Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I had the best of intentions. I'd counted my points, danced, walked, even took a yoga class. But at the end of a week, the numbers of my scale hadn't budged. And I wasn't about to stand on that four-pound-over Weight Watcher scale and have some smug woman who'd lost 500 pounds in three months record my failure and ask what I might do to jump start my diet. I'd jump started it, all right, with the physical scars to show for it: a perpetually sore lower back, aching muscles, and a growling stomach that talks to me all day long.

So, I played hooky. And instead of devouring a sweet, gooey pastry or a stack of pancakes smothered in butter and syrup, I read a book. An entire book. A 300-page book. (Okay, the print is rather large.) I plopped my sorry body down on the back deck, tilted my baseball cap to shield my eyes from the bright sun, and read Brooke Newman's Jenniemae & James: A Memoir in Black & White.

Yes, I'm a reader. But I can't remember the last time I read a book in one sitting or, for that matter, had sex multiple times in one day. It's been a while. But this book about a brilliant mathematician and his friendship with an uneducated, illiterate African American maid held me in its clutches for 4 hours with one potty break, a quick stroll around the garden, and one annoying phone call.

As pedestrian as it may sound, finishing that book gave the day meaning and me a sense of accomplishment. Phasing into retirement, it's easy to fret away the time, convinced that you should be doing something significant - whatever that means. Make money. Publish an article. Make a stranger happy.

Today I made myself happy. I think I'll read my way through the week, substituting the prose of good writers for any temporary satisfaction I might get from eating one too many Weight Watchers' peanut butter bars.

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