Overachievers Anonymous, Part II (Completely Reasonable Lists Made by FFG)

Four Embarrassing Situations in which I was Not the Least Bit Embarrassed (mostly occurring before June 2007) 

-once I let out an explosive fart while teaching a large class. The students’ faces registered a mixture of surprise and shock, but my own expression remained impassive. I did not give a rat’s ass what they thought of me.

-on another occasion, I tripped and fell down while teaching in a dimly-lit, tiered classroom. Instead of acknowledging this mishap, I stood back up and continued my lecture without missing a beat.

-when I was standing onstage in front of 700 people during a figure competition, my bra fell off, revealing my tanned breasts. My first thought? “I hope this goes viral on youtube.”

-I was slogging my way to campus after a nasty ice storm in New Brunswick. My struggle to climb one particularly steep and slippery snow hill was hindered by the bags of books, student essays, and gym clothes that I was carrying. Then I felt two large hands grip my buttocks and push them—as well as the rest of me—up the hill. When I turned around, I saw a young male student with a smile on his face. “Hey thanks,” I said to the reliably helpful Maritimer.   

Sheep keep the grass trimmed at the Citadel Park in Lille, France.

Obsessive Travelogue (written on the train to Lille, 26 June 2010)

Number of days I have been in France—36
Number of times I have heard Americans exclaim “That’s disgusting!”—3
Number of times I have felt a surge of excitement before drinking coffee—98
Number of times I have shaken people pretending to be asleep on the train so that they can hog two seats—2
Number of times I have made ratatouille on my Parisian stovetop—4
Number of times I have thought “That baby is cute, maybe I should have had one.”—0
Number of times I have had suddenly to change my plans—6
Number of times I have become lost while walking to the gym—3
Number of times I have used my pointy elbows to clear a path while jogging—2
Number of strapless bras purchased—2
-number of tops—2
-roast chickens—4
Number of hardboiled eggs I have eaten since arriving—72
Number of times I have been thankful for my happiness and good luck—36 

Major Accomplishments between May and August (compiled 01 September 2012)

  1. Taught a new course in Cortona, taking students to Florence, Siena, and Arezzo
  2. Did research in Paris, finding great new material on tapeworms
  3. Wrote a review of the Wim Delvoye show at the Louvre
  4. Greatly improved my spoken Italian and French
  5. Wrote Chapters Two and Three of Feminist Figure Girl
  6. Wrote a book chapter for an anthology on maternity in the early modern world
  7. Read a great deal about phenomenology, tackling Husserl head on
  8. Applied for a Guggenheim Fellowship
  9. Pitched an exhibition proposal to a major Alberta museum
  10. Worked with graduate students, and had two successfully defend their MA theses  
  11. Ran boot camps in Italy; worked out 96 times
  12. Prepared an Epic Tuscan meal for 16 people, with the lovely DO


Eleven Things I Love about Cortona (written 29 May 2012) 

1. Fra Angelico’s Annunciation, c. 1436, in the Museo Diocesano.
2. The beautifully displayed mummified remains of Santa Margherita, c. 1297.
3. Fragrant bars of locally made almond-olive oil soap.
4. The free celery, carrot and parsely given to me almost every day by the produce market vendor, after she realized that I would be a regular customer.
5. Grande capuccino at the Bar Sport.
6. The server who said: ‘that was yesterday, and yesterday is forgotten,’ when I admitted to having inadvertently short changed her by .50 the day before.
7. The old men who sit on benches in the piazza, socializing in rigid rows, every single day.
8. The way in which passing scooter and motor bike riders give me a thumbs up when they think I’m cute.
9. The way in which residents looked me full in the face, assessing my character, during my first week here. Now they say ciao.
10. The old lady who moans, groans, and invokes the help of the Lord (il signore) when hanging out her laundry on the line across the street.
11. The unprocessed carmelized sugar smell that wafts up from the houses below me every morning. How can I memorize it? 

What I ate each day during the third week of January (received from diet coach on 15 January 2011):


100 g butternut squash

60 g baked sweet potato

50 g dry oatmeal

½ cup skim milk

215 g Brussels sprouts


1 scoop protein powder

25 g almonds

115 g basa

170 g bison

250 g egg whites (ML=8)

140 g chicken breast

During the next three years I MUST accomplish the following (written 31 October 2012)

  1. Win a Guggenheim Fellowship
  2. Teach in one or all of the following places: China, Japan, Africa
  3. Visit the Hermitage Museum in Russia
  4. Write two more books
  5. Apply for a Killam Professorship

Grocery List (purchased 08 November 2012)

  • Gluten-, sugar- and dairy-free food for Montreal guests
  • More of MW’s coffee
  • Pregnancy test
  • Lactose-free milk for LSP
  • New smoke alarm with battery
  • Science Diet for Muff
  • Toilet paper

What I did the day my father died in a car crash (12 November 2012)

  • Worked on Chapter Four of my FFG book
  • Went for a long jog down College Street in Toronto
  • Had coffee with the delightful A, glorying in her intelligence
  • Received a call from my brother saying that my dad was dead
  • Worked on my talk for the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton
  • Went out for a ‘gargantuan’ roast chicken dinner with L
  • Did back training and more cardio at the GoodLife gym, using my free pass
  • Decided not to tell anyone about the accident, except my LSP
  • Laid awake that night in J’s bed, realizing that I have always tried to help everyone, especially girls and women, because I did nothing to protect my sister
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , by feministfiguregirl. Bookmark the permalink.

About feministfiguregirl

I am a 51-year-old professor named Lianne McTavish who receives as much satisfaction from working out at the gym as from publishing my academic research. About eight years ago, I decided to combine my two primary identities (scholar/gym rat) to create "Feminist Figure Girl," a fictional character who both analyzes and participates in bodybuilding. I competed in my first figure show in June of 2011, and then wrote a book inspired by the process, published by SUNY Press in February 2015. In this blog I will write about and consider my ongoing research on the body, while regularly making fun of myself. I recommend that you start reading my first post from August 2010 (available on the home page), instead of backwards from the most recent one, in order to get the full FFG effect.

9 thoughts on “Overachievers Anonymous, Part II (Completely Reasonable Lists Made by FFG)

  1. For what its worth, this is the most inspiring and simultaneously heartbreaking thing I’ve read in a while. I am a point where I cannot decide between taking a break or barreling onto grad school all my overachieving glory next fall. Your post hasn’t made that decision easier, but it has been insightful.

    • Good luck with your decision Kristen. In some ways I regret going straight from highschool to my BA, MA, and then PhD. I was so tired when at age 28 I was an assistant professor beginning to pursue publications and tenure with a very heavy teaching load. On the other hand, I graduated at a relatively young age without any debt, and now have a fulfilling and financially rewarding job that has given me everything I ever wanted: continued opportunities to learn, autonomy, fabulous research trips around the world, and constant interaction with new and (mostly) highly intelligent, self-critical people.

  2. So sorry to hear of your loss. I found your blog quite by accident (former resident of DFW, TX at the time, now by way of Seattle). You’ve always given me more than a great laugh and I appreciate the time you take to make your blog so entertaining. Godspeed.

  3. The last point of the last list, points to something so powerful it filled me with emotion. Using our regrets, or past inadequacies as an engine room, powering good into our daily life, and the life of those around us, is the greatest way to atone for those failings.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s