Ugh! Sorry about the look.

Sorry to everyone about how this looks. WordPress is f*ed right now and seems to have frozen on this awful theme. I can’t change it, urgh. I will get things righted as soon as WordPress starts responding again.

EDIT: Okay, so I settled on a theme! I also tweaked the header a little. I kinda like it this way. Is it a winner? We’ll see… not that I have much to choose from LOL.

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“Her Chapter Was Cut” – Introduction

Author’s note:

I am writing “Her Chapter Was Cut” as a serial, to be completed in ‘parts’ when I have an extra hour or two. The parts will be largely unedited, in the sense that they’ll be checked for grammar, spelling, and consistency, and published directly thereafter. Depending on the success of the serial, it may be brought together as a single work and edited thusly.

Of course, it goes without saying, that this work is copyrighted. This and future parts are exclusively the property of the author (me), and shall be distributed only in the form of links to the original work, which I shall gather together by category.

Her Chapter Was Cut

Prologue: 2010

Elsie Brooke’s face was inched up to the dirty low mirrors of the girls’ bathroom. She hated being so close to the rust and the grime, but she needed to find the tiny slivers of rock lodged in her cheek. Picking carefully, so was relieved to see the red scrape starting to fade. At least it won’t leave a mark, so it won’t remind them what happened. If she were lucky, her classmates would have forgotten, blithely discussing whatever it was —those— kids discussed.

Finishing up, she washed her hands and took a second look before rushing up to class. Recess would be over soon, though she had a bathroom pass. The recess monitor, an older lady who doubled as a second-grade teacher’s aide, had looked at her disapprovingly while writing out the pass. “Go get yourself cleaned up,” she’d rasped, quickly turning back to the gaggle of first-grade girls who surrounded her in adoration. Elsie didn’t think twice about the aide’s callous response, for she’d expected no better.

The bell rang as she slipped into her desk, surrounded by the group of children she internally qualified as her friends. Nick, her best friend from before they’d gone to public school, came over. “The book fair is coming after school. Are you gonna to stay?”

“Yeah. My mom’s gonna pick me up, since I’m helping Mrs. Qualters.”

“Yeah, me too. Can I get a ride home?”

“Sure.”

Elsie never thought twice about helping Nick. His dad was never available to pick him up, or spend much time with him; even when she slept over Nick’s house, his dad was downstairs, watching movies and drinking thirstily. She and Nick would make soggy microwaved French fries, or eat cereal with milk on the edge of going bad. Nick’s dad never seemed to notice, though once in a while he asked forlornly if they were okay.

One time they came down after midnight, having stayed up giggling over Mad Libs. Nick’s father was sprawled on the living-room floor, face-down, an empty brown bottle sitting next to his head. Nick’s childish face hardened, telling Elsie to go upstairs. She climbed to the top and sat, resting her head against the cool white wall, listening to Nick, feeling protective. “Dad, get up,” he pleaded. “Dad—Dad, you should go to bed. It’s bed time. Let’s go to bed, Dad.”

But the last year or so she’d stayed over Nick’s less and less. He always seemed busy with the boys he’d befriended. She grudgingly acknowledged them, which seemed necessary since she didn’t want to be squeezed out of Nick’s life. But they were strange to her, always talking about uninteresting things like Transformers, model cars, and the girls in class they wanted to “go out with” (she was never included in those particular speculations).

Nick went back to his desk as the bell rang, and she tentatively touched her cheek. It was still a little warm, but she thought that probably the redness had gone away. She didn’t understand people or how she was supposed to be a part of a group. She thought she and Nick would have fun staying after school together. Since it wasn’t recess, and those boys would never stay for a book fair, she wouldn’t have to worry about him pushing her down on the tar like he did today, running away, laughing as joined in their calls of, “Moo! Moo! Moo!”

The rest of the day went by quickly, and soon she found herself staring at row upon row of books. She took a slow breath in through her nose, relishing in the sharp sawdust-y smell of new paper and the glue of the bindings. The book fair was wonderfully empty, being on its last day at the school. She tidied up the rows, running her finger over the smooth backs of the colorful bindings: “The Babysitter’s Club,” “Goosebumps,” “The Black Stallion,” “Harry Potter,” and other series called to her seductively. E. B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan, the book from which she learned to read, smiled at her like an old friend. Sometimes she found a book she hadn’t read yet, inviting her with a dog, horse, or cat on the cover. She’d slip the thin tome from the shelf and flip it open, the smell of its newness pouring out with the promise of great adventure.

The yellow words, dripped over a pink background, were what she noticed first. She pulled out the book and smiled at is substantialness, liking the way it felt in her hands. Real Stories of Real Girls sprawled yellowly over the pink cover, with stars and a few subtle hearts sprinkled to frame the faces of a group of girls her age. They were of all nationalities, all hair colors, different heights and one girl, she noticed eagerly, larger than the rest. She flipped it open and read a few sentences, one of the girls talking about how she didn’t feel like she “fit in,” and that she had entered third grade very lonely.

Elsie eagerly paid for it, and a few other selections, with the book money her mother had given her. That afternoon and evening found her, with the exception of hurriedly eating a bland, low-fat dinner, in her bedroom, devouring the pink-covered Real Stories. She was looking for Marie’s story – it was Marie, a description of the photo in the introduction explained, who was the larger girl of the group. The stories were alphabetical by first name, and after reading about Leisl, a German exchange student who had been nervous about going to America (though fortunately discovering her classmates were warm and receptive), Elsie turned to the new chapter in anticipation.

Chapter 10: Natalia.

Confused, Elsie checked the index. Marie wasn’t there.

She made sure she wasn’t dreaming up Marie, checking the photo again. Maybe they only featured a few girls from the group? But no: Andrea, Catie, Elizabeth, Fei, Georgia, Kysa, Leisl, Marie, Natalia, Rheanna, Tayla, Vicki, were listed, and all those girls – except Marie – had gotten chapters.

Disappointed, Elsie read to the end of the book anyway. She wondered what had happened to Marie; she got a bad feeling in the pit of her stomach, a feeling she couldn’t quite explain.

Most of the stories ended on an anticipatory note, as a girl was entering a new grade, or starting a new life after finally fitting in, or getting ready for the Olympics. The Epilogue was called: “Followups.” There, she discovered, was mentioned Marie!

The year after Marie told us her story, she enrolled in High Pines Summer Camp, determined to finally lose the weight and come back to school in the fall a new person, ready to make friends. While her story was the saddest in the volume, we hear she’s now buying the clothes she’s dreamed about since she was little, and is considered one of the most popular girls in her school.

Elsie swallowed. Marie’s chapter had been cut; but they’d forgotten to take out her follow-up. Why did they try to erase Marie? And the follow-up — it left Elsie feeling mortified, small, like a big hand had reached deep inside and crushed her.

It would be years before Elsie would notice her Real Stories had been edited by CHWC, the Child Health and Wellness Committee, appointed the year before to make sure that not only were children getting low-calorie foods and plenty of exercise in public schools, but that they were also not being subjected to “unhealthy” messages. That included obliterating fast-food commercials during cartoons and on children’s networks, and making sure that books fairs, funded with grants from the federal government, didn’t have books that contained unhealthy messages.

Marie’s chapter, they’d agreed, was very sad, and it might make a heavy child angry, indignant at her treatment, feeling like she had the right to be treated like the other children. It sent the message that Marie was just another “real girl,” to be accepted in the group of other “real girls.” The committee found this dangerous. They never saw her followup and, when the book was edited to erase Marie, this important bit had remained.

Indeed, it was on the 20th anniversary of the “War Against Obesity” Elsie discovered the CHWC stamp of approval on the back cover of her now-worn copy of Real Stories. She’d been going through her children’s books after having her first pregnancy confirmed, and the sex of the baby (a girl) divulged. Her hands shook slightly as she held the garish pink book, recalling her school years afterwards, and her struggle through college.

She brought the box of books down to the livingroom, wanting to catch the news as she sorted. Old book smell, really just as nice as new book smell, enveloped her pleasantly as she created piles to keep, donate, and throw away. “Welcome back, folks,” chittered a perky, female newscaster. “And welcome to our special 20th anniversary report on The War on Obesity. The last segment was the history of the struggle for the health of our nation against America’s growing waistline, and now we have breaking news. In honor of the anniversary, the Health and Wellness Committee is announcing its “Break the Cycle” campaign. That’s right: the HWC wants to finally obliterate childhood obesity for good, starting with the next generation. Parents who are obese or who have “risk factors” of obesity will be required to register their newborns with HWC, who will enroll the babies into the Break the Cycle program, monitoring their health, offering the services of special schools, camps, and after-school sports and wellness, all the way until the children are 18. Break the Cycle will be a significant cost to the taxpayer, opponents have claimed, but supporters of the program say that cost will be more than made up for in avoiding the medical bills from problems associated with obesity. More on this later, now, the weather.”

Elsie dropped her book.

To be continued….

The Good Ones…not so hard to find

Yesterday I had a long conversation with my to-be stepdaughter about FA. Being a rail-thin girl her whole life, some of the things I said she couldn’t relate to (like being taunted about one’s weight, or told to lose weight, and so forth). However, she was surprisingly “in” the conversation: when I cited the statistic that 40% of teenage girls claim to have had an eating disorder at some point during their teenage years, she exclaimed, “You know, somehow I think it’s higher than that. When I go to the bathroom, you wouldn’t believe it—I can actually hear girls BARFING. It’s GROSS.”

I, of course, silently thanked my lucky stars she wasn’t one of them! Not because she is naturally thin since, as we all know, eating disorders strike at all weights. Having had a little bit of training in nursing and nutrition, she caught on to many of the points I was making. At the end of the long discussion, she said, “Wow, thanks so much for talking to me. It totally gives me a lot to think about.”

She’s a popular, pretty, thin seventeen year-old. I hope she looks upon her fatter friends and acquaintances with a bit more compassion and understanding, and when people she knows start making fat jokes stands up for what she agrees, “is the last form of acceptable discrimination.”

Thank goodness for some kids; thank goodness for their father (my fiancee), who loved them so much and always made them feel like they were wonderful people with a lot to offer. Thank goodness for the progression of generations…even though my seventeen year-old to-be stepdaughter is only eight years younger than I am (eek! lol, don’t judge me 😉 ), when I told her I’d avoided going into the sciences at first because I thought “girls aren’t good at science and math,” she laughed and said, “Don’t tell me THAT. I just got an A+ on my Astronomy exam.” You fucking GO, girl.

Resolutions for Life – Part 3

Okay, TheWeddingChannel.com, you’ve pissed me off.

Please see this page for reference.

I know that Part 2 focused on their “Beauty List,” but after reading the above article I felt so indignant I had to make them Part 3, as well. Damn, even Brides.com didn’t go as far as these assholes. Playing on the anxiety of brides-to-be, feeding them myths and stereotypes, and then claiming that ‘shaping up’ is some kind of ritualized training to be a wife, makes me sick, and MUST be exposed here, so everyone can smell their shit-and-baloney.

The Basics
The formula for weight loss is a simple one: Calories burned must exceed calories consumed.

Bingo!

So it makes sense that the best way to begin your new lifestyle is by shaping up your diet.

Oh hey, you’ve convinced me. What a simple formula, it’s just a wonder EVERYONE isn’t thin!

To keep your energy level high enough to plan your wedding, choose a safe, healthy eating plan that targets a loss of 1 to 2 pounds a week, which, for most of us, means consuming about 1200 calories a day.

…despite the fact that Ansel Keyes’ Starvation Study showed that there is significant psychological and physical symptoms of starvation at just 1600 calories a day, and these brilliant morons want you to restrict to 1200! Huh, I wonder if your energy level is going to be high enough to “plan your wedding” (which apparently is your only function as a bride-to-be, and the only thing you have to worry about having enough energy for).

If you have a significant amount of weight to lose before the wedding — say 20 pounds — you’ll need to start your diet between 5 and 6 months before the big day.

…despite the Starvation Study being 1600 cal/day for 3 months, with all the bad side effects.

But because you want to lose fat weight — not just body weight — keeping your calorie intake hovering at 1200 isn’t your only concern. Here’s why: According to fitness expert William D. McArdle, PhD and Professor Emeritus at the Department of Family, Nutrition and Exercise Science at Queens College at CUNY, when you diet without exercising, your body uses lean muscle mass for energy.

…a starving body starts eating itself. Shouldn’t that be worrisome enough? Why would you want to starve yourself to the point where your body starts to want to consume your muscle mass? Gods!

But if you add exercise to your daily routine, your body will turn to those pesky fat stores for fuel.

…ew, PESKY JIGGLY ICKY FAT OMG! It’s not like body fat serves, yanno, a purpose. Like ensuring you don’t fucking starve to death, and giving you the energy to live NORMALLY.

<<snip>>

So to trim your arms, abs, and buns, you’ve got to start with a program that benefits your whole body, not just the areas your wedding dress emphasizes.

I like how any sort of weight loss is automatically associated with “benefiting” your body. God, our society is sick!

Feeding Your Workout
Once you’ve begun your workout routine, you may feel that such sweat and strain entitles you to a big burger with the works and a giant order of fries. Don’t be fooled. Remember, the key to weight loss is to expend more calories than you consume, so if you’ve upped exercise only to up calorie intake, you won’t get the results you’re looking for.

…which is to starve starve starve the jiggle away, and make those collarbones really POP! And while we’re on the subject, I’m glad they’ve finally discovered the “key to weight loss.” They’ll surely make millions, and everyone will automatically become slim.

In fact, when you get regular exercise, you need to be even more vigilant about what you eat. Your body, having become a more efficient machine, relies on the vitamins and minerals found in healthy food to fuel itself and develop muscle and lean tissue. In addition to lean meats and dairy, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains, add a multivitamin to your daily diet to make certain you get the nutrients you need.

…Eating multivitamins in place of food which contains those vitamins is one of the first steps towards an eating disorder.

And now the kicker, from which I derived the title of this post:

Resolutions for Life
Once you’ve begun your healthy diet and exercise plan,

…1200 calories a day is healthy?? Exercising until you drop, ignoring your body’s need for fuel is healthy??? What fucking PLANET are you living on?

there’s one big challenge left: Sticking to your guns.

I think the bigger challenge is: Not dropping dead.

And not just until your wedding day. The key to long-term weight loss is making healthy eating and fitness part of your lifestyle forever.

…until death from starvation do us part!

So, why not start your marriage out right by dedicating yourself to a sensible diet and active lifestyle?

…unlike the diet and activity mentioned here

(If you can involve your spouse in this effort, so much the better.)

Yeah, get Fatty McGroom on the Guilt Wagon!

This doesn’t mean that you can’t ever enjoy food or indulge yourself once in a while.

…yeah, you can enjoy food once or twice a year if you exercise twice as hard the next day.

However, you’ll want to avoid reverting to unhealthy eating habits and regaining the weight you’ll have worked so hard to lose.

Why? Why will they want that? What if they get pregnant? What if they have a change in their life and can’t obsess about food anymore as their primary concern, and spend two hours a day in the gym? What if they, like 95%-98% of ALL DIETERS, regain the weight in 5 years? Then what? Their life is going to end? They’re going to magically catch TEH DIABEETUS from their fat? They’re going to be a worse wife? A worse mother? A worse person? They should be ashamed? They should give up all their hobbies, interests, scholarships, talents, family interests, because they live by your fucking disordered, starvation-standards of bone-thin beauty??

If you find it hard to stay motivated on your own — and most people do — consider seeking out a weight loss organization for advice and support.

…oh yeah, feed the coffers of the bloated weight loss industry, which likely is funding this article in some way. Yeah, they’re SO successful…that’s why everyone is TEH SKINNY!

If you take “weight loss for life” seriously, you’ll feel as good about yourself on your 20th anniversary as you will on your wedding day!

Yeah, starving, tired, beaten-up, low-esteemed, anxious, obsessed, and tortured.

Answers to All My Wedding Questions! – Part 2

TheWeddingChannel.com

Disclaimer: to get a sense of TheWeddingChannel’s approach to “bridal fitness,” take a gander at this page, which features the timeless introductory anecdote: “They’re coming. Somewhere on the planning calendar between This Engagement Party and That Bridal Shower, fittings for that big, dreamy dress will be scheduled. And if you’re like most brides, you’d much rather the seams of your wedding gown be taken in, rather than be let out.”

Of course. Because there’s nothing more embarrassing, humiliating, and demoralizing than growing disgusting fat on your body, is there? And you know, if you don’t starve starve starve run run run, you’ll get ICKY OMG FAT!

Welcome to the second in my pre-wedding, ritualized bridal masochism series! Today, we look at the “Beauty” page on www.theweddingchannel.com.

And on this beauty page, brides-to-be, they’ve generously gone ahead and answered all the burning, necessary questions any bride in her right mind MUST ASK before “her big day”!!

Beauty
Can your beauty style reflect your personality?

Wow, what a concept! I was certain I was supposed to merely mimic the most popular style at the moment, regardless of unimportant things as what I actually like or dislike.

Which beauty treatments are most popular with brides?

Oh, there we go. Guess it’s not about personality at all, is it?

How can you keep your perfume from fading?

No shit, I need this stuff to keep knocking out Mr. Groom all night. Mmm, loganberry!

What is a beauty consultation? Do you need one?

Do I need one? You mean, do I go against the current, like myself and the way I look, and try often not to conform to the current societal idea of beauty?

Is there a bridal style that will never look outdated?

Wait, TheWeddingChannel can predict the future?!

Can you improve your complexion before the wedding?

Not “should you,” or “do you want to,” but “can” you? Cuz, yanno, you’re never good enough. Stress, worry, and improve! Stress, worry, and improve! And, above all, don’t actually enjoy your engagement. Earning “your big day” is hard work, missy. Do you really think you have the right to get married with bad skin?

What are the most common beauty emergencies?

I have the feeling this link is mostly about popping and/or hiding zits, but I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

Is there a sensible exercise program for brides?

You know, since every bride has to earn “her big day” by obsessive exercise with the main goal of losing weight and/or invisibly “toning” “problem areas” so that she can “look good on her big day.”

Can you do your makeup without a professional?

Oh for Christ, what are we, twelve?

How can you fit exercise into a busy schedule?

Again, hamster meet wheel.

What are the current tooth-whitening options?

Tooth-whitening is important for brides-to-be, since they’re diet consists mainly of frozen diet dinners and low-fat lattes, the latter which stains one’s teeth. Also, if you really want to earn “your big day,” taking up smoking can be an effective way to “lose the weight.” No health hazard is as bad as jiggling down the aisle. Women aren’t supposed to jiggle.

Should you tone up your arms for a sleeveless gown?

Yeah, what are the ‘experts’ going to say to this one…no? You should just proudly display your cellulite and your flabby underarms to the world? Dammit, what did I say about earning “your big day”?? Get to work, you flabby freak! You have to starve, sweat, and muscle-build to earn “your big day.” It’s not like you can get it for free. Mr. Groom shouldn’t have to marry the girl he proposed to…he’s expecting version 2, post-starvation, beach-cruise-tanned-and-toned Mrs. Groom! And you daren’t gain any weight after “your big day,” either, or he might write to Dan Savage seeking moral support for wanting to cheat on your with that skinny blonde woman at work (heck, it’s not his fault you “decided to get fat.”).

How can you make sure your makeup lasts all day?

Spray paint?

Can you achieve a natural-looking tan without the sun?

Spray paint?

What colors complement an ivory skin tone?

Scanning down the list, I see this is way above the other skin tones, for some reason. Uh, wow. I mean, if these are mostly white chicks checking out the site, fine, whatever, but wouldn’t they know what colors complement their skin tone (ivory or no), from, I dunno, a lifetime of living in it?

Is there a safe way to slim down for your wedding gown?

Again, not “should I” or even “I want to, is there a safe way” to slim down, just the natural expectation that brides need to starve starve starve to wear those couture dresses that are paraded on bone-racks of unmarried teenagers. And furthermore, why don’t you just buy a fucking dress that fits YOU instead of torturing your body to fit IT?

How can makeup flatter an olive complexion?

Oh hey, another skin complexion! This one is further down the list, signifying its minority status. Sigh.

For a dark complexion, which colors look best?

I don’t get it, why weren’t these up near the “nearly-transparent ivory” tone?

What are the benefits of hiring a personal trainer?

Because, yanno, you have to “lose the weight” else not earn “your big day”! Besides that personal trainers are slavedrivers that shame you and hold you to your stated “goal” weight even when you’re dying of starvation, bedraggled, anxious, hating yourself, and hating your engagement? Even when your body is cuing you like mad to stop torturing yourself and eat something, rest, and enjoy? Yeah, a personal trainer doesn’t have your body, so they won’t know its cues. Therefore, when you no longer want to push yourself (a survival reaction from a tortured, sick, starving body), a personal trainer won’t care, labeling you simply as a number on a scale.

What foods will keep you healthy and energized?

Listen to your body, it knows! Oh, know, you mean low-calorie, high-fiber, low-fat, low-sugar, right? D’oh! *facepalm*

When should you start a bridal beauty routine?

Huh? It’s a routine? Then doesn’t that mean it doesn’t start, it just exists…since it’s a routine?

For combination skin, which products are best?

Spray paint?

What types of makeup photograph beautifully?

Spray paint?

Is there a way to test makeup before buying it?

PLZ

How soon before the wedding should you wax?

Holy god, they’re unleashing EVERY FUCKING FEMALE SELF-TORTURE RITUAL EVER CONCOCTED! I’m surprised they don’t ask if you should douche before the wedding night.

The Cycle of Life, or The Ones that Came Before Me

My grandmother sent me a thirty-page family history she’d written a few years ago. It had been created for her children, she summarized, “So that you will know your story.” It delves two to three generations before her birth, explicating the lives of her mothers’ and fathers’ family.

Many of the people in her story I’d heard of; I’d even heard some of the unsavory bits, like my great-grandfather’s drinking problem, and my great-grandmother’s Victorian bigotry. I though perhaps the story would be dry, or my interest confined to the family member whom I’d grown up with and loved.

Not so. I was sucked into a fascinating journey, starting in England and Germany, and ending up in the same (then bustling, now depressed) mill town in central Massachusetts. Gentlepeople, peasants, upper-middle class merchants, lower-class workers, converged to form what would be my father’s side of the family. They lived in colorful, descriptive neighborhoods called German Town and Devon (for Devonshire, England); they went to the Whalom ballroom to dance to the big bands of the day (like Count Basie); the women were warned against driving (not a proper woman’s activity), and being seven months pregnant meant being confined to house and home.

The years of the Depression were hard on my grandmother’s family, looking forward to their Christmas present of woolen slippers crafted by their grandfather (“They were the warmest slippers I ever owned,” reminisced my grandmother), a pound of butter a week from City Hall, and a five pound bag of sugar or flour obtained for free every Friday at the local movie theater (you had to buy a ten cent ticket: “We almost never saw the movie,” my grandmother explained, the primary purpose acquiring the flour or sugar).

Then came World War II, and my grandmother’s brother entered the Air Force in order to become a pilot. Her to-be husband joined the Navy as a Pharmicist’s mate, serving in New Zealand and Brooklyn, NY. She (and most of her friends) married soon after the war ended, producing my parents’ generation, the Baby Boomers. Apartments were at a premium, since everyone was getting married and starting families, so when my great-grandmother became extremely ill due to complications arising from diabetes, they moved in with her and my great-grandfather, giving their apartment to couple who were close friends, the woman living with her parents and the man at the YMCA. They were ecstatic to get the apartment, since that meant they could finally get married.

My great-grandmother died at a young age, but not until she got to meet her first granddaughter, my aunt. My grandmother and my grandfather moved into their first house, and supplemented their full-time jobs with money from singing (soloists at Churches got paid $3 each Sunday, a good bit of extra money back in the forties). Soon my grandmother was pregnant again (with my uncle), and they moved to the 23-acre farm they were to occupy until my grandfather’s death in 1992. They had many wonderful years there, and I was fortunate to know the farm well myself as a small child rambling in the back woods.

My grandmother is still alive and doing very well; at 80, the favored phrase to describe her is “outliving us all.” She shovels her own driveway, mows her own lawn, and still cooks Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and birthday dinners for her family and friends. At 4’11” and the same weight for the past forty years, she claims the secret to her excellent health is, “Sleeping soundly. I’ve always slept like a rock, for at least eight hours a night. I also have chronic low blood pressure, which has helped!” (on a side-note, I inherited her low blood-pressure, but not her height – I’m 6’0″)

My grandmother never wrote any books (though she confessed to me recently that she’s been writing stories for years, letting her best friend read them, and then throwing them away – which to me, was blasphemy. What I’d give for those stories, now! I’m sure they were wonderful. Girls, let this be another lesson in self-esteem: you are what you deem yourself to be, and by saving yourself potential embarrassment, you are destroying what could be a tremendous gift), nor did she earn a college degree. She wasn’t an outspoken feminist, though she had firm opinions and crystal-clear morals. She didn’t create any great works of art, though she can knit an entire afghan in ten days flat. She volunteers for Meals on Wheels, is active in her church, and is a fiercely loyal and protective friend. She lives alone but isn’t lonely too often; she is still deeply in love with my grandfather, fifteen years since his death.

I have held myself to the highest standards since I can remember. A lawyer, a physicist, an economist, a philosopher, a mathematician, an opera singer, a film maker, a writer, a director, a composer — each of these at one point was a pinnacle, a goal to be reached. The perfect girlfriend/wife/lover/mother/daughter/sister/woman, the perfect citizen, the perfect financial being, a possessor of a perfect body – also each, at times (and some still), goals.

Still, next to my grandmother’s colorful life, mine is a dull sepia. Reading her history, and mine, has given me a weighty sense of perspective that makes the small irritations less so, yet at the same time has left me profoundly depressed. Perhaps it is because I never got a chance to meet many of those interesting characters; perhaps it is because I miss my grandmother, and want to tell her how much the story of her life has impacted my own. Perhaps it is because I feel like I don’t have the opportunities she had–strange thing to say, given the trials of her life.

Maybe I don’t need to know why I feel what I feel, and just let it take me for a while, and grieve silently, respectfully, for the ones that came before me.

Who’s Afraid of the Big Fat News?

Sandy at Junk Food Science worked hard yesterday to debunk the latest rash of new stories on a study showing a supposed correlation between higher BMI and certain types of cancer.

Today provided one of the most extreme examples of medical marketing, with 2,090 news stories all appearing on precisely the same day, in media around the world, and all saying the same thing: a new study claimed to have found overweight or obesity to be associated with higher risks for cancers.

I highlighted this first quote from Sandy’s story, because I was amazed at the number: 2,090 news stories! My god. I wonder if anyone has ever done a comparison between how widespread obesity news stories are and how widespread say, stories about wars, treaties, terrorism, and so forth are? Why do I get the sinking sensation that the difference may not be that much, perhaps even in obesity’s favor?

However, read on:

The authors did a literature search in Medline and Embase for internationally published papers (from 1966 to November, 2007) on certain cancers (“less common cancers” than the World Cancer Research Fund study) and the terms “obesity,” “adiposity,” “body mass index” or “body size.” …. They also eliminated all of the studies that found no associations between cancers and BMI. … Only one cohort had different ethnicities and only two included Black Americans. They didn’t control for endless confounding factors, let alone any, such as smoking, socioeconomic status, use of hormones, medications or steroid usage, age, etc. … They only looked for correlations between higher BMIs and cancers, not correlations between lower BMIs and cancers. …

I’m going to let this all speak for itself, with the one qualification: in the scientific community, we call this “cooking the books.” You all know it better as Plain Ole American  100% Grade A Fine Quality Bullshit.