Well, I didn’t go running yesterday. I went in to the bathroom at work and changed — running tights and all — in anticipation of a quick run past South Station and down through Southie, but by the time I emerged it was 5:30. And my mind was elsewhere: we had no diapers, no milk, no dish soap, no bananas, no paper towels — all things you can not do without when you have a baby. I also had spent about 45 minutes total with the Little Bug since Monday. So, I went to Whole Foods and CVS and went home and played with my baby. And didn’t feel guilty at all.
Today, however, at 3 p.m., I was sitting at my desk feeling anxious. My chest felt tight. I couldn’t concentrate. I was getting cranky. I already had rescheduled my pro bono tax preparation work (I have been going to Chelsea on Thursday nights from 4-6 p.m. to help low-income tax payers complete their forms) in anticipation of a late night at work (I had a 6 p.m. phone call with a client in California). I don’t know who at work might be reading this so maybe I shouldn’t be writing it, but . . . I went home. And I went for a run.
The run felt kind of horrible at the time — my 2:30 p.m. Starbucks was giving me side stitches and I felt like I was running 12-minute miles. But the weather was warm, and I quickly broke a sweat (probably because I over-dressed for the 40-degree afternoon). And, now, I’m a new person. I took the 6 p.m. call at home, Little Buggy splashing away in the bathtub in the background and am, for the record, still working away at 9:30 p.m., but perhaps the lesson learned is: my body will let me know when I need to work out and I will make the time, even if it involves “sneaking” out of work (though I would argue that it was for both my personal sanity and professional concentration — I have accomplished more in the past three hours than I did all day…)? So maybe I shouldn’t stress on a consistent basis? (Ha.)
Once again, Michelle Obama inspires me. This time, it is her arms. If a working mother of two young children — who is undoubtedly far, far busier than I — can have sculpted arms, I have no excuse.
My love for Michelle (can I call her Michelle?) cannot be simply be that of the flighty “girl-crush” used for actresses and the like. Instead, I would compare it more to that of my grandmother for Jackie Kennedy — we catch a glimpse of our best selves (not to get all Oprah!) in the First Lady. My grandmother saw a stylish, educated, barrier-breaking Catholic woman; I see an educated, lawyer-mom not afraid to stand up for herself — and Michelle’s barrier-breaking quality is not so much race as it is a woman who is living the life so many of us do — juggling work and kids and doing so openly and, hopefully, honestly.
In any event, just as Michelle inspired me to stop dithering about heading off to work as a corporate lawyer (remember this piece?), she has motivated me to stop dithering about exercise. My running clothes are sitting at my feet, under my desk, and if I don’t walk out this door at 5 p.m. to sneak in a run before heading home, I’ll have all of you to answer to!
Tags: how do working moms find the time to work out?
As you may recall, I lists and schedules. I like making them up; sticking to them is more difficult (but, when I do, I feel good about myself).
As you may also recall, however, I find it inordinately difficult to fit exercise in my day. I always think, “if I were just more disciplined I would … get up early/ run during lunch/ work out after the baby goes to bed/ eat less.” If I could just stick to the rigorous, hypothetical daily schedules I invent for myself, I could make the time. I am not, however, disciplined, so it seems I’m destined for continuous self-flagellation. And I’m tired of it — something has to give.
Last week I decided it would be the scale. It went into hiding. But it’s hard not to be a bit OCD about weighing yourself. (My friend Nell told me that, after breaking down and buying a scale, even her husband took to weighing himself several times a day, often reporting to her how his weight fluctuated from hour to hour. See? I’m not alone.)
This week, I tried changing up my routine. Normally if I’m going to work out I need to do it first thing in the morning. But, of course, how hard is that in the cold, dark winter? So I planned to switch things up a bit: I’d get up early, still, but instead of running or going to yoga, I’d have a more leisurely shower, would cook breakfast for the baby, maybe send a few emails — and, I could also leave for work earlier (7:30ish) thus giving me a window to exercise at the end of the day. The result? No workouts yet — it’s Tuesday night, and while I could zip to the gym right now (at 7:30), I can tell you now that it’s not happening.
Remember how I joined the gym at work for lunchtime runs? Too stressful (you never know who may want to meet with you while you’re gone…) Other ideas: One work friend walks to and from the train every day. (I’m too wimpy to make the 40-minute-each-way walk. Plus, I’m always lugging my laptop back and forth…) Another friend, a full-time bond-trader with two kids, says she stays skinny basically because she’s too busy to eat during the workday (at least she admits it!) — she literally can’t leave the trading desk.
I know, I know, I should want to exercise for how it makes me feel. And it does make me feel good, but I seem to lack the ability to summon that knowledge on a consistent basis. I do manage to workout two or three times a week, and maybe I can learn to be satisfied with that — but that also might entail giving up my Starbucks-cheese-Starbucks-more cheese-red wine & crackers & cheese diet. (Did I mention my lack of discipline?) Somehow, I just have it in my head that I should be able to get in the five or six weekly workouts I used to (back in my low-metabolism/pre-baby days). Don’t let the fact that I’m running a half-marathon in early April fool you. Last year at this time I was upping my mileage to about 16-20 miles/week. Last week I got in 13. This week, I’ll be lucky if I do the same.
Anyway, this isn’t meant to be so much an indulgence of self-pity and loathing as me trying to sort out my relationship with exercise and food while also working full-time and, of course, trying to spend my free time with my family and also sleeping sometimes. Maybe there is just no solution, but the Type A person in me can’t let go of the idea that if I were just more… something … I could do it.
Tags: Princeton senior thesis, Timothy Egan, Wallace Stegner, Western American literature
I know it has been ages since I’ve posted. I won’t make any excuses but instead will just dive back in, especially since I can’t not link to Timothy Egan’s blog today in the Times about Wallace Stegner. As some of you may know, I wrote my senior thesis (a grim or glorious rite of passage for every Princeton senior) on Stegner, which was rather grandiosely named “Between a Myth and a Mountain: Wallace Stegner and the Literature of the American West.” I was going to write about medieval manuscript illumination or something ridiculously pseudo-intellectual like that. But then I spent the summer between my junior and senior years in Sun Valley, Idaho, and this Jersey girl was absolutely awestruck by the “sound of mountain water” (the title of one of Stegner’s collections of essays on the West). I came back in the fall and begged to switch my topic, and my love affair with the American West began in earnest.
Stegner not only wrote fiction but also wrote a lot of non-fiction about writing fiction (making it quite easy to analyze his work for a thesis!). He was a firm believer that to know who you are, you have to understand the where that, consciously or subconsciously, influences you. I think I’ve posted on this before — the idea of a “sense of place.” In any event, living in Idaho that summer, and then again a few years later, made me truly understand what he was talking about. If you are from the West, the mountains — or the sky — are always more vast and more important that you are.
But even being in New Orleans this past weekend (more on that later) reconnected me with the idea of a sense of place. I’ve always felt that being “from” New Jersey (yawn!) means that I don’t come from a place with a distinctive culture. (Sure, we can claim a sort of prideful possessiveness when Bruce sings at the Superbowl, or we can talk about the Shore or tomatoes or the mob with a kind of reverse-snobbery, but the state doesn’t have a real cultural touchstone, even though we may pretend it does to make ourselves feel better…) Sometimes I wish I were from the South or something so that I could cling to a more defined sense of culture. For example, in New Orleans, the heat and the humidity and the mix of the African-American and French cultures have produced a unique sense of place and self (more than anyone, perhaps, my friends from Louisiana are deeply drawn and connected to their swampy homeland…)
In any event, the link to Egan’s article is here. Thanks to all who forwarded it to me today. (I also noted that it was one of the Times‘s most emailed articles of the day — which makes me quite happy. Perhaps my thesis was not all for naught…) If you have not yet read Stegner, start with Crossing to Safety, then read The Spectator Bird (my favorite), and then tackle Angle of Repose.
Tags: One word
Facebook viral craze #2
Where is your cell phone: charging
Your father: missed
Your favorite thing: yoga*
Your dream last night: wedding
Your favorite drink: red wine
Your dream/goal: novel
The room you are in: office
Your fear: loss
Where do you want to be in 6 years: waterside
One of your wish list items: house
Where you grew up: Jers
The last thing you did: Starbucks
What are you wearing: Theory pants
Your TV: flat
Your pets: never
Your computer: Dell
Your life: real
Your mood: impatient
Missing someone: My Little Bug
Your car: CRV
Favorite store: Whole Foods
Your summer: LBI
Your favorite color: green
When is the last time you laughed: last night
Last time you cried: Monday
Three people who email me: Kara, Lindsey, Mom
Three of my favorite foods: sushi, pizza, Starbucks (does that count?)
Three places I would rather be right now: Sun Valley (skiing), home (with Little Bug playing), vacation (napping/drinking vin).
*I tried to take the word “thing” literally. I guess yoga’s not a “thing,” but it’s more concrete than other favorite “things,” like drinking wine with friends, or Friday night after work when I give Little Bug a bath and then crash on the couch with Tim and a week’s worth of DVR’d TV shows. Maybe I’m not as materialistic as I had thought. I can’t think of a favorite “thing,” per se. My Blackberry (lame!) My KitchenAid mixer? My thick, down winter parka?
I couldn’t express it better.
Tags: Jane Austen
It sometimes happens that a woman is handsomer at twenty-nine than she was ten years before. - Jane Austen
If things are going untowardly one month, they are sure to mend the next. – Jane Austen
The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid. – Jane Austen
Tags: legos, NYC
As much as I have come to love Boston and all its Massholes, New York City is — whether it’s because I read the Times daily (sorry, Tim, I just can’t read the Globe!), or because my family is nearby (out beyond the red lego, above), or because the years I spent living in Manhattan just after college are indelible in their penury and excitement — the city I still know and, perhaps, love the best.
I miss little things, little things so brilliantly captured in this Times piece today.
Tags: Superbowl cupcakes
In case you found the last post mind-numbing, here are some glimpses of the past couple of days Chez Murph.
Mimi came to visit. Little Buggy loves nothing more than snuggling on her lap in the mornings, watching Sesame Street.
My sister Jennifer’s annual Superbowl cupcakes. The rules: you eat a cupcake (or many cupcakes, as the case may be — and usually is) with the logo of the team for which you are not rooting.
The scene as I left for work this morning: Little Buggy and Janet making eggs.
Tags: 25 Random Things, Facebook
Are you on Facebook? No? Then you are missing the internet craze of the month, the viral “25 Random Things About Me.” It’s wonderfully self-indulgent.
The instructions: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.
(To do this, go to “notes” under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.)
1. Waiting nine years after to college to go to law school — and then going to law school — was the best decision I have ever made.
2. Don’t think I’m crazy: I also loved law school, even when I missed five weeks of classes because I was too nauseous with morning sickness to drive to school.
3. I’m a far, far better (happier) person today than I was 5, 10, 15 years ago. As my mother would say (quoting “The Velveteen Rabbit”) I’ve been “rubbed real.”
4. In high school I wanted to be a U.S. Senator. Now I would like to someday be a speechwriter for a U.S. Senator.
5. This is probably because I have career ADD: I am currently on my 10th job since I graduated from college.
6. My daughter is named after my mother.
7. Speaking of my mother, she is the shining inspiration of my life.
8. I talk on the phone, or email, or both with my mother and my sisters every day.
9. And speaking of my sisters, they are without a doubt my best friends. I wish Erin would move back to Boston already.
10. My husband is one of nine children — he and his twin sister are #s 7 and 8.
11. Here is where I have lived since 1996: New York City; Ketchum, Idaho (Sun Valley); Los Angeles; Paris; Princeton, NJ; Boston.
12. Of the places listed above, I would move back to Ketchum, Paris, or LA in a heartbeat.
13. I am obsessed with interior design — blogs, magazines, etc. I fall asleep at night redecorating the rooms of my apartment in my head.
14. On average (even counting the three months or so I had to give them up while I was pregnant, meaning that there has been many a day when two were consumed), I most likely have had a Starbucks soy chai latte every day since the year 2000. I am, in fact, drinking one right now. (Oh, the money! The calories!)
15. I am a certified yoga instructor.
16. Sundays make me slightly blue, but I love our Sunday family dinners with just Tim, Little Buggy, and me eating spaghetti at meatballs at 5:30 p.m.
17. I don’t drink hard alcohol but make up for it in the amount of red wine I consume.
18. Oh yeah, when I lived in L.A. I worked at a wine store and took classes at UCLA to become a sommelier (did I mention my career ADD?)
19. I have run one marathon and two half-marathons.
20. I used to be a rather intense ashtanga practitioner (every morning at 6 a.m. for 2 years) and almost-vegan.
21. I have been to 29 countries and have: trekked in the Himalayas, visited Ankgor Wat and the Taj Mahal, sailed down the Mekong, seen the wailing wall in Jerusalem and Palmyra in Syria, sunned on the beaches of Rio, hiked the Swiss alps, watched the sun set over the Bosphorus in Istanbul. Those days are long gone, and I’m quite okay with it.
22. That being said, my dream is to live with my family abroad someday, preferably in Paris or London. Do you think they need tax lawyers there?
23. Despite my newest career, I still want to publish a novel. Maybe that will get me back to Paris.
24. I am in absolute awe of the fact that I found my husband, and that we made our incredible child.
25. I truly, truly believe in karma and that everything that happens to you in life — good or bad — leads you to where you are supposed to be.