December 12th, 2014


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Leonard machismo


I think I may have figured out what happened.

I think, at some point after her cancer diagnosis, mammallamadevil may have done a mind-meld on me, Star Trek II style.

The reason I say that, is that over the past few years I have taken on more of Kerry's traits, some of which were completely alien to me as recently as five years ago. In particular, I am thinking of a vast craving for sunlight, and a strong desire to spend my time at the seashore.

Of course, it's normal for me to start getting cabin-fevery this time of year. As I put it on Twitter yesterday, my body simultaneously craves and loathes exercise and activity. "Get up! Run around! Jump up and dow–OH MY GOD WHAT ARE YOU DOING STOP THAT ARE YOU CRAZY???" But every year around this time, the loathing gives way to longing and I start to fantasize about ALL the stuff I'm going to do come spring, walking all over mountains and climbing on rocks and learning to waterski and and and and...

...and I almost never actually do that stuff by the time spring comes, not from lack of desire, but because I'm too busy working and putting out life fires. But I have managed to follow up a few times, jogging for a while, taking up kung fu, etc. And I'm always happier for it for as long as it lasts, but invariably something comes along and knocks it out, forcing me to go scrounging up the energy to start all over again.

Thing is, there's something different about it this time. There has been a fundamental change in my psyche somewhere, and while I'm not sure where it's going to lead, I do know that it's going to be someplace new.

I am 45 now, the same age my dad was when I was born, and I watched him over time go from a vibrant and healthy man, into an old and bent man, and finally into a perennially sick and withered cricket, finally passing away because frankly his body was just fed up with being alive any more, all in a space of time that felt shockingly short.

I have friends who are close to my age who have basically given up already, and are just letting time and poor living ravage their bodies at will. I also have friends, including some much younger than me, who are gone before their time. I am not willing to join their number.

Since I started Weight Watchers and DailyBurn back in July, I have had a few hiccups along the way but I have mostly stuck with it, and it's working. As my weight drops and my health improves, I will be in a much better physical state to be able to start doing a lot of these other activities that I've wanted to do for years. Some of them don't need to wait of course– hiking can be done whenever you want simply by walking out the front door– but others (such as the climbing walls I keep wanting to do) are pretty darn challenging when you're just under 300 lbs.

One of the key things that has helped me stick with it is pure stubbornness. Whenever my weight ticks back up a notch I get annoyed and frustrated because, like Patton, I hate to pay for the same ground twice. But whereas once upon a time I just viewed it as an unwinnable fight and let the weight creep up as it would, I now redouble my efforts to shove it back down in the right direction. But that has only come about because I both finally have tangible evidence that it's really possible, and have the tools to make it happen.

Getting back to the topic of sunlight and seashores, however, there is another factor in my lack of outdoor activity to be factored in, and that is the godawful weather of northern Virginia. We basically have two nice weeks in the spring, and two nice weeks in the fall, and the rest of the time it's heavy overcast with no precipitation, being relatively mild (but unpleasantly cold and damp) in the winter, and unbreathably-awful in the summer. (Summers in the D.C. area have been compared unfavorably to living inside someone's mouth.)

To that end, as laurie_robey and I look at our plans for the upcoming next few years and where we would like to go, I am putting more of a premium than I used to on sunshine. Low humidity and relatively low temperatures have always been a factor, but this craving of mine for sunlight has narrowed our search by pretty much knocking Seattle and large chunks of the Pacific NW out of the running.

In January, since I'll be out there for Further Confusion anyway, I'm hoping to take a day or two to hang out with sirfox and check out some potential places in the Bay Area which, thanks to the crazy micro-climates out there, vary wildly over the course of just a few miles. Besides Josh's current stomping grounds of Gilroy, I'm hoping to get a look at Redwood City, Santa Cruz, Morgan Hill, and Watsonville, depending on time and company available. Josh informs me that there are boatloads of "artsy communities" up and down Route 1, but that they tend to suffer from an inflated rent due to proximity to the ocean. On the other hand, I live in Fairfax County, which wrote the book on inflated rent, so that might not be something that ends up being a problem. What you're used to can have a huge impact on your expectations, so to speak.

We're not going to be ready to make the jump any time soon; even with our house sale in flux as it is, we're probably going to stay around here and rent for a few more years to rebuild capital and make sure all our ducks are in a row. But we're definitely getting closer, and that Kerry-mind-melded part of me is champing at the bit.

-The Gneech

This has been a noise from my thinkybits.