I did a plank for the first time in maybe almost 6 years on Monday? I could only hold it for 30 seconds. It burned so much in my abdomen by the end. I did my best to hold my form completely until I collapsed. I did it again yesterday and today.
I’ve been doing basic exercises and stretches inside our apartment after my partner leaves for work for the past few weeks. I’ve developed a stronger agoraphobia than I had before the pandemic. I think it’s reasonable, given how tense and uncertain the social climate has been here. I guess I have many ways to rationalize it to protect my ego. I know I’ll likely have to re-acclimate to public spaces (at least work) come autumn, so I guess working out is my way of building up my confidence to be outside again. It also makes me feel physically good after the fact.
My mother recently gave me a rudimentary stationary bike that belonged to my grandmother before she passed away (many years ago). I started with the bike the first week. I biked until I got too tired to keep going and assigned the time it took me as my base time. I added 5 minutes to the next week, and also added calf raises, lunges, toe walks, and heel walks. The next week, I added sit-ups and tried to add push-ups, but I can’t even do one push-up, so I’m starting with the plank to see if I can work my way up to a push-up.
I’ve never been a particularly robust or coordinated organism (barring hand-eye). My parents signed me up for all the free local programs and sent me to a public school that had swimming, dance, ice skating, gymnastics, tennis, softball, and other things I can’t remember right now. I was never able to reach the average of how my peers were performing in these activities. I was usually trailing pretty far behind or needing specific additional explanations on the mechanics of my body.
I achieved a certain amount of physical capability when I was in college because I took a couple of athletics-based classes for the experience, and I committed to cycle commuting everywhere. Some of my friends were gym people and taught me how to do a lot of the machines and weight lifting repetitions there, too. It felt safer and more accessible coming from people that were respectful of my difficulties with motor skills and the drawbacks of hyper-mobility.
I feel exposed and vulnerable at gyms, no matter what type they are (non-profit/community, for-profit, college, etc.), or who their target audience is. In contrast, I feel empowered by the realization that I can do relatively quiet exercises in our apartment, by myself. There’s no one watching me, and there’s no one to watch. I don’t have to worry about whether I should mask my ticks, I don’t feel intimidated, I don’t feel cornered, I don’t feel out of place. It’s just me, doing my thing.
I won’t be looking to sign up for a gym membership when the pandemic has actually fizzled out. I prefer this more personal way of connecting with my body, with minimal equipment. It leaves me feeling good about myself and the effort I put in to caring for myself, strictly for those reasons, and leaves any “comparisons with strangers” and “body image threat” baggage unclaimed. Mainly, I’m trying to be kinder to my organic form and take better care of it.
Still no greens or other veggies that I want to ferment in our CSA yet. We got some kale, but I prefer lightly wilting it in a pan and adding some salt and acidic flavor like lemon juice or vinegar over fermenting it. I made some cheese-less pecan pesto recently that was pretty pleasant. The pecans have a woodier flavor that pine nuts, and they’re much cheaper where I live. I like subbing walnuts in sometimes too because they’re abundantly available locally.
My grandma had a walnut tree at her house before she went to the retirement home. I used to play with the walnuts when I briefly lived there as a child, accidentally dying my clothes and bits of the pavement black in the process. If you’ve never seen a walnut before they’ve been husked, released from their shell, and dried, the husk is bright green like a tennis ball, but smaller. The husk seems oddly hard until it is pierced. Inside the husk, there is a thick shell. Inside of the shell lies the edible nut.
The shell has a heart-shaped relief inside on both sides. We used the shells as stamps for heart shapes when I was a kid. As the husk matures and oxidizes, it turns yellow, then black. I think this may be where the name “black walnut” comes from? I can’t seem to find an answer with idle internet searching. They have a strong scent that’s released once the husk is compromised, which I unfortunately can’t recall well enough to describe. I know they’re less desirable to the common palate than the English variety, but I like stubbornly utilizing local resources.
So far during my break, I’ve been checking things off of my to-do list around the apartment that have sat for far too long in limbo while I was overwhelmed by work, and I’ve been playing a whole lot of video games. I’m hoping that I work the video games out of my system soon and go back to creating my own things. I know part of that is making the conscious decision to reduce my gameplay time, but I have an issue with my brain getting hyperfixated on a sense of closure through completionism, and I end up binging until I get all of the things. I intentionally do not play open-ended, open world, pay to play, gambling-likes, or mmorpg’s for this reason.
I do like revisiting Zelda games because I feel like my shifting relationship to them, the characters, and the fan culture around them all help me work things out about myself if I space the playings out enough. I realized playing through Twilight Princess again recently that I bear a similarity to Shad in outward presentation and demeanor (I’ve become distinctly less proper with my language in day to day use since the game came out, however), and this time I noticed some level of adoration of Link on his part. Being more aware of and comfortable with my identity, I read into it as an attraction. I checked AO3 to see if anyone had paired them. (Of course they had.)
I find it pleasant to find safe-for-work fluff stories that people build around stories and characters I already know. I’m definitely one of those “but what about the lore” people for things I care about a lot. I often found myself trying to come up with what the backstories and lives of the background characters were in all of the games I’ve played. I want to know the stories of the regular people that aren’t the heroes. I’m not sure exactly where this insistence on depth for lore comes from in me. I’ve daydreamt through a lot of my life.
I’m trying to only bother with any game I’m replaying every 2-3 years. I feel like each play through flattens the characters and the stories, collapses and reduces them for me. I know I can never recover the experience of my first play through of any of them, but I notice and appreciate different things each time I play. I develop different strategies, I find silly glitches. If I were a more competitive person and hadn’t damaged my arms, I’d probably be really into speed running. I like watching speed runners.
One of my coworkers last year was talking about how they’re frustrated and annoyed that people watch other people play video games on Y*uTube. They don’t know much about me or my habits because they don’t really ask or listen haha. I just smiled and listened quietly—I was hovering on the beginning of a mute state anyway. They’re a big sports fan, but they don’t play competitively themselves. Isn’t that what people do as spectators of a speed runner? I didn’t feel like explaining or arguing over legitimacy of video games as “spectator sport” with them—although, it is Big Business!
I like to watch people speed run for the thrill of seeing if they can set records and beat bosses in new ways, and I assume that watching professional sports is similar for folks who like sports. I know I wouldn’t be able to do the feat that I’m watching, which is a fraction of why I’m watching. There’s also the community, and the shared knowledge of the game and characters. Isn’t that how sports work? I’m not sure how to explain this in the moment to forceful personalities.
I don’t expect them to agree with me or even see what I’m saying; I guess I just want to learn how to push back for my own dignity, and maybe plant a tiny seed of consideration of different types of folks in people that are open to it sometimes. I’m fine with simply understanding we have something in common internally for now, even if the other person doesn’t recognize it as a commonality. It helps me humanize people that I find difficult, that I disagree with, or that I struggle to understand when I find ways that we are similar.
Anyhow, thanks for reading! I hope you’re enjoying your day, wherever you are. Seeya again soon.