Fitness,  Parenting,  Self-Care

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Joe

The Scholastic catalog came home with Emily a few months ago. She picked a few books to order, which we did. And there it was – a Judy Blume section. How I loved Judy Blume as a kid! I added Super Fudge and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing to the list. She asked me why and expressed a strong desire to not get them. I listened but asked her to humor me. I wanted to read them to and with her. It didn’t take me long into Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing to feel like I was transformed back into my ten year old self. I know I’m not alone. Judy Blume is a treasure. She’s also somewhat timeless. Well, except for maybe belted maxi pads. I first learned of those in Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret. I read it, like you know, all the other straight twelve year old boys did. Not. Boy, was I glad I wouldn’t be getting my period. Now I realize that I was wildly wrong. 

You see, I definitely manstruate. No, I am not implying that I actually shed an imaginary uterine lining or anything of that sort. And I give major props to women who actually have to endure for 40 years or so. I also know, that probably precisely right now, someone, likely millennial and likely someone who throws around a lot of today’s buzzwords like mansplaining is quite possibly getting triggered by my sheer mention that a man could “manstruate” or have mood swings. Or worse, that a man could have the audacity to imply that a woman might have mood swings. If that’s you, get over yourself. Here’s my Rx for you: Call your mom and have her make you a vegan hot cocoa. And then get off my blog. If that’s not you, let’s continue. Shall we?


What I’m saying is, for me, right now, I’m having my period. I have days where I’m just sort of in a funk. It doesn’t happen every 28 days. It’s also not for a week. And thank heavens, Brenda Vaccaro doesn’t heavily breathe about Playtex tampons inducing an asthma attack in me. But I get moody, and sometimes unpleasant. Ask G. He’ll tell you. LOL Sometimes it’s more frequent. Sometimes it’s not for a few months. This time, it might be the resurgence of winter in Chicago mid-April. Or perhaps it’s a contagious vibe from the tween I live with who has been 35 for the past 9 years and is sometimes expertly adept at pushing buttons better than a keypunch operator in the 1970s.  Or it could also be the fact that I’m annoyed by this nagging hip issue that I’ve been combatting which impacts probably a third of my runs. It’s probably also partly because I’m giving Dry April a shot. Dry April, you ask? What in the fresh hell is that? Allow me to tell you… 

Most people do “Drynuary.” For those who have not heard of this, it’s when you don’t drink alcohol for the month of January. The idea is to shed the excesses of the holiday season along with some weight whilst also giving the liver a well needed break. While I get this, and think it’s a great idea, have you ever been to Chicago in January? The last thing I wanted to do in January was not have a drink. Dark, cold, dreary miserable days that seem to go on longer than the last season of Dexter. Add to that having to do most runs indoors and the general stresses of raising kids and I, for one, was not ready to hang up my corkscrew for a cozy cup of camomile. 

Flash forward a few months into the year. The weather is slowly improving. Things outside are coming to life. Running season is basically upon us. I have lost about 10 pounds since January. While I am pleased with that, and it’s healthy weight loss, I know I can do better. My BMI, scale, mirror all tell me so, almost daily. I have the added problems of being Italian and liking food. Neither are ones that I’m likely to shed. On more than one occasion, I have floated the idea to my endocrinologist husband that maybe I have a cortisol problem? He tells me that I don’t and then throws around his buzzwords like “board certified endocrinologist” and “Harvard.” “Harvard, Shmarvard,” I think., “I have a cortisol issue and nobody wants to believe me.” (I really don’t but I want a quick answer. Actually not a quick answer. I want to be thin. Yesterday.)

So that brings us to Dry April. I figured if I watch my diet and cut alcohol calories, it should result in more weight loss and may also improve my sleep and hopefully all of these things will translate to better running. 

Overall, it’s not really a big deal. I’m 13 days into the month. For the most part, I don’t miss it. Except for when I do. Funnily, it’s not always the most obvious times. I went out with friends for dinner last Friday. It was the first foray since I had started. I initially thought it would be tricky. Drinks before dinner, wine in a French restaurant. And there was me with my alcohol free beer and a mocktail. It was actually fine. Would I have enjoyed wine with my dinner? You bet. Was I happy when A woke me up at 6:30 and I didn’t have a hangover? Yup!  

Funnily, it’s the random nights that I’ve found more frustrating. The nights when G is traveling and I’ve been daddying all day, trying my best to keep everyone happy which sometimes seems harder than completing a Rubik’s cube with one hand. (Author’s note: I’ve never done it with two.) Those nights, I would love to pour a glass of wine after we’ve done the bedtime routine – pajamas, teeth, reading books, cuddling. And after the third time I’ve asked the girls to please go to bed. That time when Daddy’s voice starts to change from a cheery and sing-songy Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire to more along the lines of Jack Nicholson from The Shining. Those are the emptiest calories though. Wine had when one is exhausted and really just needs sleep. That is often followed by cookies had when one is exhausted and really just needs sleep. So, it all really comes down to rewiring the brain to make different choices. Fortunately, I am not trying to slay an addiction. I am simply trying to strike balance across the board – calorically, fitness, family, etc. Striking that balance should achieve some type of homeostasis. I have mastered homosexuality so I’m gunning for homeostasis being not so hard. 

Running has been the main thing to help ground me. It’s become my compass.  I ran four miles around a track today while the girls rode bikes and played. I decided even though I would have to do forty some odd laps around a track which at times was as dull as one might imagine, I was able to multi-task and give them the ability to play. I ran, they biked. Playmates came and went. I even got to chat with another grown up after my run. I also wanted to get us all outdoors today while it was sunny because tomorrow we are back to 32 degrees and snowy. I have 10 miles to log. Ten miles that will be on a treadmill. Blech.  For those running the Boston Marathon on Monday, like G, that would be a short, welcomed run. For me, it’s a bit of a dread right now. But I will do it. And because of that, I don’t miss having a drink tonight. 

I’m typing this in a restaurant waiting for the girls to finish a gymnastics night. They are burning some more energy, hopefully tiring out. We will go home, read a few pages of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and cuddle. I’ll probably let them sleep with me because G is away and I know that their childhoods are fleeting. This morning A jumped up onto my lap, moved my arm around her waist and snuggled herself into a cuddle. Shortly after, E took a moment to do the same. Later in the day, when they were at each other and A broke her glasses by stretching the two arms to “make them tighter” and E kept nagging her ultimately leading to me putting myself in a time out only to have them drop in on me via Alexa a bunch of times. In that instant, their cute and cuddly isn’t as Clorox Color-Safe Bleach/Kodachrome vivid moment of how cute and cuddly they can be. But that moment passes. In a few hours, I will peer down at them sleeping. They will look both huge to me and also like the two little infants I once held.  That is also my compass. It’s my reminder that everything is just perfect, even when it doesn’t feel that way.

At-home dad, husband, gay man, marathon runner, sarcastic to the core, off-center

One Comment

  • Ms Sarah

    This might be my favorite post ever. I giggled, I understood and you’re brilliant with the track and bling idea with the kids!!!

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