By the Numbers

I’ve never been great at setting goals. I know what I want to happen, but don’t set up any solid checkpoints to lead to those things. Instead, I just sort of see what happens. This go-with-the-flow nature drives people crazy if they are principled/regimented/controlling of their own environments and goals. It may seem like lack of ambition, but I think I’m just fairly easygoing and could be pleased with many outcomes.

The safest (and only) solid goal I set each year is my Goodreads challenge number. I estimate that I’ll read 100 books per year. This is doubtlessly a lot, but many librarians do this or more. The name flipping pages like mad comes from how much I read (or, read, past-tense). Currently, I’m 13 books behind schedule, and that gives me a small jolt of anxiety.

Last year, I failed my Goodreads challenge.

Actually, I didn’t make the goal for the previous two years either! (Despite padding the list with the occasional children’s book 🙂

These days, it’s more like flipping pages like meh. I’ve almost entirely given up on reading physical books, sticking only with audio. My reading has slowed down because I’m not in the library, because I was depressed and didn’t feel like doing anything this winter, because I now listen to more (drag) podcasts, and also because I’m doing other things! I think I have hobbies!

The most exciting of these hobbies is working out–not because I’m now a gym rat, but because my body is working better. Getting my blood pumping is the single best thing for my anxiety/depression, and I need to build strength and muscle that have atrophied from a lengthy disuse. For so long, I have had bad wrists, bad feet, and a bad back. I’ve avoided any exercise that would put stress on these areas. (This includes a lot of exercise.) I backed off because I was in pain, and didn’t try to test my body or do a consistent routine to build back muscle for fear of more pain. I shut down in the face of the obstacles.

It would have taken an actively fractured bone, though, to keep me from playing softball. It has finally resumed after 2 years lost to the pandemic, and I’m so happy about it! I had missed the camaraderie and the game in general. I was worried about throwing and catching hurting my wrists, and it did hurt, but not bad and not for long! The absence of extreme pain was a whole miracle.

One of my best friends who I respect and adore suggested that we tour gyms, and we both loved one and signed up. We are both anxiety-heads who were the only ones wearing masks in the gym we visited in December, but by May, we had accepted that our need to strengthen our bodies outweighed our tendency to avoid society/contamination. The gym offers free monthly sessions with a trainer, and I realized during and after, that my various bad spots weren’t hurting as much as I had expected/feared. The anticipation of fear was worse than the reality. I can even squat with a workout bar (albeit with a disappointingly low weight). The numbers are embarrassing to anyone who knows what they’re doing, but I’m thrilled I can even DO it without major pain.

It’s not about the numbers! It’s about the habits, and improving consistently. I’m making some goals, namely to workout twice per week. And the books I DO listen to, I enjoy. Recently, I loved Matthew McConaughey’s book Greenlights (who woulda thought!) and currently I’m listening to Luvvie Ajayi’s Professional Troublemaker. Even if I don’t catch up to my book goal, I’m reading quality, not quantity. Rest when actively injured, then get back to building strength, even if it hurts a little.

I Prescribe: Rupaul’s Drag Race

New blog, who dis? It has been a while since I’ve written consistently, and you may be asking yourself, what has she been doing instead? Great question! A smattering of happy things, a move, a winter’s worth of depression, a constant stream of desserts and viewing 13 seasons of Drag Race (and almost all 6 seasons of All Stars). Because working out does not appear in that list, I have also gained the ability to not fit into any of my pants. But more about Drag Race!

Late to the game, I started watching Rupaul’s Drag Race last summer. On the surface, it is the familiar format of a competition show, but for drag queens–raunchy and ridiculous, stupid and overly dramatic but chock full of heart. Watching it with my housemate is one of my favorite things because we are both self-decreed judges of all the looks and performances, and my fandom has brought me closer to and able to converse in new ways with many people I deem very cool. Being able to talk to cool people is a huge win if you have social anxiety!! The show is also a clear departure from my real life, as I am not blessed to know any real-life drag queens.

I’ve made a conscious point to talk up the show to as many people as possible. Do I think all of them will want to go watch it? No, and that’s okay. But recently someone asked why I find drag so compelling, and I gave a not great answer, so consider this my attempt to properly convey my rationale.

Prior to watching Drag Race, I had never been to a drag show. I was intimidated by the idea in college, and only in February did I get to go to my first show. I didn’t feel like I deserved to enter a queer space, and besides, drag queens seemed kind of obnoxious. John Mulaney has a great bit about how drag queens all generally portray the same type of woman: brassy and bossy and, well, kind of the personality of a man.

Drag Race is known as the Olympics of drag, and I now have a ton of respect for the art form. It takes so much skill to do the makeup, and create all the garments, and dance, and act, and perform in front of an audience in any way. They are talented, they are big, hilarious personalities, and above all, it’s the confidence for me. Many of the queens use this art form as a way to empower themselves and overcome their insecurities and demons. Though the judges (and fellow contestants) can be critical about what a queen has brought that week, Ru ends every show by asking ‘if you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love somebody else? Can I get a amen?’

The emphasis on self-love, body positivity, and finding a community that supports you is everything to someone whose confidence was cut off at the knees in 2020 and has felt split from the community that used to be family. The humor and humanity the queens show inspire me and make it (feel) worthwhile to have done little else other than watch this show for months. It has been escapism at its finest, and a gentle invitation to love myself while simultaneously trashing queens who do bad jobs. Definitely not a perfect pastime, but I do credit it with helping me pass the time during a depressive period. I needed my mind elsewhere, and Ru provided that. I would do well to channel the confidence and humor of a drag queen (a splash of their makeup skill wouldn’t hurt either).

In summary, if you need a creative diversion for your seasonal or not seasonal malaise, I recommend this television program.

In conclusion, spring is here! Pandemic life is starting to reopen and feel less scary. My social circle has started to widen again. I am able to focus on a topic and deem it worthy of writing a blog! I do retain the right to hideaway immediately hereafter, but.. say hello! I’ve probably missed you.

A snapshot of the excellence of drag 🙂

THE amazing Alaska Thunderf*ck 5000 herself. Her book is great–check out the audio too!

*also, one note: Ru is always a consummate professional, except for the one time she was being roasted and pulled a double bird (photo featured in this post). I feel compelled to say this sass is not the typical behavior from the host, but an exception.