Friday, July 15, 2011

Fitness Struggles

Like many people, I struggle with my weight.  For me, it has been a lifelong battle.  As an overweight kid, I became an overweight adult.  Since I was a teenager, I have always weighed over 200 pounds, except for two separate occasions where I managed to lose a lot of weigh and keep it off for a couple of years each time.  Six years ago, I breached the 300 pound mark, became alarmed, and started walking.  Because of my efforts over the next few years, I managed to drop down about 40 lbs from my highest mark.  November of 2009 saw me as the most fit and the skinniest I had been in probably twelve years.  It was awesome!  I had so much energy and bounce and could do so many things that I wasn't able to do at my heaviest.

Two months later, I found out Micah was going to have to go on dialysis and I fell apart.  I started actively cramming my face, and in the year following that I fell into a horrible depression.  I knew eating was a support mechanism, I knew all that eating was bad for me, I knew I needed to stop.  But I couldn't.  I honestly didn't care because I was just too freaked out about everything to care about myself. 

And so we get to where I am today.  I have lost all of the fitness gains I had made, plus put on 20+ pounds over my former heaviest weight, for a grand total of 60 pounds gained in about 18 months time.  It's shocking.  My body is really really complaining to me right now.  I have no stamina, no ability to walk or stand for very long at all, my strength is gone, etc.  I feel...gross.

I have a gym membership that is set to expire in a couple of months.  In the past, to get in shape and lose weight I walked.  I can't do that as I am right now. It's too painful.  So I'm going to take advantage of what little time I have left on my membership and swim like the dickens.  Hopefully in the next month or two I'll get to a fitness level that I can start walking again.

I also signed up for a half-marathon training thing that starts next month and the half marathon is in December.  This is doable as long as I work hard at it.  I know before that I went from walking only 10 minutes at a time (when I was previously at my worst) to being able to do a half marathon in about 4 months.  But this will ONLY be possible if I stick to my swimming over the next month. 

I signed up for the half marathon because I'm thinking that will help keep me accountable to my goals.  As bad as I feel right now, it is super easy to get discouraged and I can use all the support I can get.

On Writing

I remember the first story I ever wrote.  I was in first or second grade, I believe.  Somehow, it doesn’t surprise me that my first story was a horror.  I’ve always had a twisted streak.  I enjoy irony.  It makes me giggle.  And thus, my first story was a demonstration of irony. 

To boil down the plot:  It is Halloween and a little girl is trick or treating.  She becomes aware of being followed, and every time she tries to see who it is, she can’t.  Finally, she ducks behind a tree in hopes of spying who it is.  Out comes this giant 9 foot tall celery stick.  The celery stick grabs her and tells her:  “You eat me all the time.  Now it’s my turn to eat you!”  And that is the end of the story. 

I think I was protesting celery.  I never did like it much.

The actual mundane act of writing–holding a pen or pencil to paper or typing letters on a keyboard– can create magickal results.  Catharsis.  Relief.  Joy.  Hope.  Perhaps with my celery story I was hoping Mom wouldn’t make me eat it any more after she read it.  

But more than a way to purge emotions, writing is a way for me to create.   In writing, one gets to be God.  I create whole worlds, people and conflicts.  I save and destroy as I wish.  It is a heady mix of power and muse.  I love it.  I always have.

For many years, I gave up my dream of writing, because I didn’t think there was a future in it.  The people I knew all told me that it was unrealistic, people didn’t make money writing and I should be more practical.  Thus, I stuffed my writing desires in the back of some tiny compartment in my heart and focused on the business of life. 

Despite that, writing still served me well.  I wrote a journal in order to bring me out of a major depression after divorcing my first husband.  Writing never seemed very far from me as I contributed to my college newspaper and wrote newsletters over the years.  When I went back to college, writing took on a more clinical taste as I wrote essay after essay for my classes.

It wasn’t until I took some scriptwriting classes that somehow my desire managed to bust out of the little prison in my heart.  I wrote several short scripts and had a blast.  The act of creating was like a drug.  It was FUN!  It was SATISFYING!  It felt, well, GOOD.

I finally came to the conclusion that whether or not I make money on my writing, I’m not going to let that stop me from writing the way I want to.  Writing will be more than just a tool, to be used only when necessary.   I will write, and write some more.   I will be the writer I always wanted to be.

*Re-posted from my Walknroll blog dated Sept. 11, 2010.*

I AM WOMAN

We give the power of nature a female aspect.  She has the power to create–with spring the world bursts into bloom.  In the summer, fruit ripens, and nature’s bounty is ready for harvest.  Likewise, women give birth to children and raise and nurture them.

But Mother Nature is a schizophrenic, with a split personality.  She gives, but she takes, too.  Lightning, tornadoes, avalanches, mudslides, animal attacks, the list goes on and on.  All of these are potentially deadly manifestations of nature.

Kali, a Hindu goddess, is dark, violent and is associated with annihilation.  Kali wears a necklace of human heads.  More recently, some say she is a benevolent mother goddess.

I think these goddesses are cultural manifestations of the nature of women.  Women give, create, and nurture.  We also take and kill.

My mother is very nurturing.  She is a preschool teacher.  She has a degree in early childhood education.  She has always been kind and gentle.  I never would have thought she could have a dark side.  I first got a glimpse of this darker side when I was fourteen.

We lived out in the boonies and kept chickens.  The chickens weren’t penned, so they frequently ran amok and got underfoot.  One day my mom decided we had too many and that some of them were going to give their feathery lives in order to feed us dinner.

After a very comical scene of Chicken Chase, mom finally managed to catch one of the boogers.  She grabbed an axe and took the sacrificial rooster to our big ol’ wood chopping block.  She raised the axe high in her right hand, held the rooster down on the block with her left, and… hesitated.

Then she slowly lowered the axe to the chicken’s neck and raised it back up and lowered it down again.  She did this a few times.  Sort of like someone playing baseball swings the bat in order to get ready for the ball before the windup and pitch.  I could see the intense concentration on her face.  The look in her eyes was uncertain.  She had never killed anything before.

Then, her eyes narrowed.  Swiftly, the axe came swinging down.  THWACK!  It wasn’t quite hard enough to sever the head, so up came the axe again and THWACK!  The head flew off.  Blood ran everywhere.  The other chickens milled around, and squawked in confusion.

She raised up straight and roared into the sky.  “I did it!  I AM WOMAN!”

As a teen, I didn’t understand then why she would say that.  But I do now.  I do believe I got a glimpse of Kali at that moment.  I can almost envision my mom with a necklace of chicken heads.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, we had a cat that gave birth to kittens.  We let the mom and the kitties out one day when we finally figured they were old enough.  Unfortunately, some animal got to the kittens and savaged them badly.  One was killed outright, and the other two were so damaged that they were dying a very painful death.  I asked my husband to put them out of their misery.

He couldn’t do it.  These little fluffy kittens were just too tiny and cute.   So I, with my round, ripe belly that was carrying life within me, had to do it.   This was the ultimate irony, I felt.  A giver of life was taking it.

I had never killed anything before, either.  Well, not mammalian anyway.  I had gone fishing and killed some bugs, but I’m not counting them.   As I stood there looking at those poor little faces and their shallow, rough breathing, I knew that I had to kill them to end their suffering.

I bashed them over their cute little furry heads.  And you know what?  I roared, “I did it!  I AM WOMAN!”

However, I think I will do without the necklace of kitten heads, thank you very much.

*This is a re-post from my Walknroll blog dated Sept. 14, 2010.*

My Writing Style

I think I’m learning something about my writing style.  I never thought I had a style, but lately I’ve observed an undercurrent of a theme in my work.  So, I guess I do have a style after all.

If you look at the progression of films I have chosen to do, you will see what I mean.  My first short film, Prognosis, is a heavy drama.  My second is a dark comedy short film.  My third, a feature length horror film.  All very different genres, yet all with a dark undercurrent to them.  Even my Nine Levels script, which isn’t in any sort of pre-production at the moment, is dark and twisted, while still very funny.

I like dark.  I like the dank recesses of the human brain–the parts where people’s inner secrets hide and souls cower.  These dark places are what make humans tick.  That’s not to say the bright, vaunted emotions like love aren’t fun to write about.  They can be.  But I prefer not to.

For me, I find that love as a motivator for why Husband rescues Wife from Bad Guys is boring.  No, I find it far more interesting to find that Husband rescues Wife from Bad Guys because if she disappears, he will no longer have access to her Daddy’s money when Daddy kicks the bucket.  I find it more interesting the motivation of Husband planning to kill Daddy then off Wifey after the money is safely inherited by Wife and willed to him.  Bad Guys kidnapping Wife has messed up his plan, therefore he must Go Save Her.

I mean, if you were watching a movie or reading a book, wouldn’t you think that is a more interesting motivation than just…yawn…love?

I think fear is the common denominator in my writing.  Fear of some kind–fear of failure, fear of going to hell, fear of not getting father-in-law’s money and being in the poorhouse, fear of XYZ.  Perhaps it could be argued that fear is the common denominator to all writing, that fear drives us all in some way or another.  I suppose that is true enough. But in my own writing, I like to see just how twisted people can be, and just what they will do in order to alleviate that fear.

That said, while I enjoy the darkness, there is one of those vaunted higher emotions that does show up in my work time and again.  Hope.  People go to dark depths and hope they will see the light again.  People hope they will get away with murder.  People hope that the monster isn’t going to eat them.

Huh?  You say something?  Ohhh!  You thought I was going to say something like hope is the bright torch that illuminates our way to finding love and happiness, didn’t you?  Well, you thought wrong!

Hope, while gilded with promise, is actually cloaked in darkness and despair.  That’s why I love it so, because THAT is reality.  In Hollywood, hope serves us up exactly what we wished for.  In my writing, it doesn’t.  In my writing, Hope is a spectacularly unhelpful bitch. 

You would never know from reading this that I am an optimist at heart would you? Just call me an optimist with cynical tendencies.  Perhaps my characters have no hope in order for me to find mine.  Maybe they go though such hardships in order for me to get through my own more easily. Who knows?  That’s for film critics to ponder once I get rich and famous.

*This is a re-post from my Walknroll blog dated Sept. 14, 2010.*

How I Lost My Eyeglasses

Hamming it up in my glasses and fave boonie hat.
I love the second and fourth Thursdays of the month.  That is when I meet up with my much loved fiction writing group.  They are fantastic people.  So I was pretty excited about my meeting on the 13th, even though it was in Beaverton, which is waaay across town for me.  The trip is worth it.  I think I get more laughing done than writing stuff but both are therapeutic, so it’s all good.
 
This particular Thursday, we were meeting at the Beaverton City Library.  The meeting was winding down and I took a quick potty break.  So I was in the stall, leaning over the toilet, when my eyeglasses fell off and into the toilet at the exact same time I pushed the handle.  These particular toilets are the high powered ones with the super fast floooosh.  My glasses were gone before I could even react.

As I recall, I stood there a second, and then shouted, “Awww, FUCK!”" Not something I normally do in a public bathroom, but hey, it was kind of a knee-jerk reaction anyway.  That’s okay.  I think the circumstances warranted it.

Apparently I wasn’t alone, though, and my loud profanity was attention-getting, to say the least.  A woman out in the sink area (I was still in the stall at this point), sounded rather tentative when she asked, “Um, is everything okay?”  I don’t blame her for sounding tentative.  I mean, you probably would, too, if you heard some random woman in the handicap stall cursing at the top of her lungs.  It’s a weird thing to do in a public bathroom, let alone a LIBRARY.

So I opened the stall door, all dejected and explained to her that I just flushed my eyeglasses down the toilet. She was taken by surprise by that.  I think she was trying to suppress a giggle.  I’m not sure.  She suggested I tell the librarian.

I went back to my writing friends in the meeting room, explained to them what’s was going on, and after lots of friendly ribbing, got some paper and made some OUT OF ORDER signs.  I didn’t want anybody else to use that toilet and flush the glasses farther, just in case they were stuck in the s-curve portion of the toilet.  Then I went to the librarian.

I tell the librarian I was in the handicap stall and I accidentally flushed my glasses down the toilet.
She blinked a few times. “Um.  Well, I’ve been trained to respond to different emergencies and all kinds of questions, but for that…”  long pause….”I’ve got nothin’!”

She gave me some tape for my signs and after a short little discussion, I gave her my address and phone number just in case the plumber (whenever he finally does go out there, if he hasn’t gone already) is able to retrieve my glasses.  She was pretty nice about it all.

It’s been a couple of weeks now, and still no phone calls about the glasses.  I don’t think I’m getting them back.  The question is, if they ever do retrieve them, do I really want them back?

*This is a re-post from my old Walknroll blog, dated Jan. 28, 2011.*

UPDATE:  I returned to the library a month or so ago, and the librarian recognized me right away.  I suspect that when you talk with a person who accidentally flooshed their eyeglasses down the toilet, the unlucky sap's image is forever imprinted on your brain.  It was for her, anyway.  She said, "Oh!  We never did manage to get your glasses back.  The plumber said they were long gone.  Probably somewhere in the sewer system, now." 

I suppose it's just as well.  My glasses were always trying to escape me, anyway, as I was constantly looking for them.  Now I bet they're like, "FREEDOM!  Whooo!  Damn, it stinks in here..."

Giddy Happiness!

A few months ago, I decided not to continue with my other blog--it was getting too expensive and I wanted to find something more reasonable.  But being new to blogging and ignorant, I had no idea how to backup the work I had done.  So, when my webpage got taken down, so did my content.  I had no idea how to get it back.  I surfed the web for cached pages, and found a few, but the vast majority of my content was gone gone gone.

Until yesterday.  I re-discovered my Google reader.  On it, I had subscribed to my own blog and had forgotten that I had done so.  Heck, I forgot I even HAD a Google reader.  I have several subscriptions on there that I was like, "Oh!  So that's where they got off to!  I couldn't remember where I stuck those!"  (There are so many ways to keep track of blogs these days that I get super-confused.)   

Anyhow, Google reader had archived my posts.  So I was able to go back and recover every single one of them!  Yay!!   I copied and pasted all the content to Word so I would have it saved for just in case.  But, it was fun to go back and re-read through old posts.  So many things that I had forgotten!

I'm going to re-post some of my favorites here over the next couple of days.

Also, let this be a lesson for you non-techies like me.  For those of you who have published blogs in the past and let them lapse or whatever, your blog is likely still out there on somebody's reader somewhere!