Monday, December 16, 2013

Full Moon Christmas Wishes

I’ve been working since the end of September; almost three full months.  Happily, I seem to have found my groove and don’t feel quite as exhausted.   Just in time for the holidays, too.  I had to consciously strip away some of my extracurricular activities to do so, however, so things like Art Guild events, holiday bazaars, and my actual art have been put on the back burner.  I had a table booked at Pacifica’s ELF Market that I ended up forfeiting, too.   I needed and still need to focus on my family, the house, and the holidays.  That’s ALL I want to focus on now.

When the muse speaks again, I’ll hear her. 

I’m so looking forward to this Christmas.  Our lovely little tree is up, and wrapped packages are already appearing beneath it.  Elizabeth will be thrilled with her Christmas booty!  I struggled with some left over anxiety from last year, but having shaken it, I feel more in the Christmas spirit in a sort of stronger, more confident way.  It’s kind of nice.

If I had to put one word to 2013 it would be “bummer”, because 2013 sucked big-time.  I’ll be thrilled to see it behind us, as in, “don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.”  I struggled most of the year with financial worries, Leslie had multiple bouts with cellulitis that were serious enough to land her in the emergency room more than once and then in the hospital for four days consecutively.  Immediately thereafter, she got the gout, which was a real hayride.

Leslie also had a rough run with her sister, after spending almost a year trying tentatively to reconcile.  Things went well for a while as old wounds were successfully addressed.  But, as soon as it looked like Leslie had more M&M’s than her sister (if you know what I mean), as soon as Leslie’s weight loss surgery was scheduled and I got a full-time job; Jealousy, the old green monster, reared its ugly head once again.  Something, and some people, never change.

Lots of good things happened in 2013, too.  Leslie had her weight loss surgery, and her health improves more every day.  I continue to loose weight, as well, ever respectful of the body’s requirements in this intense process.   Our experience was vastly different, which I find fascinating, even though we had the same procedure done by the same doctor.

Elizabeth found her passion in the high school’s Drama Department, the irony of which still blows my mind.  At her age, I was passionate about theater, too, but I did it to be noticed and she does it for love … of the craft, that is.  I didn’t have a fraction of the self-discipline she has.  She been watching her weight intensely, is down to a medium from a large, is working hard at voice lessons, and is working out regularly. What’s more, she’s kept her grades (all Honors and College Prep classes) at an “A” consistently.  She’s got her eye on the part of “Audrey” in the Drama Department’s production of “Little Shop of Horrors” coming up this Spring, and to that end, seems to fully grasp the phrase “God helps those who help themselves”.

So, I guess 2013 wasn’t all horrible.  Still, I won’t be sorry to let it go along with all the baggage that was in it.   I’m looking forward to 2014, and will focus on losing more weight, and learning everything I need to learn in the new job.  Maybe artistic inspiration will make an appearance, too.

On this full moon, I wish all of you a wonderful Christmas!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Things are better now than they have been in more than three years. I’m working full time, most of the bills are caught up, and we’ll have a nice Christmas.  I feel anxious, though, and I can’t figure out why.

Last year at this time, I was working at Sanchez Art Center, doing remote work for a university, and stressing over the upcoming holiday. We had very little money to spare, but I've also got small scale “holiday trauma” leftover from when I was a kid and my parents decided to become Jehovah’s Witnesses.  There is nothing quite like being banished to the school library at 7 years old when the rest of your class is having a Christmas party.  Shelving Christmas for any reason was out of the question.  I stressed over it instead.

So, I spent last year’s holiday stressing over the possibility of letting my family down.  Of course, they didn't feel that way.

I pulled a halfway decent holiday out of my ass, but I paid a price for it in stress.  A number of art commissions just in the nick of time financed much of it.  I am grateful for the folks who asked for my work, but I resented having to fence my art in to make a buck. Now, art is the last thing on my mind, as though doing it under pressure has ruined the experience forever.

I’m grateful to be working, but I resent the time spent doing it.  I've got this pre-menopausal thing going on, too, and lately I’m moody, fatigued, or aggravated a lot. I've got all this icky resentment sort of oozing out of my body language and words all the time, and I know Leslie’s just about had enough of it.   

I wasn't happy when I was unemployed, and I’m cranky now. 

So, what’s my problem?

Maybe I’m just tired.

This morning, I bumped into a three page article on Mata Amritanandamayi aka Ammachi in Oprah’s magazine, and I remember Her (Ammachi) saying that oceans of seekers would be toward Her coming soon.   They will now, no doubt.

Maybe I just need a hug.

I hope writing this will help purge the resentment from my system.  There’s a bunch of Christmas spirit out there waiting to be let in.

I can feel it.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Fast Forward to Zombies

It is a glorious day in Pacifica.  The weather back here in the valley is always different than the rest of the town.  While we benefit from the insulating coolness of a morning marine layer, we’re also just one mountain away from Millbrae, which is 20 degrees hotter than the rest of the Peninsula.  It’s a lazy Saturday, too, almost 4 p.m. as I write this, and no one is dressed.  We really need the downtime.  Since I’ve started a 40 hour work week, it feels like someone pushed the fast forward on my life.

Putting the Bart strike aside, it’s been good.  Despite being tired, we’re relaxing in a way that only financial security can provide.

Elizabeth’s schedule is crazy and demanding, and has been all junior year. She has college prep and honors classes, and college prep and honors homework, as well as rehearsals for the Fall play she’s in at school.  She has voice lessons on Tuesdays, and rehearsals on Monday, Wednesday and Friday until 6 p.m.  When she gets home in the early evening, she’s starving, and has two hours of homework that she can’t even look at until she’s had dinner. 

Elizabeth’s girlfriend called last night wanting to go to a football game.  Elizabeth finds them intensely boring and hasn’t been to one since her first as a freshman. She asked, “What do you do when you’re there?” to which her friend replied, “Oh just walk around and talk to people.”  When Elizabeth got off the phone, her secret answer, the one she shared with us was, “Why does she want to talk to a bunch of people she doesn’t care about?”

Leslie is doing well after weight loss surgery in September.  She had the same procedure I did by the same surgeon, and she’s doing much better than I ever did.  She takes in more than enough water, eats a wide variety of foods, and is more active than I was.  She finds the new schedule difficult, but no more than I do, and only because she’s in that awkward fatigued stage that comes right after surgery. Her body is adjusting to radically less calories (read about my experience here).  Still, she gets up early every morning to drive us to our destination.

My own perfect zombies!
Lately, the three of us spend much anticipated Friday evenings and other available evening time glued to the television and “The Walking Dead”. We didn’t know it existed until Elizabeth discovered a latent love for zombies watching “Warm Bodies” on Pay-per-View.  By then, however, “The Walking Dead” was three seasons in, much too far for us to catch up.  Suddenly, as a build-up to season four, there was a zombiepocalypse-a-thon, and I could tape all three seasons. 

“The Walking Dead” is a lot like “Downton Abbey”.  It’s one big soap opera gloriously punctuated by cleaved in and/or crushed skulls, severed limbs, gnashing teeth, and black oozing and suppurating undead brains.  We talk through most of it, express our disdain for certain characters, shriek our hope that the right person will be gruesomely assassinated, and holler “Eeeeewwww” as a steel bar or hunting knife is pushed through a walker’s forehead.  Leslie doesn’t typically watch any kind of horror of science fiction, but once she got beyond the gross parts, the drama pulled her right in.

“The Walking Dead” is perfectly disgusting, and we love it.  But, the best part is that Elizabeth doesn’t want us watching it without her.  After an exhausting 40 hour work week, getting up super early every day, and dealing with a ridiculously demanding junior year schedule, zombies are a soothing balm.

Watching them together, however, is the perfect prescription.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Chubby Commuter

Fatty, fatty, two by four, couldn't get through the bathroom door.

Okay, so I never really heard this when I was heavy.  Not literally.  I am, however, surprised by the subtle ways I was discriminated against when I was heavy.  I didn’t fully appreciate it until I got on a BART train headed for my new job downtown at over 100 pounds thinner than I was the last time.

It is physically much easier to sit on the seats in BART, and I don’t have to worry about sitting next to someone as large as I was.  What really caught me off guard was how people aren’t hesitant to sit next to me.  When they do, our hips don’t touch, which is a huge personal relief.  I don’t feel the barely concealed sneers and judgments I used to feel.  Men look at me.  I suppose if I found that important, I’d be happy about it.  Now, it just feels like a weird sociological measuring device that I could easily do without.  I surprised myself most recently by hiking up BART stairs because of escalator repair and not having to rest at the top.

I was at my heaviest when we lived in Connecticut between 2006 and 2008.  I got up to 340 pounds, and back then I applied and interviewed for more than four good jobs in New York City, which is where you had to go to get decent pay.  I came very close on several of them.  Leslie is convinced my weight was a barrier, a thought I didn’t want to consider too seriously then for obvious reasons. Beyond that, had I been hired, my weight would have made commuting to the city extremely difficult. 

I’m convinced I wouldn’t have this job if I was heavy.  My client contact is a nice enough guy, but he is nervous, too.  He’s the kind of fellow who would be uncomfortable with a very heavy woman no matter how experienced she was.  In my interview, it took him less than five minutes to announce he loved me, a decision he made based on first impression. 

If I was fat?

I am working very hard to get used to working full time again.  I’m tired much of the time.  How much harder would this be if I was heavy?

Sure, it’s a person’s right to be fat. I felt that way when I was.  But back then I didn’t feel I had a choice.  Having a choice, and making a decision toward better health has made a positive impact in my life. 

I see that quite clearly.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Waters Parted and I Came Up for Air

It happened again.

Just as we seemed somewhat secure with our finances for the autumn season, one of my part time jobs suddenly dissolved.  That’s the sort of thing that happens in this economy.  It thrust me back in the job hunt with renewed intensity, and the knowledge that I had a month to get a job, any job, before the bottom fell out of our precarious little boat.  It also meant the possibility of leaving my job at the gallery, which I loved.

As readily as we found ourselves in financial distress repeatedly over the last two years, the waters parted, and a job found me.  My resume was discovered on Monster, although I don’t remember leaving it there, and I received a call and an invitation to interview.  In contrast to the many interviews that were awkward or a bad fit, this one went exceedingly well.  I was perfect for the job, down to earth, had the right skill set and knowledge … all the right things. 

I got hired.

Yesterday, I walked through San Francisco, the third day on the job, and it felt as though I’d never left.  Traffic is worse than it was two years ago, and there are just as many people on the street in the city.   I’m 140 pounds lighter than I was two years ago and more confident, and considerably lighter in spirit; yet it feels odd.  I'm certain San Francisco’s young and beautiful patronized that oyster bar at the Ferry Building whether I was working or not. 

No matter. 

I am astonished by the magic that kept us afloat, and the angels that gave us critical gifts.  I'm surprised I don't regret having to let go of some of my plans, like my tap class. All things in good time, I guess.  I am still hounded by things left undone, things I must finish, and by other things I've committed to do.  But I find myself with less time than ever. This is the trade off for financial security, I guess.  Even if it is only as secure as the current job allows. I haven't felt this tired in, well ... two and a half years.  What's more, I find myself truly missing that little gallery and the people there.  Maybe it’s because it was there for me when I needed a job.  Maybe it’s because the people I worked with are undoubtedly human and helped me get back to myself by replacing the little pieces of professional and personal confidence slowly picked away by the last full-time position I had.  

The gallery was a safe haven.

Like personal tragedy, unemployment is a dark hole that you don’t appreciate and couldn't possibly understand unless you are thrust down it.  Even under the most encouraging circumstances it does subtle and not-so-subtle things to your head. 

When it’s done, once the waters have parted, it’s like coming up for air.
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