Whatever It Takes

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Grannngrh.

The sound of a woman who just began some sort of odyssey only she doesn’t quite know it yet.  She just knows that today, the mental work she had to do, was rough.  At least, at its root, which is the place she will eventually have to go.

This is day one.   This is sort of my chance to reintroduce myself, my mission (it may seem laughable, but it feels like a mission) and what I’m dealing with.

I began the diet as planned.  There was no reason or happenstance to prevent a good first day.  I had all my food, I had no work to encourage me to stray, no place to go that would remind me, really of what I might be avoiding/missing out on.

First things first, I got on the scale.  175.  175 at one point would have made me pass out, crack my head on the bathtub.  Now, it just s what it is.  It is where we start.  I don’t care if you think 5’1″ and 175 is “fat” or “not fat” or “healthy” or “unhealthy” or whatever semantics for the dieting world feel comfortable for you, because looking at that, for me, for my self-esteem issues and problems emotionally attaching to folks in the outside world, it’s just too much.  As I get older, it’s also just starting to creep up on me how 30-50 extra pounds is going to feel on aging, bones.  The things we get used to, if they’re wrong, eventually, they take their toll.  Usually when we’re too vulnerable and tired and set in our ways to see an easier path.

It’s a good, visceral reminder that I don’t stay steady when I try and eat “when I’m hungry” or “listen to my body’s needs.”  My mind is the one steering the rudder and my mind tells me, yes, Chipotle, Starbucks, Totino’s Pizza, Chocolate Bar, Diet Dr. Pepper in combination will make me full and happy.  Well, not really.  It made me full.  And gave me panic and jittery sensations and left me awake at 3a.m. watching Rifftrax’ Fun in Balloonland and thinking I had actually lost my mind.

Right now, that same mind is telling me it would have been better if I had just saved a little bit of that chocolate bar because today, having suffered such deprivation, I would appreciate it times a thousand.  No.  That’s just sugar addiction trying to pretend it’s not here.   It is.  It is, also, going to get much worse than this.  This makes me nervous.  I know there’s a place beyond this worry, I know this is part of the bargain, it just helps to say it out loud.  So to speak.

I also stomped around for fifteen minutes of actual exercise.  We’ll make sure to match that tomorrow – and I hope – for the next three hundred and sixty-five days.

I am excited to do this, glad.  It just takes a lot of focus to make me realize those are my feelings rather than the constant star of wanting to approach my life through distracted, emotional eating.  Like, a lot.

Tomorrow: possibly buying a new Fitbit like the rest of this disgruntled nation.  It doesn’t feel like a new year, just like we flipped the book over and started writing on the clean pages in the back.

Whatever it takes.

The Animal Show: Day Two Hundred Seventy-Eight

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Things that are amazing to me right now.

1.  The fact that I, me, little old, undeserving me gets to get on an airplane and fly both away from her troubles and towards a friend and adventures and a city that is older than her whole country doubled over and beyond.
2. That the writing group can exist for a whole year and not disintegrate and it’s something that I’ve brought into being.  That’s pretty delightful and cool.  That I could drink a peach margarita and not drive my car off the road.  Felt a bit crazed, but I accept that’s just a symptom of how crazy it is in my life right now.
3.  That I could feel sick as a dog yesterday night, and feel human and well and far away from the edge of death.   Not really hopeful, but not sunk into the idea that my throat is going to close up and I am going to be melted into paraffin.
4.  That every day, regardless of how overwhelmed I am by the idea of panic or the stress I’m dealing with right now which is directly impacting my comfort level while driving, I get myself where I need to go.  I get to work, I get home.
5. That I can maintain composure when being requested to take a photo and quote for the paper in my unmade-up face because who cares who sees it?  It’s a short term situation and I’m trying to figure out how to transfer that mindset to the rest of my work.
6. That people care about what happens to me and have come out of the woodwork to hug me and thank me and give me a money belt as well as ideas for Italy.  That they’re throwing me two goodbye parties I will do my best to enjoy and not feel overwhelmingly distracting guilt about.
7. That I will get to go shopping and find some fun things for the trip and feel stupidly decadent for a bit (restrained decadence.)
8.  That Mr. C.S. will not be around tomorrow, but even though he’s completed his service hours, he likes us well enough to come and help for my last big event and even though current boss has both his email and his phone and gets to laugh at his jokes on the phone, he will be around one more time before I go and I will get to endeavor to discover if these long glances are just more hunger in the head (or other, less thoughtful places) or if you know, there’s some reason to hope.  Some reason to linger here for a while.
9. I know and have ways to calm myself and cheer myself and carry myself over these valleys.  I have things that are awesome and excited (Dragon Age: Inquisition) after Italy so I won’t be drug down by the post-elation of this trip and this change and this chance.
10. There’s a big glass of ice water with my name on it as soon as I finish this.

Pink Nectar: Two Hundred Four

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I am so Sunday Night Fevering.  I am so…I feel like I’ve been trying this boss battle for a hundred thousand tries and my last save point left me without enough healing potions so everytime I restart I’m at a disadvantage.  And I don’t want to go back and start a new game, the thought makes me mad as hell.  Nor do I want to hand over the controls to someone else, I want to have won the whole thing for myself.  So the only answer now is to just turn off the machine and wait until I care more or less.

I am feeling gross.  I keep moving this fan around with me from room to room and now that I’ve retreated into a less distracting (totally profoundly distracting) bedroom, I haven’t hauled it with me and I feel as though the metaphor is real and my body is cooking through.  That you could gut me and pints and pints of oil would be produced.  Like the leavings of a supermarket rotisserie chicken.

Beauty, value, respect.

Either/or is the question tonight.  Do we play at fixing it?  Do we say tomorrow we could start low-carb regardless of supplies. Do we say that we are at rock bottom and the only success we can hope for is by sticking, without swerving, to a diet and path and a lifestyle choice?  To focus on numbers and weight loss and eight cups of water a day and baselines and tracking and being “good.”   Do we say that will make us sexy, alive, energetic, organized, “fixed?” Do we say that we could take a middle road and work at moderation in food, drink, exercise, life knowing that we’ve been on a wild tear of chocolate croissants and chocolate chip pancakes and that we want to tear and cook our own flesh at the moment such is the state of our self-hatred?   Do we say that there’s room for one more coffee, one more burrito, one more stab at making food satisfy emotional needs and then, and, then?  Do we say that girls of all sizes who love themselves are given the capacity to love others simply by virtue of believing themselves worthy of it and will, somehow, a spree of self-acceptance into being that is pre-ordained to fail because we don’t accept; we understand the revulsion and shame and we  get why we’re passed over – because we want to be passed over because we are afraid of sexy, alive, energetic, organized, and most of all, being “fixed.”

Or most likely, do we stand inside Schroedinger’s Diet Box where all the walls are papered with Cathy comics and all the TVs play are Slim Fast commercials and you’ll either come out fat or thin so long as you ever bother to come out.  I’m here for the moment.   For the while.

Maybe all being vulnerable is just not walking away 1 time out of ten when you start to turn tail.   To stop yourself and stay in the fire, let the collagen liquify, let your state change.

A Subtle Motion: Day One Hundred Seventy-Five

154330_1656In a day of no promises, I have taken the hard way at both opportunities.  My sister is away in the mountains and hasn’t called which I don’t take to be any sort of sign at all, but I have had both parents contact me to be sure she’s okay.  So I am entirely on my own and yet, somehow,  I desire to take the driving in hand.   I don’t know what’s come over me in that regard.  It hasn’t been difficult to coerce myself, but I’ll get back to that.

Today, I went to the market.  Well, first, I went to Target and dawdled through racks of clothes I found profoundly ugly.  Even the stuff that wasn’t on sale.  That’s not usually the case, but wow, I am not in tune with the marketers at the moment.  Or, I suppose in this culture, I’m to say they’re not in tune with me.  Got a few essentials like shaving cream and lady-time accoutrements.  Slapped them down on my counter in my pink polka dot dress, feeling like a hipster homemaker weirdo with no makeup on and hair askew.  Very much like I was a free, weird-ass, bird doing my own thing.

Then, I got to the market and the anxiousness started to filter through.  Machines broken down, lack of volunteers, grabby hands saying fix me now, help help help I’m on fire if fire can be a momentary nuisance and not painful and life threatening.  But I had something else on my mind and so I let the trouble flow neatly around me, and finally headed for the Tarot reader.

Now, for me, Tarot is not so much about being a conduit for Spirits. As a novitiate reader, myself, I don’t work that way even if, I can allow on the far reaches of my perspective, that’s somehow what’s happening.   When I sit down for a reading, I don’t worry about whether one’s being pulled over on me. I don’t mind being cold read if that’s what she’s doing.  I don’t mind intuitive leaps about my personality, advice that might be plucked from a medium’s imagination rather than the deep rumbling of the Universe.  I just want to be given some direction, some help, some time that feels like it was set aside for both of us to think about me.  I don’t care if she’s legit, I care if she’s good.  And this one, despite having no reason to be, despite being a random psychic setting up a free booth at our market, was good.

Luckily, she recorded it, but hasn’t sent me the file yet.  So this is going by memory.  She asked me if I cursed, she said she felt like my energy was making it difficult for her not to curse.  She talked about how I’d been enduring something for a LONG, LONG, LONG time assuming that something positive would come out of it and that I’m starting to accept that there’s not going to be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and that I need to walk away.  She talked about me needing to face my fears, to realize how baseless they are, and to turn them into dust.  That I’m working on this and it’s up to me whether to continue on the path that’s laid out for me or to make one that gives me more happiness.   That I’m starting to be more assured and more aggressive about keeping people away from me that are detrimental to my process.

I said only yes and no, and was wearing sunglasses at the time.   But that felt pretty dead on.

She’s also the second psychic who has said she feels like she should give me a hug.  That I have a lot of core beliefs that clash with who I am as a person, a lot of negative, painful, beliefs that are rotting me from the inside.   She talked about how I’d adjusted to the pain I felt and so long as it stays at this status quo level, I’ve been fine with being that numb.  thThat’s true.  I mean, it is.

Then, she asked me if I had a question.  I knew that time was almost up and I almost always ask for something less, well, mostly everything you ask a psychic or tarot reader is cliche, it’s you trying to be earnest.  So I asked her what I needed to do to find love.  And she said, well, for you, I see that you need to do a lot of healing.

Which leaves me a bit of a loss.  I mean, I guess I am working on this stuff, and I guess I do want to get to the healing place, but I also think I’m being honest when I say, how the fuck do I heal this…nebulous statement of internal pain.  She talked about tearing down all of these ideas of self, down to the very bone and rebuild with positive.  But if you genuinely believe that you’re broken or unacceptable or weird or just seem inert to all potentially interested parties.  That I can’t get it together and until it’s together, anyone would belittle me for trying such as I am.   What’s genuine?  I don’t know. I can see from the outside that I shouldn’t think the things I think about myself, but I feel like I’ve got the evidence.  Maybe.  I don’t know.  I feel like I don’t know what else to think, how to look around at the mess and the bother and the exhaustion and say, hey, you and me, how bout it?…whoever this random you would be.  How to do that enough that it mattered.

She talked about needing to feel the pain I’ve numbed so I can let it go.  It’s not that I even don’t want to feel it, it just seems like I have to go hunting, digging to China for the root of it.  That I can’t just say, “Oh, I really wish those things didn’t happen and those things did and cry a bit and be healed.”  I don’t know where to go, how to work myself up into a frenzy if that’s what’s required, how to make myself drive a particular emotional road to get to the place with the rot and the sting and the pain so that I can start spritzing antiseptic and sunlight.  I just feel like it’s all compacted down and sent away and I’ve drug it out about with me, but it’s not…at hand.  And the therapist has never really felt like she was interested in unpacking this with me.  Or going backwards.  I’m just supposed to breath and meditate and calm.  And the hell if I know if what’s in my mind as far as tragedies of childhood amounts to anything equal to the mess I’ve made myself in growing up and away from it.    I just was a girl left to my own devices and I’d like to think I’ve muddled through the past thirty years well enough.

I’d like to, but, I don’t, really.  I guess that’s the invented political outline of the edge of the country of the pain on the southern coast of the continent of the hurt.

On Starting a Diet: Day One Hundred Sixty-Eight

856599_76957995Best practices for starting a diet (all the fuck over again)…

I am no expert. I am merely a repository of a great deal of experience in this matter.  This is tongue-in-cheek, and more for me than for you (despite the second person) but like everything here, if you can make use of it, do.

1.  Take/find/use a picture of yourself just as you are at this moment.   Stare at it even if it gives you the shivers.  Remember that, in all probability, you look fine.  In the grand scheme of things, you are probably okay with the fact that people see and interact with you at the size you are.  You’re able to go outside and shake hands and maybe, date, or flirt and you might even have great body acceptance and want to start dieting for reasons entirely other than the way you look.  But, there’s probably also a shred or a sliver of shame and sorrow and loss of control and dislike that you feel for yourself.  You shouldn’t have to have this embedded in your psyche, but today’s modern living…you probably do.  And for me, negative impulses have a lot more power to motivate me than positive ones.  At least when you need that good hard spur to your own ass to start watching what you eat, forcing yourself to exercising and drink water as opposed to not doing it.    So stare at that photo and think, hey, let’s get away from this visual.

2.  Prepare.  Cook a week’s worth of stuff.   Pack it and bring it and then eat it.  You have to make new neural pathways about this rather than, oh, hunger = go through the drive through and eat until either you’re overfull and you want to puke or you’re so filled with self-loathing about what you ate that you want to puke.

3. Recognize that right away people are going to comment, control, and sabotage.  Not even meaning anything by it.  They get excited (which is at the worst when you’re only hanging on by a piece of dental floss off the great cliff of bingery and wagon-falling-offing.)  They try and be helpful and start tsk-tsking when they see you with something off plan.  Even if you don’t announce it, if they see you eat one meal that shows intention, the next one you’re open season.  Then, of course, it turns out that three days in, you have to go to your favorite restaurant and more likely than not, NOT order your favorite, faux emotionally fulfilling meal and try and order a salad, knowing you have no control over how many calories or carbs are actually in it, even if you pick carefully and make notations like a freak.  You are going to have to feel like a freak for a while.   You are going to have to sit on the pedestal of person making life changes, you’re going to have to be the best taxidermied platypus in the “look at this asshole thinking *this* is the time it’s going to work” exhibit.  Because they’re never going to move you into the “Oh, shit, she actually did it” diorama until you’ve been on display, flop sweat and self-loathing and angry and self-important and all for a good long while.

4.  Get rid of the stuff in your house that you’re going to self-justify eating and pushing back your start time.  Try not to do this by eating it.  Or instituting a super long series of this is the last time I get to eat this for 9000 years so I’m going to just eat ALL of it right now.  Sometimes, you have to, though, because it seems like that will become an itch that will need to be scratched immediately when you start your self-imposed moratorium on “happy food” but, you have to stick with your start date and time and meal and once you’ve entered diet time, “new lifestyle time” or whatever the fuck you’re labeling it so that you can swallow it down with your broccoli spears, you’ve started.  It’s happening.  It counts.  Sneakery has not just physical consequences, but personal integrity consequences as well.

7. Track your shit.  Even if you have to generally guess at what’s in the things you ate…track your best guesses because when you stop tracking, you stop caring and craziness ensues and you go back to the start, not passing go or collecting 200 dolla.  MyFitnessPal is your pal.  It is not perfect for low-carb, but at least you aren’t going by gut instinct…which, when you’re in the first few weeks or months, is just not going to be accurate.  Track your water and try and drink more than 0 glasses of water a day.

8.  Find a website that helps you stay motivated – be it conversation, pictures (if you find pictures of skinny, sweaty people motivating, more power to you), recipes,  venting.   Bookmark it and look at it every day, it helps if you don’t find the people who post there on a different wavelength or philosophy than you.   No need to collect other people’s diet rage when you probably have your own in spades.

9.  Try and lower your expectations with regard to numbers and scales.  You need a scale, maybe, probably at least to start.  But you are not going to lose a pound a day, every day for the next month (or year) or whatever it would be until you’re at the goal weight you’re setting for yourself.  That’s not going to fucking happen, a. because it’s not healthy, b. your body doesn’t work like that and c. you can’t get a whole new wardrobe in a month and d. nothing in life has that exact perfect trajectory and you’re probably going to have some accidental tacos and suddenly gain back three pounds and want to stab yourself in the face.  You gotta keep going regardless of the day to day fluctuations, knowing that you’re building habits, you’re retraining your brain and your body and you’re PUSHING (persisting until something happens).

10.  Exercise from day 1.  Thinking that once you get the diet nailed down you’re going to exercise means you’re never going to exercise and then, your weight loss is slower and your energy is lower and your bad moods are like anvils falling down on your head and suddenly recidivism sounds like a damn fine plan.  You can do it for 10 minutes a day every day, that’s what’s scary.  You’re at least that powerful and when you feel like it’s mildly less stupid and awful, do a bit more.

Maybe I’ll have more ideas later.

A Creature I Know: Day One Hundred Fifty-Four

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I’m a little bit cooked by the sun after my volunteer work slinging beer today.

I’m working on my outline and trying to grasp what exactly everyone else will read into these wild plot points.

Mainlining Law and Order: CI.  All Goren episodes, which is fine, just not my bread and butter.  Mmm, bread.  Damnit.  I should be completely indifferent to the power of bread at this point and I feel like I’d eat cardboard at the moment if you put some sugar on it.

I’m not, I just feel like it!

It’s been a good day, though I don’t know if today’s dicking around the gray frame of this white page is going to reflect that.  I’m hungry and I’m sure it’s because of something I ate and I’m worrying about the diet and my body and my face.  Worry isn’t the right word, I’m just walking the well-trod path of self-criticism.   I washed my hair this morning, no big thing.  Put on some makeup, not noteworthy, really.  Drove myself to work – that does happen on a regular basis.  But what was sort of remarkable was going into the bathroom and taking a look in the mirror and thinking I looked alright.  I thought I looked cute.  Likeable with my hair in a side ponytail and my eyes lively and I felt like smiling, though with teeth it was a bit garish, so just a smile and I pulled out the phone and took a picture.  I didn’t go back and review it, just carried on with my weaksauce weekend working.  Eventually, I ran around a bit frayed as I hurried to get keto-riffic cobb salad from Snarf’s and ate it in my car (as much as I could before my volunteer shift started).  It was so delicious.  I have to tell you, I just could salivate over it right now.   Then, on with three hours of sitting in the hot sun, under an umbrella that apparently was angled so I didn’t get any coverage at all based on the fact that I now look and feel like a lobster.  But there was music (including multiple appearances of a banjo, which me and my pants responded quite well to, and it was an easy job I could do without thought.  So I put on my sunglasses and thought I surely was still looking good.

I look at those photos now and I see age, a big blemish, a still present double chin.  I can’t share that picture, make it my new profile picture on various social media situations, I thought.  They will focus on the imperfect and they’ll figure out what I am…unacceptable, and worse yet, for being earnest, for trying.   To think that anything about myself is worthy of photographing.

And then, in the end, fuck it.  I would really like to opt out of it.  Like the panic, I’d love to just do what I can do in maybe ten times out of a hundred and just think myself out of it. I mean, that’s a lot of bullshit to think about yourself.  So then, I said, I have to post it.

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Beauty Bar: Day One Hundred Twenty-Nine

749045_97677585So here’s an enormous topic to tackle tonight.  Body image.  Or, I guess, the absence of one.

At last night’s event, new boss took a ton of pictures, including one of me sitting at the ticket desk and sent them over this morning where I dutifully updated our facebook page with an album of them.  I hesitated over posting mine with the rest, eventually deciding that nobody would even look at these photos, and added mine to album.  This, I did not realize, as the last photo posted, meant that my mug would be on our company’s main page as the photo header.  I’m sure there’s something to be done about that, if only via uploading another photo of anything, but I have to be alerted to the fact that I feel pretty intense about getting it off of there.

But life is busy, busy to the point of insanity, y’know, and I didn’t and haven’t gotten back to doing anything about it.

Now everyone is telling me it’s such a nice picture of me and liking it (not everyone, not like it’s gone viral or anything), but people are walking into my office and telling me it’s a nice picture, people who don’t even follow our page and I look at it and I feel…so….I feel like it’s NOT a nice picture and it shouldn’t even…register on anyone’s eyeballs.  I look at it and I see flaws, I see, this lumpy placidness that overtakes me at any work function and I want to disown.  I see the reason I’ve always been passed over.   To me, when someone tells me it’s a nice picture, or beautiful, my immediate reaction, without filter, is that they’re lying.

And I reblog and laud and cheer all of these pro-beauty is whatever it is campaigns.

Somehow, I am the exception to the rule.

I can do something about it, I guess.  I mean, I know I can, it’s just am I willing?  I’ve been exercising for a week doing 30 minutes a day.  I know it would matter more if I wasn’t also eating cream puffs and hamburgers.  I have been thinking if I could just do it between now and Italy in October, take whatever results from that and decide if low-carb/dieting is worth it or if I should just fucking give up the ghost.  That’s more drastic than I mean, I just feel very…but at the same time, it’s always going to be my marginal face.  I don’t even want to get into the inert space that is where I keep my feelings for how I present myself in the world lately.  I don’t think I could get out of that vacuum if I let myself get sucked up.

Here’s what’s what: There was this outlandishly strong hailstorm that seemed like it was going to shatter our skylights, then I dropped my phone and my 9pm coffee all over my lap,  I drank my mother’s idea of a margarita which is a glass of limey tasting tequila, I missed out on the funeral of one of our dear volunteers because we didn’t have anyone to watch the shop, and tomorrow, and I thought about what might have been so hard I opened my eyes and was confused he wasn’t there.