Monthly Archives: January 2007

One of my (many) weaknesses


I can’t do pull ups. I can do one if I jump a little, but that’s it. And pull-ups really help if you climb. All advanced climbers can do pull-ups. I hate doing pull-ups, and I’ve resisted them for many years by building strength from climbing and by learning technique to avoid having to do them at all. But now I have this new climbing partner who can do 40 pull-ups (!). She does a lot of acrobatics (she can hold a hand stand in place for at least five minutes), and she said she learned to do pull-ups on the Gravitron, so yesterday I finally gave in and hopped on the thing. (If you aren’t familiar with the Gravitron, it’s a machine that helps you do pull-ups by lifting a percentage of your weight.) I did 40 at 50%, then 10 at 60%, then 10 at 70% (of my body weight, which you all know now). And my arms are sore today! Anyway, someday I hope to be able to do ten pull-ups. Or at least five. Or even one, without jumping.



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A Dilemma


This is old news, but I just thought about it as I was putting a stamp on a birthday card I’m about to mail. I went into my local post office a couple of weeks ago (after the holidays) to buy a book of stamps. The woman offered me three choices and asked which one I wanted: Christmas (a picture of Jesus and Mary), Hannukah, Eid or Kwanzaa. “Um. Don’t you have anything else? Like an American flag or a superhero? (I LOVE the superhero stamps!)” I asked her. “Nope. That’s all we have. Which one do you want?” “Hmm. Um, okay.” I had to think about it. “I guess I’ll take that one,” I said, pointing to the Christmas stamp. What else could I do?

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I like Tyra Banks


I know NOTHING about Tyra Banks. I’ve never seen her show, never heard her interviewed (before tonight), and never watched America’s Top Model. I never had a very high opinion of her, although I’m not sure why. Because she’s a supermodel, I guess (which isn’t a good reason.) Anyway, after the tabloids splattered photos of her that read “161 pounds!” all over the supermarkets, she went on Larry King tonight (at least I heard it tonight, on CNN radio.) And here’s what she said: that she has not gained 30 pounds, that she was 150 before the holidays and that she gained 10 pounds since then, that the only time she was thirty pounds lighter (130) was 15 years ago when she was doing high fashion modeling in Paris, and that, as a VS model, she was always in the 140s. Tyra Banks is 5’10”.

This made me happy because when I was a high fashion model in Paris, I was told to lose weight when I was 125 pounds. (And at 5’11” and 122 pounds, they were happy with me.) And when I got older – 27 – and grew to a hefty 129 pounds, I lost all my modeling jobs because I was overweight. The difference, apparently, is that I wasn’t Tyra Banks, ie, a supermodel. Only a supermodel could get away with modeling with a weight in the 140s.

Now I weigh 138 and constantly feel like that I am “not thin enough.” It’s all in my head, I know, I know, but now that I see that Tyra Banks weighed more than I do for most of her modeling career (and she’s one inch shorter than I am, although her boobs are HUGE and that must account for a few extra pounds), I am beginning to feel better about my weight. I know you all out there think I’m nuts, but you have to understand that when your career ends because you’re 129 pounds and you spend the rest of your life paying off debt you thought you were going to pay off in a few months making $2000 a day, it grates on you.

So I like Tyra Banks. She’s creating awareness among young girls about how fucked up our perception of what is beautiful is, how thin-obsessed we are as a culture, and how unhealthy it is. And who better to hear it from than an ex-supermodel?

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Asshole of the Week

I had an unpleasant run-in with the jerk who runs the Grinders sandwich shop in Montclair yesterday. I’ve bought sandwiches there a few times before and was never impressed by the owner’s abrupt manner, but yesterday took the cake. I was in a huge hurry with ten minutes to get to my next student’s house down the street, but I was starving, too, so I decided to call in a sandwich so it would be ready to pick up when I got there. But I didn’t have the number, and I was a minute away, so I drove past to see the number on the store front, then called while I was looking for parking (anyone who knows Montclair, knows how hard it can be to find parking there at certain times of day.) I got the voicemail and left a message with my sandwich order. (I find it irritating to begin with that no one picks up the phone, that you have to leave your order on the voicemail not knowing how often they listen to it or whether they’ll get the message before you get there to pick up your order.) Halfway through my message, the guy—wait, first let me describe the guy—he’s a muscle guy, the kind that looks like he lives at the gym, and he often wears muscle Ts to show off his (ew) physique. His latest hair style is a chin-length shag dyed black and he looks to be about 45 years old (ew, ew). So halfway through my message he picks up and says, “We don’t take phone orders after 4.” I looked at the clock. It was 4:20. “Oh,” I said. “Well I’m right out front, but I can’t find parking.” In a rude manner, he responded, “I understand that, but we don’t take phone orders after 4 o’clock.” I was tempted then to go somewhere else, but since I was so close and so hungry, I decided to park and run in. I found parking, ran down the street to Grinders and went inside. There he was sitting at the cash register, doing nothing at all, while some teenager was stacking potato chips. “Why don’t you take phone orders after 4 o’clock?” I asked. “Company policy,” he said, “Didn’t you listen to the voicemail?” No, I hadn’t listened to the voicemail because I was driving and trying to park, and wasn’t HE the company? “But you could have made my sandwich while I was out there looking for parking,” I said. And this was his response. He leaned toward me and said, “You can have an attitude about it, but I SUGGEST you DON’T.” I felt like I was on the playground about to get my ass kicked. That was the way he talked to me. I just glared at him, shook my head and walked out. Needless to say, I won’t be eating at Grinders ever again.


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Go Jason!


A Sense of the World, written by Jason Roberts (a member of the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto), is a finalist for the National Book Critics’ Circle award for biography. Congratulations, Jason! I hope you win! A Sense of the World has also been named a Best Book of the Year by the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Rocky Mountain News, St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Kirkus Reviews. NBCC winners will be announced March 8.

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Fear of FedEx

fedex.jpgMy cat (Martin’s cat) is terrified of delivery trucks, and it seems our neighbors receive a package from FedEx or UPS almost every day. Xeno will be curled up sound asleep on the couch, but when the truck comes up the street, he jumps up, stiffens and watches. If I touch him to try to calm him down, or if the man comes to OUR door to deliver a package, he runs and hides in one of his two favorite hiding places—in the chimney or in the basement in the rafters above Martin’s jam room. I wonder what happened to him as a kitten that made him so afraid of trucks. I imagine all sorts of catnapping scenarios à la 101 Dalmations.

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What is the What?


I just received What is the What?, Dave Eggers’ fictionalized memoir of a Sudanese refugee, in the mail today. I can’t wait to read it!


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