Not Lost, Just Buried

In case you’ve been on an island in the middle of the Pacific, you may have heard that the Northeast has gotten a little snow.  Over and over and over, usually on Tuesday, Wednesday and/or Thursday.  It started with 16″ of snow over Christmas but that was just a taste of January, which has been the snowiest month on record here in Connecticut.

Two weeks ago we got 25″ of snow in one storm on top of what was already on the ground.  Last week got another 18″ of snow with ice and sleet just for fun.  This coming week we’re expecting 4-6″ (such a piddly amount)  on Tuesday followed by hammering snow and ice on Wednesday.  FYI, it’s hard to shovel snow after it turns into solid blocks of ice.

No one knows what to do with all the snow we already have.  Our streets aren’t all that wide on a dry day and with every storm, snow piles up on existing snow and the plows box in snow-crusted cars already feet away from the curb.   That’s assuming that the plows come by at all.  The roads, while driveable, are down to single lanes in some places, or at least 2 lanes instead of 4, which keeps everyone on their toes.  Makes me grateful to have a little red car that’s easy to see against the snow piles, but that’s assuming the other drivers remember to look. Parking lots are equally a mess.  There’s simply nowhere to PUT this stuff.

Now don’t get me wrong:  snow shoveling is excellent cardio work, and I’ve done a lot of it in the last few weeks.  We do community shoveling, working together with all kinds of shovels to dig out each others cars.  One neighbor has a broken foot and another is 95 with macular degeneration and a 68 year old caretaker, so taking care of their cars is also a priority.

I’m getting terribly behind at work.  Although I can do some things from home, I can’t uncrate and process shipments of books, sign invoices, meet with selectors about new orders, etc.  I have to be there.  But I’m also a wimpette when it comes to winter driving.  Or rather, I know my limits and what things are problems, such as hills.  I’m willing to take a vacation day to avoid driving in snowy conditions but some of the support staff are low on time to use which puts them in a bind.

When the snow is falling this week, I plan to keep myself safe and dry.  I have plenty of food for my yogurt/fruit breakfasts and portion controlled dinners in the freezer (lots of chili in there), and the makings for Brunswick Stew and red beans and rice.  Or meat sauce to eat over steamed broccoli.  And plenty of cat food, of course.  I know who’s the boss of my house.

My Upstairs Neighbor: Stressed or Disturbed?

A new neighbor moved into our building just before New Year’s.   She’s divorced, half Italian and half Portuguese, with a cat and a 10 year old daughter who lives with her father.  And a broken foot.  She was taken away in an ambulance on Jan. 2 and came back with a big cast on her right foot.

Let’s face it, it’s hard to get around with a foot cast when you live upstairs and when the snow doesn’t seem to stop.   C had no phone or internet yet, since Comcast hadn’t arrived yet.  So I found myself offering to help with little things.  On the first day we emerged after the 2+ feet of snow, I took her to Walmart to get some groceries, then visited her in her apartment, met the cat, helped out a bit.

She was very emotional and demonstrative, which I attributed to her Italian/Portuguese family.  But things started to emerge that didn’t make a lot of sense and my radar was up, especially when she went back to the hospital the following week after a visit from the police & ambulance.   She had the cast redone but another neighbor and I were wondering about the loud arguing we’d heard before and then while the cops were there.

I’ve been the single woman physically limited because of surgery and knew what it was like to depend on friends and neighbors to help with things.  As a new resident, she really didn’t know anyone here – and the mounds of snow everywhere made it difficult for people to come visit.  So I picked up some groceries, came up to visit, even gave her some extra chili when my pot had enough for everyone.

But I was noticing that when she was emotional, in addition to being loud and over the top, her voice was slurring and I thought I smelled alcohol.  She talked about me as this wonderful friend who was helping her so much.  I began to resent her wanting to spend so much time – I really do relish my privacy and quiet time.  And I felt uncomfortable listening to her tell me about her family.  Every story was more over the top than the last, and she would cry at the drop of a hat.

I don’t want to enable someone in behaving in self-destructive ways.  And that’s the fine line for me:  what is helping someone who’s down, and what is enabling?

I hit my limit today.  I’d gone up in the morning to feed her cat while she was with her family (her uncle is dying of leukemia), and this evening I got a call from a friend of hers that I met the other day, asking if I could come up and help comfort C.  My first reaction was to roll my eyes and wonder was up with her NOW.  When I got there, she was dressed in a satin sleep shirt, and was bewailing how no one in her family loved her, how she couldn’t trust anyone, how much she hated the cast, that she’d moved here for a fresh start and everything was horrible, etc.

Her friend met my eyes, and we both clearly knew this wasn’t good.  She was also glaring at us to not call the police and send her to the hospital – which is exactly where I thought she needed to be.  He got out in the hall and called 911, and she followed him out crying, “please don’t leave me.” When she figured out he had called them, she threw us out.  I was happy to go, even though I felt slightly guilty for not staying to try to help.  But I knew it was beyond me and I didn’t want to get sucked into something I couldn’t handle.

When the cops came, I met them at the door and explained what had happened before they went up to her apartment, and when they left, they told me that she was going to bed and in their evaluation, she didn’t need to go to the hospital.  That she clearly had problems but we all do.

I half expected her to come down and bang on my door yelling at me, but I guess she really did go to sleep.  Or is ignoring me.  I hope she gets some help and, selfishly, that I can have some peace.

My Head is Too Full of Words

Were you shocked by the Tucson shootings last Saturday?  I wasn’t.  I’ve been expecting some kind of violent eruption since the last election and to be honest, I thought it would be Obama who was shot first.  He’s gotten more than the usual share of death threats because he is Black, because the economy tanked and jobs lost – and because so many people are angry at the world and he is the president and epitomizes The Powers That Be.

The Tucson shootings captured and emotionally entangled me. I was obsessive in looking at more information, more analysis, more ideas to explain what I saw and heard.  It actually reminded me of my reactions to 9/11, and not in a healthy way.

All of the articles, stories, reports, videos, analysis, and prostrations didn’t help.  One article quotes another until they go in a single giant chain of links connecting one to the other.  And they didn’t change the innocent people who were dead, and the assassination attempt on Gabrielle Giffords.   The left blamed the right, the right blamed the left, and talk show hosts decried any responsibility for anything.  Sarah Palin – well, don’t get me started there.

The problem is way bigger than why that particular mentally disturbed armed man managed to kill so many people at the grocery store – and there is plenty going on with THAT that will be dissected as we move on from here, hopefully not just with one party blaming the other.

Politicians and journalists analyzed and told us every single word, phrase, action, reaction, turn of the head, tone of voice, things done and things left undone until my head was full of words swimming in a big stew.  Our country is deeply angry at just about everything and looking for people to punish, and I’m afraid there will be a lot more violence and destruction before we get to a different place.

I don’t know how to change it and find that I isolate and just take care of myself (food, exercise, sleep).  More seems too much to deal with.  It’s not depression; I know what that feels like.  It’s more like chaos that’s too big to break down into pieces small enough to grab.  Though if my congresswoman has a meet and greet event in my area, I’ll definitely be there.

And in the meantime, I shovel.  We got over 2 feet of snow today.


Obama spoke at the memorial service in Tucson not long after I wrote this, and I listened with tears in my eyes and a sense of peace and calm.  His words were Big and not Inflammatory or Partisan.  That’s what needed to be said, and what I needed to hear.  Thank you, Mr. President.

2011 Hate-Loss Challenge

Fat Girl Wearing ThinEllen over at Fat Girl Wearing Thin has issued a challenge, not on losing the most weight in the month of January, but to use the next month to help change the habit of negative self-talk.  Instead of a resolution to diet, exercise, or changing physical things (and we know how long those resolutions last), this is a challenge to rethink the inside part.

I do find that I belittle myself and beat myself up using negative words like lazy, stupid, inadequate.  They’re not as awful as they were two years ago, but they’re still there.  So I was pleased to learn about Ellen’s challenge: “January will be the month that I set in motion a healthy habit  to rid my vocabulary of words that aim to destroy my self-esteem.”  How cool is that?  From Ellen’s blog:

Rules: There is only one rule: At least once a day you must attempt to use one or more of these words in your vocabulary about yourself – and mean it:  strong, courageous, beautiful/handsome, better, unique, remarkable, confident, conditioned, fascinating, pleasing. I encourage you to say the words out loud. Listen to how they sound as they are defining you!

Extra credit: mind-blowing, wicked-hot,  awe-inspiring, sexy, sensational.

Off Limits: Words you can not use:  failure, undeserving, incompetent, lazy, no-good, fat, unattractive, sloppy, defeated, unworthy.

One Final Thought: It’s OK to be angry.  It’s OK to have off-days; just don’t let those feelings consume you.  Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and never, ever let your weight define you.

I printed out the rules for home and work and will report on my progress.

Christmas Then and Now

Two years ago I spent Christmas with my family in Texas.  I weighed in at 312 lbs and was sad and not in a good place with my body or my weight.  This year I went again, weighing 182.2 lbs and oh, what a difference!








Everyone I saw told me how beautiful I was, asked me how I did it, didn’t I feel wonderful, was it hard, what could I eat, etc.  And I found I had a hard time knowing what/how to respond, other than to say “thank you.”

I’m in a good place now, a stable place.  I’m proud of my accomplishments, because they are considerable and have been life-changing.  I’ve lost 130 lbs and enjoy shopping for clothes and finding things that both fit and flatter.  My belly and upper arms are annoying because of all the extra skin, but I’m having medically necessary plastic surgery in March to have those areas trimmed (at last I think we’re doing the arms; it depends on insurance).

Back in 2008 I said: “I don’t want to diet. I want to eat sensibly in moderation, to enjoy a variety of food, to ease the stress on my knees, to be comfortable in my body and with myself.  That may be mutually exclusive.  All I can do is try and take things one small step at a time.”

That pretty much describes where I am now.  Emotionally I’m in a very calm place.  I haven’t really found the weight loss to be hard this time, not since I heard the “click” that said “It’s time now” and took it one step at a time.