Saturday, April 27, 2013

My Body and Me

On Mornings
Me: I have to get up now. I have things to do today.
My body: Sooo sleepy....
Me: What? No! Don't close your eyes! Don't -
My body: *honk shu*
Me: You cannot be... Seriously? I'm awake over here!
My body: *rolls over*
Me: Hello? I'm still here! Let's move!
My body: *still asleep*

Peaceful Negotiations
Me: OMG! Look at these cute clothes! I need to lose weight so I can wear them!
My body: But I like being 180 pounds!
Me: What if we do yoga everyday?
My body: That's fine, but the weight stays.
Me: What if we run three times a week?
My body: 180 pounds! Forever!
Me: What if we diet?
My body: Bitch, I will cut you.

At the End of a Hard Day
Me: Mentally exhausted. Let's just go to sleep.
My body: I'm so awake right now.
Me: Can we just lay in bed and try to sleep?
My body: Couch time!
Me: Are you even listening to me?
My body: What's on TV tonight?
Me: Fine, but if you quiz me on this later, we will fail.
My body: Ooh! He’s a pretty actor! Quick! What else have we seen him in?
Me: What did I just say?
My body: Doesn’t he look like Matt, just a little?
Me: I’m not actually watching this, remember?

On Healthy Things
My body: Check out the frosting on that donut... Oh, yeah! Lookin' good!
Me: Excuse me?!
My body: What? I wasn't doing anything.
Me: You were looking at that donut!
My body: Baby, I would never do that to you!
Me: We're supposed to be eating healthy!
My body: We do! I like healthy things!
Me: Prove it! Eat this lettuce!
My body: ...
Me: FFS!!!

On Bedtime Routines
Me: Nice hot cup of tea...
My body: Oh, thank you! That's so nice of you!
Me: How about a hot bath?
My body: That would be wonderful.
Me: Then some nice relaxing bedtime yoga?
My body: Sounds fantastic!
Me: Then we'll drift off to sleep for our early day tomorrow.
My body: Wh-what? Early? Who's getting up early?
Me: We are.
My body: Hell no.
Me: I've calculated it out. We'll be able to get a full 8 hours in.
My body: I can't go to sleep! I have plans!
Me: Please, enlighten me.
My body: ...
Me: Are you kidding me?
My body: I can lay here awake all night!

On Teamwork
Me: Okay, so first I'll make a grocery list and then start dinner. Or I'll make the grocery list while dinner is cooking. Maybe first I put on my pajamas and have some tea. Or maybe I... Hang on... How the hell did I get home?
My body: No sweat. I got this.
Me: You drove all the way home without my help?
My body: You were busy!
Me: That's not acceptable behavior!
My body: What's the big deal? I do stuff like this all the time. It's fine!
Me: Do you even know what a red light is? What did you do at the red lights?
My body: Of course I know what to do! I... wait... honestly, I don't remember if there were any red lights...
Me: !!!

Hunger Games
My body: *Growl!*
Me: Woah, there, tiger! What was that all about?
My body: I might be hungry.
Me: Might be?
My body: Yeah.
Me: You don’t know for sure?
My body: *Growl!*
Me: I’m gonna take that as a “I’m hungry.”
My body: Okay.
Me: What do we want?
My body: Don’t know.
Me: Want an apple?
My body: Meh.
Me: Boiled egg?
My body: *yawn*
Me: Make you a salad?
My body: Don’t want salad.
Me: What do you want?
My body: I really don’t know. Name off some more stuff.
Me: Chicken? Beef? Bacon? Celery? Stir Fry? Almonds?
My body: *unresponsive*
Me: If you’re waiting for me to suggest pizza you’re going to be waiting a long time.
My body: I’ll take the apple then.
Me: Thought as much.

On Yoga
Me: I can’t remember… did I pay that vet bill? How long ago was that? Should I have got a bill by now?
My body: Excuse me?
Me: That’s right. I put it on the credit card. Did I pay it off right away or do I still need to?
My body: Do you mind? I’m trying to do yoga here!
Me: Oh, sure. Don’t mind me. You keep doing what you’re doing.
My body: I really need you to be quiet.
Me: Well, just relax over there for a bit and I’ll be done in a minute.
My body: This IS how I relax.
Me: Huh? Oh! Yoga! Right. Sorry. I’ll be quiet.
My body: Really?
Me: Yeah. For real.
My body: *balanced*  *poised*
Me: I’m pretty sure I paid that off.
My body: *stumbles* If you keep talking, I WILL fall down and it WILL be your fault.
Me: Sorry! Sorry. What can I do to help? Give me a job.
My body: I guess you could focus on the breathing while I do all the poses.
Me: Consider it done!
Me: *breathing in*
Me: *breathing out*
Me: *breathing in*
Me: *breathing…*        I think I’ll wear the blue shirt tomorrow. I could wear the long blue and green beaded necklace with it. Or my turquoise butterfly. Maybe the chunky brown necklace Grandma Kay gave me for Christmas last year… Would it go with that shirt? Hmm. Maybe I should wear the dark green shirt inste-
My body: BREATHE!!!
Me: Breathing! Breathing! Sorry! I’m sorry. I’m focused now.
My body: Just stop helping me.

Do or Do Not
Me: Got my running shoes and my running pants and my running app... Let's go running!
My body: buh.
Me: We're gonna do three 12-minute miles.
My body: I totally can't do that.
Me: Of course you can! You just did it on Monday!
My body: Absolutely INCAPABLE of doing that.
Me: You did it on Friday too, remember? We felt great!
My body: I weigh 800 pounds! Whales don't run! Return me to the sea!
Me: Shut up and run or so help me...
My body: It is physically not possible! No human could do this!!!
Me: Benjamin literally runs twice as fast as I’m asking you to!
My body: He’s a space alien. You’ve seen how he eats.
Me: No food until you do this.
My body: We can’t pick up enough speed! We’ve got no dilithium crystals!
Me: That’s it. I’m done. Even my body is a nerd.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Tori's Running Playlist with Mental Commentary

Three times a week, I lace up my running shoes, put in my headphones, and go. I’m always shocked at first. Wait, I think. Why am I doing this again? But eventually I settle into a rhythm, one foot in front of the other, breathing well and steadily, and my mind begins to run alongside my body, wandering wherever the music takes me.

Today, let’s peek inside my head on a typical run, complete with soundtrack (click the links to hear the songs).


Chrono Trigger "To Far Away Timescapes" OC ReMix

Oh Heck Yeah! Video game soundtracks playlist! Woot! This is the music that was playing that one time when I saved the world! So catchy!

Even if the time travel doesn’t really make sense. Did these people read any Bradbury before they wrote this game?

Still, how many other video games have both dinosaurs AND robots?

Hmm… well, actually, quite a few of them do. And several novels. Doctor Who as well…

But this game still rocks! For other reasons, which I can’t think of right now.

Obviously, the soundtrack was bitchin’.

There must be other things…

You know what? I am totally not healthy enough to outrun a dinosaur. Or to engage one in combat to the death. I need to run more. Before we discover time travel.


Zelda 2 "TempleTrance" OC ReMix

Link and I have saved the world hundreds of times. Why, that one time when Matt had to work late, we saved the world together from start to finish in about four hours!

And I obviously never ever need to play that game again.

Come on, Tori. Link runs all over Hyrule all day. If he can do it, so can I.

Of course, he’s the Hero of Time and I’m not. I can cut myself a little slack.

Also, I don’t know that he runs all day at quite this pace. Possibly it’s just a light jog…

Or maybe he runs faster? I don’t know… fit people can run really fast and make it look effortless. He might be running way faster than he looks.

How would I calculate his pace?

I’d need to figure out how many miles across Hyrule is… But how?


World of Warcraft "Club Thrall" Myndflame

You want to talk about a character that runs all over the landscape all day, my Warcraft character did that. We’re talking hills, and snow, and sand, and inside a volcano, and that chick just kept right on running.

She sure looked good, too. And everything came in her size and looked spectacularly on her. I can’t even find a good bra.

AND she had a pet dragon to ride on. How is that even fair?

How many hours did I spend playing Warcraft before I quit? If I had spent those hours working out instead, how much faster would I be running right now?

Maybe if I had as many reasons to run as she did, I’d be more motivated? What I need are some murlocs! That’d get me running! With those teeth, and their big eyes, and their gurgling murgle… You bet your biscuits I’d run enthusiastically from those!

I could make a fortune in the fitness industry from genetically engineering murlocs. Not to mention from all the people who would pay good money for the privilege of killing them. Repeatedly.


Kirby’s Dreamland "Fountain of Dreams Redux" EliteFerrex

I feel like I have a lot in common with Kirby: we’re both squishy, we eat everything in sight, we gain superpowers from food, we dance when no one’s looking…


I can’t say I’ve ever gained power from consuming bits of my still-living enemies.

Damn, Kirby’s a little bit of hardcore. That’s, like, Viking berserker stuff right there. A pink, pudgy warrior out of ancient nightmares, the monster that the mommy waddle-dees warn their babies about.

Maybe King Dedede had the right idea all along. Hit it with a giant hammer.

I guess I don’t have as much in common with Kirby as I thought…


Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past "Farore Lies in Wait" OCReMix

Oh, yes, that’s right. Where were we?

Measuring Hyrule.

Maybe we can use the trees somehow?

If we imagine that Link is an average height, say 5’8”, and he’s standing right next to a tree and the tree is twice his height – we’ll call it a Link Length – then the tree is two Link Lengths. So when you’re far enough away from the tree that it appears to be the same height as Link, or 1 Standard Link Length, and then figure out how many seconds it takes to reach the tree, we could theoretically come up with a distance and then a pace.

Or, I could, you know, just spend all that time running more and leave the math to people who actually know what they’re doing.

Maybe I could ask an engineer? I know a few of those! I even know a few who wouldn’t look at me funny when I ask them this very crazy question!

In fact, to most of them, the craziest part of the question will be the fact that I wish to apply the knowledge to my running workout.

Yeah, I’m a bit mystified by it myself.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Things the Books Teach Me: An Education

(This was my speech for the library's annual volunteer appreciation dinner on 4/12/13. For last year's speech, click here.)

I wonder what it does to my brain, working around all these books.

I mean, have you noticed the way things change when they’re in sync? How longtime spouses grow to resemble each other, or your pets behave just like you, or how your best friend is always mistaken for your sibling? Well, sometimes, I think about my job, and how twisted and weird it is, and I wonder what this says about me. How much do I resemble the books I work with?

I often see books that resemble their topics. I’m not talking about your normal, run-of-the-mill book humor, here: Of course the book about do-it-yourself plumbing came back to the library dripping wet – it’s the sort of book one would take into a soggy environment! And of course the book about dog training was eaten by the dog, or the book about raising well-mannered children was returned with crayon damage! The uninitiated find this sort of thing humorous, but such a turn of events barely elicits comment in a librarian’s world.

No, I’m talking about the way perfectly normal books sometimes cause me to question things.

For example, I was once stumped by a Richard Scarry picture book about a character named Lowly Worm, who is just a worm. He wears clothes and a hat and a single shoe, but he’s a worm – no arms or legs. I caught myself wondering, “If he doesn’t have any hands, how does he tie that dapper tie?” and my mind has been uneasy about the subject ever since.

Another time a science book touted itself as “The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather.” I flipped through the book once, twice, a third time.
“What are you looking for?” a coworker asked.
“Hubris,” I said.

Other times the books literally ask me questions. One day, I was processing a book about women and money that, in bold letters on the back, inquired, “Why don’t women make what they’re worth?”
“Gosh,” I wondered aloud to Karyn, who was sharing the desk with me that day. “Why don’t I make what I’m worth? Could it be because I work at the library and there are budget cuts all around? Or because I work in, when you get right down to it, a nonessential service job? I mean, I love what I do and I believe in the power of reading and all that, but the fact is there will be little room for librarians on the colony ship to Mars.”
Karyn looked at me over the top of her reading glasses, eyebrows raised, but I carried on, “I’m serious. Librarianing is not an essential skill when one is populating a new planet. But those OCD housewives whose well-appointed homes are featured on all those decorating shows? They’re not getting on the colony ship to Mars either. I take great comfort in that.”
Karyn merely sighed and went back to doing actual work.

The books often cause me to imagine scenarios that otherwise would never occur to me. Once, while I was checking a book for damage before returning it to the shelf, a page fell out and fluttered to my feet.
“This book about snakes is shedding its skin!” I said.
Benjamin snatched the page from the floor. “Is it missing the page about venomous snakes?” he asked. “Can’t you just picture it?”
Without missing a beat, we dissolved into an elaborate game of pretend. I sank into my chair melodramatically. “I’m bit!”
“Quick!” Benjamin said, feigning panic, “'Which snake is the one that bit you?'“
“'I don't know!” I cried, frantically flipping pages. “It's not in the book!”
Our coworkers looked on, shaking their heads.

The books have exposed me to hobbies I never knew were hobbies. When once a giant coffee-table style art book was donated to us, I glimpsed the duck on the cover and assumed it was a book of wildlife photography, but closer inspection revealed it to be “The Great Book of Wildfowl Decoys”.
“Hang on,” I said to Kathy. “There's a whole book for that?”
She shrugged and began to flip through it with me, admiring the flocks of wooden ducks, wooden geese, wooden swans, and one lone wooden owl. Noticing that the top of one page was labeled “Connecticut,” Kathy said, “Let's find the pages for Kansas!”
To our horror and dismay, the index revealed that the decoys were not sorted by species or habitat; they were, in fact, sorted by the home states of their famous wood carvers.
“Gracious me, these people are serious!” I cried.
It was at this point that we found the appendix of “Prices at Auction” and discovered that the rustic wooden duck on the cover could fetch a cool $300,000 in the right market.
We put the book back in the donate pile and tried to forget.

Just as informative are the things the books don’t tell us. For example, we have books on introverts but none on extroverts. “Guess they’re too busy to write one,” Benjamin mused.
And also, I don’t want to alarm anybody – I mean, it could just be a coincidence – but we have no books on the Illuminati. And it might be a conspiracy. I’m just saying.

We have a nonfiction book called Death for Beginners, about planning your will and such. It fills me with questions: Is there a Death for the Advanced Learner? How about Death for Dummies if Death for Beginners is too hard?

I’d like to ask, “What makes this author a qualified expert on death?” but for all I know, he’s been through it. We get books written by dead people all the time. Robert Ludlum has been dead ten years now, but we still get a new book by him every six months or so. Benjamin and I have more than once discussed the inevitable future of the publishing industry, how someday all stories will be written not BY different authors, but UNDER different authors. Every novel will be published under a name instead of a genre. The children of this dystopia won't say “Someday I’ll be an author,” or “I want to grow up to be a novelist.” They'll say, “I want to be a Nora Roberts.” or “I’m going to be a James Patterson when I grow up.” Instead of offering degrees in British Literature or American Classics, universities will employ stuffy professors of Lee Child studies or Clive Cussler technique.

I think about books a lot, and not just their weirdness. I think of their humor, their depth, their willingness to embrace adventure. I think about their possibilities and the daring spirit with which they question the way things are, their willingness to embrace the world both as it is and as it could be.

And when I lay in bed at night, wondering what the books have done to my brain, asking myself if the books have rubbed off on me, the answer is…
God, I hope so. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Well Endured, Part II

(For Part I, click here.)

When I looked in the mirror the other morning, what do you suppose I said to myself? Was it “Hello, sexy! All the running is doing you good. You’re looking mighty fine today”?

Sadly, no, that is not what I said to myself. That’s what I would like to say to myself. Psychologists these days go on and on about positive body image and healthy self-esteems, building yourself up through positive affirmations… I’ve really given the matter a lot of thought.

But I didn’t say any positive affirmations to my mirror the other day. On the day my 38DD appeared to be loose, I said some very naughty words followed by, “This cannot be happening! I just got this! It was too tight! It cost a fortune! Why did I take up running anyway?!”


Returning to Lane Bryant like an abusive relationship I just couldn’t tear myself away from, I got measured again.

“I’m showing you at precisely a 36DDD,” said the shop girl. Such conviction! Precisely that size and no other! Not between sizes anymore, praise the Lord!


“Triple D? That sounds like an impossible size to find!” I said.

“Well, you for sure won’t find it here,” said the shop girl, turning to leave the fitting room as though I no longer interested her. “Our smallest size is a 38.”


Oh my God! Ten years we had together! Sure, there were ups and downs, but we had had a pretty good thing. I couldn’t believe Lane Bryant was breaking up with me!

Now, I would have to find a new store. I would have to go shopping in places I had never shopped before…

I could change! I could gain back all that weight I’d lost! Don’t do this to me, Lane Bryant! Let me stay at the plus size store! I’m so bad at shopping! I don’t even know which stores are likely to carry bras! Especially a bra with so many letters in it!


In the only other bra store I could think of, Victoria’s Secret, I wandered the aisles like a soul in purgatory, lost among bras made of too much lace and not enough elastic. People joke about how Victoria doesn’t have many Secrets left, but she still has one: namely, the secret to wearing bras that look like that because, obviously, wearing it like a bra could never actually work.

I was mystified. Where were the bras with the reinforced backs and padded straps and extra wide bands? Why should I care if my bra is sexy? The only man who ever gets to see it is allowed to see me without it, and I'll generously give you three whole guesses as to which view he prefers.

When the shop girl approached me, I worried she might ask me what the Secret is, like it’s a closely guarded password. I wouldn’t know the Secret and wouldn’t be allowed to shop there. Instead, she only asked, “Can I help you?”

“Lane Bryant kicked me out because I lost weight,” I said.

“Congratulations!” she said, more brightly than I felt. “What sort of style are you looking for?”

“A supportive one,” I said.

She stared at me, smile slipping, as if awaiting more. There wasn’t more. “Okay,” she said finally. “And what size do you wear?”

I told her. She pulled a few samples out of a labeled drawer and steered me toward a fitting room. Grabbing a marker for the dry erase board on the door, she said, “And can I have your name?”

I thought, briefly, about making something up, but it seemed ridiculous just then to lie to someone who already knew my bra size, so I told the truth. “It’s actually Victoria.”

We stared at each other for a long beat.

“The humor of this has not escaped me,” I said.

“Okay, then,” she said, writing it down. “I’ll be back to check on you in a few minutes.”

Alone in the fitting room, I looked at the bras she had set out for me, all shear lace and anorexic cotton straps. It looked like if I pulled one taught it would snap into dozens of wispy ephemeral pieces like a flash frozen daisy. I was sure it didn’t stand a chance against the gravity of my situation.

Trying them all on only proved me right. “How are we doing?” the shop girl asked, knocking on my door.

“Are you sure these are all the same size?” I asked.

“Yes. Why?”

Back in my own clothes already, I opened the door to show her the offending bras. “I’m falling out the top of this one but the band fits well. The band is too small on this one, but the cups are the right size. And this one is the right size but the underwire is trying to stab my lungs.”

“Oh, it’s normal for all of our bra styles to fit differently depending on your body type. You’ll just have to try on everything in your size to find the style that fits you best.”

Hmm, yes, trying on different styles to see what fits, I thought. I’ve heard of this before… what was it called? Oh, yes: Sizes.

“Are you sure that’s the right size for you?” the shop girl asked. “When was the last time you were measured?”

“About ten minutes ago, at Lane Bryant.”

Her face flickered between emotions. I caught her sneer before she got it under control. “Well, different stores measure these things differently,” she said, thus explaining why the women’s underwear industry has a standard sizing system in place to begin with. (I’m so glad we cleared that up.) “Why don’t I just measure you again?”

I sighed, but relented.

“Well,” she said, clucking her tongue. “It looks to me like you could wear either a 36 or a 38.”

“If there’s no such thing as a 37, we’re done here,” I said.

“No, that’s not a thing,” she replied, in an eerie echo of the Lane Bryant shop girl six months before.

“Thanks for your help,” I said. “I can see myself out.”

Keep your secrets, then, I thought. Some things are not worth knowing.