Thursday, March 21, 2013

Fat Girl

A couple of months ago I had a revelation. Like all revelations, it happened fast but was a long time coming.

Just like that. It turns out I am fat.

Not a little chubby, not 'lose a few pounds' and be at my all time ideal weight. No kids, this time its for real. I am overweight. Over. More than. Too much. I have checked the BMI calculator and determined that there is a range I can fall into and things will be OK. I am NOT in the range right now.

I have been alerted to this problem for some time, and several pounds ago I thought, Hmm .. maybe I should lose this weight...and yet I had no idea where to start or what to do.

Yet again I was busy ignoring this and then I hit up a dressing room. You see, I don't shop for clothing every single day.  I don't have a full length mirror in either bathroom or my bedroom and haven't actually seen myself in one since, well, fuck- a long time. I KNOW! I KNOW! Then I tried on clothing in front of a full length mirror with another one behind me and the 360 effect was chilling.

Not bone chilling, because there is too much blubber on top to chill my bones, but terrifying nonetheless...

I am in relatively good health and yet, my body is trying to morph into a strange shape to accommodate all of the Costco muffins and bread and pasta I have ingested. Clothes don't fit. Bras don't fit. Where did these boobs come from?  Not cool. So not cool. I was so distracted by this new development I started thinking about an Exercycle and rice cakes. You may not even remember these 80's relics of weight loss, but let me tell you- I was scared straight.

I've got the same problem that a lot of people do: I do a LOT of things- I go to work every day,  I am responsible for a house and a budget and a child, several pets, being the best wife I can be, connecting to family and friends as often as I can...and I get all of that done. What I don't do: WORK OUT. That is why I am fat. I am not moving at a pace that will keep my heart rate up and the constant little errands and dry cleaning and dishes and laundry and dinner and and and are keeping me from being who I am.

I'm losing myself. Literally. Under mounds of excess flesh. Gross.

I'm also losing myself in that I am always lost in a series of small but endless things to do to keep the ship running at regular speed, and all the while, no one is getting anywhere. No one will be happy. And I will get even fatter.

I know what I had to do and my sister and I began stretching and moving and calisthenics and aerobic exercise for at least 30-60 minutes. We'd get together and burn up a whole bunch of calories. It was great. That lasted a while. But she lives far away and old habits die hard. I found myself worried about it, then stagnant. One day I woke up and thought about how ridiculous it is that I can explain to other people how not to drive their life in a circle and I was not taking my own advice.

Now I am just moving, trying, changing, taking walks during the workday, drinking vegetable juices for breakfast. You have to do something different to get something different. I will have to change or I will have this talk with myself again in two years. The time will pass either way. What do you want to have on the other side of that time?

I had the motivation but no idea where to start to really change things. Not just start drinking spinach first thing in the morning, but how do you start to become someone else? Someone who is living a healthier life? You stop.

I stopped getting home and rushing around. I stopped believing that I could put taking care of myself at the end of my to do list instead of at the beginning. I stopped making myself feel bad for not being the same size I was in high school and I stopped comparing myself to others. I stopped coming in the door from work and tearing apart the kitchen, as if a clean sink and a homemade meal were some kind of insurance against being a bad person and if I just kept cleaning, I would be fine. I stopped being that which I caution others against. I stopped hiding myself behind chores.

Sometimes I sit down and don't get up for a bit. Sometimes I immediately change and go outside and walk the dogs, for  the exercise and sanity that helps all parties involved. A couple of weeks ago I had the best dog walk I've had in 2 years with these dogs. Best walk. It could be because I wasn't pulled down the street by a mangy mutt, but I believe it was also a great walk, because for me, I was finally headed somewhere. I was headed toward me.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Saving Feminism

Today I had a spark -the kind where a small fire started in the center of my brain, spread out and encompassed everything with its purposeful flames. I have been wondering (i.e. ranting) about how women both young and mature have lately eschewed the term feminism. They are afraid to be labeled as such, and make all sorts of back pedaling murmurings about how they believe in equality, they love that women have the right to make decisions for their bodies, believe in equal pay for equal work, and all other hallmarks of the movement, but no, they, themselves, are not a feminist.

Let's put this into perspective. Say you are eating an ice cream cone. You are enjoying the crispy wafer of cone, the sensual smooth feeling of ice cold creaminess on your tongue on a hot, sweaty day. You are licking away at this thing like it holds the meaning to life when someone comes up to you and asks, "Do you think ice cream is a good idea?" and boldly, without reservation, you lick your lips, hold your cone even more firmly in hand and reply, "Nope."

Perhaps you are confused. It could be the brain freeze from too much cold on your upper palate. Or maybe you feel that the term "ice cream" does not actually describe the wonderful treat you are enjoying like its your last meal. Another possibility- you don't know what you have in your hand at all. That yummy frozen delectable to you has no name, its just another thing you love about life and about being you, which is analogous to bouquets of daisies, unicorns and butterflies stopping slightly to rest on puppy ears.

I want to examine an as-yet-unmentioned possibility for the problematic scene above. Maybe, just maybe, someone has spoon fed you (pun intended) the idea that "ice cream" means a bitter taste. A hateful, spiteful, tar like substance that is never to be created nor ingested. There is the possibility that someone has ruined the term 'ice cream' and made it sound like something you want no part of and will not associate yourself with.

This, dear readers, is what I believe has happened to the word feminism. In order to call one's self a feminist, one must realize that a large proportion of society, both men and women, younger and older, have been taught and passed onto others the idea that feminism means feminazi. That the term really means jack booted female thugs in ugly clothing with too much black eye makeup (and not enough mammary support garments) rioting outside of a government building while living unwashed in tents, burning traditional text books and listening to angry punk music or, gasp! the Cranberries.

Let me try, in my small way, with my minuscule readership, in this tiny corner of the world, to set the record straight. I am a feminist. I am raising my child to be a feminist. My husband is a feminist. My brothers are feminist, my sisters are feminists and I am glad to have been raised by a feminist. To my knowledge, all of my readers are feminists. To be so means to hold the belief that women are equal in rights and importance to men. That women deserve the right to vote, own property, go wherever they please within the law and should not apologize for being born female. That women should aspire to all things their hearts and minds are open to and need no further introduction than their name, or occupation as when you might introduce a man... (We are not "lady-cops" or "lady-doctors" etc.)

To be feminist is to know that women hold an equal place in the world next to men, not second to and not in front of. A feminist holds dear that girls should be given the same educational opportunities, that women should be given the same career and earning opportunities, and should never be punished or excluded for the biology that makes us the bearer of children as infants into the world.

So the next time someone comes up to you while you are enjoying the sweet freedom that is equality and asks you if you believe in feminism, stand tall, square your shoulders, look them in the eye and say, "Why, yes, I do!" Because if you really and truly do not believe in feminism, you need to put down the awesomeness that is the freedom and equality of living in a place where feminism even exists. Go live somewhere it doesn't and then come and beg for that back. I dare you.

How to Stage an Apocalypse and Become Oprah

You have to have a plan in life. it is good to look up to successful people, to find a worthwhile mentor. It is nice to have a general idea of how you would like things to turn out. But a LIFE PLAN is essential. Going without it for a long time, you will find yourself drifting. Other people will take advantage of your 
drifti-tude and suck you into their problems and make your lack of aim their prize. Don't let this happen to you. Get a plan. My plan is to stage the Apocalypse and become Oprah.

My plan is based on a few principles; I am smart, funny, interesting and I have a lot of things to say to people about the world, climate change, women, gender roles, parenting, education, poverty, ineptitude, relationships, people's expectations, you name it. People love to talk about themselves, so getting them going is never that tough. Everyone is already sick of Dr. Phil and his crap, and the world has real problems that need solving.

I predict that I will begin writing first, and I will get a great following of people who have not heard enough tough love from their 'everyone gets a trophy' life they led, I will then publish a book..probably called "NO, you do not get a trophy for participating' or something similar and then I will be making the rounds on talk shows and asked to guest host and guest blog and give talks to businesses and schools about how to stop whining and get it done. I have always wanted to counsel people, but en masse- that's what I'm talking about!

I will veer back to thoughts of teaching and maybe do some before I realize that I can make a better living doing other things instead of teaching and that you just can't teach fabulous.

I will be famous and amazing and I will regularly use all of the material my office life has given me to prove what you do not and should not have to put up with. Then all of those people will hear that and be angry and insulted and alternately gloating that obviously they are the reason I made it big. Suckers. All of them. I will rake in the dough while laughing at the pathetic image of them whining on and on and on about it all while saying they don't care. The irony! The absolute perfection of it will be intoxicating. I will wake myself from the haze of it with the smell of all my money. 

This is when you know you have become Oprah. All of the people that told her she would never succeed, all of the haters that said she would never make any real money or that people were only helping her because they felt bad for her couldn't get past the gates at her house now.

Now its getting fun. Because although I am stuck in the swamp of madness, I will wash off all of the crazy and I will emerge with stories to tell and laughs to elicit and people to amaze with my ability to suss out the reality of the situation, pull it right out of your chest while its still beating and show it to you. You will have thought that was your secret, that you were hiding that and no one knew. All at once, the show will implode and you will realize that not only do I know but I've known all along. There will be laughter, then, for sure- but it will only be mine.

You don't have to actually become Oprah. She is a living, breathing human being and I don't want to be personally responsible for having unleashed Dr. Phil on the world, so there is that. But you do need a plan. You need to believe that the sky is the limit and that there is nothing to stop you. In order to achieve your apocalyptic life change, you have to stop having sympathy for those people who refuse to have a plan and therefore want to put the kibash on yours. Get mean if you have to. 

I want to be nicer about it. To listen, nodding, wide-eyed, appearing to be super interested in your every word and listen to you blather on about how this is not going to happen. It seems like it might make you feel better. I want that. Like I want to be a better gardener, or know how to properly clean tile.... I can already do it, it might be good to get better at it, but I will give up on it in a heartbeat for something more interesting and amazing. 

Instead, I will become something more interesting and amazing. And you will sit, listening, wide-eyed and mouth agape at my every word. Just like you are doing now. Muaaahahahahah!

List of Don'ts

I realize that this blog is becoming a list of things you should NOT do. I don't have any problem with that. I have exactly 3 readers and I don't think they have any problem with that. Lately I have been surrounded by people who have some level of personality disorder. I feel that I should address this in a safe place where I can judge all of them at once without the messiness of their whining and emotions about it.

 All of the above being said, let's get on with today's list:

Don't be annoying.
Don't have a weird, off-putting personality.
Don't be clingy.
Don't pretend to be silly and immature and young and dumb to cajole people into doing things for you. We all know. We all hate you.
Don't use the little girl voice. If you are an adult, its a voice. You know who you are.
Don't overuse the laugh to flirt with people in inappropriate settings and situations.
Don't think that asking a different way is not the same as asking again. You know it is. Stop.
Don't talk too long, and not seem to know when to leave. If it seems weird, get out already.
Don't keep asking a question that has already been answered. See above.
Don't think that everyone is interested in you and that you are so damn interesting. (Hint: If you have to keep  finding an audience to listen, it is because you are NOT interesting or they would already be there.)
Don't disregard this notice. If you can't keep a job or a lover or a marriage or a conversation,
DON'T do another thing before you check in with the above list. Apply it liberally, as needed, no limit.