I bought a Fitbit last month, because I wanted to keep track of (and increase) my daily activity.  It’s a fascinating bit of machinery, really, for something so darn simple.  Basically, it’s a pedometer that also measures your sleep quality.  Here are my results, in a nutshell.

I walk a lot.

I sleep a lot better than I thought I did.

Both bits of good news.

With the Fitbit, you get to set a daily goal of how many steps you’re going to try to walk.  I think it comes pre-set for 10,000, or else that was suggested or something.  I started with that and then bumped myself up to 12,500 when I realized that I was always hitting my goal.  Now I’m at 12,500, and I am still always hitting my goal.  I think it’s time to bump it up to 15k, but that sounds like a lot so I’m scared.

Now, here’s why I’m writing this.  I don’t intentionally exercise.  Like, hardly ever.  Although my kids and I really enjoy hiking together, and probably do so at least once or twice a week, those are the days when I break 17k, not when I break 12,500.  Let me give it to you like this: I’m kinda lazy.  I really am.  I’m busy; I don’t like sitting around.  But I do not aspire to physical greatness.  I don’t pop on running shoes and hit the track.

Which means that my 12,500 is just how much I walk in my day.  And why do I walk 12,500 when most Americans are, apparently, coming in under 5,000?  Because I live in a country that makes it kinda hard to avoid.  I live in the center of my little town.  Every single thing I need is here, really.  I don’t have a car because I don’t need one, but even if I did want one, I’d have nowhere to park the darn thing anyway.  No parking lot.  I also live on the fourth floor of a walk-up apartment.  100 steps to my door.

If I stay in my little town, which I do probably 5 out of 7 days a week, I get 12,500 steps easy.  On the few days I venture out (via bus and subway) I clock many, many more than that.  I walk to the bus stop.  Walk from the bus stop to the subway.  Walk from the subway to my destination.  When we first moved here, I was exhausted all the time from all the damn walking.  Good lord, I’d think.  How the fuck do people do this?  Now I’m used to it.

Why am I boring you with this?  Because it’s part of my very recent enlightenment regarding weight and obesity.  I used to really kind of dislike overweight people.  I know that’s not okay to say, but there it is.  I used to think, “For the love of all that is holy, would you get off your ass?”  Because I know this is a prejudice of mine, I’ve been thinking on it a bit more and trying to not be such a dick.

And this Fitbit thing has helped me.  I cannot move very much less than 12k steps a day in this country.  I just can’t.  To do anything, I need to move my ass.  That is not the case in the States.  In the States, I walk to my darn car and drive to wherever.  The streets of my parents’ town in the States (where I always spend my vacations) are not pedestrian-friendly.  Only the homeless and drug-addicted wander the streets.  Everyone with any sense drives.  Laziness is institutionalized.  There isn’t always another option.

In this particular slice of Americana of which I speak, you’d have to be a freaking revolutionary to get 12k steps without hitting the gym.  I wouldn’t come close, because I’m (as I mentioned) lazy as balls.  I’d go so quickly to the dark side if I had to drive a car to a place so I could walk on a treadmill.  It wouldn’t happen.  I know this because I lived there for 24 years and it never happened.

And I’m a relatively privileged girl with the world at her damn feet.  I don’t have a chronic disease or four kids under four or live in a place of poverty and lack of education.  I hit the lotto in the birth department.  And I STILL don’t go to the gym.  How on god’s green earth do I expect people with a shitton more than I have to care about to pull it off?  Add to it that bad food is cheap and good food isn’t, and of course people are fat.

So the next time I get on my high horse about fat, lazy Americans, I’ll hopefully remind myself that I’m freaking lucky to not even have the option of being a fat, lazy American.

Because if I things had shaken out just a little bit differently, I may well have turned out that way.


After a month of sobriety, I’m slowly starting to re-introduce alcohol in a healthier way.


Cell Phones: Part Two

You know that whole, “Do I get my kid a cell phone” discussion I started here a bit ago?  Because I was letting my kids ride public transportation without a parent?  It reared its ugly head again.

Because I put my son on the wrong bus.

Let that sink in a bit.  The kid just turned eight.  He weighs 59 lbs soaking wet.  The wrong damn bus.  Because of his mother.  Good lord.

Estelah had a dentist appointment, so when their friend’s mom asked if they could come play, I said no and explained.  No big deal, said the mom.  Pop Dylan on a bus and let him come, avoid the dentist.  That, I thought, was a splendid idea.  Dylan agreed.

I spent a half an hour packing his bag and reminding him of all the rules: sit near the driver.  If there’s a seatbelt, use it.  If there’s not, pretend seat belts were never invented and don’t stress about it.  Pleases and thank yous.  PRIVATE PARTS ARE PRIVATE.  Etcetera etcetera.

And then I put him on the wrong bus, shrugged when it left five minutes earlier than it was supposed to, and went to the dentist with Estelah.

About twenty minutes later, I get a phone call from my son, from some stranger’s cell phone.  “Mom?  You put me on the wrong bus.”

And suddenly, I realized that, yeah, I probably did.  In fact, I never really checked to make sure it was the right bus.  Folks have tried to make me feel better, after the fact, by saying things like, “The buses are right next to each other.  Sometimes they even pull into the wrong lane and you just have to make sure you look carefully.”  Yeah, that’s true.  But even truer is the fact that I didn’t even fucking look.  I guess I was waiting for the bus to come, so when it came, I just put him on it without looking.

I am an idiot.

So anyway, the child was not too happy about this development, understandably.  By the time he called me, he had realized he was on the wrong bus and got off at a random bus stop.  Thankfully, there was a guy there who spoke English and had a phone.  I asked to speak to said guy.  The guy was able to tell me that the bus stop served both bus lines and that the correct bus would be by in a minute.  Ah!  Good news!  So I spoke to D again and told him to hang tight, no big deal, he’d solved the problem and he’d be at the beach in a few minutes.

Fifteen minutes later, I called the number back and the guy said that D had gotten on the next bus.  A minute later, D called from his friend’s phone and was, indeed, at the beach with his friend.

Immediately after this, I was all, “I am getting that child fifteen cell phones.  This is ridiculous.”  I was imagining all of the terrible things that could’ve happened.  What if the guy didn’t speak English?  What if his cell didn’t have reception?  (Totally likely where they were.)  What if D freaked out and ran into the woods and hid and was eventually raised the rest of the way by the wild boar and monkeys that live out there?

And then, my next illogical thought was, “Thank the good lord I’ve been doing all this volunteer work.  I’d feel really guilty about expecting all of Hong Kong to help me raise my kid if I weren’t also preparing hot meals for the homeless.”

But since that scary moment has passed, I realize that my kid is not an idiot.  He may only be 8, but he’s a pretty smart eight.  What would’ve happened, most likely, if the guy with the phone hadn’t been there, is that my kid would’ve sat there long enough to realize that the right bus was right in front of him.  Or else he’d have crossed the street and gotten on a bus going back home.  It would’ve been terrifying for him, and once he survived it, it would’ve been the biggest accomplishment of his life.

It is extremely helpful that an English-speaking, cell-phone-carrying man was kind to my son.  I want to send that man a new car or something for his kindness.  But the reality is, most people are kind.  Pedophiles are very rare.  Jerks are common, but not too common when it comes to 59 lb children.  Maybe it wasn’t a special alignment of the stars that kept my boy safe.  Maybe it was just because the world tilts more towards the safe than the dire.

He went for his first sleepover last night.  As I was fussing over him at the door, “Pleases and thank yous.  PRIVATE PARTS ARE PRIVATE.  Brush your teeth.  I love you.  Sleep tight, my special little guy.  I love you.  PRIVATE PARTS ARE PRIVATE” he turned and said to me, “Mom?  I got lost in the country park and was fine.  I’m pretty sure I can sleep over at my best friend’s house and be okay.”

Oh.  Right.

Soapy Pubes/Pubey Soaps

Everybody’s career is taking off.  Everyone.  I swear.  Friends.  Husband.  Everyone.  Every time I get a text message, I promise you, it’s someone telling me that they got a promotion, that they’re making way more money than they thought they would, that they have to leave me home alone with the kids again while they go to some fancy international conference and maybe they’ll apply for the promotion, and oh, did they tell you they just found out that they make way more money than they thought they would?

Ninety percent of the time, I’m a big girl about it.  I mean, my kid’s issues notwithstanding, I did choose this whole homeschooling thing.  And I’m not unhappy with my choice.  Ninety percent of the time.

Ohhhh, that other ten percent though.

Sometimes it hurts like hell when I remember how much damn work I did, setting up my office, getting business cards, painting, advertising, promoting myself, and then handing in my damn keys a year later because I couldn’t juggle it all.  Because we got that ream of paper that spelled out, in so many eloquent ways, all of the shit we were dealing with, and I knew that my own family issues were going to require me to be way more present than I could be if I were working.

I miss working, not the actual work bit of it, but the rest of it.  I miss feeling pertinent and relevant. I miss feeling useful and as if all of my work in school meant a damn thing.  I miss wearing my cute skirts.  I do.  I miss being able to tell people what I do, instead of inviting the millions of questions that ensue when I tell people I homeschool.  I miss seeing other humans in my age range.  But, ya know, what are you going to do?

My husband unwittingly paid me the compliment of a lifetime a few weeks back.  He said, “You know something?  Nobody can ever say you didn’t try.”  I’d been threatening to slink into the big, black hole of depression, and I’d gone to the library and checked out a billion books, bought a Fitbit so I could measure my level of activity, gave up the hooch, and started volunteering.  I like the idea of nobody being able to say I didn’t try.  I do try.

So now I’m volunteering.  I spent last Saturday scraping pubic hairs off of used soaps (details to follow) and I’m signed up for a soup kitchen on Wednesday.  I’m very, very grateful that my kids and my schedule allow me these.  Yes, anyone can walk in off the street and do them.  You don’t need the degree I have to scrape pubic hairs off soap. (Though, I have to think, it helps.  No it doesn’t.)  But that’s okay.  It’s still something.  It’s me giving back, pulling myself out while pulling others out.  So far, it doesn’t mean that I’ve gotten to talk to other humans my age.  Pubic hair scraping is, apparently, a very solitary, solemn activity.  I definitely don’t get to wear the cute skirts.  But whatever.  It’s something.  It widens my bubble.  It widens my community.  I’ll take it.

When I was a teenager, I was a compulsive volunteer(er) (doesn’t it seem like there should be another -er there?).  I did about fifteen hours a week after school and on weekends at the local nursing home, and I loved it.  Those old grannies loved me, and I kinda liked them a lot too.  I also answered phones at a crisis line.  And cleaned beaches.  And all that jazz.  I remember at one point my parents telling me, “You’ve got to stop these volunteering jobs and get a real job.  You can’t support yourself by volunteering.”  Oh, look at me now, George.  Look at me now.


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