“I’ve been under a lot of pressure at work lately and watching TV when I get home each evening helps me unwind. Unfortunately it also keeps me from getting an optimal number of chores done around the house, but it’s a small price to pay for stress relief.”
11/17/15 webpage post
It’s no secret that I love television. (Over just the past year I’ve written posts about X-Files, MST:3K, Doctor Who, and Once Upon A Time. It’s enough to make me think I need to pick up another hobby.) But after the spring finales of my favorite shows earlier this year I didn’t have much to watch. That turned out to be a good thing. I was running several times a week and going to the gym just as often so there wasn’t a lot of time left over for zoning out in front of the TV. In the evenings I often turned on episodes of the Simpsons on FXX, but even then I was busy doing other things around the house at the same time. There was very little parking myself on the couch and focusing all of my attention on some show or another. And it was a great summer because of that. I just didn’t know what was going to happen when the fall premieres rolled around. At first I was determined to reduce the number of shows that I record and watch every week. Without a new season of Doctor Who until next spring (except the Christmas special which I am anxiously awaiting), I have very few must-watch programs. In fact, Once Upon A Time is just about the only one. Weeknights always seem so short so it’s nice to not feel like I don’t have any more demands on my time and energy. So my first thought as the fall season started was to stop recording all of the CW DC Comics shows – all four of them! It’s not like I’m all that invested in any of the story lines, and freeing up four hours per week was a nice bonus. Too bad I never followed through. So far I’ve been saving the new episodes of Flash, Arrow, Supergirl (I’m still catching up on season 1 on Netflix), and Legends of Tomorrow for weekend viewing. They are the perfect entertainment while I’m recuperating from a long run, like the Long Beach half marathon last weekend or Surf City 10 this morning. I was fooling myself if I thought I could easily abandon anything superhero-related. I’d like to respectfully request that none of the networks launch any new shows in that genre any time soon. I know it’s wishful thinking given the popularity these days, but I don’t need to watch any more TV than I already do!
I live in a quiet little beach city in Orange County. Believe it or not, places like that do exist in the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles! It’s a lovely place with a small town atmosphere. I’ve been running around here regularly for over three years now and I’ve gotten very comfortable with my usual 3-mile loop. There aren’t a lot of cars to watch out for, other pedestrians are generally very polite, and running by the Pacific Ocean never ceases to amaze me. My running apparel is pretty typical for a woman – tight-fitting shorts or pants and fairly close-fitting shirts. Comfortable, but nothing crazy. I don’t wear short shorts (I’ve got a thigh situation going on that could start a fire if I did), I don’t show any cleavage (I’m paranoid about getting sunburned), and I don’t bare my midriff (believe me, no one wants to see that). But for some reason this year I’ve gotten a lot of catcalls while I’m out running. It’s not that I’m some great beauty or anything. I think men mostly use catcalling as a power play to assert their perceived dominance. But even so, it seriously pisses me off.
One evening this summer I ran past a group of three young men, either in their late teens or early twenties, and one of them yelled at me. I can’t remember exactly what he said, but it was something like, “Yeah baby!” I was so shocked that I almost kept going, but then my temper flared and I stopped. I just couldn’t let something like that go. It doesn’t matter what a woman looks like or what she’s wearing. Nothing makes that kind of behavior OK. If the boys had been older, larger, or more intimidating I might have just kept going and hoped they didn’t escalate to something worse than catcalls, but knowing my audience gave me a little confidence. I wanted to have words with these young men who decided to yell at a stranger who just happened to cross their path. I suspected that the guy who shouted at me was trying to impress his friends, but that made me think I could have some influence on the situation and perhaps change his behavior in the future. I turned around and said to him very firmly, “No! You do not say that to women, do you understand me? That is not OK.” The looks on their faces were priceless. Their eyes were wide, their mouths hung open, and I’m sure they were thinking, “Oh shit! What have we done?” They obviously expected me to take their abuse and let the disgusting behavior slide, but they chose the wrong victim that day. I was older, fiercer, and more ticked off than they anticipated! The boys didn’t say anything as I resumed my run. I sincerely hope I made a difference, and that they reconsider catcalling a woman again.
There’s another perhaps more sinister side of this story, though. A few days later I was chatting with a some co-workers, both males and females, all of whom are at least five years younger than I am. I told them this story and got a reaction I didn’t expect. One of the men simply said, “Bitch.” He laughed afterwards like it was a joke, but it still made me feel as if someone had punched me in the gut. Do those boys and men who catcall me think the same thing? I’m certainly no bitch for not appreciating unsolicited sexual comments, but somehow society has convinced men that they deserve a woman’s attention no matter how badly they behave. My male co-worker’s explanation was that I should have taken the catcall as a compliment. I didn’t even know how to respond to that kind of ignorance. As if men should be able to say whatever they want about a woman’s body or appearance and we should simply blush and be thankful? Wrong! Luckily one of my female co-workers interjected with, “But catcalls aren’t compliments. That guy could have just said, ‘Hello,’ or something. There are better ways to talk to a woman.” Exactly right. So to any man who says ridiculous things to me when I’m out running, don’t be surprised when I flip you off. I’m simply returning some of the disrespect that you gave me. And if you shout, “Fuck you!” after I refuse to be flattered my your misogynistic attention then my initial negative assessment of your character will be confirmed. You’re the one who should be ashamed, not me.
Last Sunday I decided to go to Disneyland. I hadn’t been to the parks since before Labor Day (pre-Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend) and I was beginning to suffer from withdrawal. I was hoping that September meant I could wear some jeans, but unfortunately the forecasted high for Anaheim that day was 104 deg! It was going to be the hottest day we’d had all year (after our mostly mild summer). Since long pants were out of the question I pulled out a pair of shorts that I bought earlier this year instead. But when I went to put them on I was thrilled to discover that they are way too big! I had to dig deeper in the drawer for a pair of shorts from last year (pictured in the above photo at EPCOT last November), and even those were a little baggy. That was an amazing feeling. I knew I’d definitely been more comfortable in some of my old clothes recently, but the shorts were a surprise. I didn’t realize I’d changed that much already.
On Labor Day I started Nutrisystem. In spite of lots of exercise (obviously a lot of running and, more recently, the addition of weight training) and what I thought was a relatively healthy diet (except for my soda addiction) I hadn’t had any luck dropping the weight I gained last year when I hurt my knee. My body was just clinging to the extra pounds and none of the small changes I’d tried seemed to make any difference. I knew I had to do something drastic to jump start the weight loss process. So one day I took the plunge and place my first Nutrisystem order. I really had no idea what I was doing, but I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. I started the meal plan the day after the Disneyland Half Marathon and started getting results immediately. I won’t lie, I was hungry ALL THE TIME, but I lost a pound a day during that first week. It was like a miracle. The weight loss has slowed a bit since then, but I’m keeping at it. Based on how much I exercise I eat a little more than the system allows, but I think it’s necessary. The other day I realized that some of the new pants I ordered from Old Navy recently (during a 50% off Labor Day sale online) were feeling loose. Not like I’ve lost a full pants size yet, but I might be getting there. Will I be disappointed if all of my brand new pants don’t fit in a month? A little, but I’ll be much happier being smaller and lighter than I’ve been in about a year and a half. And running will be easier too. We’ll see how it goes!