Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Oh, Canada!
Good morning.

I will be leaving for this place at 4:15 a.m. tomorrow morning for 5 days of gorgeous Banff wilderness, fireplaces and hot drinks.

I will also be attending my first legal gay wedding because in Canada, two unrelated people of legal age can marry each other regardless of gender. Shocking, I know. It's frankly a wonder why we all don't live in Canada by now and just leave this place to the red staters - but then, there's my answer.

The fact is, in Canada there are more guns and far fewer gun-related deaths.

Marijuana decriminalization is being bantered about seriously by parliament.

Same sex marriage was legalized on July 20, 2005.

We are way behind.

Anyway, the photo above is of the Banff Springs Hotel where I will be staying. That photo was taken in the summer. Here's how it will look when I arrive and it is -8 degrees Fahrenheit. Wish me luck!


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Tuesday, January 30, 2007
So, Fat.
I am going to use this post to be all petty and self-indulgent. Because it's my blog. And that's what blogs are for. Right?

So, I've lost quite a bit of weight in this getting mentally healthier project and it's really starting to show. Do you know how I know that? No, it's not by looking in the mirror, silly. I've been bulimic for 18 years - haven't you ever seen the Lifetime movie?

It's because people are telling me. Everyone. Co-workers, boss, friends, family, vendors, husband's co-workers, husband's boyfriends, etc.

People say things like:

"Oh my god, you look great!"

"Are you planning to lose more?"

"What have you done!?" or "What are you doing?"

and "Wow, you're the incredible shrinking woman!"

However, this is what I hear (remember, I have an eating actual mental health issue and I recognize that this is part of it)




I know that's not what people mean. It's just what I hear. I'm trying very hard to remember that. I'm "processing" it.

I'm not sure why our size is so important. I know it's what we see on the outside. I just have issues with it. Hell, I have a subscription to it.

Tyra Banks is getting a huge dose of what we get all the time and realizing that a woman of 5'10 and 160 lbs. gets treated a lot differently than a woman of 5'10 and 120 lbs. Sad, pathetic, but there is no doubt it's true. If you're 5'10 and 250 lbs., forget it. You might as well disappear. Shop clerks aren't interested in what you need, fewer people are willing to hire you and maybe it's my eating disorder speaking but people are actually checking to see what you have in your shopping cart and prove to themselves the reason that you are so fat, so certain they are going to find a Mrs. Smith's pie and a couple of tubes of cookie dough.

I hate it. It makes me mistrust my perceptions in the world. It makes my heart break that I am somehow better now than I was then.

Of all the good and fair things in this world like Seif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of Muammar Gaddafi noting that Libya would not carry out the death sentences against the six medical workers, adding, "The case took a wrong direction from the beginning. ... There were many mistakes."

or the hideous things like upwards of 55,000 civilians and 3,300 coalition soldiers killed in Iraq to date, I could talk about more important things.

Maybe tomorrow with the world saving...


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Monday, January 29, 2007
A sink and a revelation
When you think of a perfectionist, she may be someone who writes her thank you notes on time, welcomes her new neighbors with a basket of homemade cookies, works out for 45 minutes a day, every day and grills a perfect flank steak. She may be slightly stressed and ever so slightly annoying.

The fact of the matter is, a perfectionist is none of these things. I have a little issue with the perfectionism. In essence, I have a voice in my head that says, "I can't start this until I know exactly the right way to do this."

Therefore, things do not get accomplished. Some of the messiest people you know are "perfectionists" who do not know "yet" where is the "perfect" place to put that piece of paper. Therefore, it will remain out until the perfect place makes itself known.

As I get healthier, my perfectionism seems to be taking quite the beating - which is a really good thing. The desk issue was an example of this perfectionism. Being certain that I have made the right decision is a part of this perfectionism so when I got rid of all of my furniture before moving I made a commitment to myself to find furniture I loved (perfect or not).

Last week I made a huge discovery and it was all about a bathroom sink. See, I needed a bathroom sink. There was no sink in my bathroom, just a pipe where the sink should be. So I went to Osh and Lowes and Home Depot and Home Expo and the Great Indoors and every independent bathroom design shop between Santa Monica and Pasadena. I could not find the perfect sink.

Some sinks were too expensive
Some sinks were too cheap
Some sinks were just ugly
and some sinks were too big

A month had gone by. I needed a sink.

Then I realized, if I got a sink that wasn't "perfect" but nice and inexpensive and well sized, then I could brush my teeth and get some cute door knobs and jazz it up a little and have a sink. And that is what I did. I spent less than $200 which is amazing for a sink and you know what?

It's perfect.


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Friday, January 26, 2007
Maps on condoms and some porn
I get a lot of news postings about HIV and other health issues throughout the day in my email. It helps me to keep up with what is going on in the world of HIV so that I seem smart 'n stuff.

Here are TWO news items I received today that I'm just a bit confused about. I know there are committees and focus groups and task forces coming up with these ideas. I also know that behavior modification/harm reduction is a necessary but losing proposition. We need to put the word out there but unfortunately, Peter Jennings dying of lung cancer is much more likely to get you to stop smoking than an ad on the side of a bus.

New York and San Francisco have gone decidedly outside of the box with themselves on their new campaigns.

Let's start with the Big Apple. Mayor Bloomberg, in all of his progressive Republican glory, has given the OK to a new strategy to reduce HIV transmission.

Starting with the theory that "Brands add value and they increase use.", Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden and his commissioners are going to start producing New York branded condoms. Some of them will have subway maps printed on the wrappers. This leads me to all sorts of wandering in the imagination...

Perhaps a picture of Rudy Giuliani in profile, like the presidents with a picture of a closed peep show facade on the b-side.

Some can say, "Fuckin' A! But use this condom!" or "put this on your big Apple!"

To advertise, they can put a giant condom over Lady Liberty's torch.

During the annual telephone survey of 10,000 New Yorkers they plan to do their customer surveys by asking, "Did you use a condom the last time you had sex?' And once this is launched, the next time we ask that question, of those people who say yes, we'll say, 'What did the wrapper look like?'" said Frieden. "And if they describe our wrapper, then we'll know that they would have used our condom."

Perfect. That should work, because I'm going to describe my condom wrapper to some perv on the phone.


Next, we travel to the Left Coast and Sin City by the Bay. The folks in San Francisco, not to be outdone have come up with their latest prevention campaign (drumroll please!)

Hot Sex Without Crystal? Hell Yes!

The campaign, which has enlisted "popular" gay "adult" "film" "stars" has already launched. It is intended to break the link that many gay men have between crystal meth and sex.

The threat is real. The poster is awesome.

Seriously, too many men are using way way way too much crystal meth. Not to mention all of those Mormon housewives. It's a damn scourge.

The "good":
endless confidence, "cures" depression while you're high, horny as hell, lose weight, dance/fuck all night, get all of your errands done in half the time.

The bad:
It makes you stink, feel like bugs are crawling under your skin gives you acne, you start crashing at work on Tuesday and you look like, well, like you've been tweaking for a week non-stop.

The ugly:
Meth mouth, permanent brain damage, trying to jump out of a car on the way to rehab at 60 miles an hour because "they" are chasing you.

I'm not being all Nancy Reagan here. Do all the smack you want - just stay away from this crap. It's ugly.

So here we have our two latest prevention campaigns. I guess they're better than Phil the Angry Syphilis Sore and the Happy Penis.


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Thursday, January 25, 2007
Fear SUCKS!!! Ass!!! Fear and the ass-sucking!!!
You know how all of the self-help books and the magazine articles say things like:

Just do it!
Act as if.
Take the first step today!

And they sound to you like Charlie Brown's teacher? (mwah muah mwah muah mwah wah wah)

Or they say things like "Put on your sweats and sneakers whether you want to or not and in a couple of weeks you'll be doing it because you want to!"?

And I think/thought to myself, what kind of bullshit is this? Don't I think I know when I'm trying to fool myself? If I had only tried that putting on my sneakers thing I might be Miss Olympia by now!!!

Oh yeah, that's right, there's something bigger than the "getting up 1/2 an hour early to pack your lunch" that might be keeping you from:

getting out of debt
losing weight
making yourself happy

It was this morning when I realized that everything I have done for the last 18 years or so has been out of fear of not making it on my own. Fear of being dependent on someone. Fear of asking for help. Which then lends itself to a big shame thing. OK, there was a little bit of the chronic clinical depression too, but NO MORE, PEOPLE! I say, "NO MORE!"

The fear and shame of spiralling into a disabling and stinky pit of debt and depression has kept me from:
  1. getting my master's degree
  2. getting a better (and better paying) job
  3. selling my book
  4. making a scene (or two)
  5. being a total media whore
  6. living my life to its fullest
  7. being happy with myself for the decisions I've made (because I haven't made them!)
And I'm sick of the regret. I'm 36 for fuck's sake. When am I going to take the risks?

Maybe....when it's SAFE?????

Fuck that and the shiny purple unicorn it rode in on.


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Monday, January 22, 2007
Dinner at 8

I have become a happy homemaker!

It's a little weird for me. I used to run around in real steel-toed Doc Martin's. I used to sleep on the sidewalk to protest Governor Pete Wilson's stupid ideas. I used to climb over barbed wire fences to allow women access to pregnancy clinics. Not that I'm bemoaning anything (especially the nasty barbed wire fence scars).

Last weekend while at the Farmer's Market I stood in line for meat at the butcher and frankly, though that's not such a big deal, it made an impression and made me think about my identity - oddly enough. ( But really, when am I not thinking about/processing/considering my identity...?)

1st - Usually when I buy meat, it's pre-wrapped in the little bin beside the meat counter at Pavilions. I don't have to talk to anyone. This time, I went to an honest to goodness butcher where I could see the whole cows through the window in the meat freezer and talked to the real butcher. I suddenly wanted to put on a dress with a big Doris Day skirt.

2nd - I have a house now. There is something significant about that. I didn't predict how much that fact itself would make me feel like a housewife. I do NOT say that in a derogatory way at all. I am very much enjoying cooking meals in my house for my family. I enjoy taking in the trash bins. I can't wait to start digging up the backyard. I want to spend more time around my house making a home.

3rd - My identity is shifting. I'm 36 years old, I'm no longer in a depressive phase and see the world in color. I am struggling with my identity but in a very positive way. Essentially, I am asking myself, "who do I want to be now?"

Now that I'm not drowning in quicksand barely able to get out of the house, what do I want to focus on? There are so many options to me out there and this is one of them that makes me happy.

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Friday, January 19, 2007
The IT Factor

You know how some people seem like they have IT? They can just go out and they seem to be so much themselves in a room full of people.

Sometimes you have IT and you can do or say just about anything.

Sometimes you lose touch with IT entirely and you feel like no one "out there" needs to see the crap oozing from your pores in the form of self-hate.

I recently read a writing exercise that asked, "what things would you do if you had twice as much self esteem" (which is basically IT, I'm just hesitant to use the words "self esteem" because they are such loaded words. Anyway, people say I have IT, but the fact is, sometimes I am distinctly lacking any it at all. This is when I do things like, stop returning phone calls, lay in bed all day and other fairly self destructive traits I tend to sink into.

It occurred to me that if I had twice as much of IT, the list of things I would do was pretty long. This is what I came up with:

  1. Make my own clothing

  2. Sell my book

  3. Value my own opinion over other peoples'

  4. Take a swing dance class

  5. Take a yoga class

  6. Get a full back tattoo

  7. Get a pedicure every two weeks

  8. Try boxing

  9. Try fencing

  10. Look in the mirror and not say terrible things to myself

  11. Learn to ride a motorcycle

  12. Start writing my next book

And so many more that I can't think of at the moment but will add to this list as they come up.

Anyone else?

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007
It's about damn time!!!
OK, I am finally putting in for the final installment of my hair story (which in reality is more about clothing choices in my case since my hair is not nearly as much of a story as Crazy Aunt Purl's). Anyway, here goes...

As if the little Orphan Annie 'do was not enough, here I bring new levels of Jewfro to the world.

(This is at Camp Ramah in Ojai doing some Israeli dance. Believe me, I was not two stepping or doing the hustle.)

Eventually I let that grow out (unlike most of my seriously Jewy family members, I have a choice - most of them need some serious relaxer shit to get their hair to any form of straightness).

Anyway, here was another lovely choice. By the way, I still have this sweater in some box if anyone ever wants to see it in person! Rah, people, RAH!!!!

Also note the generous use of eyeliner. This will become a serious theme in the following photos.......

For instance, this lovely use of Almay liquid jet black....

Please also note the earring hanging to my boobs, the mullet (as if you could have missed that) and the gigantic safety pin. Can anyone say 1985? Anyone? Bueller?

Or 1986?
Oh. My. God! What was I thinking????

Or 1988. Could I possibly look more bored? Or more like a linebacker?
This is my hair story people. It's not pretty, but it's definitely me.


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Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Body hate
(This is something I wrote quite a while ago. I was inspired by Annika to put it up)

Most of you have been here. I have been here. The first time when I was 9 years old and about 10 stints after that.

I am talking about sitting in a Weight Watchers meeting. You are surrounded by people (mostly women) of various sizes, led by a perky 50 year old chick who lost 35 pounds and has kept it off for 6 years. She tells the story of how, at her daughter’s bat mitzvah she realized that no one wanted to pick her up on the chair (as is customary) and she went to a meeting the next day and is proof that the program works.

She is encouraging the room to clap for everyone who has lost a pound (or more!) this week. Hooray! You are one step closer to perfection, one step closer to being what your (partner, husband, boss, mother) wants you to be.

Ultimately, I found out that the applause is not what you think it is. It starts as maybe something that you wish you felt good about – everyone else is smiling, aren’t they? Eventually you realize that in fact when they are all clapping for the woman who reached her goal weight, there is a room full of women wailing.

You are sitting among a group of women who cannot understand why they can’t do it, why they are so "weak." A room full of women who wear the same stretch pants and t-shirt every week and exhale deeply to rid themselves of the ounce of air polluting their lungs. There is a room full of women dying inside from the shame.

There is a room full of women surrounded by before and after pictures not of themselves. Photos of women and men who did IT. Who were able to overcome what seems like insurmountable odds to shed a thick layer of scorned flesh. A room full of women surrounded by sayings in cute fonts with sunshine and flower stickers on them like:

Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels!

A diet is the penalty we pay for exceeding the feed limit.

Eat to live, don’t live to eat!

Which is utter bullshit. I keep thinking that perhaps my mother’s generation was not as psychologically sophisticated and they fell for stupid sayings like this. Then I think, we all want to fall for stupid sayings like this.

Ultimately, it is a room full of women that got fat, not because they’re stupid, not because they like chocolate and not because they have no willpower. It is a room full of women who are doing everything they can to get through each day.

And sometimes that means 15 oreos.

It is a room full of women who are in so much pain that the only way they know how to get up and go to work every day is by eating a box of donuts on the way in.

It is a room full of women who come home to an empty apartment and all that means in our society and eat a loaf of bread.

It is a room full of women who take care of children, parents and spouses and who have little time to become the woman they thought they would be.

It is a room full of sexually assaulted, abused and harassed women who wish that they could disappear.

It is a room full of women who have been called names their entire lives that have nothing to do with who they are but rather what their thighs might have looked like in middle school.

It is a room full of women who, when they have the audacity to take a parking space, get called a "fat bitch" by the 25 year old guy in the BMW convertible who wanted it.

It is a room full of women who have "such pretty faces."

It is the saddest room I have ever been in in my life.

I am not criticizing Weight Watchers. It is by far the healthiest program out there and teaches how to eat "normally." What I am talking about is my inner shame. What I would never admit to during the hundreds of meetings I attended and beat myself up for years after each of my failures.

I hate knowing that I/we feel this way. And yet, I/we do.


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Friday, January 05, 2007
Tikkun olam one "you" at a time.
Today I am posting a previously written entry (with a few edits). Am I copping out? Yes. Is there a reason? But of course.

As it is the first of the new year, I have heard much talk of new year's resolutions and a vague malaise with the state of the world. Elizabeth over at Screw Bronze in particular seems to be feeling awash in melancholia (although that seems to be getting her somewhere).

Being that I'm so god-damned happy n' shit, I thought I would repost something I wrote about tikkun olam (healing the world). Read up!

It’s ok to be tired of AIDS.

It’s exhausting. I learned very early on in my social justice career that you can’t fight every fight.

You have to choose one and trust that someone else is going to pick up the slack on the others.

I have chosen HIV – or rather, HIV, somewhere along the way, chose me.

If I can’t trust that others are doing their part, I find it desperately hard to focus on my own part. Someone will fight for peace in the middle East. It is something I care about deeply.

Someone will be an environmentalist – that’s not to say that I don’t recycle, I just don’t attend rallies. Will I see Al Gore’s new movie? You bet I will! I’m not an ostrich, I’m just focused. I’m not entirely sure that I should, but the optimist (tiny and weak though she may be) trusts that someone out there is focused on ending the genocide in Darfur. Please?

I used to hear, when I told people what I do, "that must be so hard." It’s not hard, in as much as any challenging job is hard. Just like any other job, it is boring and fun and frustrating and intellectually stimulating, if you are as lucky as I am.

Making my life’s work to do tikkun olam (repair the world) is what I have always known I would do. I will always, even if I leave this job, do something to help repair the world.

Here’s to Jeff, Janis, Shane, Frank, David, Michael, Connie, Anthony, Wayne, Jerry, Ron, Joey, Carlos. People I was honored to know, adore and work with over the years. I raise a diet coke to your memories. Here’s also to Bill, Charlie, Chris, David, Diane, Donna, Drew, Ernie, Francis, Gary, Glenn, Jane, Jeff, Jim, Joe, John, Justin, Kathie, Kristin, Larry, Laura, Margaret, Mark, Marty, Mary Ann, Matt, Michael, Michelle, Peter, Phil, Philip, Richard, Ricky, Ruben, Sal, Shannon, Shawn, Stephan, Steven, Terry, and many, many, many more that encouraged me, that laughed with me, that laughed at me (2 words - suntan pantyhose), that taught me so much, that fought alongside me.

I will retire in about 25 years. The epidemic will be 50 years old. A lot can happen in 25 years.

Choose something.


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Tuesday, January 02, 2007
New year's revolution
First list of 2007, but by no means the last....

I'm a list maker. Generally they happen all year round, all week long. I have a list for everything:

--the market
--the day's activities
--protocols I need to review
--paint colors I want to look at
--new crafts I want to try
--books I've read
--books I haven't read

You get the idea.
However, I generally avoid New Year's Resolution Lists. It's all the pressure and the deadline being so far away. With my newfound health though, and in the spirit of putting less pressure on myself to be perfect and not show any blemishes all around, I am going to attempt a new year's revolution list. Here goes:

1. buy a piece of exercise equipment and use it very frequently (vague, but hey, less pressure!)

2. Think about what I am buying before I buy it. Also known as, controlling impulsive purchases.

3. Load up my iPod with a ton of fun music to dance to

3.5. Dance more

4. Get a new agent to represent my book.

5. Make myself a dress

6. Start practicing yoga

7. Buy a hybrid vehicle

8. Deal with (and possibly even change) my seriously bad body image

I think 8 is good for the time being. No need to go up to 10 (though of course I thought I should).

Hope you had a very happy new year.

(by the way, I get the internets hooked up at my home on Thursday, so I promise to be back to regular blogging after that.)


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