Monday, November 15, 2004

Mixed Bag O' Links

Check out the oh-so-cool Worth1000's "If Pirates Ruled" photoshop contest. It made me quite happy. I'm especially partial to Barney the Pirate and Cap'n Jack reading Oprah Magazine. Frickin' classic.

Richard A. Muller has some thoughts on The Physics of Gluttony and you may be interested in these Little Known Facts About US Presidents. Ha. And here's another one of those I Love People stories. I mean, c'mon - broccoli?

Finally, here are Tim Wilson's thoughts on jam-making jailbird Martha Stewart:

"Boy, I feel safer now that SHE'S behind bars. O.J. & Kobe are still walking around, Scott Peterson's going to be soon, but they take the one woman in America willing to cook and clean and work in the yard and haul her ass to jail."

See ya in a few months, Martha.

Thoughts on Life in a General Way

So, my roomie is dating again, which makes her very happy, and so - as I have a great deal of affection for her - is very good.

Unfortunatley, it also means that my happy illusion of Domestic Bliss has crumbled. I have been in a Deep State of Mourning since Thursday, which is painful and sad but necessary.

I have been ramping up and prepping myself for leaving this stage of my life, of course - that's self-preservation. Nothing lasts forever, no matter how good it is.

I've been going through the internal job postings, considering where I'll go next, and thinking about getting my big bills paid off before summer `06. But these were all diversionary tactics on my part, set into place so that I could continue to pretend that this happy cozy life with my roomie was really a permanent fixture.

Having a dating roomie changes things - not a lot, of course, but enough to burst my self-delusions: she'll be gone a few more nights a week, and we'll likely have an extra houseguest over on occasion - the best part, of course, is that my buddy will be happier, and her being happier is a wonderful great thing. So really, this is nothing.

Certainly nothing for me to mourn about.

I'm just mourning my own delusions.

It's shoved a lot of things into my face that I've been avoiding for a long time -

The first being just how much I've come to rely on my roomie for companionship, conversation, and emotional attachment. I adore her. In my usual way, I've been trying to be appropriately disaffected, that is - I've tried very hard *not* to get attached to her, because I'll be leaving (this is one of the reasons I didn't make many friends in South Africa - it was hard enough leaving behind the good friend I did have there).

Relying on one person too much is a Bad Thing, and I realize I need to fill up my day more, and actively start doing more on my own again. I've gotten too cozy. I am just far too happy being with her.

It also brought to the raging forefront my own anxiety about dating. I just don't do it. I tried again when I first got here, but froze up and started getting anxiety attacks. I don't want to go on dates with strangers. I don't want anyone else trying to mess up my neat life. I want good friends, good food, good books. In that order. If I have to live without sex in order to have a good life free of people trying to mess things up for me, so be it.

When me and my roomie were two singleton young professionals occupying a cozy house filled with books, I didn't feel quite so freakish. If there were couple-things to do, we could do them as a couple, and so I didn't feel lonely or out of place at coupled gatherings.

Now it's just me-the-weird-singleton again, wondering what's wrong with me.

Not-dating has been my way of avoiding getting attached to people. Or - trying really hard not to get attached to people. Like an anorexic who believes that if she stops eating, she can kill her hunger all together, I continue to trick myself into believing that if I don't date anyone I won't get emotionally attached to anyone at all.


This, like the illusion of Domestic Bliss, is also a total lie. I do keep getting attached to people, and when I realize this, I tend to mourn them like they're dead, and I carry with me that burning physical pain in my gut that makes me feel like somebody ripped out my heart and lungs and keeps stomping on them. Because when I realize I've gotten too attached to someone, I have to start pulling away, and getting my life together - seperately again - and it's really, really painful to Change Things when you've been living in Delusion Land for over a year.

It's a good time for me to wake up, because I've been sleeping cozily for too long, and forgetting that my roomie has a huge life and needs of her own that don't include me (yes, yes, of course - but these are things I've tried to avoid thinking about in my Delusional State), and I need to get a much bigger and more separate life as well.

My painful state of mourning is a great reminder of why that is. It's too painful to have so much of your life rolled in with someone else's.

So, there's a Tues/Thurs French class I can start up with at the local community college in the spring semester. There's a bunch of people I've neglected to keep in touch with who I need to write to. There's extra classes I can take at the MA school on Monday and Wednesday and Saturday, and I can add other days if I need to.

I've also been working at cleaning myself up, physically, which improves my mood, my posture, and my self confidence. I've gotten a good haircut, and continue to update my wardrobe. My eating habits are continuing to improve (for better or worse, being In Mourning has killed my appetite), I'm enjoying all of my MA classes and getting stronger, and somewhere in there, my self confidence is finally starting to come back, after a long hiatus.

I feel that this is a good time to stop and rethink things, about where I'm going, what I'm doing. I turn 25 in January, which is a big personal marker for me. I have some ideas about what I'd like the next five years to be like, and it's a good excuse to pause and reflect about the person I've been and the adult I am/becoming.

I realize I need to be physically and emotionally stronger.

I am continually amazed at my capacity to care for people. Spending so much time in emotional turmoil, I learned to set limits on my friendship/caring circle. I really think that I was hoping that I'd finally become emotionally strong enough where I honestly stopped caring about people all together....

But I wouldn't be a real person then, would I?

So, here we go. Get up every morning, and decide then that today, yes today, right now, you're going to spend this day being better. And remember that in the end, you'll be getting up every morning by yourself.

I start over again every morning.

More Thoughts on Fat... and Writing

The NY Times has an article about two shows hitting Broadway that deal directly with body perception, desire, and yes, fat. Eve Ensler of The Vagina Monologues fame is doing a one-woman show that examines her hatred for and later, her acceptance of, her "imperfect" stomach - imperfect because it's not flat as an adolescent's. Imperfect because it swells like, say, a woman's.

More interesting to me (because I've heard less of people dealing with this issue) is Neil LaBute's show "Fat Pig" which is about a man going out with a fat woman and dealing with the jeers, sidelong looks, and complete bafflement of his friends and co-workers about his dating choice. It's not OK to jeer at somebody for dating somebody who's of a different race or the same sex anymore (though it's still done, of course), but fat, being categorized as a disease, is still OK for jeering.

I remember being at a social gathering with some absolutely gorgeous, fashionably thin, intelligent women (I always felt out of place in these groups in South Africa), and one of them saying off hand, "That gorgeous guy at the party, was he dating that fat girl? How can he be so gorgeous and dating a fat girl?"

To which someone replied, his voice heavy with sarcasm, "Maybe she has a really nice personality."

I wanted to find a very, very dark corner and hide in it. It's funny, to find yourself in a group of people who don't "think of you that way," and then catch them out at saying something disparaging about "one of those people." Like being a lesbian hanging out with hetero friends who whip off some derogatory comment, and don't even think to make some sort of gesture toward you like, "you're not one of those people of course." You're so *not* "one of those people" in their minds that they don't even think of you that way.

But as my body gets stronger, my metabolism ramps up, my appetite starts to wane, and I start condensing back down to a reasonably "average" size again (by next year I don't think I'll be able to really identify as a "fat girl" anymore in public [at least until I go on the upswing again] - though I'll always see myself this way), there was something playwright Neil LaBute said that struck me as really interesting:

Like Ms. Ensler, Mr. LaBute has struggled with his weight and body image. In a preface to "Fat Pig," he notes that he recently lost 60 pounds. In the process, he writes, he "discovered the preening fool who was living just beneath the surface of my usual self. Suddenly, the mirror became my friend. How I loved to rush home from a walk or jump up in the morning and study myself, checking to see if I looked a bit thinner." But, Mr. LaBute adds, "I also noticed that I was writing less and less."

As the weight came off, he was "writing less and less."

He gained most of the weight back.

The two times in my life when I've been the most prolific, I was also at my highest weight.

They were also the times in my life when I felt the most out of control, the most anxious, the most depressed, and in the most despair. That's what binge eating is about - exerting control when you feel out of control. And writing, for me, is (among many things) also a release of pent-up emotions. It's a place where I can channel all of the crap that I can't talk about or face up to.

The swing part of this is that what I was writing during my Dark Teatimes of the Soul wasn't necessarily very good. There was just a lot of it. What's ended up happening is that I'll write these 700-1000 pages of shit, and then rewrite all of them when I'm in an "up" period, like Alaska or here in Chicago (I love that I can track my moods/stages of my life by place).

"So," Jenn said when I brought this up, "The ideal writing life would be full of up and down periods."

"Like my life," I said. Ha. "I wonder how many writers, instead of picking up and moving different places to mess with moods and poverty levels, are just bipolar."

I'd guess there are quite a lot of them.