Monday, June 22, 2020

Surrogate Gardens

We’ve been quarantining now since mid-March. We’re tired of being more or less shut in, we’re sad and upset about the ongoing racism that’s led us to this moment of social upheaval, and -45 is STILL president, dammit. (SERIOUSLY, what would he have to DO that he hasn't already DONE?!?). 

Here at home, it’s a miracle we haven’t set the place ablaze or tripped each other down the stairs. There is such a thing as too much togetherness, and I swear our kitchen is shrinking a little bit every day. We're each spending waaaay more time (but not at the SAME time) on the porch or in the back yard...

"Feed me, Seymour." --Bleeding Heart Bushes

Ray...are you in there?

I think one reason we’re still able to occupy the same space is that we’re taking it out on the gardens—all this pent up frustration about social distancing, the lack of life-giving and brain-stimulating human physical contact (HPC) except for one’s quarantine “family,” and our thwarted genetically-nomadic desire to travel—it’s all being channeled into gardens. This is how it’s manifesting here at Uncannery Re-Row:

1.     PPC. We have crammed into a relatively tiny garden space tomatoes (enough to supply a canning factory), a variety of peppers, a wall of cucumbers, greens, watermelon, and six kinds of herbs. That’s on ONE end. On the other end are salvia, iris, columbine, bergenia, and a hydrangea bush that knows no boundaries. On the side of the garden are daylilies and two bleeding heart shrubs so huge they will demand human blood soon. Our garden plants are surrogates. Plant physical contact. PPC.
2.     Travel. We can’t go anywhere, but our gardens can represent. This year we planted a peach tree (Colorado); our back fence is lined with hollyhocks (the past, my grandma); we planted honeysuckle vines (the south); I potted up and set out several cactus gardens (southwest); and we planted some heirloom vegetable varieties (exotic destinations). We also dug and planted a new garden this year, a prairie butterfly/hummingbird garden (staycation).
3.     Social Distancing. In the garden at least, we rebel, we defy this. Plants that started two feet apart are now elbow to elbow and, in some cases, overlapping. They do not wear masks. They breathe right on each other. They sing if they feel like it.

Our weather has been strange and strangely beneficial for our “venting gardens;” we had a round of baking summer, with temps in the upper 90’s, during which we had to water every day. And now we’re having a lovely spring, with several days of rain showers and a thunderstorm here & there. In the past 3 days of rain, the cucumber vines have grown 6 feet. I think they strangled the neighbor’s cat. Soon we’ll have a rainforest, so if you don’t hear from us for a while, we’re probably just whizzing along on our ecotourist [tomato] canopy zip line…

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

The Skinny on FATNESS

We’re coming up on 3 months of “stay at home” and social distancing. We’re in our 9th day of protests across the country over the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer and three other officers who either helped kill him or did nothing to stop it, and over America’s historic and current systemic racism. In two weeks or so we are likely to see spikes in Covid infections among the hundreds of thousands of protestors, some masked, some not, most not practicing social distancing. Hurricane season just started and it’s predicted to be a rough one. -45 is still president. I. CAN’T. EVEN.

I ate this teenager.

So let’s talk about fat. I’m a fat girl. I was a petite thing once; in junior high, I remember weighing in at 73 lbs, and I thought—even then—I was enormous. Somewhere, somehow, in that age of Twiggy (Google her, kids), the distortion and fat shame was already gurgling in my pubescent brain.

The men in my family are mostly tall and thinnish. The (1) women in my family are all roundish and overweight. But I managed to stay pretty trim until (2) childbearing began and the true tyrants of human life--HORMONES--kicked it into high gear. With each of three pregnancies, I packed on more weight I couldn’t lose. Then came perimenopause, which I call The Dark Years. I experienced, like many women, irregular periods that were often extremely heavy. I was prescribed (3) bioidentical HORMONES to control the excessive bleeding. I packed on more weight, and they made the flooding so much worse that one weekend I turned even whiter than I already am, and I was too faint to get up. I called the doc, who said to double the dosage and call her on Monday. I said I’d be dead by Monday and hung up on her. I stopped the HORMONES immediately. Shortly after, I was diagnosed with (4) depression
(12) How I got fat?
For the next few years, the weight steadily increased. Then true menopause. The depression got worse. (5) My activity level bottomed out. More weight gain.

Then I had (6) a right Pons stroke at age 56. Docs never really know the cause, no matter what they tell you, but it was probably a combo of stress (both at work, and home trying to deal with the depression), high cholesterol, and smoking—a trifecta. The stroke recovery took about two years and left me with a draggy left foot, no balance, and chronic daily fatigue. So I didn’t get much regular exercise while I was re-learning stair climbing and shirt buttoning. I was also put on (7) antidepressants after the stroke, which were a miracle for me but which often cause…you guessed it…weight gain. Also, the less you move, the slower your (8) metabolism, and the more weight you gain.

Two miles of blissful torture.
I’m 63 now (everyone knows (9) it’s harder to lose weight the older you get), and 5’4” with red hair, so I look like a little fat milkmaid. I’ve been on EVERY DIET KNOWN TO HUMANKIND. For days, for weeks, for years: fasting (starvation), macrobiotic, keto, Whole 30, Noom, Medifast, Profile, Weight Watchers, vegetarian. I’ve eaten cabbage soup till my pee turned green. I once lived for a couple months on rice and soybean sprouts.

I don’t work out, but I move pretty constantly—walking across campus, climbing two flights of stairs in our house several times a day, shopping, etc. I try to break a sweat every day. I track, and log, and journal, and own seven kinds of fitness trackers.

My latest attempt to lose weight (and get back some strength and balance) is the “Eat Like a Bear” (ELAB) 23/1 plan: I fast for 23 hours a day, and eat very low carb for 1 hour, mostly something called the “Ridiculously Big Salad” or RBS, a gigantic bowl of vegetables with 6 oz. of protein. You laugh, but this is the kind of self-flagellating fat people do. In addition, I’ve been walking at least two miles a day. After two weeks of sweat-walking and a week of ELAB, I’VE LOST 5 LBS. Only five fecking pounds, and any serial dieter will tell you that’s probably all water.

I know that not every fat person has a spiraling, compounding vortex of predicaments like this, but ALL WEIGHT GAIN IS COMPLICATED. There are LOTS of reasons people get fat. I have a friend who attributes her weight to the (10) sexual abuse she suffered throughout childhood, and to a desire to be undesirable. How do you tackle THAT with Nutrisystem or Noom?!?

Here’s my bottom line: If you are one of those skinny, perfect-weight, easy-losers or never-gainers who keep saying “you have to try harder,” “you should run,” “simple—burn more calories than you eat,” “have you tried the celery and iced tea diet?” or any of the other “helpful” advice I’ve been hearing all my adult life, or you’re one of the people who tells me, “I keep losing and I’m not even trying,” or “I just forget to eat,” my answer is, in my sweetest little milkmaid voice, ALL OF YOU CAN SHUT THE F*%K UP BEFORE I EAT YOU.