When Size 22 Is Too Small

As I write this, I am staring at a picture of myself that I took just this morning. Fresh out of the shower and naked. Boy, have I been lying to myself. Drooping breasts meet the first of two rolls on my stomach forming some sort of grotesque Muppet eyes and a smile. Following it downward, I can’t see between my legs. A tuft of hair is swallowed by two gigantic thighs. Turning to the side so I could judge my rear end, it just gets worse. I am amazed that I was able to squeeze into an airplane seat this past weekend. The buckle barely fit. I am also astounded that I haven’t knocked over more small children when I suddenly turn around.

Size 22 jeans don’t fit anymore. In fact, none of my clothes do. As I stood there waiting for the timer to expire on my camera, I thought how horrible it would be to have to go buy, bigger clothes. The thought makes me sick to my stomach.

I am fat. I am gigantic. I am the heaviest I have ever been. I am scared. I am fed up. I am angry with myself. I wanted to type the word, “depressed” there for just a moment, but it’s not depression anymore.  I have been making excuses for myself for far too long and it’s time that they fucking stop.

I’ve attempted weight loss before and have been successful, but I usually stop as soon as progress is made. It is a hangup I can’t quite seem to understand. My first week of Weight Watchers yielded a seven pound loss. Seven pounds! I gave up the next week, perhaps thinking I was Supergirl and I could see those results without really trying. As with any yo yo diet, I go down and then get even heavier than I was to start with. Four years ago, I was hovering around 285.

My weight today is 320 lbs. You may throw up now in disgust. I already have.

So what’s the plan? I’m going to treat this like any 12 step program. Today I have truly admitted that I have a problem. I have rejoined Weight Watchers. I am planning out my meals for the week. I have rid the house of anything tempting. I am going to the gym tonight and tomorrow night and the next.

I have always been able to fight for things that I believe in. It’s high time that I starting believing in myself.

Bathroom Remodel Update

Things are progressing well and I think we’re still on target. Toilet was re-installed last night (Thank GOD), rest of the tiles on the wall were done this morning and Evan is now grouting. Once that’s done, a little bit of painting, drilling and hanging.

Weekend Bathroom Remodel

Some random person (a.k.a My Father): “You’re going to remodel the bathroom in a weekend?

Me: “Yep.”

SRP(AKA: MF): “But, how?!”

Me: “With the super powers of my contractor brother (a.k.a Your Son).”

Fade to black. Open on Kate’s bathroom at approximately 6:30 p.m Friday night.

Insert music montage of demo here.

I particularly like Chloe’s pose upon the bathroom floor as we took out her drinking fountain (a.k.a. the sink). She was very confused.

So we’re up early today and I will update with new pictures. Wish us luck!

Looking Out the Window of My Mother’s Hospital Room

Mom was admitted into the hospital on Sunday of last week, with what we thought was pneumonia and a coumadin bleed. After some concern by Pulmonary experts, she has undergone a few scans and procedures. She took a turn for the worse last night when her oxygen dropped and the threat of a respirator lingered. She has since calmed her coughing and bleed and today but the threat of intubation remains should she have another spell.  She’s asked me to transcribe her thoughts and update her condition when we can and the first post is below. I have instructed her to try and stay positive as you’ll see below.

(Copied from her site)

Frozen In The Snow Lie Roses Sleeping

January 12, 2011 | Filed Under Life | Leave a Comment

(Mom’s own words as transcribed by me)

I am about to enter surgery with some possibilty of relief or possibility of being scared to death. We are in the middle of a New England Blizzard and I am lying here in an ICU bed, meeting and greeting with doctors. My window is open and I am seeing furious wind-driven snow. Last night I was told I would be silent and I called my daughter and she drove through this, so she could hear my voice in person. She sits with me now typing my thoughts.
I face this procedure with fear, but also surrounded by great love.

I am confident that in the spring the roses will bloom and I will be here to witness and photograph them. There will be no picture today because the white screen perfectly expresses my feelings. The white screen is a picture of hope, love, and empty space to write the rest of my life and the future that I have. There is pure light and pure love.

Addendum for Kate:

The last twenty four hours have been an emotional roller coaster. There has been uncertain speculation coupled with moments of fear and then minutes of relief. Luckily in the past 14 hours, those minutes have been expanding.  The one thing that is of any certainty however, is the in-pouring of prayers and love. Thank you. She needs all the positive thoughts in the world right now, and I know we can give them to her.

Please feel free to leave her comments of support. Once we have some confirmed prognosis, or if she wants to talk a bit more, I will update the site.

An Open Letter to Those With a Voice

I don’t care who you are. I don’t care on what side of the political spectrum you stand. I don’t care about what network you utilize. Anyone of you who has ever spouted hate or misconceptions is partly at fault for this tragedy in Arizona. Sure, I realize you didn’t pull the trigger. You weren’t even there. Or wait, maybe you were. Maybe you attended in the thoughts of an unstable individual who after listening to such poisonous rhetoric couldn’t discern reality from fiction.

See, normally in the wake of such horrible news we shed our fear and disagreements only to identify which each other on a human level. We take care of each other.  Yet there is  small contingent of the populace that does not want to lay down their anger and fear of the other side. They’d rather spout more hate and confusion.

I am also not saying you are directly responsible for those thoughts and feelings, but take in mind that like any hunger, fear needs fuel to grow. Anger needs sustenance. You need to realize that because of your position, you help guide the feelings of this nation. My plea to you is that you start utilizing this immense power to start feeding hope.

If you are a voice of this nation in the media, politics, or talk show host, you need to think. If you know that people will follow you to the ends of the Earth, then I beg you to plead calm and reasoning. Evoke change in our systems through healthy debate and discourse. Challenging your readers/viewers/listeners to fight intolerantly instead of using their brains to solve problems sets the lowest common denominator back down to Neanderthal. We are better than this as a people, as a nation, as individuals. You are better than this in guiding us with your words.

It’s time to start showing it.

—-

Update: I had an interesting conversation with a friend about personal responsibility. While I am a strong advocate for that principle, I think it applies to everyone. For instance, I agree that stating the shooter was responsible for his actions. But I also would agree that people who have a world stage unto which they spout hatred and inflammatory statements are responsible for those words and how they are consumed.

2010 In Review

You know, I’m sitting here trying to remember what the hell I did in 2010 aside from the usual.(Come on Kate, you need to write more than what a normal Facebook post would entail.)

Let’s start at the beginning…

January: This marked the beginning of a new year for Clarkesworld Magazine and we started off with a huge bang. Peter Watt’s “The Things” was probably one of my favorite stories I’ve had the pleasure to narrate. In fact, it got us a Parsec Audio Award nomination. Since hearing it read by Peter himself at the 2009 SF WorldCon in Montreal, it’s been chosen for 3 year’s best anthologies. If you haven’t read it, are a fan of John Carpenter’s movie, or Campbell’s old SF novel, please go here now.

February: I was asked to participate in SFSignal’s Mindmeld column. I was able to go through my stack of books and let everyone know which books I was slacking on.I also wore bad shoes to Boskone and ended up walking barefoot for most of the night. Started migrating and truly managing Taylor Anderson’s website and blog.

March: I got to narrate for Jetse de Vries and his Shine Anthology. Just when I was bitching there were too many dystopian futures ahead of us, Jetse put together a beautiful compilation of optimistic tales. You can find the book here — and the podcast here. Was going to be at numerous panels at LunaCon. Broke my ankle the day before leaving for NY. Ouch.

April: I visited South Miami Beach for the first time. Was there on a company trip and wish I had taken more time to walk on the beach. I turned 33. I went camping in the Southeastern Oklahoma woods with a bunch of my favorite friends.

May: I got my first story published on something other than my own blog. “By Some Illusion” was accepted by the fine folks over at Sybil’s Garage. Highlighted as the opening story in the magazine/anthology seventh issue, I still look at the beautiful book in disbelief. Incidentally, this has killed my writing only because I’m paralyzed with fear that I will not be able to write something else that a.) I’m proud of b.) will ever get published. Numerous people have told me to “get over it” but it’s turning out harder than I expected. Trying to get back to writing on this blog is a major step forward in that arena.

June: Apparently, nothing really happened in June. I picked a new author name, I entered my daughter into her first and most definitely last beauty pageant, I grew broccoli (and other things). I also re-joined a gym in an attempt to gain physical health and lose some weight. So far, I’m a lot stronger, but not so much skinnier. Must work on the nutrition side of things.

July: Got chided by Peter Watts, but in a lovingly, “You’re too damn optimistic” way. Attended ReaderCon, got to cheer on people who did their first public readings and in turn, I got to do my own first public reading.

August: Busy month. Started managing John Scalzi’s blog, The Whatever, while he was taking some time off.  Was invited to be on The Hour of the Wolf, Jim Freund’s NYC radio show with Sybil’s Garage editors and contributors, Matt Kressel, Devin Poore, David Mercurio Rivera, E.C. Meyers, Barbara Krasnoff, and Paul Berger. Got to tour the Hayden Planetarium after wards.

September: Started 9 credit hours worth of college. Children’s Literature, Digital Photography and Comp & Lit II. Narrated another story for Jetse’s anthology. Went to DragonCon for the Parsecs. Lost the Parsec. Was included as a “star” in Stu Segal’s “Strolling with the Stars” program he puts together at big conventions. Attended a Hugo breakfast and watched Clarkesworld Magazine take home the Hugo for best Semiprozine. Got interviewed by the Daily Dragon. Got to meet some really excellent people. Started leading/co-leading two Girl Scout troops this year.

October: Attended my first World Fantasy Convention in Columbus OH. Was nothing how I imagined it would be, although it grew on me. Met lots of fantastic people, some of whom I’ve worked with in the past and some of whom I’d love to work with in the future. I also wore dragon slippers. Was supposed to go back to Las Vegas for work. Became violently ill the night before my flight.

November: Again, not a really terribly busy month with extra stuff. Just a lot of the same. Although, I did go camp in the remote woods again.

December: Classes ended. Reminded myself not to take 9 credit hours in a semester, although I received an A, A and B+. I hosted Christmas Eve with my family. This normally wouldn’t be such a huge event, but with my grandfather’s death two years ago, his house was just recently sold. Tradition was packing over 20 people in a small 900 sq ft house. But alas, change is the only constant in our lives and with change comes new traditions. Hopefully it will be an ongoing one.

I know I’m forgetting wonderful things on this recap. I do hope I am as fortunate in the year to come and I wish the same for all of you. One thing that has surprised me though is how fast it’s all flying past. Another year whizzes by and I feel like I’m in a car going ninety miles an hour only to watch my life from the rear-view mirror. Things are quiet now, my plate is for the most part, empty. It’s time to start filling it up for 2011. I am also recommitting myself to physical well-being. Starting Monday, January 3rd, I will be going to the gym four times a week. I will plan out my meals and I will be successful. I keep giving myself excuses as to why I can’t do something, it’s high time I start giving excuses as to why I can or should.

You know, looking at this post, I had forgotten how long it took to write anything with thought. I can see why Twitter and Facebook are so alluring. They are the whores of the internet. They specialize in little quickies that give you the illusion you are better and faster than you are. Then you realize, there is no love. My blog, ma Chere, oh how I’ve missed you. Will you take me back?

Fighting Back: Something I Just Can’t Get Over

“Thank you” is a word usually reserved in polite discourse after someone has been given something that has met their standards. So I found it odd, that roughly three weeks ago I was uttering the two words to a TSA agent who had just invaded my privacy in a very public fashion. I was flying home from the World Fantasy Convention in Columbus, OH when I was asked to put my hands over my head and enter the full body scanning machines. At this point, I was a little nervous because someone on the other side of a big metal box was going to be able to see me in my birthday suit.  I reluctantly submitted, after all, I had to be home in time to take my children out for Halloween. I had judiciously taken out my laptop, my kindle, my camera, taken off my shoes, my coat, scarf and watch, but I was still relegated to the new machine. Even after the first TSA agent had told me that I didn’t need to remove my camera, he smiled and replied, “Oh, that’s what we’re here for”, after I remarked that I didn’t know I could safely stow my camera.

As I was herded through the line with a bunch of restless travelers behind me, I stuffed my license into my left pocket realizing I missed the window to put it into my wallet which was now headed to the x-ray machine.

TSA: “Please stand to the side with your feet in the diagrams.”

TSA:“Please place your arms above your head in a triangle.”

TSA:“Please don’t move and stare ahead for 9 seconds.”

That wasn’t so bad. If this stuff actually works, maybe I’d be okay with submitting to this type of security theater.

TSA:“Please step forward and stand on this mat, your feet within the outlines.”

TSA:“Do you have anything in your left pocket?”

Me: “Oh! Yah! I put my license in there.” I took it out and showed her.

TSA: “I’m going to need to pat you down on that side, Ma’am. Please hold the license in your hand.”

Me: “….ok…”

TSA: “I’m going to run my hand on the outside of your leg and hip.”

Me: “…ok…” I nervously start looking around at the hustle and bustle of a very public place.

TSA: “I’m now going to run my hand up the inner left thigh.”

Me:“…ok….” I can feel my cheeks start to flood with crimson.

She moves her blue-gloved hand up from the inside of my left knee up toward my crotch. She stops only after hitting the resistance of my clothing protecting the side of my vagina.

TSA: “Thank you, have a nice day.”

Me: “Thank you.”

I gather my things that have been sitting in their bins as other passengers walk on by. The walk from the security checkpoint to the gate is rather fuzzy. I know I felt highly anxious, very embarrassed and extremely violated. All of my personal alarm bells were ringing in my head. Why did I allow someone to humiliate me in public? Why on earth did I let someone touch me there? I immediately regressed into childhood as I recalled the stranger talk teachers and parents gave me about my right to bodily privacy. I got angry at myself for saying those two simple words. I got angry at myself for going along and submitting.

“Thank you.”

I updated my disgust on Facebook and Twitter and then I tried to let it go.

I can’t.

I flew again three days later. As you can imagine, anyone who feels violated tends to relive those moments when placed in similar situations. I was a wreck going through the full body scanner. I made sure nothing was in my pockets. I waited anxiously while the TSA agent looked at me and asked me to wait for clearance. I don’t know what I would have done had I been pulled aside for yet another pat down. Would I have declined and raised a stink? Would I have just given up and asked to leave?

Why was I torturing myself like that?

Any intellectual who has looked up the meaning of terrorism will find this:

ter·ror·ism

1.the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, esp. for political purposes.
2.the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.
– dictionary.com

You can’t tell me that all the emotions I experienced during and post-traumatically doesn’t fall under some of those definitions. My one minute experience has terrified me. I will rethink the act of hopping a plane to see friends or go to conventions. I will protect my children from this unneccessary security theater and invasion of privacy as well. Guess what airlines, that Disney vacation that I’ve been saving for, the one where I would have paid for five airline tickets to journey to Florida? I think I’m going to take another two days vacation and drive. Or maybe I’ll spend my money on something closer to home.

It’s funny how I don’t feel any safer, but I sure feel humiliated.

It’s also rather interesting to note that I believe I would be one of the passengers who would have jumped on any threat should it arise while flying. I can hit pretty hard. But thanks to our new “safety guidelines”, that’s one more person who won’t be available when a determined terrorist shoves a weapon or bomb up his undetectable ass and makes it past the joke and theater that the TSA calls security.