I was so mad a couple of hours ago. At about 3:30, you see, I called Carl and asked him if he’d like to take a bike ride with me after work, seeing as how the weather was nice and as how we’d both been inside all day. He said sure. I mentally patted myself on the back for eschewing the gym in favor of Going Outside To Play. Like, how organic of me, you know?
By the time I left work it was very overcast and chilly. I looked out the bus window and knit my brow. Still, I changed into my gym clothes and dug my bike helmet out from under the futon and we set off. It has been a while since I rode my red bike so I was happy to be getting out a little bit, and of course I was still feeling virtuous about the fact that some people were exercising inside like gerbils on a wheel or something, but not me! No no! I was outside. That is possibly the stupidest reason to feel virtuous I have ever heard of, but I pass no opportunity to feel self-righteous, and so that’s what I was thinking about as I started pedaling.
My neighborhood, it’s not the best for biking. It’s got some big hills, if you like that sort of thing, up only one of which I had to get off the bike and push it halfway, but that’s not the bad part. The traffic is the bad part. It seems like there are about eighteen arterials that all intersect at one point or another within six blocks of my house. Six blocks is not really enough to really bike very hard, and I was in the kind of mood where I wanted to bike hard. Part of the reason I wanted to ride an actual bike was because I wanted to feel the wind in my hair (that was sticking out charmingly through my helmet, which is purple and decorated with stickers of Chinese dragons and sushi and lanterns and fortune cookies) and whoosh around and see peoples’s yards and what’s left of the cherry blossoms and feel like I was going somewhere. Instead I kept having to stop and be intimidated by all the big cars rushing down on me trying to kill me and my bike. Also, my ears began, inexplicably, to hurt in the same way they do when my plane is making its final descent. I can’t understand what about the biking conditions in my neighborhood is remotely similar to those within a pressurized aluminum tube soaring high above the earth, but there you go. Ear pain. Compellingly horrible. Ow.
The ear pain was the tipping point, I think. I just sort of lost it on the way back. I was frustrated because I didn’t feel as though I was getting a very good workout and I didn’t exercise at all yesterday because bellydance was canceled and also I went to a Journalism and Globalization conference for reasons that don’t really matter here. I thought that I ought to have just Stuck To The Plan, which is: Go To The Gym Either Before Or After Work, Three To Four Times A Week. But no, I had to be all, “Off with the trammels of corporate fitness! I will be free!” and get ear pain on my bike and I couldn’t make it up that one big hill and obviously I suck at everything. I believe my exact words to Carl, shrieked at high volume and with great brio, were, “I can’t do anything right!”
I thought about how I’m always going to be fat, and that it doesn’t matter if I work out. My little notebook tells me that I’ve been bouncing around the same five pounds for the last six week since I started keeping it. In fact today I weighed exactly what I did six weeks ago, so potentially I could have slept in later and spent some more time reading or knitting or something and not worked out at all and everything would be exactly the same. But I can’t stop going to the gym now, and you know why? Because I feel GUILTY if I don’t go. I don’t understand how this works. Seven months ago I never went to the gym, and I didn’t spend any time at all feeling bad about that fact, although I did spent the seemingly requisite ten percent of my awake time hating my body as per usual. And then when I joined the gym, I went twice a week for about three months. I never felt bad about just going twice a week; n the weeks during which I just went once, I’d feel a little bad for not going twice, but I’d sensibly tell myself that, well, at least I went once and that that was one hundred percent better, literally, than going zero times.
But now that I’ve amped things up a little, in the last six weeks or so, I feel like a total failure if I don’t go at least three times a week and go to dance class twice a week on top of that. A complete, horrible, ugly, fat, destined-for-diabetes failure. How is this a win? Why is doing what is ostensibly better for my body making me feel worse?
And then I got mad at myself for caring at all. I got mad at myself for being so inflexible that missing a class or going for a bike ride totally throws me off my game. Then I got mad at myself for being mad. I decided to go to the gym to do some weights, since I was already in my gym clothes, and I was going to be really mad if I was all complaining about how I wasn’t going to the gym enough and wasn’t getting enough exercise and had the yoga pants on and didn’t go. I was mad that I was making an extra trip in the car to go exercise, and mad that I was afraid to bike to the gym, not only because of the crazy traffic on Lake City Way but also because of the very large hill that was much larger than the one that had earlier stymied me, thereby making me mad. And then when I got to the gym I was mad because I couldn’t find a parking space.
Inside I got mad because I forgot the combination to my lock several months ago and so I’ve been sort of surreptitiously stowing my stuff in an unclaimed locker hoping it won’t be stolen, and I got mad because there was this guy in a sweatband talking to someone while hogging the weight machine I wanted. I got mad because I don’t stretch enough or properly. I wrote this journal entry in my head and promptly got mad because I knew I was going to forget some of the key elements before I could get home and write it down. One of the gym employees approached me as I was about to use the machine that Sweatband Guy had finally vacated and acted like he just wanted to talk and was asking me all these questions about my workout. He told me the gym does free monthly body fat analysis and did I want one and you’d think that would have mad me mad just because everything else in the last hour and a half had, but I was curious instead and allowed him, a stranger, to pinch various parts of my body with some sort of caliper thingy. He told me my body mass fat index something or other was in the middle of the range for women my weight and age, which I guess was fine, except I didn’t really know what he was talking about so I just nodded my head a little and got mad again when he started to try to sell me the gym’s brand of multi-vitamins or whatever.
It didn’t last for much longer, though, my being mad at everything. That’s the thing about unmitigated rage: you need endurance to be able to sustain it. If you let one other emotion slip in there (in my case it was curiosity about the ratio of fat to muscle on my body, oddly enough) then you’re pretty much shot and you’ll never be able to get it back up to original intensity. You might be miffed that you can’t find a really good magazine to read in the sauna and you may be perturbed when you catch a glimpse of your workout hair in the mirror, but to Stay Mad you need to focus and keep on target the whole time.
I’m feeling better now. I still have to do some stupid stuff tonight and my dinner needed more salt and pepper than I usually prefer, and the workout hair situation hasn’t marginally improved, and I have to admit that I don’t know when I’ll have the time to watch my next Netflix movies, but the rage seems to have passed. For now.
Grrrr. Rrrraow! Rrrrrrrrrrrr! Mad!