Misanthropic Meanderings

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Location: California, United States

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

In Praise of the Chubthlete

I was enduring my tri-weekly exercise program at the pool when I noticed one of my fellow swimmers preparing to jump in. I’d notice her before, in fact, watched jealously at her ease and speed in the pool as she did a number of endless, Olympic length laps. She, like me, carries a lot of extra in all those areas women bemoan themselves about. We don’t fit the idea of athletic, workout junkies. The ones you see sweating away on a treadmill at 6 am at the local gym. The psychotic taking a swim in 75º weather, long after the sunbathing types have given up on shorts and tans. We may workout like stars, but we’re not going to be mistaken for them anytime soon.

Confession time.
I’ve been pretty darn near to giving up on my 6x a week workout routine. Who cares if you can do 12 Olympic laps, walk 4 miles or leg press 250lbs when you can’t fit an arm into a size 8? Nobody gives you credit for it. If you’ve ever seen a twenty-something male gawk at the fact that you: a) know how to work a weight machine, and, b) set it that high; you know what I mean. Only you can feel the power of your toned abs, hidden beneath an, ahem, cushion. Same goes for those pumped arms and legs of yours. They give a mean hug but that snooty sales clerk who tells you they don’t stock your size doesn’t deserve one. What’s a gal to do? Give in to the stereotypes? Lie about snacking on butter sandwiches and twinkies, the way the rest of the world thinks you do? Just lie back, let those muscles sink back to being undefined from your flab. Forget it. I like my muscles. If fact, the more I exercise, the more I like every part of me. Seeing your body perform, feeling muscles, sinews, heart all doing their utmost is simply, fun. Maybe it’s runners high, maybe it’s self-hypnosis but I wouldn’t trade my workout hour for anything.

There’s more than just an endorphin rush, however. Recent studies have found that an exercising fat person is in better health than a sedentary skinny person. Now there’s a wonderful thought to roll around your mind. We, the sweaty yet hefty, are healthier than a slender couch potato. Our workouts matter where it counts–at the doctor’s office. Let’s coin a new phrase for this phenomenon. Chubby + Athlete= Chubthlete. Chubthletic. Ok, it’s probably not a sweatshirt slogan. All it’s got going for it is accuracy but there’s a certain je ne sais quoi about it. It conveys a sense of no crazy eating regimes, just an honest, healthy acceptance of what your best body is going to be. When you go shopping and your hand reaches for a dreaded size 14 (or 16 or 12 or 22), you’ll never say, “I may be fat but I exercise” again. Instead you’ll smile, appreciate how many clothes your pumped arms can lift and say, “I’m a chubthlete and I’m proud!” At least that’s what I’m going to do. After my morning walk.

Post script: I wrote this post waaaaay back in 2005 or 6. I am now about size 8/10 and shrinking. I still feel this way about exercise and health, but I am now being asked to apologize for losing weight. Screw that. I like myself and the body I exist in.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Gin Joint

I'm starting to think we should just keep August in a quiet, dark bedroom, maybe just take a national vacation or institute nationwide siestas or something. Did I just step out of my car and into 1943 Weimar Germany? Let's get a few things straight right off the bat. The Park 51 building is not at Ground Zero, nor is it a mosque. It is, in essence, a YMCA, except with a M where the C would be. Somewhere, probably on 2nd floor or 3rd floor, is a nice, quiet private room where prayer mats will be kept. There will be lovely calligraphic (hint, this word does not come from the english) decorations and there will be a blessed silence not often found on NYC’s downtown streets. Men and women of multiple faiths will be invited to take use of the facilities, some, of a specific faith will partake of this room. When the room is filled to capacity, an observer scanning the ranks will be amazed at the range of hues. Turks, Somalians, Uzbekis, and yes, even blond, blue-eyed American born types will be there. None of them will be disturbed that in another section of the building, men and women are wearing swimsuits while exercising in the pool. Or that people of other faiths, or even no faith, are using meditation rooms. This is a community center with a prayer room for Muslims to be built by an American citizen of very well vouched for character with his own money on his own private property. And it is not your business, rest of America.

Make no mistake about it, this is not up for discussion by people in Alabama, or Florida or Alaska. The good Senator from North Dakota has nothing to say about it either. It is a local land use issue that is determined by the local government. And they’ve already given approval to a project that renovates an area, will bring construction jobs into downtown Manhattan and bring the resource of a community center to the city. For those who claim that since Muslims perpetrated 9/11 therefore Muslims should not be allowed to build a “mosque” on Ground Zero–that hallowed ground complete with stripper clubs, tchotchke vendors, the typical fair. You have your wish, there is no mosque. For those who think that having Muslims worship or own a building, no matter the stated purpose, that close to Ground Zero, take it up with the Constitution. If you think that Islam is a violent religion for whose crimes Muslims do not deserve equal rights, the Huguenots would like to have a few cathedrals removed, so St. Peter’s is gonna have to go. And since the Orange order have done violence, St. Paul's is out too. In fact, by the time you weed out all religions with a history of fratricide over doctrine, intolerance to those who simply do not share their faith and general all too human evil doing, the only religions allowed will be Baha'i and Quaker. We move forward after violence, in forgiveness, because we know the tenets of a faith are not proof against the worst of human behaviour, but a bulwark against fear when we experience this darkness. By following our laws, boldly with malice toward none, we exemplify the best we have to offer in America. To put it in Christian terms, it is "a lamp to my feet and a light for my path", so to speak.

As of right now, acts of violence against Muslims or supposed Muslims are increasing. We've had arson against the building site of a mosque that has nothing to do with NYC or any ground zero. Where are we going with this? The civil rights past of this country was violent and bloody. Many of the same people who are now trying to gin up fear and hatred for political gain, if not just plain old personal power, refuse to acknowledge the past. The question for America is, will you be led by the nose, by these immoral people, back to a shameful past? Or will you stand up and reject hatred in favor of the law of the land?

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Monday, May 31, 2010

Breakfast, again

One of the biggest things you can do to be green, and the most cost effective, is to eat vegetarian. This doesn't mean salads every meal or tofu for everyone. In fact, you don't have to give up meat entirely to be green. Try this pretty simple meal for breakfast or even dinner.

Pair of Potatoes Hash Browns
1/2 chopped onion
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 tspn minced garlic
1 tspn oil (coconut or olive is my preference)
1 small sweet potato-grated
1 small russet potato-grated
1/2 cup of chopped mushrooms
3 leaves of fresh sage, shredded
ground pepper-freshly ground, I hope
1/2 cup of cheddar cheese
1 tspn of braggs amino acids or salt to taste

In a 12 in skillet, warm your oil and put in garlic, onions & peppers. Fry until onions are just translucent.
While that's happening, get your washed taters out and either grate them by hand for the best arm workout you can have on one side of your body, or use your handy dandy food processor to get your hash on. Put into your frying pan and brown for about 5 mins. Add mushrooms & cheese. Flip. Don't worry, it will break up. It's all good, this isn't a restaurant. Let that cook for another 5 mins. You want to just watch for scorching now as you let it cook for about another 8 mins.

Serves about 2 as a main with something on the side, like yogurt & granola bowls or 3 if you're serving scrambled eggs & fruit. To make more for a larger crowd, double the potatoes, mushrooms and onions, make the cheese about 3/4 cup and add another 2 leaves of sage. Enjoy.

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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Failing, et al

When you're young, say, a child of 0-8, failing at something is the same as succeeding. You're learning, everything is still so new that just the act of trying is a great achievement. Success at it-well that just makes it a little bit better. The most important gauge of success or failure is your parent, usually mother. Each smile, each word of praise is a diamond while a harsh word can crush you for hours. As you age, say kidhood, around 9-13, you start to understand what it means to fail. The shocks of school life have taught you academic paranoias or in the rare event of a born genius, a strange mix of elation and shame as each deft success in mental acumen isolates you from your peers and maybe even your family. Your peer group has started to make it's opinions known, so failure in the social sphere is making an impact.

By the time you hit that marvelous stage, teenage, you're like a suit of iron that's been dipped into liquid freon. So hard, self contained. So brittle, because everything, especially the things you are witnessed failing at, can break you into a million pieces. We don't know if it's hormones, or this perilous period from 14 to 20, but it's all so damned important then. And how we want to succeed. We want to shine, we want to be seen and loved, beloved is important. But we don't want to stand out for being different. Not unless it's the right kind of different. That different, the type that sets your blood flowing under skin in crimson wave of shame, that makes your extremities swell to gigantic proportions while reducing your limbs to a spindly awkwardness that has never known a moment's grace in their lives, that is failing. As far as your parents are concerned, they were never young and "it isn't so bad" could never be anything less than mocking. Perhaps we should bow our heads for all parents of teenagers at this moment.

What can I say, it's almost a relief to in your 20's. You are free. Sure there are expectations: your parents, society, yaddayadda, blahblah. SO WHAT? WTF? You're 21 for christ's sakes. For the first time ever, the option to just walk away from what other people want from you is right there. Not only can you blow off classes, you can blow off mom's desire for you to be a lawyer and get that BA in experimental pottery. Were you a sober, serious church mouse? Well, hello booze, shrooms & SEX! You can redefine your life how you want and now, failure is what ever you allow it to be. It's up to you and you know what? If you screw up, royally, as long as no one is dead, pregnant or in jail, you're young. Starting over is not a setback. Hell, frankly, you're just starting out anyway.

30 is a bit different. It's about when you may not have everything set in stone, but you'd like to think you're getting the cement and blocks together. It's when life partners & babies & Ultimate Career Plans are being chosen, labored on. It seems like failure gets more personal now. Others could make you feel shamed, but now, when there's a misstep, it's completely, deeply something you're aware of as being your choices, your actions failing. When there's an "oops", if there's one, it's like your stomache goes hollow for days and you wonder "Do I still have enough time? To start over?"

Failing at 40. There's something. It deserves a bottle or 2 of liquor, preferably one that burns on the way down and for a few minutes after swallowing. Maybe it mixes well with the anger. After all, that anger is all you have now. It wraps itself around your bones, it's now infused with every cell, because, just because. What else is there to do? You've been at this life & adulthood for a while now. This life was all your idea. You had plans. Or didn't. You worked hard. Or not hard enough. You had talent. Or maybe not. You may have been deluded into thinking you were capable. Perhaps this has been a slow motion wreck, some kinda crazy personal earthquake that tore up the foundations of your life. The vibrations shake you off your feet, your fingers dig in against the inexorable slide, your nails fill up with dirt, cracking against your body weight. You dangle a bit, hoping you can just make it stop, just feel that there's a solid surface not too far away, a touch of hope that it'll turn around? No. Over you go and it's the long, dark drop. Where to now? What do I do?
WHY ARE ALL THOSE PEOPLE WHO ARE SUPPOSEDLY JUST LIKE ME NOT SUFFERING LIKE I AM? Why have they stopped looking me in the face? Do they pity me? Do I pity me? This is not what 40 should be like, is it? Who the hell starts over at that age? Remember the tv adults in the '50s? They never were "starting over" at 40. Career setbacks, relationship dissolutions. The most shocking thing was a drinking problem or a witchy wife, but certainly not failing. And now, facing the sunset at what's supposed to be your peak time in life, you now must consider where, how to regain ground before you head into a sad dotage at 50. We used to consider living past 35 to be old age. It was a rough world that took us then. Heart problems've become more prevalent at this age. Probably due to breakage.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

You Make Me Smack You

Rep. Devin Nunes from California today on some shameful behaviour by Tea Party "Patriots" yesterday. http://thinkprogress.org/2010/03/21/nunes-tea-part/
Basically, if Democrats weren't, you know, inciting them by being all, not Republicans, then they wouldn't be getting hurt. Isn't this what the abusive husband says after he beats the crap out of his wife? Asshole. I can't sit on my hands so, time to show some spine.

Here's my rant.
The fact that you could sit on television and actually defend the use of slurs, threats of violence and spitting on your fellow congresspersons says more about the lack of morality on your side than anything you've done all year. To describe standard congressional procedure as "totalitarian tactics", is the most deplorable abuse of language that there is. Any person capable of using a computer can find the majority Republican Party using all cited procedures under debate for passing Health Insurance Reform for even more controversial, deficit inducing actions. You're a very, very disgusting representative of what's wrong with the Republican Party today, using your opportunity to decry racism and behaviour that has been more evident during Civil Rights marches in the 1960's that should no longer be part of the process today. For shame. I will make sure that all the people I know in your area understand exactly how much partisanship has blindered you to simple human decency.

I know it's not much, but dammit, it needs to be said.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

President Daddy-Face

After the hell of Barack Obama'a first year in office, I've noticed something. Somehow, he, personally, is responsible for "the message". In fact, what President Obama needs to do is sit down and explain everything to us citizens. If he doesn't and the opposition party tells random lies, misinformation, etc etc, even outright crazy talk, this is his personal fault. He and he alone is the force for good true and right, all those Sentaros and Reprsuzzlvis or whatever you call them in Congress, they are mere courtiers. The news media? Pffft. The servants to his majesty. We, unwashed peasantry-only job left in this scenario-have to stand there and wait for the personal word of our Prez.

Really? Seriously, wtf? If I needed a guy to hold my hand and patiently explain every detail of legislation, I'd be out picking up drunken old political beasts outside the capitol building. And the mere concept of that is enough for me to cross my legs twice and take novitiate vows. You know, Senator People, you get on these dumb very important chat shows. How about asking one of your least polished interns to translate the policy into human language and use those to make your points on the wonk shows? And, here's a good move, when faced with obvious lies, call the liar out. I know, I know, collegiality etc., not gonna have a friendly lunch party anymore, may not be invited over for wine bar outings.

"But we golf together," you wail. Standing with not just your party leader, Democratic Senators and House Representatives, but the prevailing will of your party base is just a little bit more important that that Republican buddy who'll gladly depict you as a communist-socialist come election time. The ever so gentlemanly fellow from Kansas? The same douchebag who claims you're personally responsible for the debts his party ran up with supplementals for the past 6 years. "OMG, we're in a war? Why didn't anyone tell us? Now we have to pay for stuff!" That sweet little grandma from North Carolina? She'll gladly lie about where you stand so you look like you want to kill babies for eternal youth cocktails. Get your head together, Democratic Rep. The Republicans don't care what you do when they're off camera. They're not your friends, they're not your buds, and they will knife you to your face. Americans will then spit on you for how you apologize for soiling their knife. Wherever the fuck you stashed your balls the past decade, find and get out there and fight like you mean it.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Fight-Even On Your Backs

Why is healthcare reform important? Because over 40k people die each year without insurance coverage. Because most industrialized nations that we compete with have it, reducing their labor costs and driving the loss of jobs overseas. Because it is inhumane that health services is rationed out based on what you can afford. Because having all your teeth pulled by 18 and buying dentures since that's cheapest, is not a dental plan. Because if you've been physically abused in a relationship, that can be called a pre-existing condition and you can be denied coverage. Do I really need to go on? Seems I do.

It is not socialism and you should really know the definition and spelling before you use it in a sign. It is an expansion of insurance availability with government subsidies to those who cannot afford even low cost insurance. The best things are an expansion of Medicaid eligibility for people in their 50s, full funding of community health care clinics-very cost effective medical care programs.

Contacting your Congress
House & Senate Switchboard-just tell them who you want to talk to: (202) 224-3121
Tell your Representative to pass the Senate bill. Tell your Senator to get behind reconciliation to fix the Senate bill. - This is key. There is a lot to fix but it can be done and we need Senators-the most dysfunctional area of Congress, to get things in order. If we have to, make their lives miserable until they get it.

Tell your Senator to also vote to end the procedural filibuster. Why? Because most of what's holding up the process is the threat of invisible filibusters. No one has to stand there and speechify or read phone books for hours anymore. All they have to do is say, "well, I may filibuster it", mark a filibuster notation, and it's done. They can get coffee, have lives, collect donations. If we end it, they can stop abusing the filibuster and be caught on tape doing the bathroom hop while they try to find words to describe why Americans having healthcare as good as theirs is wrong.

Also call a few key people because they have positions that are of national importance. Senator Harry Reid and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Show Madame Speaker Pelosi some love. Thank her for her efforts in the House, tell her you support the Senate bill and a reconciliation fix.
Call Harry Reid and respectfully thank him for the initial Senate bill, then take him to task. He needs to support reconciliation to fix the issues, stand up to Republicans grandstanding and filibustering and FIX THE BLOODY ABUSE OF THE FILIBUSTER. Remind the man that he's the majority leader and if-IF-he wins re-election, he may wind up the minority leader and will have squandered a chance at fixing many key issues that are important today. Remind whoever answers his phone that Reid may not be your Senator but he certainly affects you.

Call the White House, 202-456-1414, and remind them that if they want this bill passed, you suggest the President get out and say he wants this bill, plenty, loud and often. Suggest that there be some actual consequences to the lack of party discipline and make some real push back against the spin. Again, telling them to grow a pair-politely-is key.

We need reconciliation to get House Progressive Dems to vote for the Senate bill, so calling every Senator you can is worthwhile. Did you live in another state? Remember the zip code? Use *67 to prevent number tracking and call those reps. This is a fight. Government does not work, with an electorate that doesn't show up.

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