My Poor Ass

One of the best reasons in the world not to stop exercising once you have started is that you will have to start again.  It’s hell on the body and seems to get worse as one gets older.  I have always been active, had to be for sanity’s sake.  I just have one of those high functioning, high energy metabolisms and brains that suffer from lethargy.  Luckily, growing up, I had no derth of exercising options.  My parents’ driveway is literally a mile long and I had to walk it to the school bus stop rain or shine, sleet or snow.  My sister and I were like the post office: through rain or sleet or dark of morning (not night, we weren’t vampires) we always had to deliver.  We walked or ran that driveway twice a day every day the entire time we went to school.  Nearly daily we would beg our sweet bus driver Annie to drive us up our driveway.  Her answer was always no.  One year for Christmas she gave me a chocolate N and Melanie a chocolate O.  At least her answer was consistent.  One time a bird pooped in my sister’s hair on the way down.  She was pissed off.  I laughed.  For some reason, we weren’t always cordial during those years. Gee, I wonder why… ?  I used to run the driveway on the way home.  It was mostly uphill and I liked getting home quickly.  I got to where I could run up in under five minutes.  Maybe that’s why I was so good in the 1500 m in high school track.

Our parents NEVER let us stay home from school.  I mean never.  I had chicken pox in 8th grade.  My parents sent me off to school even though I felt like shit and was itching like crazy and the school sent me home.  I dislocated my shoulder after having a horse land on me when it crashed through a fence rather than jumping over it.  Again, I went to school the next day even though I was in my own personal hell.

Needless to say, I got lots of exercise without even trying.  Plus I rode horses and ran on track and was even on the dance team a couple of years (that was a hysterical laugh, I can assure you).  Then when I moved away I kept riding and took up running and basically kept moving for the next decade, again, without really trying.  In college I started swimming.  My lifestyle kept me on the go.

Then I got pregnant and felt like a lumbering beast.  It hurt to move after a few months.  Walking was torture.  Everything I read said that if you’re fit going into pregnancy then pregnancy would be a breeze.  I was fit going into pregnancy and if that was a breeze, being unfit while pregnant must be sadistic torture.  My hips hurt.  My back hurt.  And I was as big as a house.  I’d always been stick skinny and suddenly I couldn’t fit into bathroom stalls.  After pregnancy I had to work a bit to get into shape.  It wasn’t as fun.  But I had the baby and bought a jogger stroller and got back into the swing of things.  I started riding again when she was 5 months old and that made all the difference in the world.  You know, all those people who use thigh masters and butt exercisers should just start riding sport horses.  It’s athletic as hell and gives you great abs, tight thighs, and a butt without much effort.  I’m not talking fat western saddles waddling into the mountains riding, I mean sport horses, jumping big fences and dressage on the flat.  It’s good for the body, I can assure you.  I started using a gym at one point to get strength training because I had always done aerobic exercise.  On all the equipment, I was pretty pathetic, using one or two of the little weight bricks.  But on the inner thigh weight lift, I could lift the entire stack!  Those inner thighs become little killers when you ride sport horses a lot.

Anyway, as is often the case, I digress.  In March 2005, I was jogging and sprained the shit out of my right ankle.  Seriously reamed the damn thing.  This killed my running career for the time being.  I was able to continue riding, but I wanted more.  So I took up biking.  I have kept it up.  I love it.  I put a rack on the back and drug Milla around with me until she learned to ride her own bike.  There’s nothing like climbing hills on a bike with a 30 pound lump on the back of your bike for getting strong, I can assure you.

But for some reason this fall, I just kind of stopped exercising as much.  Last year I had the excuse of stress and cancer and all that shit.  I had to sell my horse a year ago to pay the mortgage so I wasn’t riding.  But in the spring after radiation and everything, I started back easy and it wasn’t too terrible, but it wasn’t much fun either.  And I didn’t exercise as much last summer as I had always before.  It probably had something to do with our miserable ass weather.  It rained most of August.  What the hell is that?  We got sun for June and July and that was it.  We got screwed.  It started raining in August and has basically not given us much of a breather since.  During September I ran, doing interval training where you run like hell for a quarter mile or so then slow down then run like hell again.  But once it really started raining again, that was that.

So what brought on this little soliloquy?  Today I went riding again and it KICKED MY ASS.  I’m tired as hell and although I don’t feel those muscles yet, I can tell from the weakness in my hips, back, and abs that I’m going to be so sorry tomorrow and the next day.  Lucky me.   And a few weeks ago I went cross country skiing.  Again, kicked my ass.  And last summer, when I actually had been doing some bike riding, I rode in the Providence Bridge Pedal.  I did the middle distance.  I think it was 12 or 14 miles.   Not much compared to what I have done almost daily in the past.  Kicked my ass.  All these times, the ass kickings have manifested as my being tired as hell afterwards and sometimes lasting a few days.  It’s like my stamina is cracking or something.  I wonder if it has to do with the stress of last year, which was enormous, of if I’m just getting old.  Maybe it’s both.  I don’t know.  What I do know is that tomorrow my ass is going to seriously hurt and I am just not looking forward to that.

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David and Goliath (the time when Goliath squashed David)

I get these political emails in my inbox urging me to take various political actions on a variety of causes.  One informative piece I received this morning informed me that China trades with Sudan, that wretched African dictatorship turning millions of refugees out to fend for themselves amid violence and chaos.  The email sender urges me to contact Congress, along with thousands of others, and get it to send China a message that it should not trade with bad Sudan.

Come on.  Seriously.  Do they honestly think Congress is going to give a rat’s ass that China is trading with Sudan?  Do they honestly think our petition is going to get anyone in Congress to care?  Even if we didn’t have Iraq going on, even if we didn’t have troops in Afghanastan, even if the economy wasn’t in the tank, even if we weren’t facing a mortgage crisis, even if Americans had healthcare, even if everything at home were perfect, I sincerely doubt that Congress would care one iota that China trades with Sudan, at least not in any way that is going to jeopardize our cozy little monetary relationship.  Money makes the world go round, honey, whether anyone likes it or not.  The people concerned mostly with money run this country and probably every other country in the world.  We do business with China so too bad for the Sudanese if they do business with China too.

Then of course there is the problem that China isn’t going to give a rat’s ass either even if Congress sent them a nice, stern message.  Naughty China!  Stop doing business with human rights abusers!  Oh.  But wait.  China is a human rights abuser too.  Dang.  We couldn’t get China to stop its own human rights abuses.  It’s not a big step to conclude China wouldn’t give one damn about Sudan’s human rights abuses either.  Who knows?  China and Sudan may even trade notes.  And realistically, we’re not going to do anything.  Hey China!  You’re naughty!  Stop killing priests and monks and everyone else in Tibet or we’ll get really, really upset with you!  Oh, and can we set up a few more Walmart warehouses over there, maybe a few more in Beijing?  And hey, why don’t we set some up near the Mongolian border too?  Perhaps we can sell Panda paws or something for virility.

Yes.  I know.  I’m sarcastic and cynical and all that.  But seriously, why don’t the activists who want me to get involved ask me to do something that isn’t going to be not only a huge waste of time, but a big damn joke as well?  Congress doesn’t give a shit that Sudan commits human rights abuses any more than China does.  I’m sure if you asked each Congress person individually if they were bothered by the human rights abuses they would probably say they are.  But I seriously doubt many of them are going to do anything about it, especially with the other previously-mentioned big messes the US has to deal with and even more especially considering all of the money we owe China.

The problem with sending email after email after email and letter after letter after letter telling me about all these world problems and asking me to take steps that aren’t going to do one damn thing and may even work against the cause because no one will take them seriously is that it creates a sort of numbness to the constant barrage.  There are a couple of organizations I belong to and to whom I give a bit of money from time to time.  On occasion I will send a letter to the editor on an issue about which they have kept me informed.  I’ve even called my Congress members when a vote is imminent.  These are things I can do. These are steps that might add to the masses who want something to actually change.  But signing some petition asking Congress to stop trading with China because of human rights abuses in Sudan is not only a waste of time, it’s likely to be perceived as a pathetic effort and possibly cause people to stop paying attention when something could actually be done.

That’s my soapbox for the day.