Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Why can't I stay in one place for more than two days?

So I'm reading that Cormac McCarthy book The Road. Or rather, I'm trying to read it. I'm having a slight difficulty. Every time I pick it up to read it, I get the Tenacious D song "The Road" stuck in my head. If you're not familiar with the D's ouevre, well, let's just say it's not exactly a solemn song, as would befit a book reviewed by the Chicago Tribune thusly: "Why read this? . . . Because in its lapidary* transcription of the deepest despair short of total annihilation we may ever know, this book announces the triumph of language over nothingness." Yeah. Not your typical summer beach read. So this glaring incompatibility between a goofy pseudo hard-rock satire ditty and a grim post-apocalyptic mediation on humanity keeps clonking me in the brain and I haven't gotten very far into the book. Perhaps I should shelve it for now and find something a little more...fun.

*"Short, precise and elegant, like the inscription on a tombstone," according to Webster's New World Dictionary. I had to look it up.

This has happened to me only once before, this contest of wills between different art forms in my brain, and that was with the Wally Lamb book "I Know This Much is True." I kept getting that Spandau Ballet song "True" stuck in my head, which of course lead to that P.M. Dawn song "Set Adrift on Memory Bliss," which sampled the Spandau Ballet song, and then I'd be sitting there going, "Whatever happened to P.M. Dawn? They were pretty decent. Huh. I gotta dig that CD out and listen to it again." and totally not reading the book at all. Of course, I could just blame my complete lack of involvement with the book on Wally Lamb, as I didn't think it was nearly as good as "She's Come Undone," which had me a sobbing mess by the end. (Yes, that is what I would call a good book.) I made the mistake of finishing that book on my lunch break at work and coming back to the office with red eyes and mascara smudges. So professional looking.

Yikes. In looking up the links for these books I see that they are all on the Oprah's Book Club list, apparently. That's sort of frightening.

Aaaaand that's all I've got.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Let's call the whole thing off

So guess what these plants are?

This little area between the front porch and the side porch used to be where we kept our garbage and recycling cans. There were four of them, two trash and two recycling, lined up front to back, and they sat on top of a whole bunch of what I assumed to be weeds.

Now, what you have to understand (and I really should have taken a "before" photo to illustrate this) is that these plants were NOT staked up , as they are shown in the photo. I did that after I discovered what they were. Before, they were all laying down and matted into the ground by the trash cans. Which the previous tenants had put there, by the way. So I don't feel I should be ridiculed too much for not recognizing initially that, amongst the clover and other assorted weeds, we have two very much alive and very actively fruiting tomato plants!

My mom was over two weekends ago, and why were we outside? I guess we were playing with Nolan and his tricycle, or she was getting in her car to leave, I don't really remember, and my mom knelt down and said, "Carrie, these are tomato plants!" I was all Scooby-Doo with my "Hurh?" I knelt down next to her, and sure enough, there were little green globes hanging from some of the branches.

The plants were practically on the verge of being run over by the car, so far out into the driveway had they protruded, and since I thought they were weeds, I hadn't really thought to do much about it.

But yes, they are tomatoes, and so I went inside and found some cheapie old brass curtain rods, pulled off the little finials, shoved them into the ground and tied the plants up to them. Then I dug all the weeds out with a cultivator and threw out some of the assorted trash and debris that had collected there because of the trash cans.

God know how these things got there, since I'm given to understand that tomatoes generally aren't perennials, and I certainly wasn't doing anything to take care of them in any way. Until now. Maybe the previous tenants planted them long ago, and the trash ooze leaking from the cans helped to fertilize them? I don't know.

So I went to the Home Despot and got a couple tomato cages and some vegetable fertilizer. Trying to shove the quite-mature plants into the tomato cages did not work very well, however, and in the end I gave up after only getting one of them into a cage, with much accidental breaking of stems and crushing of flowers and the glaven.

So who knows? Maybe in a few weeks we'll have tons of tomaters and a crushing need for my mother-in-law's fabulous Cream of Tomato Soup recipe. Or mabye we'll get a few stunted runty tomatoes and the rest will be killed by some bug that I don't know enough about gardening to prevent.

But in the meantime, yay! Tomatoes!

Thanks for reading.

Friday, August 03, 2007

You make the rockin' world go round


So I joined a gym here in Dirty Jers, and a fine gym it is. I really haven't gotten around to much of the settling-in type tasks of moving to a new place (New dentist, new vet, new doctors, etc.) but I have, in fact, joined a gym, because I figures: New Town, New Life, New Me! Trying to be all the-glass-is-half-full about the relocation process.

The gym I joined is associated with the Princeton University Healthcare System, which is also what KB is affiliated with, so we got a nice whopping discount. Other than that, the main incentive for joining this gym is that THEY HAVE CHILD CARE, something that is essential to me, yet seems to be of negligible concern to most places. No child care equals no gym time for Caroline. (And how ghetto is it that the YMCA here has no child care? Was the Y back in Boston so terribly forward-thinking and awesome for having FREE child care for every family membership? Or is the Princeton Y so lame and recherche for not having it?) This new gym, this lovely place, has a fabulous child care center that Nolan loves (our first day there he didn't want to leave and cried when I took him out) and is content in, and really, that' s my only criteria, so I find it pretty lame that only one gym in the greater Princeton area fulfilled that criteria.


One of the perks of this health-care-center-affiliated gym is that every three months, you are given a free nurse assessment, a very thorough one, whereby they tell you your height, weight, blood pressure, heart rate, flexibility, body measurements and approximate body fat percentage.

You are also given a free personal trainer appointment once every two months so that you can get a little guidance as to how to improve your "numbers." This is excellent for people like me, who always go to the gym full of "This time I'm really going to work hard!" intent and end up on the elliptical trainer listening to Tenacious D on my iPod for half an hour, looking around for a while at all the complicated weight-lifting machines, and then stretching on a mat and packing it in. This does not really spell long-term motivation or success in improving my health, so I'll take the personal training where I can get it. These people should know how to help me out, right?

Lord, I sure hope so, because the numbers I scored today at my nurse's appointment were sobering.

Look, I know I'm not going to be auditioning for "America's Next Top Model" tomorrow, and I can certainly stand to work harder at taking care of myself as well as taking care of Nolan. I was prepared to be a little disappointed with the nurse's report, but I didn't think it was going to be THIS BAD.

I have 33% body fat, people! THIRTY-FUCKING-THREE PERCENT FAT! I am one-third gelatinous, jiggly, wobbly goo!

Look at this printout:

Not only do I have 33% body fat, I have 33 POINT EIGHT percent, which means I am borderline OBESE! OBESE! Aigh! Is there a more frightening word in the English language? Because somewhere between college (where I distinctly remember being equally appalled at being 25% fat) and now I went from "Moderate" to "Overweight" and now I'm bordering on "O-FUCKING-BESE!" How did this happen?


(I love how they try to personalize the information by inserting your name into the text with their little fake-friendliness macro. Like, not, "Lose some weight, you nameless shlub." "Go to hell, soulless machine!" But "Lose some weight, Caroline." "Oh, thank you for the advice, you caring printout, you!")

Even worse is the flexibility rating:

When I was in high school and we had those National Fitness Test Days instituted by Reagan or whatever neo-Fascist thought it up, flexibility was always the ONE area I did well in. All the jocks and cheerleaders were racking up the points on the Flexed Arm Hang and the Vertical Jump and the Sit-ups, but boy howdy when we got around to the Sit and Reach, I would bend down with my head at my knees like, "Bang! Reach that, motherfucker!" Off the charts flexible! Well, not anymore. Apparently, despite my months of yoga and my genetic predisposition to flexibility, I am now only on the borderline between "Fair" and "Average." That, in my middle-child good-girl straight-A Lisa Simpson mind, means somewhere between a D and a C. Sob.

I'm trying not to get too upset about this, despite my all-caps and my profanity. My weight is just one aspect of my life, after all. I think overall I have a pretty healthy lifestyle. I eat well. (And before you say, "Well, maybe that's your problem right there, genius!" let me just interpose that I mean I eat a balanced diet with lots of whole grains and not too much red meat and plenty of fruits and vegetables and blah blah blah.) I have the occasional alcoholic beverage but rarely overindulge. I don't smoke. I don't do recreational drugs. Anymore. Sob.

So why am I so jiggly?

And again, let me just reiterate, I am not really too concerned with my health overall. My blood pressure has always been and remains low (90 over 56), and so has my resting heart rate (62 bpm, thank you very much). This nurse's evaluation didn't include a cholesterol check, but I've had it checked before and there's no reason to worry there.

I'm just talking about fat, I guess. One more American woman obsessed with body image. But here's the thing: I don't want to look like Nicole Richie or Lindsey Lohan, poor souls. I couldn't give less of a shit about being "thin." I'd rather look like Mia Hamm or Serena Williams. I wanna be strong. I wanna be cut. I wanna be able to kick some ass. Shit, I just want to be able to pick up my two-year-old without wincing and worrying about putting my back out.

So, to the gym I go.

Thanks for reading.