Sunday, November 30, 2008

Curiouser & Curiouser

In the past week things have certainly taken some interesting twists and turns. The following items are reported without organization but just as they pop into my head.

Q has moved in with W. Yep. Just like that. Just that quick. W asked me for "permission" to live with Q on Tuesday. "Permission?" I asked. "I don't really think I have any say in the matter, do I?" W replied that he thought I did since we're still married sort of. I laughed, and that was the end of the conversation. She moved in on Wednesday. Okay, so call me a prude and/or a hypocrite, but I just don't think it is setting the right example for N for W and Q to live together when N spends some nights at W's apartment. I do not ever have BJ sleep over with me when N is around. BJ and I are in agreement that it is inappropriate to do so at this stage of the relationship.

N and I spent Thanksgiving with my parents. Dad is doing surprisingly well. Apparently the chemo is doing its job, and the tumor in his liver is shrinking significantly. Mom is tired, chronically tired, although she won't come close to admitting it. As expected, she wouldn't let me help in the kitchen. Not as expected, she didn't make as big a dinner as in the past. She's tired. Dad gave me money to help me out a bit with my finances, not a lot, but enough that at least I now feel like I can afford a bit of a Christmas for N.

Friday night (well Saturday morning really) I was up around 3:30 for my nightly stumble into the bathroom. On the way back to bed I noticed through the window an SUV stop in front of the house two doors down. Three teenage boys got out, and the SUV drove away. The three boys proceeded to drag bag after bag of leaves from the two houses next door out into the street positioning the bags in a sort of blockade the full width of the street. As I watched them working I dialed 911 and reported their vandalism. Although the police arrived fairly quickly the boys were gone by the time they arrived. Yes, I'm becoming one of those grouchy old ladies that reports teenage pranks to the police.

W brought Q to church with him today. For no reason that I can understand, they were there early, early enough that they were there before I was, and I had to be there 15 minutes before Sunday School started as I'm serving a rotation as teacher for some of the kids. There she was, waiting to say hello as I hung up my coat. It took all my inner strength to stay for the service after Sunday School. I wanted to bolt out the door, but I didn't. I stayed. I stayed long enough to watch as W introduced Q to people while he had his arm around her waist. I stayed long enough to be greeted by her one more time during the passing of the peace. I stayed long enough to be nauseous. As soon as the service was over, I checked with W to make sure I knew that time he would be bringing N home (he had N this weekend), and I bolted out the door and home to BJ.

I had a meltdown this afternoon on the phone with W. I am so incredibly frustrated by his refusal to respond to me when I leave messages for him. The only time I leave messages for him is when it pertains to N or the divorce or our finances, all issues that are important. I never call him just to talk or for frivolous reasons. I am sick and tired of him not responding to me, and I let him know that in no uncertain terms. While he didn't apologize (no surprise there) he did acknowledge that he had been doing that and said he would change (yeah, wouldn't be the first time I've heard that about any number of things only to have things stay exactly the same).

Chapter VI: Weight Loss – Success!

A little more than a month after N turned three, I joined Weight Watchers. I wish I could say I had some great revelation, some big turning point that told me I was ready to embark on the weight loss journey. I did not. I was not keen on the idea of joining, but a coworker kept trying to talk me into it. She was part of a WW group at work, and to keep the group going they had to keep a certain number of paying members. She was trying to round up anybody she could talk into it into joining. I had tried WW a few years before and found it to be too difficult for me to get in the right number of servings of this and that. However, Coworker assured me it was different now, much more flexible. I finally gave in and decided to give it a try.

At the introductory meeting, I was impressed by the Leader of the group. She had lost 40 lbs. on WW. She was enthusiastic, but realistic about the struggles people go through with weight loss. I felt an instant rapport with her, unlike the leader I’d had on my previous WW attempt. The program described was indeed flexible, much more so than the previous version I had tried. I decided to give this thing a try. On my very first weigh-in the scale read 343.4. No wonder I was almost too big for my 32W clothing (not an easy size to find, BTW). I believe I gasped or groaned. I know I gave some indication that I was taken aback by the enormity of the number. Leader said to me, “It’s okay. You’re never going to be that weight again.” I don’t know why, but that was the perfect thing to say to me at that moment. Somehow I felt deep down that she was right, that I was going to be able to make a difference in my weight this time. Wanting to really do it right, to be really committed, I bought the optional books with points for practically every food known to man, the dining out guide, the 12 week journal for tracking my points and the handy dandy carrying case for all of it.

There were three factors that probably contributed to my readiness to lose the weight at that particular time:
*My recognition that my weight was significantly impacting my health and happiness, but this was not enough without the second and third factors.
*I was comfortable in my life – my job was good, my home life was good, finances were good, N was a joy, I was actively involved in my church. Life wasn’t perfect, but it was comfortable. I was comfortable.
*My focus was on being healthy and eating healthy, not losing weight. I used the WW rules as a guide to healthy eating (limiting calories and fat while including fiber, eating veggies and fruits, drinking water, getting 2-3 servings of dairy per day) and focused on that rather than on the scale.

The weekend after joining WW, I left on a two week vacation to Las Vegas and Flagstaff. Maybe this wasn’t the best time to try a new weight loss thing. Maybe it was. The journaling aspect of WW was right up my alley. I’m a list maker by nature; tracking points fit right in to that nature. At my weight, I was allowed a substantial amount of points (don’t remember exactly how many, but I believe it was around 34 or 35 at approx. 50 calories/point) per day. I quickly learned how to choose lower point options in place of some of my high point favorites. I won’t say it was easy all the time, but for the most part it was. I was not struggling to stay within my points range on most days. I was not feeling deprived most times.

I returned home from vacation, and at the next WW meeting (having missed two while on vacation) I had lost 11 lbs. What a great start! I was so buoyed by this early success that I started to really believe that I could do this. And I did. I even started walking about 30 minutes a day through our neighborhood. N loved our walks together. So did I. I did very well for two years, eventually hitting an all-time post-college low of 197 lbs.

Then life became much, much less comfortable. I lost my job due to the company filing bankruptcy. Since N’s arrival, W and I had discussed the possibility of moving closer to family. We took the job situation to be a sign that the time was right to move. We decided to move back to LOH, the city where I started my adult life, close to my family. This would give N the chance to have a closer relationship with his grandparents than the once or twice a year visits we could manage when we lived so far away. Ten months after the company first declared bankruptcy I was laid off. I had known for about six months what my layoff date would be so we had planned our move as well as we could. I had no job to go to but had made several contacts on two trips to LOH. On one of these trips, we house hunted and purchased a nice, but affordable, home. Our old house sold quickly which was a blessing, but also a curse as it gave us less than 30 days from my layoff date to be out. That last month was a whirlwind of activity. I did manage to stay on WW throughout all of this, partly due to the wonderful support of Leader and partly due to the fact that it was the only thing in my life I felt I had any control over. I had not yet reached my low of 197 but was at about 220 when we made our move.

To be continued. . .

Next installment: Turning the corner from weight loss to gain, again

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Too Good Not to Share

fail owned pwned pictures
see more pwn and owned pictures

Chapter V: Growing Up (or at Least Out)

W and I started to develop a fairly “normal” life. I stayed home, took care of things around the house. He went to work each day. We rented a house with room for a garden. That summer we grew more vegetables than we could ever hope to eat ourselves and donated some to the kitchen at St. Vincent de Paul. We also got the landlord’s permission to get a dog so we got the cutest little basset hound puppy to keep me company during the day. The dog went everywhere with me and enjoyed sharing my junk food habits of Jack in the Box ultimate cheeseburgers.

Of course, this wasn’t a totally normal life. W was still married, though in the process of a divorce. His wife was doing her best to fight the divorce, insisting that they could work things out if he would come home. On other occasions, however, she threatened to kill both W and me. These threats weighed heavily on my mind. Neither W nor I was sure she wouldn’t follow through on them. Eventually, after a couple of years, W’s divorce was final. A few months later we were married, in a very private ceremony because there was nobody to invite. Nobody would have been happy to know we were getting married on his side or mine so we just didn’t tell anyone until after it was already done.

With W’s accepting attitude of me, I stopped worrying about my weight. I ate what I wanted when I wanted, not caring that my size was increasing steadily. In the back of my mind, though, I knew that being too heavy was not healthy, that I was not able to do certain things because of my weight, that I was often embarrassed in situations where I could not fit, at least not comfortably, in seats provided in a variety of situations from waiting rooms to theaters to airplanes.

Shortly after we married, I received a letter from J (apparently Mom & Dad had given him my mailing address) saying that he was now ready to think about marriage, and, if I remember right, asking me to return home to him. I cried when I received the letter. I cried and cried and cried. It was too late. I had loved J so much for so long and never felt that he returned that love (which, I believe, is at least part of the reason I continued to turn to other men throughout our relationship). Now he wanted me, but I had already moved on. I was already married to W. I couldn’t turn back. When I looked at the way W accepted me for who I was, making no judgments, just loving me each and every day, and compared that to how J had treated me, teasing me about my weight and about the facial hair I hadn’t yet learned to get waxed on a regular basis, and always holding back from giving me the love and acceptance I so coveted; I had to choose to stay with W. I didn’t think I could ever live up to what J would want me to be, and I never gave him the chance to prove otherwise. I wrote to J explaining that I had married. I don’t know what else I said in the letter, but I do know there was a pain in my heart when I put it in the mail. I loved W, but I also loved J. I don’t remember for sure, but I’ll bet you anything I binged big time the day I mailed that letter.

I moved on, putting J out of my mind (most of the time) and focused on my relationship with W. We shared everything with each other, told each other our deepest, darkest secrets, and accepted one another just as we were, imperfect by far but neither worse than the other. I felt that I was okay, good enough, for the first time in my life. Somehow, somewhere in the back of my mind continued the nagging feeling though that I wasn’t. I was good enough for W, good enough for this new life half a country away from my roots, but I would never be good enough to return to my family. I would never be truly okay.

Through the years, W and I had our ups and downs. I patiently stood by him when he left his job only to be unable to find another, at least another at a similar level. I found a job and became the main breadwinner of the family. W worked when and where he could, never turning down a job as too menial but doing what was necessary so that we could make ends meet which sometimes was a real struggle. As stress increased so did my weight. All through the years when we struggled with infertility, and I was told several times losing weight might help, I continued to gain, having only moderate success when I would try the diet du jour which I did fairly often. For several years, I hovered around the 275-285 lb. mark.

There came a point where I felt W was pulling away from me, and I think he may have felt the same way about me, but we rarely talked about it and looked to the outside world to be the happiest of couples. Most of the time we even convinced ourselves of it, at least on the surface. My weight started upward again.

Giving up hopes of ever having our biological child, we finally adopted. I was convinced that adopting a child would be the glue that would hold us together, bring us back to the closeness we once had. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Although we had discussed childrearing beforehand, the actual practice was far, far different from anything we had expected. This whole childrearing thing was harder, more time-consuming, and far more intrusive into our lives than we ever thought possible. Yet we both love N more than life itself. We would do anything for him. Unfortunately, W and I rarely agreed on what the right thing to do was. I found myself often deferring to W just to keep peace, and I believe he sometimes did the same. Far from bringing us closer, having N pushed W and me even farther apart. Food, my faithful friend, was truly the only comfort I could count on.

Having N changed my thinking about some things. With W’s parents both dead, the only chance N had for grandparents were my parents, the people I had cut so completely out of my life. They had never given up on me completely, though, and a few years before had tracked me down to where we were living at the time. After both FU and Mom came out to visit, we had resumed minimal contact through the mail. Three months after N was born, I wrote to my parents to tell them about him. They were thrilled to finally be grandparents.

We made arrangements to fly back to visit my parents when N was a few months old. It had been 13 years since I had been back there, and I was absolutely terrified. What would we say to one another? How would my parents react to my weight? I set down rules before we arrived. There was to be no mention of my weight, none at all, or we would leave immediately. I can’t imagine how many questions my parents wanted to ask when we were there, but they never asked anything at all about the missing 13 years. To this day, they have never asked me why I disappeared or anything about the intervening time. We stayed with them for a week on this first not-entirely-comfortable visit and focused all of our attentions mainly on N. I was starting to reconnect with my past, but was still safely ensconced in my new life far away.

By the time N turned three, my weight was at an all-time high of 343 lbs. N was (and is) the joy of my life. He was at an age where I needed to be on the floor playing with him or chasing him down when he ran (and he always ran, never walked) towards danger. At my weight, both were darn near impossible. When I did get down on the floor getting me up was a major effort. Running after N left me breathless, not to mention that he could move much faster than I could. For N, I did what I had never done for anyone else, not even myself. I joined Weight Watchers and lost over 140 lbs.

To be continued. . .

Next installment: Losing the weight

Friday, November 28, 2008

Chapter IV: Weighting to Grow Up

Finally, I was an adult, at least that’s what it looked like on paper. I’d graduated college, earned two degrees, and finally after five months out of school I’d landed my first real job as a government auditor for the grand sum of $16k/year (plus $65 per diem expenses when out of my domicile which I often was).

I moved to my first apartment, in a bad part of town, with no air conditioning, but it really was okay because, as I said, I was often out of my domicile area staying in hotels or short-term apartments. The men in my life at the time were J and FBF (the boyfriend from the last couple of years at college). I don’t believe that J and FBF ever knew about each other, but I could be mistaken. I may have told one or the other of the other’s existence. The fact that one lived about 70-75 miles away from me and the other maybe 200 miles away from me in the opposite direction made it fairly easy to keep them from knowing of one another. FBF and I had become engaged while we were still in college, but I never told my family, or J, or any of my friends at home. I took off my engagement ring when I moved home at the end of college and tucked it away in a hidden place at the bottom of a drawer. Something tells me I wasn’t as serious about this engagement as FBF was. Certainly if I had been truly committed to FBF I would not have continued to date J. So here I was, in two long distance, sort of relationships, living completely on my own for the first time, traveling across the country for my job. I spent a good deal of time by myself, along with my best friend, food.

On one assignment, in Dallas for six months, I started dating Iranian Guy who lived upstairs from me and also spending weekends in Austin with a high school acquaintance with whom I became much more closely acquainted. Oh yes, I still had J and FBF back home. Did I even give a thought to the fact I was dating four different men at once? Nope. Not one. In spite of the attention of four men, I felt completely unloved and unlovable. It seemed that nobody could ever give me enough comfort, enough love, enough reassurance to make me feel good about myself. It would be a long time before I would come to the understanding that I had to look inside myself for that, not out to the rest of the world, or the next unlucky guy that asked me out on a date. By the time the Dallas assignment ended, I could barely fit in my 24W clothing. I left Dallas bigger, no wiser, and with no regrets that I was leaving Iranian Guy and Austin Guy behind. I had little feeling for either of them, but they had filled time if not the void in my life.

I returned home, and very soon thereafter met W. We were assigned to the same job in my home area, but not his. He and I both started arriving early at work to have breakfast together in the company cafeteria. We talked at length. I knew he was much, much older than I, and married, but he definitely seemed interested in me. I was never one to turn down attention. We went out a couple of times, and I even went back to his apartment once, but nothing happened, not even a kiss, not even a handshake. At the end of that job, W and I were both assigned to the same job in another city, outside of both of our domiciles. He and I stayed in the same hotel, ate dinner together every night, and eventually started spending the night in only one room instead of the two we were paying for. For whatever reason, W’s wife got suspicious and drove the couple of hours it took to get to the city of our assignment, talked the hotel personnel into letting her into W’s room, and she surprised us when we returned from dinner one evening (Okay, yes, it was dumb to be staying in his room instead of mine. Don’t know what we were thinking. Maybe we wanted to be caught on some level.) Much screaming ensued. As soon as I could, I returned to my own room. I didn’t turn to food that night. I was too terrified to have an appetite, but in the ensuing weeks as the turmoil continued I did binge many, many times.

It wasn’t long before W left his wife, and we moved in together. My next assignment was to take me to a city far away from W’s next assignment. Showing an utter lack of maturity, common sense or wisdom of any form, I called my boss and quit. Just told him I wouldn’t be showing up for the next assignment and basically gave him no reason. At the same time, I followed W to his next assignment and ended all contact with my family and friends, including J and FBF. What was I thinking? How could I do this? I believe I was running scared. I knew that I had pushed the boundaries beyond what anyone I knew and cared about would see as acceptable. I had done unthinkable things: taken up with a married man, a much older married man with children older than I, broken up his marriage, quit my job to be with him. Nobody could possibly understand those choices. I’m not sure I understood those choices. So I chose to disappear with no forwarding address.

W eventually was able to talk me into staying in some meager level of contact with my parents through a mailbox service in a completely different city that would forward mail to me without revealing my location. I was so ashamed of my behavior that at that time I really didn’t want to have any contact with them at all. I didn’t want to have to admit to them any of the wretched things I’d done, nor did I want them to have the chance to talk me out of it either. Mostly I wrote them on a sporadic basis just to let them know I was still alive, and almost never even read the letters they sent to me. I couldn’t bring myself to read them, to see what a disappointment I surely was in their eyes.

As I followed W from one assignment to the next, food and TV were my constant companions and best friends. I stayed home, watched TV, ate and waited for W to come home each day. That was my life. My weight rose steadily though W never, ever, ever said anything to me about it, and never indicated that I was anything less than beautiful. In W, it seemed I had found the love, the comfort, the affirmation that I had sought my entire life. He loved me no matter what, no matter how big I became, no matter how irrational I acted at times, no matter what I did or said, he stuck by my side and loved me.

To be continued. . .

Next installment: I finally start to grow up

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Taking a break from the Weight Series for the grand champion holiday of eating today. N and I are at my parent's house meaning no internet meaning I wrote this and set it up to publish today because I just know y'all want to know how Trueself spends Thanksgiving. BJ is spending the day with his parents and his kids too. Maybe next year we'll be celebrating together. W is spending his holiday with Q. It's the first Thanksgiving W and I have been apart in 24 years.

Today's itinerary:
Sleep in
Watch Macy's Parade on TV while drinking coffee and perusing massive pile of ads in the morning newspaper
Sit around playing board games while my mom slaves in the kitchen and refuses all offers of assistance
Eat mass quantities of starchy and delicious traditional Thanksgiving foods
Sit around moaning and groaning about the mass quantities of food ingested
Watch some TV, chat with my folks, try not to think about reality for the day

Happy Thanksgiving coolest blog readers in cyberspace. Hope you enjoy your day.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Chapter III: Gaining more in College than an Education

With college came immense amounts of freedom – no one looking over my shoulder to see what I was eating, no one to monitor what time I came home, no one to whom I had to be accountable. The very first night I was there, a high school friend of mine who also went to U of I and I went to a bar and drank beer for the first time. I hated the taste but loved the buzz and the way all my problems disappeared in a haze of alcohol induced euphoria. Soon I moved on to mixed drinks, finding them to be much more to my taste plus it took less volume to achieve the same buzz. This is not to say I didn’t take my studies seriously. I did – from Sunday afternoon through Friday afternoon. Friday nights and Saturdays were normally spent wasted followed by a huge hangover on Sunday morning. I guess what is truly amazing is that almost every Sunday I still managed to make the 10:30 church service (had to keep the illusion up to myself that I was still the good girl). In addition to all the added calories of my alcohol consumption, the dorm cafeteria provided me with ample opportunities to eat in unlimited quantities. I gained every bit of the “freshman 15” and then some. Every time I would go home on a break, Mom (and sometimes Dad) would give me a hard time about the weight I was gaining. When I started to outgrow my clothes they refused to buy more I guess because they thought that would force me to lose weight. It did not. Instead I wore the few things that still fit and squeezed in the best I could to some that didn’t.

The summer between freshman and sophomore year I found out exactly how much I weighed when I went to the student health clinic asking for a prescription for birth control pills (yes, I had discovered the joys of the one thing I never ever did in high school). I weighed in at 165 lbs, making me too overweight for them to prescribe birth control pills (which is actually kind of laughable as I was later on the pill for menstrual problems when I weighed much more) so they fitted me for a diaphragm instead. I went back to my room and cried over how “obese” I was. My roommate (I spent every summer at school going to summer school to finish quicker) and my boyfriend tried to comfort me and tell me I wasn’t that big, but I knew better.

In the fall of my sophomore year I went and got a part-time job so I would have my own money to spend. That way I had even more freedom to spend money on going out to bars and to buy my own clothes in ever larger sizes. My grades slipped that year, probably as much due to the time I wasted with the loser I was dating (practically living with) at school as to the 20-hour-a-week job I had. Cooking for the loser at his apartment meant further weight gain for me as I tried to become the perfect little “housewife” for him and cooked all his and my favorite southern (high fat, high calorie) foods. BTW, this boyfriend earned the name "the loser" because at one point he tried to hit me (only losers hit), but a friend of his (bigger and stronger) stepped in and stopped him. I immediately broke up with him. I may have self-esteem issues, but I have never allowed anybody to hit me. In my world you only get one strike, and you are out.

The next two-and-a-half years netted me the following:
Both a bachelors and masters degrees
A new college boyfriend, very overweight, (who told me on one of our first dates that he had to settle for a fat girl like me because the skinny ones wouldn't date him) who became a great eating buddy, but couldn’t drink alcohol due to a congenital kidney problem so he also helped me control my drinking
Lots more weight (I wouldn’t have dared step on a scale so I have no idea what I weighed when I finished college, but I was wearing size 22W)
A series of yoyo dieting that didn’t really seem to affect my weight all that much
The discovery of the “women’s” section of stores where I could actually find clothes that fit my new larger body

I finished school mid-year, in January, and moved back home with my parents as I didn’t yet have a job. I spent my days job-hunting, and reading, and watching TV, and pretty much being a bum. Back under watchful eyes, I managed to control my eating somewhat, enough that I didn’t gain more but not enough to actually lose either.

To be continued. . .

Next Installment: Life as an Adult

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Meme - Better Late Than Never

I saw this meme over on Fusion's blog and told him I'd post my answers this past weekend. Well okay I didn't quite make the weekend, but here it is, better late than never.

Do you watch college football?
Why yes, yes I do, and that is a rather recent phenomenon.

Where was the last place you went shopping?
Meijer. I love that store since they opened one close to where I live. It totally rocks, has wide aisles, is very clean, and the prices are good. Given how much I like it I will probably soon find out they pay their employees in rocks and get their goods from slave labor in third world countries.

Do you wish you were someplace else right now?

Do you have any expensive jewelry?
Depends on what you mean by expensive. My watch cost maybe $250 and my wedding set (not sure what I’ll do with them now except leave them in my jewelry box) cost about $1,000 I think. Those are the most expensive pieces I have.

How many hours on average do you work a week?
Forty. I’m an 8:30 to 5:30 girl.

Do you watch The Olympics?
Yes, although I probably watched less the last time they were on than I have in the past.

What is the last restaurant you went to?
Monical’s Pizza, with N as a treat this past week. I kicked myself afterwards because there’s $25 that could’ve been better spent.

Last time you did volunteer work or made any donations?
The very last time? I guess it would be donating cupcakes to the PTA fall festival. Either that or my offering at church.

What do you spend the majority of your money on?
Mortgage payment (including property tax and insurance escrow), 64% of my net income every month, which totally sucks and must change soon, and will as I spent much time yesterday afternoon working on the refinancing. The new payment will be a little less than 40% of my net income every month, and that will be a blessing.

Where does your family live?
Midwest and South USA

Are you an only child or do you have siblings?
One younger brother, FU, who could fall off the face of the earth for all I care.

Ever been called a bitch?
Oh yeah.

Do you have any wealthy friends?
Acquaintances yes, real friends no.

Ever met anyone famous before?
Not really, none that I can think of at the moment.

Ever had to take a sobriety test?

Do you have all your wisdom teeth?
No, two out when I was 19 and the other two ten years later.

Last piece of mail? Not personal, junk, or bill.
Okay, please tell me what kind of mail would not fall into at least one of those three categories?

What is the best city of the state you live in?
Goodness, well I have been partial to Chambana all my life having been enthralled by the great big University there with all of its architectural marvels. Plus it’s big enough to have most everything you need but not so big as to be intimidating. I like that in a city.

What do you think about before you go to bed?
The sudokus that I work to quiet my mind enough to fall asleep.

What would the world be like if everything was in neon colors?

Have you ever made out in a bathroom?
Just a little more than a week ago as a matter of fact.

Are you afraid of spiders?
Not as long as they leave me alone.

Do you like Chinese food?
Yes, as long as it isn’t overly oily.

What is the last movie you saw in theatres?
Madagascar 2. Not nearly as good as the original, but N loved it. The popcorn was good though so I was happy enough to be there.

Is there anyone you wish was still in your life?
Several, but the reason they aren’t is that they died so it would be hard to change that.

Do you get distracted easily?
Hmm? What was the question again?

Would you live with someone without marrying them?
Not only would I, but I have.

Do you have any friends you have known for more than 10 years?
Friends. . . now there’s a concept. No, most people can’t tolerate me that long.

Does the number of people a person sleeps with affect your view of them?
Only if there are a number of people they’re sleeping with at the same time they’re sleeping with me.

Are you a good tipper?
Yes, if the service deserves it. When I sit down at the table the waitperson starts at 15% and as the experience progresses I add to and subtract from that amount for good and bad things that happen. I’ve tipped as much as 25% for truly exceptional service although that’s been rare. Even rarer have been the times when I’ve left a penny tip for truly awful service that didn’t improve no matter what.

Have you ever had a crush on a teacher?

Do you walk around the house naked?
Yes, as long as it isn’t too cold.

If you were an animal, what would it be?
A sloth.

What do you do as soon as you walk in the house after work?
Hang my keys and ID badge on the rack in the utility room.

Do you like horror or comedy?

If you weren't straight what person of the same sex would you do?
Paula Poundstone. I have had a mad crush on her for years.

Have you ever gone fishing and caught a fish?
Gone fishing yes, caught a fish no.

Who is a person your age you can count on most?
Just me.

Where do you want to live when you retire?
Even though I’d love to live somewhere warm, I really would like to live in Chambana so I could keep my season football and basketball tickets. Plus they have an awesome public transportation system and some great retirement communities. Not to mention it is my ideal to live somewhere with an intellectual atmosphere.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Chapter II: Teen Angst and Weight

I got through with grade school, knowing I was too fat, too slow, too klutzy, too smart, and too nerdy to ever be one of the cool kids, part of the "in" crowd. I moved on to junior high, but I didn't go to the public school as I had in grade school. If I went to the public junior high my dad would be one of my teachers. That is generally a no win situation because if he gave me good grades (and being a smart nerd I would probably make good grades) he would be accused of playing favorites, but if he were to set higher standards for me he might put our relationship at risk. Therefore, I went to the only alternative in our small town, a Lutheran school. We weren’t Lutheran, a rarity in the small town in which we lived, nor were we of German descent, another rarity there. This Lutheran school had never had a non-member request to attend prior to my family so they had no tuition set up as they charged none to their members being supported solely through church giving and the occasional fundraiser. So Mom and Dad decided we better attend the Lutheran church and put something in the offering plate on Sundays so that we would be paying our fair share. How does any of this impact my weight? All of it made me feel more and more like an outsider. My teacher used me as an example several times in religion class (and when I look back I am appalled at his behavior and realize I should have told my parents which I never did) like when he pointed out that because I had not been baptized as a baby if I were to die I would be going to Hell unlike the others who had all been baptized as infants and were guaranteed to go to heaven. Hmmm, yeah. I was definitely an outsider, a misfit, just lucky anybody paid me any attention at all. I tried to fit in. I tried really, really hard. I joined the girls' softball team, but rarely got to play due to my lack of athletic ability. I joined the pompom squad, and almost forgot to be embarrassed by my really fat legs under the short, short skirt. I was one of only two girls in the class who had matured early and started our period, and wouldn’t you know it, the other girl was also an outcast. We were the class oddballs. I believe the only thing that kept me from becoming obese at that point was my bicycle. Once I had learned to ride a bike, I loved to ride. In the summer, I would ride for hours and hours, up and down every street in our little town. I can’t even imagine the number of miles I rode on a daily basis. Even during the school year, after school and on weekends I would ride and ride and ride. But anytime I was at home, I was on the prowl for something to eat, always looking to sneak a snack behind Mom’s back, always figuring how big a piece of cake I could take without it being noticed, always seeking out the comfort of my best friend, food.

The summer before eighth grade, Dad got a new job in a new town. I believed that this was my chance to start fresh, to finally be accepted, to be part of the group. (This was the first of a pattern on this line of thinking. I arrived for the first day of school in a quite short mini-dress (it was the mid-70s after all) feeling confident and eager to meet my classmates. Imagine my horror when I learned upon arriving that the “uniform” for my class was jeans, t-shirt, and oversized plaid flannel shirt on top. Everyone, boys and girls, were dressed this way except me. How dare I almost forget that I was a nerd, an outcast? How could I have thought things would be different here? I didn’t even own a pair of jeans, much less a plaid flannel shirt. After school, I went home and ate. I begged my mom for new clothes, clothes that would help me fit in but to no avail. The clothes I had were fine, they fit, and were in good shape. She wasn’t about to waste money on new ones. About halfway through the year I was able to talk her into one pair of Levis although the shopping experience was dreadful as the size she picked for me at first was hideously too small, the next size up still too tight, and finally when the third pair would only zip if I sucked in really, really hard I was in tears. Mom went on and on about how she had no idea I would need such a large size, on and on and on. This shopping trip occurred while we were visiting my Grandma (Dad’s mom) and when we returned to Grandma’s house I headed straight for the kitchen and my best friend, food.

In eighth grade I also learned to find comfort in something other than food, boys. I learned that boys would pay a lot of attention to you if you would let them kiss you and touch you in places that felt pretty good to be touched. Thus began a long line of relationships and encounters that brought me comfort, but apparently (I found out much later) also brought me quite a reputation, and not a good one at that. I pretty much felt that I was a good girl because even though I would do a lot, there was one thing that I never ever did (at least not until much later). Others didn't see me that way. They either saw me as a huge tease, or based on exaggerated stories by some boys, a huge slut.

Somehow, I survived eighth grade. Next year would be different, I thought. I’ll be in high school, a large school with an abundance of diversity. Surely I would fit somewhere there. Or not. I was too smart for the popular crowd, too offbeat for the nerdy crowd, too straight for the stoner crowd. I couldn't find my niche no matter how hard I tried, and I tried and tried and tried. I got involved in every club, every organization from yearbook to drama. I was incredibly busy during my high school years, juggling many extracurricular activities, boyfriends, and academics. As a freshman in high school I was diagnosed with an ulcer and put on a bland diet by my doctor. In spite of having to give up some favorite foods like pizza, French fries, and chocolate, I enjoyed the fact that I was now required to eat snacks at certain times of the day, a fact I loved bringing to my mom's attention. She just knew that this was going to cause me to gain weight. I believe it did, but not a significant amount. In my high school years, I probably went from 125 to 135 - 140 and most of that after the ulcer healed, and I returned to my junk food ways.

I was actually probably happier in high school than at any other time in my life even though I knew I was still too smart, too fat, too klutzy, too much of an outsider. I was happy because I was busy and because I had the respect of many of my teachers even if not of other students. I was not happy with my weight. I knew I was fat. I was 5' 6" and never weighed more than 140 lbs in my high school career, but I knew I was fat. How? Because I wore a size 11 instead of a 9 like my mom, because I had always been fat, because Mom and Dad both often made derogatory comments about my weight, and truth be told when I look in the mirror I don't see much difference between me now and me then. When I looked in the mirror then I saw fat, same as I see now, in spite of the fact that I weigh more than twice as much now as then. Clearly, I have very, very distorted vision when it comes to myself.

To be continued. . .

Next Installment: The Freedom of College

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Chapter I: Born Thin But That Didn’t Last Long

I have not been fat my entire life. I was born a long, thin baby. Although I've been told the stats many times I don't remember my length or weight at birth, but pictures show me as a long thin baby with a mass of black hair.

As a small child, my mom was afraid I wouldn't eat enough to grow (little did she know!). She encouraged me to eat. She encouraged snacks. My earliest memories are of snacking on potato chips, Fritos, Jell-o, popsicles, Kool-aid, Ritz crackers. Oh yes, I was a healthy eater, but I certainly wasn't eating healthy. It wasn't all junk food though. I ate other things too, like cottage cheese which I found made a great dip for Fritos or spread for Ritz crackers.

By the time I was four or five, I was a big girl. Looking at pictures of me back then I was certainly not obese but definitely chunky, a little heavier than your average kid. I was also a klutz, not coordinated, and afraid of getting hurt. I became the original couch potato kid spending more time watching TV and later reading books than engaging in actual physical activity. I remember knowing by the time I went to school that I was overweight and a klutz and an outsider.

When I was entering second grade, we moved to a new town. I started at a new school with strangers to me. I knew that I was fat, a klutz and would definitely be an outsider here. Mom continued to feed me to comfort me, always having a snack on hand when I arrived home from school. I tried to fit in with the other kids but never did. I was too smart, too fat and too unathletic. I was a nerd. So I ate. Food was my only friend, my comfort.

I had a huge turning point in sixth grade. Each quarter at report card time, we would march down to the school office where we would step on the scale, and the school secretary would record our height and weight on our report cards. One quarter end, I weighed in at 122 lbs, and 5' 1" tall. My mother had a fit. Apparently she had not recognized me as fat until this weighin, and she was appalled. I weighed almost as much as she did (of course, I was also only 2 inches shorter than she was). She immediately put me on a diet. No longer was I allowed to eat what I wanted but only what she dictated. She told me I could not be trusted to dip up my own portions at dinner, and she started doling out what she deemed were appropriate amounts. She altered my lunches that I took to school so that sandwiches no longer had two slices of bread, but just one. There were no more between meal snacks. In reaction to this I became the world's best food sneak. I learned how to sneak snacks up my shirt sleeve, in my pockets, tucked in the waistband of my pants. I learned how to eat a few spoonfuls from a container, and stir it up so it didn't (in my mind anyway) look like there was anything missing. Whenever I had extra money (like birthday money or something) I would go buy chips and/or candy with some of it, and tell Mom that whatever toy or book or clothes I bought with the rest were more expensive than they really were. When the next quarter end came, I stayed home "sick" the day I knew we were to be weighed at school. However, when I returned the next day the teacher sent me down to the office to be weighed anyway. Drat. I have no memory of my actual weight that day, but it wasn't significantly different from the prior weigh in. The secretary wrote it down on a piece of paper and sent me back to class. I crumpled up the paper, threw it away, and reported to the teacher that my weight was 110 lbs. She wrote it on my report card, and Mom was thrilled with her success at having gotten my weight under control. Even then, I wondered that nobody could see that my weight was not significantly different, but nobody ever questioned the numbers as reported on the report card, so I suppose people see what they want to see.

To be continued. . .

Next installment: the fun junior high and high school years

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Prologue: Weight, Weight Don’t Tell Me

The title is a play on words from one of my favorite NPR shows (if you don't listen to NPR you really, really should, particularly on the weekends), but this post is the introduction to a series of posts all about my weight and my personal history with my weight.

I originally put this series of posts (minus this Prologue) over on my private blog (which was originally my public blog with this being my secret blog, but over time and for various reasons the two blogs kind of switched purposes and I took the original blog private) so some of you may have read these before. Feel free to read them again, or to ignore them.

I started rereading them the other day when I wanted to share my story with someone and wanted to point them in the right direction so they could read the series. I realized as I skimmed through them that I needed to take heed to some of the things I said in them, particularly the posts about recent years. So I thought I would read them, edit them as need be (I may not have been 100% honest in places since W was a reader of the other blog at the time I originally posted them so I will try to correct that along the way), and post them here. Maybe something I say in them will strike a chord with someone who reads them, and if anything I say can help someone else put their weight issues in perspective then posting is well worth it.

There were eight chapters (posts) originally. I imagine that will turn into nine by the time I’m finished here as the ninth chapter will carry the chronology up through the present time.

This series will be tagged with only one label, Weight Weight Don’t Tell Me, thereby making it easier to go back and read the series as a series once it is completed.

Coming soon: the early years

Friday, November 21, 2008

Better Than the Jelly of the Month Club?

We got our holiday bonuses at work today -- a whopping $15 gift card for a local supermarket. Well, we also got the obligatory letter telling us how valued we employees are and that the gift card "is a simple gesture to contribute to your enjoyment of the holidays and to say Happy Holidays to you and your family."

Heh, it's not even the gift that keeps on giving the whole year through, Clark. I can spend $15 at the supermarket in the first aisle alone.

No bonus points if you know the movie reference, but demerits to anyone who doesn't.

I've Done It Before, But It's Probably Time Again

I hate the results I got. However, I think I hate them because they make me uncomfortable and feel all too real.

ColorQuiz.comTrueself took the free personality test!

"Longs for a tender and sympathetic bond and for a ..."

Click here to read the rest of the results.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Preachin' Poll

After my experience in the pulpit I decided to put up a poll to see how my readers would react if invited to preach. For the first few days the poll was up everybody was responding that they had no church. I'll admit that freaked me out just a little. Great, I thought. Here I am asking a question that will have a 100% answer of "Not Applicable." Well, apparently the churched among us just took longer to answer. Perhaps they had to think harder about their answer than the unchurched. The unchurched, much like vegetarians at a steakhouse, only really had one option. The churched had a whole menu from which to choose.

What the poll eventually showed is that I am every bit the freak of nature I claim to be. Not one person chose the option I would have had I voted in the poll. Oh well. . .

The final results:

If you were invited to preach at your church, would you?
Absolutely! I'd love to. 0 (0%)
Probably, if they were persuasive enough. 2 (10%)
Maybe, but I doubt it. 2 (10%)
Not a chance! 6 (31%)
I don't have a church. 9 (47%)

To the almost half of you without a church I'd just like to say I'd love to see you at mine anytime, whoever you are, whatever you are, wherever you are.

Late edit (11:35 a.m.):
Okay, this has bugged me ever since I posted this earlier this morning. The percentages above, although exactly as reported on the Blogger poll, don't add to 100% due to rounding. They aren't just one off though. They are two off. It only adds to 98%. So I recalculated and found that they didn't round, they truncated. If I had designed the poll results format the percentages would round rather than truncate. Also I probably would have run them out to one decimal place.

So here are the real results:
Absolutely! I'd love to. 0 (0%)
Probably, if they were persuasive enough. 2 (10.5%)
Maybe, but I doubt it. 2 (10.5%)
Not a chance! 6 (31.6%)
I don't have a church. 9 (47.4%)

Now they add to 100%. I feel better. (Damned accountant's brain.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Self Confidence (or a lack thereof)

It shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who reads this blog with any frequency that I often suffer from a lack of self confidence. I am always surprised when I succeed at anything. I am rarely surprised when I fail in the eyes of others. I expect people to expect me to fail.

I had a dream last night that was very much about my lack of self confidence. I went through this dream apologetic and clingy and desperate. I awoke relieved to be rid of the dream but not so relieved when I thought about what that dream said to me about me.

The message of the dream came through loud and clear. I am not good enough for anyone. I am not good enough as a friend. I am not good enough as a loving partner. I am not good enough as a bus driver. (Okay that one was weird, but in the dream I ended up with the bus parked cattywampus on the lawn rather than on the street where it should have been so obviously I’m not a good bus driver. Besides that I didn’t get the bus back on time. And no, in real life I have never driven a bus.) “I am not good enough!” shouted my dream at me.

It left me shaken, that dream of mine did. It has continued to haunt me throughout the day today. Clearly I need to work on my self confidence and self esteem. Clearly I need to be a little less hard on myself. On the other hand, maybe I just need to accept that I’m not ever going to be any more or better than I am and stop beating myself up for it. Maybe it is time to accept what a flawed and pathetic individual I am and instead of berating myself for it just accept it. Give up the fight to be more than I can be and just accept myself as I am. I still haven’t said it right. What am I trying to say here? I don’t know.

And that is why I continue to have these dreams. My subconscious is trying to work through that which I can’t articulate and/or face in my conscious mind.

And somehow it is all about self confidence, or a lack thereof.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

All for Want of a Skillet

I had a set of four cast iron skillets. I have had three of them – tiny, small and medium – since I was in college and a boyfriend of mine bought them for me so I could play housewife and cook good stuff for him at his apartment. The fourth, a very large skillet, I bought at a yard sale some years ago. When W moved out he took the two smallest skillets, and I was okay with that. I rarely ever used those two. Now he wants the medium skillet which is my workhorse cast iron skillet. It’s the one in which I bake cornbread. It’s the one in which I do the bulk of the cast iron skillet cooking in my kitchen from sautéing to frying to making grilled cheese sandwiches. It is old, well used, and therefore well seasoned. Now he freakin’ wants it! Umm, no. Sorry.

There aren’t a lot of things I’ll fight for, but I’ve got a short list of things that are non-negotiable to me:

Our Illini season tickets
My two remaining cast iron skillets
My baby grand piano
My KitchenAid mixer
My wingback chair
I will get these few things in this divorce settlement.

How dare he? HOW_DARE_HE?!?!? How dare he encroach on my short list? WTF is he thinking? Out of a half dozen things that are truly important to me he wants two of them. I would have even bent on the Illini season tickets probably. However, when he goes after my cast iron skillet? Now them there’s fightin’ words bubba. I’ll whack him over the head with it before I’ll give it to him.

Oh, we were all so cooperative in this divorce thing until he found out that in our state he will be unable to avoid paying child support. Ever since then it has just been one nitpicky thing after another. Bastard. Petty bullshit. Petty bullshit that he knows will push my buttons. I have tried hard not to let on how much he is pushing my buttons, but I must say the volcano is getting close to eruption. Mighty close. . .

Grrr. . . . . yes, that IS steam you see coming from my ears.

Monday, November 17, 2008

When the Train of Thought Derails

Reason #352 Why W and I shouldn’t be together
When we were at the Illini football game on Saturday (hey, we have season tickets together at least thru this season so yeah we spend time together at the games) W repeatedly got snotty with people as they came and went in our row. I’m surprised that no physical fights broke out given his nasty comments as people made their way past us. OMG, he embarrasses the crap out of me. At least next year I won’t have to sit next to him during football season.

About Those Season Tickets
I had decided a while back that I would claim the season football tickets for me in the divorce settlement but hadn’t yet spoken to W about it. I know the home games are over for this year. However, come next year we can renew those season tickets. Getting new season tickets, rather than renewing, could be dicey (although that’s unlikely given the state of Illini football) or at the very least could mean settling for worse seats. On Saturday W brought up that he might not renew the season tickets next year. As soon as I expressed interest in taking them over he backpedaled faster than a hawk swoops on a rabbit. Good lord, are we going to hit a snag in the divorce proceedings over season football tickets? Really? I am, after all, the Illinois alum. He’s not. It only seems fair to me that I get the football seats. Hopefully, he’ll come around to seeing it my way. If not, I can always go for part of the investment account we have held in joint tenancy even though it is money that came from his side of the family. I’ve bent over backwards to be fair as we’ve discussed dividing things up and allow him to have the entire $45K in addition to his share of the equity in our house. I suppose if he must have those season tickets I can just ask for my half of the investment account. There you go buddy, start to be unreasonable and shoot yourself in the foot.

Crying Jag
Had a doozy of a crying jag yesterday. Not my proudest moment. Curled up in a ball like a baby, laid on the bed, and BJ held me. He held me until I was all cried out, and it took a long time before I was all cried out. It felt good, cathartic. It was a release of a lot of pent up frustrations and anxieties over my current financial situation.

Too Darned Cold
Why is it that with the temperature outside hovering in the upper 30s, they are blowing cold air onto us cubicle rats here at work? It is so not fair. I’m sitting here with a sweater on over my sweater, and I’m still cold. Somebody want to turn on the heat? Please?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Red Alert!! Temper Tantrum Ahead

Being petty. Not good. No, no, no. Must calm down.

W called earlier. Wanted to tell me how Q and he were looking at houses this morning, and Q’s back started hurting real bad. He took her to an urgent care facility where they declared she had a pulled muscle in her back. They gave her a muscle relaxant.

I’m listening to this thinking, “Ok. I’m thrilled (do you detect the sarcasm here? If not, reread with sarcasm in mind) to have the update. Is there a point?” Of course I didn’t say that, and eventually he finally got around to the point.

Due to taking longer at the urgent care facility than anticipated he can’t pick N up from the after school program as he was supposed to on his weekend because he still has to drive Q home (a couple hours away) and then return here which would have already happened if she hadn’t been in so much pain. (Oh Q, you poor baby. Really. I think of all the times I’ve needed W to take care of me and the quality of the job he’s done. Well, at least Q will learn early what a zero he is at caretaking.)

Of course with this being W’s weekend with N I have plans with BJ, plans that up until a half hour ago didn’t include N. Now due to timing of the Illini basketball game BJ and I are to attend this evening we must include N in our dinner plans and get N back to W before we head off to the game. Not to mention that it is going to push us timewise to get N, eat, get N to W’s and still get all the way to the game on time.


My reaction to all this:
I want to poke Q in the back with a sharp stick, repeatedly.
I want to whack W over the head with the same stick, repeatedly.
I want to protect N from hurt feelings over feeling W is prioritizing Q over him.
I want to not make BJ mad because our plans have to be modified.
I want to tell all of them to go the f*#$ away and leave me alone and let me sulk for a while.
I want the world to revolve around me for a change. When the f*#$ is it my turn?

Okay. Tantrum finished. Time to put on my big girl panties and deal with all of this maturely. Which I will. Now that I’ve vented. Privately. In front of the entire internet.

Hmm, now that I think about it I don’t think I even said to W how sorry I was to hear Q wasn’t feeling well. Oh dear. Where on earth were my manners?

Who Me?

N has done the impossible -- gotten me to like hip hop.

One of my favorites:

Independent -- that's me!!


BTW - See the poll to the right? Vote on it dang it! I can tell by my stats you're dropping by so vote!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Therapy in a Blog Post

Let me start by saying that I know that this is what I wanted. I wanted W and me to split up. I wanted us to move on without each other. I wanted us to go our separate ways. Goodness knows I have had my share of male companionship both before and after he moved out. I know, I know, I know.

Yet the feelings I have about his relationship with Q are all too real. I don’t want him back. That isn’t at all a part of the feeling. However, I felt like we were reaching a kind of even keel, a place where I was comfortable, a place where we were cooperating and working together for N’s best interests. Now we’ve gone from him telling me about Q just over a week ago to her staying at his apartment, being introduced to N and me, all in what feels like a whirlwind time frame. It has all left me somewhat breathless.

I’m sure if you asked W he would claim that I am no more knocked off kilter than he was when I finally asked him to move out of the house, or when I introduced him to BJ when we all met at a local street festival. I’m sure that he would claim introducing N to Q is no different than me introducing N to BJ. In many ways, he would be right.

Right or wrong, this has me reeling. I was just getting my mind wrapped around the idea of W with a new lady and had just talked to my counselor on Tuesday night about the best way to introduce N to her and to broach the subject at some later point about both BJ and Q becoming more permanent fixtures in our little world. My counselor helped me with a strategy for approaching W to talk it over and for the two of us together to sit down with N and talk to him about these changes in family dynamics.

Then BOOM! I go to pick N up from W’s apartment after work yesterday, and there they are, all three of them, W, N and Q, all together. I have no warning. I am not prepared. I am caught quite off guard. W, in his usual polite way, makes no move to introduce Q and me to one another so Q introduces herself to me. For the rest of the time I was there she talked incessantly even when I was trying to deal with some practical issues with W that needed attending. She interjected her opinion when W chastised me for letting N wear a hoodie instead of his winter coat yesterday. She interjected when I asked W about whether he wanted to make a purchase for N’s school fundraiser. She offered her opinion on every little thing until I just wanted to flee the scene as soon as possible. I stopped talking pretty much altogether other than to say we really must get home now. It was clear that I could not have any discussion with W in Q’s presence. It was equally clear to me that she was trying way too hard, possibly out of nerves or maybe it’s just how she is. I don’t know. For now, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt. After all, it’s got to be nerves when a person feels compelled to give their best Alvin and the Chipmunks impersonation within moments of meeting her boyfriend’s soon to be ex-wife. Right?

One thing the counselor had said to me was that N would pick up his cues from me on how to react to W’s new relationship, and I thought of that as I was there and afterwards as we drove home. I never let N see anything but positive or neutral reaction from me towards the situation. He asked me in the car if this meant that he was now going to have two moms and two dads. I told him I didn’t know what his dad’s plans are with Q, and he would have to ask his dad. I told him I didn’t know much about the situation or about Q. N told me he didn’t either.

Oh, and I named her Q for the blog because I just feel like everything I feel about her right now is just one big QUESTION.

But you know what? Here’s the thing. No matter what we’re going through right now, and no matter how tough it gets or what feelings I have about it, I still feel that W and me not being together is the right thing. Things are much more peaceful for me without him. I am proving to myself every day that I can handle so much more (including the big ugly bug in the bathtub recently, which was handled very effectively by drowning and then using copious amounts of toilet tissue to gingerly lift its dead carcass out of the tub and deposit it in the trash) than I thought I could ever do. I am able to continue on by myself. I do not need W as I once thought that I did. Had I not been so needy it would have been infinitely easier for me to leave W. Q coming into the picture has shaken me largely because it takes away a fallback position for me. If I had to I could turn to W for help. With Q in the picture I can’t really do that anymore. Truth be told, I shouldn’t have seen W that way anyway. If I’m going to be on my own, I need to be on my own, not leaning on my soon to be ex for advice and assistance when things break at the house or when I don’t know how to do something.

Amazing what a little thinking and a little writing out those thoughts can do for a person. Rereading this I can see movement from a not so good place to a better place as I worked my through this to write about it. Blogging as therapy. What a concept.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Because Everybody Loves a Surprise

Bleepity bleepity bleep bleep bleepity bleep!

Met W's new girlfriend, Q, today. Unbeknown to me he introduced N to her today as she is apparently staying at his apartment for a few days. Lovely.

How I tried to present myself:

How I felt on the inside:

Bleepity bleepity bleep bleep bleepity bleep!

The Sermon Experience

A couple of commenters asked on the last post for me to talk about the experience of preaching for a day as a layperson. I am happy to oblige, mostly because I planned on writing a post about it anyway. ;-)

First, I’m going to address the whiney part. Yes, I’m a bit whiney about one part of what happened. There were three people in the world that I specifically wanted to have attend, mostly to provide me moral support so I would know 100% that I could look to them for encouragement and see someone at least feigning interest in what I had to say. Two of the three I specifically invited to attend. The third is generally there anyway so I didn’t bother to extend a specific invitation although I did make sure this person was aware I would be speaking that day. As it turns out none of the three were there. I felt let down. I have addressed it with each of them though in a very casual way so as not to let on just how hurt I was and received apologies that were probably appropriate for the level of care I expressed. So now it’s time to move on, let go of those hurt feelings, and never speak of it again. Amen.

Preparation for the sermon was interesting, and daunting, and not something I think I would want to do on a weekly basis (though if I were a seminary trained minister I could more quickly access the types of information I sought and would have had a firmer foundation from which to start, so there is that). However, it was quite enlightening to me to see just how much research could be done via the internet. I could read several different versions of the Bible passage and compare them quite easily without having to surround myself with several large books. I could read sermons by others based on the same passage or theme. If I were inclined to pay for the privilege I could have had an even greater wealth of information available to me. Yes, I took the task seriously and did not just “throw something together.” I prayed before and while I wrote. I honestly feel that God drew me to my topic and many of my words. It was indeed a spiritual experience to prepare a sermon.

I had the sermon finished, for the most part, almost a week in advance. That is when I started tweaking and rethinking and eventually overthinking much of it. When all was said and done though it stayed pretty much as it had been other than switching the order of a couple of sections of it to improve the flow. I don’t know why, but I kept putting off rehearsing it out loud. I went over it time and again in my head, but I only spoke it twice before actually giving it at church. If I hadn’t needed to time it I’m not sure I would’ve gotten it spoken even that many times ahead of time. It timed out to 14 minutes by the way, which was well within the 8 to 20 minute range that I was told would be acceptable.

N and I arrived at church for the Sunday School hour, and while he attended Sunday School I made a pest of myself to anyone I could find who was in charge in any way. I was nervous so I wandered about like a puppy dog nipping at the heels of one person and another. Finally, I sat in the very back of the sanctuary and meditated for a while to calm myself.

I was responsible for nothing during the service except the sermon. Someone else led the service, and a third person read the scriptures. I was lucky to be able to sit behind the pulpit largely unseen until sermon time. I was also lucky that there was a particularly full sanctuary that day. I believe it would be harder to speak to a sparse crowd than a thick one, easier to look out at the masses than to meet eyes with a few, at least for me.

In the past, when speaking before crowds my hands would shake and become clammy. For whatever reason, last Sunday this didn’t occur. Yes there was some nervousness, but there was also an overriding calmness. I felt safe. I felt accepted. I felt at home. We should all feel that way within our church communities though I haven’t always in other churches I’ve attended. I was pleased as I looked out on the congregation that for the most part people looked attentive rather than bored or distracted. People actually seemed to be listening to me! I even got a few chuckles at times when I had hoped people would. It was a most uplifting experience to be there in that pulpit sharing a message I felt strongly about and having it well received.

Afterwards I received much praise from people in attendance. It is so much my nature to not believe most praise, to think that it is said in politeness more than anything. However, I am trying to trust the genuineness of people when they say nice things and to reply with a simple “Thank you” rather than protesting against compliments. I don’t know why, but I expected there to be criticism that my sermon was lightweight, not learned enough, perhaps even to have someone point out some theological error that I made somewhere (hence all my earlier research to try to prevent such things). However, none of that happened. Perhaps people were kind because I am, after all, just a layperson, or perhaps they sincerely were touched by the message I shared just as it seems some of my readers here are.

Whatever the case, overall I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and might entertain the offer to do it again sometime in the future. The one thing I’ll change next time is that I will not specifically expect anyone to attend to be my support system. It turns out I stand on my own two feet pretty well with God as my support system.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sermon Transcript

Let me start with a shocking statement:

I am a sinner.

Yes I am a sinner, standing before you today to preach to you. I am also going to make another shocking statement:

No one has ever stood before you here or in any other church or in any other forum and preached that wasn’t a sinner.

I know! This is shocking! Yet it is true. There is not one of us sitting here today, not one, who does not commit sin. No matter how much we try we surely fail in some way by not doing that which our Creator would have us do. Yet we often want to think that because someone is a pastor, a preacher, a teacher, a Christian, a friend, a [insert your label of choice here], that they must be above sin, and that my friends is holding others to a standard that is impossible for any one of us human types to manage.

Let me start with a little story with you about a conversation between my mom and me back when I was in high school. I remember clearly that she told me this when we were in the car, pulling into our carport after some shopping trip. We had been discussing accepting Christ as Savior, and how that happens and when, and given her Baptist upbringing and mine we were talking about it within the context of the altar call at the end of the service. She told me about how as a teen she attended a revival with several friends of hers. Over the course of several evenings almost all went forward to accept Christ. She was the lone holdout. “Why?” I asked. She said, “Because I wasn’t ready yet to give up some of my sins, and I knew I couldn’t keep sinning once I accepted Christ.” Huh. This gave me pause. By that point in my life, I had gone forward and accepted Christ and been baptized. I knew that I, as the rather typical teen with curiosities of one kind and another, still sinned on occasion. I suddenly felt like a fraud. I thought I had really messed this one up, and yet. . . and yet something deep down told me that I wasn’t about to burn in hell, that God and I were good with each other. I thought I must have misunderstood what my mom meant and sought clarification. “So are you saying that once you became a Christian you never sinned again?” I thought this was so absurd that she’d have to tell me I misunderstood, and that she meant something else. “That’s right. Once I finally accepted Christ I never sinned again.” “Never?” I think I had a shocked, incredulous look on my face. “Never,” she said firmly. And with that she got out of the car, walked into the house, and we never spoke of it again. It took me years to get over that little conversation because I knew then, and I still know today, that I am not without sin in my life. For a long time I thought I was failing at being a Christian.

How am I doing so far? Feeling uplifted yet? No? Oh dear. Well, let’s go look at the passage from Philippians Chapter 2 that was read earlier and see if we can find something to help, something that will give us a better model for a Christian life than having to be perfect or having to expect perfection out of others.

Let’s start with a look at the first four verses.

2:1 If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2:2 make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 2:3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 2:4 Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.

The writer speaks not of being perfect, or requiring perfection of others, but of humbling ourselves and serving one another. We are not told to look down on others but “in humility regard others as better than yourselves.” Regard others – sinners that they are for yes, they have sin in their lives guaranteed – regard others as better than yourselves. Can I say it one more time? In humility, see your own sins and shortcomings and regard others, with whatever sins and shortcomings they have, as better than yourselves. Maybe Mom had it wrong, just a little, with her expectations of a perfect life free from sin, and I will tell you that she has mellowed over time and begun to accept those of us who fall short of perfection. Given that she has me for a daughter that’s a very good thing!

So how do we make sure that we live that life of humility day to day? By loving and caring for and being compassionate to others, NO MATTER WHAT their circumstances may be. But, you are thinking, surely you don’t mean THOSE PEOPLE. Not the neighbor that put up signs supporting the wrong candidates in the recent election. Um, yes, actually I do. Well, not the college kids next door with their loud late night parties. Um, yes, them too. But, you are thinking, yard signs are nothing, loud parties are trivial; you surely don’t mean the people I know who drink too much, or smoke, or lie, or cheat, or steal, or, you know, any of a number of things that are on the “bad list.” Surely, I should treat those people harshly so that they will know the error of their ways. Um, actually, not only am I saying, but the Bible is saying, that you should look not to your own interests but to the interests of others. It does not say only to the interests of others who agree with you or only the interests of others who are without sin. Nope. It says you should look not to your own interests but to the interests of others. Is it in the interest of others to talk behind their backs about their flaws and shortcomings as you see them? Is it in the interest of others to shame them into submission or to try and force others to see things your way through brute force and ugliness? Is it in the interest of others to make sure that they know that you are so very much better than them for any reason at all? Is that God’s way? Or is it in the interest of others to at least try to see things from their perspective, and to approach them with a spirit of cooperation and with tact and respect? Think on these things when you choose your words and actions.

As we move on through the scripture, the writer in verses 5-8, sets Jesus out as our example:

2:5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, 2:6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 2:7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 2:8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death-- even death on a cross.
How, then, should we act in this life? Well, if we believe that Jesus is to be an example of a Godly life then we should humble ourselves, look around for how we can serve others, not how others can serve us, look for ways to be obedient to God’s call to be a good steward of all the resources that we are fortunate enough to have under our care. Realize that it isn’t just all about us, but it is about us being a part of something much bigger than ourselves. It is about becoming nurturing rather than destructive. It is about giving rather than taking. It is about sharing rather than hoarding. It is all about working on ourselves to be the best that we can be, to show the world through our words and our actions that being Christian means being caring, not judgmental.

The things I’m talking about don’t have to be big momentous things, though they can be. Sometimes they can be the simplest things. When I was in college some years ago, I worked at name of place where I worked. Almost every day when I walked back to my dorm after work I saw a scruffy looking older gentleman, someone I considered one of THOSE PEOPLE, sitting at the edge of a nearby park. He would say hello to me every day, and I would say hello back. Eventually, he got brave enough to ask me if I had a moment to talk. I hesitated, ever shy and ever leery of strangers, particularly scruffy looking ones. However, Lincoln Avenue is pretty busy, and I truly didn’t have any reason to rush so I stopped. I sat and talked with him. He lived down the street he said and was lonely. He liked to come out and sit and be part of the community even though not many were willing to stop and talk to him. He thanked me for stopping and taking some time with him. From then on, when he was there I would stop to chat. Sometimes we would only chat a few minutes. Other times maybe a half hour. I don’t remember what we chatted about, but I do remember that we spent time together nourishing each other with friendship in what can sometimes seem a pretty friendless world. It took little effort or time and no money for me to bring some caring into his world and for him to do the same for me. I like to think that he and I were each doing a little of God’s work through those chats.

As you move through life, focus on what God wants, not what I want, not what you want. As we look forward into the future of this congregation, this church, we need to focus on what God wants from us and for us rather than what we want. We need to head into the future with our eye on what God is asking us to do and be within this community. We need to prayerfully consider our role in this world of ours. We each need to look inside our hearts and see if we are living our faith. Living our faith is different than pounding someone over the head with it, or pointing out how wrong someone else is, or holding ourselves and others to impossible standards. Living our faith is about loving and serving others so much that they can’t help but want to have what we have, that special individual relationship with God. Living our faith ought to have people talking about what a light we are in a dark world. We need to find our voices and let our faith shine throughout our community. We need to make sure people know that we won’t be looking for their flaws or their sins when they are with us, that we won’t be standing around waiting to pounce when they aren’t perfect. We need to let people know that we are a caring people, a people who, though flawed, just want to share God’s love with all those who need it. And we all, very much, need it.

Flaky and 21

No, that's not my assessment of the average college coed.

Flaky was the weather yesterday -- as in I saw the first snowflakes of the season yesterday. No, there weren't many and no there wasn't any snowy residue left on the ground. There were just a few floating through the air, off and on, throughout the afternoon.

21 was the temperature (fahrenheit not celsius) reported by the local weathercaster on TV this morning when I tuned in while getting ready for work.

So, where the heck is that global warming thing I've been hearing about? Snowflakes and temperatures in the 20s in November?!? C'mon people. I've still got football games to attend. Not to mention N doesn't have the leaves all raked yet (although he's doing a fine job and earning $2 a bag for his efforts).

Coming soon to a blog near you:

A transcript of the sermon I gave in church yesterday. Yes, yesterday was my preaching debut. It very well may have been both my first and last. Then again, who knows?

Friday, November 07, 2008

When Artistic Impulses Go Awry

(sung to the tune of Jack Hayford’s hymn Majesty)

Jealousy, suffering Jealousy, I’m a loser to be jealous of you and your life.
Jealousy, where is it getting me? I’m so alone, weeping alone, causing me strife.
So get up, get off my butt, stop being stupid, no time to wait, appreciate the treasures I have.
Jealousy, giving up Jealousy, I have my life, my son and my man. What else could I need?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Just an Aside

Did anybody else notice that Obama's acceptance speech took a turn towards sounding a bit like Bob the Builder towards the end?

Can we fix it?

Yes we can!!

What I Need to Do, In a Nutshell

Less Thinking

More Doing

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Reasons to Feel Better Today

Obama is president elect.

I spoke with my counselor last night, and she helped me start to work through my feelings about W’s bombshell. Her first piece of advice: just breathe.

BJ and I get to spend a little time together tomorrow evening.

N got 95% right on his latest spelling test which isn’t bad for a kid who has struggled with spelling and reading since he started school.

I have great gobs of green goo exiting my lungs and sinuses which is much better than being unable to dislodge them as has been the case the last couple of days.

The weather is unseasonably warm and beautiful, almost enough to make me forget that it’s fall with winter coming.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Emotions Don’t Really Care About Intellect

Yesterday, W dropped a bomb on me. He told me he is seeing someone. She lives a couple of hours away but is looking for a job here so that she can move to this area. According to him (and these are his words), “She’s older, in her 50s.” (Uh, yeah, she’s older than me, but she’s still 15-20 years younger than he is.) She intends to buy a house once she moves here, and when W’s lease is up on his apartment he intends to move in with her.

Now, part of me is thrilled. Part of me is thinking this is a very good thing because I no longer have to feel guilty about breaking up the marriage. Part of me is thinking that I no longer will have to feel responsible to take care of him if something happens. Part of me is thinking that this will make moving forward with the divorce so much easier because he is as eager to get it over with as I am.

Yeah, there is all that.

Then there’s this other part. This other part is hurt. . . and sad. . . and a little scared. This other part feels a little like I’ve lost control of a situation (that I didn’t have control over anyway, but let’s not get all logical here ’kay?) that I thought I had in my pocket.

I’m getting what I want – my freedom – so why does it feel so icky?


Oh yeah, and for my U.S. readers if you haven’t already, don’t forget to vote. That, or be prepared to just shut up for the next four years about whoever is elected and whatever they do. Just sayin'. . .

Monday, November 03, 2008

A Cheerier Interlude

Today I'm relenting on my stance of only posting stuff about me, me, me because I want to share with you an excerpt from an email I received this morning from a lovely woman who attends my church. She sent this email churchwide so I'm pretty sure she won't mind me sharing it anonymously with the world. I have excluded the parts of the email that were more personal or personally identifying. Therefore, I need to set the stage somewhat and let you know that she had taken someone to the county clerk's office to vote early when the following took place. Also, if you are the emotional type you may want to have a tissue on hand by the time you reach the end of the story.

A very elderly and fragile African-american woman came in the door with her son and a young woman. The son held his mother's arm while she walked with a cane and the young woman carried her oxygen tank along the hall and around the corner to the end of the line of mostly white voters, some of whom had now been waiting close to an hour.

After a few minutes I saw them come back down the hall and I heard the son say, "Mama, do you want to try again another day when the line might be shorter?"

There was a very tall man at the front of the line who could see what was happening and heard what was said. I guessed by his look of concern that he was thinking the same thing I was, so I rushed down the hall to the woman and her family. I told her not to leave, but to go to the front of the line. She asked me, " Honey, do you think that will be ok?" I didn't ask anyone else for their opinion, I just told her that of course it would be ok.

The young woman went to the front of the line and spoke to the people there and not only did they make a place for the woman, but someone found her a chair. As I walked back to my place to wait for my son, several of the people thanked me for stepping in to help the woman. Although I had just unilaterally increased everyone's wait by several more minutes, no one complained.

At the time, I was very proud of my fellow citizens, but afterward I began to wonder what made us all react the way we did to this one person's desire to vote and I think that the answer is that for that one period of time in that one place, we were a COMMUNITY UNITED in common cause. By the simple act of showing up to vote, we had agreed to the rules that govern all truly united communities:

Everyone regardless of their life situation has value.

Everyone has the right to be heard and to be treated with respect even when we disagree.

We are all responsible for taking care of one another.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Right on Target

Today's Horoscope:

You are seeking a deep connection now with someone who can lift your spirits. But it's not easy for you to let go of the concerns you have, which could place walls between you and a special friend. Instead of letting your fears get in the way, do the sensible thing and talk about your feelings. This can break the ice and open a path that would otherwise remain closed.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

New Month, New Outlook?

Umm, no. No new outlook yet at least, but yeah at least it's a new month. May November suck a lot less than October did.

I came down with another cold, or relapsed into the last one. Either way, it totally fucked up my plans for the weekend. First, I didn't get to go to the Illini football game. Second, I'm not getting to go to the Halloween party tonight. Third, although I totally understand that BJ doesn't want me to pass my cold on to him it is still disappointing that he didn't offer to come over even if just to bring me a little something to eat or something. Intellectually, I completely understand. Emotionally, it left me hurting.

I'm in a bitchy mood. Bitchy, bitchy, bitchy. So just ignore me. I'm trying to.