Date Archives March 2010

Death by Doughnut

I unfriended my scale. I threw it out. We’ve never been real friends anyway. My scale was one of those fake friends who pretended like it had my best interest in mind but then acted like a catty little bitch whenever it had the chance. I heard a phrase a while ago that reminded me of my scale: People who believe in brutal honesty are often more interested in brutality than honesty. Yeah.

There was no positive reinforcement from my scale. There was no “You had a great day yesterday! You said no to birthday cake and you know that you love birthday cake!  But you didn’t take any! So here! Check out THIS number, which is reflective of the emotional sacrifice that you just endured! Yippee! Go, you!”

None of that. Instead it was more like, “You saw cake. You thought about cake. I’m going to have to charge you five pounds for that.” But I didn’t eat it! Not one crumb! “Doesn’t matter. You wanted to.”

All scales must be Catholic.

So I’m done. I don’t need that kind of judgment in my life.  

I threw out my scale once before. When I was in my early 20s I moved to New Orleans and went through some life-changing stuff — living far away from my family, getting my first “grown-up” apartment on my own and also dealing with the tiny little detail of horrible, soul-crushing betrayal and heartbreak. I hit bottom. The bottom of the bottom. At one point I sat there in my apartment and said, “You know, no one knows me here. I could just stay in my apartment and quietly go crazy and turn into an alcoholic and there’s not a soul to stop me.” And I realized that that wasn’t going to be an option for me. I chose to survive as a real member of the human race. I chose to not go running home because my romantic life blew up in my face in a spectacular fashion. And I chose to be me.

So I said to myself that if someone wanted to love me, they were going to have to take me exactly as I was, at whatever weight I was. And you know what happened? My clothes started getting looser. I had to buy smaller sizes. Friends came to visit and remarked on how great I looked. And I felt good. I had no idea what I weighed but for the first time I felt like I had a decent figure.

But I didn’t stay that way, unfortunately. A couple of up-and-down years went by and then the babies came.

I don’t need much in the way of an excuse to pig out, so pregnancy was the perfect scapegoat. One of my lowest points was after my first child was born. I was downstairs early in the morning, bleary-eyed after watching bad TV all night while nursing the baby who never stopped crying. It was 6 AM and Tom came downstairs to get ready for work. He was greeted by the sight of his disheveled wife in her giant bathrobe, nursing the baby while standing in front of the TV with the phone in one hand and the credit card in the other, ordering a $300 Pilates machine from QVC. I could actually feel the crazed, guilty look in my eyes when he came down and found me there. (Which reminds me, I need to put that gadget on Craigslist — anyone want to make me an offer?)

It took forever to lose the baby weight. I thought it couldn’t be as bad the second time around. But — you guessed it — it was worse.

However, tossing that scale back in January has been empowering. Since then, I’ve dropped one pants size. And the new pants I got two weeks ago in the new size are already too big. I don’t have to unbutton my jeans to get them off — which is sure to be useful in all kinds of situations.

Granted, it has taken me a long time to get to this point. This has taken a lot of reading and self reflection. One that I really love is called I Can Make You Thin by Paul McKenna. The very over-simplifed concept of the book is that you eat when you’re hungry. You stop when you’re full. You pay attention to what you’re eating. You fully enjoy it. You eat what you REALLY want to eat, even if it’s cake. That way, you don’t get all rebellious later and binge on stuff you’re not supposed to have. (And by “you,” I mean “me.”)

And the baggier my pants get, the more motivated I am to be aware of what I’m putting in my mouth.

For example, a few days ago I was at the car dealer for a long time. By the time they were done with my car, I was starving. I haven’t had a doughnut in a really long time (for me, anyway) and decided that that was what I really wanted. It felt like a little treat to myself and I was looking forward to enjoying it on the way home in the car BY MYSELF — no kids yapping at me, no Hannah Montana on the CD player. Just NPR, me and a coffee roll. Ah.

But about halfway through the glazed mess, I realized it didn’t taste as good as I thought it would. I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. And I also wasn’t hungry anymore. So I decided to stop. Just stop. No more eating just because there happened to be food in the vicinity. In the past, stopping would’ve required me to toss the doughnut out the window so I would be FORCED to cease and desist. But not now. So I tried to put the doughnut back in the bag. But I dropped it. Near my feet. Near the brake pedal. I got scared because when I was in college a girl died because a soda can rolled behind the brake pedal while she was driving and she plowed right into an intersection.

And that’s when I realized it: This doughnut was trying to kill me! It was like it decided that if it couldn’t take me out with its fat and sugar, it was going to find another way.

I managed to wrestle it away from the brake pedal and keep the car on the highway at the same time. I returned the evil little bastard to its bag where it couldn’t hurt anyone else. It took me a minute to catch my breath but then I had to laugh. There I was, feeling so proud of my recent weight loss success. What if I had been in a fatal accident? The police report would say, “Cause of malfunction: Glazed coffee roll under brake pedal.” (Incidentally, I drive a Toyota. I wonder if that would’ve sparked a new inquiry into the cause of Toyota’s recent defects. Perhaps Toyota owners have a higher propensity to eat — and drop — baked goods while driving.)

So I survived. To write another day. To eat another day. To live. To enjoy. To quit beating myself up! To be KIND to myself! To be loving to myself so I can be loving to others. And to share another story with you all.

Have a lovely night, peeps. Watch out for those devious doughnuts.

(NOTE ON COMMENTS: I started the blog because I wanted an easier way to look back on conversations without having to weed through the landfill of my facebook account. However, some of you have mentioned that you don’t like to login to make comments. I have twice attempted to set the blog so you can comment without logging in and both times I have gotten murdered with spam. So dear friends, I ask you to please not be afraid to comment here if there’s something you want to say. It only takes a sec to login and no one else will see your email address unless you want them to. You will not get spammed in return for your comments. And that way I can look back on our conversation and remember how smart and witty you were. And how nice your hair looked when you wrote your smart, witty comments. And how nice your breath smelled. Do you want to cuddle?)

Civil rights post: The conversation continues

Here’s another comment from “friend #1.” He emailed it to me and asked me to post it. (He actually sent this back when the conversation was still going but I was having technical difficulties and didn’t get to it until now.)

I guess the reason I get upset when I hear about picketing at a conservative Christian school is that very often people go into a situation wanting to work through the differences verbally, but then if they don’t get the end result they wanted they resort to other means, case in point, the dating site E-Harmony. E-Harmony was created by a conservative Christian named Dr. Neil Clark Warren. A few years back the dating service was sued for not offering a gay dating service. The law suit was won and E-Harmony was forced to offer a gay dating service to complement their regular/straight service. So here is a situation where a person with conservative Christian beliefs is sued and forced to offer a dating service that is in direct violation to his morals. This was not a car dealership who denied a gay person the right to buy a car, or restaurant that wouldn’t serve a gay person, or bank that wouldn’t give a gay person a loan, or hotel that wouldn’t give a gay person a room for the night, you get the point and all of which scenarios I think would be wrong by the way, this was a non-critical service started by a Christian man. He started the service based on Christian principles and going with his conscience made a dating site for men and women that ended up being successful. Again I use the same argument here that I did for the school. Was there a shortage of gay dating sites that it was necessary to sue E-Harmony to force the founder to compromise his beliefs? Far from it. There was,, Yahoo Personals, Friendfinder, Perfect Match among others that were offering services to both straight and gays. Add to that list of heavy hitters the myriad of dating services that only specifically cater to the GLBT community. So why was it exactly that E-Harmony had to be sued? This is why many conservative Christians feel that when situations arise like what happened at the school the other week that it’s only about dialogue if the person with the conservative beliefs bends. Otherwise it often seems to end up being about forcing them to bend. Religious beliefs, respect and conscience be damned! I do actually have a lot other comments regarding your response Trish from the religion angle but I’m too tired to write anymore now. 😉

There are mice on my grapes

I just bought Disney grapes. I sort of hate myself. In my defense, I didn’t realize that they were Disney brand until I was at the register.

I get distrustful when a company gets that big. Coming soon: Disney trash bags! Disney drywall! Disney multi-purpose lube!

The day I have to pull Mickey’s tail to dislodge my tampon is the day that I will buy a small tent and move into the woods… where I will make friends with small woodland creatures, who will respond to my melodic whistles and sew dresses for me.

Civil rights post: Your comments

I always notify my facebook friends when I write a new blog so sometimes I end up with a big, fat discussion thread there in addition to the comments here. Since not everyone is a facebooker, I wanted to paste some of the comments from facebook friends onto the blog so I could open the conversation to everyone. (There were some funny comments from friends that I didn’t bring over, just because there’s a lot going on here. I just kept it to the main thrust of the discussion.)
Also, sorry about the big blobs of text. I’ve been arguing with wordpress to give me space between paragraphs and I finally threw up the white flag.
From friend #1:

Why the need to picket a conservative Christian college for said beliefs as if a decidedly Christian school holding to such doctrine would be such an incredible shock to even the most hard core atheists? Is there such a shortfall in non-Christian colleges or even more liberal minded Christian colleges for people to attend where they could live as they please on campus, party hard, have loose sex and lead a life of general debauchery101 for their college experience with no ethical or moral code being expected of them? Why not simply um, now this is a radical idea I know…..not attend a school if they don’t believe what you believe? If you’re going to say it’s because it’s the civil rights issue of this century as the argument, then what you’re really saying is that conservative Christians, or anyone else who thinks that homosexuality and/or promiscuity is wrong, can only think what they think in private (sound familiar?) and can impose no restrictions on the attendees of their institutions regardless of whether it conflicts with their beliefs or not. If that’s the case, goodbye freedom of religion (and thought) and hello absolutism.

Dialogue is always important, but what if after the friendly, hopefully non-confrontational dialogue has taken place the school still wants to hold firm to its beliefs? Are they not permitted their beliefs at a private Christian school? What if I wanted to go to an Eastern Buddhist temple and I insisted that they serve meat in the cafeteria and started picketing them because they don’t serve meat? Why should I respect what they think, after all meat is tasty and good for you and besides that, they’re wrong to not eat meat aren’t they!?!

What if I started hanging with some Hindus at their temple and I kept trying to convince them to serve beef to their guests? Would that be wrong and if so, why? Is it because it’s not respectful of their beliefs? Who cares what they think, they’re just not enlightened. I want a hamburger when I visit their temple, even if there is a more liberal Hindu temple down the street that will gladly let me bring a McD’s quarter pounder in with me to worship.
As someone who is constantly espousing the virtues of independent thought Trish, I would think that you of all people would honor a person or institution’s beliefs and not say that they should be coerced into changing their moral compass for the sake of others.
From friend #2:
Re-read the blog, she never said they should be “coerced” into changing their ways, just maybe open up and listen.
From friend #1:
I understand what you’re saying Nicole. My point (long winded as it was) was based on the fact that the arguments for and against conservative Christian’s beliefs on the issue of alternative lifestyles have been hashed out a gazillion times over. Both sides of the issue know the arguments well. So to me if a particular school wants to hold to See moreconservative Christian values and then a group demands to have an audience to have their grievances heard it can only be because they are unwilling to accept and respect the schools beliefs and want them to change them. You can always have civil dialogue, but if all you can do is agree to disagree then will people be content to leave it be? I seriously doubt it because it usually doesn’t work that way.
From friend #2:
And (magnanimous me) I understand what you’re saying, just felt you were being a little hard on Trish at the end there, and it got my hackles up.
There are many, many issues where people need to agree to disagree.
My reply:
First let me take the gun out of your hand by reminding you that I wasn’t part of the protest. I was just driving my child to school.
I understand your point about going to another school where homosexuality was accepted. If it were me, I wouldn’t want to go to this school anyway. However, I’m not someone who would be inclined to apply to a Christian college in the first place. I cannot speak to why this group chose this school. <BR>
I agree that people should be free to practice their own religious beliefs. Megan and I have had many talks about how people practice different religions and we all believe different things and that’s fine. People need to practice the religion that feels right to them, or no religion at all, if that’s what they choose. You can’t make someone have faith.
I don’t believe that there’s one “correct” religion and that everyone else is doomed. I think it’s the Hindus who say that there are many paths to God, which is how I feel about it. A book I recently read called Fingerprints of God looks at religious experience among different faiths and discusses how religion and science intertwine. When looking at near-death experience, people in every religion report nearly identical phenomena. The author describes this as a wagon wheel — we all pick the spoke we want to travel to get to the center but we all ultimately end up in the same place.
Now I understand that some Christian groups believe that the Bible tells them that homosexuality is an abomination. You and I are going to have a disconnect here because I do not view the Bible the way that you do. I think that there’s some good stuff in there — some great stuff, even — but I also think that it’s a book that has been politicized and used for various power plays over time. I cannot entirely trust that everything in there is the word of God. But for people who hold a certain interpretation of the Bible as the foundation of their beliefs, I understand that it’s not a cafeteria deal — you have to swallow the entire menu.
Which leads me to another question: Isn’t the Bible filled with stories of Jesus opening his arms to lepers, prostitutes, tax collectors and other disenfranchised people? I can’t imagine Jesus sitting in front of a church and refusing entry to anyone. I think Jesus would say something along the lines of, “You’ve come here to this college because you want to learn what we’re teaching. Great. Have a seat.” That’s my takeaway from the Bible, at least.
I do respect the fact that this college has a set of beliefs that they adhere to, even though I don’t agree with them. I respect that we live in a country that allows for this disagreement. As far as having a dialogue, both sides may know that they will have to agree to disagree at the end of the day. But that doesn’t mean that there is no value in having the conversation.
For example, my father-in-law and I agree on practically nothing related to politics and religion. However, we discuss these topics all the time and I think that we both often walk away having learned something. Our edges become softened a bit. Our misconceptions of what the “other side” thinks are often surprising to both of us. So it’s useful to sit down at the dinner table across from someone with vastly different beliefs and attempt to get to know that person as a person, rather than a collection of opposing views. It puts a face on the argument. Then, instead of vilifying the person for their beliefs, you can perhaps understand their struggle and their frame of reference a little bit. This can be difficult and uncomfortable sometimes but extremely useful.
I believe that homosexuality is something that you are born with — and I’ve had many conversations with gay people that back this up. There was no moment of “choice,” it’s just the way that they always were. I actually have one gay friend who appears to be happily un-closeted and in a 10-year “marriage” who says that, given the choice, he never would’ve been gay. “Who would choose this?” he says.
So I have a hard time imagining that a loving God would create someone with blue eyes and then condemn all blue-eyed people. This next one is an admittedly rotten analogy, but I also don’t think God would create someone with legs that didn’t work and then condemn that person for not walking. So in my open-mindedness that you referred to, I have a real problem with any religion teaching that any person is lesser than another.
Another issue where I think we differ is that I do think gay rights is a civil rights issue. If you substitute the word “black” or “woman” into the issues that gays are currently fighting for, the argument looks very clear to me: This is a group of people who are being discriminated against. If there is truly a separation of church and state in this country, then there is no reason that gays shouldn’t be able to have a legally recognized marriage. Different faiths can tackle the issue as they please but from a purely governmental stance, I think we need to stop this form of discrimination.
Whew. I hope I covered everything. Thanks to everyone for your comments and I invite more if you’d like to chime in.


Civil rights update and some other crap

Just wanted to let you all know that there was nothing going on with the protestors when I arrived to pick up Megan today. Cops everywhere. Protestors nowhere. We even went looking for them and didn’t see anyone. Apparently they wrapped things up earlier in the day. I’m going to touch base with some of my nosier mom contacts next week and try to get the gossip on it.

I have a little disclaimer about the college in question. I don’t know for sure if they would refuse admission to a gay student, but apparently the handbook states that homosexuality is against the rules. Promiscuity is also against the rules. And that, I think, may be the real shame in all of this. I know some people who wouldn’t be where they are today if they hadn’t had the opportunity to major in gluttonous, rampant sex during their college years.

Also, I just reread my loooooong post and want to thank everyone who hung in there for it. I got a bit sidetracked on the circus stuff — I love any excuse to tell a circus story — but I’m afraid I was a bit windbaggy about it for our purposes today. (Hmm. Windbaggy. Did I just create a new word?) Anyway, I have lots of fun circus stories and I imagine most of them will make it onto the old bloggity blog eventually. So stay tuned for that.

Thank you for your attention. This blog was brought to you today by Windbaggy Productions.

Your civil rights are disrupting the flow of traffic

 So here’s what’s going on today: I have sent my daughter to school despite the fact that there are going to be real, actual gay people roaming the school campus. I know that homosexuals will be present because the school sent a note home about it.

Perhaps I should explain: My daughter’s school is located on the campus of a Christian college. Her school and the college aren’t affiliated in any way other than the landlord/lessee relationship. Today a gay rights group is planning to protest outside the college. The school sent a notice home letting us know that this would be happening, assuring us that it should in no way affect the school other than rerouting us for pickup/dropoff and that there would be increased security to keep things under control.

Some parents have opted to keep their children home — not because it’s a gay rights group but because they are worried about the potential for violence in any protest. Tom and I talked about it, decided that we were comfortable with the way the school was handling things and proceeded as usual.  But I will admit to a wee bit of trepidation.

I hope by now that my liberal cred has been established. If not, let me state unequivocally that I believe that absolutely every citizen in this country should be extended the same rights and freedoms as every other citizen. Gay rights are extremely important to me as I have a gay cousin as well as many gay friends. (The other post I wrote about gay marriage was supposed to satirical, in case that wasn’t clear.)

But I have some complicated thoughts on what’s going down today . My child is very observant. She likes to ask big questions. I have vowed to myself that I will always be honest with my children when they ask me things. I try to keep in mind some advice my mom gave me regarding complicated questions: Only answer what is asked. So, for example, Megan knows that it takes a daddy and a mommy to make a baby. We haven’t gotten into the logistics yet and right now that’s enough for her. But when the day arrives that she starts drilling for more specific information (and that day very nearly came last week — yes, I was terrified), I will tell her. There will be no storks involved. And yes, we’ve talked about families with two mommies because she brought it up a few weeks ago. I’ll swing at the pitches as they come.

So for this protest I thought about what she would need to know as it related to her school day. There might be noise. There might be people with signs. There might be police. I decided to start there and see where the conversation took us. True to form, Megan had a million “but why” questions for each statement I made.

Why are people going to be in the park? They’re having an event there. What kind of event? It’s something called a protest. Sometimes people do that in this country when they’re unhappy about something. What are they unhappy about? They’re unhappy about something with the college. It doesn’t have anything to do with your school. But what are they unhappy about, mommy? Remember how you asked me before about why some kids have two mommies instead of a mom and a dad? That’s called being gay or homosexual. The college doesn’t let gay people go there. Why not? That doesn’t seem very nice. I know, honey. (And then I couldn’t help myself.) You know, I have a lot of gay friends and I think that gay people should be allowed to do absolutely everything that everyone else does. But not everyone thinks that.

And then, I admit, I took her little question train and pointed it in another direction. Finding answers to questions about Biblical interpretation and civil rights that would satisfy a 6-year old’s very definite sense of what is fair (something kids this age spend a LOT of time thinking about)  was a tall order during the drive to school.

Now here’s where my trepidation comes in.

I used to work for Ringling Bros. I was a promoter, which meant that I was part of the advance team who marketed the show.  When the circus or one of the Disney on Ice shows (which are owned by the same company) came into a promoter’s territory, it was the promoter’s job to be at the building to handle show/arena relations, deal with the box office and make sure that all of the marketing/public relations stuff was running as it should.

In the case of the circus, promoters also had to help get the animals from the circus train to the arena. And since you can’t fit an elephant herd on a truck, you walk. In New York City (where I had my promoter apprenticeship) the circus train parks in Queens and then you walk the animals through the Midtown Tunnel (which is closed to traffic) and down the streets of Manhattan to Madison Square Garden.

The first year I got to do this was, of course, very exciting. I kept wondering what crazy drug I had taken to wind up with an elephant herd in the Queens/Midtown Tunnel at midnight on a freezing winter night. It was quiet inside the tunnel and we were moving pretty fast — those elephants are more nimble than they look.  As we neared the Manhattan side, there was a buzz that got louder and louder. When we exited the tunnel the noise from the crowd just about knocked me back.  Most of the people were cheering. Some were throwing bagels to the elephants. And some were holding signs that didn’t say very nice things about how Ringling supposedly treated animals. These people were also yelling, but so was everyone else so you couldn’t really hear them.

We stopped for a quick photo-op as a clown rode an elephant through the toll booths (complete with a giant EZ PASS card — can Ringling stage a photo-op or what?) and then we resumed our march. And the protesters came along.

A group of them walked along the streets with us, shouting at us block after block. There were Ringling employees on either side of the animal line. We were supposed to walk alongside and keep people from getting near the animals. I was on the left side near the front. And so was Mr. Angry Protest Man. And Mr. Angry Protest Man was doing his damnedest to get close to that elephant. I asked him to step back. He ignored me. He got closer. I asked him to step back again. He ignored me. Again and again. I think at one point I actually did touch him to keep him back but I didn’t shove him or anything. And in trying to back him up, I was probably also getting closer to the animals than I should’ve been. This went on the ENTIRE animal walk until we got to the ramp at Madison Square Garden. And by the time it was over I was fuming, steaming, pissed off. Now I am not a violent person. I’m a big wimpy creampuff. Physical confrontations scare me. But I was furious and I wanted to kick that guy’s ass.

Ever since then I’ve viewed protests in a different light. I now understand how things can get out of hand. It’s not always about the issue, even. Sometimes it’s just a matter of physical space and aggression. Emotions run high. Some people arrive with the goal of a confrontation. Shit happens.

Knowing all of that, I sent Megan to school anyway.

I checked out the activist group’s Web site first, which says that they are committed to non-violence, but will engage in civil disobedience if certain organizations refuse to have a dialogue with them. In that case, I hope that they are sincere in wanting an actual dialogue and not just making a spectacle. Their press release states: “The organizers of the Equality Ride use a collaborative approach, writing to college administrators months in advance and inviting them to work together to design programming that examines diverse points of view—including points of view that affirm lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer students.”

So I hope that’s true. I hope the college chooses to hear the protesters, despite all of the extra “No Trespassing” signage that has appeared in the past few days. I hope they invite them right into the chapel so that they can all ask for God’s blessing together. I can’t claim to have a preferred line to the great beyond, but I believe that’s what Jesus would do. My father-in-law, who is an extremely conservative Baptist and one of my favorite people to talk to, has a great philosophy for dealing with people who angrily disagree with him. He says, “First you take the gun out of their hands.” Basically, you do that by listening. By asking. By inviting conversation. By earning respect by showing respect. It’s not always easy and even my mild-mannered father-in-law  has his hot buttons but it’s important to try.

I am sure that today will be a springboard for many, many future conversations with Megan. I’m not sure what I will find when I arrive to pick her up very shortly, but I know this day has already prompted a lot of thought and conversation among the parents.

Must dash now. Hope this isn’t too unintelligible — no time to proof right now!