Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Hurdle

Have I mentioned that my favorite color is pink?
I'm in my first real test since my three-day fast. Yesterday I felt depression symptoms coming on, possibly because of prolonged lack of sleep (I'm working with my health practitioner to fix this problem). In the afternoon I badly wanted a nap, but had to keep going. I felt low energy, bad mood, and sugar cravings. Uh oh.

After I dragged myself to a therapy session, I wanted frosting. Instead, I got dinner and had a little bit of soda. I wanted to follow it up with cookies or maybe just some frosting. Instead, I came home still very tired, and considered the sweet foods that were in my kitchen: dried fruit, granola, dark chocolate. A bowl of granola? Maybe. But I wasn't actually hungry. 

I thought about the options I'd talked about with my therapist for what to do when the sugar cravings hit. I had said I could write (longhand, on paper), meditate, dance or sing, or talk to a friend. I decide to try the meditation. Meditation works well for me when I'm depressed because, unlike most people, I don't have depression and anxiety. Depression empties out my mind, which is good for meditating.

So I sat and meditated for a little while. It felt familiar and nice. And after that I stopped thinking about eating and decided to go to bed. I was in bed before 8:00 p.m. which I haven't done in a long time, but it got me through an evening of depression without giving in to the desire for sweets, so yay me!

But I can feel that the low energy and cravings are still with me, so now to get through today...

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Friday, January 24, 2020

How to overcome addiction


Previous post on food & weight: Supporting the spleen.

I've blogged a LOT about food and weight. If you want to read all those posts in order, like a strangely written story, start with this one from 2012: My life is better now that I'm bigger. Yeah, that's right. At first putting on a bunch of weight and becoming fat felt like a novelty, a new adventure, an experiment. That changed. Each post on food and weight is linked, so you can read right through them. 

But this post focuses on my addiction to sugar. I'm newly in a place where I (shockingly)  don't have cravings for sweets and I can see the possibility of having healed myself from that addiction for good. This is how I did it:

I worked with various therapists over years, exploring every harmful memory from my entire life, every self-defeating belief and every source of emotional pain. I dove deep into the recesses of my psyche to root out my self-hatred, low expectations, and fear of everything. I returned again and again to childhood memories and family dynamics. And when I realized I had more work to do, I did it. And when I realized I still had even more work to do, I did that. I did this for years and then I did it for decades.

If everyone who's addicted to a substance or behavior did this work on themselves, they just might overcome their dependence and we just might have a world free of addiction. But that will never happen because this work is @#$-damn f^&*-ing painful and exhausting and it leaves you in a terrible mood as often as it leaves you in a slightly better frame of mind. It sucks dog penis, especially when years go by without the results you want. 

Time to make (sugarless) coffee!
It is so much easier to be addicted! It's a hundred times easier (and often cheaper) to just shove your pain back down and have another drink or hit or cookie or pill or cigarette. Why spend decades trying to get better when you can just keep on like you've been keeping on? At the prospect of an emotional slog that could take you through multiple presidential administrations and still might not work, it's more realistic to just stay addicted.

So why did I pick the emotional slog? At first I thought if I kicked the sugar habit I'd be healthier and I'd avoid getting fat. I believed staying thin would lead to a wonderful lifelong relationship. Clearly that didn't work, so overcoming my addiction became about trying to lose the weight I put on when my marriage failed, so I could still go find that wonderful relationship.

But in the last few years I realized that letting go of sweets is also necessary if I want to be emotionally stable, not depressed, healthier in my friendships and truly ready for the lifelong relationship I've wanted. I've been using sugar to numb myself emotionally and hide from my life. Reaching an awake, engaged state of emotional health became just as big a motivator as returning to the size 10 I was seven and a half years ago. With so much on the line, I dug in and kept working. (Actually, being 53 years old, I guess it's no longer a "lifelong" relationship that I'm looking for, but I'll take what I can get.)

Sometimes it seems like attaining the indifference to sweets enjoyed by so many is a sad goal. But for me that indifference means I've stopped being addicted to a substance I've emotionally depended on since childhood. I think I'm close to putting the sugar addiction behind me, and nothing about getting here was easy. If I can live the rest of my life without using food to manage my pain and bad days, I will count this as the biggest thing I have to be proud of and the accomplishment of my life's work.

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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Supporting the spleen

Previous post on food and weight: No sugar cravings.

Apparently each type of cell has its own life cycle with certain kinds cells lasting a few days (colon, sperm) and others lasting weeks (skin), months (red blood) or years (white blood). This means the body is constantly regenerating and producing new cells. However it works out, my health practitioner tells me that after I've stayed off the processed sugar for three months, my body will have learned the new way of eating and fueling itself, and after that it won't take any effort to maintain my current habit of snacking on protein and fruit and skipping dessert.
Location of the spleen


This is a huge relief because being off my drug of choice feels very new, like I'm wobbly on the training wheels. I was at the supermarket yesterday and I looked at the slices of frosted cake and wanted one. But I remembered that while I used to impulse-buy that stuff, I don't do it anymore. It wasn't hard to pass up, but it did distract me for a minute. 

One thing that helps reinforce my better way of feeding myself, is thinking about my spleen. It's an organ that many don't think of as important, but they're wrong. The spleen is key to digestion, immune function and the lubrication of joints and tissues (nose, mouth, vagina, etc). Apparently I inherited a weak spleen that needs a lot of help to function well, and there are specific things that strengthen and weaken it. The spleen does not like cold foods or chilled drinks. It doesn't do well with spicy foods, leafy dark green vegetables, pistachios or cashews. It's strengthened by warm foods and hot beverages, root vegetables, peanuts, almonds and grains such as rice, oats and quinoa.

One thing that definitely weakens my spleen is wheat. The spleen does not like wheat and that means I greatly restrict bread, pasta, pastries and everything made with wheat flour. Some people have spleens that are strong enough to handle wheat products every day. The spleens of others can manage some amount of wheat. But people like me really have to avoid wheat most weeks out of the year if we want a well-functioning spleen.

Some of the complaints I get from my spleen when I indulge in too many dinner rolls or hamburger buns are gas stomach aches, itchy skin and lower back ache. Fortunately, I've never been a bread or pasta lover, and I can go a long time before I'm in the mood for a sandwich or some pizza.
I want a happy spleen

It takes commitment to support my spleen like this because it goes against the American way of eating which is processed sugar and wheat-flour-based foods all day long. But I'm stepping away from that lifestyle. Now when I look at a layer cake in the supermarket, I can imagine not only my body suffering from sugar overload, but my spleen recoiling from the prospect grinding through all that wheat.


Next post on food & weight: How to overcome addiction.

Patreon.com allows us closer communication, lets you support me with a monthly pledge of $3, $10 or $15 (that you can cancel at any time), and gets you rewards. Please visit my page to take a quick look.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

No sugar cravings

(Previous post on food & weight: I fasted for three days)

It was 1994 and I was 28 years old when I realized I had a problem with sugar. In the 26 years since then I've worked hard to end my physical and emotional dependence on sweets. In the past few years, two professionals have helped me in my latest efforts. I've spent months doing excellent emotional work with Kerry Ito of Reclaim Your Joy and years of physical healing with Claire Boye-Doe of Gnosis Natural Health. And today I'm relieved and happy to report that since my three-day fast, I've had no sugar cravings.

For almost two weeks I've had no sugar cravings! If you've read much of my blog, you know this is goddamn UNBELIEVABLE. That's almost two weeks of - 

  • Not craving cookies, donuts or -- my favorite -- frosted layer cake. 
  • Not even adding sugar to my tea. 
  • Wandering into the kitchen at 8:30 p.m. for a snack and contentedly eating nuts or cheese or fruit instead of scouring the cupboards for a snack cake or piece of candy I might have forgotten in there. 
  • Not wanting dark chocolate with 56% cacao content (bitter) because the 70% cacao bar (bitter as heck) is more satisfying.
  • Not being able to finish a café cup of hot chocolate because it was too sweet.
  • Not having a problem with cravings in that café, even though I sat where I could see all the cakes and pastries.
  • Not fighting myself to eat well!

This state of indifference to processed sugar is what I've been dreaming of! After I became fat in 2013, lost weight in 2015, and gained in 2016, I swore I'd never yo-yo diet again. My goal became not to lose weight, but to lose weight without feeling deprived and hungry. My goal was to lose weight in a way I could naturally and easily maintain for the rest of my life.


Articles about emotional eating often show tempting photos of 
junky crap. Why not show the healthy stuff, assholes?
I knew that goal would require an overhaul of my physical health and habits and healing every deep, hidden, psychological reason I ate emotionally. I knew it would take time. I wasn't sure I'd reach it. I certainly couldn't imagine feeling as indifferent to sweets as people who don't have a sweet tooth and never want dessert.

I still haven't reached my full goal because I'm only at two weeks of no processed sugar and I have a long way to go. But I've found the health practitioners who have the treatment I need at this point, and this week I wore a pair of pants I couldn't fit into for years after they got shrunk (but not by me) in the dryer. And I can do my favorite yoga position comfortably again (yoga squat or malasana). And I used to have to come up for air before my boots were completely fastened because I couldn't inhale in a doubled-over position. That's no longer true. 

Kerry says the main underlying belief I had to change was the belief that I was not safe, not in the world, not in my body and not with my pain. After Claire eliminated the physical reasons my body craved sweets, my need for sugary treats was kept in place by a basic lack of feeling safe. But now my concentrated (years-long) work to believe that I am safe at all times has paid off, and I'm still stunned by the results.
Hopeful that I can get smaller than this!

It's been 26 years that I've been working on getting the sugar monkey off my back and I've made progress all along, but maybe I finally got the final pieces in place? Maybe I can finally live without all that processed sugar? I have complete sympathy for anyone who has taken decades to give up smoking or alcohol or drugs. Everyone knows quitting those things is hard, but for some of us, letting go of the junky sweets is just as goddamn hard. People who don't have a problem with food usually don't get it, but we emotional eaters (and former emotional eaters) know that getting to where I am right now is a big reason to celebrate! Maybe 2020 will actually be a good year.


Next post on food & weight: Supporting the spleen.

Patreon.com allows us closer communication, lets you support me with a monthly pledge of $3, $10 or $15 (that you can cancel at any time), and gets you rewards. Please visit my page to take a quick look.

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

I fasted for three days

(Previous post on food & weight: Fatness check-in)

Claire Boye-Doe of Gnosis Natural Health has helped me with many health problems and is especially good with chronic conditions. I've been seeing her for various problems and aches since January 2016. She told me weight loss often happens as a side effect of her clients achieving ideal organ function, hormonal balance, elimination of viruses and parasites, etc. But it didn't happen that way for me. I went down a size last spring when we took care of a lot of inflammation, but I'm still fat. I'm obese, in fact.

I've also spent the past 26 years trying to break my emotional habit of eating sweets. I've used Emotional Freedom Technique, hypnotherapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, neurolinguistic programming and much more. All of these helped (I no longer eat entire cakes in two days), but I've still struggled with a longing for sweets. I've done my latest work on this with therapist Kerry Ito of Reclaim Your Joy and we've made a lot of progress in the past year. In fact, my emotion-driven cravings for sweets stopped several months ago, but my habit of reaching for them remained. That meant I was still regularly eating cookies and cakes and didn't know how to stop.

Sooo...on December 21st, Claire suggested a three-day fast to break my taste buds of the desire for sugar. She seemed so confident that this would be the final step in getting me off the sweets that I agreed to do it. I started the new year with a three-day fast. I'd fasted before, but not for that long.

I ate no food for all of Thursday, Friday and Saturday, January 2-4. I drank chicken-and-vegetable broth (that I made) and water, and that was it. And I only had five cups of the broth a day. The water was supposed to be hot, but I also drank cool water and a little bit of sparkling water. Because I work from home, I was able to spend these days in my apartment which helped a lot: no staring down food being eaten by others.

No big deal for a fat American, right? It would do us good to go hungry every once in a while, right? I agree with those statements, but it was hard. Dog, it was hard! To encourage myself, I went online and found accounts of people who had done three-day fasts. Some said they only felt hungry the first day. That was not me. My hunger disappeared for only brief periods and on the third day the hunger was the strongest. 

I suspect that people who eat mostly protein and produce -- with little starch and sugar -- have the least hunger when they fast. Their bodies switch easily into fat-burning mode or maybe that's where they always are. That means their bodies rely for fuel on their fat stores and those stores are always available.

But people like me, who eat plenty of sugar and starch every day, live in sugar-burning mode. That means our bodies rely for fuel on what we put in our stomachs and when that supply stops, our hunger reminds us to eat. Then it yells. Then it screams. For days.

On Thursday, Day One, I found it very hard to stay awake. I drank my hot water, sipped my broth, and felt hungry. I dozed through the morning, then slept through most of the afternoon. I was not in a good mood. Each time I woke up the hunger was right there. The hot broth did very little to relieve it, but I was grateful for it because an all-water fast would have been even more miserable. I didn't expect to sleep well after all that napping, but I still slept a full night. My body seemed unable to do anything without food.
Cauliflower!

On Friday, Day Two, my energy came back. Shockingly, I was able to sit at my desk and do all the work I hadn't done on Thursday. I didn't even want a nap! My alertness was especially startling because I still didn't consume anything except a lot of water and my five cups of hot broth, spaced out carefully over the day and evening. 

I also resesarched how to come out of a fast and learned that returning to regular eating should take as many days as the fast did. Damn. I'd talked to Claire about Sunday and she'd suggested starting with a cup of matcha tea and then sticking to soup and rice. I was resigned to that, but this article suggested I take it easy for three full days, post-fast. My earliest burger would be on Wednesday. Aggravation! I'd committed to a three-day fast, not a six-day ordeal. But I wanted to get the biggest benefits possible (and my Catholic tendencies are still strong), so I decided to follow the advice.

On Saturday, Day Three, I still felt alert and active. I had a few moments of light-headedness, but my energy was steady. Still no temptation to take a nap, but the hunger was also very steady. That night my hunger gnawed against itself as I imagined the food I'd eat in a few days. I looked forward to morning with extreme, single-minded eagerness. I just had to get through the night. So what if the next day I'd only have vegetable soup and rice? It would be food.

On Sunday, which I guess I'll call Day One of Breaking Fast, I sat down with my bowl of vegetable soup (made with chicken broth).  I lifted a spoonful that had a piece of cauliflower. It had never tasted so good! I relished that bowl, eating slowly and tasting everything: carrots, potatoes, onions, kosher salt. By the end of the bowl, cauliflower had become my new favorite vegetable.

Lunch was another bowl of soup and a plate of jasmine rice. Dinner was the same. I also added hot tea to my beverage list. Eating this way meant I still had hunger for part of the day, but I could live with it knowing there was a meal coming.

On Monday, Day Two of Breaking Fast, I had almost the exact same meals, except I added chicken to the soup. That night I also savored some cocktail peanuts. I love peanuts. Still had some hunger since my body wanted cheeseburger.

Today was Day Three of Breaking Fast and I had eggs with steamed cauliflower and broccoli for breakfast, butternut-squash-and-chicken soup for lunch, rice and nuts as a snack, and chicken, potatoes and peas for dinner. With more substantial meals, I finally had no gnawing hunger. Tomorrow I plan to resume my usual eating, minus the processed sugar (but I'll delay cheese until Thursday).

So far I'd call these the results:
1. Energy is still better than it's been in months. The couch does not call to me mid-afternoon! 
2. Digestion is totally peaceful. No stomach aches or noise. 
3. Certain clothes fit better. My favorite jacket fits for the first time in over a year. 
4. My teeth feel cleaner.
5. My mood is very good.
6. I feel more attractive. I might be imagining that I look slimmer, more alert and happier, but if it's a delusion, I'm not inclined to break it.
7. I haven't had my usual longing for sugar since Day Two of the fast. Sweets were part of the foods I daydreamed about and the desire for them was still there on Friday. Right now it's gone.

My one goal with this fast was to break my sweet tooth. Have I succeeded? It's too early to tell, but so far, so good. The idea is that if I can stay off the sugar, I'll finally (finally, god dammit) lose some actual pounds, and if I can lose any pounds at all, maybe I can keep them off. I don't have a lot of hope, but I have a little bit.
Next post on fatness: No sugar cravings


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Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Off-line shopping

Newly severed from Amazon.com, I actually left my apartment and went out to shop on Black Friday. It had been years since I'd done that. Physically, it was as vaguely uncomfortable as I remembered, but I am a woman in her 50's and it felt right to join my peers. Downtown Chicago is where we middle-aged women belong on the day after Thanksgiving.
Here I am standing on the corner of State Street and Randolph Street, in front of Macy's. There were many more crowds walking around than you can see here.


I'm in the thick of it now. As I shopped, I wondered why department stores are always so overheated in the winter. I also noticed how much louder the music was, at least in Macy's. It was as loud as a bar in there!
I carefully didn't get distracted by a KitchenAid in my favorite color (hot pink). I also don't bake nearly enough to justify spending $370 on such a thing. But at least if I bought it, only my lower back would suffer for it, not an Amazon.com employee's.

Mission accomplished. Of course I couldn't pass up a deal on satin sheets for myself, but my overshopping was limited by how much I could carry (I don't have a car). This feels like a much more reasonable way to shop. And I got a little exercise.

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Monday, December 02, 2019

Breaking up with Amazon.com

I have dearly loved Amazon.com. My relationship with it began in 2002 when I ordered John Lithgow's CD, Singin' in the Bathtub. A few books and CDs were the only items I got from Amazon.com for years, but since 2012, I've been a happy Amazon Prime member who has spent thousands of dollars on clothing, office supplies, personal items, gifts for others, and kitchen gadgets. In 2016 I hit my high point with 121 orders, and this year I'm at 68 orders, which isn't bad.

Or rather, it's very bad. The news stories of Amazon.com exploiting its warehouse workers started to catch my attention in 2018. The news wasn't new, but I'd chosen to ignore it because I loved getting almost anything I wanted so easily. But in 2018 I decided I'd been spending too much on things I didn't really need and this motivated me to pay attention to those stories. No, I can't pretend to have grown a conscience. It just finally became convenient for me to cancel my Amazon Prime membership. 


I've been proud to spend less in 2018 on Amazon.com, mostly because shipping costs more without Amazon Prime. But I've been reading news stories about their workers being ordered to immediately go back to work minutes after a colleague collapsed on the job, former Amazon.com employees whose bodies are so damaged from their Amazon.com jobs that they can't work at all and an inside view of a warehouse that includes the detail that workers have to hold their bladders to make packing quota (inhuman). 

I can't bear the idea that someone's repetitive motion injury might be worsened because I didn't want to leave my apartment to buy a measuring cup. I'm haunted by the vision of someone throwing out her back from lifting my order of welcome mats and ground flaxseeds. So I've deleted the Amazon Prime app from my phone and my Amazon.com shortcuts and bookmarks from all my devices. I've replaced those bookmarks with ones for Etsy and eBay because I don't need so many brand new items and if they're handmade or vintage, so much the better.



Maybe if I needed a medical item or health supplement immediately and couldn't get it easily another way, I'd use Amazon.com. But I'm done scrolling through their website out of boredom, filling my cart, emptying my cart, building a big saved-for-later list, and moving items between wish lists. No more using Amazon.com packages as a way to add excitement to my days. No more making myself want things so I can have a smiling box waiting for me when I get home.


But I am a big reader. I try to get all my e-books from the library and don't buy an e-book more often than every two or three months. But I do buy them, so I've downloaded the Barnes & Noble Nook app. Barnes & Noble is Amazon.com's worthy rival, so until I hear uglier things about them than I've heard about A.com I'm moving my e-book business to them.

And that leaves the movies, and I can find plenty to watch on HuluNetflix and YouTube. Fortunately I wasn't hooked on Amazon.com for music, services, Alexa or anything else. For me it was mainly a lot of physical item ordering.

So it's over until Amazon.com does right by its workers, and that probably means we're through forever. Now to post this piece on all my social media so whoever monitors mentions of Amazon.com can dispatch an Amazon FC-Ambassador to tell me their warehouses are wonderful. (That already happened with one of my tweets on this subject). Ha!
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Thursday, November 21, 2019

Fatness check-in

Previous post on food & weight: Grieving my sweet tooth.

Time for an update on how I'm doing with my sugar addiction and weight. I continue to work with Claire Boye-Doe of Gnosis Natural Health who recently targeted my hormone levels as a part of why I'm still fat. So she has me on supplements to help my body balance its estrogen level, release excess cortisol and increase insulin resistance. That's been going well and I've been very slowly getting a bit smaller each month, but it's all been inflammation reduction. In seven months of altered diet and supplements, I've lost a size but had no change in how much I actually weigh (almost 200 pounds when I'm only 5'2"). (That's 90 kg or over 14 stone and 157.5 cm tall.)

I see Claire every two weeks, unless I'm doing particularly badly and need an appointment every week (most of her clients need one appointment every three or four weeks, but I'm extra messed up). I bring her lists of symptoms such as rash on the hands, trouble falling asleep, urinating every 30-45 minutes, trouble swallowing, lower back ache, itchy eyes nose and throat, extra sweatiness, arthritis-like pain in fingers, muscle cramps, and of course, sugar cravings. 

Claire identifies what organ or organs need help and for me it's usually the spleen or kidneys. Then she either prescribes a vitamin, nutritional blend, homeopathic remedy or food. (She only prescribes food that the client likes, so once she told me to eat a sardine a day because I like sardines. Claire also prescribes things like a certain quantity of blueberries, sweet rose tea, sesame oil, etc.) Most clients see her for less than a year to achieve good, stable health. For me it'll be four years in January.

Lately my sugar cravings have been very bad and and I've been giving in and feeling demoralized. Last week Claire said they're because of internal organ connections that are blocked, so she suggested a specific therapist for a lymphatic massage (at Chicago Area Rehabilitation Experts).

I saw the therapist last night ($65+tip) and she worked on my body for an hour (a lymphatic massage is very non-invasive and doesn't even need lubricant). She said everything's stuck in my gut. Well, duh, my belly has always been the biggest part of me. She identified my fatness as 1) water that I’m holding because of those lymphatic blockages that Claire had found, 2) scar tissue and trauma from my 2017 hysterectomy, and 3) childhood trauma I’m still holding on to. The therapist can fix the lymphatic blocks and scar tissue, but the last one is my homework.

Weight loss is complicated!! In addition to food and hormones and thyroid and whatever else, another factor keeping us fat might be emotions from childhood trauma. Goddamned childhood. So the 31 years and thousands of dollars I've spent on therapists and healers have still not gotten me where I want to be. So angrifying.

And guess what? The massage therapist said when I let go of my childhood, I’ll lose weight quickly. Uh, yeah, I've heard that before. Detoxify and the weight will come right off. Balance the hormones and the weight will come right off. Eat for the health of the spleen (or liver or kidneys) and the weight will come right off. Do this kind of exercise and the weight will come right off. Stop eating wheat and wheat products and the weight will come right off. I actually do believe that others can do one or two of those and lose weight, but I have so much wrong with me that my body has needed me to fix a hundred things before it will release any weight.

For instance, the idea was that I'd need one lymphatic massage, but at the end of last night's session the therapist declared that I need two more. Story of my life. I’ll bet it turns into at least four more (update on 1/19/20: it did turn into four more).
Don't know how to get rid of the fuzziness this image has.

I feel disgusted with my body and hopeless about ever curing my sugar habit. The therapist said my belly was less swollen after the massage and today Claire said my chest and arms are less puffy, but I can't see any of it.

But I do have to admit that today my bladder is calmer. I'm in the bathroom about every 90 minutes instead of every 45. I'm also not as overheated and sweaty as I was earlier this week. So, fine. This work does make improvements. But fuck it's incremental.

Compare this photo to the ones I took last June and last December in the same clothes and in the same position. 

Next post on fatness: I fasted for three days.

Patreon.com allows us closer communication, lets you support me with a monthly pledge of $3, $10 or $15 (that you can cancel at any time), and gets you rewards. Please visit my page to take a quick look.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Latina Equal Pay Day Nov. 20, 2019

Eva Longoria breaks down how Latinas earn less than everyone even taking into account education, experience and location. Watch the video at LeanIn.org.


Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Latina Equal Pay Day - 20 Nov 2019


November 20th, 2019 marks the unfairness of the pay gap and how far into 2019 it takes a Latina to make what a white, non-Hispanic male earned in 2018. There are pay gaps between white non-Latino men and women of all backgrounds, but of all women in the U.S. Latinas earn less on average than white women, Black women, Asian women and Native women. We earn the least of all.

What kills me is that out of all the statistics, the biggest pay gap is between white men with advanced degrees and Latinas with advanced degrees. That's me: I have an advanced degree in English literature. 

It's very painful to think about all the money I haven't made over the past three decades (I'm 53). With a masters from Cornell I should have earned and saved so much more. I didn't because I didn't have the confidence and didn't think I deserved more. And most likely I didn't earn more because I am a Mexican American woman and we don't get the nice salary offers. As The Content Conductor, I'm now my own boss and set my own rate, so I'm doing what I can to make goddamn #$%-ing sure I don't leave any more money on the table.

I might have another 20 working years in me and I expect to work on my own terms for all of them.

Links regarding Latina Equal Pay Day: https://www.latinaequalpay.org/
http://www.equalpaytoday.org/latina-equal-pay-day-2019

How far into 2019 it takes women to make what a white,
non-Hispanic male earned in 2018. Yeah...

Patreon.com allows us closer communication, lets you support me with a monthly pledge of $3, $10 or $15 (that you can cancel at any time), and gets you rewards. Please visit my page to take a quick look.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

I still hate Walter White

[Full of Breaking Bad spoilers, but no El Camino spoilers since I haven't seen it yet.]

Before I watch Netflix's El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, I'm re-watching the Breaking Bad TV series that aired on the AMC channel between 2008 and 2013. 

(I have to brag that I watched Breaking Bad from its pilot episode, on an actual television as it originally aired. All you immediate gratification streamers: I watched every single show and had to wait at least one week between episodes and several months between seasons. So there.)

By the fifth season I was rooting for Walt to get caught, and my 513-word post, "Breaking Bad: I want Hank to win," got thousands of hits in the fall of 2013. People disagreed with me.

This is the second time I've watched all the episodes in order and I'm longing even more for Walt to get caught or killed early on. He's driven by a very big -- and therefore very childish -- ego from the beginning and it's disturbing to know that so many viewers have seen him as a hero. 

In 2011 Tasha Robinson of The A.V. Club wrote about Walt's character in her discussion of the third season episode "Fly" in Best TV Show, Worst Episode. She wrote:

It was also a vision of Walt that did not in any way coincide with the mental image I’d built of him over the course of the series, as a self-justifying, angry man who could be a real badass when required: Instead, we have to see him as irrational and petty to the point of rank stupidity, taking moronic action after action that clearly risks his safety and well-being… all to catch a fly.
Walt being a dumbass

Did Robinson not watch the first seasons of Breaking Bad? Walt is irrational to the point of rank stupidity when he decides to cook meth, when he turns down Elliot and Gretchen's money, when he forces Jessie to go after "breakage," and when he forces Jessie to expand their market which draws Gus's fire. Walt often acts irrationally, based on high emotion, such as when he goes after Tuco for putting Jessie in the hospital. That leads him to make a deal with Tuco without Jessie's input, who would have wisely told Walt to avoid that homicidal time bomb.

Walt's pettiness is clear every time he re-establishes his dominance over Jessie -- a man whose street knowledge Walt's ego won't allow him to acknowledge, much less use to their advantage. And this evidence for Walt being irrational and stupid is just from what happened before the "Fly" episode, which was the focus of Robinson's criticism.

I expect that after "Fly," originally aired, Robinson watched the rest of the seasons, which show Gus playing Walt's ego to get Walt to work for him (child's play for Gus), Walt's ego causing him to persuade Hank that Gale wasn't Heisenberg (my god, the self-destruction), Walt's ego driving him ever closer to blowing his whole subterfuge (such buying his son an expensive car) and thinking he can work with an Aryan Nation type of group without that going horribly wrong. Not to mention his backstory decision to storm off from his partnership in Gray Matter, which indicates that Walt has been making emotional, irrational and petty moves since well before the action of the show. I don't understand how Walt's stupidity wasn't picked up on by Robinson and the legions of fans who have decided Walt is "badass."
Skyler after Walt has ruined everything

Some badass. It all turns out to be for less than nothing when, at the end of the last season, he leaves his family destitute and ostracized, with Skyler a broken woman. In a keen twist -- after all that -- his wife and son want nothing to do with his drug money.

Speaking of Skyler, her pride serves her badly, too. If she weren't so horrified by the prospect of people knowing Walt is a criminal, she could call the cops on him when she first wants a divorce. She also displays bad judgment when she thinks she and her husband can stay ahead of the law with their car wash scheme. In the first season, I expected Skyler to be the moral center of the show, but actually that's Jesse. Skyler, like Walt, will do anything for her family and -- with these two -- that motivation doesn't go well (Today I feel less sympathy for her than I did in my post Feel bad for Skyler).

Walt knows chemistry so well he has an almost superhero ability to apply it, but his wounded pride (from having to live as an ordinary person and not a Gray Matter elite - boo hoo) causes him to make extremely emotion-driven, pan-destructive moves. I hated him in 2013 and I hate him even more on second viewing. It's a wonder he survives as long as he does and I'm glad the writers finally kill him off. A Breaking Bad movie focused on Jesse is an excellent idea. One focused on Walt would be intolerable.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Birth...pain...death

Talked to my therapist last night and reviewed that people's main response to danger is to go into a state of shock because shock reduces pain. Whether it's physical pain or the emotional pain of being yelled at by a boss or fearing an important relationship is about to end, we use shock to manage it.

Either the shock wears off, or we maintain it, and I've learned from Kerry that we can carry very old shock for our whole lives. I carry lots of shock from my childhood. I can't say that my mother had borderline personality disorder (BPD) because she was never diagnosed with it. I can say that from what I've read of BPD, she had many of the behaviors. And the most destructive dynamic for someone to experience with a BPD is to have a BPD as a parent.


My mother was pretty much my whole world because my parents made the decision to move away from their families before I was born, and my dad was quite absent when I was growing up (although my parents were married). So my mother was my source of love, nurturing, emotional support, discipline, and social conditioning. She set my blueprint for what loving relationships are supposed to be like. What else did I know? I had no other models. My grandparents and everyone else lived several states away and we rarely saw them.


But my mother didn't model for me much that was good about love, managing emotions, handling difficulties or how to treat yourself and others. She was scariest to me when she was enraged and I never knew when her anger would explode. She was different with different people, but with me (her first born), her love was conditional and she demanded a lot. I didn't feel safe with her and I didn't feel safe without her. So I didn't develop a sense of safety or a strong sense of feeling loved.


Today I see that my constant fear of being punished by my mother resulted in my constant fear of getting things wrong. I'm always trying to make sure of what the rules are and I get scared if there are no rules or if they change without anyone telling me. I'm terrible at inferring things because I'm afraid of assuming the wrong thing, so I always ask people to state things in the most black-and-white terms possible. My yes-or-no questions need yes-or-no answers. I don't know how to interpret nuance. I suck at abstract thinking.


My therapist says I (at the age of 53) need to develop a sense of safety in the world. She suggests I work with these ideas: I am safe. I carry my safety with me. She suggested these statements because statements like God/the Universe loves me and wants to me to succeed don't mean anything to me. I don't believe in a sapien universe, a god or any such force or presence.


I'm angry. I'm furious that my mother blocked the feeling of safety I should have developed and that her terrible self-image and view of me prevented my self-esteem and that she showed me that love is conditional and can disappear in a second. In my parents' house I stayed alert and anxious, tried to walk without making a sound and worked hard to memorize everything my mother said so I wouldn't get caught later not knowing what she wanted. But what she wanted changed all the time, so close attention didn't keep me from angering her and I dreaded angering her. As hard as I tried, she periodically accused me of being her enemy and each time it felt like my world was ending.


As upsetting as it is to realize that I spent my childhood in low-level terror, it's even more upsetting to realize that I still live in low-level terror. That's what all the rule-checking and rule-making and rule-reviewing is about. That's why I stuff my brain with facts and definitions and statistics and explanations that make me seem so damn smart. Smartness was part of my self-defense as a child living in a house with a probably-BPD mother. And it didn't even always work.


Last night I bought a box of two-packs of snack cakes (and two boxes of kleenex). I came home having decided to just plow through those cakes. I didn't care about sugar or wheat content. I just needed to slap a bandaid on this pain. I opened one two-pack of cakes and bit in. Ew. Not good. I kept eating because I hoped each bite would get better, but they didn't. When I finished that two-pack, I stopped. I felt surprised, but I didn't want any more.


I left them on the counter, and this morning I thought Now I'll get down to business. I ate another two-pack. And stopped. What the hell? They just don't taste like they used to. Nor do they feel like they used to. It's the result of having made major physical and emotional changes in the last year. My old crutch, sugar, just doesn't affect me as it used to, which is a small bit of good news in what has been a crappy week. Yet another crappy week. My depression leaves, but it comes back.


I've worked so hard 
with countless therapists and professionals for 31 years on my psychological mess. I've come very far from where I was. But to still be where I am makes me want to give up. After all this work, I still need to learn how to feel safe in the world? I don't know how to do that. I don't even know what that means. I don't think I can. I just want to give up right now.

I look at people in their 20s and 30s and feel bad for them because they probably have decades and decades of life ahead of them.


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