Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Toddler Skis and Hot EMTs

So, this article appeared in my FaceBook feed tonight: http://www.nbcnews.com/health/too-fat-fly-growing-girth-grounds-5-000-patients-air-6C10485763

Apparently, a growing number of people in this country are so obese that emergency helicopters and other medical transport units can't pick them up off the ground.... literally. They estimate that 5,000 patients a year are denied pickup because they are too heavy.

As a large, ahem, voluptuous, ahem,  really fat woman, I couldn't help but take notice. Anyone who is really heavy knows that flying of any kind induces serious anxiety. I mean really heavy, not people (ahem women) with body image disorders who think they're "fat"; we're talking serious poundage.

The sleepless night before the flight praying that the laws of physics change ... just this once. Sweating all the way through TSA and hoping it doesn't make you look suspicious.

  • Will I fit down the aisle?
  • Will I fit in the seat?
  • Will the seat belt buckle?
  • And please let me be seated next to a child. (Fat people are probably the only people on earth who pray to be seated next to children on a transcontinental flight.)
I actually have a seatbelt extender that one of the flight attendants handed me during one of my flying "incidents" that I'd rather not go into here ... although I probably will at some future date. Writers, we'll tell you everything eventually. 

I came by it honestly ... or jetlaggedly. The flight attendant gave it to me and somehow I found it later in one of my carry-ons. I don't think I took it intentionally, but when I found it at the hotel, I wasn't about to hand it back. 

Just having that extender has calmed me more than once ... even though I don't have to use it anymore. It was as calming as .... ice cream at the end of the day.... alright, now it's frozen yogurt and small portions. By the way, the big cup makes it feel huge. Free tip! And part of the reason that I don't need the extender anymore. Score!

Back to EMT helicopters stranding fat people, here is the quote from the article that I found most disturbing:
"So when a patient reported to weigh 250 pounds actually tips the scales at 350, emergency crews have a dilemma. Even if they fly around for 15 minutes and burn off fuel, they may not have enough lift to transport."
As if we all don't lie about our weight. The difference is that, once you're in the fat zone, you could say 250 or 350 and people wouldn't know it. Not really. Fat is fat and once you're fat, you're just fat. The next line you cross is the one where you need two canes to walk or a crane to get you out of your house. There is a vast array of poundage in between ... for some unknown reason.

I could totally see telling some hot, male EMT with muscles bulging out of his shirt that I was 250 out of embarrassment ... even if I was dying.  As these people were ... and did (lie about their weight not die). That's how deep the shame goes. And 5,000 people lived through it ... or not. The article didn't actually say how many of the stranded died.

250, as we all know, seems to be the cutoff for normal in our culture. Fitness equipment will rarely claim to hold over 250 pounds ... without irony. It is conceivable after all that a 6'4" man with extensive muscle mass could be 250 pounds and healthy, so let's cut it off there. Good choice! It's not like people over 250 pounds might need the exercise equipment or anything.

I have spent many an hour on an elliptical machine praying that I don't break it because I'm over the stated weight limit. Sweating and panting in my crappy sweatpants and Hanes T-shirt (because they don't make workout clothes over a certain size, again without irony) I came up with load after load of bullshit I would tell the beefy gym attendant - or worse, tiny gym attendant -  if the machine broke. None of them mentioning my actual weight.

I can't remember any of those stories now, but they were brilliant and totally believable.

My other vision -  who needs TV?! - was of me sprawled out on the equipment after collapsing from the exertion and then electrocuting myself because I barfed over the machine before collapsing. Then, they'd have to call the EMTs  - at which point I would plead, "Please don't wheeze... send any ... gasp ... hot ones."

Now, I can add that they would call the helicopter and it would come ... but it would just circle overhead like a vulture over a landfill, the hot pilot radioing the hot EMT, "She's 350 if she's an ounce."

Circling ... circling with the propellers making that whop whop whop whop noise as I lay there thinking, "Hot. Why are they always so hot?"

Am I the only woman who fears being rescued by hot men? It's just so much more extra super-duper humiliating. I want to be rescued by Andre the Giant (RIP).

This lying about the weight business reminds me of the time - the one and only time - I went skiing. It was college and I had not yet learned to heed my sister's advice that I should get fatter friends. My friends were skinny and skinny is as skinny does and skinny goes skiing.

If you don't have your own skis, you have to rent some from the chalet or the lodge or the whatever the hell they call that place. Weellll, did you know that they ask you how much you weigh? In front of a whole room full of people? Who are standing behind you wearing expressions that say, "Hurry up, lady!"

This is it.

Right here.

The line between skinny and fat people. Fat people would never, ever engage in an activity where they have to say how much they weigh in front of a room of non-fat people!! Weight Watchers is the obvious exception ... because it's a room full of fat people. I have attended 12 step meetings for overeating where no one says how much they weigh.

Only skinny people would think that telling some "dude" who keeps having to jerk his head to get the overgrown bangs out of his eyes your weight ... in FRONT OF OTHER PEOPLE is no big deal.

They want to know your weight so that they can figure out how large the skis need to be to hold you.


And I lied ... a LOT! By about 150 pounds. So, people who told the EMTs they were 100 pounds less than they were? I feel you. I do not and cannot judge you.

I don't think they make skis big enough for my actual weight at that time ... and I don't think it's legal to try to go down a mountain with canoes strapped to your feet.

I made it down the mountain by the grace of God, the angelic kingdom, and my large, fat ass upon which I fell the second those toothpick slats hit the snow. I inchwormed my way down the mountain on all the cellulite I had spend years acquiring. Finally, an investment that actually paid dividends.

I tried to break my fall with my hand and injured the large pad of my thumb. It hurt like hell and I really thought they were going to have to take me to the hospital. Hot ski bums and hot EMTs? No. Fucking. Way.

Thank God I wasn't really hurt. If so, I'd still be on that mountain today waiting for the helicopter as it circled above, the hot pilot radioing the hot EMT, "Did you give her the toddler skis?"

Jesus! I really could have killed myself. Like I said, people stranded after lying about your weight, you have all my compassion.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

I Had a Dream ... of Justice for Trayvon Until Tonight

I posted this article yesterday thinking that the verdict in the Zimmerman trial had come back guilty. I don't know why I thought that yesterday; I blame the horrible jet-lag and 12-hour workdays on the opposite coast.

I remember thinking it was great that logic had won the day. Any objective assessment of the facts (as provided in this article) = conviction. So, now that the verdict has come back not guilty, it's about subjectives and that means it's about race.

When I heard that all six jurors were women, I also thought conviction. This is every mother's nightmare, right? Wrong, it's every black mother's nightmare and that's the difference.

When the Trayvon Martin case hit the news the first time, I was listening to the Randi Rhodes show a lot. I will never forget the black parents calling into the show and openly weeping while they explained that this is what every one of them fears.

How they have to sit down with their kids, especially their male kids, and tell them how the world sees them differently because they're black and what might happen because of it. Not to resist arrest, to walk away from fights, to keep their noses cleaner than they think they have to because of what might happen. And what might happen is that a young black man can be murdered then blamed for it because facts don't matter when you're black and male.

Now, all I can think about are those parents and what they're telling their kids tonight. And how sad I am that these conversations ever had to go on at all and how much more desperate those conversations are going to be over the next few months. Because, no matter how advanced we think we are as a country, there are so many of us who think a black kid walking through the neighborhood is more dangerous than some-wannabe-cop-turned-vigilante with a loaded gun driving through the neighborhood. And that's an objective assessment of the facts of this case.

And how do you tell your kids that?

I don't even know how to explain it to myself.

I pray that we stop letting fear run our lives and our courts. I pray that we stop hearing that ching-ching noise from Law & Order every time we see a black kid in a hoodie. Black kids are kids not perpetrators. Every lunatic serial killer with a backyard full of buried bodies turns out to be some middle-aged white guy from the Midwest and none of us hear that noise when we walk into a bank.

Mostly, I pray for the parents of black children. May God give them strength as they try to keep their kids safe, hoodie or no hoodie.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Dear God ... Why Blog? Why Now?

Dear God,

I have no idea why I'm writing this blog ... other than to say ... You made me. Seriously, I'm following the inner prompt. Wow. "Inner prompt" Where did I pull that one from?

This is what happens when you overeducate a person. Especially when you overeducate a person in a wordy discipline in the Humanities. See? I didn't say "verbose." I caught myself ... but just barely.

"Inner prompt" sounds like some phrase from one of those awful self-help/yoga/new age/manifesting classes. (It's all running together these days.) Something like,

"Follow the inner prompt your spirit is sending ... and somehow this translates into huffing and puffing through alternating nostrils on a hardwood floor..."

Anyway, I keep hearing through readings and the like that I should blog, so I am. I have all these thoughts and obviously the world needs to hear them.

However, I have to digress to talk about the computer set up I'm on right now. I'm sitting in a Best Western (not the hotel of my best moments - more later) and blogging on the computer in the Business Center.

I'm here on a business trip with only my work laptop and blogging on my work laptop just feels wrong. Don't you think? I cannot bring myself to write about my inner prompts and nasal huffing on a work laptop. I just think, "They'll know! They'll know I have a personality and then I'll be out on the steets!"

So, my "inner prompt" leaves me with only one option: the great American ... hotel business center.

For starters, I just walked in from a stroll through the neighborhood that included a pitstop at Trader Joe's, which resulted in me carrying a TJ bag in through the lobby. As I sat down, I heard a swift knock on the door behind me. It was the front desk clerk asking me if I was staying here.

He was quite apologetic, but seeing it through his eyes, I can see how a woman in her frumpy, after-work, exercise clothes walking in with a grocery bag doesn't exactly scream, "Paying customer!" As I pulled out my room key, he backed away apologizing. I wonder how many people walk in off the street and try to use the computer here .... hmmmm.

That brings me back to the computer here, which is after all the subject of my first or second digression. Maybe my third? But I digress.

The browser on this computer is on lockdown to prevent you from watching porn mostly. At least, I think. Maybe they had too many people walking in off the street and had to change it. Anyway, lockdown means custom browser, which means not IE, not Firefox, not Chrome. It's some other cock-eyed browser chock full of off-brand icon buttons that look sort of like the major browsers but are just different enough to be disorienting.

Here's the thing - I am convinced that this custom hotel business center browser is actually NETSCAPE with a different spinning letter in upper right corner. Yeah, that's right NETSCAPE!!!

The younger you are, the more likely it is that you have no idea what I'm talking about here. Netscape was the early competitor to IE back in the very, very early days of the World Wide Web. So early that we actually called it the "World Wide Web."

Anyone who ever went to college in the 90s knows all about Netscape because it was loaded on every university computer in the library. And this was back when the computers were so big, they had to start building extra wings to fit them all in.

The longer I describe Netscape, the deeper the PTSD that started when I first sat down is getting. Wow! Memories.

The other most noticeable thing about the locked-down hotel business center computer is that the monitor is GIGANTIC! I think it's the biggest monitor I've ever seen that's not a TV. In fact, it might be bigger than my TV.

The weird part is that the resolution and the text are TINY and I can't change it because of the aforementioned lockdown. Warning: overeducated Humanities student at the keyboard!

As a result, the text I'm typing looks like tiny littly ants crawling across the screen while 60-70% of the screen is blank, white space. It's the stupidest thing.

They didn't even have to lock it down so strangers off the street wouldn't come in here to watch porn. They couldn't see what was happening anyway.

Alright, I think I have satisfied both God and the inner prompt. Good night!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Building Hogwarts Next Door and How it's Just Like Yoga Breathing

You know, you can't pick your neighbors sometimes.

I thought working from home would be so much more peaceful.  I was so, so wrong.

Yesterday, the landscaping people were outside my sliding doors doing something with a leaf blower. I say something because it would

buzzzzzzz for about 10 seconds
and then stop,
then silent for a 30 seconds and then
buzzzzzzzz for 10,
silent for 20,
buzzzzzzzz  for 30

and so on for most of the morning and I don't know what the hell that could be. Don't you just point leaf blowers and ... blow?

This on and off went on for 20 minutes right outside my sliding doors. The ones I now sit 15 feet from all day. This buzzing pattern continued through all the condos around me all morning.

It was like one of those bizarre breathing rituals you do in some yoga classes, with the thumb on one nostril and the pinky on the other

inhale left nostril, thumb on right nostril
exhale left nostril, thumb on right nostril
inhale right nostril, pinky on left nostril
exhale right nostril, thumb on left nostril
inhale left nostril, thumb on right nostril
exhale left nostril, thumb on right nostril

It's as .... not-relaxing as it sounds, or as it reads rather. And your fingers get all gooey and gross from the ... uh .... drippings from your nose. There's this thing that yoga-people don't realize about alternate nostril breathing (I think that's what it's called) ... when you make me press my nostril ... or any part of my breathing apparatus really ... it makes me feel like like someone is trying to kill me by cutting off my oxygen.

Then, my body's natural, organic, and vegan (yeah vegan!) will to live kicks in and I start sucking that air in my nostril as though my life depends on it because ... it feels like it does. Then, of course, I have to blow it out just as hard, which is where the ooey, gooeys start dripping or in some cases shooting out my nose. Also, there's that sucking, sloppy sound that happens when you press your finger down on a nostril or remove it from a nostril.

The whole process is a gooey, disgusting mess is what I'm saying.

And before you can help it, that gooey mess is oozing down your arm and - depending on whether it's allergy season or not - down into your elbow.

Then, there's the rhythm. When someone is guiding you through a breathing exercise, they are not doing that exercise themselves. There's no way. I've led meditations and I always breathe .... and then remind my followers to breathe ... knowing that there is no way we're in sync. You can't talk and and breathe deep at the same time. Which is why, if you have ever had to endure an alternate nostril breathing exercise (and you have my sympathy if you have), you know that you wind up feeling like you can't keep up with the teacher. And that's supposed to come later - when she twists up like a pretzel.

And here's the insult to all that injury: the teacher is usually saying things like,
  • "Relaaaaxxxx" Ummmm, I'm fighting for my life? 
  • "Follow at your own pace. Don't worry about me"  Really? Of course, I'm going to inhale when you say "inhale" and exhale when you say "exhale." It's a class and I'm a follower in it. Hello!
  • "This practice helps you center your mind."  On what? The snot in my elbow? I don't want to focus on that.
  • "Breathing like this helps you concentrate on the present moment."  Well, yes, but in the present moment, I feel like I'm being suffocated by a movie villain in yoga pants who it turns out is me. There's snot on my fingers and running down my arm. My nose won't stop making sex noises. And, I think my legs are going numb from sitting this way.
  • "Release your thoughts" Release my thoughts?! How the hell am I gonna count to 10? The only thought I'd like to release is the one I had that told me to try yoga because it would help me relax.

I forgot about the counting. You're supposed to do it 10 times on each nostril ... or 5 times on each nostril for a total of 10 ... I can't remember. The last time I had to endure this, I asphyxiated myself and lost a few brain cells, so I don't remember.

If you've ever been to a yoga class and thought,
"Jesus, I thought I was gonna die before we even did anything!" 
you've probably been asked to do alternate nostril breathing.

By the way, is it me or does my description sound like water-boarding? The panting, the wetness, the being suffocated. I wonder what would happen if a teacher asked,
"Did you cheat on your spouse?"
right in the middle of all the other shit they say. I think people would spontaneously confess.

Anyway, back to my noisy apartment-now-office yesterday. After the alternate leaf-blower/yoga breathing experience of yesterday morning. I started to hear a similar sound around 8 p.m.

Are you freaking kidding me? What could they be doing now? 

And then I realized that I could feel a vibration coming from my front door. I opened it and inched out. Well, my dumbass neighbors have a buzz saw on their porch. They're building something that required them to turn that thing on and off intermittently all night! Right outside my door!

The only thing that stopped me from going out there was my desire to not play out a scene from COPS in my parking lot. WTF are they building over there? Hogwarts?

You know, I just realized the other thing in my life that buzzes intermittently - my sister's snoring!! I shared a room with her for almost 20 years and every night she would be quiet and then start building and building until she would blow herself out and stop .... then start all over again. I never got any sleep.

No wonder I was so stressed out yesterday:
  • the intermittent buzzing
  • the yoga flashbacks
  • the sister-snoring PTSD
  • the dumbass neighbors
Maybe I should go to the library tomorrow.

Monday, July 1, 2013

What Happens When You Let Anxiety Rule the Day ....

... or the night as is usually the case for me.

I had one of those nights. I was up all night. Last night, was a special case of insomnia in which, I just said "Fuck it!" and read a book. Sometimes, why put yourself through the stress of trying to sleep. That sounds like something that should not be - stressing about sleep. However, to those of you who've been there, you know exactly what I mean.

You struggle.
You beat yourself up.
You get yourself all worked up about relaxing ... of all thing.




As a veteran of this process, there are nights when I just don't even try to sleep. I think I'm being smart, though. Why not stay up and do something useful?

However, I didn't. This blog was supposed to be an outlet for that anxiety. A creative outlet. And. I. Didn't. Do. It.

Until now.

I didn't even think of it until now. You know why? Because I was passing in my chair. That kind of twitchy, watery-eyed alternate universe you enter when you're so tired you can't function.

Why was I so anxious? Today is my first work-from-home day on my new job. I was supposed to be watching training videos and could not hold it together.

I have had two weeks of running myself ragged in on a client site, but today feels like the first real day.

And, as per usual with anxiety like this, it's nothing. There was nothing to worry about. I'm getting so much better, but last night I was blindsided and I let it take me instead of taking control.

Worry accomplishes nothing. The lie of it is this hyper-mental state where you convince yourself that it's productive to "think things through" when you're mind is actually going a mile a minute to keep the fear at bay. That endless mental chatter is the stuff of daily corporate life, but, ironically, it wrecks your ability to do your job ... like me, passing out when I am supposed to be training.

Anxiety accomplishes nothing; it can just be so much more convincing in the middle of the night than logic and connecting to Source.

I didn't catch myself last night cut myself lose from the