I Have A Roommate!

So I haven’t posted here in quite a while, but honestly, not much has happened in a while to blog about, until just recently. And here I am now.

So, I reconnected on facebook with an old high school friend of mine, and we were talking about our hometown of Missoula. Neither of us stayed there very long after high school, but both of us remembered it fondly. Life takes you places you weren’t expecting, after all.

Recently, he moved back to Missoula, looking for nostalgia, comfort, and home. Well, they say “you can never go back,” and it’s just sadly true. The old hometown has changed so much, he was deeply disappointed with the place. It has grown too big, there are too many new stores, new buildings, it is too modern, just… too much like California and not enough like Montana. And he’s right.

So I drove over there (I live in Butte, which is only an hour and a half’s drive from Missoula) and “kidnapped” him for 24 hours. I said “Take a look around you at Butte. We’re behind the times. The city is old, it’s falling down, it’s laid back, informal… this city today is like the Missoula you and I grew up in. You might get that nostalgia you’re looking for here rather than in our actual childhood home.”

And it worked. He likes Butte. I don’t blame him. I like Butte, too. People here are friendly, laid back, the place is NOT posh, it’s just comfy and kinda dilapidated. You don’t have to mind your p’s and q’s around here, because everybody’s dirt poor and we all just sort of get it. We’re all in it together. The attitude is officially informal and mellow.

So, I live alone (with my four cats, two budgies and eleven snakes) in a three bedroom apartment because my mother bought this duplex before she passed away, so I would always have a place to live. And I’m a hair’s breadth away from being a hoarder, this apartment is jam-packed to the rafters with stuff (junk or treasures depending on who you ask), but there’s a spare bedroom with a bed in it, so why should it sit unused? I told him to come stay with me, and he accepted.

I was talking to another friend of mine who works at a local pizza place here in town, and she mentioned that they need a day shift cook. Oh? My friend just happens to be a cook. In fact, he used to own his own restaurant. A quick phone call later, and he’s got a job waiting for him when he gets here. It’s like kizmet. The whole universe conspired to make him move here.

Now he’s been here a week. He’s been working for three days, and loves his new job. Came home from work today with a huge grin on his face and glowing report of happiness on the job. And he cooks meals for me, and I hate cooking! He calls himself my housewife, and seems to be blissfully happy about it.

What worries me is that I’ve been living alone for the last twenty years. I’m used to walking around my apartment naked and not worrying about what other people think and always doing my own thing at all times. I’m worried that the stress of having another human being (even a fantastic human being) in the house will freak me out and I’ll drive him away. I’m worried about this because I don’t want it to happen. Having him here is awesome. I think it’ll be good for me, if I survive it. I want it to work. I want to be adaptable and succeed in this whole “having a roommate” thing. It happened so fast, but it feels so right. The original idea was for him to just stay until he could afford and find a place of his own, but now I’m not sure I want to let him leave. I think having him around could be so good for me if I can learn to tolerate another person’s presence. Maybe he can help me de-clutter and get my life in shape again…

And just so we’re utterly clear, there is no romance happening here. He and I are like brother and sister. And he is as gay as a treeful of monkeys, and I have absolutely no problem with that whatsoever. We can ogle men together, even! It’s all good. Please, universe, let this be as good for me as it has been for him. I live in hope!


Lucky, lucky us!

So I was talking to a friend I ran into at WalMart today about ‪#‎FirstWorldProblems‬ and how hard life seems at times, when really it isn’t at all. I mean, sure we all have our issues, but most of us have roofs over our heads, food to eat, clothing to wear, etc. The conversation sprang out of her reading a rant I’d posted on facebook a few days earlier, which is not too relevant to this blog post, but it didn’t come from nothing. Point is, we both acknowledged that we’re a lot better off than we tend to think we are, and we shouldought be more grateful than we usually are.

The conversation picked back up while I was going through the checkout, with the checker commenting that people often come through his line complaining that their day is totally ruined because something or other is out of stock, and I reiterating that these people need to get a grip on reality. He said mine was “a welcome perspective.” You know, the cashiers can’t get TOO comment-y at work, they have to be polite and all that, but I could tell he was sick of spoiled people whining about inconsequential crap. Really, how important can it be if you’re buying it at WalMart?

So I walked out muttering to myself about “Us spoiled rich folk who don’t know how good we’ve got it”. And I have to ask the genpop: Are you still spoiled if you KNOW you’re spoiled, or does that just make you lucky and grateful?

Today I am grateful for so much, so many, many blessings showered upon me from every direction. Friends, family, and even strangers. The people who built my house. The power company. The water company. My internet provider. The farmers and workers who grew and made my food. The people who made my clothing (and the fabric from which I made my own). The people who invented, manufactured, and built my computer, television, cellphone, and mechanical bed. The truckers who brought all of it to Montana for me! All of it! All the doctors and nurses who’ve ever kept me healthy, and the lawyers and secretaries and office workers who sit in cubicles all day and push paper around so that I don’t have to. The garbage collectors who take away my trash, let’s not underestimate how incredibly valuable they are! And thousands, millions more people I can’t even name, all over the planet, because products I use and enjoy come from everywhere in the world. I do not live in a vaccuum. I am so ferociously spoiled, and I just want to take a moment to acknowledge it. I would like to think that by reading this, you feel a little gratitude for all those people in YOUR life, too. Because they are, and your life would be poorer without them. Think about it. A little gratitude goes a long way. Take a moment to feel the awe and the wonder and the majesty of it all.

Are we lucky, or what?

How Fat-Shaming (doesn’t) Work

For those who don’t know how it works…

I got fat-shamed at the gym today. Yeah, you heard me. I go to the gym. I work out 3-5 hours a week on weight machines and in the pool, swimming laps. I was just congratulating myself on a job decently done (I’m not spectacular, but I do what I can which is all anyone can ask for), when I happened to run into a friend, and we began comparing notes. She is larger-than-she-wants-to-be, too. Hmmm… LTSWTB. I’ve just invented a new non-word. Yipiee. Of course I’ve changed her name because it’s none of your business who she is, but “Jessica” and I began having a conversation about techniques, attitudes, determination, and other things like that. Then this guy comes up and butts in to our conversation.

I was watching him work out on a piece of equipment I’d been using half an hour earlier. It’s the one where you sit, and there’s this long bar over your head that you pull down on to lift weights. I have no idea what it’s called, but you probably know which one I’m talking about. Anyway, I asked the guy if he had tried the machine sitting the opposite way, as I find it easier than trying to jam my legs under the padded bar they have in front of the seat. I also see a lot of guys using that machine and they’re leaning back and grunting and pulling on the thing, and it just doesn’t look very effective to me the way they’re doing it. This fellow was much the same as the others I’d seen.

He explained that he couldn’t do it backwards, because he had to have the thigh brace. He was, you see, lifting more than his own body weight, and so needed the bar to hold him down. He did about five reps on the thing, and then stopped. WTF?

I know that I know nothing about weight-lifting, but that doesn’t seem productive to me. What is he trying to accomplish? Would it not be more effective, in the quest to build muscle, to set the weight lower and lift it more often? I’m not talking about down to ten pounds, but certainly down from 170lbs to, say, maybe 100lbs? Mind you, I didn’t ask him that. I didn’t feel like listening to a lecture, and I’m glad I held my tongue, because what little conversation we did engage in was horrible.

See, he began telling me and Jessica all about his weight loss adventure: how he’d changed his diet radically to exclude all sugars and all carbs, reduced his portions, and went to the gym. For three months he’s done this, and he’s dropped roughly 30 lbs.

At this point in the story, I congratulated him on finding what works for him (though privately I doubt he’ll be able to maintain it in the long run), and reminded him that not everyone’s body works the same way, and that there are many solutions to the same problem depending on who you are. For example, I told him, I used to be a lifeguard and water aerobics instructor, and would be in the pool about ten hours a week. During that time, I did not alter my diet in any way whatsoever, and lost about fifty pounds (Which is all true, btw. I know exercise works).

He vehemently disagreed with me, repeating the incredibly ignorant and highly offensive “calories in/calories out” diatribe of so many thin people. It’s pure and simple, he says. Nothing you do will ever help you lose weight if you eat carbs, period. Because it’s not sugar that turns into fat when you eat it, it’s carbohydrates.

By this point in his ranting, I was ready to punch him. Seriously seeing red, pushing the anger down as hard as I could and carefully controlling my breathing. And let me tell you, that’s the REAL weight training right there! I don’t know how much of his irritating prattle “Jessica” and I tolerated, but it felt like forever. Finally he wandered off, and went to play with himself somewhere else. I followed Jessica over to her next machine and sat by her side while she continued her workout. I was done for the day. He never took in a word of what I said, except to acknowledge it just long enough to deny it all and tell me I was a worthless pile of crap who would never succeed. He also asserted, in great ignorance, that genes have nothing to do with one’s weight, and went on at some length about that. By this point, I was almost unable to speak, and so I didn’t even try to engage. He had already judged me, so why bother defending myself? He wouldn’t hear me, he’d just hear whining and excuse-making, not legitimate scientific facts.

So, having “pointlessly” (because, after all, I’d already eaten carbs that day, so what’s the point?) done a hundred reps of that machine at 40lbs, and a hundred reps of another machine at 40lbs, and tried the NuStep until my legs gave out, I really couldn’t take any more of that. I chatted with Jessica for a while as I waited for my calm to return, then headed out. Got in my car and drove away.

I’ve been out of milk for a day or so, and been very broke, but just that morning I’d gotten a deposit in my bank account, so I went to the grocery store to pick up a few things I’d run out of. I was still fuming and furious with Mr. Bullshit, and just wanted to hurt him. Really, like smash into him with my car and then back over him a few times to make sure he would never get up again. Extremely angry, violent thoughts running through my head. Yeah, I get those. All the time. I watch horror movies to calm down from anger fits, because if I can see someone else doing it, then I don’t need to.

So I get to the store, get in the electric shopping cart, and start wheeling my way around. I picked up some fresh strawberries, a cantaloupe, a gallon of 1% milk, a gallon of orange juice, two boxes of cookies, a box of brownies, four mini-pies, three tv dinners, and a thaw-n-serve chocolate silk pie.

On the way home, I stopped at the Dairy Queen and got a medium cherry-cheesecake blizzard.

That’ll teach him.

See, the thing is, I’m a rational, intelligent, adult person, but when I get fat-shamed, logic and reason go completely out the window. There is nothing but the pain, and the anger, and the need to strike back at the person who hurt me. Of course, I’m not allowed to run people over with my car, so I have to find some other destructive, hateful and awful thing to do. Something that will ease my pain and make me feel better while I hurt someone or something.

And food is the answer. It soothes my pain and anguish and rage. It comforts me deep down on a spiritual level and makes everything alright. Food will never hate me, it will never judge me, it will only ever nurture me and make me feel safe and loved. Food doesn’t care if it’s my genes or my behaviour or my attitude or the flame-retardant chemicals in my sofa cushions that makes me fat. Food doesn’t care if I’ve been to the gym or mass-murdered every health nut in the nation to get all tired and worn out. It just loves me.

It does not hurt the man who hurt me if I eat an entire chocolate silk pie in one sitting. He will never even know. So why do I do it? Because it’s comforting. Because when my mouth is full of that luscious, perfect heaven, he’s not there in my mind at all. He’s nowhere. He’s destroyed utterly in my world. He ceases to exist. And I’m still here, and food still loves me.

Can you begin to see why that would be a worthwhile thing to do? Why it is reasonable, in that mindset, to take that action? Not just reasonable, but actually necessary?

Fat shaming does not work. And there’s the insider’s explanation of why. You ask your fat friends to read this article, and they will tell you I’m not a lone weirdo. Fat people feel this way. It is the way our minds work, and it is why fat-shaming is just about the worst thing you can do to a fat person if you want to help them lose weight. I’m not off my rocker here. Well, maybe I am, but the point is I’m not making a false claim about this, nor am I an isolated or unusual case. This has happened to me more times than I can count, and it plays out the same way every time. I’m fat and worthless? Fine. Then I’ll BE fat and worthless. Take that, asshole! You happy now that I’ve eaten my weight in pasta? No? Want me to eat more? Fine, I will. Go away and leave me alone, I was doing well before you opened your big mouth and told me what a loser I am!

I’m a horrible person. I know that, I didn’t need you to tell me. Now go away and let me die in peace. I hate me, too. Everybody hates me, or should. Because I’m repulsive and disgusting and will never be anything else. I know, I know. You’re completely right, it’s true. I should just kill myself now and get it over with. Save everybody the bother of being polite to my face until I keel over from my own weight and they can’t find a coffin big enough for me and I have to buy two funeral plots coz I won’t fit in just one.

I think I’m gonna go eat some of those brownies, now. I’m tired from all this emotional writing.

(This is an older piece of writing, it didn’t happen to me this year. I’m just sharing it now.)

I’m engaged!

So here’s a thing, lemmie tell ya about it. I’m really gonna do this, mind you.
I’m getting married.
Every girl dreams of having a big wedding, right? Fancy dress, big cake, surrounded by family and friends, big reception, the whole shebang. Right? Except then what? Then you’re stuck with some guy forever. Oh, and I haven’t met him yet. I’m getting tired of waiting.
But I am not letting that stop me! No.
I am gonna go for it. I am gonna do it on my own. I am getting married, all by myself, with nobody else. I am gonna marry myself.
Yeah, you heard me.
A bit egocentric, isn’t it, Josie? I hear you ask.
First ring that arrived in the mail!

First ring that arrived in the mail!

Yeah, maybe. Or maybe it’s just exactly what I need. A huge celebration to let the world and my subconscious know that I’m beautiful, I’m powerful, and gosh darn it, I’m worthy! So I’m gonna get the dress and a ring (I’ve already bought a selection of [granted very cheap, but I’m very frugal, and I’m okay with that] engagement rings) and I’m gonna stand up in front of a preacher-type person and a crowd of my loved ones and vow to God that I am gonna love, honor and cherish myself for the rest of my life. Then we’re gonna party.

I think that’s worth making a fuss over. I think I’M worth making a fuss over. So I’m gonna. I don’t need to wait to find a husband to make that fuss. I can commit to loving myself. To honoring myself. To cherishing myself. And yes, everyone can do that in a quiet, personal way every day. But I want to make a fuss.
There’s a part in some ceremonies where the celebrant asks the witnesses to participate in the marriage, to help the couple live up to their wedding vows. I’m definitely putting that bit in. If my friends see me failing in my vows, I would want them to help remind me of my promise to be a good caretaker of myself. Because I’m so good at forgetting.
Nothing in my vows is going to preclude me finding true love from a man or a woman (hey, I’m not picky) and someday marrying them. It could happen. Maybe I’ll meet my spouse at my wedding, who knows? They’ll be a friend’s plus-one or something. Don’t laugh. It could happen.
I have not yet chosen a date. I have not yet chosen a venue (though I have several options, including outdoors ANYwhere and at least one church that’s willing to host such a ‘unique’ cememony). But some things have already been decided. Like my grandma Rita’s earrings that I’ll definitely be wearing. I wouldn’t consider walking down the aisle without them, in fact. Some other stuff I know I’m definitely gonna do.
I plan on designing the ceremony from top to bottom. I’ll be drawing on traditions from lots of different influences for inspiration. I am a Baha’i’, after all. So while some things will be straightforward stuff you’re used to in a traditional American/Eurocentric/Christian ceremony, other things will not be. You just never know with Josie, and I like to keep it that way.
I’m making this announcement to everyone (although yes, some of you already knew) across every platform I have an account on out there on the internet: facebook, blog, author page, twitter, etc. today, but who knows when the ceremony will be? Not me… not yet…
But hey, I’ll keep y’alls updated. Coz I’d probably love to see you there!

I don’t remember asking for your opinion

I’ve been me for a long time now. My whole life, in fact. That’s 44 years now, a respectable chunk of time.

I went through puberty at… well, that takes a few years to go through. I started at age 8. I finished up around 11 or 12-ish. Still a respectable chunk of time ago. 36 years, give or take.

Medical doctors have to attend college, and then med school. They have to study for a long, long time to get smart enough to be doctors, a long time before they are allowed to practice medicine, prescribe drugs, cut on people if they’re surgeons, etc. Like 8 or 9 years for schooling, then 3-7 years of internships, and then finally they are doctors. Let’s say 16 years to be a real top-notch pro. So a fair chunk of change out of their lives. And I appreciate that. They are experts on the average human body.

But I am not the average human being, and I am not living in the average human body. I should know, having been me my entire life. Post-pubescent me for 36 years now, even. I note post-pubescent because puberty is when one’s body chemistry does the “chrysalis” thing and shuffles, re-arranges, and when you’re done, the adult form emerges. I’ve been living with my adult chemistry for a good 36 years now. I know how my body works and how it does not work. I am an expert on being ME. I’m more of an expert on being me than any medical doctor is on the average human, it might be noted. I know me really, REALLY well.

My body chemistry is not average. If it were, I would not have need of any specialized medications to control it. Clinical depression is an imbalance of body chemistry. It is not sadness. It is not a lack of properly balanced chi. It is not a poor attitude. It is not laziness. It is not my diet. It is not God’s punishment for a sin I have committed. It is a physical imbalance like diabetes or autism that makes me different from the average human. In that respect, it is no different from my Meniere’s. It is part of the genetic lottery I drew at birth. It is what my body is.

It is not who I am.

It is also not something that’s gonna be controlled by happy thoughts and tai chi. Please stop telling me you know more about my body and my condition than I do. Stop pretending you care and the overabundance of your great heart makes it okay for you to insult me. We both know better. Get down out of my face with that care-trollery, you sanctimonious buffoon.

I have been unmedicated. I know what it’s like. You were not there, you didn’t see me, didn’t experience me at my horrifying, suicidal, nihilistic worst. You did not hold me while I sobbed my guts out, literally crying until I vomited for hours, or tore bedsheets to one-inch squares in my frenzied panic attacks. Years later, my mother was still finding pieces of her shredded bed linens behind her bureau drawers. Unmedicated me was only safe to be around because I had something besides a person to shred. My mother sacrificed her linens willingly…

I have a relative who has told me right to my face that “…things were better in the 50s when people didn’t talk about their problems all the time, and didn’t take lots of drugs to mess up their heads.” She is in complete denial of her own mental health issues which are so clear to everyone but herself, it’s kind of heartbreaking. But to be told that the medications I take daily to keep my head clear, that those are what are causing my problems? – THAT is a special brand of madness reserved only for the tin foil hat wearers and conspiracy theorists. And she doesn’t see it. She doesn’t understand. She just grinds on in her ignorance and her anger and her addiction to painkillers, cigarettes and alcohol. Merciful heavens, I know she’s in pain, she survived esophageal cancer for crying out loud, but she’s not doing a thing in the world to try to better herself, not one single, solitary thing. She is, however, trying to drag me down to her level because misery loves company.

But I won’t go.

She’s not the only one. There are so many, many people out there who are convinced that Big Pharma and Big Brother are one and the same, and they are Out To Get Me ™ any way they can. Now I’m no fan of the tactics and woefully lacking ethics of Big Pharma, nor am I living in ignorance of their multitudinous crimes and sins against humanity and general decency.

But I am chemically imbalanced all on my own without their help, in my natural, un-anything’ed state. I was unbalanced long before I took my first medication. I was a freakin’ mess, folks. And I’m here to tell you that without those medications from Big Brother Pharma, I would probably be dead today, just like Robin Williams.

Because Depression is a killer. People weep when Cancer kills a victim. “Oh, she was so brave, she fought to the end, she was so heroic, alas!” But people blame the victim when Depression wins. “She was weak, she gave up, she stopped trying, she was selfish and didn’t care about those who loved her. She should have tried harder.” Stop it. Depression kills. It kills as surely as Cancer ever did, as surely as a car crash or having a piano dropped on your head will kill. It is a deadly poison that eats away at your mind from the inside, a poison created by your own body, a poison that whispers to you in a voice no one else can hear, until you can hear nothing else, and it screams and sings and whoops its war cry and drowns out every other sound in the world until you go mad from the repeated mantra of you’re-no-good-no-one-loves-you. Who amongst you wouldn’t be desperate to get that demon out of your head any way you could?

Guess what?

The drugs quiet the demon.

And the kicker is that it’s a lottery as to which drugs will work for which person, too. Because the standard drugs don’t really work all that well for me. I’m on something that turns most people into a zombie (Thorazine), and it’s brought me to life. I am vivacious and happy and energetic on this med (in combination with two other psych meds), and it was out of a desperate need to sleep that I rolled the dice and took the prescription my doctor offered me. I knew I might get the “Thorazine shuffle” as it’s known in the psych med community. I was suffering from horrible insomnia, and at that particular moment, didn’t care what it took. I needed to sleep. And accidentally stumbled upon a miracle. Because everyone who has whacked-out body chemistry is whacked out in a slightly different way, and responds to the meds in a slightly different way. My doctor admitted it. He understands. He’s been around the block a few times. He’s seen it happen. Random results. YMMV. One man’s meat is another man’s poison, and there’s no way to predict or control the results. It really is a roll of the dice. I got lucky. I’m now getting the sleep I need, and as an added bonus, extra energy and cheerfulness! Not the usual Thorazine patient.

The point is, everyone is an individual. You cannot just walk up to someone and say “This is bad for you, you must cease and desist,” without knowing them, knowing their history, and knowing their situation. Someone online, who doesn’t even know my real name. Someone who has maybe seen a profile pic and therefore knows I’m overweight. Someone who knows nothing about me besides that, and truly, not even the reasons for that. That someone can’t freaking prescribe for me. Stay out of my life. You don’t know. I know. I know what’s best for me.

My doctor and I have sat and discussed it rationally like two intelligent adults, and we have decided what works best for me. Him, an experienced psych doctor with years of accumulated knowledge in his field, and me an experienced me-be-er with years of accumulated knowledge in my field.

You’re just some schmoe with an opinion.

Which I did not ask for.

So keep your schmoe opinion where it belongs: between your ears and out of my life. Because you’re not an expert on being me. I’ve been adult me for 36 years now, and I know how it’s done. You don’t know me at all.

Stress is fun!

There is SO MUCH to do starting a new business, I can’t keep track of it all! What’s my EIN again? Okay, I found that! Now, do you have your reseller’s license? My what? Seriously? Okay, nobody told you ANYthing, did they? Farg! Back to the drawing board! And an account with USPS and UPS and FedEx so my customers can choose their own favorite shipping. Duh. Why did I not think of that? And do this, and do that, and do the other thing…

Wow. My head is spinning, and aching, and I’m so tired.

I am scared to death, I don’t mind admitting. If this doesn’t work, I will be out a crap-ton of money, with no way to recoup it, and broker than ever, and losing money fast. But if I don’t even try, then I will still be losing money, just at a slightly slower pace. My income is lower than my expenses. Mom left me with a lot of expenses, owning two properties, a car, all this craziness. Real estate costs money even if you’re not using it, just sitting there it costs money. It’s crazy! I’m so scared. I have to do something, and I’m not qualified to do much of anything. Dropshipping doesn’t require much more than checking emails. This, I think I can do. Maybe. After I’ve paid someone else to set it all up for me, at least…

I have bigger dreams than this. Really I do. Grand, noble dreams of providing the public with things that they need, doing good in the world, helping people, making a difference. But for right now, I’ll just be happy if I can stop losing money. That’s dream enough for today. I’m not there yet, but to stop sliding backwards would be great. Breaking even would make me deliriously happy at this point in the game. Then we can worry about forward progress.

And I have to get that damnable apartment next door rented out. Fast. Gotta get a tenant in there so the pipes don’t freeze and speaking of real estate costing money, EMPTY real estate is a nightmare! Tenant, please, now! Rent money would be nice! Someone’s coming to look at it tomorrow, please let them be good! It’s a lady with two kids, and she says she is willing to paint herself and she’s figuring out section 8 and yes, I take section 8, I don’t care where the money is coming from as long as I get it, and yes, the house is section 8 approved because my last tenant had it. Just somebody, please, move in already!

Stress? Holidays? Don’t know what you’re talking about. Everything’s fine.