back home! long entry… but there are naked people in it

Unfortunately, my computer is still ill, but since I am now home I can choose from several other computers! πŸ™‚ Joy. And hopefully my own computer will be fixed within a few days, though I’m not entirely sure I will be able to use it to access the internet here even after it’s healthy again. In the meantime, I think I owe you a journal entry. πŸ™‚ In my last one I made a short list of things to talk about, but first let me tell you a little about what I’ve been doing since I got home.

I intended to come home Thursday morning, yesterday. I figured I’d pack on Wednesday evening, maybe do a little light cleaning, and on Thursday I could clean my apartment and tie up any loose ends before going home in the early afternoon. But due to reports of inclement weather on Thursday, my parents thought it would be better to pick me up Wednesday night, so that’s what happened. My dad brought over food (true to form, he bought enough to feed twice as many people), and I packed, and he and Erik helped me clean up a little after we ate. I had to totally skip the intense cleaning I had intended to do, so now I’m hoping I will have a chance sometime in the next couple of weeks to go back to Berkeley just to clean. My apartment desperately needs it, and since a lot of my clutter is here, it would be a nice time to really get down to business. Anyway, we ended up arriving home around midnight. Not bad, considering we left around ten forty. The complete lack of traffic (indeed, cars) encourages me to plan for this departure time next time…

As usual, I haven’t really done much since arriving home, though I’ve been more active than I normally am. I’ve read two books (I think one of them may make its way to my book review page in a couple of days), done some Christmas-gifty stuff, gone to the library to get more books (although I already have about twenty I brought from Berkeley), cooked and eaten yummy food, and unpacked (yes, this is an accomplishment)–this involved a bit of panic when I thought I’d somehow lost or forgotten my entire cache of pens, which, if you know me fairly well, you should be able to understand. I also had a dentist’s appointment, which was kind of fun. I don’t enjoy the teeth-scraping in and of itself, but I do like my dentist and the people who work at his office. I’ve been going to the same dentist since I was, oh, four or so, and my sisters go to him too and both also had appointments today. It was practically a family gathering. In fact, in a sense it was, because his son now shares his practice, and his wife is (or was taking over for, for the day) the receptionist. We’d never met his wife before so that was fun. She’s very friendly. Also, I’ve noticed for about a year now that the people there like talking to me. I don’t know if it’s because they’ve watched me grow, because they just like talking, or because they jump at the opportunity to talk to coherent adults (he’s a children’s dentist, see?), but the past couple of times I’ve gone there I’ve observed that their behavior toward me is totally different from what it used to be. Last time I was unnerved because I’d been used to going there and getting treated like just any other kid, and being talked to as an equal was just too weird. This time I knew what to expect, though, so I enjoyed it. It is nice to be reminded politely, almost apologetically, about flossing, instead of reprimanded for it in the way adults tell kids they’ve done something bad. πŸ™‚

One other new thing I’ve been doing at home, which has been interesting, is going to the gym. Mommy recently got a membership to a local gym, and since there are special offers for guests of members, I have accompanied her twice, and Shra has been going ever since she got home on the fourteenth. I have never liked gyms or the idea of gyms. Too much sweat, too many people, a lack of variety, the unnaturalness of it. I don’t wish exercise to be a calculated thing: I go at this time, I work out for this long on this machine and burn this many calories. There are definitely good points, I have to admit (still somewhat unwillingly). I’m sure tons of people would never get any exercise without gyms. This somewhat applies to me as well. Since my family’s already going, I just tag along, and this does force me to get at least some exercise. Gyms are indoors, so I can’t use rain (or the possibility of rain… hehe) as an excuse for not working out. So I think I’ll probably continue going, at least until the end of this month when my guest pass runs out. I’ve only been there twice so far, so maybe that’s why I still feel like it’s a really strange experience. I think gyms say a lot about our society. We’re willing to pay lots of money for the privilege of, say, running on a treadmill inside, when we could run outside for free. Also, the environment really weird. I think it’s the locker-room thing. The exercise areas are completely co-ed, but the locker rooms are not. Before we work out, we go to the locker rooms, so we enter the big, intimidating, potentially embarrassing public area through the frame of a private, chummy, ‘it’s just us girls’ area. It’s a little like being in middle school again. Boys go here, girls go here, because boys and girls are not the same. And boys and girls aren’t supposed to look at each other, but everyone’s wildly curious about that foreign country, the other sex’s locker room. And the locker room in itself is a bizarre environment. As a society, we’re very puritanical when it comes to sex, but inside the women’s locker room everyone walks around completely naked. As if just because there are no men, it’s okay, even normal, to become a temporary nudist colony (I’ve read that the more p.c. term these days is ‘naturalist’ :)). Today, while we were in the locker room, my mom introduced me to a woman who turned out to be someone who knew me when I was in grade school. She was clothed, and I was (very) not, but we smiled and said hello and nice to see you again, and no one was weirded out, at least not outwardly. Being naked together in the locker room invites or requires trust between women, and the fact that men are not allowed in also invites or requires distrust of men by women, and vice versa. So when I walk out of the locker room I just feel weird. I don’t like sweaty middle-aged men to start with, and I don’t want to look at them or have them look at me. But when I come out of the locker room I am extra unwilling to be in the presence of men. I don’t know. It’s just really strange and unnatural to me. I want to be able to work out with either only these women I can be naked with, or with both men and women that I don’t have to see naked. Maybe I’m just really uncomfortable with nakedness. I don’t think that’s the case, but it’s not impossible. Another thing that contributes to this weird feeling is that all the stair stepper etc machines are on one side of the gym and the weights, dumbbells etc are on the other, and you can imagine there are a lot more women on the former side than the on other. Another re-underlining of supposed gender differences. Sorry, I’m hypersensitive to gender issues because of history 190. πŸ™‚

Another thing that bothers me about gyms is just the machines. The first day I went to the gym, I used a stationary bike type machine, and a treadmill. I don’t like working with machines, because I don’t always know how to work them and I feel dumb when I can’t figure it out. Like maybe people who can’t work the machines shouldn’t be here, and I should just go back home and do some frumpy low-tech exercise like walking the dog. And then when I do use the machines, I keep thinking about how many of those sweaty fat old men used these before me, which is gross. Not that the sweat of sexy young things would be any more appealing, not in the least. And even though no one is looking at me, sweaty old or sexy young, I feel exposed to the public gaze. It’s not just that I’m self conscious. I did not feel exposed in this way when I took a dance class, or a yoga class. I don’t know why, but the feeling is different. And I just plain don’t like exercising on machines because it’s so repetitive and they only work one part of the body at a time, and this to me feels jarring and tensing. I just don’t think this is the point of exercise. I want my mind to be engaged, and I want my whole body to be involved, and I don’t want it all just to boil down to a little screen that tells me: min 5, cal 24, rpm 90, hr 130 (minutes exercised, calories burned, rotations [of the stationary bike wheel] per minute, heart rate: for my age, 120 burns fat, 170 increases my cardiac endurance). If I’m fatter than some of the women in the gym, I’m not the fattest, not even the middle-fattest, and I’m probably a lot more flexible and in touch with my body than even some of the thinnest with the most endurance on the stair steppers. I wouldn’t mind working out less, with a workout I like better. Today’s workout was that. Better, I mean.

I took a yoga class (free with membership) with a very nice woman who was not super young or super thin, and all the other people in the class were at least thirty, probably at least forty. It was very gentle and relaxing (gentle because of the age of the other people, I think). Everyone was supportive and we smiled at each other in encouraging ways. Some of the exercises required touching/leaning on the other people, strangers, men and women, and that took away some of the feeling of isolation/instant intimacy that the gym gives me. The yoga mellowed me out for the whole day, which helped a lot at the dentist’s when they were teeth-scraping because I was able to just close my eyes and mentally go someplace else (I hate the sound that hook thing makes on my teeth!). I’ll definitely be going back for whatever yoga classes I can.

Despite my antagonism toward the gym environment and toward the machines, I know I’ll be going back to them. It does feel good to get some cardio exercise, since Pilates and yoga don’t really help so much with that. It’s invigorating even if the machines are jarring, and I guess I miss that invigorated feeling, because I used to get it every day when I did soccer, or cross country, or track. The machines also help me stay committed, because once I’ve entered into the little computer thing (the one that spits out calories burned and heart rate etc) that I’m going to work out for some amount of minutes I feel guilty leaving before the time is up, whereas if I just went out on the trails and ran I would probably stop before five minutes were up (not exaggerating, I have actually done this). And I like the locker room, nakedness and all. I like taking a shower right after my workout, and not having to bring anything because they provide towels, shampoo, body wash, conditioner, lotion, even hairspray, mouthwash and antiperspirant (spray-on), and hair dryers. I like that the water is always hot, and that there are plenty of showers so I don’t have to wait, so I won’t be getting cold water after someone else’s shower. I like the whirlpool and sauna, which make me feel luxurious. I feel really warm and clean when I leave the gym. It’s a good association. Exercise = fresh and glowing and pretty, not exercise = sticky, sweaty, dusty and stinky. I like that toasty feeling enough to want to endure an hour of treadmills and bikes and stair steppers, etc, to get it. So I’ll be going back, probably almost every day since Mommy and Shra go every day. And in time maybe I’ll get used to the weirdness. But maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll always find it weird, and in the end the statement this makes won’t be about gyms or our society, but just about me and the way I am.

What a long entry. Thank you for reading. πŸ™‚ I think I’ll wait until another day to talk about the other things. πŸ™‚

I just realized I talked so much about the gym it seems like that’s all I’ve been doing, and that wasn’t what I said earlier. Honestly, the gym only takes up a tiny fraction of my time. It’s only that my thoughts on it are so extensive. πŸ™‚

[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at]