Monday, July 31, 2006
The long and the short of it is that I’m still trying to piece together what all happened on Saturday, as BlogHer was very cool but also OH MY GOD. SO many women! Who are smart! And BLOG! And nice! And pretty! And smart! SO MANY OF THEM.
And basically, I was totally unprepared. But live and learn, right? Or is that now: “live and learn and blog”? Whatever.
I did manage to do the few things I most wanted to do.
I knew Whinger was going, and I got to spend a sufficient amount of time with her being appropriately snarky. I say “appropriately snarky” because much of the event left little to be snarky about. Only occasionally did a corporate sponsor get up and “present” something that seemed out of place (and slightly condescending).
I also got to meet two of my no-longer invisible Internet friends and that is always cool. Shawn lives locally to the conference and was amazingly diligent in providing rum and (diet) cokes for the occasion. She’s fun and enthusiastic and…I dunno, it makes it special to meet people you only otherwise know virtually. Likewise, I got to meet Jenny, who’s another reader and commenter I’ve corresponded with for months. She’s adorable and glamorous, which is probably why SHE knew what to do when in the presence of greatness...
Right. So here is the part of the post where I mention all the ridiculous things I did to embarrass myself at this conference.
For one thing, I didn’t charge my phone and...uh...well YOU try and coordinate where you’ll meet up with your friends when the hotel is spread out over roughly 3 million acres and 283 break-out rooms with a pool somewhere in the middle but you can’t get to it because where was it again? And tell me, where exactly is room 9122? WHERE??? Because up the stairs where you told me to go? All those rooms are in the 2200s.
Oh? What’s that you say, amazing blogger who founded a Katrina rescue operation out of your home, who I stopped to ask directions from before realizing I was in the presence of greatness? What’s that? I’m holding the envelope with my room key upside down? And maybe it’s room 2216? Oh, thank you.
Also, I need to not talk.
I hate to admit this even to myself, but everyone who knows me in real life knows that I am quite possibly the LEAST ARTICULATE woman on the face of the planet. Writing? That’s awesome because of this here EDIT screen and also backspace and my best friend, CTRL+Z.
But my inarticulateness zooms up a few notches when I’m meeting people for the first time (which would explain probably why I think I frightened many, many women away) but even more so – apparently – when I’m meeting “famous” people. For example.
Whinger and I selected our first session and entered the conference room somewhat early. It was hot and it was going to be crowded, since the topic of Mommy Blogging is rather central to the BlogHer world. So as we’re sitting watching the room fill up and feeling the temperature rise, Whinger leans over to me and, in a quiet voice, sort of nods her head backwards and says “look behind you.”
I did not in any way understand what this – the UNIVERSAL CODE for I DON’T WANT TO DRAW ATTENTION TO MYSELF – meant, so I had to ask her to repeat herself roughly five times. What? Who? Someone’s here? What are you doing? What are you pointing at? This eventually devolved into a muffled near-shout of “KRISTY. HEATHER. BEHIND YOU.” Which started me thinking that maybe I should turn around, but I still was a little unclear so finally Whinger just gave up, straightened up, and in a plain voice just said, “DOOCE.”
Sure enough, Dooce was sitting two rows behind me, all of three feet away. I sprang from my chair and almost collapsed with excitement. I watched first, as Whinger elegantly introduced herself and said something brief and articulate, like, “You are amazing.”
And then I walked up to her and fell completely apart. I basically hurled verbal vomit onto the woman I consider one of the greatest bloggers who has ever lived.
What did I say exactly? Oh, I have no idea. I was just hearing words come out of my mouth and couldn’t figure out a way to make them stop and kept trying to make it better by saying more, which of course only made it worse. And it kept going and going until at some point, I may have just walked away. I don’t even know.
But THEN I realized I had a camera with me and that Whinger had to take a picture of me with Heather and that began a whole new awkward series of exchanges.
I re-approached Heather who probably just wanted to be left alone by Crazy me, and she agreed to a photo but then Whinger couldn’t get my camera to work because it had been set* to some incomprehensible mode and so she had to try about three different times. This resulted in one “successful” photo: an image of me looking imploringly at Whinger, clearly wondering why she can’t get the camera to work, and Heather looking like she needs to move far, far away from Crazy and Crazy’s “special” camera. As soon as possible.
Of course, I cannot post this either because my camera batteries died. But it’s FABULOUS.
At least I learned** that I should PREPARE what I’m going to say before approaching someone I admire. Otherwise I might repeat that sort of embarrassment and do something stupid like walk right up to Arianna Huffington and ask to shake her hand and look her right in the eye and say…
...ohfuck...say something...don’t say anything like what you said to Dooce...say something nice...
Perhaps an improvement, but perhaps not so much.
Anyway, there are about a million more things I could relate about the event, but it’s a little overwhelming to try and do at once. Overall it was pretty cool, and I will try and be prepared if I go again next time.
**clearly I did not “learn” fast enough
Friday, July 28, 2006
Originally I thought it would be awesome to go to the entire conference, which started today (and maybe even kicked off on Thursday night?) and goes straight through Saturday night, but then I changed my mind.
And now I'm wondering if I even want to go at all.
It’s not that I don’t think this will be a good and worthwhile event. I do. (Actually, I am in awe of this whole thing.)
But frankly, the idea of being surrounded by hundreds of women I don’t know in a strange place for a full day of conferencing seems a bit off-putting. Yes, we’re all women and yes, we all blog. And yay! for that, really. It’s just...
...actually, I don’t even know what. I just worry that perhaps I fall more on the cynical/snarky/huffy side of the feminist pendulum than most of the other ladies who’ll be there.
Meaning if I’m going to spend my day hanging out with 80 million women, I would like booze and dancing and at least one pair of naked breasts at the end of it. You know? Because it’s awesome that we’re all literate and creative and taking the blogosphere by storm and changing the course of history with our tenacity and savvy and collective refusal to shut the fuck up.
But this also means -- in a metaphoric sense of course -- that I am hoping for less yogurt and more tequila. An event with fewer clipboards and more general merriment by day; followed by no “I have to go to bed earlys” and all the hot, shirtless, gay pool boys giving dance lessons we can find at night. A celebration of the "female spirit" that recognizes both the crazy-knitting-cat-lady side of me and the sharp-sexy-slutty side of me, and doesn't make me feel like I have to be ashamed of either one.
Maybe it will be all that.
(But I'm staking out Whinger and bringing a flask and a camera just in case.)
Ish hosted a comedy show last night in one of my favorite SF cafes. I busted out the camera for the first time there, after the show. You might be able to tell from the amazing artistry below that I'd:
a) Had some wine, and
b) Not yet read the manual.
But whatever. I like this picture anyway.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
- Stephen Colbert
Satire, folks. Just my take on the absurdity of things. Couldn't help it.
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
Cable Network Talk Show
Sunday, July 30, 2006. 7:54 a.m.
Sunday Morning Talking Head: Well Senator, you have made some excellent points about Bush’s impeccable record, the strength of the economy, progress in the War in Iraq and the media’s liberal bias. Is there anything else you’d like to add before we wrap up?
Republican Senator: Democrats wear bananas on their heads.
Sunday Morning Talking Head: [chuckling] Oh, ho, Senator. That’s a wild allegation! [turning to the camera] Are you sure you want to go on the record with that?
Republican Senator: I don’t care who knows it! I am a principled man and a loyal American. And it’s high time we expose the Democratic Party for what it is. A bunch of banana-wearing liberals who wear bananas! On their heads!
Sunday Morning Talking Head: Remember you heard it hear first, folks.
* * * * * *
Washington: Official White House Spokespersons Meeting
Sunday, July 30. 8:12 a.m.
Official White House Spokesperson #1: Republican Senator announced on a cable show this morning that the Democrats wear bananas on their heads.
OWHS #2: Which?
OWHS#1: Which what? Which show or which Democrats?
OWHS#2: Who cares which show. Television is television. Which Democrats? Did he name names?
OWHS #2: He just said Democrats. Here, I have the tape. [goes to tape.]
OWHS#1: You know, he’s right.
OWHS#1: He is?
OWHS#2: That Senator, he’s smart as a whip. Gotta hand it to him.
OWHS#1: So...so the Democrats? They wear bananas on their heads?
OWHS#2: Of course they do.
OWHS#1: But...should we issue an official statement? In case this...I mean, do we need to be pre-emptive? I think the press might pick up on this. And the bloggers...
OWHS#2: The bloggers? You honestly think anyone cares what the BLOGGERS say about this? We know from experience they’ll say anything about anyone. They have no shame, and the White House will NOT kowtow to those whiney little bastards. It’s not like they’re VOTERS. Besides, we can’t go around issuing statements about things as fundamentally obvious as how much the Dems love to eat bananas.
OWHS#1: Wear. Wear bananas. You said eat. But they um...he didn’t say they eat bananas, he said the Dems wear the bananas. On their heads.
OWHS#2: Of course. Eating would be too easy for those pussies. Fucking banana wearers.
* * * * * *
Sunday, July 30. 8:15 a.m.
Liberal Blogger: Did anyone catch what that Republican Senator said about the Democrats wearing bananas on their heads?
Liberal Blog Commenter #219: What is this about bananas? Where are the WMDs??? Where’s Osama????
Liberal Blog Commenter #374: haha. bananas! you guys suck! you smell like bananas! Clinton had sex!!!
* * * * * *
Monday, July 31. 5:22 p.m.
Fair and Balanced Host: ...we return now with Republican Senator. Yes, Republican Senator caused quite a stir yesterday when he exposed a secret the Democratic Party had to have wished would stay buried! Let’s go live via satellite to Republican Senator in his home on the shore.
Good evening, Senator.
Republican Senator: Good evening, F&BH. Thank you for having me back.
F&BH: Of course, sir. Always a pleasure. So let’s just get to it. Bananas?
RS: Yes, that’s right.
F&BH: On their heads?
RS: On their heads.
F&BH: Now, Senator, just how long has this been going on? And what do you think it will mean for the primaries?
RS: Well, F&BH, I’d have to remind you that the Democratic Party has a long history of wearing bananas on their heads. This is not new. It’s just another one of their crazy “liberal schemes” they pull out at election time to try and win over the American people. But I’ll tell you: it is my belief that the American people will see through this…through these kinds of shenanigans. The Democrats are clearly desperate and need some sort of [waves hands around] smoke and mirror show to...to DISTRACT the American people from the real issues.
F&BH: Senator, as you can imagine there has been [chuckles] a little “noise” – if you will – on the other side. There’s some speculation that the Democrats are denying your allegations. We have Democratic Senator here with us via satellite as well. Senator can you hear me?
Democrat Senator: Yes, thank you.
F&BH: Democrat Senator, do you have any thoughts on what Republican Senator has exposed?
DS: Well, I think that Republican Senator has a point, to a degree. The Democratic Party does have a long history of enjoying bananas as a wholesome snack food. But, ah, to suggest...sheesh, to suggest that we wear them on our heads? That’s kind of preposterous. We have never—
RS: Yes you do.
DS: This is really a ridiculous argument. We don’t wear bananas on our heads.
RS: Yes you do.
DS: I’m fairly certain that we do not, that we don’t—
RS: You can twist the truth all you like, Senator. We’ve heard it all before. But facts are facts and they speak for themselves.
DS: But, Senator, you can plainly see that I am not wearing bananas on my head. Not now. Not earlier. In fact, I can go on record saying I have never, not once in my entire political career—
RS: I don’t think the American public is interested in your “political career.” [chortles with F&BH] though it seems pretty clear that YOU are. But Americans, they want to know the truth about bananas. That’s all I’m saying. They deserve the truth.
DS: The truth is that there are no bananas! We do not wear bananas in any way! There is no proof! There is no justification for your outrageous—
RS: You’re getting a little worked up there, Senator. I don’t think I should be the one being called “outrageous.” I am not a member of the party in question. It is your outrageous behavior that has the American public concerned. I mean, I’m sorry, Senator, but what kind of people wear bananas on their heads?
F&BH: Democrat Senator, I realize that’s a tough question to answer, but before break I’d like to give you a chance to answer. Please, tell our viewers what kind of public figures wear bananas on their heads, and what message does it sends to voters?
DS: I can’t...I can’t answer that question, that’s an imposs—
F&BH: I’m sorry to hear that, Democrat Senator. I guess Republican Senator will have the last word on the subject for today. We are all out of time on this, but when we come back...
* * * * * *
Monday, July 31. 5:35 p.m.
Liberal Blogger: Our country is at war, the rumors of actual death tolls from the Middle East are growing every day, and this Administration is flailing completely except in its ability to project a unified front on just about every issue, including diversionary ones.
Next thing you know, Bush will claim that the efforts in Iraq would be going better if it weren’t for the banana-wearing Democrats.
Liberal Blog Commenter #92: I’m moving to Canada, I swear it.
Liberal Blog Commenter #93: HAHAHA! YOU CAN’T STAND LOOSING, LOOSERS! MOVE TO CANADA ITS JUST LIKE FRANCE LOOSER. WE’LL INVADE YOU TO! CHEESE EATING SURRENDER MONKEYS!!!!!!!
* * * * * *
Camp David: Bush and His Top Advisors Meet to Discuss Current Events
Friday, August 4. 12:18 p.m.
Top Advisor #1: ...and before we break for lunch, we need to discuss BananaGate.
G.W. Bush: Hezbollah!
Top Advisor #2: [whispering to Bush] Shhh. We aren’t discussing that now. That was yesterday.
Top Advisor #3: Can we move on please?
Bush: It’s fun to say! HEZBOLLAH! HEZBOLLAH! hezzzzzzzboLAAAAAH!
Top Advisor #2: It’s lunchtime. His blood sugar is low.
Top Advisor #1: This will only take a minute, but we need to discuss an important change in our platform. Give Him a couple sound bytes, and we’re done.
Top Advisor #4: What change in platform?
Top Advisor #1: It turns out that this BananaGate is really taking off. The media loves it, the bloggers love it, it’s fucking brilliant and completely bullet-proof.
Bush: I’m bullet-proof! HEZBOLLAH!
Top Advisor #1: So as far as domestic policy goes, our platform is now: Democrats wear bananas on their heads.
Top Advisor #2: That’s terrific. I’m tired of all this gay marriage bullshit anyway.
Top Advisor #4: So was this all Republican Senator’s idea?
Top Advisor #3: Of course not. He was the first to mention it, but we gave it to him. It’s been on the back-burner for months now. We thought the timing of his appearance would work well to get things rolling, so we asked him to mention it.
Top Advisor #1: The timing has been perfect, actually. We won’t be making THAT big announcement until October of course, and we really needed something to pull us out of these summer doldrums now that all these old poor people keep dying in heat waves.
Bush: And in Israel!
Top Advisor #2: [looks at Bush and sighs.] I don’t know. He really seems to have taken to this latest Conflict.
Top Advisor #1: Hey, Mr. President? Sir? Could we talk for a minute about the bananas?
Bush: What’s up?
Top Advisor #3: When you are giving your speech on Monday about [pauses] Hez—
Top Advisor #3: Yes. After that speech, you will be asked some questions about the Democrats wearing bananas on their heads. Are you prepared to field those questions?
Bush: Fielding bananas. Like a farmer!
Top Advisor #1: Please do not mention farmers, Sir.
Top Advisor #3: When the questions come up, we need you to say – Sir? Are you paying atten—okay, you need to say that you are “pleased that this issue has finally come to light” and that you “will not tolerate this kind of policy that makes a mockery of our values and beliefs and puts our freedom in jeopardy.”
Top Advisor #2: Sir?
Bush: [Sighs. Then speaks with complete sincerity, as though delivering a speech to his country] I have been informed of a great threat to our country’s greatness, and to the values we hold dear. Now, there are some who will tell you that the act of wearing bananas on your heads is natural. That it is normal. That it is a right. But I am here today to tell you that God loves freedom, and that freedom does not come in the form of a banana.
Top Advisor #3: That was amazing!
Top Advisor #4: That’s why we call him Mr. President.
Top Advisor #2: I wonder if Mr. President is ready for lunch?
* * * * * *
Conservative Radio Talk Show
Tuesday, August 8. 1:35 p.m.
Conservative Radio Talk Show Host: ...and the foreigners, they brought the damn bananas here in the first place! I mean, what? Like bananas are native to our country? Heh, maybe in CALIFORNIA where ALL the fruits and nuts come from. Am I right?
Get a grip people. Listen up. This is the land of Apple Pie. Not banana pie. No one sells bananas at baseball games for a reason.
Let’s go to the phones.
Caller: Hello? Am I on the air?
CRTSH: You are, congratulations. Millions of people are listening. What have you got to say?
Caller: Hi. Uh...I just wanted to say, to say I think we should give Republican Senator a medal. He deserves it. I mean, how long have we known about them liberals wearing bananas? Years? Prob’ly centuries? But no one says nothing, and a’ course our media don’t do nothin’ about it. They act like they never heard this before! But now it’s all out there and it ain’t never gonna be the same. A medal I think. And you should get one, too.
CRTSH: I don’t know if a medal is in order, but thanks for your call.
You know, I just have to ask. How many of you remember last summer? Last summer when I said I can’t believe how every member – every last one of them – of the Democratic Party is going around wearing bananas on their heads? You remember? We say it, and we say it, and Washington knows it but no one ever listens to us. But it’s just like the Senator said: In the end, the truth will win out. You can’t hide the truth.
* * * * * *
Connecticut: Joe Lieberman’s livingroom
Thursday, August 10. 11:04 p.m.
Joe Lieberman: [holding a banana bunch to his forehead] God damn sons of bitches! How are these fucking things supposed to stay on?
Aide: Sir, I’m not sure that this is the best idea.
Joe Lieberman: You are not here to THINK you are here to AIDE me and I need to get these on NOW, I have a press conference in 15 minutes!
Aide: There might be some Blu-Tack in the office...
* * * * * *
Headline: New York Times
Friday, August 11
YES, WE HAVE NO BANANAS:
Dems Waffle On Banana Stance
Republicans Decry Sen. Clinton’s “Banana Hat of Freedom”
* * * * * *
Friday, August 11. 2:28 p.m.
Liberal Blogger: Seriously. I give up.
Liberal Blog Commenter #3: I don’t get it. I thought we were helping.
Liberal Blog Commenter #5: BANANAS!
Liberal Blog Commenter #83: At least there are open forums like these for discourse. Wasn’t it Madison who spoke of harnessing the passion of the masses?
Liberal Blog Commenter #215: Hey dumbassses! GWB can GIT R DONE! All you faggots can kiss my ass! Why don’t you put on some more bananas and go have sex with your boyfriends! LOL.
Liberal Blog Commenter #342: Hey, was anyone else watching? That new guy who’s running for Senate with new platforms that the Dems need so badly? He was just on air saying that all Republicans have green chicken legs! Green! Chicken!! Legs!!! The Times is running a story tomorrow.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
And by “worst” I mean “utterly, incomprehensibly male.”
The first one, for those of you who might not recall (seeing as it was roughly a century ago), was the “ah you a gay?” comment.
The second one – in no particular order – was this little episode, brought on while in the company of PinkJaime.
* * * *
Once upon a time, PJ and I decided to go out after work for one drink.
And by “one drink” I mean “accidentally staying from happy hour until the bar closed.”
Anyway, PJ and I were happily sipping our gin and sodas, people watching, casually chatting with the mostly regular staff, and having a lovely time.
Eventually one young man came over to our table. The bar was very small, and he had just sort of wandered in. He started off by talking to a few of the regular guys, but eventually ran out of conversation with them and decided to stop off at our table.
He was on the shorter side, cute and pink-cheeked with a great smile and to-die-for dimples. I thought it was remarkable that he had the chutzpah to just come up to us at our table and start talking, but he seemed completely comfortable about it.
On the other hand, PJ and I had already noted that he was wearing a wedding ring. Maybe it’s easier to talk to girls when you aren’t hitting on them, I thought.
Turns out that Mr. Cutiepie was as sweet and adorable as he looked. He talked about his wife adoringly. He talked to us about his marriage, and how he’s been with her for many years and it’s as great as it ever was. They travel together all the time. And, we learned, they have a baby (their first!) on the way.
At the time, both PJ and I thought this was the sweetest thing we had ever heard but obviously gin was involved. I say this because it did not occur to either of us to be concerned about the fact that the man who claimed to love his pregnant wife SO much was not, actually, WITH his pregnant wife...and was instead at a bar talking to two strange women while his wife was at home “giving him space.”
[Oh, but before you go and think THAT was an eye-roll-worthy turn of phrase, just you wait!]
After a few more drinks and more chatting, we seemed to be getting along famously. If we ever suggested that perhaps it was odd that he was at a bar with his wife at home, he was more than adept at convincing us it was perfectly normal and healthy and part of what makes their marriage work so well.
Of course. Totally made sense at the time.
As the evening played out, the downstairs part of the bar got very crowded. We decided, then, to go upstairs where there was a lot more space and fresh air. And where it was quieter.
Perfect, it turns out, for having serious conversations. Even if you didn’t know one was coming.
“Ladies,” Mr. Cutiepie said. “I have something I want to say.” He suddenly looked very, very concerned. “I’m not sure how to say this, actually...”
What was going on? What was the matter? Was there some great truth he was going to share with us? What sort of confession might we be the recipients of?
We encouraged him. “What? What is it? Please, go on. You can tell us.”
“Well, it’s really more of a question,” he confessed.
“You can ask us,” we said, or something like it. Because the truth was, we HAD been discussing a lot of things. And a few hours and a few drinks certainly made us feel like we were all old friends.
“My God, my heart is pounding,” he said. “Feel.” He put my hand over his heart and, sure enough, it was pounding. He felt very warm.
PJ started to look very skeptical, and rightly so. But I purposely did not. I wanted him to feel comfortable enough to say or ask whateverthehell he felt was such a big deal, mostly because I was dying of curiosity and I didn’t want him to lose his nerve.
After a little more coaxing, he gave in.
“I think...” he started.
And then he just said it all at once.
“I think that all three of us should go out to the parking lot and have sex in my car.”
I think that all three of us should go out to the parking lot and have sex in my car.
PinkJaime laughed abruptly. It was one of those “HA!”s that come out in a sudden burst, when something is at once funny and shocking.
Then, when she declined immediately, he actually had to ask why not.
Yes. He asked why not.
So she explained that, among other things (such as SEX in a CAR in the PARKING LOT) being inappropriate, also HE IS MARRIED and his WIFE IS AT HOME EXPECTING THEIR CHILD.
But rather than have him say, “Oh right, THAT,” he launched into some very elaborate explanation of how they “sort of” have an “open relationship” and really his wife is fine with it and that’s why it’s okay for him to be out at the bar in the first place.
But PinkJaime just flatly refused him, before I even had a chance to say no.
Once I DID say no, though – and you have to appreciate this – he looked at me and said, in earnest, “It would be okay if it’s just the two of us.”
OH REALLY? IT WOULD? HOORAY!!!
You know, on the one hand, I almost admire the guy for putting it out there. Almost. It’s just that on the other hand, SEX in a CAR in the PARKING LOT with MY FRIEND while HIS WIFE IS AT HOME EXPECTING THEIR BABY.
Monday, July 24, 2006
Side effects were many and varied. Sometimes he’d respond to drugs in bad ways, like the time his steroids upped his heart rate so much he had something of a minor heart attack. I was in high school then, and Dad having to go to the doctor or hospital was nothing completely out of the ordinary. He never stayed long, though, and he never talked about it, and I'll bet my sisters don't even remember the heart attack episode.
"Episode." Like we were a sitcom.
Once he got a splinter from firewood and, because of his blood condition, was hospitalized for 11 days.
Truth be told, my father was a walking case of bad health, despite being a great athlete with a speedy metabolism and in good shape as far as cholesterol, fat, blood pressure and the like were concerned. But he’d had severe knee injuries from his college football days, and had had both his kneecaps replaced decades ago. Then later, even after years of deterioration, he refused to get them re-replaced. His blood condition made the operation risky. When I was a kid, he’d have to use all sorts of braces to play sports, and couldn’t ever really run. By the time he was 60, he could barely walk.
Sometimes I think about that. About how I lived life never having seen my father run.
Other side effects were really gross, and also embarrassing. For example, his disease caused blood clots in his eyes, and his vision was always in peril. He would also often get bloody noses. Except in his case, the blood didn’t usually bleed out, it would just collect in his nose the way healthy people collect mucus. And then to take care of this situation, my father would just pick it. Yes. He'd just pick his nose in public. All the time. It used to drive all of us crazy, but he would insist he couldn’t help it. I felt bad for him, of course I did, but why couldn’t he use a tissue?
It is a very troubling emotion, to be at once embarrassed and horrified and disgusted and yet so, so sad for your parent. If I ever caught him picking his nose, I'd mostly just ask him to stop. But mostly I just wanted him to be okay in the first place.
Throughout the course of his weird disease, the main thing that helped my dad stay alive was pheresis. He would regularly drive to a university hospital and have his blood drawn from him, filtered, and then put back in. If I had to guess I’d say he went to get “pheresed” every few weeks for almost 20 years. We didn’t talk about this either, other than to plan our schedules around it as necessary. My dad included. No, no bridge Tuesday, I have to go get pheresed.
We never made a big deal about it, it was just always there: a big, black scary sickness that my whole family worked hard to ignore. In truth, if it weren't for our schedules and occasional stories from the trenches, you wouldn't really know that there was a crazy blood disease quietly controlling my father's life.
I'll tell you though, we never expected my mom to be the one who'd become terminally ill. Or that it would be an unrelated cancer that would claim my dad. But this is the first time in my life I can remember people asking me how I'm doing without then asking, in a somber tone or with a look of fear or pity or empathy or pain in their eyes, about one of my sick parents.
I miss them every day. But I don't miss that.
* * * * * *
After years of the pheresis routine, my dad was pretty immune to seeing blood. Especially his own. And let’s face it, my dad was not the kind of guy big on noticing things anyway. My mother always said she could redecorate the entire house and he wouldn’t notice as long as he could find his way to the icemaker.
One day at the hospital following the procedure-as-usual, he was doing his characteristic walk-hobble* down the wing’s long corridor on his way to the exit. As he was walking, he failed to notice that one of the bandages on his forearm had come loose, and his tired veins had started leaking.
Put another way, my father was completely oblivious to the fact that he was sputtering blood from his arm, leaving a messy trail down the entire hospital hallway. So my father. So breezy -- if bloody -- elegance.
Anyway. When a poor, unsuspecting woman who was probably not so used to seeing blood, turned the corner and saw my father at the other end, she screamed after him. Understandably, she was alarmed.
“Sir? SIR!?!? SIR!!!” (She would have had to shouted many times before it would occur to my father that someone was trying to get his attention.)
Eventually it dawned on my dad that he was being called to. He stopped and looked behind him.
“Sir! You’re BLEEDING!” she yelled to him, also gasping in horror. She probably didn’t stop to contemplate whether she was more horrified at the fact that my father was bleeding, or that he hadn't even noticed.
My dad looked down the corridor at her and the blood and realized what she mst be thinking. He paused for a moment. Then he said, “Oh. It's just, well, I’m going to have to come back...and I didn’t have any breadcrumbs on me, so...”
She just stared at him blankly. He was severely disappointed. He’d thought he'd been rather witty.
*I could devote an entire entry to this walk that plagued my mother and any wall hangings within a 3-foot radius. Perhaps soon I will.
Sunday, July 23, 2006
I hate Sunday nights. As soon as the sun starts setting I feel a sense of dread wash over me. I've written something about this before, but here it is, Sunday again. Bleh.
I want a new computer but cannot justify the expense because I don't even know what kind I really want.
I still have both of my engagement rings and my wedding ring. I don't know what to do with them.
Stephanie Klein's book comes out in a couple weeks; she's also engaged and pregnant with twins. I had two Lean Cuisine french bread pizza things for dinner with four Heineken Premium Lights. You probably don't think these things are related.
Speaking of Fatal Attraction, I saw Glenn Close when she starred in Sunset Boulevard on Broadway. I waited around to see her after the show. I didn't ask for her autograph, I just wanted to see her. She's absolutely teeny.
For the longest time, I thought my feet had gotten fat, too. For maybe five years, shoes never seemed to fit right. One day, I decided to try a 7
My favorite books to read on my commute are detective-like books. Robert B. Parker was the first author of such novels I ever read (he writes the books on which the Spenser for Hire TV series was based). I still enjoy his books, but Harlan Coben is my now favorite go-to author. I also like the Stephanie Plum bounty hunter series by Janet Evanovich.
My favorite book of all time is Corelli's Mandolin.
I haven't knitted in a long time. I miss it.
One of the funniest things I've ever seen is a video of my then-19-year-old sister lip synching to "I Will Survive." If I could figure out how to get it on YouTube, I would make you all watch it this instant.
My all-time favorite cake is a traditional Italian marzipan cake. I once worked in an Italian bakery.
I've had two jobs that I only kept for one day.
My fingernails are very bendy. I have really long eyelashes.
I was once licked by an ox.
This is my 438th post.
Friday, July 21, 2006
A few feet away from me, a couple walked and stopped. The older I get, the less I seem capable of knowing how old young people are. I don't think they were teenagers, but suppose they could have been 18 or 19. They could have been 25. Certainly no older than that.
The boy was wearing a white shirt and the very baggy, black-and-white checked pants that all culinary students seem required to wear. I see the student-chefs all over the city in the Academy shuttles, all wearing the telltale pants and stained white shirts that only some ever feel the need to cover with sweaters or coats.
The girl was tall and lanky and her face was youthful but her stature gave her age away. She was not yet comfortable in her body. But she was still pretty and her hair and makeup were well done. She was smiling so big I could see that her teeth needed work and that she was chewing gum.
They had stopped, I'm not sure why actually. But for some reason the boy ended up stooping over her feet. He started futzing with her jeans and shoes, making it so that her jeans would be tucked behind the mouth of her sneakers.
She was giggling and feeling self-conscious as he did this, saying things like "what are you doing." He mostly ignored her, making unintelligible claims I couldn't hear but that sounded from the rise and fall of his voice like he was suggesting she just trust him.
By the time he was done, the front of her sneakers were plainly visible. The leg of her jeans was pushed behind her shoes in the front, but still long in the back. When he stopped futzing, she said, "This looks stupid."
In a single, swift motion the boy stood and put his arm around her and got her walking forward with him and said, "It doesn't look stupid because your shoes match your shirt." As though this were the most plainly obvious thing in the world and he had just solved her one problem in life. And they waltzed off down the street together, she still giggling and he with an air of pride.
They seemed happy.
* * * * *
From: Roy [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Friday, July 21, 2006 6:23 AM
To: YafeuCc: Rufe; Jeremieh; entony; Darrick; ebhithek; Turlouugh; Odo; Gustaf; Nihat; erkin
Subject: think i can help u with this
Are you still chasing the thought of getting fit?
I absolutely am, that is why i am so lively i lucked upon
It was fab certainly having someone to benefit me out.
of carnivorous animals increased. microphone Each square
a short time. Selecting a burning branch resemble
many of the lesser developed wild world people grandparent of Caspak,
Thursday, July 20, 2006
I will be honest and tell you there is a woman who commutes with me in the morning who is very, very large and for whom I have little tolerance. I don’t know if it’s because I am discriminating or if it’s just because SHE IS RUDE. But here’s the situation.
This woman is obese. She walks, slowly, with a cane. I do not know if she has a condition other than obesity forcing her to use the cane and walk so slowly, but I cannot imagine it is easy to get around at her size in any case. She is an indeterminate age, probably somewhere in her forties or fifties, but with her light coloring it is hard to tell. Yesterday I learned she has a German accent. And, not to be obnoxious but the moment I heard her speak I thought she could pass for the mom or grandmother of Uter (the Germanish foreign exchange student on The Simpsons).
We wait for the bus in the mornings together, and when the it comes, she makes every effort to be the first one aboard. Yesterday morning she stopped short of elbowing me out of the way to go first. Now, I would find this to be rude behavior from anyone. But what about the disabled? Don’t I generally get out of the way for a disabled person who needs to board a bus? Yes, I do. Do I generally mind if they board first? No, I don’t.
But maybe her situation is different. She gets on the bus, and it takes her a long time to do so. There is no getting around her, either. She does not have a monthly fast pass which she could just wave at the driver, but instead she pays in coinage, which takes a long time.
[Yesterday, in fact, after she plainly stepped in front of me to get on the bus first, she realized she hadn’t gotten her money out, and so had to dig around in her change purse looking for fare. Apparently, she thought it might be a Spare the Air day here in SF and so wasn’t prepared to pay. It just made the whole situation more frustrating.]
Anyway, after she pays she sits in one of the front seats on the bus, the ones designated for the disabled and the elderly. And if there isn’t one readily available, someone always makes room for her. Always.
Now, I have no problem with her sitting up front. I am glad people move and allow her to sit as comfortably as possible. And also I have no problem with people who don’t have fast passes and who take slightly longer to pay in cash. It happens.
But here’s where I start to get annoyed. If she allowed the rest of us to board first, we would be able to wave our passes to the driver and scooch our way to the back of the bus where we can compete for seats or find a reasonable place to stand while she is taking her time to board. She would still get her seat, since it’s designated for her, and the bus driver isn’t going to pull away from the curb before she has situated herself (I am saying all of this based on experience, not out of thin air). WHEREAS after she has gotten on board first and the rest of us come after, the bus pulls away before any of us have found where we’re going to sit and so we do that bus-lurch, stumble-lunge to get to where we’re going.
Basically, I understand that she is incapacitated and I want to have empathy for her. I want to say, “Oh of COURSE you should board first and foremost and secure your seat as soon as possible and the rest of us should ensure your well-being before our own.” And you know? I think for someone with a broken leg, or in a wheelchair, or with an obvious affliction of something other than obesity, that is how I feel. But with her, I seem to feel differently.
Maybe it’s not because of her weight. Maybe it’s that I want to be nice to people, but not HAVE to be nice to people. If I see someone with a broken leg coming toward the bus, I want to get out of the way and say, “no, please, after you.” But I don’t want the person with the broken leg to look at me and say, “uh, excuse me, but I’m going to have to go first here.” As though I expect someone at a disadvantage to be GRATEFUL for my being a decent human being.
So maybe I’m not a fat-ist, maybe I’m just an asshole. Because the more I think about it, were I to see someone at a disadvantage behave as though he or she was entitled to special treatment, I would get annoyed. Should someone on crutches push past a crowd waiting to board a bus say something like, “EXCUSE me, coming through!” it would piss me off, in a who-does-he-think-he-is kind of way. Whereas someone with an affliction who seemed humble about it would provoke my empathy immediately.
On the other hand, I am certain it’s not just this woman’s sense of entitlement that annoys me. It’s that (and let’s assume for the time being that her only issue is her weight) I don’t think of obesity as an accident or an unfortunate circumstance that happened to someone unwittingly. Even those of us who have inherited fat genes aren’t without some recourse to keep our weight somewhat in check. Right?
So here I am, blaming this person for getting so fat that she has effectively become “disabled.” I think a lot of us think this way, huh?
But um. What if we see someone lugging around an oxygen tank? Do we feel the same way? That’s it’s that person’s fault for (probably) smoking? Or someone with a broken leg? I see someone in a cast and think, “Oh, that poor guy, breaking a bone sucks” and not “he was probably being careless.”
What I'm saying is, I almost never blame the victim. Unless the "victim" is someone whose affliction is being fat.
So okay. Maybe my issue is as simple as: Hey, if you’re going to take a while to get on the bus and you don’t have your money ready and you have a seat guaranteed, maybe you could let others go first?
But maybe I am a fat-ist, too.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
I don't know why there are two of the same posts. In my editing screen there is only one. If there are issues with bold, I don't know what that is, either.
What's that you say about Wordpress? Moveable Type?...
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
What the holy hell is going on with spam these days? I mean, I get that spammers have gotten more sophisticated, and they are doing all these clever things to get through to my inbox. But frankly, I sort of miss the days of "Tiffani" sending me email with subject lines such as "I'm glad we met last night ;)" who then tried to sell me penis enlargements and XXXviagraXXX!!!
Because these days I don't even understand what arrives in my mail. Is there logic here, really? Really? Because you know what? If I actually knew someone named Ulrika Waechter or boony hancock or Steptimus Stout, I think I would damn well remember that.
And probably I am not going to open email if your enticing subject line is: Best love dr@gs at best store! Because here I am all literate and shit, and I read "Best love dr@gs at best store!" as "send me monies for furthering my drug- and gun-running efforts here in Eastern Europe." Either that or some horny teenager in Japan needs help funding his hentai habit. Potato, potahto.
Anyway, the thing I really really don't get at all is when there is NOTHING TO DO. The email contains no link. No product. No sales pitch. Nothing resembling sentences, for seemingly no point.
From: Kreszenz Wiseley
Date: Jul 17, 2006 5:15 AM
parts think of the Lake-men. Well, well! It cannot be helped, and it
is difficult not to slip in talking to a dragon, or so I have always
heard, said Balin anxious to comfort him. I think you did very well,
On the one hand, this is kind of amazing given his own personal situation. Then again, on the other hand, perhaps this is not surprising at all.
For the last year, he's been dealing with his separation-cum-divorce and that has forced our relationship into a very grown-up space I have never been able to manage before. So much of the histrionics and "where is this going" and fits and starts are simply not applicable. As long as I feel, and he confirms, that this -- that we -- could be going somewhere, that has to be enough. Beyond that, I can't push him into being serious with me; there is nowhere to push to.
He has a whole lifetime to figure out and a need to get his bearings and I cannot say this is what you need or this is what you should do or this is what is wrong. Because what do I know?
Actually, I'll tell you what I know.
I know that I feel good about myself when I’m with him. I am proud that he is my boyfriend. He is a good-on-paper guy who also happens to be great in person. I think the world of him. And mostly, usually, unquestioningly I think enough of me to think we’re well matched.
And then THWAP!
* * * * * *
My entire world shifted when my father died and then Ish’s work/live situation was thrown into chaos and I didn’t feel like I knew anything anymore. Slowly the ground has stopped shaking and a sense of routine and normalcy has returned. But you don’t just go back to how things were. You know that. You can never go back.
Death and family. Jobs and moving. Friends. Money. Life. Career. Inspiration. Love. These are the things you talk about when you are searching for meaning and for a roadmap and for the “off” button.
I will never forget David telling me he wasn’t willing to be with me through the crisis that was my mother’s sickness and death because, he said, “what if you just leave me after it’s all over?” And there I was, with a man I'd only been dating for a few months who has his own turmoil thankyouverymuch and who had never even met most of my family let alone all of it at one time on a different coast...
...and yet, he just went with me anyway. Stayed with me anyway. There was no talk of what happens when it’s all over.
Except now it is, a little. A little over, all that drama and sadness. But the emotional genie got out of her bottle. And it turns out she’s not very interested in going back in.
* * * * * *
All this talk of weight and weight loss and motivation and inspiration, it’s been taxing. Generally, shallowly, my biggest motivator has otherwise always been just getting the guy. But I, um, got him. Sort of. For now. But enough so that my motivation (as we know) is a little blurry.
Still, of course, I’ve caught myself thinking that thought:
Do I need to lose weight to keep him?
To which I think, of course not, don’t be ridiculous.
But would it help?
Sigh. The truth is, I’m scared that we won’t work out and I’m scared that I’m 31 and I’m scared that I’ll never be this excited about anyone ever again.
* * * * * *
Last Friday night, Ish took me out to dinner. He had an after-work engagement, so we agreed to meet a little later, at 8:30. This gave me time to go home and change and, I decided, get gussied up.
I even wore heels.
Now, as you well know, wearing heels is somewhat rare for me. Heels are hard on my body, because it puts all of my top-heavy weight on my knees and (rather small) feet. And right, also I fall. So I am particular about when I venture to wear heels. In this case, knew we would be taking a cab to the restaurant and back again, meaning no walking – so I thought I was safe and could ACTUALLY be breezily elegant and lovely and get away with being super feminine and feel like a million dollars and be fabulous and gorgeous and everything any guy (especially the one I’m with) would want.
Dinner was great. But.
After dinner we wanted to have a nightcap and discovered that all the bars in the area were packed full with loud, annoying crowds of beautiful-but-terribly-drunk people. So we tried to get a cab to take us somewhere nice, since we were both dressed up and it was still relatively early. We discussed our options, picked a spot, and tried to hail a cab. Except we soon discovered that cabs were scarce, and crowds of drunk people were vying for them at all corners.
This meant we had two options. We could stay and fight with the crowds for the few cabs, or simply walk a few blocks to a more cab-rich area. I suggested we simply wait it out where we were. Ish suggested we simply walk a couple blocks.
And then I made the cardinal sin of saying “it doesn’t matter to me” and also “we can do whatever you want” when I didn’t mean it and without explaining why I didn’t want to walk. So instead I took the always ill-fated, passive-aggressive route of tacking, “but I really don’t mind if we just wait here” on to my “we can do whatever you want.”
When it seemed evident that Ish really wanted to get away from the crazy crowds, I started to feel desperate. “I guess I could put my sneakers on,” I offered. Because I had them in my cute tote, and Ish knows that a lot of my shoes hurt my feet after a while, so this isn’t so surprising or out of character for me. In my head, though, that was precisely the problem. I wanted to bowl him over with my whimsical beauty and glamour. So I told myself, You know what? Nevermind. Let’s just walk! No more arguing, no more whining or complaining on my part. I’m just going to walk the few blocks in my slippery sling-backs and deal with it. No sneakers! Glamour!
And we got about a half a block before I started bawling.
My shoes were too uncomfortable and they were falling off. But more than that, I was suddenly terrified and defeated and felt all those insecurities I’ve been ignoring or brushing off or maybe not even feeling for the last year bubble up to the surface and come pouring out right there in front of Ish and God and the Bay Bridge and a few dozen gorgeous skinny bitches who did a lousy job trying not to stare.
Because in those few steps, with my shoe straps falling off my ankles, I started down that horrid path of doubt.
I am not a skinny bitch and I never will be. And even if I lose weight, even if I get down to a very small size, I will still hate wearing heels that hurt my feet and even if I find an adorable pair they will not fit well and I won’t know it until it’s too late. I will never have a wardrobe filled with nice clothes because I will spill something down my shirt the at the first opportunity. It’s not that I feel a need to be chic and glamorous all the time, I am not so unreasonable. It’s just sometimes I want to be the woman who you take to a quiet, romantic dinner and who doesn’t end up wearing her appetizer.
In the deepest, darkest recesses of my oft-steady but occasionally faltering ego, I fear that I am not good enough for him. That in the end, this will have been fun but that he will want someone – ha, ha – that The Comic will want someone more serious. Someone less likely to make a fool of herself wherever she goes. Someone who doesn’t wear sweats at home all the time and who does the dishes a whole lot more often. Someone with less cat hair and more functional groceries.
Because all this breezy elegance? Mostly I do just walk around with it. Mostly I do walk around with all my intangible baggage and my all-too-tangible ass and say this is just who I am and fine, really. But sometimes I wish I could just put it on a shelf. Just for a night. Just for a dinner.
* * * * * *
He would have none of it. He was a bit surprised but gentle and gave me the Oh, sweetie... you give to someone who has skinned her knee.
I love your green sneakers, he said. And I think he meant it.
(These are not green, but mine are.)
Monday, July 17, 2006
My mom watched her weight her whole life. Religiously. She kept her weight down and worked hard to do so. She worked out regularly. She did whatever she needed to do to stay at a size 6 or under.
She died at age 53 anyway. And for reasons that had nothing to do with her weight or metabolism.
Sometimes, when I'm looking for motivation, I wonder (sure, rather morbidly, but what are you going to do?): if I knew that I was only going to live another 20 years, would I rather do it skinny, or would I rather just not worry about it already?
Sometimes I wonder if my mom ever reflected on it. And if she did, I wonder if she thought it -- the constant struggle with her weight -- was worth it.
I realize that it is entirely possible, and maybe even likely, that she did.
*While also somewhat morbid in this context, "cake or death?" is from a comedic routine by Eddie Izzard. Trying to keep it light. Pun intended.
Saturday, July 15, 2006
It was a Wednesday in August -- the first Wednesday in August, I believe -- in 1994.
My first year of college had been rather horrible. When the first semester (which I'll write about when I find the fortitude* to relive those awful, awful days) ended, I was grateful…and also maybe a little heavier than when it had started. The second semester, however, was even worse on my self-esteem, and I packed on more weight. I know it’s fairly common to put on the Freshman 15, but I think it’s usually because of late-night partying and binge-drinking and not, as was my case, out of misery.
By the time summer came around, I was unhappy, unhealthy, and felt incredibly stuck. College had proven an enormous disappointment and I had no back-up plan. Adolescence, high school, teenager-dom in general had sucked. And I had expected college to provide a great relief from the banality of it all. Instead, I found it had simply mutated, and into something far worse: banality with a beer bong.
I remember thinking, "If college is supposed to reflect 'the real world' then I am totally fucked." But more on this later.
The point is, the people I'd grown up and graduated with – not so much my “friends” anymore – all seemed to be doing cool things. Everyone had had a great freshman year, made more fun by spending their first collegiate summer traveling, working in fun places, visiting new college friends, and partying at night.
And then there was me: I had dropped out of school after the first semester and was taking a couple classes at a local campus. I had no idea what I wanted to do or where to do it. I hoped I'd figure it out eventually, but “eventually” seemed impossibly far away. Especially when summer started to drift away and I realized that everyone was preparing to return to school for their second year while I...well, while I wasn't.
That summer I had only one good friend who lived nearby and who had a schedule like mine ( = some part-time work and a LOT of watching Comedy Central and surfing the internet). We spent much of our time together bemoaning our respective lots in life, wondering how it was we were STILL such losers. We were both attractive, smart, clever, talented...How could it be, we would wonder, that we have no lives?
When my friend realized he would soon be returning to college with nothing to show for his summer at home, he decided that he needed to do something. He decided he would start going to the gym. And that I would go with him.
Of course, I said no. I had no school to return to, so I had no one to impress. I felt hopelessly de-motivated in general, and working out did NOT seem like the remedy to my I-have-no-idea-what-to-do-with-my-life mopings.
But that fateful morning in August, sometime before 10 a.m., he called me, knowing full well that I was at home, asleep, and that he would be waking me.
"I'm going to the Y. You're coming with me. I'm picking you up in 15 minutes," was about the extent of our conversation, and I knew better than to argue. Mike was going to show up at my house and in the end, it was going to be easier to go with him than to try and get him to leave my house without me.
And that was how it all started.
*Go figure. I was able to write about my divorce and even my mom, probably because, while they were terrible, they weren't all about me feeling bad about myself. My first year of college was the darkest time for me in my whole life self-esteem-wise, and it's hard to dredge that back up. Ugh.
* * * * * *
Over the next nine or so months, I lost 50 pounds, got into great shape, and changed my life forever. In many more ways than physical.
* * * * * *
All frustrations and bitching aside, I believe I am aware of my biggest problem, and none of us are really talking about it. In fact, now that I'm thinking of it, it's almost notably absent from all this weight loss and diet discussion. And that is the issue of priorities and motivation.
Pyewacket is clearly well intentioned and coming from a knowledgeable place, but I found myself disagreeing with this statement:
"...when you say that that something 'worked' but you gained the weight back, itdidn't really work. Really."
I understand, but here's why I disagree.
I didn't jump in haphazardly, or go on some crash diet that I then abandoned when it was "over." I was dedicated to making lasting changes. (Actually, I was practically obsessed.) I was focused on becoming a better person, determined to become healthy inside and out. I made real, good, whole lifestyle changes.
Except you know what happened?
My lifestyle changed.
The methods and changes I made to my life, to my view of food, to why/when/how/what I ate totally worked when I was 19 and in college. But when I graduated, got a full-time job, had totally different hours, money, responsibilities, and also a full-time fiance/husband -- those changes couldn't hold. Or at least, I didn't want them to.
Don't get me wrong, I wanted to stay slim. But it was no longer my number one priority. THAT changed.
* * * * * *
So right, priorities and motivation.
The simple, frightening truth of the matter, for me, is this: when I have successfully lost weight, weight loss and working out have been TOP priorities in my life. I FOCUS on them every day. I write about them. I talk about them. I work my day around them.
When I'm losing weight, I'm thinking about losing weight CONSTANTLY.
If I'm working on portion control, and going through the nagging pains of being-hungry-until-my-body-adjusts, then I am thinking about food. (It is hard not to think about food when your body is telling you it's hungry, even if your body is lying.)
If I decide to mostly eat in? Well, that requires planning (and regularity of planning) -- from shopping to preparation. Think about how much mental energy it takes to plan, prepare, and eat homemade meals twice a day, say six days a week.
When I was single and in college, I had the time and flexibility to eat and work out the way I wanted to because I was my only responsibility. My body was easy as a priority -- and not hard to work into my busy (but solitary) life.
But after I became part of a living-together couple, my focus shifted. Of course my body was still a priority, but not the way it had been. Frankly, I cared more about spending time with my fiance than I did spending time at the gym. I cared more about going to a nice place with him -- because it was romantic, because we could afford it -- than I did about worrying about calories.
In all this talk about diets and weight and exercise and and and, we have not discussed the "Why." I think mostly we all take it at face value -- of course everyone wants to have a gorgeous body -- and leave it at that.
But if you don't know Why -- if you don't really, clearly know Why and believe in that Why and hold that Why sacred -- then it becomes pretty easy to ignore it and just have another piece of goddamned cake. Because
If you can't identify the prize, if you don't believe it the end point completely, then what's going to stop you from giving in to temptation when you're worn down?
"I want to have a great body" is not, at least for me, a Why. It's not good enough.
"So that WHAT?" I need to ask.
And I need to answer. And I'm not sure what that is yet.
"I want to lose weight and have a healthy body so that..." ???
* * * * *
By that summer of 1994 my life looked completely, utterly unremarkable. I was only 19, sure, but I had expected to be on some path by then. And if I couldn't be on a clear path (school --> job --> dating --> marriage --> money, house, kids...) then at least I thought I should be having fun. And I wasn't doing that, either.
So one day, sparked by my friend Mike, I decided that I was going to change everything. There was no reason, no reason, not to be in great shape and look beautiful. And...
...well, I thought that if I could lose weight and look great, that everything else would fall into place. That if I could control my body, I could control everything else in my life, too.
I put so so SO much stock in my losing weight, I linked my entire future happiness to my ability to succeed. And let me tell you, it is a LOT easier not to eat that piece of cake, not to drink, not to eat more than 800 calories most days, and not to indulge in a sedentary lifestyle when you believe that if you do, you will return to your life as a fat, lonely, ugly, unsuccessful, unwanted girl.
It is a LOT easier to stay motivated and focused when you think that you will become more popular, have awesome dating prospects, get better job offers, and be able to make the most of your college experience if you stick to your weight loss plan.
In fact, it is almost EASY to lose weight when you know that every pound lost, every ounce shed is a step closer to being able to walk past that boy named Charles who made fun of you behind your back and made whale sounds to imitate you in an intimate moment, of being able to see the look of sheer envy on your vile roommate's face, of being able to strut past every guy who ever felt sorry for you and be able to say, "Not only do I look great now, but I'm also STILL the sweet, smart, clever, funny, driven person I used to be, too, before I let you convince me I was worthy of pity. Oh yes, I am quite possibly the most complete package you will ever meet. And no, you can't have me now. You can't have me ever."
My point here is this: when I was in college I was damn well motivated to lose weight. I believed that my entire future was at stake. So I lost weight. I got in shape. I looked great.
And the result?
Did everything else change, too? Was I able to exact my "revenge" on the world? Was my life suddenly everything I wanted it to look like?
* * * * * *
So okay, let's fast-forward to my life NOW in San Francisco.
Years and heartbreak and life-changes and all sorts of perspective later, I no longer wrap my life or esteem or worth or value or success up in what I look like. Maybe because I moved, maybe because I grew up, or most likely both, I do not believe that I need to be thin to be successful.
Instead, I believe I need to be thin in order to...
Well, I mean, so that I can...
Of course I want to be healthy and have longevity, but other than vague standards of 'wellness' (such as normal cholesterol, blood pressure, and resting heart rate, which I have) I should lose lots of weight because...
* * * * * *
In the end, I need to figure out why I want this.
I used to think that I'd have to be thin to "get" the kind of guy who would be good enough for me, but even that seems not to be the case.
I could lose weight "for me" but what the fuck does that mean? "Do it for yourself!" people tell me all the time. But for myself what? What exactly am I doing for me?
I'm not being facetious and I am not looking for shrill responses. I am simply saying that I don't know that I believe in the intrinsic, inherent value of thin for thin's sake.
Oh, I know if I lose weight that I'll be more attractive to people, that I'll fit into clothes better, that I'll feel less clunky...
...but those things alone aren't enough.
Just what is it I will have/get/achieve from going through this that I can't have/get/achieve now?
I obviously don't know. But I can assure you the weight will start melting away as soon as I do.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
I honestly have no idea what to do anymore.
It's not like I am diet-clueless. On-the-fucking-contrary! (Oooh, I must be feeling fiesty if I'm swearing!) I know SO MUCH STUFF -- I have read so much literature, so many plans, so many guides, so many blogs, so many websites -- that I am completely and utterly exhausted.
And you'd think, what with all this KNOWLEDGE clamoring around in my head like a mental growling tummy, I'd be able to form some sort of realistic-yet-effecitve plan of attack.
I spent all day yesterday boiling down this damn thing and registering for this damn thing and then wanting to throw myself over a bridge after discovering this damn thing.
Because in my world, burritos should not be mortal enemies and nothing makes sense anymore anyway.
Counting calories is a harrowing thing. It always seemed to me somewhat restrictive, but if you look at it plain and simple (too simple, based on everything I know and love about Atkins and South Beach), it's soooooooo discouraging. Because if you do the math, you're left with very little to eat and a need to be super patient because the weight will take a long time to come off.
Is that all there is? Could be, except I've lost weight before doing other things, too. Like...
Now, South Beach STILL seems like the most reasonable option for me, so long as I stop making all sorts of exceptions for myself.
Because, as Serre was sharing with me yesterday, when SHE went on SBD and was having trouble losing weight in the beginning, she decided to track her meal choices at Fit Day (which is awesome and free, by the way).
Which is how she discovered she was eating about 3,000 calories a day. And even though South Beach tells you not to so much worry about calories, they will take care of themselves, 3K a day seems just not okay.
But this brings me back to the main point of frustration: if you count calories AND watch good/bad carbs, then what have you left to eat?
I know it's not impossible and that I'm just feel frustrated because this is how it always goes at first, but still.
Oh AND? As I was saying above -- just as a fun aside in the OH MY FUCKING GOD NO WONDER I AM NEVER GOING TO LOSE WEIGHT category...
I decide for dinner that I am going to grab something "healthy." I head to Baja Fresh, a "healthy" place to eat. I select a burrito with chicken, because I figure, HEY, IT'S JUST CHICKEN. Each item in the burrito seems rather healthy -- grilled chicken, black beans, salsa. Yes, there is some cheese, sure, add another 150 calories, but also it will be more filling with the fat. And if I have it with guac, that's good carbs and good oils . (I don't know if this accounts for rice or what.)
Here is what I discovered.
Yes. 850 calories and 35 g of fat and 75 g of carbs and 19 WW points. NINETEEN.
For that amount, I could go to McDonald's and eat a McLean burger with medium fries and come in at 790 calories and 17 WW points. Sheesh.
Anyway, I am just not sure about anything right now, other than that I should eat less, eat better, and work out.
*I'm sure this endeavor will have many, many names.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
But! The fates, sometimes they like me. Because after I did finally manage to leave my apartment and get to the bus stop, I noted many of the regular riders were waiting at the stop, too. Hooray! I thought. I am more on-time than I gave myself credit for.
So...when I arrived at the BART station, and was reminded that the farmer's market is there today (the clever reminder being that the farmer's market was there), I decided to peruse the selection.
Because I am an urbanite! I am a Californian! I have finally mastered the elements of my commute AND I have a newfound love of healthy foods and see! There are tons of fresh produce to choose from here and I will buy things to eat at work because not only am I a healthy eater, I have managed not to leave my wallet at work two days in a row!
And do you know what I did? I picked out a ruby red grapefruit for breakfast. And then some fresh cheddar cheese for snacking. And some raspberries. And then saw that you could buy a buch of fragrant flowery-planty things (don't know what kind) for TWO DOLLARS AND FIFTY CENTS and then! Then I put all these things in my cute farmer's market-looking green tote, complete with flowers wrapped in newspaper and LIFE WAS PERFECT!
I trotted on down to the subway just as proud as could be, noting that the sun was already starting to peek from behind the wall of fog as I descended into the station. I passed the place where the crazy man who doesn't know how to play the violin is usually playing the violin, and was intrigued that he'd been replaced today by a banjo player. I thought about how quirky and fun city living can be.
I arrived at the platform just as one train was leaving, but did not fret because, ho ho, I am no longer a stressed-out and rookie commuter. No. I now know that trains come every couple of minutes and do not worry that I will, for some unknown reason, miss them. And sure enough, the next train came right as expected.
I spent the brief ride perusing my newest issue of Gourmet magazine, feeling a small sense of...well, of satisfaction. I may not be the weight I want to be, but for the time being, things are pretty good. I have a cute outfit on. I am a savvy commuter. I have a cute boyfriend whom I can text on my pink phone about my recent farmer's market purchases and who replies encouragingly. I have chic magazine subscriptions.
And I arrived at my stop and I ascended the stairwell and I realized something even more comforting than finally having my act together.
And that would be not having my act together at all.
Because of COURSE I had missed the shuttle.
*I learned at my father's funeral just how many of the extended Sammis "family" read my blog, when a very sweet and well meaning woman, when being introduced to Ish, actually asked me in earnest: "Oh, is this the one who brings the laundry?"
The good thing about my Weight Watchers group here at work is that no one* is following my progress except me.
The notable thing about my Weight Watchers group here at work is that everyone seems to be making progress except me.
Here's how it's gone:
The sessions are 12 weeks long. I joined at the end of the first session, so there were two weeks left. I just went "informationally" to see what the hell it was all about. I got my slidey scale thing to help me measure points in foods. I got some basic literature. And I got weighed.
Ooof. What the hell have I been thinking?
I avoided the next meeting because I didn't want to be weighed ever again. Also I had read the literature and discovered that the entire system is really (as I pointed out earlier) a very elaborate "eat less, eat better" plan. It seemed very restrictive and made me cranky. I did not feel ready to get on board.
But this did not stop me for signing up for the next full session (12 weeks). Because I felt guilty and scared and it's the only way I will ever weigh myself regularly.
"Now I will weigh myself regularly!" I announced to my head, "Even if I don't follow the Weight Watchers plan!"
And then didn't go to my first meeting.
But by the second meeting, I was feeling a little sheepish. I didn't want to bail out -- which would make me feel even WORSE about myself -- and I'd already paid my dues. So, knowing that I might not follow WW but that I should just know what sort of weight issues I'm really dealing with week-to-week, I went. I got weighed.
And was horrified to discover I'd gained 4 pounds simply by OWNING THE WEIGHT WATCHERS LITERATURE.
Right. So THEN I got SUPER discouraged and confused and felt bad but still not ready to do WW and unsure of everything and then it was my birthday and fast forward to my last entry about weight.
The results of all this? Well, I was much better eating-wise last week and have been pretty good so far this week (though the World Cup saw some pretty unhealthy behavior...). So I weighed in again today.
And after two weeks of SORT OF eating better, I have gained another 1.5 lbs.
Clearly, the "making it up as I go" needs more than a few days to take effect. And also maybe I should re-evaluate.
*I was kind of afraid that the group leader would be all in my business about what I'd eaten and all that. I have been pleased to discover no one does that unless asked.
* * * * * *
One of my dearest IIFs, who is a wickedly smart and adorable attorney/musician in NY sent me this link yesterday. It's an e-book, essentially, about losing weight. It is written by an engineer and laid out to be uber-logical. (If/when you click there, don't let the facetiousness of the title fool you.)
Here's a snippet:
If, over a period of time, the calories in the food you eat exceed the calories you burn by 3500, you'll put on about a pound. Conversely, if you reduce your food intake so that you burn 3500 calories more than you eat, you'll lose about a pound.
Please reread that last paragraph. It contains essentially everything there is to know about weight control. All the rest are tools, techniques, and details, important ones to be sure, but useless unless you first understand the system. Any tools that achieve the same end, balancing the calories you eat against the calories you burn, will have the same results. (You can dig a ditch with a pointed stick, a shovel, or a backhoe. The result is the same, but you can get the job done faster and with less effort by using the best tool. Still, don't confuse the shovel (the means) with the ditch (the objective), as most diet books tend to.)
The whole book is here.
And I think it all makes a ton of sense.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Monday, July 10, 2006
For example, I left my apartment this morning and stepped into San Francisco’s typical summer-fog. It was probably 50 degrees. You couldn’t see more than a few blocks in any direction. The fog was so dense it felt like it was raining (it wasn’t).
I don’t mind the fog generally speaking, but it’s hard to be in great spirits on a Monday morning when it feels like you just stepped into what would make a perfect backdrop for a romantic movie’s he’s-gone-I’m-so-sad montage. I was pretty sure that everything in the world was miserable and awful.
And when I start to feel like everything’s miserable and awful, I try to counter the sentiment by concocting schemes that would, were they to come true, make everything in the world joyous and gay (however illogical or unlikely said schemes are).
This morning, I boarded the Ugly Bus* contemplating the job market in wine country, projecting how long it would take me to support myself by blogging** and/or when it is that MY friggin’ book will be available for sale in the UK***.
[Oh, AND? Speaking of books. I got an email today. I won’t get into all the details, but someone wrote me from a publishing company. To tell me that they have a new book coming out that I would probably like because my blog fits well with its theme, and hey, would I like a copy.
So of course I’m totally flattered and think that’s cool. Um. Well, except for the part where I realize the book is about chick lit writers who are similar to me but are not, actually, me. Sigh.]
Anyway, I totally busy myself concocting these schemes to offset the gloom and doom of Monday morning’s weather, until I’m a few miles south of the city. Whereupon I’m in an entirely new climate. Not three miles from the station it’s bright, warm, and gorgeous. It looks and feels and smells like summer. And so all of a sudden, I love the world and who cares that it’s Monday! Happy happy la la la.
*Criminy. My morning bus line is DAMN ugly****.
**Eighty million years.
***If at all, probably my book will not be available for sale until sometime after I have written it.
****Update: (and yes, I'm footnoting footnotes, shutup) the UGLY Bus commute last night took quite an UGLY turn, which I will tell you about soon.
* * * * * *
You know I love my pink phone. But do I love it enough...?
That is what I was forced to contemplate while on the shuttle this morning, somewhere between Gloom and La la la, because of the very chatty young woman sitting in front of me.
Apparently, Chatty got drunk over the weekend and left her phone at the restaurant/bar. And apparently, someone must have taken it because the restaurant doesn’t have it and it was a really cool phone so of course someone would want to steal it.
Which is very, VERY upsetting to Chatty, which I know because she spent the entire ride telling the guy next to her all the things she’d like to have happen to the person who took her phone.
If some woman took her phone, for example, Chatty hopes that the woman will get into a car accident. Oh, don't get her wrong. She wouldn't want the woman to DIE. She just wants the woman to end up with an ugly scar on her face.
Now, interestingly, Chatty feels differently if the woman who took her phone is hot. If some HOT woman took her phone, Chatty wishes that the hot woman will return home to discover her boyfriend in bed with another woman who is waaaaay hotter than she is.
And if it is some hot GUY who did the stealing, she hopes – and I swear I am not making this up, and that this is what Chatty was inadvertently announcing to the ENTIRE shuttle this morning before, I should add, 9 a.m. – that he has trouble getting it up for the rest of his life, and that he spends the rest of his days having severe issues with self-confidence.
* * * * * *
Have finally decided I'm going to BlogHer. Are you?
Saturday, July 08, 2006
It's not that I don't have willpower. It's that I know myself, and I know that if I embark on a diet regimen that I believe to be restrictive, I will inevitably fail. And I will fail because I will spend the entire time I'm dieting looking forward to the time when the diet is "over" or when I, at the least, give myself a day off.
It's kind of like when I know I need to get a new job: if I spend every waking minute at a job looking forward to the time when I won't be there, my days at said job are limited.
* * * * * *
Note: I get off on some crazy diet/what-I-ate-today tangent for almost the entirety of this post. Feel free to ignore it. You can pick back up at the end, after the last set of asterisks.
* * * * * *
So nearest I can figure, WW points system is, when boiled down and over-simplified, a calorie counter. It advocates healthy eating and foods that are low-fat, high-fiber and all that, but at the end of the day you're counting your calories. Which, frankly, works.
It's just not a lot of fun.
"Fun" I say, as compared to something like Atkins. Oh, I know, you don't need to bitch at me. I know that Atkins seems insane and unhealthy, but it also happens to work. And given the choice between WW's pre-packaged oatmeal (which is pretty tasty and only 2 points) and, you know, bacon...well, pass the pork products, please.
No, no, but I'm not doing Atkins, either. Even I can't get over the guilt I feel eating fatty meats and creams and cheeses every day.
So, basically, I think I'm mostly advocating/starting/trying a "modified" version of South Beach. (We'll get to the "modified" part later.)
South Beach, as I've touted before, is not really a "diet." The book does its best to make it seem like a regimented thing, but basically you can learn the principles and apply them to your whole eating life, and live happily ever after.
South Beach Basics:
- The less processed the food, the better.
- Stay away from bad carbs: anything high in sugar or overly refined.
- If you are going to eat carbs, eat them sparingly and choose wisely: select whole grains, brown rice, beans, less-sweet fruits (berries, melons). Try and keep your portions of carbs to one a day.
- Meats and cheeses and creams are okay, but don't go crazy. Eat lean meats and low- and non-fat dairy whenever possible.
At least, that's a good starting point. Now, next, I add some old, tried-and-true "tricks" of the trade.
- TRY not to eat anything after 8 p.m.
- Drink lots of water.
- Eat more in the beginning of the day than at the end of the day.
- Eat several small meals throughout the day instead of three big ones (easier for me to do because I don't have kids and spend most of my day at an office).
- Control portion size in general. If eating out, do not finish everything on the plate. (Some people swear by only eating half of whatever they're served, anywhere they go. That is awesome in theory, but just not reasonable for me!)
- And, as for drinky-drinks...well, obviously I have to cut back. And when I do drink, I must select only non-sugary options.
See that last one? Yeah. There are some studies (unverified, but I believe them) that show the sugars used in the beer-making process are super-bad for us: that is, they get stored as fat immediately. (Definitely NOT "good" carbs). So unless you're in great shape and working out all the time, beer is going to go straight to your belly (in a way that other drinks won't).
- Opt for things like gin and soda (there's sugar in tonic) or rum and diet coke.
- Remember, margaritas are delicious...and can be 500 calories a pop! (yeah, hi. 500! NO MARGARITAS FOR ME!)
- No beer. Period. Not even light.
* * * * * *
So now that it's after my birthday and all the hullabaloo of the last few months has died down, I feel pretty confident that I can lose weight.
And sure, I have felt this before and failed. But it only takes one time to succeed, you know?
I officially started on Wednesday, my first day back at work.
Here's how it panned out (complete with explanation of thought processes):
In the morning, I nibbled on some almonds and had my usual black coffee.
I am lucky; I prefer my coffee black. I don't have to cut back on anything there.
For lunch, I had fresh ham with a slice of provolone and a little bit of mayo on fresh sourdough bread.
Sourdough bread, while not whole grain, has a lower impact on our glycemic levels than white bread. Also, I know the mayo seems like a red flag, but it turns out that the bread is better digested with some fats than not. I'm probably pushing the definitions here a little, but not a lot.
I snacked on some almonds in the afternoon, plus water and diet soda.
Dinner, um, took a turn when I realized that Ish was taking me out for my Birthday Dinner to a lovely Italian restaurant, and I'd have to "officially" re-start the diet on Thursday. Ahem.
The almond cake was delicious!
Thursday: Day One, Part Two
Same breakfast as Wednesday.
When I eat a lot at night, I discover I'm not very hungry in the mornings. As my eating habits change, so will my appetite.
For lunch, a coworker suggested we go to a Chinese restaurant. I accepted. I was relieved to see that brown rice was an option. I ordered "almond chicken" with brown rice. I only ate half and took the rest home with me.
I only cheated by eating some of those crunchy fried noodle things on the table, but I am still transitioning, and only human.
Snacks of almonds, some water, crystal light, diet soda in the afternoon.
Dinner: Indian! Yay! I order Chicken Tikka Masala (spicy tomato cream sauce and chicken) with Rotee (which is like naan, but whole grain).
It's a little indulgent, but I think okay in moderation.
Later that night, I was a little hungry, and unfortunately I had a plastic tub of chocolate almond bark that someone had given me for my birthday. I had a small piece of it, and while eating it I decided to look at the nutritional information. Upon realizing my small enjoyment was a whopping 220 calories, I threw the whole remainder of the tub down the garbage chute.
Drastic times, drastic measures.
I had one glass of wine.
Friday was better.
I was hungrier earlier. I still didn't really have breakfast, but I ate my lunch around 11 a.m. (the second half of my almond chicken and brown rice). I snacked on almonds later. And then for dinner...
...well, you know? I really wanted veggie sushi. So that's what I got. I figured the white rice (very NON-SBD approved) would be canceled out by the fact that everything else was super-healthy and, ferchrissakes, I was selecting a dinner of vegetables and rice and broth for dinner!
[Oh my god. Is this the most boringest entry ever? Sorry. I'm just trying to feel accountable.]Anyway, that was it. I ate my veggie sushi and had a small cocktail (sugar-free) and was done by 7. I had some Crystal Light and some water after that, but nothing else.
* * * * * *
Now it's Saturday morning and I'm sitting in Starbucks (surrounded by the thinnest women in San Francisco, apparently). I ate their "fruit salad with strawberries" for breakfast and am sipping my grande drip.
I feel good. I feel like I'm on the right path. Um, you know, all both days I've been ON a path. But whatever. You gotta start (and start, and start, and start) somewhere. I mean, what's the alternative? Giving up?
I will try and try and try until something works. I will modify plans and do what makes the most sense. I will give myself leeway -- less and less and less -- until I don't need to because I've started to see results and that inspires me to work harder, and so on. I get into a cycle, and finally it's a positive one.
(Oh hey! Um, that was supposed to be the point of this whole post before I let myself get long-winded and boring about everything I said I'd never write.)
It's that life is like that. Life is about reading one person's plan and thinking it makes a lot of sense and trying it on and seeing if it works. And then it does work, sort of a little bit. But, no, not completely. So you take the parts you like and you move on to a different plan. And you find that the new plan doesn't totally fit either, but some elements of this one mixed with the elements of that one could work okay. And you go on, repeating this process until one day you realize you're following such a mishmash of modified plan-parts that -- hey -- you can safely call it your own.
And that? That feels a whole lot like success.