Competing with yourself.

Instagram and pinterest have a bunch of obnoxious ~inspirational~ quotes floating around, but one that I have always tried to abide by is to not compare myself to other people — a sure-fire way to cripple my self-esteem — and instead use my own previous bests as benchmarks to meet or pass. “Comparison is the thief of joy” is not only an eye-rolling, trite sentiment; it also happens to be kind of true.

So imagine my levels of WTF when I realized that, after six months of actually trying to get back into some semblance of being physically fit, I am still nowhere near as strong as I was before being pregnant. I’m not even close to being as strong as I was during my FINAL MONTH of pregnancy.

There are a lot of reasons for this, and I could list a lot of excuses, and in the grand scheme of things, is this the worst thing in the world? Of course not. But it’s a hard pill to swallow when you realize that even when you are only comparing your current self to your former self, your joy is being thiefed (as it were).

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Best books I read in 2015

In no particular order.

A Little Life — Hanya Yanagihara (9/10): Super depressing, but finishing it felt like I had actually accomplished something (but did I?).

California — Edan Lepucki (9/10): I will always read a good (or even middling) post/mid-apocalyptic story. This was a good one.

Station Eleven — Emily St. John Mandel (9.5/10): Similar to California, but I actually preferred this one.

Gut — Giulia Enders (9.5/10): If anyone ever wants to talk about poop and/or how your digestive tract is/is not working, I’m here for you. This book was basically written for me.

A God in Ruins — Kate Atkinson (9/10): I mean, Kate Atkinson, right!?

Missoula — Jon Krakauer (9/10): I mean, Jon Krakauer, right??

The Night Guest — Fiona McFarlane (9/10): Really surprised at how much I liked this one.

Bird Box — Josh Malerman (9.5/10): I don’t generally read “horror” novels, but this seemed like a good representative of the genre.

Honourable mentions: Why Not Me? — Mindy Kaling; Lock In — John Scalzi; The Girl on the Train — Paula Hawkins; Strangers at the Feast — Jennifer Vanderbes; Step Aside, Pops — Kate Beaton.

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2016 Resolutions/general life goals.

Do these have to start tomorrow (the 1st), or can they wait until Monday (the 4th)? Just checking. (I am TOTALLY dedicated to these.)

I know that resolutions/goals are supposed to be super specific in order to make them more likely to be realized, and I don’t think that all of these are specific enough, but oh well. INTENTIONS, right!

PHYSICAL HEALTH:

  • Stop eating candy for dinner.
  • Stop eating candy at work.
  • Work out at least three times a week, and fit in a fourth workout every other week.
  • Do something physically challenging.

MENTAL HEALTH:

  • Take an actual vacation.
  • Be more positive.
  • How do I say this… Get right with death?
  • Start meditating for 10 minutes a day.
  • As always, write my novel.

MOM STUFF:

  • Take Mila somewhere interesting and special once a month.
  • Be a good role model so that Mila thinks that being happy and healthy is the norm, not an anomaly.

ALSO:

  • Find my HG mascara.

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Comparing yourself to a millionaire and other pitfalls.

Hours

HA HA HA NO I FUCKING DON’T. You think Beyonce took public transit to work today?

I recently unfollowed a popular Toronto-based “nutrition expert” when she started a post-baby “Get Back in Your Skinny Jeans, You Fat Moms” campaign (not the exact title of the campaign). This seemed to be a very off-brand choice for her — through social media, this expert has crafted an image that implies she ate and exercised perfectly throughout her pregnancy AND after giving birth, while always and only using all-natural, organic, HOMEMADE skincare and cleaning products. So why the hard left-turn from focusing on “health” to focusing on “skinny”?

(Also: give me a break. No one’s eating perfectly and making all their own products throughout pregnancy and while caring for a baby without having a tonnnnnnn of help (that, by the way, isn’t getting mentioned).)

The skinny jeans campaign and this stupid Beyonce meme all feeds into a culture that asks women, especially moms, that since we “have the same number of hours in the day as Beyonce, why aren’t we more like Beyonce, why are we sitting on the couch watching Adventure Time while eating sour patch kids, does that sound like something Beyonce would do with her hours, this is why you’re not Beyonce.”

Beyonce and her hours + the incessant drumbeat of “experts” who are way too eager to see moms in tight pants comprises another effort to shame motivate women to, I don’t know, get off their lazy asses and be more productive/eat better/exercise more/lose baby weight/use pinterest/buy mugs. Only the women though: there’s a reason why nobody’s talking about Jay-Z’s hours and no one’s trying to get his dadbod into skinny jeans. (The reason is sexism.)

(Actually, and capitalism.)

 

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2014 in review: Books.

In 2012, my goal was to read 60 books. I achieved that goal! I read 62 books! In 2013, I increased my goal to 70 books. I did not achieve that goal. In fact, I failed in 2013, and again in 2014. Meh, life goes on. But DEFINITELY I will reach that goal in 2015, because now I have a baby, ahem. REGARDLESS, here is my Year in Review: Books.

The 5 best books I read in 2014:

Hyperbole and a Half — Allie Brosh (10/10)

This book was super hilarious and I laughed out loud multiple times.

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia — Mohsin Hamid (9/10)

Hamid is suuuuuch a great writer. GREAT style. I liked The Reluctant Fundamentalist more than this book, but I liked Fundamentalist more than 95% of everything I read, so I’m not sure it’s a fair comparison. ANYWAYS, this was really good.

On Such a Full Sea — Chang-Rae Lee (9/10)

If a book review mentions the phrase “post-apocalyptic” or “dystopian future,” congratulations, you have found my kryptonite and shut up and take my money I will now check that book out of my local library.

The People in the Trees — Hanya Yanagihara (9.5/10)

Okay, here is the thing: I am super tired right now and I can only dimly remember this book but I know I liked it BUT I also can’t think of WHY I liked it so much, other than to say “I liked the plot.” Oh my god, this is what it’s come to. Earlier today I pronounced “Yosemite” as YO-zem-mite, so whatever, at least this is somewhat coherent.

Annihilation — Jeff VanderMeer (10/10)

OKAY! This book was AWESOME. Genuinely one of the best books I’ve ever read. So descriptive. It tried to make me feel nauseous, and guess what, it worked! I felt sick reading parts of this! That’s HOW GOOD the writing is! Also, there are a ton of fun, cool mysteries that are brought up! Questions are raised! But guess what! This is the first book of a trilogy, and a lot of those mysteries and questions are never solved/answered by/in the third book and that is super frustrating. Do you remember the TV show LOST? This book is like the first couple of seasons (SO good!), the second book is like the next couple (getting antsy, not much ‘splaining going on…), and the third book is like the last season EXCEPT instead of saying “purgatory,” it says “LOL you thought there was an explanation for that? That’s so cute!” AARGGHHH. It basically offers nothing, which is the author trying to say that some things are just unknowable. I GUESS!

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COME ON NOW

Jcrew

No, no. Don’t change a thing. You look GREAT.

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The 7 best books I read in 2013.

I only read 50 books in 2013. These were the standouts:

Non-fiction

Behind the Beautiful Forevers — Katherine Boo

[Subtitled “Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity,” this book looks at the lives of some of the people who live in a slum by the Mumbai airport. As sad as you would expect it to be.]

Salt, Sugar, Fat — Michael Moss

[If you are interested in nutrition at all (and/or enjoy junk food), this book will tell you why and explain how hard snack companies work to get you to never stop eating their products. Their delicious, tasty products.]

Fiction

The Interestings — Meg Wolitzer

[I think Wolitzer is the best person writing about interpersonal relationships today. I have no idea why she isn’t at least as popular as Jonathan Franzen.]

The Reluctant Fundamentalist — Mohsin Hamid

[This is probably one of the best books I’ve read in the past 5 years.]

Life After Life — Kate Atkinson

You Are One of Them — Elliott Holt

A Tale for the Time Being — Ruth Ozeki

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