My Cousin

Handsome, right?
Handsome, right?

I keep wondering what I can do to never regret the way I treated another human again. I have lost a lot of people in my life. Dad, two Grandmas, many friends and now a cousin. I love all my cousins, but Josh was different in the way that he was my age and we were very close. Growing up I saw Josh sometimes more than my own brother. I spent afternoons after school at his house roaming around large expanses of land. We rode horses and mini motor cycles and our play areas included broken down cars. Once we were part of a pre-rodeo festivities. We spent most of the time outside playing, but we were like siblings antagonistic. He called me Onion because I had a slight smelly problem. I called him Joshua potato-tot-toona-fish-casserole. I wasn’t as good at the insults.

When we moved onto junior high and high school. We became super close. We were both socially oblivious and hard working. He got me into the job we both held throughout high school. We both scooped ice cream at Braums. Every payday we would meet and buy each other breakfast. During these Saturday morning talks we hypothesized our future, advised each other on our love lives, and confessed our fears. Both of us were part of middle class families, the oldest with pressure to succeed. No one put more pressure on us than ourselves. We both felt like we didn’t want to stay in the small town we were born into, and we didn’t. Some of those Saturday talks were strategy sessions on how to get out.

I talked to him about boys. He talked to me about girls. We both dated a lot. He dated many of my girlfriends but none of them stuck because no one stays with the nice guy in high school. Josh was the type of guy who was the sweetest guy you would ever meet, but in high school it didn’t translate to long term. He would often say, “Oh yeah, I have another friend, great!” Eventually he developed a sort of curmudgeonly exterior, but he loved and deeply. Not many people understood how deep.

While he was “cute,” he didn’t really grown into hunk territory until he became one of the American heroes. After graduation, he joined the US Army and tested in the top ten percent. He went on to become an Explosive Ordinance Disposal Expert and lead teams in Afghanistan and Iraq. His LinkedIn profile reads like the beginning of a war movie. I don’t really know what half of it means. All I know is the men who served with him sounded impressed with him when I talked to them at his funeral. That to me says something. Heroes were impressed with my cousin.

We grew apart. I haven’t talked to him in fifteen years. I regret it. I can’t make excuses. I always felt like Josh and I would retire back in Enid and play cards and bullshit into the evening. Now I will never have the chance to catch up with my cousin. I can’t believe and will never understand the things he has been through or accomplished. All I can feel is surprise, regret, and sadness.

Perhaps this is indulgent talk for a blog about health, but I want the world to know what this warrior meant to me. The funeral was a lovely tribute to a soldier who gave his life to the military, someone who lived for the mission. I want to tell everyone I know that he was my friend. He was a life line in a tumultuous time for me. He was a kindred spirit, and my soul longs to hear him say my name one more time because he could make me feel loved by just saying my name. While to America he was the true embodiment of a hero, and his fellow soldiers called him an EOD god, I just really miss the guy I grew up with and loved.

How can we love someone who hates us?

Image result for human hugs
“Until there is peace between religions, there can be no peace in the world.”― Thích Nhất Hạnh

(My friend over at Coffee and a Blank Page, Alice Isak, has challenged me to post a quote here. I decided to work it into my current post. I am supposed to ask three other bloggers to do it, but I don’t really know any of the bloggers I follow face to face so I am not that comfortable with that. However, if you want to read great writing, search out http://coffeeandablankpage.com/. She somehow makes ranting, pain, and feminism lyrical and beautiful.)

I don’t usually talk about political issues, but I feel that certain things are really getting me down lately. I have had arguments with my family about certain things and am humming inside with a brewing sadness. This affects my health surely so I feel I can talk about them here.

Last post I pleaded that I wanted to be considered human. As a fat person, I am viewed as less than, and I really want to be just viewed as human in the media and life. I am rethinking that.

In the light of the Supreme Courts recent decision I sat down to write my friend a letter. I wanted to let him know how happy I was. I said to him congratulations doesn’t really cut it though. To say congrats would be like saying, “You worked so hard to finally be considered human.” Being able to marry the one you love seems like it should be inherent, a basic human right, so maybe the sentiment should be “about time?” Congratulations for finally being considered human in the eyes of the rest of your countrymen. So now I am sending out, “YAY! It’s about time” cards.

As more and more violence against African Americans are coming to light, makes me believe my gay friends who want equal rights still have decade’s worth of fight ahead of them. One step forward, two steps back. The task of getting rid of the hate in human hearts is a huge one: painful, desperate, and seemingly unending. It is ridiculously ignorant and, if history is any indication, a fruitless endeavor to hold onto hate. Yet people do it.

From the blogger from Marie Claire who felt able to express her disgust at watching fat people kiss, to the movie reviewer who called Melissa McCarthy names I won’t repeat here. I have seen the hatred of fat people in the media.

I think we as a human race are asking for too little. I don’t think we should just ask for equal rights and to be considered human. I think we should ask to be celebrated for what makes us special.

“Until there is peace between religions, there can be no peace in the world.”― Thích Nhất Hạnh

He goes on to say that there will be no peace in the religions until we listen to one another, really listen and try to understand. I don’t think that understanding will happen on a normal human to human level until you fall in love with a person who is of that path. I don’t mean romantic love. I mean really love, give the shirt off my back, kind of love. How can someone understand a movement if they don’t really love someone in that movement? I don’t believe some people can love without the true knowledge of what they are going through. I try. I try to love the best way I know how.

As a Christian I believe that it is my responsibility. I believe that Christ wanted people to be and feel loved. I believe redemption was the guiding force under most of his actions. I want people to feel not only infallibly and wonderfully human but deeply loved.

I think it comes from my mother, this emotional involvement in current events. She is the one who feels things in her bones. She watches the news constantly and yells at the TV sometimes. I have avoided that, but only because I avoid news channels and nightly news. I know I am emotional. I know that I feel pain for what is happening and I only get my news from the internet.

I long for a “Federation” type community where everyone is loved for their gifts. Do people not understand there are lives at stake? I am not just talking about crazy white supremacist gun men. I am talking about those adults that say things and take actions to dehumanize others. When you dehumanize someone else, people die. People die every day because of hatred. The pain caused by bullying and this other than sort of mindset is horrible and pervasive. Not only does it affect the person you are bullying it lets those around you think and believe that sort person is not human. I know it sounds Pollyannaish to say love everyone, but if we want to save lives and souls we need to love EVERYONE. Not the “I love you so I am going to tell you what to do and how to live kind of love.” We need to love in the deeply understanding kind of way. If you look at someone and say I don’t understand that person or their life style, try. Don’t try by studying or remote observation. Try to love them.

I had no idea I was so disgusting.

When she invented "smad".
Sookie from Gilmore Girls. (Thank you Buzzfeed for the pictures)

I enjoy this new fat turn around we have been having.  Women of all shapes and sizes are starting to claim Hey, assholes, we are humans too. I didn’t really understand the depth of distain for me or my people. I mean I have dealt with teasing and the occasional conversation where people give me a certain look of embarrassment for me and my shameful fat—but hate? I haven’t experienced hatred. I am sure people do hate me, but not usually because I am fat. I am not saying it doesn’t happen. Apparently fat hate is common according to a Salon article I just read here: http://www.salon.com/2015/06/14/back_off_thinsplainers_fat_people_have_heard_it_all_before/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

These ladies have studied fat and assumingly fat people? I don’t really know what that means. I know the hatred must be true because I have a lot of friends who have felt this weight distain. My husband has told me there is a Reddit section that had to be blocked called: r/Fatpeoplehate. I know I might have joked once or twice about beautiful thin women saying, “Don’t you just hate her,” but that was only teasing and was meant to be flattering. Do thin people really HATE fat people?

Isn’t this the stuff of middle school drama? Aren’t we all supposed to be grown? Media? Society? I don’t really understand it. Aren’t your mothers, daughters, sons, fathers, brothers, sisters fat? I mean I can’t imagine when sixty plus percent of the American public is fat that there is anyone who doesn’t know and love a fat person. However, these things are as illogical and apparently as prevalent as racism, sexism, and homophobia. All of them stem from fear and pain. There is no logic in hating a section of humans.

On the other hand, the resulting body positive movement has been good for me, even though I haven’t felt this blatant hatred. I have been following Instagram ladies that are plus sized like me and it has been a revelation. I am really loving seeing women who are my size wearing beautiful clothes, made up faces, and in yoga poses I aspire too. It is amazing to me that at thirty nine, I have never seen this before. I have never had anyone in the media whose beauty I felt was attainable.

The beautiful Tess Holliday

Also, now we finally have plus size models. Before the store Torrid came on the scene, we used to be relegated to trying to figure out what a garment would look like on our bodies. We would flip through catalogues looking at women a size two modeling a size twenty four. It would look like a shapeless tent, even if the clothes were tailored. Torrid was established and that was the first time I saw women my size selling clothes my size. It seems logical now, but back then it was amazing. Now we can even look on certain web sites and see normal women wearing the clothes. Things have changed slowly, but it is still astonishing for me to see women like Tess Holiday creating beautiful tableaux’s in fashion magazines. When I do it makes me feel more beautiful than ever.

Between those pictures and my favorite actresses Melissa McCartney and Rebel Wilson I am finding it amazingly comforting to see someone who looks a little like me in the media. I was surprised to have been affected so much just by seeing Sookie on Gilmore Girls in those cute clothes and the story line that never addressed her weight. It was like a dream. When Lorelai asked her how long had it been since Sookie had been in a relationship, it wasn’t even implied that Sookie should lose weight to have a more successful love life. As she taste tested cookies and whipped cream, no one said, Hey, you shouldn’t eat that… Sookie was treated like a human, a fully formed person who was loved. It wasn’t that she was loved in spite of her weight. She was loved in her totality. I already loved that series but loved it even more because of Sookie’s portrayal.

When she was super cool.
Sookie played by the wonderful, beautiful Melissa McCarthy

It is only in recent years that we have gotten persons of size on TV and movies in more than a supporting role, and Sookie is the only one I can think of that didn’t draw direct attention to it. I just want to be a human. I want all my plus sized loved ones to be considered human, complete. As I write this I am pleading for myself, but also my family and friends. In my heart I feel a desperation. As that desperation hits me in a wave, I recognize the words. I just want to be a human. I have seen that in my Facebook feed before, I am sure of it. It is the thread underneath every call for equal rights. Why do we look for so many reasons to dehumanize each other?

Yes, being overweight is a health issue, but seriously do I discuss anyone else’s health? Do I point out all the other health issues or waste any time at all thinking about any of the preventable diseases out there? Truly, I don’t think anyone is concerned about my health at all, unless they are a friend or relative. Those people who have posted on a hate filled Reddit, or have made my friends and family feel less than. I can only say, mind your own business, because if I ever stop being socially oblivious and notice someone doing that to a person I love. I don’t know what I’d do, but I am pretty sure you’ll be embarrassed.

So Far it’s Working!

One of those meals I would be ashamed to write down.
One of those meals I would be ashamed to write down.

I am very pleased with myself, because I of my new daily goal system. I may not be a morning person. Heck, I may never be a morning person, but I may have figured out a way to get things accomplished anyway. When I am productive in the morning it makes me feel good the rest of the day. Last post I told you that I have started to make lists at night. I write down what meals I am going to make, and what goals I have. The purpose of making the list at night, when I have the most brain power, is so in the morning I don’t have to think about tasks or the order of those tasks. I don’t get overwhelmed anymore by my hazy morning brain. It has been giving me just enough clarity to get me by. So when I finally fully wake up around eleven a.m. I have some tasks already done, which is encouraging.

There has been a really great side effect of writing down all I have to do, and what I have done. I have been journaling how I feel every day because I wanted to know how this was working. It was like a science experiment. I have realized so many things as a result.

The first one is that I realized I have more good days than bad. When I feel bad, groggy, lethargic, it is like thinking through a haze. Lately I have been thinking that my life is filled with those days. Between the fibromyalgia and the soreness from exercising, I thought pain was what my life would be like now.

I had about four days in a row that I felt pretty amazing when I started keeping track. I was feeling energetic and thinking clearly. It was pretty good and I thought it might be because I was really paying attention to my feelings. Also I was eating well, and getting exercise because it was on my list. I was really happy that my list was successful too.

I don’t know why but slicing words in half is so rewarding! Seriously when I cross stuff off my list I get a real high. Does that make me a weirdo? Maybe. However, it is also making me very happy so..

Something else I noticed is how awful I felt when I ate something horrible. I was craving some junk food and when I ate some “not so good for me” Mexican food one night, the next day not only was I bloated, I was lethargic and my body ached. I don’t think I would have even noticed that was the cause had I not been writing down everything I ate and how I felt.  I always understood that fast food could give me indigestion or that extra bloat, but I didn’t realize that because of one bad meal, I slept badly and so the next day I was seriously off my game.

I think that is part of the reason that I am so horrible at losing weight sometimes, because I don’t notice how bad food makes me feel. I don’t know if others are as oblivious as I am, but I think that not only writing down what I eat but how I feel is helping me see what I have been missing for years. I think I am different in that I don’t really notice what food is doing to my body. I am teaching myself to be more in tune with how I feel and what I need to do to fix it.

This is making food choices and exercise easier because I understand the repercussions a little better. I am excited that I am making a little more progress on my road to being healthy. I guess it is super healthy to at least know how I feel.

I am oblivious about how my body feels so often. If I have a goal, I can work through pain and hunger without feeling it. I have eaten crappy food before and I know it must have made me feel sluggish over and over but I didn’t notice it. At least, with my new plan I can get on top of that now.

Not only that, I have been writing myself encouraging things. I know that sounds corny but I am really liking having this way of checking up on myself. It is both an efficient way to keep track of how I am feeling and what affects my feelings, but also a way of encouraging my efforts in all areas. At this point, I have to be excited about anything that is working and providing more stability in my life.

Trying To Break Out Of Gloom Soup

Pick me up in the city - Find the closest park
Pick me up in the city – Find the closest park

I’ve been depressed trying to recover from this ear infection. I am still having intermittent pain and hearing issues. This one was a really bad one. It has made me depressed. There are several reasons for me being down: the solitude, still getting used to a new city and being away from my family and friends, the lack of progress on my goals.

I have never been shy about the fact that I am not a morning person. I think I hate mornings even more when I have been putting off all my responsibilities. It is so overwhelming when they pile up on me. I get up and look around at the dirty apartment, and remember how long it’s been since I exercised, and how many meals I haven’t cooked.  It just adds to the depression, thinking about how I haven’t done anything. Looking around the apartment at dirty dishes, in my pajamas, right after my husband leaves for work, I usually end up on the couch nursing my coffee watching TV. Sadly, from that position it is easy to just not do anything at all. Hour after hour turns into just one more and then I will start writing, exercising or cleaning. It doesn’t help that I am still getting over being sick, that’s a real good excuse. I realize how pathetic this sounds.

I think that I am depressed and lethargic, but I need to get my gumption moving. I have been feeling very sorry for myself. I have been in this place before. The marinating phase, where feelings lead to more feelings. It is similar to the relationship phenomenon where you are fighting about something small and then all the things you have ever fought about start coming out. The “marination” is when I am feeling bad about myself about one thing and then “ALL the things” I have ever failed at collect in a soup at my feet for me to soak in. I have to say it is so easy to marinate in those feelings. I don’t know why it is so easy. Maybe it is easier than continuing to try and continuing to fail.

I could re-site all those quotes I’ve found on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter. You know, how you should keep failing in order to succeed, or any of those quotes. I do try to always be positive in my soul and on this site. Those quotes are so inspirational, and sometimes they work when I hear them. Sometimes, however, they really piss me off because they make light of how bad failure feels. When I am sitting around in stinky pajamas, watching Farscape and crying, I don’t want to be told to keep failing until I succeed. Failing hurts.

Breaking through the hurt is hard. For me I have to marinate until I get sick of myself, so disgusted that I do something about it. It is just a ping in the brain that ignites action. I think that I am lucky that it comes. I worry someday that it won’t. It might be the shame, or the chicken chow mein scent coming of my body, but I always have come out of it.

Trying to cheer myself up by getting silly in the flowers.
Trying to cheer myself up by getting silly in the flowers.

So the other day I decided to take the bull by the horns and start making plans so that I wake up with a mission. At night I have more energy than in the morning. I decided to put that to use and start by making a list of tasks I wanted to accomplish the next day. I really do love lists and love checking things off. When I write something down it isn’t nagging my brain over and over, and then when I check things off I feel like I have really done something. Keeping track of my accomplishments reminds me I have done things, and I am capable. So, I am planning out all the food I am going to prepare the next day and all the tasks I am going to accomplish.

So far this week it is working out. I am writing, and cooking and cleaning. I am also paying more attention to my diet so that I can have more energy. I am journaling how I feel after each meal. I don’t know why it is working, but it may be because writing helps me with everything. I am immersing myself in the inertia of every day. I can’t say that I am all smiles and puppies now, but I am working my way back to healthy, at least the almost healthy I normally am.

A Sublime Saturday

Favorite view in Philadelphia, the river
Favorite view in Philadelphia, the river. Isn’t that a huge ship?

Saturday was one of my top ten beautiful days in my life. I slept in until ten and then cuddled until eleven. My husband is the ultimate in cuteness and snuggle ability. I am going to ask you to take my word for it because I don’t think you want me to describe why. He was just super adorable that morning and I can still see him looking at me from his pillow.

After he woke me with sweetness, he made me breakfast. We had fried eggs on toast, and smoothies with fruit and Greek yogurt. We took our time and enjoyed our coffee and the conversation. After that we got dressed and hailed a cab.

I wanted to check out an area here. There is a place called Morgan’s Pier which is very popular with the locals. From what I read about this place, it seemed like a wonderful place with a chef and I thought we would be enjoying the river breezes and conversation. It was a mad house. There were so many people there. It was packed, hot, and we couldn’t get a seat. I was wearing my uncomfortable shoes but we had already been dropped off so we started walking.

We were looking at all the piers and enjoying the ships, but also searching for a taxi to take us somewhere else and then we found a restaurant. It is called La Veranda. It was beautiful inside, but the real lovely part was outside on the veranda. We sat out there in the shade with a breeze cooling our bodies. We sipped on ice tea and watched ships float by some as large as buildings. La Veranda is run by real Italians, and seemed to imbibe the attitude I was looking for. The table behind us asked the water when their food was coming. They were impatient and I was overjoyed. I was looking for a long leisurely lunch with my husband. I rarely get to eat al fresco because husband hates the heat, but this was perfectly cool out there by the water.

The group above us in the balcony had some children that noticed the ducks. We were so happy to watch them throw bread out to them and their little ducklings, even with the shower of bread crumbs on our head. They were boisterously rebuking the fish that kept stealing the bread from the fish. “Oh man! Get away you evil catfish!!!” We were glad the catfish was oblivious because we got to watch them pop up now and again.

The all engrossing wildlife
The all engrossing wildlife

Sitting in the cool breeze, sipping ice tea and looking at the water ripple around ducks and catfish was very indulgent. We chatted about our new lives in Philadelphia, but most of the time we just savored our surroundings.

I went against my better judgment and ordered the carbonara. It is my favorite dish. I am always disappointed when I order that because it is never as good as it should be, but it was surprisingly well made and so yummy. They don’t skimp on the sauce, no alfredo in site. Now we know why it takes so long at La Veranda. They make your pasta to order!

Okay, it was just so good. I don't usually take the food pics, but come on.
Okay, it was just so good. I don’t usually take the food pics, but come on.

I was taking so long eating my pasta because I was savoring. When the manager came by he asked if I liked it. I said I was taking so long because I didn’t want to leave, he said, “Oh, you can not leave. I will chain you to the chair!”

I was so happy! We must have stayed there two hours with our tiramisu and espresso. We evaluated all the boats parked there, and fantasized about sailing. We talked about movies and books, and our plans for the immediate future.

Afterwards we went to see Avengers, which was amazing and then hazily walked around Center City listening to the guy across the street play the guitar. The night air was cool and surprisingly smell free.

Any time I get to focus on this guy is a good day. Just look at that handsomeness!
Any time I get to focus on this guy is a good day. Just look at that handsomeness!

When we made it back into our apartment and got off the elevator, the most delicious smell hit us. It was almost over whelming. I said, “Wow that is amazing!”

Brad said, “What is that?”

I said, “I bet it is the guy down the hall, it is always his apartment smelling so good.”

“Wait,” Brad said, “I think that is our apartment.”

“Oh yeah,” I said, “The beans!”

We opened the door and were surprised to find a delicious dinner waiting for us!

Basically thank you Philly for working out for me. It was one of those blissfully romantic days where it all falls into place. Whatever happens in my life, whatever mistakes I have made, and whatever loses I have had, sometimes I just have to revel in the days when my life is blissful and serene. I think part of seeking happiness and fulfillment is being mindful when it comes.  I have to live in the moments when I can savor the earth, its bounty, and the man I love. I will live on this one for a long time. I will savor it until I get the next one.

Thank you Philly, and La Veranda.
Thank you Philly, and La Veranda.

The Ear Debacle

You'll understand this picture after reading this blog
You’ll understand this picture after reading this blog

I have been very sick. I tried to get rid of my ear infection by myself. That was a bad move. I tried the vinegar water thing and ibuprofen for about a week before it swelled shut. Brad finally put his foot down and told me to go to the doctor.

Monday morning I woke up early to go to the urgent care facility here. I forgot to take my ice packet and my ibuprofen because I wanted to get there and get help. I rushed out of the house at eight Monday morning, took a quick cab, and then sat there for three hours. I asked the front desk if they had an ice pack and they said no. By the time the nurse came for me I was crying involuntarily. It was very weird, like my eyes were watering by the bucket.

The doctor who finally saw me, said that I had to go to the emergency room or an ENT by the end of the day. She prescribed an antibiotic, and two different kinds of pain pills but said I needed to go to the ER because she couldn’t see the inside of my ear. She tried four times to shove the ear magnifying thing in my ear. I was openly crying by the end. The only small good is that the doctor somehow magically conjured up with an ice pack for me.

I called a cab, and then I called my husband and bawled. I am sure the cabbie thought I was crazy. I didn’t know what to do. I was asking Brad what I should do and he said he was going to come home. He decided that he wanted to be there for the next step. So I went to Walgreens to get the medication and then walked home to meet him.

I took the medicine and the promptly feel asleep on the love seat. Brad asked if I wanted to nap before going to the ER but I wanted to get it over with. We walked to the ER, and then waited for almost two hours in the heat. I was sweating so much I took off my shrug and wrapped it around my head, and I don’t like to show my upper arms in public. I then was shuttled into a very large closet to sweat privately with my husband who maintains that my anxiety caused me to start talking like a crazy person (I still don’t know what all I said) and then I fell asleep in a sweaty lump on a plastic wrapped mattress bench.

I woke up to them stuffing a cigarette butt into my swollen ear. They called it a wick and they said it was the only way that the new drops they were prescribing would get into my ear.

After that I don’t remember much, I know I cried a lot. I won’t even talk about when I had to go to the ENT later that week for a follow up and had a panic attack due to some traumatic nose cauterization in my youth. Grandma says I need to suck it up.

I was in a lot of pain that day and I was thinking about all the distress I have put on my body. I was feeling particularly abused and used when I went to bed that night. Brad started to slowly take his fingers and softly circle my face.

I was so in awe by the contrast after the poking and jabbing the whole day. Literally they shoved hard plastic sticks in my ear several times. I started bawling again so grateful for this gesture. Then my husband responded by teasing me profusely saying, “I know, it’s horrible. I should stop touching you.”

I think what I have taken from this situation is that I need to be nicer, more gentle to myself. I should have gone to the doctor earlier, and I will never, ever go to that urgent care again.  More than anything I need to hold onto my husband and show him every moment of every day how he is wonderful. In a world where everything, even healthcare, is jarring and painful, it is really comforting to have someone who treats you as a special fragile human being.