Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Does this housework make my butt look fat?

It is May, so that means the bi-annual summer/winter switch of clothes is upon me.  Every May and October I have the massive undertaking of weeding through the girl’s clothes – what fits, what doesn’t, properly storing snow pants for next season, and then selecting what clothes I will take to Goodwill or which ones I will pass onto friends.  It is an essential pain in the ass task that seems to take forever, and with the picky New England weather, it comes in fits and starts. 

I embark on a similar undertaking for myself, switching out woolen sweaters for cotton skirts and tall black boots for open toed anything.  As I was trying on skirts the other day I came to realize that some of my skirts were feeling a wee bit tight.  I put on my trusty teal green cropped pants and lo and behold, they betrayed me and were a little snug as well.

Now, I am not a girl who has weekly weigh-ins.  I have always gone by a simple measure of how my clothes fit - and by the adage of everything in moderation- so I enjoy my cheeseburgers as much as I appreciate a damn good salad.   I also try very hard to never, ever call myself fat, especially in front of Sophie and Katie.   I am acutely aware of girls and self image and how much of a direct – and hopefully - positive influence I have upon their growing little bodies and self esteem.  So I tell them that I run because it makes me feel strong and happy and it is good for my body and they should enjoy sports or being active for the same reason. 

I think that Fat and Diet are mean, nasty curse words.  Too many women have these words embedded in their brains and vocabulary and I refuse to be one of them.   I exercise because those endorphins rush through me and that feeling translates into feeling confident in a bathing suit - that is what is important.  I know that I will never be a size four, so I will make my body size the best it can be. 

But trying on my clothes the other day I began to realize that I had put on a few pounds – not much, but enough to make my clothes feel snug.  So I tried to think about what I have been doing to cause this small weight gain. 

I came to realize that it has been what I have not been doing.  I realized that I had not exercised one bit in the past three weeks.  I tried to figure out and sift through my daily time to understand why.  I realized it is just so hard to squeeze it all in, every single day - work, sleep, play,  what not, and my most dreaded of all life maintenance, housework.

Anyone who knows me knows what a joyless task I find cleaning to be.  I know that adult life can be littered with tasks that must be performed to keep it all chugging along, but the amount that has to be done to just keep a path clean from one room to the next is depressing to me.  It is one the ultimate catch 22’s in my life.  I love my home – I spend a great deal of time in it and I love having it filled with friends and family, so some sort of order must be maintained.  Yet I resent every moment that I spend sweeping the kitchen floor of crumbs that magically appear three minutes later. 

And I don’t care so little that I am just going to let it go to squalor, because, well, I don’t want my house to look like total crap.

When I clean, I begrudge every second I spend doing something I hate, wishing I was doing something else.  When my house is a mess of piles, sticky floors and dust bunnies it makes me cuckoo.  And I don’t think it is fair to ask Cliff to do more – he is not one of those guys who  complains while  I’m vacuuming, telling me to keep it down so he can watch the game, and get me another beer while I’m up.  He is a full, contributing member of this home, with an overflowing amount of life to contend with as well.   

 I have been sacrificing my work-out time for housework – and that is not cool.   Something has to change.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Inspiration Monday - My new love, George

This is our new cat, George.

We just adopted him from the animal shelter two weeks ago.  As we were looking at the cats, I watched Cliff stroking his little cat head, and I saw them look at each other - I saw "The Look" exchanged between them. 

You know, "The Look".  The one where you go to an animal shelter and you connect with an animal, and not in a superficial, "Oh I feel sorry for him, isn't he cute, I just want him."  No.  "The Look" is when an animal gazes into your eyes - your soul - and says, "Haven't we meet before in another life.  Take me home.  We belong together." 

The girls and I rush home from school to see him because we miss him and we eat our snacks and play with him.
We sit in the living room and watch George clean himself and we marvel at how cute and amazing he is, and ask each other, "Why is it so fascinating to watch this cat?!  Don't you just LOVE him!"

He talks and sleeps with the girls and is not afraid of water, so when he drinks he submerges his paw into his water bowl and then licks it.  We also find him curled up in the bathroom sink sometimes.

He is everything that I want in a cat.  He purrs and flops and is social and hangs out.  He is not skittish and George is not an aloof cat.  He likes to be a part of the action and he needs to be loved.  And we are all to happy to pet him and love him.

Years ago, when my cat Milo died, I was devastated.  He died just a couple of months after September 11th and a few weeks shy of moving out of New York City, so it was a very emotionally raw time.  I haven't had a cat since - I couldn't.   I have always hoped that I would find a cat that was Milo-esque.

Our George is that cat. 

I am head over heels in love with George.  I am so happy that we found George.  Or that George found us - same thing.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Namaste MCA

I first saw the Beastie Boys in concert in the summer of 1987.  It was a long time ago – but with the devastating death of Adam Yauch, I have been trying my best to remember as much about that night as I can.  I found this article in the New York Times – and I believe this was the show I went to.  I can recall flashes of that night, like going with my beloved boyfriend and friends.  I remember the thick, August humidity that only a New York summer can deliver.  I remember the massive police presence.  But I also remember the unity and exhilaration that all of us felt seeing this concert.   It was the kind of night that you only experience as a teenager.

It can be strange how we people react when someone famous dies.  I never hung out with MCA – but I sure felt like I did.   Adam Yauch felt like a friend.  He was an artist that has sung to me since I was ridiculous teenager.  I have been inspired by his music and have always felt personally connected to the Beastie Boys– they sung about places or television commercials that I recognized as a New Yorker, (“Got more suits than Jacoby and Myers” only a New Yorker knows what that is!).   I felt like I was listening to people that I knew.  When Cliff and I lived in NYC on Prince Street we had numerous Adam Yauch sightings – at the pizza place, picking up laundry or pushing his baby girl in a stroller.  These run-ins always gave us an excited tingly feeling, like we were living near greatness, but also near our friend.

His death brings another level of identification, in that he was a peer.  Adam was only 47 years old.  He had a child and a wife and a large circle of friends.   When I break it down like that he was no different than you or I.  He didn’t blow his brains out like Kurt Cobain or waste away on drugs.  He died of Cancer.  Any one of us can get cancer.  A stone cold reality as we age – and that is a scary pill to swallow.  His death has forced me to contemplate the inevitability of my own death and the legacy that I hope to leave behind.   I have asked myself over the past few days, “Have I done enough?”  “Am I living the life I want to live?”  These are heavy, reflective questions to ask while in the torrent of everyday adult life -  But they are also healthy and necessary as well.

Maybe that duality is why Adam Yauch’s death is so hard  – I have come to realize that I thought of him as a friend, a mentor, who has been with me each step since I was a teenager. And what is different about his death, than the passing of Michael Jackson, is there has never been any scandal or drug abuse with MCA.  Michael Jackson, as gifted and brilliant musician as he was – I perceived him as a sad, incomplete human.  His childhood was stunted by crushing fame.  And even though he created music that is indelible and enduring, Michael Jackson was living on a bankrupt ranch named Never Land and accused of diddling little boys, his death hastened years of drug abuse.  Sad – yes. But I found it to be merciful and not surprising.

Adam Yauch doesn’t have any of those tainted qualities.  He was never mired in scandal, and the Beasties were not only adored by fans but they were respected musicians who crossed and erased racial boundaries through music.  He was a Buddhist and a humanitarian.  He was a filmmaker, writer, a father a husband a son and a friend.

If there was any religion I would consider following, it would be Buddhism.  Adam Yauch was a Buddhist.  The Buddhists believe that death is not the end of life, but simply the end of this body we have inhabited.  When we die our spirit continues and seeks out a new life or new body. Where and how we are reborn is determined by the accumulation of positive and negative action, which is our Karma.  I believe that MCA accumulated some amazing karma in his short life.