October 2003

October 1 2003 Picture me with my head in my hands.

                                     11:13 PM


October 2 2003 On Tuesday I decided I needed to get out of the house. The time I spent on the message boards left me wanting to pull my eyes out of my head so that I wouldn't be tempted to do that again. I figured a walk might be a better solution.

I went over to the Barnes and Nobel near my house. It may be the only book store I can go to and not end up with thirty books on my credit card. Strange but true. I can't get past the first table in Green Apple without picking up a few books but I can wander around B &N for an hour and leave with a magazine. And, given that I am unemployed, I thought it wise not to put myself in a place where I'd be tempted to spend money I don't really have.

I remembered that I got my copy of Wasted there and I lent it to someone who never gave it back. So I got another one. Marya went to the same college that I went to. We became pretty good friends. She's really smart and it was so much fun to talk to her. She moved and things happened and I haven't talked to her for a few years. I bought a coffee in the B&N coffee shop and read for a while.

Marya did such a great job of showing how women starving themselves becomes a loopy competition. She quoted a friend who said that, for an anoretic, eating lunch was a political act. In the first part of the book she describes watching her mother push food away while her father ate heartily. It really is a great book.

I intended to go out for a walk yesterday but my morning session with the want ads put me in a mood. I had a bit of a break down. So I read about reading Chekhov and read some Chekhov and tried to calm down.

And then I watched West Wing and the news and went back on-line for awhile.

Oh. Oh. Oh. I know this is just a time. And I'll get through it. And something else will be true. But this is just hard.

                                     8:35 AM


October 3 2003 Ya know, it's not that I don't find Arnold's treatment of women reprehensible. I do. Even on Oprah, when they were making him out to be the best husband ever, he made comments about not wanting to seem "whipped". Whipped? No one even blinked. I also have no problem believing that he admired Hitler, or that he made racist comments. His apology was disingenuous. He's a creep.

But I hate the fact that American politics is played on this field. I guess I could have a by-any-means- necessary attitude. Because if I wake up on Wednesday morning and he's the governor I'm going to be so freaked. But where are the issues?

This man has refused to attend all but one debate, which is, at the least, bad faith. The other day when he was asked a question in German he refused to answer in German. His support for English Only is, at the least, problematic. His access to media has been atrocious. His use of rhetoric profane. The things that he plans to do in the first 100 days are horrifying.

The local news went into a Curves and asked women what they thought about the groping. I don't want to minimize the groping. But is this the line on which political will for women is defined? Certainly a man who is obviously capable of sexual harassment should never be in a position of power. But what about the issues?

I don't really buy the polls. No one asked me, or anyone I know. But it is nerve wracking. And the money. There is so much money being spent on this I want the recall to fail. In a big way. Too bad I don't have a governor that makes me want to work harder on his (or her) behalf. This is just the most contemptible thing I've ever witnessed.

Code Pink is doing some actions.

Move On has a petition.

 And let's not forget: NO on 54!

                                     11:25 AM


October 4 2003 I roasted an eggplant, some cherry tomatoes, garlic and a red bell pepper and sauteed some mushrooms. Put all that together and added some artichoke hearts. Piled it onto a spelt pizza crust. Topped it with fresh mozzarella and a bit of parm. It all felt very autumnal. The smell of roasting vegetables. The comfort of the warmth from the oven. The ingredients weren't specifically autumnal. Just the feel of the day and smell of the cooking.

The bowl of fruit in my kitchen has been full of perfumed nectarines and peaches and plums all summer. Now it's full of Jonagold apples and pears. All the smells are different.

And it's a little bit cold. I keep putting on a sweater and taking it off and putting it back on. It's an old sweater, so thread bare in places that my shirt shows through. And the sleeves hang down almost to my fingers. It's just warm enough.

Today I'm going to make butternut squash soup. And that is autumnal.

                                     10:15 AM


October 5 2003 Maybe it's because I've been reading Kadare but suddenly yesterday I had to know where the Ottoman Empire was. The geography. I had to understand the geography. And then Byzantium. And then the Mongols. Where were they from? I'm still trying to figure it all out. All this early history of expanding and contracting empires is confused with changing names and differing scholars.

I read A Short History of Kosovo a few years ago. I should read it again. I had it out yesterday and I was on the Internet. Why? I dunno. I just wanted to know. I felt like there were things I was missing in the Kadare. I still do.

But Lynn stopped by. It was her birthday, which I had remembered. But I was surprised and happy to see her.

I had the a fore mentioned butternut squash roasting in the oven. And an onion and some garlic. All of which is in a bowl in my fridge waiting for me to make it into soup. (And thanks to -cough- Dru's -cough- none too subtle suggestion -cough- I may write about the soup on the recipe blog.)Because Lynn and I decided to go out for dinner. We talked about life and missing Renee. Which we do. SO much.

There are so many birthdays. I was a little bit late for April's birthday. But since she celebrates for a week I feel like I got there in time. Today is Susan's birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!! Let's just keep the party going. I am sipping my green tea in a toast to all the lovely birthday grrrls.

I wrote a poem in my head last night. That only happens once a year. Or less. So I'm going to see if I can remember it. Right now I'm listening to Larry talk about the recall and trying to remain calm. But it is so scary. Maybe I'll just go back to my history lessons.

                                     10:11 AM


October 5 2003

I used to look at the mole on my eyelid

the thickening tissue at the base of my neck

the twist of my little toe

and Iíd think

thatís why.

 

But

maybe not.

Maybe perfect eyelids and necklines and toes

remain untouched. 

 

Iíd feel the Tsunami of acceptance,

the sand moving beneath my feet

the overwhelming slap of the wave

the suffocating gulp of salt.

 

This love is not requited.

 

It feels like failure.

Failure of plot line and character and faith.

 

But

Maybe not.

Maybe itís just that we all dream love and longing

In different tones.

 

Because I have to find a way to stop

hope.

And not relinquish

possibility.     

                                     12:01 PM


October 6 2003 I'm a bit stunned by the news today. Not too surprised by the idiotic response of the boy prince.

My mind is full of maps.       

                                     9:39 AM


October 7 2003 You meet the nicest people in your referrers. I noticed this blogger was stopping by and I checked out her site. She began her blogging with a post about women boycotting the diet industry. On Saturday she posted about the Amnesty campaign to urge Slovac authorities to investigate the charges of forced sterilization of Romani women. Lots of great linking.

OK. I woke up tense. Ready. I am worried. Because no matter what happens the state is divided. This is the first of three scary elections for me. I can vote for mayor today. But I'm going to wait. I'd like to vote for Matt. But there's some duplicity in that, because I want Tom to be the mayor. I do realize that I can't have it both ways. I'm working on it. I probably will vote for Bustamante. Which makes me a little bit sad. I would like to vote for Camejo. I did the last time.  It was the Paul Wellstone quote about politics being what we dare to imagine that made me do it. But I am scared. Fear is driving my imagination.

And if I think about that too much I'll vote for Camejo. And try to imagine a more interesting possibility.

Kristina and I are going to look at Chagall and not think about what's going on at the polls. Or try not to.

                                     8:09 AM


October 7 2003

The horror.

                                     10:55 PM


October 8 2003 Yesterday was a study in contrast.

Kristina and I arrived at MOMA to find a line around the building waiting to get in. It was free day. And it is a popular exhibit. It took quite a while before we could even get in and, once we were in, there were four, or more, people in front of every picture at all times.

You see Chagall on posters and greetings cards. But when you see the real work, the thickness of the paint, the texture of the brush, so many details that flatten out and disappear on a poster, it is very moving. Chagall is all about relationship. There aren't many images of individuals. Everyone is in relationship, to the partner, the community the spirit. So my eyes were filled with pleasure and expansive ideal.

But then there was the people. People bumping into me, walking in front of me, standing in front of me making it impossible to get a deep view. Many had those tape things that the museum does, which I think are cool, but it meant that they would stand in front of a painting for five minutes - not really looking at it (I mean really not looking at it. Staring off into space.) - listening to the tape. People were just not aware of each other. There was one woman who walked in front of me so many times I almost hit her.

And it made me feel bad to hate them so much. I mean looking at the great love pouring out of the paintings and feeling the affection for humanity and then getting bumped and bashed and pushed as if you don't exist. At one painting there was a woman who had positioned herself in front of a painting and was just ... there ... for a very long time. No one else could really get a good look at it. While I understood the desire to stand in front of each painting for an hour or so, I was aware of the six people pushing up behind me waiting for their minute. So it just wasn't cool.

Despite my awareness of the difference between the painting and the posters (and in spite of my current economy, or lack there of) I bought myself a small print of Lovers in a Red Sky

and Chagall's autobiography. There's something about the print that feels like an affirmation to me. I need an affirmation. 

Kristina, being the overwhelmingly generous person that she is, took me to lunch, brought me a book that she knew I wanted and shared my conflict about the experience at the museum. I came home and took a nap. Woke up. Listened to the news.

Sigh.

Kant said something about "the communal possession of the earth's surface." We are all in this together. And I do love my fellow humans, despite my frustration with them this morning.

This is a victory for style over substance, empty rhetoric and most of all money. Millions of dollars were spent. People are homeless, hungry, uneducated, unemployed, sick, in great need. And millions of dollars were spent to elect a man with no articulation of the issues. And I understand. I understand the frustration that people feel. I understand how tired they are and how much they want a strong leader who can make change happen. But this is a toxic mimic of strength and leadership.

George's ballot looks pretty much like mine. Mine had a weird arrow thing to fill-in. The Bay Area did not elect this guy. But that's cold comfort. There is some comfort in the no on 54.

I'm looking at my little print of lovers in a red sky and trying to hold onto my faith.

                                     9:43 AM


October 9 2003 First scary election down. Second one coming up. The SF Weekly did their usual hack job of writing about the Matt/Tom issue. It's not that they don't bring up some issues that need looking at but their tone is just always so smarmy. They also have an interview with Matt. The SFBG did a better job of thinking on the page. So the left is split three ways. It's hard to feel like that isn't a problem.

Sigh.

I never used to have Fox Network and I wasn't feeling the lack. Now all the news channels are in a cluster and I have Fox. I can't really watch it. I've tried. It's just too dumb. But I pass it going from MSNBC to CNN. Ralph was on yesterday. There's something about that. Ralph wasn't on the other two news stations. So I guess Fox has it's moments. But the news on all three stations was too stupid yesterday. After I'd heard more than one man say that because Arnold was a famous movie guy the women who were assaulted by him probably had been flirting and really wanted what they got. And more than one woman say that even if it was true it wasn't a big deal, and more than one person say that they voted for him because they liked his movies, I turned off the radio and TV and went for a walk.

Came home and put on music. Karen gave me a disc of Jubilant Sykes and Kobi gave me a disc of Marc Johnson. Both very soothing. I made tuna salad, blanched green beans, peeled carrots. Tried not to think about it all.

I have two friends, both named Tom and I talked to them both yesterday. It's been awhile. So it was funny to talk to them both in one day. It felt like it should mean something. I asked them to read Avoirdupois and one of them did. I keep checking for new comments. Being the praise junky that I am.

So I'm talking myself off the ledge.

                                     9:02 AM


October 10 2003 I was watching the news last night. Arnold was talking about his transition team. The news guys are talking about how he's reaching out to the bay area. The list of folks he tapped was a list of right wing, conservative cronies and ... Willie Brown. Willie may look like the guy who represents the "other side" but if you've lived in SF and watched him sell the city to development and big business you know he's not that alternative.

I got an e-mail from a friend asking the rhetorical question, "when did I become the kind of person who cares what goes on in the government?" And I remembered the eight years of the Reagan administration during which I ignored it all. It didn't have anything to do with me. I looked for my world in guru books and rock-n-roll. And maybe I need to find some of that distance.

If you read the article about Arnold and his "team" you will read him say that he knows what the people of California want and that's the direction he will go. It's the language of the abuser. I know what you really want. It's difficult to have distance when there is someone this frightening in office and when he got there because people liked his movies. This is not the benevolent father who want what is best for his children.

Ah well.

This is the weekend every year during which the Blue Angels buzz my apartment. The noise is nerve wracking.

And I don't feel good. So. Not a cheery girl. No balance. Just yucky.

                                     9:30 AM


 October 12 2003 In part because I'm struggling to fend off depression and in part because I had some bad physical juju the last few days, I slumped in my chair, remote in hand and zoned. There are so many shows about making things over. Houses, gardens, wardrobes, attitudes, pretty much everything. I watched a truly obscene amount of these shows.

It's not that I don't have books to read and I have three cool movies from Netflicks just sittin here. But I just felt so washed out emotionally and physically. All I could do was stare while people painted and planted and made things pretty.

I'm not terribly critical of these shows. Some of them are kind of cute. Whole neighborhoods get together to make a backyard beautiful for a family who didn't get to have a honeymoon. Neighbors do a room in each others homes. People fix up places for their significant others. There's a show called Monster House in which five men form a construction team of sorts and race to do some reconstruction.

Phew.

There's also shows in which people get told how to dress and act on dates and put on make up. I can't watch those for too long.

I've always had this idea of improvement as an inside job. I'm always trying to be more aware, more informed, more able to hold complexity. But I'm not immune to the way external improvement makes a person feel. The first thing I did yesterday, when I could stand up, was to clean the bathroom. And even when it comes to appearance I know that a new haircut, or outfit, (or pierced nose,) can make a person feel very cute.

Heh.

I can't really imagine letting someone else decide how my apartment is going to look. But once, for my birthday, some friends of mine made me a little pot garden on the back deck of a place where I lived. They did my laundry and just cleaned up the place while I was at work. It was very sweet.

I feel better today. Physically at least. Which is good because I wouldn't want to be tempted to watch another day of those shows. There's a turn around for me in which I start to think about how we live in an uncertain world and the media does all it can to keep us afraid and uninformed and then they teach us to comfort ourselves with consumerism and stay distracted and we elect action figures to be the governor and ... well then I'm right back in the depression that slumped me into the chair.

Having said all that, I wish there was a show where a group of bloggers could show up at Dru's house with paint and pizza and have fun making things pretty. There are bloggers who really understand how healing beauty can be.

And I am kinda curious about this show. I did have quite a crush on Micky Dolenz back in the day.

                                     9:25 AM


October 13 2003 There's a guest blogger at Ampersand. Barry is working on his new house. We could all show up at this house to help. I'm still under the influence of my day of watching home decor shows.

One thing that did move me on those shows was watching people cry because they didn't think they would ever have a beautiful home. There was one show on which they spent fifty thousand dollars on one room. Most of the people are just average folks who struggled to get their house and they live well but they don't have the time and money to make their homes look like pages from those magazines. Not to mention that they live in their rooms. I'd like some of the shows to go back and see what the rooms look like after they've been lived in for a while. And it all seems to come down to intentionality. Many people put their homes together with no real intentionality.

But wait. I wasn't going to post about all that. I was going to post about something the guest blogger at Amp's place posted. It's an article in which a woman talks about being fat. Some of it is very good. I do like the paragraph that is pulled out on Ampersand. She covers lots of stuff in a relatively short article. It has the feel of someone who knows that they aren't going to get very many chances to tell their truth so they have to get it all out at once.

I just need to say that I am a very fat woman. I do not avoid looking in mirrors. Maybe I used to. I can't remember because I've been doing the work of seeing my body differently for quite a while. Sometimes when I look in the mirror I think I'm a babe and sometimes I think I'm a monster. Most of the women I know (and many of the men) have the same experience. We are always being told who looks beautiful and who does not. I don't see women who look like me in the beautiful list. So I look in the mirror. With intention. If I don't love what I see there I don't know how I can expect anyone else to. And I think loving what see comes from a choice that I make. I choose not to measure my beauty against a media driven standard. It bugs me when I read that fat women avoid mirrors. Look in the mirror my sister. See the beautiful expression of physicality that you are.

It isn't as hard to buy clothes as it used to be. It is still hard to find clothes that fit well and don't cost a fortune. Because fat bodies are not all the same. Some of us are short, some tall, some carry their weight in their bellies, some in their butts, in their breasts, in their thighs, in their arms. We are all a little bit different. Fat women who were sick of not being able to find clothes made their own great  companies. And the clothes are a bit more expensive but they are well made and they last longer and they aren't made in sweat shops. And the models in their catalogs are fat. The truth is that even Lane Bryant does a better job than they used to in terms of having models that look like the women who wear the clothes. The catalog is still filled with thin women but there are clothes that are relatively cheap and cool. Fat women can and do dress well.

But maybe I'm nitpicking.

I do think this women did a great job with this article. I think Paul blogged it once. Over at Amp's there's the classic comment (although it does seem to be from a spammer) about fat people causing insurance rates to go up.

Fat people don't raise insurance rates. Insurance companies raise insurance rates. If you want to be mad about the high cost of insurance be mad at them. They created the BMI. In 2002, when the surgeon general decided to change the definition of who was fat, much of the population became fat over night. Who benefits from that definition? Hmmm. Insurance companies?  Could be.

Many of the fat people I know don't have insurance, pay more for it when they do get it, and avoid doctors. Why? Well. The reason is in the article. This woman was told by her doctor that her stomach cramps were because she was fat. A week later she was in the emergency room. I've heard this story so many times. Is anyone worried about the quality of health care for fat people? Or are you just hoping their doctors get them to lose weight?

And there's another truth in the article. This women has low cholesterol, low blood pressure, low blood sugar and a heathy heart and lungs. She's just not getting the fat = unhealthy thing right.

When I was reading the article I thought about Avoirdupois and my hope that it will be published. I am doing things to try and make that happen but I don't want to talk about them. I feel superstitious. Like talking about it will jinx it.

Heh.

I hope lots of fat people start to tell the truth about their lives. And I hope that more of them stop apologizing. In one paragraph this woman is accepting that her body is just different and in the another one she  is crying about buying "fat lady" underwear. And I understand. I've shed my share of tears.

So now can we stop crying? And celebrate? Can we just do a little booty shake and say - oh yeah! Enough with the never ending and market driven sense of improvement.

                                     10:53 AM


October 14 2003 I went to bed feeling kinda snarky and woke up feeling ... well ... still snarky. Snarkier, in fact.

If you want to talk to me about my health let's start with the fact that Insurance companies don't insure fat people. We're too much of a health risk. And let's talk about the quality of health care I get when doctors routinely begin with telling me I'll feel better if I lose weight and may not see past that assumption long enough to diagnose a potentially life threatening illness. Let's talk about the idea that many fat people don't go to doctors for regular health care because they don't want to be treated the way they are treated by doctors. Let's talk about how safe I am when I'm in a car. After we have that conversation we can talk about how much I eat and exercise. It might be an interesting conversation.

Does this all sound like I'm abdicating responsibility for my health? I should just eat less and exercise more and then I'll lose weight and be healthy and that's all it's gonna take. Big news the other day. Diets may make kids fatter. Not news to anyone who is, or was a fat kid. There was only a wink and a nod to the metabolic changes that occur with dieting. Most of the blame is placed on the kid who can't stay on the diet. And the negative health impact to a person's heart from weight cycling, can we talk about that while we talk about my health?

But the conversation isn't really about my health. It's about my character. I haven't done what it takes. I haven't gotten with the program. I am guilty of the great sin of having an appetite.

Let's talk about how your bad attitude about my body impacts my health.

I don't want to feel this snarky. But the health stuff always puts me in a rant. People pretending that they care about my heath when all they want to do is prop up their bias bring out the snarky in me.

Recently I saw a show on which people who had lived into their hundreds were profiled. And there was a woman who smoked. Would I use her to make a case that smoking isn't bad for you?  No that would be reductive, oversimplified reasoning. But she does make me wonder. She had a group of sisters and brothers who were all in their nineties. Watching them laughing and talking with one another, it seemed to me that being surrounded with love and acceptance might have been good for them all.

Apparently intelligent people aren't interested in size acceptance. Who knew? I would think that intelligent people might think that the value of a positive attitude is a good thing. But if you don't like the size acceptance people, you're really gonna hate me.

                                     10:28 AM


October 15 2003

                                     7:10 AM


October 15 2003 Every year on Gay Pride weekend I like to this article based on the work that Peggy Mc Intosh did on white privilege. For a variety of reasons I thought about it today. I'd like to read something like it from my average sized friends. I'm not really the person to write it. But I know that for many of my averaged sized friends the idea of fat as a political identity is new. So I'm just going to write what I wish I could read.

Everyday as an average sized person ...

I can be sure that people aren't embarrassed to be seen with me because of the size of my body.

If I pick up a magazine or watch T.V. I will see bodies that look like mine that aren't being lampooned, desexualized, or used to signify laziness, ignorance, or lack of self-control.

When I talk about the size of my body I can be certain that few other people will hope they are never the same size.

I do not have to be afraid that when I talk to my friends or family they will mention the size of my body in a critical manner, or suggest unsolicited diet products and exercise programs.

I will not be accused of being emotionally troubled or in psychological denial because of the size of my body.

I can go home from meetings, classes, and conversations and not feel excluded, fearful, attacked, isolated, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance, stereotyped, or feared because of the size of my body.

I never have to speak for size acceptance as a movement. My thoughts about my body can be my own with no need for political alliance relative to size.

I can be sure that when I go to a class, or movie, or restaurant that I will find a place to sit in which I am relatively comfortable.

I don't have to worry that if I am talking about feeling of sexual attraction people are repelled or disgusted by the size of my body. People can imagine me in sexual circumstances.

People won't ask me why I don't change the size of my body.

My masculinity or femininity will not be challenged because of the size of my body.

I can be sure that if I need medical or legal help my size will not work against me.

I am not identified by the size of my body.

I can walk in public with my significant other and not have people double take or stare.

I can go for months without thinking about or being spoken to about the size of my body.

I am not grouped because of the size of my body.

I will never have to sit quietly and listen while other people talk about the ways in which they avoid being my size.

I don't have to worry that won't be hired for a job that I can do because of the size of my body.

Anyone want to help me with this?

                                     11:14 AM


October 16 2003 Yesterday I was thinking about my average size friends and my list. It occurred to me that many of the average sized people I know would have a hard time identifying as average sized. People would say things about the fact that they have to be careful with their diet and they exercise because if they didn't they would get fat.

I got news for ya. You're never gonna be as fat as I am. You don't have the DNA.. If you can skip desert and walk around the block and maintain a size that is thought of as average you are an average sized person.

And then I thought about the notion of average sized in a world where the cast of friends is portrayed as average.

I could hear lots of "I'm not average sized. Look at my hips."

I saw an infomercial the other day for some thing that is guaranteed to give you a flat stomach in two weeks. There were women who I would describe as average sized complaining about "their pooch." The little bit of belly that they had. One of them grabbed her belly with a look of shame and contempt and said, "I just can't get rid of this."

Her body. She grabbed a part of her body. With shame and contempt. And said.

I just can't get rid of this.

Part of me hoped that I'd see a pile of comments on my post yesterday. Part of me was afraid to see any. Some people will always hate fat people. Take out the word fat and put in a word that describes an attribute of physicality and see how it feels. Color of eyes. Size and shape of nose. Color of skin. Height. Gap tooth. It shifts, doesn't it. Some seem ridiculous. Some seem worthy of a revolution. Why is that?

Can my list be used in an advertisement for Weight Watchers or any diet product? I guess. Because that's where it all pivots. I can lose weight. So if I'm discriminated against I have to take some responsibility for it. Because I have the power to change it.

But I was writing as if I were an average sized person who was noticing the ways they have a kind of privilege in the world. That's a very specific kind of contemplation. It isn't about what could be. It's about what is.

All the yeah buts are equivocation. And I understand that. When I take a moment to hold the ways I have privilege in the world based on my skin color my heart aches. I don't want that truth. I don't want it for me and I don't want it in the world. I feel myself wanting to lessen the pain of that awareness with a laundry list of ways I am also oppressed. I am a woman, working class and fat. See. We all got something.

Yes. We do. We all got something. It's a dog eat dog food kind of world.

But I'm talking about this specific kind of oppression. And I'm talking about now.

And I'm talking about me. Your fat friend.

I've been thinking that I need to stop writing about this. I'll lose readers. I better write about the mayoral debate, or my laundry, or how I cooked what I cooked, or anything else. I imagine people clicking away thinking - gee, I really like reading her but I hate when she goes off on this fat revolution stuff. I really like her but I do think she should lose the weight. And that isn't about her appearance. I love her just the way she is but I worry about her health.

Not that I don't value and appreciate the deft response of my fat sister Kell. Shared rage is a relief. But I know she can help me with my list. I just keep wondering if any of my average sized friends can hold the idea. The media isn't going to end discrimination. And I can talk about weight based discrimination and fat hatred and some people will nod and mumble about how it's a shame. And others will tell me about how I can change. Most will just click to the next more interesting thing.

                                     11:01 AM


 

October 17 2003 This flurry of posts began with the Ampersand post. I think I read a comment there once that Ampersand was like a dorm room where all the kids hang out to talk about everything. It's true. It's a really smart blog. Radically feminist. And conversations in the comment box can go on for days. Barry wrote one of the best pieces on fat that I've ever read anywhere. The discussion there on the article seems to have wound down.

Nurse Ratched and Redheaddread blogged the story that Richard told me about. And Dru blogged about them blogging. And April added to my list. There has been this flutter of blogging about fat politics. Some of which was on blogs that don't normally talk about it.

And that's the part that keeps bringing me back. There are so many blogs devoted to progressive thought. And often when I see this topic come up I see the reticence with which people engage. The words that are used hit me like ice. The line that is drawn around how fat makes me cranky. Sooner or later someone is going to start talking about the horror of the morbidly obese. And the health issues. And the reasons.

I think there are as many reasons for why people are fat as there are fat people. Yes there is some crap food in the world. We aren't as physically active as we might outta be. And there all the theories. But at a certain point the why of being fat isn't the most important thing. The fact that there is rampant bias and discrimination and hatred directed toward fat people is clear. Fat progressives need to look at their internalized oppression. Thin and average sized people need to look at their attitudes.

When Edward Said passed there were a number of shows about him. I was listening to one on KPFA. He said something about a group of people. I don't remember exactly who. But they were a leadership council of some kind and he said, "all of them fat." And the audience all began to laugh, as did he. This was a group of progressive, lefty, intellectuals. And they laughed about people being fat in the middle of an other wise high minded discourse.

I'm not going to stop writing about this because this is my life. But it does sometimes fill me with dread.

The other day I received a rejection letter from an agent who was looking at Avoirdupois. The rejection was full of compliments. "Your submission was better than most we receive. You have a unique and well-developed voice which is very rare in what we do." But they can't muster the enthusiasm for the project. It hit me the way all the conversations with men who have reacted me felt. "I love you very much. Just not that way."

I know I can't go there. Rejection is part of the deal. Writers are rejected. It happens. But there was something in the way it was expressed, lot's of superlatives and then ... no. I can't help but wonder if it's about the subject matter. There's no way to know. Short of asking them. And I will let it go. But it hit me hard. I've been reeling.

I look to the blog world for a lot of what gets me through the day. These are hard days for me. And this was a particularly hard week. So, as always, and maybe more than at other times, I have really appreciated the supportive comments. And I have been more than undone by the less than supportive comments.

I'm just a bit too tired.

                                     12:57 PM


October 18 2003 Depression is so tedious. There is a part of me that is always watching. Watching while I slump into the chair, remote in hand. Watching while I make a peanut butter and banana sandwich for dinner, because cooking is just too much to ask. This after four hours of trying to talk myself into cooking. Watches while I sit in front of the computer screen with all the links to publishing houses from Kell's comment open, and stare. Watches while I try to remember how to make tea. Watches while I go on line to look for the sinks that I just saw on TV. They're very nice aren't they?

I am adrift. I can feel my eyes, bloodshot and dry from bouts of crying. I can feel my skin, which seems tighter somehow. I can feel my stomach struggling to digest the peanut butter and banana sandwich.

What to do. What to do. It's all so tedious.

There's a restaurant space that's empty right now. In a neighborhood that I like. I spent hours the other day imagining the kind of place I would have there. I would know what to do ya see. I would know exactly what to do to make a restaurant. I would work all day. I am so good at it. I know what to do.

This writer thing is harder.

All the time I spend slumped in the chair now, all the time I spent looking at the computer screen, all the time I spend trying to remember how to do the simple things, cook dinner, make tea, all that time is lost. I am not writing. I am not even reading.

But I can talk about it. And I can write this post. So I'm still OK. Right? There is part of me always watching, making notes about the how bad it is. But I'm still OK if I can write it down. Right?

So I ask myself, what can you do? It's almost noon. Maybe a shower? Make the bed? Wash the dishes? Carry the trash downstairs? Check the mail?  Take a book to the park and read?

Kant said, "Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self incurred immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use ones own understanding without the guidance of another."

Seems a bit strident. But it makes me feel like I'm not fully mature. Not in terms of writing. If you handed me some money and said, "Go make that restaurant." I would flip into hyper drive. I would know how to use my own understanding of the business to take action. And it seems like I have some understanding of the actions I need to take action on the writing. (Send more stuff out.) But I am not getting it done.

It's all so tedious.

                                     11:17 AM


October 19 2003 As I wandered around the blog world yesterday I saw a few posts about depression.

There is a part of me that always thinks that if you aren't a little bit depressed, you aren't paying attention. I did start taking some herbs a year ago. And I have my ways of pulling myself out of the gloom. Watching television is not one of them.

This particular thing that I'm going through seems classic. Mid life crisis. Or something. I haven't felt this way since I was in my twenties. I haven't felt this listless, resistant, flat line quality in a while. I guess I felt that way during the years that I was managing the big tourist restaurant kitchen. But I was doing things every day. And I was making good money. So it was different.

Intellectually I have a philosophic attitude about it all. This is just a thing to get through. And I will. One breath at a time. Emotionally. Well. That's the field of the Lord. I'm in it. So all I can do is feel through it.

And it helps to write about it. The blog world is full of support. It's amazing really.

                                     10:28 AM


October 20 2003 Adrienne took me to hear Cynthia read at the Headlands. It was good to get out the door, across the bridge and so close to the ocean. It was great to hear Cynthia's writing. I'd heard the piece she read once before in a class that we shared. I really miss that part of school. Hearing the great writing of my classmates. Cynthia's stuff is always a combination of her very grounded, scientific reason and the great delight she finds in the random and mysterious.

And it was great to be with Adrienne. She brought me flowers and some lotion. She's going to be too far away for awhile, because finding a job in the bay area is so hard. In my perfect world she would never live farther away than three houses.

I came home and watched the Jamie's Kitchen marathon. This guy puts Rocco to shame. His commitment to the kids is amazing. He gave some of them a last chance at least three times. He faced all the pressures that Rocco faced and he and his wife had a baby while it was all going on. Rocco had a extremely compressed time to do what he did. Jamie put off the opening a few times. Rocco's show focused on the front of the house where Rocco could flirt and be seen. Jaime is all about the food. The whole value system is different.

Both shows brought back memories for me. I remember watching the way cooks touched food, the way they used their knives. Cooking is a craft. And people who do it professionally can be beautiful to watch. And he is really trying to convey a love of food to these kids. He took them to a pig farm to talk to a man about pork.

He made this comment about how the kids he picked knew less about food that the average TV watching foody. It kinda made me smile. I was struck by how disinterested they seemed in the food. It's possible that none of them would pursue a job in this industry if there weren't cameras. Maybe they thought it was going to be the Real World for chefs.

I cooked for a few years before I started to really care about the craft of cooking. Cooking wasn't what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a rock n roll star. So I might have signed up for that show and been horrified by the work and pressure that is the restaurant business. I spent many years trying to do rock and roll at night and be a cook in the day.

But if I was going to be a cook, I wanted to be a good cook. And I read books and magazines and watched Julia and Jacques. I read Brigade de Cuisine. I tried to understand cooking as a craft.

When people watch me make an omelette they ask how I can do them so well. It's easy after the first three thousand. And that's what I'm not sure the kids on this show understand. They'll be making the same plate of food thousands of times. It's repetitious, mundane work. It's also fun and challenging and there is a great joy in doing the work of feeding people. But it's like sand painting. It's back breaking, detail oriented, muscle aching work to produce something that may be a beautiful work of art for a minute. But then it will be swallowed. And gone. And there will be order for three more.

So I am in a muse about the industry. Obviously. And I'd rather think about it all than do what I need to do. Which is to fire up the want ads, look for other agents, try to figure out what's next. Because, although I agree that it might be a good thing to just be, especially after a long project, the truth is that I need to make a living.

It's such a weird phrase, isn't it? Make a living.

I like to work. Watching the restaurant shows makes me sentimental for a time when I knew what my job was and knew how to do it well. And who am I now?

But I can't think about that for too long. Or I'll end up back in the chair watching reruns of Trading Spaces, feeling lost. And I may end up there anyway. But I'm going to try to keep pushing.

And I'm going to sign this petition.

Via Susan and Lisa.

                                     10:18 AM


October 20 2003 My privilege list has been linked up in a few places. And it's interesting to notice the comments relative to the blogs that linked it. April linked it up right away and added her own thoughts. Kerri  was right there with some shared outrage in a comment. Kell and Brian both linked it. No comments specific to the list. Paul linked it. No comments yet. Not sure what that means. And Amp linked it. And, so far ... wellllllll. It could be interesting.

I'm not projecting any big meaning onto all this. I'm just finding it interesting. There's a resistance to the idea of average sized privilege. And there is a part of me that gets it. Because holding privilege is really uncomfortable. It's uncomfortable for me to hold the ways in which I am privileged. But what it does is allow for some deep consideration of how we are all complicit in what happens. It's easy to blame the really mean people. It's harder to think about the ways we gain from a culture that wants to keep us thinking of the ways in which we need to improve. A culture with so many products to help us in that effort. And then there's the way we feel about people who are not obedient to that notion of improvement.

In the post on Amp's that got me so worked up last week the conversation continued and took a turn to talking about notions of beauty. I also noticed a post by Trish on beauty, not specifically related to the Amp post. Trish linked an article, the title of which gave me a minute of brain freeze. When Taller Equals Fatter. When is fatter better? Well, when you have a fat wallet of course.

There's an intersection for me in the two conversations. My thought is that beauty is a shape shifter. I think beauty is realized. But there is no question that we live in a world in which we are bombarded with images. And that has an impact on how we see the world. Every month when I get my issue of The Sun my first thought is about how beautiful the person on the cover is. And when I look at mainstream magazines I see the same two or three acceptable bodies.

Ah well. There is so much work to do when it comes to unraveling the way we view each other. So why not indulge a bit of contemplation about privilege? It's a generous thing.

There are also some new comments on my post. I love Amy's addition to my list.

                                     6:58 PM


October 21 2003 There is something stunning about being told - I don't read you regularly but I know how you think. But because I've been accused twice recently of citing one study and calling the rest junk science (something I don't remember doing) I thought I'd post about what I really do think about the studies.

I don't think about the studies.

Every day I hear about studies. Studies that say being fat causes everything from cancer to bad teeth. Studies that talk about how diets don't work. Studies that say eating more protein is good for you. Studies that say eating too much protein is bad for you. It all speeds past me.

Studies are funded. Tell who paid for the study and I'll tell you how I feel about it.

My little page project is not about science or medicine. Earlier today I was looking at Big Fat Lies. I wanted to find some data on weight and health. The minute I begin to read that book I am overwhelmed. This is not my area. Glenn takes on study after study and puts them in perspective. I get it when I'm reading but it's not something I can turn around and do.

I do sometimes post a reaction to a specific study, or article. But I don't think that much better of the studies that support my ideas than I do the studies that want to condemn me for the size of my ass. Everything  happens in a context. I'm not interested enough in the context of science, or medicine, to feel like I can talk about the studies. I'll leave that to the people who are.

Both times when I was told I use one study to say the rest are wrong the phrase "junk science" was used. I guess that comes from Paul Campos. I can't be sure. Make no mistake. I love Paul. But Paul, like Glenn, are much better at debunking studies. Sandy Szwarc great thinker. Great writer. I'm happy these people are out there.

It hasn't been that long since I wrote about the health thing. And it makes me very cranky. Because people who want to tell me that they know me and they know how I think and know how I eat and how much I don't exercise aren't really talking about my health, or the health of their friends. They're measuring character. Mine. And their own. They see being fat as a behavior. They don't even want to think about who I really am.

So. It's sad. And it makes me a little mad. And a little tired. And as the people who do read me regularly know, I've been struggling to keep myself in balance. But I feel OK right now. Because I really do know some amazing people. Barry and Bean are over there on Amptoons kicking some rhetorical butt. Some very nice people have left me comments of support and linked me.

But when it's clear that a person doesn't want to take the time to really engage with who I really am and talk about what I'm actually talking about, I can only sigh. And hope that their friends have support from people who aren't so hell bent on making them wrong.

And now. I think I'll call one of the dozens of friends who wait by the phone in case I need a ride somewhere and ask them to drive me around the block. Or. I dunno. Maybe I'll just walk.

                                     7:49 PM


October 22 2003 Someone criticised the use of privilege lists as a rhetorical tool. I remember the first time I read the Peggy McIntosh list. It was the bandages in "flesh" color that stuck with me. Writing that now it seems like such small thing. But I had such a visceral response. I could visualize the Band-Aid box and see the words flesh color. The cultural centrality that I was afforded by those words hit me. If my skin color was flesh color what did that mean about all that other skin color? It was a small thing. And it made something real for me. Something that had been abstract.

Did I feel guilty? No. I don't feel guilty about racism. I feel angry about racism. I feel angry about a culture so myopic that a company could make a Band-Aid and label it flesh color. It's a small thing. Certainly not the most offensive thing about racism. There was just something about it. It had an impact on me.

More than one of my friends have told me that, after knowing me, they noticed the size of public restrooms and wondered how I would fit in to them. It was something that they had never really thought of.

And that's the thing about really getting to know someone. My friend Sarah has hearing loss. Knowing her has changed the way I experience sound in public places. I know Kell has problems with smells. Sometimes when I'm on a bus and someone is wearing a lot of perfume I think about Kell.

Do I feel guilty? No. In fact I still wear some scent. I use scented products. I wouldn't if I were working next to Kell in an enclosed area. It would be discourteous.

There are more privilege lists than I knew about. Each one gives me some insight into the things I assume about that oblique thing called the norm. Each one softens my heart and makes me a bit more aware. That's what I was hoping my list might do. Open some hearts. Inform some thinking.

I continued reading Big Fat Lies last night. Glenn writes that autopsy studies that were done on twenty-three thousand people in fourteen different countries were published in 1968 saying that obesity does not cause heart disease. Well over half of the angiographic studies that were done between 1976 and 1994 showed that being fat had no relationship to arteriosclerosis or the progression of the disease over time.

But. As I said. I'm not a studies kind of grrrl. My rhetorical tool is my life.

Over at Amp's the conversation continues. Shifts. Comes back. This morning when I checked in someone had left a link to this page.  Speaking of rhetorical tools. It's always the same in these conversations. Size acceptance is one thing but what about those really really fat people?

What about them?

This is about fear. This is about the puritanical believe in self-control as a sign of righteousness. This is about people needing to feel that they are superior so that they can feel safe. There's a lot of that going around these days.

The page about the very fat people is intended to repulse. Not by the people who host the page. And I'm not going to talk about them, so don't go there. But by the people who want to use their images as a cautionary devise. See what will happen if we let fat people love their bodies. Of course the truth is that not everyone can be that fat. I'm not even sure that I would ever get that fat. I do want to have a heart big enough to hold those people.

I have never said that there aren't health concerns for people who have fat bodies. There certainly are. And I would like a medical community who wants to give me the best care and not just sell me risky surgeries, bad drugs and self-loathing.

I would like a political community that understands my marginalization, my exclusion from the commons. I would like my thin and average sized friends to think about the ways in which they are not aware of my oppression.

It's not about rhetoric. It's about people's lives. It's about my life.

                                     10:57 AM


October 23 2003 Sonya came over for a late/lunch early/dinner before she went to school.

I had this idea based on something I saw on Jamie's Kitchen. I had an acorn squash and a butternut squash that I wanted to cook. I cut up some of each, cooked some pieces of chicken in olive oil, brown butter, salt, pepper and chili flakes and added the squash at the end. I cooked a bit of whole wheat pasta and tossed that in. I let it all cool down a bit. And I tossed some mixed greens in balsamic, olive oil, mustard and shallots. Put them on the plate first and then put some of every thing else. So there was cold and warm. Sweet and acid and heat. Creamy and nutty. It pretty much rocked. I meant to throw on some asiago but I forgot. I have squash left over so I'll be thinking up something else to do with it. Maybe risotto.

We talked about writing. She has such good ideas about ways to pursue publishing.

It was good for me to get away from the screen for a while but I went on line after she left to do some more job searching.

I'm not sure I can focus myself for more job searching today. It seems that I always begin Monday fired up and then by Thursday I'm burnt out.

And so. Another day.

                                     9:50 AM


October 24 2003

While obesity is a genuine national problem today, special interests and trial lawyers have promoted hysteria about the issue in order to advance their own political and financial interests. These efforts include frequent citation of inflated health care costs and obesity-related deaths, according to testimony today by The Center for Consumer Freedom at a public hearing of the Federal Drug Administration's (FDA) Obesity Working Group. (more)

Special interests and trial lawyers have promoted hysteria about the issue in order to advance their own political and financial interests? Gee. Da ya think?

But. You know. It is a "genuine national" problem.

What ever.

Melanie added something to my list that I can't stop thinking about

If you are average sized, you can take comfort in the fact that your ob/gyn is not going complain about your fat as she's sewing your body back together after delivering your child.

I don't know why. But that just shocked me.

I think I might have looked like a cat chasing my own tail yesterday. I went from blogging to cooking to job searching to cleaning, never doing any one thing for more than twenty minutes. I wish it had been filmed. Then we could watch it speeded up. Heh. After a while, you're looking at the same want ads. And it's pointless. But I kept thinking I needed to try. And I couldn't really stand it for too long. I was a portrait of manic.

There's always a month of the year during which I resent apples. The summer has been all about peaches and nectarines and berries and so much variety and then all there is apples. Well. Apples and pears. And just for awhile, I feel resentful.

It's loopy. Because they are so good right now. Planet Organics has been bringing me apples and pears every week. I don't eat them fast enough so I end up making some combination of apple/pear sauce every Sunday. Which is very good. This week's sauce is more pear than apple.

I saw a bit of Frontline last night. There was a bit on a man returning to Vietnam and then a bit on music from Marseilles. Suddenly I realized how big the world is. It occurs to me every once in a while.

The world is big.

Which is a thought that might keep me going.

                                     9:13 AM


October 25 2003

                                     9:16 AM


October 26 2003 I love the fall backwards time change. When I was working it always meant a much needed hour of sleep.

For quite awhile I woke up at about 7:00 but lately I've been having a hard time getting to sleep. I lay there thinking about jobs and bills and everything I've ever been through. And then I can't wake up in the morning. I can't really sleep past 9:00 but I have been sleeping later and later for a few weeks.

And then today I was awake at 7:00 because I set my clock back. I'm happy about this because when I sleep later I feel like I'm succumbing to depression. That may not be a useful way to think but it is how it feels. If I wake up at 7:00 I feel like I'm  open to the day.

It sounds so arbitrary. For years I thought I was a night person. I just felt better if I stayed up later, and woke up later. I needed less sleep. When I had a job in which I worked at night things were fine. But I  worked in the day often enough that my internal clock got rewired. Or so it seems, since now I wake up at 7:00. Do we have an internal clock? Is it about light?

Alexandra is upset about the fact that the days are getting shorter. She likes all that light. I like the light in the spring and summer. But I also like this curling inward that happens in the fall and winter.

This morning when I walked into the living room and saw the clock I felt this sense of calm. It was early. I was awake. That must be a good sign. And even if being awake at 7:00 means nothing, I'm going to pretend that it does.

I've already read some blogs, eaten some eggs and now I'm listening to Larry talk to Cynthia Mc Kinney and drinking my tea. How bout a McKinney/Kucinich campaign?

                                     9:07 AM


October 27 2003 One of the things I've learned about myself from playing with my SIMS is that I don't play well. I drive them through their paces to be smarter, better, more, more, more. It's embarrassing. Now that I have the magic mirror I don't need to push them. Most of my SIMS playing now is about working in the garden. It's like I use them to live out my own Zen fantasy life.

But yesterday I looked at the site and saw a story that someone had done in which they put a bunch of SIMS together in a big fully furnished house and just watched. I can't figure out how to link to it but try this. Her SIMS died in fires and starved to death and her kids went to military school. See now. I just did not think I could let that happen. But I decided I had to try.

I built the biggest, most bombin house ever and moved in a group of eight. I couldn't really understand why the other person didn't put in a fire alarm. SIMS will just let themselves burn up if the fire alarm doesn't call the fireman. And I thought they ought to have a butler because that way no one would starve to death. And I couldn't resist using the magic mirror to make them like each other. But after all that, I left them alone. I just watched.

It was pretty fun for a while. But here's the thing. I made everything too perfect. My SIMS get enough to eat. They're in bed by 11:00. They wake up with the sun. They spend most of their time in the hot tub. Or they're eating and sleeping. They're happy. They actually do some self improvement. One of them got on a painting jag; another played chess for hours. They swim.

The only casualty has been one of the kids. She never went to school and she got sent to military school.

She's just gone. Her face is gone. I keep wondering if she'll come back. There have been fires and one guy passed out after watering plants all night.

 

But otherwise they are so good. The house is clean because the butler called in a maid. Of course, they hardly ever get out of their pajamas. They aren't paying their bills. The repoman came to take some of their stuff.

I guess sooner or later they will be evicted. Or the repo man will keep taking things until all their bills are paid. But gee. The whole idea was to watch them mess things up. I know sooner or later I'll cave and make someone pay the bills. Maybe if I hadn't made them like each other I would have seen more crazy social interactions. All they do is gossip and tickle each other. They talk a lot in the hot tub. I thought maybe they'd flirt, but no. They have kind of paired off. Despite the fact that there are plenty of beds they have paired up for sleep. they all chose a bed that they liked and two of the women sleep together and two of the men sleep together. One of the men sleeps with the young boy. Which is mildly disturbing. And one woman sleeps alone.

Being who I am, I keep thinking about what this all suggests. They are happy and fed and rested but they aren't meeting their neighbors. They aren't getting jobs. They are oblivious to the forces (repo man) that will ultimately destroy them. And after a week or so (in SIMS time) it's pretty boring watching them.

I know that people do things with their SIMS like get them to slap each other. I've never been able to do that. I can't set them up in a situation in which they'll die. I was prepared to not do anything if one of them did burn up. But I wasn't sure I could let them starve. And I really want my little girl to come back from military school.

Ohmygawd. I'm completely goofy. Aren't I?

And.

Clearly.

I really need work.

                                     8:44 AM


October 28 2003 I had mixed feelings about Fat Like Me before I watched it. Most of the people I know were outraged. Beautiful letters to ABC were written and circulated on list serves. The minute I hear that a person puts on a fat suit I'm suspicious. I didn't like it when Anita did it. I was pretty sure I wasn't going to like it now. But I wondered if they would be able to show how fat people are treated in a way that was helpful. I remember reading Black Like Me. It felt like such an important book. I'd have to read it again but these days I feel like a person who enters a life on a temporary basis can't really reflect the actual experience of that life. Still. I wanted to watch.

What a night mare. From the minute it began it was so hateful I thought I was going to scream. A few more shows like this and we will have record number of kids dead from eating disorders. But at least they won't be fat.

Paul blogged about this and the comments are going strong. April blogged about it.

The complicated part is that I know that people eat crap food. And I know that people have compulsive overeating problems. If people eat more veggies and walk more, then that's all to the good. If people form a better relationship to food then that's great. But some of those people are just gonna be fatter. I just don't understand why we can't make the eat better/move more point without the fat phobia.

I remember a story that a friend of mine who works at the YMCA told me. She convinced a fat girl to take a fitness test that was being given. The girl passed everything except the BMI measurement. She was fit enough to do all the activities that were in the test but she didn't get her gold star because of a measurement.

Ask me how it felt to watch this kid be so joy full about getting out of her fat suit. Think about how it felt for a fat kid who can't climb out of their body. It is true that fat kids and adults are treated pretty badly. But we aren't all the miserable people that this show made us out to be. We have friends. We have fun. We have lives. On the one hand I was happy to see the kids feel bad because of the way they treated miss fat suit but I also wanted to say that I weighed 175 pounds in high school. I didn't look like she did. I was well liked. I was active. And what good is it to point out the way fat people are treated and then blame them. Fat people are treated badly so lets change THEM? It's maddening.

April found the pictures of the thin boy with fat girl written about in the article on the stigma of having fat friends. Interesting discussion going about that on BFB as well. The boy looks pretty much the same to me in both pictures.

The one thing that the girl on the show said that I related to  was that she felt like the experience made her a better person, more aware of what other people go through. When I say I wouldn't take the magic pill that would make me thin this is what I'm talking about. I have learned a lot about myself and other people because I have been fat. Unlike this girl my self esteem can't fall apart because I am fat. Being fat is part of what makes me who I am. Not something that I take off.

If you think that means I work to stay fat then you're just not getting it.

Yesterday I had to eat up some spinach. Planet Organics was bringing me more. And I still had some butternut and acorn squash from the other day. So I made this weird concoction of ground beef, fresh tomatoes and spinach and ate it with some of the squash. It felt very retro. Like cafeteria food. But it was good. I heated the squash up in some chicken stock and I didn't do anything in the way of seasoning other than salt and pepper. While I was eating it I kept thinking about how I could taste every part. It wasn't all mucked together. It was a meal cooked from the need to get rid of left-overs and things that I needed to eat before they went bad. I didn't have my culinary hat on while I was making it and yet it tasted good. And I'm glad because I'll be eating it again today. Left over leftovers. Heh.

But while I was eating it I had another thought. I want people to know how to taste beautiful well cooked food. I want kids to know about this. But here's something I also know. Some kids are going to be fat.

I am worried about their health. I'm worried that by the time they survive all the hatred that comes at them (if they survive) they'll have health problems that no amount of weight loss will fix.

I know that by the end of that show my blood pressure was up. My depression was deeper. My fear and anxiety was off the chart. There was a mother on the show who said that she stopped hugging her daughter because she was so embarrassed to realize that she had a fat daughter. She talked about how it felt to hold her daughter's chubby hand. The camera showed us that hand. That hand that is now connection to a mother who found it so repulsive that she stopped touching it.

She stopped hugging and touching her child.

It hurt me to watch that. I know it had to hurt fat kids who may have been watching. Since I've been fat all my life I know how to talk myself off that ledge but it hurt me. Last night I had a dream in which I was having trouble getting out of a cab because of the way the driver had parked. There wasn't enough room. The driver took off and was dragging me because I was wedged under the door. So. Yeah. Watching that show hurt me.

I kept thinking about Matthew Shepard. I wondered if a fat kid were killed in the same horrible way what would happen. There would be some people talking about the hate that caused the event and then they would talk about how to make the fat kids thin without missing a beat. And they would never see how all their concern for the health of the kids, articulated in that manner, contributed to the climate of fat hatred in which something like that might happen.

The young girl, the beautiful young girl with the mother who stopped touching her, is on a diet now. The whole family is on a diet together. Of course the young girl has been caught sneaking food.

And somewhere in America there was a young person, probably a girl, who watched that show last night. She hasn't eaten more than a few hundred calories a day for months and months. She no longer has a period. Her bones can be seen pushing against her skin. Her bones are so brittle from lack of calcium that if she falls they may shatter inside her and she will bleed to death internally. Her friends and family have been trying to get her to eat. When she looks in the mirror all she sees is fat.

                                     8:39 AM


October 29 2003 You guys pull me out of the fire. I'm not sure I tell you how much I appreciate you all often enough.

I thought about it yesterday. Margaret found my Amazon wish list and sent me a Dar Williams disc because she knew I was down. Margaret read my blog, left some comments and we've exchanged a few e-mails. That's how we know each other. It just strikes me as such a generosity of spirit for her to extend herself to me, first by commenting, and then the e-mail and then a gift. I mean it's overwhelming.

I was listening to the disc, feeling all the anger and hurt from watching that stupid show. And Dar was singing.

And the best ones were the ones I got to keep as I grew strong,
And the days that opened up until my whole life could belong,
And now I'm getting the answers, when I don't need them anymore,
I'm finding the pictures, and I finally know what I kept them for,
I remember, I can see them, see them smiling, see them stuck,
See them try, I wish them luck and all the blessings.

And I cried a little and took a breath and was filled with gratitude. Just to be in the world with so many people, sharing their lives.

A friend of mine and I were talking about our grief about not having children the other day. I did want kids. And I do have grief about not having them. But I have Renee. From the minute she came screaming into the world she has blown my mind. Moments from her childhood pass through my minds like the lyrics from a favorite song. And a few months ago we were sitting in a restaurant, eating souffles and having the kind of conversation I might have with any of my best friends. How lucky am I to know this person and be there to watch as she grew up?

I have Dean and Sonya. I don't know if September 11th could have been worse but I do know that I got through it because Dean was here. I needed to believe in his future. And when Sonya was here I kept looking at her and remembering her smile when she was two, her wild curls, listening to Baby Beluga over and over and over and over.

But sometimes I'm still sad about the kid thing. And yesterday I was doing the blog roll and I saw the mighty K-zilla. My face about split from the smile that spread across it. And then there was lunch with Monk and Cole the other day. I may not have a kid. But I have kids in my life. And some of them are in my life because of this crazy blog thing.

I can't go through my whole blog roll and talk about how I feel about everyone. I stand in awe of Elayne's efforts to go through hers. My relationships in the blog world are as complex as my relationships off line. My feelings have been hurt. I've hurt other's. No matter how well intended these words are, things go wrong. Linking. Delinking. Blogger breaks. Blogger returns. Comments run amok. No comments at all.

You just could not have told me about this. I tiptoed into this following the trail already broken by Willa and Justin. I remember the feeling when I stared. I didn't know what I was doing. I wasn't sure what I was doing it. You could not have told me how much I would care.

Yesterday there was a point when I was feeling so bad. I couldn't face the want ads. I couldn't imagine how I was going to get through the next minute. And I had the thought to post something. Just a general ... HELP ... kind of post. And just having the thought made it possible to take the next breath. You could not have told me about that. I would not have believed you.

I am blessed with many friends,  on line and off. If I started writing about all the people in my life, and the ways in which they extend themselves into my life, the generosity, the care, I would be writing for days. And it might be a good thing to do. But all I could do yesterday was think about people. And feel gratitude.

Because I'm not really OK. Much of the day is hard. The nights are worse. I lay in bed listening to all the negative voices in my head. Why can't I find a job? What if I can't get my book published? What have the last six years of my life been about? I try to imagine the barrage of worries as sheep and just count them as they pass. But I don't sleep. And then the morning comes and I'm exhausted.

But I get out of bed and come to the computer and I read for a while and then I begin to type. And I get e-mails with pictures of happy pumpkin faces and I have to smile.

You pull me out of the fire. And some of you who are reading this don't think I mean you. But I do.

                                     8:48 AM


October 30 2003 Watching coverage of the fires is overwhelming. Jenni linked a post from someone who is there.

A few weeks ago the fire alarm in my building went off. I was in the bedroom on the phone and I thought it was the alarm from the school across the street. My neighbor knocked on my door to ask me if there was a fire in my apartment. Everyone was milling about in the hall.

The alarm is connected to another building. There are two, small buildings that connect but have doors that open on different streets. We share the backyard and the laundry room and the fire alarm. I don't know if there was a fire in the other building but after awhile the alarm stopped. It's an old building and the alarm has gone off before with no cause. I wasn't worried. And I've been so mopey lately. I just couldn't even summon up the emotion to be afraid.

That happened once before when I was living in NYC. I'd been working fourteen hour days to open the Time Cafe. The chef was new and didn't really know how to handle all the things that were happening. We had been working long days for a few weeks and we were all exhausted. And the chef and the sous chef were mean in a very backhanded way. Nothing anyone did was ever good enough. I was so unhappy. And tired.

I was living in a residential hotel. One night I woke from a deep sleep to lots of shouting and flickering light. There was a fire across the air shaft. It was a few floors higher than I was and pretty far away. The silhouettes of the fireman on the roof stood in contrast to a pale grey sky. Orange flames were still shooting from the window and the fireman were using flash lights to check for sparks that might be falling into the litter strewn space below. It was eery and beautiful. I watched for a minute and then I went back to bed. I was too tired and too sad to care.

I tell myself that I'm not attached to my things. If they were gone I would be sad but life is impermanent. I've let go of things before.

But watching the film of people walking around the remains of their homes I know that is just philosophy and distraction. The loss is wrenching. And the loss is not just material.

My "pull me out of the fire" metaphor came to me while I was thinking about all this and watching the news yesterday. I was thinking about how I am fighting the urge to go back to sleep in a burning building. And knowing that people are living through such devastating loss shocks me into perspective.

                                     8:20 AM


October 31 2003 Twice recently I've heard people described as "always positive, never negative." What does that mean?

It would be easy to make a laundry list of things in both columns but it seems like anger, sadness, and most difficult emotions end up in the negative column. And that's like saying that much of our humanity is something to avoid. It took me a long time to understand my own emotions and I still have a lot to learn. I'm not willing to stop that learning in the name of an oblique thing called positive.

These days, when I am so full of difficult emotion, I tend to stay away from my friends. I don't reach out. When I do talk to people I feel like it's hard on them. There's isn't much anyone can say about my situation. I just need to keep looking for work and trying to write and find a publisher and send out writing and that's what it is. And it is hard. So I am not that happy. But. Would anyone want me to lie about that?

My friends are pretty good with emotion. If I really felt like I needed to be with someone I would call. And people do call me. But there is that moment when I feel like I can't keep talking about how I am. It doesn't really come from them. It comes from not wanting to dwell on what isn't gonna shift in that moment. Does that make me a positive person?

It's such a simplification of who we are.

My Aunt Dolorus was one of those people that I'm sure would be called positive. I would call her that. And it had to do with the way she lived. She was happier with life than I have ever been. It wasn't that she never got angry, or sad. She just did what she needed to do. And she was more private about her emotions than I am. And she had a pretty great life.

I've always had this feeling of restless searching through which I see the world.

Both times when I heard the words "always positive, never negative" I had a mix of feelings. I wish  could be more simple. I really do. I strive for simplicity. Which seems oxymoronic. And yet I felt suspicious.

I used to have a hard rule to be afraid of the positive people. They don't have the capacity to hold problems. When things go wrong they want to get to the feel good place again as soon as possible. But that was when I was more committed to my own darkness. That was when a glass of bourbon and a cigarette in a dark bar seemed like facing reality. It was a reality. But it isn't whole.

And maybe that's it. I want to be whole, more than I want to be positive. It's a high wire kind of way to live but I don't know what else to do.

There is something about the notion of positive that feels like silencing. When I hear those words I feel like I'm being told to stop talking about the things that are difficult. Be like so and so. Be positive. Well. I'm just not like so and so.

Heart and humor. Knowing that everyone struggles. Being willing to tell the truth and be there through the hard stuff. I'm just not sure people can be positive and not negative. I think we need to be both.

So. Anyway.In the spirit of being positive. I wish you more treats than tricks tonight.

                                     8:26 AM