Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Workout Diary: Day One

I am the only girl in the gym in baggy pants. The ONLY one. I feel disoriented by the jungle of machinery I have no clue how to work. I'm like the fat kid who's come to the gym for the first time, and he's super out of shape and huffing and puffing on the elliptical after only a few minutes. Only, I'm not the fat kid. I'm the skinny kid with bad posture. I'm drowning in my clothes. And I don't know what the hell I'm doing.
I am underweight. Let's just put that right out there. I know it. Don't point it out. Don't tell me to eat more. Stop wrapping your fingers around my freakishly thin wrists. No, I'm not anorexic. I'm not bulemic. I'm simply underweight the way many people are overweight. This may sound strange to you, but I struggle gaining weight probably as much as some people struggle losing it. I know it's different, because the mass media glorifies skinny girls and tiny arms and thin legs. I understand that. But I am here to tell you that I struggle too, and it's hard, and sometimes it really sucks.

I have been very slowly but steadily losing weight over the past six months. I've been tracking the loss and doing what I can to compensate for it: trying to eat more, healthier, fattier, proteinier foods. I drink whole milk. I eat avocados. I carry a tin of nuts around with me to snack on, and I choke down Luna bars when I can stand them. Still, my eating habits could be better. I could snack less on empty stuff. I could eat more vegetables. Less sugar. More whole grains. There is room for improvement here.

Most discouragingly, I've tried to start exercising regularly over the past six months, but it seems like every time I try to get into a routine, I get sick. Then I lose ground. And it is SO hard to start at zero again and again and again. Travis has invited me to come to the gym with him periodically, and I always have some excuse. Usually it's legitimate: I don't have enough energy; I have a headache; I haven't eaten well enough. So, he goes and I end up at home, sedentary.

Travis invited me to go to the gym again today. I tried to put him off with the usual excuses--and I truly wasn't feeling all that great. But I stop myself halfway through and, with tears dangerously close to the surface, say, "Honey, I just feel like I'm wasting away! I don't know what to do." Part of the reason I find it hard to exercise is that it is hard for me to get enough caloric intake each day because I can only eat so much at a time (and seriously. I do NOT have time to each six little meals a day.) "You just have to work through it," he said. It's hard at first.
I go run on the elliptical for twenty minutes so that he and his buddies can do their heavy lifting without me hanging around, hands awkwardly in baggy pants pockets.

I hate cardio. I hate the idea of all those precious calories being wasted on running. I know that's probably the wrong way to think about it, but I cannot afford to lose more weight. I CANNOT LOSE MORE WEIGHT. But the elliptical feels okay, so I keep it up till my thighs burn.

After that, Travis helps me curl 25 pounds. That is about five pounds more than I am comfortable with, but I am able to do it. My impotent arms shake but I manage to squeak out three sets. Then I use ten pounds in each hand to work shoulders. Then triceps with one of those rope-pull things. I give myself a break in between each set. When I feel my muscles stop recovering, I know the workout is over for me. That moment comes pathetically soon.

I am a dancer. WAS a dancer. I used to be in peak physical condition. How diminished I have become. My goal is to tone my body back to what is could be, and has been: strong. But I need a lot of support. I need a lot of optimism, because right now I am scared and weak and small.

I am so thankful I have Travis to help me do this.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

One is Silver and the Other Gold

Today, I was thinking about the first time I met Travis, and how it is really easy to take people for granted. I'm not going to tell the story here because I don't have the energy. And, in some ways, it's a memory that I'd like to keep to myself and mull over whenever I need to remember what I learned from it.Suffice it to say, on that day I never imagined that in a year, two years, from then, he would be my best friend, my closest confidant, that thing in my life that never failed when everything else fails.

No. I'm not talking about Charity. :)

This isn't supposed to be a mushy post. All I'm saying is I'm sure glad I gave him a chance. It makes me want to look at other people differently. Every person is potentially a gold mine just waiting to be discovered. Even old friends--they're waiting to be discovered, and perhaps re-discovered. Maybe they have things to offer that I've never seen before. I know the reverse is true.

I don't have a lot of energy these days to try to tap into the potential of strangers, let alone friends. I'm tired and overbooked and, frankly, just wishing i could just fall asleep quickly and stay that way for a long time. I'm not depressed. Just...thin. Like butter scraped over too much bread (my favorite Tolkien metaphor, by the way.)

I guess what I'm trying to say is, if you are a new friend, be patient with me. If you are an old friend, I'm still here.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Buffalo and Niagara Weekend

I accompanied Travis on a trip out to Buffalo, NY this weekend as he interviewed with a prospective grad school. I have mixed feelings about the trip--mostly a result of fatigue and a very human unwillingness to face change. So instead of writing about my feelings, I will post some of the highlights in pictures. Travis's parents were kind of enough to join us for a day or two of sightseeing in Niagara Falls, which is very close to Buffalo. We stayed on the Canadian side which affords a  much better view. The pictures are somewhat out of order, but I'm definitely too lazy to fix it right now.

It was a snowy, blustery day.

Here, we are in the gift shop where Travis is sporting the latest in fashion. (Yes, that is what you think it is.)
American Falls as seen from the Canadian side.
Edge of Horseshoe Falls.

So...the little package deal we bought included a visit to a butterfly house that is part of a botanical garden. I think all of us were totally enchanted.

This butterfly was my favorite because...well...just look at what happens when it opens its wings.

My favorite butterfly perched on my finger! (I also held a tarantula for the first time, but I didn't get photographic evidence.)
The blizzard had cleared up by the time we left the butterflies.
Rainbow over Horseshoe Falls, which kicks up ridiculous amounts of mist.
Niagara Falls, Ontario skyline
Looks like the Strip.
Viewing the Falls from behind...

Man. If I had to come back as any animal, I'd come back as THESE butterflies. No predators, endless amounts of nectar and rotting fruit to eat, and hundreds of human admirers every day, ALL DAY.  That, my friends, is the life.
So, I started this post last night. But as of this morning, we know that SUNY Buffalo is definitely an option for us. Travis received his acceptance in an email. Since this is the only interview he's done yet, until further notice, we are going to Buffalo. We still don't know if we will definitely be relocating to upstate New York, but it is a pretty great feeling to know that we do have a future SOMEWHERE. Buffalo is also a highly ranked school, so if it is any bellweather for future acceptances elsewhere, the future is looking pretty bright. I've also had all day to mull over whether or not I'd be okay living in Buffalo and facing the prospect of living so far away from our entire support system, and I've decided that I could do it.

Plus... the butterflies, guys. The butterflies! We'd only live like 45 minutes away from them.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

To the Guy Working on 5th floor of the Lee Library…Nine Years Ago

I’m sorry I don’t know your name. I barely remember that you had dark, curly hair. (I better not remember any other details or my husband might get jealous.) But I’m sitting here comfortably doing research for a graduate-level paper, and I suddenly remembered you.

Almost nine years ago, I was an 18-year-old in my first Honors-level Freshman writing class at BYU. We had to write four papers that semester. One of them was a personal narrative. Piece of cake. I don’t remember what the other two were, but the fourth and biggest paper was a Research Paper.

Confession: I had never done a Research Paper in high school.

I know. Crazy. But it’s the truth. During my Junior year of high school, our teacher had us do a “multi-genre research paper,” which was more or less the equivalent of a creating a diorama of our research subject. Not really. But it was soft research. We could use pictures as sources. Or songs. Or pieces of string, if they had anything to do with our subject. For an eleventh grader, it was a great project. And I did learn a thing or two about research. Still, nothing to prepare me for what was expected in college.

You see, the funny thing about college is, they throw you headlong into the sea of the body research and expect you to know how to swim. But 99.7% of Freshman have no idea how to move their arms and legs, much less which direction to swim. This was me, Guy. This was me. Even after the library instruction session we had to attend as a class, I only knew a very little more about navigating library databases than I did before.

So anyway, I went up to the Humanities Reference area of the library on campus one autumn day on blind faith. I knew I had to do Research, and I knew where to do it, but I didn’t know how. This is where you came in. I didn’t have a laptop back then, so I staked out one of your computers, logged in, and played around just long enough to convince myself that life, the universe, and everything was hopeless. 

I was shy. I didn’t like asking for help. And I didn’t want to disturb you. But I did because I was drowning. So, I explained my assignment and you listened with the patience and wisdom of a…I don’t know how old you were…23, 24?  At any rate, “OLD.”  You walked over with me to my computer and you showed me how to access JSTOR. You gave me one or two pointers how to search for things, and then told me to come back if I needed any more help.

Dude—wherever you are—I am ¾ of a librarian now. I will graduate with my MLIS on August 4 of this year. I have worked nearly 3 years in reference in libraries now, and all that being said, I now appreciate just exactly how much you did for me that day. You didn’t do my assignment for me; you didn’t show me every single database I could have used. You also didn’t brush me off as “another clueless freshman.” Above all, you were nice! That is the best thing a librarian can be for a struggling student.You made me feel like the library was not enemy territory and that Research was not something to be feared and loathed. (Well, actually, to be fair, that last part took a long time to overcome. Still, you helped.)

Just so you know, I’m very nearly a pro at research now.* I’m doing research acrobatics! My skillz ride circles around my Freshman self. I can navigate electronic databases like a boss and find a dozen GOOD sources in a matter of a couple hours now. But this is not about me.

I’m not saying that this moment in my life inspired me to become a librarian. But as I look back, with what I know now, I can see just how good at your job you were—especially for a student employee. You took your job seriously, and I guess I just want to say thank you on the off-chance you will ever read this. You probably won’t.

But thanks all the same.

Sincerely,  Erin

*Hyperbole, folks. Hyperbole.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Warning: This Post May Offend You


So, I have this new rule for myself: Don't get defensive. About anything. If I'm not guilty of whatever it is someone is assuming about me, then I'm not guilty! And if I am? Well, a little humility is in order. Getting defensive makes you look STUPID. Period. So, it's one of my new rules to not give in to feeling defensive.

That being said, I'm going to break it for just a minute or two. Indulge me.

Something I am pretty tired of hearing or having said to my face:


Yeah. I got it. 

And I get it. I really do! If you're stuck at BYU or UVU and you don't like the culture, and you're tired of crappy housing, and you're tired of school, and you just hate the life that you happen to be living in Utah, then I get it. It does suck. And in that sense, yes, Utah sucks; the "Utah stage" of your life sucks.

Anyway, I don't begrudge anyone the prerogative to hate Utah. Hate away. I'm serious. But it gets tiring--and a little offensive--when you constantly express it in the presence of those of us from here. It kind of makes us feel like the idiots you believe all other Utahans to be. HINT.

Did you feel yourself getting defensive while reading this? Now you know how I feel every time I politely listen to your well-meant diatribes.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Re-capturing the Mundane

I suppose I've made a habit out of sharing everything, and nothing, about myself on this blog. I talk about superficial things: like outings to movies. Like books I've read. Occasionally, I rant. Since I have made my blog publicly searchable (and indeed get hits from all over the world on certain posts) I suppose I feel less and less compelled to share the details of my everyday life. I don't post things like this anymore. That sad moment where--yes, I will tell you. It's so far in the past now, it doesn't matter anymore--where I was getting my heart broken by the same boy for perhaps the third time. I lost track. And it doesn't matter anymore, anyway. I used to offer glimpses like that into what was real and raw and visceral.

Then I stopped. And not, as I suggested earlier, because of privacy issues. I stopped writing like that because it was vague. It felt like oversharing. It felt melodramatic. I felt juvenile admitting that I did something as gothic as wandering out in the middle of the night in "restless weather" to talk to God about what I was going through. Simply put, I felt that kind of thing would bore people. And it probably does.

So I stopped after a while. I started writing deliberately, carefully, and nothing unless it would "amaze the entire room," to paraphrase Darcy. I want to be a writer by trade--so I turned to this blog into a practicing ground. And I feel I have achieved some success. In the meantime, I have maybe also lost some of what I originally set out to do. It is the simplest function of a blog. And that is, to share myself, and not just my writing. To keep people up to date.

I don't mean to say that I will start writing maudlin anecdotes like the one I shared above. But I will occasionally try sharing something more personal--even mundane. The internet is way too impersonal as it is. So, here's to being personal, and even mundane.