Monday, August 27, 2012

Oh, I'm fatter than that

Today was a weigh-in day. Forget what I said yesterday. As it turns out, I didn't lose a half-pound; I actually gained weight. Now I weigh more than I did before I started working out and really honing the finer points of my diet.

I thought about bagging the whole healthy lifestyle thing, but I went to the gym anyway and worked out for almost two hours. As I left the gym, I kept thinking about how much I hate--seriously loathe--exercise. I thought about how hard I've been working. It's so frustrating to have no tangible results.

I walked out the door and burst into tears. I sobbed the whole half-block trek to my car and the whole way home. Because yeah, the reality feels that bad.

I came home and had some fat-free, sugar-free yogurt and a little watermelon for dinner. I've lost my appetite, if not my will to live.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

May by the numbers

  • 51: My age
  • 61.5: Number of inches of my height
  • 173: My weight
  • 39.2: My body fat percentage
  • 32.2: My BMI
  • 39: Waist measurement in inches
  • 45.5: Hip measurment in inches
  • 14/16: My clothing size
  • 105/75: My blood pressure
  • 67: My resting heart rate
  • My cholesterol is normal. 
  • 1200: number of calories in a normal day for me
  • 4: Number of days I usually make it to the gym
  • 75: Average length in minutes of my workouts
So, I am clinically obese, fucking enormous--embarrassingly so. My body holds almost 70 pounds of fat squeezed under the skin and around my organs. After the first month of working out (which included two weeks of going to the gym almost every day for three hours a day to jump-start the process), I lost a sum total of a half-pound. I've since lost another half-pound.

Based on the metrics above, I am in the high-risk health group for my age, despite the fact that I don't smoke, I don't have high blood sugar or high cholesterol, my resting heart rate is good, and my blood pressure is just fine. I eat a low-fat, very low-cholesterol diet, and other than drinking red wine on a daily basis, I limit sugar. Doesn't matter. Nope, if you're fat, you're doomed. I keep reading it again and again.

Yesterday I spent my morning at the gym. I did an hour of cardio, a full leg and butt workout, plus a lot of situps. I was there for two-and-a-half tedious, sweaty hours of very hard work. I am no slacker at the gym. Trust me on this.

I suppose at some point, my body will respond. My pants will fit. I know I should really work on slashing that calorie count, but it's hard. I figure, the human body requires 700 calories a day just to run its systems. I burn about 400 calories per workout. That leaves me with 100 calories unaccounted for, so if I want to finish each day having burned all of the calories I took in, I either need to work out longer every day or eat even less. Neither option appeals to me, but since I hate how I look, I really need to choose one of those solutions. And if that doesn't work?

I don't know. Here's what I know: The knee I had surgery on is killing me and has been since I started working out. Everything I do makes it worse, but like they always told me in physical therapy: "Pain is weakness leaving the body." That and it's really unacceptable to cry when you're exercising. That's a problem because I cry during my workouts at least twice a week. It's usually brought on by frustration and the overall loathing I have for being in a gym (or realizing that I am consistently the fattest person there). I just don't get how people enjoy it. It's so painful and tedious. It's hard to believe that something that feels so overwhelmingly awful is actually good for you.

They tell me it is good for me, so I soldier on. No pain, no loss. I'm all about the loss.

I had hoped to hit my goal of 108 pounds in a year, but at a weight loss rate of a half-pound per month, I'm unlikely to meet my goal before 2023. Sigh.

Maybe that nice Chris Powell from Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition could come and stay with me for a few weeks and help me because although I believe I'm doing the right things, apparently, something is very off.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The sick feeling in the pit of my stomach

Sonja quit. Now I don't have to keep pretending that she's a good friend. She was profoundly unsupportive during the years I had the what-would-later-turn-out-to-not-be-BP. When I was suicidal she went ballistic and then told me that made her angry because it showed I was a quitter and she expected more from me.

I never got over that. I couldn't completely distance myself or ever really rip into her about it because she had become my boss. I could have viewed it as a sticky situation, but instead, I tried to be an adult, although a wiser and more cynical version of the one I had been earlier.

We worked well together, but I would never buddy up or refer to her as being my friend. I honestly don't think she ever got it. I came to understand that she liked a very specific version of me, and no behavioral variances had a place in her version of me. So, that's the May that I brought to work every day, no matter how far from the truth that version may have been. In many ways, it is a relief to me that I no longer have to pretend that nothing happened or that Sonja was there for me when I needed her (she believes she showed "tough love" and that's what I needed to "snap out of" the suicidal state and severe depression).

There are other implications to her leaving the job, though. From a professional standpoint, this could be a disaster. Sonja was very good at her job--a job that proved to be demanding and filled with paradoxes. It was a political minefield, but she was able to negotiate it more or less unscathed. She grew a lot as a professional and had the ear of some very influential people in this city.

More than that, she brought innovations and positive changes to the entire organization. She knew how to lead--and was mentored in that through programs she was selected to participate in by the chamber of commerce and the state government.

The place where she worked, this place where I have been helping refugees and engaging the receiving community in broader discussions about refugees, human rights, and the value of empowering disadvantaged people to establish self-sufficiency (instead of continuing in the twin vortexes of poverty and despair), this place where lives and outlooks are, quite literally, transformed, is in turmoil.

So damn worried
We lack funding. That's not nearly as big an issue as the fact that we lack leadership. The person who was hired to come in and lead this organization two years ago has proven to be an arrogant bully. He focuses on the "big picture," which in practice means he's superficial. He doesn't understand--or want to understand--what most people here do. He delegates liberally, and as a result, has no grasp of just how much work goes into keeping this organization running. We have always lacked resources, but lacking leadership has led to a significant exodus of talent and people with immense institutional knowledge.

Sonja had no qualms about pointing out what needed to be done and what new policies were causing dysfunction. Rather than listen to what Sonja had to say, the director simply made it more and more unpleasant for Sonja to stay. It took nearly a month before Sonja's job was posted.  When the posting was finally made public, many of us in my department were shocked to see that it had been consolidated with another open position and yet the pay had been reduced by about 20 percent.

In the meantime, in the last two years, the director has been upgrading our slum of a facility while also cutting programs and eliminating staff (robbing Peter to pay Paul). These aren't people who had poor performance records; they are people who have been here for a long time and simply earn more money than the director feels the jobs are worth. Most of those positions have been replaced with job-share type arrangements, so anyone hired is part-time and can be compensated with much lower pay and no benefits.

The jobs that have been hit hardest are those that the director (who has no background in social work, social enterprise, or most of the other things we're involved in), does not comprehend very well. This leaves me in a vulnerable position. It is quite difficult to articulate what I do and how I do it, unless you shadow me on the job or you're a part of the process. I am not young or low on the pay scale, which also puts me at risk for elimination. This director has been very keen to hire what he calls "high energy." What that means is he approves new hires who are young, but well-educated and underemployed. Think 26-year-olds with graduate degrees who haven't been able to find work in their preferred field. They'll settle, but they aren't particularly dedicated to the type of work we're known for. There is a distinct lack of passion creeping through the employee population.

To complicate matters, my department gets half of its funding through the federal government's refugee services program. This money is managed by the state and we bid for it every two years. We have to show positive outcomes and meet a dizzying array of benchmarks in our work. The grant is complicated and requires a lot of hands-on management and interaction with the state. Sonja excelled at this. The organization director doesn't even comprehend our relationship with the state and federal offices, let alone why someone needs to maintain the daily flow of communication between entities. If the state office that oversees our work feels that they aren't able to monitor or manage what we do, they will do something else with that grant money next year.

We are screwed.

So, I worry. I am a 51-year-old woman who does a a very specific job in a somewhat obscure field. There aren't very many places I can go, and even if I could, it would involve slashing my pay. I can't afford that. Besides, last I heard (again and again and again), no one is hiring frumpy middle-aged, do-gooder women these days--at least, not at a living wage.

I am still $13,000 in debt, largely the result of challenges sent my way by the not-actually-BP years. That number used to be many times what it currently is, but I've been digging out steadily. Even without that debt, I have a mortgage to pay, food to buy, insurance, utilities, car maintenance, and myriad other expenses just like any other adult. At this point, I cannot afford to be unemployed for even a month.

When I think about it all, I feel a little sick. I had my personal issues regarding Sonja, but professionally, her departure is a huge loss and has left at least ten other people in a very vulnerable position.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Watching and waiting

Earlier this summer, the nurse midwife who cares for my lady parts decided it was time for me to stop taking the wonderful birth control pills that resulted in only four periods per year. She switched me to Lo-LoEstrin, which is apparently as low as you can go. There was no question of going off of the Pill completely because Jackie was afraid my mood would be adversely affected.

I'm not happy about going back to having periods every month. That in and of itself is enough to make my mood tank. I've never been one of those women who gets bitchy when her period comes. Instead, I just get sad. The problem is, there have been times when I couldn't snap out of it--as if there were no counter-acting hormones to lift me back into a normal part of the mood spectrum.

Hormones, moods, me. All so unpleasant.

Later this week I'll find out what life is really like on a new hormone mix. I've been sweating less, but that was least of my problems. Mostly I'm afraid of the debilitating pelvic pain that I had when I got monthly periods. Time will tell how much of a mess I"m going to be.

I wonder

I wonder where half the world got their pictures of Yoda meditating before I posted one on this blog. The thing is, I lifted it from someone else's blog. Who knows how far removed that picture is from a Lucas Films source...I do wonder what everyone else is using it for, though.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I don't play the lottery very often, mostly because I either forget or I'm too lazy to go out and make the purchase.

There was an interesting article on the CNN website today about why people play the lottery when their chances of winning are so minimal. I can tell you that I do it because I have seen that sometimes people do have a lottery win. It's improbable, but not impossible. There's a whole series about it on The Learning Channel.

I am married to a statistician. He also buys lottery tickets, for much the same reason I do.

I've heard that your chances of getting hit by lightning are higher than the chance of winning the lottery. Well, my house was hit by lightning and caught on fire. Oddly, the house wasn't even close to being the highest object or structure in the area when it got hit. Years later while out on a walk, I was shocked on the foot by lightning that hit nearby and traveled across the ground. It hurt like hell, but it was the sound of the deafening bang that accompanied that lightning that made me nearly wet my pants.

I've also had three incredbly rare medical conditions, and my dad died of an illness that fewer than 30,000 people in all of North America have at any one time. I figure, given that history, playing the lottery could pay off for me.

If it doesn't, I'm OK with that. I live in a state where lottery proceeds go to a very good cause, a cause near and dear to my heart, so, yes, I'll be buying a Powerball ticket later today. If I remember. And if the line isn't too long.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sometimes, no.

I had a long blog post composed in my head, but now I'm on my fourth glass of wine, so writing is just not going to happen tonight. Cheers.

Monday, August 13, 2012


I'm pretty sure that either my head or my heart is going to explode from stress, frustration, fatigue, hormones and whatever other forces are simultaneously crushing me. No assistive, self-destructive force is going to be needed. I'm pretty sure my body is going to spontaneously self-destruct if this keeps up. It's OK, because I'm not sure how much I can take.

It's totally external, out of my hands, not in my control, and not really about me. I'm stuck in the middle of a terrible circumstantial tornado.

And also repeatedly swooped down upon by idiots, which just adds to the challenges.

I need to win the lottery, because seriously, the way things are going, I'm not going to have an income by the end of 2012.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

I think about it every day

Did you know that there is not one day that goes by--not one--that I don't spend some time thinking about suicide? This may be the only consistent thing about me, and it has been going on since 2004.

I can't say that I consider suicide on a daily basis, although, there are those days, too. Every day, at some point, I just...weigh my options. Some days, I simply wonder what effect my death would have on the world (little to none). Other days, I think about what details of my adult existence would need to be taken care of, what affairs put in order, before I could let myself go.

Having ruminated on this for eight years, I think it is safe to say that I am not having a mental health crisis, nor is there a chance of an imminent event of self-release. That being said, I'm very comfortable having these discussions with myself. I see nothing wrong with that, but it's not something I can talk to anyone about. Who would ever feel as comfortable as I do having this discussion?

One of many things I keep to myself.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Any anonymous blogger will tell you that staying anonymous isn't a way of avoiding the truth, but rather it allows a much greater freedom to tell a very full truth. I could never write about myself the way I do if I used the everyday name that people associate with me. For the most part, everyone's names have been changed here, but essentially everything else about them has remained intact in my writing.

There are only four people who know me in person who know that I am the author of this blog. As far as I can tell, only one of them reads it, and only occasionally at that. The fact that anyone reads this blog at all amazes and delights me. My head is a very lonely place, but if anyone wants to take a peek at what's going on in there, it's always nice to have help with the processing.

When I started this blog in 2007, a couple of people found it almost immediately. I was stunned, having expected to blog in virtual solitude indefinitely. This turn of events made me curious about how many people might be taking a look at the Brainucopia, so I installed a hit counter that let me see exactly how many times my blog was accessed. And that was that. For years.

What I didn't know for a very long time was that the hit counter actually collected all sorts of data, both fascinating and inane, about the traffic on my blog. In all honesty, the only statistics I ever take a look at are the one that tells me the general geographic location of readers (and some of you are fibbing in your Blogger profiles about that) and how visitors ended up here. I can see if someone came via a Google search, and if so, what they were looking for. Most likely, it was a picture of Yoda meditating.

I can also see if someone came here directly with no referring link and no Google search. These are the visits that capture my attention because it means coming here was the visitor's intention all along. You there, in Pinellas Park, I thought you lived in Clearwater. And did you know my mom lives in Pinellas Park? You there, in the Sonoran Desert, you always tell me when you've been here, but I would figure it out anyway, except when you use your other modem which puts you a couple of states away.

Here's where my heart catches in my throat and I panic a little: It's when I see that someone who lives in my same city has typed into his or her browser, but I have no idea who that person is.

Have I been found out? Did someone I work with or someone I know find out that May has a blog filled with painful honesty and unflinching observations that may tell unflattering truths about barely-disguised associates? Are they telling other people? The first couple of times this happened, I stopped writing and started obsessing.

It happened again yesterday. Someone from my city visited the blog directly and stayed for some time. Quite some time. This prompted me to look at the boring stats I never think about: device and browser. Who are you, Android user in my city? How did you find me? Why are you here? I hope you don't know me. Did you tell other people? There were 99 page loads on this blog today instead of the usual half-dozen. Someone was doing some reading. Page after page of it. If people who know me--apart from the four who were invited--find out I write this blog, I'll have to shut it down. I can't risk exposure.

That would be a shame for all of the people who want to know my thoughts on subclinical shingles, 45 Mercy Street, The Handmaid's Tale, and pictures of Yoda levitating.

Monday, August 6, 2012

It's times like these

I wish I had someone to talk to. Such a bad day at work. There's so much going on. Frank just goes on and on bitching about his tooth, his job, his upcoming surgery, blah, blah, blah... And I stand alone. There's so much going on and I have no one to talk to. No one to listen.

I didn't go to the gym today. I opted to just go straight home and drink liquor.

Life is complicated and I lack the emotional intelligence to manage it well.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

So, that's weird

The other day after working out, I glanced down at my upper left arm and noticed a cluster of dusky spots under my skin. It gave this little patch of skin a bit of a mottled effect. I rubbed it, and observed there was no texture difference and no pain.

Now, three days later, the spots are darker and slightly raised. They have a texture similar to smooth, flat scabs. The shapes are more defined and more brownish-red than the original purple. There is still no pain, no itching, no irritation, and no different sensation, but it seems that what originally appeared as bruising or bleeding under my skin has made its way to the surface.

I can only conclude that when I worked out, I somehow caused my blood vessels to rupture. This is truly a strange moment.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Reviewing the vacation list

There is only one day left of my vacation. I've enjoyed not going to work. I have slept well for two weeks straight, and that's very insightful in and of itself. Frank said that as soon as I got up this morning, he could see that my whole demeanor had changed and I was obviously struggling with the reality of going back to work on Monday. It's not that I don't like my job; it's more that I'm overwhelmed by everything that goes with it, from the commuting to the politics.

As staycation comes to an end, it's time to review the list of things I had planned to do during this two week period:
  1. Get a manicure.
  2. Get a pedicure.
  3. Change my hair color (best to hire a professional)
  4. Read at least one of the dozens of books residing on my Nook.
  5. Make one piece of jewelry every day. Well, maybe every other day. OK, maybe three or four pieces over the two weeks.
  6. Sew something. A bag. Curtains. Something.
  7. Go to the local art museum.
  8. Keep a food log. Daily. It's only two weeks.
  9. Get my teeth whitened.
  10. Go to one live music or theater performance. Buskers don't count.
  11. Clean the bathroom.
  12. Cook at least once.
  13. Write my will.
  14. Decide once and for all if life is worth the effort and proceed accordingly.
I actually did some things not on the list: I didn't just go to one live music performance, I went to three. I went to the city's botanic gardens. I traveled a bit and made my way to the top of a very high mountain. I got a massage. I joined the gym and went almost every day. I taught some Bhutanese women how to make necklaces. I did some gardening. There was some shopping. I did some reading, but no books--just magazine articles. I took a lot of pictures. I played a lot of Scrabble on my Nook and Words With Friends with my sister-in-law who is in Pennsylvania.

Tomorrow morning, Frank and I are getting up at dawn to go birdwatching at a nearby federal wildlife preserve. After that, I'm going to have a busy day if I'm to finish up the rest of my list, above.

As for number 14, no decision yet but it's looking more and more likely that I don't plan to stay all that long. On the other hand, I still need to pay off $13,000 in debt, and no final decision can be made before the debt is gone.

And that's May's vacation update.

Here are some photos from my two weeks off:

A goldfinch in my back yard. The first ever for us.

jewelry lesson

Water lilies are my favorite thing at the city gardens.

On top of a very high mountain.

I successfully grew a vegetable in my garden.

I call these my Zen earrings. Made during vacation.

A live music performance.

Another live music performance.

And another live music performance.

Spent some time at the gym.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


Last night I had a dream, and in my dream, someone complimented me on my tattoo. In real life, I don't have a tattoo, but I've always wanted one.

Back to my dream: In my dream, I said to the person paying me the compliment, "It's pretty, isn't it?" At that point, I looked over my shoulder and behind me. The tattoo was stunning--vibrant flowers in a cluster at my back upper thigh, tied loosely with a colorful green, pink, and blue ribbon that ran all the way down the back of my leg, ending in a curl at my ankle. It was spectacular.

Mostly I'm amazed that my imagination is that good.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


My hormone transition has begun, and so far, I cry a lot. I suppose that's OK, considering the alternative. This weepy disposition and feelings of sadness are self-directed. I'd rather have it all on me than being full of menopausal rage that is inflicted on everyone else.

I'm not on HRT yet. I'm on Lo LoEstrin, which is a big step down from the Pill I was on until now. I can't imagine what a mess I would be if the estrogen had been cut any more dramatically than what has been prescribed.

I can do sad. I know what that's about and how to live with it. It could kill me, but at least I won't piss anybody off.