Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Guest Post: Another Way To Starve

I am so, so excited to be able to guest post this amazing essay by Kimberly Dark!! First read it, of course, and then go check out her Web site:   If you want to see the original layout of the post, you can see it here.  Thank you, Kimberly!! and I'm glad this is getting read by at least some people who wouldn't have seen it otherwise.  --Jen

Another Way to Starve

By Kimberly Dark
When you’re a fat kid, sometimes you go hungry.

Here’s something weird.

It’s when your family has enough money to buy plenty of food,
even fancy food sometimes, like a steak dinner. They stop whenever
they want and pick up a little something because who has time for
cooking all three meals every day? But somehow, you’re the person 
in your family who shouldn’t eat.

It’s not like they withhold food, but they make you feel bad for 
eating it. They want you to say no to food. They want you to want to 
deprive yourself and why would they want that, if you were actually 
just as good as everyone else? I mean, why would they? You 
wonder this because you’re a kid. And you don’t have any answers.

“When you’re a fat kid, sometimes you go hungry.” — Tweet this.

But hang on. Sometimes they don’t feed you because you’re being 
virtuous and they’re being supportive. You’re on a diet. They don’t 
feed you even though you’re hungry. They tell you this is your 
choice and they’re proud of you for it.

They know you’re hungry and that you feel left out when others 
are eating because how could you not feel left out from the
 deliciousness and kindness and collaboration and community and 
belonging and satisfaction involved in eating? And they look at 
you with pity and tell you how good you are when you’re starving.
They tell you how great you’re going to look because clearly 
there’s something wrong with the way you look now. They know 
it. You know it. Everyone who has ever seen you knows it. It 
goes without saying. And yet, they say it often enough anyway,
just to remind you. The only way to not be insulted for looking
how you look is to actively, and in full view, be starving.

“The only way to not be insulted for looking how you look is to 
actively, and in full view, be starving.” — Tweet this.

Everyone you know says you’ll look great if you only eat very 
little and they encourage you to say it too. It’ll make you feel better 
about starving. It’ll make them feel better about encouraging you 
not to eat when they know you must be hungry or hurt or left out 
of loving interactions that happen around food. You’re not just
reminded once in a while either. People eat three times a day. 
Well, that’s officially how often they eat, but lots of people eat 
more often than that. Not  you. That’s snacking and snacking 
is bad. You’re bad. Your body is bad. That’s what you learn.
People who want to live have to eat. But eating is the one thing 
that seems to prove that you shouldn’t exist at all.

“Snacking is bad. You’re bad. Your body is bad. That’s what
children learn.” — Tweet this.

Everyone tells you how gluttonous you are, how overstuffed-
privileged-lazy you are. They may not say it directly to you 
(or they may). They say it about you and about people who look
like you. They say awful things as though you aren’t standing 
right there, or you don’t matter and really are awful.

You are not allowed to eat in a relaxed way. Sometimes you’re 
not allowed to eat at all. What does that mean? You’re a kid, 
so you’re still working out all of the strange things adults do, 
and learning who you are in the process. You hear about people 
starving for lack of food but you have food — loads of it — in the 
house where you live, in the stores where you shop, yet you too 
experience hunger. (And sometimes you over-stuff yourself,
like on a holiday, when those around give you permission to eat. 
Or like when you get angry and can’t stand all that being 
precious around food, so you eat. And then, you figure out what
to do with the shame of having eaten so much.) You know you 
don’t deserve to claim hardship and yet you live being hungry
or rebelling against hunger. What does this mean? You wonder 
because you’re a child and no one can make sense of it for you 
even though they’re adults and they seem so sure about the rules. 
They seem so sure about who you are. It seems like they would
understand what all this means but they won’t tell you.

“What do you say to yourself and the children in your life?” 
— Tweet this.

That’s weird, right? To grow up totally middle class and able to 
eat, only not able to eat and be love-worthy at the same time. And 
the shame. Oh, the shame of being wrong, all the time wrong,
 impossible to erase the wrong-bodied-ness that you express 
everywhere you go. Hide  yourself. Don’t move. Don’t dress flashy. 
Don’t be loud. No one wants to hear you. No one respects you. No 
one will ever respect you. Do something about yourself, 
for godsakegoddamnit.

As a kid, how would you even talk about something like that? 
As an adult, how do you make sense of it?

And now that you know how diet culture works on children and 
against children, on adults and against adults making it seem like 
it’s fine for a person’s life purpose to be diminishing one’s body, 
what do you say? What do you say to yourself and the children 
in your life? 

How will you fix this?

--Kimberly Dark is a writer, sociologist and raconteur working to
reveal the hidden architecture of everyday life, one clever story, 
poem and essay at a time. 

Learn more at

Monday, January 9, 2017


Aaaand she's late again.  Well, that's okay.  What are they going to do, cut my salary?  Besides, I have an excellent excuse.  I found out Friday that we're going to be kicked out of our house for a week.

Yeah.  Seems that a few years ago, when we had that broken pipe which led to the catastrophic flood under the house, some of the floorboards in our bathroom were damaged.  They're now very weak and starting to give way.  In short, the entire bathroom floor is due to collapse.  Which, you have to admit, would be a rotten thing to happen while you were sitting on the throne, if you know what I mean.  And guess where all the weak spots are?  Right around the throne.  So you see the problem.

We had a contractor come over and give us an estimate.  It's a scary estimate, but it's doable.  He's pulling out all the bathroom hardware, totally replacing the shower stall with a disabled-friendly walk in shower (thank God for small favors), repaneling the floor, laying tile, and painting.  In short, we're going to get a whole new bathroom, and it's going to be a nice shade of teal.  The only thing that really sucks is the whole having to move out of the house for a week part.

See, we only have one bathroom.  That's the one thing I've never liked about our house.  All houses should have two bathrooms, in case of emergencies.  But in 1958, when our house was built, it was sort of inconceivable that anybody could possibly need more than one bathroom.  (Clearly, 1958-era contractors never tried living with two women at once.)  I asked a contractor once how much it would cost to add another bathroom to our house and he told us that A. because of where the sewer pipe is located, the only way to go is up, ie, we'd need to add a second story to the house and B. that would start around $20,000.00 and go up from there.  So we never did it.  Besides, Joan can't do stairs.

So we spent a goodly portion of Saturday trying to find a place to stay for a week.  Surprisingly, there aren't a lot of hotels which are A. affordable and B. are just fine with you bringing your three cats. Imagine.  Anyway, we ended up cruising vacation rental places and finally found a condo near downtown. The guy who owns it is an attorney, and it probably didn't hurt that I said we were a paralegal and a librarian.  And yes, I told him about the three cats.  He rented the place to us anyway.  Beginning this Saturday, we'll be living in a tony one-bedroom in a luxury complex that has a fitness center and even (gasp!) a swimming pool.  Not that anybody's doing much swimming when it's 38 degrees outside, but I guess you could.

Moving day is next Saturday.  We will probably each be taking a few days off work so that the cats won't be alone in a strange place.  Luckily, both of us can work from home to a greater or lesser extent. If I can manage it, I'll send pictures.  Wish us luck.

It could be worse, you know.  It could be Dallas in the winter.  Oh wait...

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Brave New...Whatever

Thanksgiving pic. Aren't we cute?
Belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everybody!  Yes, I know it's been ages since I blogged.  You should see my Christmas letter--oh wait, you can't because it's not done. Well, it's almost done.  Well, I think I'll get it mailed this week. Maybe. Possibly.  It's been that kind of holiday season.

I don't make New Year resolutions because I've discovered that they're basically a setup, but if I did, I'd be promising to blog more.  The original idea was every Thursday morning.  That worked pretty well for a long time, particularly when I was participating in the Talk Thursday discussion tree, but it sort of fell out of favor in the last year or so.  Probably just the incursions of Life, with its sub-incursions of Work, Household Stuff and of course Sleep.  Honestly, though, I will try to blog more, and since Thursdays worked pretty well for a long time, I'll see you again in two days.

Wait, hold on a second.  I should at least tell you what's going on.  The odd answer, though, is not very much.  I'm driving a lot because Joan can't drive because she can't see, but other than that it's just swimming, work, home, household chores, writing a little, meditation and other Buddhist-y things. I mean, there are crises every now and again--we have a sick cat, for example; three times to the vet in the last three weeks--and big major household repairs that need to be done for which I have no clue where the money will come from.  But other than that, just the stuff that is.

I think what may be going on here is that I've hit middle age like it's a giant pillow.  Or maybe an air bag.  I haven't felt like going out to bars, picking up 18-year-old ingenues and driving drunk like a character in a bad Hemingway novel, but I am about to turn 48 here, and I do think I'm having my version of a midlife crisis.  It's maybe time to admit that certain things are simply Never Going To Happen.  I'll probably never play backup keyboards for Herbie Hancock, for example, both because I don't play keyboards and because Herbie Hancock doesn't need any help.  I'll probably never be first bassoon for the Philadelphia Orchestra, either, unless someone dies and makes me God, and my odds of ever climbing to Everest Base Camp to check out the mountaineering scene are shrinking exponentially by the day.  Something about high-altitude cerebral edema and being out of the reach of Western medicine.

Or, as Annie Lennox put it, "This is the book I never read/ These are the words I never said/ This is the path I'll never tread/ These are the dreams I'll dream instead."

Which is another way of saying, "Let's just wing it and see what happens."

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Mini-Post: Stephen Hawking Ranted At Fat People Today. So I Ranted Back.

Stephen Hawking ranted at fat people today. So I ranted back.
Dear Mr. Hawking: 
Lots of obese people eat normally and take regular exercise. I swim 7 miles a week and eat about 1700 calories a day, on the average. Has that helped me lose weight? No, and I don't expect it ever will. It happens I just got my numbers back from the doctor. My total cholesterol is 143, my blood pressure is 120/80, my blood glucose is 106 and my A1C is 6.3.When I swim my heart rate goes up to about 135 and then settles down to a perfectly normal 70 beats per minute. So why do I weigh over 300 pounds instead of 150 or so? Put your amazing brain to that little puzzle, why don't you.
It's OK to be fat!!
Some people just are.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

I've Got Nothing to Say, So--

--I'll let these fine folks say it instead.

"BRITAIN:  Brexit is the stupidest, most self-destructive act a country could undertake.
USA: Here. Hold my beer."

"As someone who spent 15 months researching Trump's past statements, if anyone says they know what a President Trump will do they're lying."

"White people want to die. They want to eliminate all of the things they need to survive. Yo. Let them. Step out of the way. Let them go."

"Today is the anniversary of Kristallnacht. As someone who lost ancestors in the Holocaust, that shit is not lost on me."

"It is interesting how Trump says he's going to drain the swamp but is bringing with him alligators like Christie, Giuliani & Gingrich."

"If you think folks who elected Trump would've been more amenable to Bernie being first Jewish US president, you missed what happened tonight."

"White supremacy isn't just voting for Trump. It's voting against him, then attributing his victory to reasons other than White supremacy."

"Fahrenheit 11/9."

"I find it fascinating how your first reaction is to blame *liberals* for conservatives electing a fascist."

"look if you tell me to hug a trump supporter--
I am not gonna hug someone who voted my country into fascism.
I'm not gonna hug someone who thinks racism, misogyny, & xenophobia are good and/or passable.
Fuck that and fuck you."

"Great Day to be a #Racist #Misogynist #Xenophobe #FASCIST   #WhiteTrash
Sad day to be someone true to our ideals."

"One day we'll look back at the Dubya administration as the good ol' days when we were only fightin' 2 wars and losin' 800,000 jobs a month."

"No matter how horrifically violent and terrible the action, white people desperately argue that their own "isn't evil/racist/etc.""

"Trump supporters get to have the president they wanted. They don't get to have my good opinion of them as people, too."

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Update - And The News Is...

...not that good, I'm afraid.  Joan saw the neuro-ophthalmologist  (who is quite the character -and the character I'd use is "officious prick", but no one asked me), and his conclusion is that the same thing happened to Joan's right eye that long ago happened to her left eye. That is, she had what was in effect a small stroke behind her optic nerve, which caused her optic nerve to swell up.  I don't know why your optic nerve would swell up if you lost blood, but then, I'm not a neuro-opthalmologist. Nor an officious prick.  Anyway, the swelling of the nerve is causing the loss of the visual field, and if they can get the swelling down, they might restore some sight. Maybe.  So Joan is taking huge doses of steroids to get the swelling down. Thank you and come back in three weeks.

But what caused all this, you are no doubt asking. How does a fifty-something person end up with a condition that normally only affects very elderly diabetics?  Well: It turns out there are a number of prerequisites for getting this, and Joan has every one of them.  The biggest and most important, though, is sleep apnea.

If you don't know what that is, relax. I'm going to tell you. Sleep apnea is where you stop breathing in your sleep.  You can stop for anywhere from a few seconds to almost a minute before your brain realizes it's not getting any oxygen and forces you to gasp for breath. This may wake you up, or not. The most common symptom is snoring, especially loud snoring. Another symptom is dreaming that you can't breathe, or startling awake breathing hard.  A lot of people have it and don't know it.  Older white males (50+) and black men under the age of 35 are the most likely to have it, especially if they're overweight, have a thick neck, smoke or have allergies/chronic nasal congestion.  Besides possibly causing you to go blind, sleep apnea can cause or make worse high blood pressure, heart disease, weight gain, diabetes, asthma and--get this--car accidents.  (That falling asleep at the wheel thing.)  So if your sweetie tells you you snore like a buzz saw, or if you wake up gasping for breath on a regular basis and there isn't a cat on your chest when this happens, please talk to your doc.  You may not have sleep apnea, but then again you might.

So Joan still can't see very well, and I'm still driving her around.  And we're still taking it day by day. I'm managing to get to the pool on a regular basis, mainly by taking Joan with me (she sits in the lobby and does cross stitch).  We're working on that whole public transportation thing, if only so she doesn't have to get up with me at five in the morning. And I guess that life is going on, mostly.

Therefore, it's time for me to say something about The Election.  Yes, I know: A couple of blog posts ago, I said I wasn't going to talk about The Election.  Further, I actively avoid news coverage of just basically anything, on the advice of my doc; it doesn't help my anxiety level, and generally it only takes about ninety seconds to find something that pisses me off.  However, because of recent events, I sort of have to say something.  I heard about these recent events on Twitter (where, if you want, you can follow me around @jenstrikesagain).  And look.  I don't care what sex you are, what species, what color or how long your ear tufts are: Donald Trump has said a ridiculously large number of things, both recently and ten years ago, that have revealed his true character and ruled him out of contention as someone who's fit to be President.

Now, I know some of you are Republicans.  (There's therapy for that now.  Just saying.)  And I'm not saying everybody should vote for Hillary, although I will be.  If I were a Republican (and I would be, if the Republicans of the Lincoln era or even the Theodore Roosevelt era were still around), I'd be freaking out right about now.  I'd be trying to decide if I should be voting for nobody (always an option), or writing in Lindsay Graham because, let's face it, it can't possibly hurt. I'd also be consoling myself that Trump was never really a Republican to begin with; like most cowards, he chose the gang he thought was deluded enough to let him in, and then he fought every person in it until he was the leader.  And I'd be apoplectic that my party was falling apart, but then I'd remember that political parties have split up many times throughout history, and the results were always new parties that were stronger and better than the original.  In fact, this might be an opportunity for the real Republicans to form their own gang, while the Christofascist do-what-we-tell-you-and-not-what-we're-doing demagogues get together in another sandbox and plot their own takeover of the free airwaves, the Supreme Court, the stock exchange and women's bodies.  But one thing I would definitely not be doing is voting for Trump.  I don't care if he's the nominee (our bad, for not nominating somebody like, say, Lindsay Graham again.  Or Colin Powell.  Or heck, even Janet Napolitano.)  When you're talking about the leader of the free world, you don't put someone in the job who lies compulsively, hires white supremacists as his advisers, is obviously utterly confused by this Constitution thing and advocates waterboarding.

Having said all that, I will finally get to my point.  Which is:  If you're still going to vote for Donald Trump, as is your right, I'd greatly appreciate it if you just didn't tell me.  Heck, I like you.  And I don't want to lose all the respect I have for you.

Friday, September 16, 2016

New and Exciting Medical Saga!

And here I thought this post would be about how I sent all the contributions to Heifer and they sent a nice letter back and named the water buffalo "Jim" and sent him to Southeast Asia.  Well, that's still going to happen (this week, I swear) but in the interim, Joan's having a new and exciting medical saga.  For anybody who doesn't know what's going on, Joan woke up about a week ago mostly unable to see out of her "good" eye.  She has a "bad" eye, too, where the visual field is limited, so to have the "good" eye poop out on her like this is not a good thing.  Obviously this is causing all kinds of problems, like you would expect if you were suddenly struck about half blind.  We've spent days in doctors' waiting rooms and testing facilities, and while we were at it, we hit Joan's out of pocket maximum. So at least everything's free from here.  

At this point there is no news, except that things are not getting better.  Nobody seems to be able to tell us if the eyesight will come back once they figure out what's causing the problem and start treating it.  Oh, and what could be the problem ranges from papilloedema, a condition caused by diabetes but usually on a much older person (don't Google it, it's scary) to a brain tumor, which is--well, I'm not gonna say anything more about that.  And all of that is incredibly sucky, but what I'm having the most trouble with now is just the sheer logistics of this thing.  

By that I mean, how to cope with the world when you can't see most of it.  I dunno if you've ever thought of that before, but it's a lot.  I mean, for example I've had to go through the house, and will have to do it again on a regular basis because we have a kitten, looking for trip hazards and things below radar that Joan could get hung up on. (And our house is an OSHA nightmare in that respect.  We're working on it, though.) There are some chores I've more or less taken over because I just don't think she can do them.  And of course there's driving.  When you can't see, you can't drive.  So now, instead of just driving myself around, I actually need to think about it, sit down and make a schedule; where Joan has to be when, when I need to pick her up, how long it'll take to get to here from there, and therefore, what time I can expect to, say, arrive at work.  Bonus, though; We're spending a lot of time together.  Kristen was right; that part is actually pretty cool.

(And just incidentally, my work has been great about all this.  No complaints about my lateitude or about my being gone on a semi-regular basis to take Joan someplace or other.  Essentially, they don't have to pay me while I'm not here, but that aside, they've been really nice.  And this may be coincidental, but one of the Downstairs Guys came upstairs to tell me he was running low on work and did I have anything for him.  Oh, honey.  Do I ever.)

And me? you ask.  Has my head exploded from the stress yet?  Well, actually no.  This is very Buddhist-y of me, but I've just been taking it one day at a time.  Say today is Thursday.  What time do we both need to be at work?  Any doctor's appointments? What time do I need to be at the library to pick Joan up?  What's for dinner?  And that's all I can really think about.  I don't deal with the long term possibilities because they're just flat-out beyond me. We'll have news when we have news.  It'll get better if it's going to get better.

(Of course, I can say that, right?  It's not like it's my eyes, after all.)  

But, seriously, this is a marriage.  And in a marriage, things change all the time.  You might not notice it, but if you take a look at yourself you'll realize you aren't the person you were ten years ago.  Everything's different now.  You're different now.  If you're married, you're in a different marriage than you were in ten years ago, even if you're still married to the same person.  You've plainly found a way, and many people don't, to navigate those changes with your partner.  Now, this is a particularly sucky change, and it's a big ugly nasty one, but still, it's a change.  The only way to handle change is to handle it together.

That's all I've got for now.  Sorry, but I've been really tired. Those of you that are in good with any particular deity, if you  wouldn't mind dropping him or her a line about Joan's eyes getting better, that would be great. And the checks go to Heifer tomorrow.  All I need is an envelope.  And a really good picture of a water buffalo.