Thursday, December 29, 2005

Probably Temporary Breakthrough and Fake Mayo Evaluation

I'm on vacation from work this week and had decided to see six movies. So far I've seen The Dying Gaul (very good, but wrecked the rest of my day), Rumor Has It (because I love Mark Ruffalo) and Brokeback Mountain (wonderful; heartbreaking). Yet to come: Mrs. Henderson Presents, Transamerica, and Breakfast on Pluto.

I spoke to P. on the phone earlier this week, because I don't have the nerve not to call him at all, and, having elicited the information that I was off work this week, he asked if maybe we could do something. I said I thought not, but then I decided that I could drag him along to one movie; he likes Shirley MacLaine, so I took him to Rumor Has It.

I had come to feel so resentful of him that I could barely look at him. There were probably entire outings where I never once really took him in. That kind of aversion doesn't feel very good, so I made it a goal this week just to see him, if nothing else, and that seemed to have the paradoxical effect of putting my focus more on my own internal experience, and he seemed much less annoying. He was doing all the same stuff, but instead of getting wound up thinking that he was driving me crazy, I just felt, "Okay, here we are. He looks this way at this moment, he's doing such-and-such a thing, I'm sitting here on this bench."

When we were waiting for the cab, I noticed a glistening mound of spit on the sidewalk and cautioned him not to step in it, whereupon he stood up and walked right over to it and then obediently minced carefully over it. Then he turned around and did the same thing in the other direction.

After our outing, we were talking on the phone and he mentioned that I should probably marry him soon, as his money will probably last for only another couple of years. I suggested that he marry Marina, a woman in his house. He said plaintively, "But I want to marry you." I said, "Why do you want to marry someone who's so grumpy and angry?" He said, "You're beautiful." That had a rather softening effect on me, even if it was purely strategic.

Fake Mayo Evaluation

I've concluded that for tuna salad, Nayonaise is best; for egg salad, Lemonaise is best; and for sandwiches, Spectrum Organic Eggless Vegan Light Mayo is best. I've found that one of those citrus-fruit zesters that looks like a file is a handy thing for making egg salad with, using a pre-hard-boiled egg from the fridge. It's better to use the zester crosswise on the egg rather than going the long way, because the latter produces long strings of egg that are like having hairs in your mouth.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Volvos and Putty Knives

This morning I was riding my bike down 19th St. toward Valencia when I came upon a large truck stopped on the right side of the road, leaving just one lane open, which I entered with confidence, as there was no one coming toward me. When I was halfway or so through the constricted area, a Volvo entered it from the other side. Since I was already occupying the stretch of road that was wide enough for only one vehicle, I kept going. So did the Volvo. I suppose the driver was thinking, "Why would this be dangerous? I'm in a Volvo!" I kept going and at the last possible moment, the Volvo paused to let me by. I just realized I didn't even bother to give the driver a stern look.

This reminded me that yesterday, on Market Street, I saw a Volvo sedan coming perilously close to cyclists, not speeding, but passing with just inches to spare. It was a wet day and had any cyclist slipped, he or she could have been hurt, as I noticed every one of them had forgotten to put on a nice, safe Volvo. In years past, I might have pulled up to the driver's window, tapped on the glass and given him a brief course in safe driving, but instead when I found myself next to the car, I merely peered in and took a look at him. I'm always curious to see who these people are who are so oblivious to the presence and safety of those around them; also, I thought it would be handy in case I ever had to identify him in court.

As for the putty knives, I have to move to a new cube at work. I don't know what the previous occupant used to do in there, but there was some stuff crusted on the flat surfaces that yielded not to a wet paper towel and reasonable amount of scrubbing, so today I brought in a putty knife for scraping and that did the trick. Three of my coworkers are moving to the same area, but they haven't started cleaning yet. I thought it was just as well to do the putty-knife thing before they arrived, as once I was trying to remove the hairs and dust and other unsavory bits of debris from a computer keyboard by turning it upside down and banging on it, and a coworker came over and said, "I think I hear an OCD episode in progress."

Photo of Me in 1965

Monday, December 19, 2005

Solid Gold Lettuce?

I went into Whole Foods earlier today to get some crackers, as I was passing by there on the way to the bike shop, and found myself in line behind a woman who was buying just a few items, including a small package of smoked fish and a salad in a clear plastic container. I wished I'd taken a better look at her items before they were bagged when I heard the clerk tell her her total was $120!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Note to Friend

It sounds like you can well handle things if people get out of line. And, statistically speaking, a 20-year-old might attract more boundary-crossing sex-related remarks than a 63-year-old, but I personally like to think that sexual attraction is about chemistry and that it's a mysterious thing that can happen between any two people. I like to think there are people of every age out there having wonderful sexual relationships if that's what makes them happy. So I can't really say, "Yeah, don't worry about that--you're too old," but I can definitely say, "I know that you can choose what you want in your life and also banish what you don't want with ease and finesse."

Friday, December 16, 2005


BBT: Bad Body Thought. Example: "Ugh, look at my fat thighs." The suggested remedy is decoding; see below.

Demand feeding: Feeding ourselves as we would an infant. That is, feeding ourselves when we are hungry, giving ourselves the food that is the best match for our hunger, and stopping when we are no longer hungry. The idea here is that chronic dieting has severed the relationship between food and physical hunger; demand feeding seeks to restore that relationship.

Decoding: After enough negative focus on our bodies, we become accustomed to blaming everything on them and expressing our anxieties via criticisms of our size or shape or what we ate. After a while, we ourselves aren't aware that Fat Language is concealing our true concerns. When we notice that we are having a BBT, we can apologize to ourselves, and ask who says? Who says the only good kind of belly is a flat one? Who says smaller is more lovable than bigger? Is a small cat more lovable than a big one? Is a small tree more beautiful than a big one? Finally, we can use the very language of the BBT to figure out what is really on our minds. "My belly sticks out too far" might just mean "I really stood out in the meeting at work this morning when I said what I thought we should do." Maybe we fear that we are sticking out; maybe it has nothing to do with our bodies.

FFF: Formerly forbidden food--food that was forbidden when one was dieting.

Glitter: The allure of an enticing still-sort-of-forbidden food.

IC, or Inner Caretaker: A kindly aspect of our own psyches that can provide attuned care and comforting as we develop our relationship with him/her/it.

Legalizing: Making all foods legal, none forbidden, with a carrot having the same moral weight as a piece of chocolate cake. Best achieved through reminding ourselves that no food is forbidden any longer, and through stocking up.

Matching: Figuring out what food is the best match for SH. This can be done by picturing how different foods will feel in your stomach, or imagining how you'll feel after eating certain foods.

MH: Mouth hunger, or non-physical (emotional) hunger for food.

OO: Short for Overcoming Overeating.

Overcoming Overeating: A no-diet approach to ending obsession with food and weight described by Jane R. Hirschmann and Carol H. Munter in their books Overcoming Overeating and When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies. If you are only going to read one, read the latter.

SH: Stomach hunger: actual, physical hunger for food. Carol and Jane say that when we eat from SH, we demonstrate to ourselves that an attuned caretaker is on the job; enough instances of feeding from SH and we will become calm enough to sit with our feelings and think about the best ways to handle our real problems.

Stocking up: Buying three times as much of an FFF as you could possibly eat in one day, and when your supplies drop to half that, buying more. So if you could eat two gallons of ice cream in a day if you put your mind to it, buy six. And when you're down to three, go restock.

Thin fantasy: A tool for uncovering anxiety about possibly becoming smaller through demand feeding. To do the thin fantasy, picture yourself becoming physically smaller. Notice the situation and if there is anything worrisome or difficult about it. Consider whether you had the same problem in your childhood, and how your IC might help you with that problem now.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

A Break

I did it. I called P. and told him I needed a break. His reaction was somewhat panicked: How long will the break be? Do you still love me? I hope the break only lasts two weeks! And somewhat manipulative: I tried to do everything right!

It didn't seem fair to leave him with the impression that he'd blown it, so I spent some time with him on the phone assuring him that it's not a question of wrong and right, and that I know his intentions are always good. He and I have been friends for 15 or so years, and got along beautifully all the years when we just talked now and then on the phone. Then he had a heart attack and a stroke and was moved to an old folks' home near where I live. I was horrified at all he'd lost, including his primary relationship and even his cat, and, about a year ago, began spending way too much time with him, trying, fruitlessly, to assuage his anxiety and have a bit of fun. And at first we did have fun, but then it became a morass of anxiety and need, on his part, and resentment and obligation, on my part. (Before it became awful, he made an enormous number of hilarious remarks that perhaps I'll post here.)

So I was talking to him about needing a break and reassuring him as best I could (probably to zero effect, ultimately) and then I suddenly realized that I was starting to feel really lousy. "You are a bad person," something in my head was saying to me. "For shame! Abandoning this poor old man." (He does have other friends, and relatives who are very devoted.) And then I realized it was time to get off the phone before I felt like jumping off the bridge, so I gently said I had to go.

Now I see the trick is going to be actually taking the break, now that I've announced it, because I do feel guilty, and can picture myself running over there soon to have another dispiriting outing.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Diet Mentality

I had a fairly lousy weekend. I did my grocery shopping on Saturday morning and came home with four large cookies and a bag of potato chips that I hadn't tried before, among other things. These days, four cookies can last for a month (I cut them into smaller pieces and put them in the freezer), but on Saturday I ate all the cookies and all the chips, and then instead of doing whatever I was going to do, I just got back in bed (and maybe the eating, as often is the case, was a way of giving myself permission to not do what was on my list).

The next day, I saw my taxing friend P. On my way to his house, I got a dreadful bloody nose, and then our time together was horrible and stressful (complete with crying and suicide threats--his, not mine), and on the way home, I had an eating tour of my neighborhood: I walked to the place that has the fantastic peanut butter cookies and got two so I could eat them while I made my way to the burrito place. At the burrito place I got chips, which I don't usually do, so I'd have something to eat while I walked home, where I could eat my burrito.

Then I spent another some hours in bed. Fortunately, I was able to get up Sunday night and do my cooking for the week. I chopped veggies and washed apples and made rice and beans and vegan lemon-poppyseed cake (very tasty) and tuna salad. (Yes, I know--vegans don't eat tuna.) On Monday night, I made a vegan baked pasta roll, and then the house was absolutely full of beautiful, tasty, fresh-cooked food.

As for the weekend's overeating, I figured out (again) that I was turning demand feeding into a diet and was trying, and of course failing, to stay on a diet, in effect. It's proven to be quite tricky for me to nudge myself toward demand feeding without feeling that I'm bad if I eat from MH, even though I know rationally that MH is totally fine. I think the key possibly is in the self-care angle: demand feeding is fantastic self-care; MH may also be self-care, depending on what's going on (or, at least, it may be the best I can do); and certainly being kind to myself no matter what is good self-care. Now I'm treating any thought that I should be doing better with my demand feeding as a BBT and aplogizing and asking "Who says?" and so forth.

But I also realized that if I'd brought home 20 bags of potato chips, I might not have eaten a whole bag (or I still might have). I think part of it is that I already did the thing where you buy 20 bags of potato chips, for years. I really did. I had shopping bags full of bags of potato chips. Part of me is resisting being back there, but if massive stocking up is needed, then so be it. As it happens, the chips weren't that great. But my shopping list for this weekend calls for 10 of one kind of cookie and 10 of the other (usually that's about all the store has), and as they won't fit in the freezer, I'm going to cheerfully let them go stale on the counter (or eat them), and do the same thing every week for a while.