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?