Friday, March 28, 2014

I Must Be a Magnet for Weird


I consider myself a polite person, maybe friendly even.  I smile at people if they make eye contact with me.  I don't go out of my way to socialize with random people that I don't know but there must be something about me that just screams "I want to know what's on your mind."  I can’t tell you how many times I've been in a public place, minding my own business when I suddenly find myself in the middle of a largely one-sided conversation with a complete stranger.  Sometimes it's just benign small talk.  "About time we start seeing some sun, eh?"  "Have you tried that brand before?"  But once in a while, it suddenly takes an awkward and uncomfortable turn.

Most recently, I was grocery shopping, pricing different brands of nonfat plain Greek yogurt when a woman in late 80's business attire and entirely too much makeup for a Thursday afternoon asks me if I like plain Greek yogurt.  Not wanting to be rude, I answered honestly and told her that I buy it for my dog because it helps her digestion.  That drove her into a frenzied diatribe about the dog she had as a girl and how it was a crazy little shit but dammit if she doesn't miss that thing and what kind of dog did I have and how old is she and, and, and.  I was trying ever so nonchalantly to make my way to the end of the aisle hoping to just slip away unnoticed.  Of course it didn't happen that way because she followed me.  She caught up to me three more times throughout the store before I finally made my hasty retreat to the checkout.  Thankfully she didn't find me there and I was able to load my bags into my car and drive off without worrying that she'd follow me home.

This was not an isolated incident, this shit happens to me all the time.  And why does it seem like I'm always being mistaken for an employee of whatever store I'm shopping in?  I have made it a point not to wear red and black when I shop at Target.  Is it a scent I give off, something that tells strangers that I've worked in retail in the past and I even though I don't anymore, I'll likely answer their question anyway, just to be polite?  Of course it never happens when I'm out with someone, no, only when I'm alone.  I firmly believe that my friends and family think I make up most of the stories I tell them about my adventures with the unbalanced population of my neighborhood because more often then not, the people who decide to engage me in conversation, by all appearances, have recently been prematurely released from a psychiatric facility.  It isn't always limited to other customers, either.  I have had equally confusing and uncomfortable dialogue with the people who work at the places I visit.

Again, I found myself in the grocery store, this occasion I was scanning the incredibly large variety of energy drinks which happened to be in an open wall cooler right next to the employee entrance to the deli area.  As I glanced to my right, I notice a middle aged woman in a store uniform and apron staring at me....I mean, really taking it all in.  While in my head I was shouting in a Pee Wee Herman voice "Why don't you take a picture, it'll last longer...", I was also wondering if I had a booger on my face or if my recent pixie haircut had been a mistake after all.  I tried to look away, but I felt her stare deepen, so I looked back.  "Tina?", she said as she smiled widely with her mouth but not her eyes.  I shot a quick glance behind me, nope, no one behind me.  "Nope", I replied.  "Really?", she asked.  An awkward and eternal four seconds later, I answer, "Really."  She then proceeded to tell me how I look just like her best friend's daughter, but my hair is a little shorter, and it's just so weird because she's going to Tina's birthday party later today and she was all, like.....and it was at that point that I mentally checked out and once again tried to ease away without appearing to run in fear.  I remember hearing something about how I if my hair wasn't so short....something, something....thought it HAS to be Tina, but I just saw her....something, something....well, I really gotta get back to work.  Relief washes over me and I can continue shopping for food.

Perhaps I should just resort to walking around the world with my head down and eyes to myself, never looking anyone in the eyes and certainly not responding if someone speaks to me.  But then would I appear as strange as the strangers that approach me?  I'm not sure if I'm more uncomfortable being constantly approached by bizarre random people or feeling like that's what people are thinking about me, walking around never looking anyone in the eye...wait, did that lady just have a whispered argument with herself about the price of lunchmeat?  Maybe I should just be happy that people seem to find me approachable.  That's a good character trait, right?  As long as I don't wind up bound by duct tape and shoved in someone's trunk, being driven to my new life as wife number eight to "The Prophet of Cudahy".


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Romantic Comedies are Not Funny

What do I even want?  I sit and watch HBO series, Lifetime Original movies, dramas, comedies and thrillers.  A very small percentage of these doesn't portray a female lead either pursuing or already in a romantic relationship.  Whether it's direct or subliminal, I am constantly feeling that my life is less than it’s supposed to be because I am single and not dating.  I find myself wanting to move to a new city, start smoking cigarettes again and date Adam Sackler, Harry Goldfarb, Derek Vineyard (pre-prison) or Jesse Pinkman (Google them if you aren't familiar, they certainly aren't your typical "bring home to Mom" kind of guys).  Not the actors who portray these characters but the actual characters themselves.  Intellectually, I understand that these men are creations of someone's imagination but that doesn't make me want to be with them any less.  I want that slightly unstable, unpredictable guy who will run through the night, shirtless and without shoes, to come and hold me because I'm freaking out about something completely inconsequential even though I say I'm fine.

Hollywood has made even the most dysfunctional relationship appealing.  Why would I want to become involved with a recovering drug addict who still deals his own vice?  Many would say it's a combination of Aaron Paul's obvious good looks and the way the character is written to be the softie with a hard edge, perpetually trying to do the right thing while not being afraid to kill someone...if it came to that.  I think it's more than that for though.  I've been married, cheated on and divorced.  I've also been the “girlfriend”, for lack of a better label.  Being the "girlfriend" was much more exciting and difficult to get over when it inevitably ended.  The "boyfriend" wasn't exceptionally good looking; he didn't have a great job or a lot of money.  He wasn't even that nice to me.  What he did have was a fleeting interest in me.  And I was all in, fast.  It lasted years and I ate up every lie I was fed.  "Sex is the only way I know how to show you that I love you."  "I wish I could stay all night."  "I've never done anything like this before."  "We don't even sleep in the same bed anymore."  "There's only you."  It took a close friend to verbalize what I already knew, I wasn't the first or even the only one at that time and he was never leaving his wife.  Regardless of the truth being thrown in my face, getting over that "relationship" was still one of the hardest things I've had to do.  Even after he admitted that he was also seeing other women, my heart still wanted to be with him.  Luckily my mind objected and I worked through the heartache on my own.  Even now, almost ten years later, I will find myself suddenly thinking about him for no apparent reason.  Somehow, I want to blame every single romantic comedy for the feeling that not only is a shitty relationship better than no relationship but also for the nagging thought that it will just work out in the end because it was meant to be.  I guess it doesn't matter that in real life there was never any catchy pop music soundtrack or slow motion for added effect (I don't count what played out in my head).

Every romantic relationship I've been in has been unhealthy and has ended badly.  Why would I even entertain the idea of doing it again?  The old adage "You can't love someone until you love yourself" seems to have at least a modicum of truth.  Or is it "How can someone love you if you can't love yourself?"  Maybe that's RuPaul.  Anyway, the point is, I'm not sure if I love myself.  There are things I love about myself but I don't think that's the same thing because there are more things that I dislike about myself.  My rational mind says that if the negatives are greater in number than the positives then I must not like myself very much.  But none of that prevents me from thinking that I want "that special someone" in my life.
 
Despite my sketchy relationship history and feelings about myself, I joined Match a few months ago.  $76.46 was the cost of six months of possibility.  Less than half way through and it feels like money wasted.  1622.  That's the number of times I've been evaluated.  Thirteen.  That's the number of times I met their standards.  I love math; that's a ratio of 13:1622, or 0.8%.  Let's not even talk about the fact that out of those thirteen men, none of them made it past the messaging stage because I discovered that there are a lot of creepy guys out there.  I actually amended my profile with the final disclaimer that anyone looking for a booty call or to try out a fat girl fetish needs to keep looking because I'm not into either of those scenes.  So apparently $76.46 =/> a complete breakdown of self-esteem and feelings of rejection.  Do you know how many bags of Jay's Hot Stuff chips I could've purchased with $76.46?  And of course, Match doesn't give refunds - ever.  I'll use up the remaining months of my membership but I will not hold out much hope and I will not pay for another six month.  Hell, I don't even want the six months they offer for free if you don't find a match in the first six months!

So, what do I want?  I want to be thin and rich and the love of someone's life, not necessarily in that order, but I want it all, effortlessly, by the time I wake up tomorrow morning.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Fat Shaming & Fat Acceptance

Maybe it's just me but there seems to have been a recent increase in the volume of social media relating to fat shaming and fat acceptance.  In fact, maybe not just recently and maybe it's more wide-spread than just social media.  Reality television, health insurance, corporate employers and more seem to have an opinion on obese people or they do or say something that spurns a firestorm of "fat talk" on social media.  First, I feel like I want to define those terms.  According to Wikipedia:

Fat Shaming: (see also Weightism, Weight Stigma, Weight Bias and Weight-Biased Discrimination) Discrimination or stereotyping based on one's weight.

Fat Acceptance: (see also Size Acceptance, Fat Liberation, Fat Activism and Fat Empowerment) a social movement seeking to change anti-fat bias in social attitudes.

Both Wiki sites of course go on and elaborate on the topics but I think the above summaries give you the general idea of how these terms are defined by the general population.  I do want to note that Weightism is not just limited to those who are obese but can also be directed toward those who are underweight.  I define these terms a little differently, mostly because I am fat.  In my opinion, fat shaming is the intentional and malicious act of saying or doing something with the specific desired result of causing emotional or physical harm to another person solely because they are fat (or very thin when that's the case....I guess that would more aptly be coined "thin shaming").  I have a more difficult time personally defining fat acceptance probably because I'm not really sure what this "movement's" end result is supposed to be.  Many people fall victim to discrimination and for such a variety of reasons, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religious beliefs and so many more; fat people certainly don't have the market cornered for being told they don't belong in society and there are just as many movements and coalitions for the equality of each group.  Can't we all just get along?

How many large corporate companies have developed and adopted a "wellness program" as a strategy to make the employees think that they have their health in mind?  It's really nothing more than a tactic to get the employees to willingly and fully disclose their personal medical information (disguised by the benign sounding term "biometrics") to ultimately be used to either charge a higher cost for those who don't meet the set health standards or shame those employees into undergoing lengthy and ill-equipped "coaching" programs in order to avoid paying the higher cost.  It's the same with health insurance.  When there is a "discount" offered to someone who fits within the proper weight range for their age and height, what it really comes down to is a surcharge for those who don't fit in that chart.  On television, you see families on shows like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and I think it's wonderful that they all appear happy regardless of size but those shows really seem to bring out the fat haters.  If you are offended by them, whether it's because of their size or because of how they act, then don't watch it.  Shows like The Online Dating Rituals of the American Male and The Millionaire Matchmaker have the more dangerous element of hidden fat shaming....it's a spectacle and an oddity when the matchmaking is for a fat person or maybe the dater is only interested in meeting "fit" or "athletic" people or say that they are looking for someone who "takes great care of themselves".  Even seemingly body-love encouraging shows like Girls, where one of my personal idols, Lena Dunham, is shown in almost every episode in some level of comfortable nudity prompts so much negativity from people who think that if your body isn't tan, toned and tight you shouldn't show it without clothes.  I really hope that Ms. Dunham doesn't let those people's comments affect her, what a shame that would be (Lena, you keep it real, girl...do what you do because I know there are millions more who think you're perfect just the way you are.....I would love to have your figure!).

I don't think that anyone deserves to be made to feel less-than simply because they are outside of the social and/or medical definition of "normal".  I recently read a really good article on Huffington Post (Best Weight Loss Results Come From Fat Acceptance by Dr. Caroline J. Cederquist, M.D.) written by a board certified bariatric physician that does an exceptional job of explaining the role of fat acceptance in the lives of people who are looking to lose weight.  I have come to define fat acceptance on a personal level as a desire to be able to go about life in my everyday activities without having anyone else judge or belittle me because I am fat.  I honestly feel like this is an unattainable idea because, let's be honest, I even judge myself for being fat.  On an intellectual level, I understand that the fat acceptance movement is all about equality but it leaves me wondering how many of the people crying out for acceptance actually accept themselves?

I can't pretend to speak for anyone other then myself so I won't try to.  As a fat person, I believe that trying to be happy at a weight that classifies me as morbidly obese is a double-edged sword.  Yes, of course I want to be happy, doesn't everyone?  But I also want to be able to live my life to it's fullest and at my current weight, I am unable to do that.  As a fat woman, I don't like the way my body looks so I can't pretend that I think others should like it either.  I have a really difficult time believing that anyone who fits the medical definition of obese or heavier ever really loves their body.  I know plenty of women who fit into what medicine would define as their "ideal" weight that hate the way their body looks.  I think fat acceptance or body love needs to start with each individual person.  There has to be some truth to the philosophy that someone who looks to hurt others does so because they have a need to make themselves feel superior or better....because they aren't happy with themselves.  But there is a darker side to fat acceptance when someone uses it as an excuse.

Fat acceptance and body love shouldn't be an excuse for ignorance of health.  I fear that some people believe that fat acceptance is about fat people wanting to stay fat and expecting others to be happy for them and celebrate it with them.  I think that is just as dangerous as fat shaming, just in a different way.  Only your doctor can tell you, from a medical perspective, if your weight is leading you down a path to health issues and, if that's the case, then it's your responsibility to make a choice to do something with that information.  If you know that your weight is making you unhealthy, or if it's making your life more difficult that it has to be, no amount of acceptance is going to make you happy or make your life easier.  But fat shaming will make it harder.

I never thought I'd find myself quoting a Lindsay Lohan movie, but it really has never been put more perfectly than "I don't hate you because you're fat, you're fat because I hate you."  Fat shaming has negative consequences that reach far beyond those it was intended to hurt.  Some obese people ended up that way as a result of stress-induced overeating, depression or a number of other psychological conditions.  And when they feel worse about themselves as the result of someone's thoughtless and cruel comments, they can resort to that behavior to try to make themselves feel better.  I don't want to get too much into the huge topic of eating disorders here, that is a topic in and of itself but when a person makes a comment on social media with the intent of making a fat person feel bad about themselves, they have to know that it will be read by many, many more people.  Some people will agree with them, some people will boldly speak out against the defamatory statements but the majority of readers will stay silent.  I believe that those who stay silent do so because they take those comments personally, fat or thin.  When someone makes a broad and unkind comment such as "fit people shouldn't have to look at fatties", who's defining the term "fatties" here?  Anyone who reads that comment will define it in their own terms and unfortunately, many of those will unconsciously include themselves, whether they are overweight or not.  What about the people who worked really hard and were able to go from obese to healthy but still see themselves as "fatties"....they take those comments to heart, too.  And when an obese person begins to lose weight, and people start to take note and tell them to "keep up the good work" because they're "looking great", the people making those remarks that they think are encouraging don't understand the negative undertones; the unsaid "boy, you were really lazy" before and used to "look awful".  I'm not saying that they intend to mean that, but that's what many people struggling with weight loss and the quest for a healthy lifestyle actually hear.

So the next time you feel obligated to make an unsolicited or negative comment on someone's new profile picture, recent weight loss effort or if you just think they are "too fat to live" (which a stranger actually said to me once in real life, not on social media), please think twice and keep it to yourself.  Your comment may be the final straw that pushes someone over the edge and into life choices much more unhealthy than mere obesity.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Why Menopause is SO much better than Perimenopause

So apparently the only difference between menopause and perimenopause is a period.  When you enter "perimenopause", or pre-menopause, you get all the bells and whistles.....and by bells and whistles I mean irritating and random symptoms....but get to continue menstruating.  *YAY*  Why does Mother Nature hate me?  Is it because I finally discovered that I had an unborn evil twin and had that creepy motherfucker surgically removed?  Yes, as seen on TV, I had a teratoma, complete with "abundant hair, brain matter and a small, misshapen tooth" according to the surgical pathology report.  Did I curse myself further by consenting to also have an endometrial ablation to try and curb my horribly excessive bleeding during my periods?  Well, it wasn't until I was complaining about my seemingly unrelated yet bothersome symptoms of late that my good friend happened to mention that everything I was experiencing *could* be perimenopause.  Great.

I am 38 years old and although I have no intention of ever having any more children, ever, it never occurred to me that I was nearing "that phase" of my life that it was no longer possible.  So when my gynecologist said that I was a good candidate for an endometrial ablation as a way to try and reduce or stop my periods, I was all for it.  I have a friend who had one and she said it was one of the best things she'd ever done.  I did a fair amount of internet research once I had decided to have it done.  It was only in the interim, having gone for a pelvic ultrasound to make sure there weren't any fibroids that could hinder the ablation, that they discovered my little friend, lurking around my right ovary.  So, the plan changed to robotic assisted laparoscopic cyst removal with a side order of endometrial ablation.  My doctor said that although they would try and salvage the ovary, she couldn't guarantee it, they would have to take as much as necessary to remove the cyst.  Long, irritating story short, my "little cyst-er" had really gotten attached, so to speak, not only to my right ovary but also my right fallopian tube so they both had to come out, too.

Fast-forward three months and I felt like I was finally starting to feel back to normal (well, as normal as I can be).  The bloating seemed to be subsiding, after one very heavy period post-surgery, my periods were now more regular than ever, were substantially shorter at only four days (instead of seven or eight) and the bleeding was much lighter.  Then I started getting weird, intermittent symptoms like headaches, flushed face, night sweats, chills, more bloating and random gut issues, joint pain and it seemed like I could never get enough sleep.  After another month of this shit, I was complaining to my friend and that's when she said it kinda sounded like pre-menopause.  So I Googled it.

Sure enough, even things that I didn't even attribute to being a "symptom", like the heart flutters that seemed to return now years after I had a cardiac ablation to treat Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome.  Or how I am now at a point where if I think that maybe I might have to pee, I better go do it before my bladder decides that it doesn't care that I just wanted to get the mail first.  And, now that you mention it, I have been rather moody lately.  Dammit, it seems that a possible side effect of having an endometrial ablation that I apparently overlooked and wasn't presented to me by my doctor - before having the procedure - is that it may throw you into early menopause.  I can't say that if I had known that beforehand, I wouldn't have had it done.  The lighter, shorter periods are very nice.  However, I now have more intense PMS symptoms, too...which can ALSO be part of pre-menopause.  Well, if that's what all this is, then I wish it would hurry up and become menopause already, at least then I could say goodbye to periods altogether!

And this is why I told my son the other day, don't ever become a woman, it sucks.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Welcome?

I usually don't have a difficult time finding what I want to say.  Here and now, I feel pressure.....this is, after all, my ***first official blog post*** (I heard scary orchestral music just then).  Why am I here?  I found myself thinking, more and more, that I wanted to weigh in on things I was reading online, on other people's blogs, Twitter, Facebook and so on, but it didn't always feel like it was the proper venue for my thoughts.  I didn't want to steal someone's thunder or piss them off on their own turf.  I also have more to say than is appropriate for Facebook's platform.  So after much contemplation, I found myself Googling "best free blog hosting" and Blogger vs. WordPress.  So here I am, mostly because after perusing WP, I felt more comfortable here - seemed more user-friendly. Don't make me sorry, Google!

Once I made the decision and clicked the "start blogging" button, I still wasn't really sure what direction I wanted my blog to take, I'm still not sure.  I do know what I don't want it to be.  I don't want it to be a single topic-centric blog.  I didn't want to start a weight-loss blog, a fat acceptance blog or a single-mom-who-works-from-home-and-has-cats blog or anything like that.  I may occasionally find myself blogging about wanting to lose weight or how it pisses me off that obesity is one of the remaining "socially acceptable" forms of discrimination but I don't want to be pigeon-holed into any one "group".  I may also post pictures of my cats.

So what will you find here?  I will make no guarantees.  I certainly hope you'll find my musings entertaining, thought provoking or at least interesting.  At the risk of sounding self-deprecating, who the hell am I, what makes me think that anyone would give a shit about what I have to say?  Well, when it came right down to it, I guess it really didn't matter to me.  If no one ever reads my blog, I can't say that my feelings wouldn't be hurt but I think I'd get past it and just continue to do what I came here for; to post my thoughts and anecdotes without infringing on someone else's "space".

So, I guess that kind of sums up my intentions.  I hope to find the time to blog at least a few times every week.  I've always been a creative person and I have a pretty decent handle on the English language and my hopes are that those translate into good writing.  If it ever starts to feel like a chore, I'll let you know....and if I ever start to feel like a bore, I hope you'll let me know.

Happy reading.