Mary Marcus: Exercising/Exorcizing Childhood

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My husband is in between gigs right now. If you are married to a man in the film business, that means he is home, making phone calls, having lunch with his friends who are either working (short lunches) or aren’t working (long lunches). Henry loves it during these times, because he gets even more walks, ball-throwing and playing tuggy than he normally does. If husband doesn’t get another gig in the next few weeks, we will invariably go through the “I’m never going to work again!” thing I can totally relate to. I feel the same way whenever I finish any project.

I’m in my little room with the door shut, but I can hear husband and Henry at the front door heading out. I hope they do some running for both their sakes.

I’ve been trying for years to get my husband to start exercising. I mean serious exercising. “Hire a blond trainer with big boobs!” said a practical friend. I have some misgivings about the big blond idea, given that my last novel was about a woman who basically replaced herself with a younger—and, yes, much larger busted—version of herself and lost her old life.

Do I want to lose my life?

Yes, right at the moment I do. But I also know these feelings pass. That’s the great thing about being a grown up, even a reluctant one. Feelings pass….

I also know that the reason I have to exercise, is related to the fact that I had a sad and traumatic childhood and wasn’t allowed to work any of it out in my body, as one must do if trauma is to be processed and gotten rid of. I was a swimmer and even set a record back in the dark ages, but my mother made me quit when I got my period, which rather put a damper on my athletic career. It also happened with high jumping, broad jumping, and all track and field related activities. I’ve remembered all this because I’ve recently started jumping rope again. Jumping rope is so hard your whole life passes before you, like it’s supposed to right before you die. It’s almost like being on the couch getting shrunk, only one is jumping. This is especially enjoyable for me because I do a lot of yoga and one is constantly admonished not to be thinking during yoga. But I can do whatever I damn well please while jumping rope because just to get through a couple of hundred jumps is huge, at least for me.

Probably if yoga was a mandatory practice in all schools and boys and girls were taught to breathe and stretch there would be less crime, better grades, and the sexes would not from an early age be so polarized. For years I’ve wanted to write a novel where the yoga teachers and body workers were at the top tier of the wage earners, and the arms dealers and big biz power brokers were scraping to make a living. What would the world look like in such a scenario?

I have no idea, which is why I haven’t been able to write that novel.

I have promised not to hurl myself onto the gender inequality bandwagon yet again, but when I was growing up, boys were encouraged to exercise their demons (and their sex drives) via organized sports. And girls were told to put their feet up when they got their period and given cramp pills. I remember those yellow cramp pills to this day. My mother and I used to call them daffodils. They had a downer, an upper, and a painkiller. Daffodils indeed. We always had a big bottle of daffodils in the kitchen. Probably my brother took them too.

Thank God some things have changed. Still – and this is a big still – these days, adolescent boys are encouraged to sit still by the schools and the pharmaceutical industry who are making zillions off the ADHD thing. And girls while “allowed” to exercise without appearing un-lady-like are somehow subconsciously still being discouraged from speaking out and doing well at school. The statistics back me up.

Boys sit still. Girls shut up. It’s a no-win situation for everyone. And a weird world we live in. If I didn’t know better, I’d think this is some kind of giant mind control experiment. But who is behind this? Or is it just more of the same old, same old?


Mary Marcus

Mary Marcus is the author of The New Me and the upcoming Lavina. Visit her at her website.



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On March 16, 2015
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