New Year’s Resolutions

Well, my cousin hasn’t left us yet… he seems to be more resolved to do his homework, I guess he’s trying his best to stay with us. There are some resolutions I need to face up to as well, and I started one of them today: getting back in shape.

I know I’ve written about it before on here, but outside of the occasional manual labor or aerobics (very occasional), I really hadn’t worked out for the past 8 years. We have a home gym thing (uses resistance bars), and my dad printed out some worksheets to keep track of what exercises and how many reps we would do (dad loves to make lists and be organized). I found my worksheet, and the last entry on it was dated January 31, 2007. Eight years… that’s a long time of telling myself I’d get back into shape and not following through. The only time I was really in fit condition was when I was 17, after I’d been working out the YMCA for a year. I was at my adult height of 6’4″ and I weighed 175 lbs., which I estimated to be less than 10% bodyfat. I could walk a mile in under 12 minutes, and for the first time in my life I was capable of doing pullups. I never quite reached the point of benchpressing my own weight (I peaked at 155 lbs.), so I won’t say I was an athlete or anything, just healthy and fit.

Now I’m 31, I weigh 209.5 lbs. (I know, not cause for alarm exactly, but I don’t want to develop a potbelly), and when I did aerobics (power walking) on the treadmill I covered 0.725 miles in 11 minutes (with a mix of steep grades thrown in) and I felt like I was about ready to die so I stopped there and caught my breath for several minutes. On the weights, I didn’t back off from the weight and reps from the last time I’d worked out (to be fair, that workout sheet in 2007 was after a long break as well), and I’m sure I’ll feel it in the next couple of days. Who knew lateral pull-ups could be so difficult? Anyway, I’ve decided that I’m too young to be feeling so old and tired. My joints might pop like a chorus of percussion, but being mobile is necessary to a longer (and better) life.

Another resolution is to get a new job, we’ll see how that goes. At least places are hiring right now, unlike the recession. Finally, there’s dating on the horizon… the potentially very near horizon. Wish me luck.

I get out the cereal
and vitamins
8 grams of protein in a serving of milk
250% of vitamin D in this tablet
15% of saturated fat
Omega-3s, dietary value not established
water to wash it down, 0 calories
and I go to the punishment machines.

Machines that remind you of a misspent youth
(and a misspent early adulthood to boot),
machines that make you punish yourself to great effect:
the less pain you feel, the more guilt sets in;
machines that mock your body, your stamina, your power,
yet you want to use them,
what clever torturers


Beginnings and Endings

The hardest part of a story to write is the ending; a close second is the beginning. I live with my parents, and for some months now they have taken on a 13 year old relative of mine who got himself into serious legal trouble. I’m pretty sure he’s in the Asperger’s part of autism spectrum, and I really don’t know if he was abused when he was younger but his behavior seems to indicate it sometimes. It’s definitely been an adjustment with him around the house, even as little as I see him. Once in a while we’ll play a game of Magic or he’ll show me the latest Lego engine he’s built, or occasionally I help him with his poetry homework, but for the most part I let Mom and Dad do the parenting and all that. I don’t pester him, he doesn’t pester me.

Well, he hasn’t been doing well in school; unfortunately, when you’re in legal trouble getting bad grades can mean a potential change of residence. Mom seems completely frazzled by him and the whole situation, and I think this will be the last child she ever takes on to help raise. For whatever the reason, she just doesn’t have the patience or tolerance that she used to; it makes sense she has less energy, that comes with age. Dad is also frustrated in his own, long-fuse anger sort of way I think; partly, I think he doesn’t know how to help him, to break through and get the kid to be more responsible and structured. Anyway, it is looking very much like we might be letting him go, possibly to go into foster care or a juvenile hall, maybe to get foster care from his aunt if he is lucky (and changing states doesn’t pose too many legal problems).

He’s intelligent, but he’s extremely passive-aggressive and noncommittal about everything, often choosing silence or saying “meh” if the conversation turns to anything even vaguely important about him and his fate, his life. Part of that is being 13 (I remember the awkwardness of 13 all too well), but there is definitely a wall built up, to the point that he rarely even displays anger. I remember preteens and teens as, well, volatile emotionally, and prone to rebellious outbursts. Even when you can tell he is irritated or angry he does his damnedest to cover it up.

I think he has improved since he came here though. He’s learned some about personal boundaries, about moderation (particularly with sugary food), about setting a schedule… just not enough. I feel that we’ve failed him in some way, that we weren’t willing to put forth the effort to overcome his learning disabilities (and potentially his past trauma), just as it seems he is unable or unwilling to put forth the effort to dig himself out of the hole he’s in. I don’t like throwing in the towel, but it isn’t my call to make. It could be the right call to make, and some perfect foster family will take him in and give him exactly what he needs to shape up… or it could be a disaster, and he’ll fall through the cracks in the system. I’m thinking about having one last serious talk with him to see if I can get through and get him to start the serious process of change, although I may be too late to save his living arrangement here based on the way Mom is talking.

My retail job has slowed to the point of being nonexistent, with weeks passing by where I am scheduled for one shift, or zero shifts. As far as I’m concerned I’ve been fired, and I may as well move on to new work, which I may find in Lexington. In the midst of this I’ve started talking to a lady (girl? she’s 26 I think) on a dating site just in the past two days, exchanged numbers, and might just meet up in person soonish. Beginnings are also difficult, but I’ve got to give it a fair shot. She’s cute, seems intelligent, and hopefully some chemistry will strike when we meet in person (I feel you cannot know your true reaction to someone without meeting them in person, so much is missing without vocal tone and body language). I have no expectations at this point, I’m going in with a blank slate and seeing what chalks up.

Time to sleep soon; better get that poem written.

Hidden memory,
agenda suppressed:
he rebels
with quietness,
passive resistance
– his insistence –
an inability
to stabilize.

Hardly works,
hardly expresses
his feelings,
day’s duresses,
playing hard
at pointlessness,
hellish judgment
he accepts.

Knows engines,
knows cars,
expecting he’ll
reach registrars;
neutral gear
defines him,
but hopefully
not reverse.

Webbing strands
entangle him,
bureaucracy holds
papers grim;
he retreats,
he disengages:
cocooning death?
Chrysalis stages?

Were I
his father,
I would,
sir, bother.
Were I
his brother,
I would,
sir, suffer.

I am
his cousin,
still better
than nothin’;
one last
college try
before farewell,
good bye.