Daily Archives: September 5, 2015

Nicole Arbour’s Video Didn’t Motivate Me to Be Healthy – But Body Positivity Did

CW: Fatphobia, disordered eating, mental illness, self-harm


The image features Nicole Arbour, making an "O" shape with her hands with a disgruntled look on her face.

Arbour’s video “Dear Fat People” is symptomatic of a fatphobic culture.

When I watched Nicole Arbour’s video to fat people, I couldn’t help but be struck by her complete conviction that shaming fat folks would motivate them to be healthy.

The research does not back this claim – in fact, it consistently refutes it – and fat folks have asserted time and time again that shaming them does real psychological harm.

So I’m confused on how making people feel like shit is supposed to be encouraging, but okay.

Throughout the video, Arbour takes jabs at the body positivity movement, stating, like many trolls have before, that it promotes unhealthiness (while her very original insults and hatred of fat folks, comments that they certainly haven’t heard before, will definitely promote health).

Yes, against my better judgment, I watched the video. And Nicole Arbour’s fat-shaming did nothing to motivate me as a person who is “overweight.” Body positivity, on the other hand, has motivated me – it has made me a healthier, happier, and stronger person.

I spent most of my life as a very thin person. But secretly, I was also terrified of being fat. Most of my family was, which made me feel like I was constantly trying to outrun my so-called genetic fate, and being constantly praised for being thin made me feel like I had to work hard to maintain it, to make sure I didn’t lose it.

So when I was a teenager, I started skipping meals. And worse, I felt accomplished when I did. I felt like I did something good, something I should be proud of. In fact, if Nicole Arbour had seen me a few years ago – underweight and depressed – she would have assumed I was healthy and applauded me for my efforts.

No one ever told me to diet, but I started restricting my intake anyway. At one point, I wasn’t eating much more than an apple at lunch time and a protein bar at dinner. Because we live in a society that teaches us that there’s nothing worse than being fat. Controlling my food intake gave me a certain kind of pride, a sense of moral superiority to my fat relatives who just needed to “get their act together.”

You see, I wasn’t much different from Nicole Arbour when I was thin. I was an asshole that had a lot of problematic ideas about fat people. And I think that’s why I take it so personally – because it hits close to home, because I know deep down that the problem isn’t with Arbour so much as it is the society that teaches us to fear fatness, to shame fat people, and to reject them as fully-formed human beings.

When we place this morality around fat bodies and food, we create a very toxic culture that lends itself so easily to eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and yes, discrimination against and hatred towards fat bodies.

My disordered eating was rooted directly in the ideas perpetuated by Nicole Arbour’s video – a panic and a fear around fatness, a call for self-control even if it means self-harm, and a disgust with fat people – and those same ideas were what led to me being underweight, unhappy, and destructive.

As an adult, after spending years on a rollercoaster of suicidal lows and manic highs, I was diagnosed with disordered eating, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. And after my worst episode of depression, I was finally prescribed a life-saving medication that tamed my depression in a way that I had never been able to on my own.

I finally felt a sense of peace and stability that I needed to get my life back.

But the universe, in some kind of act of karmic retribution, gave me weight gain as a side effect of that medication. I went from being thin to gaining sixty pounds, and hearing a doctor tell me I was “overweight” for the first time.

And despite being in the healthiest place I had ever been – finally mentally sound and capable – people who had never been concerned about my health before suddenly started asking if I was okay, if I wanted dieting tips, and encouraging me to “take control.”

Ah, yes, taking control. You mean when I was restricting, underweight, and depressed as hell.

Internalizing all of that negativity around my weight gain, I started to feel self-loathing and I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror. I debated going off of the medication that had saved my life – because to me, it was better to have unmanaged bipolar disorder with all of its dangerous lows than to be fat.

I think the real sickness in our society is that someone who finally achieved mental health would risk everything just to be thin.

And to the rest of the world that saw my round belly and my big thighs, they, too, would rather me be back in that dark place and be thin than be mentally healthy, happy, and “overweight.”

Attitudes like those present in Nicole Arbour’s video are the same attitudes that I started wrestling with when I looked in the mirror and no longer saw someone who was lovable, desirable, and worthy. Somehow having fat on my body made me “less than,” and made other people treat me as such.

When I finally lost the privilege of being thin, I had to come face-to-face with the fatphobia that I had clung to for my entire life – and I had to acknowledge that I had been perpetuating really awful ideas about fat and fat people, and doing harm to the people in my life that I claimed to love.

I can understand why Nicole Arbour would resist that kind of criticism from viewers, because she, too, would have to acknowledge that she is actively doing harm. It’s not fun to admit that you’re hurting people, that these beliefs that you’ve bought into are actually causing real suffering to people of all sizes.

I, at first, felt helpless when I realized how fatphobic I really was. I didn’t know how to unpack those ideas, and I didn’t know if I could ever feel okay about myself and be “overweight.”

The hashtags that Nicole Arbour mocked in her video are the hashtags that ultimately turned my life around. I discovered the body positivity movement through social media, and realized that my self-worth did not need to rely on an impossible ideal that most of us will never attain.

I realized that being thin is not a requirement for being happy or healthy or fulfilled, and when we break away from diet culture and fatphobia, it can be transformative in the best way.

When I gained weight, I was convinced that it was the end of my self-esteem – I had no idea that it was actually the beginning of an unconditional love for myself.

It’s a kind of love that we all deserve to have, a self-love that is not a privilege reserved for a select few that fit into our norms, but rather, a relationship that we are all entitled to by virtue of our humanity. Outsiders do not get to dictate the kind of relationship I have to my body and myself.

Body positivity taught me that health cannot be measured by a number on the scale, cannot be observed by a stranger, and is something that we, ourselves, get to navigate and define on our own terms. I learned that we all get to exist in our bodies, whatever they may be, and that we set the rules

Body positivity taught me that love, and confidence, and happiness are possible and do not need to be determined by our size.

Body positivity taught me that I do not need to resort to restricting and starving just to be worthy, and that the real problem was never my weight, but rather, the poisonous conflation of thinness and happiness that I was convinced held the secrets to self-esteem.

Body positivity taught me that hatred disguising itself as “health advice” is still hatred.

Here’s the thing: What people like Arbour don’t seem to understand is that loving myself was the healthiest decision I’ve ever made. Living without shame enabled me to make good choices for myself, because no choice that is rooted in self-hatred is ever sustainable and no choice rooted in self-hatred can ever be healthy.

Being thin never made me feel confident. Being thin never made me a better person. Being thin never made me healthy. But now, with a body that most would consider undesirable, I finally feel happy and I live a meaningful life, one in which I contribute positively to the world, one in which I do everything I can to reduce harm towards myself and others.

And for naysayers who insist that I’m unhealthy because of my size, I can only laugh. Because if it weren’t for the medication that caused this weight gain in the first place, my bipolar disorder would have ravaged what remained of my life until I could no longer bear to live it.

But when you look at me, you can’t see that. Because health is not a size.

Toxic ideas about fat are feeding into an epidemic of self-hatred, disordered eating, and self-harm – an epidemic that Nicole Arbour perpetuates under the guise of “health” – that leaves kids as young as six dieting while they’re still in kindergarten.

If that’s the kind of world you want to live in, you need to own the fact that you are making it that way. You need to understand that these attitudes about fat people are actually harmful and discriminatory – stop hiding behind this so-called “health” crusade – because you aren’t motivating, you aren’t helpful, and you aren’t saying anything novel or new that the diet industry isn’t already profiting off of.

You do harm. And if you can live with that, so be it. But realize that you aren’t helping fat people – you’re hurting them, along with anyone who has ever struggled with their body, because at the root of that struggle is a fear of fat.

Honestly, sure, if I had watched this video when I was younger, I definitely would have felt motivated. Motivated to keep skipping meals. Motivated to celebrate my disordered eating. Motivated to scrape my dinner into the trash again. Motivated to starve myself into oblivion. Motivated to keep being cruel to fat people and making assumptions about strangers.

And if I hadn’t found body positivity, I would have been motivated to reject the medication that ultimately saved my life, because I thought it was better to be thin than to be sane.

And if that’s what health looks like to you… then I don’t want to be fucking healthy.


 Sam Dylan Finch is a transgender activist and feminist writer, based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is the founder of Let’s Queer Things Up!, his blog and labor of love, as well as a writer at Everyday Feminism and Ravishly. With a passion for impacting change through personal narrative, Sam writes about his struggles and triumphs as genderqueer and bipolar with the hopes of teaching others about his identity and community.

Connect with SDF: Website ; Facebook ; Twitter ; Tumblr


Join our (rad, amazing) community at LQTU’s official Facebook page!


Editor’s Note: We use the word “overweight” in quotations because it is, indeed, a problematic term that suggests a normative weight. However, it is used for clarity and to make a distinction here because while Sam is not perceived as fat, he is also not perceived as thin, necessitating a term that acknowledges this “in-between” kind of space.


At Last, A Home!!

Ever since last September I have been without a home. I haven’t been homeless in the classical sense, but at the end of August I moved out of my apartment, put everything in storage and prepared to spend the winter in Florida. From September 1 to October 31 and from April 1 to now, I’ve stayed with various family members (I had a micro-apartment during the winter in Florida which was perfect for me).

Finally, a change! My sister who I stayed with quite a bit (along with her two kids) in a town about 10 miles east of Boulder made a decision to sell her house and move to Boulder. If you know anything about Boulder, you know that real estate prices are CRAZY!!! Whether it’s renting or buying, you need a boatload of money to live in Boulder. Since the real estate market is really hot, my sister had no trouble selling her house, but she was having trouble finding a house in Boulder in her price range. She was looking for a place for just her and her kids. I proposed that she add me as her permanent roommate, and I’d kick in a chunk of money towards the mortgage, so that she could afford more house. And voila! She found a beautiful house. I think really that there was some Divine Intervention involved as well, because you would not believe the stories we heard of bidding wars, and people coming in with all cash offers on MILLION DOLLAR PROPERTIES!!!

So, here we are. For the first time in a year, I am sleeping in my own bed again, and I can’t even TELL you how good it feels!!!! I was asking myself before, “is it REALLY that comfortable, or am I just imagining it?” Well, it really IS that comfortable!! It is hard to get out of it.

The house has a finished basement that’s done really, really nicely with remote-controlled recessed lighting, berber carpet, a beautifully remodeled bathroom, a living room and a bedroom. And it’s MINE, all MINE!!! So in addition to my bed & dresser, I get to have my couch, chair, ottoman, desk, and, most importantly, MY TV!!! I am just so excited and happy to have my own space again. Have I told you how great it feels? WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Being off the Clozaril is still doing me good. Of the 33 pounds I gained, so far I have lost 8. I think it’s all in my belly. Starting to lose the weight feels great. Dr. Drugs INSISTED that I start taking Abilify (my nemesis, see http://bipolaronfire.com/2013/03/05/abilify-commercial-wtf/ and http://bipolaronfire.com/2013/04/01/abilify-wtf-again-i-say/). I am having to taper off the Lithium, dammit, because it is causing me to have to pee pretty much constantly. It’s hard to get a good night’s sleep in one-hour increments.

I have all day today and tomorrow uninterrupted to unpack and create some order out of chaos in my new space, I am going to work my ass off and then maybe sleep all day on Monday, yay! Hope you all have a great last weekend of summer! (Sob). PEACH OUT!!


Filed under: Bipolar, Bipolar Disorder, Psychology Shmyshmology Tagged: Abilify, Abilify-WTF?, Bipolar, Hope, Mental Illness, Psychology, Reader

In Honor of Abby and Arsenic- PLEASE SIGN MY PETITION

I have started a petition to draw attention to the high cost of flea treatment for pets, aiming it at the CEO of Merial, the makers of Frontline. I have been so touched by everyone who so generously donated money, time, Facebook shares, Tweets, in my efforts to save Abby-Cat. Please take the time so sign my petition so no others pets have to suffer and no more owners have to have their hearts broken. Size of bank account is NOT the size of our love for our pets.

$21 a tube for Frontline, especially for multiple pet families, is outrageous. While I waited for my check so I could treat my animals, Abby got an abscess from one bite which poisoned her until she passed on. Arsenic was so young his immune system just couldn’t hold off til the money went into the bank.

My pets are now treated, due in part to a small portion leftover from Abby’s fund and me cutting some corners in my budget. I had to treat four cats, which is $84. That’s two weeks of groceries for me and my kid. I shouldn’t have to choose between feeding her or caring for my cats. No one should.

I can’t bring my beloved kitties back but I still have a voice and it is in their memory and honor I plan to use it. Please speak up with me.

 

 


Trying Harder

try harder

On August 28th of this year, LarBear and I had officially been together for eight months.  Eight months, during which for the most part, I had been batshit crazy.  I have pushed him away, yelled at him for no good reason, cried and cried, and been altogether terrified because it does seem that he really does love me in spite of it all.

What does that say about me, and romantic relationships I have had up to this point, that I have such difficulty in accepting love, in accepting that someone wants to understand, wants to care, wants to spend time with me, wants to go out of their way to make me feel better?

LarBear has put up with a lot, and after my last episode-fueled temper tantrum, I had a bit of an epiphany.  THIS is what I have been looking for my whole life, but believing I would never find.  This completely unconditional and true and pure love.  He keeps trying to hand it to me, to give it to me, and I keep batting it from his hands.

And he remains patient, kind, loving.  Through it all, through which nearly any other person I know, other than perhaps my mother, would have given up.  He is invested in this relationship, and he has proven it over and over again.  My tendency is to run, run, run, but I think those days must be over.

It is time that I embrace this beautiful love that is being given to me over and over again, despite my craziness and my flaws and my constant tears.  It’s time for me to stop trying to run away anytime, and to simply enjoy the great love that surrounds me.  Its hard, to be loved.  Its really hard…harder than I ever would have imagined it could be.

But I’m going to try.  My feet are planted and there is an amazing person who tells me and shows me every day that he loves me very much.  Time to stop struggling so hard, and just enjoy and love back.  I really don’t think this sort of thing comes along all that often, and believe I would be remiss in not accepting.

Through all the fog and blur of medications and appointments and symptoms and episodes and cycles, he is there, standing strong.  I really couldn’t ask for anything better, and I only knock myself upside the head slightly when I realize it has taken me so long to realize the enormity of love that is there, in his heart, in my heart, in our home.

 

 


Filed under: Collection of Thoughts Tagged: acceptance, bipolar dating, bipolar disorder, love, relationships

Trying Harder

try harder

On August 28th of this year, LarBear and I had officially been together for eight months.  Eight months, during which for the most part, I had been batshit crazy.  I have pushed him away, yelled at him for no good reason, cried and cried, and been altogether terrified because it does seem that he really does love me in spite of it all.

What does that say about me, and romantic relationships I have had up to this point, that I have such difficulty in accepting love, in accepting that someone wants to understand, wants to care, wants to spend time with me, wants to go out of their way to make me feel better?

LarBear has put up with a lot, and after my last episode-fueled temper tantrum, I had a bit of an epiphany.  THIS is what I have been looking for my whole life, but believing I would never find.  This completely unconditional and true and pure love.  He keeps trying to hand it to me, to give it to me, and I keep batting it from his hands.

And he remains patient, kind, loving.  Through it all, through which nearly any other person I know, other than perhaps my mother, would have given up.  He is invested in this relationship, and he has proven it over and over again.  My tendency is to run, run, run, but I think those days must be over.

It is time that I embrace this beautiful love that is being given to me over and over again, despite my craziness and my flaws and my constant tears.  It’s time for me to stop trying to run away anytime, and to simply enjoy the great love that surrounds me.  Its hard, to be loved.  Its really hard…harder than I ever would have imagined it could be.

But I’m going to try.  My feet are planted and there is an amazing person who tells me and shows me every day that he loves me very much.  Time to stop struggling so hard, and just enjoy and love back.  I really don’t think this sort of thing comes along all that often, and believe I would be remiss in not accepting.

Through all the fog and blur of medications and appointments and symptoms and episodes and cycles, he is there, standing strong.  I really couldn’t ask for anything better, and I only knock myself upside the head slightly when I realize it has taken me so long to realize the enormity of love that is there, in his heart, in my heart, in our home.

 

 


Filed under: Collection of Thoughts Tagged: acceptance, bipolar dating, bipolar disorder, love, relationships

Trying Harder

try harder

On August 28th of this year, LarBear and I had officially been together for eight months.  Eight months, during which for the most part, I had been batshit crazy.  I have pushed him away, yelled at him for no good reason, cried and cried, and been altogether terrified because it does seem that he really does love me in spite of it all.

What does that say about me, and romantic relationships I have had up to this point, that I have such difficulty in accepting love, in accepting that someone wants to understand, wants to care, wants to spend time with me, wants to go out of their way to make me feel better?

LarBear has put up with a lot, and after my last episode-fueled temper tantrum, I had a bit of an epiphany.  THIS is what I have been looking for my whole life, but believing I would never find.  This completely unconditional and true and pure love.  He keeps trying to hand it to me, to give it to me, and I keep batting it from his hands.

And he remains patient, kind, loving.  Through it all, through which nearly any other person I know, other than perhaps my mother, would have given up.  He is invested in this relationship, and he has proven it over and over again.  My tendency is to run, run, run, but I think those days must be over.

It is time that I embrace this beautiful love that is being given to me over and over again, despite my craziness and my flaws and my constant tears.  It’s time for me to stop trying to run away anytime, and to simply enjoy the great love that surrounds me.  Its hard, to be loved.  Its really hard…harder than I ever would have imagined it could be.

But I’m going to try.  My feet are planted and there is an amazing person who tells me and shows me every day that he loves me very much.  Time to stop struggling so hard, and just enjoy and love back.  I really don’t think this sort of thing comes along all that often, and believe I would be remiss in not accepting.

Through all the fog and blur of medications and appointments and symptoms and episodes and cycles, he is there, standing strong.  I really couldn’t ask for anything better, and I only knock myself upside the head slightly when I realize it has taken me so long to realize the enormity of love that is there, in his heart, in my heart, in our home.

 

 


Filed under: Collection of Thoughts Tagged: acceptance, bipolar dating, bipolar disorder, love, relationships

Hollow Girl

“Let It Rain….Let it rain down on me…to hide these tears I’m crying…so no one can see…” -“Let It Rain”- Warrant

The tears have subsided for now. As I was leaving today I paused by Abby and Arsenic’s graves and said hello to them. Tears beckoned again. Nuts, huh? Well, not really, after the conversation I had with my sister yesterday. She’s far more social than I am, content living in a house full of others, and yet when I said “I can’t connect with people but I can with animals, what’s that say about how I was raised?” And she said she felt the same. Our parents really did a number on us.

Yesterday was so very hard. To make it worse, I’d promised Spook a sleepover with Grandma so that left me home alone, tears pouring and dark thoughts beckoning. No matter the platitudes I feed myself, there’s this underlying sense of responsibility, as if I personally killed my cats. By being poor. By being too consumed with the inertia of depression to see what was going on around me…The dark thoughts were all consuming. They were convincing and…Well, drained as I was, and as much as I didn’t want to be around people, I agreed when Mrs. R called and invited me over. I didn’t want to be there, but I also didn’t want to be alone with my thoughts and feelings of responsibility.

I’d already told her about burying 2 cats and still when I got there and I was quiet and reserved…She asked what was wrong. Um…Losing two family members isn’t enough? Then she decided we should sit outside. In 96 degree heat with stifling humidity and my sinus issue making it damn near impossible for me to breathe…Yeah, had I wanted to sweat my ass off and pant I’d have stayed home in my sweat box. Needless to say, I stayed an hour and a half. That was my max on social niceties. Especially when R’s eldest stopped by with her brood and R and his wife were all over the granddaughter, getting her out of the truck. While the little foster boy sat there and they didn’t even greet him. I thought that was rude. I get not wanting to get attached since no idea how long he will be around but damn, talk about cold. Even in my detachment from humans, I went and opened the truck door and greeted him and patted his hand. Foster kid doesn’t mean second class citizen, ffs. (Perhaps the sweet part was when the granddaughter basically bypassed the grandparents and came running to sit by me and leaned on me-kids sense evil and they sense decency, I am telling you.)

Then I came home and I was too exhausted to even feed myself or shower. I watched some crime shows then just curled up in bed. It felt so lonely without Abby curled in the corner of my neck and Arsenic purring on the pillow next to my cheek. It seems so unfathomable that they are both gone and never coming back. I’ve been dead from the depression for so long that true loss didn’t touch me…Until now. And it probably seems like I am going overboard, “they were just cats”, but…No, they were family and losing them fucking hurts. I would rewind time and do anything to save them both but since I’ve had that damned sunshine spewage force fed for months secondhand, I also wonder if this wasn’t my wake up call. To come back to being a human and having feelings other than anger. I’m fairly certain it’s hormones, every few months  I get a pms cycle where tears just pour out uncontrollably. Least this time there was good cause.

(Feet is playing with my hair as I type and also whipping me with his bushy tail and I can barely work up a smile.)

It was weird feeling so alone and lonely last night. Shady and Pantera slept with me and Panny was on a lovey-molest fest…Yet…The place feels empty. Lonely. Sad. I spent most of the night waking up to cough, drowning in the sinus stuff. And this was with 1 mg Xanax and 1.5 mg of Melatonin, I figured I’d be comatose. Scumbag brain and sinus sleazeball had other ideas.

I normally leave Spook at mom’s until noon after a sleepover but this morning, I got up and went and got her. I need the place to feel alive, I need to be with my kid. And I have this sick feeling my asshole dad is going to decide he wants to keep her tonight and I really am not ready to be alone again. I need my normal routine, anything to distract from the dark thoughts that come with depression and loss. I wish I could drape the house in garlic and crosses and build a croc filled moat with a rope bridge, maybe deter my dad. I cannot handle him right now. I didn’t even call him yesterday to tell him about Abby and Arsenic, after the way he treated me Thursday night amidst my tears. Asshole. Still not sure if he does call if I will answer the phone. Of course, it has never stopped the impromptu inconvenient pop ins. (Like Thursday when it was so hot and I was crying and they just show up and damn it, I had to put on fucking pants in a split second cos a damned phone call is too much courtesy for him to exercise.)

To my amazement…R was actually compassionate about me losing the cats. Guess my inability to turn off the tears even for his comfort spoke volumes to my grief. Though I was out in public going here and there, tears flowing, eyes red, nose running, and not one fucker in this town asked if I was okay. No, displays of emotion mean you’re psychotic, people must look away lest you are contagious.

Fuck ’em. For months I’ve not been able to shed a tear. The dam has burst, be it grief or hormones or both. I feel like me again, the me who felt loss and grief and pain. I don’t like it but it’s natural. Feeling disconnected to every emotion but hate is…not. I’d do anything to bring Abby and Arsenic back but since that is out of my control…Feeling again isn’t without its merit.

Today I am just gonna drop out and spend time with my kid and my remaining cats. In the current heatwave, not much else is feasible since I can’t breathe and all the crying has left me without much of a voice.

I let Spook make her own marker for the kitty’s grave when we got home this morning.

spook memorial to ab and ars

And this is the shit, apparently made of pegacorn horn and wings, that costs $21 a tube for ONE teaspoon full of “medication.”

advantage

Perhaps I will do one of those petitions against the company that makes Frontline flea medication for animals. $21 a tube is ridiculous. And people who can’t afford it are considered irresponsible pet owners. Makes me wonder if big pharma runs pet medication divisions, too. Had it been affordable or discounted…I can’t even bear to think about it, but this week could have had a very different, less morose ending. Unfuckingbelievable. Feed your kid or treat your pets for fleas. No matter what you choose, you’re an irresponsible something or other.

I did my best with the hand of cards I was dealt. I have a good heart. Were my brain so big. I still feel defeated.

Now…I am gonna stop before the waterworks start again.

 


Just a quickie

HiBearThis blog is a rebirth of another that was too eclectic and not accomplishing what I set out to achieve. The responses since I’ve started have been more than I expected, and I am very grateful for my readers.

The last week has been very busy, we have a wedding in the family on Sunday, and I haven’t been as actively reading other blogs as much as I intended.

My meds and utilizing my other skills seem to be helping, and I’m looking forward to starting DBT in a few days. I’ll probably report in after that.

Thank you all for reading and especially for commenting here and on Facebook, Google, and Twitter!

Tagged: miscellaneous

50 Shades of Me

This meme’s been circulating amongst the bipolar/neuro-other community.  The challenge is to find 50 odd facts about myself that (a) I haven’t already blabbed to the world in 919 posts and (b) are remotely interesting.  I’m willing to give it a whirl.  If all else fails, I’ll fabricate.

Δ Δ Δ

1. I hate chickens.  Nightmares that involve chickens rank right under nightmares about clowns.

2. I introduced myself to Senator Paul Wellstone (deceased, sadly) while we stood in line for our Thai take-out orders.  He got curry.  I got flustered.

3. Pam Donelson and I used to make up skits at recess and perform them for our third grade class after lunch.  I think Mrs. Halverson gave us free rein just so she could doze off in the back.  Come to think of it, Pam turned out to be bipolar, too…

4. A pony bit me when I was little.  Now I admire horses from afar.

Elephant-national-geographic-6902086-369-5505.  I’m not sure which I want more: to see elephants in their natural habitat or to make sure people leave them alone.

6. When I was twelve, my granny and I flew to California to visit cousins.  Years later, I realized she took me because I was despondent about my other grandmother, who had died a few months earlier.  That made her gift even more precious.

7. For a farm girl, it took me a long time to figure out how to pee outside without soaking something.

8. I saw Superman (with Christopher Reeve) in the theater 19 times.  That’s still my record.

9. I went to the first cheerleading practice in 8th grade and decided to be co-president of my junior high school instead.

10. I hate practical jokes and have been known to bloody the noses of those who prank me.  “Poor Sport!”  “Jack-ass!”

11. I joined Speech Club because I was hot for my eleventh grade English teacher (who coached us).  I won State my senior year.  Inspiration takes all forms.

angry-orchard-bottles

12.  I don’t drink much now, but my current alcoholic beverage of choice is Angry Orchard.

13.  I hate rollercoasters.  Probably because I hate to puke.  But I did ride the Matterhorn at Disney World with my ex and had fun.  That’s what I tell people anyway.

14.  I love gladioli.  Whenever I see them, I think of Gramma and her garden.

15.  On our farm growing up, the hog lot was south of the house.  Whenever a southern breeze blew through the open windows, Dad would say, “That’s the smell of money.”  And I wonder why I have a twisted sense of finance.

16.  I buy myself flowers, especially white roses.  Because I love them.  In the absence of a Valentine, be your own.

17.  I have the same attitude about children and dogs—I’m happy to pet you, just don’t slobber on me.

Hello18.  I took three years of Russian in high school and college.  Now I wish I’d taken Spanish.

19.  I played piano and saxophone, and I taught myself a teeny bit of guitar.  All past tense.  I still sing, though.  And every once in a while, someone sitting in front of me at church will turn around and tell me what a nice voice I have.  It fuels my fantasies of being a background vocalist for Sting.

20.  I dated a fireman.  He made me a latch-hook rug.

21.  In Chicago, I got locked out of my hotel room.  Security took me to the lobby because they thought I was a prostitute.

22.  I taught children in Viet Nam to sing “Old MacDonald” so they would quit staring at me.

cvlogosig-horz25323.  I’m a second-degree Reiki practitioner, learned Sacred Sound from teachers in Colorado and Boston, and had my own healing touch practice for a time.  I can “Om” the shit out of you.  Literally.

24.  In an elevator at the 1994 World Fantasy Convention, Harlan Ellison told me the short story I’d published was “beautiful writing.”  Watershed moment.

Redford25.  Farts are hilarious.  I come from a hilarious family.  My dad could never fart without a comment.  My favorite was, “Catch THAT and paint it red.”

26.  When I was a senior in high school, my best friend and I went to Iowa City to hear Robert Redford talk about the bald eagles.  At least I think that’s what he talked about.  We weren’t really listening.

27. At the height of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s popularity, Brent Spiner (Data) made a personal appearance in a small Minneapolis hotel.  My friend and I got front row seats to hear him answer questions and dish trash on the rest of the cast.  His Patrick Stewart impersonation was spot-on, but the guy was kind of a dick.

glads28.  I don’t think of myself as particularly girlie, but I tend to wear a lot of pink and coral.  They make me feel like a gladiola (see #14).

29. One of the highest compliments I ever received was at a mostly-lesbian birthday party.  A young woman said, “You’re straight?  Nah.  You’re in denial.”  I laughed.  “No.  Really.  I like men.”  She handed me a beer.  “Well, you’d make a great dyke.”

30. I don’t have a favorite color, song, movie, book, food, or celebrity.  All those joys change constantly (not counting Richard Armitage, since he’s my pretend boyfriend—not a celebrity).

31.  The first farm kitty I named was Pussywillow, a sweet little calico.

32. I love Jimmy Carter.  He’s the first president I ever voted for, so I always felt responsible for him.  What an amazing human being.

33.  When I was little, I used to drag my puppy, Rebel, out to our gravel drive and make him write his name in the soft dirt.  He didn’t like school as much as I did.

redwoods34.  Forests rather than Oceans.  I will get to the Redwoods in 2016.

35.  I taught myself to wake up out of nightmares by screaming.  It’s more of a tornado siren, starting down in the lower register and ramping up into a full screech.  My ex-husband did not appreciate this extraordinary skill, but my cats do and often join in.

36.  I flunked Art in high school.

37.  I don’t have a single piercing or tattoo.  To be fancy, in my youth, I would wear clip-on earrings, but I’m too much into comfort for those anymore.  Ditto for pantyhose and heels.  I don’t own a dress or nail polish, though I do have a little box of make-up that’s probably all past its due date.  What’s left of my jewelry is a tangled mess in an old pot.  Like I said—not girlie.

38.  I love my hair.  It’s coming in silver, not gray, and in a streaky pattern that other people pay big bucks for at salons.

shark39.  I will never go on a cruise.  One word: Jaws.

40.  My speaking voice is my best feature.  Other people comment on it from time to time.  All that speech training, I guess (see #11 & 23).  I think I’d make a great audio book talent.

41.  I have been told I’m a good driver.  I never get lost.  Taking a wrong exit or missing a street sign doesn’t constitute “lost” in my book.  I always get where I’m going and don’t get flustered in traffic.  I do tend to get tickets for not wearing my seatbelt, though.  Ironic, considering #43.

Bride Full 8042.  I loved my wedding dress.  It made me feel gorgeous (So, okay, maybe a little girlie).

43.  A drunk driver hit me one morning on the way to work.  My face went through the windshield (This was in pre-historic times before seatbelt laws).  When the plastic surgeon came to the ER (because, you know, face), I said, “Oh, good. Maybe you can do something about my chins while you’re at it.”  No reaction from the guy sewing my forehead together.  I figured flat-on-my-back comedy was maybe not my forté.

44.  First concert:  Elton John at the Ames Coliseum, 1973.

SaScDad 8545.  My brother is 6’7″.  Based on my growth as a kid, old Doc Sinning predicted I’d top out at 6’2″.  My brother also describes himself as “somewhat OCD” (lots of neuro-endocrine booby prizes in our family).  Even though I stalled at 5’5″ in fifth grade, I still found other ways to sit on our genetic joy buzzer.

46.  I’ve got mad drywall skills.  My taping and mudding rival the professionals.

Cowboys47.  When I woke up from the drunk driver accident (#43), my knees were pinned on either side of the steering wheel, and I couldn’t see because of the blood and glass.  Before panic set in, my door opened and a smooth, Texas drawl said, “Are you all right, ma’am?”  “I don’t know—do I still have my teeth?” I tried to grin in the voice’s direction.  “You look just fine,” he said.  Considering what the surgeon did later, I was probably on the nightmare side of fine.  A warm hand grabbed mine.  “I called the police.  Help’s comin’ so just hold on.  I ain’t goin’ nowhere.”  He disappeared once the ambulance came, but I still have a fondness for cowboys.

Bride&Tyler 8048.  My nephew was born a week before my wedding.  This is my favorite picture of us.  It’s a conversation-starter with people who don’t know our family.

49.  When people see my handwriting, they think I’m left-handed.  I love this because my sister, who is left-handed, taught me how to write.  It’s like I carry her around with me—sorta like a tattoo, but not.

50.  I love crossword puzzles—the harder, the better.  I do them in pen.  And while it’s fun to actually finish one, I love the feeling of leaving a bunch of blank spaces and just jumping to the next puzzle in the book.  Because fun shouldn’t be programmed for failure.

Δ Δ Δ

Ugh.  I’m all sticky with narcissism and over-sharing.  Wait, that’s one of the definitions of blogging, right?

Happy long-weekend.  You all deserve it.


World Suicide Prevention Day 2015

Light a candle on September the 10th.

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