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


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.
Maybe tomorrow.