Showing posts from June, 2010

Magnificently Fluffy

The Writer's Almanac announced that today is the birthday of Czeslaw Milosz, my favorite poet, now deceased. Milosz wrote, "To believe you are magnificent. And gradually to discover that you are not magnificent. Enough labor for one human life." Yes. As always, I'd like to take this opportunity to apply life lessons to weightlifting. And vice versa. I hadn't benched over 95 pounds for two and a half months. I'm now eeking out eensy sets at 105--three, four reps. Two women who competed with me in March, who lifted less than me, kept working. They're way past my competition weight, and I'm way under it. Gradually to discover that you are not magnificent. Milosz should have added a line addressing the consequences of this discovery. Me, I'm fine with it, happy for my friends, always rooting them on. For reasons unbenownst to me (though I could wager a few guesses) I am called "Fluffy" by my trainer, and I've proudly added a prefix to th

Train A Child In The Way He Should Go

SIMON: At that party the other night, I was playing and some kid said to me, "That's not funny." I wasn't even trying to be funny! AMY: You should have said, "It also won't be funny when I bust your nose." SIMON: I wanted to say, "Maybe you don't have a sense of humor" --but I didn't think of it 'til later. AMY: "Your mama thought it was funny." SIMON: "Your mama is funny-looking."

Happy 17th, Lovey



The good folks at catapult magazine published my poem. I say "my poem" rather than "a poem of mine" because this is the only one I consider complete and suitable for public viewing. So go, public, and view it here . Then stick around for their rest of their summer issue.


On the wall directly in front of my desk is a string of six photos. No frames, just six 4x6s stuck up there with the blue gummy gunk that makes for easy clean up. They're successive shots of my final bench press of the last competition. A trainer at the Y said she knew I'd get 125 after failing on the first try, so unbeknownst to me at the time, she took these step by step action shots. Benchers must necessarily perform in a bit of an unattractive position, what with the legs splayed and whatnot; couple that with my facial expressions--comical but equally unattractive--and one might wonder why I've put these where they must be faced on a regular basis. Because they're a reminder. Of things worth remembering, many of which sound like chapter titles for an edition of Chicken Soup For the Weightlifter's Soul . Striving to be one's best; succeeding in unlikely venues; thanking God you remembered to wear the shirt that covers your midsection. One problem. The fifth p

The Son Assumes the Mother's Mantle

Flying High Now

While driving to my last boxing class this morning, I saw people jogging. Nice folks, a leash in one hand and a coffee in another. Others walking and talking. And I thought to myself: Why can't I exercise like normal people? Saturday classes at the boxing gym are notorious for their intensity and difficulty. And that's saying something because the weekday classes, which are 20 minutes shorter, can really kick your butt. Comments on last Saturday's class: "That felt like the time I ran a 10K." "I've been working out here for a long time, and that was the hardest class ever." "I was sick for three days." "I went home and laid on the floor so I wouldn't vomit." Personally, I had broken out in a cold sweat in the hot room and nearly cried. These were not what-a-hard-workout tears, but instead an all-systems-are-shutting-down involuntary reaction. Today was another tough Saturday, made manageable by the thought that it was the las

Transformation: (In)complete

The self-imposed Transformation Challenge is nearing its end. Dreamed up early one Sunday in May around 3:32am, the time each morning when I decide whether to lie in bed for the next several hours until I fall asleep again, or head downstairs, eat large, buttered matzos and write blog posts, the Challenge had something to do with carrying me between jobs and onto a beach in a bikini. A progress report, then, is warranted. I read five books. Night , a memoir by Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. Let the Great World Spin , a lovely novel by Colum McCann. Take This Bread , Sara Miles's account of her abrupt, wholly unexpected conversion to Christianity and subsequent opening of food pantries across San Francisco. And several novels by the always delightful Alexander McCall Smith. I self-promoted. I worked at getting my writing out there, to good effect. I boxed. Hitting the heavy bag is great fun; jumping rope will kill you. My cardiovascular endurance, in short, sucks. However, I&#

A Woman's Road to Ruin

Had the writer of this 1878 list in the American Christian Review addressed the issue of women boxing and bench pressing, I'd know exactly where I stand on the road to ruin. Alas, we can only follow the downward spiral of women who dared take up... croquet. 1. A social party. 2. Social and play party. 3. Croquet party. 4. Picnic and croquet party. 5. Picnic, croquet, and dance. 6. Absence from church. 7. Imprudent or immoral conduct. 8. Exclusion from the church. 9. A runaway-match. 10. Poverty and discontent. 11. Shame and disgrace. 12. Ruin. (as found in A People's History of Sports in the United States by Dave Zirin)

Going Ballistic

The makers of this video, "Muscles Used In Boxing," might have shaved thirty-some seconds off the length by changing the script to say just this: "All of them." Before my first boxing class, I was sure I'd walk into a major gun show. You can't beat an eighty-pound bag and not ripple, I figured. And then I met Michelle. "How long you been at this?" I asked her after class one day. No one talks during the actual class, because there's barely a second to catch your breath. If you're not punching, you're doing push-ups, or dips, or jumping rope. Or jumping lunges. Or frog walks. Or sit-ups. It's like gym class on crack. "Five months," she said. "I love it. Don't you love how you see results right away?" Now, I don't know Michelle's story. Perhaps five months ago Michelle weighed 200 pounds, but I doubt it; she's a spindly little thing. Twiggy little arms dangling at her sides. No apparent muscle tone

Craft Time with Amy

At, you'll find lots of great craft ideas for kids this summer. Party Pinwheels! Big Bright Bugs! And who can resist a Brilliant Butterfly Kite? Me. Although I'd like to be a crafty mom, it's not in the handmade cards for me. Rotting apple puppet heads aside, I've had many disasters in this department, both while employed as a middle school drama teacher and while sitting at home being a mom. Kids cried. In both cases. A mom's-hands-off approach works best, I'm finding. Children come up with their own craft ideas, creating one-of-a-kind items such as bookmarks decorated with hair they've chopped from one spot above their left ear. Two days before the start of second grade. As one example. Or they invent new, necessary enterprises, such as The Honest Paint Company. Unhappy with paint colors called such things as "Marine Reef" and "Smoldering Coals," the boys and I decided to tell it like it is. With a slogan declaring "th

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

I love that this guy can deadlift 700 pounds. I love that with so many plates, there's hardly room to clip them. The bar bending. Love it. I love that I was in the same competition as this guy. I'm in the right hand corner, and Theo is in front of me. I love that we're witnessing this together; we've made a pact to lift together once he hits puberty. The little guy in red and black who keeps walking past me? He benched over 500. I love that. And the guy frozen in the frame at the end: his goal, he told me, is to hold a raw egg between his pecs and crush it. "Nothin' but a good time/and it don't get better than this."