Wednesday, February 18, 2009

She said, she said

A response to my last blog has put me in a peevish mood and I think my day will go better if I get it off my chest.

I quite often nod to themes that I've written so often about that I'm surprised anyone reads this blog at all. Depression, relapse, bingeing, dogs -- you're free to tell me what's stale. My last post was about ceasing to-do lists because they make me crazy and depressed when I don't finish them. I prefaced this by talking about how to-do lists partly filled a long time of waiting for my life as the author of my upcoming book to begin.

I don't demand to be loved all the time, but I do wish readers would look at the whole of at least the sentence they take umbrage with. I am accused of being a) remiss in not directing my anger into diet and exercise and b) being infantile because I'm angry with a world that isn't fair.

The statement in my post is "anger in my manuscript". That's a very different thing than pouty and/or fatty anger, and it has the acrid smell of a reader who is perhaps bored or annoyed or expecting something else from me to the point of, well, getting angry. If a friend told me this story, I'd remind her that it's often the things we don't like in ourselves that we don't like in other people. I bring this up so no one else has to. I don't know the respondent from Eve and I genuinely give her the benefit of being a content and disciplined woman.

All this begs a bigger question, however, and that's anger itself. Am I angry at myself for being fat again? Hell, yes. Should I be, to quote, "redirecting all that wasted energy into diet and exericse" [sic]? That's another question all together and one that, if posed to any person can ONLY be answered by that person.

I, Frances, will answer it by saying that "diet and exercise" are one day at a time things, which I addressed in why I currently prefer to the word "priorities" to "lists". I don't diet. I have a food plan that is helped by not thinking of it as a diet. My hackles raise each time someone talks to me about my "diet". I think it's a dirty word, associated with promises, restrictions, feeling left out, feeling locked in. A food plan, to me, is a way of life, like converting to Buddhism or taking the citizenship oath in Denmark. There are philosophical, social, political, scientific and spiritual reasons for realigning my life. "Diets" are things that sell magazines and memberships.

OK, so if I'm such a fervent convert, why have I gained so much weight?

ONLY speaking for myself, there is a list of reasons that include being addicted to sugar, having a body that will, every day for the rest of my life, want to weigh more and more and more, and, yes, anger.

Can anger be cured by "diet and exercise"? Really: THINK ABOUT THAT. Charles Manson is, um, thin. So is Osama bin Laden. I didn't have a clue how angry I was until I began to lose weight. In my case, anger is actually quelled by food and being heavy.

I don't want to be heavy, I'm not currently taking any actions to remain heavy, and my blog has largely been an exploration of my reasons for being heavy, beginning with childhood. In actual fact, I'm currently doing everything in my power to be un-heavy.

Including walking six - eight miles a day with 75-pound dogs lurching this way and that.

And I was venting in the writing of Angry Fat Girls, which is why I know there's a God: he makes editors who show you where to soften up.

The next accusation is that I'm angry with the world.

I don't know many people who aren't angry with the world. I can't take a walk in my neighborhood for longer than 10 minutes without meeting one or another acquaintance who tells me the kids they teach are driving them crazy or the seller of a desired item won't give them exactly what they want or who spew venom at Wall Street that fuels their fears about their job. It's endemic to the human race. Actually, it's endemic to dogs as well. I don't know how other species feel about the way the world treats them.

In my defense, I will say that my anger, occasionally explosive, is with specific behaviors. I'm learning to be angry at my former boss who hit me in public and confused me in the office after years of blaming myself for not being angry with her. I was angry this morning with whoever dumped a large pile of turkey legs on the sidewalk.

But the answer to such anger is to track back with a garbage bag, pick up the garbage and throw it away. Exercise won't cure boss-anger: I've tried. Getting out of the equation does, meaning that when I stop being mad at myself I can see what boundaries were crossed in the situation and, hopefully and metaphorically, pick up the garbage and throw it away.

Most anger at the world is either addressable or passes. If it doesn't, one tends to become paranoid. If I was paranoid, I'd make this a closed blog and delete comments that annoy me for their misreading of what I've written.

And in this instance, I wrote about anger in a manuscript no one but a few editors and my agent have read, which makes the assumptions about the nature of my anger even more wildly askew.

If I go back through my blogs my guess is that I won't find much about expecting the "world" to give me anything. I have a long list of things I want -- to finish and sell my novel, to lose weight in an abstinence I want to want to have forever, to get out of debt and learn to manage my life, to move to Seattle, to travel, to have health insurance, to get my computer fixed (the CD/DVD drive is whacked), to have a home with a standard-sized refrigerator, a bedroom and electricity that permits me to use a blow-dryer, to have a circle of friends.

I don't think I'll find much evidence that these desires have been "denied" me or "taken away" from me, or that I'm owed them. If I made a corresponding list of the people whom I most angry at, in fact, it would be clear that if those relationships were still amiable, most of the things on that list would be a LOT harder to accomplish. (I.e., it would be difficult to move to Seattle if I were still working for Alix.) They're all simply things I have to work for. If there is peevishness attached, it's how hard it is to get out of my own way and do them.

But nobody is standing in my way and in so many instances I am the luckiest person I know.


Unknown said...

My theory is that Staci is one of a species of internet trolls who visits weight-related blogs for the sole purpose of telling people to get over it and lose weight already. I see them a lot on blogs I read. Not worth a response, but... this is a great response, so maybe she did you a service.

Bea said...

I am still fatter too. I am still angry, full stop. I am angry because I am mentally more comfortable being fatter than I was being thinner. I am angry at my "addiction" to food. I am angry at my short fat gentics. I am angry at having gotten rid of all my fat clothes and now not being able to afford more. I am angry at my friends who are succeeding at weight loss. I am angry at being a "yes" woman. I am angry at the five feet of snow in the backyard. I am angry that I don't know if this anger is helpful or harmful.

That's all.

Anonymous said...

Frances -
Wonderful post, wonderful blog and I love the sand sculpture picture too....(I am an accountant and that really looks like everyone in my office...ok, now I'm laughing..)
Thank you- I have your first book, can't wait to buy your second and of course your third (the novel!)

Anonymous said...

Patt J:
Oh, Francis,
When I read "Passing For Thin," a book I love, I felt that you were a kindred spirit. I felt your anger and your pain and also your joy. I still feel that way. (And yes, I have plenty of anger issues, too!) Mad or happy or somewhere in-between, i always enjoy reading your stuff.
And speaking of reading, have you read "The Dogs Who Found Me" by Ken Foster? As I read it, I often think of you!

Caffeinated said...

Sister, you speak the truth. I can't put it more eloquently than that, I'm afraid.

Sending lots of love your way,


PS - Um, can I tell you how much I really hope you DO move to Seattle!??!?!? I used to live in the Heights and loved it (and miss it!) but Seattle is home and where I live and Emmitt (my fabulous English bulldog) really wants to meet you some day. :-D

PPS - I freakin' love that sand sculpture.

Gallis said...

I love that you wrote this because I love that you write - period. But part of me wonders why you even dignified the criticism with a response.

This is YOUR blog. You don't have to justify anything to anyone. Write what you want to write and frankly, f*ck what everyone else thinks. If they don't like it, they don't need to read. It's really that simple.

Laura N said...

I was peeved when I read Staci's comment, too. I agree with Jen about her being a troll. But what a well thought out response to Anger. I loved reading it. So, thanks for being a bitchy troll, Staci. What you meant for harm, Frances turned around for good.