Friday, November 09, 2007

I Kid You Not

Occasionally I have Chinese or Thai food.
Daisy adores broccoli in any sauce and because I usually cook a hunk of protein (my pals at AFG can tell you how wearisome it is to read roast pork or chicken in my daily food day after day), I often get broccoli in something. Garlic sauce. Lemon grass. Basil. I save most of the rice for breakfast -- if you're on a food plan like mine, rice, fat-free ricotta, almond extract and sugar-free strawberry jam is a lovely breakfast, particularly in summer) -- and toss the fortune cookies in a jar to give Daisy another time.
They may be the only cookie in the world, aside from Fig Newtons, that I could care less about.
Lately Daisy has been on a hunger strike. It's not that she's trying to lose weight: she'll eat anything off the street, bite my fingers off for a cookie, try to rip open trash bags for old fish spines. At home, though, given her nutritious, measured kibble, she goes to sleep.
Other owners of Labradors find this to be impossible. They don't call `em "Lardadores" for nothing.
I think she's pouting over so many other dogs invading her space, even though these dogs are good friends.
If I have scraps of my protein, I cut them up and add them toher kibble, stirring well so that to get the last bit of chicken skin she has to eat her way to it. But yesterday morning, after her kibble had sat untouched for 12 hours and not really wanting to handle chicken at an early hour, I decided to lure her into eating by crumbling a fortune cookie into her bowl.
This is always an event because the fortune is then Daisy's, not mine. Sometimes they're so apt I put them on a little bulletin board on my desk. "Life is never more fun than when you're the underdog competing against the giants," reads one, and "Any impatience you show will only create more stress" is another I'm looking at right now.
Yesterday's, just in case you can't enlarge the photo, her fortune read, "Hungry is the man who finds salvation in a cookie".
You coulda knocked me over with a feather.
The irony -- looking for your future in a cookie. The irony -- my dog who looks me straight in the right pocket as we're walking down the street. The irony -- fooling her into eating correctly with a cookie.
The irony -- that this cookie would fall into my bag of lemon grass broccoli on some weary Friday night.
Do I really need to spell out the mirror image Daisy presents me of my own culinary tendencies?
Oh Lord, the irony.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Musing While I Can

My manuscript is due December 1, 2007. I finished the sixth chapter last evening. Today has been kind of a day off except that I did two big loads of laundry, switched two bags of winter clothes for summer clothes, ran some errands & started reading a screed called Fat: A Fate Worse than Death? This is one angry dudette writing one thing over & over: society victimizes (she even uses the word "sodomizes" at one point) women by forcing them to be thin, wear make-up, try to stay youthful, paint & dye & squeeze & tweeze. I nearly put it down -- I have lots to read -- because the second paragraph uses a direct instead of an indirect pronoun.

The author photo shows a comfortably plump-to-large woman in a big cozy fisherman's L.L. Bean sort of sweater. She complains that her doctor won't tell her what obese is but tosses the word "fat" around in a way that only the once-thin (she gained about 40 pounds in her 50's) & at her top weight can. Which is to say, there is fat & then there is fat.

I've been thinking about the definition of fat for a while -- I think I wrote about it. We need some terms here. There is Misses Department Fat, 14 - 18. There is J. Jill Fat, up to 2X. Then there are the other Fats, on beyond Silhouettes & into the pages just after the underwear section of the Lane Bryant catalogue. I'm not good at guessing weights or sizes but I'm thinking she's Misses Department.

I'm thankful as hell to be J. Jill Fat. Really. I've been Muu-muu Fat & being able to wear jeans & not feel like a freak is still so astonishing to me that I sometimes forget that I am, still, fat.

I have six chapters to write in 26 days. There's no way I can do it if I'm in the food. I love this pressure because I get to be very small, very focused. I pray each morning for abstinence first, then being able to write, then the dogs & then productive use of my time. I go to bed as early as possible so that I'll have energy for the next day.

I spoke to my mom & a friend today & both of them were asking things about the Book that they might ask about my "diet". Are you working? Can you do it? Is it too hard on you?

Deja vu.

But today is a loose-sweater day, a phrase from The Rooms that, in its entirety, is a prayer & intention to wear the day like a loose sweater. No fretting. No having to take a Klonopin because I'm so anxious about dogs & writing that I'm having diahrrea. I don't have the time to get all the winter clothes but I have enough time to get out some.

I had to force myself to go grocery shopping, however. One of the problems I'm facing is dinner & cold weather. I want hot food. I'm tired from the day & don't want to make hot food. I don't have the time, even in today's loose sweater (or flannel shirt & sweat pants), to make a lot of food ahead of time. My freezer doesn't freeze & I don't have a microwave. I had to do some thinking about the simplest food I could make & I made the produce man laugh because he was ready to restock Brussels sprouts & I kept scooping them out. I left him a nice empty bin to replenish.

The grocery stores in the Heights on a Sunday night are frightful. All the yups have been with their kids or shopping, & the students have all been studying or getting over hang-overs (we have an enormous dorm for spill-over housing for Pace & NYU). Suddenly it's getting dark & there's nothing for breakfast! A mass exodus begins & you're taking your chances on getting those Brussels sprouts. The crowd was bad enough that I gave up after I had a couple of day's worth of fixings but interestingly (there is a point to this), the crowd was made much bigger by three people. I believe they were Dutch, who are now the tallest nationality in the world. Very blonde, buying Gatorade in, like, a 12-pack & Nutella. That was all I saw as I paid for my own groceries. They were conferring on every item & took up a HUGE amount of room.

The man maybe had some weight to lose; the women didn't. He had to be 6'4" & the women must have been nearly 6 feet tall. The blondest was wearing a leather jacket that nipped in at the waist. They were the personification of the K.D. Lang lyric about a "big-boned really couldn't call her small".

Thin people can be a voluminous as fat people. In fact, maybe more. They didn't move through the store with the self-consciousness that a lot of Us have about taking up room, or even that New Yorkers in general have a sensitivity about.

There's another side to this, I'm seeing. Because I'm so conscious, I have all these rules in the store. Put my cart some place out of the way while I gather up yams & apples, usually in front of the cake & cheese cooler where not many people are apt to brouse. Snatch-&-dash. No browsing. Get my groceries on the belt as neatly & tightly as possible so that the cashier doesn't have to search out the bar codes & the person behind me can begin unloading his/her cart, too. Push all the loose carts together in front of the fancy soap display -- out of the way, ready for the stock guys -- & stack the baskets with the handles in place. Pay by debit or in cash -- no signing credit chits that takes up more time.

I get pissy when other people don't play by my rules, when they dawdle over which flavor of Gatorade to pick up or sort through the yogurts without putting the strawberries back with the strawberries.

I'm in a pretty relaxed mood tonight so my pissiness was at a minimum. I'm abstinent & was wearing an L.L. Bean jacket so I wasn't lumbering down the aisles like the Stay-Puff Man.

But it was interesting to see these Olympians in their lack of...what? urban manners...& how much room they took up at every sharp turn of the aisles.

It's like how the skinniest women wear too much perfume, I guess.


Here's an oddity, & then I'll stop & take the chicken out of the oven. A friend & I want to make a gingerbread house for Christmas. I saw a mold & thought I'd get it cheaper at eBay. I probably will. But in scrolling through the cake molds, I came across a lamb mold that we had when I was a kid. It was a killer cake to make my mother said & it was paired with a Santa mold that was impossible.

The lamb was in a heated auction for $41. I grinned & looked for the Santa.


It occured to me that eBay is my den of inequity, next to the bakery shelf. & what I want most from it is my childhood. I didn't buy the Chatty Cathy doll I saw the other night that was said to be haunted & I haven't found the right Mary Poppins doll that I adored. But I have a Francie doll from eBay, dressed in an outfit I still had, & I browse Chatty & Mary every once in a while.

Go figure.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Back from Arizona

My Father Is a Fixer of Things

The clock limped with waiting, hours of my teeth
chattering from the mouse that ran between my feet
at four a.m. Up the radiator pipe it had come, the gray ghost
of everything I despised or suspected
about myself. When he finished laughing, he said,
“Stuff the hole with rags soaked in Tabasco. He’ll burn
his little mouth & go back to the cellar.” Three
thousand miles away, I knew he had pinched his lips
& was patting them in sympathy with that mouse.

Another late night & Jim calls, his car stalled
between St. Ignatius & Ronan. It is the coldest night
of the year, the stars laparoscopic against a dead
black sky. I decide to go too, & we layer up, the Donner party
with foresight. It is any old weekday night but it is a world
in this car, my father driving fast to bring his son home,
our urgent silence tattooed by something Russian
& wild (Romeo & Juliet, but Prokofiev or Tchaikovsky?) boundaried
by the green dashboard lights, the hard
geological dark, landmarks swept by, unremarked.

I spill a necklace into his hand. His fingers are thick, square-nailed,
strong, a peasant’s hands bred for midwiving cows
& fashioning such furniture as his forest huts needs. But knots
are his business, all kinds: jib lines & dry flies, one-handed
surgical seams up the chest of the Thanksgiving turkey. “Your hands
are smaller than mine,” he sighs. “Can’t you
do this yourself?” No, my face closes. I can’t. Or I won’t.
I wait for such crises like cake on Sunday. Slivers that he pincers
out bloodlessly, the smell of rubbing alcohol from his use-softened
bag as he puts together his otoscope with its cool promise
in my fevered ear, an hour scanning every word under Webster’s “T”
until I give up & ask why pterodactyl is missing from the dictionary.

Sometimes my helplessness amuses, sometimes it gives us
what I crave more than anything – more than sugar, more than love –
a chance to be father & daughter, a rare island in his other lives, all
of them, I know, hanging on that balance of patient speed,
rich livid mirth, even as he glides onto the fixing of other things.

My father explains a transistor radio/TV to my grand-niece, Sophie.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Random Thoughts - Photo Essay

You tell me: is this a sign, & what is it a sign of?

When I was working for Alix, my therapist asked me to get a Cindarella doll for my desk to remind me that I wasn't sitting in the ashes any more. This weekend she fell into my large lamp. I smelled something burning. Here's Cindarella now.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Tomorrow I leave early in the morning for a wekk in Phoenix. My father is turning 90 & there's ahuge party for him on Sunday & 30 people from out-of-town dropping in & out of the house for a sort of reunion for the two days before. I'll get to see my nience & grand-niece, as well as the other nieces & nephews. I'll be cooking for 30 people. I've planned meals that are abstinent -- salad & sandwich bars for lunch, jambalaya -- & I know my father is going to be thrilled.

I've taken the right steps & some unusual ones for my physical well-being. My clothes fit to a T -- no room for goofing off. There is a box of ex-lax in my luggage. Breakfast & lunch are packed & in the refrigerator for the plane tomorrow.

I'll be seeing my Perfect Cousins, or three of them anyway. This has me in fits. My brother Jim & I always laugh that we have to brace ourselves to see our cousins. I have killer shoes, several pairs. An elegant brown-fading-to-champagne silk dress. My Prada knock-off's & honkin' big zircon earrings. So we'll see.

I've planned most of the party aside from the big she-bang on Sunday, although I've ordered pinatas for centerpieces & order chili pepper balloons & found a place to fill them.

I'm exhausted.


I survived John Malkovich only to have spent an hour in the dog run, where Henry splashed water on me from knees to shoes & the Roger skrtched dirt on my from knees to shoes. I dropped off my dogs & hurried to walk Zeke. & yes, I defiitely got a second glance, the antithesis of Eric Clapton's, from Gabriel Byrne.

His look was NOT admiring.

I really hope one of the five pairsof shoes I'm bringing makes me feel like a girl...

Friday, September 28, 2007

Seeing John Malkovich

I'm putting together a couple of weeks of shaky abstinence here. The sugar cravings are passing, I've lost some pounds, I've shown up for a good portion of my life which, these days, consists of many balls in the air.

Today, however, I've been peepee-whipped by a fits of the Sads. As I negotiated my way across the street to go pick up my first dog of the day, I started making a list of all the reasons I loathe myself. It was starting to get pretty long before I got distracted by the wind or a kid bawling or looking both ways before I crossed the street.

Two hours later, I have a big wad of gray and now-flavorless gum in my chest, as well as acid in my throat. I've thrown many balls and been cheerful for my dogs, run the gauntlet of the film people clogging my side of the block, and I have a chance to think a bit. I'm thinking and writing instead of taking off my filthy dog clothes and taking a shower because, well, I'm kind of in the mood to stay in my yucked-out shorts and t-shirt and 24 hours' sweat. Every time I walk out of my apartment building I'm on display and under suspicion for a moment, and today being gucky suits that situation just fine.

The Coen Brothers have taken over Brooklyn Heights and John Malkovich has nearly literally moved into the house next door. This is to say that the lovely blue wooden 1824 Federal townhouse is his house in the movie. If you look at the little round awning by the massive white truck that is pumping air conditioning into the house, you're looking at my moment of feeling as if Mr. DeMille is waiting.

It's getting just a little bit stale, all this ruckus and milling around of technicians and gawkers camped out across the street, but the people are quite nice and lovely about the dogs. Sometimes walking a dog -- and you Lab-owners know this with a particular poignance -- is a public service. A friendly dog is so willing to love people who love them first. We've quieted babies, given the infirm and the elderly some tactile affection and made friends with people I'd never meet if it weren't for the dogs and their particular favorite humans.

This, of course, is when the dogs aren't being a public threat. It's been a good week. They've been mannerly.

I digress.

Sort of.

Yesterday afternoon was sultry in anticipation of a rain that didn't happen. I showered after the morning in the dog run and, at 3, put on a dress for the clean last five walks of the day. I walked out of my building and found myself surprised into locked eye contact with John Malkovich. He was in his jammies and robe (I believe this is called "costume" in cinema parlance) & talking on his cell phone. I turned a sharp left, kind of jittery. He's my favorite actor, or one of them (Jeremy Irons? Robert Downey, Jr.? Alan Rickman?), and I've seen him close-up and in person once before. But still.

He was hanging around on MY sidewalk for much of the next 90 minutes -- 90 minutes when I had to come back with Boomer and then leave again with Daisy, Hero, Boomer and Henry. He'd LOOKED at me. My insides were jelly at the thought of the parade I was putting on.

And then, today, the Sads.

You know, I'm glad to say it's the Sads. What prompted me to make that list this morning was the question of why I'm sad. My default is, "because I hate myself. I hate myself because____."

But the reasons, while hugely emotionally charged (I'm fat; I have no close friends at hand and I'm lonely; I don't like the dinner I ate last night; I'm poor; I'm lazy -- etc.), really aren't true, or not true as reasons to hate myself. Yeah, I'm fat. Fatter than many, thinner than many, squaring off with the issue as best I can. Yeah, I don't have a best friend over on Sydney Place, but I have friends and --

you get the gist.

The Sads are not reasons to hate myself. They're symptoms of weak points in my life that I ignore when I'm in and out of sugar. I haven't been in and out for a couple of weeks. The thin spots of the trampoline I live on are showing.

Then again, why the Sads?

Let's begin by respecting the fact that it's Friday. I went into the week without a day off from dogs and had extra dog walks until today. I have other work pressures besides dogs and am virtually in charge of the big 90th birthday party my mother is giving my father. All of that is simply tiring. And Daisy woke me up at 4 this morning in duress, in the middle of the first night I didn't take a sleeping pill. Scoop on a little more tiredness.

The Male Who Shall Not Be Named was in touch this week with a technical question. One of the reasons on my list of how I loathe myself was my obsessing, my in ability to get over love and failure. His techincal question, that could have been researched pretty easily, and subsequent couple of emails, were defensive but probing for friendship on his part, confused on my part. I decided not to answer back after Round Three. Still, the Balrog was awakened. Love and -- what is the word for the feeling when someone you haven't, quite, gotten over has found an enduring love that is much more successful than the one you tried together, once upon a time, in the First Age???

That. "That" hovers, emerging as my body relaxes a bit as I tick off the last dogs of the week (until tomorrow afternoon).

And then there was locking eyes with John Malkovich. I've been sitting here for a couple of days hyper-aware of the commotion next door, that John Malkovich is, right now, twenty or forty feet away from me. It's made me think about what he sees when he is on the streets of Brooklyn Heights -- kind of a bland neighborhood, really, although it's liberal and pretty and well-educated. Lots of baby carriages and tons of priviledge, as I know too well from bowling through those carriage-pods with one or more dogs in argumentative tow. And now, in his eyes, I'm one of Them.

Not that he remembers.

Which is also part of the point. I feel conspicuous when I walk out, and small, unimportant. Henry would beg to disagree, being crated at home to give me some peace this afternoon when he'd rather be here chewing on my new Caligarius shoes, but his presence has made me aware of what a speck I am in the scheme of things.

I guess there's a direct parallel here, isn't there? John Malkovich looked me in the eye, made his unconconscious judgment and clumped me in with Them. Unnamed Male tapped me for whatever stuff he was after, but in doing so, made me aware again of the judgments he's made and where he's clumped me -- part of Them, not part of Us.

For some weeks, I've been angry with myself for how hard this books is to write, how I'm not Persons Also Unnamed whom I went to graduate school with who are known for their literary (as opposed to senstationalist memoirist) ability that they spin with some ease and definite acclaim -- how that's in me but I can't DO it (hence the lazy entry on my list). I've been angry that this struggle is what keeps me from being more than a speck -- only to walk out my front door and lock eyes with...

well, you get the point.

OK, negativity aside, I want to remember that feelings -- the Sads -- pass. If I'm lucky, the Sads will prompt me to do something about any one of those reasons I am not allowed to hate myself for. And the first thing these particular Sads must prompt is the recognition that feelings do not equate self-loathing.

Malkovich will be out of here soon enough and Henry will throw himself on the couch with a smile on his face in about 90 minutes and I can go looking for a bombshell of a first sentence for chapter seven.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Fatlish & Thinian, Part II

A week and a half ago, one of Us came to visit me for a day. We headed toward Chinatown but didn't quite make it into the heart of the tumult. We didn't mind. I had stuff I wanted from Pearl River, a bargain import store of fabulous things -- tai chi shoes, wind-up toys, quilted jackets, strange candies, happy Buddhas and sublime Buddhas, utensils and cloth. I was loaded up when we left only to be met on Mulberry Street by a man hissing, "Bags, bags."

"Where?" I asked. We were escorted to a Storefront That Shall Not Be Named (partly because it was so tiny and so innocuous that I can't remember the name) and slipped into a hidden door to a tiy room full of Dooney & Burke, Prada, Juicy Coutoure, Kate Spade, Chanel and Louis Vuitton. There were a number of us Caucasians crammed in there and the other were dressed (in white! white! skinny! skinny! jeans) and tans, discussing Chanel and the car on hold in those narrow streets outside in ways that suggested they didn't need to be buying fakes.

So I figure they're at least good fakes, right?

They were speaking Rich White Thinian (although slightly tacky, as I recall: did she have Big Hair?) while we two Fat Girlz were interloping on the fringe of Thinland among the accessories.

I'm calling all anonymous women Zelda this week, so Zelda and I walked out a hundred bucks poorer but richly happy with our booty. Added to the sublimely comfortable massive selection of shoes I'd gotten for 34 dollars and the intense massage for even less, and this was a happy woman who came back to the Bat Cave from an extremely rare day of escape.

It was the beginning of an intense ten days during which I found myself speaking a good deal of Thinian, broken as it may be.

I sent a picture of my booty to another one of Us and her response, which I'm paraphrasing, was the perfect dialect of Eyeorish Fatlish: "I admit I'm jealous of the bags. If I hadn't gotten sick I would have been able to come to New York and get bags, too."

Why is this Eyeorish Fatlish? Years of obesity's listless, unfulfilled, possibly amorphous hope motivate its gloom. Thinian would spin it a different way: "I can't wait to go to New York and do that." Doris Day's Thinian would add, "I wonder what the fashion in handbags will be by then?"

This exchange has weighed on me because it's so perfect in its way. Think negatively so that you don't get your expectations up. Expectations are very different from hope. Hope is just that, a whiff sent heavenward. An expectation is -- well, look at the word! "Expect": "to look forward to"; "to consider likely". An expectation is not only a calculated demand of someone or something else, it's a borderline you have to work toward reaching.

Fatlish doesn't have a positive aspect to the word "expect".

The day after our shopping expedition, my ex-sister-in-law came to New York with her new husband, a surprise for me. We had a couple of meals together and I showed them around the nabe. He has a literary bent, although it's not my literary bent, which can be a dangerous game. "Have you read X?" "No," I'd say. "You have to," and he'd dash to the used bookstore to buy it for me. I can get very insecure in this game but I know, at last, maybe, that I'm as well-read as I need to be in the reading I need to do.

He's also an aspiring writer, making produgious numbers of notes and quoting his writer friends with the abandon of confetti. "I only have one book in me," he would say, "and some day soon I'm going to write it. Zelda Smith says..."

I finally told him this is bullshit. You either write or you don't and collecting all the writerly quotes about writing is not going to get the book written. I had begun to make gentle fun of him before that but finally came out bluntly and told him the Deal. I also put him onto Julia Cameron so we'll all be hearing a lot from her in months to come.

He was speaking Fatlish in that one book to be written some day and the tiny notes he was taking now.

I was speaking thinian because it was mildly flirtatious. He is exactly the man I could go out with a couple of times. He'd be dazzled by me and I'd finally admit to being underwhelmed by him. This is not to say not a fine man for Zelda II. Their passions are matched by being artistic, but his are literary and hers are in dance. No Trivial Pursuit involved.

To recognize someone I could date is Thinian in incomplete translation. To recognize our final incompatability is a complete translation.

Interstingly, I had a similar conversation with my childhood friend this weekend. He was comparing opera stars and operas and I don't know whatall when he turned the subject to how he disliked Beethoven in his 20's and came to revere him in his 30's while still disliking Wagner and Strauss, until he came to love them in his 40's. "Isn't that weird?" he asked. "Not at all," I answered. "We have to grow into some things. I couldn't make heads or tails of Emily Dickinson in my 20's. When I read her ten years later, it was, like, of course! this makes perfect sense."

Then he had to admit how little he reads. The conversation was, almost, a tie.

That flirting thing has to be sorted out from Fatlish joking-so-you'll-forgive-me and Thinian take-or-leave-it. I saw it a day or two later when I stopped into a local pet store to buy yet another ball for the tag team of loose-jawed Labs who keep losing Daisy's. "You want balls?" Zelwood II said. "I got balls. You want big balls or little balls?" "I want big balls, Zelwood, you know that. Big firm balls with a lot of bounce."

It's a constant joke, almost a schtick. It means nothing. He bagged up the balls and said, "Good to see you, young sexy lady" and I thought, Heh! I pulled off another heist. It was "young" that made it a Thinian heist for me. I laughed and thanked him, which is the Thinian response to such banter.

The last important Thinian experience in that week is somthing you'll have to wait to read between hard covers. It was confrontational and violent and I reacted in kind without one whit of regret. It made me realize, when my sponsor and I discussed it, what protecting a child means and how little I was protected and how little I protect that kid still in me.

You know: that Fat kid who dreamed over Jane Eyre and a box of grape popcycles?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Thinian & Fatlish, Part I

There's been a lot of blog-talk about how to talk Thin & how to stop talking Fat. The concern has applied to dating, & it's applied to life. So I'll take a stab at the subject in that order.

For those of Us who have been struggling against our weight -- or the many circumstances that Set Us Apart at a Too-Early Age (being too nerdy, being poor, whatever) -- for many years, we have to consider how much we missed out on. We are stunted, emotionally & socially, & not infrequently we're lagging professionally & financially. It takes years to catch up.

Thin girls learned to talk to boys at whatever age they started being interested in each other. They rode bikes down steep hills, no hands, together. They went to parties & played spin-the-bottle. They had crushes that changed every week. They had "boyfriends" in name only because they were too young to do anything more than use the term. They cheered boys on at basketball games. They went on their first date with one of the parents driving. They went to dances that included Sadie Hawkins.

When you become thin after the age of about 17, all this stuff is well past. Flirting has become a more intimate game with more extreme possibilities attached to it. So when you haven't started with the gonzo bike thrill or the I'll show you mine if you show me yours, how well will we flirt, let alone talk to a man?

If you look at the stuff I've listed as preliminary to grown-up dating, you'll see a lot of it is physical, a lot of it is joint-activity, a lot of it is public, a lot of it has no substance whatsoever. Some of it has the girls on the sidelines singing the school song.

There are some useful lessons here for those of Us catching up. When Dick & Jane are racing their sleds down Bald Mountain, they get to the bottom, possibly in a heap, & talk about how fast, how cold, how deft the ride was. When Dick & Jane party down with Nan & Bert, Freddie & Flossie, Jo & Laurie in the Bobbsey basement, & Laurie decides he wants to go "steady" with Flossie, they may never do more than walk home from school together. Flossie, however, has learned that a "relationship" can be nothing more than a word.

As for "Fight, Mighty Possums, Fight!" the girls are learning enthusiasm, admiration, stand-by-your-man &...when not to need. Bert is tired from losing 101 - 98 to the Wolverines. He's depressed. He wants to hang out in the locker room with Freddie, Laurie & Dick.

& when Jo gets to see Bert, when she rides her Schwinn over on Saturday morning, she's going to be wreathed in smiles, maybe carrying brownies she got up extra early to bake, with suggestions of doing something that will take his mind, & his mind's body, off his defeat. A bike ride. A visit to the swimming hole. Bowling. That monster movie where she can clutch him & make him feel all protective & manly.

How do these lessons learned between the ages to 12 - 18 apply to Us?

Fat Girl Date Rules:

1. Meet with a plan to DO something. You're leaving the Planet of Fat, so try, if you can, to arrange a walk-&-talk or movie or something.

2. Do NOT talk about your weight loss or diet. If you have to invent something more important than your weight for conversation, do it. Make sure that, if it's a girly thing ("I love to knit") it can translate to a guy thing ("I made a gray cable sweater for my father last Christmas that you'd look great in!")

3. Talk to him about him. Tell him he looks great. Laugh at his jokes. Ask him questions.

4. Take him brownies. Or a CD you burned of sure-fire tunes. Take a pack of Black Jack gum or Sugar Babies so that you have something era-appropriate to laugh about in common. (You X-generationers & others will have to figure out your own version of this)

5. Look at the other men if you're in a lighted, public venue. You aren't doing this to drive insecurity into your date, you're doing it to remind you that ther are other men out there & to do some on-the-spot comparison shopping that may give you a better sense of whether you're truly attracted to your date or not.

6. Ask for advice in some area he knows more about than you. The last date I had was a man into "the Standards" -- the romantic songs of Rogers & Hammerstein, Irving Berlin, etc. He could go on at length about Rosemary Clooney versus Frank Sinatra. I was interested in it enough to think, "I wouldn't mind spending an evening letting him play me his favorite songs & dilating upon them."

7. When he asks about you, talk about your friends & plans & busy schedule. Have. A. Life.

8. Smile. A lot.

Do I follow all these rules? No. For one thing, when someone asks me what I do, it's kinda hard not to get into the weight-thing. I turn it back to dogs as quickly as possible, however, & to him. I don't take stuff but I might go in with an attitude that's the same as a box of rocks. I must find dried mushrooms for Tina or if we don't have potato pancakes, I'll die.

& when it's all said & done with, have something as delicious as fudge waiting for you at home. A book, a video, slippers, guilt-free computer gaming, uploading photos -- anything, even fudge itself -- so long as you're going home to something you like more than how much you think you should like this man.

Because a former fat girl will always think this is her last date, the only date, the end of the line. It can take two weeks to get over that way of thinking

If you liked him enough to see again, email or call him (try to get his machine) the next day & thank him for the lovely time & nriefly mention something you liked about him ("You made me laugh. I needed that.")

Then...let it go.

That's what girls who started dating at 12 years of age learned to do.
Nota bene: These rules are not The Rules. They only work when they become second nature to Us. They must be used as Our stomachs twist, we obsess, cry, & check our in-boxes 1500 times a day.
After about 10 years it gets easier.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Zorro the Humbled

I knew this business of staying with a new her was a bad idea. Why do you think I whined all morning that first day? I wasn't scared -- Zorro is never scared -- I was gentlt communicating my need to return to My Den and My Humans. That the she ignored me (she even told me to calm down and be quiet) should have prepared me for the days ahead.

Every day is the same. The she gets up and drinks the vile black drink and eats fire. Then the she tells us to get off the bed so she can flip it over, thus moving me, Zorro, from the pillow nest I have created. She puts the itchy-scrtchy loop on my nose and we all go outside. The daisy gets a cookie about every other step. I know what's going on. It's called farvoritism. But I, Zorro, do not deign to look back and beg for a teat as well.

I have retained that much dignity from the Zorro the Magnificent Days.

My Magnificence has diminished. It failed me at 4.37 p.m. on Sunday, August 12th, now many years ago.

I was walking around the dog run, granting one whiff of my magnificent butt to those dogs courageous enough to seek my permission, when I looked over at the she flinging a ball across the dog run for the daisy. The daisy --

the daisy! My God, the daisy. Who would have imagined it? I'd spent two nights with the daisy. We'd eaten Milk Bones and peanut butter together, shared ginger snaps, slept in the same bed. But it wasn't until I saw the daisy break out of the weeds with the ball in her mouth and come streaking like spilled honey back to her her that I felt my heart drop and my mouth go dry.
Perhaps it's because there is honey in my ginger snaps. Perhaps the she put something in my Alpo, an aphrodaisyac, say.

Whatever. I, Zorro, watched my magnificent and regal aloofness drop like the ball the daisy spat out at the hers feet. I am in love.

I am ashamed.

What makes this daisy different from the hero or the mellie? There are plenty of females for Zorro to take without having to beg, let alone be yelled at.

Hey! the daisy said when I mounted her with my one shred of magnificence in the ready. I am my own bitch! Get. Off.
The daisy is not namby-pamby about what she needs. She does not whine. She does not give in. She does not submit. I respect this in her...up to a point.

Worse, she is a flirt, always running up to humans and pawing at them for love, and sleeping in such a way that makes me, Zorro, feel like a dog leashed three inches away from a steak. The daisy is asking for it, if you ask me.

Which, of course, if you were asking the question at all, you would come to me, Zorro, for the correct answer.

Despite my running after her (I, Zorro, do not run) and despite my magnificence at her beck and bark, she insulted me and humiliated me. There were bichons present! Papillons. Worst of all, a sharpei, with whom I share half my magnificent bloodline with.

The sharpei sniggered. Oh, he tried to hide it by sitting next to his Him and ignoring me, but I saw the curl of his right jowel.

After one or two more attempts at expressing my diminishing magnificence on the way back to the daisy's den, I gave up. I decided to play it cool. I studied up on How to Make Anyone Fall in Love with You but I did this secretly, in the bathroom and on the couch at night, disdaining the Bed of Shame where the she and the daisy slept in innocent peace. I walked around the dog run biting my lip in shame but not getting any closer to the daisy than I had to be when we're on leash. I watched the boomer try to make love to the daisy. My mouth tasted like fire but I soon saw that the daisy either ignored the boomer, sat down or snapped her usual line about not being anyone's bitch.

I watched her with the hero, however. The daisy is clearly in love with the hero. They often sleep together. But while the hero is not in love with the daisy, the hero is obsessed with the mabel, the Pomeranian across the street who looked up at me from the corner of her eye and winked. I may be little, she seemed to say, but I know the zorro is head-over-paws.
The humiliation will never end.

Today, after many years of ignoring the daisy, I made one more attempt to secure her adoration. When the izzie border collie jumped out to nip at the daisy fetching the ball, I, Zorro, stepped in to save the daisy from this annoyance. (I, Zorro, must tell the truth. Hero did it first but not effectively. I am nothing if not efficient.)

Did the daisy thank me? No. The daisy only spat the ball at her her's feet and demanded that she throw it again. Thank God the daisy didn't thank the boomer for growling at the izzie. And the daisy's she pulled the boomer off the daisy when he tried to make love to her.
Hope flared! Perhaps the she pulled the boomer off because she knows I am the only one magnificent enough for the daisy!

Hope deflated. The daisy told me to get off and the she told me "no" and then kept the mellie and the hero in between me and the delicious, beautiful daisy.

I refused the cookie the she offered me half way to the mellie's house. Whatever shreds of magnificence I have left must be preserved.

But they are only shreds and I am reduced.

I took the cookie the she offered me a mere block away.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

I, Zorro

They hauled me from sleep and dragged me out the door in a driving rain for a long walk with suitcases and rushed conversation, then met a her outside a door, handed over bags of my food and snacks and left.

They left! I, Zorro the Magnificent, was abandoned by Them to a her I've barely acknowledged the existence of and she pulled me into this small dark den where, apparently, dogs come and go.

Especially Labradors.

I, Zorro, am not a Labrador. I am Magnificent. When you are magnificent, you ask only for the occasional scratching of the ears and chin, your Big Milk Bone with Peanut butter, a couple of gingersnaps, your choice of furniture, a can of beef and gravy, and to be allowed to go wherever you want at whatever speed you want.

When you are Magnificent, you must be allowed to walk among your kind and among humans at will in order to show them how little you care.

But no. They left me with this her and many Labs. There is the daisy one who insists on sleeping next to her head (pathetic: human feet is where the truly Magnificent sleep) & always wants a belly rub or a ball thrown or strange humans to say they love her. She's here all the time so far. I think she may own this Her.

Then there is the boomer one I was forced to walk with in the rain yesterday. He is clearly in love with the daisy one, poor sap. He kept kissing her, if you can believe it. I kept myself apart by pulling harder at whatever direction this sad little group was going.

This she gave me no peace. She took me into the daisy's den again -- along with a hero Lab and a henry Lab. The daisy put her nose up in the air and stalked off in high dudgeon. (I can respect that. I am Magnificent and therefore recognize scraps of Magnificence in others. But she's still too lovey-dovey and screeches like a hyena for that ball.) The hero took the best couch, leaving me to wander around after the she and to bark at the henry who kept {shivers} getting close to me.

You cannot see a portrait of me, Zorro the Magnificent, because the henry ate part of the portrait-maker. Something about flossing his teeth. This henry is below contempt. I don't know why they don't take all young dogs off to Alberta until they mature. They might even train them to be Magnficent. Although never, of course, as Magnificent as I. I am the Most Magnificent, and the First Magnificent, and the Paragon of Magnificence.

The best the henry will ever be is older. Perhaps when he's twelve he won't feel the need to constantly badger every living thing with a squeaky toy until they take it away and he can jump on them and bite their necks.

But even the hero is a slut for this love business, rolling over on her back as if she'll die if the she doesn't scratch her belly. And the henry positively giggles when he gets a belly rub.

It is truly pathetic.

I do not know why the she didn't let me eat the daisy's dinner. I could easily have done so in a much more expeditious way than the daisy. More with the hauling. My collar has never gotten so much work before.

Today dawned dry and sunny and the she brought out a torture device that wraps around my -- Zorro the Magnificent's -- nose. I am no longer able to apply the necessary pressure to go where I want. Instead of looking Magnificent, I now look like a circus pony. The she has yet to learn you cannot control Zorro the Magnificent.

To top off the unfairness of it all, the she left me with the daisy for over two hours today, although she had the courtesy to serve me my Milk Bone and peanut butter first (as well as one to the daisy: did my Him say that was allowed? Why was I not consulted on this business of sharing?) The she put another collar on me before she left. This one smells like a skunk that's walked through the perfume aisle if I bark.

As if I, Zorro, ever bark unless it's absolutely necessary.

I think this she is obsessed with collars.

I've managed a couple pieces of the her's chicken so far. The daisy gets the yogurt containers when the she is finished with them. These are two things that will have to change before I, Zorro, allow myself to feel comfortable here. The she says it's for nine days. She doesn't understand that for Zorro, a "day" means nothing. There is only Now.

At least I get the good couch Now.

Perhaps they are beginning to recognize my Magnificence.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Oh, great...

I decided to 1) add a feed so that anyone who wanted to be informed of my latest -- fairly infrequent -- postings could have an alert sent, and b) change the font across the cherry blossoms to black.

I managed it. But all of the posts disappeared.

You can still read comments, however. {Sick giggle here.}

This is not the post I meant to write. I want to write about it being Day 3 of no sugar, no flour. I want to say that my mantra right now is "It'll get easier." I want to say that I have to think very clearly about what I need to do each day so that I don't hit the Eight O'clock Wall being disappointed in myself. Today I've chosen hacking up a few vegetables, minimal grocery shopping & one load of laundry. Those chores + doing well by the dogs and an abstinent breakfast and lunch are my bar for saying, "You did what you set out to do. Good show, old girl."

I had a grand but very wicked laugh this morning in the dog run. Brooklyn Heights is the world headquarters of the Jehovah's Witnesses. They are nice people, good neighbors in their way...but also easy to make fun of.

Tons of Witnesses come to Heights not only to serve in the Witness Protection Program they run out of the priciest real estate in the neighborhood, but to visit. It's Mecca, Rome, Salt Lake City.

Some kids were coming out of one of the buildings all dressed up in little suits and dresses with sashes. They skipped across the street to look at the dogs. "Hey, doggie," one of them cried and Boomer charged the fence, barking huskily. It Bad of me to laugh. But I laughed.

So, thank you Blogspot for emptying out my precious words. Maybe this will prompt me to write more often. I'd like to use this more like I used to do my Julia Cameron Morning Pages, which I don't have time for. Maybe I'll be profound or maybe I'll talk about dogs.

Now I'm going to try to sneak out of here to throw laundry in the wash.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Trigger[s] -- the Smartest Horse in the West

This is a blog I don't want to write. I've put it off, & then put it off some more. Coincidentally or not, my reasons for not wanting to blog have not abated -- or abated only enough to risk talking about them.

How `bout that latest study on obesity, the one that says it's catching?

That shut me up. I felt like Typhoid Mary: if I talked about Night Sugar I risked spreading the disease.

Or the few times I've felt chastised here: what X or Y think, even if X or Y don't comment. & I don't believe in suppressing comments.

I think about this stuff & -- surprise! A new trigger is found, as well as more reasons to isolate myself from the world.

I've been doing that all over the place lately. I have sound reasons -- 9 p.m. is way to late for me to meet someone with atomic energy; I've had extra & very difficult dogs; I'm swimming upstream on chapter four still. But it comes down to exactly the same thing: people have extended their interest in being with me & I've cancelled at least five times in the last couple of months. One reason I cancel is that I don't want anyone to see me. I'm a mess in general & on a good day no thinner than the last time my friends have seen me. Then the guilt sets in, along with the relief, &...

another trigger appears.

I'm as much a nanny as a walker for my dogs & it seems I'm on call a lot. Emergency overnights, frantic 9 o'clock walks (I'm pretty much trying to go to bed at 9), messages on my machine a couple of hours before I'll need to see the dog. It's hard, if not impossible, to get enough time together to write anything (my book, a post, an email) or do serious housework. By Saturday I'm slack-jawed & it's Sunday that I have the wherewithall to sit for hours with the book.

I feel I have little control, aside from saying no to money I need desperately & risking the loyalty of my clients who depend on me, over my time & energy. I get home between 5.30 - 7.30 after a couple of steady hours of walking dogs & have to buckaroo with Frustration & Not Enough, two more...


I'm full of some emotion[s]. Dunno what what it/they is/are. Don't wanna know. Don't have TIME to know or feel them or deal with them. What better than food to make sure they don't get a chance to surface?

So, yeah: I've been eating. There you go. Simple three-word sentence.

The last two days have been clean of sugar & flour, by the grace of self-disgust. I try every few hours to remember what I've invested in my abstinence so far. Breakfast, dishes, brushing my teeth, anti-depressents; lunch, dishes, doing well by the dogs. It's night that gets me, & it's night + klonopin that kills me.

I've been struggling with this, not simply giving into it. I have a better chance of getting through the Night Triggers if I keep my list-of-things-to-do very simple. It gives less to beat myself up with when, at 8 o'clcock & I'm beat & disappointed & insufficient & lonely, I haven't overwhelmed myself.

Although I perpetually do this simply because my days -- like yours -- are moving targets. "Can you walk Roger?" Sure: no problem (except it's hot & steamy out & that walk will drain 15 minutes of alertness later as well as put off this or that chore). I have to school myself in unpredictability. I can't afford to say no.

It's a matter of a few hours, really. I rarely eat flour or sugar during the day because it makes me too sleepy to handle Boomer when he sees the akita or Roger when he hears the voices in his head. I don't even head for the sugar at dusk. I want it last of all.

I suppose everyone wants their lover coiled around, next to or in them as they fall asleep.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Checking In

I'm working on the fourth chapter. I've re-written, or re-organized what I'd written, or thrown out what I'd written, the first half about a dozen times now. I feel like Cinderella sorting lentils from the ashes so that she can go to the ball: it's a task I'll never finish & so will never go on with my life.

I'm looking at chubby chick lit, whick I blogged about for the AFG site a while ago. This is on a grander scale & involves media figures & movies & TV as well as books.

It bugs the shit out of me when these books have the heroine newly thin after a hundred pound loss bouncing around in a bikini. As weird as I find Gwyneth Paltrow dressed up as a fat girl, the fat suit above is, at least, almost the truth of what deflates, what we are left with.

I'm on my food plan & today was a challenge. I'm boarding Mad Malachi, a three-year-old black Lab who is crazy like a rocket, & have Henry, a year-old Lab, around during the day. The mayhem was unbelieveable although Mally is at my left almost six hours after being sent home from any more World Class Wrestling & seems to be zonked. At 6 all I wanted to do was eat. I had breakfast again & as I was hefting my bowl to go get some more I thought, No. Not now. Let's see if you really want this, later.

We'll see how "later" goes. I've taken a Klonopin & may pass out soon.

The other problem is have is smoking vs. sugar-free calories.

Actually, that's TWO problems. The first is that I came back sick from seeing my parents, with a borderline bronchitis that has almost cleared up now. Smoking was not only bad for it, it tasted terrible & felt terrible. So I cut w-a-y back. I'm down to about a half a pack a day but the price is that when I'm out with the dogs -- or as betwitched by them as I was with Mally & Henry this afternoon -- I suck on sugar-free hard candy. It makes my tummy grumbly, is cloying, & distresses me. Gotta start watching this more carefully.

The second problem with sugar-free hard candy is that it claims to be FIFTY PERCENT LESS CALORIES.

Dear Sweet & Low,

I would like to apply for the position of grammar checking your products. Your butterscotch candies, which are not nearly as good as Werther's, by the way, are NOT fifty percent less calories. They are fifty percent FEWER calories.

I'm sure more literate consumers would buy your candies if the little wrappers that fall easily out of pockets and into the gutters would be more likely to purchase the Sweet & Low variety if only you fixed this simple but annoying problem.


Frances Kuffel

Oh well..................................................................

I responded to an incredible post by Beula this morning that I'm realizing that every time I eat off my food plan, which is one of several first steps to the little hell I call Hating Myself, I'm handing victory to my enemies. The least I can do is not give them more than they already took. It's the thinking of someone who's angry. It would be about time I got angry except that I have to, one way or another, knock this chapter out.

I'm excessively tired of reading about fat chicks, dieting, addiction, et cetera. There's a biography of J.S. Bach on my bookshelf I want to read. Instead, having checked in without saying much of anything, I'm taking a Sarah Ferguson "inspirational" book to bed with Daisy & Malachi.

Sweet dreams everyone...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

They're limiting our rights once again. It's Us again the Telephone Companies & the FCC.

Learn more:

But get on it -- five days left to preserve out rights to free access of information.

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.