Thursday, April 29, 2010

midlife quiz

I just thought this was interesting. You may want to take it yourself. It comes from a book I'm reading called Change Your Mind, Change Your Body by Ann Kearney-Cooke, PhD.

How do you feel about your body?

  1. I feel generally satisfied with my body: a) true, b) somewhat true, or c) false. "Unhappiness about appearance erodes self-esteem and can lead to unhealthy behaviors."
  2. I have at least some attractive physical attributes. (same answers as above)
  3. I feel self-conscious about my body: a) rarely/never, b) sometimes, c) usually. "Self-consciousness leads to behaviors like hiding the body and feelings of shame and withdrawal from others."
  4. I usually compare my body to the bodies of other women a) my own age, b) somewhat younger, or c) under thirty.
  5. When someone compliments me on the way I look, I usually feel a) flattered, b) skeptical or c) self-conscious. "Inability to respond to, accept, or feel comfortable with compliments is a common sign of negative body image."
  6. I worry about the effect of aging on my looks: a) never, b) occasionally, or c) most of the time.
  7. I exercise a) at least three times a week, b) a few times a month, or c) rarely/never. “Exercise builds confidence.” I don’t know if that’s why I do it. I do it for the adrenaline. I do it so that my mind feels happier.
  8. I have taken diet pills, fasted or followed an extremely low-calorie diet: a) rarely/never, b) at least once in the past year, or c) several times in the past year.
  9. Compared to five years ago, I feel that I look a) better, b) the same, or c) worse.

(paraphrasing) "If you chose mostly A answers, you seem to feel generally positive about your body. If you chose mostly C answers, you owe it to yourself to make changes. Negative feelings and attitudes can interfere with your life and erode self-esteem. It's important to explore what gets in the way of accepting your body. If you chose a relatively equal mix of A, B and C answers, your body image could be improved."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

did you know?

Google Reader is a pretty cool thing. People who use it know of its coolness. What some people may not realize is that if a blogger posts something and then later decides to delete the post, it still shows up in the Reader. Thus, that blogger's readers get the special privilege of reading what the blogger decided they didn't want anyone to read. Cool, huh?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

favorite quotes from this week's Glee

It's back!

Don't bother sleeping with my husband tonight. You're already screwed.

two Cheerios, to Finn:
Let us give you an introduction into the way that we work. You buy us dinner, and we make out in front of you. It's like the best deal ever.

Did you know that dolphins are just gay sharks?

and Sue:
After offering the principal coffee, "I would have gotten you one, Will, but I don't like you."

After snipping off a boy's ponytail in the hallway, "There. You no longer confuse me with your she-male looks. I'm going to donate this to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. They can use it to plug the holes in their trailers."

I won't be burying any hatchets, William, unless I happen to get a clear shot to your groin.

I'm going to bring some Asian cookery to rub your head with, because right now you have enough product in your hair to season a wok.

You two should be wetting yourselves with shame.

I am engorged with venom. And triumph. Now get the hell out of my office.

Monday, April 12, 2010


What do you think I should call the Leah/Tristan story?

poem 4, Isabel

I heard her voice today
subdued and held in balance
just above the hum of audible conversation,
rising and falling, tonal and
incomprehensible, like overhearing the
television from the next room.
I heard her voice and involuntarily
inclined my head, straining to catch
a word, a phrase, leaning to learn
a portion of the dialogue,
though it may have been trivial.

Now flashes of her filter through my
thoughts like things stuck in cobwebs.
Vain imaginations, lined up in the
projector of my mind—moments of an
exchange, an expression, a lazy afternoon,
a disarming smile—they swim around in
my stomach, swirling and churning and taking
up all the space. Concentrating seems
absurd, focusing ineffectual.

In manageable distraction I exist
in a wavering place, forced into thoughts
of action by my restlessness—for fantasies
grow old and fresh anticipation stales
without resolve. I want to hear that voice,
speaking to me. Only her unwillingness—
not my fear, nor the furious butterflies, nor
my own stubborn propriety—should deter
me from my mission. And yet her voice,
languid, floating, dreamlike in my memory...
a first time only happens once.


I love that in our culture it’s acceptable for girls to be affectionate with each other (to an extent). There are certainly limits to it, of course, and in other cultures in the world it’s even more lenient. But guys really aren’t allowed much of anything, except in the church. Or in sports. ;)

former crush

It’s interesting how you can have kind of a crush on someone, or desire their attention so badly, and then as time goes by that completely goes away, and you wonder why you ever were so interested in that pursuit in the first place. I’m not quite talking about MJ yet. I don’t know that I’m completely over her, although I do like being free of the pull. I’m talking about a friend from high school. I went and had dinner at her house on Saturday. I like her family, especially her kids. I love her laugh. I love her cooking. But I do not know what I ever thought I was going to get from that relationship. It was many years ago...maybe ten. She was kind and she encouraged my friendship; that much I remember. Maybe I was looking for a nurturer, and she can be a good one, but she’s far too needy herself to be effective.

Thursday, April 08, 2010


An interesting anonymous question popped up over on my Formspring page. It required a little research to find the answer, so I thought I'd post it.

How old were you when you discovered/decided you were gay?

I was 30. Remember that Russian duo, the two young girls that made up a band called t.A.T.u.? They made this music video for their song "Ya Soshla S Uma" ("All the Things She Said") wherein they sang dressed in school uniforms in the rain. I turned on MTV one afternoon and it happened to be playing. It was the first time I had ever seen girls kissing. I found it fascinating and disturbing at the same time. I don't know how many times I watched that video. It may be even more disturbing to me now, realizing how young those girls were...


I ate lunch in my car on Monday afternoon, after my lunch plans with a friend got hijacked. I also had a little email exchange with Arianne last night. This is the dream that ensued early this morning:

I was sitting in my car, eating crackers out of the box, waiting for something. Maybe my lunch break to be over, or school to start, or something. It seemed like I was parked outside of a school. Or the building where I worked. I used to do that when I was working temporary jobs in California. Anyway, all of a sudden, Arianne popped into my car and sat down in the passenger seat. Her face seemed really close, like she was studying me.

"It’s kind of sad, you know," she said. "You doing your own thing all the time."

I understood that maybe she was trying to tell me that I shouldn’t be alone so much. That I needed to be more social.

"Why not?" I replied. "This is what I usually do."

Then we went for a drive. She urged me to drive fast, recklessly around the corners. She held on for dear life, and we laughed. We went past schools and children walking, neighborhoods and tall trees. And soon there were dogs everywhere. At first, one or two, which doesn’t strike one as odd. In every neighborhood there’s a loose dog somewhere. But then there were more and more, and they were everywhere, and I began to be alarmed by how many there were. I thought maybe we had driven into an animal shelter compound or something. And then they were doing tricks, like standing on each others’ shoulders and balancing, like in a circus. Or a child’s book about a circus, because clearly these dogs were doing human tricks that were not possible in reality. And then, as if it could get more bizarre, there were suddenly monkeys. Chimpanzees, baboons, gorillas—all kinds of monkeys, just hanging out along the road, as if we had driven right into the middle of a zoo, where the monkeys lived out in the open, without cages.

Do you think maybe this means that my life feels a little chaotic? Maybe I don’t feel like I’m in control? That was my conclusion.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


I’m only 39, but my body is changing. Apparently this "midlife" period of time invites physical changes that I didn’t anticipate, like weight gain and slowing metabolism, making weight loss and activity a little more difficult. I hear of people close to the end of their lives—80, 90 years old—running marathons, playing sports, active and energetic, and I can’t imagine how they do it. I should be able to do so much more. But I’m feeling discouraged.

One of my friends went to this doctor (a nurse practitioner, really) and discovered that her body is vitamin D deficient and insulin resistant, and now she’s taking medication to correct that and she’s losing weight. But she’s active, and she’s younger than I am. She goes to the gym twice a day and participates in bike races. Where does she find the energy, the motivation? This practitioner suggested that my problem is more likely my diet, and my age. Supposedly it’s normal to gain some weight and slow down a bit, and no matter how much I resist it, there it is, happening with or without my consent. It was depressing news for me. She took some blood anyway, just to run tests that might indicate anything else that could be wrong, but I think she’s right. I’m very healthy. I don’t have anything seriously wrong with me.

There are books that would suggest that my attitude should change as my body changes, to be more accepting and resilient. People have always told me I look young. They can’t believe I’m almost 40 years old. And in my mind I still feel like I’m in my 20s. But maybe it’s time to wake up to reality and accept my losses. (All quotes below come from Change Your Mind, Change Your Body: Feeling Good About Your Body and Self After 40, by Ann Kearney-Cooke and Florence Isaacs.)

Loss of youthful appearance. "The former prom queen has more to lose than the wallflower." My youthful appearance is on its way out. My hair is graying and there are wrinkles around my eyes. I was no prom queen, but such things can only be covered up or denied for so long. "Negative feelings about your body affect your moods, your eating habits, your sex life, and your relationships. That's why it's important to develop many sources of self-esteem, such as close relationships with others or involvement in meaningful work..." I admit to having negative feelings about my body. Especially lately.

Loss of energy. I’ve mentioned it before. I get tired faster. I feel older. I expect myself to be able to do things I used to do, like hop on a bicycle and ride around, climb stairs without feeling out of breath, or hike up a mountain trail, and I can’t do it like I used to. It’s frustrating.

Loss of parent independence. I may have usually felt more like a mother to my mother than a daughter, but it’s truer now than it ever was before. My mother no longer has a husband to lean on, and she’s taken to leaning on me. She has doctors and therapists and case workers, but she asks a lot more of me than she used to. That’s how it goes. She can’t do as much for herself. I can either resent it, like I have the majority of my life, or accept it and do the best I can.

Loss of opportunities. When I was young, I always thought I’d be a good mother. I wanted to be a mother, to prove to myself that I was right. I wanted the opportunity to launch some great, well-adjusted citizens into the world. I don’t know what kind of mother I would have been, exactly, but I’m not as confident about my abilities as I once was, now that I’ve watched my sister raise her kids and I know how difficult it is. But I still might have liked the chance, and I didn’t get it. And though it’s technically not too late, and that window of opportunity isn’t completely closed, I still feel like I’m not going to have that experience, and maybe I need to bid it farewell. Because even if I got married tomorrow and gave birth to a baby within a year, it would be exhausting. I don’t know how women do that in their 40s. I don’t know that I would want to do it now. I do feel fortunate to have been able to live with my family these last five or so years, because I have been able to almost feel what it’s like to be a parent, and feel the unconditional love of children. People assume that it’s a sacrifice for me, but it’s been a blessing in my life.

Loss of security. When you’re young you don’t think about retirement. People talk to you about investing and saving money, and you do it because your company matches your retirement contribution, or whatever. You do it because it’s the wise thing to do. But you really don’t think a lot about that time in your life when you might be unable to work anymore. Sometimes, now, I worry about it. The economy hasn’t been kind to my retirement savings, and I haven’t been able to contribute to it for several years. I’ve been too distracted by my debt and contributing to that. Now that I’m getting more serious about dissolving the debt, I should probably be thinking about savings too. Or I could end up like my mother and a lot of other Americans guilty of poor planning, living on Social Security. Our nation is so in debt now that even Social Security isn’t something one can rely on.

Apparently I have some losses to mourn. I also have noticed that I compare myself to others. Like Tiburon, the exercise nazi. I just don’t want to work as hard as she does. Or MJ, whose flat, lean and firm abdomen is 16 years younger than mine. She works at it a lot harder than I ever wanted to. Or my mother, who I hope I don’t ever look like. "...define your success by self improvement instead of triumph over others. Good feelings don't have to come from 'I exercise more than my neighbor next door.' They can come from goals that are important to you and which you are setting and meeting. Channel competitive feelings, which we all have at times, into being the best you can be, whatever the endeavor—which is different from being better than someone else. Stop comparing yourself, because that leads to body hatred."

So maybe it’s time to get some new clothes and stop stressing about this weight gain, and focus instead on the underlying source(s) of my distress. "You have thirty or forty years ahead of you. Are you going to spend them worrying about the last ten pounds? Or are you going to grow up, learn from your failures instead of being demoralized by them, and use your considerable strengths?" Well said.


When I was young, I had older brothers. I can say that in past tense because I don't have them anymore. They were step-brothers, and they pretty much left my life when their dad did. That was dad #2. Anyway, I physically wanted to be like them. I wanted to play basketball and baseball and football and soccer like they did, and I tried. I didn't want to be like them, because they were not very smart, and not very good, and they didn't do so well in school, and got in trouble a lot. I excelled where they didn't, and that was acceptable to me. But for some reason, I wanted to be more masculine. I imagine that because I tried to emulate their athletic skills, I probably also tried to walk and talk like they did too. Later, I wished I hadn't gone that far. I've had to work on redefining the walk and the talk.

I have come to terms with the fact that I am female and will always be female and have a female body, and that's okay with me. (Except for days like today, when I have cramps.)

But sometimes, when I look at men's clothing in all the catalogs that arrive in my mailbox, I think to myself, "If I had a man's body, I would rock that shirt."