Thursday, April 30, 2009

One of those Days...

It started yesterday. I wanted to give my morning dogs a work-out & I ended up being out for three hours with them. I barely had time to have snack (cottage cheese & a pear) before I was off to take care of Italian greyhounds. I crashed when I got there. I was suddenly so, so tired...& I had more dogs to walk.

It's my first week back with the full compliment. My foot barely twinged.

I decided to catch up on Facebook a little & took one of those "Everything About Me Quiz" quizzes. I'm fond of Facebook. I've found friends from grade school there & people I was scared of in high school who've turned out to be very cool. I know what my nieces, nephews & cousins are up to. I've made some friends.

But the quiz got me. I answered one of the first statements, "I am________." "Brilliant."

I believed it, too. But a half hour later I was kicking myself for not remembering the names of all the characters in the Palliser novels & nothing about biochemistry. I revised, in my head, that I'm brilliant at what I'm brilliant at. Sometimes I feel brilliant.

I should not have put that sentence out there where everyone can see it. I posted a bunch of new pictures kind of in the hopes of burying it. The statement haunts me.

When I get tired, I get cranky, & when I get cranky I either turn it on myself or on the world. I wasn't sure, as I dragged Daisy back from Henry's house last night, that the world would escape my anger. All I knew by then was that I hadn't gotten hungry for lunch until it was too late & that I was now starving. I also knew I didn't want to stand there & prepare anything. I ordered out. The meatloaf had gravy on it. I scraped it off as best I could & Daisy loved it. I took her for a quick pee-walk & went to bed with Conversations with Other Women in the DVD player.

I set myself up well for today -- tired, stressed, feeling a fake, no writing done, too big a dinner & a really depressing movie that made me think about things I'd rather not think about.

So I pour some milk into my coffee mug at ten minutes before seven this morning but it chugs out. F---. Gone sour. Coffee without milk. Uck.

I step on the scale. Up 1.8 pounds. My rice takes twice as long to cook than it should, thereby closing my option of getting to the store before breakfast & dogs. Then I cook the rice just long enough that I can scrape all the rice out but have to soak the pan. I now have a sink full of dishes to come home to.

The dogs were my reprieve, along with washing my hair & finally chopping a head of cabbage for my salad mix. I stood up from eating lunch & promptly tripped over my feet, nearly crushing the dog AND my knee & spraining the two smallest toes on my right foot.

Which is nearly mended from a fracture.

I'm starting to turn it on myself.

I'm afraid, I tell you, to go out in the world now. I have to walk Henry & go get essential groceries. Many things could happen. I could say any number of stupid things to myself. It's one of those days.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

What Am I???

This is the most wrinkled weekend in New York City. We all knew we were in for the usual April blast of unseasonably warm weather but we couldn't quite believe it. I think everyone had to dig into boxes and bags to find something to wear & no one did it in time to actually iron. It will be 87 degrees today but by Tuesday we'll have highs in the 60's -- & mornings in my down coat which I want to throw away.

Because I'm on the street a lot, I get complaints every day about the cold. "It's cold for April." Well, no, I say. Easter two years ago fell in April & I wore snow boots to dinner & there was snow on the magnolias. "This is unbelievably warm weather for April" & I think of how every year, we have a heat wave & the movie theaters haven't gotten their air conditioning running & all the flowers pop out at once.

It's most distressing for people like Us. Not only are our bodies now much more public, but we have to go through summer clothes for what fits.

For my part, this was an exceedingly pointless waste of time because I had one three-quarter length white t-shirt still in its virgin bag & a pair of linen pants in the closet that I only remembered after opening four vacuum-sealed bags, creating an enormous stack of wrinkles & having to try a lot of things on. I looked OK until we got to the barbecue & Daisy jumped up on my perfect white shirt with garden-muddy paws. (Shoes continue to be a problem because my foot is still slightly swollen & I'm wearing a nifty thingie that compresses the metatarsal bones. It's not cumbersome but it's one more filler between me and whatever hard-soled shoes I have for summer. I had to wear my wool Heflingers.)

I'm sticking too close to a plateau of 240 for my comfort right now, although I have forsaken my scale again after a couple of days of disbelief that I didn't weigh a little less &, finally, a two-tenths loss yesterday morning. That way madness lies. Still, I'd love to lose enough weight to have a field day with all those bags. (And the bags buried deeper.) My winter Rat Clothes -- how I designate my dog walking duds -- are pretty droopy after 30 pounds but I'm not quite into the next size down in my summer clothes.

I wonder if my body is resisting leaving 240. I'm pretty good for a 30-pound loss but have traditionally in the last few years stalled out there & then regained it & some more. I'm desperate not to do this again. In revising Angry Fat Girls, I hit a spot about why I can't settle into Fat Serenity & it was a bolt of electricity I needed.

Or maybe my body, having lost 30 pounds, simply needs time to rest & reorganize.

& then let's remember that I've had three weeks of favoring my right foot. I began walking Hero last week but the biggest walk is the better part of a mile to Henry's. Not only did I feel last week that my foot wasn't ready for four miles, but the last several blocks are brick and cobblestone streets, very picturesque but scary as hell for someone who, every six months, is obligated to trip over nothing & skin her knees.

Until I started walking Hero again -- almost two miles round trip before excursions -- I was having a hard time with dinner. I wasn't hungry, which made me not want to mess up the kitchen or go to any trouble. At the same time, I want to eat. It didn't feel natural not to. Had I simply gone to bed without supper, I'd be having 800-calorie days & that's just stupid.

A dangerous spot for someone like me. H'mmm. Convenience. No convenience foods are good for me. Sweet immediately sounds right. So I'd go out & get Fage yogurt & have that for dinner. It's delicious, abstinent, calorically on target, expensive, & very very dangerous.

I've come to the conclusion I can't have yogurt in the house for a while. If I'm going to have it for dinner, I'll have to walk the three or four blocks to get it.

I'd like to blame my yogurt habit for this stall-out as I pack up most of the clothes & hose them small enough for storage. Many of those clothes fit but many more need me to lose another ten pounds. But I don't think it's only the yogurt. I think it's a whole lot more wrinkly & complicated than that.

Day 72, by the way. 30.2 pounds lost. Anything between 20 - 22 is fair game.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tuesday Nights with Daisy

I think I'll post over at Psychology Today about the photo question. For anyone who didn't see my response within reader responses here, I'm not sure why they chose that photo except that recent photos of me have been pretty terrible. I'm not referring to my weight in saying that, but to my camo rabbbit fur flap hat & wind-scoured face, the Wattle from an angle, very low light.

As I'm sure you can identify, it's a little weird to be obese & ask people to take your picture. Right now I don't have anyone I trust that much and have access to. I recently lost a friend I hugely enjoyed but found in the end to be mercurial & one-sided. She decided a friendly offer was either poaching on her territory or showed up her work style & hasn't really spoken to me since.

I'm going to pause here to say, briefly, she took the winter photos of me. The sorer point is that I sincerely apologized, although it had to be one of those apologies backed up by a silent "you feel that way," had no intention of taking her client, haven't had any inquiries from the client despite frequent meetings on the street. On my side of the equation, I'd been noticing for a while now that she had me looking up phone numbers and making calls for her from home, felt free to stop by during my work times to use my computer, borrowed a favorite shirt she hasn't returned, called at least once a week & begged me to cover her at work, & owes me a tiny amount of money.

Have I been used?

I didn't mind it because I love her company -- she's one of the few people who can make me roar with laughter. But with all the leaning on me came a false intimacy. She never asked me to have supper with her or took me up on my offers to bring dinner to her house. She called other people to see how they're doing but she called me for favors. It wasn't a friendship & I absolutely cannot see that I did something so bad that she should end it.

The worst of it is that I know her well. I know that she is her own revenge. Her wild quests for happiness are dramas she plays out to distract her from what's really going on in her life -- going on or going wrong. I knew this & I listened to it. I was a fair friend. It hurts to see her around once or twice a day & know she's heaping blame on me for something that was innocent &, if I were the devil incarnate, fruitless.

So I digress. I'll have to find someone to take a decent photo of me for PT. You've seen all the recent ones & have to agree they don't show me in a professional light.

I'd post a photo of my own over there except all the site does is insert the name of the photo, making it gobbledy-gook.

I'm waiting for my Klonpin to kick in so I can sleep. I'm slightly afraid to have idle hands until I'm sleepy -- dinner was good (chopped broccoli, salsa & 4 oz. of chicken) but I'd love something sweet. Better to be busy.

Daisy is fast asleep in the pillows after an unproductive walk. Tuesdays are the horror of dog owners' lives. New York takes recycling pretty seriously & Wednesday is recycling day. Paper in clear bags, plastic & metal in clear bags, garbage cans & bags. At 2 o'clock in the afternoon things get pretty Dickensian on the streets as people with grocery carts, billowing bags or shopping carts park themselves across from the big apartment buildings and wait for the maintenance men to bring out the plastic/metal bags. They then go through them for deposit-back cans & bottles. Each has their territory. A wizened Chinese lady sits on the stoop next door to my building & Daisy goes berserkers when she sees her, partly because the first time she saw her it was raining & the woman was standing under the small awning of my front door. She speaks no English so it was this big deal to convince her move away long enough for me to haul my bucking, barking dog inside.

It reminds me of the bone & rag pickers of Victorian London.

Nights are the dogs' glory, however, because there are so many bags out, all of them smelling of other dogs' pee, lo mein containers, milk cartons & rotting chicken. Daisy has to lift her leg at least two times on Tuesday night & is so distracted by the bags that she forgets to take a dump.

I've consulted with Lee Charles Kelley about some of Daisy's more violent & unminding tendencies. The first thing he has me doing is a change of diet, which was too yang. It sounds a little weird but apparently the stool hardener in lots of kibble brands encourages aggression. I like seeing what she eats -- a scant half cup of kibble & a half cup of chicken, carrots, broccoli, apples -- always the chicken with a changing roster of yin foods. She's obsessed with her new diet. I mean, she always licked the pan, but now she skootches it all over the room. I should be feeding this to her by hand, outside amid the distractions of wizened Chinese ladies & jolly but intimidating mastifs, but the weather has not been kind to me so far.

I think she's been a little more tractable. I'm talking to her more, trying to chatter the focus on to me instead of her enemies (which include blown-over garbage cans &, famously, snowmen). But Tuesday nights are another challenge altogether & I feel sorry that she's going to be uncomfortable tonight. I'll kill her if she wakes me up to go out for a poop.

Life... It's happening, even when it's small.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Cruelest Month

I just noticed that I have four coats hanging on my door: the down coat I long to throw out, with the ripped pocket and pulled off snaps, my rain coat, which I'll need tomorrow, a windbreaker and a nice rose corduroy jacket which is one of the few purchases outside of shoes I'll make for the foreseeable future. I need them all this week & see no point in hanging them up in a more orderly manner.

That's April. Four coats & nowhere to go.

An inch of rain is expected tomorrow. I'm still waiting for my foot to mend & waiting, mostly, for these nifty wraps made for fractured metatarsals to arrive. I've been taping my foot and it helps, but it's bulky and I have no footwear that will accommodate tape, the need for a hard sole and rain. I'm still stalling on going back to the dogs but I need to get out. The less I have to do, the less, I'm finding, I can do. This has to do with my social anxiety as much as my productivity & it hit hard this weekend after two weeks off from being out & around. Daisy & I boarded over at Mally's house. Mally is a goofy big black Lab & he has two cats, one of which is failing & needs medication & IV hydration, a skill I've now added to my resume. I also had greyhounds to go in & tend. I managed all the basics yesterday -- walks, food, pills -- then crawled back into bed by 10 & fell asleep soon after to dream those light-sleep dreams in which one visits everyone from one's past, waking at 5.

I knew I was abstinent when, after going through the same basics of walks, food, medication & a what should have been a quick stop at the grocery store (the deli people had no idea what they were doing; I could feel my foot throbbing & swelling as she twiddled around for the code on my gazpacho salad), I was walking back to Mally's scolding myself for my nervous breakdown & thought, "Tomorrow will be better" & I knew it actually would be.

Still, I lost a day of my life. My home meeting -- working on Angry Fat Girls -- spending time in the honeyed sun that promptly gave way to sweatshirt & coat weather, of which I missed more because I nearly did the same thing today. I simply couldn't handle three places to be AND work. I wanted to eat through it. My exit from that instinct was to sleep.

Sleep & read Amy Dickenson's The Mighty Queens of Freeville. I know Amy slightly; she's the daughter of a good friend from graduate school. It was a melancholy read because I haven't been back to Freeville in a very long time. I called my friend this evening, which is another miracle of not eating through my anxiety, & she asked when I was coming up that way. I think I will have to rent a car & make an Upstate Progress, like Queen Elizabeth bankrupting her counselors -- to Ithaca & Freeville, to the sanctuary where my dog Roger has gone to live, to Lake Placid to see friends from one of my past lives.

It got me thinking, The Mighty Queens did, about sisterhood. I've always found it hard to be friends with women who have more than one sister. They have each other & some door of friendship is closed because of that. My cousins are all multiple-sister families & I always felt left out to a greater or lesser extent. My closest cousin was a good friend but preferred sleeping with her sister because my feet were too cold. I look at my history of friendships & I see that most of them are with women who were the only girl or quite separated in age from another sister. I don't know that there is a winner or a loser in this divide but I know how it feels to be the unsistered. My mother got to be a pretty wavery person in my life as well so it occurs to me that I didn't have a lot of girly role models or practice. This is not a big deal. Merely the ruminations of w-a-y too much sleep, a good book, "Memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain."

It has been one of those weekends I'm glad I'm single. Who would put up with a two-day coma interrupted only by cats and dogs, a memoir & TBS romantic comedies of the lowest order? The other night I was limping home from Key Food, my eyes fast on the uneven flagstone sidewalks that are my current terror, & I overheard a child ask if "you are doing any regattas this year". I had to roll my eyes as he answered that he was going to Philadelphia the next weekend & would be out at his beach house soon after. They passed me & I was dismayed to see a curvaceous, kind of booty girl with fluffy curled blond hair walking with a bald stoutish man. She went on to ask what flowers he had in the country and he talked about lilacs & she trilled how much she loves flowers.

It was The Wasteland on a first date. I was infinitely grateful to be dragging chicken breasts and broccoli home rather than craning over a first date conversation. Daisy looked particularly charming after that bit of voyeurism.

Life is going to be more & more like that as the weather limps toward tolerable. I always seem to be on the street but in the winter not so many other people are. When I walked out that evening, I caught sight of myself in my new rose-colored corduroy coat & thought, "Whoa...When did that happen?" My romance with the scale has ended so it's just me & abstinence & I was surprised to see a much sleeker shape in the hall mirror. To see the change for myself is shocking -- I have so little idea what I look like. But it gave me the courage to pull out a better shirt than usual, a size smaller than I'd dared in a long time, & it fit, although my last pair of jeans that remain at liberty in my apartment are a ways away from that. You win some, you lose some. This weekend I decided it was a win, & dangerous emotionally when I was out of my house & away from my stuff. So I slept. Then called my old friend and finished the dogs & cats for the day & jotted this meander down, just to stay in touch.

There's plenty of Cruelest Month in here if I were to look for it. Like "Where's Waldo". Day 67 & I don't know what I weigh but I'd like it a lot if my foot healed.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Scissors, Paper, God

I had a box of them. Mary Poppins, with Jane and Michael, Samantha from Bewitched, the perfunctory bridal party so many girls in the early 60's had. On and on. I can't remember what others were there but, unlike my limited Barbie collection (didn't Barbie cost an astronomical amount of money in the `60's?), I could actually perform The Sound of Music with my paper dolls because I had enough of them.

Then I discovered my mother's wrapping paper and starting making clothes for them with whatever didn't reek too much of mistletoe.

It would not surprise you to know, then, that I still love cutting things out of magazines and catalogues.

The point of the Third Step, which is the same for all 12-step programs ("Made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the will of God as I understood God") is to first make some decisions about God or a higher power and then cast one's fate to it.

My sponsor and I have had several conversations now that have hinged on me playing God. The first was my rage at having relapsed. The second came up in a conversation about how to approach the Dreaded Fourth Step ("Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves"). "How could I have two crazy bosses in a row? It must have been me." After the first go-around of being so angry at myself for relapsing, I caught myself. Who am I to say it was me or it was them? Who am I to say I was naive and unable to establish an adult relationship with either of them? Those are judgment calls. Is someone who will tuck her nightgown into sweatpants and run out to the deli in the rain really in a position to make judgments about herself, let alone anyone else?

Let alone my fondness for paper dolls.

I'm sure I've written about my Catholic School Girl Concept of God, which is best sung to the tune, "You Better Not Pout". My sponsor is all too familiar with it. I've tried a buddy God I called Ralph for a while. I've tried to integrate myself back into the Church. I've tried various saints. And then I relapse. Or feel crummy about wasting my life with online games. Or watch a marathon of America's Next Top Model, God save me.

When I first went into the Rooms, I made what is known there as a "God box". It can be anything -- a paper bag, a shoe box, a jar, whatever. The idea is that when something Big happens (a fight with a friend, a resentment, a decision to be made: whatever troubles the waters), you write it down and stick it in the vessel of choice. I, of course, saw this as an opportunity to play paper dolls.

That God box, made from an oatmeal container 11 years ago, is dusty, faded, fraying and heavy. I really want this abstinence to be a new beginning so part of my Third Step was making a new God box. I had the good karma box for it -- the box from the Ralph Lauren Romance perfume my father gave me for Christmas -- and stacks of unread magazines and catalogues. It was time to go to work.

It's been an interesting and sometimes moving several days because of it.

My first God box was about my relationship with God. The new one is about 1) God's relationship with me, and 2) proof that there is a God. Swan Lake, for instance, is proof of the Sublime. So are the Rockies that are my soul's cradle. Venice, flowers, my sense of being from Somewhere, the Hubble Telescope, Barack Obama, the fierceness and love of bears, Jane Austen -- proof. I'm sorry, my Agnostics, but these aren't random items for me.

Then there's the matter of God's relationship with me, which has been missing since the days I used to hold hands with guardian angel, probably pre-First Confession when God gets wicked on kids. "Be Yourself -- Everyone Else Is Taken," God tells me. "Love is patient, love is kind," he assures me. Buddhas laugh; a wounded angel is carried by ordinary boys; a black Edmund Gorey Lab carries a banner that says, "We belong together."

The project got me humming The Mills Brothers. I wasn't surprised when the chorus of "Paper Doll" echoed my sense of what-have-you-done-for-me-lately.

I'm gonna buy a Paper Doll that I can call my own
A doll that other fellows cannot steal

And then the flirty, flirty guys with their flirty, flirty eyes

Will have to flirt with dollies that are real

When I come home at night she will be waiting
She'll be the truest doll in all this world

I'd rather have a Paper Doll to call my own

Than have a fickle-minded real live girl

I'm interested in seeing what the compassionate, monogamous, cheerleader of a God will do for me.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


This is not my foot.

It's not my foot because the labeled fourth metatarsal of my foot has a stress fracture, known as a march fracture. I've been walking around on it for a while -- which is why it's called a march fracture to begin with -- thinking I'd done something to my little toe again until I noticed how swollen my foot was and started poking around to see where the tenderness is. A consult with the `net and my father has confirmed what I can't quite bring myself to pay someone else to confirm only to be told what my father told me: wear a stiff-soled shoe and stay off the foot.

I can, however, wear the stiff-soled shoe and I've taken the week off from dog walking, which is a lurching, pausing, pulling six or seven miles a day.

My manuscript is open in another window, as well as a new document to begin outlining it in order to see where I can impose more of the story line. I just walked Daisy and my foot's throbbing a little. I have better sympathy than usual for my former AFG cohorts who have knee problems. I'm not used to picking and choosing what walks I can take and regretting running into a good friend on the way back from Key Food because we lingered and talked.

Right now I'm avoiding that outline. I think Angry Fat Girls is a more important book than Passing for Thin. It's reality whereas PFT is true for so few women. But it's been a painful book to write and isn't my foot enough pain???

Well, no. If, in fact, I pay someone to diagnose and possibly treat this, I'd better keep working through the soul-pain since I'm not making any money off the foot-pain.

It's one of those times that I feel like I did at my highest weight and was so debilitated. It makes me feel like I weigh 340 pounds. Weirdly, I had more of a social life then. I fought the pain my back, legs, feet were in. But I also fought the physical pain with food and fought for a social life with food as well. I'd come home from seeing people feeling inadequate -- inadequate because I so disliked myself and inadequate because I couldn't taste the food we may have eaten together and certainly didn't get, for me, adequate amounts. I'd stop by the all-night deli and have my real meal at home in bed. In some ways, eating after socializing was also prolonging the pleasure on the literal gut level.

Maybe it's not so weird that I've become skittish about leaving home and mixing with the world in the last few years. I've been in the food most of that time but I've lost my innocence about what I do with it as well. I haven't learned enough about being a myself in public to be relaxed about it.

Emphasis on "being" because I act like myself but am not, quite, myself in most settings.

When I was a young poet, Dick Hugo asked how it was that I wrote such precocious poems. I told him that "I" didn't. I had a sort of role I slipped into that got me past my tongue-tied-ness; I acted up a storm of confidence in putting pen to paper.

It's an apt description of me in social situations as well.

How much does it have to do with weight? Everything and nothing. Obesity debilitates some of my confidence and a lot of my genuineness because I have to act harder to get beyond the place of crumpling outsiderness and self-flagellation that being around people stirs up.

I'm not sure why I'm writing this or where I'm going with it. Bea responded to my last post about using fat to absorb the slings and arrows and I immediately thought, "I use food, not fat, to do that." There is an Easter brunch my closest friends are hosting and my hostess called last night to discuss what she was serving that I can eat and what she could make for me instead. I told her I'd bring stewed fruit and a salad, things I can eat. I don't think I resent making the offer or having the conversation or being the imposition...but I'm aware that this is the first party I've gone to since getting clean and I'm going to have to act graciously, consciously, soberly -- and possibly even funnily and interestingly.

I'm exhausted already. I wonder if my plaid dress fits and if I have hard-soled shoes to go with?

I think this abstinence is going to include chucking some stuff out. I can feel the radiation of blame from my friend over the situation that arose last week and I have a certain proactive response to it that refuses either to be her target, if it comes to that, or to have the self-pity fest I've held at other ruptures in our acquaintance. On my side of the street, I've tried hard to be a good friend. Period. What I did in my efforts doesn't matter because they're score keeping. I'm sticking with "I've tried hard to be a good friend". If sniveling is required to be forgiven, then chuck it.

Holy Week.

What an ironic time to be working toward finishing my Third Step and outlining my book.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Emotional Weight Lifting

If I make it to midnight today, and there is a reasonable chance that I will, I'll have seven weeks of abstinence and a guesstimated loss of 26 pounds.

I say all this for a couple of reasons.

My home 12-step group, the meeting I exert myself most habitually to get to, has shifted personality over the years. I've heard a number of down and dirty bulimia stories since going back. There is nothing more gutter-drunk than bulimia. I respect their struggles and recovery enormously, and much prefer those stories to people who are complacent about their weight.


I don't hear anyone sharing a day count or anniversary that mentions weight loss any more. I am disturbed by this so much that I spoke about it in my three minutes last week, bawling as I did so. I don't like the lack of sisterhood in my endeavor or the lack of discussion about the particular brutalities of obesity.

So I'm sharing my weight loss. I'm also sharing it because, as you know from The Great Wattle Disaster, there is a long period when you're working your way down from big numbers that one can't see one's weight loss. A dress size might be 20 or 30 pounds, and I've been wearing pretty much the same stuff as I did 8 weeks ago. Lots of elastic sweat pants and shirts bought big to begin with. Even my corduroys are elastic waisted. There is, for some months yet, a ways to go before I'll really see it -- in the mirror, on my labels -- for myself. So the scale is not a bad thing, especially when I'm not trying to get away with anything.

You know. Too much corned beef: will it show up on the scale tomorrow??? As though when I step on the scale, instead of a number, a big red brisket will be on the dial.

That's a great phrase We rely on, isn't it? Will X show up on the scale? Wonderfully absurd in the absurd idiom of weight loss.

I mention the seven weeks, which sounds tidier and bigger than 49 days, because of something my sponsor said in regards to a painful episode. "She's in her disease."

I was a little taken aback, not because my sponsor was wrong but because who are we -- she and I -- to differentiate between someone who's eating at will and my mere seven weeks of [really pretty good] behavior? How can seven weeks make me "sober"?

I've been thinking about what I haven't eaten my way through lately. Revising Angry Fat Girls, which is a painful process because it's an acutely painful but loving book. A lot of irritation with human beings when I'm out with dogs. A lot of flack in response to the last Lab Lady posts I did for the Brooklyn Heights Blog. Working every weekend and being very tired from the cold. A flare-up with someone who tends to drop me every couple of years that has me wondering if it would be better to end the friendship which gives me some of my greatest pleasure but is entirely at the whim of my friend.

This is nothing to the daily pressures and fears I faced when I was an agent and abstinent. How did I do without klonopin, I wonder? How will I get back to a place where I don't have a nervous breakdown about going to the grocery store or to walk the dogs, let alone get myself to a movie?

Maybe I've been handed these small bumps in the road as emotional dumbbells. What I've learned about myself in these seven weeks is how emotionally fragile I am. Confrontations devastate me, even when they're the sort someone else would shrug off. I'm prone to emotional exhaustion -- the flare up with my friend cost me two days of writing.

And I am very bad at speaking up for myself unless it's in rage. I defend my dogs but not myself.

I've lucked out. It was my turn to go see my parents but my brother has a conference coming up in Las Vegas and will take my turn. A dear friend has canceled a visit in May. I won't have to drink water at the rice pudding shop in Little Italy. I even ended up wit too many dogs on my slate to go to the St. Pat's bash that is a tradition. My life will not have been interrupted through these wobbly times when food is still a real option. I'll have to face it in June and July, but not in the first four months.

I wish there was a way to exercise emotional strength and appropriateness, the way one can press iron or go to yoga. I mean, one needs the strength of weight lifting in order to, say, carry a toddler, and one can get that strength in advance of said-toddler. Why isn't there a way to do in-advance push-ups regarding, "I feel taken advantage of" or "Please listen more carefully to what I'm saying"?

Maybe prayer, meditation, medication, chi help in situations like dog rage, but I'm less certain of their efficacy when pulled out on the carpet for misbehavior or mistakes, for being dumped by a guy, fired from a job, death in the family, loss of friends, travel and all the rest of the junk that goes into being human.

The only real difference I can see between seven weeks of abstinence and being actively in pursuit of pasta is that I take more of the punch than I did two months ago.

And, of course, the scale. ;)