Friday, September 26, 2014

Plus Size

Every year The New Yorker does a style issue. The only thing I'm less interested in is sports but I flip through to make sure there's nothing by a writer I like. This year there is a fairly good article about plus size fashion. It's very well written, includes some history of how the perception of fat bodies devolved grabbed from Fat Shame (a book I have not read). It mentions a number of fat fashion bloggers (most of whom I haven't read). And only gives a small nod to the idea that being fat is unhealthy.
"Obesity is a genuine health concern, but the connection between health and the wearing of crop tops is a murky one."
Yes. Murky.
I just hate the flatness of the genuine-health-concern thinking. However, it goes on to say that "people become plus size for all sorts of reasons, not all of which involve life style choices." So, there is some nuance and it gets even more radical by calling out the "health concern" as a way to "police the prevailing social order." 
It ends in a Lane Bryant store with a customer who will "never wear a crop top." It is a sour ending for an otherwise interesting article. It seemed to say that most fat women are going to dress in a conservative manner because ... they should.
I know that the fat revolution is fought on the fields of fashion. I get it. It feels a bit frivolous to me some times but it does matter. Wearing a fatkini is a radical act. Wearing horizontal stripes. Wearing sleeveless shirts. Wearing clothing that is fun and alive and ... pretty. If you're fat you aren't suppose to do any of those things. You're supposed to wear clothing that covers your shame.
Even the term plus size kind of makes my teeth hurt. Adding from what? Normal? And what is that?
I am not interested in fashion but I am aware that I've always worn a uniform.
A wanna be cowgirl uniform.
A hippie chick uniform.
A rock-n-roll uniform.
A lives below 14th street uniform.
A guru girl uniform.
My uniform these days is frighteningly middle aged. Most of the time I'm in simple baggy pants and a simple baggy shirt. Sometimes I wear a nicer shirt. Usually with a flowery pattern. And I will not be wearing a crop top any time soon. Much of this is about age, I suppose. It's also just about comfort and taste. I spend a lot of time in the privacy of my nest in my pajamas. I lean toward gypsy/hippie/arty stuff but ... I don't get out much. I have a hard remembering to put on earrings. It's something I actually work on because I know it matters.
I have a sense that if I were not fat my fashion life might have taken a similar trajectory. Wandering through the uniforms and landing at baggy.
The connection between wearing a crop top and having a deeply internalized sense that my fat body is a whole body with a complex history and not a pathology is murky.
Yes. Murky.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Having a Facebook page for the blog was hopefully going to encourage me to write. sort of did. A little bit. It kicked up that reflex to think of things in terms of writing. But I've been spending a lot of time under a blanket feeling crappy. I see the surgeon on Tuesday. At this point if he says he'll take the gall bladder out I'll say yes. Feeling this bad is exhausting.
So today when Facebook reminded me that I hadn't written in five days I rolled my eyes. I've created a nag. 
I was going to write about living on a highway. Oak street is also highway 30. You can drive on highway 84, which becomes (I think) highway 30 at some point and miss the downtown crowds but great big trucks are always driving past. Trucks bigger than the nest. Trucks with logs. Trucks with gravel. During the summer there is also a lot of tourist traffic. Parking becomes impossible. Because I have my door open most of the time the smell of traffic can be overwhelming and ... yucky. And noisy. First thing in the morning, before the traffic starts, I open the door, lean out and take a deep breath. Last thing at night I do the same thing. Hood River smells like forest. And it's quiet. 
I was going to write about wanting this waterproof iPod. Yet another gadget, which is not terribly expensive but costs enough to hesitate and think about if I really want it. I like having my ears open. Sometimes I talk to other swimmers. Mostly I just like the awareness of sound. I like music too and it might be fun to have music in my ears while I swim. But music can shift my mood really quickly. One overwrought romantic song and I might crash. 
I thought I might be able to wind those two things together and write about all five senses but 
I was going to write about waking up on Sunday and being very excited to play with my Sims but the game wouldn't load. There's a bug that messes up the launcher from time to time. I really like playing on Sunday because there's lots of news talk to play in the background. I got cranky for a few minutes and then ... I opened my book and began to rewrite. I worked on it all day. It was extremely fun. I want to rewrite and then self publish.
Then I started feeling bad.
David Mitchel was recently quoted on writing.

I haven't read him yet.
I've been trying not to rush to my screen. I've been trying to start the day. Eat some eggs. Drink some coffee. Truth be told, I check my phone first thing but then I really have been trying to wait before I'm in front of the endless stream. On Sunday I wrote for a while and then I cleaned and then wrote some more. It worked.
Today the pain and nausea levels are low enough. I'm starting to want my blanket but I'm good for a bit more.
The page has 40 followers. It was at 39 for a long time. I prefer round numbers. I've sent invites to people who just don't seem to see them. Ironically two of them have asked me to follow their pages. Oh but what ever. It's all a bit silly.
I joined ello.
It's very spartan. Which is fine.
And then there's the bug. There used to be a toggle at the top of the Facebook page. I could choose to post as myself or the page. If I had it set to post as the page and I used the post-as-the-page setting in Blogger my post went straight to the page. Now the toggle is in each individual post and doesn't work with Blogger. I tried once and the post appeared briefly in the feed but not on the page. I figured out how to work around it but ...sigh.
I guess the good news is that I am writing a wee bit more. Now, if I can write a wee bit better.

Friday, September 19, 2014


Recently there was a commercial for the iPhone in which a woman is swimming and then taking something off her suit and putting it on her phone to record how her swim had gone. I wanted it right away.
It's 100 dollars. Nothing if you have disposable income. I don't. And more to the point there wouldn't be much data gathered. I swim back and forth. I swim forward and then back wards. I do a few side strokes. I hold onto the side of the pool and kick really fast a few times. I swim for an hour. That's it. I usually get out because I need to pee. People always congratulate me for "keeping it up". They don't understand how much I love it. If there was a pool right outside my door I'd be in it several times a day. But I'm not trying to be a great swimmer. I'm just enjoying being able to move with less pain than I have when I'm walking.
Generally speaking I am not in favor of all the new fitness tracking devices. Paul wrote about it recently and David Sedaris wrote a funny piece about his Fitbit. They both talk about the obsession with numbers. I am data curious and have fun with things for awhile but I always get out of control and obsessed.
When I was working on the junk room I found some old diary pages from the time when I'd been given the assignment to track my food for a biology class. I actually enjoyed it for a time. I eat around 2000 calories a day give or take. More if I eat out. More if it's a holiday. Reading through those pages I saw that not much has changed. I enjoyed doing but eventually I started worrying about it. I'd eat a cookie and not write it down. I had elaborate and loopy reasons for why not. Or I'd eat two cookies and write down one. My inner diet food cop rose up and and my inner shame about wanting a cookie (wanting a cookie) (shame) (sheesh) rose up and they did battle. What a waste of time.
I enjoy being weighed at the doctor because it's interesting to me to know exactly how much I weigh. But if I buy a scale I'm on it twice a day. I start eating less and then eat too much in rebellion. Not at all useful.
Our definition of heath is important. Numbers tend to over simplify. And for some of us numbers create obsession.  
I'm thinking about this today because I updated my iPhone and got their new "health" app. I jumped right in trying to enter data. I can't figure out how to enter some basic info, which may be because it's designed to get that information from other apps. They give you this free thing and then sell you a bunch of new apps. Ah. Capitalism.
I'm always amused by yoga in this country. People have been doing yoga almost naked in the wilderness for years. Now yoga has it's own magazine, special bags for special mats, clothes, music, straps and blocks and videos and on and on. I own a strap and some blocks and a video so I'm not above the market. I'm just ... chagrined. Or something.
The swim tracker thing also tracks your sleep.
Oh man.
I might need that.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Shortly after I was born Mom had a gallbladder attack. She remembers eating a peanut butter sandwich before bed and waking up in severe pain. She went to the hospital and they removed her gallbladder. As a result I've always been mildly phobic about peanut butter.
Gallbladder problems are hereditary. In the last twenty years my digestive system has been increasingly fussy probably in some part because of my gallbladder.  In my forties I had symptoms but an ultrasound didn't show any stones. There is this thing about being fair, fat and forty associated with gallbladder issues. I have read that it's showing up in younger people and it is suggested that it's the fault of fast food. Maybe. Mom had her problems when she was 27. I made it through the forties and fifties with only occasional flair ups. I've been increasingly careful with fats, carbohydrates, sugar to manage what I call my stomach aches but which may have been my gallbladder complaining.
Fat people (particularly fat women) may have gallbladder issues more often than others. There is apparently an estrogen factor. There is a connection with Diabetes. Rabid weight loss may also be a contributor. A person may be told to lose weight and cause an attack. Many articles mention obesity followed by rapid weight lost with no sense of irony. Like so many things medical there's mostly theories, educated guesses. And I have know a few men who were young, thin and generally healthy eaters who had gallbladder issues. For what that's worth.
Recently, I had two meals that were not gallbladder friendly. I had carbonara and a few days later I had a multi-coarse meal that included oysters coppa, lamb, and lots of desert. It was a great meal with two friends and fun conversation. It's one of my favorite things to do but I don't do it that often.
The other day I saw a chart on Facebook from some hippie thing. I don't remember and I didn't look carefully but it was a picture of the body with areas color coded and associated with specific emotions. The gallbladder/liver/pancreas are is associated with anger. On the day of the multi-coarse meal I also attended a board meeting that left me enraged. It's a topic for a post of its own but I'm trying to stay calm. Heh.
I think I started being "symptomatic" the day before those events but I'm not sure. Every day after that I've had pain in my right side. Mostly after I eat. I haven't had much appetite and I'm exhausted for no obvious reason. I went to the doctor, got an ultra sound and it turns out I have a gall stone. My gallbladder is not in terrible shape and my blood work was good. I'm not vomiting. My skin isn't yellow. I am still having pain but it's really not that bad.
I'll be talking to a surgeon. I almost always go for alternative treatment. In the past few years I've been drinking apple cider vinegar and baking soda to control gout pain with much success. It turns out that it's also a treatment for gall stones. (It works to clean out clogged plumbing as well.) I could do that and get some acupuncture and maybe I'd be OK. But I'm older. My organs are older. Should I get it taken out? Is it inevitable? Can I get good advise from a surgeon? If a knee surgeon won't operate on me will the general surgeon?
Generally speaking my diet is gallbladder friendly. I am confused about some things. I was afraid to drink my second cup of coffee this morning and then I read that coffee may help dissolve stones. I snack on nuts almost every day, mostly dry roasted almonds but recently some oily peanuts. I love dark green leafy food but tend to eat more of it in the winter. I wonder if I have had stones build up and dissolve for years.
I dunno.
I guess we'll see.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

In The Gap

I am in a spectacularly bad mood. I'm not going to write about the central reasons but they have to do with the tragic gap. Remember the tragic gap? Parker Palmer talked about on a Moyers and I wrote about it a few times. It comes back to me again and again.
I was looking for one of the times I wrote about it for an hour or so this morning. It may be on the old blog. I got lost in my archives. I found another post about my moodiness, which I liked very much. That's not always true for me. I usually read old writing and flinch. I'm mostly quoting other people so ...
In the post a set of reading had added together for me and as I was looking for the tragic gap post I had a similar experience, starting with that post of my own and the bits from Coetzee. At some point I went to the Moyers site and searched: the tragic gap, found the specific episode and then I listened to the whole thing again. It aired in 2009 and still feels relevant. From Palmer.

I think the pursuit of happiness is the pursuit of reality because illusion never leaves us ultimately happy. And I think the opportunity now is for us to get real. And I think that's going to make us, in the long run, more happy. The tragic gap, and I call it tragic not because it's sad. It is. But more fundamentally because it's an inevitable part of the human condition.

Reality. It's hard because reality is so often a matter of perception. But there is a real real. A real that hits you in the wholeness of who you are and where you are.
Ten or so years ago I went to the hospital to meet a friend's new son. Both parents left the room for a minute and I was sitting with that brand new boy in my arms. So beautiful. And I started to cry. I was fifty, or so. And I knew I would never have my own child. It was just physically too late.

The tragic gap is the gap between what's really going on around us, the hard conditions in which our lives are currently immersed, and what we know to be possible from our own experience.

Something like that is happening now but it's slippery. It's not as certain that it's too late. It's just very likely. It feels like something I need to decide. I need to decide because I can't stop  hurting myself.
I have said and it is true that I have been happier since I moved into the nest. I even dreamed it the other night. I dreamed I was saying something about just wanting to know that I had a home and in the dream I remembered that I do now. The nest. It is grounding. It's an embrace. And I have books. (Thank you Kristina.) And I have really good local food. And I can swim. So then.
Palmer talks about being able to sustain tension. He talks about standing in the tragic gap and sustaining tension between reality and possibility. I may be in one of those moments.
I'm always a bit surprised by how much I like Louie C.K. I really do like him. I mean he says things that make me reel but he also says things that are just exactly right. In another spot on my reading thread today I saw a video of him, which I'd seen before. He's talking about why he doesn't want to give his kids cell phones but in the middle of his rant he talks about the tragic gap. Not in those words but ... yeah. It's there. He's talking about sadness. Feeling sadness.
I'm not sad. Well. I am. But it's not exactly what I am. Melancholy, as Coetzee articulates is closer but it's bigger.
And another bit of the thread came from Paul. Interestingly the bit with Louie and Paul's post are both about the need to put down the phone and walk away from the screens and not be ... busy. That's not exactly what I'm talking about but I am talking about enduring. Enduring it all. Paul says, Without downtime and work on the self I experience profound avoidance. 
Profound avoidance. I love that he gets that.
But I think I tend to dwell. And. That's. Well. You know.
It's not about avoidance or dwelling though. It's about standing in the gap where the real real is. The tension between the possible and. What. We. Know. To. Be. Possible. From Our. Own, Experience.
Somethings just aren't going to happen.
Two loads of laundry. One done and folded. One still in the dryer. Half the plants watered. Some dusting. The glass door cleaned. My mood is still prickly. I need to eat dinner. The coming week has some fun. My mood will move.
Rickie Lee sings: there are wounds that stir up the force of gravity.  
Indeed there are.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Junk Room

My apartment in San Francisco had a small back room, which I imagine had a washer and dryer at some point because there was a hook up. There was a small window and built in shelves. I put all my cook books and magazines back there. I put two file cabinets with a board on top for a desk and there was a time when it was a fun little office. I sat there reading recipes and smoking cigarettes. I paid my bills and wrote in my journal. 
The first computer I got didn't fit on the desk so I ended up with a desk in the living room and the back room became a never ending battle zone in which random trash built up. Mostly cardboard boxes waiting to be hauled downstairs and lots of silly little decorative (sort of) things. A few of those things are hanging in my living room now. 
I really did work to keep it from being a junk room but it was hard. It was a room that was out of sight so as I cleaned the rest of the apartment stuff got dropped in the back room. I'm pretty sure I wrote about it from time to time. 
When the idea of moving to Hood River sparked I began working on the back room. Even before I was absolutely sure that I was going to move I started sorting and discarding. In the end I hauled the filing cabinets here filed with papers that I knew I probably didn't need, or want. And lots of other stuff.
The nest was sold as a two bedroom. I think it had been rented as a two bedroom. But it is also a "loft" and neither of the two "bedrooms" has full walls. Both are smallish. One has a shelf that opens above the kitchen sink so if someone is washing dishes when another person is trying to sleep ... well. I don't think roommates could be comfortable here but these places are rented out during the summer to people who come for the river sports. Most of them are out the door early in the morning. I've seen a few families. That probably works for short visits. 
The room behind the sink is my library. It's a room that will be years in the making. I've already had a wall filled with built in shelves and replaced the carpet. I might have a new chair for the living room soon so I'll put my old chair in the library. I already love being in there but it will be nice to be able to sit comfortably.
Because it wasn't a clearly defined room it has been the place where the junk gravitates. As I unpacked last year it was where boxes waited. And more than a year later there are things waiting. 
Since the new carpet was put in I am driven to keep it from being the junk room. I am going through those piles of papers. I can only do it for an hour or so at a time. I get completely overwhelmed. I have a copy of My Emily Dickenson, which one of my teachers spent hours xeroxing, breaking all kind of copy right laws. I also have the book. But how can I just toss the copy? Doesn't someone want to read it? Someone? Some where? I have a folder of old scripts from the classes I took in my attempt to become a voice over artist. No problem tossing them into the recycling bag. I have copies of my own writing and the writing of many of my former class mates. Those are miserable choices. Photos. Promo posters, my own and other people's. Menus from places I worked. I decided to keep them yesterday but I may be changing my mind today. In fact I should plan on doing this again in six months. I should just keep letting go. It's really not that much but it feels endless. 
And then there is the crazy amount of silly little things. Plastic animals from drinks in New York and San Francisco. Ash trays about which I am sentimental. Troll dolls from my teens that Mom saved and sent to me. A small plastic doll that a minister gave me when I was a child. Mardi Gras beads. I've never been to Mardi Gras. Match books. Rocks and shells. A stick that a small boy gave me in a park. Candles and incense. It's just crazy.  
I have a full box of cassette labels from the wanna be voice over time. People don't use cassettes anymore. Do they? I have note books and note books and note books. I really have to think about these. Will I use that much paper in my life time? I barely go through the stacks of scratch paper.  I filled the recycling bins in San Francisco several times before I left and I already have a grocery bag full here. 
The library is looking better every day. I moved all the books off of my old shelf and put them on the new wall shelf. I sit and stare at them. I move books around. I find an author on two different shelves and adjust everything to put them together. Auster needs to be next to Hustvedt. Someday they will all be filled and I'll be in my recliner reading. 
Years ago I read that Findhorn had lots of beautiful gardens but they always allowed a certain amount of space to grow wild. Something about leaving a place for spirits to express themselves. I've used that as a rational for my junk drawer. Every kitchen needs one. But I don't want a whole junk room. 
We'll see how it goes. 

Tuesday, September 02, 2014


I spent about an hour yesterday trying to find this article. I read it a few days ago and intended to write about it. Intending to write is my daily fail.
In the final days of my writing program we did a graduating class read. As I stood  reading my little offering I noticed an error. The piece I was reading had been read by my workshop: eight or ten people including a teacher, a friend in my program who was (is) a great editor, my thesis adviser, my goddaughter, not to mention myself during multiple rewrites. And yet there it was. A typo. I don't remember what it was. I do remember having trouble continuing because the urge to mark up the paper was overwhelming.
Not all of the edits I got in workshops were useful. It often seemed like my classmates were trying to convey literary sensibilities, usually giving me a feeling of futility. Generally speaking, I did not feel like they were getting what I was trying to do. I remember once writing a scene in which the dialogue included a repeated expletive that I ended with in rather than ing. One classmate circled all the ins and added the "missing" g. Seriously.
I have always taken comfort from a moment I saw on (maybe) 60 Minutes. Toni Morrison was looking at one of her books in a display case and she noticed a typo. She also talked about an ongoing argument she has with her editor regarding the Oxford comma.
It's nice to know there is brain science to explain typos. Comforting. It's frustrating though. Because, as it says in the article, other people catch them. When I was writing in school I put way more energy into editing than I do when I'm writing a blog. But I do make an effort even in a blog post. I usually walk away from a post for awhile. I read it out loud, which I usually find helpful. I've tried reading backwards and it does work but it's annoying. Blogging is fast writing, for me. I'm OK with some raggedy-ness. But I reread something after I publish and see something really stupid, often after I know it's been read by others and it just drives me crazy.
I know when to use it's and when to use its but I mess it up now and again when I'm writing fast. I regularly misspell their. I can spell it correctly out loud if you ask me but almost every time I type it I reverse the i and the e. I use made up words like dunno. I over use the word and on purpose although I do edit it out sometimes. I use ellipsis in ways I am told are incorrect but I don't care. And there are things I really just don't know.
I always got As in English but I went to a hippie high school for the last two years and I doubt I was corrected much. If I'd gone to college right out of high school I might have been learned more, or had correctness ground into me.  I went to college in my forties at which point I'd forgotten what I may have learned. And I went to a hippie college where teachers liked to talk about how the students didn't write well but no one seemed to want to teach a basics class. Within my reach there is a copy of Strunck and White and The Chicago Manuel of Style. They're pretty.
And then there's the problem of my ageing brain and the great fuzz in which I live. And my horrible typing.
Really some of my typos really are physical typos and some of them are just my brain glitching. I notice mistakes in other people's writing occasionally. I usually shrug it off but sometimes I feel judgy.
I just finished The Snow Queen. It is a lovely book with wonderful writing. And he used the word rampancy multiple times. It's a word that I may have read before but was compelled to look up every time I came across it and still am not sure I could use it correctly. I understood it in the context of each use but it's a wonderfully specific word. I felt like it popped up at least one time too often. Or maybe it just stuck out to me because I didn't feel like I had a grasp on it. Inscrutable is another word I look up every time I read it and still feel like I could not use it well.
Honestly,  I've given up. I will make mistakes. when I write. Some of them will be intentional. I just did a reread on this post and found two mistakes one of which was glaring and would have pissed me off if I'd clicked publish before I caught it.