Truth (In Step Counting)

“The goal is to take ten thousand steps per day, and once you do, it vibrates.”  “Hard?” “No,” she said. “It’s just a tingle.”

I bought a Fitbit of my own…Ten thousand steps, I learned, amounts to a little more than four miles for someone my size. It sounds like a lot, but you can cover that distance over the course of an average day without even trying…I was traveling myself when I got my Fitbit, and because the tingle feels so good, not just as a sensation but also as a mark of accomplishment, I began pacing the airport rather than doing what I normally do, which is sit in the waiting area…I also started taking the stairs instead of the escalator and avoiding the moving sidewalk…

To people like Dawn and me, people who are obsessive to begin with, the Fitbit is a digital trainer, perpetually egging us on. During the first few weeks that I had it, I’d return to my hotel at the end of the day, and when I discovered that I’d taken a total of, say, twelve thousand steps, I’d go out for another three thousand.  “But why?” Hugh asked when I told him about it. “Why isn’t twelve thousand enough?” “Because,” I told him, “my Fitbit thinks I can do better.” I look back at that time and laugh—fifteen thousand steps—ha! That’s only about seven miles! …

I was averaging twenty-five thousand steps, or around ten and a half miles per day. Trousers that had grown too snug were suddenly loose again, and I noticed that my face was looking a lot thinner. Then I upped it to thirty thousand steps and started walking farther afield…

I look back on the days I averaged only thirty thousand steps and think, Honestly, how lazy can you get? When I hit thirty-five thousand steps a day, Fitbit sent me an e-badge, and then one for forty thousand, and forty-five thousand. Now I’m up to sixty thousand, which is twenty-five and a half miles. Walking that distance at the age of fifty-seven with completely flat feet while lugging a heavy bag of garbage takes close to nine hours—a big block of time but hardly wasted. I listen to audiobooks and podcasts. I talk to people…

At the end of my first sixty-thousand-step day, I staggered home with my flashlight knowing that now I’d advance to sixty-five thousand and that there’d be no end to it until my feet snapped off at the ankles. Then it’d just be my jagged bones stabbing into the soft ground. Why is it some people can manage a thing like a Fitbit, while others go off the rails and allow it to rule, and perhaps even ruin, their lives? While marching along the roadside, I often think of a TV show that I watched a few years back—Obsessed, it was called…

For reasons I cannot determine, my Fitbit died. I was devastated when I tapped the broadest part of it and the little dots failed to appear. Then I felt a great sense of freedom. It seemed that my life was now my own again. But was it? Walking twenty-five miles, or even running up the stairs and back, suddenly seemed pointless, since without the steps being counted and registered, what use were they? I lasted five hours before I ordered a replacement, express delivery. It arrived the following afternoon, and my hands shook as I tore open the box. Ten minutes later, my new master strapped securely around my left wrist, I was out the door, racing, practically running, to make up for lost time.

David Sedaris, from “Stepping Out” in Calypso  (May, 2018)


Photo: Thad Zajdowicz with “Keep Walking

Branded

art-woman-kriste-alisauskaite

I’ve been thinking about purely private obsession, the grip of the wholly inexplicable. The claiming desire, some fascination –sometimes kink, sometimes compulsion– that puts down roots in your young skull and stakes a permanent camp. Some ceaselessly hectoring curiosity that won’t leave you alone, and ultimately defines you and how you’ll spend (or waste) your time and what you’ll want from your life. […]

“But in the end you become a hostage to who you are, to what you want, what fascinates you, what breaks you down, what holds you under; the sense you feel compelled to build, the truth you try so helplessly to construct, the who you ultimately and helplessly are. […]

– Brad Zellar, Branded


Notes:

 

me me me me me me

chocolate-chip-cookies

A couple of years ago my sister Judy and I were each given a box of truffles. The tiny print said two pieces contained 310 calories and there were six pieces in each box. We were seating in the bus heading downtown, quietly downing our calculations.  Judy was dividing by two and I was multiplying by three.  When she realized what I was doing, a look came over her face that was hard to describe. “I lost all hope for you,” she says now. The difference between us could not have been more clearly defined at that moment.  There are people who can eat one piece of chocolate, one piece of cake, drink one glass of wine.  There are even people who smoke one or two cigarettes a week. And then there are people for whom one of anything is not even an option.

~ Abigail Thomas, Thinking About Memoir


Photo: jaimejustelaphoto

 

Eat. Drink. One Woman.

lee-price-painting-breakfast-tub

Emily McCombs on Lee Price: Eat. Drink. One Woman:

If you look quickly at Lee Price’s hyperrealistic paintings, you might mistake them for photographs. But the 44-year-old upstate–New York artist would rather you focus on the subject matter than the technique, which is, for the most part, women and food. Price, who studied painting at Philadelphia’s Moore College of Art, has a long held fascination with the intersection of these two subjects, inspired by her own experience. “The food thing came up because I’ve had issues with food ever since I was very young, and body image issues. I was always very thin but always trying to lose weight,” she says. “They’re very personal paintings.” In fact, the images—bird’s-eye views of women surrounded by luscious-looking desserts or the crumpled wrappers of a junk-food binge—are all self- portraits, painted from photographs of the artist. The life-size works show Price, often nude or in underwear, in unusual eating situations, like sprawled across a bed shoving a pastry in her mouth or crouched in the bath tub holding a full pie. On one level, her work is about compulsivity: the aerial view is meant to conjure the sensation of watching oneself engage in a compulsive behavior and being unable to stop it. That aspect seems to resonate for many— Price often hears her work referred to as “binge paintings” or “bulimia paintings.” But she asserts that the images of women in repose surrounded by unrestricted portions of decadent treats can also be seen as a kind of liberation from the constant monitoring of food choices that so many engage in. “In this society, there’s so much pressure for women to be thin. We’re not supposed to have appetites—and not just for food, but for a lot of things. We’re the givers and not the consumers, and I think some of my recent paintings are about the women staring at the viewers and saying, ‘I’m not going to censor my appetite,’” says Price.

Read the full article and see additional paintings here: Eat. Drink. One Woman:

Check out Lee Price’s website here: leepricestudio.com

 

 

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