Not too long ago my youngest started school, which means I have a bit of extra time on my hands. So, I did what any responsible stay-at-home mom does who has six kids to put through college, plus the drive and ambition of a Ford Pinto (the only car I know of named after a bean—presumably because it looks and moves just like one): I started a new hobby. Namely, walking.
I chose walking because I was tired of describing my “art” as “minimalist,” (it was stick figures) and excusing my piano playing with “Oh, I have only been playing for about a year now”—for the last 30 years. (Never got past Alfred’s basic piano level 1, “The Braying Donkey”.) But basically anyone can walk, even if you are the kind of person like me who regularly trips over your flip-flops. Or cracks in the sidewalk. Or mites.
Even so, don’t think walking is, well, a walk in the park. As I mentioned previously, I have squeezed 6 largish heads through the “birth canal,” which term was obviously coined by a man. A woman would have called it the “tiny tube of torture,” and after sending 6 bowling balls through it, my hips have developed this happy little crevice right where they should be joined together, which not only means I am now structured exactly along the lines of my stick figure drawings, but it also makes unimportant activities like walking, standing, sitting, and sleeping a serious challenge.
But I decided I needed to walk anyway. Part of this might be because of the happy surprise I didn’t know comes as a 40th birthday bonus—a built-in life preserver, right where it should be if you aspire to be the only human who can float vertically. Contrary to what should be a no-brainer, I wasn’t given a life preserver filled with air. In fact, when you squeeze it you can clearly see that it is a clumpy mass of 2 parts twizzler bites and 1 part shrimp crunchy tempura sushi roll. I also chose walking as my hobby because there is no way in Hades I will ever be caught running.
Running is a pastime that continues to be touted by runners as the most fun you can have while still dressed in your handkerchief-sized-but-still-cost-more-than-a-small-island running shorts, but I am sorry to say that I don’t believe it one bit. One reason for my skepticism is the pained look of misery on every runner’s face that I have ever seen. My face does something else entirely when I am having fun, but I suppose that could just be me. The other reason I refuse to run is, frankly, silly and frivolous and I probably shouldn’t even mention it, but it is the holes I pound into my knee-caps with my shin bones every time I forget myself and try it.
Not that I have a monopoly on pleasant expressions while walking, either. Mostly, the concerted effort it takes to keep my hips together makes me look constipated, but I do try to put on a nonchalant, “I am just out on a lovely stroll because I want to be” face whenever someone walks or drives by me. The ones who RUN by me can’t see me for the burst blood vessels in their eyes, so I don’t even bother with them.
One advantage to walking is that I don’t need those cumbersome, noise producing headphones that runners use to keep pace, because I can just walk to the beat of my creaking pelvis. Think squeaky door opening and closing over and over again for at least an hour, but with not near as much sweat.
Luckily for me, though, I live in central Indiana where you don’t have to sweat because the marble-sized air molecules do it for you. There have been times where I thought I might actually get better headway if I used swimming motions as opposed to the usual fist and leg pumping, but It would be awfully tricky to look care-free and nonchalant while breast-stroking through the air.
On the days that I don’t have to be scraped off the asphalt, I go straight home to start my second new, exciting hobby: Staring at myself in the mirror. This is exciting because as I gape at myself I can watch, if I focus for at least half a nano-second, as individual twizzler bite and sushi roll globs double, even triple in size! It is fascinating! In less time than it takes me to walk out my front door, let alone struggle through the four miles that are supposed to be shrinking my mid-section, I have added a quarter inch to the roll around my waist! What entertainment! What naked bliss! What bitter irony.
When I have finally tired of this exhilarating view I hop into the shower, feeling pride in myself for using my newly acquired time so productively.