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: Boston Sports Club, can working moms work out, Sports Club LA Boston, The Biggest Loser, treadmills, working out at work, workout attire
Part II of my quest to fit exercise into my new life as a lawyer/mom (Part I was yoga at work): I joined the gym in my office building. It would never, ever be described as a “nice” gym. That being said, the cost per month is less than half of my current, crappy gym, where there’s always at least one machine on the fritz, and all the treadmills have gum in the water-bottle-holder-places.*
I left my desk, rode the elevator down 27 floors, filled out the paperwork to sign up, changed, ran on the treadmill for 30 minutes (I know I hate treadmills, but I hate going for more than a week without running even more), rinsed off in the shower (again, it was towards the end of the day so I didn’t bother to wash my hair, nor did I mind “glowing” for awhile afterwards — I had no meetings left to attend), and was back at my desk exactly one hour later. Not bad. Had I not had to register, I might have been back at my desk in 50 minutes. Or could have run another mile.
Talk to me in two weeks and ask me how many times I have been able to pull this off. Still, even though I had quite a bit going on today (and so knowing that I’d be working after I got home anyway) I forced myself to go. The lesson learned is: if you can force yourself to make the time, you always feel better afterwards. So mundane, but so important for a working mom (or working anyone) to remember. Not to sound too much like Oprah, or Jillian/Bob on “The Biggest Loser,” but you have to make time for yourself, too, even if it’s at the slightly shoddy gym in your office building.
*I actually kind of like my crappy gym better than my former, fancy gym. When I run, I like to wear old t-shirts over spandex. I throw my hair up into an elastic and stick a few bobby pins in the layers. At the fancy gym, women wore expensive yoga tops on the treadmill. More often than not, they also wore makeup and, even worse, WORE THEIR HAIR DOWN. Long hair, blown out into waves. Flowing behind them on the treadmill. Why? And how? Sure, at fancy gym you might see Larry Bird, or Justin Timberlake, or Kate Hudson as they cruised through town for a night at the Garden or on a movie shoot. And it’s not like I feel self-conscious in my less-than-attractive workout attire, but I just cannot run next to someone on a treadmill whose hair is in her face without wanting to yank it into a ponytail for her. I’m not some aweomse runner or anything, but I cannot take someone like that seriously.
Tags: Angelina Jolie, Breyer's ice cream, Decorno, Gretchen Rubin, I think this world is perfect, Justice Breyer, mailing it in, Oprah, Pax Arcana, Sandra Day O'Connor, The Happiness Project, Vodka has no carbs
(Picture thanks to Vodka has no carbs, who has declared Angie its Patron Saint of Hotness)
There are two writers of this blog — one is the woman who writes Decorno (as in decor-porno — her theory is that decorating magazines are some people’s porn — yes, ME! They are my porn, even though as a feminist I am generally anti-porn on principle). She is hilarious. And her co-writer describes herself as a “lady lawyer,” which was almost the name of this blog. Need I say more.
Also, sometimes when you are busy with writing about Justice Breyer and trying not to indulge on ice cream while you do so (get it? BREYER’S? — thanks a lot, Jill, for planting that in my head. Now I can’t forget about mint-chip as I mangle First Amendment standards of scrutiny), you might have to mail in a blog post or two and simply make some links or lists (lest people think you’re dead, right?)… Consider this one such post.
So, while I’m at it, another recent blog discovery is I think this world is perfect. It’s sweetly written (with really fine quality pictures) and is nice to read even if you don’t have kids — it doesn’t necessarily fall into the category of “mommy blogs” (and not even because it’s written by a dad…). I think in the blogosphere when you find a blog courtesy of another blog, you are supposed to give something called a “hat tip”? (At least that’s what Pax Arcana does, and he’s a veritable professional.) So a hat tip to The Happiness Project, whose brilliance seems to grow with every post (maybe because I’m just a sucker for self-improvement anything? Hello, Oprah!). Even as my jealously of Gretchen Rubin grows (she was a clerk for Sandra Day O’Connor, is now a successful writer, and somehow manages to work out every day…), I also love her more and more. Can you have a blog crush?
I popped up to Christopher’s in Porter Square last night to meet Lindsey and Alison for a quick sauv blanc (since LMR was there, on the rocks, natch) after “work.” It was a warm and lively night at Porter, and it made me miss living in Cambridge. Our conversation was fun and fast, and during its course, Lindsey urged me to share a few lists on my blog. What a good idea because, as it turns out, I love lists! (See someone who has cornered this blog niche, here.) As Lindsey and I lamented the fact that we are too ADD these days to actually read real books (Alison apparently is far too erudite to subsist on magazines, as we do), the first such list is the ridiculous number of magazines I consume each month. Tim gives me a hard time for this, but considering my vices are pretty much limited to Starbucks and magazines (wine is an elixir, not a vice), I would counter that it could be worse.
US Weekly (yes, I do subscribe to both…)
The New Yorker
Sports Illustrated (Tim gets this, along with half-a-dozen golf publications—one of which, Women’s Golf, is inexplicably addressed to me—but I actually do read portions of SI from time to time. I have always thought that sports writing can be some of the most creative and fun to read journalism.)
O at Home
PAW (I do read it! Every week!)
And then, if the cover happens to be intriguing that month, I’ll pick up at the grocery store or drug store:
Boston Magazine (I like to see what Boston freelancers are in there, e.g., Jeff Klineman)
Marie Claire (have a friend who is an editor there)
Metropolitan Home (have a friend who is an editor there)
Bon Appetit (to see if any of Amy’s pieces have made it in)
Entertainment Weekly (though I buy this less now that Troy has left)
Runner’s World (it’s true: I buy it when I need to get inspired)
I can justify some of this because I used to be in the “business” – I like to look at the mastheads and see who is doing and writing what. But I could and should cut back on the subscriptions. Fitness, for example, is a total waste. I also rarely read through Parenting, but for some reason get it for free (I think it came with a 1-800-Diapers.com membership?). And it’s not like I’m pulling recipes out of Cooking Light these days. But when a big, fat In Style, Domino, or Vogue appears once a month, I look forward to climbing into bed that night. And the weekly People and US Weekly delivery is like a martini in the mailbox – utter Friday night brain candy.
My friend Erin, who has had an almost identical love-relationship-motherhood trajectory as I, sent me this great read from The Atlantic. In Marry Him, Lori Gottlieb argues that women creeping up on the far side of their 30s should get over holding out for Mr. Right and should instead “settle.” Ignore all those “deal-breakers” (he doesn’t read, he’s allergic to dogs, whatever), and realize that marriage is more about partnership than passion anyway. She writes
Unless you meet the man of your dreams (who, by the way, doesn’t exist, precisely because you dreamed him up), there’s going to be a downside to getting married, but a possibly more profound downside to holding out for someone better.
Of course, this is exactly the opposite advice given in the latest Oprah magazine (which I would guess is not only read by far more women than The Atlantic but by a, um, quite different demographic?) In the giant cover story “Love List” (which my sister and I happily discussed ad nauseam — see below), the author argues that you can, in fact, find the man of your dreams. Make a list! Stash it in your closet! When you meet Mr. Right, take out the list and see how many of those “requirements” your new soul mate has. Don’t be surprised if he has 99 out of 100!
Gottlieb’s article is humorous and fun-to-read more than being any sort of post-feminist manifesto. Nevertheless, I’m glad she put it out there. I am proud of my ideological and political feminism. But I have to say: biology is biology. My priorities as a woman — and my desires for career and relationship — are entirely different now that I have had a child. Biology is insanely powerful. The desire to have a child and then to care for that child above all else isn’t all psychology. So even as she steels herself for criticism, Gottlieb may have a point:
Oh, I know—I’m guessing there are single 30-year-old women reading this right now who will be writing letters to the editor to say that the women I know aren’t widely representative, that I’ve been co-opted by the cult of the feminist backlash, and basically, that I have no idea what I’m talking about. And all I can say is, if you say you’re not worried, either you’re in denial or you’re lying. In fact, take a good look in the mirror and try to convince yourself that you’re not worried, because you’ll see how silly your face looks when you’re being disingenuous.
While my own path to marriage and motherhood was not the one I had envisioned or expected, nor would I say I even remotely “settled,” knowing what I know now about motherhood and partnership, I’m not sure I entirely disagree with her — if only in that I think it’s perfectly OK for women to admit that they want to be married and be mothers.
I am a cliche. Tim is away. When I got home tonight, Janet already had bathed the Bug, so all I had to do was cuddle her and then plop her in the crib. Which has left me ample time to do the following: pour a bowl of Special K, open a bottle of wine, and plow through DVR’d Oprah’s. I watched one episode on matchmakers and one on “The Secret.” I called my sister. “What are you doing?” she asked. “Drinking wine and watching Oprah.” A screech or maybe a squeal from over the phone. Did she drop her new iPhone? Burn herself on the stove? “I’m doing the same thing!” she shrieked. So, not only am I drinking wine (Ravenswood Merlot — I did not buy it, but it’s perfect for when you just want red wine and don’t necessarily need for it to go well with food — i.e., Special K) and watching Oprah, but am on the phone with my sister, who is doing the exact same thing, discussing Oprah’s “Love List.” This is why it is nice to have a husband who sometimes travels, leaving you the ability to do all of the above.
One of the commercials that aired during Oprah — it must have been a national ad, since it wasn’t targeted specifically at Massachusetts, nor have I seen it up until now (although, because Oprah was DVR’d, it obviously aired before yesterday’s elections) — was Caroline Kennedy endorsing Obama. My mother has been telling me about this commercial for days and how moved she was by it. And, indeed, once I finally saw it, as was I: I didn’t second-guess my vote from yesterday, but it made me fervently hope that what Obama has to offer does not go away come August — or November.
Also: Thank you, Pax Arcana, for the endorsement!