Monday, June 25, 2012

Everyone's Smarter Than Me...Thank God

When I was a kid my mom had a way of keeping me "grounded" when it came to my moderately above average accomplishments.   Making honor roll was never anything to celebrate.  A supporting role in the spring musical meant "you'll have to try harder next year for a lead" and when I graduated 23rd in my class it was "too bad I hadn't made it to the top ten percent".  Perhaps a few more words of encourgement and a little less criticism would've propelled me further forward, but frankly, I doubt it.  And now that Im grown and out here in the big bad world Ican't help but feel greatful not to be saddled with delusions of grandeur.  And oh what delusions they would be, as I have discovered since graduating from my, apparently substandard, top-tier school.

My first job out of school was as an assistant at an investment firm wall-papered with ivy league diplomas and wreaking of that long-term stable success us underachievers are terrified of.  No dot com bubble burst, big government bailout failures for these folks, unh unh. By my calculations, their achievements were due to 1 part luck, 3 parts favorable government policy and 8 parts SUPER SMART PEOPLE.  Mostly super smart people pretending not to be super smart, possibly so as not to frighten the dingbat (me) handing them the weekly report.  Still, I wouldn't have realized what a slacker I was had it not been for their across the board outside the boardroom, high flying achievements .  Nauseatingly, everyone seemed to be some combination of varsity athlete/trend-setter/philanthropic dynamo; or, as I liked to call them, sample resumes on steroids.

I was too dumb to know I was a dummy so I started asking questions.  After I got through the really dumb ones ("What's a ticker?") I moved onto the only slightly less rudimentary  ("One more time, which one's 'net' and which one's 'gross'?). Until after 3 years with the firm I left with the knowledge baseline that I know nothing about investments and should stick to my idiot-proof 401k plan.  My bank sends me a pie chart of how they're investing the funds but I'm smart enough to know I'm not smart enough to assess whether pink,  green and yellow are really diversified properly or not. 

You're thinking these people are the exception not the rule, right?  That it's rare for someone to be a well rounded, well traveled, well versed and well dressed individual, and that these folks are few and far between.  I thought that too.  And then I started working at Bloggle.

Minus the well-dressed piece, my current coworkers are very similar to the former, except they've lived in the 12 different countries the investment folks have vacationed in and they speak the dozen or so languages...fluently.  I'll admit, it was disheartening to discover yet another tribe of super smarties. Frankly it stressed me out for some time.  It doesn't anymore though, and here's why.  You may recall a certain son of a former president who managed to get himself elected to the same position based on the notion that he was just a common guy who liked to hunt and couldn't pronounce "nuclear".  Politics aside, I never understood the logic behind that. I don't want the leader of the free world to be as smart as I am, I want him (or her) to be much, much smarter. I want the person steering the ship to make my head spin when he explains the mechanics of the vessel.  Why?  Because he's the one steering the damn ship!  

The same logic shore side tells me Im actually in a damn good position here at Bloggle. I have walking talking examples of all the things I should strive for and,  more or less, an unwaivering faith in the folks leading my team every day.   Am I still self conscious about the one language I speak and my BA from a non-ultra elite school?  Hell yes.   But I'll take being the dumbest of the smart people over the smartest of the dummies any day of the week, and that is something I know Im smart enough to have chosen right.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Working out is (mostly) working out

If you've been paying attention, you'll notice I frequently allude to working out but have never really approached the topic with full force so I think it's finally time to acknowledge the elephant in the room.  Maybe elephant is a bit much.  How about hibernating squirrel, or maybe adolescent panda?  This isn't working.   It's just me in the room ok?  We're talking about me... being chubby.

I've got these great friends, who are themselves thin as rails, who like to pretend I don't have a little extra meat on my bones.  Dear sweet skinny friends, I appreciate your kindness but I own mirrors so really you can stop lying to me, it's ok.  Really, it is, because I am in fact doing something about it. No, let me rephrase that.  I am doing EVERYTHING about it.  So I'd like to share the many, MANY methods to my uber slow, but still steady weight loss.

I am coordinated only if there is no device, ball, disc, net, stick or glove involved.  Translation, any and all traditional sports as a means of exercise are off the table.  I can however shake my groove thang like no no other, so I take every dance/dance cardio/dance conditioning dancey dance class  ever invented.   I love these classes because half the people there have 2 left feet and an AARP card.  I get 60 minutes of staring at a mirror thinking "I'm so young, I've got moves, God I'm good looking!".

If there are no classes I'm interested in at the gym, I hop on an elliptical.  Tina Fey writes in Bosspyants (a novel everyone and their mother should read) about how she dreams up ways of killing people while working out.  This is how I know Tina and I should be best friends.  I don't plot people's deaths though, I plan my fabulous life. I swear I'm not stealing your idea Tina, I've been doing this for years.

The following events all happen in Elliptical Lea's life:

  • I have a rocking body, I mean ROCKING.  But not like the over toned greased down 8 pack.  Even elliptical Lea doesn't want that.  I'm just your run of the mill perfect 10. I have pool parties where I wear french bikinis and high heels (high heels around a pool make no sense to me but Elliptical Lea manages to pull them off). 
  • I've built my own chain of group fitness/girls night out centers.  We all work out together and I make other chubby women feel good about themselves while groovin to Britney Spears.  Then we hit the showers, do each others hair, and go out on the town.  Somehow people pay me to be a catalyst for making friends and finding hot spots.  Why and how this actually makes money is fuzzy but it does.  On the side I have a non-profit that does the same thing (minus the booze) at after school centers in low income neighborhoods.
  • An equally smoking hot boyfriend frequently picks me up in MY luxury car and we go on incredible dates. If the TV I'm watching is on ESPN and there's a NASCAR race, he's a professional race car driver, if it's hockey he's a hockey player, if its a rerun of Real Housewives... I pick between the race car driver and the hockey player.  There is no one on that show I'd want to be within a ten mile radius of.
  • I go on Jay Leno to talk about my best selling novel.  I'm somehow enough of a celebrity to warrant an appearance.
One afternoon I spent an exceptionally long time working out.  The rest of the day I had to constantly remind myself none of these things had actually happened.

Back east I used to do quite a bit of walking.  Fun fact, when you remove 20ish blocks of walking a day from your routine, you will gain 5 pounds in 6 months.  Even more fun fact, you'll gain another 5 pretending you didn't gain the first.   After you gain 10 you realize it's time to get your shit together.  So, I recently bought a bike.  Want to laugh?  Watch a grown women with the coordination of jello ride a bike for the first time in ten years.  I've also taken to hiking.  Want to cry? Watch an 80 year old man with walking sticks beat you to the top of the hill.

My ultimate goal is to get down to a healthy weight I can feel good about, and still I know I had some fun getting there.  And if that means I spend the next five years exploring acroyoga or hay bale throwing or unicycle competitions well then by golly sign me up because one way or another I'm getting there. 

 For your amusement, a partial list of additional classes I have actually taken in the name of physical fitness

  • Urban rebounding (small trampolines, big fun).
  • Step-N-Slide: a device i can only describe as a plastic mat that feels like it's been rubbed down with vegetable oil, affixed with 2 "stoppers" at each end.  The goal of the class is not to die, I think.
  • Polynesian (Hula and Tahitian)
  • Bikram Yoga: 110 degree room, you literally rain sweat