Thursday, September 28, 2006

Fwd: FW: Be careful: New robbery method (must read for ladies)

By the way, do you know how to check if an email sent to you is true? In the past few days I've received forwarded emails about a Muslim "Christmas" stamp, a robbery method that leaves women naked in bathroom stalls, and which leading cosmetics companies have lead in their lipsticks. There are many websites you can check, but I went here:

and typed key words into the "Search" field (like "robbery women bathroom"). I got a screen full of urban legends, found the one I was looking for and read the background and truthfulness of it. I was eventually able to confirm that all of these forwarded emails were crap. There really is a stamp commemorating a Muslim holiday, but it's not a "Christmas" stamp and was never marketed as such. There are no robbers leaving women naked in bathroom stalls with an "Out of Order" sign on the door. Et cetera.

Just letting you know about this very convenient website that can keep you from looking like an idiot to your online friends (at least it'll keep you from looking like an idiot for this reason).

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


I just have to say another word about Fatty McBlog. There is so much prejudice about overweight people, especially those who fit the description "morbidly obese." I know I have some of that prejudice, too, however much I wish I could be free of it. But her post of Sunday the 17th really struck me. I know what it's like to be on an airplane and see a large person getting on and hope they don't sit next to me. I've felt the annoyance of the righteous. But her post presents the humiliation of being that large person. People like me tend to assume that really huge people are selfish and uncaring of those around them, but Fatty McBlog exposes how wrong those assumptions are.

McBlog describes how hard she works to not inconvenience her flightmates. Can you imagine being a very self-conscious person who hates being the center of attention and having to walk into a small space where every single person will be looking at you with dread and disgust? Can you imagine the ache of sitting for several hours with your thighs squeezed tight and your shoulder muscles hunched and contracted? Can you imagine having an ongoing problem that you are doing your absolute best to handle, struggling every day and using the full extent of your resources, but still having to face the humiliation of people staring at you as if you're just a selfish, pathetic person?

From reading Fatty McBlog, I have much more sympathy for people who struggle with obvious weight issues (as opposed to those of us who struggle with "unobvious" weight issues, like whining over losing four pounds). I think her (their) blog is amazing (two women actually write it).

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Striving for Good Health

Reg in sunglasses, originally uploaded by regrodriguez.

I should accept that I am absolutely unable to see what my body looks like in the mirror. It's only when I look back on photos of myself that I'm able to truly see if I was thin, carrying a few extra pounds, carrying 10 or 15 extra pounds (which I have done), etc.

It's photos like this one, in which I weigh 122 pounds (taken two months ago), that make me doubt the experts who would have me believe I should weigh the same as on my high school graduation day. On that day in 1984, I weighed 105 pounds. I should try to drop another 17 pounds from the weight I have in this photo??

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Living Will

Ever since I attended a workshop on living wills two weeks ago, I have been slowly working on mine (a living will is a document that lets you decide whether or not to be kept on artificial life support and appoints someone to make health care decisions on your behalf if you're unable to do so).

This is the perfect task for me. It feeds my love of the macabre, my inner death wish, my fixation on details and my desire to be in control of my life. I have gone beyond the standard appointing of a Health Care Agent and clarifying what treatment I would and wouldn't want. I've even attached extra pages to my living will that give:

1. A list of people to be informed if I'm ever close to death.
2. What I want done to my body (donate, donate, donate!)
3. What I'd want posted on my blog.
4. A list of people to be invited to my memorial service.
5. My preferred music and readings for my memorial service.
6. How to distribute my possesions.

A friend of mine who's a nurse says she sees incapacitated people every day being put through various life saving techniques that feel like torture to them and it's because their loved ones feel too guilty to pull the plug. Agonizing over these decisions, a family will say that what happens in God's will, letting the person who is near death linger indefinitely and painfully. Avoid this nightmare by making decisions about your care and putting it in writing.

Aging With Dignity is an organization that has created a document called Five Wishes. The wishes in this living will refer to the following:

1. The person I want to make health care decisions for me when I can't (my "Health Care Agent").
2. The kind of medical treatment I want or don't want.
3. How comfortable I want to be.
4. How I want people to treat me.
5. What I want my loved ones to know.

Each section contains statements such as "I wish to have people with me when possible. I want someone to be with me when it seems that death may come at any time." If you agree with the statement, you do nothing to it. If you don't agree with it, you cross it out and it won't be followed (I don't agree with this statement, so I crossed it out). It's an excellent document and makes creating your living will easy. You just change or add anything you want. After I finish tailoring it for my preferences, I'll sign it in the presence of two witnesses (who also sign it) and distribute copies of it to my doctor and the people involved (some states require that it be notarized, but not Illinois). Each year (maybe at the new year) I'll review it and revise it. It's not written in stone. I can update it at any time, specifying that the version with the latest revision date be the valid one.

To order copies of Five Wishes, go to the Aging With Dignity website or call 1-888-594-7437.

Anyone who has ever had to make life or death decisions for someone else, without any idea of what that person would want, understands why a living will is critical. If our culture weren't so squeamish about death, it would be so much easier to handle. BE BRAVE: MAKE A LIVING WILL.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

High School Weight

I have heard from someone I haven't seen since we graduated from high school together (he found me through my blog). We've sent back and forth the usual information about work, career and family. Of course he's married and I'm not. Of course he has a respectable job where he's been for more than a year, which I'm not. But the most disturbing thing is that he says he wears the same clothing size he wore in high school. Of how many people is this true?

My friend Robert, the New York jazz pianist, also says he's about the same size he was when he graduated from high school. I'm further disturbed to know that high school graduation weight is the ideal maintained by medical research that shows that women who have gained a certain amount of weight (can't remember the details) since age 18 have a higher risk of breast cancer. Horrifyingly, we are not supposed to gain any weight after we graduate from high school.

It's horrifying for me because when I graduated from high school I was 5'3" and weighed 105 pounds. A hundred and five pounds. It takes all my exercising and dieting efforts to keep my weight close to 120 pounds, but really I should be aiming for 105 pounds? In order for me to do what it takes to get my weight down to 105, I'd have to lose muscle as well as fat. Maybe even bone. Jesus, I'm 40 years old and 5'2" and on a really good day I weigh between 120 and 123, but really I should be aiming for 105? Really?

But I guess the answer is yes because my friends have managed to keep their weights down to high school levels. Why? How? Is it a guy thing? What should I do?

(At the age of 18 I also wore a size 5, and I'm talking 1984 sizes, not the bloated sizes we indulge in today. These days I think I'd need surgery to fit into a 1984 size 5 pair of jeans.)

Monday, September 04, 2006

No longer (a carrier like) Typhoid Mary

When I was very depressed, but before my doctor and I figured out the right medication, I wrote a lot of songs and performed very regularly. There’s a myth of creativity that the best art comes out of the worst suffering and while I don’t think that’s always true, I think it often is. It’s like the way the best wines come from grapevines that survive the most difficult growing conditions, struggling through clay, limestone or - the most extreme example - the soil of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape district in France’s Rhône Valley which is just stones. An artist living a sucky life is like a grapevine trying to derive nourishment from a pile of stones.

Maybe it is or maybe it isn’t a fact of life that artists get good by-products from bad experiences, but unlike sad songwriters who write sad songs, in my misery and confusion I wrote a lot of upbeat songs with postive messages. I did this not because I believed those things, but because I wanted to believe them. I wrote the songs I needed to hear. Because I constantly worried about the future I wrote “Be Here Now.” Because I was always sizing guys up, hoping the next one would be Mr. Long-Term Relationship I wrote “Get Rid of 'Forever.'” Because I needed to lighten the hell up, I wrote a song based on Mark Twain’s quote, “Happy are we who can laugh at ourselves for we shall never cease to be amused.”

I wrote those songs in an attempt to make myself feel better, but what happened was that they started making others feel better. Strangers would see me onstage and assume I was the cheerful persona my lyrics conveyed. Friends would comment on the difference between my energetic performances and my daily gloom. I, too, thought the contrast was odd. Singing my songs did make me feel better while I was singing them, but my struggle with depression and loneliness never stopped.

Friends and strangers alike gave me the same feedback: my songs made them happy. I, with my depressed, gloomy life, was spreading cheer. I began calling myself a "carrier" of happiness, able to convey it to others without exhibiting any of the symptoms of having it myself. I asked myself - was that enough? Could I go through life unhappy, knowing I was at least making others happy?

The answer was NO. I wanted to be happy. If only I could attain a state of true contentment with myself and my life, I didn't care if I never wrote another note. I maintained that conviction for years.

And now it has come to pass. After months of not touching my electric bass, I finally put it away in its case today. Maybe my music career is over. Or maybe not since I could - one day, eventually - get married.

To hear some of my songs, go to or

Friday, September 01, 2006

So this is happiness

I asked some co-workers, "Do you sing more when you're happy or when you're sad?"

They each said "When I'm happy."

I asked my boyfriend the same question. He said, "Happy."

I said, "That's what everyone has said so far. I sing more when I'm sad."

He said, "Why?"

"Because singing makes me feel better."

And then I froze as a realization struck me, "Oh my god."

He turned to look in the same direction, to see what had changed my expression so completely. "What?"

"That's why I haven't been singing for the past eight months: because I'm not sad!"

I finally have an answer to the question of why, after years of being devoted to writing songs and performing, I've had no interest in music since January: it's because I've been dating Bob since January. This is happiness. Of course, it also means that for me happiness includes all the stress, gloom, depression and freaking out that I've done at various points over the last eight months (about employment, unemployment, Bob and life in general). But at some basic level, the fundamental flavor of my life seems to have shifted from sad to happy because I'm happy with Bob.

So back in my depressive, desperate manhunt days, I guess I was correct in my assumption that everything would be all right if I only had a boyfriend. Which is a bit disturbing since, in my more lucid lonely moments, I figured that obssessive assumption had to be distorted and incorrect. At least, I hoped it was.

Nope! It turns out having a man does make it all better. So much for Spinster Power.