Thursday, April 23, 2009

Does anyone else hate my new template? I'm not sure, but I think instead of growing on me, it's shrinking. Or growing mold, instead of something good like carrots or affection.

Speaking of growing! Me and my neighbor/coworker/awesome friend K finally put together our square foot gardens this past Sunday. This is 2009's battle plan against the voles -- planting vulnerable plants inside 8-inch-tall, 4-foot-square boxes, with unchewable steel mesh bottoms. If the voles are brave and determined enough to clamber over the sides, that will mean total WAR. I'm not sure what we'd do. Add a huge mesh cage that goes over the whole thing? Affix broken glass with mortar along the edges, or that spiky anti-pigeon stuff? Perhaps a tiny electric fence? K and I are fairly tender-hearted, but watching our plants last year get destroyed by unseen, under-earth predators has hardened us. We are ready to draw blood if this doesn't work.

I am going to use the rest of my garden space to grow the kinds of things the voles didn't eat last year (mostly flowers and herbs). So far in the box I have planted seeds for lettuce, chard, carrots, and peas. I actually made a second, small, 12-foot-high box -- a cubic foot -- garden just for growing carrots.

In other news, I've been going to the gym regularly, doing cardio stuff and then some hand weights and crunches and crap like that. I went overboard and played a new-to-me Gameboy Advance PS for many hours this last weekend, and now my shoulder and arm is killing me, so I am laying off the upper body stuff for now.

I am getting more familiar with my gym. For instance:

Almost everyone at my gym is already in great shape. There are a few really buff women who I see all the time (naturally, since they're there all the time -- one of them was sighing about going to the gym twice a day to train for some unnamed competition).

Strangers will make friendly small talk with you in the locker room. Even the girl with the perfectly smooth, tanned skin and the dangling, crystal-encrusted bellybutton ring will talk to you about how she's got to put on more makeup before she "gets out there." ("Huh" I said neutrally, as I pulled on my old, holey t-shirt and $10 target shorts.)

It turns out I am NOT the only one on this planet still using a relatively-ancient iPod.

I have been doing the "high interval" heart training routine on the elliptical (in which you alternate three minutes at a high heart rate -- for my age/weight, this is 147, according to the machine -- with then three minutes at a lower rate, 119 for me). In order to slow back down to the lower heart rate, I have to go so slowly that the machine thinks I have actually left the room, and the screen says "WORKOUT PAUSED" for a second, until the machine realizes that I'm still on it, moving, just very slowly. Fuck you, elliptical machine.

My gym has a kid's room with some kind of two-story crawl-through play structure (like you might find at a McDonald's). This room is apparently enough of a draw that kids have their birthday parties at the gym. These parties always involve pizza, which is delivered to and served at the little juice bar area in the center of the gym. Smelling hot, fresh pizza while you are wheezing away on the elliptical machine? Not so helpful. It makes me alternately nauseous and starving.

Anyway, there's a bunch of neighborhood association leadership stuff that I did and am planning but I've already written too much for one post.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Yesterday the guy at the pizza place said I looked like Cynthia Nixon from Sex and the City. I’ll take it as a compliment, though Ms. Nixon is like ten years older than me. Maybe I should start wearing makeup? It just seems like a complete waste of time.

In other news, I joined a gym! I’ve been there 4 times in the last 9 days (I would have gone more, but I went to NJ for the weekend). I haven’t yet met with a trainer – you get two free sessions with a personal trainer – so my strategy is to spend 30 minutes on a cardio machine (elliptical or recumbent bike), doing interval heart training if the machine’s computer offers it, and then I go stretch and do mat work (sit ups and such) and/or some free weights for a while until I get bored. I know I should up the cardio to 45 minutes, probably. There’s some science that says doing cardio at a low constant level is best for burning fat, and interval training – doing a few minutes at a low rate, then a few minutes at a high rate, back and forth – is better for strengthening your heart, or increasing your metabolism, or something. Whatever it is, that’s the one I want. My vague fitness goal is to increase my endurance and get stronger. I want to be able to ride my bike from my house to the Hadley mall and back (or even all the way to Amherst) without it being a huge, exhausting, multi-rest-stop production.

My gym also offers spin class, which is a mystery to me. I have seen the class cycling away in there, while the male instructor shouts things at them (I can’t make out what he’s saying) and I think there’s some music on, too, maybe? The elliptical machine I keep using is on a sort of second-floor balcony area so I get to watch the spinners exit the first-floor spin room after class. They mostly look happy. Gaunt, pale, and sweaty, but happy. I got to see my aunt over the weekend and I asked her about spinning, since she used to be really, really into it. She talked about it like it was this kind of transcendent physical experience, that if you have a great instructor it can be amazing, it gets you in great shape, etc. I don’t know. She also once told this story about a man passing out on his bike during class, and a helper just came in and pulled him out of the room, and the class didn’t skip a beat. I am pretty sure I would end up being that man, at least right now.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

I've been having symptoms of a cold? Maybe allergies? For about a week now. It's all sinus-related, that's for sure. So yesterday I decided I would try my neti pot again. For those who don't know, a neti pot is a sort of short teapot that you use to pour salted water into one nostril, up in through your sinuses, and out of the other nostril. This takes some doing. For one thing, you have to tip your head forward and to the side just so, then you have to breathe through your mouth so the water doesn't pour down your throat. Pretty much all of the times I've tried using it (I've had mine for 10 years at least) I pour the water in one nostril, I feel it go into my sinuses a little, and then, nothing. The water doesn't flow.

This time, I poured water in one nostril, and let it fill my sinuses, and unlike the other times, it felt TERRIBLE -- like you feel when you fall into a pool and accidentally get water up your nose, except I was pouring it in MYSELF, and not letting myself blow it out. My eyes started watering but I just let it happen, and finally the water came out the other nostril! yay. I poured most of it through, and then I got bored and I stopped. Afterwards you're supposed to keep your face facing the ground and gently blow your nose a lot. Which I did, a lot, but I still had a ton of water in there or something, because I was feeling water and junk drip down my throat for the rest of the evening. Today I don't feel any better.

In short? Waterboarding yourself = not as fun as you'd think.