned, but again: I'd rather work. Mornings are my most productive time! But if you cancel without 24 hours' notice, they charge you . . . unless there's an emergency. Once again, feigned migraine plus feigned barfing.
Bad bad bad girl. Clearly I will have a migraine today or tomorrow, to right the cosmic balance in the universe.

And while I'm on the topic of I'm Ridiculous, here's what I did yesterday. Remember how happy I was when I woke up and my weight was way down? Yeah, hold that thought.

But first a math lesson (goody!). There are three types of story problems:
  • Group problems: The rhythm here is part-part-whole; you know two elements and need to find the missing one. Examples: (1) Siobhan has three turtles and Liam has five. How many turtles do they have? (2) Samantha has two turtles and Darrin has some turtles; together they have four. How many turtles does Darrin have? (3) Lucy has some turtles and Linus has four; together they have six. How many turtles does Lucy have? [This last format, a missing "start" number, is always the hardest for kids.]
  • Change problems: You have a number, a change occurs, and you have another number. Examples: (1) Scarlett has five doughnuts, and she gives Rhett three. How many doughnuts does Scarlett have left? (2) Eleanor has four doughnuts, and Michele gives her some more. Now Eleanor has seven doughnuts. How many did Michele give her? (3) Betsy has some doughnuts, and she gives Tacy three. Betsy has three left. How many did Betsy start with? [Again, they have the hardest time with this format; finding the "start number" really throws them, since their instinct is to add whatever two numbers they see.]
  • Compare problems: A number is more or less than another number. How much more or less? OR, if a number is a certain amount more or less than another number, what is the original number? Examples: (1) Snowy is 15 and Puddles is 16. Who is older? How much older? (2) Tom is two years older than Dudley. Tom is 15; how old is Dudley? (3) Roger is three years younger than Gene. Gene is 13. How old is Roger? [This is the hardest one – both a missing start and subtraction required. Eek!]
I've been doing variations of these with my Math Practice kids since November, and yesterday my first group, all first-graders, was on fire; we worked on examples of all three, and though they had trouble with the hardest formats, they eventually got them. I was so proud. Then I did some hard subtraction problems with my next group, second-graders, and they likewise performed very well.

Rosy and glowing with confidence, I sailed into my last group, ready to do some fun word problems and revel in the joy of mathematics.

Thud. They couldn't solve a single problem I gave them, though, as I said, we've been doing variations of them, both as mental word problems and using manipulatives, for months and months now.

Not a single one.

I could have cried and cried. These poor kids. They will never pass math, they will never leave first grade, I am a failure as a teacher!

And it was 1:45 and I hadn't had lunch and I was starving and discouraged, so I did exactly the wrong thing and went to a restaurant to use food as medicine/comfort/therapy/succor. (Brunie once saw a book on my shelf titled When Food Is Love and said, "When isn't it?") At our local Thai place I had an entire order of crab rangoons (five plump deep-fried half moons of dough, meant to be shared) and an entire order of spicy eggplant with (fried) tofu (though I did ask for brown rice, clinging to some small semblance of virtue), and I further soothed what ailed me by consuming my namesake drink, two big glassfuls.

And sadly, it did help. For a while. Though I am an idiot.

I tried to offset my indulgence by walking briskly to Starbuck's up the street for a coffee (.36 miles, round trip), and then I didn't eat anything for the rest of the day, just coffee, and my weight was neither up nor down this morning, and that is something. But I am trying hard to break myself of at least three bad habits — drinking alcohol mid-day, eating an entire restaurant meal without bringing some home, and immediately turning to high-calorie restaurant food as therapy — and, wow, a triple whammy, right there.

Idiot, idiot, idiot. And a teaching failure, don't forget.

But today is a new day (albeit, one that is already tainted with a Big Fat Lie).

Onward! To teacher education in Pakistan!


—Lady C

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


The scale continues to inch downward — I'm now 3.5 pounds away from my lowest weight (not "in life" but since beginning this particular journey), which is such lovely positive reinforcement!

The Italian Spitfire pushed us hard last night — she brought in shake weights for us to use, so my arms got a great workout — but I learned from last week's lesson and took a good long hot soak before cuddling up with Mimosa and Smash, and my muscles are "vocal" this morning but not painful. I'll take it! Also, the Fit Blondie who usually opens the gym for us is away this week, so she gave me her key; I got there early to open up, which was just hilarious to me: me, the fitness nerd, in charge of unlocking the gym. I've come a long way, baby!

And get this: I also brought a basketball. And before everyone got there, I practiced shot after shot, perfecting my free throw. (I was never on a team, but my athlete brothers and dad made me shoot hoops with them all the time, and my choices were [a] get reasonably good or [b] chase the ball down our long, long street a lot, so I got reasonably good reasonably quickly.) Then two of my Dallin Auction pallies got there, and we played together, and it was total fun.

I will never be a jock, but I'm now comfortable being physical and moving my body in front of other people, and that is HUGE.

In other news:

One of my Math Practice kids got on my last nerve yesterday. Princess Entitlement and Princess Drama both have a habit of putting their heads on the table and refusing to lift them, which drives me wild, and then yesterday Princess Entitlement sighed, "I am bored out of my mind," and that was it. I snapped and said, "Then go back to your seat right now." She looked surprised: "What?" I said, "That is an extremely rude thing to say to me, you are leaving the group right now. Go." She darted away, astonished. The whole group was startled — even Glum Albie showed a reaction. Littlejay said quickly, "I love math, Mrs. Chardonnay!!" They were angels for the next 10 minutes.

So, yeah, time to go over the ground rules again and set two more. I will frame them positively (Be kind, and Recognize that sometimes you get your way and sometimes you don't) — but what I mean is, Get your head off the table, you brat, and Quit bitching that things aren't fair.

I do love these kids and I love doing math with them, but it's probably good that I only see them in 20–30-minute blocks. !!!!

Also, it sounds like my town will be hit with another big storm this week. Yesterday I went to to see if there were any predictions yet for amount of snowfall, and I saw the enticing title, "Which State Is the Saddest?" Well, wouldn't you want to know?? (My predictions, without giving it much thought, were Wyoming, Montana, and either of the Dakotas, which shows you my prejudices right there. And I was utterly wrong.) According to the 2012 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Survey, Hawaii is the happiest and West Virginia is the saddest. In general, New England did quite well, with most of our states hitting the Top 20 (Massachusetts tied for #9 with Iowa) — Rhode Island, alas, does not join its cheerful sistren (I blame the Mafia). Anyway — a fun diversion.


—Lady C

p.s. Actually, I expected the scale reading to be lower this morning, so I tried moving my scale to different spots in the bathroom and was gratified to see that this took off a pound and a half! I'm not "counting" that weight, but it was fun to see.

Scales . . . they are a mystery.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Facts of Life, How They Oft Sucketh

Despite my best efforts, I am not yet thin. Dang it.

Yesterday I took a walk and lifted weights and did wall-push-ups; today I have very sore armpits (but oh how fit they will be! the envy of every flabby armpit gal in New England!) and lost nary a pound.

And I am crampy and bloody and expelling tiny clots that look like chunks of raw liver, sorry, I know this is disgusting, but that's what I'm dealing with. So now you know.

And my Math Practice kids were little pissheads again, and I grow weary of them.

And I finally broke down and wrote to the potentially lucrative client, trying not to whine, and asked so nicely, so politely, when I might hear from them? Answer: Probably not for several months, they are just so so so busy with their big important work. (She said it graciously, though.) So even if I do get this job, it won't help me any time soon.

But: We had a lovely healthy dinner, cooked by me and Mimosa — salmon and asparagus and green salad and apple salad and yeast rolls, and I ate lightly and drank lots of water and will not have anything else tonight (except coffee, of course).

And last night I met the parents of the kids I'll be teaching UU sex ed to starting next Sunday, and they were great, and I adore my co-teacher, and it's going to be a blast.

And even if I haven't lost any more weight, I feel like I'm back on track.

And I just had a lovely chat with Zanny, and we're planning a road trip to Toronto (SO. MUCH. FUN. I hope it happens!!), and that was cool.

And spring is coming.

And tomorrow is another day.

And now I'm going to sink into hot bubbles and read one of my three good books and embrace my bottle of Motrin and my Super-Plus Tampax Pearls, the greatest feminine hygiene product ever invented. Most of the time I love being a girl, but every 21 days . . . man, having a functioning uterus sucks.

—Lady C

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Going Down — Finally!

Every Sunday FatSecret e-mails me and invites me to weigh in. Since I decided a while ago that I would only report losses, not gains . . . I haven't weighed in in some time.

And as I've said, I keep gaining and losing the same five pounds, over and over — except this week three more crept on, and that was alarming. I'd gone up to 255.5, the highest I've been for a while, and the scale would not move, despite my best intentions.

But I think yesterday's walk really helped (and also it's Day 3 of my special ladytime; my weight always spikes at first then goes down), and this morning's scale reported a three-pound loss. Yay! And: about freaking time! (This, mind you, after a dinner of sausage and cake, though I had just one reasonable portion of each.) I'm still six pounds away from my last weigh-in (January 27), but still. It feels good to be moving in the right direction again.

Here's the thing: You can lose weight without exercising if you dramatically cut your calories. You are unlikely to lose weight if you only exercise and continue to overeat. I know that of the two, food choices make more of a difference (in terms of weight loss) than exercise choices. (My zumba teacher always says, "Great abs start in the kitchen.")

BUT: I don't want to dramatically cut my calories! That's been my thing all along. I want to figure out how I can lose weight and still eat the foods I like. What balance of smaller portions of the less healthy and larger portions of the more healthy (yet still delicious), and how many days of fun exercise, will allow me to reach and maintain my dream weight? That is what my approach has been about.

This cold winter has taken a toll on my good habits, but spring is definitely in the air. 

—Lady C, happy loser

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Tongue-Kissing My Fears

(Some people simply embrace their fears, but I'm not coy.)

Fear of the Day #1: Technology
I'm not exactly afraid of technology — not like my mom, who still won't deposit money in an ATM because who really knows where it goes? — but I also don't embrace it and assume that any new thing is (a) an improvement or (b) something I must have. Husband and I are exact opposites in this regard, I should add. But I'm still reading books made of paper, my phone is just a phone, and I own a hefty collection of both LPs and movies on VHS. I do love and adore my computer, but as a tool for work and quick communication; I don't think of it as an entertainment device. The idea of carrying it around with me (i.e., a laptop) . . . is mostly confusing. Why would I want to do this?

I would say that I'm wary rather than scared, and I do hate the learning curve. And if it's at all complicated, I lose patience extremely quickly.

So for these reasons, when my beloved pal Zan suggested that I get on Skype so that we could do zumba together, I did not exactly . . . cheer.

A. I have to figure out Skype.
B. I have to figure out Skype on an unfamiliar computer, since I would have to do this in the basement, where the kids' computers are. (My computer is in the dining room; no space for zumba. Alas.)

But I gave it my very best shot today, I truly did. I figured out what ancient version I needed to download to run on my daughter's ancient computer ("ancient" being a relative term in Computer World, another reason I dislike and resent new stuff), I got it all downloaded, I found Zan in the Skype Contacts and added her to my Address Book, I pressed the icon with the green phone receiver on it to call her . . . and the computer said, SHE DOESN'T EXIST, YOU MORON. Or something like that.

It took an hour of my life just to get this far today. I will look at it again tomorrow, but it may be a no go.

However, the point is: I DID IT. I took on something that I was truly dreading, and I FACED IT. Even though it didn't work. Not the point! Let's focus, people!

Fear of the Day #2: Getting Back Into Exercise / Walking on Snow and Ice
For the past few days I've been muttering under my breath, mutter mutter, about my exercise-naggy friends Zan and Good Neighbor Anne who are all in my face about just do it already, mutter mutter, don't they know how busy my life is??????

And then I thought: Dude. Did you invite all your bestys to read your blog so they could say, Oh, Lady C, how amazing you are — every decision you make is flawless! perfect! Or did you invite them to, yes, give you pep talks but also hold your feet to the fire on those days when you are being a big weenie??

I am very good at tests, and I would like you to know that I got a perfect score on this question.

This morning I had to go to a memorial service, and when I got home the weather was so pleasant, almost balmy! I decided that I might chance an outdoor walk, even though there are still piles of snow everywhere and no guarantee of clear sidewalks. But first I had to do my chores, of course, and then I got caught up in the Skype thing, and by the time I was finally ready to walk, it was close to 4 p.m. and a decided chill had entered the air.

I wavered.

But my darling daughter gave me a hug and said, "I think you should go for it. If it's too cold, come home," and that turned the tide. I slipped into the red-and-black snazzy jogging suit that Mrs. Cynicletary gave me a couple of months ago; it's a tad snugger but still fits fine and it kept me very warm. I felt like Charlie's middle-aged, voluptuous Angel; I decided that my Angel name is Holly St. John and when we go undercover I will pose as a chef/aesthetician — so, like, when the other Angels pretend to be prostitutes, I will do their nails and make them all parfaits.

Anyway! I went for my walk, and it wasn't till Nurse Kathy's house (close to a mile) before I felt fully warmed up (and I did have to walk in the street a few times — lazy non-shoveling neighbors, mutter mutter), and my arthritic knee started whimpering in the midst of the second third and I thought about wrapping up early . . . but I caught a third wind (listening to "Amphetamine" helped) and went for it! I walked the entire 2.3 miles and felt great.

Tomorrow I will either walk again (weather-dependent) or try my new treadmill strategy. And then:

A Return to Fear of the Day #1: Technology

I will take a (last) look at Skype, and I will try out the Bluetooth device that Zan sent me.

And That's Enough Fear-Kissing, If You Ask Me

I made a kick-ass dinner tonight, Italian sausage and red grapes from Molly W's Orangette blog (and she says the recipe was inspired by Matthew Amster-Burton, whose wife is one of my pallies!) and roasted potatoes and braised greens, and for dessert I made a banana cake with Trader Joe's Cookie Butter (tastes like a gingersnap with the texture of peanut butter) between the layers and frosted it with white cream-cheese frosting, and we ate it warm from the oven, oooohhh mama.

Time for a hot shower and a good book.*


—Lady C

* OK, I guess I do have one more Fear of the Day and that's: Self-Publishing. I don't want to do it, I'm terrified of all the work involved. But my friend Mary Rowen just self-published her wonderful book Living By Ear (it is REALLY good, and I promise I'm not just saying that; I don't love all her stuff but I loved this a lot. Check out my review on Amazon!) and is having a truly groovy experience. Definitely food for thought, I'll say that.