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The assorted meanderings, rantings, and pontifications of... us!

Topics may include, but will not be limited to: feminism, hockey, atheism, shoes, politics, fat acceptance, fitness, skepticism, dancing, introversion/HSP issues, and anything else that happens to be on my mind.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006


My period was a week late or so.

I don't remember who I was fucking at the time.

I don't remember quite what bullshit excuse I used to get the afternoon off from work.

I remember that the lady at Planned Parenthood asked me, before we even got to the pregnancy test, what I would do if it came out positive.

I remember the force I had to put into my voice to hide the shake as I said, "There's no way I'm having this baby."

I remember looking at some kind of wheel to figure out how far along I would be, if I were pregnant, and her explaining that the Morgentaler clinic would do abortions starting at six weeks, and I remember the anger and the horror and horrible cold thing that gripped my stomach as I did the math and realized that this thing would be staying inside me for several weeks before anybody would be able to help me.

The test came up negative.

I remember walking home across the High Level Bridge, feeling the summer sun and breeze against my skin, against the body that was mine and mine only.

I wonder now, what that walk would have been like if there had been two lines.

I wonder about my sisters to the south.

Image via Culture Kitchen

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Ordinary People's History

My Grandma grew up somewhere in rural Kansas, I'm not sure of the details exactly, although I have the impression they moved to the town where my dad was born after she developed complications when pregnant with his older sister, so that she could be closer to a doctor when she had my dad.

Grandma recently moved from one seniors' residence to another, and as they were packing stuff up to move her, my aunt came upon a rare treasure. I don't think it would have ever been intended to be anything special at the time it was made. Living where she did in the 1930s, Grandma and her friends and sisters didn't have a lot of access to shopping, so if they wanted anything nice they had to order it from a catalogue. To make sure they got everything they ordered, and nothing that they didn't, Grandma would cut out the pictures from the catalogue and glue them into a notebook. She kept notes of what they paid and what they bought them for.

My aunt found the notebook, and scanned it and made copies for all the grand-daughters and great-grand-daughters. At first it was mainly a curiosity to me; I liked the styles a lot and the prices just seemed quaint. If I could walk in them, I would need these shoes desperately:

It seems the 1930s were the decade of all things my style, especially the hats. I want hats to come back.

And then I started reading through the album more closely, and there started to be stories:

H.C. would be my Grandma. Would O.C. be one of the great-aunts I never met? Besides her good taste in hats, what was she like?

And then there was a recurring theme of Ora (O.C.?) and Erna, where it looks like every time Ora gets something, Erna gets the same thing.

Were they friends who got everything the same so they could be more like sisters? Or did Erna drive Ora nuts with all her copycatting? Could Erna have been another great-aunt who got married and that's why she had a different last name?

As a co-worker commented when I showed him the notebook, the prices look low to us now, but for the time, these would have been fairly expensive items. Especially for people in rural Kansas. Here these women are, buying shoes and dresses for banquets and parties. Was this defiance of the circumstances? Maybe if you go far back enough I come from money and don't realize it, because the money blew away with the topsoil? And what of the changes sweeping the rest of the planet - is that something they thought about or was the Depression enough to worry about?

One day I'm going to run up my long-distance bill and find this stuff out.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Why doesn't this surprise me?

If I were a character in The Princess Bride, I'd be...


Which Princess Bride Character are You?
this quiz was made by mysti

Canadian Women Kick Ass

Canada has three medals so far. All women. Go Canadian women!

I ended up watching some Olympics on Saturday, and saw the women's moguls event. Holy crap is that a scary event. I respect anybody who would even try it. Jennifer Heil's gold-medal run was just incredible. Go-Go-Go-Go-Go-Go-...pause... hanging upside down in mid-air... Go-Go-Go-Go-Go-Go-Go-Go-pause... hanging upside down in mid-air... Go-Go-Go-Go-Go-Go-Go-Go- She so deserved to win.

Know what else was neat? At the bottom of the hill, the competitors gave eachother hugs and high fives. I don't watch enough sports to know whether that says something about the Olympics, something about women's sports, or whether that's just the way things normally are, but I was touched.

And then on to women's hockey. I saw some of the drubbing Canada gave Italy (16-0) and it was ugly. Ow.

But then you see the comments it got when they also beat the Russians 12-0. Angela Ruggiero, who plays defense for Team USA, said: "I'm upset that Canada has been running up the score, especially against the host nation. There was no need for that. They're trying to pad their stats ... Canada is running up the score for whatever reasons – personal, short-term."

My first thought was, Would they ever, ever dare to say that about men's hockey? I mean OMGWTFBBQ these uppity women are kicking too much ass what are we going to do?

But it turns out the mighty Don Cherry has previously come out against NHL teams trouncing eachother too hard, on the grounds that winning so big that you humiliate the other team is poor sportsmanship. Kick their butts but don't rub their faces in it.

So I don't get to have a feminist snit-fit afterall.

Turns out the problem is with the rules of Olympic hockey. In this tournament, tiebreakers are decided first by the deadlocked teams' record against each other and then by goal differential. That differential can determine which team has home-ice advantage.

Interesting note: Canada has outscored its competitors 28-0 so far, and USA has outscored its competitors 11-0. Kindof shines some light on why Ruggiero might not like it.

More thoughts about Dr. Charles' 1600 Calorie Diet

So despite Dr. Charles explicitly saying he's a skinny guy and has no need to lose weight, what on dog's green earth is going on with the comments? I swear half the people there were trying to give the man advice on how to lose weight anyway. WTF?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Good doc, bad doc

I wish my doctor had done this. Except that then this blog might not have happened, because what got me angry and ranty enough to want to blog was the way my (former) GP dealt with my weight. Except that I'm a big procrastinator and I was emabarrassed and stuff and never did write that post, although I started blogging anyway. Here's what I would have written, now that Dr. Charles' post has reminded me.
My annual physical exam last year was something I had actually really been looking forward to. Not that I have some kind of weird speculum fetish or something. Just that I'd been making some really positive changes in my life and I was expecting that those changes would show up in discernably improved health and some empirical validation would be nice.

You see, all my life people (including my pediatrician at age 4, one of my earliest memories) have been telling me I'm fat. This is really stupid, because I was never more than a little overweight. In my first year of university, though, I started moving from really not fat at all, to slightly fat. When I hit 150lb, I panicked, and went to Weight Watchers, and stuck to their regimen assiduously, and got down to 120 lb (WW said my goal should have been 110). I also shot my metabolism to hell, and developed a habit of bingeing under stress, driving around town in the middle of the night to different drive throughs and having three or four super-sized combos from different McD's and throwing out the wrappers in garbages far from home so there'd be no evidence, then feeling so awful about myself that I wouldn't eat the next day, causing... more stress. I suspect that the disordered eating was the result of the group dynamic at WW, where there was a lot of good food vs bad food rhetoric going on, a sort of confessional atmosphere that seemed to rely a whole lot on food guilt and feelings of shame if the number on the scale wasn't moving inexorably downward. Plus of course not eating nearly enough to be well can wreak havoc on any body.

Not surprisingly, I didn't stay at 120lb for long. In fact, a year later, I weighed 180. A year after that, I weighed 210. I discovered that as long as I ate as much as I wanted, whenever I wanted, I could avoid the binge cycle, and for several years, as long as I was able to exercise, my weight was stable. And then there was the knee surgery and the time I couldn't exercise, and by the end of 2004 I weighed 230lb and felt really unwell. I started to get scared about what I was doing to my body and that I was going to die by the time I was 40.

So I set out to lose that weight. I made a lot of positive changes: I started exercising again - slowly at first, but then more and more, and I discovered it made me feel fantastic. At first I restricted my calories too much, but when that was unpleasant I started focussing instead on getting all my servings of fruit and veggies and lean dairy, and eating vegetarian as much as possible. Is there a word better than fantastic for how good I was feeling by the time it got to be time for my physical? I'd lost 20lb, but by then that was secondary to just plain feeling good. Also worth noting, in reference to Dr. Charles purgatorial experience, is that I was eating about 2300 calories a day, not 1600, and the pounds were melting away.

The doc was relatively new to me, since my usual doc had suddenly moved to Vancouver and left me in the lurch. I'd only seen Dr. X a few times previously, for help with my knees when I'd pushed them too hard by doing too much new exercise too fast, but I had really liked and respected him during those visits. Which is why what happened was such a shock to me.

We got off on the wrong foot right away, when he took my pulse and blood pressure (fast and high, respectively), and commented, “You obviously haven’t been getting any exercise.” I know better than to expect him to remember everything about me, because I know he has a lot of patients, but the last thing in my chart before the physical would have been that I came to see him because I was having pain and swelling in my knees that was interfering with my exercise regimen. He was holding my chart while he said it. So I’m curious why he just went straight into berating me for being out of shape. Would he have said that if I were thinner, or would he have assumed I was feeling anxious and tried to say something to put me at ease? Do people whose BMI is greater than 30 suddenly not have sympathetic nervous systems? What about feelings?

Then I told him that I had in fact been exercising, alternating swimming and weights. If he hadn’t interrupted me, I would have told him that in a good week I’ll go six times, but four or five times is pretty usual, that my swimming speed and endurance has increased dramatically, and that I still do cardio on resistance training days. But he did interrupt me, and rather than saying something positive like, “That’s great that you’re committing to getting fit,” what he said was, “Don’t do weights.” I was so flabbergasted by that, that I didn’t get a chance to ask why on earth should I not be doing weights?

I don’t remember the exact order of what happened next, but somewhere in there he launched into a stern lecture about how dangerous it is to be overweight and all the bad things that will happen to me if I don’t lose weight and so forth. I was trying to tell him(and if he'd referred to my chart he would have already known) that I don’t need to be scared or shamed into losing weight. Not only am I already scared out of my wits, I’m scared enough that I’m doing something about it, and I’ve had a modest amount of success at it. But I couldn’t get a word in edgewise and there he was going on and on like I have no idea that being 5’3” and over 200lb is bad for me, and I’m just obliviously sitting my fat ass on the couch eating deep-fried cake. I would have liked to have talked to him about the plateau I was stuck on, and the emotional ups and downs I’d been having where some of my disordered eating seems to be slipping back in, and that as far as I can tell it’s only because of the exercise that I haven’t gained everything back plus extra. I would have appreciated some encouragement, and some constructive advice for getting out of the rut. I got neither.

Then he asked me if I’m married, and whether I’m sexually active. Now, that’s a perfectly reasonable question to ask a patient, because marital status is a major determinant of social supports, and of course you need to know if I need my prescription for birth control refilled. But my level of trust at this point in the visit was so low, that my first thought was, “Oh no, he’s some kind of religious nut who’s going to refuse to provide me with contraception,” and my second thought was, “What, fat chicks can’t get laid unless they roped someone in back when they were skinny?” He also neglected to ask whether I was in a mutually monogamous relationship and whether I thought it would be a good idea to be tested for STDs.

Then he launched into a lecture about the risks of being on the pill for obese women who are getting close to 30 – which I tried to tell him I knew, but he just went on and on anyway, again as if I am oblivious and/or ignorant of the risks of my weight. I had really been hoping we could have a constructive discussion about birth control, because the risks of being on the pill really do concern me and if I have other options (besides abstinence or having a baby every year until menopause) I would be interested in pursuing them. But the way he was going on, I was afraid he wasn't going to give me any contraception at all, so I just asked him to refill my existing prescription because I didn’t feel up to fighting.

At some point we talked about diet, and I got a mini-lecture about not eating fried foods. I was able to interject there that I was in fact making a serious effort to eat a healthy and balanced diet, but I was feeling so frazzled and picked-on by this point that when he asked what I meant by eating healthier, my brain went absolutely blank.

When I couldn’t tell him specifically what I was doing with my diet, he told me to go to Weight Watchers. He refused to listen to me when I told you what an awful time I had with them. And then when he finally let me get a word in edgewise, he dismissed my concerns. "Well I've never heard of that." Like since he's never heard of it, my experience can't possibly have happened.

Here I’ve taken reasonable and effective action on my own to get healthier, and here he is insisting that I participate in a program that’s required by law to say “*results not typical” in all its advertising, and that I already had an awful experience with. I thought he was supposed to be on my team helping me get healthy.

So after my appointment I went and sat in my car and cried for a while, then I went to the pool and swam a bunch of laps and I was still angry, so I got out of the pool and rode the stationary bike and pumped some iron and I was still angry after that, so I went and wrote a strongly-worded letter, and left it with his secretary, asking if we could discuss it when the results of my bloodwork came back.

After telling me that all my bloodwork was in the ideal range, he told me he didn't want to be my doctor any more. That he remembered being in a rush, but didn't remember any of the appointment that way and clearly I need a better doctor than him. Which, evidently, I do, because I don't need a doctor who sees my size and then saves time by kicking in a stupid-fat-person heuristic.

So the question now is, how do I find a new doctor, when that letter will be with my chart if they get my old records. And then maybe that doctor won't like me either.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Who cranked the Hyperbole setting to “11”?

"Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom."

-Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays (1950), "Outline of Intellectual Rubbish"

I am thinking the blogosphere is ripe with content about the Danish editorial cartoon debacle. I am trying very hard to empathize with the people who are protesting so vigoursly against those cartoons. Are these the same cartoons that put the black man in his place when slavery was legal in North America? Is this akin to the propaganda used so effectively during the world wars to demonize enemies?

What is making this difficult to simply come out on one side or the other is the overarching systemic structure that is surrounding this issue. It is the internal superstructure of culture ideals that may be obfuscating the truth in this feverish series of events?

My first instinct is to decry the violence that is being perpetrated by the protesters. Who cranked their Hyperbole setting to “11”? Good heavens. It is just a cartoon. A cartoon in poor taste indeed, but is it worth threatening the western world with another 9/11 (even considering that the US has perpetrated multiple “9/11’s” as a vital force in its foreign policy over the years)? It just seems all so grossly overblown and out of proportion.

I think a little insight into one of the precursor issues that has not been examined is that these cartoons came out on September 30th of last year. Where was the furor then? Why the almost 4 month lag-time from printing to protest? I’m hypothesizing that when the media initially published the cartoons they were probably just taken for what they are, a visual commentary in bad taste, especially so in the Muslim community. However, once organized religion got its pernicious meat hooks into the cartoons, amazingly now we have uproar and riots in the streets. Fomenting righteous anger requires time and dedication, a system to spread the wrath. The addition of an organized religious pulpit, always an egregiously wonderful event, to whip the masses into the frothing frenzy, once again completes the dark circle of religion. (The religious right in North America does this all the time… Terri Schiavo etc.)

This was not supposed to be my next article on how religion makes the world a worse place to be, but lo and behold! Poof! It has become the much talked about part 2.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Pink - "Stupid Girl"

Thank you Kameron for pointing this out.

I don't think a music video has ever made me cry like this before.

Fuck the patriarchy. Fuck it.

And why is it that what should be a consensual act of love, is the worst word I can think of for what to do to the patriarchy.


Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Danish Cartoons

I'll post something more thoughtful sometime later if i get around to it, but in the meantime, I just really, really want to know why people think religious belief is a good thing.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Exposed: The dark underbelly of the beast