Tag Archives: health

What I’ve learned from speed-walking to work in San Francisco

Speed walkingSome people drive to work. Others bike or hop on the train, bus, light-rail, or ferry. Still others run, walk, scoot, or rollerblade. There are, perhaps, a few that cartwheel, skip, grapevine, ride a hovercraft, tesselate, or apparate.

But it is a small minority indeed that speed-walks to work. In fact, from what I can see, I’m the only SWLKR, making me the Bay Area’s foremost speed-walking commuter.

Speed-walking is like walking, except faster and dorkier. I like to keep my arms up and moving at a brisk pace to avoid finger swell, one of the foremost dangers of long periods of speed-walking.

As the Bay Area’s expert SWLKR, you probably have a lot of questions for me, and these I am happy to answer if you leave them in the comments below.

For now, I give you 10 tidbits, just a sample of the mind-juice I’ve squeezed from my walking grapes.

1. No one else speed-walks to work.

2. Speed-walking past someone is, by far, the most awkward way to pass someone. Especially if there’s a stoplight coming up. And they’re your co-worker. And you stand behind them because you don’t want them to see you in your tennies and backsweat. And then you walk at a normal pace so you don’t have to talk to them, but end up taking the elevator with them anyways.

3. Speed-walking up a hill makes one look just as foolish and out of shape as running on a flat stretch of land.

4. Speed-walkers get more love from the general public than other kinds of commuters. To date, I’ve gotten two thumbs up, countless smiles, and one (friendly) comment.

5. If you’re speed-walking, it’s a shorter step to running across the street to avoid waiting for a red light than if you’re just walking.

6. Wearing tennies, athletic capri pants, and a backpack in downtown San Francisco at 7:45 am in the morning is a great way to avoid fitting in with the corporate culture or getting respect from people who dole it out based on appearance.

7. Sweat still happens, but like most liquids, it dries.

8. People are often frightened by speed-walkers, the bizarre combination of quick but not-too quick movement that makes them think someone’s trying to sneak up on them but no it’s just me, your friendly office employee heading downtown to do some thought work.

9. There are three major hills I have to overcome as I head into town from the Richmond, but they don’t always pay off in beautiful views. Rather, the views come when you least expect them, like when I saw the Golden Gate bridge randomly yesterday and a rainbow today.

10. Beauty is everywhere. I saw a bird fly from a blossoming tree branch as two flowers fell to the ground and thought it was incredible. Then I realized what a romantic sap I was and that I probably shouldn’t share that moment with anyone.

11. If you keep your eyes open, you’ll see something new everyday. And I think that’s the most important lesson of all.

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The Pros and Cons of these Trader Joe’s Cats Cookies I Bought Last Week

Destructive and beautiful.

Pro: They’re delicious.

I’m more than satisfied with the cookies’ taste, which has a good amount of cinnamon and is sweet but not too sweet. The crunchiness is quite appealing, yet I never feel I have to work too hard for them to give up their tasty inner-workings.

Con: They’re delicious.

Damn these cookies! They are so small that it feels to me each one merely introduces the depths of their tantalizing flavor! It never satisfies the cinnamon hunger that it awakes. But I can never move past the initial “hello, I taste great.” One cookie is just enough to pique my taste buds and get them wanting more. Always more! Madness!

Pro: They’re small.

I think “oooo! I’ll just have about three with my coffee and that’s the perfect snack size for 5 o’clock coffee. Just three small, crunchy, cinnamon cookies from the huge container I keep right on my desk, right within reach. No more, no less. This is great!”

Con: They’re small.

They’re too small! They’re so small I can always have another one, or at least think that I can always have another one. What difference does one more tiny cookie make? What about five more? Twenty more! INSANITY!

Pro: They’re numerous.

For so many cookies, they were certainly a steal. 15 cookies is one serving, and there are 15 servings in a container which means 225 cookies, which would last me over two weeks if I just ate one serving a day. Wowzers! So cheap!

Con: They’re numerous.

There’re so many of them I can always convince myself that just one more cookie won’t hurt, that the actual level of cookies in the container will never go down, that the supply will never be depleted, even though I know, beyond a shadow of a glimmer of a doubt, that these cookies are numbered and they surely will end, and just as the earth itself is counting down its days to the final destruction when the sun blows up in billions of years, so will these cookies end, because there are at maximum 230 cookies in there, depending on weight discrepancies.

But my dumb psychology tells me that one more cookie has no real effect on the sum total of the cookies, even when there is mathematical, scientific, arithmetic proof that it does, but this is the Cats Cookie madness, and it is inescapable. My only hope now is that the cookies are gone in less than two weeks, which they surely will be, and that I don’t have enough motivation to drive all the way to Trader Joe’s again in order to purchase them, which I would likely do in a moment of weakness because I lay in their thrall. Help me.

Cookie anyone?

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Please Let Me Watch You Eat

A million donuts? Two? When would they be satisfied?

The Olympics is a nationalistic meathead’s dream. Every four years, thousands of top athletes from all over the globe gather and bodily compete with one another, determining the greatest countries through sheer sweat and muscle, swimming, rowing, clawing, and back-flipping to the top of the doggy pile and victory dancing on the bodies of lesser countries. Thousands of pounds (kilos) of muscle writhing with one another in a city famous for tea and stony-faced soldiers: what fun!

Regardless of which Olympic event I’m watching, my reaction is always the same.  “Whoaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh……………they’re so fast.” If I were an Olympic broadcaster, my narrative would go something like, “This woman is very fast, Bill, very fast. Did you see how fast she’s going? You know what, they’re all really fast. They should all get medals. Bill, the last time I ran, my knee started hurting after about five minutes so I stopped and went home. I’m 23, Bill. That woman is 39 and she is going very fast. Let’s go get her a medal.”

After going gaga over the sheer speed and athleticism, the fact most of these people could outrun various wild beasts and then spear them and carry their carcasses to the nearest hibachi grill at full sprint, I immediately move to the next logical topic of rumination: how much they eat. Seriously, how much food could a team of male gymnasts consume? Or female swimmers? What about the long-distance runners when they’re gearing up for a race? These “humans” are made entirely of muscle and work out for 90% of the time. Their caloric intake must be huuuuuge.

My Olympic dream is something quite simple: I want to go to an Italian restaurant with a group of Olympians, male and female, from all different sports. I want to point to the menu, say “We’ll have everything.” Minutes later, the entire staff of the restaurant emerges carrying silver platters loaded with mountains of pasta. And then I would watch, in awe, as the hungriest people in the world ate.

What would it be like? Would people lose limbs and wear protective goggles to prevent eye injury? Would they be civil but determined? How fast would it take to demolish the food on the table? When would they be hungry again? I have so many questions burning inside of me. Each time I turn on the television, they strike me again with the force of a discus. I see a man running, I wonder what he ate that day. I see a woman playing water polo, I imagine her going to town on eight big macs for breakfast. I MUST KNOW THE TRUTH.

We all know that the only true benefit of exercising is being able to eat more without gaining weight. Is the whole “Olympic” thing just a way to mask these people’s food addictions? And is there enough food in London for them to feed hordes of hungry Olympians? How much pasta would it take to satiate their appetites?

I exhaust myself with questioning. Perhaps I will never know. I turn to my oatmeal, and eat quietly.

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Today I Wear Underpants

This photo is only half staged.

Warning: much exaggerated complaining followed by lighthearted ending. Use this information well.

It’s the last week of school and I am a disheveled shadow of a human. My aspirations of being fluent in Arabic have turned into the desire to live through the final day of my program, which is today.  Monday was not good. I woke up eight minutes before class feeling like death incarnate and rushed out of the house pen-less and still wearing my bed hair.

I had ten minutes to prepare for a presentation that was 20% of my grade. Luckily for me, I decided earlier this semester  that I don’t believe in grades. I ate 14 raw almonds for breakfast during class and afterwards wolfed down a falafel sandwich before taking a four hour nap, waking up just in time to skype with mother who silently judged me for my apparent sloth.

I felt defeated as usual here in Cairo, and I’ve come to realize that this city has utterly wiped me out and used me like a plaything.

My program ends today and I return to the states in a mere 2 weeks. I should be happy, but ahead of me looms a formidable job hunt in one of the most expensive cities in the world. This life-consuming job hunt must take place in the same month that I plan and attend a bachelorette party, a bridal shower, an afterglow brunch (ew), a  boyfriend’s visit, and a family vacation in which I’ll be forced to leave my mountain grove and actually socialize.

I’m looking from a place of exhaustion forward to months of exhaustion with no apparent end.  I’m staring from a position of defeat towards a future me curled on the ground with HR representatives kicking me in the stomach while chewing up my resume and spitting it at me. Things look grim.

In times like this, I can only do one thing. I take out my planner and write down the secret that will give me the strength to go on and conquer my fears and climb the mountains and brush the hair. At the very top of my to-do list I write “wear underwear.”

Can two words change a life? Yes.

After donning my underthings, I cross off the first task on my to-do list and breathe deeply while I look at the twenty things I have left, my rear end carefully caressed by a familiar pair of unmentionables. Yes, today is my day. I’m beginning the rest of my life and I’m wearing underpants.

You, world, may be tough and you may have well dressed people who don’t want to hire me and you may have chatty cousins that distract me from the book I want to read but I, dear world, am wearing underpants and anything is possible.

Who wears the underpants? I DO! Who’s not afraid? I’M NOT! Who’s going to stop crying and leave her mother’s closet today? ME!


P.S. Things really aren’t that bad. I’m going on vacation to Ethiopia today. Yay!

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The Secret World of the Early Bird (With a Twist)

Glasses: Coming Soon!

As an greasy adolescent, I loved pop tarts and staying up late, savoring the hours between the famfam’s bedtime and first period, a time in which the house became my own and I could watch Conan O’Brien and throw things at the dog when she snored too loudly. Because of my bizarre sleep schedule, I was always exhausted yet I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I felt like there was something special and mysterious about the nighttime and it evaporated when the sun came up.

I continued in my nighttime ways in college for about two years but then, somewhere around my junior year, things began changing. I lost my night owl hoot and my predatory ability to spot small rodents hiding under ferns, exchanging them for a bright chirp and a pair of metaphorical study glasses, which is the standard uniform of early birds.

I actually began to enjoy the mornings and….

“Excuse me?”

….I would make myself breakfast, which was usually yoghurt and granola. I especially liked a local brand…

“Um….excuse me, Emily?”

…that was called Harvest Gold or something like that. I think it cost 3.99 a box but sometimes it was on sale for forty cents less and on those days I bought two of them…


“What? Yes? Can I help you? Actually, could you wait a second, I’m trying to write a blog post.”

“Yeah, I can see that. I just wanted to let you know that it’s a little boring. Like, so far all you’ve said is that you used to be a night owl but then you turned into an early bird. Big whoop. I used to wipe my butt with Charmin’ toilet paper but then I moved out of my parents’ house and had to buy generic. Is that interesting? No. That’s why I don’t blog about it. And when I stopped you, you were just going on and on about what kind of granola you used to get in college. I mean, really? Do you tell everyone about your breakfast fixations with such detail, or just the people want to torture?”

“…..well eventually I was going to get to a funny part about all of the other things that early birds get in addition to the worm. I was going to say that all of us high-five Obama and get morning massages and free lattes—isn’t that kind of creative? I mean, just picture a bunch of reading-glasses-wearing early birds high fiving Obama.”

“I’m not even going to comment on the syntax of the last sentence. And no, that’s not that funny. Besides, there’s no way those meager hahas outweigh the pain I had to endure when you were telling the whole world about your favorite collegiate granola. And do I even need to mention the fact that the concept of this entire blog post is quite similar to the post you did last week on how your blog became self-aware?”

“That’s true, but there are some pretty significant differences. For example, you’re clearly my better self and not the self-aware version of my blog.”

“And as your better self, it’s my job to tell you when you’re just doing your best, which is not nearly good enough. You’re welcome. Anyways, I’ve got to go. I’ve already worked out today but I’m just about to go run and buy some local produce to make a delicious, healthy meal for myself. I need to be in top shape for my job as a high flying writer thing.”

“Yeah, I get it.”

“No, you don’t. But that’s okay. Maybe one day you will. Good luck with the post—here’s a tip: make it interesting and funny.”

“Gee, thanks.”

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