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April 2003

Despite the pall of gloom that hangs over us today, I'd like to file a cautious plea for hope: in times of war, one wants one's weakest enemy at the helm of his forces. And President George W Bush is certainly that. Any other even averagely intelligent US president would have probably done the very same things, but would have managed to smoke-up the glass and confuse the opposition. Perhaps even carry the UN with him. Bush's tactless imprudence and his brazen belief that he can run the world with his riot squad, has done the opposite. He has achieved what writers, activists and scholars have striven to achieve for decades. He has exposed the ducts. He has placed on full public view the working parts, the nuts and bolts of the apocalyptic apparatus of the American empire.             -- Arundhati Roy

April 1 2003                                                    8:29 AM 

Therapy was kind of heart breaking. All of the people in my group are dealing with relationship breakups. Except me. Everyone in group is at a different place on the spectrum of partnered. But we are dealing with not really having a partner.

 

I don't really talk about not having a partner. And, in truth, that's because part of me believes I never will. So far the only thing I can do to deal with that belief is to try and ignore it and keep my heart open.

 

But last night when everyone was talking, and crying, I felt it all in a different way. I guess I want to hope that there is kindness in the world. And passion. And I know that relationships are work. But right now it feels like fear dominates. And love. Well. I just don't know.

 

I have a lot of love in my life. And there isn't a day when I'm not thankful for that love. And ... there is this other kind of love. And I just don't understand why it has to be so hard.

 

On Thursday I meet with the advisor I'll be working with on THE BOOK. Yesterday I took it out and picked at it a little bit. It is kind of done. It needs work. But I'm at a point when I can't see it clearly. So it'll be good to work with Stephen. And then I have to decide if I'm going to self publish.

 

So I wake up in the difficult world. And begin again.


Peace.

April 2 2003                                                    9:56 AM 

Craig and Adrienne were having fun yesterday. I came home from school in a foul mood and they helped me to turn it around. I wasn't feeling the whole April fools thing but it did feel good to laugh.

 

There's been a discussion on another blog about the efficacy of protesting. It got carried to other blogs. There was something about the tone of the conversation that put me in a spin. I'm not going to link it up because I just...am not feeling all the arguing.

 

Or maybe I am.

 

One of the things I felt right after 9/11 was an awareness of how aggressive I am. this morning I woke up thinking about some things I heard yesterday and thinking about how mean people are and thinking I'm just not that mean. Within five minutes I was having some really mean thoughts about someone.

 

I'm usually suspicious of people who are too nice. I don't trust people who control their anger or avoid their sadness. I guess I try to hold my anger, sadness and my joy. Although I'm not sure what I mean by that. But I try to be reflective when I'm feeling things. And I can't always be. And I don't worry about that. It's all a process.

 

But these days I feel the ways in which we aggress one another in a heightened manner. I know people are talking about the ways in which they lash out at their friends and family these days. And later they realize that it was out of proportion.

 

I was, and maybe am, feeling like taking a lot of links off my blog roll. I'm not sure it will matter that much. the people I'm reacting to don't really read me. I doubt they'd notice. And I doubt their stats will fall off as a result. I'm not doing it because it feels like reaction. It feels like a mean thing to do. Even if no one notices. I just don't like where it's coming from.

 

My life is on the page these days. I write here. I write in THE BOOK. I write for school. I read and read and read.

 

Via Ampersand. US military beats independent journalist.  

 

Hospital bombed in Iraq.

 

I've been wanting to smoke again. Yesterday I bummed a smoke and went out to the patio at school and smoked. I was staring at this grey tree. Three thin trunks winding toward and away from each other. The tree was in front of a grey cement wall. And there were tiny little green leaves beginning to pop. There were so many shades of grey. And these little specks of green. It was all so beautiful.


Peace.

 

 April 3 2003                                                    9:06 AM 

I owe Laurie big for hipping me to the Joni Mitchell show. I raced home from school, just in time to see it. I love Joni Mitchell. So much.

 

Watching her life. Listening to those tunes. I remembered my own. I remembered how I grabbed the meaning from whatever she intended and made it about me. And she said it so well. How did she know me so well?

 

Heh.

 

We had a reading from Joanne Kyger at school. I was so filled up by these two women.

 

Today I have to print out THE BOOK to take it to Stephen. I love printing it. I love the feel of it when it's in a stack of pages. Scrolling on the screen it seems to be so ... fleeting. But when it's in my hands it feels real.

 

I went to school early yesterday. It just seems like an easier commute when I leave early. And I like to sit in the library and read.

 

I arrived at school during a rainstorm. I walked up the steps of Lone Mountain being pelted. I arrived wet and dripping and feeling beleaguered. I listened to some poetry. I left feeling calm.

 

Peace

 April 4 2003                                                    8:30 AM 

Back in the day we all said peace. All us hippies. We said peace instead of goodbye. What did we all mean when we said peace? I doubt we meant the same thing.

Some of us were trying to affirm that we were not part of the war machine. We were not with those others who were sending our friends and our brothers and our fathers off to a war that we knew had nothing to do with dominos. I remember so many conversations about how to stop the war. And the revolution. And there were people who wanted to tear down the system and there were people who wanted just wanted to get high and get laid.

 

Peace.

 

I wanted to change the world. I wanted to end the war. I wanted us all to love each other and live in peace. I wanted to make love not war.

 

And then some of us became yuppies and some of us did cocaine and some of had break downs and some of took too much of one thing or another and died and some of us got married in the park and had babies and moved into the suburbs and some of were elected and some of us were selected and some of us went to India to find Peace.

 

And the war did stop. And some of us think we had something to do with that. And maybe we were just high.

 

We said peace and we didn't know what we meant. But it was what you said if you wanted to be in the revolution. The revolution that was going to change the world.

 

Yesterday I printed out the pile of pages that is my testimony. I took it to my advisor and we talked about how we were going to do the work. I love holding the pile of pages. I love feeling like I've written A Thing. A whole Thing.

 

We talked about how I am trying to avoid the arc. The story line that has a come to Jesus moment and then a way to be that made it all OK. But there is no arc in my life. I have lived through a million come to Jesus moments and woken up the next day and felt like I was in the happy ever after time and a week and a month and a year later I was looking for a new Jesus.

 

I've always thought I was getting it wrong. That there was a way to think or feel or be that would feel like I was sitting under a tree, in a full lotus, eyes half closed, half smile, calm. Peace.

 

But it's Friday morning. My country, the country I live in, the country I can not deny, is engaged in act of violence. I feel powerless and angry. I have to write something to hand in on Tuesday. I have to read stuff for Wednesday. My hip seems to be out of place or something and walking is painful. I have no health insurance. I need to do laundry and clean the apartment. The big project of my life is a pile of papers which is now in someone else's hands.

 

I don't think I'm getting it wrong.

 

I'm saying peace again. I'm locating myself in that assertion. Sometimes I sit and half close my eyes and take a few deep breaths and try to find some silent inner calm. And then I do the dishes and the laundry and put some herbs on my aching joints and cry about the boy who is not going to call and read someone else's story and write another paper and read another book and write another letter. I am restless and agitated and I want to change the world.

Peace

April 5 2003                                                    10:15 AM 

I don't have health insurance but I do have lovely friends. Suzanne took me to Barbara who adjusted my hip and made it all better. I got some writing done on the piece for Tuesday. I still need to do laundry but I may wait till Monday. I'm not sure about pushing the hip thing by going up and down the stairs.

 

I'm not sure how Bill Moyers gets away with all he does on his show. Last night he devoted the show to media issues like war coverage and media consolidation. And he talked with Susan Sontag. It's such a relief to see something on television that has so much substance.

 

Reading Ampersand is a relief. Barry does some of the best feminist thinking I've ever read. I am mindful that a man writing something with this level of insight strikes me as so remarkable. Women write these things every day. But it is true that I feel relief when I find a man who  gets it. Wednesday is cartoon day.

 

Barry points to a post on Silverrights. Talking about Pfc. Jessica Lynch. Yesterday I heard a discussion on MSNBC (I think) about women in the war. Do we really want to see women coming back from the war bloodied or dead? No. We don't. And we don't want to see our men coming back bloodied or dead. It was a through the looking glass moment for me because I found myself wanting to defend the rights of women to go to war. And I do.

 

Sigh. It is all so fraught.

 

And when I die.

and when I'm dead

dead and gone

There'll be one child born

and a world to carry on

                      -Laura Nyro

Peace

April 6 2003                                                    8:59 AM 

Some days I wake up blank. I read through the blogs hoping to be sparked into thought. It just ain't happenin today. Which isn't to say that there isn't some wonderful stuff on the blogs. But I'm in a drifty dreamy wordless place.

 

I don't really know what happened with my hip. I was in an accident when I was nineteen. My right foot was pulled under the wheel of a truck. I have a huge scar but no pain. Still, I know I lean on my left hip in deference to the right foot. And now the left hip is cranky. Maybe it's bursitis. Or Arthritis. But it felt like it wasn't where it was supposed to be. And now it's better. Except for a twinge or two.

Peace

April 7 2003                                                    9:31 AM 

I should not EVER watch main stream TV. It is true that I too often have TV on for background noise. Usually 26 or CSPAN or one of the (cough) news channels. But the other night I was going from channel to channel looking for something to watch. I knew there was nothing. But I kept looking. I came up on a show called Am I Hot? Or something like that. I'm not searching for a link because I don't want to look at it again. I'd seen it once before. After two minutes of watching I clicked away in horror. But when I saw it again I paused for a few minutes. They were telling a young woman that she had a body that was built for sex.

 

What the fuck?

 

I've been thinking about this ever since. So, generally speaking, all of us have the physical organs needed to have sex. Most of us have desire and longing for sex. At least sometimes. And of course some people have sex so that there will be more of us around. But only that woman has a body that was BUILT for sex.

 

Picture me shaking my head.

 

Then Last night I got sucked into a show about the central park jogger. I watched the WHOLE show waiting to see how they would talk about the young men who went to prison for a crime they did not commit. She was prompted by Katie Couric to say this was not about race it was about the attack of a woman. If they were falsely accused it was just part of the tragedy of the evening.

 

Huh?

 

Why does she get to own the tragedy? I think what happened to her was horrible. I think her recovery is wonderful. I think her story is beautiful. But this is about race. The way the stories of the young men of color was dismissed in this show was appalling. It was implied that we just don't know for sure that they weren't part of her attack. Again. They were impugned.

 

I have the same feelings about how much I am hearing about pfc Jessica Lynch and how much I'm not hearing about pfc Lori Ann Piestewa. Maybe I'm not watching enough TV but I really am not hearing about pfc Piestewa as much.

 

There is a way in which the stories of the triumph of young, thin white women are dominating. And I don't want to take away from their triumph. I'm glad that they came through the horror that they found themselves in. But let's not spend a minute imagining that this isn't about race.

 

I just should not watch it at all. I always end up feeling like we are too far gone.

 

And then there was the Clinton/Dole (cough) debate on 60 Minutes. In which they both, each in their own way, talked about how we should all support the president in this time of war. Debate? Two party system?  Not.

 

These are dark days. The Red Cross is horrified by the number of Iraqi casualties. The Red Cross. Is horrified.

 

Today is a day of direct action in the Bay Area. Despite the criticism that the peace movement is getting I take some heart in these actions. I understand that we need to have a plan for what we do now. I understand that we are at war. The peace movement did not stop anything. But I take heart in the people who are continuing to agitate and say no.

 

Politically I am hoping the Democratic party gets some courage and gives me someone that I can vote for. In the meantime if I have to chose between toxic TV culture or the culture of dissent I'm going for the latter.

Peace

April 7 2003                                                    8:54 PM 

When I was swimming on Sunday I did hip rotations and stretches and felt pretty good during and after. Later in the evening my hip started to ache again. So I'm feeling some pain. I pulled out an ice pack and some Wobenzyme and some Super Blue Stuff and I'm trying to make it better.

 

The thing about pain is that it makes me cranky. I loose patience faster. I am less tolerant. It takes more effort for me to give a shit about where another person is coming from.

 

So.

 

I keep talking about my use of the word peace. And it probably doesn't hurt to keep talking about it. I try not to use words without thought. In fact these days I spend a lot of time trying to find the best words to say what I feel. And peace is a problematic word. It is a word that is oppositional. Ironically oppositional.

 

And the idea of a peace movement is probably simplistic. There is not one unified movement. In fact a criticism of the protest movement is that every gathering becomes diffuse with agendas. I'm not too worried about that. I don't feel the need for a uniform flank of people saying one thing. For me every protest event demonstrates diversity. There is not one kind of peace person. Or peace blog. Or a peace movement.

 

For me saying peace is a way of holding on.

 

Is there ever a good war? Maybe. Read the Gita. But this particular war is the one I'm concerned with. Because this particular war has no moral ground. And it is the beginning of a dark likely hood of profit and empire. Wonder why we aren't concerned about the Kurds in Turkey.

 

I do support the troops. I am sorry that their commander in chief put them in harms way. I want them home with their families. And I want them to have the support of the administration that sent them into battle. It does not seem to me that the way to support them is to remain silent.

 

And the folks who did the direct action today. Was their experience peaceful? Not exactly.

 

I know a lot of people who never want to feel upset. They suppress their anger. They avoid their sadness. They do not want to feel upset. And I don't blame them. Everyone needs to know how much they can handle. No one needs to be shamed into dealing with things in ways that they aren't up to.

 

It is true that I push myself. I feel a need to witness and understand. I feel the need to hold the awareness of complexity and avoid bifurcation. I try to hold some sense of balance. And it is also true that I go too far and I wear out. And then I need to have a moment of simplicity. I need to say peace. I need to feel into what that might mean. It's an intention.

 

Perhaps I should use the word change. Perhaps it is more apt. Perhaps it describes what is needed with more precision. But I guess I know that change will happen. Change is inevitable. It is the quality of change that concerns me. We do need to think in terms of what to do next. And it will not be simple. And we do need to think in terms of the qualities that we want to see in our culture, our economic systems, our relationships, both personal and global. The enormity of it is overwhelming. So I just try to focus on the next moment. The next thought.

Peace

April 9 2003                                                    10:04 AM 

Of all the ways that people describe my body over weight is the one that bugs me the most. It's such an assumption. It assumes a right weight. Am I fat? Yes. I am. It's OK. We can say it out loud.

 

I received an e-mail with the new improved language for the resolution to form the previously mentioned task force on childhood nutrition and physical activity. The language is better. Two notable sections:

 

WHEREAS, It is important that a health-centered solution is implemented that does not lead to the stigmatization or harassment of young people; and,

WHEREAS, A health-centered approach that focuses on the whole child physically, mentally, and socially - can shift the emphasis to living actively, eating healthily, and respecting all children and their health and well-being at whatever size they may be;

 

Both section go farther than just removing the words over weight. They affirm the idea of health at "what ever size they may be."

 

I am still worried because the list of people who will be seated on the task force is full of medical professionals. And it just worries me. There is one spot being held open for a person from the health at every size community.

 

I just ...

 

I'm not ...

 

I don't know.

 

Dealing with my hip has reminded me how I avoid the medical community. I'm lucky to know Barbara. I have sought out health care providers with a size neutral perspective.

 

And even without the size related issues there is the money.

 

Part of the mission of this task force could be to build a new model for how we talk about bodies to kids. And adults.

 

And we could talk about the love of how beautiful food occurs. We could talk about bio diversity. We could talk about slow food and taste education.  

 

And we could get kids dancing and walking and swimming.

 

We'll see. I'm not sure what's next.

Peace

April 9 2003                                                    3:02 PM 

I was reading Big Fat Blog and Paul posted a link to a story about fat kids and quality of life. And then there are comments to the post. Some of which are concerned with what we do for fat kids who are suffering and some of which talk about the idea that we can't change society, or even if we can it will take a long time. So what do we do?  And, of course, in the mood I'm in those comments hit me in the heart.

 

There are no easy answers. It is harder to be a fat kid.

 

But there are some things you can NOT do. You can NOT imagine that making them afraid of their bodies and their appetite is a good thing. You can NOT buy the pharmaceutical company poison. You can NOT be passive about the wrong ideas that they are being tortured with.

 

What if you told fat kids how great they look? Spontaneously. Every day. What if, when you heard a fat joke, you said something, like, "I really don't find that kind of humor funny." What if you engage all kids in conversations about how different people have different bodies? What if you held the school accountable for making sure that fat kids are not teased? And when they say hapless things like kids will be kids what if you challenged that idea? What if you said kids are in school to learn. Let's teach them about diversity.

 

Am I saying give them ice cream all day and let them play commuter games and never move? No. I am not. Talk to them about food. Make sure they have a variety of things to choose. And go for a walk WITH them.

 

There are parents who are working two jobs and they are exhausted and it takes all the running they can do to keep up. And if a kid is pushing them to have candy instead of fruit... and they're too tired to argue ...so what? I think we need to hold the space for a variety of issues. Everything isn't going to go well all of the time.

 

And there are the kids who are just going to want to read. Let them. Don't imagine that their worth is bound up in some hopped up version of athletic achievement.

 

Thanks Monica and Angela. I may be on the task force. But I'd rather see someone with more experience with kids representing heath at any size. I am staying aware of the whole project.

 

I'm.

 

I don't know.

 

I'm feeling a little tense.

 

Or something.

Peace

April 10 2003                                                    10:39 AM 

Cowboy Kayhill had a nice idea. He wants to have a day of silence on the blogs to demonstrate respect for the people who are in pain. I thought about it. I thought about it because, frankly, it's been hard to post lately. My emotions are all over the place. It feels like I'm spending too much time explaining myself. It is hard to say something that isn't simplistic and rhetorical. But the idea of holding silence wasn't supposed to be for me. It was supposed to be for them. And I'm not sure how to hold silence on a blog.

 

The obvious thing is to post an image. Or leave the space blank. We'll see. Some people are doing it today and some on Friday. Cowboy Kayhill says he'll do it when there is a cease fire.

 

People tell me to stop watching CNN and MSNBC. No one had to tell me yesterday. It took about two minutes of the victory dancing in the streets images and I turned off the television. The pulling down of the statue was dubious. I don't give a shit about the statue but the first thing that the marines who helped to pull it down was to put a US flag on it.

 

I can't imagine that anyone is sad that Saddam is gone. If he is. But the way this was done makes me sad and angry and fills me with shame. And those Kurds that we were so concerned with a few days ago in my comments. Let's hope that now that they've helped us we make sure they aren't hurt by Turkey. 

 

Since I've been thinking about kids lately I remembered a time, years ago, when I had taken a friends kid to a toy store and given him some money to buy anything he wanted. He picked a bad of toy soldiers and I didn't really want to buy him a war toy. we had a long debate about the fact that I'd said anything he wanted. So there I was. Stuck between two ethics. Did I hold to my no war toys conviction or the fact that I'd said anything he wanted. It was clear to me that he cared less about the toys and more about holding me to my word. He got the soldiers. After a long talk about war that made no sense to him. He was more interested in getting the thing that held me to my word.

 

I remembered it this morning while thinking about kids and food. You know if candy is always a bad thing then ... hey ... I want the candy. If candy is just another choice. Well. Maybe it's still desirable but it doesn't have the extra charge of the forbidden. But. Ya know. Kids are in a culture. The culture is pitching to them all the time. It's tough for parents.

 

And somehow all that musing about kids and desire brought up this memory of a five dollar bag of little plastic green soldiers. And the glorification of war.

 

I've always loved kids. I wanted to have kids. And I do have a goddaughter who is the most beautiful, intelligent, compassionate, creative, best, best, best, being in the universe. But I don't think that women are the ones who love the kids. In fact I resent the idea. I want the relationship between men and their children to be acknowledged and valued. And there will be some men and women who don't want anything to do with kids. And I'd hate to think that a woman and a man who really didn't want a kid would have one because that what they're "supposed" to do. I think that's probably something that happens a lot. And no one is served by it, least of all the kids.

Peace

April 11 2003                                                    9:18 AM 

I love Aaron Shurin. We had a reading from the teachers in our program. Lowell, my workshop teacher, read a masterful and fun bit from a novel he's writing. There were teachers I didn't know. It was pretty great. But I just love Aaron. He takes great delight in the natural world and he articulates his delight in a way that feels spiritual, political and so, so, beautiful.

 

It was the last reading that I will go to as a student. I'm almost done with school. Unless I decide to do a PHD. In what? I dunno.

 

It must have hit me because I had a crazy dream about not being sure what to do and I was staying with my mom, or my aunt, or some folks who I rented a room with (it kept changing) and I had a small job and they had found me a room to rent but it was somewhere in the east coast and I didn't want to be there. It was one of those dreams that was layered with images and mixed metaphors. But it felt like I had no where to go.

 

Which I guess I feel. In some ways.

 

Tomorrow there will be demos in SF and in DC. The idea that the war is over amazes me. Occupation is not liberation. And it isn't over.

Peace

April 12 2003                                                    10:39 AM 

Well.

 

This isn't going to be a peaceful post. As I start to write it I keep thinking about the folks who are putting on their raincoats (it's raining here in SF) to rally and speak out against the war. It seems like I should be posting something more ... uh ... profound. Er sumthin.

 

But I just read a little post on Mood swings and I'm pissed off.

 

So Leslie Katz has a web site if you scroll down to March 27th you read that she asked Chris Pirillo to link to her since she links to him and he said he would when she had a REAL blog. A real blog is powered by some kind of "blogging software" and had a talk back feature (comments).

 

Uh huh.

 

Leslie Katz took it very well. She seems to have a positive relationship with Chris. When I first read the post at Mood Swings I thought it was about Willa. Which may have explained my immediate flush of irritation. Willa, who is always polite, simply says "Hm." I probably don't need to get too crazy behind this but it pisses me off.

 

When did we decide on what makes a REAL blog? One of the things I love about blogging is the chaos of it. It is SELF publishing And SELF is a many splendored thing.

 

Willa has always had a journal and a blog. More than one blog actually. April does the same thing, journal and blog. A lot of people do I guess. It has always seemed tidier somehow. More precise. I admire it but I've never been that neat. I write this mess of stuff all lumped together.

 

I remember when I figured out how to add comments and thanks to Dorothea I have perma links. So did I get more and more real? Will the final moment of my ascension into the ranks of real be the day I get MT?

 

Fuck that.

 

I might agree that Blogger blogs and MT blogs and Greymatter blog have a look and a feel and an interactivity that is part of what gives blog a certain feel. And the journal sites have a slightly different feel. Maybe. But all of those lines have been blurred. And that's what's so thrilling. Blogging is about everybody getting into the mix. By any means necessary.

 

I really do have enormous resect for the designers. I am hanging on by a thread with the design aspects of having a page. And I have preferences, in terms of how things look and read and feel. But when did we decide that there was a REAL blog? Is there a check list? Do folk with no comments get points taken off? Why does it always feel as if, as more and more people begin to do a thing, more and more people begin to own the thing and create hierarchy?

 

I don't know Chris. I've jumped to his page a few times from other people. He's no doubt a very nice man who really knows what he's doing. But I don't vote for his idea about what makes a blog real. I'm going to hope that blogs remain chaotic and SELF defined. I'm going to hope that more and more people who don't know what they're doing hit the web with personal writing about their lives and their passions and their politics and their art and their cats. And Leslie Katz is now on my blog roll. For what that's worth.

Peace (or something like it )

April 13 2003                                                    10:01 AM 

So they were painted and carrying umbrellas. They were moms and dads with kids. They were every age, race, ethnicity and sexual persuasion. But they were out there. Don't let anyone tell you that they weren't.

 

 

I love them.

Peace.

April 14 2003                                                    9:15 AM 

Yesterday, after the swim, Marilyn and I went to hear a friend of hers read a poem. Her friend is nineteen and won a contest put on by River of Words. It was amazing. We listened to poems by children and viewed slides of the most amazing art. Including art from children in Afghanistan. It was so overwhelmingly beautiful.

 

There were two kids with disabilities, one in a wheel chair and both used a computer, like the one Steven Hawkins has, to read their poems. I swear. The whole thing was such a surprise. I just thought I was going to the library to hear a teenager read a poem. And that was what I was doing. But it was surprising. And powerful.

 

I added All Consuming script to my page. I'd seen at Dru's and this morning noticed it at Laurie's. The script ads a picture of the book to my page. All though that's not what my copy of the book looks like. I usually link to the book I'm reading at a local store. All consuming links to Amazon. Which is OK. I guess. I like the picture. I don't know how to get it to show up in the font I want. No doubt a CSS thing. So, I'm still looking at it and wondering if I like it.

 

This is the first week I haven't had pain in my hip after the swim. So I guess I'm on the mend. I'm still getting some twinges and a little bit of ache but nothing really bad.

Peace.

 April 15 2003                                                    9:39 AM 

Tomorrow is my Mother's birthday. I sent her a thing I'd written much of which is taken from THE BOOK. Mostly the parts that are about her. I'm freaked out about her reading this stuff. I did my best to write about the ways in which my Mother has influenced my life both good and bad. Ours is a complex story. But Mom isn't big on complexity. And I worry that she will take offence. And if she does she's gonna really hate the THE BOOK.

 

So I'm worried.

 

All consuming is pretty fun. In a totally dangerous way. I jumped to a bunch of cool blogs by reading other folks who are reading what I'm reading. I do not need to spend any more time reading blogs. Also, they do link to Booksense as well as Amazon and all my favorite local places are on Booksense.

 

The destruction of culture in Iraq is among the many things to mourn in this horror of all horrors. Of course that list is long and, for me, begins with the children. (link via Bittershack and be forewarned -- it is graphic and difficult)

 

I had a weepy night in therapy. Re-feeling old stuff. Talking about the ways in which I feel paralyzed. This morning I have a kind of crying hang over.

Peace.

April 16 2003                                                    9:39 AM 

The other day I was doin errands and I left my wallet on the counter in the photo place. I realized it before I was too far away and went back. They had it. It was an all's-well-that-ends-well thing. But it made me think.

 

I know there's something cooking in me. I can feel it. I'm distracted. I don't have an appetite for anything but ice cream. There's a list of things it could be. Full moon, the need to bleed, menopause, Mom's birthday, things that have happened lately that I don't have the patience to write out, the war, school, school coming to end, worrying about money, my hip, my knees, my ass.

 

No. Not my ass. My ass is fine.

 

I think it's about ...

 

Fuck.

 

I just don't know. I have theories. And I keep talking around it. In therapy. With everyone. It's all of the above. It's none of the above.

 

Last night was the last time I will have a piece of writing workshopped. The workshop was fine. In some ways. Painful only in that ... there is a way in which I was trying to tell my class mates that there's a way that I want to write. And I've  touched on it. But I haven't, really, gotten it. And in two years of my MFA program there was only one workshop in which I felt the kind of support I needed to go for it. And that it has everything to do with a style, or manner of writing. A less narrative, organized, detail laden kind of writing. But my classmates write in a strong narrative fashion. And they do it very well. And I don't suck at it. I just want to do something a little bit different. And I may never be able to pull it off. And sometimes I hate my writing because it's so ...

 

See. I can't even articulate it.

 

So, in a way, I was saying you aren't giving me what I need. But since I can't even fucking articulate what I'm trying to do it should not be surprising that I can't articulate what I need. It all just felt sad. To me. I don't know how it felt to them.

 

But here is the last piece of writing I will ever have workshopped. I fixed a spelling error and some funky syntax but other wise it's the same piece that my class read. It's not the best thing I've ever written. It's not the worst. Now I'm giving it to the workhop in the sky. If you have a minute. Give it a read.

Peace.

Would be nice.

April 17 2003                                                    9:11 AM 

And I can't sleep.

 

But.

 

I did have so much fun yesterday hanging out with Gabe. He brought over his Play Station so that we could play the SIMS but I don't really know how to work the controls. I'm not Play Station literate. So we gave up and went down to the wharf...

 

...but wait. Let me let Gabe tell you all about it.

 

Heh.

 

We made him a blog! Doncha love it?  

 

We were at the arcade and he was feeding the tickets he had won into a machine that added them up so he could see what prize he could get. He had a ton of tickets. He noticed that there was a kid behind him who wanted to access the machine and he took a break so the other kid could cash in his tickets. Gabe is so aware and generous. It blows my mind.

Peace.

April 18 2003                                                    11:01 AM 

Mom said she liked the writing. But I could feel that it was hard for her. She likes to think in absolutes. She likes Hallmarks stories and happy ever after. I like holding contradictions and allowing for possibility.

 

In the piece of writing I describe the day I left home and she talked about how she teared up when she read that. Mom always says she isn't someone who cries but she cried that day. I cried too.

 

And Mom doesn't get the fat revolution. THE BOOK is just gonna be hard for her. I'm just going to have to deal with it later.

 

I need to do spring cleaning. There is dust everywhere.

 

There was a hearing at The Land Use committee this week in which Matt Gonzalez presented some legislation he's writing to make rent control broader. There was two hours of public testimony, mostly from people who own small buildings about how terrible the rent control policies are and how much worse they will be. I'd seen part of it on Monday when it happened but I caught more of it last night on 26.

 

I feel for the small building owners many of whom are retirees who thought renting an apartment would be a way to pad their limited income. Most of them aren't really trying to gouge anyone. But if you're gonna own property and provide the place where someone is going to make their home you are going to take on a responsibility. And many of them were just so mean in their testimony.

 

It's hard. Many of them worked really hard, scratched together enough money to get a duplex. They rent out one apartment and live in the other. It was the only way that they could own their home. And I guess owning a home is a big deal. I mean you feel that sense of ... uh ...ownership.

 

Well it sucks to be a landlord and It sucks to be a renter. And public policy makers need to know how to create legislation that serves everyone. I'm just glad we have progressive thinking people making public policy in SF. Because, being a renter, I'm hoping that I have someone looking out for me.

 

I've always been lucky with landlords. I've almost always had a friendship with my landlords. But things get funky.

 

I don't know why I'm going on and on about this.

Peace.

April 19 2003                                                    9:46 AM 

Does anyone think that I think that my genes make me fat? Let me clear that up for you. I do not. What I think is that my genes give my body a proclivity toward being fat. I'm also tall and I have brown eyes.

 

And. There is not one fat gene that makes one fat body. There are a bunch of gene combinations that make a variety of fat bodies. So how I am begins with my genes and then there is my diet history and my current diet. Can I be thin? It has not been my experience that I can be thin. The thinnest I have ever been was still fat by cultural standards. Should I do anything I can to be as thin as I can be?  Why?

 

Last night on 20/20 John Stossel offered up a segment that demonstrated how to prove your point by only asking people questions if you know they agree with you. He did show footage of a NAAFA convention and talked briefly to a few of the folks who were there. The footage showed the fat people dancing and smiling. It was great to see Marilyn with pink hair shouting, " Welcome to the fat revolution!" But the show was a tired old fat people need to eat less and exercise more drone. Even Barbara Walters questioned the positioning of the segment in the little chat between segments. Go Barbara.

 

It didn't even piss me off. It was just too stupid. I've heard fat revolutionaries misquoted too many times lately. Do I think there are no negative impacts from being fat? No. I recently read an article that said tall men have more joint problems. Bodies have issues.

 

Would I be healthier if I lost weight? Well. You can't ask that question with out talking about how I would go about losing weight. If I took speed and lived on hard boiled eggs and OJ would I be healthier? I don't think so. If I worked out two hours a day and lived on 1000 calories would I be healthier? Maybe. But I'd be in really bad mood. And I'm going to think that my health might be negatively impacted by that mood.

 

My personal experience is that when I did work out an hour a day five days a week I got thinner but I did not get thin. I liked doing the work out. I like swimming. But I'm not going to be up for two hours a day. And I'm not going to be obsessive about calories.

 

Do I over eat? Sometimes. I went to a Dim Sum place that I love recently. I hadn't been there in a while. It's out in the avenues and I don't get out there often. I ate so much I could hardly breathe. It was fun.

 

I get so sick of the way fat people are talked about. I am not a food addict. But there are people who compulsively eat. And I'd like them to be able to talk about their issues with out the idea that they need to control their addiction so that they can be thin. I'd like them to be able to enjoy food.

 

I haven't been eating that well lately. I've been in this mood. I can't seem to care about things. So one night I had fish cakes and popcorn for dinner. Odd. I'm determined to feed myself better. Last night I have buckwheat pasta with chicken, butternut squash, shitakes and spring onion. It was so good.

 

And all those dancing, smiling fat people make me happy. John Stossel makes my head hurt.

Peace.

April 20 2003                                                    10:00 AM 

Gabe has been writing. I wasn't sure that he would get into it. Maybe when spring break is over he'll stop but I love that he's doin it now. And he' keeping track of his i-mood. He linked to a game site where I found a version of Mahjongg. Not good. I played a lot of Mahjongg yesterday.

 

I had big plans for spring cleaning. I'd dusted and vacuumed the bed room and cleaned the bathroom on Friday. Yesterday's plans ... well.

 

Susan remembers patent leather shoes and blue chickens.

Peace.

April 21 2003                                                    9:51 AM 

After swimming and lunch Deb And I went to see The Day I Will Never Forget. It was a difficult movie. But ultimately positive. There are many young women and men working to end FGM.

 

It just made me think about how easily we decide that a thing is ...just the way it is. My Aunt used to begin sentences with they words, "They say..."  And I never knew who they were. In the movie there was a lot of defence of culture and they way it's always been and this is the way we do things. It's the kind of thinking that stops the blood flow to the brain.

 

It's also an odd way to spend the day. Swimming was so peaceful and restorative. Lunch was great. And then. The suffering of others. I became quite melancholy.

 

There's a hope that I have for THE BOOK. I want people who read it to have a different thought about what being fat feels like. For the all the problems fat people deal with there is a way in which being in a fat body becomes a path for deep self understanding. And that's a good thing. It seems like I've been working on it all for a long time and it never seems good enough. I haven't even looked at the writing since I gave it to Stephen. The summer will be here soon enough.

 

But getting people to have a different view of a thing is ...

 

sigh.

 

If someone is hitting another person you can, maybe, get them to stop the action. But getting them to really think about why they are doing the hitting is big.

 

I always try to hold the idea that I'm not trying to change anyones mind about a thing but rather give them a different view. And if their thinking changes then that's all to the good. But if it doesn't ...oh well. It's not an easy idea to hold when something means so much to you.

April 22 2003                                                    7:37 AM 

I hafta run out the door and get over to school to tape a student/teacher conference. I woke up really early so I could read some blogs and eat eggs.

 

It's Earthday. Take a lovely tour.

April 23 2003                                                    9:41 AM 

Twice in recent history I've had conversations with friends about how they wouldn't refer to me as that fat woman. For them it was about not wanting to focus on my physicality. But, ya know, if someone has a physical attribute that is distinguishable I think it's OK to use it as a descriptor. I don't think it would worry them to say I was really tall. I love it when thin and average sized people use the word fat as a simple descriptor.

 

I talked to my aunt on Sunday. We were very close and for a variety of reasons we are not any more. Toward the end of the call she asked if I was still (pause) big. I said yes I'm still fat.

 

I understand the reasons why it's difficult to use the word. it still holds so much hatred and contempt. I hear it every day being used in a way that means wrong. No one wants to be fat, right? Last night I saw a commercial for dog food that keeps your dog from getting fat.

 

Well.

 

I spent the day hanging around the campus yesterday. After I recorded the student/teacher conference I had lunch with Cheryl and played with the computer in her office. I like the feeling of campus life.

 

There is this weird anti-intellectualism  that always irritates me. I understand the way that people who spend their time thinking and reading and writing seem disembodied. And I understand the class separations in the academy. But some of that is breaking down. And. Shit. It's about learning ain't it? Learning is good, right?

 

Ah well.

April 24 2003                                                    10:25 AM 

I think my post yesterday was a bit too quip. Ironically. I'm the one talking about the importance of using language well and then I don't use very well myself. I had a lot on my mind about school and I just wrote the post with out going into the issue deeply.

 

So.

 

The thing about the F word. It is very true that the word fat still holds so much negativity and, for many people, it is still hurtful to hear it said about themselves. I've made an effort to reclaim the word. The key word in that sentence is effort. It is not true that I have no problem hearing it. It is an effort to feel the word differently. Fat is a descriptive term. It aptly describes the body that I have.

 

At some point being fat became an owned part of my identity. After years of trying to make it go away, or ignore it, I decided to own it. And then began the effort.

 

Fairly early in my life I noticed that when really little kids told me I was fat they weren't saying it with judgement. They were just using a word. In fact the delighted in the word. And then the adult in their life would swoop in and say something about it not being nice to call someone fat.

 

When someone shouts it at me from a car, or says it about someone else, or something else in a negative manner I respond with anger, sadness, hurt, some combination of all of those feelings. Because it's very clear that those people are not SIMPLY describing my body. However, despite the improbability of this, I'd rather have them change the way they feel about the word than stop using it. They don't have to love fatness. But maybe they could not hate it quite so vocally. Or at least hate in somewhere far away from me.

 

Of course the idea that fat is the worst of all evils is going to be hard to shift. Elayne pointed me to this (cough) news. I read a doctor who works with the Health At Every Size community break down the flaws in the study. He was reading from the New England Journal of Medicine. I'm just going to react to the MSNBC article.

 

In the article they talk about fat people not fitting into CAT scanners and radiation machines but they don't seem to decide that the medical community industry might want to do a better job of taking care of people of that size. I can tell you from my own experience and conversations with other fat folks that we don't always go to doctors when we should. Many of us can't get heath insurance and most of us are sick of being told that our only health problem is that we are fat. Perhaps that fear of doctors means that we don't get preventative care.

 

I don't really buy the link between Cancer and fat. It just seems illogical to me. I wish I could quote the doctor's break down but I'd need his permission and it's mostly numbers. I might write to him and ask his permission. He did talk about how the data was adjusted for age, race and smoking, physical activity, education, alcohol intake, marital status, aspirin use, fat intake and vegetable consumption.

 

VEGETABLE CONSUMPTION.

 

Honestly. I don't have the patience to read the study right now and I don't fully grasp the notion of data adjustment but I can tell you that it seems like if you adjust the data enough you can get the answer you want. And I want to know who funded the study. Why isn't that part of the (cough) news?

 

When I meet a fat person for the first time I am careful about introducing the word. I know how shocking it is to hear it said out loud. I use when I talk about myself. I talk about why I don't use the other descriptive terms. I know that right now the word still has the power to hurt. I just don't know how to shift that without using the word.

 

Last night in class a woman was describing a former student and she said something about her being a little tiny waif of a girl. No one seemed to worry that describing a person as little and tiny and waifish might be insulting. But if my friends did say Tish is fat they would be thought of as rude. I do understand why they don't want to say the word fat.

 

But my fantasy is that they will use it. And they will use every opportunity to talk about how I have changed the way they think about fat bodies. Of course, this assumes that I have.

April 24 2003                                                    4:01 PM 

Second post of the day. Doesn't happen very often. But. Gosh.

 

I got an email from J.G.at Silver Rights alerting me to her post about my F word postings. I've only recently begun to read her blog. Actually I think she's only recently begun to blog. I added her to my blog roll pretty quickly once I read her. Ya know. Some times you just feel the connect. In truth I haven't read her in the last few days because school suddenly seems to be eating my brain and I can't find time to read around. I'm behind with most of my blog roll.

 

Sigh.

 

So I was glad to get the e-mail alert and jumped right over to see what she had written. And now I'm feeling ... a lot of things.

 

It is true. I am  over the medically recommended weight. Of course it's been years since I gave a shit about anything the medical community (darn I keep making that mistake) industry said about my body. It's not entirely true. I do know some wonderful doctors. I usually look to alternative medicine. I LOVE my chiropractor and I LOVE my acupuncturist. And I love my herbs.

 

J.G. mentions a concern about my reclamation of the word fat.

 

My concern is that describing someone as fat, Chicana or the one in glasses seems to suggest that is the most important aspect of the person, at least briefly. Shadow may be fat, Sandra Cisneros may be a Chicana and I may wear glasses, but there is a lot more to each of us. Additionally, each of those descriptions focuses on something society considers not to be the ideal. I am wary of doing anything to encourage that kind of stereotyping. In my experience, men do make passes at girls who wear glasses. I suspect much of what people think about what it means to be fat or Chicana is equally false.

 

There are times when I think it's important to call out aspects of a persons physicality. Often times it's when there is a political aspect to the conversation. And my choice to use the word fat is political. Because fat people do not get adequate medical care, are denied jobs and housing, have their children taken away from them and are denied when they want to adopt children. we live in a climate of fat hatred. Some folks are direct and hateful. Others don't want to make a big deal about it but they think I should lose weight. There are issues. For me. And people who look like me.

 

J.G. uses the words that I hate so much -- over weight. They are the two words that actually piss me off the most. I resent the idea that there is a right weight and that I am over that. In 49 years of life I have been a variety of weights all of which were over weight, if I were to accept the definition of the medical industry. I do not. My body weight now is the weight my body is relative to a variety of things beginning with genetics. There is nothing over about the weight I am. I'm fat.

 

She wonders when Camryn Manhiem will conform.

 

Conform.

 

Well. I can't speak for Camryn. She looks great to me. I can only speak for myself. I will not be conforming anytime soon.

 

And please. Please don't make me talk about what and how much I eat or how much I exercise. It's such a tired conversation.

 

J.G. seems to think I rethought something about use of the word fat between my first and second posts. I must not be writing well. I wrote the post I wrote today because of the comments I got on the first post. I wanted to be a bit more clear. It is not that I changed my thinking about the use of the word but I did want to be clear to say that I know that many, maybe most, fat folk might be hurt by the use of the word. I'm not interested in pushing anyone to keep up with my notion of fat acceptance.

 

I'm not sure how to articulate the things I'm feeling right now. It's that rush of misery, that kick in the stomach feeling that you get when someone does not seem to understand you in a pretty essential way. I still think J.G. is an interesting thinker and blogger. But she doesn't get the fat revolution. And I suppose she doesn't have a reason to.

 

I do.

I cannot think of another case where hatred and contempt for democracy have so openly been proclaimed, not just by the government, but also by liberal commentators and others. There is now a whole literature trying to explain why France, Germany, the so-called "old Europe", and Turkey and others are trying to undermine the United States. It is inconceivable to the pundits that they are doing so because they take democracy seriously and they think that when the overwhelming majority of a population has an opinion, a government ought to follow it.  -- Noam Chomsky

April 25 2003                                                    10:14 AM 

Margaret sent me a link to this article. Reading it stirred up a bunch of thinking about ... it all.

 

If the people who understand how web design is really done saw all the steps I dance through every day to post they'd be rolling their eyes. I'm sure there's an easier way. I mention it because a few days ago I inadvertently stopped putting peace at the end of my post. I didn't even notice right away. It happened because of the crazy cut and paste way I do things. It should not signal that I think the war is over.

 

I marvel at the back-to-normal stupor that seems to be hanging over the USA.. Of course stupors-r-us. We're pretty good at them. The other day I heard a newscaster say that everyone in the world knows about Scott Peterson.

 

Uh.

 

I had visions of people in Iraq stopping all the clean up and religious pilgrimages and questioning of continued US military presence to run and watch CNN coverage of the trial. I have no interest in the case. I'm sure if I were a friend or family member of Lacy's I might have more interest. But these days we see Pentagon briefings being interrupted because there is news about whether or not Scott Peterson will get the death penalty.

 

I don't support the death penalty. Ever. I find it particularly irritating to hear the debate over this specific death penalty after reading about Clarence Earl Gideon. There is little doubt that Mr. Peterson will have a good lawyer. And there is less doubt that while he has the media hanging on his every cough and flinch there will be "enemy combatants" and men of color denied due process. Now. In the land of the free.

 

When the bombs were dropping I felt the need to say the word peace and keep a candle lit and read and write daily about the war. And now I find myself drifting. I do not believe that the war is over. I think things are much worse than they were. And I am as dumb founded as ever in terms of what to do to get this gang of thugs out of power.

 

But I have stuff to do for school and stuff to do in my apartment and the busy ness builds up and my focus shifts and the misery falls to the back of my mind. And that's inevitable and human.

 

Reading about Gideon sent a chill through my bones. I fight my own wars about language and representation and the fear that it never adds up and that change does not happen. And I draw deep breaths of relief when I stop to notice how lucky I am. I have friends and the time to write and the time to do all the stuff. I have the energy to process information.

 

We do not have peace. It might not even be the goal. We do have a power elite that has high jacked our world.

April 25 2003                                                    3:23 PM 

OK. So I guess if I can have a two post day because I was feelin bad I can have a two post day to share the luv. April turned me on to this very cool meme.

Pretty cool.

 

I'm going to start my tour right now. If I don't get to you it's not about a lack of love. I'm defrosting my freezer and cleaning while I do the tour. And there's a few other things I ought to be doin. But ... I like the idea. So I'm going spread as much love as I can.

 

Oh yeah. One thing I'm happy about in my life. I'm happy about the beets that are cooking. And I will be happier when I'm eating them later.

 

Groovy.

 

April 26 2003                                                    9:05 AM 

I went over to Elayne's blog on my love tour. She was talking about the picture of the Dixie Chicks sans cloths. I had no immediate reaction to the picture but after reading the post and the comments I began to think about it. The naked thing is always a bewilderment for me. Clearly, women who look like the Dixie Chicks will be on the cover of magazines, with or without cloths, and clearly that's reinforcing the stereotype of beauty. But I kinda liked way the photo called out the fact that they can use their "beauty" to be marketable and perhaps that will override their "politics". I mean it sucks. But it's true. And none of it has anything to do with their music.  

 

And then Wendee left me this. Someone had fun with photoshop. (Of course we all know the picture of the Dixie Chicks had some photo shopping done to it as well ... If ya know what I mean.) It made me laugh. I think Michael might do something like it.

 

Oh I don't know. I am not generally given to laughing at this kind of thing.

 

Elayne said: As I hinted at in the comments section yesterday, many people actually regard taking off your clothes for a magazine cover to be liberating and even feminist! Not, I opine, as long as you have such a blatant disparity between men doing it and women doing it. And not as long the rules of our current societal game dictate that, no matter what your intent in displaying tasteful nudity on mainstream magazine covers, the result is that you're still going to be ogled by men.

 

The naked thing is always a bewilderment to me. I always have mixed feelings about people getting naked in public. I don't have a feminist position on it. If I got naked would that be feminist?  I see a lot of fat women doing the master's dance in an attempt to rock the house. They are demanding to be ogled. And part of me always wants to root for them.

 

But it does get tired. The whole adoration of flesh. I adore flesh sometimes and yet ... Elayne is right. There is a disparity in terms of who gets to be naked on the cover of a magazine. And the reasons for why that is are about sexism.

And as I looked closer at the photoshopped Michael picture I began to think that the guy who did it was slamming Michael. But I love Michael. And I really think he might do something like pose nude to call out the disparity of who gets ogled and who does not. And I think Michael is a great looking guy.

 

As I imagined, I did not get to everyone on my blog roll to share the love. But it was kinda fun. Defrosting the refrigerator took hours. So it helped to play while I waited for ice to get lose enough to pull off the wall of the little freezer box. I think my refrigerator is a gazzillion years old.

 

Jenni is at Manzanar today . No more camps.

April 27 2003                                                    8:42 AM 

Yesterday I went to my first Fat think tank meeting. I've been trying to get involved with them for a year. It was great to hang out with a bunch of fat radical thinkers.

 

The community is besieged with the health issue. I was there with three fat aerobics teachers, one fat cabaret dancer and moms. We all know moms be movin. Everyone looked great. And the others in the group, the therapists and activists, looked great too. The conversation was around the ideas of how we define heath at every size.

 

Right before I went to the meeting I read J.G.'s new post, in response to my post. I feel a little bit funny about the post to post communication. I had intended to write an e-mail to her in response to her e-mail alerting me to her post. But I couldn't get past my feeling of dismay.

 

Text based communication is problematic and limited. It is possible that J. G. and I are zooming past each other. J.G. seems to think that she communicated that ideas about fat people are often erroneous in her first post. I didn't get that. At all. I am wary about doing a point by point break down of what I got from what she wrote. I think we both feel like we aren't quite understanding each other.

 

J.G. has a family with a history of diabetics. And much has been made of the link between fatness and diabetes.

 

Every Sunday I swim with two fat women who have diabetes. They talk about the things they do to control their sugar. They're pretty proud of the fact that their sugars are in control and have been for quite a while.

 

But we know this. We know that people can control their sugars with moderate exercise and some food awareness. In fact we recently learned it again from our baboon friends.

 

Researchers studied the eating and exercise patterns of two groups of wild baboons in East Africa. One group of baboons had to forage for their food. The others found a stash of food that humans had discarded that was much closer to where they lived, which meant they expended much less energy for their daily food raids. The fat content and number of calories that both groups of baboons ate was about the same, but the baboons that ate the leftovers didn't have to work as hard to get their food.

 

"More than a third of the baboons that didn't have to exercise as much to get their food had indications of obesity, evidence of early diabetes caused by insulin resistance and elevated cholesterol levels," says Banks, who also is a staff physician at Veterans Affairs Medical Center in St. Louis.       More ...

 

So. Yeah. Diabetes is a problem. In fact my father and his mother both had it. Am I worried? Well. No. In the last few years I've noticed that I don't process carbs like I used to. I also have trouble with dairy. I've made adjustments in how I eat. Why? Because it feels better. I'm still fat. And sometimes I eat too much of something and I don't feel as good. Oh well. Life in body is a day to day process. What I know for sure is that I have to keep moving. So today I will be swimming. And as I get older it may become more difficult to maintain my health. I'll deal with it.

 

I guess part of what the fat revolution is about for me is that my health, my beauty, my worth are not defined by the size of my ass. I can be fat and healthy. Whether or not I could be healthier if I were thinner has to take into consideration what I would do to lose weight and how I would feel about those choices. And whether or not I'm healthy does not define my worth.

 

There are some troubling ideas about health these days. There is this idea that everyone who is a good person is doing EVERY thing they can to be healthy. And what is healthy? All bodies feel better and worse for a variety of reasons, all day every day. Somewhere someone is doing something that isn't particularly healthy right now. And there's probably more than one reason why. And there are people ready to stick a scarlet letter on them.

 

In the comment section of a Big Fat Blog post about the fat and Cancer scare a fat woman calls out the hyper-emphasis on the members of the fat community who exercise and eat "right". They are the people we can put in the front line when we are besieged by the health stuff. But there is more than one fat body with more than one kind of fat experience. And if someone is eating junk food and watching T.V. are we in the community going to hope no one finds out about them?

 

And why is health such a cultural focus?

 

In the mainstream media you will hear about how fat is linked to diabetes and cancer and every kind of malady. You will not hear about my friends in the pool. The ordinary lives of fat people who work to live well in their bodies is not scary enough. And you better be scared. If you eat that chip and drink that soda you may end up looking like me. In a time when you can't control many things you can control your urge to eat that chip and drink that soda. So stay afraid and resist your urges.

 

Much of what I do here, much of what I am trying to do in THE BOOK, is about describing a fat life. The comforting thing about today was that I did not have to describe my life. Most communities of oppression will tell you that the work to educate people to understand how the when you-said-that-I-felt-this thing works is exhausting. The task falls to me to explain how an assumption about my body might be wrong. And that's OK. But sometimes it wears me out.

 

Will I still read Silver Rights? Of course I will. I do like the things she talks about. I do think she's a smart and articulate writer. All the more reason why I'm hoping she'll do some work to investigate her ideas about fatness. As I said earlier, I don't want to do a line by line analysis of when- she -said-this- I felt-that. But it is interesting that when she writes about me she calls me shadow. It circles back to the thing I was talking about in the post that began our exchange. The name of the site is FATshadow. There's a very important political and cultural reason for that. I've been pretty clear that I chose the word fat because it is a part of my identity. And when someone backs away from using the F word, especially when describing me, I gotta ask them to do some reflection on their feelings about fatness. No one really needs to do that. None of us need to understand another persons real experience. It is easier to hold ideas that most people hold.

 

I'm goin swimming.

April 27 2003                                                    7:08 PM 

Hmmm.

Well.

Rumors suggest that it's possible that Mike Golby's birthday was on the 24th and Mark Woods birthday is today. It seems like something I should know. But I don't.

 

Just in case.

 

Happy happy happy birthday.

April 28 2003                                                    8:58 AM 

There's a cool new peace project on line. I'm in. I saw Mike and Dru in there.

 

I'm just sitting here drinking tea, eating a blueberry scone and red grapes, listening to KPFA, reading blogs. Avoiding the work I need to do for class. Avoiding the pile of bills that arrives at this time every month.

 

Sigh.

 

I better snap out of it.

April 28 2003                                                    3:57 PM 

April 29 2003                                                    9:02 AM 

Margaret asked me if I thought there was a fundamental breakdown that occurs at the moment of communication about fat acceptance. She had a working theory that it's like speaking Spanish to a French speaker.

 

I like the analogy. I used to work with Spanish speaking folks. We had a very abusive boss who spoke both Italian and English. He would come running in screaming about something and the guys said they could understand him better when he screamed in Italian. They still didn't totally understand him. There was just enough in the two languages that was alike but there were differences.

 

It's a working theory.

 

It did make me think about all the times I've had a moment of saying something about being fat and gotten a response that suggested I had not been understood.

 

Once, at the fat swim, I was talking about a time when I lost 100 pounds. It followed a time when I'd been doing a lot of cocaine, drinking, smoking cigs. While I was doing all that I got really fat. When I stopped I started drinking lots of water and I got acupuncture and massage. One day I grabbed a pair of pants that hadn't fit for a while and ... they fit. I'd been weighed by a doctor toward the end of my party days, when I went in to see if I had really fucked up my heart, so I knew how much I'd weighed and how much I'd lost. My eating habits had changed. I was eating. During the party years I ate breakfast but not much else.

 

So I walked in talking about this surprise weight loss and one of the women, who had only caught the last part of the conversation, said that she'd lost 100 pounds once too but then she put them right back on. And she said with this kind of doesn't that just suck tone. She was only half hearing me. She thought the weight loss was a good thing. I just thought it was a result of a variety of changes. Fewer toxic substances. Needles and strokes. And it was just a change in my body. I didn't feel like it was better than having the body I had before or after.

 

Margaret asks an important question.

 

Defining the movement with the most controversial of all the words
("Fat") must be done with the consciousness that words are signifiers. If I tell you "take a right" and you come from another place where "right" means "left" then I failed to communicate my meaning to you - it is not the word that is wrong though, it is the multiple signifiers attached to that word that creates the confusion. Now, it is possible for me, the speaker, to learn your language. And, this may be appropriate in some circumstances. But, what about the word "Fat"?

 

 

Is it up to me to not use a word that has so many negative signifiers in an attempt to get the message of size neutrality across? Or is it up to the people who don't get fat as a positive thing to figure out that there is a slightly different thing being said. Or something like that. Working theory. Remember.

 

Hmmm.

 

Well. We know we like fat wallets. And fat bass sections. And some of us like fat juicy steaks. And fat paychecks. So fat isn't always bad.

 

There is this problematic intersection in my conversations about fat stuff. Many people assume I would prefer to be thin. They assume I would be healthier. Since I have SUCH A PRETTY FACE I would have so many more men interested in me. I could sit in chairs with arms.

 

One day, back in the time when I had lost the 100 pounds, I was walking down the street. And I was feeling FINE. (pronounced foin) Some guys drove by in a car and shouted something at me about how fat I was. It was one of many experiences that made me aware that I would always be fat.I would always have the memories of how it felt to hear that word hurled at me like an epitaph.

 

So I could see myself as a thin person inside a fat body, and assume that all that extra body would just go away if I did ... well you know ... plan A, B, or C. Or I could own the whole of my experience. I could take that word and say yes. I am fat. So?

 

So? What is it that you think fat means? Because for me it means that I have an amount of flesh and a certain life experience that has been part of what has shaped my identity. It is about having people assume things about me based on my physicality.

 

There will be people who won't get that story. They'll get that I lost 100 pounds and think that was the success in the story. They'll think that the guys yelling at me made me sad, or mad and I gave up on what I was doing to lose the weight. They won't read that I wasn't doing anything specifically to lose weight. I did not then go eat a bag of doughnuts because I had given up. I went on with my life.

 

I guess I feel like the burden is on the person for whom fat is a signifier of all those bad things. I want them to do some of the work to educate themselves about my real experience. I want them to do some of the work to question the assumptions about my body and the assumptions about their own body.

 

But the burden is probably mine. I'm using a word in a way that many people aren't going to get. There is a fundamental break down in the moment of communication. And maybe that's a good thing. Because it creates an opportunity for dialogue.

 

Or so we can hope.

April 30 2003                                                    9:08 AM 

I'm in an evil mood. There's more than one reason. There's been some confusion in the work I do for my therapist in exchange for therapy. So the work isn't getting done and it's not all my fault. I have a lot of work to do for school and I'm not getting it done. Most of that is my fault although there are reasons why it's harder than it ought to be. And it's the end of the month which means I'm staring at a stack of bills wondering how much longer I can keep up the crazy way I'm living financially. And ... more.

 

And then there's been this weird thing that's happened twice in the last few days. Barbara is sweet enough to give me a ride to therapy. I go to her office and wait for her to be done with work and then she gives me a ride. There is a beautiful love seat in her office. Big and soft and cushy. I swear it's one of my favorite places to read. It's also one of the chairs I fit into in her waiting room. There's also a straight back chair with no arms, which is fine. The other two chairs have arms. When I went there this week there were people sitting in the chairs I do fit into. I went outside and sat on the steps. It wasn't that big of a deal. I mean I always get a miserable feeling when I can't find a chair but I don't feel like places need to change all their chairs. No one can control who sits in what chair.

 

Last night we had a reading at school. There are three rooms in which we have readings. Two have chairs with no arms and the third has nothing but chairs with arms. Guess which room we were in last night?

 

When we're in that room I go to the other room and grab myself a chair. But it pisses me off. Once Aaron saw my face when I entered the room, figured it out before I said a word and went to get me a chair. I spoke to the program assistant about the issue. Last night when I walked in I didn't see any armless chairs and I got pissy and Stephanie went with me to get a chair. We ran into a young man who was moving tables. He was trying to tell us that there were chairs and I snapped something at him about the size of my ass. Once I was in the room I realized that there were four chairs with no arms and some students were sitting in them. I realized that the guy was probably trying to tell me that he'd put some chairs in the room. I felt like such a bitch.

 

I'm always saying that there only needs to be  a few chairs with no arms to make a room accessible for me. But there were chairs with no arms in both these rooms and it still wasn't enough.

 

I just feel defeated by it all. But I'm not sure what I mean by that.