So I've been sitting here thinking about what to write. It's been so long. This always seems to happen, but I think it's hard for non-writers (and specifically for non-bloggers) to understand. The more you write, the more you write. And the less you write, the less you write. That's the obvious bit. Or at least, that's the bit that's obvious to those of us who actually write for a living. If you want to make a go of this thing, you need to work, every day, just like you would at a regular job. I do, I just don't often post the junk I write here. (Most of it stinks anyway. You're not missing anything. That's another secret. Most people have to write ten garbage paragraphs to get one good one. I do, anyway. Some lucky writers don't, but we hate them, so let's not talk about that.)
Anyway, moving on.
The not-so-obvious bit -- or maybe I should say, the not-so-intuitive bit -- is that the more you write, the more you can write, and the less you write, the less you can write. I've heard people liken it to a muscle -- use it or lose it, they say -- but that analogy annoys me for some reason. I'm not sure why.
So. Yeah. Look at me. I'm talking a lot about writing and not a lot about the things I sat here meaning to talk about. I'm not sure if I'm avoiding something, or just getting out my garbage paragraphs for the day, but either way, I'm gonna post it. And I'm going to post it without pictures. I know these last couple of years have brought on a lot of talk about "the death of the novel" and even "the death of blogging" but fuck that. You can read and you should read and a bunch of pretty pictures are nice sometimes, but you don't need them. All you need is your imagination and all I need is to blog like a mofo, no editing. If I don't, I might never blog again. It's been too many months and I'm so far outside of it, I think I'll have to break a window if I want to get back in. (How's that for shitty analogies? Writing is like a house, get it? And once you're outside of the house, it's like you forgot your keys. Or lost 'em or something. And you can't get back in. And blah blah blah. It's official. These are the garbage paragraphs. Ugh. How embarrassing.)
Non-Editor's Note: Oh god, Self. Stop rambling.
It's May. Can you believe that? MAY. That means it's almost June. And by the end of June the year will be half-over and I haven't even gotten used to it yet. 2014 seems to be getting away from me. Perhaps you noticed. What with the lack of blogging, and all that drivel above, maybe it's become clear that I'm kind of off my game. I only managed to take down my Christmas decorations a week ago. A WEEK AGO. And I barely managed it, frankly. I kept having to sit down to rest. And I kept checking my email. And the whole thing took hours, when it really shouldn't have. Honestly, if I lived in a bigger apartment, where it wasn't such a hassle to have a Christmas tree clogging up the living room, and two sad stockings staring at me from the mantle, I don't know that I would have bothered with taking anything down this year. I would have left it all up until December of 2014. Why not? Who's going to know? These are the things I was thinking just a couple of weeks ago. The horrified look on Nathan's face when I suggested it is was motivated me to abandon the idea and just get started (and me getting started is what motivated him to help finish). If he'd enabled me, if he'd said "Yeah, fuck it. Let's leave it up!" then who knows where we'd be? Luckily, he said "You don't really want to do that, do you?" with this scared look on his face, like he was thinking Who are you? and Who are we turning into? and that was the thing I really needed to get the fuck on with it. Maybe that's what marriage is. Having someone who looks at you with a frightened expression when you need it, but doesn't actually criticize? No. Probably not. I pulled that idea right out of my ass. Don't even listen to me. That's not what marriage is at all.
Back to the point: I've never been this way before. I've never been this slovenly person. Not that I can remember, anyway. I've been tidy and organized for my entire adult life. I get shit done. That's who I am. Or rather, that's who I thought I was. Like I said, this year, somehow, things have been getting away from me.
I've been pretty sick. Maybe that has something to do with it. (Way to bury the lede, eh?) Don't worry. I'm not dying or anything. I just have stuff. Stuff is what I have. At the moment, the stuff that I have is Shingles.
YEP. I HAVE SHINGLES. Just got it, actually. Best. Day. Ever.
INSERT A MILLION LINE-MOUTHS HERE.
But the Shingles is not even the point. It looks like it's going to be on my back. The vesicles are tiny and not yet bad, but they're getting there. They hurt. I hurt. It's kind of like I have a deep muscle-strain, coated in a sunburn. It's not the worst, but I certainly don't like it. And it's really just the cherry on the sundae of health drama that has been my life for the past six months.
After last year, which was kind of big, health-wise, what with recovering from EDNOS (symptom-free, baby!), and all that, you would think I'd just have gotten healthier, but no. The opposite is true, as it turns out, which is frustrating for a lot of reasons.
Aside from the Shingles, I have Graves' Disease. It's an autoimmune thing -- a thyroid thing. It's not that big of a deal. A lot of people have it. Especially women. I know a gal in my immediate circle who has it too. So okay. Hooray! At least I know what I have. Or rather, I know what I had. I just wish I had found out sooner.
Thyroid issues are SUPER common in women my age. No one ever told me that. And no one ever checked my thyroid function. That's the thing I'm pissed about. No one checked it when I said how anxious I was feeling, and no one checked it when I went to a shrink who gave me an SSRI I didn't need, and no one checked it when I ditched the shrink and ditched the SSRI unsupervised because it caused so many other problems. And no one checked it when I said, "Hey, I feel worse than ever. And also, FYI, I have an eating disorder and my symptoms are really bad and I feel so anxious about it I can hardly breathe." No one checked it.
No one checked my thyroid when I said I couldn't sleep. No one checked it when I said my heart was racing. And no one checked it when my hair started falling out in clumps. (I've lost, like, 1/3 of the total hair on my head at this point.) In case you missed it, the key point here is this: NO ONE CHECKED IT. Other people clearly blamed me when I explained my symptoms (Out of breath? Armchair diagnosis: Fat. Can't run any distance at all? Armchair diagnosis: Fat.) And to be fair, I blamed myself as well. What we should have been doing was blaming my thyroid, which was so hyperactive as to land me in the hospital over Christmas.
Whatever. I am better now. I mean, I have an autoimmune disease and I'm on a lot of medication and it might get better after awhile and it might not, but regardless, I feel way better and that's what matters. And I'm not fat anymore. This has been a blessing and a curse. I mean, don't get me wrong. My quality of life went WAY up as a fat person. Way the fuck up. I mean, being a fat woman in contemporary North America was really fucking fun, yo. People definitely didn't treat me like shit every single time I left the house. Not at all. Choosing to be fat was the best decision I ever made, in fact. And then, choosing to NOT be fat? Well, that was a genius move on my part, too. HAHAHA. (Please tell me you get how sarcastic I am being here.)
Yeah. No. It was bad. I was pretty healthy, but being fat was bad because of how badly people treated me. Fucking old crones whispering behind their hands to their old crone friends, "Look at Jennifer. What happened? What do you think is wrong?" Nothing was wrong. They were wrong. (If you are reading this, and you're one of those shitty people who talks about other people's bodies in this way at all, ever, even when the people you're talking about can't hear you, then YOU, my friend, are wrong. Fuck off. Go read something else. I don't like you. And don't even think you're fooling me either. I know exactly who you are.)
Um. What was I saying? Oh yeah. Being fat was bad because of assholes and patriarchy and capitalism and other shitty things, but it was good too. It was good in that it made me honest. And it made me angry. And I became sort of a low-level Size-Acceptance Advocate and Fat Activist. And politically, that was super-positive! (I'm embarrassed because it looks like I had to become fat to understand fat people, and as a person who believes in empathy, I find the "you have to walk a mile in my shoes" mentality to be problematic. I should have come around to a lot of this stuff way sooner, but whatever. I'm here now and that's what matters.) Good things came of my struggle. And when I started to lose weight, mostly as a result of getting off that stupid SSRI, suddenly, I felt a little adrift. Could I still be a SA advocate as a straight-sized person? For exactly four seconds I wondered that. OBVIOUSLY, the answer is yes. You can be an ally, and activist, and an advocate, no matter who you are.
So that's where I am now. I'm not fat anymore. I'm not thin either, but I can shop at most stores without salespeople being totally mean to me, and just being able to do that -- being able to exist without the staring and gossip and assumptions and general meanness -- is such a privilege. In January, I bought some clothes -- practically my first new clothes in years. I almost cried in the store. That's how unfamiliar the feelings was. So what now? So now, I do whatever I can to call attention to the fact that other people don't enjoy these privileges and that it's BULLSHIT. And since early last year, when I first resolved to stop participating in negative body talk, I've remained pretty steadfast. I have continued to refuse to take part in any "Ugh, I hate this about myself/I'm such a pig for eating that grain of rice/I'm so bad/I'm so good/That's fattening/This is healthy" talk with other women, and after more than a year, the worst thing that's happened as a result is that I've had a few stilted conversations. Basically, I'm winning.
Best of all on the body-front, I seek out nudie and fashion shots of bigger people all the time and I think I've successfully retrained my brain because now, I find it easy to see a huge variety of people as both "normal" and "beautiful" in a way that didn't compute before. All it took was a little variety. I made a little effort to consume more pop-culture stuff that represents a greater variety of body types and shapes (GabiFresh, Drop Dead Diva, Dances With Fat, Lindy West's Tumblr: malcolmjamalwarlock, Mary Lambert, Everything Gabourey Sidibe I can Find, etc.) and BOOM, now I don't even notice anymore. A bigger person doesn't look "fat" to me in a negative way anymore at all, if I even notice, which I rarely do -- s/he just looks like a person. So, you guys, this is big! It turns out, it is TOTALLY possible! You too can change your life in this totally awesome way. It's the biggest relief ever, I promise. Turning off the body-consciousness and just being a person among people is a way better way to live. I made a little list above, but email me if you want to come up with even more pop-culture that might help your brain in the same way I fixed mine. Neuroplasticity is da bomb, friends.
So. Yeah. That's where we are. Let's summarize. I'm not fat anymore, but I'm into fat-acceptance and body positivity. I have Graves' disease and I might have it forever, but I feel good. I have Shingles and I won't have it forever, but I feel bad. 2014 is getting away from me. I finally took the Christmas tree down. It's May. Blogging is hard, but sometimes you've just gotta do it. Most of this post is garbage. Writing is hard too, but if you want to be a writer, then you've gotta do it every day. Aaaand ... we're right back to the beginning. Nice summary, right?
I think my metaphorical blogging house has been effectively broken-in-to. I'm in. I'm back inside.