Thursday, September 24, 2009

Odds and ends - the thirty-minute post

So in the spring I tried the fifteen-minute post occasionally but I think today that's too restrictive - for one thing I still have the lopped-off finger (I'm exaggerating and dramatizing, but it really is painful to type with it) slowing me down. I alternate between using it anyway (half the time the letter doesn't express itself and I have to redo anyway) and trying to type those keys (they are r, t, f, g, v, and b, for the record) with other fingers, such as the middle finger of my left hand. Tricky, tricky, tricky.

So here they are, the odds and ends of my sometimes-way-too-busy, sometimes-dangerously-idle mind:

- this morning I was making a list of things to do before taking myself off to the library to work there for the day on some web sites, and I made this list:

1. newspaper
2. smoothie
3. make lunch
4. pay German bills

and suddenly I was overcome by the thought that I should make a list item that said "drink poison". Why????? I have no desire whatsoever to actually drink any poison, it just seemed like the very right thing to put next on the list.

And indeed, I did put it on the list. The list now reads

1. newspaper
2. smoothie
3. make lunch
4. pay German bills
5. drink poison
6. write [hubby] re credit card
7. pack up
8. go

and numbers 1-4 and 6 are checked off, no. 5 is crossed out, I have a little "1100" in a circle at the top right and "1200" a little lower down, both of those indicating numbers of steps I wish to get to, and they are both checked off as well. I was going to blog from the library too but decided to do it at home with the timer.

But still - I was thinking - what was that list item about? Is it like standing at the viewing windows of the Empire State Building and concentrating really hard on not jumping, or thinking: thank God I am not holding a baby or small child because I would surely lose my concentration briefly and toss it out? Seems related but not identical.

- yesterday morning was super foggy, I was trying to get tons of steps on the pedometer before I ever even left the house for ladies' morning walk, and so I went downstairs to be Felix's walking snooze alarm multiple times, and went outside early for the Herald Times knowing I'd have to go out again a little later for the New York Times (and while inside the house I walked in place constantly in the kitchen while making Felix's breakfast and lunch and my own oatmeal - ended up with 3500 steps before I went off to ladies' walk). Anyway, both outings to the end of the walkway for the newspapers ended up funny/magical. Outing #1 for the H-T netted me the H-T itself in its usual bright orange plastic bag, but there was something shiny on the sidewalk a little further out. So I went over - thought it was some kind of plastic shining there. And no- it was an enormous shiny, glittering star. Turned out to be a little group of leaves connected by twigs/stems/whatever you might call the little things that hold little groups of leaves together, and they were indeed arranged in a perfect star pattern, covered in dew, and reflecting the street lights that were cutting through the fog. Glorious! // And then when I went back for outing #2 for the NYT, the little star thingy was still there but I was smarter now and knew I didn't have to go right up to it, but still I walked around a little - NYT where? (In the past it has been found in the branches of the Japanese burning bush or whatever it was hubby planted at the end of the walk, but also at various places up and down the sidewalk.) Putting steps on the pedometer while looking for the paper, love that multitasking, you know I do. And finding it nowhere, so I looked down the street to where headlights were just then emerging out of the fog, such unusual thick fog for us of a seven a.m., and briefly thinking, that could be the NYT delivery man, but no, the car was coming on way too fast, but I stood there because I was there and I hadn't decided to go back inside yet, takes me a while to decide things.

I also thought this couldn't be the NYT delivery man because in the past, a lot of our neighbors got the NYT too and he would have been stopping at all their houses. But no, he came zooming up and slowed right at my house, obviously him at that foggy hour of the morning, no other cars anywhere and slowing right by me, so I raised my hand to thank him and he hesitated I guess, and called out "dont want to hit you!" - pulled up a little further yet, tossed the paper (in its trademark blue plastic bag) out the window and roared off on his way. I hollered "thanks!", collected my paper and stepped back into the house, very pleased with the magical morning.

Oh, and when I got to Weight Watchers yesterday morning, not having been for two weeks (I was all primed to go last week and have great results but then I sliced off the tip of my finger the night before, which kind of interrupted things), I had lost 2.6 pounds on their scales since the previous weigh-in. Two pounds to go before I don't have to pay as a lifetime member.

So ladies' morning walk continues to be fabulous. This morning we talked about connections and boundaries between us and our nieces and nephews (hi, Amani! - I actually didn't mean you this time!), and helping family members talk about things that get worse with isolation - and then Ellen told us about a book she's very excited about called The Belly Fat Diet and Beth and I are both rushing off to get it today. [Correction: this afternoon now, written from the library - I knew there was something wrong with that title. When I got to the library I asked for the Fat Belly Diet. That was wrong too. It's The Flat Belly Diet. Whatever!]

But meanwhile I'm still on the Step Diet, or rather I bought the book, read part of it, and am tracking steps and upping them every week and doing some of the things the book says to do, and of course I'm a Weight Watcher as always. So I guess I'm layering the oomphs that come from each of these places.

Night before last hubby spontaneously said: you look skinny! Now when does that ever happen?! (I was wearing my yellow sarong with the black salamanders all over it [my first sarong of the many I now have (purple with yellow and green frogs, blue with yellow butterflies, red with black geometries, and black with big splashy dragonflies, sadly ripped but I wear it anyway) and in fact the one that was given to me by hubby and the boys], tucked up around over my chestiness and falling down straight from there [the pedometer was clipped over my right breast because where else was I going to put it? - and I had to be getting those steps, you manage what you measure and all that] and so now I think: can I recreate that look in an item of clothing that won't be falling off every three point five minutes the way that tucked sarong does? Alex????)

Honey bunnies, the timer is ticking super fast towards zero, and it was lovely to hear back from some of you (you know who you are, Sabine and Annette and Kim and Lisa!), and I'm going to put a couple more people on the automatic-e-mail send-out thing now that I know how to do it.

Crazy thought (another one) of today: fussing in the kitchen, remembering this morning's walk where we were united in the interest in the belly-fat-busting diet, I resurrected an idea I've had in the past: since there doesn't seem to be a Weight Watcher restaurant anywhere I can just go to, how's about *I* make food here every day for me and all my friends and they come here to eat good wonderful Weight Watchery food, all fresh and yummy and handmade and point-labeled and nutritionally balanced.

(This thought, in case you didn't know, is crazy a. because I can barely cook for the people who's here already [although a lot of that is because their eating needs/desires are at odds with mine] and b. there is no time - and yet still, still, somehow I'm wondering/wishing.)

The timer has not only dinged now, which it usually does with a minute to spare, but actually also wound down its ticking and stopped making noise entirely, so I'm going to say hasta la vista and start going for items 7 and 8 on the checklist. Maybe I can also get to 1300 steps before I leave the house.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Grounded and Injured

I haven't blogged in over a month - nothing to be done about that now, it's onward and looking forward now. I have all sorts of blogs-in-my-head that roll by, and all sorts of reasons not to go writing them down / typing them up - first it was that they were silly little spurts of things and I had some people down to get e-mail automatically when I posted, and I decided I didn't want to have their in boxes so spluttered and cluttered.

Then it was that I had tooooo much to write.

And now?! - now I have a big white clump of gauze on my left index finger and it's surprisingly in the way - not quite as bad as yesterday and the day before, when I had a very large multi-layer wrapping with a big fat immovable blue thing as the outer layer - not only could I not use the finger to type, but it also kept getting in the way and hitting other keys, and keeping it off the keyboard meant I couldn't quite reach the keys . . .

Ah well. The injury itself is minor, I was cutting a medium-sized cucumber with a very large knife and my smallish finger got in the way. So let's talk about more interesting things.

I wanted to write about being grounded in Bloomington and what grounds me, and even though I've been thinking about this for over a week, it is only this morning, as I sit here and type this, that I realize not only am I grounded here but that in my worst times in Berlin, grounded is exactly what I was not, and that when I was doing better, and then so very much better, I had just managed to ground myself there.

Here it seemed so easy and obvious from day one. On a very literal and immediate level, for one: leaving the house to walk outside is just a matter of opening the front door and walking out. Then I am on the ground, on the walkway, on the sidewalk, under the trees, in hailing distance of my neighbors, ready to hit the pavement for a walk or a jog. In Berlin it was just that much farther from inside the apartment to out on the street - via air-walkway, stairs, multiple doors, more stairs, walkways and high walls to, finally, a pretty narrow sidewalk. I grew to love it but this is just EASIER.

What is grounding, besides that? Well, my fellow middle-aged ladies, gathering daily at 7:45 at the corner of tree- and aqueduct-lined Southdowns and the park. Three to seven of us five days a week, some arriving on bikes, some on cars, some on foot, and as I walk down Southdowns towards the park in my twenty-pound vest I strain to see who's already there and generally can't see anybody, but miraculously as I arrive thinking OK, today's the day when there's nobody, suddenly - there comes Alex from the left from the parking lot, and there comes Sue in her trademark red sweater emerging from around the corner, from behind the trees, on her bike - and there comes Ellen on the right emerging from behind a post where she was stretching - and that was just today (in truth, Susan was with me so I knew I wasn't going to be alone, but Susan also had to leave right afterwards). Other days, Beth then drives up alongside me and slows down and waves and then goes to park and hurry over to meet us; and sometimes Jenny, if she hasn't been outside when I left my house with gorgeous black Maggie the dog, shows up as we all converge on the corner, at a run. And then the only problem is - how do we maneuver around town, so many of us, walking and talking - and how many conversations can we juggle, are we all in one, do we break into several, am I missing something over there, can we reconfigure? And we do, we manage, and by 9 a.m. we're generally all home again, having been out in the sunshine and air, having talked about kids and work and worries and enemies and e-mail and friends, about our bodies (oh, did I ever write once before about the fun we had walking around the campus of Indiana University talking loudly about middle-aged sex and feeling righteous about educating the student body???) - having seen the wind chimes and crystals hung from the trees along Southdowns (today it was a lone leaf hanging in absolute midair - the implied spider's thread was completely invisible) and baby Maksim out for his morning stroll on Papa Kon's chest and the apples available for the plucking just over the wall from Fritz and Leela's house, and the bright red chili peppers that appeared one day in a beautiful cluster out somebody's walkway and the next day the sign: help yourselves. (Just down the street from the U-pick'em herbs.)

That's grounding. Also video chats with my parents, Daddy stroking his long and ever-growing white beard with great pleasure, Mommy chipper in the middle of her miraculously short and relatively-easy-on-the-body post-lumpectomy therapy. And the occasional phone conversation with my busy but cheerful sister. And having the large boy home for a week between Berkeley and college, and sorting out decades' worth of games from the games cupboard, carrying furniture up and down the stairs, carrying books hither and yon, driving carloads full of things at a time to Goodwill, moving around in this house which is ours and despairing at the state of it but also feeling ready to change everything around.

I think I got off the track a little but these things really *are* grounding, when I lose my way (I did that yesterday for a while - no editorial work; hard to type; Max didn't need me when I was ready to help him and just as I was about to start on a project of my own he did; I was just off my rhythm and flustered and flummoxed and frustrated) - when I lose my way, it comes back down to: feet on the ground, move around, walk. I'm working the pedometer double time, I've got a book called the Step Diet that is both infuriatingly complex and incomprehensible and at the same time stunningly simple in a way, but mostly it's just given me the new push - I need to walk and walk I do.

More later, but it is grounding to write this. Imagining: maybe Erika or Anja will read it in Berlin, or Irene, or Kim, in Hamburg - or Ellen in Bloomington, maybe even Lisa in Toronto if she hasn't given up on me, surely Ruthy in Austin eventually. Love and greetings to you all - more shoutouts next time. Susanne and Sabine, Annette and Bianca - my Berlin walking and talking and play-reading buddies - hello to you! I'm keeping it set up that this goes out to you automatically for now, hope that works and hope it's OK. If I start blogging more like daily that might get annoying!