Sunday, March 26, 2006

Some kind of medal

11:15 on a Saturday night. Have been out at a "social event" with the lovely wife, threw down a couple of beers and a complimentary glass of wine, never had a real dinner. Feeling relatively exhausted but can't quite find my way to the bedroom.

Inevitably wander to the fridge, where I know there is ice cream laying in wait. Am surprised to find that not only is there the Low Fat pseudo-ice cream food product that usually lurks in the freezer, but that the LW has snuck out at some point during her day and bought a pint of the real stuff, the real GOOD stuff from Cold Stone Creamery so that it’s got all sorts of yummy naughty bits mixed in.

Sweat starts to form on my forehead. Slowly reach for the little Styrofoam container. Open the top and look in. Mmmm…look at that creamy goodness…

Something, not sure what, shifts in my brain. Subtle but distinct. Top goes back on, freezer door closes. It occurs to me that we have a lot of leftover Mediterrean food, hummous and baba ganoosh and such. Realize that a tangy, salty taste is more what I want anyway. Decide on a tidy little bowl of tabouli. Tastes pretty darn good and I go to bed.

Wake-up realizing I should get some kind of freakin medal for the events of the night before. I had the ice cream IN MY HAND.

If I doubted before that this WW process had affected some kind of paradigm shift for me, I do not anymore.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Units of Measure

After faithfully following Sir Man Boobs’ weight loss progress in all of his various units of measure, I played some “fun with weight conversion” games and I believe it’s given me a new paradigm of thought.

11.5 stone = 161 pounds ~ 73 kilos
12 stone = 168 pounds ~ 76 kilos

These are the lower and upper boundaries of where I’d like my weight to be. My sweet spot (as it were) is about 163 pounds or roughly 74 kilos. When I start to feel it’s time to rein things in a bit is around 165.5 pounds or roughly 75 kilos.

For some reason, it simplifies things to imagine my weight on a scale of 73 to 76 with the sweet spot at 74. I guess just because the numbers are smaller.

It may be one small and rather esoteric step toward following Thoreau’s simplification edict, but hey, it’s something. The journey to Walden Pond is taken one step at a time…

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A Conspiracy of Girl Scout Cookies

Girls scout cookies (GSC) have seasons. There is the GSC spring, a time that happens I think around November, or maybe January, I can’t really remember. That’s the time of year that the little GSC sign-up sheets are everywhere, enticing you with cute little pictures of various multicolored cookies that don’t look like they could have much more than a half-gram of fat each, really, at most. You might even see the occasional table at your grocery store with a variety of pre-adolescent girls clustered around it, the sign-up sheets out and samples offered.

I made it through GSC spring with no problem this year. Those peanut butter patties and thin mints almost broke my resolve but I resisted. But now it’s GSC fall – harvest time – and those cheerful boxes are everywhere, thicker than pumpkins in a patch in October. It’s insidious. I resisted the work boxes for a couple of days. Then, clearing out my daughters’ lunch boxes, what should I find but two boxes squirreled away in there. The little punks had brought the offending substances into the house! There was no way to avoid a thin mint at that point.

And so through the thin mint gateway I went. The next day, those peanut butter patties called out and, having succumbed to a thin little mint, I couldn’t in good conscience eschew the patty. And one patty led to another. And – sweat breaking out on forehead – another. By the end of the afternoon, I had to finish off the patties because I was in danger of spiralling out of control into the shortbreads and the caramel delights.

This time shall pass, I hope, and quickly. But in the meantime, I don’t expect anything significant in the weight loss effort. In fact, the one pound drop I saw at WW last night must be almost completely attributed to the exercise regimen with Sir Chub. I have 2.5 weeks until my one year anniversary of WW Lifetime Membership and 2 more pounds to drop. Should be a cake walk, as long as I can muster the will to walk past any cakes I see…

YAM: 1.1
Last HSW: 164
Last 4W: 166.2

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Breakthroughs?

Two developments over the past week: 1) the boy has started to sleep better, usually making it past 6am and when he hasn’t made it that far, he can be made to go back to sleep again with the aid of a little music, and 2) I’ve been joining in with Sir Chub every other day on his spiritual quest of insane amounts of exercise.

The former has quelled some of the pissiness that had come to dominate my mood and the latter seems to have provided significant enough impact to push my weight down below 165 again. I still haven’t seen anything below 163.5 yet – and with the influx of Girl Scout cookies in my workplace this week, I won’t likely any time soon. But I feel slimmer and the exercise seems to provide a cushion within which marginal food choices can be absorbed. If I can knock off another pound or two before my WW year-one anniversary I’ll be extremely happy.

I’ve been thinking about religion again (as distinct from spirituality) lately and it’s a difficult thing. Intellectually, I tend to sort through everything and arrive at most religion as the opiate of the masses (when I’m feeling cynical) or as a pleasant fairy tale we tell ourselves to deal with the fear of death and other things unknown (when I’m not quite so cynical). I guess this would be fine if there was something a bit more compelling about my general humanist “faith.” I generally believe in kharma and that if you do good things, have good intentions and treat others with love and respect, more often than not the universe tends to give you a fair shake as far as everyday pain and suffering goes. I tend to think it’s way more important to be good to those around you and act out of empathy than to go certain places on certain days or say specific things at certain times.

But that’s all a little squishy in terms of rousing passion for one’s faith. There’s no battles or downtrodden ones or mysterious rituals or saviors or prophets or fanciful sayings in Latin. So I’m left wondering how to maintain an active exploration of my spirituality and, without that, it remains a background process in my life and something that’s hard to enervate the children with. I’m starting to think maybe, since I’m in graduate school anyway, it may be time to take a religion class and see what I can find there. If nothing else, it’s a good excuse to peruse the course catalog for the twelve-hundredth time. Some folks love to shop for clothes or books; I love to shop for classes!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Thunder Road

I think every generation has its poet, though the members of that generation may not realize it. Since the 1940s, this poet may be more likely to be a songwriter than an actual publishes-books-speaks-at-coffee-houses-makes-obscure-references-to-Tolstoy kind of poet. And by generation, I don’t necessarily mean the Baby Boomers or Generation X or anything as far-ranging as that. Some folks may consider Bob Dylan the poet of the Boomers but I have a couple of Boomer sisters who probably couldn’t name more than one of Dylan’s lyrics (and that would be from “Blowin’ in the Wind” and they’d be shaky about that one…)

For the 60s era, suburbanite girl, I’d propose that Lennon & McCartney were their poets. For a certain type of 80s era suburbanite girl, I’d propose that Sting was their poet. For a swath of 90s era folks, Kurt Cobain. For a similar cohort of contemporary teens and post-teens, Kanye West. (This also all assumes Americans – I have no idea what the cultural landscape looked or looks like anywhere else…)

Which is all a long preamble to my renewed appreciation of Bruce Springsteen. I got his remastered “Born to Run” CD for Christmas and hadn’t had a chance to listen to it until this past weekend. Starting with the opening strains of harmonica in “Thunder Road” I was tossed irretrievably back to high school and the pre-cynicism soul-rending ache of teenage love, lust and loss. I remember now how the word “artistry” used to be associated with pop music. What a master he was of setting his romantic, sometimes adolescent lyrics to soaring melodies, orchestrated with complimenting brash statements from piano, guitar and brass. And his vocals never were beautiful, but damn they were raw, his voice perpetually hoarse you could only assume from yelling at the top of lungs, out of love or pain or hope or anything else.

I could take or leave the song “Born to Run” but “Jungleland” is an unparalleled epic, “Backstreets” a gritty angsty cry, and the often overlooked “Meeting Across the River” an almost delicate timepiece, a testament to boyhood overconfidence. But “Thunder Road,” oh my, that first line catches in my throat every time: “Screen door slams, Mary’s dress waves/Like a vision she dance across the porch as the radio plays…” And what a poignant, perfect set is:
“Show a little faith, there’s magic in the night
You ain’t a beauty but hey you’re alright
And that’s alright tonight…”

Could anyone get away with writing stuff like that today? I don’t know but I don’t think so. Bruce was the poet of white teenage boys in the late 70s as far as I am concerned. And what a great gift it is to be able to wander those dusty halls of memory today, transported by a simple set of songs.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Dammit Child

So my fourth child, my second son, the apple of my blood-stained eye, the cherubic adorable vocabulary-mangling imp who is all of 26 months old is becoming a royal pain in my ass. Over the past couple of weeks, he has taken to waking up before dawn and then proceeding to yell out “DADDY” repeatedly until I come get him. I calmly explain to him that the sun is still sleeping and so is everyone else and so we need to sleep for a little while longer as well. He cheerfully agrees with this assessment of the state of the world and comes along with me calmly as we climb back into my bed for a “snuggle.” Somewhere in his 2-year old mind, however, a “snuggle” has been twisted to mean “poke, prod and annoy Daddy until he MUST get out of bed and get me breakfast.” So I find myself downstairs at 5:30am either cracking eggs or doling out the MiniWheats.

There’re options and variations here, I know. I could let him continue yelling until he gives up out of frustration. Problem is, with 4 others in the house it just means that everyone else suffers and none of them get enough sleep either. I could take naps like he does; unfortunately this is impossible on weekdays and always more difficult on weekends than it should be. I could pack him a picnic breakfast that he could eat in his crib when he wakes up, buying at least 10 more minutes of sleep. Except that cold eggs (or oatmeal) don’t really appeal to him.

So my normal sleep deprived state, which I had hoped to alleviate with my Lenten “no more late nights” rule, has deepened instead of lessened. My lovely wife is supportive of finding a solution to this problem, but for some reason she won’t go along with the Boarding School for Two Year Olds option. I tried to argue that it’s better than boot camp, but she’ll have none of that. Tonight I may pack him a little cup with a bourbon and water mix and see how that works…

Friday, March 03, 2006

Goals

What is it about people that causes them to set goals? From where comes that empty, itchy feeling inside that compels us to look beyond our current circumstances, regardless of how comfy cozy they may be, and imagine something more or better or different? Some have speculated that original sin springs from this urge, that it was our desire to see beyond the garden that caused mankind’s fall. Others have placed the onus on God; why would God instill this impetuous, curious spirit in us if s/he/they hadn’t wanted us to strive, create, explore, pursue, constantly do more?

It could be hormones: that comfortable resigned feeling of the retired could be just those compulsive chemicals fading into the sunset. But I’d say, given the curmudgeonly nature of many of the aged, that more likely there is a growing tension as you get older between the still vital desire to look for new challenges and the physical/lifestyle limitations to pursuing them.

This is the road my mind is traveling as I consider both Lent – during which Sir Chubalot has regularly aspired toward some goal – and the one year anniversary of my lifetime membership in Weight Watchers. I had decided that I was going to give up late nights for Lent, given that lack of sleep has become such a recurring theme for me that I’m sick of the sound of it. There’s been two Lenten nights so far and I’m 1 for 2. Not a great percentage.

I had also decided that for the WW anniversary I was going to try to get back down to the weight I was at when I got my membership, which was 162. I decided this when I was at 165. Yesterday I weighed in I was at 167. Not the direction I was hoping for.

So why set goals? Maybe just out of a self-flagellating sense of vain hope and incompetence?

Here were my stats at weigh in last Sunday:
Last HSW: 165
Last 4W: 167.2