We are what we say we are.

Well, it’s looking more and more like Hurricane Sandy is going to make North American landfall somewhere in my general vicinity. (I’m about an hour west of Boston and an hour northeast of Hartford, and the best-confidence storm tracks put landfall between Delaware and New Hampshire.) Possibly with a recreation of the unusual meteorological circumstances that created the Halloween Hurricane of 1991, made famous in song and story as The Perfect Storm–again, as then, we have a big low guiding the storm inland, and a winter storm coming down from the north to meet it.

The absolute worst-case scenario is, of course, a direct hit on New York City or Boston while it’s still maintaining hurricane force. That is extremely unlikely.

The best-case scenario is still trees with much of their foliage intact getting whomped by gale force winds, and it’s pretty likely we’ll get record-breaking rain. A-gain.

Considering National Grid has well-proven their ability to keep the lights on under similar conditions–in the negatory–if I fall off the internets early next week, I’m probably catching up on my reading by candlelight.

That’ll fuck with my deadlines some.

I got up early this morning and made it out the door to run by 7:20 or so. I could have made it a little faster, but I was screwing around on Twitter. Story of my life. The good news is, it was cool and wonderful, and I ran 8.6 miles in 94 minutes, which is a personal best. (That’s slightly under 11 minute miles. I’m starting to wonder if I have an 8-minute mile in me–I’ve gotten a 9 minute one on the treadmill, and a 10 minute one on the street.) My left ankle is still a bit dodgy, but it was fine while I was moving–just afterwards it feels like there’s some inflammation there.

Ice, aspirin, and acetaminophen are being applied.

I’ve done a bunch of stuff recently that indicates that I’m taking this whole athleticism thing more seriously. A few years back I started getting serious about my running socks and shoes, and noticed that it made a difference. But now suddenly I’m buying fitness-related gear. A friend gave me a heart rate monitor. I have an arm sleeve for my smartphone and use it to track my runs on GPS. And just now I bought a hydration belt (which came in incredibly useful today–I would not have managed those 11 minute miles without water!) and have started getting more serious about the clothing I wear to exercise–actual running shorts, so help me. (You know, compression shorts do help with the thigh chafe. And belly jiggle.)

I eat a reasonably healthy diet–about twice as many vegetables as the government suggests, and lots of whole grains and lean protein–which is in part to regulate my brain chemistry and in part to power my physical activities–and also because it tastes good.

Last night at the climbing gym I got up two 5.10s and a really technical 5.9, which means I am climbing as strong as I ever have. I can keep up with a pretty stiff yoga workout for an hour, too.

Holy crap. I’m an athlete.

Bad shoulder, bad hip, forty extra pounds, and all.

I don’t look like an athlete. I don’t feel like an athlete. But I am one.  And maybe if I say it often enough, make it part of my self-image I will continue to make it a priority. Maybe I will begin to believe it.

I once hesitated to call myself an athlete because I couldn’t run a nine-minute mile and do ten pullups. I once hesitated to call myself a writer because I had not sold a book. I once hesitated to call myself a fan because I felt I did not contribute enough to the potlatch community that is my ideal of fandom.

The older I get, the more I realize–we are what we say we are. We are what we do on a regular basis. A writer is somebody who writes. An athlete is somebody who competes with herself physically. A fan is somebody who gives something to fandom.

For a long time, I’ve not been a fan of identity politics, because in the culture I grew up in identities were too often externally assigned, or mediated by gatekeepers. You had to be butch enough, queer enough, political enough, oppressed enough, and female in the right way (transwomen need not apply, but women who liked skirts and heels weren’t exactly welcomed either) to qualify as a real lesbian and a real feminist, or somebody would have something to say about it. I still harbor a lot of ingrained prejudice against white men, especially middle-aged ones, and I am working on that.

(This is not to say that the radical lesbian separatist movements of the 1970s and 1980s were not full of amazing, wonderful, powerful women–and my experiences with many of those women had a great impact on the person I became. But my experiences there also poisoned the idea of “identity” for me for many years–and I’m the only person I know who has ever had to “come out” as heterosexual. Well, I’m not exactly heterosexual, but bisexuality was even more stigmatized… and it took me a long while to own that identity. Personally, I’ve settled on “queer.” I don’t feel the need to parade my sexuality, but I do feel the political need to stand up and be counted as One Of Them.)

As an adult, however, I’m realizing that the identities we claim for ourselves–as opposed to the ones administered by gatekeepers–are a source of power. We are often very well socialized to negate ourselves, to limit ourselves, to say “Oh, I couldn’t do that.”

I’m a 41-year-old overweight woman with exercise-related asthma and an assortment of colorful chronic injuries. I can also run eight miles in 90 minutes, though it took me five years to work up to that.

If I say I’m an athlete, I am an athlete.

And if you say you’re an athlete, so are you.

2012-10-25 09.57.28

Tea today: the last of Upton Tea’s wonderful Duflating Estate Assam

Teacup today: Japanese-style “winter” teacup made by livejournal friend “soloadventure”.

Happy Halloween Spider Toe Socks!Also, isn’t the cover for Marie Brennan’s new book lovely?

Archery tonight for the first time in months. This oughta be ridiculous.

And now, back to Steles of the Sky, already in progress.

Posted: Thursday, October 25th, 2012 @ 4:04 pm
Categories: Blog, Daily Commute, Tea.
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10 Responses to “We are what we say we are.”

  1. Paul Weimer (@princejvstin) Says:

    Last night at the climbing gym I got up two 5.10s and a really technical 5.9, which means I am climbing as strong as I ever have. I can keep up with a pretty stiff yoga workout for an hour, too.

    Holy crap. I’m an athlete.

    Yes, yes, Bear, you are. :)

  2. Dana Says:

    “I don’t feel the need to parade my sexuality, but I do feel the political need to stand up and be counted as One Of Them.”

    This. Yes.

    You also inspired me to try running, which my more severe childhood asthma never let me do. I am currently working on making it around an entire block without having to walk to get my breath back. Inhalers are magic.

  3. matociquala Says:

    Woo! Intervals, by the way, are just as effective (if not more so) in building cardio fitness as longer, lower-intensity work!

  4. Bear’s words I want to remember « Journey of a kitten Says:

    [...] Emphasis mine…I need to tattoo this on my forehead. E. Bear: [...]

  5. Lee Edward McIlmoyle Says:

    Very positive words, all. Thank you so much for sharing. I’m not a very political identity person either. I just want to be who I am, with whomever that entails. So glad you’re getting there, particularly with the exercise, but also with the other stuff. Be happy. Take care.

  6. WOL Says:

    I love those socks! I could not wear socks like that without grinning a lot. Those are fun socks.

    The thing that makes me happiest for you is that you are owning your achievements. So many of us women fall victim to the cultural bias that teaches us to belittle ourselves and what we do and that gives us the idea that somehow we are not allowed to be proud of our achievements. (Egadz! If I could even walk an 11 minute mile, I would be insufferably proud of myself!) Thank you for being so forthcoming about your own personal struggles and triumphs. We cannot say “If she can do it, so can I” and be motivated to make positive changes in our lives (and in our culture), if you didn’t. We have the constitutional right to pursue happiness; we must not forget that we are allowed to catch it and to enjoy it when we do.

  7. Angela Says:

    Go, Bear!!! That’s freaking awesome! I’m running a pretty consistent 11 min/mile too right now and have been wondering if I can get that 8 min/mile too. Isn’t it an awesome feeling??? Ditto the extra pounds and yet, I can still book that pace for twelve miles.

    There’s just something really wonderful about owning the identities we choose for ourselves.

    You’re amazing. :D

  8. matociquala Says:

    Kick ass, Angela!

  9. Lookfar Says:

    Very brave words. I do not who I am ( certainly not an athlete) but your words heal.
    Great socks too.
    My regards to that bf of yours, lucky man, hope he apreciates it!

  10. matociquala Says:

    Lookfar–thank you! And I think I’m pretty lucky, too. ;-)