Peaks And Valleys

I don't know why it always takes me such a long time to realize it---or why it's such a huge surprise to me every single time---but when I'm going to the gym regularly, I just feel a whole lot better about things.  I sleep better, I work harder,  I worry less. My body morphs from something that frequently irritates and disappoints and surprises me into something strong and proud, something capable of speed and agility and momentum. My mind is clearer, my skin is clearer, and sure, it doesn't hurt that my pants fit a little better too. 

What I can't figure out is why I stay away for so long---procrastinating, making excuses, letting life get in the way---when I know how much happier I am when I'm going, even if I"m only going three lunchtimes a week. It's not fun to sweat and puff and pant, but it does provide a much-needed space in the static, a time and a place to think: not work, not talk, not write, not read, but just let things wash over me and settle into some sort of answer.

And hell, it works: I might have spent the whole morning mulling over a tough decision or an even tougher call, but after thirty minutes on the elliptical machine, I've figured the whole thing out. I can be smarting from the fresh wound of being snapped at by a friend, but by the time I'm finished on the rowing machine, I'm over it. I've written whole novels in my head on the exercise bike. I've come to startling conclusions on the treadmill. Give me enough time on the Stairmaster and I'll have the cure for world hunger typed out into comprehensive bullet points, bound and laminated for easy reading.

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Thanks to a combination of upcoming travel and Brother Tom's visit in mid-May, this past weekend was the last "normal" one for a while, normal meaning just the two of us---well, four of us if you count the cats, who are unusually cuddly at the moment, leading me to believe I'm cultivating in them some sort of abandonment issues---and so we filled it with things to do and get done.

After a lovely dinner out with friends on Friday night---where I actually succumbed to trying a shrimp for the SECOND time this week, the verdict being that nope, I still don't like them, but thanks for trying anyway, everyone---we spent Saturday morning tooling around Ikea like a bad middle-class cliche, buying a KARSTEN, an EGEBY, and several KARDEMUMMAS, or a desk chair, a rug, and a few flower pots to the uninitiated. On Saturday night, we attended Leah's top secret surprise party dressed in international garb---I wore an Indian tunic I'd bought, confusingly, in Bangkok, while Sean wore his Panama hat and got asked if he was Cuban; man, it was like the U.N. in there---and on Sunday, I headed over the bridge to the Alameda Flea Market with a large convoy of bargain-hunters, and laid claim to a set of four vintage Pyrex bowls in my perfect turquoisey blue. One day I'm finally going to get sick of that color, I know, but not for a few years yet.

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Sean and I begin most Monday mornings with a series of snarls---today, we broke a record by arguing for three whole blocks---and then a tacit agreement to put the whole thing down to the general hideousness of Mondays and forget it ever happened. Just before lunchtime, I needed to run to the post office quickly, and because I felt bad about our morning kerfuffle, I invited him to meet me there---it's only a block from his office---so I could buy him a cup of coffee, and, you know, maybe sort of confirm that we were still on speaking terms.

On the way back to work, I was reveling in the crisp air, the kick of caffeine, the sense of well-being at having patched up a fight, when BAM!, out of nowhere, I dropped my iPhone---my precious, precious iPhone, light of my life, apple of my eye---and it skidded onto the asphalt, the case protecting all but the top left hand corner, which now boasts a deep gash the shape of a four-leafed clover. Oh, you take the crunchy with the smooth, I guess, the crunchy with the smooth.

1
Caroline
May 06, 2008

I love your meditation on exercise, which has clear indications that it was thought out on a treadmill or perhaps a stairmill? Either way, it's awesome to hear someone succinctly state why exercise does so many wonderful things for body and mind far beyond superficial motivations (although they definitely have their motivational place!). I used to vacillate between being in shape and being painfully not in shape. Now, I love working out because I feel I can do anything. Functional fitness- being able to hike, lift things, try new sports- is the best! While I realize not everyone has complete physical freedom, whether by accident or birth, I definitely think stretching one's physical limits is a pretty amazing thing.

2
Jules
May 06, 2008

A couple of years ago, my mom gave me those exact pyrex (pirate!) mixing bowls; except mine are a very boring brown, and although they too lend themselves to cookie making, they have never made me smile like your turquoise ones have!
Jules
House of Jules

3
superblondgirl
May 06, 2008

Ugh, I feel the same way about exercise - so good when I do it, sort of sluggish and definitely guilty when I don't - and yet I keep stopping and then wondering why I feel crappy about myself. I wonder why that is - laziness? Probably. Either way, I should stick your first paragraph on the DVD player so I remember to do my yoga, because, yes, there IS a good reason to get sweaty and pretzel-y.

4
alison
May 06, 2008

an interesting little fact that i just learned: the names of ikea products are a mix of real words and proper names in swedish. i was convinced that the ikea people had made up swedish-sounding words so they could laugh at english-speakers, but i asked my swedish roommates and they are actually real words!

5
suz
May 06, 2008

Oh, yeah, I ask myself the same thing about yoga everytime I walk out of a class feeling simply fabulous: "WHY haven't I done this in a week? Will I ever learn?"

Haven't been to class in a week. So I guess I haven't yet learned!

6
Janssen
May 06, 2008

Oh, I weep for your iPhone.

Also, I'm going to the gym today. For the first time in over a week. I will, I will, I will!

7
Diane
May 06, 2008

OK - I am back on the bandwagon and will start exercising. Holly - you so eloquently reminded me to get my lazy touche to the treadmill and try to make it smaller.

So sad about your iPhone - they are very pretty. They are going to launch in Canada soon and I can't wait.

8
em
May 06, 2008

It wouldn't be a Monday around here if heated words weren't exchanged, followed by apologetic text messages all morning.

I'm really sorry about your iPhone, though. That is just tragic. iPhones are just so pretty. Cell phones are amazingly resilient, though....I know this because of that one time in the winter when I left mine in a snow bank for the greater part of a Thai meal. I do that awesome thing where I keep shit on my lap in the car, and then when I get out it falls into the street? Yeah. But anyways. Besides having it's trust in me shattered, the phone's physically just fine.

9
Red
May 06, 2008

though it often takes a lot of willpower to actually get there, the gym is an amazing, restorative balm after a long work day or disagreement with someone. I do the same type of thinking you do while on the cardio machines, but find that one of the things that I really love about weight training is that ALL I am thinking about is about sets and reps and how my body is working. It's a great relief to an overactive mind.

On another note, I've had my iPhone for months now and have yet to get a case for it; it's just so pretty naked. I've had a few near-drops, however, and really need to get one ... what are you and Sean using?

10
NothingButBonfires
May 06, 2008

Red, that's the problem: I like the look of the iPhone nekkid as well, which is why I have this case: http://store.apple.com/us/product/TP575LL/A?fnode=home/shop_iphone/iphon...
I just slide it in and out when I need to use it and it works fine. When you DROP it, however, the top is still exposed, which is how I got that ding in the metal. The iPhone itself -- as far as I can tell -- is totally fine; that case is pretty heavily padded and protects against all shocks.

Sean has something entirely different; it's like a shell that fits over the whole iPhone so nothing is exposed. It makes it a little bulkier, of course, but then again, he doesn't have a four-leaf clover-shaped scratch at the top, so you gotta weigh your options, I guess....

11
Camels & Chocolate
May 06, 2008

I agree with you, Holly: No matter how many times I try shrimp, I just won't be able to make myself like it. Something about the texture. Last night, a publicist made me try sardines (yuck) and tuna tartare with strawberries. Scott wouldn't let me sleep in the same bed as him.

I'm grieving for your iPhone over in South City, because I did pretty much the same thing the week after buying my BlackBerry a year ago.

And good going on your new fitness regime!

12
Anne & May
May 06, 2008

Sorry you're having a tough week! Watch a lot of bad TV (Top Model!) and focus on seeing the babies in Singapore.

13
Moose
May 06, 2008

Here's hoping Tuesday is better than Monday! In fact, I'm going to make it better for you with the POWER OF MY MIND.

(Is it working yet?)

14
bookgeekgirl
May 06, 2008

Oooh, I love love love the pyrex bowls. And they go so perfectly with your new can opener!

I have been searching for the same set of mixing bowls, except in the pattern they call "Friendship" -- cute red and orange quails on white bowls. No clue where the pattern name comes from. Are quails particularly friendly birds??? Alas, the Alameda Flea Market let me down this weekend. (And we can just ignore the fact that it's probably my own damn fault for getting there at, like, 2pm.)

15
JennieB!
May 06, 2008

I have always wondered how people workout at lunch and have time to clean up well enough to deal with the rest of the day... care to share your secret?

16
Skiplovey
May 06, 2008

The gym, yes! I finally made the realization that if I don't get regular exercise (3 times a week min) then my brain starts brimming over with the fret and anxiousness until I'm bugging everyone around me. Exercise = calm. And it only took me umpteen years to figure it out. Well live and learn I guess.

17
Sanguine Spice
May 06, 2008

This post is so lovely, thank you. Biggest thanks for using the word kerfuffle.

Bummer about your phone, but don't you think scars are sexy in general? I mean, now everyone will know that your iphone has BEEN places. SEEN things. Had some HARD KNOCKS. It'll never want for a hot date.

18
NothingButBonfires
May 07, 2008

Ha, Sanguine Spice, I LOVE that! My iPhone has SCARS! It has STORIES. It could tell you a thing or two about hitting the pavement hard, but you'd have to buy it a Jack and coke first.

God, now I want to drop it again.

19
Denise
May 07, 2008

I was at the gym a few days ago doing my treadmill routine and out of the corner of my eye there was a woman who looked exactly like you. I thought "Oh my gosh, it's Nothing But Bonfires!" (for reasons unknown I cannot call people I read on the internet by their real name. The exception to this rule is Meg Fowler, because that's her site name, you see, and also happens to be hers as well). But anyway. Gym. I was all huffy and panting and jogging and this girl, this Nothing But Bonfires Wondertwin, was running quickly and stealthily and wasn't red or sweaty or anything. It was like she was born to run on treadmills.

After the gym I went home & showered & took a trip to the bookstore and who was in front of me in line but Nothing But Bonfires Treamill Extraordinare, Now With A Pile of Books. I'm sure she thought I was a crazy stalker because I kept looking at her like maybe I knew who she was. But I didn't. She spoke to the cashier and had NO BRITISH ACCENT WHATSOEVER and I admit I got a little sad. I would have loved to gone home to fiance and annouce that I met Nothing But Bonfires today. Not that it means much to him because while he reads the internet on a daily basis, it's mostly Trent Reznor's blog and the Apple website. Better than porn! That's a silver lining if I've ever heard one.

20
jennifer in sf
May 07, 2008

Oy, I have that revelation about the gym periodically as well. If only that knowledge had more staying power. I should print out this post and hang it above my computer to taunt my into regular gym visits.