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February 2003

February 1 2003                                                    9:22 AM 

Rabbit Rabbit.

I did a lot of laundry. Up and down the three flights of stairs. And then I folded it all. Well. Most of it. And cleaned the bathroom. And went to the store.

 

I did not do any writing.

 

Sigh.

 

Valentine's day is a construction of the greeting card industry.

 

So why do I always get the blues?

 

I have never, never had a valentine. Isn't that the saddest thing? Well. No. There are sadder things. But I've been feeling this verge of tears kind of blue about it. And shit it's two weeks away.

 

The other night I got into bed and I was really feeling the sadness. I kept trying to think about other things. Finally I just started to push into it. You know like when you have a tooth ache and you push the tooth with your tongue even though it's gonna hurt worse. That's what I was doing. I just felt the sadness.

 

And today I've had all these memories of my long history of unrequited love. And I had all these ... I dunno ... little releases. Sounds almost sexy doesn't it?

 

It is sad. I've known some great men. And a couple of them really loved me. But. Not THAT way.

 

I know too many fat women who are in great relationships to believe that it's about being fat. I think it's a combination of my bad psychology, fate, bad choices. I don't really know. And being fat is in the mix. If I'd been thin I might have had a valentine a time or two. But I'm not sure I want to think about that. I always wanted to believe in love. Things have not gone well and I gotta say .... I may have given up.

 

So I feel sad. And it seems like the right thing to feel. Somehow not backing away from it seems to be giving me a kind of relief.

 

I woke up to this news. Very sad.

 

The White House has cancelled Laura Bush's February 12th symposium on the poetry of Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes and Walt Whitman after a group of poets planned to make that date a day of "Poetry Against War." (More)

 

Poets are scary.

 

GONG HEI FATT CHOY ) ( Linked from Glovefox. Who is making some amazing food for her celebration)

February 2 2003                                                    8:10 AM 

Yesterday I turned the radio on and Scott Simon was talking in a somethingterriblehashappened voice. I got the same feeling I had on September 11.

 

At first I was relieved that it wasn't about the war being escalated, or another terrorist attack. I listened to the news while I read through my blog roll and wrote my own post. Somehow it wasn't registering with me. And then I turned on CNN for the pictures.

 

I hate the way CNN & MSNBC play footage over and over. And this was footage of this falling stream, never hitting the ground, always falling. It reminded me of a line in a song that a friend of mine wrote years ago.

 

Every falling angel is like a falling star.

Bursting through the darkest night

Sometimes you can see them right from where you are

Sometimes they just burn on out of sight

 

it wasn't until the NASA briefing, watching the men who knew the astronauts try to speak through their tears, that I began to cry.

 

I looked around the blog world and watched as the posts popped up. There was sentiment and horror. I wondered if I should write something. But I had no words.

 

There was some discussion on CNN about Ilan Ramon. His parents are Holocaust survivors. He had taken a drawing of a child who had perished in a camp into space with him. My heart ached. But there were connections being made that I found disturbing. There was the shared grief of two nations, which I felt, and there was the reaffirmation of how Israel and America are working together in so many ways. I found some of the way that was represented troubling. Apparently he had flown a bombing mission in Iraq and it was condemned at the time. The person speaking on CNN said something about how now that we know what we know about Iraq the world will remember the bombing differently. But why?

 

He served his country. In many ways. He served his family. His death is a loss. But the actions of his country and my country, good and bad, should not be forgotten.

 

History is written by the winners. Or so they say.

 

There is no sense to be made of events like this. There is sadness and loss. There may be learning.

 

I spent the day trying to work on writing for school. I did get some done. The day felt long and sad.

 

And yet. They died fully engaged in life.

 

Laurie directed me to the nice folks at Madarine Designs who are offering the code for these gifs. You don't know what you're going to get when you put in the code. You take a chance and hope for something beautiful.

 

February 3 2003                                                    8:19 AM 

How much longer? (link via Susan)

 

I made a big pot of leek, mushroom, potato soup. I am strung out on the leeks. I put a pile of it in a bowl grabbed a fork and took it to the desk.

 

Grabbed a fork.

 

For soup.

 

I mean there was some stuff in the soup to be eaten with a fork but it was all in broth. I mention it to exemplify how unfocussed I was all day.

 

Maybe it was the shaking. I thought I felt one jolt.

 

Somehow I got a tiny bit of writing done.

February 4 2003                                                    9:05 AM 

OK. So one of the buttons on the left says ...

 

It's a guest book. If you go back to the first entries you see the people I harassed into signing. Mostly friends. I stopped begging people to sign it and ignored it all together for a while. But recently people have been signing it. People who I don't know. Some just say, "nice site." Some seem to have their own site that they want to pitch. And the last one seems to be a porn site. I didn't look but there were a lot of X's. What is that about? It kinda makes me laugh. I mean is it a new form of spam? I can delete it. But I have to say, it's just so odd that I can't seem to bring myself to take an action. Now the guest book has become this thing that I check every once in a while to see if anything too weird has been entered.

 

I was reading Body and Soul yesterday. She had a link to a very cool Rice for Peace campaign. Later I got e-mail from Marilyn telling me about it. I'm not sure it'll stop the war but I like the idea. It may not have worked the first time but I agree with Jeanne D'Arc, It may be wishful thinking, but sometimes that's all you got.

 

I sent the link about the FAA weighing people to Paul and he blogged it. I am sort of stunned by the response. Not many people seemed too alarmed. Most were, understandably, more concerned about being safe on an airplane than they were about being weighed. I understand wanting to be safe when you fly. But the implications of the FAA weighing passengers are dubious to say the least.

 

 I first heard about it on a Donahue. He was doing a show with Atkins who was promoting his diet. Donahue opened a segment of the show by saying...

 

"I speak of the Charlotte airplane crash. The plane crashed right at the airport. It took off. Got itself into a stall mode. And all aboard were killed. There’s a new report out that overweight Americans could be threatening the nation’s air safety. It was triggered by investigators looking into whether inaccurate weight estimates and how much the passengers weighed might have played a role in that crash. It’s a U.S. Air Express Commuter plane in Charlotte, earlier this year."

 

I think it's interesting that more people on the blog aren't a little angry that the FAA and Donahue are implying that our weight causes plane crashes. I'm not a pilot. I'm sure that balancing weight is important to being able to fly a plane. But I just think the idea that they might weigh people, at the airport, before a flight is really, really wrong headed. I think there are lots of ways to solve the problems of balancing the weight on a plane.

 

The discussion in the comments seemed to missing the point. The desire for safety seemed to be making it difficult to see the dubiousness of the methodology of a study to determine average weight by the FAA. And it dove tailed with a discussion about why, if we are fat positive, do we mind being weighed in public.

 

Picture me shaking my head in dismay.

 

It's not about being ashamed of your fat body. It's about not being willing to be treated like baggage. It's about not being willing to put yourself in a public situation where your weight will be villianized, pathologized and ridiculed. It's about having the dignity and self respect to question the right of the FAA to measure something that you and maybe your doctor can measure.

 

I flew on a small plane recently. It sucked. I didn't fit into the seat. I tried, by sitting in a way that meant I was miserable to not touch the guy in the seat next to me and I was fairly successful. But it probably wasn't safe for him, or me, that I was wedged sideways into this seat. It certainly wasn't comfortable. There was a suit brought by a thin man against the airline for being uncomfortable when sitting next to a fat person. And I'm on his side. He has a right to be comfortable. And so do I.

 

And we have a right to be safe.

 

I just think the airline industry can solve these problems without making me the enemy.

February 5 2003                                                    9:18 AM 

KPFA is broadcasting Powell making his pitch for war. It's a miserable way to start the day. There are not words for how miserable this makes me.

 

Being in a writing program means you talk about writing as least as much (if not more) than you write. I often find it annoying. But not always.

 

I always want to talk about blogs. When you do it every day, and when you read blogs every day, it's easy to lose track of how amazing it is. But it is so amazing. People putting their lives in a note. Stuffing it into the blog bottle and hurling it out to sea. And we sit on our islands waiting for the tide to wash in a new note. Clicking back again and again to see if there's a new note.

 

Not all blogs are about writing. And yet there is almost always a voice. Even a blog with only enough of a sentence to hold a link has a tone. Even a blog with no words at all, a photo, or a painting are, in a way, a voice. With a tone.

 

And doing it pulls down the hierarchy of art and expression. We are all folk. Saying, "Look what I made today."

 

In workshop I read the writing of my fellow students. It's the best part. There are some great writers in my program.

 

You know. I wanna be a good writer. And I have work to do. And I want that to be a life long pursuit. I never want to rest. But I don't want it to be about "good enough". I want it to be about the restless need to express. To show. To tell. To change the way you say something. To change the way you remember it. To stay in an never ending edit. I love the feeling of saying something in just a certain way. The rhythm of the words.

 

And we live in a time when we need to celebrate every voice.

 

Elaine linked to this story about the veiling of Guernica. I keep thinking about a line from Joni.

 

They're gonna aim the hoses on ya.

Show them you won't expire.

February 5 2003                                                    3:08 PM 

Last week April put up an interesting topic for We Have Brains.

 

Given the shifts in society since the 1970's, does the phrase "lesbian feminist" even mean the same thing it did then - namely, a radical, separatist form of feminism? And where is the true intersection between queer and feminist? I think we can all agree that it's quite common to be one without the other. But. Aren't there also some inevitable areas of mutual concern? What does it mean to be queer and a feminist? To be straight and a feminist?

 

I kept thinking about it. I couldn't form a response. I did have a visceral reaction but I was having trouble putting it into words. In part because there is a way in which asserting my sexual preference always feels problematic. I am a het. But. I dunno. I have so much trouble with the hetero's. I have trouble with the assumption of normalcy. I have trouble with the privileging of representation. I have trouble with the ways some hetero women fall all over themselves for men. But I do like men. I sometimes envy my lesbian friends. There are ways in which they don't need men to get feminism.

 

Are there areas of mutual concern for het and lesbian feminists?

 

Absolutely.

 

Today I read this Ampersand post. It brought back the WHB's question. I was stunned by the idea of PHMT (patriarchy hurts men too) as a shut down. I've never heard it. And in the example that Amp gives in the beginning of his post I feel it as a shut down that I might make. Because the focus shift was too abrupt. It would piss me off if someone tried to shift the focus of a conversation in that manner.

 

But.

 

We are all in this together.

 

In another example Amp calls out the idea of violence against women being a feminist issue and then asks if violence against men is as well. Yes. When think about violence against women I think about the men who commit the violence. I think about how much it sucks that men aren't given permission to feel emotion. I think about how much pain someone has to be in to resort to violence. I do not take my mind off the women who pay the price with their bodies for the way in which patriarchy shapes us. But my heart aches for both the man and the woman.

 

Violence against men in the example Amp gives, (ten year old boy beaten up for being too girly) is also an issue for women. It's different. But I'm not sure how useful a discussion on the difference is, especially in terms of merit. For me, the moment in which a man responds to a woman with violence is enough of an example for how men and women are both shaped by patriarchal concepts, in ways that hurt them both.

 

I have never felt like feminism is only about women. And maybe that's because I'm straight. I need men to get it. But, I really think we all do.

 

But. There are times when it's important to isolate the issues. Some things are about being a woman. Some things are about being a man. Some things are about sexual preference. And if those conversations are derailed by shifting focus ... well then ... PHMT. And I say that with my very best talk-to-the-hand attitude.

 

And then I feel terrible.

 

I always want to move toward inclusion. I think part of the reason I've been having such a hard time writing a response to WHB has to do with not wanting to draw hard lines around myself or others. But I also think there's a time an place to make the distinction. And. I love that men are asking some of the questions.

 

And maybe that's because I need them too.

February 6 2003                                                    9:11 AM 

Wednesday night class might not suck. We had fun last night. The more I talk about being a teacher the more I wonder if I'm up to the task. But I love talking about it.

 

Heh.

 

Too bad I can't get paid for talking about it.

 

The mighty mighty Glenn Gaesser posted a comment on Big Fat Blog in which he debunks the 3000,000 deaths from obesity thing. It's actually a chunk of his book. I want to give this book to very one who ever says anything about fat and health. I was reading a post by Medpundit talking about the sloppy use of statistics to feed the fear of fat. These people are both doctors. Both recognize the health problems that are specific to fat bodies. But they don't generalize about or inflate the problems.

 

Joe had an extra palm pilot. And he gave it to me. I am sosososososososososo excited. I have to go play with it RIGHT NOW.

February 7 2003                                                    9:22 AM 

I'm tellin ya. Thursdays are like pull it back together day. Which seems ridiculous. I go to therapy on Monday, class Tuesday & Wednesday and my apartment explodes behind me as I walk out the door. Or maybe the exploding happens when I walk in. All I know is there was stuff all over the place.

 

It wasn't that bad. I went through the piles of mail and school handouts and washed the dishes and this and that. And I was playing with the new toy. (mine is the palm V) (Thank you Joe.) And I had CNN on. Bush comes on and I swear I thought this was it.

 

Suddenly all the things I'm doing, all the reading and the writing and the playing with computer toys seem pointless. I just do not know what to do.

 

                                                    (via Wood_s Lot)

February 7 2003                                                    4:12 PM 

I am not writing.

 

Jeez.

 

I don't know why.

 

Maybe after this.

 

I was reading around the blogs, (Instead of writing.) And I went over to Jenni's. She writes about Rep. Howard Coble saying that he supported the decision to put Japanese Americans in camps and thinks we out to do the same with Arab Americans now. Coble is the chair of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security.

 

Jenni is involved with organizing Pilgramages to Manzanar and Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress.

 

OK. I'm going to try to do some writing now.

February 8 2003                                                    9:46 AM 

After too many hours of procrastination yesterday I went for a walk. Bought myself some purple tulips and a double latte and came back home determined to get some writing done. And I did.

 

On Now, Bill Moyers and Chuck Lewis from the Center for Public Integrity talked about the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003. I'd say this is about as scared and horrified as I've ever been but I think I've  peaked. You can go to those sites and download a PDF of the proposed act. Some of the things proposed are detailed here. If this were to get through we would not live in the same country. This takes all the post 9/11 changes in attitude and codifies them. Civil Liberties?

 

Gone.

 

Jeanne D'Arc wrote about an MSU student who was pulled out of class and taken into custody after she mailed a bag of rice to Bush.

 

I keep trying to find a way to .... be ... with all of this horror. I can't let it pull me under. I have to keep living my life. I can't ignore it. It's too important. But my feeling of helplessness expands daily. The things I do, the letters to public officials I write, the calls I make, all feel essential. And so small. And yet I keep looking for more small things I can do.

 

Ampersand kindly posted a link to my response to his writing on PHMT. This morning I got some comments from Trish Wilson. I've never been successful at linking to my comments so I'm going to pull one of them out.

 

I guess I'm one of those female feminists who prefers that feminism be about the empowerment of women. I don't think the movement should get caught up on taking on every cause under the sun affected by patriarchy. There is only so much time in the day, and too much to do. I may be wrong, but I don't think that other causes are asked to take on other issues, at least not in the way feminist women are asked to take on men's issues because all are affected by patriarchy.

While I recognize that patriarchy affects men, I don't think it's the job of feminist women to fix it. I see that as placing women once again in the "gatekeeping" role - when it comes to male/female relations, it's the female's job to keep things going smoothly. In the process, women's needs gets placed on the back burner because "others" need care, too. Don't fight for "women's" rights. Fight for "human" rights. If she balks, she's told she's selfish. Very effective stopper. Feminism has enough to deal with regarding anti-feminist and patriarchal views held by
women. I see it as men's job to teach other men how patriarchy harms men and boys. They take their lead from feminist women. Pro-feminist men have expressed this sentiment.

 

Yes. I'm with ya. One of things I said in my post was that I was glad that men were asking some of the questions. Props to Amp for doing lots of writing on feminism. I don't think women can do the work for men. I don't think people of color can do the work for white people. One of the reasons I write about, talk about, think about white privilege is that I feel like it's my responsibility to understand how I am complicit with racism.

 

Having said that, I also know that we all need each other to help keep the process real.

 

I've had conversations about how groups where white people talk about their racism, or men talk about their sexism, in the presence of people of color and women, are hurtful to the people of color and the women. It's too brutal to have to listen to all that crap. And I think there's some truth in that. These are uncomfortable conversations. And they should be.

 

But all the people who do that kind of work push the process forward. I'm not sure that men can do the work of understanding how  patriarchy hurts them without SOME input from women. There are blind spots. But it is their work. And I love it when I see them doing it.

 

Trish has more to say in the comments and also some great links. (Hope your server lets you back in soon Trish.)

 

And I am feeling the enormity of IT ALL. I feel urgent and desperate and hapless.

 

So. I look at my purple tulips for a minute. Try to remember that there is beauty in the world. Remind myself that I have specific work to do. And try to focus on it. And I am grateful that I know (and daily meet more) so many smart, heartful, engaged people.

February 9 2003                                                    9:42 AM 

AH HA HA! Angela has a blog!!! Yippie! Well. I guess it's a journal. Although the whole is it a blog/is it a journal thing is wasted on me. She's found a spot and she's writing her life on line. And a sweet life it is. One of her friends had a baby boy. Made me think of Laura. There'll be one child born and a world to carry on.

 

Monica is wondering about comments today. It's been something I've been thinking about. I get web shy. I get paralyzed with web shyness. But I also notice that there are people's blogs where I feel almost afraid to comment and people's blogs where I never feel afraid.

 

I read a variety of blogs. Some of which are very political. There are amazing political debates that flare up in the comment boxes. And there are writers who draw out debate. There are conversations that happen in the comments. I love that. But I walk a line with that kind of thing. I'm not going to be aggressive in someone else's comment box. I have been terse.

 

It's happened here. Sometimes about fat stuff. Sometimes about ideas. I love it. I check my blog all day hoping for comments. And I've gotten a few icky comments. But not many.

 

On some blogs there's a feeling of people stopping by to say hi in the comments. Which feels so sweet to me. Oddly enough I can feel really shy about commenting then. It's like walking into a group of folks. Some you know. Some you don't. And you have to join in. Or not. I get very shy then.  

 

There are people who write on the web who I left comments for and they never came to my page and left me a comment. I reacted like any other seven year old. I stopped commenting to them.

 

Sheesh.

 

And I feel competitive with people who get lots of comments every day. Or people who stir up conversation in their comment boxes. And I have to remind myself that I am doing this writing because I need to express...whatever it is I'm going on about.

 

I read people who have no comment box. I admire that. In a way. But then sometimes I wonder ... how do they know I was here? How do they know  that think they're smart and funny and cool? I need to be able to write something. And e-mail feels like crossing a line of intimacy. Which is cool. And even more challenging to my shyness.  

 

It's crazy. How shy can I be when I write my life in public?! Very shy. I don't always feel part of things.

 

Sometimes my friends ( the ones with no blogs) leave me comments. I love that. And I have met people in my comment boxes. I met Angela in my comment box. And now she has A BLOG!!! AH HA HA HA!! I'm going to go and leave her a comment.

February 10 2003                                                    9:42 AM 

I'm SLEEPY. I don't know why. I slept really well except I woke up having a weird dream in which I couldn't get to class. I went back to sleep for a while and I had the hardest time waking up. This is really unusual. I feel like I might hafta go back to sleep.

 

I went swimming yesterday. Ate some pasta with Deb and Ari. Shopped. Talked on the phone. I felt pretty great at the end of the day. And I feel OK today except I'm so sleepy.

 

I need to finish this piece of writing that I'm handing in tomorrow and another that I'm presenting on Wednesday. So more sleeping is not a good idea. I've been sitting here reading blogs and drinking tea and eating cereal. I'm sposed ta be awake now.

February 11 2003                                                    9:54 AM 

Sleeping during the day in my apartment is not really possible. There's a middle school across the street with a come-to-class buzzer and screaming, laughing, shouting kids. There's some construction going on involving what sounds like driving large metal poles into the ground. There' s traffic noise. At night it can get so quiet that I can hear the seals down at Fisherman's Wharf. So I got back in bed yesterday. But it was clear that I wasn't going to get any sleep. I shook off the sleepyness and got the writing done. It put me in a great mood

 

I had to go to group last night. The #14 Mission bus was having issues. Not an unusual situation. I left my house a little after five and got to group at ten to seven. Late. I'm never late. But it was OK. I was in a great mood.

 

Beth said something so perfect last night. She was talking about when people are focussed on the love (or more specifically the lack of love) of one person. She wonders what's being ignored. What I took from that was that I can focus on the love I don't have or I can focus on the love I do. Seems obvious enough and I think I'd already figured that out. In fact I think I was already doing that. But I just loved the way she said it.

 

So many people I know are going though stuff with their partners or love interests right now. And every where you look there's the hopped up Valentines day consumer driven notion of romantic love. It's toxic.

 

If you love someone you'll buy them lots of stuff.

 

Well. I guess I could feel grateful that I don't have to deal with all that. And I guess I do. But I also have the sadness.

 

But there are plenty of things focus on. New York City is trying to keep the march from happening.

 

Yesterday I had CNN on and Ashcroft was answering press questions and someone asked him about the ramp up of the Patriot Act and the idiot CNN news (cough) person talked over his answer. It was like they couldn't get the camera off fast enough.

 

Things are going to get pretty crazy.

 

And all this work I've been doing on how to keep my heart open, despite the huge chunks that have been bitten out of it, seems to be helping me with handling the misery of what's happening in my country.

 

If you love someone say no to war.

February 12 2003                                                    9:12 AM 

I went to school early. There's a reading room at Lone Mountain. Green leather chairs along long tables. Rows of lamps run down the middle of each table. There's almost never anyone in there. It feels monastic. The reading that I had to do for class was dense and analytical and easier to do in that setting than in my apartment with so many other things to tempt me.

 

We had to read Patrimony for workshop. I was able to read that on the bus. I'm ambivalent about the book. It's about the last year or so of Philip Roth's father's life. It did bring back memories of December with  M & K. That feeling of being a child, now caring for a parent.

 

As I am writing this I am listening to KPFA. They are listing all the demos that will be happening this weekend. I mean there's one big demo but people are meeting in different coalitions.

 

And it's raining.

 

I have to work on my presentation for class.

 

I feel .... sigh. I don't know. I don't know what I feel.

February 13 2003                                                    9:55 AM 

Things are just crazy. People are buying plastic and duct tape to cover their windows and boycotting brie because the French have the good sense to not fall into lock step with the insanity of the war. It makes my head hurt. I think we need to write the Europeans and say thank you for your sanity.

 

The We Have Brains topic for the week is complex.

 

How does one retain memory when all that remains are shoddy wooden markers or yellowed notebooks? Whose, or what memories, do you try to keep alive, and why?
Can you relate whatsoever to the African diaspora that Walker alludes to? Do you have any sense of community, or are you also scattered? Where are you at home?
How does one build community? What is the point of it all?

 

There's a number of ways to approach it. Yesterday I was talking about the idea of community with a woman at school. Because ours is a small program in a small school the school  tries to promote the idea of community. And I guess it's somewhat true that we are a community. But I don't always feel it. It's hard to create community. In school, even in my little therapy group, there's the idea of community. But we're very different people involved in things that are similar, but not the same. I've made some friends at school and in my group and there are ways in which I am part of those communities. But there are ways in which it's just about school. And it's just about therapy.

 

I'm thinking about community this morning. I'm listening to my community supported public radio station. They're doing a fund drive so they are reminding us that they are COMMUNITY SUPPORTED. And they are listing the places that you can go to hook up with people who are doing the march on Sunday.

 

If there was ever a time when we needed to come together. And speak out. Together. If ever there was a time when we needed to not seal up our windows but rather open them wide and start shouting out of them. If ever there was a time when the point of it all is to say no to war. To say stop. To say no more. It is now.

 

And how do I fit into that? I probably won't be in the streets. My knees and the trouble I have dealing with large groups of people will probably keep me at home. I don't know. I'm trying to figure out a way to mitigate the issues and go out there. But I'm always there in my heart. I always listen on the radio and watch on CSPAN. I've always been a peripheral member of any community.

 

It's interesting because the WHB topic came out of the notion of remembrance. It comes from Alice Walker looking for the grave of Zora Neale Hurston and talking about Martin Luther King and the African Diaspora and the way in which he was able to draw folks together into coalition.

 

Well. We can't depend on leaders any more. We certainly have them. Media Benjamin donating blood in Iraq. Profound leadership. But we can't depend on leadership.

 

You know I often feel separate. I am struggling with the feelings of rage, frustration, and powerlessness that surface when I listen to too much CNN. When I read the last line of the WHB topic - What is the point of it all? - my first feeling was one of defeat. What is the point of it all? It's so easy to feel defeat these days. Or maybe it's just me. It's easy for me to sink into despair and isolation. I fight the battle daily.

 

So I won't be putting any plastic on my windows. I might go buy some French wine and cheese. I'm going to work on my book. Which is the way I am trying to maintain memory. I'm going to work on maintaining the line between staying informed and being poisoned by media toxin. I'm going to feel myself as part of the community of the world.

 

Or. Anyway. I'm going to try.

 

February 14 2003                                                    9:33 AM 

                                                                             This is good.

                                                                             This is important.

February 15 2003                                                    9:58 AM 

There was some love going on around here yesterday. Dru Laurie  Angela  and Monica.  Looooovvvvvveeeee is goin on. How can I be depressed with all this loooovvvvveeeee??  

 

Thank you thank you thank you. Good gawd. Thank you all.

 

I started the day feeling ... dread. These days I wake up every morning wondering how bad it's gotten. But I tried to keep my heart open. It took till 4:00 in the afternoon but I finally got some writing done. I was still at it at midnight.

 

I made myself a good dinner. A salad with watercress, and yellow beets. Butternut squash risotto. I drank a little wine. And I had mango sorbet with shortbread and chocolate cookies.   

 

And I bought myself some roses. At Safeway. Where they still cost too much. But they are beautiful and they smell good.

 

Bill Moyers got me all happy talkin to Richard Rodriguez. And then he did a list of news items.

 

BILL MOYERS: On the environmental front, the Knight Ridder newspapers reported that President Bush has made over 50 major changes in policy without attracting much attention by...

...Issuing Executive Orders that don't require Congressional approval, rewriting highly technical environmental regulations and muzzling dissent within the administration.

 

Sigh. How much longer?

 

This is a day when the world says no to war. Here in SF the organizers of the march agreed to move things to Sunday because this is when the Chinese New Year parade happens. Seemed like the peaceful thing to do.

 

To engage in war is always to pick a wild card. And war must always be a last resort, not a first choice. I truly must question the judgment of any President who can say that a massive unprovoked military attack on a nation which is over 50% children is "in the highest moral traditions of our country". This war is not necessary at this time. Pressure appears to be having a good result in Iraq. Our mistake was to put ourselves in a corner so quickly. Our challenge is to now find a graceful way out of a box of our own making. Perhaps there is still a way if we allow more time.     -- Senator Robert Byrd

February 16 2003                                                    10:13 AM 

This American Life had an great show on yesterday. First there was a Marine who served in the Gulf War reading from his memoir. And then Ira Glass did a piece in which he talked with an Israeli historian about how the people in Israel are told that, back when Israel became a state, the Jews went to the Arabs and said, "Please stay. Let's all live together." But in fact there were some pretty horrible things that happened. Despite the fact that this historian knows the details of these awful truths he isn't really worried that they aren't common knowledge. He worries that if the truth came out it would add fuel to the right of return fire.

 

After that I listened to most of a three hour teach-in put on by Flashpoints some of which focused on life in  Palestine.

 

I kept thinking, if I were a kid who grew up in Israel and I learned that I hadn't been told the whole truth about things my country did to oppress other people I would be pissed off. It's not something that I have to work very hard to imagine. I do live in a country where I was told stories about Pilgrims and Indians eating turkey and planting corn together. No mention of small pox in blankets. No analysis of a constitution that talks about freedom and is signed by slave owners. No mention of how as I sat in my classroom my country was contributing to the horror of state repression in Central and South America.

 

It does piss you off.

 

It pisses me off to not live in a country where we face our sins and participate in the world with some dignity and humility. Where the word power is rarely mentioned. Instead we thump our chest and consume and suck the resources of the world into our never ending need for more.

 

The folks on Flashpoint yesterday were in a pretty good mood because of huge numbers of people in protests al over the world. And SF hasn't even begun yet. Today we have our say.

 

It does feel good. It feels good to know that there is dissent. But. I'm not interested in feeling good. I'm interested in feeling like there's some real change going on in the world. Like greed is gone and everyone has a home and food and access to education. Like the guns are rusting in the corners and people are working together to make things better.

 

I'm not going swimming. I want to be in some kind of solidarity with the marchers. And I want and answer to the question -- How much longer? I found one on Susan's blog yesterday.

February 17 2003                                                    9:29 AM 

It should not have surprised me.

 

I'd been listening to KPFA all day. They were broadcasting the rally. The numbers of folks on the street vary, of course, from 200,000 to 300,00. Whatever. There were lots of people. Peacefully marching. And then I turned on the nightly news.

 

All they could talk about was the handful of people who broke off from the larger crowd, at the end, and blocked off some streets.

 

It should not have surprised me.

 

It was one of those day when there are two realities competing for attention. The mainstream media gave scant mention to the marches. They  continued to talk about the war, the war, the war. But if you were listening to alternative media you heard the loud, clear, insistent no to war.

 

I cleaned my apartment and worked on The Book while I listened. I woke up feeling thick with emotion. Not one emotion. All of them. At the same time.

 

Democracy Now is playing voices from the New York demo. I'm listening. And feeling. It all.

February 18 2003                                                    9:01 AM 

I was on the bus. Going to my therapy group. I was planning on talking to them about the ways in which I need them to be more fat aware. And I was feeling some dread about it. They're all nice people but ... getting the whole fat thing ... well ... I don't always feel the outrage I need to feel from them when I talk about things. It's more complicated than this but I haven't figured it out enough to really write it out. Yet. That's part of what I need to work on. Like how much can I expect from people who aren't fat? Can I expect that they'll do the work to learn about fat bodies? Why should they? I have a bunch of bold answers to all these questions. And I have a bunch of defeated answers.

 

In any case.

 

I was on the bus and I couldn't even read because I was too full of emotion. A guy moved to the seat in front of me. The seat was at an (Oh shit I can't remember the name of the angle that's L shaped) -uh-the seat was such that I was facing his side. Does that make sense? I was looking out the window. He was pretty drunk. He was hiccuping and his head was rolling. He kept looking at me. I wasn't really even annoyed. It was just ... odd. I pulled out my book and tried to concentrate. He kept looking at me and hiccuping. Finally he started a conversation. In Spanish.

 

OK. My Spanish sucks. I understand more than I can speak. My verb tense is always off.

 

I got that he was asking what the name of my book was. And then what my name was. I was able to ask where he was from. He was from El Salvador. I asked if he missed his family. And I think he said he did but he was going to build a new family here. Or something like that. And he kept saying that he didn't care if a woman was thin or fat. He still wanted to be their friend. And I think he was asking me to go home with him to Daly City. The conversation had all of the complications of his level of inebriation, my ability to speak Spanish, his vibe (which was somewhat licentious) and we were on a bus.

 

Time came for me to get off the bus. I wished him a good evening. He kept talking about Daly City.

 

I dunno. It was one of those surreal bus moments. When the layers of social and cultural norms are pushing against each other like plates of rock under the ground. The pressure is building. There may be a quake. Or not.

 

And then you have to process it. Sometimes you just laugh it off. It's just the big loopy movie of the city. sometimes you pull meaning out of it that isn't there. Last night I just felt like ... I did not have the ability to think about it in any kind of way that made any kind of sense.

 

He didn't care if I was fat or thin. I guess that's good.

 

There isn't enough therapy in the world.

February 19 2003                                                    9:55 AM 

Last week I had jury duty. Well, I didn't actually have jury duty. I had to check the web site every day to see if I had to go in and sit in the jury pool room and wait to be chosen. And I checked every day but on Wednesday night I forgot. And I forgot on Thursday night. I woke up in the middle of the night on Sunday, remembered and freaked. I had visions of being hauled off to jail. The next day I check the web site and it seemed like my group had to show up on Tuesday. So yesterday I packed up my bag with tons of reading and took my happy ass over to the court house. Turns out that my group was never called in last week. And the number of my group was being reused.

 

Now. It's not that big of a deal except I was wishing that I woulda called and asked about the fact that I forgot to look those two days instead of going over there. Because I was there...in the middle of the city...with a choice to get back on the bus and go home and deal with the fact that I spent all this time coming and going for nothing. OR...what?

 

Well. I decide to go to a restaurant that was a block away and get this chicken salad that they make. It's a big salad with a scoop of chicken salad, a hard boiled egg and an avocado, lots of greens and carrots and celery. So it's a big protein blast. Although I should say that eating chicken and an egg on the same plate seems almost profane.

 

So I went. I ate my salad. It was so big that I knew I wouldn't be hungry for the rest of the day. I had an apple with me that I could eat later. And then I went to school. I was there four hours early but I had all the reading to do. I read some of it outside. It was a very lovely day. And then I went to the library and read some more. I had all this theory for my teaching writing class. And I had a copy of The Library of Babel that Abeer had given me.

 

There's a window in the library. On a clear day you can see the bay. I was reading and stopping and looking at the bay and reading some more. And I read:

 

Perhaps my old age and fearfulness deceive me, but I suspect that the human species -- the unique species -- is about to be extinguished, but the Library will endure: illuminated, solitary, infinite, perfectly motionless, equipped with precious volumes, useless, incorruptible, secret.

 

And I started to cry.

 

I thought about a comment that George left at Golby's the other day. George had written about being ready to go to the march in his city. In the comments at Golby's he was frustrated with the way the marchers were characterized as Saddam supporters. And I thought about the comment that Pattie left in my post about being happy that there were so many people in the streets and yet wondering if it would matter. And I was thinking about how many people are affirming that we can stop the war. But so many people are weary and feel like it's going to happen anyway. And, really, why should we think that a man who was never elected wouldn't start a war that few people want?

 

Perhaps my old age and fearfulness deceive me, but I suspect that the human species -- the unique species -- is about to be extinguished, but the Library will endure: illuminated, solitary, infinite, perfectly motionless, equipped with precious volumes, useless, incorruptible, secret.

 

Well. I don't want to fall in to the fear of dark likely hood. But yesterday I cried. I feel like this thing that happens when we all march together and hope together and feel together is powerful. It's the book we write together. And I am deeply comforted by it.

 

This morning I read some of the book that we are writing together. I'm hoping that Leroy and Coley are feeling better and I'm hoping their moms are getting some support. I'm sending them visions of soup and warmth and tucking-in cozy till they feel better.

 

It's the book we all write together. And I am deeply comforted by it.

February 20 2003                                                    11:34 AM 

I love my teaching writing class. I get all wound up. I love talking about unseating the power of the teacher and creating a climate of mutuality in the classroom. And I think that's all about the way teachers use language. But I also think it's about the teacher needing to be the expert in the room.

 

We live in an expert culture. CNN calls in the experts (cough) to inform us. (cough) My aunt used to begin sentences with "they say". Who are they and why do I care what they say?

 

In the best possible model the teacher is someone with a little more muscle tone in a given area and the innate wisdom of the student is acknowledged and affirmed and expanded.

 

Of course...all this is easier to say than do.

 

In another way of looking at it the teacher is the guide, the person who has walked the path a few times. And the student can relax and walk along beside the teacher, free to absorb the learning without having to reinvent the wheel.

 

So it's all about making sure that teachers feel strong confident and don't need to prove anything and can fully engage with students.

 

Oh. And then we need to reduce class room size and make sure people have all the books and pencils and paper that they need. But that's about pushing public policy makers to make schools a higher priority than football stadiums. We don't really talk about that stuff. I just mumble it under my breath.

 

I begin to feel hopeful when I talk about teaching. But I'm talking about changing a fundamental structure of the culture. Kids who look to Nike and the Gap for expert advise on how to dress and MTV for what music to like and sitcoms for information on how marriage works aren't going function well in a class room where the teacher is saying what do you think? If no one asks them - how do they know? So we have a compliant student body looking for the obedience hoop that they're supposed to jump through.

 

Which is where teaching writing comes in.

 

I think kids should know how to spell and understand sentence structure and punctuation. I hope that some day I'll understand all that stuff myself. But in a composition class you can ask them - what do you think? Tell me in your paper.

 

Or anyway...that's what I'm hoping.

February 20 2003                                                    8:38 AM 

I had one of those days. One of those days when the well meaning people were buggin me.

 

It began when I read a post at Big Fat Blog about the death of Steve Bechler. I guess he was taking diet pills and not eating much. He'd put on some weight and couldn't do the running required to be on his team. He's a pitcher. I dunno. Do pitchers need to run? What ever. Clearly he was going to get some exercise. Couldn't he have focussed on running more?

 

So, I was reading this over at BFB and this fellow Henry leaves a comment. It seems he did weight watchers and lost his fat. In the comments a regular commentor, fat and feisty takes issue with Henry's diet talk. Paul also puts him on alert that a diet pitch is not welcome on BFB. And Henry, to his credit, apologizes ... BUT... he just can't quite get it. All he was trying to say is that the guy coulda lost weight in a more healthy way. And then all these fat folks turn on him. There were other people in the comments who were defending poor Henry. After all, he agreed that it was sad about Bechler. He didn't mean to say anything that might hurt anyone. What he never quite got was how it did.

 

Nice guy. Well meaning.

 

Later I was listening to City Service committee. (Yes I'm a total geek) And they were having a hearing to discuss the prevention of obesity and diabetes in children. The chair of the committee is a new supervisor, Bevan Dufty, and he seems like a nice guy. And it turns out he was fat kid. But then he got athletic.

 

See the people who aren't fat anymore know that anyone can lose weight if they try.

 

Uh huh.

 

And, look, all the committee wants to do is make sure kids eat good food. Nothin wrong with that. I think it's a really good idea. But do we have to use the phrase "prevention of obesity"? Because when I hear that phrase I hear let's make sure there are no more fat people.

 

I know. I know that's not the idea. These are well meaning people.

 

The health thing. I'd like to be able to have talks with health care providers about my health that don't include asking me to lose weight. In fact I don't really deal with health care providers who do start with diet talk. I can't really trust people who can't deal with my size today.

 

Are you worried about my health? Try to work on making sure that I don't live in a fat hostile world. In the City and County of San Francisco size and height were added to the diversity chart. So, what does that mean? I want to hope that it means you aren't working to prevent my body.

 

It's all about the language. No matter how well meaning you may think you are, if your language revels fat phobia then ... think about it. Be good food positive. Be movement positive. Don't prevent a body type. And don't keep trying to scare me with links to illness that are dubiously made.

 

Paul has some lovely new stuff in the Cafe. I'm all about the tote.

February 22 2003                                                    12:38 AM 

There's a conversation popping on a list serve that I read. The list is mostly health care folks who work in the health at any size frame. But there are people like me on the list. Fat people. With an interest in health at any size.

 

Anyway. They're talking about intuitive eating.

 

I remember when I first heard about intuitive eating. Way back in the day. It was really a  really useful idea. I did begin to notice my own hunger and my reaction to it. I used to panic about hunger. And I used to eat fast, barely chew, and eat till I was more than full. It was revolutionary to get some awareness about all that. This was back in my twenties. It changed the way I ate.

 

The way I eat was also influenced by my life as a cook. I learned about food. I like GOOD food. I have strong opinions about what GOOD food is.

 

The first thing that the site I link to on intuitive eating talks about is that it's not about eating a bunch of chocolate. Well. Sometimes it is. There are times of the month when there is not enough chocolate (and salt) in the world.

 

There are a couple of problems with the intuitive eating thing. One is that it's another way of saying that there is a right and more moral way to eat. And if you are ...CLEAR...you will eat that way. See. I have issues with that idea. Not the least of which is that for some people what they eat is about what they can afford.

 

Another issue is about the way our culture (cough) keeps us busy. And we don't have the time and energy to eat ... intuitively.

 

There was a column in this weeks SFBG. I was hoping it might be radical. My never ending hope that the left will get fat politics. Sigh. And there was an interesting analysis of the way our culture Capitalism  keeps us too busy to do much more than grab fast food. And then the medical community and the pharmaceutical companies give us pills so we won't get fat. It's all in the column. Very smart. I dig it.

 

But then...there's the same old tired stuff. The writer confesses her obsession with being fat and then backs it up by noticing that there is a bunch of new writing about how Americans are fat. It's frustrating for me because the health at any size stuff gets so little play in this media blitz. I wish the alternative press would dig for this info. Challenge the junk science.

 

The writer, Annalee, an "unrepentant chubby chaser" who worries about the size of her own ass, names the politics of fat in a pretty hip Marxist kinda way.

 

But there's another fat politic.  

 

There's the politics of not allowing for the natural expression of body diversity. There always have been and always will be fat people. Fat people don't all eat fast food. And there is very real discrimination happening to fat people.

 

So when Annalee says that she worries about the size of her ass she normalizes that worry. She does some criticism about her concern. She understand that it is unfounded in some ways. But she affirms it when she talks about the health concerns and the fattening of America.

 

I always forget when, but it was only a few years ago, and I always forget who, but the BMI was adjusted a few years ago. Over night a whole bunch of people who were not fat ... were now fat. Insurance companies happily raised their rates.

 

The war on fat. It's another way to keep us preoccupied. Don't worry about the WAR. Worry about the size of your ass.

 

I dunno. Annalee gets it. But she doesn't. She's right up to it. But she doesn't cross over. She may be chasing chubbies but she's hopin she won't be one. As much as she critiques it ...she still ends up saying this thing about fat as a sign of our badness.

 

And look. American fatness is in some ways about fast food and not walking and junk culture. I know that. We don't have the time to intuit our way to healthy eating.

 

Angela wrote about the place where eating healthy and good slips over to dieting. Very smart.

 

We have to untangle these threads.

February 23 2003                                                    8:44 AM 

I spent the day doing some madly boring work on THE BOOK. I went through and looked at things like how long chapters were. If each one reads as a whole. They don't. I have work to do. But it is beginning to look like a whole thing. And it doesn't suck.

 

By the evening I had had enough. And I did a blog roll tour. I hadn't really read everyone for a while. Ampersand takes time. He's such a smart guy, he links to other amazing and smart bloggers and his comment sections pop. I must admit that I feel too shy to jump in most of the time. His fantastic post on The Absent Fatso was reprinted in a Web zine. I was rereading it and BOOM there I was linked. Because of the way he wrote the post I was included. It made me smile. It made me cry a little. I felt support.

 

Monica has been writing about blogging lately. In her sweet and heart wide open way. Laurie posted a story but I can't figure out the perma link. Angela's Live Journal just past the two week mark and she is writing her heart out.

 

I read all around. Smiling. After a day of worrying about my writing it felt good to read people going for it. Writing from their hearts and heads and bodies.

 

It made me think about a couple of things Willa wrote on Moodswings recently. She recoils from the notion of the big name bloggers and defends personal writing.

 

Yeah.

 

I read different blogs for different reasons. Some I read for the pictures. And some I read for the political conversation. And some I read because I just came to think the writer was cool. Some of the writing reads like it written by a professional writer. Some people just have more muscle tone when it comes to writing. They've done it more. Some people I read don't really talk about their personal lives. And I still feel like I'm getting a sense of them. Susan usually does a lot of linking with a little writing and yet in that little bit of writing I feel like she lets me into her life.

 

I've heard that people come out of MFA programs and stop writing. And I don't doubt that. You spend so much time picking at the writing. It takes some of the joy out of it. But that won't happen to me. Because I have this other world. This place where I write. And read.

 

It's good. It's all good.

 

Yesterday I had CSPAN on and the Democrats were having their winter meeting. Some of the candidates were making their pitches. I was ignoring most of it. And then came Dennis. I gotta say...he kinda rocks.

February 23 2003                                                    8:34 PM 

Here's a post for Henry. He left a comment in a post below.

 

How many fat but fit activists can do a half hour brisk walk a day? I don't know. But many can. I've been fat all my life. I don't drive a car. I walk every where. Up until four (or so ) years ago I could walk briskly and did. This morning I went swimming with a bunch of fat women. I know fat folks who do yoga, dance hip hop, ride bikes.

 

Eating 2000 to 2500 calories a day is more than enough for anyone. OK. I guess you're assuming I eat way more than that. A few years ago, for a Biology class, I had to write down every thing I ate every day and track my movement. In class we did some fancy math thing to see if we were burning what we ate. It turned out that I do eat about 2500 a day. Sometimes more. Sometimes less. But for the most part I ate about 2500 calories a day. My eating habits haven't changed  since then  so...

 

Here's some interesting things.

 

Bouchard et al. (NEJM 1990; 322: 1477-1482) overfed 12 sets identical twin males (BMI 19.7 to start) 1000 extra calories per day, 6 days per week for a total of 84 days during a 100-day period.  The twins were housed in dormitories and all food intake and physical activity were monitored 24/7. (An extremely well-controlled study.)  Weight gain ranged from 4.3 kg to 13.3 kg, with much closer agreement within-twin pairs as compared to between-twin pairs…suggesting that genetics plays a strong role. However, there was variation even within twin pairs…so genetics does not explain all.

 

Leibel et al. (NEJM 1995; 332: 621-628) had subjects either gain or lose 10% of initial body weight.  There were huge individual differences in energy expenditure responses to the intentional weight gain/loss, and these observations were most noticeable in non-resting energy expenditure rather than resting energy expenditure (most studies of metabolic adjustments to weight gain/loss focus on resting energy expenditure only). 

 

Levine et al. (Science 1999; 283: 212-214) overfed 16 subjects 1000 calories per day for 8 weeks.  As expected, energy expenditure increased to resist gain in body fat (which varied 12-fold among subjects—0.36 kg to 4.23 kg), but the change in BMR was not at all correlated to change in body fat (an inverse correlation might be expected).  The biggest factor related to resistance to body fat gain was activity thermogenesis…mainly non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). NEAT is mostly due to activities of daily living, fidgeting, maintaining posture, spontaneous muscle contraction, etc…in other words, things most people would not keep track of, or might not even be aware of.  The change in NEAT ranged from -98 calories to +692 calories per day (692 calories is roughly the equivalent of walking 6-8 miles!!)

 

My thanks to Glenn Gaesser for all that.

 

In other words...bodies are all different when it comes to calorie processing. So...what if I have to eat 1500 calories a day and exercise for an hour every day to lose weight and keep it off.

 

1500?

 

Gimme a minute to think about that. (Not that I need one.)

 

Interesting, on the site you linked for weight watchers it does not say who paid for the studies. What if for instance we found out that weight watchers paid for them? And while they are making sure you know how many people (I think they call them skilled dieters) "succeed" they do not mention how many fail. You can not simply subtract the winners (or losers in this case) and the rest are the folks for whom the program didn't work. You need to find the people for whom it didn't work and count them.

 

Being fat is my natural state. At least for today. I refuse to hold the thought for one minute that my body, as I live in it today, is not natural.

 

I'm glad your quality of life is better for you. I really really really am. I am not telling you to eat ice cream and chicken wings again. Do what you wanna do to love your body and your life.

 

And, Henry, do not assume that you can define quality of life for me. I have a great quality of life.

 

My life is different than what it was when I was younger. I can't walk as well as I used to. I've been in a few accidents that damaged my knees and my ankle. It requires more effort from me to maintain mobility. I still don't drive. I still have to walk places. Do I wish I could still walk quickly like I did when I was young? Sometimes. But I have found that the changes in my body have made me more aware. I do have to pay more attention. I have to do things to take care of myself.

 

A very good friend of mine recently said that if I were thinner I wouldn't have as much pain in my knees. And she was right. I would still have some. I probably need new knees. I know thin folks with knee problems. And so daily I do things to make my knees stronger. Today I went swimming.

 

And back to the 1500 calorie question...now that I've had time to think about it....no. I am not wiling to live like that. Today I went shopping. I have two bowls full of two kinds of apples, and tangerines and blood oranges and a mango and bananas. I have a veggie bin full of rainbow kale and green beans and yukon golds and baby lettuce and eggplant.  I have chocolate chip cookies that are made by this one bakery in Berkeley that uses really good chocolate. I have three kinds of sorbet, mango, blackberry and tangerine. I have pistachio nuts and almonds. I am going to eat well. I'm going to love the food I make. I'm going to love the feeling in my body when I am full and fed and nourished.

 

I'm going to say it again. I wish you well. I'm glad you found a thing to do that makes you happier in your body. I'm hoping you can extend me the courtesy to imagine that my idea of what creates quality of life is different than yours. And that I have a different experience of dieting. And that your experience is not a universal truth.

 

And if you wanna go a step further...imagine that, for me, and for some other folks, being fat is where it's at.

 

I wish Steve Bechler lived in a world where, when he couldn't run as well as he needed to be a good player (and I'm assuming that that's true since I don't know much about baseball ) (wasn't Babe Ruth fat?) that he just worked on running better. If he lost weight as a result ... OK... cool...whatever. And the fact that he felt the need to go on a diet (of any kind) reflects the fat phobic culture in which we live. And he paid the price with his life.

 

People are paying the price with their lives.

 

Don't keep talking to me about how he might be alive if he had lost weight "the right way." The pressure on him to lose contributed to the conditions in which he died. What if no one had said a word about losing weight and instead talked to him about running more? There is a difference.

February 24 2003                                                    9:12 AM 

I'm going to keep this response to Henry going in my posting area rather than the comment box. And the first thing I want to say is that I appreciate that Henry keeps coming back. Because we aren't going to get any where if we don't keep the conversation going.

 

I know that there are people in the size acceptance movement who seem to hate thing people. I think this is about being exhausted. Fat folks are tired of the way we are represented in culture, spoken about on the news, talked down to by well meaning people who have done no work to understand our experience. Every time I see one of the (cough) war on obesity (cough) bits on the news I see pictures of fat people with their heads cut off. I guess it's easier to hate people when you don't look them in the eyes. So we are tired. And we are hurt. And we are angry. And some of us lash out.

 

Henry, you say that you hire fat people. Well that's good. Because if you didn't hire fat people for jobs that we are able to do, and did well, that would be discrimination. In the City and County of San Francisco, where I am lucky enough to live, it is illegal. But that's only true in three other cities and one state. And Henry, there are people who aren't getting hired because they're fat. There are people who lose their jobs when they get fat. Jobs that they can do. Jobs that they did well. So fat people are a hurt and tired and angry.

 

I was thinking about two friends of mine who both went on weight watchers a few years ago. One was a woman with what I would call a naturally fat body. She was (is) beautiful. Has a husband who is crazy about her. Has great friends. Is active and fully engaged in work that she loves. The other was maybe thirty or forty pounds bigger before she did ww. They both lost weight. One faster than the other. (Guess which one?) And when I saw then a few months after the diet days one of them had regained the weight. To my eye she always looked better when she was fat. Actually I thought the same of both of them but the thinner one never really looked fat to me.

 

And people gave her so much praise for the weight loss. It was like suddenly she existed. Even she got sick of it. It began to piss her off.

 

The woman who is what I would call naturally fat had been on Jenny Craig a few years earlier. When fat people say things like dieting is a form of self hatred they are talking about their own experience of going on diet after diet in a never ending effort to fit in. There is a big difference when a fat person finally decides to stop dieting and begins to eat food with the acknowledgement that food is good for you. I know fat people who eat junk food. Lots of junk food. But I know fat people who are vegetarians and vegans and gourmets. As we have already discussed, individual bodies process calories in different ways and at different rates. I know there are people who eat a gallon of ice cream in one sitting. I couldn't do that. I would get sick. Now. I have eaten a pint of ice cream.

 

See it gets tricky for me. One time I thought I'd keep an on line food journal. Because it surprises people when they see how I eat. And there are times when I eat too much of one thing or another. But I do not eat junk. And I resent the times I feel the need to open my refrigerator to the public so that I can prove what I know to be true.

 

This is where the notion of fat hatred comes in. People imagine that they know how I eat because of the size of my ass. the complexity of fat experience is not represented in the public domain. So fat people create places where they can be with other folks who know that they may not be sitting down to a gallon of ice cream every day. And then someone walk in and starts talking about diets AS IF most of us haven't already been on all of them.

 

You know Henry, I hear you saying I don't hate fat people. I just don't want to be one. And no one wants you to be one. No one needs you to be one. But ... just for a minute imagine how it feels to be fat in a world where you are the guy who did the hard work of facing his bad fat self and lost the weight and I'm the one with a problem.

 

It hurts me. It makes me tired. It pisses me off.

 

There are fat people who have problems determining satiety. There are fat people who do eat and eat and eat and never feel fed. I have a lot of judgement about the crap most people eat. Processed, chemical laden, Franken-food. I don't know how anyone can feel fed when they live on Big Macs. But I have friends who really like Big Macs. What ever. If someone is eating six of them a day I will agree that they have a problem

 

If we don't create a way of thinking about fat bodies that is at the least neutral and at the best a celebration of diversity we will not have a medical community who do research about health at any size rather than weight loss. We will have people stuffing themselves with forbidden food in an act of rebellion and then going back into the diet jail. Rather than learning to read their body signals and learn about what real food tastes like.

 

Sigh.

 

Just for a minute. Try to imagine a world where being fat is just another body type and not a pathology.

 

Please.

February 25 2003                                                    10:22 AM 

The Virtual March on Washington is tomorrow. I am psyched. At 11:17 EST I will be calling Senator Feinstein. At 11:22 EST I will be calling Senator Boxer. At 11:27 I will be calling the White House. I will be saying: I am not a member of a focus group. I am a citizen in a Democratic country. You are my representative. I am asking you to use every means at your disposal to say no to war. Give the inspections time to work. Please. It's gonna be a great way to start the day. The nice folks at Move On have made this so easy to do. If you go there and sign up for a time they will give you the names and phone numbers you can call. It'll take less than ten minutes even if the lines are busy and you have to call twice.

 

And then on March third I'm going to figure out how to participate in The Lysistrata project. There are 5 events in SF already.

 

The We Have Brains topic asks how do you stay motivated to keep fighting the good fight? How do you do it when the fight seems like a losing one? Or when you doubt your commitment to it?

 

I have no idea.

 

I guess I don't really think of my self as an activist. I mean I write my letters and make my phone calls but that's just being a citizen. When it comes to the fat revolution my activism is all on the page. And I'm not trying to diminish what happens on the page. I know it's important. But I often wish I could do more.

 

Pattie is writing about why she gets sad when she hears that people are dieting. She linked an article that talks about a fat woman on an airplane "pressing down" on an average size woman. I looked up a few other bits about the situation. They're all the same. And they all talk about the fat person being too fat to fly.

 

I know that when I sit next to someone on a plane I give myself arm cramps trying to hold myself in a way so I don't touch the person next to me. If I raise the arm rest I raise the one on the aisle side. When I was in a too small seat going from the Atlanta airport to the Asheville airport I sat pitched to one side with my arms wrapped around myself. The guy next to me was not touched. I was in pain. But you aren't going to read that story in the media. Because who would you be able to hate?

 

Oh. Wait. How about the airlines? We know that the seats on airplanes are too small. We know no one is comfortable in them. But when fat people are uncomfortable In them it's out fault. We know that all people who are in seats that are too small and that can't stretch and move about are at physical risk.

 

The seats should be bigger. And at least some of them should be wider. And I should be able to ask for those seats when I'm booking a flight. And the arm rest should lift on the aisle side. It would not mean that you have to retro fit all the planes. Just a few seats in a few planes.

 

See when the tall guy talks about leg room ... he gets heard. When I talk about hip room ... I get blamed and shamed. And if the airlines make it too expensive for fat people to fly then we are talking about fat people not going to weddings, funerals, business trips, educational opportunities. It's already true. Fat people already chose to stay home because they know that flying will be miserable. This is about access.

 

I went to a meeting with some fat activists about the seat size issue. I haven't heard about any more work being done. I think the woman who sued Virgin has every right to win her case. She should have had a seat that she was comfortable in and did not put her health at peril. And so do I.

 

But I have a lot of despair about this issue. Airlines are declaring bankruptcy. Fat people should just shut up and lose weight. It all gets too painful and I feel too helpless.

 

And then there's the war. Can we stop the war?

 

How do you stay motivated to keep fighting the good fight? How do you do it when the fight seems like a losing one? Or when you doubt your commitment to it?

 

I have no idea. I wake up. I hit the keyboard. I talk to my friends.

 

Joan Baez and Bonnie Raitt sang Carry It On for the people at the march the other last week. I was listening to them on KPFA and I sang along. How do you do it when the fight seems like a losing one? Because we aren't alone. We do matter. Our issues are important. Someone before us spoke out. Someone after us will speak out. We are part of it all. It is part of us. Every little call adds up. And it feels better to one thing that it does to do nothing.

February 26 2003                                                    12:15 AM 

Right before I left for school I went to Big Fat Blog and Fatty Patties and a few other places. But I mention BFB and FP's because I read some stuff that put me on the edge of a funk and stayed with me through class. I started to write a comment on BFB, to add to the many, many, that are already there on this post. I didn't have time and I'm glad I didn't. When I got home from class I went back and Paul had stepped in.

 

But I still want to talk about it. And that 's why I have my own blog.

 

I wish I could say that I have never heard a member of the size acceptance community say anything shitty about people who diet, or people who are thin. I can't say that. I have heard some people be shitty. It's indefensible. But it is understandable. It's venting. Still. I always wanna hope we'll move past it.

 

What I found troubling, what stayed with me as I went to school, was in one of the comments which used the phrase "I'm more size accepting than you." Actually it was the way in which the whole thread became a conversation about dieting and more specifically it became about how diet talk feels to some fat folks.

 

And then a line was drawn in the sand.

 

When people tell me they are dieting I usually just nod and say nothing. I don't really care. I think diets are projects. If people want to play with a diet then I wish them well. There is evidence that diets are harmful, create life long problems, mess with people's health but the same thing is said about being fat. I think people make decisions about their health. I don't judge their's. I don't want them to judge mine.

 

Suzanne stopped eating sugar for a while. I guess you could call it a diet. But it seemed like a way for her to understand her body. She noticed herself obsessing about sugar and she experimented with not eating it. It seemed like a good way to learn about her body.

 

I have issues with Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig and all the liquid diets and Atkins and on and on and on. But I don't have issues with the people who do them. At least ... I do not have issues with them dieting.

 

If I am in a group of people and they start talking about dieting and the conversation is full of superlatives and statements about how good it is ... I have issues. Because the conversation begins to shift suddenly from a conversation about dieting to a conversation about being fat. And since I am fat. And since I am standing there. It becomes a conversation about me. And what my body means.

 

Things are very context dependent for me. If someone says something that implies that they don't care if I am fat but they would never want to be ... I have issues. It doesn't mean I hate them. But I am going to want to express my feelings about what they are saying. It doesn't mean they can't say it again. But when they say it again they will know how it makes me feel.

 

And I'm going to wonder why they might keep talking about diets when I'm there if they know it makes me uncomfortable. But I defend their right to say it. And I have a right to walk away.

 

Does the fact that I don't like diet talk mean I'm more size accepting than they are? I dunno. Maybe. It's not the worst thing someone might say about me. But it isn't something I would say. It doesn't seem useful.

 

But it sure is a conversation stopper ain't it?

 

One of the things that fat people often feel is the need to be really nice. After all, we're taking up all this extra space and we're so hard to look at so we better be really nice and then no one will be any madder at us than they already are.

 

Heh.

 

Well.

 

On Pattie's blog I read a comment from Georgia. When I came home I had one from her as well. Welcome to my blog Georgia. I think you may have been reacting to what Elayne wrote. I liked what Elayne wrote. I like it because it talks about syntax and meaning making. But I don't want to try to respond for Elayne, or Pattie.

 

Comparing oppressions is rarely useful. Oppressions all have very specific characteristics. I don't pretend to understand the oppression of anyone else. I only claim to understand my own.

 

Comparing oppressions can be comforting. Sometimes. It can be a way of saying I feel ya. It can be a way to build alliance. It can be a way to make a friend. But there are times and places when it's important to parse the characteristics of oppression.

 

And so, from me, to Georgia ... I didn't read or write anything that implied that people who think that there are safe ways to control weight are racist. I read a comment that spoke to the ways in which language is used to oppress and the ways in which that use is similar. You are right. The purpose of fat cells is to store energy. And I have a lot of fat cells. My body is fat. Being fat is part of my identity. Only part. But a part for which I am grateful. I've learned a lot from being fat. So, it is about identity. And in that way it is about things like race, ethnicity, and faith.

 

What stayed with me, what I found troubling, when I was at school, was the way these conversations become reductive and chaotic. I love talking about this stuff. But there are limits to what can be accomplished on a blog or in a comment section.

 

One of the things that fat people often feel is the need to be really nice. After all, we're taking up all this extra space and we're so hard to look at so we better be really nice and then no one will be any madder at us than they already are.

 

Heh.

 

Well.

 

Did I repeat myself?

 

I love talking about this stuff. But I'm not here to be right. I'm here to tell my truth. If your truth is different and you want to have a conversation about those differences then bring it on. But I'm not feeling the comments that tell me my truth is wrong. If that's where you wanna keep it then I got nothin for ya.

February 26 2003                                                    8:41 AM 

Woke up early. Which is kind of a drag because I went to bed late. I might have been able to get back to sleep but I didn't want to be late for my calls. I made the calls. I either got a busy signal or a voice telling me that the lines were busy. I hit redial a few times for each call. Waited and dialed again. I have a feeling that the fax machines might be busy too. But I might try that. And I think I will send an e-mail to all concerned.

 

I have some reading to do for class tonight. So ...

February 27 2003                                                    9:19 AM 

I'm in a mood. Not sure why.

 

Maybe it's a need for rest. My sleep pattern (not that I actually have one) got messed up this week. I didn't sleep much and I woke up tired this morning. I kept going back to sleep and I thought it was late when I finally forced my eyes to stay open. But it was only 7:15. Sleep is not my best thing.

 

So. I'm in a mood.

 

Not bad. Or good. I just feel slow -mo and dreamy and discontent and ... things I haven't named yet.

 

May be a hormone thing. It's one of the fun parts about being a woman. The monthly ritual of hormone assessment. Let's see am I really a basket case and a bitch? Or is it later in the month than I think. But sometimes I think that's a way women minimize their feelings. You know like...I'm not really this pissed off/grief stricken/bewildered/whatever. And then again ... it can be an enormous relief when you are having a break down and then you realize it will be over in a day. Or two.

 

Yeah. I'm all over the place this morning.

 

I wanted to write about Bernadette Devlin being denied entry to the United States the other day. I heard her being interviewed on Democracy Now. Yesterday I went by Blogsisters and Lisa had posted about it. What Berandette said on DN was that the people who she was dealing with at the airport were like robots with no capacity for independent thought. I was stunned when I heard about it. I've been stunned ever since.

 

School was fun last night. More talking about teaching. There's some stupid joke about people who can - do and people who can't teach. It's an idiotic joke but last night I was thinking and people who can't teach talk about teaching. But of course we will be able to teach. Someday.

 

Maybe.

 

If there's a job.

 

Anywhere.

 

I'm just ... in a mood.

February 28 2003                                                    9:27 AM 

Deb took me shopping because K2 are coming over for dinner tonight. Kobi's birthday was on Tuesday and I'm cooking a big old fancy dinner to celebrate. I haven't seen them in a while so I'm excited.

 

Mom called to tell me about Mr. Rodgers. She was very sad. I grew up in Pittsburgh. When I was a kid I met Mr. Rodgers. It's a blurry memory of a kind and smiling man.

 

I can't seem to stop thinking about that idea of "more size accepting than you." At first I reacted with a serious eye roll. And then I reacted  with a need to reassure the person that there was no competition. And yesterday I started to think...what the fuck? Maybe I am more size accepting than you. And why not? I've worked really hard to get to where I am.

 

Pattie wrote about her path to size acceptance. When I was reading it I thought about what it took, what it takes, to fully accept a fat body in world that is constantly trying to make you feel ugly and worried about your health.

 

People always want to ask you, " -- but if you could just take a pill and be thin...wouldn't ya want to do that?"

 

Let me think.

 

Uh. No.

 

The things that I have gone through in life have all been in a fat body. All those things have made me who I am. I need to be with who I am. Now. Fully. It's a healthy way to be.

 

It really is about identity. A shift of identity. I'm fat. There are people who think that means that I gorge and sleep. What ever. I'm sick of explaining myself.

February 28 2003                                                    1:52 PM 

This is fun. (Thank you bobbie!)

 

This too. (Unless you have a slow connection.) (And even then.) (Thanks Abeer!)

 

And this is beautiful. (Although also a slow load - even with DSL) (Thanks Abeer, again.)

 

How do you stay motivated to keep fighting the good fight? How do you do it when the fight seems like a losing one? Or when you doubt your commitment to it?

 

You laugh a little. You cry a little. You take another breath and keep going.