Friday, December 2, 2016

Sent to me by my mom

My mom sent me this thought. She gets it, especially in relation to my racist relatives.

Thursday, December 1, 2016


I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I'm far from perfect, but I am decent. I'm more than decent. I make a conscious effort to be nice to people, to be kind, and not intentionally to hurt anyone's feelings. As I've gotten older, I've become better at recognizing the difference between someone's bad mood versus his or her conscious decision to speak to me in a demeaning, dismissive, insulting, condescending, hostile, or hurtful way. Generally, I'm very perceptive about what other people are trying to communicate, but I always give the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she's having a bad day. Maybe he's really stressed about something and this is misplaced hostility or transference. Maybe he didn't sleep well. Maybe she has an undiagnosed brain tumor.

Eventually, I do run out of patience, close up shop, and walk away. I've done this my entire life--faster if someone kicks me when I'm down. I'm very good at moving on. When I feel like someone is blatantly treating me with intentional disrespect, why would I stick around? I'm really hard on myself--I don't need that coming from external sources, too.

As 2016 winds down, I'm reflecting on this being the year I refused to let anyone keep undermining my dignity for their own emotional bump. Sorry. No. Bullies and emotional manipulators will no longer be tolerated.

If I don't kill myself, I figure I have, what, 20 or 25 years of life left. That's precious little time to accommodate the mean-spirited and condescending barbs of the disdainful.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

I'm terrified

Things I have googled in the last 24 hours:
  • Overseas jobs
  • New Zealand immigration
  • Americans in Mexico
  • How much does it cost to forfeit US citizenship
  • Best places to retire outside US
I'll probably be out of a job within the year since the president-elect has repeatedly stated he wants to keep out refugees. Hiring Steve Bannon as a top policy advisor seems to make that a more assured reality. Who would have thought that's how my career would end?

I wrote this earlier this week:

I think what I'm struggling with most is that it's all going to be gone, like it never existed: A recovering economy, climate change mitigations, free speech, a free and independent press, religious freedom (unless you identify yourself as a white conservative Christian), immigration, humanitarian programs that give a hand up to the most vulnerable, Social Security, consumer protections, workplace safety standards, environmental protections, a balanced Supreme Court, women's reproductive rights, LGBQT advances, sensible foreign policy, firearm background checks, due process, medical care available to all and not just the wealthy, all of it.
All of it. It's all going away in the next four years, but somehow that makes America great again in some people's minds. I can barely breathe. I can't believe people actually champion those changes. Hitler is back and people are happy about the prospect of implementing Fascism led by a rapist. It is mind boggling. I still think Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" should be required reading for anyone over the age of 18. It's supposed to be a cautionary tale, but I get it that a lot of people consider it a how-to manual.

This prompted readers to say things like, "Oh, you're being dramatic." "Don't write the obituary yet." Let's give the benefit of the doubt." "It's going to be fine, we're stronger than anything the incoming administration can come up with." "He'll surround himself with good people."

I don't think Steve Bannon is a good person. I don't think the followers of his doctrine are good people. Kellyanne the Trump spinner said that journalists and media outlets need to be really careful what they say about Trump, seeming to warn that no criticism would be tolerated--it would be litigated. 

My week of reading finished with Masha Greene's article in the New York Review of Books about surviving an autocracy. I cried.

I don't think I can stay here. I am terrified.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

That's what I meant

A friend posted this on Facebook. It is pretty much exactly what I've been thinking this week. I would post it on my regular page, but I understand that the people who should read it, are exactly the ones who won't bother. Their hubris, their lack of self-awareness runs too deep.

http://usuncut.news/2016/11/11/op-ed-an-open-letter-to-the-facebook-friends-and-family-ive-lost-this-week/

Friday, November 11, 2016

Self-preservation, Part 2: The Echo Chamber

I'm trying a different approach with the Facebook thing. I didn't delete my old account, I just deactivated it. It took a day for me to realize that I'm the administrator for three work-related pages, so deactivating my account meant I wouldn't be able to admin my work pages.

I also realized that there were other people I still wanted to have conversations with, but without the ridicule and demeaning comments I had been getting, mostly via private messages. After I thought about it, I realized I wanted a way to process all of my thoughts and feelings about the election outcome (and a few other things) without being smacked down for it. I wanted social media, but I wanted some privacy while I worked through a few things. How to do that?

I reactivated my Facebook account, and then I opened a new Facebook account under a different name. Friend requests, along with an explanation, went out to the people I felt safe talking to, people who I knew would respect my privacy and not share anything I posted...people who I knew would not bark, snap, or snark at me...people who wouldn't tell me to lighten up or tell me I was overly sensitive. People who would not post things so awful, so mean, as to make my heart physically hurt. Sometimes, you just need space to process without feedback.

That being said, I'm not posting anything particularly personal on the new page. No pictures. There's no profile information, no lists of things I like. Just a fake name and some posts and shares about my fears for the future. And no blistering comments coming back at me, demeaning me for what I feel and believe. That's a relief.Sometimes, an opposing point of view, especially when it comes in the form of insults, is just not what's going to help.

So, yes, I set up an account and asked a few people to follow it with the explicit instruction that they could not jab at me, debate me, or express their disagreement. It's sort of a therapy thing. And it's working. When I'm finished with it, when I get out of it what I need to, I'll shut it down and go back to my regular Facebook account. Or not. I may check out of that piece of social media completely. It's not like people will change, it's not like Facebook won't keep showing everyone on my friends list every goddam thing I liked or commented on, thereby sharing my interactions with people I don't know, have no interest in hearing from, and who I never intended to be privy to my posts.

Once I feel better, I'll close the echo chamber, but for the moment, I simply don't have the energy to be judged and jabbed at for my beliefs and the work I do.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Self-preservation

I just unfriended everyone on Facebook. Technically. I deactivated my account. I couldn't take the fact that people I know and like turned out to be awful. They not only voted for Trump, they got sucked into a spiral of championing all of the hate, believing all of the lies, and embracing all of the vitriol and rhetoric that Trump called talking points.

When my sister-in-law posted something along the lines of "The reason Republicans are late to vote is because they are busy working," and implied that Democrats are lazy leeches who don't work, I snapped.

I've been putting in 70-hour weeks for some time now. I make the world a better place. I work my fucking ass off, I'm fiscally responsible, and I don't understand this mindset that being a registered Democrat means I somehow deserve deriding mockery.  I couldn't take it anymore. People are so glib to demean good, hard-working people without any thought about what they are really saying.

I feel like the last 18 months have been a gradual awakening for me. I will not be bullied or barked at by people who pretend to be friends. I've been gradually excising a few out of my life for months now, but today I decided to just cut deep and start over.

I'm sure some will be confused by this, not because they lack self-awareness, but because they lack self-honesty. They will claim they don't remember saying hurtful things or being unkind or being generous with their snark or being demeaning or disrespectful, but I've kept a tally.

This is how I live my life. I give people a chance to be decent. If they repeatedly fail, I simply...walk away.

It felt particularly good today.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Where has the time gone?

I write blog posts all day long, in my head. Sometimes, I start to really write them but I get distracted and those posts go unfinished. Today I was surprised to see that I had not published anything here since March. How can that be? I've written so much in my head!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Eight years on

Let's just take a moment to appreciate that I've been writing this blog, although sporadically, for almost nine years. Apparently, I can stick with something.

A few days ago, my back started to tingle, itch, and ache. It turned out to be nothing, but I was reminded that it was eight years ago this week that I first came down with shingles. My life has never been the same.

Since that first bout in 2008, I've had three recurrences. They were never as bad as the first time, but that's a relative statement. It was bad every time.

It doesn't seem like eight years have passed since the traumatic experience I had with shingles. So much has changed in my life. A lot hasn't.

It's not interesting enough to write about.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

TMI

I feel like I have shared too much. In general. In every possible way.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Still stuck on the weight thing

Back in July, I was enrolled into a healthy lifestyle makeover program with the American Heart Association. It's part of the Go Red for Women campaign that culminates in lots of public education and heart-health awareness in February.

I enrolled in this program because I wanted to get healthier and address some of my dietary habits that could cause arterial plaque.

Well, after getting lots of blood work done at the outset, it turns out my numbers were already pretty great. It also turns out I did not lose any height as I initially wrote in my last post, so hooray for that. Even though I was already in a good place cardiovascular-wise, I've been doing everything the Heart Association has asked.

My mid-course blood work was stellar. My total cholesterol is 164, and at 90, my triglycerides are practically nonexistent. I'm not celebrating. Not at all. Going into this thing I naively thought I'd lose weight. I did lose a few pounds in the first three weeks, but since then, I've had no weight loss. In fact, I've gained back two pounds.

You know, my body is a stupid body. It's a stubborn body. It does little of what I ask of it. I mean, I'm glad I'm healthy and my cholesterol is 164 and my blood pressure is 110/60. That's awesome. But, I'm always battling generalized pain, I don't sleep, I'm so uncoordinated I frequently hurt myself when I exercise, and despite my efforts to correct the biggest problem of all, I am significantly obese. I hate my body so much. Clothes look like crap on me, and I'm always, always, always embarrassed by myself.

The thing is, and I can't stress this enough, I couldn't care less what anyone else weighs or looks like. I just can't stand myself, my lumbering obesity, my inability to be, if not skinny, maybe able to wear a single-digit clothing size. Maybe getting to a clothing size where the "X" is the first character on the label and not the second would be a start.

Last week after a workout. I'm second from left, all in black.
On this Heart Association program, my blood work has been outstanding, but working out 3-4 times a week--and these are brutally hard workouts, no exaggeration--while also walking several miles a week, and living on a strict low-carb, low-fat, 1400-calorie a day diet (I stopped eating cheese entirely. The diet is closely monitored weekly by a registered dietitian from the AHA and Quest Labs) has yielded me nothing more than an improvement in what was already really great blood work. Ugh. I've lost a negligible amount of weight, but when you have nearly 100 pounds to lose, a tiny loss is meaningless.

And, I'll tell you, nothing makes me rage harder than people who shrug and say it's a matter of calories in vs. calories out, because I've been logging a 300-500 calorie deficit every damn day for MONTHS and I have NOTHING to show for it.

The AHA keeps asking us to think about what we've learned during the program. The main thing I learned is that it's possible to eat perfectly, exercise hard and regularly, have really incredible blood/blood pressure numbers and still be a bit fat fatty McFat fat. That's what I've learned.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Can we talk about my weight?

I'm fat. Really, really fat. I recently had a blood draw, and while I was at the lab, they weighed and measured me.

I lost a half-inch of height in the last two years. I really had no vertical dimension to spare, given my body shape and weight. Still, that's gone, and my weight, well, at 61 inches, I'm within less than 10 pounds of hitting 200. Let that sink in. That's a special kind of obesity. Well, I mean, it's still not fat enough to qualify for bariatric surgery, but definitely so fat that I'm officially socially unacceptable in the USA.

I live in a culture where more than 50 percent of adults are overweight, yet being fat is considered a sign of exceptional personal failure. That message is everywhere and I can't get past it.

I've struggled with my weight my entire life. As a teenager, my siblings were embarrassed by me and were merciless in their bullying. My sister couldn't tell me enough how I was ugly, fat, and weird. My mother kept trying to get me to diet and even enrolled me in a program when I was 15. My brothers were relentless in chanting it at me: Fat, fat, fat. The shame of it was crushing to my spirit and I lost any confidence or positive self-image that I may have built up as a child. I weighed 135 pounds throughout high school. Yes, 135. The horror. My family would have rewarded me had I become anorexic, but I didn't have the discipline.

I really had no idea what actual obesity was at that point. I probably would have killed myself at 17 if I knew what I would allow myself to become as an adult.

For me, my weight represents the very essence of all of my failures and squandered potential. Certainly, I have accomplished some things as I've gone along. I've always worked, I got a college degree that Ipaid for by myself, and then, at 41, a master's degree. My MA GPA was 3.99 and it feels like a failure because I know I got what I deserved, much like I have the body I deserve due to my own mental deficiencies. The blame is squarely on me. It should have been a 4.0 and the fact that it wasn't was entirely because of my inability to do what needed to be done to make that happen, much like getting thin (or not). The shame of this is never far from my mind whenever I even need to mention I have a master's degree.

What I eat, whether or not I exercise, the ability to control myself, starve myself, get myself to a skinny place, I've just failed. It doesn't matter that I help people build better lives. It's irrelevant that I've mentored others on their path. There's no merit in being highly competent in my work, or that I learned to fly a hot air balloon or that I started and still run a nonprofit business in addition to my other responsibilities. I've worked my ass off my whole adult life, but nobody sees that. They can't get past the fat. Maybe most wouldn't say it to my face, but I know that in my family, in my American world, being fat cancels out any personal accomplishment.

At 54, my weight shouldn't matter, right? I've reached the age of cultural invisibility. Women essentially disappear from advertising, from media, from being taken seriously once they cross the threshold of 50. Still, it matters to me because I know how hard it is to buy clothes, to look nicely dressed, to fit comfortably anywhere, to be judged. And I do assume that the silent judgment is never-ending but I can't stay sequestered in my house, so I'm subjected to that judgment every day.

Of course I know that changing this is in my control, but it's so hard. It's hard to be hungry. It's hard to say no every time I'm offered something. It's hard to exercise when my body is always in pain. I should push myself, but I lack the drive. I have yet to find an exercise activity I enjoy--and I have tried many. Exercise in all its forms is profoundly boring. I have been known to wander off mid-workout or to simply start crying from the effort and tedium.

My eating habits aren't terrible, but they aren't great, either. I don't drink soda or anything carbonated (my four beverages: one cup of coffee daily, unsweetened iced tea with lunch on the weekends, wine daily, and 64 ounces of water a day. No juice, no soda, no energy drinks, no Starbucks, no milk). I love cheese. I have a serious cheese habit. Frank cooks very carb-laden meals, and I don't complain because I'm too lazy to do the cooking myself. I like to drink. I drink a lot, in fact. Typically, my red wine consumption comes in at about 12-14 ounces a day. That's a crapload of empty calories. But I'm as taken with the after-work/dinnertime wine-drinking ritual as I am with the calming effect that liquor has on me.

Maybe that's what's at the core of my problem: I find cheese and wine to be comforting in a way nothing else is. Exercise has never done anything for my mood or sense of well-being. Salad is unappealing to me and something I must force myself to eat. It's cold and wet and there's nothing satisfying about it. Ditto for fruit.

My weight problem is the biggest, most important failure of my life. If I can never get it together to weigh 105 (yes, that's the appropriate weight for my height and bone structure--look it up), then it really doesn't matter what else I do with my time, skills, and talents. I'll never get hired for a different job. I'll never get any kind of social approval. The fat and how I did it to myself are really the only things. I conceded defeat at some point. I gave up the calorie counting, I stopped going to the gym months ago, I stopped ordering takeout salads that I hated, and I gave up. I gave up because putting in a lot of effort still turned out to be not enough effort and I don't think I have the energy to live on 800 calories a day and work out four to six hours a day. I mention that because that's what the contestants do on the television programs The Biggest Loser and Extreme Weight Loss. On the show "My 600-lb Life," the patients get 1,000 calories a day, no carbs.

I wish my brain could get in this game and I could learn to love life on 800 no-carb calories and six hours of daily exercise. Maybe then I'd have more money (because I could get hired into a better job), I'd have more friends (because everyone loves a thin person), I wouldn't be so exhausted all the time (I work a minimum of 60 hours a week and sleep about 5 hours a night, but I know it's the fat that's wearing me out), and maybe I'd get a little more respect in my day-to-day life.

For now, I am BMI 35, the biggest failure I could ever have brought on myself. In America, if you're not thin, you have failed everything by default. How can I ever be seen as worthy of anything if I'm fat?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Too sad

I'm too sad to blog. Seriously, I'm so overwhelmed with despair, I can't even work up the enthusiasm to write.

That being said, I made it four days without crying.