One-Star Review (1/365)

I am on the path. I know the start weight.  I know the score.  The feeling.  The muscle memory of January 1.  This is the easiest day of the whole thing.  The simplest to find the Fitbit and get it charged.  To look up a few low-carb websites.  To add a couple glasses of water to your morning.  To eat some cheese and be distracted by the newness of it all.

This is the day for all of that to happen.

I have gained weight over this year of undocumented emotional indulgence.  The roller coaster of are they, aren’t they, will they, won’t they, do they, don’t they has taken its only just now acknowledged toll.  I’ve pretended that I feel the same, even if stairs leave me slightly ought of breath, if I feel slightly overclocked sometimes, a mind and heart racing without any particular stress to trigger it.  There are signs that are subtle and not that double orders of chile cheese fries have an impact to the body.

I don’t feel the resonating thrum around the idea of providing this page with yet another, probably annual at this point, mea culpa.  I don’t feel like a public face palm is all that valuable to me, personally.   I was mad earlier, overlooking the scale, not shocked, but disappointed that I thought that the magic in my magical thinking was hardcore enough as to invent a workaround for the Law of Conservation.    That I could eat violently – eat against imperfection – and end up perfect.  End up unmarked and not carrying all of the impact of adding dessert at every meal, of cravenly eschewing anything remotely green in color (the chile was mostly red in hue). As ever, the value to me, or to you now, is in the path forward where either we do a little better at not fucking things up, or we don’t.  I mean, as much chatter as I can provide us both about it and we all know I can chatter with the best of them when I’m of a mind, the things I do today are what the rest of my life will look like if I don’t break the chain.

I have my plans.  My flexible suggestions that I am going to be writing into law once I am sure I am not going to spend every day breaking them.  I am writing them down, but not here.   Again, not until I am doing something I can comment on.  Day One, as has been explained to me at my new corporate job, is energy and excitement and press releases and the whole embodied concept of LAUNCH! It’s important and necessary to cast your boat off the shore hard and get moving.  But it’s Day Two, it’s the realization that people – perhaps you, dear reader – have moved on.  The excitement for them is already behind them, scratched out of their bullet journals, and it is on you to design and sustain your own passion and maintain it so you can sell it back to them all the way down the road.

So I have done the Day One Showing Up.  I have provided myself the rationale.  I have not eaten a single marshmallow of the bag of marshmallows that have sat next to me on the couch all day long.  I have joined the hordes of perpetual failure: I have started a diet  and I hope I achieve my goals with it.  But this is the same group that is winnowed out into those who get somewhere, who do make it.  It has to come out of the pool of everyone who is willing to say, goddamnit, okay, maybe my Id can’t run me from morning to night and I have to put my foot down.  All of us tryers standing at the shore, taking the shove into the waters we know, pulling ourselves into the waters we don’t.



Useful Soup for Benevolent Purposes

White wine bottle in an ice bucket, macro close up with copy space

No more Donald Trump “news.”  Which, I think, for a time, means no Twitter and no Facebook.  I have read my fill of it today and I am having the Sunday, post-prandial self-assessment blues informed, no doubt, by an overdose of hormones and random, random meal-taking.

I can feel my blood pressure shoot up every time I press reload.  There has to be more peace in the world than this.  Besides, there’s still so many days and so many horrors yet to come.

This is my day off.  I can spend it how I like (mostly, there are things I’d prefer to do that I have no say in doing, it seems), but I am not a complete pile of mush.  I have gotten up, I have helped to pay my sister, and most importantly, gone over to see my mother.  And watch the Rockies lose to the Mets with my dad, but, mostly, to see Mom.  Our task was to work on the big jigsaw puzzle laid out on the dining room table.

We (my mother and sister and I) sat at that table working on the puzzle of a halcyon and idyllic scene –  a gazebo overlooking a pond with a weeping willow in the background and lots of swans and lion-shaped topiary.  Joy was flooding me, like jump out of your skin, unrelenting joy and gratitude.  Memories of times we’d done such puzzles, of earnest regard for my mother and all she might be facing were running through my head like a buzzsaw, inescapable.  It was a quiet moment, and I could hardly handle it.  Not from caffeine, not from low sugar, just from awareness of how I truly felt.  I haven’t let myself go there in a long, long time.


Now I am contemplating my desire not to contemplate, not to plan, the trouble it leads me to. How that’s a shitty place to be. How I trumpet that this is another day where I can’t handle being poured into a mold of corrective behaviors or penitent thoughts and the result just gets worse and worse.  Instead, I feel the desire to do low carb or low calorie or tracking or something rather than airporting.

This is a term I’ve sort of recently invented to describe how I eat lately.  How I act in general.  When you’re in an airport, everything you buy or do feels justified.  You’re on a journey, you’re confined, you’re in waiting for signs from the universe.  You are outside of your actual life, or so it seems.  If you need to buy a 10 dollar bagel and find your stomach sick halfway through and you have to toss it out because you can’t carry about a chicken salad bagel for the next four hours, that’s fine.  You make the choice very easily.  Acting out of desire by making choices that have an expensive, short-term gain that means nothing to you in the long run is airporting.  If you need to buy a $20 airplane pillow because you will want to close your eyes on the plane, even if you know you never let yourself relax that much in the company of strangers 30,000 feet in the air, then, okay.  You’re in an airport, you’re a cliche, you’re surviving this odd little hiccup in the diurnal experience of your existence.  It’s special and special behavior is justified.

Personal truth I have yet to believe for myself, but believe is true nonetheless: Life is never separated from itself.  There are no days outside of days.  There may be superpositions – days on top of days – but time passes.  Time carries on.  And the things we do today are linked to the miseries and joys of tomorrow.  If every day is accorded a special dispensation, eventually, nothing is special but the escape from special treats.  I am reaching that point, swinging back around to surfeit.



Argle Bargle


We esteem nuance.

This blanket has a zipper that jingles as I roll my shoulders.

We had a conversation in the car, because the compound word argle bargle sat in my brain and flashed like a brake light down a heavy incline.  I couldn’t remember what it went.  My sister suggested that it meant nothing more than the title of my post.  I’m here to write it, unsure if I could recall the phrase now that I’ve eaten and read and listened to a few things I found grounding and profound.  A Wendell Berry poem that my aunt’s psychic group posted on Facebook, that if I’ve heard before I had forgotten.  The joyful Humans of New York post on the same – a photo of a Syrian refugee couple newly admitted to come to America.  Werewolf on the streaming MST3K telephon (Kickstartaphon?) which is in my top ten episodes all-time.  I should make that list some time.  Then this song, a refiguring of a hymn, from On Being (which I follow for a multitude of reasons, including their estimation of nuance), which speaks to the way this is the beautiful time of the year and yet it can also be the darkest and most painful.  Loss can be most clearly limned in the icy edge of the calendar when we start to make our self-assessments. And then, Amanda Palmer lyrics again. 

All of this is dancing about in my head, bumbling against itself, looking for places to link up and make a fence to climb.

And I settle down, thinking that I feel a little bit more together tonight, a little bit more grist is in the mill than usual. I recall argle bargle and throw it into the   And I found myself.  I found this place blinking back at me.

copious but meaningless talk or writing; nonsense.

My sister thinks I could write something about this daily blogging. An article or an essay.  I have thought about this once or twice.  I have also thought, in response, that I would need to have ended up somewhere to do this.  I would need to have made the change I have emblazoned in my tagline.   Even though, in my own mind, I know that I have changed.  It’s just been personal and incremental and relative to my own goals and pursuits.  It is not the sprint that others have made.  Then, I read something else from Cheryl Strayed, about two essential writer’s questions and one of them is: What’s the question at the core of your work? and then, once that’s answered,  the second is: “What question are you trying to answer for others?”

Tonight, I think that first question for me is: “How do I claim worthiness?”  And for the world, “How do you live with self-doubt?”

Maybe what I can offer is a vision that incremental change is not shameful.  That an examined life, rather than a fixed life, a “corrected” life, is still worthwhile.  It’s still beautiful.  That this is what the struggle looks like.  Day after goddamned day until you start thinking maybe you could drive that route, or maybe you could get into therapy, or maybe you could go to Italy and meet a stranger, or maybe you could just survive this one morning because you’ve gotten through a few before.  That when you’ve got this low-grade despair all the time because you’re just not right with this paradigm that you hoped that time would grant you communion with, that you can interrogate the assumption you’re holding tight.  About bodies, about love, about food, about identity, and you won’t be swept away.  You can give yourself a little daily therapy and shore up your footing. Maybe someone would get something out of that. Maybe that’s what the argle bargle’s all about.

I was taking the winter chill to heart, curling up with my zippered blankets, but I think there’s still the streak of summer running through me.  This currently blonde Anne Shirley cannot be denied.

Imago Fabulae


When I was a little girl, there were a few particular instances that let me know I was a bit of an outsider.  We all have them, of course, For me, tonight, I’m thinking

When you’re a young one, and you miss the universal fashion note that your sweatsuit, perfectly fine one summer before, was now embarrassingly gauche, and you hear yourself being made fun of, I wonder why that felt so painful.  It seems laughable that I can think about the encounter more than twenty years on and still feel taut and wounded and defensive.  I know I ran off after overhearing this on the playground and I knew something had changed.  There was a knowing that existed that I did not have access to.  A grapevine I had fallen off of and raisin-ed below in the suburban sun. I wish I had drawn on the moxie I would spend decades cultivating a tiny, artisanal crop of, but I did not ever confront these pre-teen jerks and I do not wonder that it was this way.

You can’t introduce yourself or offer a clever, genial self-description that includes the phrases: enjoys talking to flowers, creating infomercials for for invisible audiences or Reading Rainbow-ing to the same.  I knew that much, especially after that day.  Especially after the day, a bit later, that another girl, horse-faced and forgettable, asked me why I was the way I was.

I didn’t know how people were taking me, but every experience seemed to indicate that if they were taking me at all, it was as a writer. This Harriet the Spy figure, with a notebook and a disparaging eye.  No breasts, no body, and worst of all, not even the actual words that are a writer’s stock and trade.  I may have been projecting on them.  I may have not known how to reach inside their worlds, but I knew there was a distance that had to be crossed if I were to do it.  Entreaties were small, fumbling, and largely, failures.  I have shut down in the face of the smallest things and life has run like water around a stone.

Aloneness is not weakness or bravery.  It just is.  It is a state of self that exists in me regardless of how many people I share a room or a drink with.  It exists in me even when I share and recognize it in others.  Even beyond logic.  I often crave it even as I’m experiencing it.

Tonight I am thinking.  I am choosing to think, to feel, to dredge and troll the old waterways and draw up the worst.  A Saturday night special.  It is better though than refusing to let any of this touch me.  Perhaps it’s the fact that I finally got my next therapy appointment booked for a couple of weeks out.   I am getting the bigger ideas, I am hurting the bigger hurts, questioning the bigger assumptions.

What scares me is as easily as I chose that I can choose something else.

X-Ray Plate: Day Ninety-Five

There was a gentleman in the office that reminded me of you.  Older, but quick, almost too quick.  But not, like you, to his detriment.   Married, though I don’t know if that was beneficent or malefic, it doesn’t matter at all, just as it wouldn’t have mattered with you.  But he was sane and steady, had a focus and worldliness, too, all of which was absent in you.   Of course, part of his presence was about trying to sell us something, but he had the sort of style about him that he hardly needed to talk about his product and the absence of selling drew you in, made you want to buy.    That wasn’t you at all, as you were always pushing out, half-daring people to  stop in and prove themselves acceptable.

He was also kind to me, and I sat around a table of my betters as if that wasn’t so, accepting all their kindnesses and participating in the conversation like a born-again businesswoman.  It felt bold – your request of me – and I tell the air because I cannot tell you and it feels more human to address something somehow than to pretend I don’t care and let it be forgotten.  Even if you and I both know how impossibly naive I am.  Know, knew, won’t know.  I accept your tacit approval, post-mortem.  I let it be a compliment I can accept.

The thing is dead, despite its constant resurrections.

Point me in the direction of a warm bed, a green bud, a spring day and off I shall march like a toy soldier.

Tomorrow, we will pretend it is our own private Friday.  I’ll put in my eight hours at the office, with music and games and, some moments of focus and good behavior.  It will be a stitch in time meant to save 900.   I’m sure I’ll make an appearance here in the middle of it, hopefully having re-read this and remembered I am there for a reason.    But there are still forty-some minutes left in this evening if I am swift to catch them and not distracted by the fantastic Mr. Selfridge (possibly fantastic, possibly awful but studded with fantastic moments, oh Mon Dieu, Monsieur LeClair and Agnes, ils doivent tomber amoureuse et marier!  Je regrette que M. Colleano sera tres triste, mais…mais je sens que c’est amour vrai!

My own heart is not altogether light, but I’m standing on that dais that evening brings when you realize that all of the anxieties that bark at me, sometimes from the moment I wake up, do not come to pass and do not destroy me in single fell swoops (though arguably the teaspoon destruction of worrying is infinitely more grievous), and I have made it back through to be welcomed into dream and imagination and the dance.  For a brief time, maybe only a few seconds at a time, I’m allowed to think about my future and not flinch.

That’s a nice treat, worth making your way through the mean streets of suburbia and through all the silences between.

House – loaded dishwasher, put away 5 other things
Love – well, I was sociable
Work – worked on a few festival matters
Body – 10 situps
Mind – managed the driving despite a few flare-ups

Want to do more, but…I didn’t. So.  I did this.

A Tambourine Song: Day 9

Another day, another dollar, another fear overcome while one grows its roots a little deeper.

Whatcha gonna do?

I am going to make dinner very quickly here once I dispense with my duties for the day.  I’ve eaten today, but not quite enough and so it’s probably back to eggs and bacon and salad since I cleverly left my cold chicken carcass and greek salad at the office.  Clever being a far more clever way of describing plain forgetfulness.

I suppose the only way to up my word count tonight and not regale you with more shitty rough draft slices of the dream within the dream of my head which may not end up meaning anything at all is to be a bit meta.   To talk about the process even though what formula seems to be working for me is not talking about losing this weight but just driving myself forward into actually doing it.  I’m halfway through the “induction” phase of this fairly strict Atkins-style diet. (still allowing myself caffeine and pop, but I don’t really crave soda at all…) and obviously I’ve lost some weight.  It’s enough that it’s noticeable to me, though it doesn’t blow me away or make me uncomfortable yet.  148 is where that serious discomfort and disturbed feeling has cropped up in the past.   Just below 150 which is the far left field of the ballpark of where I think I should be.   So really, I’m about halfish ways towards that point and I know that I have to get ready for that if this time is any different.

I don’t exactly know how, though, is the problem.

Self-confidence, now! Just shout it into the mirror, or perhaps lovingly insist it at myself like the old Al Franken SNL sketches?  One of my boss’ friends, one whom I have seen go through a painful and surely terrifying transformation in my five years of knowing him, came by and asked how I was doing.  I smiled and said fine.  He said you’re always fine.  I said, well, what’s the use of being otherwise?  He said I need to find me a girlfriend like you.

I know that these kind of compliments from someone whom you wouldn’t date for a multiplicity of reasons don’t really count, but I felt good about it.  Being a positive, friendly (even if I fake it) type of person who might lift the psychic burdens of others is something I merit in myself.  Someday, someone who I would date and will date, will see that, too.

I don’t know that I can self-affirm my way into this door, though.  At least I’m going to stop kicking up dust about ugliness and skulking Quasimodos and Elephant Women in the cavernous environs of my head.  We are not allotted a single level of beauty to which we can rise with makeup and all of our personal magic and otherwise drift and fall beneath.  Somedays we’re all internally haggard and savage and difficult to be held in the mind of another, even another who loves us.  Others, we carve right to the Michaelangelo in those around us and can see no flaws.

There is no reason to brand ourselves with the Scarlet U.  No reason to fear.

Today: 159.6
Yesterday: 161.6
Goal: 155 by June 15

(I think this recap is actually helping, though I may just be saying that because today it went down instead of going up, but nevertheless.)