What’s your damage, Heather?

I have two nearly identical pairs of jeans in my dresser. Both were bought in the last three months. Neither of them fits. One pair is a skosh too big, threatening self-pantsing every time I bend or shift. The other is a teeny bit too snug; I am uncomfortably aware of the zipper abrading my lower gut-flap. The jeans themselves are perfect – they are 98% cotton, which is nearly impossible to find in women’s jeans these days. They do not flare. They are meant to be worn cuffed, which saves my stumpy ass from having to hem them. They would be perfect for someone I’m not. Someone I was three months ago, or someone I may be in the future, but there are no guarantees.

My closet is filled with “almost” clothes. Brightly colored tunics with flowing lines and scoop necks that now expose my bra. Half-empty molded cup bras gaping at the top. Pants just roomy enough in the seat they look sloppy in a way you can’t pin-point. There are some dresses that are still wearable, but I estimated the size of the tights I originally bought to go with them incorrectly and now they sag at the knees and ankles. I do not have the money to replace my wardrobe. I do not have the money to replace my bras, which at around $75 apiece, are the most expensive part.

My body is no longer my own. It no longer wants to use its own insulin to break down glucose. I’ve given it enough delicious potatoes and pastries throughout its lifetime that it’s just given up. Sorry dude, you’re Polish and Polynesian – I thought you wanted the starches. They sure were delicious, and satisfying, and happy-making. The medication I’m on now to help it remember how to use insulin plays merry havoc with my appetite, so much so that I’ve designated various states of being: Not Hungry (food? Oh yeah. I should probably eat a thing!) Unhungry (I’m hungry, but also slightly nauseated) and Oogy (ugh. Food. Gross). I’ve stopped giving my body all those carbs it doesn’t know what to do with, and have begun developing a list of items I can consume for each state of being. Not Hungry? Here is a meal with meat and vegetables. It will be delicious as soon as you start eating it. Unhungry? Have some almonds and some protein, an artisanal lunchable with something salty to remind you to enjoy eating. Oogy? Look, if there’s anything that doesn’t turn your stomach, just eat it. Don’t even look at the nutritional info. If nothing appeals, at least have a protein drink through a straw. Food is not enjoyable. Food is fuel. I think about it constantly. What I “can” have, what I “should” have, what is poison, what I miss, what I don’t.

I was very fat. I am now slightly less fat. I am still fat. I will always be one kind of fat or another. Nonetheless, my doctor is thrilled. Because she doesn’t know the end-game of this process.

Because my body, which is no longer my own, has responded to these depredations not by shrinking, but by deflating. As if waiting for my metabolism to figure out what I’ve done to it, and deciding it can make do with the limited food intake by slowing down again. It’s leaving room. This is temporary. This is not permanent. Like me and my skosh-too-big jeans. Waiting for me to own my body again.

Advertisements

In Which I Determine That L.A. Is Neither Paradise nor Sodom By The Sea

“Los Angeles is deceptive, just like it’s main export – movies.”

Look dude, I know you think so. Everybody thinks so. This was a cliche when the first eastern european emigre hauled ass out here, fleeing the east coast mob, to start a chicken ranch or a movie studio. Blah blah blah, artifical, woof bark, everyone’s so fake, oogly moogly everyone’s an actor/screenwriter/waiter. You could run out your toner drum printing out these “hot takes” dating from back when women rouged their knees, stack them up, set them on fire, and they’d blaze for nearly as long as our delightful fire season, the smoke giving off an acrid whiff of the sour grapes of a spurned lover. “I never wanted you anyway, plus you’re so fake!”

What makes L.A. alarming to people who lack the self-awareness to know any better is ironically, the reason those first studio execs gave instead of “running from the mob” for their move to this remote coast – the sunshine. It’s the sunlight that makes the city incongruous to those who only know it from our main export. Camera angles and back-lots and vast numbers of crew members can do a lot to make a place sparkle. The reality is that the sun illuminates the city without the benefit of a “kicker” to fill in the shadows. Lacking a perceptible rainfall, there is rarely enough water to sluice the layers of plant matter, brake-dust, general detritus and assorted filth off the streets with any regularity. The sprawling ex-urb that makes up the “city” of L.A. never got tall enough in most places to dim the daylight here, so the Orange Death Orb seems to highlight the crud making any moment of contemplation – say, waiting for a bus in a bus shelter with an oddly useless shade-free awning – turn into a meditation on how gross everything is. Better not to have any spare moments for contemplation then, and also, this may be why no one wants to ride the bus.

I never set out to write a defense of this city; I don’t think it needs one. Neither is it a love letter. My feelings for the places I live are always ambivalent at best. But I don’t like know-it-alls, and I especially bristle at the ignorant tearing down an easy target to make themselves look superior. So, with that in mind, please consider this essay both a tourism ad and a minor warning for the lovely, filthy, sunny, happy, lonely, shallow, meditative, hard-working Town of Our Lady Queen of the Angels; we really don’t give a shit if you think we’re all fake. We’re too busy getting on with our lives.

intermission

Hey all! I’m kind of wiped out from all the physical activity the rest of the Voxxies participated in. (I’m actually fending off an allergy-cold thingie, so more prone to fatigue than normal). Please meditate on this sad story of what happens when a woman efficiently and expertly does a whole bunch of unpaid and unappreciated labor for her husband yet fails to worship his masculinity properly. I’ll be back after my nap to continue my commentary!IMG_20170506_105833081~2

Fascinating Womanhood – The Bloggening

Hey there reader(s), a few words of warning: a.) I am writing this on a blue tooth keyboard and my phone. I’m going to not worry about typos. b.) Seattle weather seems to have migrated south and it is starting to drizzle. So maybe I’ll be blogging this from the car. A little about this book. It was published in 1963, written by a woman who had a degree in Home Economics from BYU. Look, there’s nothign wrong with a home ec degree – in fact, I think those with home ec degrees should have W2    /401k type jobs. It seems to be a reaction to the 60’s feminist movement, and boy is it reactionary. Further notes will be added to the comments section. please feel free to add your oen comments if the spirit moves you!

This is just a test

I’m just practicing writing this on my phone with my bluetooth keyboard. It looks like it works (huzzah!) so I should be able to leave appalled comments tomorrow. Here is a preview of the kind of wonderful advice proffered by Fascinating Womanhood:

“WHEN WOMAN RULES”

When woman rules, it robs her of presence of mind to do her homemaking tasks well. Generally speaking it is trying on a woman’s emotions to assume the leadership role. But if she develops capabilities which make these masculine duties easy for her – she tends to los some of her essential feminine charm.

(OK, so I can’t seem to highlight that last sentence after the hyphen so that I can italicize like the book does, but otherwise, it’s just a good reminder that trying to take charge means our tiny ladybrains can’t remember how to clean a toilet!)

Why Vox?

Vox Group

I don’t remember learning to read music. I don’t remember learning to read either. This is more an admission of my poor memory than it is of my precocity. By my best guess, I most likely learned to read music sitting with my family in a church pew. Growing up in a church with no paid clergy or musicians, the congregation was expected to have a certain level of musical competence – at least enough to recognize that when the little back dots went up, so did your voice. Mom, a trained mezzo-soprano and pianist, exceeded the minimal musical competence required of her, and would often change parts at the verses, raising the bass an octave, singing most of the tenor line, throwing in with the sopranos if necessary (it was no fun to sing the melody when all that harmony was just there for the taking). I learned to hear the “inside” voices of a chorale in church too, which was good because as I became school age, I found sometimes I couldn’t hit the high notes in some of the Primary songs and I could find a third or a fifth that worked in the song. Some of the kids gave me funny looks, but it was OK; the church taught me that Jesus wanted to hear all of us sing with whatever voice God gave us. If someone was singing the “wrong” note, someone else could always sing the right one louder.

As a kid I also learned to play the cello. I was at home in an ensemble with an “inside” part, and was well served by my ability to listen to where I fit in, adjusting dynamics and attack based on how others were playing. I also got fewer funny looks for my vibrato. When I came back to singing, I relished my time in the alto section of choirs (provided I wasn’t just singing a D or an F# for measures at a time; composers of intermediate level chorus pieces, we need to talk) and I loved being one voice in the midst of a big group, even while singing solos. That time learning music in church by singing with hundreds of other people of one heart and mind, if only for the space of a few hymns, had inextricably linked music with the numinous for me. I was incapable of making music without also connecting to something else.  Something Big.

The spiritual and philosophical path my life has taken has not been without its twists and turns. The church of my youth didn’t have a place for the adult I became. I explored paganism, atheism, other forms of Christianity. It’s hard for me to describe myself, but maybe an agnostic with Christian leanings would be accurate. A few years ago I sang in a wonderful church choir where the desired sound was that of a boy choir. We were able to sing some inspiring music and that bundle of neurons responsible for my confusing music with God got a great work-out, but the biggest challenge for me was subconscious: if the “proper” sound for this choir was the hollow, cool treble tone of a pre-pubescent boy, the dark, warm alto instrument I had been blessed with never quite fit. Did God really want me to use a practice mute?

Vox Femina wanted my voice as a woman. As a community, Vox commissions new works, often from women, paying living composers to create new music. We do outreach in the community, sharing the joy we have in performing with kids who may not have the opportunity to hear or sing this kind of music. We sing songs about women’s experiences, about love, freedom, protest, kindness, hope, anger, and yes, even God. Every time the forty of us get together, we are united, making music with one heart and mind. Singing in Vox is prayer. It’s meditation. As a chorus, we breathe together – unless it’s staggered breathing, where we listen to our fellow singers and breathe when others are singing to ensure that every singer gets to catch her breath while the choir continues to make music. Listening, supporting, sharing. Vox Femina is a microcosm of the kind of society I would like to live in.