Resolution #3: Thou Shall Lift!

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There’s a whole thing I have about weight and exercise goals I have, but I don’t think they’re resolutions in a typical end-of-year sense. They are bigger projects, but there is something really specific I want to get back into in 2014 and that’s weight training!

This resolution is inspired by the gorgeous Kathleen, who is going to be my long-distance weights wizard inspiration in 2014.

My preferred training method previously has been to run for half an hour and then do circuit training while listening to Tool’s 10,000 Days. Only that album works for me with weight training. Training hurts and it’s repetitive and you need something to take your mind someplace else.

Lifting produces a rush like none other, which makes it an easy thing to stick with and progress comes quite quickly. 

I’m going to research the types of programs I want to do this year, and probably work with a trainer for a while, but to start me off, I’m lucky to live really close to a gym with an excellent weights circuit and an awesome mix of men and women who are really into the training.

Resolution #2: Thou Shall Stop Hate-Reading

I am my own worst enemy when it comes to hate-reading social media.

I completely understand that my online presence might piss people off. How many times can I talk about cat drool? Do I realise that sometimes I say things that sound like, or are, the dreaded humble brag? Do I not think people will notice I take all my selfies in the mirror in the work toilets? Could I please just shut up with the tweets all the time in general?

When I discover people don’t follow me on Facebook and Twitter anymore, I get over it pretty quickly. That’s fine! I understand why it might be a bit much for some people, even friends and/or family!

However, I am terrible when it comes to not reading the social media accounts of people/corporations that really piss me off. I can’t seem to help myself. I seem to need confirmation that they’re still out there somewhere being cynical/hypocritical/thoughtless/hateful etc etc douchebags and then when it turns out they are then I feel mad!

I am tired of mad! I am all about happy!

So no more. There is a happy balance between being well-informed and burying your head in the sand and pretending things you don’t like don’t exist and I am going to try and find it.

On Reading

Books

After my last post, lovely lady Fox, of Fox Woods fame asked me how I read so many books.

It’s an interesting question, because I actually don’t feel like I read very much at all anymore, at least not compared to a few years ago.

I seem to have been reading forever. I don’t remember actually learning to read, even when I was in kindergarten I was reading long-ish books like Anne of Green Gables, and I’ve always loved it, it’s always been my favourite pastime, so I guess that helps.

Also, my mum is a big reader herself, books were a treat for us. Every term, she would let us each pick a new book for her to buy us and we visited the local library almost weekly. It’s still not uncommon when we are all home to walk into a room and find four or five people, all sitting in silence, reading.

The only time I stopped reading much was the few years after I finished Honours in English, because I couldn’t shake the habit of critically analysing everything and I found it difficult to read for pleasure.

I was still buying a lot of books though, and being gifted books, so maybe five or six years ago I decided to read every book I owned that was at that point unread and I wasn’t allowed to buy anything new until I’d finished the pile.

It was great, I read a lot of things I wouldn’t normally have chosen for myself and by the time I caught up, I’d read quite a lot of books.

Then I decided since I was back into reading with a vengeance, to try and read 52 books in a year. It wasn’t difficult, the first few years I read around 60 or so books each year, mostly on the train ride to and from work and in bed before I go to sleep and I can also happily read whenever I have a spare couple of hours.

I always have a book on the go, as soon as I finish one, I start another. I find Goodreads a really good app for keeping track of books I want to read, and I generally have an idea of the order I will read the next three or four in.

I kind of read in themes, like in the new year, I want to read Michael Lewis’s Panic!: The Story of Modern Financial Insanity, which means I’ll probably go off on a bit of a finance industry bent and re-read books like The Great Hangover: 21 Tales of the New Recession from the Pages of Vanity Fair and The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron and Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco.

I am aiming for 52 books in 2014 again, after a few years of reading less (and Tweeting more) and I’m going to start again with the books I own that I haven’t read, then sort through my Goodreads list and pick new ones from there, plus my book club books!

Resolution #1: Thou Shall Attend Thy Book Club & Read The Books

My book club is quite a Serious Book Club. There are rules: you may show up at the beginning of the night if you have read the book, if you haven’t, please delay your arrival until after the discussion and then you may drink the wine and eat the cheese. There’s a rumour you can also get kicked out for non-attendance and if that’s true, I am in trouble because I have missed about the last four meetings.

The saddest part about this is that I’ve fallen out of touch with people I was seeing regularly at the start of this year and I miss those ladies. I’ve also read a much narrower scope of books as a result, so I am resolving to attend more book club meetings this year and over the Christmas break am going to read not one, but two book club books in preparation.

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The first, The Watch Tower by Elizabeth Harrower, I already own, but have not yet read because it is only newly back in print. Finding it was very exciting, it was recommended to me four or five years ago and I have been trying to find a second-hand copy ever since.

After Laura and Clare are abandoned by their mother, Felix is there to help, even to marry Laura if she will have him. Little by little the two sisters grow complicit with his obsessions, his cruelty, his need to control.
Set in the leafy northern suburbs of Sydney during the 1940s, The Watch Tower is a novel of relentless and acute psychological power.

The second, The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, won this year’s Man Booker Prize.

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It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields.  On arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men, who have met in secret to discuss a series of unsolved crimes.  A wealthy man has vanished, a whore has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk.  Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely patterned as the night sky.

I like the idea of starting the year with books set in Australia and New Zealand, respectively, and I look forward to reading them and getting back into the book club, if they’ll have me!

Run For Your Life

Last year at the height of The Bad Times, there was literally one thing that made me feel good and that was walking to the train station in the warm morning sun, listening to the Ryan Adams album, Ashes & Fire.

It’s a quiet album and it made me feel peaceful and somehow it helped me compartmentalise just that one part of my day from everything else. I don’t even really have strong associations between whatever else was going on then and the songs.

Anyway, at Monday night’s guitar lesson, I played the title track. Not well, and not fast and sometimes not even in time, but I played it and that seems like a really lovely way to close out the year.

A Year In Review: 2013

1.What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?

I learnt to ice-skate, I began taking guitar lessons, I finished the Couch to 5kms program, I got a niece!

These weren’t entirely new, but I also finished a computer game (The Last Of Us) for the first time in probably 20 years and I re-taught myself how to reverse parallel park, having managed studiously to avoid doing one in the 13ish years since I got my licence. You can’t live in Newtown and not reverse parallel is the lesson here.

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I overcame a lot of odd fears I had about trying new things, new things don’t seem to phase me so much anymore.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

No I didn’t, but as always, I’ll have another crack at it in 2014.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes! My younger sister, Steph had a gorgeous daughter, Cordelia. My older sister, Mary is due in December too!

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4. Did anyone close to you die?

No

5. What countries did you visit?

None, but I went to Western Australia and Queensland this year.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

Energy, and with it motivation but that’s honestly it. 2013 has been a really fantastic year.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

  • January 18th: The First Annual Double Seafood Pizza Night!
  • March 18th: Bruce Springsteen Day!
  • July 6th: Meeting Juggernaut the Wonder Dog!
  • August 2nd: Feeding the goats!
  • September 7th: Kelly’s wedding!
  • September 13th: Meeting Thor Harris, the drummer from Swans, who I spent a few days with, just hanging out and getting to know one another!

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8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

 I trusted my gut instinct that this year would be the perfect time to try all the things I’d been wanting to do for years and had always put off. I think of all of them, starting to learn guitar was probably the biggest. I’d been wanting to learn since I was 13 and suddenly I realised that nothing was actually stopping me. I have a great guitar teacher and I have a sneaking suspicion Father Christmas might be delivering me a gorgeous musical baby all of my own!

9. What was your biggest failure?

 I forgot to log my tax … again.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Yes. *rolls eyes*.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

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Bruce Springsteen tickets were pretty amazing, it was a concert unlike anything else I’ve ever seen and it was fun to go with a group of friends from work and dress up and touch The Boss and run around like crazy with people we’d just met.

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12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

B! He is actually the best. I was looking through my day planner earlier this week and reminiscing about all the amazing things we’ve done this year, from feeding goats in Queensland, to building tents out of bed sheets for Vincent, to gigs, to great meals, to trips away. He is probably the most thoughtful person I’ve ever met. The guitar I am learning on is one he lent me, the one his mother gave him for his 18th birthday. When we’re with my family he’s usually the one wrangling an impossibly energetic three-year-old, or organising dinner for the new parents, or hosting barbecues. He’s generous with his friends and with his family. I just feel happy whenever I see him.

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Special mention must also go to my housemate, Anna. I’ve had many housemates over the years, but none I have clicked with like her. We just have the exact same introvert/extrovert time needs and get ridiculously excited by the same goofy stuff. There’s currently a glow-in-the-dark skeleton wearing a Christmas-themed sexy dress hanging from out lounge room wall, right next to a cat-sized reindeer outfit and it’s all Anna’s doing. She’s full of surprises and it just super ridiculously easy to live with. Even when she bleeds through the entire house.

Finally, my family who’ve kept checking in on my during the last month or so. It’s so nice to see all of them in such good places in their lives.

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13. Whose behaviour made you appalled?

 Anyone and everyone who is in any way blocking the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Australia.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Look, Rekorderlig winter cider is a delight. That’s all I have to say.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

 OH MY GOD FEEDING THE GOATS!

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16. What song will always remind you of 2013?

 ‘Atlantic City’ by Bruce Springsteen, mostly because I’m learning to play it. Other honourable mentions must go to ‘8 Point Agenda’ by The Herbaliser and ‘Fuck Your Stuff’ by P.O.S.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer?

(a) so many, many, many times happier;

(b) fatter;

(c) … about the same.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

 Sleep.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

 Donating blood to science.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

This year B and I are heading to my parent’s farm, with V and Steph, Joel and Cordelia. I’m really looking forward to a few days of family and sun and doing absolutely nothing. The only downside is Mary and Drew not being there, because it will be too close to the due date of 2013 Niece Number Two!

21. Did you fall in love in 2013?

Like whoa.

22. What was your favourite TV program?

Orange Is The New Black.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I have been angry at people and found behaviour abhorrent, but I don’t hate anyone.

24. What was the best book you read?

  • ‘The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao’ – Junot Diaz
  • ‘Fun Home’ – Alison Bechdel
  • ‘2666’ – Roberto Bolaño
  • ‘Pity The Nation: The Abduction of Lebanon’ – Robert Fisk

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Young Fathers who signed to Anticon this year. Their EP Tape Two was my favourite release this year, I think.

26. What did you want and get?

Happiness and calm.

27. What did you want and not get?

A corgi.

28. What was your favourite film of this year?

Probably Gravity I think. I’m a sucker for tears in space.

29. What one thing made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

B!

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

Hmm. It wasn’t anything to write home about. I got big into linen this year and bought more dressy work clothes, but I don’t think I had a concept per say.

31. What kept you sane? 

Spoons.

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

This year lacked a good celebrity crush actually.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

Same-sex marriage.

34. Who did you miss?     

My grandparents, so much.

35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.

I know when I’m healthy and I know when situations feel wrong and I need to trust that more in future.

Things I fear are rarely as scary as they seem, and not being good at something straight away isn’t embarrassing.

When life is good, it’s blissfully calm.

36. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year

You can’t start a fire, worryin’ about your little world falling apart / This gun’s for hire even if we’re just dancing in the dark

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Fat Swaggin’

I’ve struggled with my weight since about 2006, whether it’s been gaining a lot through depression or losing a lot because of anxiety or just because of the simple fact I like to eat and sometimes I like to eat a lot. I don’t have a healthy perspective on food, anymore.

I’ve always taken a perverse pride in refusing to buy into body-positive ways of thinking. I don’t want to embrace my “curves” because the “curves” you mean aren’t hips or breasts. You mean “rolls”. I hate rolls (Except bread ones, mmm).

I know deep down the psychology driving it is that embracing a body-positive way of thinking might include acceptance, and I’ve never wanted to accept that I’m never going back to the stick-thin whippet I was until my mid-20s.

The last month has been hard, what with the hypothyroidism. Besides the living hell of having absolutely no energy, I’ve also had to deal with a particularly horrible side effect that comes with your thyroid attacking itself: weight gain, fast weight gain, oh my god the weight is gaining weight on top of the weight. Kilos and kilos and kilos of weight. And no energy to exercise or cook.

It’s bummed me out, but I’ve been here before.

I had a chronically self-conscious day yesterday where my entire perspective on how I look was warped and it made me feel terrible. I could not get home fast enough.

However … tonight I was lying in bed looking at Tumblr, and saw one of my friends had reposted a really funny set of photos of a girl with her cat and I did something I rarely do, and clicked on the blog the photos came from and looked at what she had reposted and a lot of posts came from a Tumblr called Fat Swaggin’ and I opened it and I won’t lie: I felt really uncomfortable.

Here were out fat people! Here were people taking full-bodies selfies! Without shame! Without sucking anything in! Sometimes they didn’t have shirts on! There were all kinds of people!

I judged them. I judged them for showing their “imperfect” bodies. I cringed and felt weird, yet I couldn’t stop scrolling through and suddenly I realised I was enjoying these bodies and not just in a “Hey, her tummy looks like mine and people are being sweet about it!” way. I realised most of what made me uncomfortable was imagining people judging me. These bodies were actually pretty rad and I scrolled on and on and I saw a woman with a figure like mine in a tiny bikini and she looked great, yet this summer, I’ll be wearing a tent in the water.

Some of my revelations were superficial: in refusing to embrace my curves, I’ve always given up when I’m heavier, I put no effort into my appearance, I buy clothes that will hide everything that’s not a smooth line and just sink into some sometimes pretty deep self-loathing. But here were ladies all done up and looking smoking! And sharing clothes and makeup tips! It’s a whole community of banging people prepared to show all of themselves and be cool with it.

Some revelations were deeper: I judge people based on what I’m terrified of being judged on myself. I’ll stand up for people who are being fat-shamed, both online and in person, yet I assume, imagine and almost understand people saying the same kind of nasty things about me behind my back.

I finally get why I need body positivity and a community.

Here is Fat Swaggin‘ don’t check it out if you’re offended by nudity or fat people, it contains a mix of both … but maybe you should try it nonetheless, you might be pleasantly surprised.