To the Girl Who Called Me a Fatass on the Bus

(cross posted from here, with apologies to people seeing it in multiple places.)

I know we haven’t known each other for very long – we were only on the bus for a handful of minutes – and I suppose it’s possible that my weight gain is sudden, but it’s not. I have been hauling this junk in my trunk for probably longer than you’ve been alive. And you’re not the first person (and likely not the last) to call me fat. So not only are you not as shocking as you probably hoped, you’re not terribly original, either.

Not only am I a fatass and a big fat fattie, I am well educated, I have a good job with reasonable hours that pays me well, and I am loved. I go on vacations, I have fancy meals out with my friends, I have a nice apartment in a great building with wonderful neighbors, and a cute little dog who amuses the hell out of me. When I get sick, I can afford to see a doctor. My refrigerator and cabinets are always full. I have the tremendous privilege of free time to read, watch trashy tv, blog, navel gaze, meditate, and wonder about the meaning of life. I get manicures and pedicures whenever I want. I had a terrific massage at the Four Seasons last week. I am surrounded by people who love me just as I am.

When I look in the mirror, at my face, I sometimes smile. I like who I am. I even like the curve of my hips and the swell of my breasts. I have managed to extract some self love from the battlefield that is my body. Like you, my body has been under scrutiny and judgement for most of my life. We both face a constant barrage of images and expectations of what our bodies should be like. We will probably never be enough. Skinny enough, curvy enough, tall enough. We will never be just right. And if we are, or close to it, our reward all too often is harassment from strangers in the street, in the store, on the bus, where ever we have the nerve to be attractive to or noticed by someone in public. From early on, we are watching what we eat, binging and purging, counting calories, measuring inches, thinking about our “skinny jeans,” sold diets and fasts, and scrutinized for what we put in our mouths. And despite that, maybe because of that, your words did not shame me. That’s why I held your gaze for so long after you said it.

I’m not telling you this to one up you. I am telling you this because I wish the same for you. I hope that you grow up avoiding or shedding the judgement and shame that is foisted on your body and runs the risk of keeping you from living fully. I hope you find yourself in 25 years in comfort, with little struggle and lots of love. I am writing this to remind myself, too, that I am so much more than the words you slung.

I could have written the title of this post 25 years ago. The rest, I couldn’t have written until today.

Damn, that's good

Hitherto, when this university town and seat of state government applauded itself as "the Athens of the Midwest," the sobriquet suggested kinship with the cultural glories of ancient Greece. Now, however, Madison resembles contemporary Athens.

- George F. Will in today's Post

I rarely - if ever! - agree with George Will, but that's a fine paragraph.

I mean. It's wrong. But it's good writing.

stepping in

I have been thinking for the last month or so about a buddhist koan. A koan is a made-up story meant to teach a lesson or impart wisdom or demonstrate a principle. one of my favorites is about a guy who is being chased by lions and he comes to a cliff, which he dangles off of only to see that there are lions below, too. so lions above, lions below, death is certain, it's only a matter of time. as he is dangling there, he sees a ripe strawberry on a vine within his reach so he grabs it and eats it and it's delicious. pretty outrageous, but it's about enjoying the moment, not being worried about what just happened or what is about to happen, but showing up right where you are and BEING there. you might not necessarily enjoy it, but there is a tenderness about life that can be gleaned compassionately in every moment.

the one I have been thinking about, though, is a lot different. it's about a monk who is sitting in a cave with monsters. horrible, smelly, terrifying, snarling beasts. and he's just sitting. meditating, sitting with them, even though they are repulsive and terrifying. not reacting, just sitting. one by one, as he sits there with them, they disappear. except one. the biggest, stinkiest one that the monk is most horrified by. but the monk sits. and sits. and sits. the monster stays. after a long while, the monk gives up. he stands up and approaches the monster and just steps right in its mouth. then the monster disappears.

there's a buddhist principle about letting go - it goes along with not being attached to things. so by not trying to resist and giving in to the monster, the monster no longer exists.

i was thinking about that a lot when my mom was sick and every new thing that happened was so terrible and scary that I wanted to run away. I did actually think for a minute about leaving my family and never talking to them again. just all the pain on top of our family dysfunction was too much for me. after that, though, I thought about that koan some more and decided to step in to the scary stuff. every time something happened that seemed terrifying or overwhelming, rather than run away or leave the room or shut down, I said to myself "this is really awful" and took a mental and emotional -- and sometimes physical -- step *closer* to what was happening. my mom gasping and moaning and saying "hurry" when we were in the hospital because she couldn't breathe was fucking awful. and my brain started to spin on "oh god oh god she is going to die and I wish it was last night again and we were sitting in the living room..." or whatever, and I stopped it, took a deep breath, told myself what was happening was awful and terrifying, and took her hand. or stood up and literally took a step closer to her.

it was so, so, so calming. it was like watching a storm come and go. I could feel the panic rise and then I made a conscious decision to be present with what was happening and acknowledge why I was panicking and it was like a wave of calm would come over me. and I could be there. just be there, which I think was the best I could have done for my mom. and for me.

but now ... now, there are no more scary procedures or moments or decisions. and I feel like the only thing left to step into is this unspeakable, bottomless grief. and that's more terrifying to me than anything that happened. so now I have to switch up my coping, but I don't know how.

because I am not stepping into that.

Edna St. Vincent Millay, "Well, I have lost you."

Well, I have lost you; and I lost you fairly;
In my own way, and with my full consent.
Say what you will, kings in a tumbrel rarely
Went to their deaths more proud than this one went.
Some nights of apprehension and hot weeping
I will confess; but that's permitted me;
Day dried my eyes; I was not one for keeping
Rubbed in a cage a wing that would be free.
If I had loved you less or played you slyly
I might have held you for a summer more,
But at the cost of words I value highly,
And no such summer as the one before.
Should I outlive this anguish—and men do—
I shall have only good to say of you.


When I left work today, I looked over at the capitol and saw the light above the dome was burning brightly, which means they are in session. Unusual, though not unheard of, at that hour. Senator Bernie Sanders is filibustering* on the tax cut proposal agreed to by President Obama and the republicans.

In honor of Bernie's now eight-hour filibuster, I looked up the rules. (Yeah, this is how I am spending my Friday night. But I'm not wearing pants and I have cheese so I WIN.) I found this gem in wikipedia, which has delighted me more than I would feel comfortable admitting:

Nevertheless, under current Senate rules, a rule change itself could be filibustered, and in this case votes from three fifths of Senators would be required to break the filibuster filibustering a bill to remove filibusters.

This, my friends, is the American Senate.

Go, Bernie, go!

*I just read that it's not a true filibuster, as no one else is waiting to speak and the vote isn't scheduled until Monday. But still. Could you talk for eight hours straight?

I Said to Poetry - Alice Walker

I said to Poetry: "I'm finished
with you."
Having to almost die
before some weird light
comes creeping through
is no fun.
"No thank you, Creation,
no muse need apply.
Im out for good times--
at the very least,
some painless convention."

Poetry laid back
and played dead
until this morning.
I wasn't sad or anything,
only restless.

Poetry said: "You remember
the desert, and how glad you were
that you have an eye
to see it with? You remember
that, if ever so slightly?"
I said: "I didn't hear that.
Besides, it's five o'clock in the a.m.
I'm not getting up
in the dark
to talk to you."

Poetry said: "But think about the time
you saw the moon
over that small canyon
that you liked so much better
than the grand one--and how surprised you were
that the moonlight was green
and you still had
one good eye
to see it with

Think of that!"

"I'll join the church!" I said,
huffily, turning my face to the wall.
"I'll learn how to pray again!"

"Let me ask you," said Poetry.
"When you pray, what do you think
you'll see?"

Poetry had me.

"There's no paper
in this room," I said.
"And that new pen I bought
makes a funny noise."

"Bullshit," said Poetry.
"Bullshit," said I.


Scapes? Really?

I've fallen in with foodies. They had me at truffle butter.

As a result, I have been going to my local farmer's market every week to see what's fresh, and stepping up my game a little in the kitchen. Just last week I bought a cookbook AND a new, fancy pan. It's definitely the first time I've gotten a pan at a cooking store, and the first pan I think you probably couldn't find at at target.

My friend, Stephanie, who blogs about food here, is having people over for brunch today and invited me, so I thought it would be a really nice tribute to her Brian and their influence on my life to bring a quiche made with farmers market ingredients.

So yesterday I went to the market (2 blocks from my house!) and got what I thought were leeks, but as it turns out, they are garlic scapes. Okay. Never heard of them before, but I love garlic, so I was willing to roll with it. I got some fresh spinach, too. I asked the goat cheese guy what cheese he thought would be good in a spinach and scapes quiche. He bowled me over with the brilliant suggestion of his chipotle goat cheese.

I made my own crust last night, and got started a little late this morning. I'm waiting for the quiche to set (and have banned myself from the kitchen so I stop opening the oven door), so I thought I would tell you about it. And I have a couple of pictures!

Here are the diced scapes in my fancy new pan (Chantal 10" fry pan):

and the pie crust (which seemed to come out ok! thanks mom!):

and the Cherry Glen Monocacy Chipotle goat cheese, sliced, before I cubed it:

Now maybe I've waited long enough for the whole thing to set, so I can share a picture of the finished product ...

Aha! Yes!:

Now I just have to let it cool while I get dressed and do something with my wet hair, grab a bottle of champagne, and head to brunch!