Make that, the treadmill and his various and sundry cousins, the elliptical, step aerobics, yoga ... what else have I done in the past year ... BOSU (that ball's a dictator) ...

It's been I love to hate it, but still go.

Or, I hate to love it, and go.

After the separation from my former husband, when I saw that almost everything I knew to be true was not, and almost my entire worldview had shifted, I started looking at a lot of things differently. One of those minor things was my body.

It was a little neglected, in the way that 6 months of not eating and nearly constant, stress induced vomiting will do to you. It was time to watch what I put in my mouth (and make sure something was being eaten) and work on developing some muscle tone.

I started to watch "Biggest Loser" for nutrient filled diet tips, because I'm pretty sure my diet of Starbuck's in the morning and maybe an afternoon Taco Bell Soft Taco wasn't going to sustain me. (Yeah, I don't know how I didn't gain weight on that diet either, but I'm starting to learn a little about what your body does chemically when it's really stressed).

And, this is such a minor, delicious part of this story, I bought an I Pod. It was the first little purchase I made all for myself, and I sat in my tiny, tiny, Lilliputian basement apartment, with a borrowed bed, a borrowed tv, borrowed lots of stuff (except for the kitchen appliances and the couch, which I refused to forfeit), playing with this marvelous little toy.

You know what? I find the elliptical incredibly, horribly, boring. Bored to tears boring. And Apple's little miracle helped curb that.

If I could build it a shrine, I think I would. Only, that violates one of the Big 10. So I probably won't. But. Ever since it's introduction into my life, I have been on the quest for the perfect cardio playlist. It's taken hours of my life. Fiddling. Browsing. Timing good warm up songs to good stride songs to good cool down songs.

What can I say. Newly single, childless ladies sometimes have a lot of time on their hands.

My problem now is that I don't have hours to give it anymore. And I don't spend hours at the gym, either, because two-years-post-divorce life is very different than 6-months-post-separation life.

Thank God. That's the subject of a different post, however.

But it needs some attention. The I Pod. Badly. Last night, out of desperation, oh goodness, I can't believe I'm admitting this, I downloaded the first season of Glee and worked out today to that.

So, in the spirit of honesty and honoring my true self, I must admit that I need help.


Any ideas, songs, albums, podcasts that keep you motivated to keep going, please, PLEASE let me know. I have to turn this thing around ...
is everything.

Three truths before my story:

1. I understand that it's not a big deal (except, of course, that it is).
2. I get the irony of the concern vs. the concerns of my clients I'm supposed to be addressing.
3. It's always been this way. And. It will always be this way.

I chose to go to grad school and pay out of state tuition.
I chose to leave my decent job with the county and my cushy (hmph!) supervisory position for the life of a student.
Choices, choices.
Choices I take very seriously.
And I'm a school dork.
Which has translated into an obsessive need to do all of my grad school work with the utmost care and attention to detail.
It's served me well.

I've had a 100% so far in the program. Right. That's not just a solid 'A' average, 4.0 gpa. That really is a 100%.

Until now.
Oh, how I knew it would hurt, the day I would lose my first point.
It was only one.
But such a vicious one.
I'm wounded.

And receiving no sympathy. Shoes said, "Yeah, well. Happens to all of us. That 99% must really hurt. Obviously, you're not so smart."

My dear girlfriend said, "Yeah. I'm not discussing that with you. You're just going to have to get over it."

So I get it. I get all of it. Especially the part where this is seriously bothering me, but I'm learning how to work with clients with serious, serious life issues that delve so much more deeply than a missing point.

I understand.


But still. That's a hard point to let go.
{photo source}

It occurs to me that one of my proudest moments of Shoes is when one of the comments on the local paper's online edition called him, due to one of his professional decisions, a "bleeding heart liberal." Of course, it was an uninformed comment, as the reader did not understand the exact specifics behind the case or the reasons why this particular decision was reached. (It was actually just plain good case practice.)

Shoes does not actually have a bleeding heart. (In the relationship, that's probably me, seeing that I'm the one who would like to house, clothe and feed every single person.) His heart is, however, almost ludicrously well balanced, justice minded and loving.

And I think, now, he gets this from his parents, a little. I didn't get to see Shoes' parents over Christmas, but the generous words they sent with Shoes for me were incredibly humbling.

What a tender point in a relationship to realize that you're falling in love with the family as well as the man.

I've been trying to write the Thank You cards for the past half hour, and I'm just stuck. I would like to say, "Thank you for modeling such incredible love and justice for your son, for encouraging him to love me, and for the unconditional support you've shown me in just the year your son and I have been dating."

And I feel like that's too much.

So I don't say what I want to say, and instead flounder for safe words that almost, but not really, get to the heart of the matter. I hope they understand that what those words are code for.
I. Randy

"Please excuse me," the elderly gentleman in the gray bowler hat said. We were standing at the top of the stairs leading to the basement of the student union. He had almost stepped into me. He was not using a cane, but he was gripping the handrail with both hands.

"No worries," I replied, smiling. "Are you ok?"

"Fine, fine. Just fine. Graduate from here in 1973 with a degree in political science. Now I just like to come back, walk about. Check my mail down at University Station. Say. What do you make of this?" he wheezes as he pulls a letter out of his bag. "I'm a lifelong member of the NRA and now there's a House Bill threatening to take away our gun rights. What do you say? Taking away our gun rights. What does this paragraph mean right here? Don't mean to keep you long, but I just think it's terrible that they're going to give the school security guards guns -"

{editor's note - they're not really}

"I mean, the psychological things you have to go through to shoot somebody. Don't want anybody getting shot here on campus. Hey, what do you make out of this paragraph here? I have guns at home, all right. Had 'em all my life."

Randy let me help him down the stairs as he told me about the NRA.

I have absolutely no idea what he was talking about. I know nothing about guns. I do know that the elderly should not try to navigate the stairs down to the student union.

II. Francisco Tarrega

I read about the needs of the dying, about the necessity of dignity and compassion and to include them in conversations about their own death while the young man at the table across from me softly, softly practices the classical guitar in the crowded student union.

It occurs to me that perhaps I would like him to play at my own death. Would that make passing easier? Of course, I do not bring that up. I let him play.

III. Evidenced Based Practice

Holding therapy did not work, says my graduate research professor, not because there was evidenced that disproved it, but because people were just dying from it. "We will learn a good bunch in this class," he says. He is not from Peru, he tells us, and as a social worker I do not think I am supposed to admit this, but his non-Peruvian lilting accent is superb.

{photo source}

I'd really prefer not to think about it, thanks. {Which is nothing more than a horrific understatement. But we'll get to that.}

Term started today. Woke up excited, despite being knocked down flat by the flu for the past 48 hours. Tried to take a nap, even, and couldn't, I was just so geekily eager to get my notebooks in my schoolbag and get my super special OHSU bus pass out. Almost forgot ~ almost ~ to text Shoes and wish him good luck starting his own term (he teaches a class in his profession at the community college). Nope. Today was All About Me. It was almost better than Christmas. In theory.

This term I'm taking such fantastic, fascinating loveliness such as Social Research, Human Behavior in the Social Environment and End of Life / Palliative Care. Social Workers talk about these things, and of course, as the elderly population booms, more and more sw's will be needed to aid them in their respective transitioning.


This social worker is absolutely, without a doubt, 100% petrified of that part of life. Big, bad "D" word. And rarely admits it. In fact, I was driving to the Vineyard Town over Thanksgiving and almost had a panic attack thinking about it. I wanted to badly to pull over the car and get out to get some fresh air, but I'm not sure I could have even have pulled that off. (And all because Olive Kitteredge, in my book on tape, said to her husband, "We've changed." Got me thinking about my age, what I still want to do, and what it will be like to Rage against the dying of the light.)

And then. All of a sudden, felt like Olive Kitteredge herself was sitting on my chest.

This class? Not so much about helping others before first assessing out own beliefs about death. Incredibly appropriate. Also, incredibly not ready to start writing my own advanced directives (which is a big part of our grade).

This, of course, made all the more complex by the fact that I do have spiritual beliefs that do call for an afterlife. The backstory to that, however, is that I've always just hoped against hope that heaven really does exist. I've always been terrified it doesn't. Believe in God? Check. Believe that God is good? Check. Believe in heaven? Whimpering crickets in the corner.

Olive, stay off me during the term, ok? I have enough to deal with without you plunking your bossy self down on me.