this past week…

September 4-10, 2017

Highlights:

*Annie’s texts about going out for the “woodsmen team”…seriously, I cannot believe she is doing this…and it cracks me up equally as much as it scares me…

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*Back to school day on Tuesday went amazing well for Gray and me. By which I mean, he did little complaining, worked hard, and managed to remain in good spirits. *huge thumbs up*

Lowlights:

*The bathroom sink fiasco of Labor Day 2017. Poor Rich. Woke to find our bathroom sink leaking. Thought it might be as simple as replacing a gasket…wrong. Three faucets later (the first two were defective), five trips to Home Depot, and approximately one million curse words later, not to mention $100 poorer, Rich had us hooked up with a working, non-leaking sink again.

*Oh my goodness. Poor Gray. Yeah, after the great first day he had, school took a decided turn for the worse with the start of the online course he’s taking on American Government. We thought an online class would be a good way to ease him into college classes. Oh how wrong I was! *sigh* Their initial assignment just about killed the poor kid. They had to do an “icebreaker” assignment, where they each had to write a post about themselves and why they were taking this class. And it had to be at least 500 words. In general autistic people do not do well with small talk, and Gray is no exception. He gets to the point. He spent 7 hours trying to get up to 500 words. And he still has to do four required responses of at least 125 words each to other’s posts. *more sighs* I’m hoping it will get easier for him when they’re actually discussing the course topics…

Favorite photos:

IMG_2404This sweet little eastern phoebe.

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Baby cardinal. Aww, what a cute little fluffball.

Reading:

*Finished A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There by Aldo Leopold. *finally*  These were truly some of the loveliest natural history writings I’ve ever read. I can see why this is one of Rich’s all-time favorite books. (Thank you, homeschooling, for finally getting me to read it.)

*Finished Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World by Tim Marshall. Started this one earlier in the summer but then had to return it to the library before I’d finished. Was easy to pick up where I’d left off. (It too is for school.) I guess I would say it’s a book about how geography affects international relations. For the most part I enjoyed it, and I definitely learned a lot. But there were moments when the author made me cringe a bit, and moments when I wondered if he wasn’t overstating things. But international relations is not an area where I know much of anything, so it’s hard to judge.

*Started The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature by David George Haskell. Also for school. (We’re doing ecology this year.) I’m only about a third of the way in. It’s an enjoyable read; there’s loads of interesting natural history info. The writing, while perfectly adequate, doesn’t enchant me the way some natural history writing does though. (And oh my goodness, is the author fond of metaphor. Sometimes very odd metaphor at that.) But like I said, I am enjoying it overall.

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*As far as RIP-reading last week, we finished a reread of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. (It was Rich’s and my read aloud together book.) I believe this is the fourth time I’ve read this one (and it’s at least Rich’s fourth time). And I can honestly say, I enjoyed it more this time than ever. Maybe because we were reading it together? I’m sure we’ll probably start The Prisoner of Azkaban this week.

*Also got a few more chapters read in Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty. This book is so freakin’ good! It’s funny and sad and incredibly informative all at once. And wow, how it’s reinforced my long-held desire to be cremated without a viewing or funeral service.

Watching:

*The latest episode of Project Runway. I have to agree with who was canned this week–Deyonte’s nightwear was about as frumpy as it could be. As brutal as it must feel to be the one who gets sent home, I’m guessing he must have at least been happy to get to go home in time to see his baby born. I’m so happy that Kenya made it through. She and Samantha are my favorites at this point…though I thoroughly admit that is a likability vote. I don’t feel like I have a good grasp on anyone’s overall talent , so it’s still too early for me to have a true favorite as far as design goes. It’s probably mean for me to say, but omg, do I hope that Claire and Shawn get booted soon…they annoy the bloody crap out of me.

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*And for my RIP-viewing, Max and I started rewatching The Walking Dead in preparation for it’s return next month. What can I say, I’m still pretty much obsessed with this show, with these characters. I admit that last season wasn’t my favorite, but rewatching it (for the fourth? time) has me remembering why I love these characters and remembering just how far they’ve come. Max and I had better pick up the pace though; we still have 6 seasons to rewatch before October’s premiere of season 8.

*Rich and I watched The Raven. I’d never even heard of it, but it caught my attention at the library and I grabbed it on impulse. Glad I did! We both really enjoyed it. I’m actually somewhat surprised, as I tend to be leery of putting real people into fictionalized stories. But what can I say, I got thoroughly engrossed into this serial murder mystery with Edgar Allan Poe at it’s center.

Making:

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*Hexies, hexies, hexies. Still crocheting hexies. While they are the perfect mindless project for tv watching, I will still be happy when I get them all made and can begin the next phase. Hopefully this coming week. Hopefully.

Cooking/baking:

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*Gotta admit that the dinner table lacked excitement during this first week back-to-school. Just simple stuff like grilled cheese and salsa pasta. But Saturday, Rich whipped up his first batch of chili for the season, and I was in heaven!

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*And Sunday afternoon, I finally decided to show the kitchen a little love and tried out a new recipe. Chai-spiced pound cake from the King Arthur Flour website. Easy recipe and delicious results.

 

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hunger…so many feelings about this book…

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Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay.

I know that not enough time has gone by since I finished this book to put my feelings into any kind of coherent piece of writing. But I also know myself well enough to know that no amount of time would actually do that. This book spoke to me in so many ways, and I sort of feel like I need to get some of it out.

This book is amazing. And painful. I cried for Roxane Gay. I cried for myself.

I bookmarked soooo many passages.

I love Roxane Gay. I love her for so many reasons. I love her honestly in all its messiness. I love that she admits she’s full of contradictions. I am so very messy and so very full of contradictions. I struggle with that (I like things ordered, straight-forward), but I’ve accepted the truth of it.

There are so many passages I want to write about, but I’ll weed them down to just a few. This one knocked me flat:

He said/she said is why so many victims (or survivors, if you prefer that terminology) don’t come forward. All too often, what “he said” matters more, so we just swallow the truth. We swallow it, and more often than not, that truth turns rancid. It spreads through the body like an infection. It becomes depression or addiction or obsession or some other physical manifestation of the silence of what she would have said, needed to say, couldn’t say.

And sometimes that depression goes as far as a suicide attempt that lands her in a psychiatric hospital…

In that way where we can always find someone whose experiences have been worse than our own, I was lucky. And really, I’m not being facetious there. I *am* lucky in so many ways. That failed attempt to go “to sleep and never wake up” (the words I used even to myself for the longest time) led me to the beginning of a road that ran in a better direction.

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When you’re overweight, you body becomes a matter of public record in many respects. Your body is constantly and prominently on display. People project assumed narratives onto your body and are not at all interested in the truth of your body, whatever that truth might be.

And come on, we all know what that narrative is when it comes to fat people. We’re lazy and we’re stupid and we have no self-control. But just as no two thin people have the same story, no two fat people do either. My story is not Roxane Gay’s story, though there are glimpses of it. Thing is, why does a fat person owe the world her story just to be accepted as a human being?

The bigger you are, the smaller your world becomes.

The bigger you are, the smaller your world becomes.

Obviously there’s a reason she said that twice. The truth of that is profound. It is overwhelming.

The sheer willpower it takes to leave my home is immense. Oh, I’m fine to go for a walk in the woods or something like that, where I know I won’t have to see other people. But being around other people terrifies me. And it wasn’t always this way. It wasn’t this way when I was thin, or even a bit overweight. Somewhere, many years ago, I crossed a line though, a line that seemed to be the demarcation of what size was acceptable and what size was not.

Fat shaming is real, constant, and rather pointed.

*****

Doctors generally adhere to the Hippocratic oath, where they swear to abide by an ethical code, where they swear to act, always, in their patients’ best interests. Unless the patient is overweight.

As a result, I don’t go to the doctor unless it is absolutely necessary even though I have good health insurance and have always had every right to be treated fairly and kindly.

Not every doctor I’ve had has been this way. I really like my current doctor, and while she always discusses my weight, I at least feel like she hears me when I talk about other things. I don’t go until it’s absolutely necessary, because even though she’s kind about it, it’s still not easy being told you’re a failure. (Not that she actually says “failure,” but the implication is always there.)

But I had a doctor once who was horrid. My obstetrician when I was pregnant with Annie. We’d spent a few years battling infertility because of my endometriosis. After surgery, I finally got pregnant, and to say we were elated would be an understatement. But oh how this man tried to ruin it for me. At my very first appointment, he told me that I needed to be very careful and not gain too much weight. I was overweight then, but nowhere near as big as I am now. And at this first visit after stressing how I just couldn’t let myself gain too much weight, he went on to tell us how horrible it was to have to do C-sections on obese women and have to go through all those layers of fat. WTF?!! If I’d had a choice, I would have switched doctors then and there. There were more fat-phobic incidents to come. I had hyperemesis gravidarum, which is extreme nausea and vomiting that leads to weight loss and dehydration. Despite having to be hospitalized for dehydration, he was downright pleased that I was losing weight. And when I finally reached the point where I was feeling somewhat human again, when I could at least keep water down and sometimes bland foods, he told Rich to make sure I didn’t eat too much at Thanksgiving. Yeah, he told Rich, as if I wasn’t even there. And as if I could eat Thanksgiving dinner anyway. Asshole. But the worst came when he actually put Annie and I in danger. I was 29 weeks along and I woke up not feeling right. For one thing I’d gained 6 pounds overnight. If I knew what I know now, I would have immediately known what was going on—and he sure as fuck should have! Or at least had me come in to check on things. But when I called, he told me to quit eating so much. Just what the hell did he think I ate to gain 6 pounds overnight?!! But of course, that wasn’t it–I had preeclampsia. Which he immediately diagnosed at my next appointment 2 weeks after my call–with my blood pressure through the roof, protein in my urine, and a body so swollen that I couldn’t wear shoes or even talk normally because even my tongue was swollen. Because I was fat, he had dismissed me and my very real medical problem. BECAUSE I WAS FAT.

*****

I love the body positivity movement. It brings me such joy to see these big, beautiful women (and men) embrace and love their bodies. To tell the world to #effyourbeautystandards. But admiring these women isn’t the same as being one of these women. As Gay puts it:

…I hate my body. I hate my weakness at being unable to control my body. I hate how I feel in my body. I hate how people see my body. I hate how people stare at my body, treat my body, comment on my body. I hate equating my self-worth with the state of my body and how difficult it is to overcome this equation. I hate how hard it is to accept my human frailties. I hate that I am letting down so many women when I cannot embrace my body at any size.

*****

Roxane Gay is so admired by so many, myself most definitely included. She has friends and family who love her. And yet she sometimes doubts that love, wonders when there’s going to come a time when she’ll have to lose weight to keep that love.

Omfg, can I relate. Not to the being admired by many part, of course. But the what-if-these-people-who-are-my-world-can’t-keep-loving-me-because-I-can’t-lose-weight. When I’m in a good frame of mind, I can believe that my close friends love me. I can believe it with all my heart. But that good frame of mind isn’t with me much of the time. I spend more time that I’d like to admit wondering if these truly freakin’ good, kind, nonjudgmental, accepting people would be happier if I wasn’t in their lives but are far to nice to just say so. Should any of my dear, sweet friends read this, please do not be insulted by this admission. Because it is nothing you have ever done or said, and I know that is not the kind of people you are. But it is a story that the world tells me at every opportunity, a story that says I’m not worthy of love because I take up too much space.

*****

In case it’s not obvious by now, I loved this book hard. I cannot begin to imagine how hard it must have been for Roxane Gay to write this book, to share her truths. And in doing so, she told pieces of so many other people’s truths. And to feel understood, to know that you’re not the only person who feels the things you do, well, we all know how important that can be. Thank you, Roxane Gay.

amidst the pages, April 2017…

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For me, not a shabby reading month, quantity-wise. Quality-wise, which is obviously the “-wise” that matters, it was pretty stellar.

A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver

“The Terminal Beach” by J.G. Ballard

“The Heat Death of the Universe” by Pamela Zoline

allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

No Way Home: The Decline of the World’s Great Animal Migrations by David S. Wilcove

Ariel by Sylvia Plath

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

Storm (issues 1-4) by Warren Ellis and Terry Dodson.

Black Widow: The Itsy-Bitsy Spider by Devin Grayson, J.G. Jones, and Scott Hampton.

The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffrey

Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler

The Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance: Poems, 1987-1992 by Audre Lorde

Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Bitch Planet: Extraordinary Machine by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro

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That boils down to 7 novels, 3 comics, 1 non-fiction science/nature, 3 poetry collections, and 2 short stories.

6 by authors/artists of color. At least 3 by LGBTQ authors. (Work harder on diversity, Debra Anne.)

10 by women. 4 by men. 2 by combination.

2 YA.

6 read in part for homeschooling.

6 from library. 2 through Marvel Unlimited. 1 on-line. 7 from my shelves.

11 physical copy. 4 ebook/on screen. 1 audiobook.

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A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver. Utterly adored. She remains a favorite author.

“The Terminal Beach” by J.G. Ballard. Didn’t do much for me. Gray had same opinion.

“Heat Death of the Universe” by Pamela Zoline. Enjoyed this one a lot. Odd. Quirky style. Gray enjoyed this one as well.

allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson. Loved it. Broke my heart. Reminder of how broken our justice system is.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. While I enjoyed this one, I’m not sure I understand the overwhelming hype that surrounded it.

No Way Home: The Decline of the World’s Great Animal Migrations by David S. Wilcove. Unsurprisingly, it was sad. But not without all hope.

Ariel by Sylvia Plath. At the risk of ridicule and shame, I have to admit I didn’t connect with these poems very well. One of those times when I truly felt I wasn’t smart enough to read the book.

Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler. Heart these books hard. Had a few random thoughts on them here. Gray really enjoyed these too.

Storm by Warren Ellis. First dip of the toes in the overwhelming world of X-Men. Am eager to explore more. Kind of love-at-first-sight with Storm herself.

Black Widow: The Itsy-Bitsy Spider by Devin Grayson. Didn’t love, though definitely didn’t dislike either. Intrigued enough to want to read more of her story.

The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffrey. Don’t read much of this sort of sci-fi–the space ship, traveling the universe sort. Which I guess is what many people automatically think of when they think of science fiction. Anyway, I was sort of surprised by how much I enjoyed this book, though I can’t claim that I loved it. Anne McCaffrey always make me think of Pat and her love for the Pern books (which I haven’t read), and that makes me smile. Gray did not like this one at all, mostly because of its style.

The Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance by Audre Lorde. Wow. This collection, just wow. Some of these poems ripped my heart out. Loved this one hard.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney. This book was so much more fun than I’d thought it was going to be. A change your life book–no. But it was fun.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. This book, yeah, now with this book I totally get the hype. Favorite this month…wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up favorite of the year. Talk about a heart-breaking look at racism in this country. I can’t do this book justice, so I won’t even try. But damn, so worth the read, people.

Bitch Planet: Extraordinary Machine by Kelly DeConnick and Valentine De Landro. At the start I wasn’t quite sure if it was going to be for me. By end I was screaming, “More, more, I need more now!”

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