my body

There’s more of me around than there used to be. For someone who has never been particularly athletic or health conscious, I’ve been lucky enough to avoid any problems with this mortal coil. No allergies. Resistant to cold and flu. Fairly resistant to hangovers. Blood work always looks good. I do have a small problem with one of my heart valves, but it’s pretty minor.

Now, however, I’m concerned about my weight, which has reached a level that is still healthy but has done so at a rate that is too fast for comfort. When I was thirteen, I weighted one hundred and fifty pounds. I grew a foot taller over the next decade and ended up weighing the same. I gradually went up about ten pounds over the next few years. Weight gain has accelerated here in my thirties.

I am now twenty pounds heavier than I was a year and a half ago. My weight is still within the healthy range, but I had always been a pretty thin person. Now I weigh more than I’ve ever weighed in my life. I’m six feet and two inches tall, one hundred and eighty two pounds. No one in their right mind would say that I’m fat (and I don’t have a problem with fat people), but my body feels different to me now. There’s more there than there used to be. My recently purchsed jeans are an inch more around the waist than my older jeans. These are not twenty pounds of muscle.

It’s not traumatic. Just different.

I was at my most fit while finishing my PhD. The University of Maryland had just built a beautiful cathedral of a gym, open early and open late, with lots of big windows and free flowing air. It did not smell like the inside of a damp sneaker, the way many gyms of my youth did. I went there every single day for cardio and weights. I felt great.

I let that regimen slip as I started my job here about three years ago. Okay, it’s more accurate to say I left that regimen behind in Maryland. I began to lead a more sedentary life, reading, writing, grading. (My doctor pronounces it “se-DEN-tar-ee.”) I feel sluggish more often than I’d like.

Well, now I’m going to work out regularly again, and I’m altering my diet. It’s not that I am obsessed with what my midsection looks like (okay, maybe a little). Rather, I want to feel better. I want to have more energy. I want my brain to feel more excited about things.

So it’s back to the cardio and the weights, and back to paying better attention to what I eat. I’ll keep you informed about how it goes (because my life is so interesting that I know you’ll want to know).

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memorial day 2005

I have seen war. I have seen war on land and sea. I have seen blood
running from the wounded. I have seen men coughing out their gassed
lungs. I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed. I have seen two hundred limping exhausted men come out of line-the
survivors of a regiment of one thousand that went forward forty-eight
hours before. I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of
mothers and wives. I hate war.

I have passed unnumbered hours, I shall pass unnumbered hours, thinking and planning how war may be kept from this Nation.

I wish I could keep war from all Nations; but that is beyond my power. I can at least make certain that no act of the United States helps to
produce or to promote war. I can at least make clear that the conscience of America revolts against war and that any Nation which provokes war forfeits the sympathy of the people of the United States.

-Franklin Delano Roosevelt

My maternal grandfather served in the U.S. Navy. My paternal grandfather served in the U.S. Army and fought in World War II. My father and uncle both served in Vietnam at the height of hostilities, and both were wounded, my uncle severely. Unlike the wealthy men who currently send our troops into harm’s way, but who chose the safest route when their turn came to serve, my family knows the pain and ugliness of war.

From 1979 to 1989, my father worked as an advisor to NATO, keeping the peace in the last years of the cold war. Jingoism and masculine posturing leave me cold. Tanks and guns are the tools of those too dense or too arrogant to find a way to resolve conflict without violence. The most dangerous bullies in the world wear suits, not uniforms. Soldiers and sailors don’t make foreign policy: they follow orders. Today I remember not only those who have died, but also the men and women who have passed and who continue to pass unnumbered hours thinking and planning how war may be avoided so that fewer young men and women need to die.

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windows open

The morning air cools the apartment as birds swoop over the alley below where punk bands and hip hop groups have their promo photos taken at times. The hum of morning traffic coming off the highway and making its way up Broadway just barely seeps around to the back of the building. My neighbors are not awake, yet, so the thump-thump-thump of their music and video games is silenced for now. I take a walk around the usual blogs, read the headlines in the online newspapers, check the email, think about what to do with myself today. And then I think I’m going to take a walk around the neighborhood.

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you know you have a good tattoo artist…

…when he touches up at no charge a tattoo he did for you a year ago. When your tattoo is healing, leave it alone. If you don’t, it’s not likely to turn out as solidly black as you would like.

My next tattoo is going to be some kind of Felix the Cat image, but I’m not sure exactly what. Why? My grandfather, who died about three years ago, had a Felix on his forearm that he’d gotten inked back in the ’30s in New York when he was in the navy. I’d like to find a nice, vintage image to use, rather than the more slick recent adaptations.

Hmm, it turns out Felix played an important role in broadcast history.

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a new sunday task list

Not as exciting as last week, but I want to make myself get some productive stuff done today:

  • Read two chapters of the Hempton book,
  • Write up notes on key ideas and quotations,
  • Write for at least one hour,
  • Organize for at least one hour.

Yesterday I

  • Paid all the bills,
  • Did all the laundry,
  • Washed all the dishes,
  • Went grocery shopping,
  • Talked to my tattoo artist about a new tattoo,
  • Bought my ticket to England.
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