Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Light Guy

I sent this to the local paper but never heard back. I sent it kinda late for the holidays so I thought it might not get published. Ah well. I'll just publish it my self. 

“The black car is gone again. “
My mother and her mother before her were inveterate neighborhood watchers. They were not really gossip seekers; they were chroniclers of the comings and goings of folks.  When mom is home in North Carolina she and I chat on the phone. She tells me about who is walking a dog and how many birds are at the feeder. I did not inherit this trait. My view out of a window is rather more visceral.  I see colors and shapes and the passing of shadows. When Mom asks me who owns the black car I am at a loss. 
“What black car?”
If Mom is at my window it’s because she’s here for the holiday visit, which became annual about four years ago.  At dinner time I’d call her into the kitchen, she’d lean toward the window and announce with jubilation,” The lights are on! The lights are on!”  The first few times she did it I thought she was looking at the lights in the windows of other apartments and didn’t understand the fanfare.
There is a deck on the back of a building on the other side of the parking lot. Each year after Thanksgiving it has been decorated with lights. I guess I had noticed them but never with the joy that Mom took in their nightly appearance.
Last year, shortly after Christmas, I snapped out of my window stupor one afternoon and noticed a guy taking down the lights. I half threw myself out of the window trying to get his attention. “Hey! Hey! I want to say thanks for the lights! My mother loves them! “
The light guy smiled and said something about having big plans for next year.
A few months ago my landlord asked me if I knew that Donald Casper had died. I didn’t think I knew Donald Casper but he showed me an announcement on which was a picture of someone I recognized.
I learned more about Mr. Casper and his untimely death, killed by a hit and run driver. I learned that he’d been an active member of the San Francisco community, so much so that the flag at city hall had been lowered to half mast after his passing. I didn’t know that guy. Had we met, we might not have been friends.
When you live in a city you have lots of these kind of relationships. A neighbor whom you never meet but you admire the garden they’ve planted in the small square of dirt under a tree. A crossing card with whom you exchange pleasantries until one day she is replaced by a younger person and you never get the chance to say goodbye.  Relationships that live like small flashes of light that are only connected in random moments of reverie.  
I am tempted to resolve to be more like Mom and Grandmom.  But I know myself. The world outside my window is something more than scenery but I still don’t know who owns the black car. Mom is here for the holidays. I showed her all the articles written about Mr. Casper. We talk about how sad it is. And every night, when she comes into the kitchen for dinner I see her look toward the deck.  She is still keeping track of comings and goings. For us he will always be the light guy. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

First They Come for the Children

I walked into the living room yesterday morning where Mom was listening to the news about another kidnapping.
When Annamarie was removed from her home it was big news. Her parents were grilled by supercilious morning talk show hosts. A few months later she was returned. She had not lost weight and there was NO coverage. Years later she is still fat. The (cough) experts have never figured out why. Her diet and exercise are strictly monitored.
Not a great way to start the day.
Yesterday afternoon I noticed that Glen Glaesser was going to be on Dr Oz. Wow. Just amazing. Glaesser is so informed and so grounded. But informed and grounded isn't usually sexy enough for the Oprah All Stars.
I've hear Glaesser in person and read him. He does not say that it's "OK to be fat". He says it's easier to get a fat person fit than it is to get them thin. And that a fit fat person is healthier than an unfit thin person. And he has the data to back it up. Dr Oz didn't hear any of that. He is vested in fat hatred. He says it's out of his experience of the suffering of fat people but he is so hyper and vigorous in his manner that it just sounds like zealotry. I don't think he's a liar I just think he has lost perspective. I admire him for having Glaesser on his show.
The articulation of whether or not it's OK to be fat is not at all useful. What does it mean? It's mildly useful for me to feel "OK" about being fat but really it's like feeling OK about any aspect of your appearance. Some days you feel better than OK and other days OK is a quantum leap. In conversations about health it's more complicated.
Annamarie's weight gain has slowed a bit after she started being treated for insulin resistance. She'd be getting much better health care if the focus was not on her weight. Her weight is part of her health profile and may be a sign of an imbalance of some kind. But why not start with a different perspective? Something more whole.
Dr Oz is big on demonstrations, some of which are interesting. He had Dr Glaesser run up and down a flight of steps and then do it again wearing a thirty pound vest. Dr Oz was making the point that the extra weight made the running harder. Dr Glaesser said something like yeah but that doesn't mean that fat people shouldn't run. Weight loss zealots never think in terms of process. It's all about the goal.
In my last post I longed for common sense in the public conversation about weight and health. And then there was Dr Glaesser. Didn't make me feel better about the kidnapping but gave me a moment of sanity. Not deep sanity. It was still the Dr Oz show.
I posted a comment on the show and was surprised by the positive reaction. There's a bit of a dust up but so far it's been pretty good.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

New Cure. Same as the Old Cure

Wish I had more time to write this. I'm taking advantage of Mom being busy with something at the table. There was an article about a new cure for obesity and some chatter about it. I've been wanting to add my two cents.
Years ago two women from NAAFA were on a Dr Phil. He asked them if they were a pill that could make them thin would they take it. They both hedged. I'm not sure what's happening with NAAFA now but my experience was never great. Every time I attended a NAAFA event someone would whisper something about all this size acceptance being OK but wouldn't it be better if we lost weight.
I don't really like the language of size acceptance. Acceptance seems passive. Resigned. I also have trouble with celebrating being fat. I don't know if people celebrate their eye color, or their height so why their weight?
My process has been about understanding that my body is fat. My weight has changed in my life but I've never been thin. My body easily and naturally gets fat. I do lose weight. Often. Most bodies, especially female bodies fluctuate. My appetite changes. How much exercise I get changes. My weight changes relative to those things and more. Mom comments almost daily on not understanding why I'm as fat as I am because of the way I eat. At some point I just stopped thinking of the fat being something something separate from my body, like a coat I could remove. So if someone offered me a pill to cure my weight problem it would feel like they were offering me a pill to fix my brown eye problem. It took years of awareness shifts to build this reaction.
And I've seen too many of the cures for obesity. This new one "stems the flow of blood to fat cells and kills them off."
Why do so many cures sound so destructive? Surgeries to mutilate an organ that is necessary to be alive. Pills that cause heart and lung damage. The encouragement of eating disordered obsession. Parents so worried about having a fat child they starve their babies.
As I am writing I am listening to Wait Wait a show that I generally enjoy but is notoriously fat hating. Fat jokes are being made in a discussion about the new "pizza is a vegetable" because of the tomato sauce crap. We went through this with ketchup. Botanically tomatoes are a fruit, which still doesn't make their presence on some dough particularly healthy. I'm a fan of pizza as a medium. Pizza can be rich with nutrient or doughy and greasy. As long as being fat is a medical condition instead of a body type and a moral failing our ideas about food will leave me torked.
So many cures. So many pills. Phen Phen. Redux. Those were the new magic pills years ago. People, mainly young women, died. No, Dr Phil. I'm not interested in a new pill. I do not need a cure. I need some bleepin common sense in the public discussion about weight.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


From time to time I feel lonely and pine for a relationship. But I always know it would be challenging.
I've lived alone for too long and I'm set in my ways. If I needed proof I now have the three months a year when Mom visits. I'm happy to have time with her but we are both women who are set in our ways. And her way usually wins. I would always demure to the desires of a guest but with Mom it's more like succumbing. Some of that is about her age and need for care but she gets along without me the rest of the year. I think she wants to be taken care of and I'm actually OK with that. It is a challenge.
There's football on the television. My Sunday breakfast of French toast changes to poached eggs on English muffins. We have soup every night for dinner. I think it's funny because we use two bowls for cereal in the morning and the same two bowls for soup every night. I wrote about the soups on the food blog last year. I doubt I'll do it again. I repeat a lot with the exception of the inevitable use stuff up soup. We've already had one. Beef stock, barley, yellow squash, tomatoes and peas. It was good. I am going to do one that I saw in a magazine. Celery root and fennel topped with apple and bacon. I might write that one up.
There's a funny thing that happens in which she doesn't need anything until I start doing something. That's something that often happens with kids. I thought I was going to post the other day but somehow every time I turned toward the screen there was something to discuss or something to get.
I'm not really complaining. I might be in a few months but right now I'm just happy to have her here.  

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Yeah. Well.

Mom will be here tomorrow. I've been cleaning and cooking and oh lord. I'm whipped. I'm not sure how I'll do with this NaBloPoMo rev I've had going. I just know I need to take a shower, get in the Lazy Boy and watch junk.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Last Meal

I was going to make use of the NaBloPoMo prompts but I haven't really needed them yet and they aren't that interesting. There was one. If you knew that whatever you ate next would be your last meal what would you want it to be? I always have the same answer. Crusty bread and butter.
That's kind of all I have to say but I wrote a bit of a post on the food blog.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

At the grocery store.

I was getting some eggs and a woman comes into the aisle.
Woman to clerk: Do you have Diabetic Food?
Clerk: I guess stuff without sugar would be good.

I'm in the coffee aisle.
Same woman: Hi how are you?
Me: I'm fine thank you.
Woman: (pulling a card out of her wallet) I lost thirty pounds and now I work with people.
Me: OK. Well don't assume you and I have anything in common.
Woman: Oh. Well. What are you doing?
Me: I'm shopping.
Woman: (shoving the card back into her wallet.) Oh never mind.

Even if I were looking for someone to "work with" I think I'd prefer them to know that food doesn't get Diabetes.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Conspicuous Consumption

Years ago I was assigned Veblen. It was a difficult read and I really didn't get it. I had to write a position paper, which I think reflected my confusion. I guess I wrote it well enough because the teacher smiled as I was reading  and I got an A+ in the class. I vaguely remember Veblen writing about the leisure class always having a big boned woman around doing all the work. I think I made a joke about being a big boned working type.
It wasn't until I read other people referencing Veblen and a bit of rereading that I began to sort of understand.
There was on thing that stuck with me. He writes about the leisure class  owning pianos that they couldn't play and stacks of sheet music that they couldn't read and shelves of books that they hadn't read. All of which were intended to demonstrate something about who they were. I did get that.
I've always wanted a book and music lined room and I always thought of that room as an expression of my identity. When I was in high school I joined the Book of the Month Club. Somehow I ended up with The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Probably a book I didn't decline in time. It had a black cover with a big red swastika on the spine. I remember Mom commenting on it. She thought it was weird to have such a book. I had pretty great library when I graduated from high school. Full of Kerouac and Beat poets, D. H. Lawrence and Herman Hess, Kahil Gibran and Our Bodies Our Selves. A crazy amount of Rod McKuen. Listen to the Warm. Oh dear.
I stored them and all my albums with a friend when I left home and lost touch with her. I repeated that pattern throughout my life. I'd start to amass books and music decide to move and sell or give them away or store them in a basement. I've lived in my current apartment longer than I've lived anywhere and have finally built a collection that I swear I will always have. When I worry about money I imagine myself as a crazy homeless woman pushing a cart full of books.
I love my books. I love looking at them. And I do get a short of thrill when people visit and spend any time checking them out. I also have a shelf full of CDs. And I look at other peoples book  and music shelves.
I don't have an e-reader.  I think they're useful and I want one someday but I don't need one. I have an MP3 player that we were awarded at EA for doing our job. I rarely use it. I'm confused about how to make the transition to buying one song at a time.
An e-reader might have been good when I was commuting. I was always lugging a book and a few magazines around. But I love seeing what other people are reading on the bus. Can't see that if they're using a reader. I saw so many people with their ears plugged up and eyes focused on a screen. There's lots of writing about how we are a culture of isolation. Maybe. I'm not sure. We kind of have been for awhile. Is our consumption less conspicuous?
I recently started using Spotify. I can't figure out how to make it find new music for me. I've learned about a bunch of new music on Last FM. Pandora played the same stuff too often for me but Last FM scans around. Spotify can be fun when other people are using it on Facebook. I've really enjoyed checking out other people's music.
There are all the web apps like Get Glue and Four Square, which I love. You can be as conspicuous as you wanna be I suppose.

Friday, November 04, 2011

My Back Room

I think I've written about my back room before. Maybe more than once.  It is the site of an eternal and unwinnable war. I try to keep it clean but it resists. So in the pre-Mom cleaning frenzy I've been working on the back room. I thought I had it wrangled and then...
Part of the problem is the boxes. I don't feel like I order that much stuff but I always have boxes. I broke them down the other day and dragged them to the recycling bin. And then...I got more. I order my vitamins from Puritan's Pride. They have a variety of buy this many get this many for free type sales and I shop them. So once a year I have a crazy amount of vitamins. They are also part of the back room problem. I used to fill some cabinet shelves with them but it was never perfect and now I just keep a big box which is either over full or almost empty at any given time. I have a smaller box with one bottle of each vitamin and an even smaller box with seven days of doses. Well my order came yesterday. And today a smaller box of a few that didn't make it into the first one. And a box with something for Mom. (It's a secret.) (Till Christmas.)
There's a second problem included with all that. Shipping peanuts and bubble wrap. I bag all of it and take it down to the Postal Annex. I feel better knowing that it gets used more than once. But I'm a gimp now. I use two walking sticks and can't carry the bags. I wait for someone to visit who has a car. I have two bags full now. I'm so tempted to toss them.
There was a time when there wasn't much in the room. I got two file cabinets and put a board across them and made a desk. There are build in shelves on two walls filled with cook books and cooking stuff and silly toys. I used to do my bills back there and sit and read cook books. But my first computer didn't fit. I ended up with a desk in the living room. Now the desk is covered with cups full of pens and piles of papers. The a fore mentioned vitamin boxes.There are empty plant plots and a bag of small umbrellas and empty tins on the floor. My boom and dust pan and mop. A tool box. It's fairly orderly chaos sometimes but it does get wild. This time of year I stock up on stuff for the big cookie bake. And I always have stuff for soup. It's just crazy.
I'll break down the boxes and carry down some more recycling. But really. There's no hope.  

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Soul Mates

Way back in the summer I thought I'd write about Drop Dead Diva. I liked the show when it first began. I kept waiting for some representation of fat life that would piss me off but generally speaking I liked it. It's always weird when a show begins with a strange conceit and then ignores that conceit. After the first season the idea that the main character died and came back in another body is rarely mentioned. And her guardian angel has a new human life with all the attending issues. It's all just a background and the show is a mash up of romantic and buddy comedy and legal drama. They have explored some interesting themes and I like most of the actors but it's too much of a mish mash. I think this was the third season. At some point in the beginning of the summer I started wondering if it was going to be on again and went looking.
There is a picture of Brooke Elliot on the show site which looks like they've photo shopped it to make her look thinner. It was more obvious in the summer when the site featured a video with the same image but hadn't been altered. It just seemed so stupid. Even more problematic is the silhouette image of a thin woman behind her. It actually took me awhile to figure out who it was supposed to be. And then I remembered who she "really" is.
There really isn't much mention of her weight. It's easy to forget. She doesn't seem to eat any particular amount. She doesn't seem to pay much attention to her weight or be held back by it. There have been a few in the past as she adjusted to her circumstance most of which were dopey. It seems like she was an extremely smart but socially awkward fat girl and her (literally) inner thin girl makes her confident and flirty. She retains the fat girl smarts and is empowered by the thin girl verve. It doesn't reflect well on anyone of any size. But when you're watching you sort of forget about all that and you're just seeing this really fun character who is a bit larger than most main characters.
So I was going to write about it but I kept forgetting to watch. It's not good enough to get excited about and not bad enough to dismiss. I did watch enough to see that she has a new boy friend and seems to have given up on the boy friend she had when she was the thin girl. If you don't watch ( and I don't recommend you do) this is  all probably confusing. I get hooked in by the hope that the old boyfriend will recognize her.
I made a really early decision to not be ashamed of my weight but I held on to an idea that I would lose weight if I found true love. I think I formed that out of some bad psychological theory and a desire to be loved for who I was and not how I looked. Of course how I look is part of who I am. It took me a long time to snap out of all that. But this show has brought back a desire to see the guy recognize his soul mate and embrace ALL of who she now is. I mean I am seriously hooked.
I'm not sure I believe in soul mates. Some couples do seem so perfect. Some seem destined somehow. But I don't know. I'm tired of needing magic to be happy. And yet still I do watch this dopey little show and want to see that moment of recognition.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011


I spent a lot of the day listening to live coverage of the general strike from KPFA. I would need some kind of scooter to attend. I feel old and tired. Arm chair activist.
It's just the most amazing thing. I particularly like how the movement resists the demands for a statement of intent. What do they want? It seems clear to me.
It will be interesting to see how it evolves. Talk about occupying school that have been closed and houses that have been foreclosed sound good to me.
Funny. I had a post in my head all day, which I will eventually write but right now I'm just caught up in Twitter and FB and Kieth Olbermann and Bernie Sanders and the Port of Oakland is closed.
It's hard to even write about how badly the main stream media is reporting it. The WSJ says the strike fizzled. Pictures of the few acts of destruction are the first posted on SFGate. I'd be mad if I expected anything else.
I don't really know what it can become. I just know it is becoming something.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


It seems like every time I post I begin with some acknowledgement that I haven't been writing. It's silly. When I blog I feel like I'm walking into a room and talking out loud. There may be other people in the room. There may not. When I go to the pool after a time of not going everyone says some version of "long time no see." I always feel like I need to explain myself.
Jenny is blogging in response to NaBloPoMo and starts with her own awareness of not writing. Jenny's blog always makes me happy. Her life seems so full of art and family and community. Following her intention I may try to blog every day this month. Of course it's 6 PM and I put it off all day until now. And Mom will be here in a week so it will get tough. We'll see.
I am amused that the NaBloPoMo prompt asks what is your favorite part about writing. My favorite part is rewriting. I love picking away at a piece. Moving sentences. Finding shinier words. But I don't do much of that when I blog. Blogging always feels very first thought best thought. I like blogs that feel rough and tumble. When I was blogging every day I liked the feeling of being part of a large conversation.
I'm in the pre-Mom clean-up frenzy. I'm not feeling too frenzied this year because the apartment looks pretty good. It needs work but I get a little done every day. Yesterday was breaking down boxes in the back room and getting them ready to recycle. Today was cleaning the toaster oven and the table it sits on. So many small steps. I'll probably get more frenzied the closer I get to her arrival.
OK. First day of the month. Too late for Rabbit Rabbit?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bad Pacifist

I had an uncomfortable moment of self awareness yesterday while listening to the Democracy Now live stream from Georgia.
I oppose the death penalty because I oppose killing. But I also understand that killing is human. We kill accidentally. We kill in self defense. I have always known that my desire to be a pacifist would be challenged by someone hurting another person, especially someone I love. And I have always known if I were being attacked I might fight back. I understand that life is complicated and we are complicated.
So yesterday there was a moment when we weren't sure what was happening they announced that another man had just been executed. I had my usual reaction of sadness and frustration and then they announced that it was one of the men who dragged James Byrd behind a truck until he was dead. And just for a minute I didn't care that he was dead. And I became aware that I didn't care. And I knew it was duplicity. And I didn't care.
There are lot of good reasons to oppose the death penalty. We know it's not a deterrent. We know things go wrong in the justice system and people are wrongly convicted. We know that it does psychological damage to the people who have to preform the execution. We kill because it's our job. And there have been people who said that they didn't really get the much promised closure.
I read about a woman who had been in the towers and survived. She had a rough time at first but was doing better. She said the death of Bin Laden had helped. I might not trust that intellectually but I would never argue about the emotion.
He was dead. I didn't care.
I'll never be the pacifist I want to be. I'm too angry. But I will keep trying.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Elizabeth Warren Quote Every American Needs To See

The Elizabeth Warren Quote Every American Needs To See

Web Life

Oh lordy. Soooo....Facebook made changes. Many freak outs ensued. I can't even say what I think yet except I never feel like I'm seeing everything I want to see. They change things so often. I get something set the way I want it and somehow it gets borked. I set this blog up to link and it never did so I started linking it and worked. I hate the stutter when multiple places (Twitter/Facebook/GetGlue) all post the same thing. I am a fool for it all. I was curious about Google+ so I checked it out. And ... it's OK. I'm on Tumblr but I only go there to see other people's stuff. It's making me laugh. The more linked up we all get the more scattered I feel.
Woke up in a bad mood. Went back to sleep even though I wasn't really tired. Had a bad dream. Got on line and got caught up in the kerfuffle.
It's seems all the more silly in light of the news I am also hearing. One family so happy to have two young men out of prison. Another grieving what may be the last day of a life in prison. The world full of stories and ironies and meanings.
My dream spurred a litany of my personal life failures. Distraction is welcome. I'd rather spend time playing with the web. I should probably take a shower and wash some dishes and maybe even mop the kitchen floor.
We'll see.  

Monday, September 19, 2011

The day started off so well

First thing this morning I saw that an old friend had left me a message that they remembered me. It really made me smile. Instead of slipping into zoned out game playing I decided to write a blog post. I couldn't get to my blog. I kept getting a warning page. I reached out to Google help and after much back and forth the issue was still not resolved. If you're reading this you either didn't get the warning or braved it. I had to remove one of my favorite bloggers from the blog roll despite the fact that the issue wasn't there anymore. I've requested a review of my site and the warning page should go away eventually. Having just lived through it I don't have the will to write it out but it was crazy! One person at Google help was great. Another was snarky and not at all helpful. Still working on it. I guess we'll see how it goes.
Then I tried to straighten up a billing issue. Good news was that I'd over paid by seventy dollars, which will come in handy when (if) I ever get it back. The bank says it's paid. The payee says it's not. They're working on getting together. I'm waiting.
After all of that I did hit some Facebook games to try and relax. I could write for hours about how stupid the games are. I burn out on them regularly and quit playing. I get sucked back in by friends who need help. I play until I hit the wall. Today was a bad day in the games. I'm waiting for friends to help me. Can't move on until they do. I'm waiting.
It's the middle of the afternoon and I'm worn out. I did write the post this morning. It felt weak. Days late and dollars short. But I pushed myself. I'm having to push myself every day. Push to finish the vacuuming. Push to do my knee exercises. Push to get to the pool. It's a push. And I don't always succeed.
I had this idea that I should make myself write something every day (even if it's terrible) until I build back some muscle tone. Today was not encouraging. But it started off so well.


The week leading up to the ten year anniversary of 9/11 made me tense. Too many flags. Flags that seem to challenge and threaten. Too many Facebook status treats. Jingoist hyperbole coupled with a demand for agreement. Or else.
Really.This never works for me. Even if I agree with the status I'm not going to repost it as mine to prove anything.
I kept thinking about what happened next. I was comforted to read Krugman in the Times, who articulated what I was feeling.

The fact is that the two years or so after 9/11 were a terrible time in America – a time of political exploitation and intimidation, culminating in the deliberate misleading of the nation into the invasion of Iraq. It’s probably worth pointing out that I’m not saying anything now that I wasn’t saying in real time back then, when Bush had a sky-high approval rating and any criticism was denounced as treason. And there’s nothing I’ve done in my life of which I’m more proud.

It was a time when tough talk was confused with real heroism, when people who made speeches, then feathered their own political or financial nests, were exalted along with – and sometimes above – those who put their lives on the line, both on the evil day and after.

So it was a shameful episode in our nation’s history – and it’s one that I can’t help thinking about whenever we talk about 9/11 itself.

The day of the memorial was more real. I listened to the names being read. I felt tears well up again and again. Memorials are important. Real people lost real family members.
I remember waking up, turning on the radio, getting the news and feeling more dread about what would happen because of the attack than I did about another attack. Dean was here doing his internship with Debbie. I knew he needed to be informed but I didn't want him to be overwhelmed. When he left in the morning I turned on the radio, the television and the computer overwhelming myself. When he came home we watched old game shows. When I took him to the airport to go home the security lines had begun. Everything had changed.
Last year I watched while my 85 year old mother was searched at the airport. She took it all in good humor. Our reaction continues to seem so disproportionate.
I tried to find a link to the special show Rachel Maddow and Richard Engel did but I couldn't find it. I guess it's old news now. It was very good. One of them said something about the attack causing us to flail about scattering our resources.
The flags are all down now. Post book status threats are about other causes. It's not the flags in and of themselves that bother me. It's the demand for agreement. It's the demand that I prove my loyalty to an idea of country. It still makes me tense.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Not sure why.

I didn't have a lot of friends when I was a kid. It may have been because I was fat. It may have been because my mother forced me to wear saddle shoes and ankle socks. SO not cool. It may have been because I spent too much time with adults and I didn't speak kid very well. When I was about eleven or twelve I lost some weight, changed my name (from Patti to Tish), we moved and I took some control over what I wore. The first day of school I met a group of girls at the bus stop and suddenly I had a group. The next year my grade school district and my new middle school district merged. So in high school the halls were filled with the kids who never liked me and the kids who now did.
I've been remembering this time when I was at a football game with my new group and saw some girls who had tortured me as a kid. I turned to my new friends and whispered, "pretend that you like me." One of them looked at me quizzically and said, " but we do like you." I remember being so distracted by the need to prove my new found coolness that I barely took in the fact of her affection.
That pattern has repeated itself in my life. There have been times when I had more friends than I could keep up with and times when I spent most of my time alone. I'm in one of the alone times. I have many, many great friends. I mean really, truly, great friends. But most of them live far away. I have great neighbors and people I see all the time at the pool or when I shop. I've been in my neighborhood for a long time. But I don't feel like I can call someone right now and ask for a coffee or dinner date. Most people have jobs and families and modern life is just busy.
To some extent my aloneness is a choice. I feel the need for time alone. But I am aware of the number of friends who no longer call. A few years ago I had one friend tell me that she couldn't handle how hard my life was and no longer wanted to be around me. It was badly timed, abrupt and I never got over it. If I'd been calling her all the time moaning and groaning I might have understood.
That moment at the football game is still a part of who I am. I am aware of the friends I have. I am anxious and worried about the people who seem to not want to be around me.
I am a depressed person. I always have been. But I don't call people to moan and groan. The older I get the less willing I am to talk about it at all, with anyone. I smile and keep conversations focused on the other person. It's part of why I don't write.
This morning I pushed myself out the door and into the pool. I chatted with people. I came home and found a post card in the mail. I get very caved in and filled with self hatred but it doesn't take much to make me smile.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Once there was a way ....

Tom very kindly gave me an Amazon wish certificate for my birthday, which I took a long time to spend. My first impulse was to buy a book from my massive wish list and I don't know why I hesitated. Finally I decided to get some music. ( listed in All Consuming down the page on the left) I am resolved to turning off the news and listening to music for some part of the day. It's not easy. When the new discs came I had a desire to pull out my paper journal and copy lyrics into it. Something I used to do all the time. I used to write lyrics from things I was hearing and then my own thoughts. And really, the new stuff has some perfect lyrics.

I write in my paper journal less than I write here. Hard to believe. And my handwriting is illegible.

There's not much happening in my life. And some of what is happening is other people's story. That was an issue when I wrote the book. For example, I didn't write much about my cousins other than to mention that they came to Grandmum's house on Sundays after church. I didn't feel like I should write their stories. But I did write about my parents. Someone said that if you are friends with or related to a writer you will see yourself in their writing. Maybe so.

I was thinking about how I started blogging in the last year of my BA and through my MFA. I was full of thinking and language back then. With the exception of the three years at EA I've been unemployed the whole time. And the three years at EA seems to have killed my desire to write.

I've always worked. Sometimes I had two jobs. When I was first in SF there was a brief period when I had three jobs. I paid into unemployment all of that time. I PAID in.
I did work during my last year at EA that other people got paid more to do. It wasn't fair. Everyone knew it wasn't fair. And I've never been opposed to doing what ever work needed to be done. I enjoyed the work for the most part, although I was never adequately trained.
I'm so not alone. There are people all over the world doing work for which they aren't adequately paid. There are people at EA doing really good work right now and they haven't had a pay raise for a few years.
When I listen to the way the unemployed are talked about I feel rage. I was unemployed. I was under employed. I worked hard. I paid in. Back. Off.

I'm trying to write on the food blog.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Anti Social Social Media Girl

I'm not really anti social. My reaction to the difficult emotions of the last eight years has been to withdraw. It's too hard to process the reactions of my friends and family and process my own. But I do love them.
Years back I mentioned to a friend that I was becoming a recluse. She said something about me being a recluse with a whole bunch of new on line friends. It was true. I had a long list of people who I checked in on every day. I still love and value my on line community, which has shifted from writing and reading blogs to mostly Facebook and mostly silly Facebook games. Not nearly as satisfying as a daily tour of my blogroll.
Awhile back I read an article in the New Yorker about a blogger. When I hear about a blogger who makes money with their blog, or has a book deal as a result of blogging I feel jealous, resentful, insecure, all the usual yucky human stuff.
I think if I had seen the blog a few years ago I might have added it to the blog roll. It's sort of charming. But it's like a magazine. So glossy. So mo-fessional. So full of marketing. It makes me squirm.
The article talks about the evolution of the blog.
Her early posts were the sort of personal nothings that could have been for a mother’s eyes (or ears) only: droll poems she wrote (“Mommy? Mommy? Mommy?/Their war cries pound my brain /Mommy? Mommy? Mommy?/I slowly go insane”), audio recordings of herself burping, and folksy, Reader’s Digest-style anecdotes about country living, such as happening upon two dogs mating. Initially, she says, she viewed the blog “as an enormous digital scrapbook,” and it reads like one.
I mean. Yeah. That's how so many blogs begin. Then she won a blogging award. Then she stated food blogging. Then she won more awards. It just kicks up my not-good-enough issues.
My own food blog didn't get me to write more and I'm not a good enough photographer to win any awards. And, really, I'm never going to take step by step pictures for the same reason I'll rarely if ever publish a recipe. I think cooking is about gathering some information and then experimenting. I tend to write about what I'm thinking.
The article is mostly a portrait but takes a few mild shots about the monetizing of a daily life.
She posts photographs of her stays at luxury hotels, and, in 2008, at the height of the recession, she serialized the remodelling of the Lodge, the ranch’s guesthouse, into a McMansion full of bourgeois amenities. (Reader poll: a copper or stainless-steel washing machine?) “Her charmed existence is not the norm,” a blogger wrote, in a post titled “I call Bullshit! On Pioneer Woman.” “Portraying cattle ranchers and their families in this manner leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I know no one who’s not struggling now. The cost of her camera alone is several months’ worth of many household budgets.” In the end, perhaps, Drummond is too cagey about her family’s wealth without being cagey enough. As one online commenter put it, “If the size of her kitchen didn’t give her away, then you weren’t paying attention.”
Yeah. I'd sell my soul for this much of her kitchen. Well, maybe not my soul. But I wonder if I would put ads on my blog. I never thought I would but those drawers are pretty cool. Back when I was writing more I had more readers but I never had enough to monetize.
I never really got the hang of My Space. I never really liked the look of it. Facebook is OK but the rules change all the time. I had both blogs hooked up to post automatically and suddenly they stopped. Then one started again and then, months later, the other one did too. Netflix stopped posting my movies. Who knows why? I've been having fun with Get Glue for a few days. And I like being the mayor of all my doctor offices on Four Square. It's all silly.
Gotta go harvest something now.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


I did vanity searches on my name and fatshadow the other day. First time in years. I couldn't imagine I had any Google rank at all.
There is a band called Fat Shadow. It makes me so sad. I don't own the name and I'm not doing anything with it. That's the thing. I'm not doing anything with it but I did have a band called Fatshadow once upon a time.
My name pops a bunch of social media links. Funny that.
Just sad.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Minding My Own Business

So I was walking up the hill today and an ebullient, smiling fellow says to me, "Congratulations!"
I say, "What for?"
He says, "Walking!"
I have walked all my life. We didn't have a car when I was growing up and I've never learned to drive as an adult. If I didn't walk, I didn't get there. In the last few years my knees have gotten worse and now I use two canes. I walk less but I still walk. I wasn't sure why my walking was a point of merit and then the guy starts to tell me that he was awake at 4 to see doctor so and so because he'd had weight loss surgery and lost some amount of weight and ...
I hate the surgery. Hate it. There are no long term studies about what ever harm may be done but it's a major alteration of an organ that is required for survival. I've read really bad outcome stories but I don't have anything to link and it doesn't matter. I hate it. I also feel that people have the right to make choices about their bodies. My first reaction when I hear someone has had the surgery is sadness. And then concern. And then anger, not at the person but at the doctor who told them it was a good idea.
I mumbled something about being sorry to hear that but wishing him luck and moved on while he continued to try and sell the surgery.
I was minding my own business.
I've always resented the assumptions people make about fat people in public and I really resent the things people think are OK to say. It's shocking.
AARP is promoting the surgery and making wild claims about the benefits and couching most negative outcomes as failure on the part of the individual. They do manage to note a few token bad things but blame individuals for things that go wrong. Because the truth is that the surgery only really works if the person eats nutritionally and exercises.
Sound familiar?
Make what ever choice you want to make for your body. Please don't assume you know anything about me and mine.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Choke Chain

I saw a photo of some posters for the Sims3 area at E3 (a game expo) yesterday. There is one big poster with: Play with bad girls (in large text) and above it another poster reads: choke chain optional.
Not OK.
The posters are about Pets but it's still not OK. It upset me so much I had bad EA dreams.
I think of myself as a sixties kid but I was born in 1953 so all that LeaveItToBeaver OzzieandHarriet value system was the aspirational story of my only child of a single parent existence. Identifying as a sixties kid was a way of rejecting all of that, which I did. So I am supportive of the cause of gay marriage but not actually supportive of the institution of marriage. It may sound like a contradiction but they are really two different things. I support the legitimacy of the commitment people make to one another when they get married, Straight or Gay. And. I don't need, or want the state to be the arbiter of that legitimacy. Nor the church but I understand why some people want the church.
When I play the Sims2 I really seem like a fifties kid. I play a lot of families and every family has a dog, or a cat, or both. I work to keep everybody happy. However when I play Romance Sims, who want to fall in love with everyone they meet, I let that happen.
The sixties were full of contradiction. Hippie girls were suppose to be all about free love. And feminists weren't suppose to condone objectification. In some ways women were claiming their own sexuality. In some ways women were tossed into an abyss of confusion.
In my adult life I worked in kitchens and hung out with musicians, two groups of people who know how to make everything into the most salacious double ententre. I have a high tolerance for the nonsense of how we all are when it comes to sex.
Maybe it's because the news is full of endless discussion of tweets and cheats but I am sick of the way women are represented, resented, tokenized, demeaned. Enough already.
Choke chains are not an option.

Thursday, June 02, 2011


For most of my adult life all of my worldly possessions fit into two boxes and a suitcase. I amassed furniture and books and all of the usual detritus and then I'd move and sell most of it. I usually needed the money. I did hold onto one book. I always dreamed of doing pottery. I did take a class and now own two thick bottomed, badly glazed, small pots in which I stash pens and pencils. But I love the thinking in the book. The cover is now ragged.
I have three pair of scissors. Four if you count the Joyce Chen's. One I got when I was working at EA and needed a pair often enough to rationalize buying one. One Mom sent me in the endless supply of stuff she's getting rid of and one I got years ago to cut yarn.
I mean.
How did this happen?
It's sort of good to have a pair in the kitchen (other than the JC's since they are for food alone) and a pair at the desk. I guess.
I have lived in my apartment longer than I have lived anywhere, ever. I have many, many more books. More clothes. Furniture that I like. Kitchen stuff. Posters in frames. Little plastic animals that came out of bars in three different states.
I mean ...
The thing is I kind of like it. Not the three (four) pair of scissors exactly. It feels like I'm more rooted than I've ever been. It's not true because someday I will need to move to a place with no stairs.
Oh. Lord. How many boxes will I need?

Friday, May 27, 2011

No Fat Kings

I've been watching the last season of The Tudors. I don't get HBO so I always see these things a long time after they air and there is a long time before I see a new season. From the beginning I was confused by the choice of actors to play Henry and wondered how they would make him fat. I cringe at the idea of a fat suit but they would be using makeup to age him so ... maybe it would be OK. It never happens. Henry never seems to age and he never really gains weight. He gets some grey hair, walks with a bit of a limp and is a bit padded but really it's all pretty token.
I'm hyper aware of how fat people are represented in culture. Henry has always been an icon of gluttony and excess, which seems historically accurate. It would be silly to be offended by that portrayal. But HBO ignores it. I spent sometime this morning listening to interviews with the actor who explains this as HBO trying to make the history more appealing to young people.
I used to get this kind of feedback when I worked on The Sims. One art director said to always make pretty Sims. Pretty? What does that mean? Sims are cartoons. I often heard people refer to a Sim as "hot". Our ideas about beauty are so distorted that cartoons are thought of as "hot". The Sims 3 has great tools to make a real variety of Sims but we needed to make "pretty" Sims. What comes first? Ideas about beauty? Or Media portrayals that teach a narrow idea of beauty?
Henry is not an endearing guy. In this series he is portrayed in a somewhat complicated manner. He is manipulative, paranoid, self centered and cruel but he is also loving, generous and interested in learning. I like all of that. But he is also always young and virile and never fat. This is the kind of thing that usually makes me angry but it's so extreme I find myself somewhere between stunned and bemused. I'm not an expert on the time but it seems that a fair amount of money has been spent on historically accurate costumes and sets. So why not lean toward a more physically accurate Henry?
The acting is pretty good. The writing is pretty good. Anne Boleyn gets more coverage than any of the other wives. It's entertaining. I just wonder why it has to be so ... thin.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Movie Theology

I have never read the Harry Potter books. I'm sure they're a fun read but I'm not that into fantasy fiction and there are always other books clamoring for my attention. And I've never seen the movies from beginning to end. I've seen most of them in chunks on TV. This weekend there was a marathon and I kept seeing ten or twenty minutes here and there. On Sunday I just kept it on all day. I still wasn't sitting and watching so I still have holes in my understanding but there were things that I really liked.
I like that Harry is suspicious of his own specialness. In one scene his friends were talking up some of his feats and he said they were mostly about luck and nothing to envy. He wants to understand why he is who he is but he worries that his difference may make keep him separate.
Oprah has thing about not believing in luck. She says luck is about preparation and being ready when opportunity arrives. Some times. Maybe.
Earlier in the weekend the Matrix movies were in a marathon. It almost embarrassed me to admit how much I like those movies. The fight scenes are dance like and the mash-up of religion and philosophy makes me smile. I like the bring it on hand gesture.
There's a moment like that in one of the Potter films. He doesn't really want to fight but he really has no choice. Even though he has no choice it still matters that he makes one. He stands in the moment. I've always liked the hero journey thematically.
Maybe I felt the need for some kind of theological musing since it was suppose to be the end of the world.
A friend has been reading this book. I downloaded a sample and it's interesting. He talks about not being able to distinguish good things from bad. He mentions realizing that having Cancer brought him closer to his family and friends but the radiation caused the heart disease he has now.
Movie theology always has an arc. Life is more meandering. The rapture is rescheduled.
More time to prepare I suppose.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bully This

I'm listening to a hearing on bullying. Some guy is talking about free speech and the marginalization of people who think being gay is a sin.
God forbid.
Now a guy is talking about the separation of conduct and speech. Such a lucid rebuttal.
Lately I've been thinking about the It Gets Better campaign. It is wonderful and has my complete support but I feel resentful when I see it. I want to start a campaign for fat kids. I want to tell them it will not get better. They live in a country committed to labeling them as diseased. When they are bullied (and make no mistake, they are) they will be told to lose weight. It won't stop when they grow up. They will have trouble in employment. They will rarely see positive representation of themselves in media. Their health care will focus on their weight and sometimes miss other more serious issues. They may not have access to public environments because they may not fit in the seats and if they travel they may have to pay more or be asked to get off a plane and that may mean they miss any number of important events. Assumptions will be made about what they eat and how much they exercise. They will have to work so hard to hold on to their own experience and their own truth. Their families and friends may love them but may still want them to be something that they cannot really be. Again and again they will be told to eat less and exercise more and all the problems will go away.
And some of them will lose weight. They won't be thin. They may look thin but they will have a new battle. Fat people who have lost weight always describe it as a battle. They will have a damaged relationship to food and appetite. They will have a damaged relationship to physical activity. And all of this will be in the name of health.
It will not get better.
They will have a great opportunity for self definition and self understanding but they will need to do all that alone.
It's never useful to compare oppressions and there is lots of competition for the last acceptable form of discrimination but I am sure it will be weight based. There is no doubt in my mind.
It will not get better.
I don't think I am read much by the fat revolution community any more. I don't write much so why should I be? I imagine some of them reading this and wanting to call me from what must sound like despair. This isn't about despair. This is about hearing the same people who talk about the horrors of bullying talk about the horrors of childhood obesity. Because after all it's about health.
It's not about health. It's about hate and social control.
And it's also about my mood today. It's about my window being covered with rain and my COBRA running out and not getting enough sleep. It's about being angry the way a wounded animal is angry. It's about thinking the guy stepping off the back of the ferry into the Mississippi was selfish and wishing I could be that selfish.
Bully this.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011


A sad truth about me is that I'm not really at home in the natural world. I like nature. Even a ride through the Presidio with the smell of Eucalyptus in the air makes me happy in the way only nature can. But I don't want to spend the night in a tent somewhere. This lack of comfort is especially true when it comes to animals. I love them. But I'm a little bit afraid of most of them.
Sunday I was sitting at the computer and I heard a bird chirping. It was so loud I figured it was right outside my kitchen window. Wrong. It was inside my kitchen window. Then it was flying around my living room. And I was out my front door. A humming bird the size of my big toe had chased me out of my home. Every time I tried to go back in the little guy flew around chirping. Intellectuality I knew I was being crazy but I was completely undone. Visions of Tippi Hendren danced in my head. Eventually the bird went back into the kitchen and I closed the door to the living room. After a realllly long time he flew out the window.

I've been trying to write a post about politics for a week or so. I think I used to do that a lot more often but these days I don't have much to say. I can go on and on. I can always go on and on. But, why? The left and the right sound the same to me. I agree with most of what the left has to say and cringe at the extreme right but so often they sound like resounding gongs and clanging symbols.
But then Republican Governors started trying to destroy Democracy and, oh lord! The push back! The push back is so amazing! And then there is the Arab Spring. It's like people are all standing up and saying: enough. It's all very encouraging. Scary and worrisome but also thrilling.
I heard about the release of the birth certificate first thing in the morning. I just felt sad. I understood why he did it but he should never have had to do it. After a day of listening to news talk I was back to being frustrated and angry. Was the wedding next? A day full of split screens with the wedding on one side and tornado destruction on the other. And of course the latest news. I liked the apparently not exactly MLK quote twice on Facebook.
It's been a wild ride and it seems like it may continue. I'm always filled with more than one emotion. Intellectually understanding and still feeling undone.

Later on Sunday I was having coffee in the Ferry Building where pigeons fly in and out and hover waiting for a dropped crumb. They never bother me.
Context is everything.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Time is Always Now

In November Lewis Lapham wrote the last Notebook essay for Harpers. He was abstract in his explanation of why but I think he's just doing other things. I've had that issue of Harpers open on my scanner since then because of the last line.

I know no other way out of what is both the maze of the eternal present and the prison of the self except with a string of words.

At the time I think I had something to say in response. Something about writing. Something about the maze of the eternal present and/or the prison of the self. I don't remember. Mom was here and I become absorbed by the need to make a meal or help with something. And then she was gone and I gave myself permission to space out for awhile. The eternal present is, in fact, a maze. In another line from that last paragraph Lapham says it more clearly than I.

The time is always now, and what gets lost is all thought of what happened yesterday, last week, three months or three years ago.

I wouldn't say all thought is lost but certainly whatever (no doubt) (cough) brilliant thing I was intending to write has gone. And, more to the point, nothing has replaced it. But I've been reading more. And reading makes me think about writing. It might be a beginning.

Or just another maze.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


So....I was confused after I watched Glee the other night. Leslie Kinzel wrote a post close to what I might have written. Convenient because she embedded some video and does a break down of the show. I don't have as many issues with the show in general and I like Puck. The possibly redeemable bad boy is always charming to me. Where Leslie and I had the exact same reaction was when the fat girl finds Fat Bottom Girl offensive.
Wait. What? Indeed.
I've been thinking about it ever since. I've always loved the song. The suggestion that a fat nanny molested her charge is problematic but ... it's Queen. The hyper sexualization of fat bottomed girls is problematic. I guess. But I don't really have big issues with all of that. And when Puck was singing it I was thrilled. It was also a moment when we saw the fat girl soften.
I haven't loved the Ashely Fink character. She is always eating candy and she's just unpleasant. But she is also strong and self assured. Never more so than in this episode. and the softening, sweetness we see as the song is being sung to her adds dimension. She was extremely cool in every way but the song made her feel "like crap".
Wait. What?
My first size acceptance moments were somewhat passive. I wasn't loving being fat. I was just deciding to not hate it. I've never really celebrated being fat. I can't really get there. I don't celebrate things that aren't particularly interesting to me. Appearance is not interesting to me. I enjoy the feeling when I look in the mirror and think I look good. I enjoy seeing my friends and family when they look good, which they pretty much always do. I enjoy loving a physical feature when I'm feeling attractive. But these experiences are fleeting. I celebrate when something feels like change and joy and realization.
In the early days I didn't want to talk about being fat. I wanted it to not matter. As time has gone on I've realized how much a part of my identity being fat is. It's an important part of why I am who I am. And I am more aggressively fat in the sense that I do not suffer any foolishness about it. It's a political identity. I want nothing less than full inclusion.
I wish the show would have been more clear about why the character didn't like the song. There is an assumption that the audience would know why. It's confusing. It doesn't fit the character.
Puck also wooed Mercedes. And she was similarly dismissive of advances. I like that. I like that these young women have a sense of their own value. And I still love Mercedes rejecting the idea that she needed to lose weight and singing I Am Beautiful so powerfully. Glee does come through with a strong positive message about diversity. Generally speaking.
I have a similar experience when I talk about the fat revolution with people. The idea that being fat is an illness and must be confronted and changed is so deeply rooted. It's really hard for people make a full change of perception. Many of my best friends (including some in the fat revolution camp) hold onto the idea that fat equals wrong. I think that's why time and time again we see people from the revolution hedging on television when asked if they wouldn't rather be thin.
Recently I noticed that I seem to give people the impression that I believe I can't lose weight. I don't believe that. I do believe that I can't be thin. I've had the experience too many times. I lose weight but I never get to thin. And I don't care. This is my body.
Oddly enough I heard Oprah articulating how I feel in an interview with Barbara Walters. She said that she knows how much she needs to exercise and eat to lose weight and she isn't interested in living like that. She exercises. She eats in a healthy manner. She still wishes she was thin. But what has been so obvious with Oprah is that her body returns to fat if she doesn't work out like an athlete and eat with hyper vigilance. She seems to have given up on that.
So I think the thing that wasn't being said Glee was something like this fat girl is attractive and strong and does not need your approval but ... she'd rather be thin.
Something like that.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Yoga. HAES. Scary monsters.

There was a dust up on a yoga blog about fat people doing yoga and the idea of HAES (health at any size). I won't link it. It isn't interesting. I skimmed it long enough to read the same kinds of things I've been reading for years. One comment stuck in my mind. Something about how a person who weighs 400 pounds can't possibly be healthy.
Compared to who?
I'm mostly bored with these same old conversations. I am also irritated but it's like the irritation caused by popcorn stuck in your teeth. It is serious and important to confront the thinking, or lack there of, but I'm just ... I dunno. Worn.
Yesterday morning on some morning news show Mom watches the (cough) big news that eating a certain number of fruits and vegetables every day reduces your risk of heart disease. And then there was a discussion about whether or not it was a hard thing to do.
When I worked at EA I realized that my perception of how people eat has been shaped by hanging out with hippies (brown rice and tofu) and foodies (butter and bacon). I didn't really know that what they say about how Americans eat is kinda true. Lots of soda and fast food. Lots of carbs and grease and sugar. OK. Maybe we do need people to explain how to incorporate fruits and vegetables. The "expert" on the show said that if people ate that way there would be less obesity because you'd fill up on the good stuff.
Mom and I were doing a grocery list the other day. In that context we recounted what we ate in any given day. It was mostly fruits and vegetables. It's a pretty common way for me to eat. Me. The fat person who is ruining everything. Me. The scary monster.
My chiropractor had a list of news years things to do on a board in her office. I already did all of them with the exception of ignoring the scale for awhile. I ignore it for way more than awhile.
I don't know if my doctor has ever heard of HAES. I've never felt the need to talk to her about it since she has always seemed very HAES to me. My fasting blood sugar has gone down for the last two years. I think this might be because as I have gotten older my ability to digest sugars, fats and carbs has weakened. When I eat more than I can digest I get a stomach ache. I think there might be pills I can take but that has never made sense to me. I've moderated my consumption and I have fewer stomach aches. This year we also tested my blood sugar after I ate breakfast. She said that it was higher than we (doctors) usually want to see but for someone my size it was really good. She wasn't worried about it. Another doctor might have pushed me to loose weight but she never has. She encourages me to stay active. She knows I swim. She assesses my health in the context of the whole picture, which includes my weight but doesn't pivot around it.
I'm not sure all HAES people agree on what it means. There is a focus on weight neutrality and positive reinforcement of ... pretty much everything. Issues in the group arise when anyone mentions any prohibition on any kind of eating. Sometimes it feels infantilizing. I'm not sure how many HAES people would think that what my doc said would be HAES since she said my size was a factor in how we understood the numbers. For me it was a perfect HAES articulation because it included awareness of my weight but didn't seek to fit me into "what we usually want to see."
There is a way for any person of any weight to be healthy. It's always disconcerting for me when people who do things like yoga are so mean spirited, hateful and intractable. I think they might be healthier if they did some original thinking.
I recently bought Sally's new disc. Mom is still here so I haven't been able to go through it yet but I'm pretty excited about it. I've been having trouble getting my practice going again. There are so many little bits with yoga. I forget things. So the disc will give me some structure and help me remember. I tried to do it with Mom but she wouldn't try. She often stretches and rolls her neck and such but she had some resistance to the disc. Kinda didn't want to ask why.
No matter how many fruits and vegetables and whole grains I eat, no matter how much I swim or do yoga, I am the scary monster. Big, fat scary monster.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

More on DFW

The truth is reading David Foster Wallace has always been a bit beyond my ability. I struggle for every moment of comprehension. I stumbled on Everything and More years ago and thought maybe DFW could guide me through the math. I've made several attempts to read the book. I fail.
I got Fate, Time and Language for Christmas and opened it with the combination of delight and dread I always feel. I had no idea that philosophers used a language so similar to math. Once again I am struggling. Why do I try? Because there is something so compelling. So lucid.
DFW thought the first line of Tractatus was the most beautiful line in western lit. And now I am struggling to read it as well.
The news is still full of falling birds and floods and bad faith. My desire to claw out of the corner of frustration, rage and fear I painted myself into is troubled a bit. If I trust anything I trust lucidity. Love is well intentioned. Faith is a flame in the wind. Lucidity calms me.
So I struggle on.

Sunday, January 09, 2011


I wrote yesterday's post before the news from Arizona. I was trying to describe the balancing act I find myself in when absorbing news and my desire to be less miserable. I noted my use of detachment. And then the news came in and I was shocked. But I quickly moved on to ... I don't even know what. It was much later after hours of news that I started to internalize the event.
Mom and I recently watched Milk. She didn't remember what went on and wanted to see it. I do remember the events and had seen the movie but was still moved to tears through most of it. Public officials being shot feels too normal to me. The assassinations in the sixties were more shocking. I remember each one. At some point I developed a sense of inevitability. It's not OK. It's not OK to accept acts of madness.
It's not really acceptance.
It's a kind of resignation.
Not OK.
Conversations on Facebook, Twitter and the news have been fraught. The right trying to emphasize that this was the act of a madman and the politics don't matter. The left pointing at the rhetoric of the right.
The second amendment is what it is. I can't call on the constitution to support the rights I want and ignore the ones I think I are stupid. But the constitution was never meant to be a stagnant document. I don't like guns. I'd like them all to go away. But I know that isn't going to happen any time soon. And it is true that this was an act of madness.
I think it should be ridiculously difficult to get a gun.
Years ago I saw a movie in which the bad guy was so odious and relentlessly bad that when the good guy shot him it felt like victory. And the good guy shot the bad guy multiple times. More times than necessary and each time he fired it felt like victory. I don't like that feeling. And when that feeling is engendered by culture I find it troubling.
But there is that other amendment. Something about the right to speak freely. While I cringe at the target, reload, shooting metaphors I strongly support the rights of people to use them. Are these metaphors akin to shouting fire in a crowded theater? Somewhat. None of this is simple.
There probably are times when shooting is the most expedient solution.
I might be guilty of moral relativism but I don't see solid footing. I see a moment of evolution. We do need to lean toward civility and away from reckless rhetoric. We also need to hear each other.
Loss triggers rage, grief, frustration, confusion. his morning I noticed how many of the dead were senior citizens. And, of course, the nine year old girl. Rage, grief, frustration, confusion.
Deep breath.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Birds and Fish and Dogs. Oh my.

Falling from the sky. Dieing en masse. Going missing. It's all so end of the world.
Mom and I were sitting in the living room yesterday and my chair moved. The plant next to me shook. I waited, hoping Mom hadn't noticed but she said, " what was that?" The table shaking gave it away. It was a small earthquake. No damage. Mom has been here when there was a similar shake and she didn't notice. This time she noticed and was worried for awhile.
I am afraid. Often. These days things all seem mysterious and suggestive. All of these things stir up a sense of panic and dread. But I'm also detached. I feel a need to be distant and vigilant.
My swim schedule got out of whack during the holidays. The pool was closed a few days. I dropped the bowl of the Cuisine Art on my toe and took a chunk out of it. It's not a good idea to swim in a public pool with an open cut. People were visiting. I had a two part root canal. So.
This week I got back in the pool a few times. Felt good.
It's different when Mom is around. I'm always aware of her. I lose track of myself.
Might not be a bad thing.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Life Before Death

I reread a book by David Foster Wallace recently. For most of his books that would be a feat but this is a small book in which the publisher has broken a commencement speech he gave into small chunks. His writing is usually a wall of words. He is the only writer who compels me to read the footnotes. So reading him as aphorism is already disorienting. The text of the book has been posted but the experience of reading it in the book is so different from reading, or even listening to him.
Poignant, ironic, almost eerie. His innate wisdom and clarity didn't save him.
The speech makes the point that we have some agency in terms of what and how we choose to think. He articulates it with a Zen simplicity. He talks about the need for reflection and awareness and curiosity.
And he hung himself.
He had a wife and a job and a house and success in a field of endeavor he must have at least liked. He suffered from depression for years. He medicated and electroshocked and tried to use his brilliant mind and in the end he hung himself.
There is no way to understand. Suicide is is not simple. Not really. But it feels like I understand.
He talks about the narcissistic way we live and perceive the world. He understood that much. And he hung himself.
I don't make resolutions but I am trying to make a shift in the way I am seeing things. Not so much trying to be more positive but at least trying to not be reflexively negative. I've considered suicide since I was very young. I've made a few flailing attempts. What stops me is the feeling that it is such a self centered thing to do. No matter how much I isolate my self there will always be a few people in my life and I don't want to cause them any amount of pain. And I think DFW may have understood that he was going to cause pain. And I don't think he was unkind.
Part of the swirl of a new year is the idea of resolution. And that makes sense. Since my birthday is in the middle of the year I do some kind of critical self assessment every six months and try to imagine what I need to do to wake up.
This is water.
This is water.
In so may ways it's about acceptance. But not a pouting, resigned version. An active, embarrassing of the day in, day out. An ability to take some pleasure in the small and insignificant. Maintaining balance in the face of frustration and rage and loneliness.
I don't really know what it takes.
But the sun is out.
I'm going for a walk.

Saturday, January 01, 2011


It's the first of the year and popular culture is pushing diet and exercise. Same thing every year.
I was struck by something I heard on the news the other day. Not the content really but the way it was articulated. A woman died while having Liposuction. It's not unusual. It happens. Someone said the woman wanted to appear healthy. It may have been her husband. In the article I link the distinction that she was healthy but wanted a better appearance was made. I don't remember where I heard the health/appearance bit. Lipo is always cosmetic and known to be somewhat risky.
The way we articulate heath is so flawed, especially when it comes to fat people. Health is not a steady state and does not have an appearance. The healthiest looking person may have something lethal going on internally, or may have less than healthy behaviors. Appearance is the worst metric for most things, even beauty. So often I have the experience of a person becoming beautiful to me as I get to know them. But it wasn't the quest for culturally standard beauty that hit me. It was the conflation of thinness by any means and health.
People do ridiculously unhealthy things in the quest for thinness.
So much of the current conversation is about obesity (a medicalization of weight) and healthy habits. It's just not a useful way to think. HAES (health at every size) is about finding your healthy. I think health is a moving target. If you haven't had any protein in days and someone offers you pizza or broccoli ... choose the pizza. If you haven't rested in days and you can nap or jog ... nap.
It's difficult to sort through the culture noise and your own sense of things. It might not even be possible. Maybe the only thing we can do is find a blend of external and internal voices and stumble along. But oh lord I long for some new noise.