Dropping Off to Sleep

It went well in the end. It seems extraordinary that it’s behind us now, at least until next year. I truly am too tired to write much of anything more. Tomorrow will be time enough. Now I rest.

Target number 60. Steps walked 8224. Consumed: banana, coffee, 2 beignets, 2 ounces beef brisket, quarter cup of collards, corn muffin, 2 Godiva caramels, 2 oz filet, portobello mushroom cap, half cup of roast potatoes, 3 gingerbread cookies.



I am entirely wrung out. I functioned on four hours of sleep last night. Though the first day of the event was successful, the experience for me was at times hellish. I am so exhausted, and I have to get up and do it all over again so soon. Next year this has to be different. A migraine nibbles around the edge.

Target number 60. Step after step after step:  8933. Consumed yogurt and granola.  Half a cup potato soup. cookie, six stalks asparagus, half a cup of potato, 4 oz filet. Bourbon, one.

Flat Out

Well, this lovely horse is certainly the  most beautiful representation of “flat out” I’ve ever seen. This is the winner of last year’s Jockey Gold Cup. I’m flat out too, but I don’t look nearly this good. Maybe that lathered, lol. Been running all day, no time to do anything, certainly no time to write. Give me ’till Monday, I’ll give you something worthwhile.

In the meantime, because my life is upside down, I seem to be off the plateau, down another pound. Target for today is 60. I walked, trotted, galloped and plodded 14256 steps, and ate (don’t look, you’ll wince) a Sausage McMuffin, brought to me by a friend, half a green salad with grilled chicken (never got back to finish it) one small oatmeal cookie, and Oh, Bliss– two Beignets from Cafe du Monde, hand delivered straight from New Orleans.

I’ve got to go to bed, I’m due up in 4 hours.

Measure for Measure

I have too much on my plate and none of it is food. I’m responsible for a major event set to start in 31 hours. This morning I woke up in blind panic. Then I thought, “Oh wait, I still have another day.”  Now this day is done, and the last day of preparation is rising. It’s astounding to me how long everything takes. I keep crossing things off the list, but it’s like treading water, I don’t feel like I’m making much progress. Or maybe that’s the allegory for this metamorphosis.

Imagine my surprise, when yesterday I didn’t walk the requisite steps or even pay much attention, and this morning the scale said I weighed two pounds less. I was so befuddled, I stepped off and on the scale several times to see if it was a fluke. Apparently not. Watch, tomorrow I’ll weigh six pounds more or something. Not to worry, I’ll take this loss, wherever it comes from, and celebrate.

This project is so all consuming, that I really don’t have time to even walk on the treadmill. Still, it wouldn’t surprise me if I make the weekly total anyway as Friday, Saturday and Sunday I am going to be hoofin’ it.  Time will reveal all.

So, down 19 pounds, and . . . wait for it . . . eleven inches.

A number of weight-loss bloggers suggest measuring rather than weighing, or at least in addition to. Though I feel compelled to step on the scale every single cotton-pickin’ day, I decided I would only measure once a month. Since March 26, I have lost 3 inches off my chest, 4 inches off my waist, and four inches off my ass. Yay, me. This is real progress and I’ll take it. I did refigure all the body fat calculators and while they all agree that the number is smaller– the actual results are all over the map, so it’s really not that useful, but I’m at least I know I’m going in the right direction.

. . .

Target number today an astounding 61. Walking all over two counties: 4929. Consumed yogurt with granola, 5 tortilla chips with two tablespoons of salsa, Cozumel Salad (grilled shrimp, avocado and crema on a bed of lettuce.) Tecate beer. 3 Sunkist orange candies, 6 jelly-belly citrus jelly beans.

Fat and Happy?

Fat and happy? Well, no, not precisely. But not fat and miserable either. Twenty-odd years ago I lost more than 100 pounds. I’d gained the weight very quickly, in the midst of a miserable mistake of a marriage.  The guy and I were living together anyway, and kind of pathologically connected, though I was  probably more pathological than he was. He was just passive-agressive, and at his worst, mean in the way that “mean girls” are mean, because of course, that’s passive-aggressive too. We were in the same department at MassArt, and I couldn’t get in-state tuition, so we got married two days before Christmas in an office in Cambridge. The Justice had a Christmas stocking hanging from a painting in his office. His name, “Joe,” was lettered on it in glitter. Afterwards, my new husband went to work at the used record store, I went to work at the Children’s Museum.

I’m not sure a finer recipe for emotional desolation exists. I found solace in food: pasta with butter and cream sauce, croissants, cream puffs, boxes of Cocoa-Krispies; cheeseburgers and milkshakes at The Tasty in Harvard Square. I was bored, I ate. I was anxious, I ate. I was angry, I ate. I was lonely, I ate. And as I grew larger and larger and larger, Bob remained ever as Lurch-like as he always was: very tall, very thin, very passive. At the end he wouldn’t touch me. At the end I was nearly hysterical just trying to get any response.

It was a  year or so before I started to come to grips with myself. Being a punk rock art student poet girl, I went everywhere dressed in black. One day, my friend and landlord said, meaning no harm “You look like an old Italian lady today.” That night I cleaned out the cupboards and the refrigerator and I threw away everything that I thought I shouldn’t eat anymore, which took a tremendous amount of conviction because there just wasn’t that much money for food. I parked my little car and started taking the train to work and to school, and plugged in daily to my portable Aiwa cassette player, I walked. I walked to the train. I walked from the train station to work, or to the T, or to school. I walked with friends to lunch, and most of the time, chose carefully. I stopped getting wasted on Friday night. I kept a little journal and weighed myself every day. And I lost weight.

When I’d lost about 80 pounds, I met an “artist,” a grown-man, 17 years my senior, a Jewish New Yorker who designed sets and taught at an upstate New York college, a man with great pretensions and a good camera. I became his “Muse.”  You know the trouble with being someone’s “Muse?” Muses aren’t human, so they don’t have feelings. You’re supposed to inspire and support, but you are never supposed to need anything in return. Invited, I flew to Europe where he was teaching a term abroad. He met me in Zürich. We fought. I walked and walked and walked. He went back to Florence, I went to Berlin. I sent him a cable from Berlin, saying I’d arrive in Florence at 0600 hours. When I got off the train in Florence, there was no one there to meet me. I had no idea where to even find him. I gave a cabbie the address and he took me to a walled villa. No one answered the bell. I found the address of the school where he was teaching. I asked for him at the desk and an old Italian woman looked at me coldly. When he finally showed up he said he thought that the train was coming at 6 p.m. instead of 6 a.m. He offered no apology, and I didn’t ask for one.

I should have gone, but I stayed. I walked all over the city. One night when he was away on a field trip with his students (I was not invited) I went to dinner with a Sardinian painter I’d met that afternoon. When he leaned across the table to kiss me I began to cry. “Don’t cry your life away,” he said, and handed me his handkerchief. “Non piagete, Bella. Non piagete.”  I was so very thin then. My veins made road maps on my pale limbs. Friends said I looked like I’d stepped from a pre-Raphaelite painting. Men smiled at me on the streets, calling out as I passed by. Not just “Ciao, Bella!” which is the standard Italian pick up line. More than one time someone asked me “Perché è così triste?” My Italian was abysmal, but I knew “triste”– sad. I’d just shake my head and smile.

By the time I flew home, I weighed 110 pounds. All the way across the Atlantic I hoped the plane would fall out of the sky. When I look now at every photograph the man took of his “Muse” all I see there is one very sad girl. One afternoon I asked to borrow the camera so I would have some photographs of Florence. Even in the picture I took of myself in the mirror of our bedroom I looked broken. When he came back to the US, he was so sorry, he said. He hadn’t been able to work, he said or make any assemblages or even concentrate. He needed me, he said.

I left him. I moved 2000  miles across the country to a place I’d never even visited. I got a job in a Library and I married a railroad electrician. I was stepmother to his young daughters and soon enough, mother to our own son. Every social event in Montana is centered around eating and drinking. We ate and drank. More hours in the day were devoted to writing. I was working as a journalist, I was sitting at a desk for hours at a stretch. One by one by one the pounds came back. All hundred of them and then some.  But I wasn’t miserable. I was content, mostly. I would say to people I didn’t care about my size, because when I’d been thin, I had been so desperately unhappy.

My husband has a white-hot metabolism. He used to eat half-gallons of ice-cream in one sitting. He can pack away chow mein and burgers and cheese like it’s going to be  rationed tomorrow. He has never been fat. I’d eat right along with him, to be companionable, and  I got fatter, and fatter, and fatter.  (Weirdly, his first wife also started out a normal size and when she left him, was the size of two of her previous selves. I used to tease him “Elmer Lieu, the man who makes his wives fat.” )

It took me a ridiculously long time to realize that before, I hadn’t been unhappy because I was thin. I was unhappy because I wasn’t loved, or appreciated, or even seen as a real person. When I was married to Bob, I was fat because I was miserable, because I wasn’t cherished, or honored or even loved. Now that I’m fat again, I’m a little disgusted with myself because, like every person whose ever lost a lot of weight, I swore I would never be this size again.  And here I am. I try to stifle the shrill nag of that little harridan inside me though. No one ever lost weight (or found happiness) through self-loathing.

My emotional weather report does not have to be tethered to my size. Though I run the gamut from elated to despairing, I am generally content. Becoming thin again will not make me rich, or successful or happy or even better-looking. (Well, maybe a little better looking.) It will, however, make me better able to climb stairs, ride horses, run foot races, sail little boats, go for massages and wear shorter skirts. Maybe I can stop wearing black. But I don’t expect that being thin will make my life joyous or sorrowful. No  matter what your size, that comes from within.

Target number still 63. Steps walked today: 2689. (Too damn busy to walk this week, now there’s a paradox.) Consumed: crepe with blueberries, coffee, two scrambled  eggs, three slices of bacon, half a cup of grits. Lunch was a skinless chicken thigh, and a large glass of V-8. Later in the afternoon, a third of a Toblerone bar. My mother arrived from SC and we had a (for me, very tiny) bourbon and a Godiva caramel. Dinner was 1/4 cup pulled pork (no sauce) a slice of ciabatta, half a cup of macaroni and cheese, and a quarter cup of blood orange sorbetto.


It is hard to hang on.  An 18-day plateau where the scale won’t budge easily generates a serious case of “why bother?”  I found a great deal on a beautiful pair of black linen trousers last week, size 12. I bought them. Now I think I should have saved my money. I was within four-tenths of a pound of my 20-pound weight loss prize, and it slipped between my fingers with the inexplicable gain of 2.6 pounds.

I’ve added calories, I’ve added fiber, I’ve reduced fat. I haven’t deprived myself, but I’ve been sensible. I’ve changed foods, I’ve tried tracking, I’ve walked more, I’ve even broken into a run on several occasions. I’ve mixed up the work-out, I always hit the target heart rate and sustain that. I break a sweat. And still, everyday, the scale sings back to me the same stupid three numbers.

It’s windy and cold out, I don’t want to walk. It’s dull to walk on the treadmill and even the novelty of bopping along to the soundtrack of my life has long lost its luster. We talked about putting a video monitor in front of the treadmill so I can watch movies and walk, but honestly, it seems I make a charitable contribution to Netflix each month, I just don’t find movies that compelling anymore.

I am tired of eggs and sushi and green salad and lean steak. It’s not that I want something else necessarily or I’d eat it. The governess in me is not that strong. But I’m bored. This is boring. I knew it would be slow, but this is ridiculous. Maybe I’m just destined to be more the model of Queen Victoria than Victoria’s Secret.

Doubt has begun to creep in, and that makes keeping a balance very precarious.


Target number 63. Of course. Steps walked, so what. 2846. Consumed:  Yogurt with granola and a banana. Very small grilled cheese sandwich and a cup of tomato soup. Another yogurt with granola. 2 chicken thighs, no skin. Green salad, a quarter-cup of pulled pork, no sauce.   1.5 ounces chocolate.

Counting Blessings

This is Monday, and Monday is the day I take an account of how much progress I’ve made in the week. I have not made much progress this week, though I keep plugging along. So I thought I would take accounting of a few other things, like the multitude of blessings that grace my life. I couldn’t possibly list them all here, this would go to several volumes. A selection, then, of the things that make my life wonderful.

I am grateful for knees and hips that work the way they’re supposed to, without too much complaining. How blessed I am with both a strong heart and a strong back. I am grateful for the multitude of dogs and cats that fill my life with love and hair and chores and vet bills and kisses and snuggles and enthusiastic greetings. I am blessed even with the snarky little bug-eyed girl who was supposed to only be a houseguest but seems destined to stay forever.

It is a wonderful thing to have the Friends of Planned Parenthood Book Loft in my life, to know and be able to share the truth about a mission that brings health care to women of limited means, and which works hard every day, harder than any other organization anywhere to prevent the need for abortion.  I am so grateful for the friends I have there who have shown me great kindness and have given me hope that there if life after 90. And the books, I almost forgot, I am grateful for the towering stacks of books we laboriously sort, clean, read and price. And read some more.

I am so grateful for my son, who has grown up strong and tall and smart and charming. Every mother loves their child, but I really like mine too. He is funny and helpful, articulate, gifted, a little lazy (how insufferable would it be if he were perfect after all). He is excellent company. Nothing I’ve achieved in life can compare to having brought him thus far.

And his half-sister, my chosen daughter, Tai is a great blessing to us. Her life is both full of conundrum, yet she is triply-blessed with three extraordinary children. She is a loving and generous person, an excellent mother and sweet and thoughtful daughter. If I was a help to her growing up, she has repaid me in so many ways.

This is the busiest week of my year, the days leading up to our AKC dog show, of which I am grand pooh-bah. The club is made up of wonderful folks who entertain my wild ideas with good humor and work their asses off every year at this show. They celebrate the successes and shrug off the less successful experiments. They make dog shows fun. And I am incredibly grateful to the extra 25 percent of exhibitors who found their way to our show this year. Of course, I can’t take the credit if the numbers are up, but it is my fault, I think, if they are down. Thank God they are up.

I’ve been blessed with the greatest “dog friends.” It doesn’t matter our differences (and often they are substantial) these are the people who are steadfast, loyal, affectionate. There’s my astral twin in California (who always knows the right thing to say), and my Republican friend in Connecticut (who has been so patient with me) and our old friend in Wyoming with her herd of Chihuahuas and chins. It makes me smile just to think of her laughing. There’s a whole pack of excellent hound people, and my wonderful veterinarian– who is an equally wonderful friend, confidante and co-conspirator.  And of course, there’s Sandy who is at the Book Loft, and in the Kennel Club and my sometimes traveling companion to dog shows and other adventures. My life would be so much less without her.

There are Chessie people and Foxhound people and Boston Terrier people and IRWS people and Afghan people and Basenji people and Dachshund people and Scottish Deerhound people and well, see this would go on and on and I’d still miss a few. It’s not just dogs that have made my life an incredible tapestry (where’s the lint brush?) but all their people too.

There are other friends as well, non-dog friends, like the baker who leaves bread on our doorstep, and his beautiful, vivacious wife. We love the bread, but even if he gives up baking, we will go on being grateful for their friendship. Then there’s the perpetual renegade politician, a man with so many great ideas, I’m not sure he can ever be elected, but I go on hoping. And my friend Martha, full of amazing stories and wild notions, she who is always up for a road trip or a treasure hunt through the Goodwill outlet.

Oh the Goodwill outlet, I am so blessed to have the Goodwill outlet, provider of antique books and marble pastry board, old globes, silver picture frames, funny old oil paintings, Limoges plates, pine needle baskets, and so much more winnowed out of heaps of junk piled high on tabletops, and always a great source of entertainment.

Chief among my blessings would be my dear friend who I met through Chesapeakes but who has stood next to me through all kinds of thick and thin, not to mention Christmas tea and glass blowing classes, her guest at the theatre, countless lunches, family crises and the agony of lost dogs. A kiss to you my dear with my greatest thanks.

Though we all complain about spending too many hours on that great time sink, Facebook, it is really quite an astonishing phenomena. We meet people we never would have met otherwise and they enrich our lives. We can stay in day-to-day contact with the people we left behind (Hello, Terri! Hi Sheryl!, Bob Brown, how are you?) We are able to reconnect with old friends, thought lost forever. I spent my childhood in three countries on two continents, how magical for me to be able to reconnect with Trisch Rambo and Simon Connor and Josette Gaudet and Susan Marchbank and Norma Travers and Ruth Lapp and Heidi Wasch and Nila Murray and Anne Clements and Marilyn Pridham and Stephen Dawson and so many others, but most especially, Jeanne Mackenzie, whom I knew in high school,  but who is now, much later in our lives, a deeply cherished friend. That goes for you too, Dave. (That’s her husband, you know.) The return of these has made my heart very, very full.

How grateful I am to still have my mother, and how grateful I am that my mother is my mother. Everything I am in life I owe to her. Except the bad parts, those are my own. She is smart, outspoken, strong, passionate, courageous and funny. If I’m half the woman my mother is that is an extraordinary gift right there.

I am blessed with the grief I have at the loss of my beloved father, and of my beloved stepfather. The white-hot ache that marks me is testament to what  great love I had for them, and how profoundly their love affected me.

Finally (yes, at last) I am so grateful to be an old married woman, for the guy sleeping sprawled across the sofa. I am grateful that he loves me when I am not lovable, I am grateful that he does the hard stuff, I am grateful to know the Chinese word for toilet paper. I have a life that is full of laughter, an excellent companion, two decades worth of shared jokes, memories, stories, heartaches, triumphs, Chinese fortunes, quiet moments and loud ones too. He is always in my corner, and I am the same for him. What greater blessing is there than these?

(If I’ve missed you this time, it’s just an accounting error, you know that you are in my heart.)

The target number for today is still 63. I walked 3503 steps.

Number of pounds to lose this week: 2

Number of pounds lost this week: 0

Cumulative number to have lost by this point: 12

Actual cumulative number lost: 17!

Number of steps to have walked: 40,000

Actual number of steps walked: 35,284 (heck)

Cumulative number to have walked: 200,000

Cumulative number walked: 260,614   (98.5 miles!)

Consumed:  yogurt with granola, banana, chicken salad sandwich, cottage cheese with sliced tomato, omelet with swiss cheese, toast, three segments of a Toblerone bar, cup of hot tea with milk.