Saturday, June 05, 2010

Reading, Watching, Eating

I had written out this entire post before, but then our Mac -- you know, the machine that never fails -- failed big time and I lost the entire thing. I'm sure the previous version was infinitely more brilliant.

1. The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy -- I heard a piece about this on NPR's summer reading series a few years ago, and it was collecting dust on the shelves for a while. It's one of those books that comes and goes every few years. It seemed worth the wait. Reviewers called it effervescent and charming, and I thought it was quick, light airy lead. While the narrator is sort of a flaky cross between Holly Golightly and Carrie Bradshaw, you want to stick with her as she traipses around Europe in her early twenties. The descriptions of Paris were lovely, and it reminded me of taking overnight trains through France and Spain, and thinking that was what the rest of my life was going to be like.

2. Lessons from the Fat-o-sphere: Quit Dieting and Declare a Truce with Your Body by Kate Harding and Marianne Kirby -- I bought this when it first went on sale because I wanted to see it do well, and I've been following Shapely Prose and The Rotund for years now. I felt like I already knew a lot of stuff in the book because I've been reading for so long, but I still found it an informative and hilarious read. I love both of their writing voices, so I found it enjoyable. Plus, rereading the chapters on cognitive dissonance resonated since I've been hovering in that place for oh, years -- knowing that diets don't work and that fat doesn't necessarily equal unhealthy, but still wishing I was a little bit smaller. And still sometimes thinking that I would be a brand new fucking me if I lost a few pounds.

3. The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve -- I can't remember how or when I bought this. I'm not typically into the Oprah's Book Club stuff, so I'm guessing this was on one of those Buy 2, Get 1 Free tables at Borders. It was a quick read and enjoyable -- I tried to put it away for a few days because reading a book about a husband dying in a fiery crash right before your own husband heads to Europe on a bunch of flights for a week tends to get the head cake going . But I couldn't. I wanted to know what happened. It ends up being a little Lifetime movie-ish, but who doesn't enjoy that shit every once in a while?

4. The Tyranny of E-mail: The Four-Thousand-Year Journey to Your Inbox by John Freeman -- Pretty much what I expected. I always read these books thinking that someone will have a cure for the 400 emails a day problem, but nobody does. It was well researched, and I really enjoyed the historical chapters on the telegraph, postcard, and telephone.

1. Up In The Air -- So, I had assumed this was a comedy, and holy crap was I wrong. It was brilliantly acted by the entire cast, but it made me SAD, SAD, SAD.

2. (500) Days of Summer -- This is pretty much the formula for my perfect movie. Quirky cute lead actors in a low-key romcom with lots of music by The Smiths. Thoroughly enjoyable. And yes, I bought the soundtrack.

3. Lost finale -- I watched it again, and I loved it. I always thought this show was an extended Bible story, and unlike most people, I hated when all the time travel/scifi shit was introduced. Yes, there were loose ends, but the redemption arc was beautiful and I cried like a freakin' baby when they all started realizing what had happened.

4. Biggest Loser finale -- We used to be fairly religious about this show because it was the only thing that the MG could watch that YG and I could get into to. It's cheesy and sentimental and sometimes horrifying, but we liked it. Now, I'm not so sure. I enjoyed the finale because one of the nice guys won, but I think this show is really jumping into spectacle territory -- 400lbs twins! The sickest man EVER! 500lb man! It feels too exploitative and is uncomfortable to watch. Undecided if we'll take in the next season.

YG is away on a business this week, and this strikes fear in my heart because it makes me responsible again for my own nutritional needs (read: cooking). I lived on my own for years, so it's not like I'm going to starve to death, but in the past, my "dinners" usually consisted of Lean Cuisine or a decaf latte and pound cake, or if I was feeling really creative (read: inclined to turn on stove), I would make oatmeal. Now, I'm trying to make a conscious effort to eat less processed foods, so I did have a few moments of thinking that I might indeed starve to death this week. We don't really have the type of money to eat every meal out, and with an infant, my choices are sort of limited anyway. So, I embarked on adventure to do two things I pretty much hate to do -- grocery shopping and cooking.

For the week, I picked up a rotisserie chicken and a lot of salad, along with tons of fruit that I could share with Zygote. I also bought tons of avocados since we've gotten quite good at making guacamole and it works great as a spread for the condiment-phobic like myself.

Then I cooked up a bunch of quinoa for main dishes and sides for lunch. I've gotten pretty good at the quinoa too, and have two recipes that I like. One is quinoa with avocado, corn, tomato and black beans, and the other mixes in cannellini beans, roasted red peppers and asparagas (I made it with green beans when YG and MG were around since they won't touch asparagas). I'm sure I will quinoa-ed out by the end of the week, but I figure it's way better than being Chipotle-d out or Hostess cupcaked out.

Editor's note: I haven't gotten over all my bad habits, though. Dinner the first night YG was away consisted of three cupcakes and a beer on the couch.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Marriages, Gores, Whatnot

YG left tonight for a week-long business trip in Europe. I'm already back to my old habits of wearing sweatpants and eating cupcakes and beer for dinner, while desperately hoping that there is an old episode of America's Next Top Model on somewhere. I like my husband, and I do not like it when he is gone. I hope this bodes well for our future.

Everyone is abuzz about the news of Al and Tipper Gore breaking up. My friend, Casey, has a good blog up on Double X about this and why so many people want answers. I totally agree with her assessment that it hits too close to home. The Gores seemed like they had a normal, if a little bit gooey (ew gross, mom and dad are making out), relationship, and nobody, including me, wants to hear that you can live with someone for the bulk of your adult life and just get tired of them. They were together 40 years! I haven't even been ALIVE 40 years.

I would like to believe that if you choose your partner well, that you can be happy with them in 10, 20, 30 years. It's important to keep changing and growing, and hopefully the person you change into is someone your partner likes and vice versa. Marriage is basically a leap of faith. I did this once before, and all my faith couldn't make that one work. I leapt again, and I think I made a wiser choice.

And I can spew that "wisdom," but still deep down want assurances that it's all going to work out in the end. That I'll be one of the lucky ones who still likes her husband and he still likes her and we support each other's careers and then we have a gaggle of brilliant and wickedly funny kids that cart us off to a really swank Assisted Living facility somewhere warm. I want to KNOW. I want to stop hearing about "late stage divorces," because it's just depressing, man. Starter marriage divorces you can blame on youth and stupidity, but when I keep hearing about these Gore divorces, all I can think is that if you live long enough, everyone must start to get on your nerves on the end.

Gah. Sad stuff. I have to think about bunnies or marshmellows or something fluffy now.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Slutty Fatties: And What To Do With My Life

Last week, MSNBC ran an article, Heavy Girls Likelier To Have Sex Early. This is the kind of article that just makes my head want to explode because the reporting is just so terrible. You get references to a medical study boiled down into a couple of easily digestible talking points. Taking complex shit and making it somewhat understandable by spinning it into 2 or 3 key messages is what I do for a living, so I can't bitch about that too much. But medical research is complex and we all know the media is in love with finding NEW! and INTERESTING! ways to demonize fat, so this one just makes me bristle. It manages to combine fat hate and misogyny and victim blaming all in one. Nice.

Tiger Beatdown has probably the best analysis of this and why it's so incredibly fucked up, that I've ever read. Seriously, I know I am a little crazy with the link love, but this is one you should read.

Points that jumped out at me:

"When you are in the pre-teen era, you spend a lot of time looking to adults to figure out how you should behave, because you are just beginning to become aware of changes in your body that mean you will be an adult within a few years! And holy shit! And guess what — the adults around you are constantly obsessing about their own weight. And yours. Because, since it is the responsibility of parents to decide what their kids eat, and there are a million narratives about how if you don’t eat right you will get fat, parents are looking for your not-fatness as a way to verify that they haven’t completely fucked up as parents. "

When I write a memoir, that could be the inside jacket.

"2. Here is what you learn very early, as a young woman prone to fatness, even before puberty: My body is bad. My body is disgusting. My body is something for me to fight against. My body will not cooperate with my desire to be thin. My body is a disappointment to the people around me. I hate how all these studies and articles just assume as true that it is the natural order of things that fat girls will feel bad about themselves, as if this is, in fact, the proper way to view yourself when you are fat. No, this is not natural. This does not come from looking in the mirror. Girls are inculcated with messages that fatness is bad and that their bodies are their enemies. Loving your body is not option. That fatness-shame, combined with the puberty-shame of our puritanical, anti-woman, anti-sex culture, means that at the onset of puberty fat girls undergo deep, deep dissociation with their bodies. This happens to all kinds of girls, but especially fat girls.

3. On the other hand, you have all these anti-sex messages coming at you, hard and fast, which says, oh your body is a temple your body is special don’t just let anyone touch it, sex is only for true love blah blah blah. But those messages can’t take hold, because you’ve already been taught that your body is bad and disgusting and is your enemy because it does not conform to the beauty ideal (and, yes, I am sad to say, there is a beauty ideal even for twelve-year-old girls). And those message are working on the other girls, who think that they will devalue their bodies if they get intimate with boys. But for fat girls, your body is already devalued, and so, it’s kind of like: FUCK IT."

Wow. Just wow.

"5. Can we talk about how we automatically assume that having more than three partners as a teenage girl is automatically a bad thing? Because I don’t see why it has to be, except for in our narratives about how promiscuity is awful. It’s only awful because it’s supposed to be awful, and presto! You get slut-shamed out the wazoo for doing it. And then you do, in fact, feel awful, because slut-shaming sucks. But you also get slut-shamed for not doing it. As has been aptly covered by every feminist everywhere, you can end up a slut for completely perplexing reasons, like because you have a single mom, or because you have big breasts, or because of your race or ethnicity, or because of a rumor that might not even be close to true.

6. Fat girls are more likely to get labeled as sluts, because “slut” is a catch-all word for women and girls who do not conform to ladylike and womanly behavior, and being fat is definitely not lady-like or womanly behavior. And look, I can say from experience, if enough people are calling you a slut, you start to believe it. You’re 12! What do you know about what a slut is? And you are hitting puberty, and having all these sexual thoughts about boys, and thinking, okay, people are saying I am a slut so OBVIOUSLY this is not normal and there must be something deeply, deeply wrong with me. Perhaps after a while, you think, hey, if everyone is calling me a slut, I might as well go ahead and be one, because they sure as hell aren’t going to stop, are they?"

Also in my memoir: remember that time that the popular girls accused you of calling Queen Popular Bee Amy G. a slut, even though you had no clue what a slut actually was and you never actually spoke to Amy G because she was popular and you were not? And then they started calling you a slut even though you were in sixth grade and had never even held hands with a boy? Remember that? Good times.

"7. I really hate that female desire is just completely erased in that MSNBC article. It chaps my hide something fierce. Because if it is the case that fat girls go through puberty earlier, why do we say “they grow boobs, so boys pressure them to have sex” rather than “they go through puberty, so they have sexual desire earlier than other girls.” Why was that not even thought of as an explanation? No. NOT POSSIBLE! Teenage girls? Actually wanting sex or sexual activity? No, it must be the boys who are making them do it. Puberty happens because of a rapid hormonal shift in your body. Those hormones do all kinds of things: make you grow boobs, get your period, grow body hair, and START FEELING SEXUAL DESIRE. Yes, so the girls who go through puberty earlier will start feeling sexual desire earlier than other girls. But we couldn’t possibly advance that as an explanation because if girls engage in sexytime because they want to, rather than because boys force them to, it doesn’t fit into our nice little narrative about how girls are being ruined by sex, does it?"

Those crazy boys -- turning all us nice girls into whores.

I've been trying to read articles like this and others with a critical eye. I will give the MSNBC folks credit for actually interviewing the study author, as opposed to so-called experts who try and boil research down into talking points to advance their own agendas. I call this Meme Roth syndrome. Finding someone who was actually involved in the research is actually quite out of the ordinary.

And I'm also, like, trying to figure out something to do with my life (i.e. Operation: Please, for the love of God, let me get out of high tech). Given that I've never really come up with a plan beyond "be a writer," I am trying to find a way to pay the bills that doesn't make me want to feel all icky inside. I've been trying to find a way to combine what I know (corp comm) with shit I am interested in: clothes, feminism, religion, food, writing, babies, etc. I am a mile wide an an inch deep. In doing some research, i stumbled across this program at Tufts and perked up. According to the website, "Americans' top sources of nutrition information are magazines, television, newspapers, and the internet. The print, broadcast, and electronic media are constantly seeking professionally-trained nutritionists who can communicate effectively. The same is true of public relations agencies, the food industry, and health and fitness centers."

The cons first:
* I already have a Masters Degree.
* Did I mention I already have a Masters Degree?
* A second MA would cost a ton of money.
* Looking at the salaries of people who have graduated from this program, nearly half make between 50 and 71K a year.
* See above.
* Course titles include words like: Epidemiology, Biochemistry, Physiology. Words that I don't entirely understand. Words that sound like science. I always sucked at Science.
* Time.

The pros:
* It sounds interesting.
* Combines interesting with 'things I already know how to do.'
* School! Yay!

So, I sent an email and asked if I could come in for an info session. It may be cool, it may not be, but it may lead me on to something new, even if it's just a different type of extracurricular class. Based on the article above, there's clearly a need for critical thinking regarding how to report on nutrition research.

And then when I'm done and we have won the lotto again, I'm going to do this program.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Kind Of A Big Deal

2:41:44. Slower than my best pace, but c'mon, it was 90 degrees and 13.1 miles, and I never stopped. Full race recap to come. One way of getting through 13.1 miles is imagining how you're going to write it up.

And a super awesome playlist doesn't hurt either:

Three Little Birds Bob Marley
Fat Bottomed Girls Queen
Back In Black AC/DC
Loveshack B-52s
Breathe The Prodigy
No Sleep Till Brooklyn Beastie Boys
Born To Run Bruce Springsteen
Let The Cool Goddess Rust Away Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
London's Burning The Clash
Groove Is In The Heart Dee-Lite
Perfect Situation Weezer
Take Me To The Backseat The Donnas
Bright Future In Sales Fountains Of Wayne
American Idiot Green Day
Paradise City Guns N' Roses
Just Dance Lady GaGa & Colby O'Donis
Ace Of Spades Motörhead
The Seeker The Who
Just A Girl No Doubt
Solsbury Hill Peter Gabriel
Beverly Hills Weezer
Middle Of The Road The Pretenders
Firestarter The Prodigy
Portions For Foxes Rilo Kiley
We Will Rock You Queen
1979 Smashing Pumpkins
Sabotage Beastie Boys
Sugar Kane Sonic Youth
Baba O'Riley The Who
That's Not My Name The Ting Tings
Hash Pipe Weezer
Y Control Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) Bruce Springsteen
I'm The Man Who Loves You Wilco
Mamma Mia ABBA
Born In The U.S.A. Bruce Springsteen
Respect Aretha Franklin
Song 2 Blur
Love You Madly CAKE
I Want You To Want Me Cheap Trick
Jump Around House Of Pain