Running to Stand Still

Today is Monday. Monday is a jogging day.

This morning, I got up, swung my feet out of bed, and sat there for a good long while before deciding, “Nope. I’m not doing this anymore.”

Katee Sackhoff looks like she's enjoying her jog through the ship. ACTING!

Katee Sackhoff enjoying her jog? ACTING!

In the interest of full disclosure, I think I knew I was going to do this before I even went to bed last night. I was having a lovely time, playing Skyrim in between watching episodes of Battlestar Galactica with The Boyfriend, when all of a sudden I realized: tomorrow is a jogging day. I stared into the middle distance for a while, and the first word out of my mouth was a long, drawn-out “Fuck,” and I’m pretty sure that was the point where I decided that this wasn’t going to happen.

I’ve tried to like it, I really have. I’ve tried to find that “I like jogging” switch in my brain. I’ve taken refuge in the oft-repeated factoid that if you do something for three weeks [1] then it becomes a habit that is part of your life now. I understand the health benefits. I know it helped me lose weight. I know that there are millions and millions of people around the world who wake up in the morning and think, “Thank god I get to go running today.”

I am not one of them, and I’m pretty sure I never will be. And I really can’t abide lying to myself about this any longer.

Go online and find jogging forums and jogging websites, and they are full of success stories. People who’ve been jogging for years and people who just started Couch-to-5K alike, they all seem to have become enraptured by this activity of putting one foot in front of the other at a moderate pace. They talk about how good it makes them feel, how it starts off the day right and how they miss it when they can’t go out. They have found something worthwhile to do with their time that brings them a sense of accomplishment and well-being. Even those who find it difficult seem to take solace in the faith that it will pay off someday. [2]

Where do I get some of that? Not from jogging, that’s for damn sure.

In all fairness, it's not like I'm beating puppies to death with kittens or anything. I still feel bad, though.

In all fairness, it’s not like I’m beating puppies to death with kittens or anything. I still hate it, though.

When I come back home, my thoughts aren’t, “Thank god I went jogging.” They’re, “Thank god that’s over.” It makes me feel tired and uncomfortable physically, and it inevitably leaves me in a worse emotional place than where I would have been if I had just gotten an extra half hour of sleep. I honestly come home feeling bad about myself – bad for having gone out, and bad for making myself doing something I so clearly hate to do and then bad for feeling bad about something I should feel good about.

Of course, with this failure, my dear Scumbag Brain has decided to daisy-chain all of my other failures together in a horrible slide show of ignominy and defeat.

So the facts are as follows:

  • I’m no longer young enough to not care about what my body does in its free time.
  • Therefore, I have to do some kind of maintenance.
  • Jogging makes me hate myself.
  • So do all other forms of exercise.
  • So does failure.
  • My capacity for self-loathing has its limits.
  • Nevertheless, I like being able to fit into all my clothes.
  • Dammit.

That leaves us with the real Question of the Day: How do you force yourself to do something you detest?

Or the other question: When is the right time to quit?

Or this question. This question is good too.

Or this question. This question is good too.


[1] Or nine weeks, or three months, or whatever duration is, by odd coincidence, longer than the time you’ve actually been doing it.
[2] I wonder if there’s a correlation between religious faith and engagement in fitness activities. In both cases, you’re performing arduous work now in the hopes of a payoff later – a payoff that isn’t guaranteed to ever happen.

Thanksgiving, Day 16: Getting Over a Cold

Seriously, it’s the best.

I’m not 100% yet by any means, but I feel better than I have for a few days.

Thing is, I’m a bad sick person, I really am. I get awfully self-centered about it, and if I’m not careful I’ll convince myself that this is how I’m going to feel forever. I can’t remember what it feels like to be “well,” since “well” is an absence of sickness, which is the exact opposite of how I feel at the time.

That said, I do try not to be a dick about it. It’s a cold, not leukemia, and there are limits to just how much of a self-absorbed dick I can be. Just enough to get people to leave me alone, but not enough to make them leave me alone permanently, I suppose. Besides, I know people who have actual medical problems, and for me to me lamenting about how “O Woe Is Me, My Nose May Be Stuffy ForEVER!” is just an insult to them.

Anyway, I’m behind schedule and I’ve a lot of things to do this weekend. I’ll fill in days 14 and 15 soon enough…

Thanksgiving, Day 14: My Mustache

Mustache! Get! Out! Of my! MIIIIND!!

Hey, you think of twenty-two things to blog about being thankful for and see if you don’t have to stretch a bit.

This month is “Movember,” as I’m sure you all are aware. If you’re not, then let me clue you in – whereas October is the month dedicated to women’s health, with a focus on breast cancer awareness, November is the month dedicated to men’s health, with a focus on prostate cancer. Seeing as how breasts are, on the whole, a lot more photogenic and pleasant to look at than the prostate [1], it was decided that the best way to raise awareness was for men to spend the month growing out their mustaches. That way, when people say, “Why are you growing a mustache?” the man can say, “Why it’s to raise awareness of prostate cancer! And now you are aware! You’re welcome!”

Although I suspect that for most men, it’s just an excuse to grow a mustache.

Which is interesting, in its own way. People invariably have asked me why I’m growing a mustache, which implies that there must be a purpose for it, a reason behind not shaving a few square centimeters of my face. And rather than just say, “Because I want to,” we have to come up with some high-falutin’ greater-cause reason for the whole thing. It’s a fairly drastic change in appearance that not every man can pull off [2].

I still have so very far to go…

I suppose the same would hold for any other drastic change, though. If I shaved my head or started wearing three-piece suits all the time or got a tattoo [3], people would want to know why. “Because” just isn’t an answer that is acceptable to grownups, and for most things, I think that’s okay. After all, our appearance is the self we present to the world, and most of us expect that self to be stable and, within tolerable limits, unchanging. A drastic change in the outer self should, we believe, mirror a change in the inner self, and change makes people curious, if not downright uneasy. So we ask and probe and dig when someone makes a drastic change, at least until we come up with an answer that satisfies us. And if we don’t get one? Well, then, we’ll make one up.

So if I have to paste a reason onto my facial hair, then fine – so be it. Prostate cancer is certainly a noble cause to support. But I think I – and every man who decides to grow out their face around this time of year – know the real reason why we do it: because it’s my face, dammit, and I’ll do what I like with it.

All that said, though, I’ll be shaving it off when December comes around. Why?

See above.

[1] Or, more to the point, the way you go to find the prostate.
[2] Indeed, several of the guys in my office have given up on their mustachiations, on the grounds that they think they look silly. I have no idea what they’re talking about.
[3] Or all three, which would be very entertaining.

Thanksgiving, Day 13: Sick Days

You and me both, Parker.

Continuing on from yesterday – no, I don’t feel better and yes, I am going to take a sick day.

Why? Because I can, of course. And because it’s what needs to be done.

The idea of being not only able to take a sick day but to do so without being guilted, shafted, or outright harassed for it is a new one. Indeed, in this place they positively encourage them, since my sick self is going to end up being in contact with a whole lot of other students and teachers, thus allowing whatever plague I have to spread from person to person. In fact, maybe if Certain People [1] had taken a day or two off last week, I wouldn’t be in this position.

My last job was positively brutal with sick days – you didn’t get paid for the day, for one thing, but you also lost a *punctuality bonus* of nearly $500 out of your paycheck. It’s a bonus because, by law, companies can’t dock your pay just because you’re sick. Arbitrary bonuses put in just to keep people from missing work? Fair game. Lawyers are sneaky bastards, each and every on of ’em.

Anyway, that’s how I ended up one day at the hospital for six hours, trying to get a doctor to look at me, tell me I had a cold, and give me the form saying he had seen me. When I told him what was wrong, he asked, “Why the hell are you here?” I told him that my company didn’t trust me to make my own health decisions, and could he please give me that form.

But that’s all behind me now. Here and now I can take a sick day, and so I shall. Maybe two – we’ll see how I feel on Thursday. Let’s shoot for “better,” or at least “not as shitty.”

[1] I would add, “You know who you are,” but I don’t think any of them read this blog. Probably a good thing.

Thanksgiving, Day 12: Health

Turn back, my Martian friends! There is only death here!

Ironically, as I write this I’m coming down with a cold. It’s the scratchy throat, thirst all the time, snuffling and dripping type of cold, complete with a slow, continuous headache and a firm, unwavering desire to just go back to bed.

Annoying, yes. Inconvenient, sure. But at least I can be reasonably sure that, unlike people in some other time and place, it won’t kill me. I may have a cold. Bt I also have access to medicine, to proper medical care, should it become necessary, and a job where I can take time off to rest and recuperate. That alone is something to be thankful for.

Beyond that, though, I have to admit that my health has been pretty good despite my consistent lack of attention to it (up until recently, anyway). Whenever I take a checkup, there’s this long list of conditions and complications they want to know about, and I don’t have to check any of them. I have friends and relatives who have the misfortune to have their bodies turn against them – asthma, cancer, diabetes, neurological disorders, mental health issues…

By and large, though, I seem to be doing okay. My health issues are seasonal or occasional, and rarely debilitating enough to merit anything more than a couple of days off work. I don’t know what to attribute this to – good genetics, perhaps, or avoiding an egregiously unhealthy lifestyle maybe. Whatever it is, it seems to be working.

Behold. My future.

I quit smoking back in aught-three, so I’m sure that helped. If you’re wondering if you should quit, by the way, the answer is an unqualified “YES.” It may not turn your life around, but it will certainly stop making it worse.

I rarely drink alcohol, either. Not because of any moral or health reason, but because I just don’t feel like it. If I go out, I might have a couple of beers, but I don’t go out that often. Even when I do, my days of drinking myself stupid ended years ago. At some point, my self-regulation systems kick in and say, “Nope. You’re done.” Anything after that, and I suspect that my pleasant night of inebriation is about to go horribly wrong. And no one wants that.

I don’t have a sweet tooth, and don’t drink colas. I’m a fan of vegetables in my cooking. I live in a place that requires I walk a lot and have a job where I have to stand. All told, my lifestyle isn’t inherently unhealthy, and that helps.

What I know, of course, is that this streak is going to continue, I’m going to have to pay more attention to the meat puppet than I have up until now. After all, one should not casually throw away things for which you are thankful.

That said… Anyone up for pizza?