Day 15: Weight

I work out every day. I eat healthy foods, generally of the organic and vegetarian persuasions. I eat reasonable portions, and try not to snack, though if I’m being honest, I probably enjoy ice cream a bit too much.

On Sunday night, after eating two large slices of pizza, Brandon and I settled in for the night with our friend Chris for the premier of the new HBO drama Boardwalk Empire (which, by the way, is fabulous). Brandon made garlic and artichoke hummus (yep, homemade!) and I served us the type of beverage that seemed appropriate for a group of friends watching a TV show about the Prohibition Era.

Monday morning came; I went to the gym before an early morning meeting. When I got home, I quick hopped in the shower and dressed immediately, before having a chance to weigh myself. I paused: I could either undress and weigh myself accurately, or I could keep going about my day without checking in on my BMI.

I chose not to weigh myself on Monday, and for some reason, it scared me. Perhaps this project has taught me not so much about overcoming fears; I think it’s taught me more about areas that I am overly dependent or insecure.

Sure, I probably care too much about my weight. I’ve heard stories of women who walk around Target and Macy’s and other such places that sell scales, armed with Post-It Notes reading “Your worth is not defined by a number” that they leave on boxes of those dreaded machines. And, realistically, I’m aware of that –if the issue is undue self-worth, my brain is the culprit, not my waistline. I think the issue is not weight, in and of itself, but my obsession with results. I need to meet targets, set goals, measure outcomes in order to track my success.

It was a good reminder: worth and success cannot always be quantified. Health and fitness are both processes, not products, as is my own journey of self-awareness and discovery. It’s comforting to remember that I don’t need to count spiritual calories.

Day 14: Facing the Music

Well, the play has closed! I now have a bit of freedom again! And by freedom, of course, I mean work on my thesis until it is finished, which will be in approximately one month.

I did one scary thing this weekend that I wanted to write about. It happened one night this weekend. I had had a particularly bad performance: dropped lines left and right, emotional disconnection and general lack of concentration. The whole performance had been a mess; everyone came downstairs to the dressing rooms after curtain call and just felt down about the whole thing.

Generally, after a production, cast members go back upstairs to the lobby to meet and greet with the audience. None of us wanted to go, especially not after that performance. It was a tradition, but I wanted to break it so very badly. “What if they didn’t know it was bad?” I wondered. “But worse, what if they did?” I had to smile, and act gracious, and thank everyone for coming, even though I would have rather hid my head in the sand like an ostrich and for everyone to mutually forget to acknowledge that such a spectacle had ever taken place.

But, instead, I took of my habit, wiped off my makeup, slipped on a pair of ballet flats and faced the music. Whether or not anyone noticed, I couldn’t say. Everyone was thoughtful and engaging, and seemed to have appreciated their experience. I received several thoughtful notes from faculty who saw the performance, which I most certainly appreciated, and kind words from those who had come to see us.

I’m not sure who knew that I was mortified; I smiled, and spoke kindly, and played the kind host. Maybe that was all they saw, or maybe the knew that we’d botched the thing. Regardless, the grace expressed by everyone was much appreciated. Facing the music wasn’t all that bad.

Day 13: Confessional

Yesterday, I did the same scary thing in a couple different venues. I said a few things out loud that I’m not really in the habit of admitting; they were uncomfortable confessionals, not of wrongdoing, but of aspects of my life that I don’t generally share with the world. I won’t go into detail; saying these things to others was scary enough, let alone blasting them on the internet. Suffice it to say, it was risky. There was potential to be rejected, and that scares me.

Confession is not something that I’ve really experienced. Certainly, I’ve seen my fair share of films including the typical “Forgive-me-father-for-I-have-sinned” scenes, but it’s not something I’ve done, save in my most intimate of friendships. Confessing something to a stranger is a bit odd, isn’t it?

Thankfully, I wasn’t rejected; I was accepted and loved and encouraged and I felt a little bit of relief. Confession isn’t so scary after all.

Day 12: Academic [Im]perfection

A week ago I finished the first draft of my thesis. Today, I sat in class and listened to my classmates analyze and pick apart a year’s worth of work.

The last section was truly awful. I was embarrassed to send it out to my cohort; it should not have seen the light of day, but it had to go. I was terrified to send it out; usually, I’m so particular about the image that I project to others. This projection includes my Hermione Granger alter-ego of academic perfectionist. Well, Hello, world! I have a secret: turns out I spend hours and hours and hours editing.

In addition, I had to sit in class with an extra amount of bravery. The first two-thirds of my thesis was approved already. Technically, I have a layer of protection and I do not need to revise anything if I deem revisions unnecessary. Constructive comments are helpful… except for when I’m pretty sure that my work is beyond excellent. It’s like being told that you look bloated on your wedding day. Thanks.

Now I have to bite the bullet and do some more scary things: exploratory brain surgery. This thing that’s near flawless– that I don’t have to touch if I don’t want to— will have to be revised and revised. Voluntarily.

I liked Hermione better when she was just quoting Hogwarts: A History.

Day 11: Why?

First things first: I’m revising my plan. I’ll devote 30 days to this project, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to find the time to write every day. Case in point: this weekend.

Every Monday, I babysit for a little boy (soon to be a big brother) that I spent a year nannying. He’s 3. Today, we baked cookies for a group of students that Brandon and I hosted. He’s in the “Why?” phase, and must have asked the question “Why?” over two hundred times in our two hours together.

Everything I did or said was met with the question, “Why? Why? Why?” Once, after I said to him, “Buddy, do you really need to know why? I think you know the answer” (he was asking why I didn’t want to burn my hands), he revised his strategy and kept asking “What?” When I put the last tray of cookies into the oven, he told me, “Baba, I’m thinking ‘why?'”

(I’m fully aware that this picture outs me as a cheater. I admit it: break and bake cookies.)

Somewhere in the middle of our first batch, I thought that I should actually try to answer his questions. I should take him seriously! Three-year-olds are little people, they’re no longer infants that you can ignore while they’re occupied by their toes. They deserve an answer! So I thought. At one point, our conversation went like this:

Him: Baba, why can’t I touch this?

Me: Because it will hurt your hands.

Him: Why?

Me: Because it’s hot.

Him: Why?

Me: Because it was in the oven, baking at 350 degrees.

Him: Why?

Me: Because that’s what the directions said to do.

Him: Why?

Me: Because that’s what the cookies need to taste yummy.

Him: Why?


Me: Because I said so.

Yep, I did it. “Because I said so.” At first, taking the time to answer his questions was a bit frightening. Then, I nearly hyperventilated when I did the parent-type thing that I’ve always said I’d never do. I did it. The best laid plans, I suppose.

At some point he asked me, “Baba? Are we human?” And again, “Is that why God made ovens?”

Day 10: Opening Night

Blogging is somewhat anonymous. When I talked with a former professor and he mentioned that he’d stumbled on my blog somehow, I didn’t feel funny. When a colleague asked “So, is there something scary on the Powerpoint?” prior to a presentation I gave earlier this week, I laughed and was glad to know that people read what I write.

Tonight is opening night of Doubt, and this first performance is today’s scary thing. I don’t feel nervous… just strangely embarrassed. The show is great; I’m proud of it. I think my performance is good, and I know we’ve all worked very hard to get to this point. There’s something unsettling, though, about being vulnerable in front of a large group of peers and colleagues.

When I spend so much time and energy attempting to be professional, this odd amount of sanctioned unprofessionalism feels… well… silly. I feel like I just got caught singing into my hairbrush in front of the mirror. I’m playing dress-up in front of the people that I try so hard to impress on a daily basis.

Like my friend Felicia reminded me this morning, “Well! At least you don’t feel nervous!”


Day 9: Self-Care

This morning, I stared in the mirror for awhile after brushing my teeth. I have bags under my eyes these days, and an ever-mounting to-do list. Today, in particular, my list is long: finish reading two articles and six chapters for class; write two articles for publication tomorrow; group meeting; attend class for three hours; dress rehearsal, etc etc etc. Despite my sorry appearance, I wanted nothing more but to throw on sweats and head to the closest coffee shop and start chipping away at this to do list. Typically, I wake early and go for a morning run, but today, I thought I’d sacrifice my daily ritual in order to lighten my anxiety. Despite the potential of losing an hour, and the awful sinking feeling of letting my boss and professors and group members down, I put down the mascara wand, laced up my Asics, and took time to do something for myself.