On the Couch with Britney

Although I will be the first person to proclaim love for my work and willingly admit that I do not deserve nor do I wish to complain about its demands, the reality of a new semester is sinking in this week. I have to know what day it is again. There are more than 100 new faces and names and body individualities to learn and give more than 100% to when we’re together in class. Much of my awake time will be spent thinking ahead and making sure all seven of the classes I teach are prepared for and ready to go; this will l wake me up at night, too. It isn’t much compared to people I know who balance more restrictively scheduled jobs with marathon training and family commitments, but after almost a month of freedom, it is jarring.

So this week I am getting reacquainted with my semester routine: wake up, meditate, listen to music while getting ready, catch up on e-mail over breakfast and coffee, drive to work listening to more music, teach until early afternoon, be utterly useless for about an hour recharging my batteries from teaching, do office work as fast as I can because here comes my favorite part of the day — training! After that I often take a pilates class or teach an evening yoga class, then see if I can remember the way back to my house after 12 hours.

At home my sweaty, tired body voices its demands. Feed me! No, wash me! No, recline me on the couch! Almost always the shower wins out, to feel fresh for dinner. By meal time I am famished, so dinner (always eaten on the couch) is something like tonight’s rapidly ready, epicurean underachievement of canned turkey chili over quick-cook brown rice, with a side of steamed vegetables and a yogurt for dessert.

Since I teach Nutrition, I know what these convenience foods lack, even though they are among the most nutritious fast items out there. I’m also aware of another nutritional no-no: eating in front of the TV. You aren’t supposed to do that. You’re supposed to relax, savor food and its nourishment, and eat mindfully. Studies show that people consume more calories and have much higher rates of obesity for every hour that they watch TV.

What can I say? I like a side dish for my mind during meals. Although I would argue that TV does next to nothing beneficial for the mind, it’s hard to use your hands to turn the pages of a book while trying not to all-out shovel food into a ravenous tummy. I live alone, so there’s no one to talk to. That leaves me to frequently welcome Dr. Frasier Crane or Lisa Simpson or Alex Trebek or Sienfeld & Co. to my table, er, sofa.

This week, my guest of dis-honor has been Britney Spears. I’m sitting down to eat when my non-HD TV’s non-cable networks offer “Cops,” home shopping, or “Entertainment Tonight.” ET easily wins. For a recovering celebrity “news” junkie, the show allows me to stay effortlessly informed about TomKat, J-Lo’s and Nicole Kidman’s pregnancies, Jessica Simpson’s latest romance, and, of course, Britney.

The girl appears to be deconstructing. Yesterday’s footage featured her shopping for a pregnancy test and hinted at drug use and a suicide note authored by Spears. Now that won’t look good for her custody hearing next month. These antics may be nothing more than publicity stunts, but even as fabricated acts they don’t exactly build a case for character.

Speaking of character, how did a reputed suicide attempt become fluff for gossip press sound-bytes?

I don’t really care about or care for Britney Spears, and like much of America am ready for her to take a permanent leave of absence from the public domain, but on some level she is still a fellow person obviously in a world of pain and disconnect.  She is a troubled young woman and a mother. People surround her from all directions, invited or not. She appears to need help. Why isn’t any of her entourage or even the press successfully intervening? Now that would be a scoop.

If a pop star with limitless resources and a blinding spotlight can run amok unchallenged, I dread to imagine how many invisible mortals are out there hurting, slipping through the cracks with no one to catch them.  

Yes, Britney Spears solicits the camera’s glare. Yes, she is a public persona subject to different treatment. It still feels wrong to sit by and watch.

Maybe I need to work on that one-handed mealtime page-turning after all.

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1 Response to “On the Couch with Britney”


  1. 1 Carla January 22, 2008 at 9:55 am

    You raise some interesting points…why do we just sit by as a society and watch people who are struggling crash and burn? Why do we have such a voyeuristic nature? Do we just feel better knowing that someone else’s woes far surpass our own? Or do we all see a little bit of ourselves in how Britney or whomever is the latest celebrity-in-crisis? Tough to answer.

    Hope all is well as you settle into the new semester!


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