Tuesday, April 29, 2008

This brick house is sinking

I am desperately trying to teach myself how to swim. Unfortunately, the pool transforms into a liquid blue devil each time I dutifully submerge my reluctant body into the water. Each practice session is meant to prepare my body and mind to complete a sprint triathlon. Today, I flip flop my way to the edge of the lap lane and give a nod to the life guard on duty. As I survey the lanes looking for an open one, I simultaneously decide I like the smell of chlorine. Once I pick the lane, I take out my trusty purple binder filled with plastic sheet covers which carefully hold a series of drills specifically designed to enable me to swim like a fish. I begin my chosen positive mental mantra, “I love to swim. I swim with confidence and ease. I am completely comfortable in water.”

This blissful self-affirmation quickly degenerates into “This fricking sucks mud! Why in the hell is this so damn hard? Shit!,” after about 4 laps in the pool. My legs are determined to reach the bottom of the pool. They insist on pulling the rest of my body down with them. I imagine a bright shiny jewel lying on the pool floor beckoning my attention deficit feet and legs to come and investigate. I regroup and focus on the drills. I press my head and chest into the water, popping my hips and butt up to “kiss” the surface. Perfect! This works for exactly 2 strokes before I quickly begin to sink yet again. While attempting to correct myself, I turn to take a breath and water promptly rushes up my nose. Fantastic.

I daydream about unrestricted temper tantrums, behaving exactly as I wish, without feeling any embarrassment or remorse. I fantasize about letting loose the worst tantrum I could possibly muster up. Picture a blender on high, obnoxiously chewing up rocks, shaking back and forth only to short circuit with a resounding pop, orange electrical sparks flashing as a trail of charcoal smoke delicately evaporates up toward the ceiling. Ah, what delicious satisfaction such a demonstration would provide!

Alas, I am, in fact, a full-fledged adult living amongst adult cultural and psychological restrictions, so I force myself to take a few deep yoga breaths and yet again begin the positive mantra. I pray that this experience will improve over the next 10 weeks. I refuse to give up, which either makes me determined or stupid. As I finish up the drills as effectively as possible, I glance up at the life guard once again. I’ve caught his watching me with an amused smile. I can’t tell if he is laughing at me for poor form or is he just amused that a grown woman who looks otherwise pretty fit is struggling so much in the pool. Can he see the rocks churning in my mind, just waiting to be set free in my fantasy tantrum? Or is he honestly delighted to see someone put their heart into learning this incredibly frustrating sport? I chose to think it is the latter. Anyway, I need to churn out one more length and then I can check off another day. So I push off, try to keep my head down and my butt up. I’ll come back religiously 4 times a week until the day of the race. Hopefully, by then the urge to spit and curse will have been replaced with fluid, smooth strokes. If not, I’m going to be pissed.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Eat and Run

For as long as I can remember I have harbored two distinct desires. The first is to create an incredibly cut and buff body, strong enough for a stranger to know it with one glance in my direction. I try to keep myself strong enough and fit enough to enable me to accept any adventurous invitation. “Hey Kate, wanna go rock climbing with me?”

“Why yes I do.”

“Hey Kate, wanna do that hike up the top of that mountain peak and hang out for the afternoon?”

“Why yes I do.”

“Hey Kate, wanna do a triathlon with me?”

“Why yes I do.”

If the word no comes up, I want it to be because I don’t want to do it, not because I don’t think I can do it.

“Hey Kate, wanna jump off of a cliff into a tiny pool of crystal clear water that looks about the size of a cereal bowl?” This is something called the Punch Bowl out in Aspen Colorado. My brother in law offered this particular experience up to Josh and me on a visit out there.

“Thanks, but no thanks.”

The second desire is the utter delight that accompanies eating delicious food. For years I refused to split meals with my husband. He wanted to do it for variety. The salmon sounds good to him, but so does that vodka pasta dish that I want to order. How about we get them both and split them. I statistically hated this idea. Such a situation left me with a 50/50 chance that I would order the better dish and then have to share half of it. If I order the better dish, I want to enjoy all of it and the fact that I made the superior decision. If I make the unfortunate choice of ordering a sub-par dish, then I will eat it and learn my lesson for next time.

Although I relish a good meal out at a restaurant, the everydayness of food brings me the most joy. The view of my fridge the day after grocery shopping creates a sound feeling of contentment. Food of all shapes and colors lay in wait for the next meal or snack. I am sure to prep all of the food the day I get it to ensure the meals are easy and quick to make. Red peppers are sliced, green onions chopped, cheese grated, and onions minced. They sit stacked in their little Tupperware containers obediently biding their time.

Naturally, these two desires do not necessarily go hand in hand. My appreciation for a good hamburger and French fries matches my desire to hit the gym to lift and run. There are fitness gurus who suggest when dining at a restaurant one should request no butter, no cream sauce, and a side of steamed veggies. I absolutely refuse to enter that arena. No buff physique is worth giving up garlic mashed potatoes or deep dish pizza. And so this leaves me as I am, a healthy weight but not necessarily cut. You can see my bicep muscles if I flex for you. Ask me what I ate for dinner last night, and I will certainly be able to tell you.

So, I may never grace the cover of a magazine or be the envy of the other women at the gym. Still, I’m game for almost any adventure you can conjure up. Afterwards, when we hit dinner, you won’t hear me counting calories, but I may ask you to pass the bread basket.