Thursday, April 19, 2007

Cabin fever

We spent two years in Madison, Wisconsin while A. was in grad school. There's actually a lot to say about Madison, but the obvious thing about it is that is very cold for a very long time. Winter comes early and stays late, and it's an intense, unrelenting cold in between.

And I have seasonal affective disorder. I was far from my family, far from friends (my old friends who'd gotten jobs in Madison were on leave when we first arrived; the only person A. knew in Madison was her ex, who was a surgical resident); I was jobless, trying to finish a PhD that I was finally admitting to myself I had no use for; and on top of all of that I was realizing that I didn't miss teaching, which was the career I had always seen for myself, and had begun well, and had loved. I should have missed it. But I didn't. I was so relieved not to have to have grading weighing me down. But if I wasn't going to teach anymore, I had an enormous hole to fill.

My first winter in Madison was not pretty. I spent a lot of time reading second-hand mystery novels, knitting from my stash, eating chocolate, feeling poor. I gained a lot of weight on this regimen; even so, almost the first thing I did when we got to Madison was join a gym with a pool, and even in the worst parts of that winter when I just wanted to stay curled in the big armchair which a heap of beautiful wool and a book in my lap, I managed to get myself to the pool regularly.

Since Z. was born, I've barely swum any laps at all--and that's more than two years. Our Y membership is current, the pool is nice and it's not too far. I swam pretty often while I was pregnant and substitute teaching, our first 6 months back. I tell myself it's too difficult to find the time, but I'm managing to waste scrape together all this time to blog, so that's just a little white lie I'm telling myself. I don't want to look at how discouraged I feel about moving my body. It seems so unfamiliar to me now, not entirely trustworthy, and definitely not the body that I know from the water.

1 comment:

Jenny Davidson said...

I am recently obsessed with swimming, as you may have gathered, so do let us have swimming talk sometime! I've been massively exercising and weight-losing over the last year and a half, went from truly and completely out of shape to exercise-obsessed: but then I think I had an exercise-shaped hole in my life that you do not have, you've got knitting and a relationship and a child and do not need a truly obsessive fitness regimen! But if you're a decent swimmer to begin with you're starting out with a huge advantage--get back in that pool, swimming really is the best possible exercise for mental as well as physical health (even the other things I really like, yoga and running and lifting weights, do not seem to me to have the real and consistent calming effects of swimming)....