Week 1

Palm tree

I did it! I didn’t do yoga every day, but I exercised every day, and that makes me feel much better about myself. On the days I did yoga, I did it with the boys while the Mister was out of town. It was a lot of fun. Nico provided comic relief, as expected. At one point the woman in the app instructed us to move into a comfortable pose. She meant a lotus position.

How-To-Use-Ujjayi-Breath-In-Lotus-Pose

I turned around and found Nico had slipped into the Costanza.

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Mikey, who at this point was well on his way to earning a PhD in Yoga Perfect Form, just gaped at him with the slack-jawed face of someone who had stumbled upon a baby animal not-quite weird enough to be cute. I did the same, though I managed to stutter a proper noun and three pronouns.

“Nico…you…it…you…”

“What,” he said, looking at us like we were the silly ones sitting there with our legs twisted like pretzels. “She said to get into a comfortable pose. I’m comfortable.”

Nico’s favorite poses were the Costanza and corpse. Everything else he barely managed without collapsing into a pile of giggles or complaining that something, somewhere hurt. It was while Mikey and I were trembling in our side plank poses that Nico, deep into a Costanza, positioned the pillow behind his head into a more comfortable position.

“Yoga is easy,” he declared, as Mikey and I collapsed side-by-side on the ground, gasping.

Mikey rolled his sweaty head in Nico’s direction. “Says the guy who isn’t doing anything!”

“I’m doing something!” Nico had the nerve to look offended as he readjusted his pillow. “I’m doing yoga, Mikey.”

On the days that I couldn’t stand to be in the room with the boys one more second, I put on my sneakers and went on a walk. This proved to be a good alternative. The boys got a break from their annoyed mom, and I didn’t put them out with the recycling. Win-win.

In One Person: Discussion!

In One Person: Discussion!In One Person by John Irving
Published by Simon and Schuster on 2012-05-08
Genres: Fiction, Gay, General, Literary, Political
Pages: 448
Goodreads
three-stars

I finally figured out what bothers me about John Green, and all it took was several years and In One Person by John Irving.

Starting a book review by mentioning the dislike of another, entirely different, author may seem strange, but I think it’s fitting for a book like In One Person. The first few chapters of the book seemed disjointed and confused. The narrator, Billy, was talking about his childhood, his adulthood, and the times in between. He spoke of relationships with men and women and people in between. I couldn’t follow the flow of the story. I was totally and utterly confused. Later, I realized that was the point. I was confused like Billy once was. As the novel progressed, Billy was more direct, easier to understand and more confident. The books seemed less simpering and apologetic.

I chose this book for two reasons. First, for all the books we’ve read in multiple genres and formats, we hadn’t yet read a book that discussed, as its main focus, the LGBTQ community. That seemed like an obvious hole and a missed opportunity to explore topics or situations with which some of us may be unfamiliar.

The second reason I chose In One Person is because John Irving is a difficult author to love, though I do. His writing, I’ve found, is hit and miss. Sometimes he’s brilliant, and sometimes he’s dull. I slogged through Until I Find You and came close to hating The Fourth Hand. (Irving came close to betraying me with that book. I didn’t read his next release.)

I know exactly where I was when I read my first Irving novel. I was on my way home from Lake Tahoe and the book was A Widow for One Year. It was 1998. I read that book from cover to cover. I couldn’t put it down. I loved it. I got that rush you get when you read a book that inspires you. It’s not the same feeling you get when you read something really entertaining. Those books, too, you can’t put down. An inspiring book is more about reading someone you could never measure up to, but you wouldn’t miss it for the world. There are passages from that book I can still recite.

“…there is no nakedness that compares to being naked in front of someone for the first time.”

“It was a sound like someone trying not to make a sound.”

“Of course, if I write a first-person novel about a woman writer, I am inviting every book reviewer to apply the autobiographical label — to conclude that I am writing about myself. But one must never not write a certain kind of novel out of fear of what the reaction to it will be.”

That last one I don’t actually remember, but if you’ve read John Irving, it’s says as much about John Irving as anything could.

I read every other John Irving book I could find when I got home. Like most of the world, my favorite was A Prayer for Owen Meany. That book. I’m still searching for a book I love as much.

“I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice. Not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God. I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.”

“Your memory is a monster; you forget—it doesn’t. It simply files things away. It keeps things for you, or hides things from you—and summons them to your recall with will of its own. You think you have a memory; but it has you!”

“I want to go on being a student,” I told him. “I want to be a teacher. I’m just a reader,” I said.

“DON’T SOUND SO ASHAMED,” he said. “READING IS A GIFT.”

“I learned it from you,” I told him.

“IT DOESN’T MATTER WHERE YOU LEARNED IT- IT’S A GIFT. IF YOU CARE ABOUT SOMETHING, YOU HAVE TO PROTECT IT. IF YOU’RE LUCKY ENOUGH TO FIND A WAY OF LIFE YOU LOVE, YOU HAVE TO FIND THE COURAGE TO LIVE IT.”

My favorite lines from In One Person:

“people can’t, unhappily, invent their mooring posts, their lovers and their friends, anymore than they can invent their parents.”

“Tom Atkins would be a safer choice for you than Kacques Kittredge, William” Miss Frost said. I knew this was true, too, though I didn’t find Atkins attractive–except in the way that someone who adores you can become a little attractive to you, over time. (But that almost never works out, does it?)”

“Self-hatred is worse than loneliness.”

“It happens to many teenagers-that moment when you feel full of resentment or distrust for those adults you once loved unquestioningly.”

Like every John Irving book ever published, there are recurrent themes and narrative situations/locations. Irving often injects himself in his narratives, which often span decades. For example, there is almost always a main character who is a writer. The setting at some point will involve a New England all-boys preparatory school. Someone, at some point, is a “sexual outsider.” A parent, usually a father, is absent. Someone dies. There is wrestling. My God, there is always wrestling.

Which brings me back to John Green. Like John Irving, Green repeats his themes and characters. There is always one or more characters with an odd habit or hobby. In Looking for Alaska, Miles memorizes the last words of famous people. Colin Singleton will only date girls named Katherine (with a K) in An Abundance of Katherines. And of course, in The Fault in Our Stars, Augustus Waters doesn’t smoke the cigarettes he holds between his lips. “It’s a metaphor, see: You put the killing thing right between your teeth, but you don’t give it the power to do its killing.”

Oh, Lord. That brings me to what truly bothers me about John Green. I have never, ever, heard teens act as clever or communicate as well as the ones in John Green books. The dialog is so pithy, so perfect, so very much unlike almost all teenagers the world over.

“Oh, I wouldn’t mind, Hazel Grace. It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you.”

“I’m in love with you,” he said quietly.

“Augustus,” I said.

“I am,” he said. He was staring at me, and I could see the corners of his eyes crinkling. “I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.”

“My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.”

“As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”

John Green is saccharine. Maybe the problem is with me. I’m don’t like cloying speeches or overly romantic gestures, nor am I swayed by pretty words or boys who don’t smoke metaphorical cigarettes. (Yes, I know his audience is far younger than I am, but even at that age I didn’t like perfectly clever.)

John Irving is many things (overly masculine, predictable, sporadic, and arguably repetitive), but he is not sweet. Edmund White’s book endorsement sums it up well. “From the beginning of his career, Irving has always cherished our peculiarities–in a fierce, not a saccharine way.”

In One Person was fierce. At times I didn’t like it, at times I was uncomfortable, and many, many times I was sad. I can’t go into it because I don’t want to reveal spoilers, but the last third of the book had me as close to tears as I ever get. That’s what I like about Irving books. Like them or not, they pull emotion out of me.

“We read to know we’re not alone.”
― William Nicholson, Shadowlands

All About That Bass

This video went viral. Maybe most of you have seen it? They’re calling it a body positive song. I’ve included the lyrics below the video which, I admit, is as cute as the song. Except.

Because you know I’m all about that bass,
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all ’bout that bass, ’bout that bass, no treble
I’m all ’bout that bass, ’bout that bass, no treble
I’m all ’bout that bass, ’bout that bass

Yeah it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two
But I can shake it, shake it like I’m supposed to do
‘Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase
All the right junk in all the right places
I see the magazines working that Photoshop
We know that shit ain’t real
Come on now, make it stop
If you got beauty beauty just raise ‘em up
‘Cause every inch of you is perfect
From the bottom to the top
Yeah, my momma she told me don’t worry about your size
She says, boys they like a little more booty to hold at night
You know I won’t be no stick-figure, silicone Barbie doll,
So, if that’s what’s you’re into
Then go ahead and move along

Because you know I’m all about that bass,
‘Bout that bass , no treble
I’m all ’bout that bass, ’bout that bass, no treble
I’m all ’bout that bass, ’bout that bass, no treble
I’m all ’bout that bass, ’bout that bass

I’m bringing booty back
Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that
Nah, I’m just playing I know you think you’re fat,
But I’m here to tell you that,
Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top
Yeah, my momma she told me don’t worry about your size
She says, boys they like a little more booty to hold at night
You know I won’t be no stick-figure, silicone Barbie doll,

So, if that’s what’s you’re into
Then go ahead and move along

Because you know I’m all about that bass,
‘Bout that bass ’bout that bass, no treble
I’m all ’bout that bass, ’bout that bass, no treble
I’m all ’bout that bass, ’bout that bass, no treble
I’m all ’bout that bass, ’bout that bass

Because you know I’m all about that bass,
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all ’bout that bass, ’bout that bass, no treble
I’m all ’bout that bass, ’bout that bass, no treble
I’m all ’bout that bass, ’bout that bass

Because you know I’m all about that bass,
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all ’bout that bass, ’bout that bass, no treble
I’m all ’bout that bass, ’bout that bass, no treble
I’m all ’bout that bass, ’bout that bass

As someone who is overweight and sees teen girls thrilling at the onset of the flu because that means they’ll lose at least 2 pounds (wish I was kidding), I’m glad there is a catchy song that says it’s OK to have a curvy figure. Really, I am. I’m not trying to be a politically correct/angry/judgmental person who quibbles over every last thing. I think there needs to be more body-positive songs and movies and books and snapchats and twitters and instagrams and whatever else the hell there is going on now. I just wish it wasn’t at the expense of someone else.

I have two issues with the lyrics.

I got all the boom-boom that all the boys chase.

Yeah, my momma she told me don’t worry about your size
She says, boys they like a little more booty to hold at night

There are studies that show the average male prefers a woman around size UK 14, which around size 10 in the US. Think Christina Hendricks (here without photoshop). By the way, plenty of guys have read that study and said, “Um, no.” That study had a very small sample size, and every study that repeated it had similarly small sample sizes. I’m not saying it’s not true, I’m just saying it’s not true of all guys. Plenty of guys prefer slender women, as they should since we’re not all drones with the same tastes in romantic partners. I know women who are naturally very thin with little to no “booty.” I remember them being miserable in middle school and junior high because they felt they looked like boys/had no boobs/stuffed their bras, etc. etc. The boys teased them for being “boards” the same way they teased my for being fat. I doubt this song would help skinny girls build body confidence.

I’m bringing booty back
Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that
Nah, I’m just playing I know you think you’re fat,
But I’m here to tell you that,
Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top

OK, hold on. Now we’re calling girls skinny bitches, but we’re only playing because we know they think they’re fat. What? That makes…huh? No. First, you can’t call someone a skinny bitch and then laugh it off. That’s not a joke; it’s sarcasm. Second, I’m not sure every skinny woman out there thinks they’re fat. Maybe they say that because women find it impossible to say anything positive about their body. Ever. (Eye-opening video) The second she included that “skinny bitch” line she sacrificed the song’s potential to be truly about body confidence.

I also have issues with the video.

1. They say it’s not about body shaming thin people, but that model looks like the center of the joke. Is she the “stick-figure, silicone Barbie doll” mentioned in the song? You know, the skinny bitch (just playing!) who also thinks she’s fat. Every inch of her is perfect from the bottom to the top according to the song, but she sure is getting knocked about by the “real” women in the video. She’s also made to look superficial, vapid, judgmental, and mean.

Side note: The term “real” woman makes me want to scream. If you have a vagina or identify as a woman, you are a “real” woman. [Drops the mic]

2. Meghan Trainor (the singer) is wearing an incredible amount of makeup, has a soft focus lens on her, and is shot from slightly above to minimize her double chin. So much for body confidence. Here she is from another angle.

My last, and most important comment on the video.

Let’s talk about Sione Maraschino and what a ridiculous scene stealer he is. Get outta here with your Maraschino Step.

The Beginning

Yoga

I’ve decided that a daily yoga practice will work best for me right now and, if the studies are to be believed, for the rest of my life. I went ahead and bought the Yoga Studio app because it was the one most recommended and had great reviews. I’ll test it out for the next 30 days and report back with my thoughts every week or so. In fact, I might go back to my Monday update posts. That weekly thought journaling, for lack of a better description, was another key to keeping me on track.

I thought this infographic and companion article from the Huffington Post on how yoga changes your body was interesting.

Happy, Happy

Seagull

Riptide

beach chairs

HAPPY 4TH OF JULY, AMERICANS!
Everyone else: HAPPY FRIDAY!

The Mister surprised us with a day off from work and a day at the beach. The boys had so much fun! I was under the umbrella and wore an enormous sun hat since my rosacea medications + sun don’t mix, but it was fun watching them boogie board. Nico was fearless and tore it up. He got in trouble once for trying to go in by himself without telling us. Not cool, especially since directly in front of us was a riptide. Mikey was cautious and at first didn’t want to go in (because sharks). Once he heard about the riptide, he was even more resistant. He had this image of a riptide pushing him out to sea, smack in the middle of a frenzy of sharks. When I explained to him that his dad wasn’t in the riptide section and that he would always be with him, he relented. He had a great time.

Walking on the sand made one thing clear to me: I’m losing all the conditioning I gained walking every day last year. The video in that post still makes me tear up. Why, oh why, am I having such a problem getting back into the routine of daily walks? It’s like once I achieved my 365-day goal, I lost all motivation. This is exactly what I was afraid was going to happen. Ugh! In part, I think it’s because I no longer had to post pictures to instagram, as crazy as that sounds! I asked on my 300 social media channels if there was a fitness app or website that people found motivating. I used endomondo all last year, but it’s become buggy and boring. I would love to try yoga, but like I mentioned on instagram (I’m @themrskendall or @ourbuttercup, but that one is only pictures of Buttercup), I don’t know how realistic it is with the library, the boys’ activities, and the Mister traveling so much. I’m checking out everything recommended and will post my results soon. Below is what people recommended as of 12:17 am. Anything to add?

Yoga Download
Yogaglo
Fitbit
Nike Training Club App
Walkmeter
Runkeeper
Mapmyrun
THE WALK It’s 40% off right now!

Hi! I’m Jules.

I used to be an attorney, but it made me grumpy. Now I write about life, sweet and savory, as a wife and mother to two small boys. My knowledge of dinosaurs knows no bounds.

You can read more, including the meaning behind the name Pancakes and French Fries here. And, yes, I really am phenomenally indecisive.