Saturday, June 30, 2007

A Month of Two Full Moons

Goodbye, June. We went through some heavy rains together, roses & lilies, the Rose Moon & now a Blue Moon.

I cancelled therapy today. I woke up at 10.20 with the start of a cold, too limp to lift a finger beyond the weekend dog obligations -- it became apparent that I had no energy for either the subway/self-revelation or the dinner party I was invited to this evening. I'm running that small fever that's under the skin: I feel normal to the touch but can feel the burn on my cheeks & forehead & the tops of my thighs.

I feel beaten up, as well I might be, as though this moon-heavy month has pulled me this way & that. Part of how I'm feeling comes from getting off sugar yet fucking again. Part is crashing after the plane ride from hell on Wednesday. "You're due, honey," I tell myself. "This is inevitable." But I miss my old energy.

It was a gorgeous day, even for someone with fever under her skin if she stayed in the shade. We walked Mellie & ran into lots of people we know, some of them by their dog's name: Izzy, Roger, Stanley. Tom rushed out of the store to play with Daisy's mind & to tell me about the spate of complaints he's gotten lately, providing a good deep laugh I sorely needed. I managed to vacuum a very little, write one email, clean my desk up sort of. It's 7.30 & I bet I'm in bed by 9.

So what's a crazed girl to do when she's got a fever & sore throat & the woozies of getting sick? Order smacking-firey chicken vindaloo (use only under adult supervision) & two pairs of jammies.

Time to wash the dish, stash the left-overs & clean some Italian grayhound crates. If we're lucky, Daisy & I will make the turn onto the Promenade in time to fall in love with the fireflies...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Be it ever so humble...

2.oo p.m. Sun City, AZ 6/26
Ah, the Bat Cave. There's no place like home, even though I've been up for 27 hours (with catnaps on planes), Henry just chewed the back of one of my favorite flip-flops, I got eaten alive in the dog run by little flies & I'm retaining so much water that the skin on my shins feel as taut as a drum & there are creases in my ankles as though I've been wearing too-tight Mary Janes.

It's warm & humid out today but a shower has solved the worst of it & a diuretic will help drain my drums. Red wine & airplane travel do this to me. I'm sore from sugar & slipping on Henry's stoop a week ago & landing on my butt with the small of my back jammed against the step behind me. But the dogs are exhausted from an hour of fetch in the swelter & I'm sitting in my robe thanking God it's not 120 degrees in shadeless shameless sunshine.

I did not do this trip abstinently or even with much dignity. One night, in fact, I levitated into a dozen cookies & the next day my mother chirped, "Oh! We have some cookies, don't we? I think I'll have a cookie." No, I was forced to say. They're gone. "But we just got them yes- -- oh. OK."

She knows.

I knew only that the package wasn't there with a dim recollection of eating a couple at 3 a.m. But the package was in my room, empty. Scary.

Do I regret this? Of course. It's embarrassing, it's not keeping my pact with God, my sponsor, my program, you.

But I studied my compulsion to really go at it in my parents' house. I'm increasingly imprisoned there -- too hot to get out much, a new car that's confusing to drive, my mother on oxygen with extremely limited energy. The squirming of being expected to...something. Tell them things that are too complicated, or simply to talk when I don't really talk very much. The boredom of the frequent naps they lapse into, Dr. Phil & Wheel of Fortune. The need I have to get away with something, to get something of my own when I'm with them.

I told a friend this morning that I sometimes long to be able to tell my mom the stuff I would have five or ten or fifteen years ago. How I operate out of depression. The little romantic heartbreaks I've had lately. I can't. Her world & her life are slowly but inexorably imploding & her job now is to breathe, sleep, take pills, conserve her small energy to pull through another day, most especially for the sake of my blind father. It's my turn, now, to listen to her frustrations, prognoses, aches & attacks. To lay my deeper feelings on her would be another worry to nag her into living under the cloud of worry that my father's needs already thicken her lungs.

So I talk about the dogs. I tell them the simplest things about my book. I showed her my pictures on flckr. I ask for news of the rest of the family & old friends. I answer her questions & describe what I'd like to do by learning decoupage, how much I like taking photos. I bought her Memoirs of a Geisha because she said she didn't know what was the must-read that she'd like. (Personally I found Middlesex to be pretty boring despite my mother's adoration of Oprah.) I ask about the past.

Mostly I slept, great droughts of sleep that took up hours. I'd wake to read the chubby chick lit I'd taken along -- Little Earthquakes, Eating Heaven, I'm the One that I Want, Size Fourteen Is Not Fat Either. I helped my father get a couple of Marine Corps ribbons he's missing & ordered some extracts to make more syrups after I helped him make fake maple syrup (as a science experiment: it's neither cheaper nor better than Mrs. Butterworth's). I wrote out instructions for using the DVD player & tried to figure out how he could record on his four-track tapes for the blind. I read him his Musical Heritage catalogue & wrote out the order, read every single kitchen gadget at Target to him & described each toaster oven to him. I left them with a cake & peanut butter cookies that I had not eaten most of.

I was pleasant company except when my mother drove (yyyyoooowwww!) & when they bickered because my dad kept changing his mind about dinner. I don't know if I would have been more "present" without food or nicer. I'm grateful it was only six days away from my humble home, two of which were spent travelling. I'm not grateful for the thunder storms that kept us an additional five hours in Houston but it was wonderful to see Daisy this morning, who leapt into my lap & then gave me a long & reasoned lecture on my crimes. I went out for French toast before picking her up & that was nice, too.

Too nice, in fact, to use as a reason to go out & do any more damage.

The humans of the Italian greyhounds I was supposed to stay with cancelled -- a loss of several hundred dollars but a gain on the foothold of sanity for me. I'm very tired now: do I risk a two-hour nap? Am I capable of doing anything else?

It's good to be home with you again -- I missed you.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Taman Vanscoy's You Forgot to Leave Me

Fellow Sagitarians might enjoy today's iGoogle horrorscope [sic]:

"Although you might be stressed from a variety of relationship situations, they are showing you a path back to your own issues. It could appear that someone is trying to push you around or maybe you are playing the role of the tough guy. Either way, go the extra mile to define your boundaries -- and then stick to them."

Do relationships ever lead anywhere except back to our own "issues"? I mean, once the heroin-aspect of a new best friend or lover has waned. Still, I've been thinking about this boundary-thing & how it gets messed up so easily. I told the Good Doctor Miller that I have no sense of self in relationships. If someone likes me, I'm likeable. If someone doesn't like me, I'm unlikeable. If one person likes me & another person doesn't like me, I'll side with unlikeable.

Lately these "issues" have made me positively hermitic. No one in my little world to like or dislike me. Which is where food can so easily come in -- it both likes & dislikes me.

I'm about to leave for five days with the Aged P's in lovely suburban Phoenix, 110 degrees & they essentially don't leave home these days. For 48 summers, my parents meant Flathead Lake, the 90-minute drive through farmlands with the Mission Mountains peeping beyond, then the big climb that crests with the Missions above St. Ignatius blue as blue & always There. Past Nine Pipe Resevoir, which the painting I've skeletonized reminds me of & the last shot to the moment the family still plays "I See the Lake!" Ask anyone in my family what is the quintessential moment that says Montana to them & it's that first sight of Flathead in the crotch of the dry hills above Polson.

No more, alas, but my mind & heart turn to Montana this time of year & just as quickly I have to turn them the other way. It's gone for me. No home to return to. The Lake would betray me by being an unreliable destination.

I've also been thinking about self-esteem & how that IS these "boundaries" everyone likes to bandy about on Oprah & Dr. Phil & wherever else we turn to watch people worse off but essentially a lot like us. It comes mostly from the everyday obligations -- I walk my dogs well: check. I eat correctly: check. I write -- especially that: check. I do the dishes & pay bills & take a shower: check. Try to do a good turn: check.

Basics. Good places to lean on in hard times. Next week I'll be unpacking dusty boxes from Montana & furtively throwing out photos & books & whatnot. I want very much to do this without going apeshit with food or frustration with my parents. Self-esteem from esteemable actions.

It's also occuring to me that I'm going to have to challenge myself & soon. I don't know how but I need to do a New Thing, a Hard Thing. Out of the comfort zone. Into the pixilated marshes of uncertainty & the quicksand-shore of the first steps of mastering lessons. What I'd MOST like to do is canoe the Yellowstone River around Pompey's Pillar. I want to push HARD against the prison bars that are not boundaries, push harder than the dating thing or the going to the movies thing.

Something that's mine alone.

Or maybe mine & Daisy's.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Every other Saturday I figure out what trains are running & I toddle off to the Upper East Side to see my therapist. I call these 45-minute sessions "throwuppy" because that is so often what I feel like doing before, during & after.

I like to talk about my feelings when they're well in the past tense & don't threaten to blow up on me in their freshness.

No, let's take a few steps back in light of today's discussion of Frances's anger about men & their Cheshire Cat behavior.

It takes me a couple of days of something balling up inside of me before I recognize I'm having an emotional reaction. It may then take more days to put a name on it. When it's anger, I'm so freaked out by it -- this volatile, counter-anger-inducing can of kerosine -- that I turn it back on myself.

It's beyond the what-did-I-say syndrome I wrote about yesterday, more along the lines of I'm so fucking mad at myself for caring/getting sucked in/not getting over it.

So now I'm mad at any number of people, always doubled because I'm angery at myself for being angry at X, Y &/or Z.

& that's where I get stuck. I don't, the Good Doctor Miller informed me, let go of my anger, which more & more turns against myself. "You're adopted. You weren't allowed to feel anger because these people took you in."

Yeah -- partly. I began to think about anger in my childhood & saw a very scared little girl whenever there was fighting going on. My parents would argue occasionally & it terrified me -- so much so that my family has a saying I started when I was very young & the discourse around me was displeasing (scolding, arguing, fighting) -- "Don't talk". My father still says it, with his brows all rumpled & each word kind of canon balled in its wholeness of intent, when my mother nags about scrubbing a pan or disagrees with a charity donation he's making or discovers he's appropriated a set of towels for cleaning the garage. It doesn't have an exclamation point. It's not sullen or pouty or pleading. It's a command, but understated, & scrunchy things must occur with the eyes.

If my father was angry all of us kids quaked in fear. As the oldest of three brothers, growing up in the Depression, he was raised by parents with third & fifth-grade educations, still speaking with Polish accents. When my grandfather got work on the railroad out-of-town, he took Grandma with him, leaving my father in charge of his brothers for weeks at a time. Part of being the oldest was that he would get the beating & then was expected to dole it out to the boys -- who could run squealing to Grandma who might then beat Dad for abusing them. Very complicated Old World stuff that came down to the fact that my father could dish out some brutal punishments. These were rare. They were never repeated because they didn't have to be. We were always given fair warning that a piece of behavior had to stop before he raised a hand. But when he did --

Another famous family story. My brother Jim got in trouble for something. Dad took Jim aside a belted him once across his bare butt with his tennis shoe. Jim went snivelling to Dick about how much it hurt only to be met by Dick's laughter. The snivelling now included being laughed at -- until Dick turned around, dropped his pants & showed off the treads of his Converse on his ass.

Or a scene no one else remembers & I will never bring it up because it was so savage, of my father beating Jim up with his American history book. I don't know why. I was seven & scared witless.

Jim once complained to Dad that because Dick was bigger & heavier, he always won when they fought. Dad's answer was to get an equalizer. A two-day car trip back from seeing cousins (the last car trip the five of us ever made). I had the chicken pox & was placed in between my brothers who were bickering and badgering each other mercilessly for two days. By the time we pulled into the driveway, Dick's taunts had turned so pointed that they jumped out of the car & Jim began chasing Dick, picking up an equalizer -- the garage broom -- on their way into the house. Dick laughed all the way, his laughter another part of how he taunted us, all the way through the den, the hall, the kitchen, the dinette, two halls & into the bathroom where he slammed & locked the door.

Only to have the broom stick come slamming through the door right up to the broom.

That's what anger was like in our house. Either painful & terrifying (we all worshipped our father), or sadistic (Jim & I tried not to piss Dick off). I became so sensitive to anger, in fact, that in first grade Sister M. Marcillia would send me to the bathroom whenever there was a punishment coming. I'd go & sit on the pot. Nothing. I'd go back to class, the scolding would be going on & I'd pee all over the floor.

The last time Dick hit me, I was, I think, in high school or college. We were arguing over something as we set the table together. He got mad & slammed a dinner plate down on my head. For once, with great coolness, I picked up a fork & stabbed him in the arm so hard it stood up.

So yeah, I have a problem with anger: I have a problem feeling it, admitting it, expressing it, letting it go. "When do you let go?" I asked the GDM. "When it starts to hurt you," she said.

I guess part of that means before I get angry at myself for being angry.

She did not, however, tell me how to let it go.

I've only ever discovered one option & it doesn't work for more than a few hours. No, that's not true. Sleep, drinking, drugs & reading can also push anger aside. For a while.

I think I will make an Anger Box. I'm not sure how I'll work it, but I think I have an Art Project in my future.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Am I Insane?

OK, for starters, I just saw a Starware ad for an incredible deal on airfare from New York JFK Airport to Newark, NJ, starting at only $216.

This can't be more than 30 miles. It's admittedly terrible traffic but then the security lines are terrible as well.

I'm starting to become a complete misanthrope. With two or five dogs in hand, I wish the Breeders would NOT congregate the strollers at street corners or give me dirty looks for doing what I'm doing. I wish someone would ban razor bikes on sidewalks or make a six-foot rule so that the supervisor could halt the little daredevils before they scare dogs.

On the other side of it, I wish humans coming into the dog run would learn to shush the loose dogs away from gate before letting their dog in. I wish they wouldn't bring squeaky toys in. I wish they'd pick up their dog's poop. Trust me, if I can do it with five Labs in the rain, they can pick up Bowser's pile.

I had a little trip to the Black Place yesterday. I was out in the blue cool morning among the geraniums and petunias when it came to me that I had not, in 60 hours, ever considered that my thrumming mantra of what did I do wrong? what can I say to make it better might be a lot simpler.

He's a bastard.

You know that old co-dependent's recovery adage: When a woman says she'll call, she means by the end of the day. When a man says he'll call, he means before he DIES?

This is, apparently, the Number One Dating Peeve of all time.

Unless I'm insane, in the instances I'm thinking of I was as smart, funny & cute as required -- & all those things enough to like myself for a couple of days; in the other I was as smart, subtle & sexy as required. Neither instance would have happened had not the men in question asked me. I didn't do anything wrong. They did.

I let one of them know I felt shitty for three klonopin-heavy nights in a row. It's possible this message could have been simpler as well.

I don't think I get tons of traffic here but I'm quite sure I'm findable -- & possibly found. It's a very strange thing to essentially have no personal life. So to all the cell phone chatting moms, dog owners & nannies who aren't paying attention to the scowling woman behind three big dogs & to the men who might read this: stop pissing me off.

You could razor bike to Newark in two hours, I'll bet.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

The D-Word

I love your responses to my list of internet dating rules: thank you & keep contributing. Maybe we can prevent a whole lotta misery out there in Loveland.

It was a nice night, my friends. We had dinner -- I had a chef's salad for everyone who might be worried -- & sat on the Promenade for a bit. I emailed to thank him for dinner, he responded that he had a great time & would call soon. That was -- h'mmm -- 31 hours ago? I am emphatically not waiting for the phone to ring & I pretty much trust that it will & beyond that pretty much trust that it will when it's supposed to.

That could be in two years for all I know.

Ms. Turnblad, among others, have suggested that I have enough going on these days without men: a book, an abstinence, mood swings, 350 lbs of Labrador retriever. You're right, & you're wrong.

One of the reasons my blogging has turned to men of late is that I'm cleaning out leftovers. That accounts for several sentences in recent blogs. I began to think more about those Rules in order to avoid unnecessary hurt in the future. Beyond that, one of the reasons for posting my profile is for the Book. I need to know about some of the Myths of Fat that I've held on to. If in the course of posting I meet someone I'd like to know more & I feel safe in terms of my food & my work doing that, I'd be nuts not to take the chance.

I don't have a lot of real-world friends who are available at night or on weekends. That is to say, they are married or have commitments of which I'm not a part. I also have a boatload of anxiety that keeps me close to home. Case in point: I need new underwear. Target is 15 minutes away by train. Have I gone? No. Why? Because...I'm anxious about being out & being without someone to say "I'm anxious about being out" to. Because it's such a treat that I a) don't think I deserve it, & b) have no encore for. It will cost money.

If a friend called me up & said, "Wanna go to Target?" I'd jump. I'd be with somebody. That somebody has already decided I deserve the treat. The treat would be bigger because I could turn to that somebody & say not only that I was anxious but that I might want to get Spiderman sheets. The experience would be more real.

Let's face it: if you're of a certain age & single, you kinda need to find a boyfriend. I could find a gay friend, of course, but the urge to brunch would the fuel of that friendship.

This is not to say that I'm not looking for a pal. It's just that pals are in short order.

We kissed goodnight. It was nice. I hope I do hear from him & that we go to the movies or to the beach (not at sunset) or to the Frick. I even hope we sleep together after not too many such dates. I'm lonely in a general sort of way.

Also: I'm not a dog. I hang out with dogs, am filthy with dirt, wood chips & fur from dogs. I smell of & for dogs & I dress for dogs. I love dogs. But I'm a woman. It's fun to dress up.
One of the reasons that we have boyfriends is to show off. Put on our good duds, shave more carefully, flaunt what we are & know. Another reason is that it's an investment. Dating, having a boyfriend, is an investment in the faith that next weekend will happen, that maybe even, if you're inclined & he's inclined, someone to change your Depends will be around.

However, Ms. Turnblad, et al are correct in questioning how right it is for me to be sparring with boyz. I have to handle the activity with supreme care. I talked about my food with my sponsor before hand. I was in touch with long distance friends before & immediately after. I was meeting someone I already liked but have enough wisdom by now to know that he has a life of his own.

I went out after writing two-and-a-quarter pages of chapter four.

Where trouble came was not during the date or for the rest of the night. The date had about 1/7 of a role in the trouble -- a Saturday night of food choice I wish I'd done differently even though they were abstinent.

The most important thing I'm doing now is writing. My abstinence hinges on it (& vice versa), my serenity, my sense of self-worth. & I didn't write yesterday.

I didn't write yesterday because every time I sat down at the computer I was over come by weariness, a sense that any word I chose to put down would weigh a hundred pounds, or that each finger weighed a hundred pounds.

What did I do? I pretended I'd "get around" to it, which sometimes happens. I spent some quality time with Daisy -- played ball, brushed her out, gave her an hour-long belly rub while I watched Margaret Cho's I'm the One I Want, which I wanted to do for this chapter. I played Bejewelled. I didn't think about the night before & I didn't think to myself, Frances: you had a long week with dogs & a late night last night & a two terrible nights' sleep. Take a nap.

So I went to the store & didn't eat what I'd set aside in my mind for dinner because, well, I needed something different....

& I wish I hadn't.

On the other hand, I took a Klonopin & slept in till 8 a.m. I've revised those pages & am ready to eat lunch & then start the next scene. I'm over it & I've learned a new rule:

Dating is tiring. Be sure to plan a nap the next day.


In the meantime, I've been tagged by Jen as an interesting blog to read. My job now is to turn you guys on to blogs I like. So here's the deal:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.

2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.

Andrea K.

Miss Michele




Read on, Macduff!

Friday, June 08, 2007


I've had a bloody awful week of extremes. While I've had good advice here not to pursue online dating, I have to say I haven't been a mad woman about it & a lot of what I've been going through has been a matter of cleaning up what has been dangling for a long time.

It made me very sad. M., with whom I've had a fine & challenging email/phone -ship with, does not want to meet in the flesh. This made me feel unworthy. I wrote He-who-shall-not-be-named to say that communicating with him was too hard on me, that the 10% of me that still thrills to his words, voice, life breaks up each time I have to endure them. S. disappeared. E. has little time to spare from his parenting & problems.

These are all old -ships I've had to confront.

Then there was the matter of one of my dogs. For almost two years I've taken him out twice a day: he's been half my big dog-income. Without warning, without telling, he's now a once-a-day walk & banned from the dog run, which turns his walk into something of a conundrum in terms of timing. His owner wanted to go to the Hill with us on Monday & mentioned she'd be doing his morning walk from now on. It was slipped into the conversation. However, she wants to co-ordinate the times I take my other dogs down so he can play with his pals. More complication of timing.

I finally made reservations to visit my parents, who are always in a state of ailing now, at the end of the month. The number of times I will see them is now becoming quite finite. This, too, is a well of grief.

I felt horribly fat, likely to go out of control with all the fear that suddenly busted out of me: fear of writing this Fucking Book, fear that it's bad, fear of financial ruin, fear regarding my parents & the pre-loneliness of losing them, loneliness of M & He-who-shall-not-be-named. I'm trying to track these emotional spirals into despair & this week, when it all hit, I actually sent out an email S.O.S. to my posse -- some of Us, my therapist, my sponsor.

That's how important and life-changing blogging has been. Of the six women I contacted to say I was going down fast, four of them are friends through the blog world.

& everyone of them responded, leaving their desks or writing strong, encouraging emails back. That evening, Henry's people contacted me to ask if he could hang out with me during the day because he's in a chewy phase (he'd just spent the weekend with me, so I know: a flip-flop, a Croc, two record albums, a lighter, a cigarette, a novel all bit the dust; he tried to do the same with, oh, EVERYTHING else) but crating him is too heartbreaking. The loss of one dog was patched up by the gain of another.

It amazes me that I got the immediate responses I received. It continues to amaze me that when I truly try to turn over my worries to the almighty ether I call God or Buddy, enough solutions pop up to keep me going.

I stopped menstruating 18 months ago; I don't have TTOM as an excuse. I don't know why these dips in mood occur. That one was scary but it was preceded by a couple of days of waking up with no interest in anything I had to do that day, very gray & without affect. Then: wham!

I told my therapist that I think I have some default settings. When I'm lonely or stressed out & being really clean with food, my brain turns to He-who-shall-not-be-named. Or to my money market account. Or food. It's not that I'm so much in love with Hwsnbn, it's habit.

It's strange, though, that I turn to such negative parts of my life. It's much harder to turn toward, say, editing photographs or watching a movie or picking up the telephone. Partly this is because I always feel I should be writing now & to open up Adobe is Avoidance. Whereas thoughts, my assumption is, are just thoughts.

But they take up as much time & do much more damage than watching The Sound of Music for the 62nd time.

I pulled out of that pit, one way & another. I finished some reading for the next chapter, I didn't eat over my feelings, I handed them over to friends who continued to monitor me for a day or two.

That being said, the men who contributed to my breakdown were there long before I started nosing around the dating sites. I began nosing around as research for the book: I want to know if my long-held assumption about not being able to get a boyfriend at This Weight is true.

As always, when one starts nosing around, one must establish some rules. Inevitably, the rules are different from the last foray into the quest. Here my new ones:

1. I will not pursue correspondance with a man who comes on too strong -- "Hi, baby. You're so beautiful. I want to give all my love to you."

2. I will not pursue correspondance with a man who speaks only in CyberSpeak -- "how r you 2nite?"

3. I will not pursue correspondance with a man who prefers IM to the telephone & who asks way many questions about me but doesn't answer mine about him. Or demands that I hook up my camera to the computer so he can see me that instant -- again, just to drive the point home, without doing so himself.

4. I will not pursue correspondance with a man who needs to take English as a second language: "First only ladies with photos will i respond to. Hello ladies: like to communicate with ladies from 28 years to 54. Briefly i am fully employed in the financial field. Some of my social interest include bike riding, walking , talking to ladies, swimming, weight lifting, watching various shows/movies, listening to soft rock & roll. I will only flirt with people who have photo's. I have to see what you look like. Thank you for your attention."

5. I will not pursue correspondance with a man who works in maintenance & has a high school education.

6. I will not pursue correspondance with a man who wants a soul mate, best friend, or "special someone to walk on the beach at sunset".

7. I will not pursue correspondance with a man under the age of 40.

You probably think I'm making this stuff up, some of it. But I'm not. I've heard from them all. I've had some owies from S, who mysterously disappeared, & Mc, who wanted me to hook up my camera for live shots.

I have a date tonight with a nice man I've spoken with, flirted with, who loves Gershwin & Rogers & Hammerstein & Cole Porter & can talk intelligently about Birth of a Nation.

Any ideas what color my brides' maids should wear?

Friday, June 01, 2007

Refining Abstinence

My food plan is strict. Weighed & measured meals, no sugar, no flour. When I'm abiding by it, I'm a happier person, by & large. I am, however, much less likely to go out in the world, to participate, to be with such friends as I have.

My sponsor & I are talking about whether, on advance-notice occasions, I can eat "civillian" food. She's afraid I'm playing with fire & so am I. I also know that to be abstinent at a party at which I have no idea when dinner is being served, or what the dinner is, is not only hard but makes me shitty company, even if I keep a smile plastered to my face & it's the company of my own resentful, high horse thoughts.

I went to a Memeorial Day barbecue that started at 4. Dinner was served around 7.30. I ate tortilla chips & a small amount of ice cream & had 3 glasses of wine. When my sponsor & I discussed it, I conceded that, yes, I could have skipped the wine & dessert without turning into someone I didn't want to be with, let alone risk unleashing on friends.

That's what I want, these days: to have the space to be honest, to talk about what I can do differently & better next time, & to have the space & honesty to talk about it ahead of time & afterwards to keep a check on the exceptions to the rule.

The victory of Memorial Day for me was that, despite having money with me when Daisy & I walked home, I did not go to the deli. I had to turn around & go take care of two Italian greyhounds & I did not go to the deli. I did not come home & make a big bowl of yogurt or eat rice cakes & peanut butter. I went to bed. I haven't touched illegal stuff since Monday.

I want my abstinence to be one of aspiration. I aspire to stick to it vigorously. I aspire to get thin. I aspire to some other things that have less to do with food than with my life.

The pain of ending my..."friendship" with Jeff lingers. I got a political cartoon in email yesterday & couldn't forward it to him. There are moments I turn around in astonishment at myself that I gave up an important person in my life. I don't like being the occasion of what I know causes him a certain amount of pain as well. But it was the right thing to do for me. I'm not going to be free until the original feelings I had for him die completely.

I also emailed the man I've talked/emailed a lot to & said that, after consideration, I am worth meeting & he now has to consider that. Having said all that, I'm not sure I want to now.

I aspire to having a free, clean heart.

I aspire to having a free, clean brain. Fewer computer games is a start.

I aspire to feeling less overwhelming anxiety. Making some friends is a start, & practicing friendship is the next step.

I aspire to be creative. I've fallen in love with photography & the idea of topsy-turvy art. I have a book to write & a couple of novels in me if only I can stop being afraid of my own shadow.

I aspire to be better, & right now better is freer, more confident, clean & honest relations.

But I think, as well, that this morning I will commit to you that I'll eat three weighed, measured abstinent meals.

It's Friday. I find that my mood sinks toward the The Dark Place by the end of the week. I think it's partly because I'm tired but that it's also the way I feel in the evening when I want to eat to smother the feelings of failure that I didn't do enough -- or anything -- during the day & it's too late & I'm too weary to do much as the sun is sinking. So I'm fighting today to keep my head, to safeguard whatever good I did for myself earlier in the week -- the freedom I invested in, the self-regard I granted myself, the honesty I opened up with my sponsor.

I just wish I'd done more writing, lost 80 pounds, cleaned my apartment & won the Nobel Prize for Self-Indulgent Memoirs.