Help Me Help Myself
It used to be, I'd go to the Y, get on the elliptical machine, and read. It took some practice--learning to position the book just right in the little plastic tabs that are never the right size, training myself not to bounce so I wouldn't get carsick, turning the pages without falling off. But I mastered the technique.
I annotated many a book of poetry during grad school while burning 600 calories an hour. I read Life of Pi, Middlesex, and While I Was Gone. I read every "Can This Marriage be Saved?" in the outdated Ladies Home Journals in the gym's magazine racks. I even revised a manuscript.
How prudent is that--exercising mind and body together? It was my badge of honor.
But over the holidays, our Y was renovated. They closed down the cardio room, so we were relegated to fighting over two squeaky Stairmasters and a stationary bike. They moved the free weights into one of the raquetball courts, where maybe 30 guys, from puberty to enlarged prostates, crowded into that small enclosed space with no ventilation. It was a BO-halitosis-fart sauna, and Biggy doesn't like to share.
We spent three months complaining, threatening to quit, lusting over the rows and rows of machines in the big storefront window at LA Fitness. Finally, though, the re-do was complete, and we were stunned by the results. Disney World colors, clean carpet, and a room the size of an aiplane hangar full of sparkling new machines. EACH with its own TV!!!
My first time in, I figured I'd try the TV thing and took my headset. I was only going to do it that once. Of course, Law & Order SVU was on, because it's on some channel no matter what time of day you search. It was the episode with Mare Winningham, where she plays a woman who's faking multiple personalities to get away with murdering her parents. The hour flew by.
The next morning, I brought my copy of A New Earth but noticed that the girl next to me was watching a Spin City rerun. I could never pass up a show whose cast includes alumni from Rocky Horror, Ferris Bueller, Family Ties, AND Melrose Place!
That was the end of February, and I haven't taken a book or magazine since.