My parents have been divorced since I was 2 1/2. (Wow, Victoria's age now- I hadn't made that connection before). My sister got her period before me, and like the weirdo I was, I wore a pad when she got hers just to see what it felt like. So when I got my period, I was fine at my mom's house because Stacey had blazed the trail before me. But at my dad's house every other weekend, I'd never found the courage to speak up and tell my dad (hell no-mortifying) or my step-mother (slightly less mortifying, but still impossible) that I was now getting monthly visits. To make matters worse, their one bathroom had this tiny, open, very public and clearly meant to be a device of mental torture wicker rubbish bin in which a purple plastic-wrapped maxi-pad would scream, "HERE I AM!"
So I did what any completely mortified, confrontation-averse young girl would do: I took each used pad, re-wrapped it in the purple plastic sleeve it came in, and put it back in my overnight bag in the room I shared with my toddler little brother when I came to visit. Other than that gross and (in hindsight) silly plan, I was fine having my period at my dad's house. Until the day I came back from my friend's house to find my step-mother waiting in the driveway with her arms crossed. With every word that came out of her mouth, my desire to be sucked into the liquid hot molten core of the earth became more and more insistent. While I was gone, my little brother had gotten into my overnight bag. He had found my used bloody pads. He had unwrapped them and was playing with them. And the person who walked in on him doing this? My father. Dear vengeful God, I know not why I deserve this, but please end my life right now. My step-mother, who is an amazing parent but was having one of her most un-evolved moments, shamed me for being too ashamed to just throw away my pads "like a normal person." I spent the last few hours of my visit avoiding my dad, feeling as though my skin would curdle, shrink, and suck my body into a black hole of its own making if I made eye contact with him. So now, yeah, I'm pretty proud of my waste-free periods. Period! Blood! Clots! Menstruation! Cramps! Tampons! I'm out, baby, and I'm loving it.
My plan was to take the Metra in from the 'burbs, meet up with Shana and the girls at the red line Cermack station, and take the El to the March. I had to take the 8:29am train (yuck). I got to the Metra station about 2 minutes before the train arrived and couldn't find change to pay for my parking spot. I went up to the platform and it was 90% women in pink who practically ran me over trying to give me parking money, then complimented my hat and wanted to read my poster. I started to feel pretty good. I ended up going all the way to Shana's in the south loop because one of the girls wasn't there yet, and we Uber'd to the park. Right away, while we were waiting for another part of our group to show up, this asshole next to us started spouting loudly about "how stupid these people look protesting this guy when they were just sitting back sleeping while Bill Clinton was raping women." Can you count the problems with that statement? I very nearly engaged, but this was not a good use of my energy. At first, the rally part of the march was a bit of a let-down. We all stood in place, not close enough to hear the invited speakers, intermittently joining in rally chants. Soon, though, we were able to move closer to hear some really amazing women and get plugged into some much better energy. People around us started announcing things they were learning from social media and news outlets. The size of our march and others, of international marches, of the fact that we could NO LONGER MARCH because we already filled the entire route. But we did march. It was the coolest part, perhaps. We had to leave at some point, and when 250,000 people move, it's a march. We marched and chanted along multiple avenues down I don't know how many blocks until we gradually becomae the only people carrying signs. And then we ate brunch (I know how that sounds, but it's the plain truth). The staff at the restaurant was surprisingly respectful of our dishelved appearance and clunky signs as we made our way to our table. A female busser winked and nodded at me. I had been feeling on the defensive about my beliefs for so long that the entire day felt like airing out a festering sore. The gals grabbed a drink with me before I trekked back to the Metra. Before I even got home, I had caught wind of widespread negativity about the march. I will always pay attention. I will always engage with someone who wants to talk. But I think it's time I stop putting my energy into defending my beliefs and even questioning others') and start engaging and contributing to my community. My real community.
Second of all, I haven't been eating this well and exercising this much since....well, let's see. Since I left NYC in 2010. I started looking after my health as a way to manage my stress, and it has really really helped. I couldn't do it for vanity, or because I just wanted to be healthier, but now I've done it out of a desperate attempt to feel better, and it friggin works. I know you know this (as did I, and ignored it), but if you don't have enough energy to exercise, it's BECAUSE YOU'RE NOT EXERCISING!!! You have to fake it until you make it. I'm now 18 days in to tracking my daily intake (which I tried to do so many times and gave up on just as many) and exercising almost every day. The weird trick to exercising is to set your standards so low you can barely see them. I counted going to the gym and putting two feet on the treadmill as exercise, which actually worked for me because getting there was of course the hardest part. You know what else counts as exercise? Using my Thighmaster (yes you read that correctly) while watching the Bachelor on the couch, playing "Just Dance" with Victoria, 20 minutes of gentle, calming yoga before bed, and walking (I don't run) on an incline on the treadmill while watching trash on Hulu. As soon as I expanded my view on what exercise was, I realized I was able to do it and enjoy doing every day. The flip-side has been diet, and that hasn't been quite so effortless. I'm not going to tell you anything that hasn't been said before, but here's what's been working for me:
Don't buy it if you shouldn't eat it.
Log it before you eat it (I use myfitnesspal).
After you've hit your calorie limit for the day, avoid sitting on the couch with nothing to do.
Stay on track on weekends (a cheat meal won't sink you, but taking every weekend off of eating healthy pretty much dials back all progress)
Weigh in every morning (This works for me but I can think of a hundred reasons why it would be problematic for people who have struggled with disordered eating or who find stalls and gains discouraging. For me, It's purely motivating and keeps me accountable).
Don't talk about it. For me, dieting in public puts the emphasis on all the wrong things. I don't want to discuss what I'm eating/not eating/ if I've been "good." It becomes all about weight way too quickly, and it's gross and unhealthy.
My immediate goal is to feel better (CHECK), and my eventual goal is to build lots of muscle and turn myself into a calorie burning machine who can crush cans between my thighs. Bless you, Suzanne Somers
My surgery went well- the good was that they got it all on the first dig. The bad was that they couldn't stitch it up, so I have to wear a dressing until it heals (months). Twice a day Carey has to clean it out and coat it with petroleum jelly. He also has to help me wash my hair. Marriage vows for the win. I will be wearing many, many hats. At least now is a good time for it. The coolest part of the experience was since they got it on the first try, Carey, my head-wound, Ativan and I got to go see a matinee. I swear, I can't wait to start doing retired people things on the regular. Early bird dinners. Cribbage. Mall walking. Book clubs. Baking. Stalking my adult kid. Bring it on.
Carey's mom was in town to help out this week and I wasn't allowed in the field at work. I had these very grand ideas about accomplishing LOTS AND LOTS at home and at work. But the holidays, the head-wound, and a UTI with IMPECCABLE timing took those plan to task. I need, like, a week in the Fermata to clean, organize, mend things, and catch up on correspondence and paperwork. I miss being bored and popping in a movie I've seen 87 times and deciding to lint-shave all of my sweaters while experimenting with face masks.
The weekend before last we found this little dude wandering in the street in front of our house. I put him on our patio, gave him food and water, a bone and a bed, and called the number on his collar. I left a message and waited for hours, wondering how it could take the owners so long to respond when their (very sweet) dog was missing.
I finally got a call back, and it turned out that the dog's owner was on vacation and his adult daughter was dog sitting almost right across the street from us. She showed up and retrieved him with very little fanfare, though she thanked me several times. I had all but forgotten about it when this was left in my door
It was a very sincere thank you card and a pair of Lula Roe leggings. The cynic in me is wondering when I'm going to be invited to the next LR marketing party (she did include her business card), but the rest of me feels lovely that a good deed was appreciated.
I had a relapse this morning and stumbled on a thread of my friend Donnell from Southern IL. A white girl was telling him there were "more important" problems to worry about, and the old favorite, "don't make everything about race." Well, I felt the same thing I always feel when someone is marginalizing someone else's experience, which is that as a white woman it's my responsibility to tell other white people to QUIT THAT SHIT. So I broke my 24 hour Facebook diet to say, "Allison, love means being willing to stand up and fight for your brothers and sisters who are black, brown, LGBTQ, immigrants, etc. Love is not telling a black man not to worry about racism. His skin is not an outfit he can choose to wear each day. It is his identity. Donnell, as a white woman I cannot completely understand how you must be feeling right now, but I am also afraid. I'm your ally, and I'll put my vote, my money, and my actions behind protection and equality for all of us. xo"
Yay! I solved racism! Shut up, Heather. But when I see something shitty and ignorant happen, it's like I'm staring at the Ark, and I can't look away. Closing the window or scrolling past feels like an act of racism in itself.
I went on two brisk 15 minute walks in the sunshine to drop off and pick my car up from an oil change, so that met my cardio requirement. I'd also booked a massage appointment after sleeping over Shana's this weekend on a deflating air mattress that left a big goose-egg knot in my left trapezius, so that was EXTREMELY good for my stress level. I didn't stick to my eight hours of sleep resolution, unfortunately. I got home at 10pm and Carey and I got to talking, then I still had to finish my dinner and clean the kitchen before bed. Seven and a half hours and some craaaaaaaaazy dreams. I started work a half hour late today, but it's fine because Tuesdays we have plates class in our multi-purpose room downstairs at 5:30, so I work until then anyway. I made a list of organizations that need extra support in the midst of this administration, and I'm going to donate a small amount every day to:
Southern Poverty Law Center
The National Resources Defense Council
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
Everytown for Gun Safety
I also signed up to volunteer for the Trevor Project. Is there another organization that I can add to my list to fight back against the tidal wave in front of us?
I've never felt this bad. I'm vacillating between despair, numbness, and anger. I have some thoughts, but I realize that in order to process them, I need to start taking better care of myself. After breaking down in sobs last night, numbing out in front of junk TV, and going to bed late, here's what I think I need to commit to:
1) Cardio every day, at least 20 minutes.
2) 8 hours of sleep every night, no excuses.
3) Get to work on time so that I can leave on time. Being with V extra time in the morning is not quality time.
4) I think I really need a break from Facebook. Delete the app and stay away from the most ill-informed and divisive posts. This will also have the effect of giving me more time for LJ and the printed word.
5) Think of a way I can engage that is not so triggering. Become part of the solution.
Was just in NH a week ago. Mentioned to parents that Carey's birthday was the 23rd. Realized at 8 last night that they hadn't called him, so I sent them a text reminding them. Got this lovely guilt trip text first thing this morning:
I felt bad that I missed Carey's birthday. I thought you had my back just like I have yours. Not even a phone call, it's been a week and none. You might think a text or a couple of pictures are enough, but it's not.
Sent from my iPad
I'm on the Metra home from Chicago. Instead of fun in the sun, this (and every Memorial Day weekend for the forseable future) I have education in a major metropolitan hotel. It's the Association for Applied Behavior Analysis International Conference. It's ok. Usually, it's an excuse to travel. But it has been (unacceptably) in Chicago 2 out of the past 3 years, so instead I get a train ride. More convenient, less fun. Although yesterday I ate at this yummy cheese shop and today I picked up a tasty falafel salad bowl and ate it in Mellenium Park while tearing through my latest library book (Girls on Fire by Wasserman). That part was nice. But the conference itself was planned very poorly this year, and half the lectures I try to attend are full past capacity by the time I get there, and I have to sit on the floor (which I've already done three times) or find another option inside of a five minute window. I usually end up going to the closest lecture that provides the CEUs I need, and so far, that has been a terrible strategy. I end up in a very very VERY boring lecture about which I care very little. This year has been a bit of a bust, and I'd kind-of rather be back at work tomorrow than at the conference.
It's hard to be away from V this weekend, when I could be spending every minute with her. She's so funny, so willfull, so spunky and surprising now, a couple of weeks before her 2nd birthday. Her language has exploded, and we've stopped couting her words and stopped worrying about her progress. We went to my parents' place on the east coast last month and are flying to MN this week to get in those free flights before she turns two and we have to buy a ticket for her. Carey's mom is being very mom-helpful and scheduling some informational interviews for me during the trip. I understand and appreciate it, but it makes me feel very overwhelmed. Vacations aren't vacations anymore. They are family visits, and they are equal parts pleasure and endurance. I look forward to going away with just Carey again someday and actually relaxing. At the same time, I don't want to look forward at all. I know that V will be an independent, frequently pissy teenager in the blink of an eye, and I don't want to miss a single hug, sloppy kiss, dance session or bedtime story.