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Excruciatingly Difficult

July 31, 2018 by Laura

30 years ago, in 1988, when I was a Sophomore at William Smith College I took a Poli-Sci class called Radical European Thought. The professor, David Ost, a memorable instructor who is still teaching, brought in a friend from Poland. She spoke about how in Poland at that time, it was very difficult to do something unusual and have it be taken at face value. Under Communism, every act had to fit into a certain narrative. For example, having spent time in the US, she had taken up running as a way to stay in shape. In Poland, she told us, no one ran or jogged in public. It simply wasn’t done. So, when she returned home with her new exercise habit, she was met with two reactions. One was, “Oh, she thinks she is better than the rest of us now. She thinks she’s an American.” The other, which I found fascinating, was,”What a good Polish girl. She is staying strong for the Revolution.” In fact, she said, she was just trying to work off the many American calories she had consumed. She couldn’t believe how much we ate here and how sweet it all was. I often think about her rather remarkable observation about Polish life under totalitarianism–as I recall it, especially lately.

I started this blog 7 1/2 years ago, when Guthrie was still nursing. There is a buoyancy to the writing that I can’t seem to find in myself now (although, literally speaking, I am more buoyant now than I was). Maybe it was the oxytocin.

Approaching 50 in mere weeks; 11 years of ICU nursing in the bag; boys doing general kid things; me momming & wife-ing the best I can. Not at all what I predicted from my desk in Professor Ost’s class (although it must be said that there was much banter about the rise of authoritarianism in the US under Reagan-Bush).

This is/was a weight-loss blog. Oddly, there are few bloggers out their chronicling their inexorable fall from good health into blobdom. Or maybe there are, but since it’s so damn depressing to read, I haven’t searched them. But the things I found inspiring in 2011 (“Hey, let’s not get diabetes, sleep apnea, heart disease, arthritis and cancer!”), don’t strike the same note. There is no beige-dress photo phobia looming. My windowless kitchen does not inspire.

I liked writing this blog. I liked finding the hilarity in intentionally doing something big for myself. I find relentless insistence on self-improvement hilarious. But I don’t find striving toward better health hilarious (except when I do). Hilarity is motivating to me. Just trying to be a better person, frankly, is not. I’ve arrived at adequate. The view from here is nice.

But reliance on “health-care” is a bad gamble. And being “more productive” is in conflict with my armchair revolutionary nature.

Looking for my new angle. The humor in looking like a preggo grandma at 50. The next beige dress. The next kale salad.


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