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Posting elsewhere

Hello there. It occurs to me that I have not posted here in a very long time. I've taken up blogging, at Finishing the Hat.

For those of you who are a part of the Fat Acceptance community, please know that I still support FA and all its aims.  But please also know that my health took a turn for the worse over the past few years, and because of that and the loss of my mother to complications from obesity, I have been losing weight.  I have been doing this as healthfully as I can, based in self-love and not self-destruction. 

With that in mind, you may not want to follow my blog if weight loss discussion triggers you.  It is, however, more than a weight loss blog; I cover my creativity and fat fashion as well.  And FA/HAES still informs the way I think.

I hope you are all well -

Nov. 2nd, 2009

Proud as a peacock.


And lots of other photos of my Dad's trip to visit us in October, here.
I've been unfocused lately, so I'm not certain I've noticed anyone outside of this fog around my head. But I feel like I'm gradually awakening from that waking slumber. And just in time.

She caught my attention because she bent over in the crosswalk as the light was about to turn green. Crosswalks are usually for swift motion – who stops in a crosswalk? – so the abrupt halt and the bend of her torso parallel with the ground shook me out of myself. She picked something up and righted herself, staring for a moment at the object, and then – in one fluid motion – throwing it up in the air, grabbing for it with open-palm-out, and tucking it in her pocket. I watched her over my shoulder as I turned the corner, marveling at this woman who seemed to step out of a stylized film, a Wes Anderson joint. She must have been about 60, her black skin that combination of fresh, plump-looking but lined; it was the kind of skin that I think of when I hear the words "age gracefully" – if all of our aging skin looked like that, no one would inject themselves with botulism. She wore gigantic white Jackie-O sunglasses, and her hair was in a perfect beehive. I wish I could remember what she was wearing. I could only look at her for a moment, and I think I'm still only partway out of my zombie fog.

It is, at least, a glass of zombie fog half-empty. (Or half-full? It's residing, and it's a good thing.) A few miles closer to the office, I happened upon yet another break in my horizon, more unusual motion shaking me aware of my surroundings. Interesting that at this moment in my life, it was motion, not appearance that caught my eye, in both instances. Though both subjects of this morning's people-watching had appearances that would have merited a second look.

The second person had a very unusual gait. He wasn’t limping; he wasn't club-footed. He just had an extremely unusual gait. It made me think of my husband, whose gait I thought was unique until his mother told me that his grandfather had the exact same stride. I didn't know that walking style could be passed along genetically. Anyway – the man with the unusual gate was crossing the street parallel to me as I slowed down for a red light. He swung behind a bus and I was nervous for a moment that he'd board and I wouldn't catch a closer look. Fortunately, the bus turned a corner and he crossed the street right in front of me. I can't exactly describe the way he walked, but I was glad he did it that way, because it caught my attention and gave me the chance to survey his personal style. He was balding with a completely shaved head except for two little patches of hair, which were dyed red and gelled into little horns. He wore a white tee-shirt with the words "hell boy" scrawled in red in sloppy off-center handwriting. I found myself wondering what he used to write on his shirt; I've occasionally used a sharpie in attempt to be punk-unique (though, I doubt the lyrics to "La Vie Boheme" or "Remember Cedric Diggory" on Potter opening day can be considered "punk"), and it never looked as integrated into the shirt as hell boy's did. I wondered if he does this all year. It's October, I remember. I love October. I've been craving Halloween. I wonder if hell boy has decided that every day is All Hallows' day. I turn on my October spooky mix and think about the smell of baked apples in our hallway this morning. Wondering if I can remember Mom's recipe for quick microwave applesauce, or if Dad does, or if it's just lost. Thinking it might be a good day for some cider.

Sep. 1st, 2009

When I need to relieve stress (and this week/year is one of those weeks/years) I get up early, swim laps, and then float for a little bit in the pool while imagining that shards of colored glass in my favorite hues are slowly coming together to create a stained-glass window. I think the shards represent my fragmented mind, and the window represents what I want my life to be.

What do you do?
Recently, I have:

- Watched every episode of Mad Men. I loved the last episode of the first season, but otherwise feel similarly about it as I did after watching the first several episodes. Good on paper, pretty to look at, not as compelling as I want it to be. Though Jon Hamm has grown on me.

- Been promoted at work. I'm glad to be acknowledged, because for a long stretch there, I was working so hard but felt so invisible.

- Bought two new dresses and three new pairs of shoes. And I am not regretful for a second.

- Done yoga at home and felt good.

- Done yoga at home and felt nausea. That was this morning. I almost didn't go into work - but alas, too much to do, so I had to go in.

- Fallen in love with Julia Child. Her wit, her strength, her full appreciation of life... also her moderation. Have you seen Julie & Julia yet?

- Worked with my grief counselor. She is lovely: very empathetic, and has very good observations.

- Baked for the first time since Mom died. This ended up being a bigger deal than I realized. I did not make a big deal of it around the people for whom I brought the baked goods, and I maybe should have.

- Started looking at Halloween plans and activities to do with my dad, who is out here for the last third of October.

- Gotten a manicure, a pedicure, a haircut, and a facial. Again, not regretful for a second.

- Snuggled a lot with my husband and our cats.

- Done a lot of writing for work, but not a lot at home. And I'm trying to find balance so that latter part isn't neglected.

- Seen District 9. It was very... intense is a good word here. It's good. Like many war movies, I don't know if I can make it through this one twice.

- Been less closed off to people, I think, but I'm still working on how to be unhappy in a sea of happier people, without being a wallflower or a wet blanket.
Today has been a better day. Thanks, in a big squishy way, to all of you who reached out. Your feedback, your very being here… it helps me feel surrounded by marshmallowy support. Like I'm spooning the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man.

I think it was probably the right thing to do, to let all of that out. I would've probably let it out earlier, if I had known that was what I was feeling. Sometimes it's hard to parse things, with so much going on in this windmill-brain of mine.

Today has also brought the chance to have camaraderie with two ladies, one friend who became a client, and one client who became a friend. My client-friend took me to lunch today, to talk about our processes grieving (she lost several family members last year.) And in a very synchronous turn of events, just as I was coming to the realization that I needed a new level of support – a professional, grief-counseling level of support – she recommended the woman who counseled her through her losses. I'm going to call the counselor tomorrow and set up my first appointment. I'm feeling grateful that so many of you suggested this, even as I didn't want to hear it – and just in time to be open to a possible opportunity. So, thanks.

My client – who is just incredibly generous and thoughtful – knows how much I'm happy to be involved in the Cabin in the Woods project, since Joss Whedon co-wrote the script and is producing the film. She actually took time at the end of her meeting with Joss to have him sign a poster for me. Honestly, I'm such a geek. It's so going to the frame shop ASAP. I feel so lucky to have a client who is so kind.

This evening, I'm dining with my friend-client and I look forward to seeing her. She's one of the many (who am I kidding – one of the ALL) that I've resisted seeing one-on-one. But it will be very nice to spend time with her. With all of you. Even if every so often I'm a weeping, snotty mess. I'm your weeping, snotty mess.
It wasn't a bad weekend. I mean, not really.

There was nothing within it that went wrong, exactly. So why, on my way in to the office this morning, was I back to the same dread and sadness I've been trying to combat.

Though I was in a super-foul mood on Friday, we distracted me with movies on Friday night.

On Saturday I swam, and then did some cleaning and laundry and relaxing at home.

Inspired by last week's free screening of Julie and Julia (and a PBS showing of classic Julia Child footage) we planned our week's menu around seasonal fresh vegetables, and spent the first part of Sunday tromping around the farmer's market as is our usual custom. We ran errands. Bought a swimsuit to replace the one that died at the hands of snidely chlorine. Sought out Nancy Silverton's co-op olive oil. Procured and then planted herbs and succulents. We even wrote for an hour or so.

So it's not like it was… bad. We got stuff done that we needed to get done. Some of it was fun. Some of it was relaxing. It should've fulfilled me. I guess it didn't.

In tears on the way to work, I talked through the situation with Tom. Helpful husband, as ever. Why am I upset? Well, the big stupid "yeah, duh," I really fucking miss my mom. A lot. And over the weekend I made the realization that I don't feel her spirit around me the way that I did initially – when it seemed like she was sending doves and movies and odd little circumstances our way with some frequency. And, yeah, the reorganization at work has made me sad and more than a little frustrated. That's probably enough to feel not generally happy today.

In talking it out with Tom, though, I think I put my finger on something that's been bothering me. I've felt cut-off for awhile now. I've gone to parties, hung out with people on a superficial level. Once in awhile. But since Mom died, I haven't actually really connected with anyone on a meaningful level, outside of my family. It's been, "hi, so nice to see you. Let me listen to this interesting thing that just happened to you. Let me tell you about this unimportant thing that just happened to me. Let me avoid the subject of my mother's graying face, her shuddering last breath. Her shrunken and misshapen hands, the disappearance of her shoulders in the coffin. Let me especially not tell you about the day she woke up from her coma to experience the suffering of dying fully without the ability to communicate outside of screaming. Let me not tell you exactly how horribly upsetting this experience has been. Let me hug you, nod politely, tell you I'll see you soon."

The trouble is, I don't know how to properly tread between those two places, the superficial I'm-just-fine-how-are-you one and the really awful I'm-not-sure-how-I'm-still-breathing one. Alone, or with Tom, I'm there most of the time. Here I am, I just laughed at something, now I'm crying. But when it comes to friends… damn my mom. I'm going to blame her for this one, actually. When it came to being social, she may have vented from time to time, but face to face, it was all about keeping it together and being a good support to the people around her. And it's much the way I tried to operate. But now, I don't feel like I'm the same person I used to be. I'm not sure I'm capable of much support – and there are DEFINITELY people around me who need my support right now. And I don't exactly know what to do about it.

So far, it seems my natural impulse is to avoid the phone, to turn down the invitation, to beg off on the scheduled event. I hate it when people flake, and I don't appreciate it when I do it myself. And as you might expect, the people have stopped reaching out to me, with a few exceptions. Part of me wants to be a baby – to blame this generally removed feeling on everybody else. To feel deserted by people I thought would be better at supporting me. But I tend to be disgusted by babyish inability to accept responsibility, so I don't linger there very long. It all comes back to me. It's my fault I haven't opened up to anyone outside of my husband. It's my fault if I didn't IM you. It's my fault if I turned down your invitation, didn't respond to your LiveJournal comment, let your call slip to voice mail. It's my fucking fault if I'm lonely.

Happy things are happening in your lives. And I'm not up to being frequently happy around you. And that's stopped me from talking to you. And it shouldn't. Basically, we all just have to live with the fact that I'm going through some shit and I'm re-learning how to live my life. But how exactly do I progress from here?

This is the kind of thing I'd call her about, to ask her advice, to hear her warm voice explain it all. I can't anymore. So. I'm going to have to call all of you.

Jul. 29th, 2009

So I haven't been here much. That's not to say I don't try to keep up on your entries. With the exception of any communities, I've been checking in on my friends-list as frequently as I'm able.

I haven't been up to writing about the painful process of my last month with Mom. I have a feeling I probably should. I do need to process it, and enough people have been asking me about it – but part of me isn't ready to look that stuff so directly, and part of me wants to protect those of you who haven't had an experience like this, in the hopes that you never have to watch your loved one die a painful death. Because it is a horrible and disturbing thing. That old adage, "dying is easy, comedy is hard"? Only part of that sentence is true.

What a fucking year this has been. Blood clot. Mom. Tom freelancing only sporadically. And as of yesterday, my company was basically hacked in half. Favorite coworkers of mine will be gone after Friday. I hate this economy.

But I'm not here to dwell on the shit – or work through it, quite yet. I'm here to talk about what's going well. Because despite the crap, some things are still good.

We started renovating all three of our bathrooms in February. We were basically upside-down, whole rooms displaced, strewn with all-of-these-things-are-not-like-the-other objects in heaps. While we were in Michigan, my mother-in-law (who was helping with the renovations) decided it was the perfect time to get started on phase 2, ripping out the sinks and countertops and having the new ones installed. Except that she fell ill in the middle of this, and we returned to find that our only working sink was in the kitchen. And our house was even more of a wreck than before.

Fortunately, by the beginning of July the renovation of the sinks and counters were complete, leaving us just a week and a half to fully clean up before my father arrived for a visit. Tidying my house is, for me, like tidying my mind.

Suddenly, I had a cool, blue bathroom with room in which to spread out. Space to actually stand in my bedroom again. It is amazing how much better order feels.

When I returned to California, I had to pour all of my energy into keeping it together at my job. Just to do my usual standard of good work, I had to put in twice the energy. Half to get the work done, and half to keep myself going, pretending that I was up to getting the work done. It was exhausting.

After a really miserable month that found me loathe to rise out of bed, frequently late to work, antisocial and without purpose, I woke up one weekend morning with a realization. The pending work week – a particularly big one – was going to require more than I had to give. I somehow had to find more within myself.

I turned to what has helped me through rough patches in the past: a stable pattern of behavior that allows me to take care of myself, and center myself. Since bathroom renovations were finally complete, I was able to have all of my toiletries in one easily-accessible location. After months of scrambling for my toothbrush and walking it to the kitchen, there was something so calm and zen about standing in one spot to do all of these things.

Every morning, now, I don't loll in bed, I head right for my shower, with its sparkling glass tiles in shades of peaceful blue. I move slowly through a beauty regimen that feels like a mantra. Foaming facewash, sudsy shampoo, gentle conditioner, wide-toothed comb, lemony bath gel, fluffy white towel, lift the lids from the new apothecary jars, toner on cotton ball, spot treatment on q-tip, just a touch of moisturizer, a dab of creamy grapefruit lotion, stare at the closet selecting an outfit, stare at the French message board selecting accessories. It might seem trivial, but it's the first part of my little zen-gathering sunrise process.

But it's not enough. I'm piling zen on zen. (Is it ever enough?) Teapot on the stove. Dishes out of the washer. Hot water steeping Earl Grey in a cobalt-glass mug. Dishes in the washer. Agave and skim milk. A fresh, empty page in a molskine notebook. A flowing ink pen. The warm tones of meditative music. The inside of my eyelids and the warm spot of sun through them. Shoes, keys, door.

And that is how I am able to prepare myself for the juxtaposition of most intensive workdays I've ever had and the strongest grief I've ever experienced.

And damn, I'm so glad I could get all of that in place in time to take on the most important projects of my career thus far. Just as I got into this groove, I found myself shouldering – on top of my already-assigned projects – three new projects for a new client, whose attitude toward marketing is refreshing and full of brave risks. A new client who sees us more like a team than a vendor. It's been amazing, and I've felt deeply lucky, and I've grown closer to my own team and theirs. We've faced a lot of challenges so far, but I'm so proud to be involved, and I'm so proud that they have liked our collaboration.

In fact, they've liked it so much that they've been incredibly kind to us outside of the projects. They've invited us to their industry parties, they gave me (and later, my husband) free passes to Comic-Con. They treat us like partners. It's just what I needed right now – something to throw myself into, as passionately as I've been able to in a job that (though it allows me some creative responsibility and utilizes my skills) isn't quite in alignment with my career goals.

And on top of that, two words. Two little words that are the icing on the cake. And those words are Joss and Whedon.

It's the very reason I'm grieving. I loved her so much. But it's the very reason I can breathe, too.

The love of my husband – who has been so patient, so supportive through this process. I am such a lucky woman. I really don't have the words to describe how perfect he's been. On Mother's day, two weeks before we lost her, PostSecret posted a card from someone who admitted that the determining quality in their search for a partner was the ability to comfort someday when their mother died. I saw that secret, and I just lost it – because at that very moment, my husband was on a plane, on his way to do precisely that. I didn't know that I was looking for that quality, but it has been one of his finest, and I am so incredibly grateful.

The love of my father – who is so sad but so strong. Who is so quiet, but who has been so bracingly open about his pain, so willing to face it as it comes, to let it out, and to let it go. Who graced us for 12 days this month, seeking the adventure he feels mom encouraging him to have. Another story on that later.

The love of my friends. Especially the amazing group of old friends who surrounded me while I was in Michigan. That's a beautiful story that deserves a longer entry. And my local friends – though I isolated myself when I got back to the city. (I know I'm still isolating myself, partly due to work schedule and exhaustion, partly due to listening to my heart and knowing when I need the quiet. And I need it more frequently than I once did. I'm still working on reconnecting.)

The love of myself. This is more important than I realized.

So. The life, it is pretty shitty. But I keep surprising myself with how I can make little moments of it so far from shitty. I didn't know that in my grieving process, my sadness would rise out of me like little bubbles, and float away as quickly as they arrived. I didn't know if I could make it through losing her. Every day is difficult, but every day has little corners of peace.

Jun. 9th, 2009

Hello, all.

I haven't been posting. I have beyond too much to say about the last month. I'm not sure if I'm going to steamroll through and share the difficult and gritty details through a long series of entries, or if I'm going to process it a different way. The bottom line is that I'm grieving the loss of mom right now, but I'm able to muster enough energy to push through intense work days, and not really much else. It'll be a long journey but I appreciate all of your support (and especially your patience with me.)

Today, though, I want to post about something else.

Two years ago today, I married Tom. Happy anniversary, my love. I couldn't have dreamed up a more perfect interlocking puzzle piece of my soul if I tried.

Perhaps some of you recall that we had our reception (in part) at a movie theater, where we played something we cut together for the occasion. We finally have that online. It's a big file and may take some time for your Quicktime to load, but if you have a spare few minutes, you can check it out here.

(At the beginning of the movie, the bridal party was entering with their names flying across the screen, and that goes on for about a minute - then it digs into the "Boy Meets Girl" part.)

Hope you enjoy.
Mom's pain is gone, but her laughter and love will live on in us.