#YouKnowMe

Abortion is, as ever, a hot political topic. Never moreso than right now, when the state of Alabama has outlawed ALL abortion for ANY reason. No exceptions in the case of rape or incest. It's disgusting. 

So there is a lot of talk right now about abortions, and who has had them and what that all MEANS. 

Here's what it means: it means that a woman found herself in a position where she was pregnant and didn't want to be. Maybe it wasn't the right time for her. Maybe she had other medical issues that made pregnancy a bad idea. Maybe it was rape. Maybe it was incest. Maybe it was an ectopic pregnancy or other medical issue that meant not getting an abortion would result in the woman's death. 

The WHY is not important. Women should be able to access medical services for ANY reason whatsoever. 

So here's my story. 1994. It was not a good time in my life – I was battling an undiagnosed mental illness (at least one, likely three), exacerbated by the stress of trying to go to college with no money and no family support and no idea what it was that I was doing.  It was what I like to call the first of the Bad Decision Years. 

Trying to continue in college like a normal person was a Bad Decision. The boyfriend I was with was a Bad Decision. I'm pretty sure my hair was the result of a Bad Decision. Lots and lots of Bad Decisions happening.

But, because I'm not a stupid person, I was, and remain, a huge fan of birth control. AIDS was still very much in the collective consciousness so you could get free condoms pretty much everywhere. I was on the pill.

AND I ENDED UP PREGNANT.  It was the worst day of my life, actually. I thought there was no way I could be, because we put up SO many barriers to it. But I was at dinner at my boyfriend's house and had to excuse myself to go throw up because I hadn't been feeling that great for the past couple of days.

His dad asked him "is she pregnant?" Us: "nooooooooooo not possible!"

I mean, I couldn't be! I was doing all the right things!

But the nausea wouldn't go away, so a few days later, I bought a test and peed on it.

Oh.

Shit.

I never once considered staying pregnant. Not even for a second. My very first thought was about where and how I could get an abortion because I was 19 years old. I didn't have a drivers' license. I still lived at home. I could barely take care of myself, much less a baby. There was no fucking way on earth I was about to have a kid. It was abortion or suicide, frankly. 

I did not, could not tell my parents. Our relationship was not great at the time, and my belief in them as a source of support was non-existent. Maybe they would have stepped up, maybe not. Maybe they would have thrown me out of the house, maybe not. The fact that I didn't know for sure and couldn't trust what their reaction might be speaks volumes about what it was like between us. Maybe it would have been okay. I didn't know if it would be and wasn't about to take the chance that it wouldn't be, so I didn't say anything.  

That's when things get a little hazy. I do not remember who found the clinic, only that it was in Cleveland. The big city! And this was WAY before GPS and Google Maps, so we really had to figure out how to get there using a paper map and some hastily-scribbled directions.

I do not remember what day it was, only that it was in early September. I don't remember if there were protesters outside. I do remember having to go up there the day before due to that fucking "waiting period" where the asshole white men who wrote that particular law thought women might magically change their minds overnight.

Maybe some of them do, but I will tell you this: once a woman makes a choice to have an abortion, she is strong enough that she isn't likely to be swayed overnight. Making the decision to do it is the hard part. The rest is biology.

I remember asking my best friend to come with us. I know that she was a bit more religious than I have ever been, and I know it had to be hard for her to do this with me and support me the way she did. I remember thanking her at the time, but I don't know if I ever apologized for putting her through that. I never asked. I should. 

I don't remember where the money came from to pay for it, but I do know that it cost $250. That was for the "twilight sleep" version, which meant I wouldn't be put under full anesthesia. More of a, well, "twililght" situation. I was awake-ish. To be put under fully was more money and we just didn't have that.

I remember the doctor being very kind, explaining what he was about to do and I remember two nurses in the room, one who assisted the doctor and one who just held my hand.

I wasn't upset or emotional about it. I never was. It was the right thing to do for myriad reasons and if I had the chance over again, I would do it again. 

I remember the recovery room – there were about 10 recliners, each one with a woman in it, each one with a small table next to it with snacks and juice. We all had heated blankets on our laps. I'm sure we all had the same different reasons for being there. I don't remember any of their faces. The lights were dim.

I don't remember the ride home.

I have regrets about that period of my life, but getting that abortion isn't one of them. It's not something I think about all the time, but it does come up occasionally. The word that comes up most often when I think about what life might be like now had I chosen differently is "stuck." I would have been stuck. Or dead, let's be honest, but most definitely "stuck." I can't even think about it and say "maybe it would have been all right. Maybe we could have made a go of it." I am certain that it would have been a disaster for everyone involved, starting with me. I wouldn't be here now, either literally or figuratively.

I have tried to remember more of that experience, but it's just not there. I'm not a trained psychologist but I have been in therapy long enough to get to know myself very well and I wouldn't say that those memories are blocked out or faded due to trauma. It was 25 years ago, first of all, and it was a thing that happened to me over a couple of days in what was a very tumultuous year.  There are lots of things, both good and bad, from that year that I just don't remember. 

But I don't regret it. Not at all, not for a single second. I have many regrets about other things from that time period, but that is not one of them.

Statistically, 1 in 4 women in the USA have had or will have an abortion. So if you think you don't know any woman who has or you don't know any woman who would, you're wrong. 

You know me.  

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FOOD BLOG

I've been cleaning out the cabinets and fridge and freezer this week. It's been interesting – I haven't really had to go to the grocery store at all in the past two weeks, and we haven't ordered out any more than we normally would.

Some of the meals I've presented to the family have not been great. They have been hodge-podge situations with beans and strange grains I bought for some other recipe that I never got around to making. The people are eating it anyway, because what choice do they have?

Yesterday, I found some $$$ filet mignon in the freezer and fed that to the people. It was YEARS OLD but thanks to the magic of vacuum sealing, all four pieces were in perfect condition.  Today I'm making fajitas with ANOTHER leftover steak (we are fancy here sometimes), some chicken, and some andouille sausage I found while poking around the freezer. Should be fun! The family might hate it! I don't care!

This has been FOOD BLOG. 

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Ugh. Fine. Whatever

I'm in Facebook Jail for the time being. This is what happens when you respond to someone threatening to come to your house and rape you with "go die in a fire." Rape threats are apparently fine, but telling someone to set themselves on fire goes against Facebook's "Community Standards" and you get yourself put in time-out for three days.

Ultimately, this will be a good thing. I use Facebook far too much and can find hundreds of more productive things to do with my time, starting with dusting off the ol' blog. Hi blog! Nobody reads this blog anymore and that's probably a good thing. I don't know that I'll ever be able to get back to the level of candor I wrote with in 2002-2003, but THAT is probably a good thing, too. Times have changed.

What is this blog even FOR, anyway? I certainly don't know. If nothing else, it serves as a place for me to talk about myself and the things that happen to and around me. For instance, I could give you a list of the things that are currently percolating:

1. A squirrel landed on my windshield the other day, causing a question-mark-shaped crack that extends all the way to the bottom. I spent my morning getting quotes on how much it will cost to replace it. Weirdly, two fairly-local companies came in around $250 while Well-Known Nationwide Company was almost double that. Interesting. So do I go with the well-known company or do I take my chances with the local guy? I haven't decided yet but I'm probably going to save myself some money and trust the local dude. Time will tell.

2. In honor of The Cure getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I've been listening to them A LOT over the past week or so. They're one of those bands that, if you get it, you get it. And if you don't, you never will.  The Disintegration album is about as perfect a piece of art as anything. The Wish album reminds me of the first time I saw them in concert which was, I think, the first time I had a non-drug out-of-body experience. I'm half-convinced that all the live music experiences I've had since then have been a futile attempt to ascend to that level again. Like heroin, I guess – they say that nothing compares to that first hit and every subsequent try is just a losing battle at getting back to that point. Live music is my heroin.

3. I bought carrot cake macaroons for Passover. I have no idea what they're like. They might be amazing. They will probably be terrible. I haven't tried them yet, because I'm reluctant to find out for sure. Schrodinger's dessert strikes again!

4. I'm only a little annoyed at how relaxed my daughter's school is about her alternative hair colors. She started the year with bright magenta hair and is currently rolling with a splotchy experimental teal. That kind of thing got us hauled into the principal's office back in the day, but now they just sort of ignore it. How times have changed. 

5. My own hair needs some attention. After about 6 years of just ignoring it, I think it's time for some kind of drastic change. But I'm undecided as to what that should be. Maybe it's not my hair, maybe it's my surroundings? I could frame some of the art in our "to-be-framed" pile and stick it up on the walls and maybe that will do the trick. Or I could shave my head. Possibly both things.

6. I need to get up on a ladder and shave the ceiling fans. Between our jackass long-hair cat and the two dogs (one of which is an short-haired Shepherd/Husky mix who paradoxically has SO MUCH HAIR), the hair is just suspended in the air during Shedding Season. Judging by the tumbleweeds I'm seeing today, Shedding Season is upon us and that means I need to start chasing the pets around with a brush.

So when my Facebook Jail time is over, will I fall back into my bad habits? Probably. But maybe not! Watch this space. 

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I Don’t Understand Bananas

For about a year and a half now, I have been going to a fancy (read: expensive) gym where, two or three times a week, I am told to do impossible things with my body (find a video for something called a "pistol squat" and know that I will never, ever achieve one). It's fine. I like it, oddly enough, and I think it's the best decision I ever made. 

Part of that gym experience involves tightening up the way I eat. I don't think I'll ever get to their recommended ideal of breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner but I think I'm doing all right. One of the things I've changed is breakfast. That used to be non-existent because ugh, who has time, and ugh, it's morning, who wants to eat in the morning? That's what a pot of coffee is for. 

I still drink a stupid amount of coffee but I've also added a breakfast smoothie into my morning. It's pretty hefty, but it gets the job done: banana, yogurt, frozen strawberries (and sometimes blueberries if I'm feeling purple), protein powder, almond milk.

Almond milk?

Yeah. I don't know how that happened either. But it's fine. I'm a suburban white lady in 2018, I think I'm *required* to have almond milk in my diet somewhere. 

Anyway, bananas. I don't understand them, honestly. I typically do the grocery shopping on Sunday, because that helps me get the household set up for the week ahead. I typically buy 4 or 5 still-slightly-green bananas in a bunch and one from the loose pile of slightly more ripe bananas that people tend to overlook because OH HOLY SHIT THERE ARE BROWN SPOTS ON THEM OHHHHH NOOOOOOO. That's usually my "Monday banana" because it's ripe-ish and good to go. 

The thing I don't understand is what happens to the other bananas. They're slightly green around the tops when I buy them. That's great, because they ripen slowly and there's no real rush to use them all up, right?

WELL.

There is no rhyme or reason to this, at all. One week I might buy 5 slightly green bananas and by Wednesday, they're all practically black and need to be used up ASAP. Another week, I can buy 5 bananas that look exactly like the previous week's bananas and they are still perfectly fine by Friday. WHY IS THIS. I store them in exactly the same place, in the same way, every single time. So how come one week they're all "LOL YOLO I'M DEAD" in three days and other weeks they seem like they're going to last forever? 

I don't understand bananas.  

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One Year Later

It was overwhelming, but surprisingly chill. 
 
Have you ever tried to get 13 people ready to go and out the door with a firm deadline? Normally, it's chaos. Last year, it was easy. We piled into cars and got to the train station at what seemed like a too-early time. Luckily, we were at the end of the train line so we were able to get on and get seats, most of us. Even that far out, that train was packed full and there were times when it stopped and couldn't let anyone else one, because we were at capacity and beyond. Where I'm from, that usually leads to fisticuffs. But not that day. 
 
When we finally emerged on the Mall, it seemed… sparse. I started to think that maybe the detractors were right, that people weren't going to show up. That they'd been swayed by the ones who said "it's not safe." But as the minutes ticked by, the Mall filled up. Slowly, at first, and then all of a sudden, there were people EVERYWHERE. We clambered through shrubbery and over landscaping to try to get closer to the stage to hear the speakers. We helped women old enough to be our mothers climb trees so they could see and hear.
 
It was… big. It's almost impossible to overstate how big this thing was. And not just physically – on an emotional, spiritual level, it was huge. To look out over this sea of people, wearing hats, holding signs, holding each other, chanting, singing, dancing… It was a display of unity that has never been seen before.
 
And it was literally worldwide. There were individuals doing their own marches. There were clumps of people, groups of people, rivers of people, seas of people, taking to the streets to say "you will not ignore us."
 
At one point, the group splintered and half of us tried to make our way to a side street where there would be more room to move and maybe breathe because it was CROWDED on the Mall. We pushed through and kept pushing and that's when it really hit me: we were three full blocks from the Mall and still making our way through a solid mass of people and it was like that in EVERY direction.
 
Eventually we heard that the formal march component of the day would be cancelled because of the overwhelming number of people. Since phone/internet service was sporadic, at best, not everyone got the memo and we did march a bit after all.
 
When things died down, we made our way to the bar to regroup, decompress, and start to digest this thing we had just be involved in. The group trickled in, with some additions we'd picked up along the way, and we spent the late afternoon/early evening watching the news on the bar TV, with reports coming in from around the world.
 
We weren't just part of history – we were MAKING IT that day. And we knew it. 

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Balloons

It's no secret that I have struggled with depression and anxiety for just about as long as I can remember. It's a shitty way to get through life and once I got my ADHD diagnosis, roughly 80% of my anxiety and depression disappeared, which is nice.

But there are days…

And that seems normal, to me. Everyone has a bad day from time to time. I'm finally at a place where my bad days don't stretch into bad weeks or bad months or, as with the 1990s, a bad decade. It's a bad day, that's all. What this adds up to is the fact that I feel weird when I feel normal. 

One of the things that gets me through is identifying and naming my various issues. I've learned to visualize them as a bunch of helium balloons. Have you ever seen anyone trying to carry around a bunch of balloons? It's fucking hard, and if it's windy… good luck!

But that's what I have: balloons. On a good day, they're all floating above me in a more or less serene clump that can be safely ignored. On a bad day, the balloons have a mind of their own, flying around and about my head, clouding my vision, getting in my way, and generally being a fucking nuisance. Fucking balloons. I wish I could let them all go.

Of course, I can't do that. No one can really let go of all their balloons, but we can learn to let go of the balloons that don't belong to us. I've spent the past two years doing just that and now I think I'm only carrying my balloons and a few of Freddie's and some of Jillian's. I have them mostly under control, most days.  

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Experiments!

I love and hate to cook. I love it because I like making things but I hate it because it takes effort (story of my life: ask me how many unfinished knitting projects I currently have). I'm a fairly decent cook – I haven't accidentally poisoned anyone and I only served broken glass that one time, which truly was an accident. We all survived.

Anyway, I love my kitchen gadgets. I don't have as many as I'd like, due to space constraints. My kitchen is like a reverse TARDIS because it looks spacious but it just really, really, really isn't. This is mostly due to the fucked-up design of the space and as I've been saying for the past 10 years, if I ever get my hands on the previous owners of this house, I am going to choke them out. I did finally get a new oven/stove situation this year but only because the old one starting doing weird fiery things and I really prefer to have my house in a non-charred state.

But I digress.

For Hanukkah last year, I got an Instant Pot and joined that cult. It's worth it, because that thing is a marvel. It does wonders with recipes that would normally take all day and the fact that I've been making perfect hard-boiled eggs in it pretty much weekly makes it a must-have.

This year I got a sous vide immersion cooker thingy.  Does your average home cook need one of these? Of course not. It's perfect for precisely held temperatures over long periods of time, which is not a thing I am usually into. I barely even measure when I cook – mostly because I can't be bothered but also because half the time I can't find my measuring spoons and cups anyway so whatever. I do measure when I bake but I've been baking by weight instead of volume and it has stepped up my baking game considerably.

BUT I DIGRESS.

The sous vide thingamajig appears as if it's going to be A Thing. I made carrots in it last night and holy shitballs, you guys. I like carrots in every form, but usually when I'm cooking them I chuck them in the steamer and that's that. If I'm feeling fancy, I'll roast them or do the garlic/orange things I like to do on holidays. But with the sous vide, I stuck them in a bag with some butter, salt, pepper, and a tiny bit of sugar and popped them in the bath for about 90 minutes. They were magical.

Can't wait to see what else I can do – right now I'm experimenting with yogurt. When I bought my Instant Pot, I didn't get the one with the yogurt setting because at the time I was all "ugh yogurt gross" but then I did my whole Fitness Revolution Thing in July and yogurt has become a staple in my house. I only like the super-thick Icelandic-style skyr yogurt which is HELLA SPENDY. So I need to figure out how to make my own.

Enter the sous vide! Heat the milk, cool it back down, add the yogurt starter (which is yogurt, which leads one to wonder if there is a chicken-egg situation here), plunk it in the bath for 12 hours and… well, we'll see what happens. I'll take it out tonight before bed and put it in the fridge and if you don't hear from me again it's because I've poisoned myself.

Ehhh well I probably won't die, but I might be in the bathroom awhile. Time will tell.

The other major thing that The Internets suggests making in the sous vide is steak. I'm not sure about that, because steak can be expensive and I am wary of experimenting on expensive food. That didn't stop me from buying a $70 lump of beef in a cut I've never personally cooked before but whatever. It turned out fine because I am pretty magical when it comes down to it.

Carrots, man. Who knew? 

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To sum up…

Eh, I'm not gonna do that. 2017 was interesting, to say the least. Instead, I am going to look forward. I'm not a huge fan of resolutions, but way back at the turn of the century a friend of mine decided to call them "revolutions" instead, and that kind of stuck. I could go back and look for and look at the things I thought I was going to do this year, but chances are pretty good that I didn't do very many of them and that's okay. I did a lot of other things! And they were fine! I made the Dean's List twice this year!

So 2017 is done. Let's see what's in store for 2018!

 1. FITNESS GOALS. Totally trite, true, but oh so necessary. I have made pretty significant progress and plan to turn it up to 11 in 2018 and get at least 50 pounds off of my body. It's an uphill climb in any direction, what with age, genetics, metabolism, taste buds, and general laziness working against me, but I think it can be done because I am going to do it. I'm going to get to the gym (for which I pay handsomely) 3 times a week like I'm supposed to, drive less, walk more, and maybe this year I'll be able to do a pull-up, finally. 

2. I'm going to throw myself at this last semester of school and make the Dean's List again just before I graduate in May. This is a terrifying prospect, because it means that I will, at long last, be an actual adult person.  Sort of. I will have a fancy new degree to wave around and use to cajole someone into giving me a job of some kind, doing something I actually enjoy doing. That search will start in March or April and should be full of hilariousness as I explain my incredibly convoluted employment history to people. I need to distill that into a cocktail-party-style anecdote.  Hmm.

3. I'd like to spend less time in front of a computer. This will be a challenge, given that I spend a lot of time doing actual research online, but outside of school/work-related things, I need to shut it down more often. I'm going to turn off my phone instead of just putting it in my pocket, and maybe give up my tablet because I don't really use it for anything other than games and winning arguments via IMDB.

4. 2018 might be the year that I organize my bookshelves. They're triple-stacked with stacks on the floor and there have GOT to be some up there that I can get rid of. I probably won't but at least I will have a better handle on what's up there.

5. I'm going to read all of Shakespeare's plays. I've done it before and I've studied most of them, but they're fun to read, so I'm going to do that.

6. No Chinese food in 2018 unless I make it myself. I have successfully avoided Dunkin' Donuts coffee after declaring them dead to me 5 years ago (the coffee is just SO DAMN BAD, it's offensive), so I have no doubt that I can avoid Chinese food. Maybe it's psychological, but no other Asian cuisine bothers me like Chinese does. No more! Begone!

 

And that's really it. The first three are all things I'm already doing and the other three are things that I might do but maybe not. It doesn't matter, really, because the world won't stop turning if my bookshelves stay chaotic, but it would certainly be nice to look at them and not be irritated by what I see. 

 

Cheers, team. Go be better than you were before. 

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At 4 AM

At 4 AM, everything is dark. The sun has not yet crept over the edge of the world.

At 4 AM, all lights are bright. You get dressed in the dark so as not to wake the house with blaze of the hall light.

At 4 AM, everything is very loud. You tiptoe out of the bedroom. The cat greets you, bellowing, and you wonder if the crinkle of the catfood bag will wake the whole street.

At 4 AM, nothing is happening. The television offerings are so bad, you think perhaps it would have been best for TV not to have been invented in the first place.

At 4 AM, nobody is awake. Unless you count alcoholics, angry loners, the unemployable, and me, who is worrying.

At 4 AM.

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Something Happened Today

Body-positivity is not easy, you guys. It takes a lot of hard mental/emotional work to get to a place where you are happy with the body you HAVE. This is doubly true if the body one inhabits is not the body that society/media/the world tells you is acceptable or desirable.

Lucky for me, I’m not terribly concerned with being accepted or desired, but I’m still human. I’d like to lose a little weight. I’d like my clothes to fit better. I’m fairly healthy but I’d like to stay that way now that I’m like, an actual adult person. But it is HARD to walk around in a body that people abhor and even fear.

AND I’M NOT EVEN THAT BIG. I’m on the border of a size 14 and size 16. It’s not the happiest place to be, because shopping is problematic on the best day, but that’s where I am and it’s fine. I am an average-sized woman. Genetics are NOT on my side – while there is a range of sizes amongst the women in my family, I was pretty much destined to have either a big ass or a big chest and SURPRISE!! I GOT BOTH! Thanks so much, doughy German ancestors!! MORE SCHNITZEL!

Anyway, aside from all that, I’m also a runner. I am fat and slow and that’s my lane, but I run. Slowly. I was doing that today! I have a 2-mile loop that I stomp around, and my current mantra is “fuck this, finish strong” so I run hard (for me) for about the last 100 meters, from the trail to where I park my truck.

This leaves me all red-faced and sweaty and generally pretty gross. Salty. I forgot deodorant this morning so I’m a little funky. And I’ve been recovering from bronchitis that turned into pneumonia, so my lungs are still getting back into the swing of that whole “breathing” thing. Freddie says he’s going to get me a shirt made that says “I’m not dying, this is just how I breathe.”

This was my state when I made it to the car, fished out my keys and started to stretch.

Two women parked next to me looked over at me and one of them snorted, “Fat girls look so tired! I’m so glad I don’t have to work that hard to stay this thin.”

Oh. OH!!

Now, some of you know that I am a big fan of the witty comeback. I spend a lot of time in online comment sections being hilarious and clever and a little bit rude. I’m not always like that in real life because honestly, who has the time, and 90% of the time I’m not paying attention anyway. But today? Oh.

I stood up.

I walked over to this woman and looked her straight in the eye, smiled, and said, “It’s so nice the sun is out today, isn’t it?” I never break eye contact.

She stammered some kind of reply.

I kept smiling, kept looking her in the eye.

“Sorry.” [mumbled]

Still smiling, still making eye contact.

“You will be.”

[smiling]

Then I got in my truck and went to Starbucks for my big-ass bucket o’coffee.

What did I mean by “you will be?” Welllllll that’s the beauty of that kind of statement, isn’t it? It means everything and nothing at the same time. I hope it confused her. I hope she takes a look at the women in her family and realizes that yes, the adipose will come for her, too. Or maybe her family is full of thin women who are cold all the time. Maybe she’ll find that someday, she does indeed have to work “that hard” to stay “that thin” and she’ll wonder if it’s worth it.

I know what I meant. Someday, she will, too. In the meantime, I will continue to run, continue to be slow, maybe be less fat (probably not, though).

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