Sunday, September 23, 2018

Broken Thing Redux

Just a few days shy of two months ago I wrote the Broken Things post. At that point it had been two weeks since the lift chair I use to get in and out of the pool broke with me on it. The chair was finally fixed on Friday and I'll be back in the pool on Monday. Why did it take so long? I don't really know. I don't think it can be said that it wasn't fixed because I'm fat but it can absolutely be said that my weight was being blamed and was going to be used to keep me out of the pool. There's a lot of back story to this and some of what I know came to me through back channels. All I knew was that week after week went by with no swimming. Eventually I contacted a disability rights org and a lawyer sent a letter asking them to make sure the chair would be fixed and that I can return to the pool. I don't know if it was that letter or other things that caused the fix to happen. I know it took twenty minutes or so to fix it. My rage about that fact is fairly overwhelming.
The chair is old and covered with rust. There are parts missing, a head rest, foot rest, movable arm and seat belt. The foot rest means that the chair is out of code and should be replaced. The lawyer raised that point and was told by management that it wasn't possible to replace it. I think the implication was that it was too costly. This from a club that recently bragged on Facebook about the money they've spent to improve their two clubs. My friend saw the broken bolts and said they were covered with rust.
In the response letter the management mentioned that I had been dancing when the chair broke and in the letter sent to tell him that I could come back I was admonished to sit still when on the chair. I usually do. The dancing I was doing was not vigorous. I was sort of kicking my feet and moving my shoulders. When I joined the club I asked if the chair could support my weight. I was told it could. Later I saw a sign about the weight minimum on the chair and it was in fact more than enough for my body. I've been using it for around five years. Even if I was dancing that chair broke because of rusted out bolts and age. Not my weight. Not my dancing.
But what if it was?
There was never any concern expressed about me being on the chair when it broke. There is no apology for the time I spent away from the pool. It wasn't fixed by professionals. I can only hope that it is a good enough fix. And that is just wrong. I should have a chair that I can use with confidence. The fact that I don't reflects a willful disregard for my well being and access to the pool. I think at least some of that is because I'm fat. Even if I didn't exit the club had no access for people with disabilities who needed the chair to use the pool. There is at least one other member, a ninety-three year old woman, who uses it. She had been out of the pool but went back recently and (I was told) had to be carried into the pool.
Willful. Disregard.
I don't need the chair because I'm fat. I need the chair because my knees don't bend easily. But again. If I needed it because I was fat ... shouldn't that be reason enough to fix it?
I've written so many times about my love of swimming. I've written that as long as I can swim and read I'll be happy. I have not been happy. I've been extremely unhappy. Unhappy because I couldn't swim and because of the ... willful disregard.
While all this was happening a friend on Facebook was talking about an event in which she felt something that happened was about her being fat. We never really want to think that. Our not fat friends aren't always sure. They don't want to believe it.

Oh.
But there's more.
My eye doctor has seen signs of macular degeneration in my eyes. I wasn't surprised. My dad had it. A few months ago I noticed distortions in my vision. Lines would wobble. I had a blind spot at night. At my last visit I was tested and was told I would need treatment. The treatment is a shot. In my eye. Two actually. One to numb the eye and then the shot to reduce the inflammation. It's not as bad as it sounds but it's not fun. I've already had two shots and will need to get them for the rest of my life. And I may eventually need them in the left eye as well. My eye responded well to the treatment. No more distortions. I still have the blind spot at night. The doctor said it's about night vision. I'm mostly asleep at night so ... but when I get up to use the bathroom and see that hole in my vision it fills me with fear. I could go blind. I probably won't as  long as I'm getting the shots but the possibility is terrifying.
As long as I can swim ... and read.
There have been a few other things happening. I can't explain why but all of it has sucked the life out of me. I've lost confidence and I haven't made a move to publish the book. Right now I'm not sure I ever will. I need to rebuild something that I can't quite name.
Swimming will feel good. Being at the club won't feel good. There's something about two months to do something that took twenty minutes. I am angry. I am hurt. And I'm not even sure the chair won't break again as soon as I sit on it. I should be sure.
All of this personal stuff happens in the context of the larger political nightmare, which is ... not happy.
I don't even care much about happy. I care about fair. I care about truth.

I'm trying to ... reenter? I've been in my little nest for the better part of the last two months. I do my yoga. My bicycle wheels. My weights. I did all of those thing when I was swimming. I don't even get dressed. I take a shower and put my pajamas back on. Why get dressed? Pajama days are fun. Pajama months are dreary. I've been trolling social media. Clicking a like here and there. I'm going to try to be back in it.
I feel old.
And broken.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Broken Things

I have really beautiful shades in my windows. They are purple. I'm not sure what the material is but it looks like linen. They're made of thick honeycombs so they block light and sound. They are motorized. I can move them up and down with any smart devise, which is fun. It's also new technology and is buggy as hell. I had three different sets originally because of a known bug. One of them was eating batteries so, currently, they are all in the shop getting new motors. Which means I haven't had shades for three days.  It also means that the nest is all torn up because the things that are usually in front of the windows are moved away from them and it doesn't make sense to move them back right away. I didn't think it would take this long.
Two weeks ago the lift chair I use to get in and out of the pool broke as I was getting out. Two of the bolts were rusted out. I don't know why it's taking this long to fix it but I am not swimming. Swimming is good for me in so many ways. Physically, emotionally. It gets me out of the nest. Not being able to swim is miserable. The only reason I haven't been on the floor weeping is because I've been working on the book.
I enjoyed the work. I really like a lot of things about the book. I finished yesterday. Time to figure out self publishing.
And then.
Last night.
I had a full blown panic attack.
I can't even detail the things that were biting at me because they were so global and off the rail. I'd talk myself off the ledge and be on the edge of it moments later. Several times I decided I wasn't going to publish the book. I mean I was ... freaking ...out.
This morning two friends asked where they could buy the book. I calmed down a little bit.
I think not swimming and having the nest be all torn up are destabilizing factors. But who knows. Maybe I would have freaked out no matter what.
So today I am looking into self publishing. After I do as many things as I can to avoid it.
Kidding.
Not.
Sigh.
I just need a bunch of people to come here and pat me until I get this done.
 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Writing

I have gone through the whole book. Picked and deleted and rearranged. I will be going through it again.
At first I printed things out because I was determined to be done. But as I went through I kept making changes. The beginning has been gone over so many times but even there I made changes when I saw that there was a way to link things as I went along. My current plan is to read the printed text. I feel like it might be different than always reading on the screen.
It just amazes me because I always find mistakes. Like once I left the l out of health. Spell check won't save you from something like that. I remember when I was doing the reading at our MFA group read. The text had been edited by me and many class mates and teachers AND STILL ... there were mistakes. Now I always read out loud because I know things pop out when you do that.
Mostly I'm having fun and I like the book. But some days I feel like it's stupid and futile.
What do I mean by that? I'm not really sure.
The purpose of the book is to create a portrait of a life in a fat body that causes people who aren't fat to see being fat differently. It seems so abstract sometimes. I have had the experience of telling a few stories of  the fat related things that have happened in my life to someone and they are shocked. Shocked by the things that have been said to me in public. Shocked by the things medical professionals have said to me. But the shock wears off. I'm hoping for deeper insight.
It feels like swimming against the tide.
The other goal (and maybe this should be first) is that it be a good read. I have a certain amount of confidence in my writing but when someone doesn't respond well to it I tend to be flattened. Intellectually I know that some people just aren't going to like it and that's no big deal. But emotionally I wobble. Right now I feel extremely needy. Like me. Please like me.
It's just a roller coaster.
Right now ... I'm going to clear off the desk and get to work. Unless clearing off the desk takes too long. Or something distracts me. Or I need a nap.
Sheesh!

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Little Story #34

I made it through the little story project month with a few little story posts before it started. It's been ... um ... interesting. Much harder than I thought it was going to be and I thought it was going to be hard. There were a few times when I didn't have any ideas. Then somehow ... miraculously ... I'd start typing. That was affirming.
The reason I did this was to get my writer muscles back so I could rewrite my book. I will (theoretically) self publish and hope to sell enough to pay costs. My aspirations are not too high.
Some of the little stories are in the book. The focus of the book is my experience of being fat and deciding at a fairly young age not to diet. I'm always hoping my writing has an impact on how fat people are seen. But I have friends who make fat jokes, body shame children, valorize thinness when I'm sitting there. I don't want people to not say things in front of me if they really feel them but the fact that I  hear so many same old shit things suggests that my message is not getting through.
Still I feel like I need to make this effort. I need to have the book in my hands.
The little story project gave me a sense of timing. In school I wrote in the morning. These days I'm getting ready to swim four days a week so I don't have time. Three mornings a week I can write and I can write in the afternoons. The project helped me get a groove going.
I'm not sure if I'll keep posting on the blog but I hope I do. I'm trying to think up a food blog project.
When I was writing in the MFA program I talked about wanting a therapist on one side and an editor on the other. Most of us did. Writing the little stories has been painful at times. I sort of stirred the soup to find them. My feeling is that you never get over things. You live with them. You don't let them run you around. Sometimes they rise up when you don't expect them and you just have to take the fall. And then. The trees sway in the wind. The first blackberries taste so good. A friend sends a video of her daughter spinning in a new dress. Life calls you back into the moment.
I am so grateful to the friends who read and left comments or likes. It's always fun to get those but during this push it was like vitamins.
So.
Yesterday I opened the book. I was surprised to find that I'd written an introduction a few years ago. I forgot about it and it was pretty good. Then I went through the first two chapters, which are the most rewritten and edited parts of the book because I always start at the beginning to work on it. And then ...there was no more text.
Freak.
Out.
I mean I have hard copies of the book and I thought I had it on some flash drives so I knew all was not lost. Still, it was a moment. I found a flash drive with it. I have no idea if there is more recent work but ... oh well. I worked a little bit.
So....


Friday, June 29, 2018

Little Story #33

I forgot to mention seeing Allen Ginsberg walking across the street in Boulder and Lawrence Ferlinghetti on a corner in SF in my famous people post. If you don't read poetry that might not mean a thing to you. I had been a passionate reader of all Beat related writers so seeing them made me very happy.
And one more famous person story involves my father. He sold cars in Austin Texas. The dealership was owned by the mayor and LBJ bought his cares there. My grandmother (the Democrat) loved LBJ. We went to his house, although he wasn't there at the time. There was a tiny store in the near by town at which you could buy jars of the grass from his lawn. Seriously.
Dad owned a quarter horse ranch for a while. He raced one of the horses. One day we were at the track. I was in full hippie regalia, patched blue jeans, tie-dyed t-shirt, no bra, construction boots, beads. My half sister and step sister were dressed in matching cowgirl outfits. Dad took us over to meet LBJ. He and I shook hands, limply. I resisted the urge to tell him to end the war. It must have been really hard for my dad to own me in that moment. 
Heh.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Little Story #32

I spent so much time in the little bar off the lobby of the hotel that I got phone calls there. John Steinbeck IV spent a lot of time there as well and eventually we became friends. He drank. And drank. And smoked. I could never keep up. I have one vivid memory of him pouring a glass of Whisky (?) Scotch (?) down his throat. It stayed with me because as I watched I knew he drank differently that I did. I loved hanging out with him and listening to his stories.
I also met his brother Thom. On Sundays my friend Cathy bartended. I'd stop at the front desk to buy the New York Times, the LA Times, the Washington Post and the Boulder Daily Camera. Then I'd work my way through the pile while I ate eggs, drank Bloody Mary's and coffee. In the afternoon I'd eat some lunch and switch to Johnny Walker Black. One day Thom walked up to the bar thinking the pile of papers were for everyone. Without looking up I smacked my hand down on top of them. Then I pointed to the pile on a nearby table of what I'd already read. He found it charming.
He gave me some money once to help me with my music career. It wasn't a lot but it felt like a lot. I (of course) celebrated by going out for dinner. He saw me in the restaurant and shook his head.
John kissed me once. He was really drunk. I'm not saying he had to be drunk to want to kiss me but he was married.
There was a shop in Boulder then, Moon Sun Emporium. They had a wall of great soaps, Mason Pearson brushes and shaving supplies, essential oils, trinkets for the hair and beautiful perfume bottles. There was one purple crystal bottle that I really wanted. I'm not sure how but John and I ended up there at the same time. He bought me the bottle and a Kiel's oil that he loved, which he poured into it. I couldn't forget him even if I wanted to because I use that scent. He lives on my skin.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Little Story #31

Famous people have always been in my life. Mostly because I was cooking them food in a restaurant kitchen.
In Boulder I cooked dinner for Joni Mitchel. I wanted to send her desert but the waiter wouldn't carry it. He thought it would bother her. Desert? Bother?
I served Bill Murray breakfast. He wanted pie for desert and had trouble accepting that we didn't have any available. He said - I'm looking into your eyes and I think I see pie.
I made lunch for William Burrows. I'm sure there's a naked joke I could make but I can't think of it. He had a roast beef sandwich.
Carol King was having dinner in a place when I walked through the dining room.
Leonard Nimoy smiled at me from a car.
Maria Muldaur was in the Diner one day. I had seen her the night before in a small club. I started going off about how I didn't think she'd been very good before I realized she was there. I can only hope she didn't hear me being such a dope.
Joe Jackson (Don't You Know That It's Different for Girls) walked out of the hotel in front of me.
I was sitting at a bar one day. Taj Mahal sat down next to me. We chatted a bit and sang a few lines of I Cover the Waterfront together.  One of the thrills of my life.
I was crossing a street in NYC. Tyne Daly was crossing at the same time. When I realized who she was she was smiling and nodding. I'm not sure but I think she may have thought I recognized her (before I did) and was being kind. It felt a little awkward. I loved her.
I cooked dinner for Susan Sontag. I was the only member of the crew who knew who she was.
Gene Shalit held a news paper up at the pass bar of the kitchen because he needed light. I said - movie section? He smiled and nodded.
Kevin Klein and Phobe Cates ate in that same restaurant. As did Garrison Keillor. As did Tom Hulce.
Danny Glover smiled at me as I walked down the street in SF. Smiled and nodded. Swoon.
Nick Nolte had dinner with me once. We weren't at the same table but ... heh.
The weird thing about seeing famous people is they look familiar. You think you know them at first but of course ... you don't.