Monday, November 26, 2012

Frogs

When I was a teen and embarrassed by the presence of my mother she and I were shopping a sale table at a hardware store. I was at one end and she was at the other. Two women standing next to me picked up a plastic frog and commented on how ugly it was. The mouth of the frog was wide open to hold soap and the feet were tucked forward to hold a sponge. My mom picked up the same frog, held it up and called out, "look at how cute this is!" I tried to pretend I didn't know her.
Some how that became the first frog in what is now an epic collection. She always says no more frogs but when she gets a new one she smiles like a child.
I've been posting a frog of the day photo on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr. It's been fun.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

On The Road

I've been wanting to write and I've had things to say but life has been frenetic. Lot's of good things, some confusing and of course there was that crazy election. When the race was called for Obama I wasn't able to accept it. I was so braced for failure. After a few more states, the concession speech and the acceptance speech I started to calm down.
So ... I'm going to visit Mom for three months. I'll have limited internet access. I may try to pick out a post on my phone just to see if I can but who knows if I'll pull that off.
Months go by all the time and I don't write.
Now.
Because I can't.
I really want to.
Heh.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Binders, Big Bird and The Actors studio. Oh My.

So I guess James Lipton wrote something or said something and now he has a role as a political pundit. It's amusing I suppose but it's also disturbing. I know that politics is also theater. He's an interesting man. I just struggle with how much focus is put on the appearance of it all.
For a long time the campaigns weren't making much real news and so every gaffe and silly story was banged on all day long. Not useful. I'm always wanting talk about issues. Of course in the first debate when President Obama tried to explain things he was called out for being too wonky and Romney was declared the winner, not just by the right wing media but the left (such as it is) leaning media as well. It felt to me like the MSNBC people in particular seemed to spasm. They'd listened to Romney lie and lie and lie and they all wanted to fact check him, which they did but they were so angry. Biden was more confrontational ( malarkey) ( my new favorite word) and he was declared the winner. I don't even get how you declare a winner.
These debates go by so quickly there's no time to make a substantive point. I didn't even hear the now infamous binder remark because I was processing what had already been said. I started seeing all these Twitter and Facebook things about about binders and had no idea why. And again. Amusing. Charming. I love the fact that the Internet can spawn a meme so quickly but it takes over. There is good information coming out of it. But it's like grabbing a bad articulation and beating it into the ground.
And Big Bird. Again. Funny. Spawned many great Internet thing-a-ma-jigs. I'm not really that critical. I'm just frustrated. It's all so frenetic and I'm too afraid. Intellectually I know my reactions are disproportionate but I'm wound up. I rely on John Stewart to talk me off the ledge. Somehow he manages to embed serious and precise criticism in jokes. Masterful.
I think I may put too much faith in conversation. It doesn't always solve things.
I went looking for a clip from the West Wing in which there is argument about whether Bartlett should use the word torpor in a speech. Some of his staff thought the word was obscure and would make him sound like a professor, which he was. I think there's a monologue about engaging a great conversation in the country. I couldn't find it but I did find this and it is remarkably apt.  





I started writing this a week ago. Someone called and I never got back to it. The weekend came and went. I watched One Bright Shining Moment, which came from Netflix ironically the same weekend McGovern passed away. I enjoyed the film. I was reminded that eighteen year-olds got the right to vote in seventy one. I was seventeen at the time. McGovern  lost his bid for the presidency in seventy-two. I'm pretty sure he was the first candidate for whom I voted. And his loss was the beginning of my frustration with Beltway politics. 
And then there was the last and final debate. On foreign policy. Not my favorite. I'm not that happy with our foreign policy. The left leaning media pundits say Romney "hugged" the president because he has no policy of his own and he didn't want to damage his campaign. Maybe. For me it was just a demonstration of fear driven chest thumping post 9/11 foreign policy from both parties. 
So two more weeks. I guess we'll see. Judging by the news of the day I don't see things getting more dignified, or serious. I listened to a debate between the third party candidates. Interesting. I don't find any of them compelling but they're talking about things that get no coverage. Climate change. Legalization of marijuana. They don't disagree on much. Still. Interesting. And no mention of Muppets.    

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Social Media Me

I was fooling around with Klout. It's another social network thing that a friend asked me to join awhile ago. I did and then forgot about it. I'm not sure what made me think about it but I checked and noticed that it hadn't updated since August. I wrote to let them know and got an email response that reflected no actual reading of what I'd written and lots of excuses. I wrote back and clarified (restated) the issue and got another response that didn't really respond. What. Ever.
I'm always ambivalent about all these social internet things but I pretty much always join when friend's ask me. I remembered Orkut and was surprised that I was logged on because it's been years. I guess that's a Google thing. I was never enthusiastic about My Space but I can't seem to get to my old stuff, not that there was anything important there. I know some friends who were very into it. I made a bit of effort to reconnect. Couldn't do it. I'm on Google + but I never spend any time there. I wonder why and how people use these things.
I don't really get Twitter. But I have enjoyed it during the Democratic Convention and the debate. It was full of jokes and links and just fun.
Facebook ends up being the one I don't ignore. I can, have and will complain about it but I'm on it all day. I have finally quit playing most of the games. I still help friends when they ask and I have Scrabble, Words with Friends and Draw Something on my phone, which I mostly play in the evening. And Bejeweled Blitz. But all the ville games are too demanding and obsessive. I get burnt out.
A month or so ago I noticed a friend had posted on a mutual friend's wall. It was a very lovely post but I wondered if I was missing a birthday or something. I checked and discovered the mutual friend had fallen and was in a coma. She passed a few days later. She lived in NC and I was looking forward to visiting her there in a month. Imagine that. Facebook is where I learn about babies and graduations and weddings and funerals. It's also where I see endless cat pictures and dog pictures and political posts. I'm really wary of political conversations on Facebook. Text is too flat. Meaning is too shifty. But there is a town square feeling sometimes.
A friend posted something on Facebook that had some fat meanness, mostly in comments and not at all aimed at me. I was in a mood. I posted something to establish that I saw it and was hurt and angry and got some comments of my own. The next day I noticed that my friend was no longer on Facebook. I don't know if it had anything to do with me and I felt a little bad that I'd been so indirect. It may have been that my eaves dropping on her and her eaves dropping on me ended our friendship. I wish I knew what happened. I also kind of don't care. I mean really. If that's all it takes. I mean. Seriously?
When your social world is so Internet saturated things can become distorted. But here are also moments of shimmering realness.
Ah.
Well.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

For Anonymous

In comments on my last post Anonymous asks to hear my thoughts on this post. The post is about the video of the Wisconsin news anchor Jennifer Livingston's response to an email saying she is not a good role model because she's fat. I dropped a link to it my last post because it was all over the Internet the day I wrote and in some ways spoke to my topic. My focus was on the casual use of fat jokes on television, which seem to be everywhere all the time. I had a mixed and fairly ambivalent reaction to the video because it was really about bullying. Not fat politics.
Apparently October is anti bullying month. OK. I'm in complete support of anti bullying campaigns even when they are syntactically problematic in terms of the lives of fat people. Complete support includes criticism. In my post I mentioned wanting some push back against the assumptions about fatness and Jennifer Livingston does not push back. She says she knows she's fat. When asked about her feelings about her weight she says she's struggled with her weight since the birth of her first child and she has three. That's a fairly common experience for women. She says she is not ashamed.
That articulation always makes me cringe. Struggle with weight. Fought with weight. Battled with weight. Perhaps the first step in getting clear about being fat is to give up on struggling, fighting and battling.
So. The post. The post is written by a gentleman who has lost weight and written a book and is now an expert. What. Ever. There are people in the size acceptance community who feel like he is the enemy. I am not one of them. I just don't find him interesting.
He says the guy who wrote the email does not seem like a nice guy and may have body issues of his own. Could be. Not my concern. He quotes a fat acceptance blogger but I'm not sure why. He follows the quote with:      
Though the movement has lots of good things to say, it glosses over what for me was a basic fact of my years of fatitude: Fatness is not good. That is *not* the same as saying that fat people are not good. My point is that the experience of being fat is not good. I hated being fat. 
Well ...sorry dude. Sorry being fat was such a drag. Please don't state your experience in a way that implies a universal truth. But I get it. You hated being fat and you did what ever you did to lose weight and now you're an expert.
This gets hard for me because I really, really, truly, deeply support people's right to make choices about their own bodies. That's what I'm asking for so that's what I aspire to give. But it does irk me when people who have lost weight seem to feel stronger/smarter/braver/truer. Makes me cranky.
To be fair he makes an effort to couch what he says in "his experience" but he is too privileged by the culture of fat hatred in which he writes. When he says "fatness is not good" he's going to get agreement. I suspect Jennifer Livingston would agree. I get that his experience was not good.  And he writes about food addiction, which I take seriously and know is a problem for many people. But not all fat people hate the experience and not all fat people are food addicted.  
He saw size acceptance in "Jennifer Livingston's retort". I did not. I'd like to claim her as an icon for my revolution. She has a seemingly successful career, a husband who loves and supports her, three kids. I think she's quite attractive and well spoken. She seems reasonable and grounded. But I don't see her wanting to be an icon for my revolution. She's talking about bullying. I'm talking about a radical shift in how we experience being fat and talk about fat bodies. I'm talking about it because it impacts jobs, housing, safety in and access to public spaces. I'm talking about it because fat kids are being told they have a disease. I'm being told I have a disease. Not at all useful and absolutely harmful. But Jennifer Livingston isn't talking about that. In fact she wasn't even going to talk about the email at all until her husband posted it and she was moved by the response. She's getting support for calling out an asshat and good on her for doing so but she isn't talking about fat revolution.
I may sound angry about this and I may be. I long for higher level of conversation about fatness. I get tired of the same old same old. I don't find the post particularly egregiousness. I just don't find it interesting. It's always the same. Fat people shouldn't be bullied. BUT. They should lose weight. I get tired of responding to the brain numbingly same ol shitness of it all.    


Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Jokes

I've been watching the new shows and new seasons of shows to see if there'a anything I want to watch. You would not think it would surprise me to see fat jokes but it seems like there are more than ever. It's not like there are lots more fat characters. Just the jokes.
For example, The New Normal is really good. The little girl does a Grey Gardens impression (a bit of which can be seen here) that is off the hook. The other character in that scene makes quite a few comments about not wanting to be fat or not wanting a fat baby. He's actually kind of cool in many respects but the fat thing wears on me a bit. It's not exactly mean. It's not even direct. It just pops up again and again.
New Girl has the same kind of not exactly mean but surprisingly frequent fat joke. One character wears a fat suit from time to time because he was formally fat. I really like the show. I like the wacky rhythm of the dialog. In the season opener one character tells the other to stop looking at her like she's a fat kid on a bicycle.
Um.
Huh?
I mean really, what does that mean? Is it like fat kids should do more exercise but they look stupid on a bike? I just don't get it.
From time to time I watch a few minutes of Mike and Molly, which is still full of mean humor fat and otherwise.
Glee has a new fat character. She is the mother of a new show choir member so not a central character and to be fair the fat jokes get pushed back on.I often have mixed feelings about how fat gets represented on Glee. The daughter responds to the fat jokes by saying you don't know her. You don't know about her life.
That. That is exactly what I'm always trying to say. So that was cool.
There's a video going around the web today. It's cool enough. There was post on Jezebel ( I think) (can't find it now) which got a similar amount of attention in which the writer also acknowledges she is fat with a nod to the idea that it's a bad thing. Smacking down bullying is great. But hey. How about some push back on the idea that fat is something that draws bullying. I mean it's obviously something that happens. But why?
Someday I'd like a fat joke to fall on the floor not because there shouldn't be fat jokes but because the fat joke just doesn't make sense to anyone. Instead there are these passive assumption laden snippets.
Good thing I like to read.  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Feed the Fish. Report the Cat.

I wrote a post earlier this month in which I talked about the feed-a-man-a-fish thing. It may have been mildly presentient because Ryan used it the other day when responding to a woman who said she couldn't get off welfare. He concluded by saying, "don't feed fish."
Um.
My title for the last post was intended to suggest that the news might outta report the cat who didn't get stuck in the tree. We need good news. And the book is replete with stories about stimulus success stories that were either unreported or misreported when in fact there were successes.
The NBC Education Nation stuff has been rather scatter shot and not much on the shows I watch during the week. I listen to more radio during the week. I did hear an interview with President Obama in which he said things that pissed me off and things that sounded right. In the book there is a short section on the states doing back flips to get stimulus money for their schools. I feel a little frustrated. I don't feel like I have a lot of answers. I'm not even sure I know what questions to ask.
I spend a lot of time thinking about how we talk. I'm interested in the things that are implied. I'm interested in the way things are framed. This political season is becoming tiresome. Full of bad faith. So I feel like I'm sifting and sorting and trying to simplify my own terms.
It takes all the running I can do to stay in one place.
Heh.
 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Cat Who Didn't Get Stuck In The Tree

I've been reading The New New Deal. Chris Hayes had the author on his show and said the book was full of things he didn't know,which is weird since he makes a living knowing about such stuff. The book is one long tick toc of the Obama administration with lots about the good, bad and ugly of the stimulus. My criticism of the book is that Grunwald obviously did tons of research and seems to have not wanted to leave anything out. Not. One. Thing. That said, the book is full of things I knew and things I didn't know and lays things out in a way that makes sense of what happened, when and why.
One of the things that I can't stop thinking about is a story in which Biden is visiting a bridge in Pennsylvania to see where some stimulus money will be headed and the bridge really needs the work. It turns out that a school crosses the bridge with bus fulls of students everyday so the work will be delayed until school is over. There are two things the administration wanted. They wanted the money to be spent successfully (as in fix stuff and create jobs) and they wanted it to be spent quickly so they can demonstrate that it worked. Political work is crazy like that. Tom Ammiano used to say that when good political negotiation is successful no one is happy. I'm paraphrasing but I understood him to mean that when you're trying to solve problems in which there are many stake holders compromise is essential and usually feels like nobody wins.
The book also documents the virulent Republican obstructionism but there were some Blue Dogs helping out. Inside the beltway is nasty. And then there's the media and what does and doesn't get covered. Most of his successes have not been covered. Someone, I think Tom Brokaw, said something like, "we don't cover the cats who don't get stuck in the tree."
Hmmm.
I've been listening to MSNBC's education nation stuff all day, which isn't wildly different than any other Sunday because it started on MHP and I always watch her. She spent most of her show giving voice to students, which was great. Then there was an hour with teachers and the last hour was about the movie Won't Back Down.
Educational policy is one area of Obama land where I step off. In the book it says he got some of how he feels when working in Chicago and seeing burnt out teachers in the inner city. I'm sure there are burnt out teachers. But I think trying to test them out of a job is mean. I'm not against having a way to assess the job they're doing. All jobs have that. I'm not against them being fired if they're not doing a good job. People who aren't doing their jobs lose their jobs. But first we need to ask if people have what they need to do their jobs. Teachers have been spending their own money on supplies for so long now it's become a norm. Teachers in the inner city may have students who can't see the board because they've never been to an eye doctor and couldn't afford glasses. Students who may come to school hungry. Students who live with violence.
It's a complicated conversation but money is always in the mix. Them what has some and them what doesn't.
It bothers me that so much of the conversation focuses on bad teachers. It bothers me that union is villanized.  The privatize everything crowd has too much too say.
Lot's of stakeholders. Nobody happy. And students pay the price. Politics is nasty.
And yet, there were great moments on the shows today. Students are fierce and teachers are fierce. On MLP one of the Little Rock Nine was in the house. So moving.
Sometime we hear about the cat who didn't get stuck in the tree.            
        

Monday, September 17, 2012

That Smirk

The day after I wrote the last post I woke up, turned on the radio and heard that Romney had said something badly timed, inappropriate and not true. It has happened often enough. It hardly felt like news. And then I heard the rest of the story. I was so angry. I started writing a post in my head about the responsibilities that come with free speech, which shifted to a post about that nasty little smirk of his, which shifted and shifted and shifted but was always a vent. I never sat down to write it.
I remember in the days after 9/11 feeling like I needed to be able to vent with people who shared my perspective and knowing that I also needed to learn everything I could so that I could talk with people who didn't share my views and not get lost in hyperbole. I feel the same way about the election.
I see and hear so much vitriol. And, frankly, there are days when I feel vitriolic. When I'm talking with people who I know share my perspective I go off. With abandon.
I don't have that many readers so I don't really need to worry that anything I write will be added to the public discourse in any big way but even in a small way I am uncomfortable being part of the din. It feels like everything can be taken out of context and misconstrued. Empirical data is ignored. And it's all very personal. I feel like it's all very personal. I just wish it weren't quite so ugly.
Even now I'm being abstruse. I don't really know why.
I assume Romney's concern for his perceived apology for American values was about freedom of speech. And I actually always defend the rights of people to say what they will even when it's stupid, ugly and hateful. I'd rather hear what you have to say and know how you see things. The film that lit the fire in this theater might not be covered in our right to free speech. At the very least it warrants condemnation. I have a friend who expressed judgement that such violence could  occur as a reaction to a film. And then they saw the film.       
There was a lot to parse last week. Protests in many countries were talked about as one thing. In fact there were differences.
In so many of the big protests here, protests with thousands of peaceful protesters, there is so often a few people doing some amount of property destruction and some amount of violence. And SO often that's the way the event is shown on the news. Some of what's happening in the Middle East is like that. Many of the people, maybe even most have never seen the movie. Some of what happened was probably organized terrorism that might have been the same if the movie had never been made. The real questions are about why people are so angry. People are angry here. I'm angry. The movie made me angry. The violence made me angry. The political opportunism made me angry. And that smirk. That smirk really made me angry.
People are tired and hungry and unemployed and frustrated and want leadership and problem solving. People want to be understood. Maybe what we want the most can never be addressed by an election.
Occupy is one year old. Rumors of its death are greatly exaggerated. There is a political conversation, a problem solving conversation happening in the streets.
Today brings a new wave of bad faith. I turned it off for awhile. I'm watching Rachel and then I'm going to do the dishes, put on my pajamas, watch something fictional, read something fictional. Let it all go.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Our Best Thoughts

For most of my early adult life I was registered Independent. I don't remember when but there was a primary in which I wanted to vote and I registered Democrat. It is true that I am more in agreement with the Democratic party most of the time but I'm not really a party loyalist.
I made it through both conventions although I didn't listen to as much of the Republican. I did enjoy many of the Democrats but I had wasn't loving all of it.
I've been writing this post in my head for a few days but today it coalesced  in a different way. When I woke up MSNBC was rebroadcasting footage from 9/11. It took me back. I was lucky because Dean was here. I wanted him to know what was happening but I didn't want him to worry about things. When he was here I let him have control of the remote but when he was at his internship I had the television on muted, the radio on and I was jumping all over the Internet. Manic. My desire to protect him kept me from being too crazy.  When he arrived I went to his gate to meet him but when I took him back to the airport to go home I watched him going through the new security system. Two years ago I watched my then 84 year old mother being patted down. Last year they would no longer let me go to the gate with her.
Watching the Democratic convention I felt the shadow of 9/11. I'm not comfortable with militarism and flag waving. I realize I live in a world where the military is needed and I am comfortable with the expressions of gratitude for the troops. I want them and their families to have all the support they need and want. But the wars have been abstractions. We were attacked by a rich kid from Saudi Arabia and now we dance on his grave.
Fairly early in life I lost faith in institutional politics. But I know I know I need to participate. I need to be informed. I need to vote. I need to stand with the people who I support, like the teachers in Chicago. The singers in Wisconsin. I am whole hearted in that support. I've rarely been able to vote whole heartedly.
I was whole hearted when I voted for Obama four years ago and I will be again this November. But not because I love everything he's done. I like a lot of it. I had my third party fling in the first Nader run. It felt great but I live in California. I didn't need to worry that my vote was going to disappear.
I wish we had a viable third party. I wish we had more than three. I wish everything weren't so hyper and exaggerated. I wish there was more grounded problem solving. I wish I didn't feel hostage to the process. It's complicated and frustrating.  
So today is a day to close our eyes and take a breath and send our best thoughts to the families who are mourning their losses. That makes sense. That feels right. Dean is now a lovely young man with a beautiful girl friend. The women who acted as his midwife passed away last week. A day to close our eyes. Take a breath. And send our best thoughts.      

Monday, September 03, 2012

Fish

I've been making an effort to understand economics. It's hard because I have no interest but Ezra Klein and Chris Hayes make such heroic efforts to simplify things I feel I should try to keep up. I also heard the writer of a book about Keynes and Hayek that sounded interesting.
At some point in the middle of my economic musing I remembered the "feed a guy a fish and you help him for a day, teach a guy to fish and you help him for a life time" thing. What is that? A parable? It sounds like a simple truth. Teach people how to help themselves and you make their lives better. But it assumes so much. It assumes everyone lives near a place to fish and everyone has the physical ability to fish and everyone can learn at the same level and the person won't starve in the time it takes to catch the dang fish. Feed people. And then teach them. And find ways for them to be part of the process. Like maybe they can't fish but maybe they can set the table.
It seems to me that all of the posturing on economics is over simplified and full of assumptions. One side claims ownership on the people who work for what they have in life and portrays the other side as feeding people, keeping them weak and dependent. The other side claims to be on the side of the worker and their rights but they're holding a convention in a place that's owned by a bank and has no unions. And really, there are way more than two sides.
The Keynes Hayek debate was in part about whether government can do anything about the economy. I'm not sure it can. I'd vote for lots of infrastructure jobs paid for by government. That's one of the things we need to do as a community. But I'd vote for fish dinners until everyone has had enough to eat.
The thing I retained from the author's talk about his book was that Keynes and Hayek wrote each other two letters a day for years. Such passion.
I think there was an old dictum:  from each according to his ability to each according to his need. May be Socialist? Or Commie? I don't know but it works for me. I feel like what we can do is make sure no one is hungry and the figure out what they can learn to do. And government is a place where we could organize all that. There's no evidence that we can do that but I think we could.
There are sound bites flying. Even the ones I agree with trouble me because they seem so beside the point.
In a post about economics I haven't mentioned any numbers.
Hmmmm.
 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Kind of a Tumble

I'm not writing.
Obviously.
Well. I mean. I am now but I haven't been.
My inner world has been kind of a tumble and I write from my inner world. Sometimes I write in response to an event. I got a lot of mileage from some reading but my reading is a tumble as well. Mostly magazines and  a fiction that I'm enjoying but isn't stirring up any thinking.
It was different when I was in school. There was always something I needed to be writing. Class work. The book. It was something that needed to get done. Like washing the dishes, or dusting. Not exactly mindless. Certainly fun. Most of the time. Four years for the BA and two for the MFA. Writing was a constant.
There's a Sufi saying. Know. Dare. Will. And be silent. I don't know much and I'm not at all daring. I'm usually only willful when I'm resisting something. And for most of my life I was almost incapable of silence. I love to talk. I love good conversation. It's still true but it doesn't happen very often.
And really. When I'm in a tumble it's better to be silent. If I've learned anything from the last decade of depression I've learned that people get tired of hearing about it.
I return again and again to the Moyers talk with Parker Palmer in which Palmer coined the phrase "negotiating the tragic gap."  In my understanding he was talking about the point in life when you become aware of what you can not have, or accomplish. Like ... I'll never have a child. I kept hope alive until I was literally out of eggs. I was never in a solid enough situation financially to have supported a child. I'll never have that. I think sometimes we ( I ) give up on things too soon but age does draw a few hard lines.
Palmer says depression can be a way of pressing you down out of delusion and into an acceptance of reality. This has way more resonance for me right now.
I think there is useful information available when enduring depression.
But it sucks the language right out of me.
I'm pretty much over the series of unfortunate events. I've been able to get to the pool. I'm sleeping better. I've had some wonderful nights of sleep. I've never been able to construct gratitude but I am often grateful. I sit at my desk in a circle of plants. Green and alive. Leaning toward the light until they begin to bend over. And then I turn the pot and they lean the other way. I'm OK. But there are things I'm trying to accept. Things I probably have to accept. It's not going well. I't kind of a tumble.      

Friday, August 10, 2012

The A Fore Mentioned Post

When I pulled up the a fore mentioned unfinished post I realized I hadn't written much. But all of the thinking is still in my head. It started as a reaction to a television show: The Closer. I've been on binge because I got a whole season from Netflix and the current season is the final one so I've been making an effort to watch. It's well written, great acting and strong character development. I like the contradictions and conflicts in the character of Brenda. She's driven to close her case and she'll manipulate, flirt, threaten, play dumb, cross lines to get there. She, and the people around her, are often worried about the lines she crosses.
In one episode she is tracking a serial killer who gets jobs driving, pulls off the highway in different towns and   murders young women. The killer is also being tracked by a sheriff in Texas establishing a struggle for ownership of the case. When they catch the guy the sheriff reveals that he has a DNA sample, which will be evidence and the case would naturally go to him but Brenda gets it back after she manipulates confessions for all of the murders. The confessions take seven hours of listening while he tells details in the crudest terms and when Brenda emerges from having listened to it all she is obviously worn out.
There was a confusing element. Part of how she cajoles the confession is by saying the killer will go with the Texas sheriff and to Texas where they execute people if he doesn't confess to her. She pitched to his desire to live. We do have the death penalty in California. I guess they do more executions in Texas. But there was the suggestion that he wouldn't be executed in California, which is why he began to confess to Brenda.
So she walks out after seven exhausting hours and the Texas sheriff admits that the confessions will trump his DNA evidence and he hands her the files of all the cases, all of which have photos of the gruesome murders. She flips through them and decides to turn the guy over to Texas. It's not the only time that she makes a choice to send a killer to a certain death.
I really like this show. And I really hate when I feel like I've been manipulated to not just accept but enjoy the idea of someone being killed. In this show it's part of the conflict of her personality but still. Because the guy is so gross and the murders so vile it's hard to not want him to die. It's only television. Not real. Right?
In another television example there was a scene on West Wing in which President Bartlett asks his aide Charlie if he would want to see the man who shot Charlie's mother given the death penalty and Charlie says no. And then he says, I'd want to do it myself. I thought it was a brilliant moment because it held both a moral opposition to a public policy and the human rage that wants expression. We are all killers. I want to believe I would never kill and I hope I'm never in a situation in which I learn I'm wrong. I know I have rage.
When I first started to write the post I began to detail the reasons I oppose the death penalty. I oppose sanitized, state sponsored murder. I don't accept the idea that murder gives a victims family closure. There really are a lot of reasons but the one I wanted to focus on was the impact of the people who carry out the penalty. The guards and doctors and wardens who stand in the room. Many of them live with negative psychological impact. They pay a price for a dubious notion of justice and closure.
Sometime after I started the post Moyers had a show on similar issues for soldiers.
And there was a mass murder in a movie theater in a movie theater in Colorado.
And then there was a mass murder in A Sikh temple.
And the news from Syria.
Killing is always with us. There is always a reason. A rational. An explanation. An aberration. The news is filled with demands for change and demands for justice. And there's always a desire to compartmentalize the killers of the world and mark them as ... not us. It's overwhelming and becomes muddled and it all human.
I have strong feelings about specific events in which killing occurs and of course there has to be public policy to protect us from our own humanity. There will be abstractions because killing is so hard to accept. Or it should be.
I don't have a place to land. I don't have answers. I'm not establishing a position. I just know that I want distance from that place where the crowd calls out for revenge.     

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Too

The a fore mentioned post is being postponed again.
This morning Pattie (hard to know how to link Pattie because she's all over the www) linked a post on Facebook and added a comment of her own.

Julia McCrossin writes an excellent and personal meditation about groups and belonging. Sociologists call what she describes "in group/out group" dynamics. We often try to figure out who we are as a group by defining who we are not. Unfortunately, this leads to exclusionary practices that leave those of us who live at intersections of group identities intensely alone at times. This post speaks to me profoundly because of late I've been feeling too disabled for the fat community and too fat for the disabled community. It is a lonely place to be.

Yeah. I feel that. I saw it before I felt it. I knew it was coming in my own life.
Some of my feeling of exclusion from the fat community are a result of personal relationships and more about me opting out. My internalizing of fat as an identity, a specifically political identity, was never really done in the context of a group. In fact most of the groups I've been a part of inhibited rather than assisted that process. Individual relationships have been useful but not the group and I would include NAAFA. At every NAAFA event I attended at least one person whispered something about all this acceptance stuff was OK but shouldn't we all just lose weight.
But the post and Pattie's comment brought back the feeling I had/have in fat community. I felt less than interesting. Or something like that.
A therapist I worked with for awhile told me a theory about groups. In any group there is an in, a middle and an out. So the in is maybe the smallest and filled with leaders and strong personalities. The middle is the majority of any group. And the out is filled with the people who have...issues. Perhaps this is simplified by Pattie's articulation of in group/out group. In fat community I felt in the margins. I have a bunch of theories about why and it might have been different if I'd been involved in NAAFA somewhere other that the Bay Area but I felt like I didn't ... fit.
I could probably go on and on about all that but I want to stay with the ideas in Pattie's comment. Internalizing being disabled is turning out to be a much harder task. I'm not OK with it. It's incredibly hard for me not feel responsible for my level of ability. Again, there are many moving parts to this. One of the things I've realized from being less able is how much being able defined my sense of value. I could work harder, sleep any where, walk any where. I both threw and dragged my body into experience. In my forties I noticed I was slowing down but in my fifties...oh lord. My body is so demanding now. And so slow. I'm one year away from sixty. It may get better but it may get worse. So I tell myself it's about age. I'm just getting older. And some of that is true. But I am also disabled. It's just so hard for me to drill into that.
I resist the articulation of fat as a separate thing. I'm not a person with extra weight. I'm a person who weighs what I weigh. I'm fat. And I own being the age I am. I don't feel any shame about it. But not being able to walk. I'm mad about it. I'm frustrated about it. I'm embarrassed. I feel like I messed up.
Here's the thing. I articulate my fat identity as understanding that my body is fat by nature. I might be more fat or less fat but I've never been and will never be thin. And how fat I am is a natural reflection of the whole of my life. How much I eat. How much I exercise. It's all a part of my life. I'm not failing at something when I weigh more, or less. I've heard so many people talk about the advantage of a serious illness being weight loss. It's so painfully obvious to me in those moments that being fat is not read as a body type but rather an error.
Now. Why? Can't I get. That. About being. Disabled.
The same ideas apply. Maybe if I lived in a country with socialized medicine I'd have had knee surgery. But I don't. Maybe it would have helped and maybe it wouldn't have helped as much as I imagine. I work on maintaining mobility. I take handfuls of herbs and vitamins. I swim and do yoga. I work on it. Maybe there's more I could do and I think it's good to be problem solving. But I don't think it's useful to be as negative about my ability level as I am.
Also. When I was around fat community I saw the bouncy, young and happy people pushed to the front and the older people in wheel chairs spoken about with respect but not called upon. I was younger then and more mobile but not that interested in happyhappyjoyjoy. I longed for deep conversations about consciousness raising.
Now. I had a rock and roll band. Fatshadow. And I sang a song. Fat Love. So I can bounce. I'm just not always in the mood.
Julia's post is wonderfully open hearted and full of interesting thinking. I'm not sure that I believe that we get absolute acceptance anywhere. Not even in one on one relationships. And I think that's OK. I think our differences are often what make our relationships interesting. But in a group, particularly a group organized around issues of civil rights, we need to work for inclusion, acceptance and really a celebration of each other.
I think Occupy does a fairly good job with this. M15 is pretty great. They attempt to focus on the work and problem solving. I think the insistence on remaining undefined and bottom up forges intentionality about inclusion. But. I'm sure there are issues.
I think that growing up fat is part of my issue. When you grow up fat you are told there's something wrong with your body and it's your fault. Oh maybe it's your Mom feeding you stuff but other kids get to eat. It's your fault because you're too lazy and you need to run around more. This was true when I was young and it's SO MUCH WORSE now. Now you're actually diseased. How do you develop trust and affection for your body when everyone (teachers, parents, doctors) feels they need to help you be something that you're not. If your not fat you can eat what ever you want. It might not be healthy but that's OK. As long as you're not fat. And when you're in a group you're called out and bullied and adults say, yeah that's bad but you need to not eat cookies.
All of the work I've done to understand my body and understand health and I am now faced with a new challenge. I'm disabled.
I was surprised at how much ire surfaced when I read Pattie's comment this morning. Ire and hurt. When I hear fat and community used together I sort of roll my eyes.
Too old. Too hobbled. Too serious. Too much.
Too too.
I've been working on this post all day. Struggling to establish structure and coherence. I think I'm still a little sick. Better though.                    

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Better. Mostly.

I had been working on a post when I was waylaid by a series of unfortunate events. I'll be working on it again if the unfortunate event gods are done toying with me.
But first.
As a way of explaining.
Or something like that.
My back went out. Because I have the best chiropractor in the world my back hasn't gone out this badly in years. I think there were a few factors. The new pain meds mean that I can stand straighter and longer, which is great. And the knee that I hurt in December has felt much better, less "out of place". I noticed that the longer I stood the more my back would hurt. (it's always somethin) I think that was just about a shift in alignment because it was beginning to abate. I'm also slightly more active and did a bit more lifting than I was probably ready for and my back just said, slow down. I couldn't get an appointment the first day which was probably best because I was in so much pain I'm not sure I could have endured an adjustment. I iced and heated, got an adjustment the next day and felt MUCH better but was still a bit out. I knew I needed another adjustment.
And then Renee came. Obviously not an unfortunate event but distracting. The day she left, literally the minute she left my eyes got watery, my chest got heavy and my throat started to hurt. I figured I was just emotional but by the next day it was obvious that I might be emotional but I had also caught a germ. Or maybe I should say the germ caught me. Chills. Sweats. I lost my voice all together. I spent all day and night propped up in my recliner sleeping and watching reruns of Curb Appeal the Block. My back was out and I was putting pressure on the base of my spine, which brought on a LOT of pain, shooting down my legs, my hips, my knees, my calves. Plus the general discomfort of having my back out and a knot near my shoulder blade. (who knows what that was about) One night I was sitting on the only chair that didn't make me want to cry. I was so sick and so tired and just wanted to lay down SO bad. Finally I took a bunch of Ibuprofen, propped myself up in the recliner with a couple ice packs under my butt, a heating pad on the knot and somehow got to sleep. When I woke up my back felt much better. As the day wore on it started to hurt again but the sleep had done me a world of good.
The crud stayed with me for a full week. Yesterday was the first day I rallied a bit. Today I'm mostly OK. Still coughing a bit and blowing my nose and no appetite. There was an hour in which I felt like I had a fever again but that might have been a hot flash. I know I'm better.
I missed my adjustment because I was germy. My back is still cranky but less miserable.
So it's a good news/bad news/good news thing. And maybe I'll get that post finished.
Uh.
Maybe tomorrow.  

Thursday, July 19, 2012

No,no, no.

My one and a month or so old neighbor has a new thing. She says, no, no, no. It's a good word to learn. And so very cute when it's coming from someone that sweet.
The Mc Phee piece that I read was about his relationship with the three editor in chiefs over his years at the New Yorker. It was interesting. If you're a working writer it's an inevitable relationship.
The last piece I had published was edited with a chainsaw. The edits included changing a cultural reference from one I knew to a performance artist I did not know. Heavy handed but OK. Make me sound hipper than I am. The edits that bothered me were sentences that I found badly written and did not want to see in a piece with my name attached. It was a small magazine. I was paid. Not much but I was paid. I complained about the editing. A flurry of emails were exchanged and the editor in chief (who was not the one who edited my piece) made a good faith effort to make it right. But it was already in print and I heard a lot of things but I never heard that anyone thought it was as heavy handed as I did. It was the last thing I ever sent out. It would be unfair to say that I stopped sending things out because of that one event but it had a big nasty impact.
Some of the people from my MFA program have done a great job of submitting writing. I'm sure they have piles of rejections. I have a pile and I didn't do near as much. Bukowsky submitted writing every single day. Or so I read. He was published but not that much. So he must have had a pile and a half. The problem for me is that by the time I started submitting writing I'd already piled up a bunch of other rejections in life. Jobs. Romance. Music. Assistance. General stuff. Specific stuff. I had drained my capacity to endure.
And then I got the job at EA.
And then I got laid off.
I tried to return the scooter because I'm just not using it. I feel too unsafe on it. But I've had it for too long and they only accept returns for fourteen days. I didn't know that but it wouldn't have mattered. I have and still do think I can use it if I just get on and try more often. It's not an unreasonable policy. They suggest I try to sell it.
This another part of the problem. When I am rejected I feel like it's my fault. I've failed. I've made a mistake.
I've been trying to apply for disability. Which is to say I've filled out some paperwork. I'm having trouble finishing it all. I've been told by so many people that they will say no the first time I apply. I'm just so sick of hearing that word.   
I'm an extremely lucky person in many ways. I have a nice apartment. I eat good quality food. I have books to read. I have people who care about me. I don't have all the medical care I need but I have some great health care providers. My doctor put me on a pain med a few weeks ago. I'd say it's reduced my general pain by more than half and my specific pains by thirty or forty percent. I haven't had any of the possible side effects. Pain medications (including pot) make me zoney. Less pain but no personality or functionality doesn't work. I take this one before I go to bed and it's helped me sleep. Some times. She said it was formally prescribed as an anti depressant but isn't used that way any more. The pharmacist said the same thing. I thought she'd found a way to put me on anti depressants. But judging by how crashed out I got when I couldn't return the scooter ... I'm not going to have that effect either.
Being in the pool has been good for my mood and my pain level. But I am aware that I'm still pretty shut down. 
Still sad. 
Still scared. 
Still hurt.
I process like crazy. I know I am globalizing and running a string through beads that don't match. 1700 people were laid off the day I was. It would be narcissistic to take it too personally. Almost all of the writing rejections I received included compliments about the writing. And romance...well. 
I'm ready to go to sleep but it's too early again. So I'll read. And watch some thing on the tube. And push the rock up the hill again tomorrow. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Words

I love John McPhee. I have for years. I've learned words from him. In the article I linked the other day I learned horripilation and garrulity. I figured I knew what garrulity meant but I looked it up any way. Will I remember these words and use them.
Hmmm.
Well.
I am often given to garrulity and this video caused me horripilation.
That might be it. That might be the last time I use either word but I particularly hope I remember horripilation.
I learned meliorative from Joan Didion. I remembered it and use it now and again. I learned bloviating from George Will and have been using it almost daily. Heh.
I love new words.
Back in the pool this morning.
Good. Good. Good.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Happy Place

Back in the pool. Second day in a row. My knee feels better than it has in months. It says a lot because it's a cold wet day in the city and usually I'm curled up in a ball of pain on these kind of days. I do have a pinch and jab here and there but so much less. Hafta wait till Tuesday to swim again but I'm feeling so blissed out at the moment kinda don't care. Tired ready for sleep but it's too early and I have a lovely article by John McPhee to finish.
Friday night.
Already in my jammies.
My life is just so rock and roll.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ass Of You And Me

A friend of mine posted on Facebook that his doctor said his sugar was high and he needed to make some changes. He said he was a junk food and sweet guy and asked for suggestions about low sugar snacks. He was inundated with free advise not all of which was bad but some was mind boggling. Someone recommended dried apricots and mango both of which I love but dried fruit has way more sugar than the same fruit not dried. People recommended granola bars and nuts rolled in fake sugar. And then there was the other extreme. Lots of NO fruit. NO carbs.
This guy is a lifeguard. He's always at the gym and he does epic bike rides on a regular basis. I had a cascade of reactions. Concern for him but not overwhelming. Blood sugar issues are serious but manageable.  And when I hear about a not fat person with high blood sugar (or any of the dis-ease associated with fatness) I imagine the two of us standing at a bus stop. I know people driving by look at me and think I probably have high blood sugar ( I do ) and should stop eating junk food ( I don't) and don't think anything about his blood sugar or eating habits. It's the assumption I resent.
One of the really strident NO fruit NO carbs people gave him a list of recommendations ending with the idea that if he ate in the recommended manner for fourteen days he'd lose fourteen pounds. Honestly. I can't imagine this guy has fourteen pounds to lose. He's really buff. The shift from healthy changes to weight loss makes me roll my eyes.
It's summer. I'm eating fruit. And peas. I stop drinking juice for breakfast and there are days when I don't eat any cookies/cake/candy/etc. It's not hard. I don't need discipline. I love my peach and berry summers. They are fleeting. And I can feel too much sugar in ways that make it easy to be moderate. I wrote about my own snack confusion the other day. I was really trying to explore the craziness in my own thinking about food. Reading the comments on my friend's post brought it all back to me. It takes constant sorting to eat in any way close to normal. Not just for fat people. One of my most food crazy friends has never been fat. 
And then today someone I admire linked this on Facebook with the comment that it was inspiring. Inspiring? What part? I suspect it's the weight loss goal. I mean ... this is an article posted in the "weird news" section. It goes to great length and detail about exactly how fat the woman is and how many calories she eats. A slide show at the bottom is prurient and the comments are festival of hate. So why did all that slip past an other wise very smart person? Um. Hmm. Well. Unexamined assumptions about fat people? 
It's the assumptions that I resent. 
I'm actually in a pretty good mood. I got to the pool this morning. I'm in a bit of pain but it's worth it. The pool is my happy place. 
    

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Some Kind of Record

Some time ago I went to my old site to look for something and couldn't get it to load. Not sure why. I've been meaning to switch the URL here but I wasn't sure how to handle the archives. After the last two posts I did some vanity searches looking for privilege lists references and there was my site. Weird. I got a little lost looking through archives.
When I thought I'd lost the site (figured something went wrong with the hosting because I missed something) I felt sad. Sort of. In some ways I had already let go of it all. Once I tried to print a bunch of it out but it was massive and odd. Too many links to things that were central to whatever I was writing. From my very first post I was wandering back and forth from a daily journal to an attempt to participate in a community of fellow bloggers. I don't think I did either particularly well because it was too much to negotiate. The conversations only made sense to the other people reading the same blogs, the fat politics only made sense to the fat politicos, the what I had for dinner ... oh I dunno. It was all over the place. Not always bad but disoriented. Or something.
I read a bunch of old stuff including a poem that I thought was written by someone else not because it was good or bad but just because I didn't remember it. At all.
I had a similar experience with old paper journals recently when a friend was visiting. I wanted to show her a picture so I pulled a few off the shelf. It's been years since I kept a regular  paper journal. I always loved finding the a new one and that moment when the pen hits the clean white page. I never did find what I was looking for but we both looked at old stuff and laughed about what was going on back in the day. 
I do feel really sad about the loss of my teenage journals. Long stupid story about why I don't have them. I'm sure they're full of angst.
I've always been more of a hopes and fears journal writer. Instead of a this is what happened journal writer. All this rambling around has me in an emotional fog. Unclear. 
This post. This is me trying to hang on.    

Monday, July 02, 2012

Response

Daniel's comment asks me to answer the questions I posed in my last post. I feel a little frustrated because the point I was trying to make was that the questions I was asking needed to be answered by any one but me. My answer to the question of how long is it OK to discriminate or hate on fat people is: not one second. It's never OK. Sympathy is sometimes comforting but rarely useful. I'm talking about justice. Hate may be part of human nature but I think it's also learned. And it's not OK. Never. Ever.
I have some privilege because I'm white. I lose some because I'm a woman. I lose even more because I'm an older woman. Thinking about your location on the privilege map is useful to build awareness and compassion but it's not a metric for the value of a life. Understanding my own white privilege doesn't mean I should be ashamed. It just gives me a way to understand myself and others.
I am never hurt when a child asks me directly or comments about my weight because they're just talking about what's true. I am fat. No need for me to feel hurt when someone notices that fact. I am often angered and frustrated and maybe hurt by the reaction of their parents. Too often that's the moment when they learn that there is something "wrong" with my body. If the child asks me directly I say: some people are fat and I'm one of those people. Most really young children get it right away and smile.
Text is often problematic and I'm not sure whether to write about Daniel or write directly to him but I think I'm to going to shift to being specific and direct.
Really. When I wrote the tuna and celery thing I was being a bit snarky. Six months would not do it.  A year might not even do it. It would not be even close to healthy. I wrote a new post on the food blog about how and why I eat what I do, which I feel I do over and over but I don't mind.
I'm fifty-nine. I have a life time of experiencing how I am treated relative to my size. I've always been fat but I've been less fat and I know people treat me differently. And that's not OK. It does not make me feel good. It does not make me feel good because it's not a value I accept.
It might be good that I am not more well read in the fatosphere these days because this will be the second time you've told me about your diet and weight loss and in the past I suspect you would have been jumped on in comments by people trying to defend me. And I would feel bad about that. In the fatosphere diet talk is frowned upon. My feeling is that since I'm asking you to respect my choices about my body I should respect yours. I want you to feel good about yourself. I'm not interested in making you fall in line with an ideology. If anything I've ever written has helped you to silence the negative voices I am happy to hear it. You also seem to understand that what you're doing isn't sustainable and if you are fat by nature I suspect you will gain some weight when you begin to eat again. It's hard to say. I don't feel like I know you and/or your health history. You've written about being food addicted. I'm not going to try and explain you to yourself.  I don't know you well enough to even speculate on what that's all about. What ever happens I hope you hold onto the good feelings you've gained.
The question I wrote that I was afraid to ask is also one I can't answer. I don't know how many of my friends truly feel. In many ways I'm afraid to know. It does seem like you think I write well and you enjoy my perspective when it helps you to accept yourself but maybe think I should lose weight and in so doing end my own suffering. If that's true it's my biggest fear.
From time to time someone tells me how my writing about being fat has been helpful to them and I am always happy to hear it. But I'm not sure I've made the case well enough, or clearly enough to make even small push in the way most of the people I know get what I'm always trying to do.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

How Long?

More than a few years ago a friend asked me to help her with some restaurant reviewing. She very kindly took me out for a few meals at different places, one of which was the kind of place I normally love. Small neighborhood French bistro feel. Strong technique. Local ingredients.
We walked in. I think we were the first ones there. I don't remember things exactly but I do remember we were not greeted warmly and there seemed to a problem. We were sat in the back of the restaurant, which would not have been my choice. There was a lot of muttering and people coming out to look at us and eventually we were moved to the front of the restaurant. There was a lot of  - what seemed to be - looking at my ass with dismay. I have forgotten the details but I do remember realizing that waiters were worried that they wouldn't be able to get around me. It was a small restaurant. They were right to be worried. I was worried about it when we were seated in the back of the restaurant. But we were there early enough (before it was crowded) and in the second area there was no reason to walk behind me so it was fine. This looking at my ass and something about the things that were said that I don't remember and the generally bad way in which it was handled infuriated me. Hurt me. It's a testament to how good the food was that I enjoyed it as much as I did because I was struggling with tears and rage the whole time. In part because of the way my friend wasn't getting how rudely I was being treated because of the size of my ass. It felt like she thought I was over reacting. At some point the chef walked around talking to people and he stopped at our table. I was still obviously upset and reserved. When we left he followed us out the door and asked what went wrong. I told him. He listened. He never made me feel wrong. He could not have done a better job of trying to make me feel better. But because my friend did not seem to be "on my side" I held on to my emotions. I knew I would never go back. Sadly, because it was a great restaurant. We were served an amuse bouche of cauliflower soup with truffle oil in an espresso cup that I still remember as one of the best things I've ever eaten. I've tried to reproduce it with minimal success. My feelings of humiliation were too strong. It became the site of an injury a large part of which was my friend's seeming reticence about my reaction. We aren't in communication any more and I forget exactly how that happened but I know it wasn't a simple ending and I know I held on to the hurt.
The other day I was reminded about the whole business when a friend said she was going to the restaurant for dinner, which didn't bother me because it is a great place and the chef did make a good faith effort to hear my compliant. I was explaining to another friend why I wouldn't go there and her reaction also felt like she thought I was making too big a deal about what had happened. It brought the whole experience back. I was unable to continue the conversation.
My friends who own being fat and/or understand why it is a political identity would get how I felt but I'm not sure that most of my friends would. I often feel like many of my friends wish I would lose weight, not because they'd love me any more or less but "because of my health" or just so I wouldn't have any more of these specific kinds of hurtful experiences. And even if they have accepted that I will probably always be fat they don't think I should expect the world to embrace fatness as a body type and not a disease. They don't think that fat people are discriminated against in ways that should be changed because, after all, fat people can lose weight and end their own discrimination. And I feel this way about some of my best friends. People who I know love me.
So lets say I live on tuna and celery for the next six months and lose all "extra" weight. Now, this can't really happen because that kind of rapid weight loss would probably kill me so let's say a year, or two years. I love  both tuna and celery but I can tell you I would rather be dead than live on them for that long. I can also say that any time I have lost weight I have never gotten to thin. I have always had "extra" weight. I am fat. By nature. But back to the imaginary world in which I can be thin. My question is: for what ever amount of time it takes, two months, two years, two hours, is it OK that I can experience discrimination? How long is OK? How much discrimination is understandable?
What happened to me at the restaurant wasn't exactly discrimination. They sat me. They served me. It was just nastiness AKA fat hate. The chef/owner apologized for how I was treated. It was one of those experiences that I usually file under wish-the-world-would-change. It was the feeling of not being fully supported by someone who was a friend that stuck with me. It was the look of mild embarrassment on her face as she listened to me rant. That was what stuck.
I've been feeling cranky lately because someone is writing a thin privilege list and no one seems to remember that I did that years ago. It's not fair for me to be cranky because it's been years since I wrote with any kind of regularity and I don't really participate in the fatosphere. That's a topic for another post. I've always liked privilege lists because I think they can be wonderfully insightful. They should be written by the people with the privilege. Is that gonna happen when it's about weight? In my current mood I can't imagine it.
I'm really struggling with this recent experience because I love my friend and I know they love me. I also know that when they hear stories of extreme hate or discrimination directed toward fat people they think it's wrong but they also think the fat people should lose weight.
And.
So.
Again.
Many fat people will never be thin. And there would be varying amounts of time for fat people to lose any amount of weight so ... how long? How long is discrimination acceptable? How much hate is OK?
And the real question.
The one I'm too afraid to ask.
Is.
How many of my friends think that I'm very smart but make too much of this fat is a political identity issue?    

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fat Brat

I had an unexpectedly emotional day. I saw a commercial for The Glee Project, which I hadn't realized was on. I was able to watch all the episodes On Demand. There is a fat girl and she can sing and dance and is hella cute. So right a way I'm rooting for her since they just disappeared the last fat girl. But it doesn't take long to see that she's kind of argumentative and resistant. I found myself trying to defend her behavior and not really being able to do it. And then she was doing an audition and the big guy on Glee (sorry, I forget his name) says something about the show being about victims and ... she isn't one.
Wow.
It was right on. She's bold and confident and kind of a brat. So. Um. I don't think she's going to make it onto the show but I think she can have a career in music if she wants one. I wish I liked her more. I do like brats. Sometimes.
I find contest shows emotional. I don't really watch many because I get upset when some people leave. And this show is full kids who you want to root for and some who you know won't make it. Plus there's the music. I was in tears. More than once.
Then someone on Facebook linked a new film about Cheryl Haworth.  Cheryl is one of the people who puts a lie to the fat = unhealthy always. But she feels big and cumbersome and not attractive.
I just. I don't know. My day was full of scrubbing and dusting because I have a friend coming for a visit. And when I'd take a break I'd watch these things and then be full of thought and feeling and covered in Comet.
We need the stories about these women. We need the diversity. I love when my rush to defend the fat girl gets waylaid by her lack of need to be defended. And I want the fat girls who hate trying on clothes to get their brat on.

 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Power

There was an interesting discussion on the Chris Hayes show Sunday. It was centered on events in Egypt but extended to a general discussion on revolution and power. One of the panelist was George Martinez who brought a radical Occupy perspective. There was moment between him and another guest, which I wish I could copy from a transcript so I could be very clear. How I remember it, or how I took it was that George felt like revolutionaries made change by resisting the push to be part of institutional politics and another person somewhat pedantically said but then they never had power.
It made me think about all the years I ignored anything that was happening inside the beltway, or the statehouse and focused on everything alternative. My feeling was that the system was so corrupt and sick that there was no way to participate. I think I even skipped voting in at least one election. I believed the system would destroy itself and be replaced by alternative, new age, hippie, collective, peace and love. Or something like that.
There is power inside the beltway, which is why I vote now. And why I make an effort to understand things. But there is also power in the streets. I'm often so discouraged by the tone of things. I listen to too much talk news. Even when I agree I often wish for a more specific articulation. I still think the system is sick and broken and possibly irredeemable. But I vote.
Paul Auster wrote a short piece in the New Yorker ( hate when I can't link to things) in which he describes a trip on which he was angry and having a fit because a taxi driver wouldn't accept his fare. It wasn't far enough. Auster has a fit in which he almost loses a manuscript. Then he sees a woman walking gracefully along, balancing a bundle on her head, carrying a baby in a snuggy and a bag in each hand. Moving with the ease and balance of someone who is not expecting more. Not expecting fair. Not expecting right.
While the political ads spin and the Supreme Court manipulates and the corporations spend there are people carrying the weight of their lives with grace and dignity. 
That's power. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

What?

I've been sleeping better, which I think might affirm my theory about the warmer, drier weather and less pain. It's been overcast and colder for a few days and we may have sprinkles tonight. My fingers are hurting as I type. Last night started well but I woke up to go to the bathroom and couldn't get back to sleep. I read for awhile. A mosquito showed up but I wasn't sleeping anyway so it was just annoying. Every few pages I rested the book on my chest and tried to sleep. Eventually it worked.
Sag Harbor is a really good read. Especially for the summer since it is about summer but it has broken the trend of reading that feels like a secret message. I'm enjoying it but I feel like I'm reading from a distance.
This morning I watched Now with Alex Wagner, which I do most mornings. There was a brief discussion about the news from yesterday.  Alex leads with the question: does cruelty know no bounds? The first response was a comment on the fact that Karen Klein's job was to prevent exactly what happened to her. Fair point I suppose but not at all what I expected. It went on about the kids, who are kids and need guidance, are now the objects of national ridicule. I mentioned something like in post yesterday. Comments on the web about the kids were/are extremely vitriolic. And then one of the people on the panel talks about the money being raised, which has reached an epic amount. I am somewhat with that. Money get's thrown at problems. It's weird. But this woman seems like someone who hasn't had a lot of joy in her life and I liked the idea of her getting support in a form that might enable her to have some fun. Or something. Pay some bills. Help family. Something. And finally, there is a line drawn from the vitriol directed toward the kids and the vitriol that's directed toward the president.
What?
It's not that there is no connection. We live in a culture of mean. But it seemed like a stretch.
I did not expect media mention of the fat hate. There was a very smart piece on Jezebel, which calls out the fat hate and the comments ignore that and focus on if the woman did her job.
Wow.
I'm not sure how to feel about that. It is a valid point. Although really, she didn't sit there while the tormented another child. I'm just kind of thrown by the shift of focus.
Cruelty knows no bounds and is a bit of a shape shifter.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

This Is What It Looks Like

There's a story getting a lot of buzz about an older woman who was taunted by some kids while she was the acting monitor of their school bus. A video of the incident was posted on YouTube and got a lot of attention. A guy opened a site to raise funds to send her on vacation and has raised a wonderful amount of money. You can read about it and see the video.
Here's the thing. This is fat hatred.
On the one hand bad behavior is bad behavior and there's no need to talk about the specific quality of the expression of that behavior. On the other hand, if they had been talking about her being Gay, or Jewish, or a specific race the distinction would be called out. I didn't listen to the entire ten minutes and I have read that they talk about more than just her weight but in the time I watched they are focused on talking about her being fat. And I would like someone to talk about that. I would like someone to talk about how fat people are the target of hatred.
It's a worry because she's getting a lot of support right now and I believe that if the fat thing were called out there would be lots of talk about how fat people bring hate on themselves and should all lose weight. I would not want to see her be re-injured by a prolonged public discussion of her weight. She's been through enough. I like that it seems she's about to get a bunch of money and may be able to enjoy retirement. I like that people are outraged on her behalf. I don't want her to become the icon for my cause.
However. She already is.
Everything that is said to her has been said to me in public. On public transportation. Shouted from cars. Said within ear shot. I know I'm not the only fat person with this experience. If you want to see what fat hate looks like watch the video. If you care about me imagine me in that seat. Depending on my mood I can sometimes shut people up with a look. But not always. When you're in public and you're being attacked and no one is speaking up you feel fear. You lose power. 
This kind of fat hate isn't anomalous. It isn't even rare. 
Most of the comments are directed toward the kids and some of them are plenty hateful. Apparently the kids and their families have been threatened. That's how we do things. We meet hate with more hate. Where did they learn it?
From time to time I watch a few minutes of Mike and Molly to see if it's gotten any better. It hasn't. The fat jokes aren't that different from what these kids say to this woman. And many of them come out of the mouths of the fat actors. Hating yourself for being fat is just normal, you see.
Every news agency reporting this story with shock and dismay has used images of headless fat people to make a point about health. It's easier to hate when you don't have to look someone in the face. Right now fat people are being blamed for the destruction of the planet. Apparently we place too high a demand on food production. The article I linked mentions the Bloomberg restrictions on big gulp sodas and quotes a woman saying that if she eats a hamburger and french fries she's going to be dehydrated and needs that big gulp. It's a ridiculous statement. Then it says her size was not identified.  Further in the article it says something about people of all sizes and food choices. So the head line is about the obese, the idea is supported by a statement from a woman who might not be fat, then suddenly we're talking about fast food. It's exactly this kind of smudging of lines that makes me worry about calling out the fat hate in this situation.
But I want it called out. I want the connection made. I want people to make the point about card board food and big gulp sodas without the pictures of headless fat people. I want people to get that when you conflate a body type with illness you make a target.        
I am so frustrated.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Solstice Girl

There was a time in my thirties when I couldn't keep track of my age. I kept thinking I was older than I was. I have no idea why but I think it might have had something to do with being panicked. That special kind of panic you get when you are thirty-something.
The minute I turned fifty-five I was sixty. Seriously. I was able to remember my real age but it didn't matter. I was sixty.
Here's the thing. I don't care about being older. At least not in the way people seem to care. I'm OK with the wrinkles and the larger and larger patches of white in my hair. I'm not too happy about the aches and pains. I wish I had done a better job of establishing myself financially. I wish I was in a little house with a garden and a pool. But I like my apartment. And as long as I have books I'm OK. I don't feel like being younger is that cool.
It was kinda fun.

Today I am fifty-nine. Not sixty. I'm not sure why but I am so clear about being fifty-nine.
I had a  nice Conn-versation with Steve. Got lots of love on Facebook. And blogged the food.
It's summer now.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Memory Hole

I was in a weird restless mood all morning Couldn't get into anything. And then Tom called and we talked for a long time about life back in the day. It was fun. He thinks I should write a book about it all. Maybe if I wrote fiction. It was a time.
He's always been a good friend. Very supportive of my rock-n-roll dreams. He played guitar for me so I could do a gig and paid another band that was about to bail so they showed up. It was the beginning of my short, flailing musical career.
Then I got a card from Steve. Another good friend who helped me. He played piano on a song I recorded to send as a Christmas card. He called me up on stage one time but I did NOT feel good enough to go. Mark called me up on stage and I went. But that was before I entertained the idea that could really  have my own band. Steve has always been the real real and I. Was. Just. Not.
There were a lot of people but mostly men who really did help me during that phase. And a few who made it harder. And now I rarely even sing in the shower.
Oddly enough I don't feel as sad about that as I think I should. Not finding a way to sing was as painful as any unrequited love I've ever had. I've either found a way to accept it all or I've stuffed into a corner somewhere. Deep, deep in a corner.
Bill sent me a recording of a gig I did so many years ago. He's really the only person who seems to remember that I used to to that. You can hear the drugs and alcohol in my voice.
So I'm in a memory hole. Which is full of all the best and worst things. Mostly lyrics and the sound of the band.     

Monday, June 18, 2012

Like A Cactus Tree

I was remembering a time, years ago, when I was sitting on a restaurant patio with a few friends. One of them was a woman who had what seemed to be the ability to channel other beings from another realm but may have just been a personality that she used to say things in a way that lent them credibility. I mean her eyes would change and she'd get the same crooked smile and her hands would move in a very particular manner when she was channeling. And who knows? At the time I believed everything.
Anyway. She turned to me and gave a me look that was close enough to the channeling face and said, "I just realized how alone you feel. And it makes me wonder if you feel that alone when you're with me what does it mean about me?" You never really knew who was talking, which is why almost everything she said took on the quality of extra true.
However, I was relieved to have someone see that part of me because, in a weird way, it made me feel less alone. I also loved that she took responsibility for the part about her own feelings, which gave me the space to be aware of how my loneliness caused pain for others. In other words she wasn't trying to make me feel less alone for my own well being or hers. She was just marking the moment.
I am the only child of a single mother. I spent a lot of time alone, or with adults. Plus I was fat and ostracized. There are a lot of moving parts that create the loneliness.
I think I romanticize alone-ness. I remember hearing Barbara Streisand sing: never never will I marry. Wide my world. Narrow my bed. and Joni, of course, in so many songs. I'd stare out of the window of trains and planes, journal in hand, writing my alienation. Something about being alone in the world, particularly for a woman, seemed exotic.Of course as a child I longed for a best friend and eventually that longing turned into wanting a lover. 
There were three men I thought I would marry. Many more I wanted for an hour, or a day, or a week but three that I wanted to live with and have children with and grow old with and ... just ... you know. Not be alone. 
The first was Gary. We were thirteen. He was the center on the football team and the basketball team and he wrestled. I learned to like sports. On school day afternoons I sat a picnic table between my apartment and the row of houses in which he lived and pretended to do my homework. He went by on his daily run.We smiled shyly and muttered hello. Just before we moved to Maryland there was a school dance at which he showed some interest. I often wonder what would have happened if we hadn't moved. I imagine us married and with lots of kids.Of course there's no way to know if that would have happened and there are many reasons why moving was probably the best thing that could have happened.  Still. I wonder. 
And I wonder if I would have still felt alone. 
It's not all about a lack of romance. Some of my loneliness was habituated by things I didn't chose. Some of it became an identity I fostered. It's not always a sad thing. Sometimes it enables deep internal sense of being. For years I saw it as a pathology and a wound. And there are days when it feels like a punishment. But not always. 
And her heart is full and hollow

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Tavi Saves The Day

Yesterday was a bad day. It doesn't matter why. The best part about it was that it ended.
And then Alan posted a link on Facebook. It's a long video and starts a little slow but I encourage you to watch it. Tavi pulled me out of the gloom. I read some of her blog and her on line magazine. She loves Joni, which in and of itself makes me happy. In a piece she wrote about Joni she articulates something so much better than I ever have.

I think for some people the most difficult thing is coming to terms with the fact that being happy will not come as easily for them as they feel it ought to, that just smiling will usually not be enough, that being sensitive and observant sometimes makes you feel more “in touch” with “life” or whatever, but most of the time it just feels like a burden, or like everyone else is in on some kind of joke that you’re taking way too seriously, and sometimes you feel like a brat because you can’t just accept how things seem to be, because you have to think about it all and that just results in things always eventually being somewhat painful, and it sounds so pretentious, but it’s not like it’s smart thinking necessarily, it’s not like you’re better than anyone, it’s just that you’re curious about things, I guess. 


Exactly.
Then I watched The Way, which is probably only good if you like Martin Sheen and/or spiritual journey stories. I enjoyed it but there was one character, a fat man from Amsterdam. Throughout the film he is full of life. Of course you eat the local food and of course you smoke pot and of course you drink wine. There is some reference to his weight but it's not util the end of the film that you realize how much of a problem it is for him. It wasn't a hateful portrait but it made me very sad.
It occurred to me this bad mood that started building a few days ago might be about Father's Day, which I kind of forgot. I had a father and a stepfather from whom I learned that it's possible for someone to love you and still take huge chunks of your heart and soul hostage. I learned that it's possible to love someone even when they've cut into you. And it's possible to forgive and not have to prove that you've forgiven by stepping in front of the knife again.
I know some wonderful fathers. I hope they get presents and food and whatever they want today.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Dependence


Every other week I go to see Barbara. It's a five or ten minute drive but it takes two buses, which can mean a half an hour or more. And because my balance has gotten so bad I've started taking a cab. The cab companies have SUVs and sedans. The SUVs are kind of hard for me to get in so I ask for a sedan. for weeks now they've sent a SUV. I called the company while we riding over, put the call on speaker and asked what I have to say or do to get the sedan. The dispatcher blamed the cabbie, which made the cabbie mad and he started yelling. Drama.
There are many times when the cab is late. The driver is rude. They won't pull into the driveway and it's harder for me to get in. So many things you don't notice when you don't need help. The weight of the door. The distance from where they let you out.
I am not used to it. I've been independent all of my life. I've walked everywhere. I've gotten on and off buses, trains, cabs. I've done what I needed to do.
Sometimes getting to the healing is an injury.
I got a great night of sleep last night. Really good.
And I got a great adjustment.
I started reading Sag Harbor because reading that piece by Whitehead reminded me how much I like his writing. Cheryl said to read some fiction and I thought it might be good to read something that would get me out of myself.
I feel a bit shut down.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Ready for the Battle

I must have looked pretty crazy last night in my recliner with big, chunky ear phones and a rolled up magazine and the light on. The beginning of the night was choppy but no bugs. By one I gave up on all the battle gear, turned off the light and slept until six. Felt good.
Something is going on with me but I haven't named it yet. I have some ideas but I'm not sure about any of them. I was flipping around the TV today and came upon the last few minutes of the new version of the Karate Kid. I teared up immediately. Why? Cant's say. Something about the person who isn't suppose to win, winning.
I tried to listen to Caroline today but first Mom called and then there was an emergency broadcast and then a break. I was hoping she'd say something instructive. I guess there is something about Venus going on. None of of it landed.
Made good dinner tonight and wrote a weak post about it. I don't care if it's weak.
I'm writing. I'm writing when I feel like being curled in a ball somewhere. I'm writing when I have nothing to say. Sometime that's good enough. Or not. But. It's what I'm doing.