Faking It

Quick recap of the knee saga: I solved the skirt problem by acquiring some excellent cargo shorts at Target men’s. One pair’s cammo and the other’s black and navy plaid. Also I got some new athletic shorts — very basketball — they’re shiny black with grey trim, and hang to my knees. And I learned that size XXL basketball shorts are too large if they have an elastic waist. My keys are heavy enough in the pockets to pull the basketball shorts down unexpectedly and reveal my… well, my shorts. I am now very careful to tie the drawstring of the athletic shorts as tight as I can before I go to workout.

It’s almost unbelievable how blindingly white my poor legs are. Edward Cullen has nothing on me.

I did three weeks on crutches, and got a consult with an orthopedic surgeon and an MRI. Here’s what the MRI revealed: there’s a slight tear in the lateral meniscus, and a big defect in the cartilage on the back of my kneecap. The doc’s theory is I landed so hard on my kneecap that I drove it against the femur behind it and gouged a divot off the back of the patella. Also my kneecaps don’t track straight in their grooves, but ride up over the outer edges of the bones behind them. So they’re sending me to physical therapy for four weeks and we’ll see how it is at the end of that. No surgery for now. In the meantime I can walk without crutches and bend my knee, but not all the way. It still hurts and swells, and the outer side of my calf still hurts enough to make me think I’ve done something to my tibia that they just didn’t look at on the MRI and didn’t see on the initial x-ray. Ice and ibuprofen are my friends.

One interesting side effect of my new butch appearance is how the PT people just assume I’m athletic, despite the fact I’m built like an ex-linebacker with a generous layer of squish. Or maybe because I’m built like a linebacker? Anyway, they don’t see a fat, unfeminine woman who hates the gym but goes because she has to; they see a big butch jock who goes to the gym because she wants to. Instead of getting encouraged to exercise, I was cautioned not to overdo it. They just assumed that of course I was dying to get back to the gym.

Actually I wish I were built like this linebacker…

Ironically, in some ways they were right. I had just decided to get myself back on a regular gym-going schedule when I had this injury, which interrupted my new gym mojo. And part of my resolve to get my shit together and get back to exercising had to do with wanting to live up to the new butch appearance I was attempting to cultivate.

So I’ve decided to try to live up to the physical therapists’ expectation and be a jock. Or a jock lite, anyway. After all, it worked with self-confidence. When I was fourteen I moved away from my first girlfriend and every other friend I had, away from a difficult home situation that had eroded my self-confidence down to its bare roots, from the South to the North where my accent marked me as alien and probably an ignorant hick. In truth I was whip smart and musically gifted, but that tended to intimidate other people rather than draw them in. I was acutely conscious of my differences. I was tall, I was big, I was queer, I was a nerd, and most importantly I was an outsider in a community where everyone else had known each other since kindergarten.

I made friends fairly quickly, but not the kind of friends I needed. I made acquaintances, really, not actual friends. I was acutely lonely. But I remember one day walking into a rehearsal for the school musical, in which I had been cast as a chorus member, and watching all those other kids laughing and having a good time, and somehow I decided to just fake it. I can’t tell you why, can’t explain the impulse — maybe it was divine inspiration — but I decided to just pretend to be self confident and outgoing, instead of hanging back in the shadows like I usually did.

Now here’s the crazy thing: it worked. I pretended to be confident and content with myself, and somehow I managed to bootstrap myself into being self-confident and outgoing. I became what I wanted to be simply by pretending I was already there.

With respect to the gym, I’m not sure it will work, but I really hope so. I’ve always been an anti-jock. I have asthma and can’t run for shit. I suck at team sports, lack grace and agility, can’t throw, can’t catch. I am built, as I said, like a linebacker: no neck, broad shoulders, barrel chest, plenty of padding, and no ass. I’m big boned, which you’d be able to tell if I was thinner. I’m inflexible as hell, like a Stretch Armstrong with the syrup hardened inside.

This toy is way more flexible than I am.

But you know, it’s funny, I can look at myself in the mirror and I know I’m fat, but in my brain I’m… not this. I’m about six inches taller, a good bit more muscular, and most definitely more masculine. So actually I think that’s why it will work. I’ll just pretend to be the jock that the PT people are treating me as, and it will bootstrap me into being a jock. Or at least it will get me fitter.

Here’s the other thing that’s surprising me: they built a fitness center at my apartment, and now instead of thinking about what a pain in the ass it will be to go over to the Y, I find myself looking forward to going down and working out. The PT people were right to caution me not to overdo, because I find myself pretty much incapable of following their instructions to do the exercise bike for only ten minutes at zero resistance. It’s boring as hell if I don’t put it up to at least 6/20, and ten minutes isn’t nearly enough time. I even got my jock friend Wayne to come over and show me some free-weight things I can do for shoulders and triceps, and I feel pretty damn good about myself for doing it.

The hard part now is looking in the mirror and seeing the exterior me still there, still out of breath too easily, flabby and weak. I know it’s an incremental process, and I just have to keep at it, go every day, work out every day, gradually increase the weights I’m working with, the length of time and intensity of the cardio I’m doing. I know that I will probably end up still fat, just more fit under the flab. I know there’s no way in hell I’m going to grow that missing six inches or lose the boobs. (I suppose surgery could take care of the boobs, but that’s a topic for deeper consideration, and not before I lose at least some of the extra flab.) But what I feel is impatience, not futility. Impatience to get stronger, with more stamina and flexibility.

My church had its fifth anniversary dinner dance on Saturday, and I simply could not sit still. I danced until my knee was killing me, then I dragged a chair onto the dance floor and danced while seated. And I realized how all that dancing was most definitely athletic, and I was enjoying the hell out of it. If I could dance every day, I would. So why don’t I?

I think once my knee heals, I’m gonna bug JB into taking me to her gay two-stepping and line dancing clubs, even if I have to be a third wheel on her dates. Heck, maybe I’ll meet someone. I’m gonna start a social group for young people at my church to go gay bowling, gay karaoke singing, gay salsa dancing… To do active things, because it feels good to move and be active.

Not my actual fitness center

Yeah. Hold me to that. Because right now, the ache in my shoulders from the weights I lifted today is a good ache. So I’m gonna fake it until faking it is so natural it’s not fake any more.


~ by Nezu on 7 June 2010.

11 Responses to “Faking It”

  1. Butch can be a very beautiful thing 🙂

  2. Stretching/yoga is a great way to get in that exercise on days when you can’t/don’t want to go to the gym, and if you just stick to the easy moves, you probably won’t hurt your knee any. I know when I started doing yoga I never thought it could possibly build muscle, but it can – holding yourself in some of those positions requires a lot of core strength (which I lack in spades -_-;). And just spending ten minutes every morning stretching in bed has worked miracles on my back and hips. If your library rents DVDs, you could probably do it on your living room floor. 🙂

    • Good point. Yeah I just need the discipline to do it. I’m supposed to have “family stretch hour” which I have really been neglecting. It’s encouraging to hear your ten minutes a day is sufficient to make a difference.

  3. can not so young people join in too 🙂

    • “Young and those who identify as young.” Grin. You’re totally on the list. I just want something that’s co-ed and more activity oriented and social than the men’s group and women’s groups are.

  4. Thanks 🙂

  5. You are brilliant and I love the idea of faking it and thus becoming what you want to be. I need to think about that. It’s also good to be reminded of what yoga can do, for I definitely need to get more exercise and I enjoyed yoga when I did it years ago. More to think about.

    Lucius says to say hello and sends his love. He’s told me that this entry had come in, really enjoyed it and knew I would, too. We SO celebrate your indomitable spirit and new found happiness with deep joy.

    Love, and more love, Mom

  6. Hey Mrs DuBose please blog – those of us without such empathetic moms could really do with someone like you out there …

  7. *grins* It’s funny how, when you suddenly have something that fits, you want to fit into it. When the world was telling you you should be feminine, and it felt wrong, you didn’t work at all to try and make it work. Now the world says, “Yes, be masculine. Be a jock,” and you’re going, “Yes! This fits! This makes me happy!” and suddenly it’s worth going to the gym for. At least, that’s my theory. ;-D

    There’s a great group on meetup.com for the San Jose area that’s an LGBT activities group. I can’t make half the stuff they do because my schedule is nuts, but you probably could. 😀 There’s also an indoor/outdoor activities group that gets together ALL THE TIME. It’s awesome. You might check those out. 😀


  8. I think you hit the nail on the head with respect to what I’m willing to work for. It was such a losing battle trying to be a girly girl. Although I’ve been a bit under the weather and failing at gym going as a result, so right now I’m a little lost.

    Definitely need to talk to you about that activities group.

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