At work we were talking about the relative rates of decline in our health of late. We’ve been drinking more, eating our feelings. A lot of us were caught at one of life’s crossroads when the pandemic hit, and never made it to our intended destination. This is what happened to me last year, when I finished my nutritional therapy course and got my certification. I’d planned to become an NTP at the clinic where I’d been employed for six years, but that opportunity withered during the months of quarantine and left me without the reward I’d been working toward. I guess the disappointment hurt a little more than I would have acknowledged at the time. I let my interest in the subject fade, and I spent a lot of time writing — never a health-enhancing activity at the best of times, but especially hazardous when mixed with middle-age defeat and existential angst. Of course I gained weight. Of course I felt like shit. Everyone did, because 2020 sucked with a Trump-level suckage that made the previous three years seem like nirvana.

Enter 2021. Joe Biden. Shots in arms. Visits again, and signs of life — daffodils, hummingbirds, the occasional sliver of bright blue sky. I’m drinking mango smoothies. Eating salads and harvest bowls, and vegetable soup, and kale. I’m down nine pounds with six more to go. So far it’s been breezy, and not because of some groundbreaking new formula or product or nonsensical gimmick from late-night TV, but because I remembered that I get to choose what I eat, and that fact alone is something to be grateful for.

I’m not mad at myself. Chips happen, right? I kept my skinny jeans and my 34Ds. Soon I’ll put them back in the rotation and move past this current problem and on to the next.

What are you attending to?

7 responses

  1. The sentence that stands out the most for me is “I remembered that I get to choose what I eat.” Yes! Sometimes my choices aren’t the best but I try and try again.

    I didn’t gain weight through the pandemic, probably because I have kept working at a job that keeps me pretty active. But there have been plenty of other challenges along the way. I’m not sure what I am attending to now other than the things I have usually attended to: love, family, yoga. This morning I need to attend to a next-door neighbor who I believe may have lost her husband during the middle of the night going by the video our outdoor cams picked up. Death must also be attended to. This as I watch the opening remarks in the George Floyd murder case, and mistakenly watched the whole video that documented the life being sniffed out of him. That will haunt me for a while and I don’t usually have the stomach for those videos. The story is enough for me without all the gruesome images.

    • I feel the same way about that video, and others like it. But I think they’re necessary, especially for white people, if we’re ever going to understand what’s really happening. It’s a burden and a layer of grief we need to share. Not to wallow in it, not to dramatize, but to feel on a gut level what kind of callousness and cruelty is being perpetrated against the Black community. It’s the video that galvanized all those marches and protests — without it, George Floyd is just another silent scream from a traumatized community. I really think we have to look.

  2. Right now I’m attending to Andy an Ash. They are low maintenance. So low in fact that since one is sleeping at 11am an the other is being entertained by NASCAR. I’ve adjourned to the garage to scrub an old trunk back to life. Maybe I can work off some Covid poundage out there.

  3. “What are you attending to?”

    This, and to the beer in the glass on the coaster at my desk, one of two beers Susan brought home for me from her afternoon walk along the lakefront. She also brought two beers for herself. Beer fishing season in Lake Michigan? Not quite. Our local liquor store is called Beach View, even though you can’t see the beach from it. You can glimpse a sliver of the lake out the store’s front door, but as for the beaches, they are gone, submerged under rising lake levels.

    Next to attend to is to you. I am sorry to hear how your NTP plans were upended. Life sometimes sucks.

    I’m not going to try to spin that with an upbeat. We’ve all heard the tune. We’re not new here.

    On to news here. The big thing Susan and I are attending to is, we are moving late next month, to a new apartment in the next neighborhood south. City all around still — and the city is never still — but a nicer ‘hood, and safer, too, a little.

    I lost 15 pounds last year, then gained 25 of them back. At least I didn’t gain them back in any restaurant. “Grampa, what’s does restaurant mean?” “Well, sonny, a long time ago, in the before times …”

    For a while during the darkest days of the pandemic last year, Beach View and the supermarket were the only places I went, and never often. I spent a year sitting way too much at my desk, losing shape, or such shape as I had. Home exercising is good, but the miles of walking I would do every week, they were not being done. So I’ve started walking a mile every day. And losing weight, little by little.

    I don’t like it, this frightened, angry, depressed, masked world. “Who is that masked man?” “It doesn’t matter, we’re all the same.”

    I would like to go on about how depressed I’ve been — I tend to catch full sail in the stiff breeze of indulgent self-pity — but that’s boring. I have a job and was in no danger of losing it during the darkest days of lockdown, as long as my boss didn’t die, which he so far has not done. I clearly have enough to eat and drink. And a home. It’s always good to have a home, particularly if it’s a good, or good enough, place to call home. I miss seeing everyone, even though I don’t like them much, on the whole. I think I don’t trust myself enough to trust them, though I did tell a bunch of them a few days ago how much I need them, just because they’re there. Maudlin I oft-times get. Won’t do that here and now, I promise.

    • Maudlin minds are welcome here. For future reference, should the need arise.

      I’m excited for you and Susan and your new digs. I’m more of a country mouse myself, but I’ve often wondered what it would be like to live in the thick of it, and have everything you need within walking distance. I’d buy Sex and the City stilettos and swap them out for my tennies after work.

      Okay, I wouldn’t really do that. But I’d think about doing it, a lot. So, more like Walter Mitty than Carrie Bradshaw.

      • Stilettos on the hardwood floor above at three o’clock in the morning.
        Baseball bat pounding on the ceiling till the plaster cracks.
        Big city life for the working class.

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