Swimmingly

Somehow I like swimming for pretty much the exact same reasons I’ve avoided swimming. You can’t read when you’re swimming; you can’t watch TV when you’re swimming; when you’re all done doing nothing but swimming, you can’t just stumble home without changing, because you’ve been swimming, and you have to shower and make yourself not smell like diluted Ajax, and that takes a half hour or more, and yet—I love it. All these years of fucking around at three different gyms, and apparently you only had to give me a big box of warmish water to make me behave like a real working-out-kind-of-person. Who the hell knew?

(Well, I guess I did go the park district pool near my old apartment regularly for a couple months in 1999. And then I stopped for some reason, like there maybe was a full moon, or else something on TV, or else someone shouted “Hey! Look over there!” and pointed at something behind me, and when I turned back around my swimming motivation was gone, oops.)

It does not hurt at all that my gym has towel service, and good showers, and a steam room. And a locker room that is carpeted and blandly cushy like a new office building, so that my swimming routine feels like a wet but agreeable second job. Which it is, kind of.

Please don’t mind me while I continue to be amazed that I can actually do things that result—in real live scientific fashion!—in losing weight. I mean, I know that I did this before and wrote a whole damn book about how it felt, but at some point I fell completely out of step. And I became convinced that well, it was just me, that I had this quirky little defect that impaired my ability to fully commit myself and attend WW meetings regularly and click repeatedly on my online POINTS tracker thingy every single day. Sometimes I tried to think of this as a special and endearing defect, like Rudolph’s nose or Dumbo’s ears or Britney’s personal judgment. And sometimes I just scowled and got fat. But I guess I just didn’t like going to those meetings and all that daily clicking clicking clicking, because somehow I’ve found time to do the cooking and salad-spinning and planning and swimming and showering and being an all-around trooper who jumps in the air in slow motion until the frame freezes on her dazzling smile, so there! I am cured! (Except I’m still fat.)

The long good-bye to pie

The turkey did exactly what it was supposed to do. On Wednesday night we brined the thing in salt water, and while stuffing it into a stockpot in the fridge felt strangely Dahmeresque, it was definitely worth all the creepy extra effort. Everyone at dinner made a point to say that the white meat wasn’t too dry for once. I was just glad that I didn’t kill anyone, though I guess there was little chance of that happening, since I’m so paranoid when I cook poultry that I might as well be wearing a hazmat suit. But once I got past the raw moments it was a great deal of fun to baste the thing with butter every half hour. I was prepared, in fact, to do it for the twenty or thirty hours they tell you it takes to cook a stuffed turkey, except I failed to notice that my fancy brining recipe cooks the whole thing in two hours. Or I suppose I did notice, but I willfully ignored it because, damn it, I wanted it to be long and drawn-out and heroic. It was supposed this whole huge thing where you put a turkey in the oven and then you weep bitterly for five hours and then the oven door pops open and a miracle occurs. But no, it was done at 3 pm and then I had to throw a towel over it like a massage therapist. Oh well, it was still worth it.

Now we’ve been making a great effort to not eat pies, which is easier when there isn’t pie around. Some of this has been accomplished just by throwing out some of the pie. But it’s okay when I made the pie lovingly with my own hands, right? I’m trying to think of it as purely an administrative task. It helps that Chris threw a film festival wake for Robert Altman today and a bunch of people stopped by to watch McCabe and Mrs. Miller and 3 Women and The Long Goodbye and A Wedding. And we offered leftover pie for all to eat while they mourned and tried to follow overlapping dialogue. It worked out well, I think.

Butterball, y'all

Wanna hold my turkey? It weighs slightly less than the total amount of weight I’ve lost. Holy shit!

(My turkey is thirteen and a half pounds. I’ve lost almost fourteen now. Who wants some white meat?)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Forty days and ANTM nights

America’s Next Top Model watch: Man, we sure hope all the remaining contestants sneak up on Melrose’s bed in the middle of the night to whack her with bars of soap wrapped in towels. That is all I will say about her. Remember, it was just a bad dream, skinny girl!

I’ll admit that I don’t really love any of the girls this season as much as I love the completely freakish challenges the show’s been putting them through. How can you not be in awe of the terrible, demented collective genius that decided to cast the twins as “Anorexia” and “Bulimia” in a theme photo shoot? That made a girl dress up as Stedman Graham? I was disappointed when Megan was eliminated, not just because of her looks, but because she’d survived a tragic plane crash when she was a little kid, and over and over she’d get called on to recite the story of her amazing ordeal. And okay, this is awful, but I was secretly hoping the show’s art directors would come up with some kind of plane-crash -themed photo shoot where she’d have to pose extra bravely while partially pinned under a chunk of fuselage. Really, the show is that good! I mean bad! But then again, they’ve gone and fired Dan and the other writers, so who knows how it’s all going to turn out.

This Thing I’m Doing is just past the 40 day mark, and as of tomorrow it’ll be six weeks. I don’t know if I mentioned that we’re shooting for a hundred days of This Thing, where we weigh ourselves every two weeks. (And yes, this is totally borrowed from Celebrity Fit Club, God help us. What can I say—that Tina Yothers, she spoke to me, even though I never watched her show when she was a kid.) Anyway, Day 100 hits in late January, right around the time when—usually—it finally occurs to me that the holidays are over and I really ought to make a few twitchy, vaguely fitness-related movements as soon as I can dig myself out of the cozy nest I’ve built from fried Thai noodles. But I’m counting on things being different this year.

I feel, honestly, sort of sneaky about doing it this way. Mostly sneaky in a good way, but there’s a twinge of incredulity there, too. Maybe it’s because I’m such an unrepentant dork when it comes to the holidays. But if I don’t make sugar cookies this year, will a gang of Rankin-Bass characters come to my house to kick my ass? Probably not, right? Okay, then!

Wednesday by the numbers

1. There is a college English class somewhere that has I’m Not the New Me as this week’s assigned reading. The instructor is letting me read the student responses on their class blog, and let me tell you, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen a group of eighteen to twenty-two-year-olds discuss your love life from five years ago.

2. Chris and I saw a movie at the Music Box last week, and about an hour after we left I realized my wallet wasn’t in my purse, so we went back to the theatre to look for it where we’d been sitting. Which was a little hard since the next show had started already, and it was dark, and I had to guess which row we’d sat in and then crawl around patting the floor like Helen Keller, Custodian. And was it really so hard for you to comprehend that I was looking for something, O Thursday night Music Box patrons watching loudQUIETloud? Because it was pretty niceSHITTYnice how you couldn’t be bothered to reach down and check the floor around you for the thing I was looking for. I know it was asking a lot for you to miss five seconds of Pixies concert footage and all the highly important plot points and expository dialogue that came with it, but for fuck’s sake. I did manage to find my wallet, no thanks to the girl whose indifferent Fluevogs were resting against it the whole time.

3. This morning we had a substitute instructor for our fancy “Lifting Weights to the Beat of Hateful Pop Remixes” class. Usually I don’t care either way, but today I actually missed the squeaky and totally unintelligible instructions our regular instructor gives while doing the final abdominal exercises. She says, “Nggh hnn urnnnuh-nun errk! And errk! Nurr heen! Heen! Hnnrk errn grnt to four! Grnnk!” I know the routine, so it’s not a problem, but really, it’s like being drunk-dialed by a Fraggle.

4. Here is an informative letter from a very kind veterinarian named Bob Groskin in response to my last NY Times piece. He breaks my heart a little by pointing out that I might have been able to find a vet to save Bootsy. But then he helpfully suggests other humane ways I could have killed him. I did read about the clove oil in my research and in retrospect I wish I had looked a little harder to find it. LISTEN TO DR. BOB, PEOPLE.

5. Today is Day 36 of This Thing I’m Doing, and I’m still planning on writing more about it. We went to Michigan for the weekend, where I sullied my innocence with a few Swedish meatballs and some Chinese food, but somehow I managed not to return to my old life of crime and fried cheese.

6. I’m cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the first time ever, and despite all my quasi-vegan ambition, I am totally going to cook a turkey. I’ll let you know how it goes.