Quicky FYI: Comments policy

I updated the comments policy today. Due to being added to the fatosphere feed, I’m sure I’m going to have a lot more commenters than I’d been having. So keeping my comments moderated seemed like putting the whole group through something that only a few deserve.

So as of today, I put them on semi-moderated. Which means that once you post a comment and I approve it, the next time you post a comment it’ll go through automatically. So NEW commenters will have to be approved, but that’s it. It also allows me to keep a tight rein on trolls, especially since they tend to use different made-up email addresses each time, and therefore would automatically go into the queue.

That is all. Have a Rainbow Day!*

* – an homage to my high school principal, who used this phrase EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Over the PA system.

Apparently Hubby’s Friends are Size-Positive, too.

I was relating to The Hubster the story about the Olsen twins and their Starbucks Debacle.  He didn’t understand the big deal about it until I turned it around for him.

“What if, say, you and I were out to dinner, and I ordered… ice cream… for a dessert?  And the waitress brought me a bowl of fruit instead, telling me that I needed to lose a few pounds?”

That clicked for him.  He finally ‘got it’ once I put it to him like that.  I never realized before how size-positive he truly was until I really started talking to him about the kind of stuff I’m finding throughout the Fatosphere.

He then told me the story of something that happened when he and his best friend were out at a club.  Apparently this emaciated whip of a woman kept hitting on him.  (Hubby’s best friend is married to his childhood sweetheart – they’ve been together since they were 15 years old.)  Best Friend kept telling the woman he wasn’t interested, but she kept coming back for more.  Eventually, Best Friend got an idea to get through to her.  She came back again and the conversation went like this:

Best Friend: You know what, I’ve changed my mind.  I think I’d like to buy you dinner.
Emaciated Whip of a Woman: I knew it!  You want to f**k me, don’t you?
BF: No, I just want to feed you.  You look like you need to eat!

Of course, EWOAW didn’t take kindly to that remark and finally left BF alone.  And while I realize it’s probably not the nicest example of being a size-positive person (snark much?), The Hubster and I continued to talk.  And I learned some things.

I was always afraid of what his friends would think of me when they finally met me (we’d been married for 4 years before we moved here, and the last time they’d seen him was before he even met me in person for the first time).  I was very much in my self-loathing phase, and feared that when they met me, they would see only fat.  I was astounded to realize that they were very kind people (a far cry to the “American Bitch” comments I’d heard about before*) and they seemed to completely accept me without any reservation whatsoever.

The Hubster told me that he and his friends were never “into” this stick-thin boy-body version of “beauty.”  Best Friend’s wife is very thin, but there’s no way in hell she’s even remotely close to this “size 0 ideal.”  And none of his other friends has ever said anything disparaging about me or my size (I was concerned that they would reserve all their comments for him alone, but it turns out they’ve never said anything).

I don’t know why I found this so surprising.  After all, as The Hubster himself said, he’s always preferred “larger women.”  So if that’s been the case, I’m sure his ex-girlfriends were probably larger women, too.  (I have to admit that I’ve always had images in my head of thin beautiful women hanging on his arm, though.)  And if his friends were going to have a problem with it, they would have had one long before I ever came into the picture.

I’ve been surrounded by size-positive people and didn’t even know it.

Sometimes my own stupidity astounds me.

* – Back before we had ever even met in person, The Hubster was proudly telling everyone he knew that he was traveling to America to marry me.  His friends were understandably upset at this, especially considering that they have all been friends since the age of 3.  They would try to talk him out of it, asking him “Why would you want to go there and marry some American Bitch?”  And I have to admit that him telling me that colored my perception of them just a tiny little bit.  Is it any wonder I feared meeting them for the first time?  After all, I AM the American Bitch.  But now I can see that it was said mainly out of their own fear and sadness at losing The Hubster as a friend.

When ‘home’ is gone.

I’ve known for a long time that my grandmother wanted to sell the house. The house that my grandfather built with his own two hands (and largely out of scraps from other jobs [he was a carpenter]). The house that my father grew up in. The house that I grew up in. The house that three of my four children were conceived in. The house that I had almost every birthday party in. The house I had my wedding reception in.

I knew this. I knew it was coming. It wasn’t a surprise. And honestly, I understand her reasons for it. It’s a 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom house and she’s the only one living in it anymore. And it’s not like she’s always got kids coming over. We were the last of the family to even live near her. Now all of her children (and I’m considered one of them, because she raised me) are scattered to the four winds. My father and my Aunt B are at two different ends of California (my father lives North, Aunt B South). Aunt D lives in Colorado. Uncle T lives in Florida, and Uncle D lives in Wisconsin. I, of course, live in England. It simply doesn’t make sense for her to be living in such a big house when it’s just her and her thoughts.

And then there’s the practical aspect of it all. A house that size, in that area, is expensive! The property taxes alone are nearly half of what the house was originally appraised at when it was first built. And that’s every six months! Then there’s the usual upkeep of a house. And when it’s a big house, the upkeep budget automatically has to be bigger. While she’s still working, she doesn’t exactly make big bucks. She never has. When I was growing up, she regularly worked 2 jobs just to keep the bank from foreclosing on us (as well as the little things… you know… like food).

And the woman is stubborn. At 71 years old, if something needs to be fixed and she knows how to do it… there’s no way in hell she’s going to pay somebody else to do it for her. And at 71 years old, there are certain things that she shouldn’t be doing, regardless of whether or not she’s still able to.

And she’s already bought her new house. It’s a pre-fab in a retirement community only 20 minutes (or so) away from Uncle T in Florida. She’s been paying the mortgage on it for nearly a year now. So she really needs to sell the house. She needs the money.

So rationally and intellectually, I understand why she’s doing this. It makes perfect sense. And I don’t blame her.

And yet…

I thought I was ready for this. I mean, I’ve had nearly two years (maybe more?) to get used to the idea. She’s talked for months about how she needs to get the house cleaned out to get it ready for sale.

But then today, Aunt D sends me this.

I wasn’t ready for the rush of emotion that looking at it brought. I thought I was. I thought I was mostly okay with the idea. But apparently… I’m not.

People are always asking me if I ever think about going ‘home.’ I tell them that I would love to go home for a visit, but that I’m happy living here. But the fact is, sometime in the not-too-distant future, there isn’t going to be a home to go home to.

And there’s the emotional attachment to the house. My grandfather built that house with his own two hands. Nobody outside of our family has ever lived in that house. I know every inch of it by heart. The dark, dusty corners of the basement, where we would hide when there was a tornado warning. The attic, unbearably hot in summer and freezing cold in winter, where we all had childhood mementos stashed. The last time I was up there, my Raggedy Ann Halloween costume from when I was 8 was still poking out of the top of a box. I have boxes of books that Great-Aunt C gave me up there. Great-Grandma’s old sewing machine is up there. The thought of all of those things being gone and strangers’ belongings in their place fills me with a sadness I just can’t even begin to put into words.

What do you do when ‘home’ is gone? Have any of you ever been through something like this? Was it as hard as it seems to me? How did you get through it?

I ask because there’s a part of me that wants to call my grandmother and literally beg her not to sell the house. But I won’t do that. That would be selfish and inconsiderate of me. And she raised me better than that.

I can’t deny that the urge is there, though. It’s like a panic that’s building in my chest. And after feeling so happy the last few weeks, it’s doubly hard.

An Act of Kindness that Changed My Life

According to Peggy Elam at On the Whole, today bloggers are being encouraged to write about acts of human kindness, and I have a great story, so I thought I’d go ahead and tell it.

It was the winter of 2000, and I’d just had a baby.  Because of being on maternity leave and some unexpected expenses (I will never own a Mazda again), we were so far in the hole financially that I literally couldn’t see our way out of it.  I had gone back to work the day before Thanksgiving, earlier than anybody had expected me to, because the situation was just that dire.

Then, one evening, while chatting away in the chat room that The Hubster and I met in, Ed, a guy that I was friendly with popped up on my screen.  He wanted to know how I was doing.  To be quite honest, I was depressed, and felt like a black cloud followed me around (a’la cartoon), and wasn’t capable of giving him the “fine” answer I probably should have given him.  So the conversation went something like this:

Ed: Hi.  How are you?
Me: Do you want the truth, or should I just say “fine” and be done with it?
Ed: I want the truth, of course.

So I proceeded to tell him.  I told him how we’d just had a baby, and I’d gone back to work early, while The Hubster had had to give up his job to stay home and take care of the kids (I made more money than he did, so it made sense that I would be the one to continue working).  I told him how we were behind on the rent, the gas, the electric, the phone, the water… we were so far behind that I didn’t know how the hell we were going to survive.  Either we paid the rent and got all the utilities shut off and froze to death, or we paid the utilities and we ended up out on the street.  I couldn’t see how we were going to be able to pay for everything all at once, and I didn’t know what to do.

It turned out that Ed was a farmer in Mississippi, but he was originally from Minnesota.  He would be travelling within yards of my house on his way home for the holidays (we lived very close to I-95 in Illinois at the time), and he would be willing to bring us some food if we were willing to accept the help.  I really didn’t know what to say to that, so I told him that I had to discuss it with The Hubster first.

It took me a couple of days to be able to say anything to him.  I really didn’t know how to process this information.  This guy that didn’t know me, didn’t even know what I looked like, was willing to do something like this for me?  Should I accept the offer?  What kind of person would that make me?  Would I look greedy?  Would I look desperate?  (Well, I WAS desperate, but still….)  When The Hubster and I finally had a talk about it, we agreed that we would take Ed up on his offer.  We had three children (at the time) to think about; doing everything in our power to help them survive was more important than any pride the two of us had.

The day arrived, a Saturday.  I was nervous – I had only spoken to Ed via instant message and email.  I was worried about what he would think of me.  And to be quite honest, I was somewhat embarrassed by my house and the area I lived in.  Because money was so tight, we couldn’t afford to be too picky, and we lived in an area over-run with drug dealers and gang-bangers.  Needless to say, the house wasn’t all that great (it wasn’t all that bad, either, but still).  But when Ed and a friend of his drove up, I had to concentrate very hard not to let my jaw actually hit the floor.  When he said he would be willing to bring us some food, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine what he actually brought us.

180 lbs. of beef (no, that’s not a typo: one hundred and eighty pounds of beef)

2 hams

80 lbs. of potatoes

4 CASES of canned vegetables

Because of Ed’s single act of kindness, my weekly grocery shopping consisted solely of bread, cereal, and milk.  I was able to make our money stretch enough so that we were able to catch up on the rent AND the bills.  And a week before Christmas, I received an $800 check from my ex for back child support (he’s the father of Number One Daughter).  I started out the winter wondering if we were even going to have a home for Christmas, and Ed’s act of kindness set the ball rolling for one of the best Christmases we ever had.  If it hadn’t been for him, I have no doubt that by the holiday, we would have been homeless.

I never heard from Ed again.  Strangely, after that, he never logged onto that chat room again.  I was constantly asking mutual acquaintances if they’d heard from him, but no one had.  Emails went unanswered.  I have absolutely no idea what happened to the man, but the experience proved to reinforce the feeling I had about him: Ed was an angel.  In human form, maybe.  But definitely an angel – of mercy, of kindness, and maybe even a guardian angel of some sort.

And as long as I live, I will never forget him, or what he did for me and my family.

Christmas Stress

A Close-Up of MY tree!I used to love Christmas.

I loved everything about it.  The feeling in the air that started right after Thanksgiving and built up in intensity the closer it got to the big day.  The way everything seemed to sparkle just that little bit more because it was that time of year.  I loved the gaudy decorations that seemed to crop up everywhere you looked.  I loved the Christmas songs that you would hear on the radio, in stores, in peoples’ homes.  I loved Christmas movies, where everybody lives happily ever after once they discover the real meaning of Christmas.  Hell, I even used to love seeing the Salvation Army Santas ringing their bells and calling out “Merry Christmas!”

Then I had kids.

Or, I should say, then my kids got older.  When they were younger, it wasn’t such a big deal.  They loved Christmas as much then as they do now, but they didn’t care where their toys came from.  I could go to a resale shop and buy them a whole bunch of (good condition but) used toys and they would just be happy that they got something.  But now, they want everything they see, regardless of whether or not it’s something they’ll play with beyond Christmas day and certainly without regard to how much it costs.

I remember doing the same thing, though.  I would sit down with the Toys ‘R Us book, and go from cover to cover, putting everything I could possibly want on my list.  But I had a cunning plan.  I figured if I wrote down everything I wanted, I was sure to get something I wanted.  Of course, there were certain things that I really wanted more than others, but all in all, I figured if I did it that way, I was sure to get at least something on my list.  (And my grandmother, bless her, would make sure I got the things I really wanted, even if it took her years to save up the money.  When Cabbage Patch Kids first came out, I wanted one so bad I could taste it.  But Christmas came and went, and no CPK.  But the next year?  The next year I got TWO!!!)

But as a kid, I (obviously) had no idea how much pressure that put on my grandmother.  Until now, when I’m feeling that pressure myself.  My kids want this, that, and the other thing.  But then there’s rent to pay, a phone bill that needs to be paid or I won’t be able to call home on Christmas day (and my entire family is going to be at the homestead for the holiday!  I absolutely MUST call home!!), gas needs to be topped up (we have a pre-pay meter), so does the electric… and I have to somehow figure out what I’m going to get for these kids that won’t be too disappointing for them.  I’m torn between being a responsible adult/parent and giving my kids the kind of Christmas memories that I have.

My grandmother always sends money in lieu of presents on the holidays, simply because shipping charges are astronomical (she’s sometimes paid more for shipping than she did on the items themselves).  This year she decided to send us American Express Gift Cards.  Okay… no problem, right?

Wrong!

These things say ON THE CARDS that they are to be used in the US ONLY.  Um… we live in the UK.  We’ve lived here for nearly five years now.  I absolutely love my grandmother, but she can be such a dolt at times.

The thing is, we were counting on this money.  It doesn’t amount to all that much – only about £120 or so (when you consider the fact that there’s six of us in this family, that’s not much).  But it still would have made a big difference.

I am going to try and use them on amazon (I already checked, and they do accept AmEx, I’m just not sure if these specific cards are going to work).  But to get these things and then find out that we can’t use them… it just added stress to my stress to my stress.

Not fun.

You might be wondering…

… why I wrote that last post. 

Well, here’s the thing.  Ever since I started this blog, without fail, a few times a week I get people surfing in through search engines with something along the lines of what I wrote.  “I’m fat and he’s leaving me” or “my husband says I’m fat” or “my husband left me because I’m fat”.  Every.  Single.  Week.

And it breaks my heart.

We talked a bit about this kind of situation over at Big Fat Deal and a few of the other Fat Blogs, and when I realized that those kinds of hits kept coming in, I just had to say something.  I’ve been in a similar situation (although I must admit that the man I’m referring to was just abusive, period), and I know how much it would have meant to me to have someone tell me that it’s not my fault.  It’s not the fault of my fat, even.  It’s the fault of the man I’m with, who is too shallow to love me as a person and not an object.

And y’all…. I’m ALL about unconditional love.  Yeah, call me a sop if you want, but it’s just the way I am.  Unless and until a person gives me reason not to treat them that way, it’s my modus opperandi.  I treat people the way I would want to be treated unless I have a reason not to.  Of course, that means that every time I hear a sad story (or watch a sad movie! man, those get to me!), I need to reach for the tissues.  But whatever.  It’s the way I am, the way I’ve always been, and even if I wanted to change it (which I don’t, than you very much), I don’t think I could.

So there you go. 

I just couldn’t NOT say anything when I saw the kinds of hits I’ve been getting.  It simply wouldn’t have been right.

A Message to Those Surfing in Through Search Engines

Did you use the words “I’m fat and he wants to leave me” and it brought you here?

Or any variation on that theme?

I want to tell you something:

It’s not your fault.

It’s not your fault that he’s a shallow asshat that can’t see what he’s got right in front of him.  It’s not your fault that fat hatred is so prevalent in today’s society that people actually believe the lies that are pushed on us from every angle.  It’s not your fault that today’s media pushes the image of anorexic, starved amazonian women like it’s some sort of sick drug.  And you know what?  It’s not even your fault that you’re fat.  Even if you have issues with comfort eating or a binge eating disorder, it’s still not your fault.  Because even those things are caused by deeper, more elusive things than you simply wanting to eat.  I’m not saying you have an excuse; I’m saying that no one — NOBODY — makes themselves fat.  You either are or you aren’t.  It’s as simple as that. And no amount of dieting in the world is going to magically make you thin, either.

People come in all shapes and sizes.  People come in all colors and various subtle shades of colors.  Diversity is a good thing, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.  There is no one-size-fits-all model to fit every single person on the planet.  That’s stupid talk, and you know it.

Don’t let anybody talk you into hating yourself.  Not even him.  Because if he really loved you — if he EVER loved you — he wouldn’t say things like that.  He wouldn’t threaten to leave you if you don’t lose weight.  He wouldn’t withold sex from you because you’ve gained weight.  He would build you up, not tear you down.

And honey?  If you were already fat when you met and he’s pulling this shit?  Then you need to introduce him to the clue-by-four.  If you were good enough for him when you first met, you’re good enough for him now.

The question is, is he good enough for you?

Don’t you deserve someone who cares about more than simply the way you look?  Don’t you deserve someone who will accept you no matter what?  Don’t you deserve someone who will say that they love you and then act like it?  Don’t you deserve someone who will treat you with kindness and compassion?  Don’t you deserve someone who will support you and encourage you?

Yes. You. Do.

Because it sums up what I’m trying to do here, I’d like to leave you with a quote from one of my favorite movies, V for Vendetta:

I hope that the worlds turns, and that things get better. But what I hope most of all is that you understand what I mean when I tell you that, even though I do not know you, and even though I may never meet you, laugh with you, cry with you, or kiss you, I love you. With all my heart, I love you.