Wednesday, July 2, 2008

the other father

from age 3 to 11, my nuclear family consisted of three muskateers: my mom, my younger brother and me. when i was a wee one, my mom caught my biological father cheating on her, made a tough decision to divorce the man and did the best she could to raise my brother and i. i was too young to remember the divorce. my brother and i were still babies. because my biological father was never really around during my formative years, i never felt like i missed out. i have fuzzy memories of weekend visits with him, but i don't remember him being present in the years before my mom met my 'dad'.

when i was 11, my mom started dating a wonderful man whom she married two years later. shortly after their wedding, my stepfather adopted my brother and i so as form a more cohesive family, all sharing a common last name. by the time of the adoption, my biological father had faded far away from my life. i later found out that he remarried and had another son and daughter.

just as i assume my biological father was building a home with his new family, i, too was growing up in a loving home with a really good guy who i came to know as my only father. i never felt like there was something missing in my life. my thoughts very rarely wandered to the man who had sired me. my folks had another daughter and son, who, although technically step-siblings, have never been anything but my beloved brother and sister, whom i have loved, tortured and protected in only the way a true sibling can.

two nights ago, i got a text message from my mom. "you're biological father called - he wants to talk to you. he wanted your number, but i took his instead." first emotion that rushed in was confusion. what does he want? ugh... i don't want to deal with this. so i put the phone down and forgot about the message until yesterday. i called my mom to get the scoop. "he and his son were in san diego and drove by the house (where i grew up) and i think he probably just wants to touch base. i didn't get any weird vibes." huh. i still felt pretty unsettled about the whole thing, but pushed it off once again in favor of hemming a dress i'd been working on.

this morning i woke up with terrible, flu-like symptoms and have been feeling like shit all day. i finally managed to drag myself out of the house to go grocery shopping and when i got home, i immediately retreated back to refuge of my bed. soon after flopping down, i realized that i was psychotically thinking about the ginger ale i just bought. i wasn't hungry or thirsty and my stomach didn't feel bad, but i really really wanted to have some of that ginger ale. as soon as i realized that my longing for the ginger ale wasn't driven by thirst, i tried to just be in that moment of 'need', to quietly sit with my emotions and try to recognize what was under the 'need to feed'. my thoughts immediately drifted to the text message from my mom. but i thought i was done with this? i don't even know this guy. i don't even really care to know him. how would i address him if i did call him? i thought i was totally fine with having no relationship with my biological father. so why is this bothering me?

i wanted to call my brother to get his take, but the pressure in my ears and my aching back muscles impeded my want. so i just laid there in the twilight. then the tears came. soft, quiet tears that bubbled up from someplace inside of me that i couldn't name. i didn't particularly feel grief or sadness. the tears didn't feel like they had anything to do with abandonment issue or loss of father. but they were present nonetheless. so i cried. just let the tears come out. no trying to explain them or justify them, just let them come. and when i was done crying i just laid there a little longer. i realized that i also wasn't psychotically obsessing over the ginger ale anymore.

i'm still kind of twisted inside about the whole incident, but a beautiful lesson came out of the whole thing. i allowed myself to be guided by awareness, and was rewarded with balance. i'm proud of recognizing my age-old avoidance method - stuffing instead of releasing - and consciously opting to change my patterns of self-medicating. perhaps the future holds a relationship between my biological father and i. perhaps not. more importantly, the future - and the present - hold a much more significant relationship: one with my healthy self. and that feels complete.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

wii fit


lagging woefully behind the early adopters, i recently read about how cool the wii fit is. a quick google search revealed some informative product information and user videos. lemme tell ya, it looks really really cool. but even if i were able to get one, would i be too fat for the disc? i fear i might break the damn thing, crushing the sad little balance board into veritable smithereens with a few swift blows from my thunderous elephant-like stomps.

has it really come to this? am i too fat for video games that target fat people??


wah.

Monday, June 30, 2008

reunion

i went to my sister's graduation recently. it was a whirlwind weekend for not only my sister, but for my folks, too. my dad arrived on thursday, i flew in on friday and my mom showed up on saturday. and the main event on sunday. in addition to attending all things graduation, my sis and my folks were preparing her condo to sell - the weekend was full of pomp and circumstance, paint brushes and belt sanders. i had a delightful time and even got to spend some rare, quality time with just my dad and sister, kicking around lovely seattle.

in on friday, out on sunday. a special trip to tiffany's for a little something for dad's favorite daughters. a shopping spree in nordstroms. miles and miles of walking around downtown and capitol hill. and eating to the point of pain at every meal. despite all the great memories, the one that has lingered with uncomfortable clarity is that i completely overstuffed myself at every.single.meal. all weekend long. we stopped in a cute little divey indian restaurant the first night and i ate so much that i was still uncomfortable even after the movies the same night. the next day we went to the seattle space needle for a decadent brunch, where i repeated the stuffing cycle that left me feeling bloated, tired, and immobile even through the tiffany's visit and clothes shopping. later that evening, we had pizza and champagne while we celebrated my sister and freshened up her home. the next day, we rushed off to an early graduation and then to another brunch... where i gorged myself not only on the extravagant breakfast buffet, but also had a quarter of my sister's burger.


what the fuck was going on? i haven't eaten like this in months and months. the whole thing felt sick and out of control. something about being with my family brings this out of me... there was no animosity, no fighting, none of the usual, predictable behavior that usually ensues when two or more of my family members get together. so why the need to stuff? what was i worried about? what was i trying to smother inside of me? the worst part is that i noticed my dad eating way more than he usually does, too. since his heart surgery, he's lost thirty pounds, he eats healthy, he's walking 5 miles a day. he's in great shape. and yet, there was something odious about the whole weekend that was leading us to medicate ourselves in really bad ways.

i suspect that somewhere deep down, i know exactly why i was eating to the point of pain, but in my current state of consciousness, i'm uninterested in digging deeper. i feel flat lately... like i'm just... here. and yet i'm not fully here. what i do know, regardless of my current state of mental disinterest, is that i need to resolve the visit to seattle.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

the fat girl's guide to flying


i've been traveling a lot recently and as a woman of XXL proportions, airplane travel always make me a little nervous. fortunately, i have amazing girlfriends who know what the hell i'm talking about when i anxiously mention the dread of having to squeeze my voluptuous keister into an XL seat for three hours. one particular travel-savvy friend sent me the following advice, wrought from her own extensive traveling experiences:

The Fat Girls Guide to Flying

1) Airline seat sizes vary. Airplanes use a few different kinds of aircrafts. When you shop for flights, it will list the type of aircraft each flight uses. Check here to determine the width of the
seat on that particular aircraft: www.seatguru.com You want the 18" width; it will be much better vs. the 17" width. Whenever possible I pick my flight times based on this.

2) Get in a loyalty program and fly that airline
as much as possible. It is TOTALLY worth it. Get a credit card that gives you miles for that airline. This will let you get better seats (i.e. non middle!), board first, and upgrade to first with your miles.

3) Always aim for a window seat. It allows you to
get into the row first (usually), get situated, and lean away from the middle seat. Because of carts and other traffic coming down the aisle, the aisle seat doesn't leave you with anywhere to lean.

4) Seat belt lengths vary. I tend to fly United
where the seat belt is always roomy in coach, but strangely, not nearly as roomy in business class/first (even though the seat are.)

Here's how to handle a tight seat belt:
immediately recline your seat, slide your ass back, and buckle the seat belt. Then un-recline. In crappier seats you may have to reach back and grab the side of the seat and yank it forward as you depress the button to move the seat back into the upright position. Do the whole recline thing really quickly and no one will notice, they're too busy getting situated themselves. In really small/older planes (i.e. europe), the seat belts are much shorter. Do not go through the drama of asking for an extender. Just bring a jacket with you and put it on your lap. Place the unbuckled seatbelt under the jacket. Put your headphones on and zone out. No one will notice. Flight attendants just want to get the plane off the ground, they are not looking to see if your seat belt is buckled.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

eggsactly

this morning, my company treated its employees to a catered breakfast in honor of all the hard work we did last week. i queued up with other coworkers and patiently waited my turn to grab some eggs and bacon and fruit. i found myself across the buffet table from a temp who has been with the company for three or four months. the group around me was conversing about vegetarian preferences, the temp leading the banter.

"well what to do allow yourself to eat? all i see is carnivorous fare here," one of my coworkers said to the temp.
"well, i'll eat eggs, but definitely NO dairy... i'll eat fish and blah blah blah blah..." and she went on ad nauseum about her self imposed diet restrictions. when the temp got to the eggs, she took an abnormally small scoop and made some irritating remark about being starving.

"you know, i think scrambled eggs have milk in them," the guy next to her said. she paused, then very unceremoniously tilted her plate towards the egg pan and shook the offending fare back into the public domain. i think she started whimpering about never having anything to eat at "these" types of offerings...

it was at that point that i grabbed my juice and scurried away, trying to get as far away as possible from her incessant whining about food.
frankly, although i found the whole exchange to be like nails on a chalkboard (seriously... HOW MANY TIMES DO WE NEED TO HEAR THE WOES OF THE VEGETARIAN?? KEEP IT TO YOURSELF, YOU FOOD MILITANTS!! yeah, yeah, yeah... you're so much better than the rest of us meat eaters... but you don't hear the rest of us preaching about how our lactose intolerance or our gluten issues or our plain old dieting problems should be cause for you to take alert, too!!) i digress... the thing i found interesting is that this was not the first time that i happened to be graced with the presence of this babbling veggie crusader.

i came across her a few weeks prior at an all-staff meeting. she was at the catering table, decrying the baseness of the pastries and muffins for their general unhealthiness and sugar content to anyone in line who would listen. (as a little bit of background, this gal is relatively young - maybe mid to late 20's, very thin, and very much a stereotypical l.a. hipster. in an office that demands business formal, she comes to work looking like she's wearing the same duds she went out in last night... lindsay-lohan-style leggings under an off the shoulder, ratty t-shirt and cowboy boots. god love l.a.) this girl already sticks out like a sore thumb in the office. what's worse is that she offends everyone around her with her holier-than-thou loud judgement of food at the catered meals.


this really bothered me at first. i chalked it up to her just being a loud, bitchy, attention-needing, angstful youth who was unaccustomed to a professional office environment. but after listening to her blather on about her herbivorous tendencies this morning, i realized that ohmygod, she's probably just as freaky about food as me! both times i've run into her, she's been milling around catered tables full of "inadequate fare". i imagine that a person with a normal relationship with food (whatever that is) would peek at the offerings, know instantly if there is anything appropriate for their diet and simply walk away if they don't see something that fits the bill... not get in line and very loudly bitch about the free food. that the temp falls in with the rest of the line and starts calling attention to her own eating habits screams "i have a problem with food. and if i talk loud enough and with enough judgement about what you're about to eat, you won't notice my issue with food."

yes. i know this one well... i know it well because i have been in that same boat... it was high school and college when i was so painfully aware of being seen having anything to do with food in public... i thought that all eyes were on me and the food i was about to eat. (which is really a very narcissistic thing if you think of it.) how painfully wrapped up with my own fragile self esteem and poor body image did i have to be to think that everyone would be waiting, watching to see what i ate, how i ate it, the technique i used to eat? seriously. thank you, therapy, for helping me pull my head out of my ass on that one. (i'm quite sure that my head is still very much securely lodged up my rear when it comes to a great many other things, but i don't fear eating in public anymore.)


i wish i could say that my negative feelings towards the trash talking temp have dissipated now that i've committed my thoughts to paper (or rather, the digital ether), but i'm not that noble. what i can say is that i do have a little more compassion for her now. it's gotta be tough to be young and impressionable in this whack-a-doodle town - where drug problems are completely acceptable and eating at all, especially in public, is frowned upon... i'm grateful that the suffocating pressure to be thin out here has not consumed my very being... ok, maybe just a little.

or i could be completely wrong about the temp... perhaps i am totally off base and she has a perfectly healthy relationship with food... in that case, her irritation factor stems from her constant and insipid whining about food... even better!

dayyyyyum, this thing is dusty

thanks for all the comments and queries as to my whereabouts... i'm afraid my absence has been due to nothing glamorous or dramatic... just a lot of traveling, sewing and (finally) buying of the engagement ring.

oh how i've missed you, Blogger!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

hyper vigilance vs. subtle awareness

over the past couple of weeks, i haven't really been paying attention to the weight loss program - haven't been logging my food religiously, haven't been overzealous about getting out for an evening walk; nor have i been going overboard with junk food or lethargy. i've just kind of... been... fortunately i'm getting by on just 'being' without any weight loss/gain ramifications.

i decided that i need to get back on the weight loss bandwagon. full force. no messin' around this time... and so the plans began to formulate, my new routine started taking shape in my mind. i started preparing for a spartan week of eating and a rigorous exercise schedule. i was pumped up for the morning. rarin' to go again. and yesterday was good. i logged my food, got two great walks in, got to sleep early... success!... or is it?

this is my way with 'dieting'... i am a hyper vigilant dieter. i have to pump myself up to a near maniacal level of excitement. i commit myself to going full blown gung ho. there are no rose tinted glasses for me - no, for me there is diet "blood lust" and mania. i will do this! i can do this! BOOYAH!!

to date, this furious excitement hasn't worked. it's short lived. i put all my eggs in one basket then fling the basket at the nearest wall... i can't help it! somewhere down the road, this is how i learned to operate and it is built in at a very deep level. so today, i'm letting go of the ferocious attitude and aggressive approach. this is not to say that i don't cherish the food plan and exercise routine that i've planned for myself, i'm just going to let this week just... be. i've said it before and i'm sure i'll say it a gazillion times again, but where i feel best, where i feel calm and right is in an aware state. during my walk yesterday i took such delight in the act of walking, in noticing the plants, animals, people, weather, homes, sunlight. the temperature had cooled, the day was giving way to the evening, it's long, golden tendrils creeping through even longer shadows. i noticed lightly scented blossoms punctuating beautifully landscaped yards with playful color. flora and fauna exchanged gentle vows of love as the breeze tickled leaves, petals, stalks. my body felt harmonious with itself, strong, ready to step step step to health, to strength. it was an absolutely beautiful walk. the goodness of the walk stayed with me all evening and i have a sneaking suspicion that the lasting peacefulness had everything to do with awareness. i felt alive in noticing the smallest spider web. i felt buoyant walking past the pretty homes, drinking in the last kisses of a setting sun's rays. i was aware of so much on that walk.

i want more of that peaceful feeling. i want to translate my awareness on that walk to my awareness about food. i don't want to do battle with dieting anymore. i don't want to view food as an enemy i need to ready myself against. i want to be free of the fight inside of me. i want to be aware.

in the same way that a vampire will not come into your home unless you invite it, i imagine awareness operates in like kind. so here's my invitation to awareness. come on in! you're welcome here.

Monday, May 19, 2008

*knock knock knock* helloooo? anybody home??

"i'm feeling guilty about neglecting my blog," i said to my guy last night.
"why?" he asked.
"because i haven't posted in, like, weeks."
"why not?"
"i don't know," i said, "i just haven't really had anything i've wanted to say. really, i just want to spend all my spare time sewing."
"then why don't you talk about how that makes you feel?"
i looked at him for a few beats, then muttered, "hmm."


two of my beloved girlfriends and i have a daily ritual whereby we maintain a sort of living gratitude journal. we email each other every day with five things that we're grateful for. the beauty of the journal, which we started about a year ago, is that we keep in very close contact with minimal effort. additionally, as the worst catholic ever, identifying everyday, 5 things in my life for which i'm grateful, feels like prayer. last week one of the gals replied to my 5 with a short, exasperated note, letting us know that there was no way she was coming up with 5 things for the day (in her defense, sometimes it really is hard to come up with 5 things to be grateful for...) i gently replied that these were precisely the days when it is most important to document the 5...


now i take my own advice. things in my life are humming along smoothly. i've found a craft that i'm in love with. my creative juices are flowing and i want to spend all of my spare time with my gingher dressmaker shears and the rustling of pattern paper. i have drifted so far away from blogging that i've also convinced myself that i don't have anything to say. i don't have any fodder for my blog, i tell myself. and that little voice inside of me murmurs, "now is precisely the time to write about..."


so i'll talk about my recent addiction... sewing.


the pants are finished. yes, they might be garish and devoid of style, but i'll be damned if i didn't do a bang up job with my straight lines and meticulous attention to detail. and even though i hemmed one of the pant legs on the wrong side, i had absolutely no problem ripping out every last seam. i fell a little behind the group while fixing my hem, but i was on a mission!


we're now well into our shirt construction. i got an email from the instructor today letting us know that class was canceled this week due to a scheduling conflict. i admit i was a little crestfallen... more more MORE!!! i devour each new, small lesson and want to take it home and put it into practice. i spent the ENTIRE weekend testing out my newfound skills. i made a very simple, elastic waistband skirt. granted, it's made out of slip material and too sheer to wear, but it looks great!! i created something! i also attempted to replicate this flowy, very feminine silk ralph lauren skirt... didn't work out so well. not only was it WAY too small, but it didn't hang in lovely, loose layers... i later found out why it didn't lay the way i intended it to. and still, i found great satisfaction in the attempt... and the subsequent lesson about "cutting on the bias".


i've found a very zen-like space in sewing. it feels good to work with my hands, to keep them busy and creating. i am learning the art of patience, of following the 'rules', of working through steps in the correct order. i find peace in the routine of exact measureing, of precise cutting, of focused stitching. sewing demands my full attention and i'm deliriously happy to give it. making a garment provides a deeply satisfying sense of instant gratification while also teaching me delayed gratification. careful cutting of a pattern yields to easier pinning which equals more accurate stitching. i love the sense of pride that comes with learning a new craft.


enough for now... i'm cutting into my sewing time:)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

sew much fun

i've been totally enthralled with the sewing classes. on monday, i signed up for an additional class on tuesday evenings. we're not quite finished with the babe-a-licious drawstring pants, but i've been having so much fun that i decided to pony up for the shirt making class. much to my delight, this class is substantially smaller - only five of us total. even after the horror of getting measured in front of the whole class, i was so tickled by the idea of tackling shirt construction that i was willing to go through the embarrassment once more - after all, i'd done it once. i knew what to expect. it would be fine! and i would be sewing a real, live, honest to gosh shirt!!


still riding the high from monday night's class, i was anxiously awaiting the delights of tuesday's class. since we were no longer beginners, i expected the instructor to hand out the patterns, measure us, and get right into it. ho no... this time we were going to use a pattern generated from a program and based on multiple measurements INCLUDING WEIGHT AND BRA SIZE!!! kill me now. thank god there were only four other gals in the class... somehow the agony of having to bear the agony of publicly announcing my weight and bra size was lessened by the fewer number of class participants. and once again, i was the absolutely biggest gal in the bunch. i could feel the tightness in my chest start as the instructor measured his first victim... i gotta say, the single measurement of the previous class was small potatoes compared to this round of measuring... the fullest part of our chests, our waist, between the legs from belly button to the top of our ass cracks, neck, and bicep. the first gal handled the measurements like a champ. i could tell she was very uncomfortable - lots of nervous laughter and self deprecating comments. i mean i don't really understand why since she had the whole room silently staring at her, listening to the measurements as the instructor read them aloud. while witnessing this whole horror-measurement scenario play out, i realized that it was likely that every single one of the gals in there was filled with the same dread that was rocking around in me. i made up my mind to just say fuck it and get over the nerves. when it came to my turn, i had a little fun with the instructor... i took the tape measure and pulled it back and forth between my legs while shimmying my pelvis. i think that was the pressure valve everyone was looking for because we all started laughing... and i started blushing... but sure enough, talk of stripper poles sparked light conversation in the room and the tense tone dissipated. i didn't even mind giving my honest to god real weight and bra size. of course, i was as discreet as i could be, but again, i figured fuck it. i'm going to make this godamned shirt and it will fit because i've provided accurate measurements.


before getting measured, i was acutely aware of how hot and bright the shame of my weight burned inside of me. horrible catastrophic fantasies began to take shape and i felt like i would be lost to my peers as me, belly, and known only as a number. i imagined that once they knew my measurements and my weight, i would be forever reduced to numbers, i would forever be known as '51 Inch Hips'. "hey, 51 Inch Hips, could you pass me the pinking shears?" "Please say 'present' when i call your name. Hips, 51 Inches?" yet, this time i refused to be transfixed by the bonfire of my insecurities. fuck it. yes, my hips do measure 51 inches. so fucking what? yay me for being able to provide current, exact weight and bra measurements. yay me for having the courage to playfully poke fun at the tense situation by doing a little stripper dance with the tape measure. after all, if i'm going to continue sewing for myself, i'm going to have to acknowledge the shape of my body!


by the time i got home i was so energized, so full of delight and productivity. i gave myself over to the process of being measured and in return, i received a hella good time. i can't wait for next week's classes.


the real beauty of taking these sewing classes lies not in the fact that i'm learning a craft, but in the fact that i'm learning about me. some of my most vulnerable sensibilities around body image are being challenged. and IT'S OK. i'm discovering that the truth of my weight, the size of my hips, my bust - it's simple fact. these numbers are not charged with emotional anthrax. they simply are. i simply am. i do not crumble when forced to reveal my weight. i choose not to lose myself in the inner whirlpool of anxiety and insecurity. i choose to sew, baby!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

sweet home, los angeles??

if i lose weight for no other reason than to fit into the godamned airline seats, that will be just fine with me. the flight to chicago was quite pleasant. fortune blessed me with an empty middle seat and plenty of slack on the seatbelt, but the flight home was not so lucky. not only was the plane completely full, but for some reason i had to seriously suck it in to get the belt buckled. humiliating. and uncomfortable... and to add insult to injury, my lovely full hips/thighs kept pushing the arm rest up... thank god the middle seat occupant was a scrawny hipster who was passed out for the whole flight:)

it was nice to see friends. the movie went well. but i'm glad to be home. i think the next time i go back, i'm going to book myself into a hotel. my folks were kind enough to put me and my guy up for a few nights, but the accommodations were woefully gross and uncomfortable. i probably sound like a spoiled wretch for critiquing the generosity of my hosts, but seriously. i'd bet my eye teeth that crack dens are arguably cleaner than my parent's homes. the problem is that my folks are getting old. in addition to failing energy levels and eyesight, they are in the midst of selling one home and moving it's contents to their vacation/pseudo permanent home. their cleaning lady quit a couple of months ago b/c no one was around and the house was so empty. and my dad is still very much recovering from his heart surgery.

i get it. they have a lot going on. still...

the first nite i got in, my mom picked me up. "where's dad?" i asked. "we're fighting" she said. great. my folks exist in some state of argument 50% of their time... so this was no curve ball. i know how it goes down in their house(s) when they are fighting. internally, i braced myself for all of the shit that i worked so hard to unlearn in therapy, then immediately changed the subject. when we got back to the lake house, i was hungry and tired. i went to the spare bedroom and found some sheets on the bed... i suspected that they weren't clean and my suspicions were confirmed when i pulled the covers back to reveal - brace yourselves - scabs and a few dried blood spots. yeah. that's right. i said scabs. so. fucking. gross. it took everything i had not to keel over in a fit of trauma-induced seizures. clearly, this is where my dad has been sleeping during his recovery. i changed the sheets but still couldn't bring myself to sleep in the bed. i wandered into the office and set up camp on the couch. "why aren't you sleeping in the bed?" my mom asked. "scabs" i said. "god. that's fucking disgusting" she said. "then you better check the couch for scabs, too - he's been sleeping in here, as well."

i did have a nice time with my mom that first night. we reconnected while chatting and laughing. despite the good time, i was acutely aware of the role that food played in our discourse. when she first picked me up she said, "you're losing weight!! you look great." bullshit. and i'm not being an argumentative ass, but seriously. i have not lost substantial weight since the last time she saw me... she just knows i've been following weight watchers and she's somewhat of a sycophant. on the ride from the airport she asked if i was still doing weight watchers and i admitted that i was. when we got to the lake house, she asked if i was hungry and i said that i would forage for something. then she made these super unhealthy little pizza pockets (sabotage!) for us. then pulled out a bag of lindt's dark chocolate truffles and laura scudder's natural peanut butter. "have you mixed these two before?" she said, slathering the gooey peanut butter onto the truffle. "no" i replied, "i have enough bad habits already."

here's the unsettling part for me: why on earth would my mom serve up a gatrillion calorie meal (and by meal i mean 14lbs of enriched flour and 27lbs of refined sugar) late at nite AFTER i'd already told her that i was trying to stick to weight watchers?? perhaps i'm being sensitive, but it all felt a little too much like her trying to sabotage me. for the record, i did not have any of those p.b. and chocolate concoctions. i did, however, indulge in the crappy microwave pizza pieces. perhaps her food choices didn't have anything to do with me. all i know is that the food element didn't feel nourishing and healthy... it felt cloistering and heavy and guilt-laden.

the next day, we did a little shopping on our way back to their other house. it was nice to see my dad up and about. he looks great for an old guy who, just four short weeks ago, had his chest cracked open. we had a good conversation despite my mom slamming shit around us, making loud, angry noises. she refused to acknowledge my father and made it clear that she wasn't happy with us chatting. fortunately, i had dinner plans with my girls and had to pick up my guy from the airport later that evening so i got out of the house pretty quickly.

when my guy and i got back from the airport, we slogged our luggage upstairs to one of the empty, spare bedrooms and set up futons and sheets on the carpet. talk about skeeze city! there were remnants of dead bugs all over the place. the futons looked like they were pulled out of a dumpster and the "clean" sheets that we laid down had a few scabs stuck to them... fucking disgusting.
on sunday evening, i dropped my guy off with his bandmate and left him to a week long recording session. i drove back to my folks place and started packing. that's when i noticed an ant on my makeshift futon bed. further inspection revealed a couple of small, black roly poly looking things wriggling around. i picked up my shit and moved down to the living room and made a little bungalow on the floor. "what are you doing?" my mom asked. "bugs" i said. she grimaced. "yuck. i'm so sorry about the sleeping arrangements. do you want me to kick dad out of your sister's bed so you can sleep there?" ??? what kind of a person would kick a recovering heart patient out of their bed and displace them to the couch?? WTF!? "uh, no. this'll be fine. i have to get up at 5am anyway to get ready for my flight." "are you going to be ok to get up that early?" my mom asked. "yeah, i'll be fine. i'm going to hit the hay soon," i replied, all the while thinking that not even death could keep me from getting on that plane in the morning.

as soon as i left to get ready for bed, i heard my folks start arguing in the living room. SERIOUSLY??? did we not just talk about how we had to get up super early to get to the airport? mom, did you not just express concern about having to get up in 6 short hours? what the fuck are you doing picking a fight at 11:30 at night OVER MY BED!? i didn't know what to do. i was so uncomfortable. there's no where in the house that i could go to escape their fighting. i headed down to the basement and sat on the stairs and called my guy for a sanity check. fortunately, the fight broke up around midnight and i meekly padded in to the living room, carefully checking for land mines or any other remnants from the war, before hunkering down in my bungalow.
anyway, i can't tell you what relief it is to be home... and by myself (my guy opted to stay in chi-town for a week to record another album). i've been kind of floating around in this weird haze. my thoughts are disjointed. i get lost in the dichotomy of the truly great time with my friends and the bizarro world of my folks.

having made three or four trips back to chicago in the recent past has given me new perspective on my current situation. this last visit confirmed some sneaking suspicions in my mind. i realize that i've been glorifying and idealizing "chicago" and my memory of it. it's been tough adapting to a new life, but i gotta say, right now, my chicago life - the streets, the shops, the weather that just won't quit, the city vibe - it all feels very much part of my past. for as much as i resisted settling into los angeles, calling it home, i gotta say it never felt so comfortable as when i got off that plane at LAX and drove back through hellacious traffic on the 405. when did all this change happen?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

in praise of lists

i'm heading back to chicago tomorrow for the screening of my guy's movie on saturday. i'm all atwitter with nerves and excitement. i'm kind of starting to freak about about leaving my little furry babies in the capable care of strangers. i'm starting to freak out about my weight (like these peeps care - they know me at this weight!!). i'm starting to freak out about seeing my mom - she and my sis had a particularly bad blow out about two weeks ago and now she's fighting with my dad... who wants to visit that hot mess? i'm freaking out about what to wear on saturday. i've been freaking out about work and have been fighting towards deadlines like crazy this week.

but the coolest part is that all the freak out is more of a mellow hum than full blown frenetic energy. i've been taking calculated, measured steps to get myself ready for this trip all week. i made extensive lists to keep me sane and guide me at home and at work. i'm sure my kitties and pup-eroni will be just fine - they always are. and knowing that i'll only be gone for four days makes any mom-stuff seem totally tolerable. and i get to see my favorite favorite girlfriends.

chi-town, here i come!!

Monday, April 21, 2008

when the best thing ever gets sullied by the worst thing ever... in front of 11 strangers

tonite i had my first sewing class. i've been looking forward to this class for months... i've tried to sign up for it twice and twice it was full. i thoroughly researched this place and even though it was a bit more expensive, i just knew it was the right place for me.

i moved my whole day around so i could get to this class on time... got up extra early so i could leave work early, planned an outfit that would have enough comfort and longevity to get me through a full work day and a three-hour class, ate a large, late lunch so i wouldn't be hungry during the class...

and when i finally got there, it proved to be awesome. only 12 students so the instructor can spend lots of one-on-one attention with each student. the instructor is a fabulous old queen with more sass in his little finger than one would find in a cranky kindergarten class. and the other students were all gals... of various shapes and style sensibilities.


we started off with a bang. a few jokes about being the next project runway contestants and introductions on sewing 101 how to.


things were going great until we took a short break around 7:30. i went to the restroom only to come back to the instructor talking about how important 'fit' was. "forget size! have you seen what banana republic is calling a 12 these days? GEN-ER-OUS." shee-it. things started to go downhill from there... words from his introduction a few short hours ago were ringing in my head, "i can tell every single one of you what your measurements are - trust me. i've been doing this for
that long." i wear a size 22. what the fuck do you think was going through my head after he basically just declared 12's to be ginormous?!

it was at that point that i became acutely aware of trying to not shift in my seat... the least amount of attention i could bring to myself the better... don't let the chair squeak, don't sip from your water, don't look up... just smile... smile... don't betray that anything else is going on.... i was SO uncomfortable. it seemed as soon as the size vs. fit diatribe started, an unmercifully hot, bright spotlight focused on me. i was so paralyzed that i couldn't even look around the room to confirm my suspicions that i had become the center of intense, boring gazes.

the instructor went on to evidence his 'fit matters most' bit by giving a couple of examples of famous women ... who are larger... who always look meticulous. "i've met queen latifah in person and believe me, she ain't a petite gal... but she always looks like a million bucks!!" true, but why use her as an example? why not talk about how bad kirsten dunst looks when she wears rags that hang off her tiny frame?


just when i thought i couldn't take another moment, it got worse. we were handed patterns and told that we were going to be measured for the patterns... right then and there.

WHA????


NOOOOoooooooooo!!!

the instructor started going around the room measuring each gal's hips. he was quick. he gave each woman's number to her under his breath. very polite. very sensitive. when he got to me, he had trouble reaching around me... so it was taking longer than everyone else. and then, when he finally gave me my number (51.5 in a VERY hushed tone) i didn't know what else to do but say out loud, "28?! how lovely!!!" get this... EVERYONE laughed. even the folks on the other side of the room. was everyone waiting to hear my gargantuan waist size?

i was dying from the mortification. i think at that point he was talking more about how to read the panel on the pattern packet... i have no idea what was told to us because i was busy falling down an inner spiral of shame.
the fun didn't stop there, though... once he told us how much fabric we needed i realized i was a full inch and a half bigger than the biggest XXL measurement on the package. holy christ. now i have to ask what to do in my situation??

i summoned all the courage i had left and waited till the end of class and asked the instructor. again, he was completely nonplussed by the question and said something about 'wear ease' and how i would be just fine.

i have never bolted from a place so fast. thank god that's over. i'm actually kind of glad i didn't know that there was measurements-taking in store at our first class... i think i would have psyched myself out of it had i known that we would actually have to be measured... out loud... in front of strangers.

despite the utter humiliation, i'm glad i went. i'm glad i didn't lose composure when faced with a surprise measuring... there were definitely unsavory elements about this evening. but i refuse to let it tarnish my long standing excitement about learning to sew.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

unsolicted weight loss advice

i recently received a couple of emails from my aunt, with whom i established a lovely relationship when my dad was in the hospital. i've never really had a realtionship with Auntie M before, but spent a lovely evening chatting about this and that and catch-up when i was back in chicago. we exchanged email addresses and promised to keep in touch at the end of the visit.

two days ago, she sent me a short email greeting. the weird part, though, is that she also included images of a couple of wedding dresses she'd found on the internet... sweet gesture (i guess) considering that i briefly mentioned that my guy and i had wedding plans on the near horizon, but a little odd, too... sure, i mentioned that after 5.5 years together, we wanted to tie the knot soon so as to A.) get my folks of our backs about living in sin; and B.) to avoid reproducing bastard children, but this information was shared in passing, just one bit of conversation lost in the mix of a variety of 'catching up' tidbits. funny thing is that both wedding dress images were of plus sized models in CHEESY dresses. she informed me that she would also forward images from her friend's wedding because her friend's dress was a thing of beauty. she closed with a directive, "get excited about your wedding."

huh?

frankly, i think i'm probably the only woman on the planet who isn't head over heels about planning my wedding (it's been nearly six years, for crissakes! the thrill is gone... although i couldn't love my guy more, but make no mistake...i am not the picture of blushing virginal bride). so the directive to "get excited" seemed strange... as strange as the wedding dress images, because i don't recall talking about dress buying with her. i didn't take her email to heart, though. i figured that she was probably trying to build on the connection we made in chicago - reaching out to me via something she thought i was interested in. i sent a short note back thanking her for thinking of me and letting her know that i was glad to hear from her. and that was that...

...until the next email came. this one had a link to an extravagant wedding dress manufacturer (vastly different from the initial images) and the note said "this is the dress that my friend wore... although she's not a size 0 like the models... she has a full and beautiful figure." *blink*blink* what the hell does that mean? again, i thanked her and noted how lovely the gowns were.

the third email came last night... she had forwarded some information about a technique called "tapping" which she said may help with my weight loss (again, i don't remember talking specifically about my weight loss journey to her... maybe i said something about weight watchers in passing at another point in the visit?? i certainly didn't go into detail about it.) my weight loss?? she went on to say that she thought i was beautiful as i am, however, if i wanted to lose weight, it was my prerogative. WTF??

i'm SURE i'm just being sensitive. from the weekend i spent in my aunt's company, i got to know a little bit about her life... and she's lonely. she doesn't have close girlfriends. she doesn't even have family that she can rely on. so i choose to take her recent emails as simply reaching out to another compassionate soul in the universe. after all, she also said on numerous occasions over the weekend that she was so delighted to feel part of a family.

still... i was a little... hmm, i don't know how to describe the feeling... taken aback?.. by the content of my aunt's emails. she is not overweight... she's not underweight... she's perfect the way she is (and who am i to judge this?) so i thought it was kind of weird that she would dwell on MY weight in every single email. it kind of felt presumptuous on her part that she would be able to inform my personal journey with weight loss. this is a very personal thing to me. i feel a certain level of vulnerability around my weight and my choice to lose weight. i certainly did not invite her in to comment on my journey. so why was she doing so IN EVERY SINGLE EMAIL???

perhaps i really am being a ninny... after all, via blogging, i'm opening up some of my most personal and private feelings around this whole weight loss/body acceptance journey to perfect strangers... what's so wrong about sharing with my auntie?

what's so wrong is that it's not on my terms... that's why it feels a little uncomfortable. the enlightened part of me sees this interaction with my Auntie M as a means of getting to know a brilliant member of my family (after all, she's a harvard phd and does huge humanitarian efforts in africa!!!how cool is that??). if my weight serves as a catalyst to a fruitful and deep relationship with another amazing female who is FAMILY, then who cares?

but then there's the smaller, more sensitive part of me that feels like, "HEY! i did NOT invite you into my room! GET OUT!!"

for now i guess i'll be satisfied with the middle ground and be grateful that
  • my feeling really weren't hurt by her emails
  • how cool is it to develop an adult relationship with an amazing lady who lives her life more outside of herself than most peeps i know??
  • how cool am i for not being sucked into the she's-taking-liberties-with-my-person-that-she-has-no-business-taking
still, it feels better to get it all out...

Monday, April 14, 2008

well ain't that a sonuvabitch...

saturday morning i awoke to the sound of dripping water... and lots of it. a flurry of kitchen sink activity from the upstairs neighbors bubbled up through our sink due to a clog somewhere down the line. my guy and i are not early risers. our neighbors are. by the time we woke up, there was an inch of water covering the kitchen floor, and the counters were completely drenched.

needless to say it wasn't the best way to start the weekend. i admit that i was a little shellshocked from waking so abruptly. and from the aegean sea which manifested itself on my kitchen floor. but i was also undone by the size of the task at hand. call a plumber? call the landlord? turn the water off? where? for the building? talk to the neighbor? how do we even clean up this much water?? is this a hepatitis breeding ground??

fortunately, the overflow ceased shortly after our discovery. not only was there water EVERYWHERE, but since it was sink water, there were little bits of food and sink mung covering everything, too. SO FREAKING GROSS. i was paralyzed by the situation. i had all these questions and what-ifs crowding my mind. my guy only added to the swirling confusion in my head with his own questions, "should we go buy a mop? should we throw towels on this? does our lease cover this situation?" i was overwhelmed. the clean up task looked insurmountable.

i waded out of the kitchen and walked back to the office. i sat in front of the computer and just stared. my guy followed me in and asked what was going on. it was bad enough that the flood gates had released themselves in my kitchen, but now my internal river of emotions surged forth. i started whining about all my worries, all the questions that the kitchen situation brought forth. my voice sounded like a worried little kid as the concerns tumbled out of me. but here's the thing - as soon as they were out of me, as soon as i had released all the worry, i felt totally fine. describing the cloud of question and worry in my head seemed to deflate it. it dissipated and sanity started shining through.

i headed back to the kitchen to survey the situation. "you go get the mop. i'll stay here in case the sink starts overflowing again," i directed my guy. we took turns wading across the river to empty off the counter tops. we also cleared out the cupboard under the sink. once my guy left to find reinforcements, i tackled the standing water. i crafted a tool out of a 1 liter plastic bottle to help me bail the water out of the kitchen. it was slow going. scooping and dumping, scooping and dumping. as i sat there, in the middle of the drowned kitchen floor, something unexpected happened to me. i was overcome with peacefulness. i started thinking about how bailing out a flooded kitchen was an appropriate analogy to my weight loss journey. discovering the situation was just horrifying. in november of last year, when i finally hopped on the scale after so many years, i was dreading the little digital number. and yes, the reality was jarring. but once i committed myself to a newfound relationship with my body and weight loss, the situation didn't seem insurmountable. i recognized that there was a lot of hard, often 'yucky' work ahead of me, but it needed to happen. if for no other reason than for longevity of life and health reasons, it needed to happen. so here i am, in the midst of this weight loss journey, riding the highs and holding on through the lows. just bailing myself out. and for as much heartache as it can cause sometimes, i find that i am truly happy with the distance i've come thus far. i'm getting to know me. in the same way that i had to pull the fridge and the stove away from the wall to clean up the standing water (and the wet under-fridge-chud), i've had to pull metaphysical obstacles out of the path of my heart and mind. my first emotion this floody morning was shock, followed by dread. somewhere along the way i encountered grateful. i was actually grateful for an opportunity to so thoroughly clean my kitchen. i am grateful that i have an opportunity to clean out my body and mind.

by the time my guy got back with the mop, i not only scooped all the water off the kitchen floor, but i scrubbed down the bathroom, too... i was a woman on a mission! despite the day starting out in the shitter, it ended up quite nice.

it's nice to know that others are also appreciating similar journies, too.

Friday, April 11, 2008

shelves are for books... not for butts

i'm having one of those yucky days where i don't quite feel like my clothes are fitting. i've been uncomfortably tugging and pulling and trying to cover myself up all day. i was 45 min late to work because i couldn't find a suitable outfit combination that felt good (even my weekly pre-determined options weren't working for me).

i waffled unnecessarily and extraordinarily long about whether or not i should get up and go to subway. my stomach got the better of me and when i finally got to the parking lot, i pulled into a spot, got a little overwhelmed and PULLED OUT TO LEAVE, then pulled back in again... i was so consumed with this idea that i looked SO bad today, that i nearly talked myself out of going into subway for five minutes to get lunch. cuckoo! fortunately, a shinning moment of crystal clear sanity broke through the dense fog of my poor self esteem. confidence! exude confidence and that's all they'll see! besides, seriously? unless you've sprouted a third arm, you look FINE.

after i got back to the office and finished lunch, my neurosis got worse. only now all of my attention was focused on my butt. there is a full length mirror in the ladies room and everytime i went in there, my eyes immediately dropped to the silhouette of my derriere. i carry most of my weight in my ass and stomach and depending on the clothes i'm wearing, sometimes it looks like i have a pseudo shelf-butt. from a side angle, it looks like theres a little pooch that sticks out past the round fullness of my hip/lower back/butt. i cannot stop thinking about my shelf butt. about who's gonna notice my shelf butt. about how all the kids are going to make fun of me and play pranks like set a vase or a gramaphone on my shelf butt when i'm not looking! behold the mysteries of the human body! behold the shelf butt! AHHH!!!

you know that film that my guy did the soundtrack for? it was accepted as part of this local film festival. tonite we are attending a viewing. i'm freaking out, people! FREAKING OUT! what if my shelf butt destroys the place? what if it doesn't fit into the seat? what if someone at the reception mistakes my shelf butt for a side table and tries to place their drink on it?? what if it tries to TAKE OVER THE WORLD??


breathing... breathing... serenity now.


for all my hysterics, i actually feel a lot better having written down all of these feelings... like i just vented all the 'insane' out the cargo doors, leaving the calm to reclaim me. i won't have much time to get ready when i get home, but i've got a plan... just a quick change of blouses, a jacket and some accessories and i'm sure i'll walk out the door feeling 100% better than i do right now...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

button bliss

today i was able to fasten a button that i haven't been able to close in a long time.


funny how the simple act of buttoning a button can color the whole day with magic, wonder, and delight.



i've also found that there is magic in these wise words over at fat as hell.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

are you losing weight?

is it just me or is this one of those questions that sends shockwaves of fear through others, as well?

one of my coworkers approached me recently and said, "are you losing weight?" the rational part of my mind knows that her tone was innocent enough, that she was likely proffering a compliment, but here's what the irrational, and in-control part of me (at the time) saw and heard:


i was minding my own business, happily humming a peppy little tune, waiting for the copier to churn out all 5 trillion color copies of my latest project, when one of my coworkers approached, stopped mid-stride, turned to me. she scanned me up and down like a cylon assessing whether to blast my human ass away or identify me as similar to her: a non-threatening run of the mill cog. noting her pause in my peripheral vision and sensing possible danger, i abruptly stopped humming and slowly reached for my trusty side arm, a terrifyingly swift stapler.

suddenly the skies darkened, the roof violently flew off the fourth floor of the office building. thick red clouds started churning overhead. i looked over at my coworker who was morphing into a fearsomely, huge demon with an evil, knowing smile slowly spreading over menacing, yellowed teeth.


she pointed a long, gnarled, accusatory talon at me. "ARE YOU LOSING WEIGHT?" she boomed.
i could feel myself shrinking, wilting in the face of this horrifying accusation. i could do nothing but tremble before the creature, mouth agape in sheer horror.

"ARE YOU LOSING WEIGHT?!"
the beast screeched again, louder than the din of the surrounding hellfire.


"i... i... i... "i quietly stuttered.

the loathsome beast just glared down at me with piercing, red eyes.


"well i guess i've lost a
little weight... ab-b-b-bout eight pounds or so..." no response. i was snared in her all consuming judgment-filled gaze. "i've b-b-b-been doing weight watchers for a few months," i stammered on, trying to fill the silent void. "i mean i know it's been a few months, and if i were really following the program the right way, i would probably be down a little more... but it's been good so far... i mean i have so much more to go... but you know, it works for a lazy-ass like me..."

my self deprecating spiral was suddenly halted by Joe Poke, another coworker. instantly the roof returned to the building and my coworker magically resumed her original shape.

"um, excuse me - are you almost done with the copy machine?" Pokey, Office Shlub interrupted.


"uh... yeah - almost done here." i said, still reeling from the terrifying exchange moments ago.

Pokey wandered off, leaving me with my shape-shifting coworker. without skipping a beat, she said, "well, whatever you're doing, you look good. i can totally see it in your face." then she walked away.


what the hay? what was that? was i just complimented or slighted? and by who? did i just totally insult myself for like five minutes??


i'm pretty sure (rational me here) that my coworker was only passing on a nice compliment. i don't think that she was saying wow. your face used to be so fat before that we had an office pool going as to whether you were smuggling puppies or lawn furniture in your neck folds... btw, deck chairs won.

i realize that i also need to subscribe to the less is more camp... not only with portion control, but with diarrhea of the mouth. a simple "i have" would have been a perfectly acceptable response to 'are you losing weight.' i need to remember that i don't have to defend myself for my diet. i don't have to disparage my successes or my body. nor do i have to go into extended detail about how i got a few pounds down. (besides, who really wants to hear that tedious crap, anyway?) finally, i need not forget about my trusty stapler, which, in a pinch could really help me 'zip it'... or, er... staple it?? (the mouth... not the stomach... you know, just to be clear.)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

home again home again jiggity jig

i got home mid-week last week. i was exhausted and newly sick, but utterly delighted that my dad was well into recovery and even walking around by the time i left. as a matter of fact, he was doing so well that the hospital released him on wednesday. it boggles the mind to think that 4 days prior to his release, he was on an operating table with his thoracic cavity completely exposed and his heart unable to function on its own.

i spent the entire plane ride to chicago steeling myself against the potential bullshit factor that i just knew was waiting for me. my mom picked me up at the airport, gave me a quick hug, then shoved a large cookie at me. "here we go" i thought as i turned down the baked goods. i couldn't have been more wrong in my assumptions, though. the visit was surprisingly really really good. all but one of my siblings returned home. my younger brother and sister stayed for nearly a week longer than i did, but i'm really glad that i went back even if it was for just a long weekend. my mom was the epitome of graciousness - which completely took me by surprise. and my sibs were supportive and generous with their compassion and helpfulness. there was no weird undercurrent of animosity or agenda. it was just really pleasant.

one morning, before visiting hours, i ducked into a salon for a much needed cut and color. about an hour into my highlighting, my mom called the salon. since there was no one else in the shop, we could clearly hear the desk clerk talking about me. she was telling someone that i was in the middle of my appointment. i said some snide comment to my stylist about how it was
probably my mother and how it would be her drama queen style to call the salon instead of my cell phone to relay information on my dad's status. turns out she called to give her credit card number to pay for my visit. wow. i sheepishly joked about putting my foot in my mouth to the stylist and sat there for the rest of the dye job feeling like a total louse.

the exchange at the salon got me thinking though. i was surprised at how quick i was to disparage my mother. as soon as i heard that she was on the phone, i immediately went into blame mode. how shitty of me. my knee jerk reaction at the salon also caused me to reflect on my interaction with my mom when she first relayed the news about my dad... perhaps it was i who was the drama queen? maybe it was me who was overreacting to the news? me who was getting all spun up? after all, i am my mother's daughter...

my dad's sister flew out from the east coast, too. she is another crazy broad with her own set of issues. my mom and my aunt have never really gotten along and in recent years, their relationship has escalated to all out war. my aunt booked a ticket and rented a car, but made no lodging accommodations. i was delightfully surprised at how my mom handled the situation. she attempted to clear the air with my aunt before the rest of us got to chicago and even offered an apology to my aunt. she also extended her home and included my aunt in all the family activities. (of course, my mom bitched to me about how my aunt didn't offer an apology or responsibility for any of the bad blood between the two of them, but that my mom was able to shelf that shit for the duration of the visit? well bravo, mama. bravo.)

anyway, it feels good to be home... dare i say... i was actually looking forward to returning to los angeles? my, how the tide has turned...

i'm sending a prayer of thanks out to the universe - i'm grateful to have an extensive community of support both online and in person. i'm grateful that my father is making an amazing recovery. i'm grateful for my family. i'm grateful for change, and surprises, and for the ability to admit when i'm wrong. and i'm grateful to be home.

Friday, March 28, 2008

the 4-1-1

blargh.

that about sums up my mood right now. this morning i woke up to five text messages from my mom. the last one said "here's my credit card number to book a flight home." let the drama begin!

after a rough nite, my dad is stable. he had double bypass surgery last night. there was an episode of internal bleeding that the docs couldn't stop for a little while. it was likely due to all the blood thinners that my dad has been on since the stents were put in a few months ago. now he is in a drug-induced coma while the docs do a risk assessment - how much do they thicken his blood to help the healing and how thin do they have to keep it to avoid deep vein thrombosis or clotting. they're going to take him out of the coma this evening.

i ended up calling my little brother on the way to work. he lives on the east coast and i figured that he was in a later time zone than me, he had probably received the run down already that morning. he's not one to get very excitable and so i figured that he was a safe bet to get some straight up factual info from. it was nice to talk to him, but i could hear the weariness and fear in his voice.

when i finally did talk to my mom i asked how she was doing and she said, "well. i'm glad i'm by myself right now. i don't think i would be able to handle anyone stirring up drama or being hysterical right now." i am not kidding. those were her exact words. and yet, here she is sending cryptic text messages about coming home and complications with my dad's surgery. sending us camera pics of his unconscious body tangled up with tubes and gauze and monitoring machines. spinning all the rest of us up.

i decided to go home. i'm going to try to find a flight this evening and stay for the weekend. i keep waffling back and forth between should i go? maybe i shouldn't go? i keep trying to figure out what the right thing to do is. my guy said "follow your heart". i can't tell the difference between what my head is telling me and what my heart is feeling. i want to retreat. retreat! retreat!! i want to go to sleep through this whole ordeal. i don't want to deal with it. i don't want to be around my dad in his current condition and the rest of my family because i know i'll want to cry, but i don't want to be vulnerable in front of them. i'm scared that they'll ridicule and make light of my feelings, that they'll turn my tears into a jokey punchline. none of my family knows how to respect grief. none of my family knows how to just sit and listen. none of my family knows how to be gentle and careful with tender emotions.

last night when i was ready to break, i thought i wanted to be alone. i didn't even want my guy around to see me all weepy and teary about this. i realize that what i wanted was to be able to cry openly, to be free to be scared, to have whatever emotions that were coming up and out of me just BE. i realize that i shied away from my guy because i didn't want to be offered a solution or encouragement. i didn't want to have to talk about it. i didn't want my emotional turmoil to be the center of attention. i just wanted to BE. i wasn't able to ask him to just be there with me. i didn't know that's what i needed. this is going to be the hardest part about going home - the inability to just be, whatever that may look like. i feel like i'll have to guard myself against the sideways jabs and funny barbs that my family tends to exchange in the face of grief. i'm worried that i'll have to compartmentalize and box up my feelings. i've worked really hard this past year to break those habits, to let it out before i eat it down.

what better way to try out my new coping skills than to go into the belly of the beast, though, eh?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

scared

my mom called me first thing this morning. she said that my dad called 911 last night and went to the hospital due to heart issues. about two months ago he had angioplasty and 5 stents put into two arteries. he's been in cardio rehab since. my folks own a home in chicago and a little summer/holiday place on lake michigan an hour away. my mom happened to be at the lake house that night so my dad was all alone when it happened. she gave me the news this morning as she was driving back in a blizzard to be with my dad. she said he was fine, no heart trauma, they'll do another angiogram later in the morning to see if more angioplasty is needed. i cried quietly on the phone so she couldn't hear my tears. i didn't want anyone at work to know i was crying either. i called my dad immediately after getting off the phone with my mom. he sounded weak but brave. he sounded a little unsure and a little scared. when i hung up i started to eat. there were some mixed nuts in my drawer and a few chocolate truffles. i ate all the truffles and was putting away the nuts at an impressive pace. i felt numb. i was scared. i was too ashamed to let my fearful tears be seen or heard by my folks or by my coworkers.

soon after i got home from work my mom called to say there was a problem with one of the stents and that there was too much trauma to my dad's heart from the angioplasty. they have to do bypass surgery tonight. i wanted to break down. i want to sob. i want my dad to be safe and healthy. but my mom was being such a fucking drama queen. i'm angry with her. i don't feel safe when i talk to her. i feel like she's been spinning the situation out of control just so she can make me cry and then try to soothe me. i didn't give her the satisfaction of making me cry. soon after i got off the phone with her, my guy came home. i told him what was going on, but i still didn't cry.

an hour or so ago my mom called again and conferenced called my siblings in. she was pulling the same dramatics. i happened to make a salad right before she called so i put the phone on speaker and shoveled the salad in while she talked.

i feel a tightness in my chest that needs release. i want to stuff it down with food and drink. i want to be numb right now. i'm pissed that my mom can't behave like a normal, caring mother. i'm angry that i can't feel grief over my father's mortality. the tightness in my chest is causing pain. it's swelling. why do i feel like i can't let it out? why is it so goddamn hard to just let it erupt? i don't even want to let my guy see me cry right now.

i'm scared. i'm angry. i feel helpless. i'm sure everything with my dad will be fine. bypass surgery these days is fairly routine with great odds of success and recovery. he's at one of the best hospitals in the country. he's in good health (besides the heart). he's relatively young. he'll be fine. but what if he dies? what if he doesn't make it? what if i never get to see him again?

i'm feeling a ton of animosity towards my mother right now, too. i know she's sad. i know she's hurting and scared but i fucking HATE how she goes about her emotional crises. every time i've talked to her today i feel like she's baiting me with an overly dramatic doom and gloom picture. when we were conference calling with my sibs she directed us, "now go have a good cry. then eat. or do whatever you need to do." DON'T FUCKING TELL ME HOW TO FEEL. DON'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO. christ i'm pissed. i wish she could have just calmly doled out the facts, asked us if we had any questions, asked us how we felt and told us that she was scared and sad herself. instead i got a bunch of theatrics and 'you're probably feeling like this and that... it's ok. but your dad looks exactly the way my dad did before he died of heart failure.' seriously? no. i don't need the dramatic punctuation. instead of acting like the glue that binds us together, instead of soothing us with her own come from, she's spinning us all up like fucking whirling dervishes - trying to see how much dirt she can kick up, trying to see just how frenetic she can get us.

the tears are coming now. hot, moody tears of release. now i'm worried that my guy will wander into the office while i'm sitting here, furiously typing and quietly crying. i don't want him to see me like this. it feels too vulnerable. i feel like this is too raw... like i have to mete out my emotions in front of him on this one. this sucks. i'm not ready to deal with the death of a parent. i'm sure my dad will be just fine. but still... i'm unaccustomed to letting the grief in. i'm not comfortable with letting it have time and space in my heart and head. i'm comfortable with finding my way to the bottom of an oreo bag.

whew.

i feel quite a bit better for having gotten all of this out. i feel exhausted now and my eyes are swollen and heavy from crying. my chest feels a little less tight. i don't feel the psychotic compulsion to sneak attack the kitchen cupboards. i think i'm going to wander off to bed and maybe cry into my pillows a little more...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

a change of clothes

my sister just left after a week of staying with me. we had a delightful time but after so many days in hostess mode, i'm spent! my whole life was on hold the entire time she was here and now it's time to get back on track.

i was anxiously awaiting her arrival. i always have a good time with my sister. ours is a tight bond, forged in poop jokes and silly repetitive word play and lots and lots of laughter. i planned a lot of activities for us and we had fun, but i couldn't help but feel pangs of something 'missing' for the entire duration of her stay.

yesterday, we woke before the crack of dawn and got her on her merry way back to school. once she was gone i was left to bob in the wake of an emotional sea churned up by her presence.

when i finally got home last night, i was struck by the onslaught of pensive thought that wedged itself between me and an early bedtime. i mulled over the slightly 'off' feeling that punctuated the visit with my sister. it wasn't negative or resentful - i didn't have a bad time with her. it was more... sadness... or grief... or perhaps just a somber flatness. i don't really know how to label this feeling... it was different... but not new, either.

this same feeling occurred the last time i went back to chicago for a quick visit. i was so excited to see my girlfriends, to spend an evening bearing witness to each other's stories, to reconnect, to just bask in the warmhearted goodness between good friends. the night fell short of my concocted fantasy even though it was full of goodwill and merriment, but it was definitely... different. there was a palpable change that had taken place between all of us and i wasn't prepared for it. the intimacy that comes with being in physical proximity was gone. the inside jokes and banter about the minutiae of jobs and partners and daily life was foreign to me. i had missed much being away for 7 months.


so when my sister's visit brought up the same feelings inside of me, i was thrown. i mean, this is MY SISTER. there is no changing here! this is sacred space. this is familiar space. this is the root of me. how can our relationship feel
different?

at first i thought it might have been all on her. i mean she is in the midst of some major life changing stuff. she's graduating from her undergraduate studies in june and immediately shuffling off to grad school. she hasn't decided which offer to accept yet for her higher learning. she's preparing to sell her condo upon graduating this summer, move to a new city, start anew. i know the turmoil that all of these things can cause so my first instinct was to project my own troubled feelings onto her. maybe she did bring her baggage on vacation with her, but i know better than to pass the buck for my feelings. i'm feeling the way i am because something is going on inside of me... not because something may or may not be going on with my sis.


then i thought it might have to do with the living arrangements while she was here... in our small place...which is good enough for two but too small for three. i am a creature of habit. and boundaries. the environment in which i grew up knew no boundaries and many of my family members (e.g. my loveable sissy sister) still operate wtihout boundaries. maybe this was the cause of my discontent... my sister camped out on the couch, being ever present in my space. my lack of privacy, quiet time, me time. hmmm. no. this isn't it, either.


perhaps my lingering flatness was due to my tendancies to resort to old/unhealty patterns when i'm around my family? not only did i excuse myself from eating healthy, but i kind of went tits up in the other direction. we subsisted on a steady stream of cheesy poofs, peanut m&ms, and dining out while my sister was here. by the end of her visit, i had perpetual sour stomach and my sugar crash felt something akin to heroin withdrawl. my poor body was wrecked and crying out for leafy greens. i couldn't wait to get back to my routine, to the mandatory, plain fare of cottage cheese and carrot sticks. maybe the lost feeling could be attributed to my lack of willpower and my giving over to the dark side, having a food free-for-all for the past few days. this might be it, but still... just doesn't feel like the right answer.


one afternoon we wandered over to melrose ave where we toured a flea market and walked up and down the never-ending stretch of bohemian vendors and vintage clothing stores. the first time i visited los angeles was an exciting one.
without ever having been, at some point in my life i developed a fairly negative bias towards the town. imagine my surprise to find that not only was my unwarranted opinion wrong, but i delighted in los angeles once i got a taste of it. i drank in the weather, the energetic buzz of the city, the amazing, kitschy shopping. in one weekend i fell in love with the artsyness, the hunger, the boldness of this town and just KNEW that i had to live here. that was four years ago. until my sis came for a visit, i hadn't really retraced the steps i took those short years ago. so when the opportunity arose, i was giddy with the prospect of revisiting melrose, wistfully remembering the treasures i found there, eager to show my sister how cool the area was. once we started walking around though, i was numb with the realization that none of it - not the colorful store fronts, not the wacky styles, not the incense-scented air - NONE OF IT was appealing to me anymore. we wandered into a hip little used clothes joint where so many years ago i found a veronique branquinho dress for less than $20, a loop guitar-shaped shoulder bag, and sparkly slippers - treasures of immeasurable happiness! instead of feeling the thrill of the hunt rush through me in undulating waves of exquisite shopping excitement, i felt grodytothemax as i dodged rows of used shoes and shimmied past size 00 club wear. i turned to my guy moments after walking in the door. "i think i've outgrown this place," i said with a twinge of sadness. he gave a slow, knowing nod while looking around the store, "yep. we really have. the thought of wearing any of this shit kind of gives me the creeps." i was crestfallen. crushed. instead of celebrating my adulthood, i grieved for lost adolescence. i padded back to the car feeling stunned. when did i get old? shit! is this midlife crisis?

surely this epiphany must be the source of my discontent? and yet... no.

then what is the cause of this weird, unsettled feeling? and what exactly is the feeling?

after having my space and routine back, and after kicking the question around for a day, i think i know what's going on. and it is new for me. it is different and foreign and therefore unsettling. i am coming into adulthood and i am coming into self. instead of seeking self definition from external stimulus that comes from a full social calendar full of dates with friends and family, i am now looking inward. i am looking inside myself to define myself. i am in process. i am feeling this adulthood/womanhood/self love thing out. i am trying it on, seeing how it fits. this phase i'm in is a new article of clothing - something i know i want, but that i've never seen before. i have an idea of how i'm supposed to wear it, but i'm still pulling it on over my head, figuring out where my arms can stretch through it, letting it settle naturally on my curves.

as i gaze inward, i see things coming into focus. i recognize that the past few months of engaging my body in a loving way is the result of quiet reflection and internal work. because i don't have all of the social dates and family gatherings and other 'stuff' that required my attention in chicago, i've been able to spend quality time with my self. alone time. belly time. this revelation frees me from feeling resentful towards los angeles and my temporary life here. this realization allows me to feel grateful for this time in my life. it eases the pain of missing my girlfriends and my family. i kind of feel like celebrating now! this IS an exciting time in my life. but it is quiet excitement, peaceful celebration. no fanfare necessary. just simple knowing feels good.

the visit with my sister helped me pull up and out and take a look from a different angle. thank you, sissy sister. thank you for holding a mirror up to me. i think i like what i see. it's definitely different, but it feels... right.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

to kiss off or not to kiss off

i've been thinking about breaking up with weight watchers lately... mostly because i found that sparkpeople.com offers the same thing... for free...

a couple of posts ago, i wrote about how distraught i was with my slow weight loss pace. i made light of my loss and wrote it off as not being a REAL, serious weight reduction, but the normal weight fluctuation that every body experiences. how could i be so cruel to myself? self, i'm so sorry to deny you all of your efforts and hard work. as you well know, i can be... a little testy... sometimes...

so imagine my delighted surprise when i discovered a feature on w.w. online that i haven't previously played around with - the weight tracker graph. my interaction with weight watchers online is extremely limited. i log my food, my exercise and my weight. that's it. i don't dig around in the recipes, i don't care what the w.w. bloggers have to say. i don't tool around in the other features of the site. i don't feel any connection to the company or to the community - i just want a place to log my food, a place to be accountable for every single thing i eat - and this online offering seems to be palatable enough for me to keep up with.

i happened to come upon this additional feature when i was logging in my weekly weight . i noticed an option to view my weight loss in a graph... what to my wondering eyes did appear, but a distinct downward trending line signifying less rear!! from my start weight to my current weight, it was undeniable... this here was scientific proof that my loss is real. it's taken a goddamn long ass time to get 8 pounds down, but it's a real loss!


after such a lovely revelation, maybe i should rethink the idea of giving weight watchers the old heave ho... maybe i'll stick with it a little longer... after all, it's cheap ($17/mo), it's non-intrusive, it allows me to keep my pace, i'm familiar with it... and yet, after joining sparkpeople.com, i realized that they offer all of the things i liked about w.w... but in a slightly different presentation. sparkpeeps suggest a daily calorie plan, not the hokey "points" artifice invented by some corporate shill in the corner office at w.w. i found that after a couple of days logging my food at spark, looking at caloric intake makes the weight loss process a little more 'real' in my mind. tracking my activity throughout the week by minutes worked out or miles moved is way more satisfying than knowing i worked towards 2 or 3 lame ass points.


so why do i stay with w.w.? nothing about weight watchers makes me feel warm and fuzzy. the company feels canned, pandering, a tiny bit... malevolent. i have no real facts to base this bias on other than my limited experience with them a few years ago. they're pretty harmless. the online option is a great way to forgo the bullshit that i imagine i would encounter at the meetings. and yet, i truly dislike weight watchers. the company is like that off-putting chemical-tinged aftertaste that comes from one of their low points novelty ice creams... there's something that's just a bit... off... about weight watchers. (slightly off topic, but is it just me or is it totally humiliating to purchase their packaged food? i hate that all of their products are smothered in large point, large font branding that screams THIS IS A WEIGHT WATCHERS ITEM. which is really code for THIS IS A FATTY BUYING FAKE JUNK FOOD BECAUSE FATTY IS WATCHING HER WEIGHT.)


i don't know. maybe i'll leave 'em in the dust. maybe i won't. i must admit that for all my attitude towards them, they have brought me further in my weight loss journey than any other diet or plan before... they keep me accountable. they show me how much progress i've made in nifty little charts. they offer a variety of low point delectables that, although probably full of plastic and carcinogens, satisfy sugar cravings (if you eat like 30 of them:).


hmmm... after rereading that last paragraph i realize that i give w.w. too much credit...
they haven't brought me this far, they don't keep me accountable... I've been doing all the work here... weight watchers online has merely been the vehicle to help me get to where i am.

perhaps it is time to trade in that old vehicle for a new one... so long as i stay on the road to weight loss and a healthy relationship with food. i think i'm ready to take my training wheels off, to quit disguising my calories as 'points'. i think i'm ready for change.