Winter came late to our corner of the world, but it did make an appearance in the days after Christmas. Thursday’s storm left several inches of snow inland but we got mostly heavy rain and big gusts of wind, along with about an inch of the white stuff which for the most part failed to stick. Yesterday afternoon and evening’s deposits weren’t so quickly erased, though: I’d estimate we got about 4-5 inches, which would make it our first truly “lasting” snowfall of the season. I may just be growing old and senile, but I remember there being a lot more snow back in the day, even if I didn’t have to walk ten miles each way through it to get to school. Even now, though, there are some times here in New England when you have to interrupt whatever plans you may have had and just batten down the hatches at home for a while. Yes, you’re annoyed if you have somewhere truly important to go, but otherwise these rare moments of enforced relaxation can be restorative- and instructive, too. No matter how much we think our civilization has advanced, there are still times when mother nature has the upper hand.
I did two more workouts on an every-other-day schedule, and am gradually upping the intensity level. It’s funny how I seem to have lost more muscle tone on some parts of my body than on others. My arms haven’t changed a whole lot, judging by the relative ease with which I’m able to lift the weights during those exercises, but my chest (which wouldn’t have been mistaken for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s to begin with) is downright feeble. I don’t sense any changes in my energy level or appearance yet, but my goal right now is just to establish a routine so that once I go back to work, it’ll be ingrained enough to stick. In theory it sounds great. We’ll see what happens when the real world hits.
Yesterday I found the answer to my TV woes: I need a component video cable because my old ps2 is incompatible with the newer technology on my TV. I was warned that even with the cable the games and videos may look really bad, but for ten bucks (as opposed to over 200 for a PS3) I’ll at least take the chance.
While I was up in Portsmouth, I went to the Fox Run multiplex to see the new Abraham Lincoln movie. I think I was the second-youngest person there, which was scary in and of itself. I really did like the movie, though. Rather than being a full biography, it focused on the first few months of 1865 when Lincoln was trying to get what would become the Thirteenth Amendment banning slavery passed before the Southern states surrendered. Daniel Day-Lewis was a terrific Lincoln, and the movie itself showed all the different pressures he faced (hysterical wife, son who wanted to go to war, more-radical Republicans pushing for full Negro equality, and conservative Democrats trying to block the amendment altogether- not to mention the burden of bringing the war to a close). I think today we have the impression that Lincoln was more a statesman than a politicican, but the movie showed him getting down-and-dirty as he twisted the arms of wavering House members by various means, concealed information about the peace negotiations from Congress and used humor to defuse tense situations. I’ve often heard it said that Lincoln couldn’t be elected President today due to his homely looks and sometimes awkward manner, and that may be true, but I believe with the political skills he had, he would still have been an effective leader in a high position. And let’s face it, our country needs more leaders for whom style takes a back seat to substance. Abe Lincoln overcame his own issues and limitations to guide our country through a terrible time, and that’s why he’s one of my heroes.
I went to the gym today for the first time since my parents died. I had been dreading going back, but I knew at some point I would have to. I’d spent so much time looking after them the past few years that I had let my own fitness slide more than it should have. Of course, mom passed away 2 1/2 months ago, but school and the related routine provided just enough of an excuse for me to keep staying away. Besides the obvious health benefits, I also have some other incentives to get in better shape. My USTA tennis rating recently moved down from a 4.5 (think moderately-skilled teaching pros and former small-college players) to a 4.0 (think glorified hackers with a few ringers thrown in), so I’ll have a chance to be more competitive. Since that news I’d started practicing harder, a couple of times a week plus a North Shore League match most weekends, and I’ve gradually started to feel my endurance come back and my waistline shrink ever so slightly. Still, I need to up the off-court stuff too, so today I just went through 8-9 machines on light settings to get back into the routine, then did some cardio. This should be an interesting year tennis-wise and I want to maximize my potential (such as it is at 43) if I can. There’s also another, more distant goal. Someday (and I don’t mean “someday someday” but “someday within the next 5-10 years”) I want to hike the Appalachian Trail. Yes, the whole thing. I know it’s crazy, because at this point I’m only a day hiker who can’t even start a fire without clicking one of those gadgets with the long handles! But I’ve had a lot of crazy and not all that positive stuff happen in the past few years, and the idea of getting away from everything for six months and worrying about nothing beyond putting one foot in front of the other appeals to me in a way that I can’t fully explain. It isn’t something I can do right away for a variety of reasons, but it’s out there. I’d call it my white whale, but given how that ended up for Ahab, it might not be a particularly good omen.
Anyway, my goal is to write for 15-30 minutes at a time on here about my goals and the steps I’m taking to achieve them, and sometimes just about life in general. I took a little longer today because it’s something new to me, which meant in practice that I was reduced to staring at a blank screen for entirely too long. Eventually I just decided to start writing and hope for the best. They say the longest journey begins with a single step, and that’s what I took today.