Puzzling Results

Well, what do you know? It’s February. We’re a full month into 2018. By now most of us have given up on our New Year’s resolutions. Be honest! Some of you don’t even remember your resolutions. Resolutions, what resolutions?

I actually made two. The first was to refocus on building my business. When I started it in mid-June, I hit the ground running. Being a tad obsessive-compulsive, I made list after list of all the things I needed to do and got busy checking things off. I was starting to see some progress too, but then I made a month long trip back east to visit family and attend a wedding and even though my business is mobile, the progress went screeching to a halt. Though I completed a few jobs during the trip, things definitely lost momentum. The month after I got home, I tried to recoup but nothing happened and I started to doubt the wisdom of my actions. I got depressed and even considered that I might have to give up my dream. With my savings quickly depleting and 2018 getting ready to start, I made the resolution to reenergize my efforts. That must have been some burst of energy because my business definitely experienced significant growth. January was my strongest month yet! It certainly makes me eager to see what February has in store.

My other resolution was typical for most. Last year, I gained almost thirty pounds. That too had me feeling helpless as the new year rolled in. It seemed that no matter what I did, I was destined to keep gaining. Blame it on my age, I guess. That is just one perk of being a female in my late forties. I wonder, is there a male equivalent for menopause? I mean, really, why do women get all the bad luck? Anyway, I resolved to make one last attempt to lose weight. For the last month, I have eaten mostly fruits and vegetables with some lean proteins. I gave up sodas, desserts, and most carbs. I even started going to the gym once or twice a week. I know, that isn’t near as often as I should, but it is more than I was doing before. Now, I find myself puzzled on several accounts. One, I’m puzzled as to how I have managed to stick with it for the last thirty-three days. Two, I am puzzled that while I lost almost eight pounds within the first two weeks, I have gained back two or three pounds in the last week even though I am still exercising and watching what I eat. What the hell! Should I throw in the towel? Maybe. Yet, I’m not ready to just yet.

You could say that both of my resolutions, though showing some success, still need some earnest and continued effort. Perhaps, I’ll just take things month by month.

Daily Post Prompt: Puzzled

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Lessons from the Macabre

With the reappearance of the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks, the row upon row of Halloween candy at Walmart, and the pop-up stores full of Halloween costumes and decorations, I am reminded of one of my favorite teaching units.  Every year for Halloween, I would take my students on a trip thru the macabre.  I would fill my classroom with skeletons, chains, and black candelabra and greet my students at the door dressed in a black cape and masquerade mask, with a small trowel at my hip.  Then I would gross my students out by drinking pink lemonade out of a black martini glass filled with rubber eyeballs.  Depending on the grade level, we would read Cask of Amontillado, Masque of the Red Death, or The Tell-Tale Heart.  Edgar Allan Poe was a genius when it came to suspense and gore.  Just consider his plots: man buries neighbor alive for unknown offense; death infiltrates costume party disguised as himself; man goes crazy, starts hearing things, and confesses to murder, etc. Every one of his stories is uniquely different, yet similarly disturbing. It was one of the few days of the school year that I could count on unbridled enthusiasm from my students.  They, and I, held a morbid fascination for all things Poe.

What is it that makes us so drawn to Poe and his work? Why are we, his readers, so morbidly fascinated with death and despair?  Are we suppressing our own violent tendencies? Are we reading them to get ideas of how to off the neighbor?  Is my neighbor right this moment kicking back, reading some Poe, and considering my demise?  It almost makes you start looking at those around you with suspicion.

Why was every single one of Poe’s stories so dark . . . and where did he find his inspiration?  Was he depressed?  Finding an outlet for his extensive rage? Was his fixation on death due to losing his parents at such an early age?  Was he so upset with his surrogate father that he invented stories of murder and mayhem as way to vent? Perhaps it was being dumped by his fiance that caused his mood to sour so.  Maybe he was rebelling against authority and found pleasure in shocking those who attempted to restrain him.  Certainly, he faced challenges.  With so many losses, he was bound to be a bit melancholy from time to time, but was that the basis of his entire career?  

Considering the popularity of Poe’s work, it leads me to wonder whether suffering is destined to spawn success.  If that is the case, there should be a hoard of wildly successful people in the world.  After all, you don’t have to look very hard to find people who are suffering.  Let’s hope that, unlike Poe, those of us currently suffering realize our success prior to our demise.  Then again, that would be one more travesty.  I wonder . . . should we list an heir in our wills for the monetary gains of our posthumous success, and will leaving said heir such a fortune preclude him from achieving his own success?  If we follow that vein, one can turn trials into triumph but never live to see recognition or one can benefit from a predecessor’s pain but not be accomplished in his own right.  It’s a vicious cycle.  How depressing!