Friday, March 25, 2016

(VERY) Slow and (Kinda) Steady

After my lovely workout on whatever day that was, I haven't done a single thing to move my body (beyond the usual motions of day-to-day life), but I have consciously tried to eat less — and as you'd expect in the first days of a "diet," I've lost about two pounds. Which is great, I'll take it.

But today I had a solid plan: I would substitute-teach in the morning (the Arlington schools are closed for Good Friday, but our neighboring town of Belmont is only half as holy, and they were open for half a day), come home and do all my dinner prep (the Chardonnays are rarely all home for dinner at the same time any more, but tonight we would be, and I had a lovely meal planned of ham steak and colcannon ["bubble and squeak"] and fresh fruit), and then work out, eat lightly at dinner, and take a long hot bath.

INSTEAD, I had a classroom full of hellion thugs. Frankly, fifth-graders are not the most fun to teach. They've lost all desire to please the teacher (the hallmark of second- and third-graders, my favorite), and they don't have the basic social skills of older students. And these kids were especially wound up because it was a half day before a long weekend and there was a sub. Plus, the teacher left very spotty lesson plans, which is always annoying. I got through it, but by the time I got home, I was exhausted.

And also in a lot of pain. For some reason, subbing is extremely hard on my knees. I think because I'm standing more than I realize and I expend so much energy starting from the soles of my feet. It takes a lot of effort to keep a classroom engaged and under control!

In any event, after running two errands, I came home, collapsed in my comfy chair with my exciting new library book, and indulged in two of my secret weapons:

We did have the lovely dinner and completed our Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathon, which started last June, and that was great fun.

But even though I feel much better (Aleve is magic!!) — no exercise today. And likely none tomorrow either; I'll do chores all morning, and then Husband and I are attending many, many hours of live theater. Our pal Handsome D is starring in a trilogy; we've seen Part 1, and tomorrow we see Parts 2 and 3. He is marvelous, and we are looking forward to it. I can still eat small meals, but it won't be a day of much movement.

Maybe Easter, the day of rebirth, renewal, and miracles, will be a workout day for me. Who knows?

— Lady C

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Lady C's Best Books of 2015

A big day of shopping lies before me, which frankly sounds like hell (I am the girliest girl in all of creation except in this regard — I hate shopping and always have. But I need shoes in particular, and some more pants would be great, and I could really use another good bra, so . . . the mall calls), and I am putting it off as long as I can. So, hey, why not write my traditional New Year's Day post . . . on March 23? Why not, indeed.

I rate the books I read on a four-star system. For this purpose, I don't care about literary merit, lasting worth, blah blah blah — I just want to enjoy a good read. I read 94 new books in 2015 (I don't track rereads), and here are the books I gave three and a half or four stars to (listed in the order that I read them):
  1. Crooked House by Agatha Christie
  2. You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz 
  3. So, Anyway . . . by John Cleese (I wrote, "LOVED. Warm, funny, insightful. A pure delight!")
  4. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black (YA)
  5. Tempting Fate by Jane Green (I wrote, "So annoying — and yet compulsively readable!" I must add that I remember nothing about this book)
  6. Venom and the River by my great pal Marsha Qualey, who is brilliant and wonderful and a divine writer to boot
  7.  Christmas Truce by Aaron Shepard (a gorgeous picture book)
  8. Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff (YA, I think)
  9. From Little Houses to Little Women by Nancy McCabe (I wrote, "I didn't agree with every conclusion, and I longed for more Betsy-Tacy [she kinda dissed Mankato]— but still, a fun, engrossing read")
  10. Delivering Dr. Amelia by Dan Shapiro
  11. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (YA, I think — man, I cannot remember anything)
  12. Conversion by Katherine Howe (YA — definitely one of my favorites last year!)
  13. The Hive by Gill Hornby
  14. The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin
  15. Before We Met by Lucie Whitehouse
  16. The Cats in the Doll Shop by Yona Zeldis McDonough (middle grade, very sweet and fun)
  17. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult ("I didn't love the ending — so often the case with this writer — but I did love this book. So sweet and sad!")
  18. Someone Is Waiting by Joy Fielding
  19. Simon and the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (YA — LOVED!!)
  20. Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight
  21. Half Wild by Sally Green (YA)
  22. Spellman Six by Lisa Lutz
  23. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng ("SO. GOOD. Hugely sad, of course, but also wonderful")
  24. Perfect by Natasha Friend (YA, I think)
  25. Sad Cypress by Agatha Christie
  26. Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan (YA)
  27. Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey
  28. I Regret Nothing by Jen Lancaster
  29. Secrets from the Eating Lab by Traci Mann
  30. Dietland by Sarai Walker ("Loved loved LOVED! So smart about food! So satisfying in its treatment of horrible men! A stronger ending would have been nice, but I will waive that complaint in light of the sea of awesomeness that preceded it!")
  31. Truth or Dare by Jacqueline Green (YA)
  32. Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott (YA — "Horrifyingly fantastic. Compulsively readable. Loved [in horror]")
  33. Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas (love my Veronica Mars!)
  34. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  35. Now I'll Tell You Everything by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (YA — actually, the writing isn't great at all, but I give PRN mad props for telling us Alice's entire story. What a gift to her readers!)
  36. The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
  37. Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella (YA)
  38. Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu (YA)
  39. The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu (YA)
  40. Thunderstruck by Elizabeth McCracken (short stories)
  41. This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales (YA)
  42. Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor (YA)
  43. The Giant's House by Elizabeth McCracken
  44. X by Sue Grafton
  45. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (YA)
  46. The Secret Place by Tana French
  47. The Barter by Siobhan Adcock (I wrote, "I didn't love the ending, but the story was riveting")
  48. Past Perfect by Leila Sales (YA)
  49. The Best of Enemies by Jen Lancaster
  50. The Admissions by Meg Mitchell Moore
  51. Maternity Leave by Julie Halpern (I wrote, "Fun, but . . . after a while, you're all, DUDE. Get it together!!! But I will go anywhere with Julie Halpern")
  52. George by Alex Gino (middle grade – and PERFECT)
  53. The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young (I know I loved this, but I literally do not remember one thing about it — I may have to look it up)
  54. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (YA)
  55. Movie Star by Lizzie Pepper by Hilary Luftin
  56. Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner
  57. Family Sabbatical by Carol Ryrie Brink (middle grade)
  58. A Window Opens by Elizabeth Egan
  59. In a Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
  60. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
  61. The Lake House by Kate Morton
 And the worst books I read in 2015, all the way to the bitter end:
  1. Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh (I wrote, "Ugh. What a grim, disappointing book. Don't ask me why I hung on." And it's getting so many awards! I shake my head)
  2. Between You and I: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norton (I wanted to love it — I am her natural-born audience! But it was a snoozefest)
  3. Lydia's Party by Margaret Hawkins (I wrote, "UGH. What a pointless, meandering, annoying book. Mysteries unresolved. Indistinguishable, irritating characters. BLEH.")
Did you read any of these? Agree, disagree with my rankings? Let me know!

— Lady C, off to try on shoes

p.s. I did look up The Gates of Evangeline and still can't remember a damn thing about it. Listen — want a great read that doesn't stay with you? Have I got a suggestion! Ha.

p.p.s. My treat after a day of shopping is a visit to — where else? — my local library! Three books are waiting for me, I am in heaven.

Defying Gravity

Wow, it has been a while!!

The big mess that's been going on in my life since December (actually earlier, but it became more concrete in December) has finally been resolved, with the help of a lawyer, the Office for Civil Rights, and many long and increasingly agitated phone calls and e-mails with my nearest and dearest. I would love to say that this long period of stress paid off in weight loss — oh, how I would love to say that.

But it did not. Nothing kills my appetite, man.

Since January 2014, when I began taking Tamoxifen to prevent breast cancer, several things in my life changed:
  • Arthritis in both knees
  • Artificially induced menopause (brought on by the Tam)
  • Death of my adored father
In short, I was suddenly in pain all the time, my body began acting like a stranger — a large, lumbering, flatulent stranger — and I was brought down by grief. I could no longer do zumba, the exercise I love, and it all made me very depressed.

And slowly, slowly, every one of the 40 pounds I'd managed to shed from my body found their way back to me. Once again I am weighing in at 288, the weight I was when I started this blog lo these many years ago, just seconds away from 300 pounds. Once again, I want to lose more than 100 pounds, only this time I can't do my favorite exercise and I'm menopausal — a period of life that is not known for being conducive to weight loss.

But what else can I do? I know that my wretched knees will feel better with less to carry — that is simply logical.

So I've begun again.

Tai chi was not for me, and walking hurts my knees. The only cardio exercise I can stand to do is riding the stationary bike, so I did that last night for 20 minutes — and for the first 15, all I did was contemplate death. ("Death by Crotch Pain," what a way to go.)

Then "Defying Gravity" came up on my iPod, right at the moment that my endorphins or whatever kicked in, and the last five minutes were quite pleasant.

(And it gave me the title for this blog post. There will always be things to pull me down. Today, I will try defying them. Tomorrow — well, I'll worry about that tomorrow.)

However, bike-riding does not bring me the joy that zumba brought me, so once again I'm trying something new: Deep Water Challenge, a twice-weekly exercise class that promises to be "a high-intensity workout without the stress on the joints and bones." Even better, Mimosa is taking it with me! For many reasons, she stopped doing karate this year, and she needs to move her body. This will be a fun thing to do together before my cherub leaves for college. Our first class is April 5, and while I'm not "excited" about it, exactly, I'm really glad we're doing it.

I also lifted weights last night and worked my core, and it is just astonishing how out of shape I am! And sad, too — I actually enjoy weight lifting, and I love the feeling of being strong, and nothing about it hurts my knees. Why did I stop?????

Arggh! I am my own worst enemy, I know this.

I'm also back to logging my food on Fat Secret. This week, I'm simply going to try to have smaller portions. My next goal will be to cut back on restaurant meals, my personal Waterloo, but one thing at a time.

Baby steps! Even though I'm impatient, I know this is the way to go.

And hey! I've already lost a pound! 138 to go. No problem.

Nice to be talking to you again, my friends.

— Lady C

p.s. Here's what I'm reading:

And what I'm watching:


So far I liked Season 1 better, but Season 2 is growing on me. Time will tell.