• health

    Eye See

    Last night I went to the optometrist for the first time in two years.  When I walked in the door, the entire staff greeted me like they remembered me.  I was put off by such apparent falsity, until it became clear that they really did remember me, not for my charm or grace, but because my eyes are that interesting.  If you’re an optometrist, anyway. 

    Dr. Yu was excited to meet my blue peepers again, because most eye exams are fairly routine.  I apologized for my broken eyes.  He grinned with delight and described my previous visit in detail.  I am always happy to oblige a fellow nerd, so I sat down and gave him a challenge, feeling quite a lot like the specimen in a Petrie dish.

    The news is not good.  My vision is deteriorating, which holds a special terror, for more solid reasons than most might have. I had my first eye operation, to correct my severe cross-eyedness[1], when I was four.  When I was six, my mother caught me walking around with a sleeping bag over my head, practicing for the day I’d lose my sight. It is not as bad as all that, but any decline brings on some of that panic that I felt as a child.

    I went home after the appointment to the love of my life, who is not generally a man known for excessive sympathy. I complained about my human frailty. He asked, “What have you been doing to cause it? You read in bad light all the time, you know.”

    This was not what I was looking to hear.

    Today I increased the font size on my laptop and turned on the lights.  I am refusing to go down with the ship.  My hands and my sight are non-negotiable. They are *who I am*. As aggravating as it was to not be given any sympathy when I was looking for it — I have to admit that he has a point. There are things I can do to fight back and confront the issue head on. And now it’s a challenge.

    [1] Why do I have absolutely no idea what the medical term is for this when I’ve had it for my entire life?

  • health,  house

    I would wear more sunblock

    Last weekend was one of the busiest weekends of my life, in which I was barely able to accomplish half of what I wanted to do.  (Clearly I ought to learn how to set realistic expectations.) My house had gotten to a point of distress, so I spent the Saturday not just cleaning, but also taking the time to buy storage for the sheets and organizing them, as well as getting rid of things and switching out winter clothes for summer clothes and dealing with the mounds of laundry that have piled up.

    I really don’t have any idea how people with neat houses do it; I also have no idea how to make my house stay clean and still have time to do anything else.  I do live with three people that have greater thresholds for mess than I do, so I do (probably a lot) more than my twenty-five percent, which contributes, but it’s still a mystery.  Even after working all weekend, there are still a ton of messy spots in the house; the bathroom I scrubbed top to bottom two weeks ago needs scrubbing again.  From a time management perspective, short of quitting my job and spending all of my time keeping up with the house, it seems impossible.  I presume that there are ways to make cleaning less labor intensive, so I’ve been focusing on setting up things in that vein, like getting the sheets sorted into nice storage bins and setting up cleaning supplies on every floor of the house.  The best that I’ve got is to keep trying to be more efficient, because I’m just not willing to give up the things I’d rather be doing just to have more time to keep the house clean.  Though I do love coming home to a clean house – the Saturday didn’t feel wasted, because the house seems so much fresher and restful now for all the decluttering and scrubbing that I did.  The process of turning chaos into order is a little bit magical, even though I’m not one to normally love cleaning.  On Saturday, though, it just felt like the right thing to be doing.

    On the Sunday I made time to go out cycling, doing a 16 mile training ride in preparation for the 5 Boro Bike Tour, which we’re riding tomorrow.  Cycling is a funny sport for me.  I never want to actually go, but once I’m on a bike and past the first mile, I am filled with such a joy for the freedom that a bicycle brings. There’s really no other transport like it.  Cars rush you by so fast that you can barely take in your surroundings.  Walking is so slow that you barely get anywhere.  But on a bicycle, you can cover a decent amount of ground in a short enough period of time to really get somewhere, but you’re going slow enough that you have time to look around and really see where you are.  It’s a delightful mishmash of situation.  It’s freedom and adventure.  It always fills me with a wonder of the universe, as I get to see my surroundings in an entirely new way.

    I tend to take a trail that runs from Massepequa to, I learned, Bethpage.  I was at the north end of the trail when a tall man with a rather impressively extended pot belly walked up to me.  He’d come to the park on foot.  He asked me if I knew how to get to some particular surrounding street.  I told him I had no idea even what town I was in, since I always start at the opposite end of the trail.  He looked at me in surprise, his eyebrows shooting upwards.  “You didn’t know this was Bethpage until I told you right now?”  Not at all, I assured him.  He looked amazed and chuckled, then walked away.  That’s the adventure of cycling; I managed to bike several towns away without even knowing where I was.  The town I was passing through was so irrelevant; but conversely I actually did know exactly where I was, in a different sense.  I knew the trees and the park and the water fountains and I knew how to get there.  What’s in a name?  It’s about the adventure.

    I read a recent Time magazine article with Julia Luis Dreyfuss, who most of the world probably knows as Elaine from Seinfield. She’s apparently on a new show called Veep, in which she plays the vice-president.  As a feminist, I probably should have known about that and should probably even watch it.  As a me, I have failed once again at pop culture.  But the very last question they asked her was, “What would you change about your life if you had it to do over again?”  She said, brilliantly, “I would wear more sunblock.”

    I am so inspired, Julia Luis Dreyfuss.  To the cycles and the pedals and the cleaning. I hope to live a life where I regret nothing and no time wasted. Here’s to the adventure and wonder of it all.

  • cooking,  health,  house,  nature

    Season Change

    Here in NYC, it has become impossible to deny the fact that autumn is upon us. The temperatures have dropped significantly and I find myself wearing a sweater to and from work. Not yet a coat, thank goodness. I dread winter like nothing else.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about my garden. My goals for my garden this year were to raise some food and to get the roses all settled into one corner and producing. It was a miserable year for the roses in terms of flower production, but they did have a lot of stem growth. And blight, unfortunately. Food-wise, I managed to grow a lot of tomatoes and chili peppers, a few cucumbers, a handful of strawberries and keep a persistent herb garden (mint, basil, rosemary, oregano, chives). My green pepper plant was stolen by the local squirrel mafia.

    I inherited a number of flowering bushes that all flower for about a week in the springtime. My yard turns pink. They don’t do much for the rest of the year and are not what I would have planted. Still, I have some reluctance to kill a living thing just because it’s taking up valuable land. But I think I’ve gotten to the point where I’m ready to maybe try to move them into large planters so that I can have the valuable garden space for growing food. Or kill them. What happens in the garden stays in the garden.

    I have a very small amount of space and it’s in the front of the house, in a neighborhood where no one except me seems to devote land to food at all. I am sensitive to the needs of my neighbors, but I do think that I’m going to tear out the decoration and really plant food next year.

    I have a whole winter to plan – but would any experienced gardeners want to opine on what I should be doing now to make the soil as fertile as possible for next year? Would chopping up my bushes now and burying the body, as it were, be of benefit? Would the decomposition help with the soil? I could probably get down with plant murder if it would help feed me better next year.

  • health

    Raging Aging

    Well, happy belated birthday to me!

    I had the loveliest of birthdays last Saturday. The weather was lovely and I started the day with a yoga class, lounged about a bit, made ice cream with the new Kitchen Aid, then went to dinner with a couple of people that I like very much. Drinks were had, then bed in a fancy hotel. It was all pretty swank and relaxing.

    However, my body seems to have gotten the message that I’m no longer as young as I was last week. I went to the dentist and heard the phrase “bone and gum loss” for the first time in my life. I also appear to have two cavities.

    All of this would be less exciting if I had dental insurance, but alas, I don’t. I’ve been going to the NYU School of Dentistry, which has some very bright student dentists-to-be. Unfortunately, it just takes an awfully long time to get things done, since the students have to get approval from the dentists they work with, so I’ll have another visit in a few weeks and then be all sorted.

    But the body is not behaving the way I feel like it should. This bird is getting old.

  • health

    Happy Sparkversary to Me

    I noticed the other day that today is my 2 year anniversary of joining Sparkpeople.com, which is a website dedicated to helping people eat right and exercise. Weight loss is a major goal for most people on there. When I joined, it was definitely one of mine.

    When I started there, I had a slightly overweight BMI and had the goal of losing ten pounds. I’d just discovered my thyroiditis, which first made itself evident when I lost 15 pounds for no reason. During my hyperthroid phase, I remembered what it felt like to have a body that was agile. Then my thyroiditis did its thing and I gained it all back, plus a few pounds. Although I have been significantly heavier in the past, I decided that that was enough.

    After a few months of learning about nutrition, tracking the nutritional values of my meals and regularly working out, I’d lost my ten pounds. I kept eating right and exercising and to my very great surprise, I lost ten more pounds, putting my BMI right where it’s supposed to be and returning my body to a shape that I had thought I had grown out of forever.

    Two years later, I’ve gained back five pounds, keeping off fifteen over two years. I don’t work out nearly as much as I was during my intensive weight loss (though I am trying to get back to it), but I’m more active overall. I walk a mile to the train station twice a day on every week day. I’m back in yoga classes. Sometimes I even run, though not as regularly as I would like to think I do. But it’s progress. Time and my intense desire to sleep all the time (thyroiditis sucks that way) are my biggest challenges.

    Thanks to Sparkpeople, I have more or less the same body shape as I did when I graduated high school. I’m stronger. I can walk longer, climb more stairs, pick up heavier things and stretch further. I have never been athletic before in my life. I nearly cried the first time I sat in Lotus Pose and put my chest to my knee and my head to the floor. I finally felt like I owned my body and it was powerful and strong.

    I feel like I’ve made a lifelong change and I am awfully proud of me for it. It’s not easy changing habits or making healthy choices with food. So yes, happy Sparkversary to me. That place changed my life.

  • health

    Oopsie and over

    I have had the flu.  But since I am such an amazing overachiever, yesterday I actually fainted as a result of it.  Not only did I faint, I managed to faint into my bathtub, knocking my shower curtain right off the wall and on top of me.

    Fortunately, fainting being what fainting is, I have no memory of this or of getting out of the tub.  I do remember waking up and thinking, “ahhh, finally, I’m the right temperature!” because the wet shower curtain was cooling my fevered skin down.  The next thought was something like, “hunh, I’m fully dressed and in my bathtub.  That’s odd.”

    I have quite a lot of bruises now.  Some of them are large and impressive, while others (like the one on my head and my elbow) are just annoying.  I wish I had managed to bruise just one side of my body, but alas, the only possible position to lie down in without triggering pain from one of them is on my back.  This would be less of a problem if it weren’t for my cat, who feels that this is an invitation for colonization, which cuts off my breathing, which isn’t so great right now (see: flu).

    So while I am still very impressed at the overachieveryness of my fainting, it is becoming progressively less cool as time passes and my bruises become more painful.

    All the same, my fever is finally broken and I am on the mend, which is a huge relief.  I am not a good patient.