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."