Happy Valentine’s Day, Baby!

So, on Valentine’s Day, I had the headache from hell and walked to Rite-Aid from work so I could take something. I figured with the pain and light sensitivity, walking was better than driving. As I’m walking out of Rite-Aid with my Tylenol Cold & Sinus in hand, a guy standing on the other side of the sidewalk with a couple other guys calls out “Happy Valentine’s Day, Baby!” I smile, reply “Hey, happy Valentine’s Day,” while continuing on my way. He asks for my number. Still smiling, I shake my head and continue. “Do you want mine?” “Sorry, married.” He laughs. “Keep walking, girl. Homey don’t play that.” He wishes me a happy valentine’s day again, I do the same, and off I go, laughing.

From that, we learn that it’s possible to hit on random women without being a jerk about it. Not for a moment did I feel violated, creeped out, or threatened. (The whole actually taking “no” for an answer helped, of course, and his tone read to me much more as “random friendliness” than “creepy and intimidating.”)

Randomly being hit on when I’m out walking has happened to me maybe four times in my life, and I always find it weird. Partly because I’m used to thinking of myself as the fat chick nobody wants to look at, much less date. Ironically, I felt this way most when I was a size 14 or 16, ie, not all that fat. But, well, high school sucked, and having friends and dating in college didn’t exactly resolve those self-esteem issues.

But anyway, even moreso now that I’m really truly fat, I always think “Is random person hitting on me because he thinks I’m cute, or because he sees a fat chick and figures I have no self-esteem and am easy?” Or as a joke, like the [seventeen expletives] guy who asked me to dance in high school, on a fricking bet. Thanks, dude. Not that it should matter, because random guy’s opinion is totally irrelevant, but it does a little bit. Partly because it brings back memories of junior high school, where saying “You have a crush on Kelly” was an insult of epic proportions. And partly because of just general insecurity.

So, yeah, simple interactions become overly complicated in my head, because I’m always wondering. I do like Michelle‘s advice to stay out of other people’s heads–what people think about you isn’t your business until they choose to make it your business, and it really isn’t your problem either.

I’ve also determined that in general, what random “can I have your number?” guy is thinking when they say something to me doesn’t matter. If they think I’m cute, hey, random compliments are always good. If they assume fat chick = easy, well, not only are they wrong, but they’re not getting laid as a result of this encounter, while I get to go home to my sexy husband. Win for me. And if it’s a joke on me, I still win by not being hurt. (If they’re creepy and obnoxious about it, I may be pissed off, but that’s a whole different thing. And that doesn’t touch my self-esteem, it just brings out my inner bitch, and I probably go blog or LJ post about what a creepy jerk they guy was.)

Success Tastes Chocolatey

Tonight I made a special Valentine’s Day dinner for my husband, and I tried the chocolate cream pie again, bound and determined to get it right after the previous disaster. And it worked!

Turns out I hadn’t cooked it near long enough. The directions say to add the butter and chocolate last, and cook til the chocolate is melted. Well, at a quick glance, the chocolate looks melted almost immediately, but when you look closely, you see small individual pieces of chocolate not fully dissolved. My first chocolate cream pie came out too liquidy and never set because I took it off the heat at that stage. This time (on the advice of my husband, who kicks butt at cooking), I waited until the mixture had noticeably thickened. It seems to take forever, and then it’s a very sudden change, from a thin liquid to a soft pudding, just like that. I think that’s also the point where the chocolate fully melts. And, if you want to go by temperature, it happens right around 180 degrees.

The rest of the dinner was also yummy–lamb chops with an herb pan sauce (I used parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme, with a spiced wine as the liquid, and a bit of white wine vinegar), rosemary and olive oil roasted potatoes, and green beans with almonds.

Everything but the potatoes and the beans were straight out of The Joy of Cooking. If you like to cook, or want to like to cook, or just want to maybe attempt cooking, and don’t own this book, I can’t recommend it highly enough. The potatoes came from a Food Network recipe. The idea of doing lamb started there as well, but since I couldn’t find rack of lamb, only chops, I went with the Joy of Cooking sauteed lamb chops recipe.

Skinny People Who Need to Shush*

So, I mentioned Debra’s Just Maintaining to someone I know, talking about the intense exercise regiment she goes through every day to maintain her weight. She gets up at 4:30 in the morning to work out hard and fast, doing almost an hour of aerobics with 20-30 pounds of weight. (I think I actually misquoted how much she works out.) He said, “You know how else she could keep weight off? Stop eating so much.” I think my jaw may actually have dropped. If you read the blog, you know she eats 1600-2000 calories a day, carefully portioned out and strictly measured. This is the number she’s tweaked deliberately to make sure she doesn’t get so hungry that she feels the need to binge, or so full that her body has a chance to create fat stores. She describes it as “spend[ing] the day ice skating on a single blade at the edge of hunger.” Stop eating “so much” indeed.

But this guy is naturally very thin. He’s one of those people that it’s easy to be jealous of if you’re not happy with your own body, because he’s built like a runner and yet seems to eat everything in sight. It’s easy to assume sometimes that your body works the way everyone else’s does, that if you can eat 2500 or 2800 calories in a day and be skinny, that a fat person must eat much more than that. If he spends an afternoon at my house and drinks two full-sugar sodas, he probably thinks I drink four or five a day. (I might drink one in a day, and only if I’ve run out of diet, or at least caffeine-free diet like Sierra Mist or Slice.)

This is why when people honestly describe what they eat, they aren’t believed. The doctor or nutritionist or random internet know-it-all may be judging based on their own body, not realizing or accepting that bodies are different. The people preaching “calories in, calories out” ignore a zillion variables to make that seem like a simple equation. How many calories does your body actually wring out of the food it takes in? What’s your body temperature and energy level? And at what point does your body go into a panicked starvation state and start burning muscle for energy? It’s not anywhere near as simple as it looks.

*This is not in any way meant to rag on skinny people in general, just on a particular behavior I’ve seen from some people.

How I became pro-choice, part 2 of ?

Things are still going on with HR3 (they dropped the bit about “forcible” rape and left all the other badness intact) and HR 358 is even worse. HR 358 protects doctors who don’t want to perform abortions (yet decided that obstetrics was a good career choice anyway), if they decide to let a woman suffer serious complications or die. You know, in any other field, when people are injured or die because you chose not to do your job, you get fired or sued, probably both. But doctors, who take a fricking *oath* to help people, somehow get a free pass when they choose not to do that. And in cases where the choice is abort the fetus or let the mother and the fetus both die, somehow two deaths are seen as the “moral” choice. Like the hospital that lost its Catholic status and had the nun who heads its ethics committee excommunicated because they saved the life of a woman who was 11 weeks pregnant. On what magical sci-fi planet are these church leaders living that they think an 11-week fetus is going to survive the death of the mother, or that someone too sick to be moved to another hospital is going to somehow make it another couple months so the fetus has a (slim) shot?

So, because of this, I wanted to link a couple really good posts on the subject and also talk about my own pro-choiceness.

One of the things that made it clear to me that women need to be able to end pregnancies was when I actually started getting treatment for my anxiety. Lexapro has been a godsend for me. I still have the occasional panic attack, but the general inclination to worry obsessively about everything ever has subsided. And usually I have enough time before full-out crying and hyperventillating meltdown to notice what’s happening, step back, and do some sort of relaxation exercise to prevent a full scale panic episode. Which is really nice, because they suck.

So, what does this have to do with abortion? Well, Lexapro causes birth defects. So I’m really really not supposed to get pregnant. When the husband and I decide we’re ready to reproduce, I’ll wean off the Lexapro gradually before going off birth control.

This was the first time that I had an inkling of how, even married and with a good job, pregnancy could be a really problematic condition. I coped with anxiety most of my life without pharmaceutical help; I could probably do it again if I absolutely had to. It’s kind of a scary thought, and it’s one of the reasons that the hubby and I have put off the kid thing for so long. But learning about mental illness also helped me understand that the crossed wires in my head are *mild* compared to what a lot of people deal with. I’ve never wanted to kill myself. I don’t have panic attacks for no reason, or ones that I don’t fully recover from for days. Plenty of people have those issues. For plenty of women, an unintended pregnancy would mean they have to choose between going off sanity-restoring meds or risking serious birth defects. Or, ending the pregnancy.

I know that if you believe completely that human life begins the instant egg meets sperm, this seems a little “off.” Better to risk birth defects than to kill the kid outright, right? But the thing is, that’s just it, a belief. There’s no way to prove it, no way to measure when a soul comes into being. Someone who believes that might well decide to go off the meds to protect the kid, or to take their chances with the meds. But to require someone who doesn’t believe that to go through a pregnancy that’s deeply damaging to her mental health, based on something you can’t prove–that’s wrong.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to believe that life begins at conception. I also don’t think it’s unreasonable to define the start point as quickening, or viability, or any number of other possibilities. What’s unreasonable is to force others to adhere to the most extreme definition, without any regard for their own physical or mental well-being.

Even if a fetus–or an embryo–is a person, it’s worth pointing out that a pregnant woman is a person too.

On a happier note…

Today was my first class at the new yoga studio, and it was fabulous. Very knowledgeable, helpful teacher, good about going around to each student to make sure we’re doing the poses right and suggest modifications. My legs feel like jello right about now, but not in a bad way. They offer bellydance too. I’m not sure the ankle’s up for that, but I can give it a try. I may check out their “all the classes you want for a month” payment option so that if I go to the bellydance class and have to bail after 20 minutes or something, it’s not a waste of money.

I also did some stretching and ab stuff yesterday, which made the sciatic pain a lot better. Yesterday was a really unhappy day painwise, between lots of time in the car and getting busy enough at work to forget to take stretch breaks. Today, though, I’m feeling much better!

Insurance Companies are Evil

A friend of mine just got a letter from her insurance company that their independent review board has decided she’s not actually married to her husband and isn’t eligible for coverage. Coincidentally, this comes the night before she has an appointment (finally!) at a highly regarded diabetes center. The documentation they require for the re-review is also insane. Not only a marriage certificate and her social security, but two years tax returns and utilities with both their names. I’ve been married for near five years and I don’t think we have utilities in both our names. (It’s sort of a weird mishmash–some in mine, some in his, based only on who called to set stuff up.) And married couples are allowed to file taxes separately if they want.

I believe that this was the legitimate result of an independent review–and not a decision that a diabetic who needs a knee replacement is too expensive and making up a reason not to pay for her care would be cost-effective–about as much as I believe in Santa Claus.

But isn’t it great that we don’t have that awful socialized medicine?

Willpower is not all it’s cracked up to be.

So, I’ve been wanting to exercise more, but foot/ankle issues have made that tricky. I’d really like to swim, but there are two places to swim near me. One has highly inconvenient hours. (Early morning and afternoon only during the week, with a couple 8 PM to 9:30 weeknights, and then Saturday and Sunday afternoons.) The other is only sort of indoors. That is, they have an inflatable roof/walls that goes on in the winter. I was baptized there a few years back, in the early spring, and I remember it being ridiculously cold.

With that, I found myself wishing I had the willpower to just deal with the cold, or to drag myself out really early, swim, and work late because I started later than my usual eight or eight-thirty. Realistically, though, I just don’t see that happening.

But when I feel like a ridiculous slacker for not being willing to just “toughen up” and “make the sacrifice,” I remember that willpower is kind of a two-edged sword. Basically, willpower is what allows you to ignore your body’s signals that something is wrong–pain, hunger, thirst, exhaustion, discomfort. There are times when it’s necessary to ignore those things, but it also needs to be worth the price. Whether swimming would be for me, in terms of ankle-friendly cardio, I’m not sure. But when I think of ignoring ankle pain because I “have to” exercise or ignoring hunger because I “have to” lose weight, I’m glad my willpower isn’t infinite. Had I had “more willpower” when I was dieting, I could have screwed myself up pretty badly.