Catching up on books

I have been trying to spend two nights offline a week and to not let myself download any more new books; of course, I started going to the library again. Sigh. So, three short reviews for accountability’s sake.

The Bees, Laline Paul (library) Bee pov, lots of to us, bee-science, rendered as communication and theological worldview, alien sexuality, morality, and really interesting ideas. It went on a bit longer than I thought it should have, but it was really novel and a standalone very good first novel. I guess I would call it sci fi, but since it speculates weird reasons for colony collapse disorder, maybe not really? It’s a good read just for what she does with turning the bee science into the main character’s view of the world, if you are at all into science.

The One and Only Ivan, Caldecott medal winner, book with illustrations. A silverback gorilla in captivity in a mall learns to dream for the sake of a promise he makes to his old elephant friend. This was beautifully told and full of hard, wonderful truths and gorgeous drawings. I cried and cried and cried, but it’s a happy ending. Good for explaining hard truths about people to young people.

Drama, young reader’s graphic novel. A young woman navigates her dreams of tech and set design with the frustrations of friendship, middle school, and budding romance. Lots of friendship drama, very accepting treatment of gay characters, great art and accurate, amazing nonsexist focus on the details of actual backstage theater production ( I was a drama geek). Probably age-appropriately dramatic, and I have just lost my patience for that kind of indecision. The main character’s parents are delightfully patient, and I dig her polychrome hair.

I don’t regret a bite

I was talking with a work colleague last week at lunch and at some point it came up that I’d been a lot heavier (225 lbs) than I am now (currently 180 lbs and 5’7”, so, more or less a US size 12).  They expressed the usual amazement that I had lost all that weight, etc., and stated the usual platitudes about how I must feel better to be “healthier” now.

I didn’t get in to all the gory details of it with them except to say that what mattered more to me than the weight loss was the other changes I made that have made it possible to stay in a weight range that lets me do all the things I want to do— snow shoe, garden, give my niece piggy-back rides, hike, yoga, and otherwise shoulder the weight of taking care of a house and an aging parent who would prefer to avoid carrying laundry up and down cellar stairs.  I don’t care so much about fashion beyond a basic level of vanity in fitting in to a range of size 10-12 clothes where I don’t feel ashamed of my body; I am lumpy and I have the start of a wattle.  That is ok.

What I also didn’t get into was that for me, weight has always been NOT about food (which I love), it has been and always been about love, whether my life is feeling manageable, and whether I am practicing decent self-care.  It’s taken me 40 years, more or less, to figure it out.  I will never look like a supermodel. So what? I didn’t get into the details, because they were male, it was lunch, and I didn’t want to get heavy (hah).  But I’ve been thinking about it (again).

I love food.  I love eating.  I love the act of cooking and feeding myself and others. I love creating something from scratch.  I love growing food and coaxing things out of warm dirt and onto the plate.  I love the meditation of chopping.  I love the alchemy of how butter, eggs, and onion become an amazing perfume. And even though I have been both far heavier than I would choose, as well as skinnier than I would like between bulimia and other illnesses and medication reactions, I don’t ever regret any weight fluctuation that happened as a result of any food that I ate.  I don’t regret a bite of it, ever.

Weight, however, is not about food.  Weight is about weight— it’s about the world crushing you down, and no one around you doing anything to lift it off you.  Weight is about you being Atlas, and you not being told, either at all or effectively, so you can hear it from people who are supposed to care about you, that you don’t have to carry it all.  In my case, between being bipolar and being an Adult Child of two bipolar parents who tried but had their own stuff and just often were not successful, it took me a long time to figure out that I was eating to feel full in the middle and push out against the weight and anxiousness and chill pressing in from outside, and all the people who weren’t doing anything to lift the world off of me.  It took me a long time to push back and say I was not going to carry it all, and that I was also not going to finish everything on my plate just to make others happy.

It took me a long time to realize that in maintaining my weight, in finding my metaphorical and literal center and in feeding myself, that meant I should only eat what I wanted, and that this was both an enormous privilege (in having money and choice, both of which I have gone without) and a burden in that I’d have to speak up for myself and do the work.  I would eat— or not eat, if I wasn’t hungry— what I had prepared for myself, but I’d have to make it.  I would not have feel grateful for food I hadn’t asked for, or eat things I expressly disliked, or have to put up with something that someone plopped down on my plate and told me to finish or it would mean I didn’t love them. Because really, if they’d been paying attention, why would they shove that weighty glop on me in the first place?  But first I’d have to say– no thanks.  I’m full.

Accurate map is accurate, or, why are your riding your bike in the snow?

If you haven’t seen this tweeted revision of the Boston transit system yet, it’s pretty accurate right now.  People can’t get to work, kids can’t get to school on time, I had an epic three-hour commute the other morning that will be the subject of a Viking Saga someday, and the T, when it does run, breaks down with no warning.  People are starting to have to get back to Colonial roots, when we walked everywhere.   Everywhere.  I walked two miles in the snow the other week during work hours (it only took 45 minutes each way), it being easier to bring snowshoes into work for this meeting that to 1) take the T, 2) unpark my car and try to drive there or 3) try to get a cab and get stuck in traffic while at least being able to catch up on email on my phone.  Yep.  I snowshoed to a business meeting.  It was the best possible use of my time for something that couldn’t be rescheduled.

Everything is being rescheduled.

Not pictured in the above accurate map; none of the purple lines (AKA the Commuter Rail) work, the bus lines are curtailed as well, and if you try and drive anywhere, the snow piles are all 4+ feet high, 2 lanes are 1, 1 lane is a half a lane, the streets aren’t fully plowed (or get plowed once, before the lazy drivers take a week to shovel their cars out and then throw all the snow into the street, may their assignment in hell be to shovel neatly uphill forever), and there are BICYCLISTS who are RIDING THEIR BIKES IN THE SNOW who are then mad because they are RIDING THEIR BIKES IN SNOW and there isn’t room for them on the road IN THE SNOW with the cars.

At least the pedestrians on the road I can understand, since the sidewalks are only intermittently cleared, people have to walk places or wait for buses that never come, and pedestrians don’t weave in and out of the cars and thump your car when they pass and yell at you for being in their lane (what lane? there aren’t any lanes? it’s a three lane road that is currently a half a lane because of the SNOW!) and otherwise behave like someone I would definitely not offer a job to.

Not that that happened, at all, this week, when someone cut me off on Huntington Ave, slowed down long enough with their distinctive gear to shoot me the finger, then proceeded on their merry way, doing the same antisocial thing to two other drivers (car thumping included, property damage, what?) only to show up an hour later for a job interview with the same distinctive gear.

I know.  I am a petty, bourgeois middle-aged capitalist.  I did give him feedback about why he did not get the job, and said that it was based both on my observations of him being hyperaggressive and antisocial in traffic, as well as his aggressive flirting with a lesbian front desk worker who told him she wasn’t interested and he continued to act like the Fedora he was.

Still.  BIKES IN SNOW.  LOL, No.

It isn’t full circle

It isn’t full circle, I have to tell myself that, when I find myself in a chair no one held six years ago when I was falling apart and people asked, “Was I doing okay,” but took it at mostly face value when I said yes, then let me fall apart and drop off the face of the earth, only to slowly scotch tape, duct tape, Krazy glue myself back together with no one’s particular help (no matter how much I did try to ask, too little too late, but still, I did ask and they vowed, marital, Hippocratic, parental, but still, they all failed, when asked they unanswered).

It isn’t full circle, I have to tell myself that, that I now sit in the chair that no one held six years ago and tell the truth I did not want to hear.  ”You are not doing okay,” I say, and lay out the hard options, which are take the time off which is some hardship, or take the exit and the door will hit you hard in the ass on the way out, and trust me, that will take longer to recover from.  I don’t say, “I’ve been there,” but I do say that maybe the time off will give them time to straighten things out, and if not, at least give them time to make a more graceful exit.  It’s hard to be kind, but if it’s not kind, it’s true, and it’s a truth no one told me and a tough love I had to learn all by myself (a love for myself I had to learn, too, when the people who owed me nothing didn’t bother to extend me anything, either).

So, no. It isn’t full circle.  It’s miles and loops and six years ahead of myself. And fuck yes, it’s hard, because I want to cry with them, too, and cry for myself, for who I was then and still always will be, just a bit, always a little raggedy-broken unevenly stuck to myself in places it hurts to detach myself from to sit in a different chair than where I ever expected to be— but that is the joy and the pain of learning and growing and doing something for others that no one bothered to do for you.

It isn’t full circle, it’s a line, and it’s a line going forward. That’s better.

Actual phone call

Telemarketer: Hello, I am calling to talk to you about the wonderful benefits that solar panels can bring to your home…

Me, Voice as Dead as My Soul: It is blizzarding AGAIN here in Boston.

Telemarketer: I’ll call back some other time?

Me: Take us off of your list.  (Hangs up phone.  Trudges, once more, into the breach, to take up my shovel.  Some more.)

(I am not usually so abrupt with the telemarketing trade but THAT particular call…)