Saturday, December 31, 2005

You Make Me Laugh

Mother gave me an early birthday present a few days ago: a collection of eight Woody Allen films on DVD. I nearly shrieked when she gave it to me. I was quite surprised, too. It was not a gift that I saw coming, and it's not like Woody has been on my mind lately. Occasionally, about every three months or so, I walk around the house complaining that I'm craving a Woody Allen movie, but it passes. I never thought to buy any; I figured I would just catch them when they're on T.V.

Last night/this morning I watched Annie Hall. That, and Manhattan, are the only two in the collection I have seen. (My favorite, Hannah and Her Sisters, and a few others that I love are not in the collection, but that is okay because now I get to see movies I haven't seen before.) So great. It was kind of sad, because I'm not sure I was in the mood to watch a movie about an unsuccessful relationship. Many of his movies, while funny, are depressing because they're realistic. People break up. He wonders about the meaning of life, and what will happen when we die. Even though I'm not a man, I'm not Jewish, and I didn't come of age decades ago, I can relate to a lot of the things he says. That's why I love his work, even more than for its humor. Once while I was rambling to Mentor, he laughed and said to me, "You're so insecure. You're like a female Woody Allen." I took it as a grand compliment. But that's just me.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Oh! Darling

Hello everyone. Four days without blogging feels like sore neglect to me. And I missed another HNT. Geez Louise.

Anyway, I have been spending my time with Boyfriend. I got to meet his sister earlier in the week, which was great because, while he has spent plenty of time with most of the nutjobs who share my last name, she was the first family member of his that I have ever met. (His parents don't live in the U.S.) Naturally, I was pretty nervous, but it went well. She has a sharp wit, and in addition to being funny, she kept making pointed feminist comments. What was not to like? He had told me before I met her that she was a bit like the Traveler, and she did remind me of her a lot.

She has gone home now - she lives in another state - so it's just us. We have been planning my birthday party, actually. (Next week, in addition to being our 6-month anniversary, commemorates my twenty-two years on this planet.) I am so excited about it. At first, I was afraid that few people would come, because so many of my friends are either not in the state or not even in the country at this time of year. However, ten people have said that they are coming, and there might be a few more, so I'm happy. Seems like a good number.

Boyfriend has been helping me so much with the planning. He's the best. Last night, we were taking a walk together, and we passed the gargantuan library on whose steps we had our first kiss. He reminded me of this, and as we passed the exact spot, he leaned over and kissed me again as if to honor the memory. We resumed walking and I thought to myself, "How did I get so lucky?"

I'm going to cry when he leaves. As usual.

Monday, December 26, 2005

You Light Up My Life

Well, Christmas was not as devastating as I thought it would be. I had been laying around my house, practically comatose, playing the World's Biggest Asshole because I didn't want to celebrate Christmas this year. I had a good reason - a traumatic event happening around the holidays is enough to put a damper on all the festivities - but Mother told me to suck it up because I have small siblings and we had to make it a good Christmas for them. And it did actually turn out to be a lot of fun. Yes, it was depressing to visit Father in the nursing home, but there were other memorable moments.

Sister got me some really cool presents: a pair of fuzzy, blue socks with a walrus on them (a Magical Mystery Tour reference, she says), Aurora Leigh by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (she attributes this gift to performing an eBay search for 'feminist' and 'poetry' and buying the first thing that came up), some girly shower gels, and a Vincent Van Gogh calendar (I heart him).

Kid Sisters gave me a small candle that they purchased at their school holiday fair. Kid Sister #1 handed it to me, wrapped, and exclaimed, "Here! It's a candle!"

Sister's Boyfriend gave me the nicest little Buddha statue ever. I love it.

Mother gave me many things, but I am going to list the most memorable. No, I'm not referring to the pair of leather gloves that she deemed appropriate for her vegetarian daughter. I'm talking about the two items that came from a website that allows you to put a picture on anything.

A few weeks ago I received a nice surprise thanks to this website. My mother thought it would be amusing to put the image of me holding two beers (this one) on a t-shirt with a caption that reads, "Read About It In My Blog." I swear, she did. When I didn't exhibit the reaction she anticipated (I burst into hysterical laughter, but not in the genuine way she had hoped), she said, "Oh, you don't get it." I said, "Oh, but I do." She tries so hard.

After that, I made her swear not to give me Christmas presents with my face on them.

She decided that she would do that, just to spite me.

I received a pillow with a picture of Boyfriend and myself on it, and - even better - a light switch plate with our picture and the words You Light Up On My Life on it.

I swear I'm not making this up.

I have never laughed so hard in my entire life.

Merry Christmas to me.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

...and whatever else you celebrate!! :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Come Together

So busy the past few days. Boyfriend came the other night, so that has been fun. We played a game with Sister, her boyfriend, and Mother called Imaginiff, and it's supposed to show you how well you know the other players. So the guys were hesitant about playing, hehe. Sister seemed to know me the best. At one point, the question was about me, and it was something about what I love the most. Sister's Boyfriend began reading the six choices: 1. Television. 2. Book. Instantly, without allowing him to finish, everyone held up their number 2 card and laughed.

The Traveler came on Sunday night and stayed until Monday night. Poor Traveler. Every time she visits me (which is only a handful of times a year because we have not lived in the same city since we were sixteen), I am either exhausted or coming out of a nap or fall asleep while she's here. Sunday night was no exception. I took a short nap at around 10:00 p.m. and Boyfriend woke me up when she arrived. I stumbled to the door, half-asleep, and gave her a big hug that was part I'm-Happy-To-See-You and part Please-Help-Me-Not-Fall-Over. After that, however, I sufficiently woke up. We stayed up until about 3:30 a.m., yakking and yakking and yakking. We played Imaginiff and reminisced about high school and laughed a lot. It was great.

The following day, Mother, the Traveler and I found ourselves in my old neighborhood. We had lunch at a diner that I used to go to all the time. I mean, my family used to take me as a kid, then as a teenager I went with Sister and friends, we even had dinner there after my high school graduation. It was strange to be there again, because it has been three and a half years since we moved and I haven't been there in even longer. We told the Traveler our timeless story of the time my parents were eating there and they overheard a busboy getting fired. The busboy wouldn't leave, and they had to bring the police in to escort him out. My parents always did a funny impression of the busboy, pleading, "But why? Why??"

Today I handed in two papers and a take-home final. I also took my Italian final. By the end of the day I was feeling relieved, but not very good, if you know what I mean. (I'm still not, but whatever. Such is life.) The good thing is, Sister asked me if I could take her shopping. We wound up going to the mall together and having a great time. I had nonfat ice cream, she stood on the second level and rained pennies down upon the head of her adversary who works at a stand on the first level (I supplied the pennies), we did a little Christmas shopping. I love my sister to death.

That reminds me, I really fucked up Christmas shopping this year. I still haven't bought anything for Mother or Sister, and the whole shopping online window is closed by now. I'm totally not into the holidays - if anything, they are upsetting me - but since everyone has insisted on buying me something, I need to reciprocate, dammit! I recruited Sister to do most of my shopping for me because she loves that stuff (I swear, we are Maggie and Rose from In Her Shoes), but it would be tacky to ask her to buy her own present.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Oh Happy Day

Last night I went to yoga class, and I was the only one who showed up. So I got a personal session with the instructor. At first I thought, Oh no, all this personal attention on how I do is really going to suck. But it was great. That woman KICKED MY ASS. It was much harder than the other classes I have been to, taught by the same instructor. At one point, she told me to try something, and she said, "This is tough. I only do this with the young, svelte girls." I thought to myself, Svelte? Ha ha.

As Fellow Seeker put it in a text message to me the other day - and I just love him for this - the advent of Boyfriend is upon us. Hee hee. He's flying in tonight!! :)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Messed Up

Happy HNT. I kept forgetting about it so I haven't done one in a while. That, and I ran out of ideas. This is one of two shots I took for my Thanksgiving HNT. But, since I will still be doing some baking for the remaining holidays, and since this post is all about food and nutrition, I decided to use it.

Yesterday I went to see Nutritionist. I didn't really want to since I had done nothing right since the last time I saw her three weeks ago, but whatever. I went. I told myself that I wasn't going to have her weigh me, but curiosity got the better of me. I'm back up 2.5 pounds. So, in two months, I have lost a grand total of 2 pounds! I'm so proud. *Rolls eyes* Whatever, I deserved this. I always manage to fuck it up somehow.

She was very encouraging and offered me some helpful tips and all that. She told me, however, that I can't do this until I'm ready to do it. She said, "I know you want to, but you have to ask yourself if you're ready to." One of the handouts she gave me said that if you are going through a lot of changes, or just a lot of drama in your life, you should put off making the major diet/exercise changes because it will be too much for you and you'll be setting yourself up for failure. I think that the changes made me feel better, and I would like to try again, but I'm also not going to beat myself up for any mistakes I make. And that whole sweets ban was a joke. I mean, really. *Laughs* But I'm cutting down. Yesterday the only cookie I ate was a Slimfast one that looked like a doggie biscuit with chocolate chips in it. Yum.

Nutritionist made me promise to go at the beginning of next semester, regardless of how well or badly I've done. I said to her, "I came today, didn't I?"

I finished The Fat Girl's Guide to Life. She has won me over; I got hooked on the book somewhere in the middle. It has been enjoyable, and I could relate to a lot of what she said. The most success this book has had for me was getting me to think, Why am I so hard on myself all the time? (e.g. earlier in this post). It's a start.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A Long December

Recent spiritual happenings:

1. I have been listening to Christian music in the car. I haven't listened to it in ages, but for some reason, I don't want to listen to anything else. I played Todd Agnew's "Grace Like Rain" about thirty times in the past three days.

2. I began rereading C.S. Lewis's A Grief Observed. Those of you who were around last April may remember the first time I read this book, and the profound effect it had upon me. It is different the second time around, but is still very powerful. I realized something about Lewis while rereading this one. He is the only author that I can think of at the moment whom I look at as a friend. I know that sounds weird; it sounds weird to me as I type it. I can't really explain it. Those of you who love books may know what I'm talking about. I have heard avid readers refer to certain books as "friends," and I totally understand that. But it seems that I have such a deep fondness for and connection to Lewis that no matter which book of his that I pick up, it is like reconnecting with someone close to me. I love that feeling. I also think that A Grief Observed is my favorite of his because it's the least preachy and the most intimate. Maybe I should read his letters? Would they be similar? I wonder.

3. I have been dying to go to church. I don't know why. I don't know what I expect to find there. I just really have a strong desire to go. I would like to go to the Episcopalian church Fellow Seeker and I used to go to because I feel the most comfortable there. He, however, doesn't want to go there anymore. He said that he would go to church with me, but I worry that our paths are finally diverging. (I was amazed at how we traveled alongside each other for so long, but I guess that couldn't last.) I am missing something in my life, looking for it in spirituality in general if not the church, and at the same time, he is so angry at God. I completely understand those feelings, have had them myself, but not at the moment. So where do the two of us go from here?

4. I told Sister about a paper I am writing on spirituality, and upon hearing some of it, she asked, "So what, are you an agnostic now?" I said, "I don't know," and she jokingly shouted out, "Moooommmm, she's an agnostic!" I rolled my eyes at her. "I said, 'I don't know.'" She said, "That's what it means to be an agnostic." And I realized that she was right.

5. Future Priest gave me an early Christmas/birthday present today, which was really sweet of him. He gave me a book entitled "Blessed Among All Women: Women Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time," as well as a beautiful little journal that his cousin brought back from Italy. Both were incredibly thoughtful and well-suited for me. Thanks F.P.! You are wonderful.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Give It Up

I'm thinking of giving up sweets. I'm serious.

I know this is a really bad time to do it (with the holidays and all) but I would like to approach this in the same way I approached vegetarianism. I decided to not eat meat for 21 days, because that amount of time forms a habit. I don't eat fried foods, like, at all anymore either. So, can I go 21 days without cookies and cake and brownies and chocolate and cinnamon Pop-Tarts?

I got the idea while watching the Vicar of Dibley. It was the Easter episode, and the Vicar gave up chocolate for Lent. Sweets have been the bane of my existence since I live in a fucking gingerbread house (thanks to my mother). There might as well be sugar coming out of the walls.

I will make an exception for decaf coffee with exotic creamers because I really, really like that and lite creamer doesn't have a lot of calories/fat. Also, I'm allowed a small taste of my Pecan Slop, because that's a tradition and I don't want the world to come to an end. (Maybe I should allow myself a tiny taste of holiday sweets, but not actual pieces or portions? Hmm.)

This is not even about weight loss; it's about my health. My grandmother (the evil one who called me fat) has diabetes. My mother's blood sugar is high, so she has decided that it's a good idea to personally not eat sweets anymore but to continue buying it for the rest of us in the house. *Bangs head into wall* I don't want to die, so I think the cookies have to go.

And, you know, I am finally starting to relate to Wendy Shanker, the author of The Fat Girl's Guide to Life. Just read this:

"All the ass-backward diets . . . I can't smell a beet without feeling faint because of the diet when I just ate beets, hot dogs, and vanilla ice cream for three days straight" (78).
Oh my God, I so did that diet... at least ten times. It was disgusting. (Cynic, remember Dr. Bubba?? I bet he wasn't even a doctor.)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

"Church Going" by Philip Larkin

Once I am sure there's nothing going on
I step inside, letting the door thud shut.
Another church: matting, seats, and stone,
And little books; sprawling of flowers, cut
For Sunday, brownish now; some brass and stuff
Up at the holy end; the small neat organ;
And a tense, musty, unignorable silence,
Brewed God knows how long. Hatless, I take off
My cycle-clips in awkward reverence,

Move forward, run my hand around the font.
From where I stand, the roof looks almost new -
Cleaned, or restored? Someone would know: I don't.
Mounting the lectern, I peruse a few
Hectoring large-scale verses, and pronounce
'Here endeth' much more loudly than I'd meant.
The echoes snigger briefly. Back at the door
I sign the book, donate an Irish sixpence,
Reflect the place was not worth stopping for.

Yet stop I did: in fact I often do,
And always end much at a loss like this,
Wondering what to look for;
wondering, too,
When churches fall completely out of use
What we shall turn them into, if we shall keep
A few cathedrals chronically on show,
Their parchment, plate and pyx in locked cases,
And let the rest rent-free to rain and sheep.
Shall we avoid them as unlucky places?

Or, after dark, will dubious women come
To make their children touch a particular stone;
Pick simples for a cancer; or on some
Advised night see walking a dead one?
Power of some sort or other will go on
In games, in riddles, seemingly at random;
But superstition, like belief, must die,
And what remains when disbelief has gone?
Grass, weedy pavement, brambles, buttress, sky,

A shape less recognisable each week,
A purpose more obscure. I wonder who
Will be the last, the very last, to seek
This place for what it was;
one of the crew
That tap and jot and know what rood-lofts were?
Some ruin-bibber, randy for antique,
Or Christmas-addict, counting on a whiff
Of gown-and-bands and organ-pipes and myrrh?
Or will he be my representative,

Bored, uninformed, knowing the ghostly silt
Dispersed, yet tending to this cross of ground
Through suburb scrub because it held unspilt
So long and equably what since is found
Only in separation - marriage, and birth,
And death, and thoughts of these - for which was built
This special shell? For, though I've no idea
What this accoutred frowsty barn is worth,
It pleases me to stand in silence here;

A serious house on serious earth it is,
In whose blent air all our compulsions meet,
Are recognised, and robed as destinies.
And that much never can be obsolete,
Since someone will forever be surprising
A hunger in himself to be more serious,
And gravitating with it to this ground,
Which, he once heard, was proper to grow wise in,
If only that so many dead lie round.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Losing A Whole Year

This morning I wake up earlier than I have to, as usual. I feel around the bed for my cat, but she has abandoned me during the night. I climb the stairs, out of my basement bedroom, and find an empty house. Everyone is asleep.

I shower and make coffee and sit down at the computer desk in order to write in my journal. I can't remember what the date is, so I glide the cursor over the time on the lower right hand corner of the computer screen. Friday, December 09, 2005. I get a knot in my stomach. Fuck, it's the 9th. One year.

I write about a page of bullshit in the journal and then go into the living room and stretch out on the couch. The house is silent and from where I lay, I can see the front door. I think to myself, This is exactly the position I was in when the police pounded on the door. Sister was at the computer; she answered the door. Mother was upstairs; she rushed down. Gasps. Mouths agape. Mother says to me, "You have to come with me!" I panic and offer to watch kid sisters instead. "Is it serious?" she asks them. "Ma'am, we wouldn't be here." Door slams. I collapse into tears as soon as it does.

I stop daydreaming and begin to get ready for school. I don't have any absences left; I must go. I shovel a path in front of the house, clean the snow off of my car, start her up, and drive off. I'm driving for about fifteen minutes before I break down. Tears stream down my face. Damn it.

I get on campus and pull into the parking lot. I sit in the car and look around, still crying. I write a note to Professor G., explaining that I can't come to class because it's one year. I cry all the way across campus, hoping I don't run into anyone I know. I approach the door to his office, the one with the photos of Bob Dylan and George Harrison on it, and slip the note underneath.

I intend to make the trip to see Fellow Seeker, but know I shouldn't go MIA without letting Mother know. I drive home. No one is surprised to see me; no one asks why I'm not at school. I am just in time to drive Kid Sisters #1 and #2 to school. So I do. Sister comes with me. After we drop them off, I ask her if she wants to go have lunch.

We sit in a diner and she makes me laugh. She reads the menu in disgust: "Why the fuck do they do this? A crisp salad? Makes me want to puke reading that." "The soup is hearty? Ugh. I don't want it anymore." I laugh because she's not trying to be funny; she is actually serious. I convince her that her salad will most definitely be wilted, not crisp, and that this is only marketing. We spend an hour talking about our boyfriends, our frustrations with Mother, our future plans, and our childhoods. I feel a lot better.

We pick the girls up from school and I drop them all off at home. I travel for about an hour and a half to see F.S. He finds me browsing an outdoor holiday market, looking at over-priced items and trying not to get my socks wet. We spend about an hour together, just walking around and talking. Then we go and see The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

I am into the movie for the first half, enjoying it very much. After that, the Christian allegory starts getting to me. It's really depressing the hell out of me, and I can't enjoy it anymore. It's weird. It's an all-around strange night for spirituality, because Fellow Seeker is in rare form with his antagonism towards God. He starts to frighten me, and that's hard to do! He tells me that he doesn't really believe in God anymore, because it seems like we have given God all of His attributes. I agree in the sense that God seems awfully human, and I feel that we ascribe characteristics to Him ourselves. I will even admit that I don't know for sure whether or not God exists. But I am not yet at the point where I can say that I don't think He does. We are with two other people at the movie theater, and after hearing F.S. rant a bit, one of them says to him, laughing, "Man, you are going straight to hell." F.S. takes pride in this, asserting that yes, he and I are. I tell them, "I like the way he says we."

The entire day was not bad; there were some parts of it that were okay. My eyes, however, kept playing tricks on me. My mind traveled backwards and I imagined Father walking through the door, coming home from work. While on the bus, I passed a house that used to belong to relatives of ours, and I could see Father and I playing catch outside. I saw him playing with Kid Sisters. I saw him brushing past me and opening the refrigerator. He doesn't do those things anymore.

Today was hard because he is not better yet. It was hard because all year long, I still held onto the hope that one morning I would wake up, and find that none of it had happened. But it has been one year - one year - and I haven't woken up yet. There will never be a time in which this has not happened. I also wonder why everyone else has been able to come to terms with it, but I still have not. Mother and Sister wish I would just get over it so that I could visit him more. Everybody thinks that, they just don't say it. I'm selfish, I should just suck it up and go. Nobody thinks that perhaps this is greater than me. People think that because I still get good grades and don't do anything too crazy, that I'm fine.

I'm not fine.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Fat Bottomed Girls

I have been having a very good week! Yesterday I met with my advisor from the English Department, Dr. G., so that she could interview me for a spring internship position in their Women's Program. I have not heard much about the program or its activities, but when Professor G. (a different English Professor, confusing, I know) made an announcement in class about the internship, I jumped on it. There are two internships, and they were mainly intended for people who major in Women's Studies, but since they involve mostly writing and communications, I inquired anyway. Dr. G. told me that she sees no reason why I cannot get English (writing) credit for it, if I get the internship. So yesterday, she interviewed me for it.

Because she is my advisor, I have met with her about three times before. Actually, I once asked her if she had some time to discuss graduate school with me, and she was nice enough to engage in a lengthy discussion with me on the subject. I really like her a lot.

She told me about the activities this program has sponsored and, Wow! They have put on a production of the Vagina Monologues to raise money for women who were victims of domestic violence, had lectures with inspiring speakers, and recently had an event on women in the sciences (I interjected, "Because of what the Harvard president said?" and she laughed and said, "Exactly."). The more she told me about the program, the more excited I got. And by the end of the interview, she had said at least three times, "I can't officially offer you the job today, but all I can say is you don't have to worry. Come back next week and I'll give you the forms to fill out." Yay! :)

Today Fellow Seeker sent me a text message, asking me what I was up to. I told him that I was compromising my feminist principles and getting my eyebrows waxed. I drove over to the ol' salon and asked if the woman who always does them (a.k.a. the Ripper) would have time to do them. She always does. I asked the woman at the front desk, who asked the Ripper, and when the Ripper saw me, she said, "Oh yes! That's my client. That's my girl! Hello honey!" The Ripper is a Russian woman with a thick accent and bright red dyed hair. She is probably in her forties. I started to follow her into the waxing room when she glanced down at the rest of me and gasped. "You lost weight!" I was startled. "I did?" Hadn't I gained it back? She said yes and asked me what I've been doing. "Um... working out." She looked proud. I felt guilty for being pleased. Yes, I look thinner, even just a little bit. Yes! I thought about all the things I wrote here and all the thoughts I have on the subject and wanted to smack myself.

I got into the room and laid down, bracing myself for the pain (I'm such a big baby). I pointed to the two monsters over my eyes and said, "They're out of control." She said, "I haven't seen you in a while. Oh well. We will get you back to your beautiful self." Once again, I thought of my recent blog post on superficial beauty and cringed.

I had planned to grab a slice of pizza or something else that's quick but relatively lethal before class, but after she made that comment about my weight, I knew I couldn't. I drove all the way to the mall so that I could get a Japanese vegetarian dish. As I sat at a table, eating my tasteless vegetables and noodles, drinking orange-flavored seltzer even though I hate it because it has no calories and reading Body Outlaws, I thought to myself, You know what would go really well with this? A cookie. And I got one. I am hopelessly human.

Thanks to the wonderful process of ordering library books online to be delivered to your local library, I finally picked up the copy of The Fat Girl's Guide to Life that I have been looking for all week. My fellow ambassador told me she was reading it; she said it was funny and just great. I have been reading it, and I have to say, it is neither for me so far. I can relate to a ton of what she says and how she feels, and I see where she's going with the book, I really do, but... I dunno. It's not doing it for me. It's a whole stop-hating-yourself-for-being-fat-and-accept-that-you-are-wonderful-even-though-you're-fat message. And, maybe I am really ingrained with social conventions and standards, but I can't embrace that, at least not this early on in the book. I keep taking offense at her calling me, the reader, fat. How stupid am I? I'm reading a book entitled The Fat Girl's Guide to Life but I want the author to be P.C. with me? Geez Louise. All I know is the book was depressing me.

Farewell and Goodnight

There are places I remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Body Language

I'm reading a great book and I can't put it down: Body Outlaws: Young Women Write About Body Image and Identity. It's all about confronting the bullshit female beauty paradigm. It's a collection of writings by different authors, and some of the titles include: "My Brown Face," "Klaus Barbie, and Other Dolls I'd Like To See" (which deems Barbie the most successful piece of Aryan propaganda since the Nazi regime), "Memoirs of a (Sorta) Ex-Shaver," "Breaking the Model," and "Sizing Myself Up: Tales of a Plus-Size Model." Can't you just see why I love it?

The things that pisses me off most about reading works of this nature is because the message of it never sinks in. I have gone through this cycle before. After reading Jennifer Weiner's Good in Bed, I walked around ready to say "Fuck you!" to anyone who didn't appreciate the beauty of a large woman. But it didn't last. Momentary flashes of confidence were never a match for other, more potent encounters, such as the time my mother's mother came to visit.

This is a grandmother that I rarely see. We have been in the same room 5-6 times that I can remember. She came over a year or two ago, and as slender Sister and I were standing next to each other, Grandmother said to her, "You are certainly catching up to your sister in height," then smiled at me and said, "but not in weight." Sister shot me a look of horror. I just took it in stride, and refrained from attacking the woman who was, ironically enough, larger than me. She went on to note that Sister has a beautiful figure and takes after her side of the family, while I am "stocky like Daddy."

Yes, it was some time ago and no, I do not cry over it at night, but I think that moments like that create small, invisible scars that you never really get rid of. Stephanie Klein, the blogger who has been called the real-life Carrie from Sex and the City, mentions this in some of her posts. She used to be overweight, and even now, when she looks like a real-life Botticelli's Venus de Milo (if not thinner), she still has baggage from her era of chunkiness. (Check out this particular post, and you'll see what I mean.)

And what does it say about me that whenever I read her blog I think to myself, I would kill for hair like that! But, I digress.

I think this is an appropriate book for me to read at this time, when I am stressing over Boyfriend's impending arrival and the very good possibility that I have gained back the 4.5 pounds I lost since I last saw him. Cerebrally, I know how stupid that is, but who can be cerebral about these matters? I'm also planning to get these eyebrow rebels ripped out, not just for him but so that I can show my face in daylight.

And sometimes I stop and think, what am I doing?

I know that the Traveler is going to comment on this post, because she is the independent, successful woman of the 00's who is also a serious advocate for eyebrow waxing and other beautifying strategies. We have had discussions over this before. But I can't seem to reconcile my feminism with an extreme dissatisfaction with my looks. The two are like oil and water; they cannot peacefully coexist. They have been doing battle for years. (I'm not accusing her of having extreme dissatisfaction with her looks; I know that she does not, and rightly so.)

I think all of those magazines that uphold societal standards of beauty should be burned. We are not airbrushed, and we shouldn't be made to feel that we should appear that way. It's mean and hurtful, and undermines all that we strive for, in my humble opinion. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

I will be back to my timid, go-ahead-and-shit-on-me self as soon as I'm done being inspired by this book :)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Oh me oh my. The interview I have stressed about for the past two years was yesterday morning.

Myself and Fellow #3 were interviewed by the director of a certain institution in Venice, Italy for a two-month summer position there. Director (of our fellowship program) was also present; it took place in her office. The internship program at this institution accepts 25-30 college students each year, but none of them get interviewed. They mail in applications and wait for a response. The only reason we were interviewed was because Interviewer was going to be in the U.S., and he is indebted to Director for assisting him with a major crisis several years ago. Ever since, he has been personally interviewing fellows, and I have learned that they are always accepted (with the exception of one, but that was only because three fellows applied for two positions). Yeah, pressure.

The interview was scheduled at 10:00 a.m. I arrived at the office, breathless, at 9:55, but since neither Interviewer nor Fellow #3 had arrived yet, I was in good shape. I spent some time scrutinizing my appearance in the ladies' room, and when I returned to the office minutes later, the others had arrived and we were ready to begin.

Fellow #3 and I followed Director into her office, where Interviewer sat. As we walked to the office, Director turned and whispered to us, "It's going to be fun!" I looked at #3: oh yeah, fun.

We entered and found an older gentlemen with gray hair and thick glasses that magnified his eyes sitting at a small table by the window. He stood up and shook our hands. He had a marvelous British accent and a very warm manner. I liked him right away.

We all sat down and he said that he had read our materials (applications, resumes, transcripts, recommendations, personal statements, the works) and then he commented, "Impressive." Good sign, good sign. We were then asked to introduce ourselves so he could match the face to the information. #3 sat closest to him so she began. The more she spoke, the more impressive she and her accomplishments were. He was utterly fascinated. They spoke for several minutes. The longer it went on, the more insecure I felt. I smiled nervously at Director, who was beaming with pride at #3. When my turn came, I did my best to sum up my academic career and previous internships, and he seemed just as fascinated. He really was a lovely man, really.

The funny thing was, applicants must speak both English and Italian. On the application, you had to check one of three boxes: Fair, Good, or Fluent. For Italian, I was torn. I have had a year and a half of it, will be two years by the time summer comes. Am I 'good'? I wanted desperately to check Fair to be on the safe side but I worried it would not be good enough, so I checked Good. As #3 and Interviewer had their discussion, I read our applications upside-down as they sat before him. #3 had checked Fair. Damn it! Now I was worried. He thinks I'm better in Italian than she is. Will he speak to me in Italian? He soon broached the subject. He asked #3, "So you're 'fair'?" She explained that she has taken two years of it but then took a break and is now rusty. She's going to Italy next month, though, and he was confident that she would pick it up again in no time. Oh boy, here it comes. He looked at me and said, "And you're the one who's good in Italian." I gave him my best smile and said, "Yes." (Listen, it's subjective. I'm good for my level. I can speak it.) He said, "Your teacher certainly thinks so," referring to my recommendation, which made me feel a little less guilty because he was not going on my checked box alone. He said that this would help me with the job, and then we moved on to another topic. *Sigh of relief*

Throughout the interview, he spoke in definite terms. "You will come at the end of May, and we will help you find housing." "You will be with an international group of interns, very few come from the States anymore." "You will be coming at a great time: long days, very hot."You should begin researching these topics so that you are prepared when you come; it will make it easier for you." Does this mean we have the job? We couldn't help but wonder. At the end of the interview, Director asked Interviewer about the remaining process: "So you'll bring their application materials and your impressions from the interview back with you, and then...?" He answered, "Yes, and then we will send the two of you letters (according to the application, only those who are accepted get letters) and get everything in motion. Right now we're doing selection, and we have a stack of applications this high." He gestured with his hands; it was high. "Highly competitive. But don't worry, we will choose good peers for you."

It was all we could do not to jump for joy as we stood up, thanked him, shook his hand, and exited the office.

I spent the rest of the day visiting Veteran Seeker at his job and then bumming around with Fellow Seeker. We were at a coffee shop for several hours, writing and sketching on napkins. While we were there, F.S. got the news that he is now certified and can begin his career as a teacher. Yep, it was a good day. We scrawled praises to Shekinah on the napkins, we were both so happy.

Friday, December 02, 2005

525,600 Minutes

It was too cold to be half nekkid yesterday. Sorry friends.

Actually, I have been on the go for the past two days, and had no time for baring my flesh to cyberspace. Now, however, I have a ton of material. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the longest post I have ever conceived of.

Yesterday morning I left my house just before 10:00 a.m. I had to make a trip to the Fellowship headquarters. I got there at around 12:20, and the only reason I had to go all the way there was to drop off some important papers in a timely fashion. (Monday morning I have an interview regarding this summer's internship; if all goes well, I will spend two months in Venice.) Director surprised me by asking, "Are you in a hurry? Want to grab some lunch?" Now, I was in fact in a serious hurry because I had to rush back in time to take a test. But, this was Director. She's my hero. I was not about to say no.

She took me to a sweet little restaurant nearby where we had soup and salads and discussed all kinds of things. She wanted to know what questions I have about Venice, what my graduate school/career plans are, what is going on in school right now, how my family is getting along. It was one of the most wonderful lunches I have ever had. I have idolized this woman since I first entered the program. She was appointed to a presidential administration (years ago, not Dubya), has been the president of a college, and currently serves on the boards of several significant organizations, foundations and charities. She is Wonder Woman of the professional world. I have had opportunities to speak with her before, obviously, but never one-on-one for an entire hour. It was my privilege.

I took the two hour trip back home, witnessing an interesting scene on the bus. It was December 1st, and there was a sign above the seats in the front with a picture of Rosa Parks on a bus. The sign stated that December 1, 2005 was the 50th anniversary of her arrest, and in honor of this, it asked passengers to please reserve those seats in front. The bus was packed to capacity, with people practically in the driver's lap. A young African-American man said to the bus driver, "Mr. Bus Driver, may I have that poster?" He asked several times, and finally he explained his reason for wanting it: "If nobody's going to follow the rules, it might as well not be up there." The bus driver said that it wasn't up to him, and the man angrily exited the bus, evidently offended by the lack of respect for Ms. Parks' day.

I got home, changed into my work uniform, drove off to school, took an Italian test that I hadn't studied nearly enough for (I translated "sofa" into "la sofa," which is apparently not the way you say it at all), sat through class, then went to work (as an Ambassador on campus) for a couple of hours. We were having a lecture and book signing by an author. She spoke on the cost of war. I worked the table and sold copies of her book (sold about 25 of them). It was a lovely experience. All kinds of former hippie baby boomers came out of the woodwork. I kept envisioning what they must have looked like and been like when they were young. Maybe she met him in college, where one day she walked across campus and heard someone rasping Dylan tunes, accompanied by his guitar. One couple that represented a local peace organization shared the table with me. We were introduced, and the husband said to me, "So what do you do here?" I said, "I help at various events. Basically, whatever needs to be done, I do." Later on in the evening he asked if I was a student there, and what I was studying. He asked, "So, do you get credit for being helpful?" I smiled and said, "No, I get paid for being helpful." He clapped his hands, rocked back on his heels and tilted his head back as he laughed. Everyone I met was so nice. The professor who organized the event let me have a free copy of the book, and the author signed it for me.

I was quite tired last night, but had to be up early today to work again. Another event was being held. A lot of important people came, and my job was to stand by the door in my uniformed t-shirt and greet people. The problem was, it was freezing. Not cold, freezing. Each time the door opened I wanted to cry. The various people overseeing the event sympathetically commented on my plight. I wished they would assign me elsewhere, but they did not. Apparently it's very important to have someone smile at you and say "Good morning" when you walk in the door. Can't have an event without a hypothermic smiler, of course not.

Eventually I got to go work the coat room with another Ambassador. We talked for a while, and that helped to pass the time. We shared mutual disdain for/amusement towards a certain Phys. Ed. professor who's a hard-ass but quite funny. We found that we had similar fears about when he broke out the body fat measurement devices because we're both chunkmeisters. We talked about our majors, our relationships, our families. It was pretty fun. I love getting paid for stuff like this. It's basically meeting and helping people, that's all it is.

I then had class, and afterwards, a sojourn in the HC lounge with Mr. Dirty Jokes, where he told me dirty jokes and we recited lines from "A Hard Day's Night." Good times. Then more class. Then a trip to two bookstores, just to torture myself by not allowing myself to buy. I finally found the astrology book on relationships, though. I have been looking for that for months! For some reason, no bookstores had it anymore. I thought it went out of print. I wanted to look up Boyfriend and I in it because I had looked up Ex and I when we were going out, and it was frighteningly accurate. It said, "He has no time for you. He treats you like crap. He's an asshole." (Okay, it's not verbatim, but that was the gist of it.) But Boyfriend's and mine was not accurate at all. It said that we have a cutthroat type of relationship, overly ambitious and would step over each other to get to the top. Ooookay.

I am really fucking up my diet. Boyfriend and I were supposed to support each other through it, but (*in my best Sally voice*) he's too wishy washy! I tell him I had cookies for breakfast and he says, "Good." (Guess what? He will be here in two weeks!! Best holiday present I could ever receive.)

Me so tired. I have a seminar early in the morning tomorrow. *Shrieks and pulls out hair* Buona notte i miei amici.