7

On High School P.E. Class

I saw a video online today that made me think about something that I hadn’t thought about in a long time. Well…I kind of spoiled it with the title, but yeah, everyone’s favorite, high school P. E. class.

The video was of a school in the 1950s-1960s called La Sierra High School in southern California. You can search for it online, because I’m too tired to link it after spending 6 hours in the theatre today and another few at the APO meeting, but basically, it’s a group of high school students working out and exercising like crazy CrossFitters, only in teeny shorts and no shirts and bad composition. The high school closed down in the 1960s (not sure why) but their athletic programs went down in history as being legendary, and now there’s an indiegogo fund going to make a film out of them, along with interviews of living alumni. If my P.E. classes were like that, I probably would have been more interested in it; it looks tough, but more fun than what we did, which was usually just “here’s a basketball, go play.” Why weren’t my P.E. classes like that? Have we gotten weaker/lazier as a society, placed less value on physical education, or did my high school just suck? Probably all three.

As I was saying, growing up, gym class was awful. It was my least favorite thing about school, and I was relieved when after 10th grade, we did not have to take it anymore, thanks to state requirements. I was terrible at it; I didn’t get along with anyone, so I was always among the last picked for teams, usually actually the last, which didn’t make me any more inclined to participate at all. Usually, I just sat down on the sidelines or stood near the goalposts, or refused to play at all. I probably attempted to feign injury at least once a week, or hide in the bathroom, and there really wasn’t much anyone could do about it. It was “just gym class” after all, and the gym teacher had 30 or so other boys to look after, so me crying or yelling or sitting in a corner by myself didn’t really register on the charts.

First, there was changing into the gym uniform. I hated that, because I hated taking my clothes off in front of anyone, anywhere, including in the old, smelly locker room of my high school, the one with the “spit wall” (yeah, I have no clue, other than it was a really gross, discolored wall with the occasional chewing gum stuck to it), because the shiny, airy new locker rooms hadn’t been built yet. The smallest size of gym uniform didn’t fit me, so I had to bring in my own shorts from home. Interestingly, I was not the only one with this problem; I don’t know what company they used, but even my “size small” hung like a tent on me until high school. I usually preferred changing in a closed stall, imagining it was a mall dressing room, and again, I was not the only one who preferred this, there were usually a few of us who waited to do the same.

Then, there were the activities. Usually, it was just “play soccer or baseball or volleyball or basketball or hockey with tiny plastic sticks” in the gym while the gym teacher watches and reads or listens to music or sweeps the gym floor (yes, this actually happened a few times) or something. On the few nice days we had, provided the fields were free, we would do said activities outside. It was always the same thing, and usually ended up being the same people playing the most, scoring the points, yada yada, while I made conversation with others or sat by myself or something. What was worse was high school, when gym class became optional if you were on a team that semester (you got to sit in the cafeteria and have a free study hall, which I would have loved), so it was basically all the less athletic kids running around doing things. I guess the one good thing was that I was very rarely asked to do anything at all, so if I was in my own world the whole time, it didn’t matter. I was never passed the ball or the puck anyway, and the few times we did play hockey, I usually either got hit by a hockey stick or got mine taken away from me for hitting someone or throwing it at someone. When it was football, I wouldn’t even try to understand the rules and would basically run around in circles if the gym teacher asked me why I was just standing there. One semester, I had this thing where I would decide to “accidentally” run into, hit, or throw the ball directly at the gym teacher. I don’t know why I did it, but at least it got me in enough trouble to get me out of gym class that semester.

Sometimes, we shared the gym with the girls, and I was always jealous of them, because their gym teachers seemed to care, and they did fun things like tumbling, handstands, and learning/choreographing dances to the songs of the Spice Girls, the Backstreet Boys, and cartoon theme songs; all things that us boys never got to do. I actually think I got more of a physical education from my physics teacher who had us test mass and velocity and stuff by doing long jumps and holding ourselves between two lab tables, iron-cross-style.

And then, there was physical fitness test week. They always sprung this on us every spring with no real warning or reason as to what we were doing and why it mattered. This was the one time each year when we did supervised things like pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, and the dreaded mile run. I hated that mile run so bad; it’s kind of amusing to think that these days, running a mile doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal to me (well, if it’s on a treadmill and I have music and water, I can go for awhile). But usually they picked the hottest day of the year, and it was basically running around our big field six times, which was just so darn boring. Usually I ran for maybe two minutes, then just walked because I did not care anymore. One time I actually just lay down in the field somewhere and hoped that no one would notice the human being lying face down on the ground as they walked by.

Fast forward to me in 2015. Even for hating gym class and refusing to participate, I’m not that much taller or heavier than I was in high school. I even sometimes wear clothes from middle school, and yes, I still go to the gym in my high school gym shirt sometimes because no one in Wisconsin has ever heard of my high school, so I’m safe. I look at other peoples’ photos from my high school, and some have just really let themselves go; I don’t know if it’s because they’re married or what, but other than going to the gym sometimes and dancing a few days a week, I’m not that physically active, and these days, when I’m not on my feet at the show, I’m on the couch with my feet up.

But getting back to P.E. class in the old days, and that La Sierra video…here’s why it worked the way it did.

1. Those kids lived in California, where it is beautiful, warm, and sunny every single day. I come from Maryland, where the weather’s made up and the seasons don’t matter.

2. Those kids probably walked a lot more, and the way things are these days, being a pedestrian is…pedestrian.

3. Those kids didn’t have the Internet as a distraction.

I want to say that life in America was simpler back then, but actually…it wasn’t. There were more diseases, like polio, and fewer vaccines. Sure, people recovered, but not as quickly. Kids today worry and stress over school, but it’s always been like that. Only kids in the 1990s and today are luckier, because there’s no Cold War, Cuban Missile Crisis, or getting drafted into the army and shipped to Vietnam. In fact, I don’t even know one person my age in the American army. A few people from my high school were/are in the Israeli army, though, including one younger than me wounded in Gaza. Yeah, all American kids have to worry about these days is bandwidth and wi-fi and test scores.

So yeah, maybe we’re just lazy, and our gym teachers are even lazier. Especially my middle-aged, out-of-shape gym teachers.

Then again, all the coaches in the NCAA are middle-aged out-of-shape men.

So at least there’s a reference point.

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4

Foolproof Food For Every Mood

These past few weeks, I’ve been trying to lose weight for the Phoenix/San Juan/Baltimore trip. I should be working more on packing my apartment and doing research, but this post will not be about that. I’ve been spending most of my days (when I’m not in bed) exercising and focusing on eating healthier. This week hasn’t been the greatest for my exercise, but as far as my dieting goes, I don’t think I’m doing that badly. I’m not focusing on being strict as far as time; I’ve been eating when I’m hungry, and stopping when I’m full. I’ve been avoiding any type of “zombie food,” like chips or pretzels, things that you eat subconsciously when watching TV or on the computer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My problem, though, is picking foods that are tasty, satisfying, and healthy. It seems like everything has something in it that’s bad for you, but here are some things that I’ve been consuming over the past few weeks that have kept me sane and helped me lose weight. Also, disclaimer, I know nothing about nutrition so this might all be wrong, but just go with it.

1. Protein shakes.

As everyone knows, it’s all about the protein. And the protein shake is the way to get it in the morning, after a workout, or at night. I’ve been having one with breakfast, and after a workout. Beware: some of them are very sugary and some contain animal products. My brand of choice is the Whole Foods 365 brand: organic and not too sugary.

2. Eggs.

The other main protein source, the ever-popular egg. My breakfast usually consists of four boiled egg whites, although I have been known to make a mean omelette. There is good stuff in the yolk as well, but also some fat and cholesterol, which is bad considering my personal family history.

3. Coffee.

The jury’s always out on coffee, but sixteen ounces of black iced coffee, sometimes with a half-packet of sugar, ups the caffeine without a lot of the fat of milk and/or syrups.

4. Tuna fish.

Tuna fish was a whole food group in my house growing up, so I have no problem eating it in any form, raw, cooked, or from a can. I don’t add anything but black pepper. I stopped putting mayonnaise in awhile back, and I recently had some mayo on a tuna sandwich at a restaurant and found that it had a bit of a sour taste that I didn’t notice before, so I don’t think I’ll be adding it back in. Also, it quantifies eating bread, because who can say no to tuna on rye? Especially if that rye has RAISINS in it. Thank you, Angelic Bakehouse.

5. Tilapia.

Cooking fish is really not as hard as everyone thinks. I just shove it in the oven for about fifteen and it comes out flaky and delicious. Woodman’s sells huge bags of frozen tilapia, so that’s basically what’s in my freezer, aside from…

6. Chicken.

I usually tell the world that I’m a vegetarian or pescetarian, mostly because I don’t want to have to explain kashrut every day of my life. And when I do talk about chicken to a friend who thinks I’m a vegetarian but doesn’t know about kosher, I just say that “I don’t trust restaurants,” or “I only like chicken the way I make it.” Both are somewhat true; restaurants are overpriced, and I’ve never disliked any chicken I’ve made. Metcalfe’s has bags of frozen Empire chicken, $16 a bag but worth it for the kosher symbol.

7. Iced tea.

Diet Lipton citrus green and mixed berry are my new roommates. They’re too awesome to pay rent, so I just let them loaf.

8. Sparkling water.

First, there was water. BUT THEN THEY MADE IT SPARKLY AND FRUITY WITHOUT ADDING SUGAR.

9. Nuts and baby carrots.

I’ll admit, the only snacky food that I do partake in are almonds and baby carrots. Seriously, just turn on the TV and stuff your face with a half a bag of carrots and some almonds. Your body will thank you.

10. Peanut butter/almond butter and jam sandwiches.

Oh PB&J, how I do love thee. Sugar free jam is the way to go, and chocolate almond butter is like eating Nutella, only not.

11. Salads.

Yay for eating salads! Boo for making them at home though, I usually go out and have huge salads at restaurants because I am lazy and veggies go bad too quickly.

12. Indulgences.

I do indulge, like everyone else, from time to time. But when I do, it’s on foods/drinks that have some nutritional value, albeit very little, but not horrible in moderation. My food indulgences: biscotti (one piece and I’m done), cheese (as a topping for salads/eggs only), and Chipotle (sofritas salads for the win). My drink indulgences: diet soda (usually just one can/cup at a restaurant), Caffe D’Vita (a little sugar, but not a whole lot), and lattes with skim milk and sugar-free syrup (usually a weekend treat).

My diet could probably use a few more vegetables, but overall, I’m not depriving myself of nutrients and eating healthy portions. And yes, I do crave Twizzlers, cookies, cake, pizza, pasta, Starbucks, but not enough to cave and get them.

Here’s to getting in shape for the summer.

Oh, and welcome to my newest visitors from Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman. Apparently I’m big on the Arabian Peninsula; now if only the Yemenites would come and say hello.

2

The Worst Best Day of the Week

That would be today. Thursday. My classes this semester are Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and Friday, I have Shabbat, and on the weekends, I do weekend-type things like shopping and sometimes being social. So that leaves Thursday. Most people would enjoy the fact that they have one day a week with absolutely no regularly scheduled commitments, but I am not one of them. From Sunday to Wednesday, I pull out all the stops, reading like a fiend, writing responses, taking notes and taking names. By the time Wednesday night rolls around, I am exhausted but relieved that another academic week is done. I make a promise to myself that I’ll get a jump on next week’s reading this week by starting first thing Thursday morning…and then it doesn’t happen. What does happen?

  • Wake up.
  • Remember that there’s nothing in my plans today, so sleep a little more.
  • Get up, make a leisurely breakfast, and a hot or iced coffee drink.
  • Head to the couch to catch up with Mental Floss, Ellen DeGeneres, and Jenna Marbles.
  • Promise myself I won’t waste the day.
  • Proceed to read twelve BuzzFeeds, stalk some friends on Facebook, play a round of Word Strips, check my blog stats (welcome, Uganda!), do the New York Times crossword puzzle.
  • Promise myself that I’m done.
  • Remember that I never get to watch Survivor since I’m in class while it’s on, so catch up on that.
  • Convince myself that if I don’t leave the apartment now I won’t leave until dance class (By this time, we’re in the late afternoon).
  • Head out for “lunch” since I “just ate breakfast” (at 10 AM).
  • Do I have enough time to get to the gym? Maybe I’ll go.
  • How about the library? But I have too many books. Oh wait, I need to do some research for that paper. You know what, I should just write the paper. Let’s go home and think about that.
  • Dance class.
  • Get home, unwind after a busy day of nothing. Contemplate studying but usually opt for YouTube.
  • Look at the time, frantically make dinner, call parents, and think of a blog post.
  • Compose and post said blog, and promise self that it’s early bedtime tonight.
  • Proceed to stay up all night (well, 3 at the latest) doing – guess what? – nothing but the Internet, and usually end up feeling bad for myself.
  • Head to bed with a book, and read about five pages before telling myself that I need to get some sleep.

And that’s how I spend my Thursdays, including today. My sad life is sad. And even though I got nine hours of sleep last night, I’m still exhausted. Get it together, Jacob, because your palm is going to have a date with your face come Sunday night.

0

Dragon

For some reason, I’m feeling like a dragon today. As in…just dragon along. It hit me this morning – I’m just exhausted. This is not cool. The semester has barely even started. I don’t even have any assignments yet. Maybe it’s the weather. It’s way too cold to do anything let alone write a sentence (this one has taken me about five tries), yet today I dragged myself out to the gym, to two meetings, and Chabad.

And yeah, I’m heading out again now.

Excuse me while I live a little.

 

1

First Day Jitters…or something like that

First things first – thanks for all the visits and to my followers who now number in the triple digits for the first time.

Also, five new countries have come out to play over the past few days, so kalimera to Cyprusbienvenidos to Spainvalkommen to Swedenkyo tzo pa ti to Myanmar, and…to Nigeria, you are home to so many languages so I’ll just stick with welcome.

Today was one of those days I always dread.

Tomorrow is the first day of classes for the semester and I already have jitters even though it’s over twelve hours until my first class. Having only been back for four days, I feel totally unprepared. I haven’t even color-coordinated my notebooks, and after reading the syllabi for these classes, am puzzled at why I chose these classes, but I’m sure I’ll like them (or learn to).

But even worse?

The first day back at the gym after a hiatus.

It’s always the worst. You can lift a pin or swim eighty laps, but either way immediately afterwards you feel sick to your stomach. I know this, because it’s happened to me more than once. When I was an undergrad at UMass, I loved everything about campus aside from the gym situation. There were 2 gyms on campus and each were about the size of my apartment. You had to sign up for a treadmill hours in advance, sometimes a whole day during a peak week. So, I gave up on the gym since it was inevitably a 2-hour workout, with approximately 90 minutes of time spent waiting for machines and weights. In my senior year, a Planet Fitness opened up in Hadley, which was offering discounted memberships and oddly enough, pizza and tootsie rolls. The facility was massive and even during busy hours, you could easily find a treadmill. After my first workout there, I didn’t even make it home before I threw up on myself. And to make matters worse, I was driving at the same time, and then I stopped at a major town intersection and did it again. The only saving grace was that it was nighttime, but there was still a stain on the pavement in the Hillel parking lot for the next week or so (sorry about that – my shirt was in desperate need of being wrung out). At home in Baltimore, I don’t have access to a gym, only the weight room at the country club, which is pretty inadequate, but still, during a break from school and gym, after my first workout there, it happened again, only this time on the highway and in my mom’s car (sorry, again). Even when I attempted to start again after Lights Out and before the semester’s end, walking down the stairs at the SERF was an ordeal, and resulted in much dry-heaving in the bushes outside.

Today I ran and lifted weights, left the gym, went home and had dinner, and realized…

Nothing.

I beat the curse today! Yes, it was a freezing walk home, but at no point was there any nausea, or anything. I wonder what that means. Also, thinking about it, it’s only been about 6 days since I last exercised, so maybe my body isn’t totally in sedentary mode yet. Of course, that does nothing about my body image/how I perceive myself.

But at least I’m feeling fine.

Except for the foot I will put in my mouth after I puke during my first class of the semester tomorrow.

2

For Shiran, Who May or May Not Have Any Friends

Because my life is pretty much all work and no sleep right now, it’s time for a story.

Here’s another one from the Israel collection.

It was October 2009, and I’d been in Israel for a few months. During that time, my Hebrew improved somewhat and I also joined a small gym on Emek Refaim. I found out after several weeks though that another gym in town, Body and Soul, in Talpiot, was offering some more discounted memberships, albeit being a little further. I expressed interest, as well as some other people in the program, and someone submitted our names and phone numbers to the gym. A few days later, I get a call from an unknown number. I pick up the phone and I hear this.

“Hi. This is Shiran. Would you like to be my friend?”

Huh?

Um…I guess so? I don’t really know how to answer when someone introduces themselves like that to me on the phone. Here’s how the next part of the convo went.

ME: Huh?

SHIRAN: Hi, my name is Shiran, would you like to be my friend?

ME: Um…sure, yeah…do you have any other friends?

SHIRAN: No.

ME: (in a kind of sad voice) Awww…

SHIRAN: So?

ME: Are you sure you don’t have any friends?

SHIRAN: Yes. No. I don’t know.

ME: (silence) …I’m so sorry. That’s really sad. I’ll be your friend, but…how did you get this number?

SHIRAN: I am calling from Body and Soul Gym. Would you like to be a friend of the gym?

ME: (ding!) Ohhhhh, you mean a member of the gym?

SHIRAN: I don’t know.

ME: Ohhh, dear, that’s something very different.

SHIRAN: What?

ME: (in Hebrew) Is Hebrew better? I speak Hebrew.

SHIRAN: (In Hebrew) Yes. Would you like to be khaver kheder kosher (חבר חדר כושר)?

ME: (in Hebrew) Ohhhh, now I get it. Yes, I would, thank you.

Here’s the deal: In Hebrew, the word khaver (חבר) means “friend.” That day, I also learned that it means “member.” Same thing in Hebrew; two quite different concepts in English. Shiran must have been either very new or particularly unsuccessful with English-speaking clients, because one would think that someone would have pointed that out to her.

The conversation continued on as normal (as normal as one can get) in Hebrew. After I’d given her all my info for her records, I returned to the beginning of the conversation, and explained in Hebrew as best I could what I thought she had asked me in the beginning and why I was confused. And that I felt sad when she told me that she had no friends, and I laughed. She laughed along with me, saying in English:

SHIRAN: Oh, oh, yes, now I know. Okay.

ME: But you’re okay, right?

SHIRAN: Yes, I am fine.

ME: But you have friends, right?

SHIRAN: No.

(short pause)

I mean, yes.

ME: Um, are you sure about that?

SHIRAN: Yes, I think so.

ME: Okay, well, if you ever want to talk, just give me a call, okay?

SHIRAN: Sure. Yes. Okay. Bye.

ME: Bye.

And that’s how I joined a gym and met possibly the loneliest girl in the world (who, afterwards, I unfortunately never had the pleasure of meeting) all in the same day.

Or the most confused.

Either way, Shiran, this one’s just for you.

Oh, and if anyone is ever in the general vicinity of Jerusalem and can make a quick trip into Talpiot (just take the 22/22a from Central Bus Station to Bak’a and walk downhill until you hit Talpiot, or take the line to Givat Pat and walk uphill), stop by the Body and Soul Gym on Hamusachim 5, top floor, find Shiran and give her a hug, because she may or may not have made any new friends in the past four years.

0

Today

Was hoping that I could actually get it together today and post something before midnight, but I have to say that I had a pretty productive day today, otherwise, so I’m not perfect. It actually started pretty early as I woke up at 7:45 AM and ended up being relatively busy, with exercising, gym, geocaching, social interactions, all built in. And – check it – there was one thing today I wasn’t late for. Success.

I have a lot of nervousness settling in for no good reason. For some reason, while driving my car today, I kept feeling like I was being watched – maybe by God, maybe by a distant police scanner – I don’t know.

What I do know:

  • Get stuff done for BLT
  • Talk to YF
  • Start reading some plays
  • Start reading some more stuff
  • Take out the recycling
  • Clean up the apartment
  • Go to the post office
  • Generally stop being useless, even though I’m actually not so useless these days
  • Check in with J in a few days to see what’s up
  • Get some more ideas about blog posts
  • Finish some recaps
  • Write about my trips to Chicago and KC
  • Write about more geocache adventures

Aaaannndddd…that’ll probably last me for the rest of the year. I’m such a lost cause. But at least I got it all written down today.

Oh, and I watched the second episode of Siberia tonight, and most of what happened, I predicted! I am loving this show.