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Bodies of Future/Past 3 comments

There is a video making the rounds at the moment, a three minute clip from an interview about Dustin Hoffman’s experience preparing for the role of Tootsie.

Dustin’s moment of clarity

I don’t always “buy” celebrity “moments” in interviews, but this one rings true.*  I admire him for connecting the dots with such resonance.

I had a rather personal response to this video. I lost 95 lbs over 18 months, roughly between 2008 – 2009. I held steady there for a while but gradually – with all the changes and stress – my weight has crept back up, close to where I started.

When I was losing weight, I noticed that more people talked to me. Men and women. Between having a year off work to consult independently, being in an energizing new relationship, and feeling more attractive, I was certainly projecting a happy, vibrant energy. Undeniably, it helped that I was also fitter, not just more proportional. I had more energy, more muscle shape, and I was really happy with this – especially the muscles and the cardio fitness. Happy people are more attractive people, of course. It is a non-vicious cycle.

Face Too Skinny?

Face Too Skinny?

I’m thinking about Dustin’s comment in his video in which he says that he wouldn’t go and talk to himself as a woman at a party, for example, because he didn’t meet his own brainwashed standard of beauty. When I say people were more interested in talking to me, this is what I mean – the simple act of choosing whom to have a conversation with in a social situation. This too is a variable, and a highly prized one in our society. Feeling attractive in these moments means feeling valued.

There was a very specific point at which, from my point of view, I became “visible” and “viable” to people around me. It was really at the point where I’d lost about 35 lbs. with ultimately 60 more to go in the overall attempt. I wasn’t “skinny” by any means but something happened in the perception of proportions that changed my look. I started wearing different clothes and that accented the change. From my perspective, the more weight I lost from this point onward, the “chattier” people got.

As I got down to my lowest weight point – still by no means “skinny” – I thought my face didn’t look quite right. Too harsh or hard, perhaps? The photo here is at close to my lowest weight.

My life has changed enormously since this time. New routines are hard to establish and maintain, especially given the amount of driving I have been doing.  All the changes have taken an emotional toll on both Knotty Girl and myself.  When there are stressors and demands, I’m not programmed to run to the gym and sweat it off. I’m programmed to consume foods that I shouldn’t.  Thus, in all of the hubub, the weight has almost all come back and I don’t look like this anymore. I’ve certainly been conscious of this trend, I’ve felt a bit powerless about it, and I have tried to note at what point I appeared to fade from visibility, generally speaking. At what point am I less likely to be the person spoken to at the party? Not surprisingly, it was right about at gaining 60 of the lost 95 lbs back. So, in other words, there is something magical in terms of the perception of the exterior self that happens right about at that fulcrum point.

This is a non-scientific experiment of course. The other variables – like my own moodiness or sleep deprivation or what have you – are hard to account for.  My own sense of feeling less confident, less sure-footed in my new roles at home and in the ever-changing tides at work, hasn’t helped.

Biceps of Future/Past

Biceps of Future/Past

If I were talking to Dustin about this, I’d tell him not to feel too hard on himself. We are all subject to the “physical attractiveness brain washing”, both men and women. We look at ourselves and judge. We look at others and draw conclusions, often within seconds. I know I do it. The trick is to become self-aware of this behaviour and to try to manage it somehow. I remember hearing Susie Bright say something like this (apologies for inaccurate paraphrasing): the most interesting person in the room is the least “attractive” one because they have to work their other skills – charm, humour, sexiness, intelligence – to gain ground lost by not being “attractive”.

So now what? When I reflect back on the weight loss adventure, I’m remembering how good it felt to be strong and fit. I’m going to aim for that. I’m not sure I’m going to even weigh myself, although those numbers are good guideposts. I’m not aiming to raise my visibility, per se, to anyone but myself. I’ll know I’m getting somewhere when I can walk nine holes without huffing, skate three periods without collapsing, and find myself admiring the curve of my own biceps.

*It is hard to view Dustin’s reference to his conversation with his wife, Lisa Hoffman, without a sense of irony.

Documenting the Process 2 comments

On Becoming Visible: The Perpetually Unfinished Post 3 comments

I’m on a bit of hiatus from my weight loss endeavours, holding relatively steady at a loss of about 69 lbs since June, 2007. A slow and steady loss. I’m 21 lbs away from my ultimate goal. It has been quite the journey over the past couple of years.

For my entire adult life, I have identified as a feminist, even before I was really clear on what was meant by this. I was quite the activist in the 80’s, ramping up a few local movements in the Niagara Region where I was living, serving on the board of a rape crisis centre, being part of a large coalition that founded the Women’s Studies programme at Brock University, being a T.A./lecturer there in the first three years the programme ran.

There are many schools of feminist thought. I disagree with some and wholly embrace others. At this stage of the game, feminism has served to instruct me on the myriad of intersecting systems that I live within, am bounded by. None of them – from the economic/monetary system and its weaknesses that are now becoming clearer to our food production and delivery mechanisms to the values used within business to interact with either the labour force or the environment to the very rules, most unspoken, that guide our interpersonal communications – none of these systems were influenced in any meaningful way by women, or by people with the deep cellular knowledge that women and men are equal but different creatures on this earth. We swim, all of us, men and women, in a world designed from the perspective of those who hold the most power in our society – white, straight men. Those who thrive within these structures, male or female, are those who can best adapt to these systems.

As A.W. Schaef says, and I am paraphrasing, the white male system is not reality. It is just a system. Once you can identify it all around you, you can see that it isn’t reality at all. After you have your “a-ha!” moment, you can step outside it and observe. And, to an extent, protect yourself and, if you are clever, you can be more conscious of maneuvering in and out of the system and being less damaged by it.

In a way, by revealing the systems we operate in, feminism helped me to understand form and content. So has music. Mozart could write a kick-ass concerto, yet it is still a concerto. The form is intact. He rocked the form. The 20th century saw revolutions of new form as blues and jazz musicians punched holes in pre-existing structures to create brand new ones, on the fly. Phillip Glass comes along and says “fuck the form” and writes whatever sounds good to him. When you can see, touch, feel and deeply experience the “form” as a separate construct, as “not a given” but a choice, you can choose to operate within it, partially within it or to exit it altogether.

Another more pertinent example has to do with the ongoing, fascinating and irritating discussion of “butch/femme” as identities within lesbian and queer circles.  Notions of maleness and femaleness, the “rules” which govern these as forms of existence, do not originate with the women who live their particular slant out, or are at least conscious of this gender dichotomy as they go about making their choices about how they present to the world. We didn’t create gender constructs – a society that is governed by the male gaze did. So, once you understand you are being asked to play a game that erases your natural identity and replaces it with a version acceptable to the male gaze, you can decide whether to play along and ruffle fewer feathers, to rebel and scream bloody murder at being shoe-horned into someone else’s definition of your gender … or make up your own gender twisting game. (Gender twisters have more fun, in my experience … but I digress …)

Power – or as feminists are more comfortable stating, “empowerment” – exists in understanding the form, the rules, and thus understanding that one has choices about how to relate to the form.

Choice. Choices. Options. As I look back on so many years of thinking about all of this, I can see that feminism has programmed me to build my own life, according to my own rules, and to seek to always operate from a position in which I have the greatest number of choices. I can choose to play along. I can choose to rebel within the context of any given situation. I can reject entire frameworks and circumstances and re-create new ones that are more life-giving. Ultimately, I think this is what our feminist foremothers had in mind.

Parallel to being a feminist for my entire adult life, I have also always been large-ish. Each year, I’d add a few more pounds. Mostly, this didn’t bother me much. I felt healthy and reasonably fit. Aside from my weight, I’ve never much cared for what I look like, thinking I was rather odd-looking and knowing that there was not much I could really do about that. Besides, as an out lesbian feminist hanging out with mostly other out lesbian feminists, we all were so much above the white patriarchal rules that equate physical appearance with having value. Pshaw. Beauty emmanates from within and rises above any notion of physical self, right?

Along came a series of events, including some weight-triggered health issues experienced by a member of my immediate family, that made me look very closely and carefully at my choices around my particular physical form. Changes needed to be made, and I am the only one able to affect them. And so it began.

I need to state here that, as of June 2007, I also strongly disliked how I looked. My external “heavy set” presentation to the world did not reflect my internal sense of self. There was a disconnect.

I used the support of an excellent commercially available system which I’m not willing to promote here but will happily chat to anyone about if you’d like to contact me privately. The weight started to come off as soon as I made some significant changes to portion sizes, upped my fruits and vegetables and eliminated vast quantities of carbs. I realize now that I’m actually in a life-long struggle with carbs.

As the weight came off, it became easier for me to be more active, and to be more motivated about being active. In 2008, I started to do some strength training.

Right around the half-way point, almost exactly at the loss of 35 lbs., I became visible to others in a way I’d not experienced before. Men, and women, were suddenly more interested in engaging in conversation, flirting and otherwise noting my presence. I found, and continue to find, this fascinating, flattering, and disturbing. With almost every drop in weight – and I do tend to drop five pounds at a time, and then plateau – the ratio of visibility has risen.

I like the experience of being “seen”. It makes life a bit easier in some ways.  It feeds my confidence which adds more positive energy to the mix. I certainly like the changes that strength training has created although I can’t say that I’m particularly enamoured of the activity itself. I like feeling strong and healthy – I think this projects something out to the world beyond simply that my body is smaller and a different shape now. I adore how my cardio levels have improved to the extent that I don’t feel like I’m coughing up a lung every time I come off a hard shift at hockey. I seem to be skating a bit faster, as anyone would if they were stronger with fewer pounds to heft about.

This experience of being “seen” is a mixed bag, though. It makes me angry that men who work in the same office as me now stop by my desk to chat, for no reason in particular. I was never acknowledged before in this way, at all. Women who had never taken the time to chat me up before actually make the effort now.  If I may cut to the chase, our Western, male-programmed view takes for granted that “smaller, fitter” means “hotter” … yet, this has always been something I’ve questioned and very consciously rebelled against.  Surely, our collective programming around responding to a particular “form” and making assessments about “content” from it is simply learned behaviour and not that ingrained.

And herein lies the real kicker. This experience has taught me that my own deep internal programming matches that of the men and women now taking the time to acknowledge me. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t think I look “better” now. I can’t tell you how conflicted this makes me when I consider this issue, and how it takes the punch out of me being really truly angry with anyone for chatting me up. It happens early on, this programming, and it runs deep.

Perhaps part of what people are “reading” differently is that the disconnect I experienced before – the outer self not reflecting who I felt I actually was – has been addressed. This body feels more “me”, and perhaps that is what people are responding to, more of a sense of wholeness. Apparently, the revised “me” also has much longer hair … and that requires a blog entry all of its own.

I see that I actually started writing this post in the first week of March 09. And here I am, about to hit submit in mid-May 09. There is so much more to say on this issue … and I hope you will join me in the conversation.

Intense 3 comments

My March break is ending now, just as so many other people are starting theirs. It has been a pretty intense couple of weeks, actually, including the so-called “break” week. It didn’t feel much like a break to me, between stacks of grading, meetings, and quick turn-arounds on proposals and such. At least I managed to keep up with hockey and gym commitments.

Speaking of which, I was really pleased to learn my BMI has shifted considerably, even though my weight has not dropped since before Christmas. I’m actually okay with staying exactly the same for almost three months in a row. It proves that I can maintain a weight once reached. I have 21 more pounds to go to my target weight. Anyway, in terms of my BMI, I’m down three units of whatever-those-units-are since last time this was done, yet I believe my actual weight is close to the same. This means that fat tissue has been converted to muscle, which is very encouraging indeed.

So, in periods of intense and demanding activity like this, I have these little recurring mental motifs, like little pieces of toilet paper stuck to my shoe. I’m going to take a few minutes to jot them down here so maybe they’ll stop bugging me. My life is about to get even more intense, so this may be my only chance for a while to be in a blogging kinda mode.

Where Did All These People Come From?

I’ve said this before, out loud, many times. It always takes me by surprise how many damn people there are in the world. How can I walk around downtown, through familiar streets, and not see a single person I know, and yet pass literally hundreds of faces? I just returned from a trip out to Brampton to watch a hockey game and there were still more strangers there!!! How is this possible??? I bet if I went to any one of the hundreds of small towns and cities across Canada to watch hockey games, THOSE arenas would be filled with still more people I’ve never seen!

Of course, I’m being facetious, sort of. It really does take me aback how we can float through our lives, essentially surrounded by strangers with whom we have no connection. Yet, we count on them not to drive across the yellow line in the road and hit us head on, to keep a civil tongue in their heads in public, and to fly planes that we trustingly board.

It is a little weird when you think about it.


Me’n’molasses go way back. On the farm where I grew up, there was a barrel of molasses sitting by the outside corner of the barn, near the entrance to the silo. It was used as an additive to the silage (corn stalks and field corn cobs and other materials left in the silo to “mature” as feed for the cattle) to aid its fermentation. But I loved to dip my fingers into the molasses as I walked by the barrel, if no one was looking. I just love the stuff.

My mom and I used to make popcorn balls as treats, especially around Hallowe’en. Our recipe involved boiling molasses, corn syrup and a dollop of vinegar until the medium ball candy stage. Then you pour the mixture over a bowl of popcorn, slather your hands with butter, stir the mixture around with your hands and then form popcorn balls. If you can keep yourself from eating the stuff, that is. Can you imagine? Two of my favourite things in one place – popcorn and molasses … HEAVEN! So much fun for kids to do, this recipe. I remember one year, grade seven or eight, I took popcorn balls to class for the Hallowe’en party. The teacher somehow dangled a row of single popcorn balls on strings from the ceiling. I think this was offered as an alternative to dunking for apples ~ we had to race to eat the popcorn balls, no hands. That was fun.

I haven’t had any molasses on my shelf for ages. This past Christmas, when I was doing all that baking, I saw a jar of blackstrap molasses at my new favourite bulk food store and it somehow fell into my cart. Molasses is an excellent source of a wide range of minerals, most especially iron and calcium. So, once or twice a week I’ve been enjoying a teaspoon or two as a treat. Yum.

I sense popcorn balls in my future.

Construction Zones Not Good For Tires

In order to get to the entrance to the underground garage for my building, you have to turn down one of two lanes. Each will take you by a construction zone.

In the past three months, I have had three “soft” tires, each turning out to have been punctured by a screw or a nail.

Hm. It is getting expensive to be living beside active construction projects. Add this to noisy and dusty and one could get quite irritated by it all. I am endeavouring to be zen about it rather than irritated. Four could send me over the edge, though.

Too Many Things

I still own too many things. I have felt strongly about this for a while now. I keep giving things away, or leaving them for others to use in the recycle room downstairs. Yet, I had a bout of consumerism this week, resulting in a new hockey bag for my gear, and three new small appliances in the kitchen. I couldn’t get the boxes and old appliances out of my place fast enough for my taste. It feels embarassing to feel like I “need” things like a griller with removable plates, or a slow cooker that I can actually clean properly. Yet, I crave pot roast. What’s a girl to do?

One of the tasks that I had hoped to do this March break, but did not get to due to the unforeseen intensity of the week, was a pass at removing yet another sweep of clothing from my closet and drawers. This kind of purge always feels wonderful, and it is easy for me to do as some stuff just doesn’t fit anymore. There is a clothing drop off for students this week at my college. They are looking for business type clothing that students can wear on job interviews. I hope I can get this done in time to drop some clothes off for this effort.

How To Poach An Egg (a.k.a. How To Get UnSettled In Your Ways) 2 comments

I have always been a good poacher of eggs. A properly poached egg is a thing of beauty. Fully set white, very runny yolk on buttered toast with salt and pepper. A perfect breakfast that seems decadent in its rich flavours and textures but is actually fairly healthy. (The butter won’t hurt ya, really …)

My former egg-poaching methodology involved any old pot with boiling water that has a dash of salt and a splash of white vinegar. (The vinegar helps the whites set without as many stringy bits.) I’d crack the eggs directly out of the shell into the water and then stand over them until the exact right moment, usually about two or three minutes. I also had an method of using a frying pan to boil the water, and now I see that is just WRONG. I remember my brother also enjoying poached eggs and using the heel of a loaf of bread to drain them first before transferring them to his toast. The heel would get tossed.

My ex says I make the best poached eggs. I have them most mornings for breakfast.

My friend Miriam and I talk about poached eggs a lot. She shares my love of the perfectly poached egg. Ever helpful, Miriam sent me a video a while back on how to poach an egg. This arose out of her disdain for the idea of putting a splash of vinegar into the water, which I do understand.

For weeks after I watched this video, my poached egg mojo was totally messed up. I couldn’t get it right as I was trying some combination of my old method and this new method and just getting it all wrong. After years of getting it mostly right, new information totally threw a monkey wrench into the works. The guy in the video leaves out some important pieces. How hot is the water when you start? Do you leave it covered or not? What do you mean, leave the egg in for TEN MINUTES???

Experimenting with this new method of doing something I know so well has taught me a lot. For example, the pot matters. If you are going to leave the eggs sitting in water, they have to be completely covered in water, and the pot needs to be heavy and able to hold heat for some time. My thin-walled small saucepan is a bust. My larger thick-walled saucepan rocks, but only if it has enough water in it to cover the eggs.

I have finally got it right.

How To Poach An Egg Perfectly Without Vinegar and Without Standing There And Staring At It and Fussing Over It

1. Select a heavy pot and put enough water in it to cover the eggs. Add a few pinches of salt and bring to a boil.

2. Crack the eggs into a cup, carefully.

3. Put some bread in the toaster.

4. When the water is boiling, stir the water in a circle in any direction you care to.

5. Carefully drop the eggs in one motion into the centre of the vortex and immediately cover the pot. Turn the heat off. Set your timer for three minutes.

6. Whistle a happy tune. Maybe pour a cup of coffee.

7. When the timer goes off, butter the toast. The eggs need the last 30 seconds or so.

8. Remove eggs with a slotted spoon onto toast. Decorate with salt and pepper. Enjoy!!

One Perfectly Poached Egg

One Perfectly Poached Egg

Progress 1 comment

After weeks of being stable at the same weight, as of yesterday I’ve lost two more pounds, bringing the total weight loss now to 68 pounds. Only two pounds away from a hugely significant milestone.

I was both thrilled and shocked to see the number that showed up on the scale yesterday. Sure, I’ve been particularly careful with my food these past few weeks. I’ve also upped the intensity of my workouts, thanks to the advice and inspiration of my new “personal trainer” – I too wish for beautiful arms someday! 🙂 I’ve added a third set and more intensity on the lower body which, I’m told, will burn more calories.

However, after weeks of being, literally, within 1.5 lbs up/down of where I was last time I weighed in, I was bracing myself to learn that this is it. This is where my body naturally wants to be. The extra exercise and even stricter attention to diet has paid off.

For weeks, people have been telling me that they see a difference, even from the beginning of the autumn. Yet, the weight number stayed stable. I think the strength training is adding muscle mass and changing the shape of my body. It is true that the inches have gone down. In one ten day period, I lost 1.25 inches in the mid-section, which is huge.

But, somehow, it never seems to register with me until the weight number goes down. It is like I’m programmed only to respond to that, and not to any other feedback. To measure my “success” in terms of that one number – not the comments from others, the inches going down, my clothes fitting more loosely – seems a pretty narrow piece of programming. I’m going to work on changing that. Part of the problem, though, is that I started this whole weight loss adventure with a particular target weight in mind and I get very excited with every step that pulls me closer.

Phew 2 comments

I forgot about the mid-term thing that happens to instructors each semester. In addition to keeping up with class prep and general administrative stuff related to teaching, there is usually a boatload of papers, assignments and mid-term tests that all seem to arrive at the same time. You can try to plan it out differently, but it always seems to happen that there is a time crunch in the middle of term. You can't ask more of students earlier, in terms of major assignments, as they are just getting their feet under them. You really have to get some work in, assessed, graded and returned to them so they know where to improve before the end of term. As of last night, I'm done with the bulk of it. I'm behind on a few things but that will get all caught up by the end of the day today.

I've had several weeks of practically no unstructured time at all. Even my social engagements have been blocked in as has prep time to cook for friends, which I'm always thrilled to do. I love that so much. So, I don't mean to say that "no unstructured time" = "no fun". It has had to be calculated, planned-for fun. And there has been plenty of it, I'm happy to say.

But if I don't get some time to putter around my house, write, stare out the window, sip my coffee, listen to CBC, blog, write some more … I'm going to bust a vessel in some critical place, I swear.

Here is my new favourite lamb curry recipe. I have no idea if it is "low fat" but it doesn't use any coconut milk or other dangerously thigh-busting ingredients. The "rich" taste comes from cooking down apples, raisins, onions and lemons. (I always use more onions than called for, and I always buy the "sweet" onions, even for cooking.) Here is my new "standard" channa masala, which appears to be vegan. I love the vagueness of some of the measurements here – It really does mimic how I cook. I made this Baked Seitan from a recipe right here off Method's Vox blog about vegan cooking, and it totally rocked, although I don't recommend it in a curry. As happens in the blogosphere, I have no idea who this person is, but she takes photographs of vegan food that make this omnivore think twice. And her recipes rock. 

I think I'm going to spend a chunk of this winter learning how to make better curries, although the folks who have sampled the lamb seemed pretty pleased with my efforts. I think I can do better, especially if I can find more "low-fat" recipes.

Because I forgot about the mid-term thing, I booked a bunch of social stuff into these last few weeks. I wouldn't change any of it … might spread it out a little more next time. 🙂 This past weekend was a big "foodie" weekend, as was the weekend previously …

Thursday night, late after class: Shopping for cooking projects. I was the woman staggering out of Bulk Barn at 10:00 p.m. carrying items I only vaguely understood how to use. Like "nutritional yeast". What the hell is that?

Friday: Cooking curries, baked seitan, vegan meat loaf … almost all day.

Friday night: Ethiopian Food with Jan. I really want to book their coffee ceremony sometime. The place smells so invitingly of frankencense and other spices. A really cosy, yummy spot.

Saturday morning: Breakfast with Cate, which is alway a treat. We restricted ourselves to poached eggs and eschewed, rather than chewed, breakfast meats. So well behaved, we were.

(Insert frantic grading and house-cleaning here)

Saturday evening: The long-promised home cooked vegetarian meal for the Woman With Beautiful Arms (WWBA). This followed me being put through my paces at the gym as I too wish to acquire beautiful arms. I hope chick peas have sufficient requisite protein for muscle repair.

Sunday morning: After another frantic cleaning / grading session, I joined a group of dim sum lovers at the Bright Pearl on Spadina for a total dim sum blow-out.

(Insert further grading, final food prep and frantic ironing here.)

Sunday evening: The long promised curry dinner for R and M-A. Freddie was a most excellent hostess and made her guests feel right at home.

Monday morning: Get up at 5:45 a.m. to do some power skating.

Just had to throw that last one in … 🙂

Somehow, after all that food, I managed to weigh in yesterday at my lowest all-time weight since starting to focus on weight loss, and I lost 1.25 inches off my waist in a week, which is a bit shocking.

There isn't a single item I would change or trade in the above itinerary – loved it all. Having so many terrific, amazing and beautiful people in my life is such a blessing and makes me very happy. What I excluded here was discussion of the time commitment to my dog, who has been with me for most of October, and the management of a new client that I took on earlier this month. I think I need a breather. 🙂

(Note to Readers: The Handbasket, i.e. this blog, will shortly be moved to a new home, after two years of cozy comfort here at Vox. The link to the new home will be made available when the switch is all set up, likely within the next few weeks. I hope you will join me there!)

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Planning To Fall Off The Wagon 4 comments

Here is a partial list of the foods I plan to eat in my birthday week, starting with Jeffmas on Sept. 27: 

  • KFC (one piece only – that stuff'll kill ya … )
  • Big Mac
  • Pasta with blue cheese, asparagus, shrimp and pancetta
  • Indian Food @ Trimurti
  • Blue cheese on anything (everything?)
  • Ace bakery baguette with some kind of crumbly old cheese (probably not the whole baguette …)
  • Bacon
  • Sausage (the good stuff)
  • Portuguese Custard Tart
  • Dark chocolate
  • Peanut Butter Cookies from Tim Horton's
  • Cake, preferably chocolate, with icing
  • Butter cookies from Kaivalya
  • A cheesy croissant
  • If Lex were to volunteer gnocchi,  I wouldn't turn'em down.

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On Balance, A Good Day 1 comment

This was one of those oddly haphazard days in which interesting things kept happening, sort of out of the blue. Mostly good things, but not all … in fact, let's just do a little breakdown, shall we?

The Good
The Phone Call: I made one phone call, signed and faxed back a document, and saved myself about $2K. Good phone call, that was.

The Work-Out: Last time I worked out at the gym, Sunday, I wasn't able to finish my full weight routine. I finished my cardio, I got part way through the strength training and my muscles said, "Mmmm … no." So I stopped. I've been told to pay attention to what my body says. Monday was hockey (cardio), Tuesday more hockey (cardio) and, today, I did the gym thing again. I whizzed through my sets – I don't mean I hurried. I mean I was able to do two full sets of everything for the first time. I guess my body just needed more time to re-build. I'm ready to raise the weight on the gravitron and to increase the reps on the fearsome free weight rowing thing that I have a love/hate relationship with. I can do 2 x 20 back extensions, no sweat. (Well, some sweat.) Progress!

The Weigh-In: Went from the gym to my weighing in place. I was pleased to find out that EVEN with the pizza on Monday (twice!), the dreaded Tim Horton's cookie and illicit corn chips on Tuesday … I am STILL at my lowest weight ever since second year undergrad. I've lost 66 lbs in total. Even more exciting, although my weight maintained this week (a miracle), my inches dropped dramatically. I lost 2.25 inches in one week, almost entirely around my waist/abdomen. Total inch loss: 54. I shrinketh!

The Feedback: Got some amazing feedback out of the blue today. An online buddy from another site took the time to tell me in some detail how much she liked my blog, which was really lovely. (Thanks!) Then, this evening, I get word from a former student who has just got ANOTHER promotion. This fellow is smart, talented, extremely focused and hard-working. He didn't get any of that from me, but he was kind enough to thank me for my contribution to his career progression, which was really nice to hear. Especially this early in the school year. Keeps me motivated and focused, too.

The Confirmation: It is official – five of my favourite muscians are coming to my party next week. Four members of Kindred and Beth … hurrah! Now, we're cookin' with gas …

The Sale: I usually don't look at advertising flyers. Such things tend to go directly into the recycling bin that is strategically positioned right beside our mailboxes. But, today, one caught my eye. My fav store is having a sale and the thing I need most – semi-dressy pants for teaching – go on sale tomorrow. Some people shop at stores like, oh, Fluevog and Holt's … me, I'm a Mark's Work Wearhouse kinda gal. Winner's, Goodwill and Value Village are right up there, too.

The Not-So-Good
The Productivity Lapse: I did get a lot done today. Just not as much as I wanted. Poo.

My Screw-Up: Someone sent me a funny riff on Sarah Palin and the Republican take on things through e-mail and, without fact-checking, I just slapped it up on my FaceBook. It amused me. I trusted the source. I was hasty. Well, moments ago, I just got called out on it as a couple of the facts are a bit wonky. I could delete the whole thing, comment and all, and pretend it didn't happen. But I think I'm going to leave it. It will keep me humble for next time … lol …

If Wishing Made It So: One of my friends who had been looking forward to my party now can't come and I wish she could. So does she.

The Bizarre
I can't actually decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but it is a big thing. I've been a member of a particular online discussion community since December 2001. These forums were part of the online presence for a well known, glossy lesbian magazine. Sometime, oh, 2004 or 2005, I was asked to become a moderator of these forums, along with 6-7 other long-standing members. The quality of the forums currently is questionable, but it did have its golden era a few years ago. Politics. Sex. Sexual politics. Humour (lots of it). Art. Popular Culture. Debate. Witty, and often just juvenile, repartee. Like an online global coffee shop.

I've met some fine fine people through these discussion forums. I've learned a lot, and I've made my contributions.

My routine in the morning includes … make coffee, turn on computer, check e-mail, check FB, check the forums. As a moderator, I'm looking more for trolls and skanky postings than interesting discussions. I nailed a racist joke the other day and I was pleased about that. Anyway, this a.m., I do my thing and … no forums. Gone. Vanished. No re-direct, no "we are down for maintenance, please come back later" … just … gone.

It is a bit like showing up at the playground that you always go to and finding that the city has plastered it over with concrete and fancy glass/steel monstrosities that you can't interact with. You, and all your friends, as well as the collection of school yard bullies, misfits and shy observers are standing behind a chain link fence, looking at where there used to be well-worn greenspace, climbing apparatus, and stuff that you could hurt yourself on if you weren't careful. But it was OUR playground, dammit! 

I feel very mixed about this. The manner in which this has occurred is really, well, cheap and disrespectful. No warning, not much of a contingency plan that I have a lot of faith in. I think the plug has been pulled. To be completely frank, the forums were attracting a much less engaging demographic than they need to really thrive and I was finding it quite tedious and difficult to stay engaged. But … just pulling the plug like that? Brutal.

On Balance …
Life is like this, isn't it? Hopefully more good than bad, and the occasional thing that makes you go "Huh?"  In between, there are bills to pay, laundry to do, mistakes to make, lessons to learn, and deep thoughts to think. This was the kind of day that makes me glad to be around … I get to do it all.

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Summer of 08 2 comments

This entire year that I've been romping around in the real world, as opposed to being tied to an academic desk of sorts, has been transformative. The summer, in particular, has put some fabulous flourishes on the canvas.

I'm still processing it all, still putting pieces together, finding the connective tissue. What an amazing year. How lucky I have been, how blessed. How humbled I feel, to be so enriched by life at the moment.

I'm actively working on several posts that start to put shape to what I'm going on about here, but they are unlikely to hit a monitor near you for at least a week, maybe more. See, the Summer of 08 is not yet over, and I'm heading north to explore Manitoulin Island on my bicycle, along with a bevy of lovely women on an adventure tour. Do stay tuned.

The Summer of 08 … not over yet … maybe Bryan Adams will write a song …

PS … total weight loss = 61 lbs. Over 48 inches down, across 15 measuring spots, head to toe. I'm melting! Must be all the rain.

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