On Body Dysmorphia

She looked at me down her aquiline nose, letting me know that she’d noticed my second trip to the Christmas dessert table: “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels, Jennifer Nicole” she said, and my 13 year old hand placed the golf ball sized ricciarelli back on the platter.  In a year, I’d be taller than she was and in two I’d learn from a girlfriend that a daily dose of Ex-Lax would keep my stomach flat flat flat enough that I wouldn’t have to unbutton my pants to get them down past my hips.

When I was a young girl, I grew up watching my mother tornado about our living room in shorts and a t-shirt, bounce, bounce, bouncing her way through any number of Jane Fonda workout videos.  Good old Jane, in a chevron striped leotard, would be bent in half, calling out instructions that my mother did her uncoordinated best to follow.  The prescribed dosage of these videos was one a day, but my mother would do three or four in a row starting the second after she had put dinner on the table for my brother and I.   Next to her, would be a can of Diet Pepsi with a bendy straw poking out of the metal hole in the top….

She never ate, that woman, always doing some chore when we were eating.  When my dad was home (he traveled a lot for work), she’d finally sit at the table, but even then, it was a show of sleight of hand, a convincing pantomime of eating that she’d perfected over the years.  Weight was a preoccupation with her, and my eight, nine, ten, eleven year old eyes absorbed it all.  She was the most beautiful woman I knew, and it was my mission to earn her love.  Staying thin was one way to remain invisible to the critical glint in her often crazy eyes.

By 16 years old, the idea of my weight was an out-of-control monster that I could not tame.  I would leer at my naked self after showers, horrified at how wide my hips were (never mind that the delicate bones were visible beneath the skin).  I would sit on the edge of my seat in classes to keep my thighs from “spreading” into what I was convinced was a horrific blob of disgusting fat.  Mirrors were evil henchmen distorting the natural curve of my lower abdomen into revolting rolls of cellulite and revealing, out of the shadows, double chins just above my neck.

Over the years, I would wage a silent war with my body image; seeing how many days I could go without eating, waking up before dawn’s light to get an eight mile run in before school, spending hard earned money on The 24-Hour Hollywood Diet and fantasizing about the cost prohibitive lipo procedures that would solve all my woes.  As my body filled out, I’d berate myself for hating my body so much the previous year, wishing only to go back to THAT body instead of the new one that had changed overnight.  “If only I’d known!” hissed my Inner Monologue.  Ha!  If only I’d known is right.  If that 16 year old, at 93 pounds knew that she’d balloon up to 130, she might have actually committed suicide.

Over the years, I’ve taken small steps, and won some major battles against the drunken juggernaut of my flawed self-image.  I’ve permanently thrown away scales and will only step on one if forced to by someone in a medical setting.  I gauge my weight by how I feel and how my jeans fit, adding more cardio as is necessary.  I focus on fitness and have traded my fixation on weight for a fixation on muscle definition and overall health.  I eat now, and don’t deprive myself of anything, really, but do say no to those things that I’m not totally in love with; forgoing the bread basket before dinner so that I can have a scoop of coffee ice cream after.

Really though, I’ve only traded the method to my madness.  I’ve never been able to appease that awkward and body dysmorphic teen girl.  I still look at myself with that critical eye.  I cringe in dressing rooms when it comes time to try on bathing suits and jeans and skirts and well, basically anything at all.  Married to mirrors, my eyes are constantly roving my body, screeching at the fleshy bulge of skin around my braline and nauseas at the sight of the pillow of paunch around the tops of my jeans.  I am conscious to sit up straight, and to always wear loose fitting clothes that camouflage the little extra I carry around with me.  I still covet other women’s bodies and have a slowly growing savings account for that lipo that I will eventually get.

I can’t speak definitely (for, who really knows what we all wrestle with when the lights go out at night and have only our thoughts on silent loop), but I am fairly sure that this issue occupies my thoughts enough to consider it an obsession, and that anyone knowing the full extent of the way it consumes me would stagger backwards wondering how I function at all with it standing there, akimbo and taunting.  My mirror-image is a demon.  It forces me through workouts though I’m about to pass out.  It holds hands in camaraderie with the guilt of that extra tablespoon of ranch dressing.  It makes me turn out the lights before having sex and denies me the ability to just throw something on for a night on the town.  I keep it at bay, but I don’t know if I can ever exorcise it.

 

Advertisements

It’s a Blogging Chain Letter….

Recently, Shannon at Thumbinmyway and Memydogsmylife mentioned me for this little award thingy.  When Reverb10 started, I was happy to just be doing something creative.  As it ended, I was receiving generally the same number of page views per day as at the beginning, with the change that I had some regulars who did me the honor of commenting and leaving their input.  I’ll be forever grateful to the challenge for allowing me to re-open this door and for introducing me to these great writers.

As I page through my favorites, I realize we’re all kind of passing this thing back and forth.  Thanks everyone for reading, and for your support.  Thank you Shannon and Memydogsmylife for thinking enough of me to put me on your lists.  You’re both certainly on mine.

The Stylish Blogger Award:

So here are the rules for acceptance of the award:

1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Award 5 recently discovered great bloggers.
4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award.

 

My Seven Things:

1.  My dream job, among other things, would allow me to be heavily tattooed.  I am in love with the art form and with the actual feeling of the needle.  I have a substantial shoulder piece and fell asleep a number of times over the cumulative 12 hours it took to complete.  It relaxes me.  And makes me feel badass.  And shocks my mother a little bit.

2.  There isn’t a place on earth I wouldn’t travel given the chance.

3.  I collect postcards.  There is only one rule that I abide by with this collection:  They must be postmarked from the place of origin.  So, if you’re traveling…..

4.  I hate pancakes.

5.  I thrive on making people laugh.  To wit, I make jokes in completely inappropriate situations.  It’s my defense against the awkward pause.  And it frequently makes the pause awkward-er.

6.  Growing up, my parents were always on my brother’s case for not performing better in school “like [his] sister.”  It turns out, he’s much smarter than me with a more rounded outlook on life.  I’m very proud of him.

7.  I wish I could garden.

 

The Five Bloggers Who I Can’t Stop Coming Back To are:

1.  Stereo writing at http://www.uncletypewriter.com : No surprise there.  She’s got a way with words and she wields them with chutzpah.

2.  Patti writing at http://stillbreathing.ca :  Patti makes me laugh almost daily.  Her positive outlook is contagious…but not annoying because she looks at the world with a sense of irony and her tongue planted firmly in cheek.

3.  Elizabeth writing at http://blog.elizabethhoward.net :  She was one of the first blogs I read on Reverb10 that engaged me.  Each little bit of her story makes me more curious, plus, I love the way she has it laid out.

4.  Denis writing at http://pinkosworld.blogspot.com :  Now, I might be biased because I’ve known Denis for, well, 20+ years.  He is, and always has been one of the most astute people I know.  He always makes me think, and I’m happy that he’s  picked the blogger mantle back up after a hiatus.

5.  Leslie writing at http://pinuppink.livejournal.com :  I also know Leslie personally.  She’s creative and funny and bubbly and more than a little Off-The-Wall (which explains why we’re friends).

Listen, I could only put five down.  If you’re reading this, and wondering:  “Why aren’t I on that list?”, it’s because I was too anxious to actually get to your blog to read it.

TTFN!

Sideways the 13th….

“I’ve watched enough episodes of Dexter to know what I’m doing if it ever came down to killing someone.  I’d just put ’em in my vacuum packer and suck the air until their eyes bulged out.  No mess, no evidence, nothing.  I’d just have to get rid of the body.”

Yes Virgina….That JUST HAPPENED.

As we rounded the corner into our second straight day of marathon wine tasting, the Old Man and I (plus A and C, our two Buckeye Wine Buddies) had no idea that by the end of it, we’d be sitting in a Mexican restaurant and chatting giddily about how we’d most likely just narrowly escaped being murdered and butchered and served with buttered fava beans and a 40 year old bottle of chardonnay.


Saturday had been a lovely, albeit windy day, and we’d all driven around and taken full advantage of the Walla Walla Valley in a little impromptu wine tour of our own.  A and C were in visiting from the rainier (hahah….get it?  Rainier/rainier?) part of the state and we were taking full advantage of their company.  Fellow Buckeye uber-fans, we’d found in the past that we enjoyed their company immensely, but between their busy schedule and our commitments to rugby and work, getting together was virtually impossible.  In the end, we decided that hell or high water, this past weekend was IT, and set to making it happen.  With the Old Man tasting responsibly (even in the off-season, renting a car service to tour the area is prohibitively expensive for fewer than three couples), we laughed and joked our way through a blurry sea of cabernets, malbecs and even, surprisingly, a significant number of whites.

We fell into bed pretty soon after a mediocre, if hilarious (every word out of our waiter’s mouth seemed an accidental sexual double entendre) dinner and woke up on Sunday almost ready for another round.  Almost turned into absolutely after a good breakfast of ham and eggs and we all piled back into the Trail Blazer and headed into Prosser toward Red Mountain to check out Barnard Griffin and Terra Blanca.

It is here that I arrive at the meat of our story.  There was a third winery on our list for the day whose name I cannot remember because, as you’ll see, dear reader, it doesn’t really matter.  It was closed, and, as we trucked on down the road back toward the main thoroughfare, we fatedly spied a crude sign on a gravel turn off that said, enticingly:  “Old School Wine Tasting—–>”.  The name of our destination was Blackwood Canyon Vintners, and, had it not been for the handmade signs announcing “Just a Little Further!” and “You’re Almost There!”, we would have turned around and missed what will never cease being one of the most interesting experiences in my memory cache.

The western portion of Washington state is high desert, an ideal climate and soil structure for growing grapes and cultivating wine.  The landscape is vast and brown and overrun with tumbleweeds and scrub grass.  There aren’t really any mountains to speak of, only rolling desert hills that, when encountered, are much larger and more serpentine than they appear.  After about a mile on a dirt road through one such hill, with a deep gully cut on the left hand side of the car, the jokes about banjo music and a movie called The Hills Have Eyes began.  There were no buildings in sight, and I began to be thankful that my iPhone still had service so that I could “check-in” to this place on Facebook—a cyber breadcrumb trail for police to follow in case the four of us went missing.

We rounded one more bend in the now gravel road and came upon a veritable sea of ancient oak casks.  This wine barrel graveyard gave way to an old cement and stucco structure in a sad state of disuse and disrepair.  Littered with 10 gallon buckets of dirty rainwater, old commercial dishwashers and various other industrial machinery and vehicles, the property reminded me of that house down the street that the neighbors used to complain about…the one that brought down property value because of the tall grass growing up through the rusted shell of a TransAm.  We stopped the car in nervous laughter, and stepped out intrepidly, wondering with a sense of adventure just what exactly we were stepping into.

We followed a generally well-kept trail of flagstone toward an open side door, and were about 25 feet away when a gaggle of multi-colored Labrador/Weimaraner dogs came running out, barking, warning someone of our arrival.  Close on their heels, half-loped, half-stumbled a man who would turn out to be the owner/operator of the winery and our Master of Ceremonies.  It was 2:10 pm, and we wouldn’t leave until almost three hours later.

Michael T. Moore is a character.  Equal parts pirate, drunkard and Don Quixote, it’s evident from the first that there is no one on earth quite like him.  He rolled out to greet us in an awkward silence, gruffly appraising each one of our party in a manner that seems to me now, as if he was deciding right then whether to kill and eat us or deign to impart some of his hard won knowledge of the winemaker’s trade.  His person was as unkempt as our surroundings.  An army green puffer coat repaired on the the right arm with a liberal circle of silver duct tape.  A pair of beat up, leather Jerusalem Cruisers out of which poked fungus ridden and gnarly snaggle-toes.  A yellowish-grey goatee as unwashed as the same-colored, scraggly scruff of hair that poked out from underneath an equally neglected ball cap.  As he held out his hands to collect our $10pp tasting fees, I was struck by the fact that he would have seemed as at home on a street corner in Seattle with a cardboard sign and a milk crate.

As we piled into what turned out to be the tasting room and our eyes adjusted to the dim and musty light, we were able to begin taking in our surroundings.  It was a dank dungeon, permeated by the same fetid aroma that surrounded Edmond Dantes as he was thrown into his cell at the Chateau d’If.  Seemingly carved out of stone, the antechamber that was the tasting area was littered with dust covered bottles, lightly swaying cobwebs and various out-of-place Calphalon pans and knives labeled for sale with handwritten prices.  Creaky old shelves held grubby crystal carafes full of ruby-colored liquid that yes, we’d be sampling out of later and warped, weather-stained tour books lay open to pages of flowery prose describing this very winery.

With our fees collected, Mr Moore launched straight into the tasting, telling us all to forget everything we knew or thought we knew about wine.  We couldn’t get our words of excitement and gladness of this in edgewise.  With a decided air of derision and distaste, he derided all other modern-day winemakers as charlatans…out only to make a fast buck.  They were traitors to their trade, doing a disservice to the art by cranking out subpar wines at break-neck speeds.  To hear him tell it, he alone was a vintner, remaining true to old school procedures and supplying a product that was not only different from everything else we would ever taste, but far superior by virtue of the fact that he stalwartly refused to rush it.  He laughed in the face of the Bible taught by his Alma Mater, U.C. Davis and scoffed at an entire industry, believing himself to be superior and misunderstood.

The first glass we’d taste was a chardonnay, and it would be followed by three or four other chardonnays…the tasting would be dominated by whites, with only three or four reds brought out for comparison.  He described them all as Large wines, and large they were.  We wouldn’t, he explained, get the full taste on the first sip, nor on the second.  Each wine needed to be layered.  I never saw him open a bottle, but instead, merely emerge from behind the bottle-cluttered bar with a full glass of butter-colored liquid which he’d go to “warm-up” somewhere further in the depths of this cellar.  When he returned to us, it was with shaking hands (this tremor, paired with his glassy, impish eyes, eased my nerves a bit, because it was evident that he was a fan of, and regularly partook in his own wares) that he poured us each a taste out of this one glass.

I’m not educated enough in wine to tell you correctly whether it was bad or good.  What I can say is that it was unlike any chard I’d ever tasted.  It had a unique and pungent smell that wafted up toward your nose and fairly pulled your face into the glass.  It went down smooth and had a depth that I would liken to brandy…not wine.  It was a heavy pour, about three ounces, and after we’d all had a chance to take two or three sips, Mr Moore reached toward a dusty shelf behind him and extricated a dirty knife and a cloudy Ziploc bag.  “Now try it with some cheese”, he demanded, and opened the cloudy bag.  From it, he produced a pungent Manchego that had a rind that reminded me uncomfortably of his bare toenails.  There was something about the wine, though, that demanded cheese, and something about his manner that demanded respect and we all took and ate our small slivers gratefully.

It was upon the next sip of wine…that….POW!  Dear reader, I must tell you, that I describe, as blowhard, any menu that suggests wine pairing or sommelier who tries to tell me which wines will go with which dishes.  Until that moment, I thought it all a farce, a way to upsell to ignorant consumers.  Until that moment, I never understood that wine and food could GO TOGETHER and bring out flavors in each other that, when ingested alone, would go unnoticed and unappreciated.  That old, old cheese (he said 3 months in that baggie, but I believe much longer) went with that wine like white polka dots on black cotton.  That third sip had flavor that filled the mouth and reached out and caressed each separate taste bud.  It was like someone had turned on the light in a dark room.

For the rest of the afternoon, we shifted about, sometimes uncomfortably, sometimes in abject awe.  Moore talked our ears off and didn’t invite any conversation from us.  He talked knowledgeably of food and of the Michelin rated restaurant that he was looked for investors in.  He described combinations of foods that had us all salivating and wishing that the restaurant already existed.  We tasted more and more wine in the same manner and saw that moldy cheese a few more times before it was relegated back to its place on the rickety shelf.  This place was an odd gem in the middle of nowhere and this man an outlandish figment that had us all looking at each other in amazement as if to confirm that he was saying the crazy things he was saying and it wasn’t just hallucination.

Like little drunken lambs, we followed this mad wine scientist around his laboratory, a filthy, grime covered space which was oblivious to the threat of cross-contamination.  He asked us what types of knives we used at home for cooking and scoffed with contempt at my answer of Henckels, dragging us to a stained cutting board where we were treated to a demonstration of how much better the Calphalon knives were.  He grilled us a bratwurst and cut it in different ways to reveal to us the glory of surface area and its effect on the taste buds.  He poured us samples of his chardonnay vinegar, insisting that it was drinkable, and it was.  We were on a surreal acid trip of wine tasting, each of our minds never far from the idea that maybe, just maybe, he was getting us drunk and planning on locking us all in a dark room under some creaky old stairs.

It was a crazy rollercoaster of an afternoon.  One moment, he would be regaling us with his culinary pipedreams, and the next: “You fucking goddamn bitch!”, we’d be ripped back to reality by the harsh tone in his voice as he shouted streams of profanity at his dogs.  The conversation roamed from literature to wine to food and back again and it was three hours before our adventure ended.

As the four of us slipped away into the night, we could not stop remarking on the oddity of the afternoon.  Were we lucky to have found him, or just lucky to have escaped?  Would that place still be there if we returned or would it be gone in a day like Brigadoon?  Was what we had tasted legendary or just wine that had turned?  A pleasant drunken haze shrouds my memory of the afternoon and it is only confirmation of the three others that joined me that allows me to truly believe that any of it really occurred.

Made it out alive!!

Cease and Desist

My Dearest Ovaries:

I have received, via central nervous system, your intent to acquire new cystic masses.  Though busy with many other, more important things, I believe it necessary to fire off a word or two to caution you against such action.

You are both rounding a corner to 32 years old at this point and have long since outgrown the time when teenage tantrums like this warranted themselves.  I too approach the same age and don’t need to be periodically reminded of your existence through pain.  You are well aware that over the past few weeks, I’ve been busy attending your crosstown relatives The Heart and The Head and am too preoccupied with their state of being to care very much for your own petulant need of attention.  In the past, I’ve been very good to you and have indulged almost every one of your dramatic whims, and so I don’t feel remiss in asking you to PLEASE JUST FUNCTION NORMALLY FOR ONCE.

You are pointedly aware, I know, that when you invite your friends The Cysts over, the mess they make doesn’t only affect your region of my lower abdomen, but your back alley neighbors The Intestines as well.  The Intestines are historically ornery inhabitants and will be the first to call in a noise ordinance should you continue carousing, and I have no wish in dealing with the enforcers of that ordinance: The Cramps.  They’re rude and power-hungry, and if their authority is questioned, will not hesitate seize the Pain Receptors, reminding us all just who is the boss in this biological system.

I remind you Cysts that you reside (free of charge, I might add) in my lower abdomen out of the goodness of the recently odd-functioning Heart.  You provide me no benefit, and, as I have no intention of putting you to use, I will also have no qualm about evicting you should your antics persist.

Please view this letter as official notice of my intent to use a melon baller on you if you don’t pipe down and act right.

Kindest Regards,

Your Landlord and Vehicle,

Jennifer

Kids These Days….

I have a friend on Facebook who trades back and forth, the front spot of which of us is the first to post random news items on our pages.  He’s a researcher by trade, so when I get to scoop him by posting certain things on FB first, I feel pretty good about myself.  Yesterday, it was his turn to beat me to some news.  Some news that had me leaking out of the corners of my eyes when I read it:  Dick Winters, the hero and author of Band of Brothers*, had died in Pennsylvania on 2 January 2011.  He had asked for a small and unannounced services, and his death went unreported for 8 days.

EIGHT DAYS!!

I am astounded by this.  Our media is overrun with the comings and goings of barely dressed, barely educated twenty-something drunkards, our government would rather measure penis size than govern, a large portion of the populace on unemployment has found that continuing to accept benefits is more lucrative than actually finding a job, and the death of a man who played a major part in allowing those freedoms to exist only to be abused goes largely unnoticed.

Shameful.

Major Winters and the men he served with in Easy Company during WWII are members of an all but extinct class of person.  They served their country out of a sense of duty and purpose.  They snuck out of hospitals after injuries, before being cleared officially for duty in order to be standing by the side of their friends at the next battle.  They lived by unspoken codes of honor that acknowledged hard work as a matter of course and not something to be put up with for compensation.  They were heralded as heroes, and yet, not a one accepted that moniker as his own; merely explaining that they did what they did out of a sense of personal pride, loyalty and brotherhood.  Some returned home to make their fortunes, but most continued with lives of modest means, blue collar jobs and a code of personal ethics that would die within the next few generations.

I look around me and see in my own world, a shriveled and calcified chancre of a society.  Where people used to be embarrassed by having to accept government aid and were spurred by responsibility to make their lives better and provide for their own, there is now an unwarranted sense of entitlement, an idea that handouts are required and due.  Community and camaraderie have been replaced with vanity and self-importance.

Unions have worn out their welcome and serve now only to impede progress and grasp the most benefit for the least work.  Life in general has become litigious, with large portions of people looking only for a big payout instead of accepting the consequences of their own stupidity.

We are teaching our children how to be winners (Everyone Gets A Trophy!) but neglecting to show them how to lose.  This practice encourages them to look at us expecting that we’ll brush them off after failure and place them a few steps ahead instead of expecting them to try again and ‘make it’ by virtue of effort instead of handout.  We allow bullying in our lunchrooms and prescribe medications instead of encouraging dialogue.

Our girls are driven by unrealistic standards of beauty and encouraged to hide their intelligence, learning early that a flash of vagina is funny and the vapid batting of eyelashes could make them famous.  Boys find brotherhood in gangs and low-riding pants, and discover on the playground and on TV that might is right.  Both learn to eschew personal responsibility from a dissolving family unit, parental models that stand with their hands out themselves and a mainstream media that is constantly pointing the finger for larger woes at politicians or video games or violent television series.

Right and wrong are wavering lines depending on who has the better story or can lie more effectively.  Gone are personal responsibility and strict moral code.  A make-your-own-luck  attitude replaced by the certainty that something is bound to, has to, will drop itself in your lap.

These men, like Major Winters, who fought for our freedoms, who looked at the ugliness of places like Dachau and endured the miserable winter in places like Bastogne, could never have imagined how badly we’d go on to bastardize their efforts.  They didn’t fight so that we could have everything for free.  They fought so that it would be possible for us to continue to work hard and operate freely.  It saddens me, crushes me, nauseates me to know that his death went so unnoticed while Snooki’s book gains and uncontrollable momentum.

It’s time to reset priorities.  Time to stop the culture of the hand-out.  I’m in favor of a cultural revolution.  One not based on the newest song by Britney Spears, but on the knowledge that something has to give, because the balance doesn’t work if we’re all continuously taking.

*If you have not had the fortune of reading his memoir, co-authored by Stephen Ambrose, or of seeing its eponymous HBO miniseries, I highly recommend that you do both.  You should set aside a full day, however, because the minute you’re finished with the first episode, you won’t want to leave your chair until you’ve finished all 10 hours….it’s one of the most amazing things I have ever seen; I’ve watched it from beginning to end five times, and that fifth will certainly not be the last.

6-5-4-3-2-1 Switch!

My apartment is in dreadful need of a cleaning.  A thorough cleaning.  The motivation being that the Old Man and I have company arriving this weekend.  The trouble is, I can’t really get off of this couch, and it’s not because I can’t drag myself away from this screen.

Since about the 2nd or 3rd of this month, I’ve been dealing with an absurd level of “feeling odd.”  At first, I thought that my hangover was stubbornly clinging on, knowing that I’d all but relegated my practice of drinking to excess to my Murtaugh List.  But, by the 5th, ‘The Odd’ had become more serious.

For a couple of decades, I’ve suffered from heart palpitations and irregular heartbeats and shortness of breath.  I’m pretty sure it’s my fault for all the hundreds of packs of Parliament Lights I’d enjoyed, unrestrained throughout the years.  I have a congenital defect called a Mitral Valve Prolapse.  It’s common enough, and harmless, and is known to cause the vague fluttering I feel in my chest from time to time.

Over the past ten days, however, this sensation has felt less like the pleasant-sounding ‘fluttering’ and has felt more like a card sharpe is fanning a deck of 52 cards in the center of my chest cavity.   It’s accompanied by a constant feeling of vague nausea, tingly fingers and the verity that if I get up or turn my head too quickly, the black will creep into the corners of my eyes and I’ll crumple to the floor like a pile of clothes whose owner has suddenly dematerialized.

On two occasions last week, I was in a class at my gym, feeling fatigued, taking it WAY easier than I normally would have done, and I had to consciously focus on NOT passing out because my heart rate was up over 180 and I couldn’t get enough air.  (Trust me, I do NOT want to be THAT girl who passed out during BodyPump.  Can you imagine?!  Oh, the embarrassment!)

This past weekend, I rested.  I napped.  I hoped against hope that this was some kind of bug.  But a bug doesn’t last 10 days.  And quitting smoking should have alleviated these symptoms.  And, well, I just kind of KNOW that something isn’t right.

I’m blathering now though.  I tell you none of this because I want sympathy or because I have nothing to write about today.  I mention it only because now I have to go through the heinous process of finding a GP.  Please join me now in a resounding chorus of “UGH!”

I HATE going to the doctor.  My mother was always kind of a germaphobe.  Every little sniffle required a visit to Dr Mitta, who, though super-kind, always insisted on gagging you with a 10 foot cotton swab after pounding your back with cold hands and using your fingers as a pincushion for the dreaded “bloodwork”.

When I left my house for college, I began treating myself.  And by treating, I mean IGNORING symptoms until they went away on their own.  As ill-advised as this sounds, it’s served me really well.  My body has proved quite resilient….I think most bodies are; we’re designed to regenerate.  (This is not to say that I haven’t run into situations where this mindset ISN’T the smartest.  I’ve been handed a pamphlet that says: SO, You’ve Got Mono, and have been hospitalized for pneumonia and bronchitis contracted at the SAME time, but you get the idea.)

So here I am, knowing that I need to see someone, and hating hating hating that fact with every fiber of my malfunctioning being.  My inner monologue is having a field day in there as I try to make an appointment for sometime within the current century.  Here is what she’s got to say:

1.  What if there is something actually, seriously WRONG?  What if I have heart disease, or a blocked artery or peripheral neuropathy, or a stroke or benign paroxysmal positional vertigo or a transient ischemic attack?  WebMD says that all those things are possible, and all of them will directly impact how I live my life.  I won’t be able to go to the gym because then my heart would explode, and that means that I’ll get fat and my jeans won’t fit and I won’t be attractive with a fat ass and I’ll never want to have sex again and everyone will wonder why I let myself go and I’ll be living a cellulite nightmare and…  anaemia!  anaemia, pleeeeeease let it be anaemia……

2.  There’s going to be needles.  I KNOW there’re going to be needles.  Needles and wires and hoses and tubes and electrodes and ten foot cotton swabs and blood and NEEDLES!  I can’t stand being poked.  But I know that they’re not going to be able to pinpoint it right away, and that will mean BLOODWORK and they never find a vein on the first shot and they’ll stab me twice in each arm, digging around until they decide that they need to use my hand which skeeves me out even more and leaves trails of purpleyellowbluegreen bruises and oh my god I know there’re going to be needles.  Excuse me while I go hyperventilate and cry.

3.  What if I’m just crazy?  What if all of this is a result of panic attacks?  Panic attacks over nothing?  Panic attacks that mean all that work I did last year didn’t make a damn bit of difference and I’m still nuts and dysfunctional and I don’t even live close to Seattle so when they tell me I’ve got to see someone, it can’t be Bluma and I’ll have to start all over again and wait a minute….I like therapy.  Forget anaemia….Let me be crazy.

That Thing You Said

When you said that thing to me today, I was sucked back in time; standing anew in front of her, too big to hit, at the moment she discovered that words were just as effective as slotted, metal spoons.

Before I went with you, I’d put it all away, boxed it up.  Covered it in tape and barricaded the door.  I’d labeled it and was sure to avoid that trunk covered in my own careful writing.

It was you who made me peek at it again–that time the house was burning down, when everything I loved was turning to ash.  You made me believe that I’d set that fire myself; that to extinguish the blaze, I had to hack open that box, sift through it, finger its contents and accept the blame as the girl her words had bruised.

But what I learned then was far from what you expected. When I was done, and I stood in front of you again, I could smell the gasoline on your breath and I cried.

I set to cleaning up, and gave you your own box, which I set next to hers, and for the second time, vowed “no more.”

But I smelled the gasoline again today, and watched you close the door.  There it sits, that thing you said, waiting for me to own it.

But your box is full, and that girl is gone, so you’ll have to take it back.