I also tend to avoid my voicemail inbox like the plague, which is why I never promise to return your call if you leave me a message

My family is not big on telephone communication, and by "my family", I'm including myself. I remember using the (landline) phone more when I was in junior high and high school, but even then, I was hardly the stereotypical teenage girl who could never get off the phone. I distinctly remember starting to feel a definitive disinterest for phone calls during college, especially when so many of them were heated conversations ("arguments") with boyfriends.

Either way: we're not phone people. My mom and I e-mail several times a week, and that's about it. When she does call, it's usually for an immediate purpose (do you know where this document is, I'm at the grocery store and they have almond milk on sale but I can't remember what kind you like, etc.)– everything else can be communicated online. This has resulted in my always making sure to answer my phone when I see that she's calling, because she never calls "just to say hi". She bought an answering machine for the house phone in order to avoid people who do just that.

My dad and my sister, on the other hand, NEVER call me (and vice versa). *This* has resulted in my momentarily freaking out whenever I see that they're calling, because my first reactionary thought is: "Something bad has happened to my mom and they're calling me to tell me the bad news because whatever has happened is so bad that she's not capable of calling me herself which means she's either unconscious or in an ambulance or dead."

Example 1: My sister called me a month ago. I was at work and had my phone on silent (as I always have it, actually), and didn't see the missed call until an hour or so later. She'd left a message, so I listened to it (with apprehension), but all it amounted to was, "Hey, call me back." And she didn't sound like she'd been crying, and I hadn't also missed a call from either of my parents, so I knew she hadn't called with bad news about someone in our family and I figured it also wasn't about one of her pets dying. Which left me stumped, because I couldn't think of any other reason why she would call. But she hadn't been crying, so it couldn't have been urgent. Maybe my mom had been bugging her to call me in order to nurture a sisterly bond? In which case, definitely not urgent.

I called her back after I was done with work, which ended up being a lot later that night– and as it turned out, the news was simply that her boyfriend had proposed and they were going to be married next year and I was going to be a bridesmaid, and so on. So, good news! It was a good news! call. And yet had she simply e-mailed the news to me, I honestly don't think I'd have been surprised or dismayed at the communication channel of choice. Precedents, after all. The only other phone calls I really remember from my sister are: her cat died (2000?), my cat wasn't moving (2005), and "What do you want to eat for Thanksgiving?" (2008, but she knew I was in my car en route to San Diego at the time, so obviously e-mail would have been a poor choice).

Example 2: My dad called me on Friday. While I was at work (which he knew), and while he was at work (well, actually, it might have been one of the Fridays he has off). I panicked, answered immediately, and the first words out of my mouth were: "Hi, what's wrong?"

Yeah. Nothing was wrong. There was just paperwork on my house loan that needed to be signed ASAP and he needed to know when I was flying back to Vegas, and was there any way I could get back by Tuesday? (My flight was already scheduled to arrive Tuesday morning, so that worked out perfectly.)

*****

There's not really a point to these anecdotes, but if I had to English-major one up, I'd say it's that I apparently only think that disastrous news warrants a phone call from my family. Which says something about either how easy it is to get a hold of me via e-mail, or how much I really hate being on the phone.

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Health notes, part one: P90X

P90X

Toward the end of our Asia trip in May, I announced to Noah that I was going to start doing P90X after we got back to the States. I'd overindulged in Japan (because WHY EVEN GO if not for the Indian food and the breads and the pastries?), scaled back in Bali (palate conflicts), then indulged again in vegetable bau and parathas in Singapore. And of course, I wasn't dancing or biking or even *walking* that much thanks to trains and hired drivers and taxis abound; hence, the decision to try a fitness program.

Not a terrible decision, right? Except for the fact that we were leaving for a Europe trip in June. Committing to a 90-day program of lifestyle changes is difficult enough without throwing in factors of foreign travel, tiny accommodations, and one of the worst heat waves Europe has recently seen. Yet somehow, we managed. We figured out how to do workouts in closet-sized hostel rooms, did yoga in public parks, and even made use of an empty lobby floor on an overnight ferry between Croatia and Italy. Quite possibly the worst instance was in Budapest, where Noah almost passed out after we finished a workout in our top-floor hostel room (remember: heat rises) where the humidity was already so terrible it was hard to breathe and the mosquitoes were aplenty.

In each new city, one of the first things we did was locate all the nearest grocery stores to stock up on carrots, celery, hummus (if it was available), muesli and bran, yogurt, soy milk (almond if we were lucky), dried fruit and pistachios. I don't know how we ate that stuff nonstop for 10 weeks without getting sick of it, but we did. I actually got so enamored with muesli that after I came home, I threw fits because I couldn't find the plain, basic muesli we'd found everywhere in Europe, anywhere in America. (I realize it's not that hard to make myself, but it was the principle. Why do we have like eight flavors of Cheerios but no muesli?)

Anyway. The point is, doing P90X while hoofing it abroad during a heat wave was a shitty idea, but we managed to stick to it, every single day, without fail– until we got into a scooter accident in Italy which messed up Noah's leg. P90X came a sudden halt after that and ultimately turned into P60X. And also, we were in Italy, which meant gelato every single day (sometimes, twice a day) and lots of pizza exploration. So not only did we fall off the fitness wagon, but we pretty much abandoned ship on the whole diet thing as well. (Though to be fair, we *were* walking plenty of miles every day.)

Conclusions

Short-term benefits:

  • Forced daily physical activity = feeling better physically and mentally. Even if we did nothing else in our day, those one-and-a-half hours of weights or movement eventually made a difference– in our shapes, in our abilities, in our energy levels, in our sense of accomplishment.
  • Slightly better diet. Before we left for Europe, we followed the portion guidelines fairly well and were eating moderately better food. In Europe, before the accident, we still watched what we ate and tried to adhere to the principles of the guidelines. After the accident… less so. Particularly in Italy, France and Belgium. And the second visit to London. Oh my god, the banoffee pie.

Long-term benefits:

  • Possession of workout videos? For all those times when I want to squeeze in a workout but don't feel like driving to the gym? Though, I have a lot of issues with the videos– there are a surprising number of inconsistencies in the methods and the editing and Horton's humor attempts can be difficult to bear sometimes.
  • Better performance on a bike. This is questionable, but I will say: the P90X program has been my only serious attempt to improve my strength levels in a long time (at the gym, I only do cardio machines or cardio/yoga/pilates classes). And since having attempted it, I've found that my speed, endurance, and climbing abilities while biking have significantly improved. Causation here isn't impossible to believe.

The program definitely had its benefits, but I can't see it as a lifestyle, and in terms of diet, I definitely don't feel like there was any encouragement toward long-term changes. But it did get me way more interested in proper yoga and plyometrics, so that was nice. Noah keeps talking about finishing the last 30 days, but I don't feel like it works that way– to me, we'd have to start all over, and I don't know if I want to give up 90 more days to this when there are alternative programs out there. Still. We'll see.