Sting Like a Bee

Today was the exercising-est day ever. I went to two classes at the gym, one on mini-trampolines and then a weight-lifting class during which I became painfully aware of every muscle in my abdomen. Wow. Who knew obliques could even feel that much hurt.

I also went to self-defense class in the afternoon. It's the eighth week of the course, so we've learned enough that we're now being tested on combination attacks. For the last five minutes of class, we got into groups of three and took turns fending off repeated choke holds, headlocks, and sleeper holds from two "attackers".

I really like the course and have learned a lot from it, but it's emotionally exhausting, too, because it forces me to confront some of my worst fears. One of the very few things that I dislike about living in the city (and the main reason that I plan to move away in the next few years) is the heightened sense of vulnerability I have here. When I walk around alone at night, I think of all the police alerts I've gotten at work in the last two and half years about women being attacked around campus. I know these things don't only happen in urban areas, but I also don't remember getting campus alerts about armed robberies, stabbings, attempted assaults and abductions, etc., in my tiny undergraduate town. I've seen all of these and more since moving here in 2006, each new incident a reminder of the need for constant vigilance. The possibility of attack is something that I try not to dwell on (I tend to be an anxious/obsessive person to begin with), but I'm forced to think very concretely about it whenever I go to self-defense class because we discuss (and act out) all kinds of sinister scenarios.

The class hasn't taken away my fear (I don't think that's the point), but it has given me a constructive way to channel it whenever I start to feel panicked. The sense of self-efficacy I've gained there has started to impact other parts of my life, as well. I feel more strong and self-reliant in general, and I've stopped thinking that just because I'm small, I can't fend off an attack.

It's also got me thinking about other kinds of "self-defense". Negotiation, for instance, is another fear of mine--I associate it with conflict, competition, and assertiveness, things I tend to avoid in professional and academic settings. A friend in one of my grad classes once told me that she convinced the admissions committee to double her scholarship when she was accepted into the program, and another recently got a huge raise and a better job title using techniques that she learned in a negotiation course. When I hear things like that, I think, "I could/would never do that." But I want to learn to! So I'm going to get some books on the subject, and I hope to audit a course next year.


Spring Clean

I sorted through the closets, bureaus, shelves, and shoe buckets last weekend, and came up with 3 garbage bags full of clothes to take to the Red Cross box. I was surprised to discover that I even had enough clothes to fill 3 garbage bags, much less 3 bags of extra clothes. It's days like this that make me never want to move to another apartment, ever. There's just so much stuff in our apartment, even with all of this sorting and tossing out. And we have way more furniture now than we did when we moved in two and a half years ago. We've bought a couch, two filing cabinets, and three bookshelves, and Stephen has made 3 benches, a kitchen table, a coffee table, a pine cupboard, and a sideboard for the living room. (He's still working on the rocking chair.)

It's such a great feeling to get rid of superfluous possessions, though. I'm really into it lately. My mom has been taking advantage of this eagerness to declutter, too. Whenever I visit, she gets a couple of boxes of stuff from my childhood out of the attic, along with a garbage bag, a recycling bin, and a small box for things that I want to keep. I spend the afternoon reliving piano recitals and looking at kindergarten report cards, and throwing a ton of stuff out. It's pretty fun, actually, and I get a great sense of relief/accomplishment from whittling the mountain of memorabilia down to a molehill. I've gone through about half of the stuff that's up there, and the attic pile is now quite manageable.

The apartment smells nice today, like daffodils. Early spring flowers have such a characteristic, heady smell, don't they? We went to the Smith Bulb Show on Sunday afternoon. We arrived late (45 minutes before closing) and the line snaked out of the building and down the road, so our visit was somewhat shorter than I'd hoped, but it was still totally worth the 2 hour drive. Just...flowers, everywhere. Over 1,000 plants in rampant bloom: magnolias, daffodils, tulips, freesia, peonies, hyacinths and anemones, stacked so high on every side that they towered over our heads. People swarmed over the blooms like honey bees. Afterward, we were in such a Spring mood that we went to Herrell's for hot fudge sundaes and got burritos. Then we had to hustle back to Boston to catch The Amazing Race. I love flowers, but I like reality TV a lot, too.


Not Again!

I'm feeling under the weather again. (The weather, on the other hand, is feeling great. 60 degrees this afternoon!) I thought there was some kind of cosmic rule that you could only get sick once per winter. It's a rite of passage to have a miserable cold with a lingering cough in January, but after that clears up, you're supposed to be immune for another year. Right?

I'd hoped some banana muffins would perk me up, but it turns out I've got almost no appetite. The only things I crave are Advil Cold & Sinus and blueberry saft. Gimme those antioxidants!

I slept for almost twelve hours last night, then woke up at the ridiculous hour of 12:30, which turned out to be the even more ridiculous hour of 1:30 with the time change. Considered going back to bed and sleeping away the rest of the half-gone day. It was really nice to see the extra daylight this evening, though. It feels like spring is here.

Let's have a look at what's happening on the windowsill, shall we?

The morning glories are starting to climb their yarn trellis, and one of the geraniums has put out buds. It's exciting to see things getting ready to bloom outside, too. We visited our friend's garden this afternoon and saw daffodil and tulip shoots coming up. I'm hoping to see the spring bulb show this month at the Botanic Garden at Smith. I've only been there once, to see their fall chrysanthemum show a couple of years ago, and it was awesome. If I was a student there, I think I'd go sit in the greenhouse every day in the winter. Plant therapy.


Mini Break

Well, whaddya know. A snow day. Great timing, too. I was up until 3:00 this morning working on a paper for my Complementary and Alternative Medicine class this afternoon (which was canceled), so it was a lovely surprise to get to sleep in. I re-edited my paper this afternoon, then took out the mountains of recyclables that were threatening to annex the kitchen and got groceries at Trader Joe's. I feel much more prepared to face the week ahead now. And I'm so grateful that the snow came today instead of tomorrow, when it would have interfered with a huge event I've been working my butt off to plan for International Women's Day. (IWD actually falls on March 8th, but we're celebrating early for scheduling reasons.)

The little polka dot dog/mouse is a souvenir from our trip to Northampton on Friday/Saturday. It's from a store called Essentials, which is a misnomer, because as colorful and charming as the merchandise is, none of it could reasonably be called essential.

We went to a Sarah Vowell reading at the Calvin Theater on Friday night, then met Stephen's brother for breakfast on Saturday (I had Morrocan french toast and green tea with mint, then ate everyone else's leftovers), visited the Eric Carle museum, and bought a pound of candy at Sweeties.

My suitcase for the trip was bizarrely color-coordinated. I hadn't realized how many of my outfits are a variation on blue and yellow until I put these together. Stephen was quick to point out that there are no fewer than five yellow sweaters in my closet (and umpteen blue t-shirts). Even my book matched. And this doesn't include the clothes that I wore on Friday: a yellow cardigan, navy-and-white striped skirt, and navy tights. It's surprising, though, because I think of myself as more of a blue/gray/red person. Cognitive dissonance!