The Little Engine That Could

Thursday, March 27, 2008


I'm headed to FL for some business and some pleasure. I had to leave work early-ish yesterday so I could pick up my laundry and pack, which I haven't really done. My two smaller suitcases are broken, and the other one was given away to ladies from Afganistan. No really, it was.

I'm volunteering (if being on one phone call and giving a piece of luggage is called that) for an organization that partners women in war ravaged countries with women in the US to create business partnerships. The idea is that women are an overlooked minority of building infrastructure after times of chaos. These women are building small businesses-- print shops, scarves, soccer ball assembly, tea stands-- in the hopes to provide a base of capital for other women to be business owners, and so on and so on. I never think about these women who have to pick up their lives after their husbands or children have been killed/wounded-- and they have nothing.

It's a powerful call.

So instead of bitching about my suitcase that now lives in Kabul, I'll instead suck it up and carry a non-rolly bag. I am carrying less clothes these days, only one pair of shoes. The nice part about traveling in the US is that if necessary, I can go shopping. If I am missing anything, I can go get it somewhere. Last trip, it was Spanx and lipstick. This trip, potentially hairspray and razors...... and maybe a new pair of smaller jeans.

I do have to say, I'm tired of traveling for right now. I want a weekend at home. I need to go through mail and do my taxes and fall asleep on my couch-- along with watching all the programs I've DVR'ed over the last two weeks. Maybe even see my friends. Or at least return their calls (hi Ms. M-- I got your message. I have photos.)

I am renting a car. I am not going to drive thru any coffee place. And yes, I am getting the extra insurance.

Have a happy week-end. See you on Sunday.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Coffee Fix

In California, feeling great. And a little vulnerable because I am feeling little like a turtle without my shell. Because sometimes I don't know how to be with mistakes.

Note: Today was a perfect day. I woke up rested, went to lunch with A. after long conversations and whatnot, then Kohl's (I fit into an xl jacket. I have no idea who I am.). On the way back to her house, I need my coffee fix.

We pull into the coffe place. Literally. I gave them a drive thru. Because as I was slowing, my car sped up and blammo, into the window. Yes mom, people dove for cover.

I am shaken. I am not hurt in anyway, except my ego. I am already feeling very delicate and prickly and this happens and I want to scream out why me and bob and weep in a corner and just wake up tomorrow and hope it was all some fucked up Dallas type dream.

But it's not. No one's hurt. I am shaken and stirred however I am not hurt. Emotioanlly fragile like a puffer flower. Without my shell.

A. is taking care of me. We watched Intervention and I had Mexican for dinner. Soon I will be curled up with a kitty on my lap and will go to bed after a nice long bath and tuck myself in and go get back into the drive thru car tomorrow to head back to the beach and then sit on a couch bobing and weaving and thinking and eventually come back to NYC and not drive for a while.

Everything will be okay. Everything will be okay. Everyone please tell me everything will be okay. Because right now I feel like I can't breathe and feel so stupid and sad and everything.

Ahh. Happy vacation.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

To California

To baby C's wedding. And a week off.

That's right, I said a week off. A whole week. I am talking sun, sand, ocean breezes, and napping. I am talking about everything sans mittens, scarves, socks and sensible shoes.

I am busting out the flipflops.

I am so excited for baby C. Happy beautiful wedding and soon to be wifey! Ahhh.

Oh, it's dark o clock, have to catch my plane!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Praising the Support Group

Last night was my monthly meeting. I've only been to two, so it's a miracle that I went last night. Because I was pissy and tired and cranky and really really overworked (and quite possibly underpaid, however, that is an entirely separate subject not to be discussed here).

Anyhow, I book it over to 2nd ave to take a cab downtown. Walking the one block is so easy. I used to hate walking the avenue, "it takes so long, it's hot/cold, my feet hurt, I am carrying all this stuff". I've realized that I carry much less stuff with me these days. If it doesn't fit in my purse, it doesn't go. And my pockets stay empty. Metrocard and iPod aside, there is nothing in my pockets. Except for that something that belongs across my face...... I keep it very close at hand, in the most convenient place.....(c'mon Girl Scouts, sing out and sing proud).

I find a cab. I patiently wait for snarky overpaid New Yorkers to get out of the cab. 45 mins later (well really three) they get out and we head down. And I am praying. "Please God, grant me peace and wisdom. Do not let me shoot my mouth off because really right now I want to just absolutely die and take everyone with me. Actually I don't want to die as much as I just want to kill on sight and I need patience. So please grant me some friggin patience, and let me know that I am doing just fine."

I don't know what your God is like, but mine is slightly Italian, emotionally stingy and deaf. She/he understands that cussing while praying adds emphasis. It's the equivalent of a couple hail mary's and a glory be.

The support group is awesome. There are 7 folks there-- all of them over 45 years old-- most in their late 50's early 60's. All of them 3-8 years out. And after group we go to dinner. And we talk about our lives, and tell stories. And it's really a wonderful thing.

Not only am I the youngest one in there, I am the youngest by surgery date. I have all these mother hens that want to tell me what to do, and I just soak it all up.

I'm learning from these folks. Most have bounced up by about 20-50 pounds, some higher. They have war stories to tell. They go to TOPS and weight watchers and meetings at the twelve step. Some are still mad at husbands they divorced in the last millennium, and well, the 70's.

I am learning. I am learning to listen to the emotional part. To be present to food when I am eating it. To ask questions. To not think this is some fix. All of them are so kind and so generous-- one is all piss and vinegar (and very quietly, she's my favorite). She once threw a chicken at her husband because as she says "dinna wasn't on the table at da time he wanted it. So I threw the chicken at him and said 'There's ya fricken dinna!'. He nevah made dat mistake again."

I'm also watching. I am watching what to eat and how to eat. How they eat. I have to be okay with eating small portions that satisfy me. Not drinking with dinner. Not having a glass of wine. Not eating the bread. It's okay to want the dessert, and look through the menu. It's totally fine to want. Wanting is good. But understand the want.

The guy sitting next to me works for the power company. When he was sent to another area to work on the lights, the safety instructor asked three things of him.

1) What's your name? This gets you present to who you are. How often do you say your name to yourself? I rarely ever do. By saying your name, you get out of your head and into the physical world.
2) Where are you? This gets you present to where you are and in what moment. You have your surroundings and can identify your location.
3) Do you really want to do what you are about to do? This gets to present to your actions, and most specifically the action you are about to take.

He said he applies this to every area of his life. It's a good way to just remember who you are and what you are up against.

So last night I said:
My name is Big Girl Big City and I am in a restaurant in NYC with my weight loss support group and I do not want to have a piece of carrot cake.

And I didn't have carrot cake. Or tiramisu. Or a "bite". Because I was so present to what I am doing and about to do that it made no sense to turn the "want" into "have".

Thank you awesome awesome support group.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Response to Saint and Rebel

Over here

Ask, and you shall receive.....

1. Who was the first friend you can remember having that your parent(s) didn't like?

I think the little girl's name was Karen, and she had frizzy hair. I met her in kindergarten and would walk home with her from school. She invited me into her house one day and she had the really good snacks. When I finally showed up at my house a couple hours later, I couldn't understand why my mom was so mad at me. I thought she was mad because I had oreo cookies AND red vines-- and as many as I wanted, not because I was five and had gone missing for hours.

2. What song did you and your spouse dance to at your wedding reception (or what's "your" song)?

Not married. So I guess that would be "Sounds of Silence"?

3. What's the most fun you've ever had with your clothes on?

I think it's a combination of every adventure I have taken with Diane or Desha (las Vegas to the compound or taking photos of little girls in cafes in NYC or Disneyland or "I was done after the clown" Thanksgiving Day parade or singing in cars and bars). Being with either of the two of them makes me happy and full of joy-- I just adore them. I always at the end of the day say "That was fun" fall asleep and feel great.

4. What's the worst injury you've ever experienced?

I fell down the stairs at two in the morning (this was when I was working nights, so I would come home and take the garbage out, do household chores, etc-- there was no drinking involved) and sprained my ankle. It was about 12 F outside and I laid on the steps and said "Don't cry, tough it out, c'mon" and got upstairs after about 40 minutes and sobbed. I had a soft cast and crutches for three weeks. And it hurt really bad and I've never felt so alone and helpless.

5. Who wears the pants in your household?

My mom. Wait, I wear the pants in my household. I'm the only one. But really, it's my mom. She might wear the pants in your household too. She's really good that way.

6. What did you want to be when you were little?

I distinctly remember wanting to be a kitty cat. I am not too fond of cats, but my mom had a collection of ceramic figurines that were kitties, and when I would have to clean my room, I would meticulously dust those and display them on my shelf. The rest of the room was a disaster, but those cats were perfect. There is one with a bonnet and real feathers that I still love-- she is the prettiest. And I wanted to be her when I grew up.

Then I wanted to be a junior high school teacher, a drama teacher, and then after that we get too far into the teenage years.

I also wanted to be a synchronized swimmer. I would practice in the pool by myself. I was a most unusual child. I really liked the flowered bathing caps.

7. If we go out to dinner together, what kind of restaurant do you want to go to?

Someplace that has lots of little dishes, like a tapas or fondue restaurant, where it won't seem weird that the two of us are going to split an entree and dip meat in cheese. And where they will just let us sit and have time to chat. No rushing us. I think Greek might be the best, their service is terrible, but the food-- very low-carb friendly.

Disposable Cameras

For years I didn't have a camera, and would buy disposable ones for different events to use. Well, and then forget that I had them. So two weeks ago, I packed up 5 or so cameras and send them off to the Duane Reade, and just received the photos back.

I of course had no idea what were on these cameras. And to be honest, was excited and nervous to see what could possibly have been so important to take a picture of and then promptly forget.

The photos are like a collage of extreme weight gain and loss and bad haircuts. There are photos of my 30th birthday, or I think it's my 30th birthday, and then photos of my brother's visit to New York when he met all my friends over 5 years ago. Then there are photos from 3 years ago with the really really blonde hair and the giant body, just before meeting the ex, and I was shocked at how large I was and how blonde my hair had been dyed.

In some of them I have my mom and dad, and it's awesome to see mom with a smile on her face, not shying away from the camera. However, all of us go through the up and down of weight loss and gain, and haircuts (why did I ever think that short would look good on me?). I look great in the 30th birthday photos (again, I can't remember if it's actually my 30th or if it was my 29th. Crap, it was like my 27th birthday. No wonder I look so so young.), with my long hair very curly and well maintained, a smaller face, and red lips.

As I am going through this process, I am uncovering things about myself I never knew. I have always thought I would be the woman with the red lips and the ha ha laugh, and the first one to be out there and trying to make things happen. You know, outwardly very very happy. And inwardly just dying. And instead, I am inwardly happy, if not confused for periods of time while I figure out what next steps are, while I contest my obsession with protein powders or refuse once again to go to the gym, and outwardly slightly raw and vulnerable. And wanting to wholeheartedly be thrown into a relationship of "someone loves me" without warning and without anxiety or doubt.

I look in the eyes of that girl/woman in front of the camera and honor her. It is her journey that has gotten me here. She is as strong as she can be-- carrying all that emotional and physical weight around is just exhausting and debilitating. I am so lucky to have found so many perfects in my life that counterbalanced the extreme weight. I am so lucky to have developed a persona that has let me be left alone. The breaking down of this persona is a little like tearing down the Berlin wall-- without David Hasselhoff or Europe singing or Ronald Regan encouraging the job to be done, as if he has some say in it. It's been coming down for years, it's now just for show.

Those photos are very cool reminders of some great past times with great friends. With people who love and support me. And knowing that I don't have to be that scared, that out of control, that fake happy is a welcome reminder of I am up to the life I am creating. I am up to creating a great life.

Thursday, March 06, 2008



Compliance Patterns:

  • I compromise my personal values and integrity to avoid rejection or other’s anger.
  • I am loyal to the point of remaining in situations that are bad for me far longer than I should.
  • I routinely put my needs aside to meet those of others, even when I am not invested in the lives of those other people and I know that would not do the same for me.
  • I never say “no” even when saying “yes” will significantly and negatively affect me.

Denial Patterns:

  • I suppress my feelings, especially frustration, only to explode later in anger.
  • I am often unsure of what I am feeling, what I want, and defer to others to tell me or decide for me.
  • I perceive myself as completely unselfish and present myself to others as willing to do anything with a gracious smile.

Control Patterns:

  • I attempt to convince others of what they “should” think or decode what they “truly” feel and inform them.
  • I feel that the behavior and appearance of my loved ones is a direct reflection of me.
  • I have to be “needed” in order to feel good about my relationships.
  • I freely offer advice or directions without being asked.
  • I lavish gifts, favors, or sex on people I care about to gain approval and love.

Self-Effacing Patterns:

  • I judge most things I think, say, or do harshly and often feel I am never good enough
  • I value other’s approval of my thinking, behavior, or feelings more than my own
  • My best feelings stem from receiving approval from others or being liked
  • I do not think of myself as lovable or worth someone else’s effort.
  • I accept sex when I want love.

I read the above and thought-- wow, that's me. Wow wow wow-- especially the smiling graciously thing. And the gifts thing and the receiving approval thing, and well, the everything.

I just wanted to share.

Been around the World

Nothing is better than coming home to my bed, my jammies, in my pet free home after a week away. I like pets, I just don't have any, so staying with friends and family ends up being like this:
"Oh, look, (small child, animal with or without claws) likes you!" Usually pet or small child is drooling on me, or rubbing up against me, shedding hair all over my black clothes. I understand, I both drool and shed too.

But coming home to quiet and peace and my couch and my bed and my alarm and my shampoo and not having to drag my life around with me in a bag is really very fucking nice.

Auntie had wls and I went down to make sure she was okay. She totally was. Such a trooper. I forgot how scary the emotional stuff is, because really when someone slices you open, all that emotionally energy escapes, even for a second, and then hangs around outside and wow, it has no idea where to go. So it lingers. Eventually it floats away, but it is the act of banishing it that makes it go away for good. Talking out fears, anger, depression. Talking out bad moods. Being excited for new good moods, good experiences. You know, feeling your feelings. It's hard doing when you are not used to doing it.

One of the things I think we forget as we lose weight and ultimately deal with keeping it off is that we have it (the weight) as if it is an intruder to us. When actually it was a friend, a confidant, and sometimes a psychic vampire. It's like when a new friend turns into a best friend, or an old friend, and then that friend starts having issues of her own. And then she becomes needy, or takes up too much of our time-- we exclude her from outings just so that we can spend alone time with her later, because it's easier. We hide her from other people, until she pops out at totally the wrong time and someone out in reality notices her "have you gained weight?" to which we sheepishly agree to (with the nod that we will soothe her later) or get indignant about (and will punish her later). We don't want people to notice, but she's right there in awkward silences, in missing buttons, in too tight shirts, in surprised looks. Right there, she's recognized and not entirely called out.

So we get on the journey of weight loss, and have military like discipline about grams and fat and calories and protein and water water water, and we advance a little. Then we add reinforcements of military drills-- climbing stairs and walking on treadmills, riding bikes and moving all the time. And our friend goes "wait, what about me? I didn't hold you back on purpose, I thought you liked me, my comfort, my warmth. I'm not giving up without a fight!" And then the game is on.

What if, we invited her in for tea. And talked about the relationship that we had, and how it didn't work for either of us. And then talked about the relationship we could have. "You have a lot of energy to burn, and I want to burn a lot of energy. Let's do this together." So that the weight isn't a thing or an intruder, but instead becomes a partner in the process. Because I know I need that weight to remind me that I have goals, that I am different than I was before. I need that weight to be a marker that physically I am not the same. I need that weight to shed itself as I become a person who is comforting, warm, fun. To a certain extent, it is the cocoon, but really it is a partnership, me and my weight in a three legged race. We have to work together to come out of the race victorious.

Otherwise it's just me wrestling with myself.