Monthly Archives: July 2006

The Shape of a Person

When this site started making the rounds on the Internets a week or so ago, I had to check it out. It’s kind of become an obsession for me, to look at the pictures and read the stories of women who have been pregnant and had children. The purpose of the site is to show people what real women’s bodies look like, whether or not they look like the photoshopped, airbrushed “ideal” that we see in magazines and on TV. I’ve always found it kind of amazing that the celebrity mommies we see paraded before us seem to look the same within only a few weeks after giving birth (except maybe with bigger boobs, if they’re breastfeeding). And within a few months we’re seeing them in bikinis – with no scars or stretch marks in sight.

Intellectually, before this site, I understood that women’s bodies change, oftentimes permanently, due to pregnancy. My mom has complained my whole life about how I “stole her body” and I have always interpreted that in more ways than one. Before she got pregnant with me, she looked a lot like me (though much shorter) – but her boobs, her waist, her butt were very much like mine were as a teenager. I’m sure it must have been difficult to see me in my bikinis in the summer, looking exactly as she had 30 years before. Also, her pregnancy with me changed her body permanently, both externally (“You kicked out my ribs two inches, you were such a long skinny baby!”) and internally. I know that her organs got kind of rearranged and that permanently changed the kinds of physical activity she could do. She had two babies after me but I was the one who did the most damage, so to speak. She lost the baby weight after me and middle sis but has spent the last 20 years battling the weight she gained with the youngest.

Intellectually, I understand, but emotionally, it’s very difficult to look at the pictures of women’s bodies, so different from how we normally see them. I see bodies in the gym of all shapes and sizes but they’re fleeting glances as everyone averts their eyes. Plus, the bodies are disproportionately more athletic and toned since they’re gym bodies, of course. I look at those pictures and have so many reactions – sadness, horror, fascination, pride in those women for the willingness to share with the world that their bodies are perfectly normal even if they don’t look like the pictures in the magazines, the movies, and on TV. My brain understands that stretch marks are pretty much genetically predetermined (and, as far as I can remember, my mom doesn’t have them, so maybe I’ll get lucky) and c-section scars are often hidden right near pubic hair. I know what causes these marks, and I know that some women’s bodies look pretty much like they did after pregnancy as they did before. But not most. Most women carry permanent marks on their bodies in some way – and we never, ever see it. And I am scared, sad, and, in a way, even more reluctant to turn my body and its future over to what is essentially a parasite for 9-10 months before my life is turned over to the product of that relinquishment permanently.

It’s only been within the last year or so that I really started thinking about whether I wanted to have kids – I mean, really the process of pregnancy and childbirth. Until I started reading the blogs of women who were pregnant and had children, I hadn’t really thought about it other than in the abstract, this kind of amorphous idea of how cool it would be to see what a kid of mine what look like or might be capable of doing. And I’ve always had kind of an ambivalent reaction to the process of spawning, the whole concept of having something in me that was both a part of me and something completely different. Now, in thinking about it, I am simultaneously amazed at what my body is designed to do – I mean, it (theoretically) is capable of feeding a small human for at least a year if not more, in addition to the whole growing said small human – and dismayed at the thought of losing control over the only thing I’ve really been able to control.

I got a taste of what “body out of control” was like three years ago during the birth control pill switch fiasco – gaining weight uncontrollably while training for a marathon was kind of a sobering and scary experience. It’s taken me two years to get back to where I was before I went on that pill, and it’s been a bitch to get there. A few days ago I tried on an outfit that I’m wearing in the last pictures taken of me before I started the Bad BCP, pretty much exactly 3 years ago. It fit exactly as it had in the pictures – actually, maybe a bit better, because now I’m a bit more toned. And this evening, I took my measurements for the first time in about a year: 36.5, 26.5, 38. Most of my size 8 clothes are getting pretty loose, and my size 6s (what few I have left) are actually wearable. The shorts from three years ago (the ones from the pictures) fit me – perhaps not SUPER comfortably, but they fit and I don’t spill out above or below. And then the evil, never happy with her body side has to go and look at the pictures from my trip to Europe in 2000 in which I’m wearing the very same shorts, and remembering that in those pictures the shorts would have fallen off had I not had them tied on with a bandana (I didn’t have a belt). And I remember my measurements taken my senior year of high school: 35, 24.5, 36. Today I’m wearing a tshirt that fits well (finally), the same shirt I’m wearing in pictures taken when I first met the Hulk 5 years ago – in those pictures, my collar bone is sticking out and the shirt hangs on me. I wasn’t on any BCP then and had lost my boobs. Most of me looks at those pictures and says, wow, I look so much better now. And a small part of me thinks I should get that skinny again – because skinnier is always better, right?

I guess my question is – will I ever be happy with the way I look? Am I selfish and vain for worrying about how pregancy and childbirth might change my body? Are the 5 people who read this blog sick and tired already of me bitching about my body and body image and how I look, especially since the 4 of you that know me in real life probably think I look good and don’t need to do anything else to change the way I look? Taking those measurements, wearing that outfit, wearing this t-shirt: they all feel like huge accomplishments. Looking at myself in the mirror naked, I feel like I look like me again. Me, only better, because damn, my arms are now kickass. And maybe when the time comes, if it does, I’ll feel like whatever permanent marks on my body pregancy might bring will be worth the product and cause of those changes. I hope so.

There is a bump

There is a bump. On my right eyelid. It’s kind of purplish and slightly itchy. Is it a bug bite? Is it a cyst? Is it a TOO-MAH? Am I going to die of eyebumpitis?

The bump feels weird when I touch it. I can feel my eyeball through my eyelid and there’s a bump in between.

Bump, bump, bump. Eyelid bump!

It had better go away by August 12, or I shall be very put out.

I want cake. Cheesecake.

What I want is a cold, just out of the fridge slice of lemony cheesecake. Or maybe a slice of chocolate bailey’s cheesecake. Something cold and smooth and creamy and sour and sweet all at once.

PMS much?

It’s been so long since I ate junk. I mean, I just don’t eat it. Most of the time when someone brings goodies in to work, I pass, or at someone’s retirement party I munch on the raw veggies and try not to think about the pepperidge farm cookies. The last cookie I had was purchased for our floor picnic on the 4th of July. I still have a sweet tooth but it’s mostly curbed by eating bits of dark chocolate or a few chocolate covered cranberries from TJs (my mom replenished our stash when she came out). Most of the time I don’t even want junk – but every once in a while, like today, I just get a hankerin’. After August 12 I’m eating whatever I damn well please for at least a couple of weeks. Dieting is for saps. And how can I pass up the opportunity for good sushi, sourdough bread, dim sum, and a fresh-from-the-oven Specialty’s chocolate chip cookie when we’re in CA?

Dress shopping this weekend was about as productive as I expected it to be at the only mall within walking distance – I found a couple of things that might work with some alteration (some were too big, one was strapless) but if I’m going to shell out $60 for a dress shouldn’t it fit me already? It seems as though I am in between sizes, or maybe I’m just not used to shopping in Upscale Rich People stores. QIR mentioned that I should go down a size when I’m shopping in those kind of stores because of their incessant vanity sizing. Luckily, I have a date to go dress shopping with our old neighbor on Friday afternoon (yay for long lunches and no supervisors!) at a mall where I’m pretty sure I can find what I’m looking for. I’ve found dresses there before when I wasn’t even looking.

I also need a haircut. I haven’t had it cut since I chopped it all off in January 05 and it’s getting pretty long. I need to get at least a few inches cut off and some layers put in and this time I’m willing to shell out some bucks to someone who knows what she is doing. The chick who chopped my hair at the Hair Cuttery didn’t do a good job at all; luckily, with the kind of hair I have a bad haircut isn’t terribly noticable.

My workout today at lunch wasn’t quite as productive as I wanted it to be. I’ve been pushing myself so hard and today my body just said nope, you gotta take it easier or slower ‘cuz I just ain’t doin it. I still did my full weight circuit and 20 minutes on the bike (random setting, level 12) but I didn’t have the energy to do the 5 minute bike cooldown or the usual crunch/leglift routine. I did an hour of cardio plus the crunches/leglifts yesterday and when I got home I was just so tired. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I didn’t feel tired. It’s not like I have any kind of health condition precluding me from sleeping well, and our place is much quieter than our old place. I just think I need more sleep to counteract all the exercising and lower-calorie intake. Plus when it’s hot at night I just don’t sleep very well. And it has been hot at night for a few weeks now. You know it’s hot when you don’t even want a sheet to cover you, you can’t touch your partner (too hot! skin touch ugh!), and even your cat gives you a dirty look when your leg brushes against him if you turn over. Of course, cat is not on the bed for snuggles, but to benefit from the fan blowing directly at him.

Usually if I am craving something, it goes away in a little while or I just drink some more water and it goes away because I was actually thirsty. But when I crave cheesecake I know it won’t be satisfied unless I actually eat cheesecake. And, even when not on the home stretch of looking hott by a certain date, I almost never get to eat cheesecake anyway; the Hulk doesn’t like it so I can’t make it because then I would have to eat the whole thing myself.

I only want one piece.

QIR’s challenge: something to talk about

Last week, one of my coworkers told me that her husband had finally figured out what was causing all his weird health problems. He has Cipro poisoning.

Yes! This is a thing, most notably documented in the postal workers in DC given Cipro as a preventative measure when all the anthrax mailings were going on. Nearly 60% of them developed side effects that have worsened as time has gone on. Symptoms get worse and worse over time, and there’s no cure or even treatment.

Apparently, the company that makes Cipro made a buttload of it after September 11th, thinking it would be stockpiled and popped like candy, and then the scare wasn’t as big as they’d counted on and they couldn’t sell enough of it. So they started convincing doctors to prescribe it to their patients for everyday infections to use up the stockpile.

I’m not saying Cipro is all evil. It’s one of the few defenses we have against some really nasty infectious diseases (like anthrax), but in my opinion, should be used only for those life-threatening infections. Because my coworker’s husband, those postal workers, and all kinds of other people have ended up with symptoms much like Gulf War Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, fibromyalgia, all those “hard to diagnose” diseases with unpleasant but not fatal symptoms. Having these conditions sure does affect a person’s quality of life, though.

My coworker told me stories she’d read of adolescent girls given Cipro for bladder infections, only to die a week later of heart attacks. Her husband was given Cipro twice within a year’s span for two minor infections. Like using a chainsaw to cut a straw. His doctor, the one who had prescribed the Cipro in the first place, claims that nothing’s wrong with him; it’s all in his head, Cipro doesn’t have any bad side effects. And who is the doctor working for?

While this is an alarming situation (don’t take Cipro unless you absolutely HAVE to! Tell your doctor to prescribe some other antibiotic!), it’s only one more instance of Big Pharma throwing its weight around for financial gain. Medical research, particularly pharmaceutical research, is primarily done in this country with the ultimate goal of profit. Since they’ve been allowed to advertise prescription drugs on TV, in magazines, and on billboards, I’m sure their profits have skyrocketed. Because people ask for the brand names, and it’s killing programs like Medicaid (and I’m sure driving up the cost of health insurance for everyone).

The controversy comes when we have to weigh the motives of Big Pharma (profit!) against the good that results from the research the industry conducts. Sure, it’s easy to laugh at commercials that talk about 4 hour boners or restless leg syndrome, but there are now drugs available to help men get and maintain erections who may not have been able to reliably do so before, or help people to know they’re not the only ones who have the pains in their legs and get awakened throughout the night by limbs that won’t stay still. There’s something out there to help those people. There’s something out there to help a lot of people who used to have to suffer in many ways. I’m sure Big Pharma research has helped improve the lifespans and quality of life for many, many people around the world.

I’m not saying that I like the pill-popping, drug dependant culture we’ve become. Because taking a pill to “make you feel better” has led to situations like the increasing numbers of drug-resistant strains of bacteria that are killing people in hospitals every day. I think we’d all do better to really think about the drugs we’re taking and the products we use (who the hell needs antibacterial everything? Haven’t people heard of SOAP?). But I also know that a lot of good has come out of the research done by Big Pharma. It’s too bad there isn’t another way to do this research without having to guarantee a big return on investment, because I bet that there are a lot more drugs and procedures out there that would help a lot of people – but that don’t add to the shareholders’ wallets.

And it’s absolutely deplorable that when a pharmaceutical company bets wrong, thousands of people have to suffer effects for the rest of their lives – because their doctors prescribed a drug that should be used only in extreme cases, and a much milder (and less caustic) antibiotic would have been just as effective. My coworker’s husband is in his early 30s, so he’s got a good 50 years or so to live with his health problems. And I bet no drug company out there is researching how to cure, treat, or counteract the effects of Cipro on the general population. It’s a conflict of interest, and won’t make them enough money to bother.

Boring Exercise Post, plus other stuff

While my mom was here, we only did some walking. It was WAY TOO HOT to go for a run or even walk to the gym and back. Ugh.

Which means today I was back in the gym for lunch. 35 minutes elliptical with arms (intervals), 25 bike (random). When I get home I might do my pilates video. 3.5 weeks to reunion. Breakfast: total and shredded wheat cereal with strawberries. Snack: half a luna bar. Lunch (post-gym): yogurt, baby carrots, peach.

Last night we had a big salad for dinner and ate our first home-grown tomato. All of our tomato and pepper plants are going nuts and growing like mad, and in about 2 weeks they will explode with ripe fruit. We’ve already gotten 2 red bell peppers, but this was tomato #1. Delicious. The herbs are thriving (basil, thyme, oregano, mint) and the zucchini has had lots of flowers but no fruit so far.

Anu, EEK, anyone more fashionable than I am: what should I wear to the reunion? Dress, probably, but any particular ideas? You both know my general shape and height and boob-waist-hip ratio. Plus, I can’t afford more than, like, $75. Ideas?

QIR, I’m still working on a good idea for my challenge. It should be done and posted sometime tomorrow. And then, perhaps, there will be discussion!

Monkey jokes about it, but I’m not actually joking

I forgot to tell you guys about how last weekend I bought a set of polyhedral dice, FOR MYSELF, and how the night before that my descent into Enormous Nerddom became complete.

Because yeah. Hulk is “running a campaign” with a Star Wars themed D20-based (meaning you really only need 20-sided dice and 6-sided dice to play) role playing game. That means he’s the game master (if it were D&D it would be dungeon master) and he is God and makes up the story. Several of our friends and I are playing characters that are participating in the story/adventure that Hulk is making up. Last weekend we all got together and rolled a whole lot of dice and looked up a lot of things in books to tell us what kinds of attributes our characters will have, and pretty soon we will start playing our characters.

!

I had never been at all interested in any sort of role-playing game before I met the Hulk, and ever since we got together he has been wearing me down. When he and our friends decided he’d run another campaign I decided it would be more interesting to participate and figure out what all the hell was going on than to spend 10 or 15 more evenings watching other people roll dice and “level up” and engage in combat with NPCs (non-player characters). Because just watching it is boring as hell; I should know, I’ve done it a lot.

So I gave in. And I talked to Hulk about the kind of character I would like to play, and how I would go about doing that (since my character isn’t what all she seems) and still make it work. She has somewhat of a background, though I’m still working out all the specifics. I think it will be fun. If nothing else, I will have tried it – because how can you knock it ’til you try it?

If you’ve seen the TV show Firefly (RIP), I’m essentially playing a very similar character to Saffron, aka Mrs. Reynolds. Now I just have to figure out a weakness I can bring to the table that will make things more interesting. I was initially thinking she should have an irrational fear of the force, but since her traveling companions will be two Jedi and a force adept (a non-Jedi force user), that would be too debilitating. So. Does anyone want to descend into utter nerddom with me and help me figure out what Saffron is afraid of that she has to try to keep her companions from discovering?

Oh god. I’m such a nerd. Let the D20 roll.

I’m alive! I’m alive!

Hi!

I haven’t written in a while. Yes, I have been remiss. But my mom got into town on Thursday and we have been hanging out and doing stuff until just a half an hour ago when she drove away to head for the airport.

I think she had a good visit. When she got in on Thursday, we ran a few errands (had to make use of the rental car while we could). We went to Tarjay and bought an inflatable mattress (double thickness), a toilet seat (wood), and a pump for the mattress. During the course of the visit, we had to return both the mattress (too big for the room; bought two full-size single thickness ones to stack on each other) and the toilet seat (made with a bolt that didn’t have threads, but essentially rings – there was no way to get the nut on the damn thing). Hulk made blackened chicken caesar salad for dinner and we stayed up ’til like 2.

Friday we had a whole day planned in Boulder, all of which was a surprise to my mom. We took her on the Celestial Seasonings tea factory tour (free!) which was cool for us to see again, particularly since we’d never gone on a week day. They don’t run the machines in the factory on weekends. After the tour, we had a wonderful lunch at the .Dushanbe Tea House, a donation to Boulder by its sister city in Tajikstan. It was made there, disassembled, then shipped over and reassembled by the Tajik artisans who built it. It’s both lovely to see (inside and out) and serves fabulous food and all kinds of teas. Next on our list was shopping along the Pearl Street pedestrian mall; we had to hit our 3 favorite stores (Peppercorn, fancy kitchen/cooking stuff; Art Mart, handmade and artisan crafts from around the world; Into the Wind, kites and toys).

It was really hot in Boulder. Really, really hot. We weren’t up for much in the way of movement. My mom had an iced coffee (bleah) and we lazed on a bench. We grabbed some food at a grocery store and took my mom to the last planned event, a performance of Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s The Tempest. A good time was had by all.

Saturday was hotter. Our friend Julie is back in town; she came over for brunch and then we drove up to Lookout Mountain to view Buffalo Bill’s grave and see the museum and gift shop. We drove up to HulkRentCasa for dinner and my mom got to see Hulk Rents again and meet Hulk Grandma.

Sunday we walked to the farmer’s market (baby cukes and dill; Hulk makes good pickles) and showed my mom the new Tattered Cover. Both of these places are in walking distance of our house, but it was so unbearably hot that my mom had a hard time. We retreated to our dark living room with the overhead fan going full blast, and later went to an air conditioned movie theater to see Pirates II Electric Caribaloo. The movie got out at 6:30; it was still unbearably hot. We got beers and dinner at a restaurant on the mall and by the time we left it was dark. Still hot. We showed my mom some Firefly; I fell asleep on the living room floor. I couldn’t help myself. I was miserably hot and didn’t feel like I could move. And it didn’t cool down enough last night.

When we woke up this morning it had dropped to 75F outside and we opened everything up to get some cool air going through the apartment. We ran the rest of our car-necessary errands (third trip to Tarjay in one weekend, etc.), came home and had lunch. And then my mom left.

It was lovely having Mom here for a visit. I know she’s limited to summer for visits, being a teacher, but I wish she’d come out more frequently. We go out there at least 3 or 4 times a year. Anyhow, it was nice to have her to myself (not that it isn’t nice spending time with my sisters, too, but it’s nice to have mom time) for a few days. She got to meet her “grandcats” and only spent 3 of the 4 days teasing me about grandchildren. Her latest theory is that one has a biological clock for grandchildren as well, which of course she shared with HulkRents (and they agreed). I kind of wish my sister would just start procreating already to get my mom off my back.

Today it is a bit cooler (only in the high 90s instead of 105) and I’m waiting in my dark living room for Hulk to get home so we can put up our feet, have a drink, and relax after the 4 days of Parental Entertainment. I love my mom, but since she visits so infrequently I feel like we have to cram so much into the time that she’s here. Now we need to go for a run and have some booze and take advantage of having the place to ourselves again. >:)