Parachute journalism and rural America’s revenge — Beth Macy

While everyone was so sure Hillary Clinton was going to win, I looked around my rural community and saw a different story. This story. I’m not saying I wasn’t shocked–I was. But I had an inkling things weren’t going to go quite the way everyone said they would. And this is why. (Shared post–I did not write this and the picture isn’t mine, either.)

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Below is an essay I first published for The Ochberg Society, a now-defunct grassroots group of journalists who cover trauma, upon the publication of FACTORY MAN in 2014. I’ve been thinking a lot about the people featured in my essay and in that book recently. Last week on Election Day, I traveled back to Bassett, Va., to […]

via Parachute journalism and rural America’s revenge — Beth Macy

Slow rebeginnings

Slow rebeginnings

It’s been a weird year for my garden. The whole attempt to grow seedlings, in or out of the greenhouse, has been a disaster. Of probably 200+ tomato plants i started from seed, I have four I could actually plant.

Everything is growing slowly. Seeds I planted right in the soil are taking forever to germinate, though the soil is moist, the ground is warm and there’s been plenty of sun. I have Jack B Little pumpkins seeds two weeks in the ground and not a single bit of green is peeking up.

Tulip bulbs rotted in the ground this spring. The hosta, columbine and astilbe starts I planted never showed. (It didn’t help that I got chickens, who tore up the ground in that area–no, they don’t have access to the rest of the garden–but the starts were doing nothing for weeks, so I can’t blame the chickens.)

The cilantro seeds never took. Ever.

But the salvia came back on its own and is lush. The snapdragons I put in are growing their leaves, even though there are no flowers yet. The hydrangea I bought in three different colors seems to be thriving.

I just don’t understand.

And why are the lush, double-blossom begonias so hard to find? Everyone’s got the singles, but I don’t want them.

I guess the answer to the rest of it is….time for soil testing!

It’s supposed to be good when you stop!

It's supposed to be good when you stop!

On the last 8 minutes of my run, I suddenly felt like someone grabbed my uterus in both hands and squeezed. Now let’s just say the timing of such an event was off by at least a week. I decided I would breathe and run through the pain, because exercise is actually quite good for cramps, and if my system had decided to go off schedule, this was probably the best thing I could be doing for myself.

The pain just got worse. And worse. And worse, until it felt like someone was not just squeezing, but twisting. I had about a minute and twelve seconds left to go, so I just kept on. It’s like labor. You ride it out. It was going to stop when I stop running, so hang in there and finish the run.

My timer went off and, because stopping dead and standing is not a good idea after a run, I slowed to a walk.

That invisible person inside me decided my uterus was taffy. Squeezing and twisting became pulling, and now wrapping it all around the base of my spine. And yanking.

The pain did not stop after I walked all the way home in near tears, gulping and gasping against it. Finally, after 30 minutes of slow subsiding, the pain quit.

I decided to see if anyone else out there was having the same problem, and if they were, what they were doing about it. What was the cause? More importantly, what was the treatment?

Search “menstrual-like cramps while running” and you’ll find what I found: a lot of women posting the same symptoms, a lot of other women “me too-ing,” and a lot of other people misunderstanding and not offering real help.

It’s not gastrointestinal. I know where my frigging uterus is and I know what it feels like when it hurts. So stop telling me it’s gas or IBS. It’s not menstrual cramps. Though at my age, my cycle is harder to predict, I am pretty damn sure that it’s not coming back after one week.

Why in the world would my uterus be cramping off schedule because I’m running? And why are there lots of women with the same symptoms, but no answers?

Only one of the women posting the question mentioned she had run without eating. That she had gotten up and run before breakfast. Someone else said do not do that–your glycogen stores are depleted and your body will go after less efficient sources of fuel such as fat stores (GOOD!) or muscle groups (BAD!).

As it happens, I had also run before breakfast. I came home and had a V8–what I always drink right after a run–and later, some breakfast.

I’m still kind of sore.

I am good with my uterus, a muscle inside my body–also getting toned, but I’m not good with that kind of pain during and after running. I’ll try eating something before my run Sunday morning and see if that makes a difference. If not, I may need to use my brand spanking new health insurance and go see if everything is in working order.

Any more me-tooers out there? Or anyone with a genuine answer?

On the road again

My athletic club membership ran out and I couldn’t find the day passes I thought I had. I must have given them away. We might be buying a condo at the end of the week, but I didn’t want to wait until then to run.

So I took my butt out into the sunshine and onto the road.

Lesson learned: Treadmill progress does not equal road progress.

I kept to my four minute intervals, so at least I could do that, but it was NOT comfortable and I’m sure my speed overall and my distance were much lower than my treadmill time.

In other words, today’s run was a great success.

What, slower times, discomfort and backsliding are not success?  They will be tomorrow, when my body, which is cursing me right now for making it do more than it was prepared to do, adjusts all the levels, repairs all the muscles and ligaments, and stokes the internal fires, just like it always does when I shake things up.  

Getting out on the road today was not only the right thing to do.  It was the BEST thing to do.  I won’t be running Bloomsday on a treadmill.  I’ll be running it on asphalt, up and down hills.  In real weather.  Actually carrying my weight through air resistance and having to fight gravity.  

Running inside on a treadmill was the right thing to do when it was snowing and Denton Road was slick with ice.  Things have changed now.  It’s time to get out there and move.  

Who’s with me? 

Wednesday Knitting

Wednesday Knitting

Latest knitting project: a drop-shoulder pullover with fullness in the sleeves and lace banding on all pieces.

It’s a pattern from 1994, so the styling might be a bit out of date–I’m thinking of the sleeves specifically–but it looks like it’s going to be comfortable and cool this spring and summer. I’m thinking of wearing it with a tank, a wide belt in a neutral and jeans. Early in the season, booties will work, and then later, shorts and sandals.

This is the first sweater I’ve ever worked with straight needles in the neckline. Most ribbed collars I’ve done with circular needles. I know how to seam the neck invisibly, so I’m not intimidated.

Unrelated note: still doing Primal, still holding steady.

Tummy shot 5: Maybe you can’t see it, but I can!

Tummy shot 5:  Maybe you can't see it, but I can!

These are size 14s, and they are clearly too big for me now. It’s gotten to the point that I will have to go get myself some size 12 work pants, because I have none. The sad thing is, I’ll probably have to replace them, too. But I’m not willing to just jump to my 10s, which are still muffin-toppy.

My weight can fluctuate as much as four pounds in a single day, so I’ve been conservative on the pounds lost that I report here. I’m going to commit to a solid 11 pounds lost since I started Primal, though I’ve seen the scale dip in the last few days as low as 15.

The most important thing about this is that I’ve been able to stick with it. Usually, within a couple of weeks of starting a new exercise plan, or changing my diet, I get sick and have to go back to what I was doing. I’ve been off grains, sugar and legumes for seven weeks. I still eat fruit, but that’s the only sugar I get. I’ve had no processed flour (white or whole wheat, both of which are no-nos in Primal), no processed sugar and no beans, peas, etc. for more than a month.

I remember when I was on Atkins, and then quit, a piece of bread was like Nirvana in my mouth. I could hear the choirs singing and I couldn’t stop drooling. I recently tried a bit of potato–which is not forbidden in Primal, since it doesn’t have phytates or gluten, but not recommended when you are restricting your carbs to actively lose weight–and it was dry and tasteless in my mouth. It wasn’t a baked potato, either. It was a pot roast potato, crisp on the outside and cooked in meat juices. I just ended up spitting it out.

Since I have quit smoking, my sense of smell is stronger, too. I did not realize this, but sugar has a smell. Just plain sugar. I can smell and recognize it from 10 feet away–and I don’t like it.

I am having a love affair with broccoli. Steamed broccoli is almost the addiction chocolate was (and I still indulge in a few squares of 85% cacao once a week or so). I cannot wait until my garden is producing food. There are a lot of things I want to try.

I just wish there were things I could drink other than water and herbal teas. Don’t get me wrong. I love my water, but I miss the varieties of flavors of drinks I had before Primal. I just don’t want all the poisons associated with them. I’m thinking about buying some organic juices and then diluting them, so I can have some flavor but not all the carbs.

Still need to exercise more. I have been lifting, but the weather is nasty, and I have to drive to get to the Nordictrack up at the fire station. (Jeff volunteers with them, so we get to use the firefighters’ exercise equipment.)

And speaking of Jeff, he’s amused when I model for him the outfit of the day, where, depending on what randomly comes out of the closet for a test run, I either show him how far I’ve come or how far I have yet to go.

*sigh* It’s such a long way, but I’m getting there.

Tummy Shot 4: Getting Braver

Tummy Shot 4: Getting Braver

Five weeks of Primal Living!

The weight loss slowed down this week. I only lost one pound, which brings me to 10 total. I think there are two reasons for that. First, in this part of my cycle, I tend to retain water. In about a week, I’ll drop again, quickly. Secondly, I have not had enough exercise. I’m hoping now that I’m working fewer hours, I can get out on the road and burn a little.

The pants I have on here are 13s, a junior size, which is like a misses’ 14, but with smaller hips. The 12s are still a little muffin-toppy, but we’re getting there.

Jeff’s new thing he makes for me is cabbage and sausage. The cabbage cooks down in the pan and becomes almost sweet. I’m just about sick of steamed veggies, so it’s a nice change.

My craving this week is soda, either diet or sugared. I have not given in to it yet.

Jeff and I cannot wait for the gardening to start. We really want to eat our own freshly grown veggies. And we have our share of a steer from Wood’s Meats coming. Can’t wait for that, either.