Hi, I’m Mary, and this is my column no one asked for about things I like!
This used to be a weekly column, but I haven’t written one in almost a year. HM, I WONDER WHY. Don’t worry, I’m not here to complain about how difficult the past year has been for me specifically because it hasn’t been difficult for me specifically, it’s been difficult for everyone generally. And I’m not here to share all the Big Lessons I’ve Learned over the course of this Very Difficult Year because I think the only thing I’ve really learned is how to cook rice properly, and that’s only because I bought a rice cooker.
What I’m here to talk about is my ankles, specifically where they’ve gone. Where have they gone? Have you seen them? Because I haven’t gotten a glimpse in about two months and I’m starting to worry they’re gone for good.
It’s been a hot, sticky summer in NYC (or, as Ted Casablanca used to call it in his E! Online column The Awful Truth, the first blog I ever read, En Why See. Lol) and at this point I feel like my former apartment’s bathroom door—so bloated from all the humidity that I can’t even properly function (the door only fully closed in the dead of winter. The rest of the year it remained ajar). I feel like this at the end of every summer, and yet this year it’s even worse because I am, embarrassingly, older, and therefore strange things are starting to happen to my body, like the aforementioned case of the missing ankles. I also think I have a bunion from the combination of foot bloat and new Birkenstocks, which leads me to my next question: what is a bunion? Which leads me to my next question: do I have one? Which leads me to another question: should I start an Only Fans for my swollen ankles? Which leads me to my final question: what exactly is Only Fans?
This summer has been both uneventful and exciting, both strange and mind-dumbingly normal. I’ve had almost nothing to do and yet I’ve been too busy to do much of anything, and now I find myself both eager for fall’s crisp arrival and desperate to suck in summer’s last moist gasp. Because once the door closes, will we be able to open it again? (According to my old bathroom door, the answer is yes, but we’re going to have to put at least one shoulder into it.)
So what did I even do this summer? I walked my dog a lot and I started going to the gym again, which felt really scary at first but quickly started to feel totally fine and even a little bit amazing. I like going to classes—Pilates, strength training and spin—and missed not only the workouts (I can motivate to do cardio on my own but I absolutely will not do a plank unless someone is screaming at me about the importance of core strength) but the people I see there, strangers whose names I don’t know but with whom I’d make friendly small talk a few days a week. I missed locking eyes with one kind middle-aged woman during class and shaking our heads as if to say, “wow, this is hard today!” and then walking past each other on the way out the door and saying, “wow, that was hard today!”
But most of all, I missed Michelle Williams. No, not that Michelle Williams. Or that Michelle Williams. Not the former member of Destiny’s child or the actress. I’m talking about the other other Michelle Williams, in my opinion the most talented of them all, who runs the Pilates program for Crunch Fitness and teaches lots of classes that I attend. Now, she’s a survivor!
Since my return to the gym, I’ve only attended classes. I used to run on the treadmill but maybe the one good thing about the pandemic is that it forced me to run outside, which is both more difficult and infinitely more enjoyable, so I thought it might be nice to run to the gym (and by nice I mean miserable but beneficial) rather than to run at the gym (although I took advantage of the industrial air conditioning on a few 90 degree days this summer and ran while enjoying the artificial breeze!). The only problem, I realized, was I’d need to figure out a way to bring water. All the other things I take to the gym (keys, phone, headphones) are small enough to shove into pockets but my beloved R.E.I. water bottle is roughly the size of my head and difficult to carry (although I still carry it with me everywhere all the time. In fact, I recently forgot it somewhere for the very first time ever and felt like I was missing a limb until I went to retrieve it the next day). Staying hydrated is my #1 favorite activity and since I’m morally opposed to bottled water (unless I’m at the airport, in which case I always buy the biggest bottle of Smartwater I can find in honor of Jennifer Aniston, the only celebrity who seems to share my humble life goal of slowly becoming liquid) and also too cheap to spend money on a natural freaking resource which is thankfully plentiful where I live, I realized I needed to find some sort of portable water bottle I could shove in the pockets of these, which I’m horrified to admit I like way more than these. (I know shopping on Amazon is bad, but isn’t spending four times more on something you don’t like nearly as much even worse? No? OK, just checking!)
Which is how I ended up buying the best thing I’ve purchased in the last year, this Vapur collapsible water pouch. (The best thing I bought the previous year was this beach tent, also purchased from Amazon. Ahhh, I’m the problem! But is buying from Amazon really any worse than buying from Target or Walmart? Oh, there are other stores that you can buy stuff from? Hm, I’ll have to check those out!) It’s basically an empty Capri Sun pouch, except resealable and refillable. Before a run, I just roll it up (empty) and shove it into the pocket of my shorts (whoever started calling this ultra-trendy style bike shorts is blissfully unaware that real bike shorts have a lot of crotch padding), then when I get to the gym, I fill up the pouch and it does exactly what a water bottle is supposed to do: contain the water so I can drink it!
My Vapur bottle is also perfect for walking my cute little dog. Whereas normal water bottles take up an inflexible amount of space, this bottle takes up only as much space as the water it holds. If I were better at geometry, I’d be able to describe the mathematics at work here but unfortunately I paid no attention in that class, in fact it’s the only class during which I ever misbehaved enough to be sent to the principal’s office (where I cried so hard from the shame of being a bad kid he didn’t even give me detention). If I fill up my Vapur pouch about halfway, it fits neatly in my beat up old Jansport fanny pack, and that’s usually enough water to get my sweet little doggy through a walk, plus I can always refill the bottle as we go.
This bottle is also great for travel, especially now that some airports (and just so you know, I’m flying a lot these days jk) have bottle filling stations (sorry Jennifer), is perfect to take the beach and probably has many other uses I’ve yet to discover (maybe I could drain my ankle fluid into it?). It’s convenience in a bottle lol but literally! A convenient bottle! And since convenience is once again something we’re looking for, I’m all about it (says the woman who bikes two miles with a backpack full of heavy groceries because oat milk is a dollar cheaper at the supermarket three neighborhoods over than it is at the store around the corner).
It feels pretty wild to be espousing the virtues of something portable after a year and three months of never needing to take anything anywhere, of carrying a glass of water from one room to another (or from one corner of a room to another corner of that very same room). Now here I am talking about a water bottle you can put in your pocket and take with you when you leave your home! Times have changed, and will possibly change again, and what is life if not a daily evolution, and can you even call it a water bottle if it’s not an actual bottle or is a bottle anything that holds liquid? If so, my ankles are bottles haha just trying to lighten the mood a little here.
To be honest, one of the reasons I haven’t written this column in a while is because I feel conflicted about buying things (says the woman who just exclusively recommended products purchased on Amazon), even if they’re small, inexpensive essentials like a $5.49 reusable water pouch. Don’t get me wrong, I still have the absolutely inescapable urge to buy things all the time (including this and these and UGH I really want this!), but I don’t like the enthusiastic consumer inside me and am trying to curb that (extremely persistent!) instinct. I don’t think I’ve ever exactly been pro-consumerism (I was raised by a woman who considered clothes shopping to be the most excruciating chore, did it once a year, twice max and returned half of the exceptionally practical items she purchased a week later) and I certainly don’t buy much (I’m currently living off of unemployment–and not for the first time!), but in my heart of hearts, I love buying shit and I hate that about myself.
Wow, it’s really true what they say: women are complicated!
So I’ll be back eventually, maybe even soon (no one cares) with more things I like but in the meantime, I’ll continue to sell all of my clothes on Poshmark and when I hop on my little bicycle and use my puffy ankles to pedal those packages to my favorite post office (the one on Atlantic Ave. between 3rd and 4th Aves.), you know I’m throwing my Vapur pouch in my pocket, just in case.
Unless I have room for my humungous insulated R.E.I. water bottle, in which case I’m taking that. 😉
As always, I’d like to clarify that this is NOT a sponsored post. I received nothing for it and am pretty sure no one cares about how I stay hydrated on the go. Still, if anyone is reading and ever wants to give me literally anything for free, water pouch or not, I WILL TAKE IT!!!!!!
Anyway, I hope this was helpful. I’ll be back with more unsolicited recommendations soon!