Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Return of the Muffin Top

Oh hello again, my ugly rolly-polly friend.  Haven't seen you in a while.

My little snuggle bug will be 1 on June 3rd, and for the past year I have worked my ass off--literally--to get my body back.  Six weeks after the baby was born, my family and I had a friendly weight loss competition.  We each paid $50, and whoever lost the greatest percentage of body weight in 15 weeks won the pot.  Motivation!  I tracked my calories on  One of the perks of the app that I love is that you can follow friends.  My sister and sister-in-law could see whether I had eaten over or under my calorie goal each day.  They knew how many calories I burned from exericise, and I could see how many my sister was burning.

I registered for a half marathon and started aggressively training.  My first mile nearly killed me.  I texted my friend to relay the horrible stats--1 mile, 13 minutes.  But, I kept running.  I kept doing everything because I wanted nothing more than to feel good about my body.  By some stroke of luck, I finished the half marathon at what was an impressive pace for me, and I felt decent about my waistline.  I also won the weight loss competition by a very slim margin.  The number on the scale, though, was not where I wanted to be.

So, from pole dancing classes to barre and boot camp, I  crunched and squatted my way to a new wardrobe. I've done so many god damn burpees and lunges that I should have legs of steel--though I don't.  I still see flab jiggle when I run on the treadmill in front of the mirror.  In kindness to myself, I will concede that my body has definitely changed for the better.  More than 50 pounds were shed.  Even my pre-baby clothes were too big, which was very exciting.  My husband complimented me and swooned over my butt in jeans or my legs in skirts.  "But look at my belly," I'd say.  "It will get there," he consoled.

Then I started doing Jillian Michael's 6 week 6 pack ab video.  OH MY GOD!  It's ridiculously hard.  She recommends doing the video 5 days a week for 6 weeks.  It's only about 25 minutes, so the issue isn't time as much as ability.  The shit is hard!  Thankfully, Jillian's promise paid off and I saw big results.  So did other people. There's little in this world that feels better than validation for hard work.  Naturally, once I received such validation, I decided that I didn't have to work hard anymore.

I can't recall the last time I did the video.  It's probably been a couple months.  I stopped tracking my food, started drinking a little more wine, indulging in a few more sweet treats, and when I got on the scale Tuesday, I not only had 4 extra pounds but my old friend Ms. Muffin Top showed up when I put on my jeans.  Ugh.  Why can't I just eat, drink, be merry, and be skinny?  I'm so tired of working out.

What I hate even more is when people tell me not to weigh myself.  Here's why:  I haven't weighed myself in about 3 weeks.  In that span of time when I was embracing this "I don't care about the numbers on the scale" mentality, I also stopped caring about the number of calories I was consuming.  I turned around, and found 4 pounds slapped on my ass.  I'm just not lucky enough to eat whatever I want without gaining any weight.  I have to worry about the numbers.  I have to work--hard--every day.  I have to say 'yes' to Jillian Michaels and 'NO!' to ice cream and IPAs.  That's just my reality.  Because I'm not only shallow and concerned with what I look like, but I also just spent a shit ton of money on new clothes, and I can't afford to gain any more weight!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

"To beguile the times, look like the times"

My sophomores have three weeks left of school, and we have begun our study of one of Shakespeare's greatest plays:  Macbeth.  I'm sitting here in my Macbeth t-shirt that reads across my chest, "double double toil and trouble."  I bought it this winter when I went to see the play starring Ethan Hawke on Broadway.  It was an incredible performance, but I was aghast to find that on a Saturday afternoon the theater had not sold out.  How is that possible?  Macbeth and Ethan Hawke.

My sister, my friend Katie, and I had driven through a blizzard from Massachusetts to see this play.  A BLIZZARD.  No joke.  The snow was falling so hard that we considered turning back when we were about an hour outside of the city.  It was crazy, but we all agreed that it was worth the trip.  The performance was stunning with minimal set and powerful emotion.  The exchanges between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth were laden with passion and sexuality.  Ethan Hawke absorbed the character with every breath.  He became the evil serpent whose desires and "vaulting ambition" destroyed him.

During the intermission, we asked the ushers if we could move our seats closer to the stage given that there were so many empty seats on that snowy afternoon.  They didn't say yes, but they didn't say no.  They looked the other way, and we advanced toward the stage bringing us mere feet from the 90's heart throb. 
Our promixity to fame emboldened us, and after the show we made our way to the stage door in hopes of meeting Katie's Hollywood crush.  A family had somehow gotten on the visitation list, and as the herd opened the door to enter into the backstage hallway, we hitched our horse to their cart.  We were in!

I argued that our best chance of meeting anyone was to play it cool--you know, "to beguile the times, look like the times."  I suggested we sit down at the lounge tables and pretend  we belonged there.  My sister, on the other hand, thought that we should just declare our fell purpose, so she walked down the hallway and told the first person she saw that, "we are looking for Ethan."

"Oh, ok.  What's your name?" the man asked.

"Megan," she replied.

"Is he expecting you?"


"Right, if you can just wait right here, I'll get Jeffrey to come help you.  Jeffrey!"  I swear "Jeffrey" is code for "we have some crazies in here!"

It was only seconds before Jeffrey was on the scene, ushering us back toward the door we had snuck in only minutes before.

"If you can just follow me, right this way, you can step out here and Ethan may be out in a little while."

That was it.  We were in and out in a matter of seconds, no brush with fame, no autographed playbill,  no drink with Ethan Hawke.

We waited for about an hour to see if Ethan would show his face outside of the stage door, hoping beyond hope that he might catch wind of our desires to meet him.  Alas, we saw no one but a few delivery fellows bringing food to the actors in between sets.  An utter failure.

During the nine hour car ride home, we laughed about our silly expedition.  I blamed my sister's brazen forthright admission for our failure, but the truth is, we had no chance of ever reaching the dressing room door.  No matter how much we longed for that intimate moment with stardom, we had to accept what was also true for Macbeth, "If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me without my stir."  We might have had more success randomly bumping into Ethan at a coffee shop.  I guess there is sitll hope for that chance encounter.  

If we learn anything from the play, it is that man can not force the hand of fate, nor can a girl get a photo op with one of her favorite actors.  

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Shout out to the Non Fiction Ladies

During my MFA program at Lesley University, I met so many talented writers of fiction, poetry, drama, and non fiction, but my focus was on keepin it real.  I have such admiration for those whose talents take them to an alternate world.  That they are creative enough to build an alternate space in which the characters of their minds are able to come out and play is beyond impressive to me.  I struggle with fiction, but I find that my challenges are mostly a function of the fact that life--the one I live--is so rich with the unfathomable that I can't conceive of anything or anyone more flawed or fabulous than the real folks that I know.

So, in celebration of all that is ture, here is a quick overview of some powerful stories that have wowed, moved, or haunted me.

I'm currently reading Shattered Silence, an amazingly true tale written by Melissa G. Moore, the daughter of a serial killer.  
It's gripping and emotional, raw and real.  The woman hid her identity through most of her life because her father Keith Hunter Jesperson was in prison for murder.  An unimaginable existence.  

Last summer I discovered Cheryl Strayed's Wild, and I gobbled it up in a matter of days.  
Strayed recounts the loss of her mother and her addiction to heroine before embarking on a journey of self discovery achieved in solitude with the beauty of the nature around her.  I can't wait for the film adaptation starring Reese Witherspoon, and I'm even more eager for more work from Strayed.  

Then I devoured Caitlin Moran's How to Be a Woman as if it were a pack of peanut butter M & M's.  
If you have never read Moran's work, you are missing out on some of the most joyous and delightful, full-bellied laughs you will ever have with a book.  She is beyond talented with a voice so affirming of feminism yet filled with jubilance that you can't help but long to share a cocktail with her.  

My list of leading ladies in the world of non fiction goes on, from Lisa Bloom to Nujood Ali whose incredible story of being 10 years old and needing to find a lawyer to help her get a divorce teaches every human being about hope and determination.
I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced
Maybe I've spent too many years in the English Language Arts classroom teaching the classics--the works of fiction that we all know and love, but when I have the time to read for pleasure, I like to keep it real.  What about you?