Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Stray reflections on exercise and Sarah Palin

1. I am trying to be better about exercising regularly, but really, it is hard. Largely because I am convinced, deep down, that exercise is not actually good for me. The people who think it is are the victims of a false consciousness narrative inflicted on them in elementary school by adults who wanted to improve the dumb kids' self-esteem. You know the sort: the ones who tell you that you are all talented and special in your own different ways. So Isabel Archer might be a good reader, and that is her special talent! But Celia Brooke, over there, is a good runner, and that's her special talent! Oh, and Isabel, why don't you get out of the house and do something outside, as opposed to reading some more? To which I usually said, bah, let me suffer my early death and pry my Nancy Drew book from my cold hands then. This is not the healthiest attitude to have when I am huffing and puffing on Jacob's Ladder.

Also, I am prone to this day to suffer vestigial fits of self-flagellation due to excessive exhortation to respect the jocks' special talents. As in: okay, I get it. Being a good reader does not make me special or interesting. I concede that Celia is, in fact, interesting because of her special runner talents and deserving of self-esteem. If I am humble enough, will you please let me alone and go back to reading now?

Pnin occasionally chides me for having carried this habit into adulthood. I should get over it, now that I am not actually surrounded by any dumb kids. Okay, I am often surrounded by bureaucrats, but that is different. Well, sort of.

2. An acquaintance of mine from my last job, who sometimes links to her blog on Facebook, put up a rant a few months ago which included a broadside against people who read while working out. I submit that this is an entirely defensible practice, on the grounds that I don't know where else I can read Sarah Palin's book. Note that I do not actually expect Sarah Palin's book to be interesting, insightful, or especially good. But I nonetheless feel compelled to read it because, hey, I might be wrong about any of the above.

And even if I am not, it will be fodder for a good snarky blog post and/or cocktail party conversation. I am always in need of material for snarky blog posts. Also, I'm not good at cocktail party converstion, because it tends to require knowledge of sports, movies, reality TV shows, and the love interests of celebrities. I manage in such settings only because I care about politics, and I am a lawyer in D.C., so being unable to talk about topics other than politics in social settings is not exactly a critical handicap. But that does mean I have to know my lone conversation subject of choice well. I don't know what I'll do if Pnin ever gets a lateral offer anywhere, of course, but that's a whole other matter.

Back to the Palin book: I will not feel guilty about reading it if I am doing something else that I would normally be doing, like working out on elliptical machine. It does seem, however, wrong to just read it in my usual red armchair in the living room before I go to sleep, or on a weekend morning before Pnin wakes up. That would be an undue insult to an armchair that I like and that has stood me well through time. I could read it on the Metro, but then people might want to talk to me about it. And I will not feel like disagreeing with people whom I only have just met on the Metro. If I am engaged in even semi-strenuous physical activity, however, people are less likely to engage me in conversation about it.

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