Yesterday’s food journal:

Breakfast — Half of a whole wheat English muffin, 1 slice of chedder cheese, 2 large eggs, a short spray of olive oil, and a banana.

Lunch — most of a giant salad full of black beans, vegetables, and a very tiny bit of steamed brown rice, with a small cup of jalapeƱo ranch dressing.

Dinner — a large vegetarian burrito, heavy on the vegetables, with rice, a white flour tortilla, and real salsa.

Dessert — 3 small chocolate chunk cookies at 8:30pm and another 3 at 3:30am.

This morning’s breakfast and lunch are the same, but dinner will be a plate full of grilled vegetables over brown rice, and no cookies.

Yesterday I walked a surprisingly high total of 5,315 steps. (I’m amazed it’s that high, but I had a lesson with a student, so I get it.) Today it’s not even 10am andI’ve already walked 6989 steps. My 3 mile walk on the treadmill helped.

We’re spending the weekend in virginia, so we’ll spend several hours a day walking part of the Appalachian trail. I just hope I don’t hold everyone back by being out of shape…

I’ve had doughnuts 3 days out of the past 4. The first day I had 1. Two days later, 2. Today, 3.

I can feel the sugar coursing through my system. The affect on my mood is instantaneous. As soon as the first bite of sugar is dissolving in my mouth, I could shout with raw euphoria. Doughnut number three has my eyes rolling, my toes curling, my entire body vibrating with the sheer physical extasy of the sugar high.

And that’s exactly what it is. A sugar high. Because I’m an addict.

Until today, I didn’t know that normal people don’t have this reaction to sugar. My husband, for instance, thought the doughnuts tasted good. He enjoyed them. But after his second, a third wasn’t on his radar. Why would it be? He’d had enough.

I never have enough. I can’t stop. Either I can’t have any or I run out. Plain and simple. I’ll run out, fall asleep, and wake up several hours later, hoping for more.

I’m thinking of starting a weight loss game. My bodyweight, A1C, exercise habits, depression, and nutrition could all be statistics with which I measure my character’s progress. Reaching a new goal could be thought of as “leveling up.” Not having doughnuts/pizza/cookies/cake could be boss-fights. Any community with which I surround myself could be teammates. People who try to convince me to take steps backward– opponents.

Normal people don’t have literal foodgasms. I’m in the procress of reclaiming a child-like relationship with my physical self. I bet that turning my everyday life into a video game would be a huge reminder in doing so.

In college my friends and I played a game we called “Fat-Kid Friday.” Friday was our free day. No classes, no work– just us, our pajamas, and 6 different all-you-can-eat cafeterias that were free to full-time students. We would challenge each other to eating contests. Another plate of pasta. Another bowl of ice-cream. Another large coffee-drink. Did you know that the Subway sandwich shops charge you only $5 for a dozen cookies? Did you know that if you ask, they’ll even heat them up for you in their convection ovens for no extra charge?

I do.

I propose a change. I believe it’s time to reclaim Fat-Kid Friday with blog posts, a real-life video game, and stone-cold self-reflection.

I’m getting better all the time. But it would be easier if I had a structure. Does anyone have suggestions for an online community I could join which doesn’t pull punches? I’d love to build a community structure in which I can hold myself accountable.

Bring on the Fat-Kid Fridays. In fact, I think that’s what I’ll call my game. “Fat Kid Friday.” As my old college friends liked to remind me, “Every day is Friday.”

Up at 4:30 in the morning after only 5 and a half hours of sleep. I was jolted out of bed by something of an epiphany.

In November we took vows as part of the Buddhist marriage ceremony. Among them was, “We vow not to engage in abusive relationships.”

But get this: My long departures from exercise, my inconsistency with my food choices, my self-loathing behaviors for both, and my resistance to facing all of that with openness and curiosity– that’s an abusive relationship! I’ve been breaking my vows for months without knowing it.

Will I be able to overeat, under move, and ignore my fears now that I see them more for what they really are? I have thousands of years of tradition to contend with if I’d like to try.

Awareness is king.

I think I’m falling in love with weight loss.

Not because I’m losing a great deal of weight– I’m not. I’m slowly returning my diet to something with which my body is comfortable and introducing exercise whenever the mood strikes me. Some days my exercise is as limited as standing up for half an hour and talking to a friend on the phone. It beats spending that half an hour in bed.

I’m falling in love with the simplicity of weight loss. You don’t need to have any weight to lose in order to fall in love with it, either. You can fall in love with the ease of walking into a restaurant and not needing to look at the menu. “To drink: water. To eat: I’ll take the healthiest thing you have, please. No meat.”

I don’t have to love myself to ask my waiter or waitress their favorite color. I can smile at them, ask how they are, make a lighthearted joke, and engage.

I’m making friends in my program at school. Two women go out of their way to email me. A man approached me today to ask if I’d be his partner in a group project. I was taken aback. Nobody else had asked anyone yet. I wasn’t a last resort, so why was he interested?

In class today, one of the emailer’s asked me if I have Facebook. I somewhat awkwardly explained that I only have email and a landline, and I preferred face-to-face communication whenever possible.

She stopped, smiled, and said, “Thank you. I’ve been needing that.”

Three people have remarked in the past two weeks that they’ve been needing to meet me. My quiet, contemplative intelligence and my eccentric, whimsical humor has helped heal something in them.

I don’t know what to make of that.

Depression isn’t cured. There are always moments (sometimes months) when I feel empty inside. But there are also moments like these, where I can look at the simplicity of trusting my body and my mind and see that even if I’m not this or that; at least I’m trying.

Pages are turning. The story is unfolding.

My A1C is 6.3. Boarderline diabetic, but nowhere near the danger zone. My goal is to have it at 5.5 within the year. My average fasting blood glucose is 136. Again, not great, but far from my feet falling off. I’m 143 pounds. I’m shooting for 130 by July– an arbitrary deadline just to keep things moving forward. I’m 22% body fat and I’d like to be at 10% just to see what it’s like.

What I think I need next is to assist someone in their own weight loss journey. We’re all learning, and I imagine that sharing the difficulties would offer me a much-needed focus outside of myself. If they’re counting on me, I have to count on me, too.

I’m speechless to hear that my openness about my conflictions in trying to make sense of myself is so comforting to some people. Here I am, fixating on how I don’t fit in, and it turns out that some people who have been watching me don’t feel that they fit in, either. And that’s okay.

Today I’ll smile at someone, ask how they are, and own my uncertainties. Weight loss doesn’t only mean losing fat. It means losing the baggage, too.

A blog-reader and friend told me last week that concerning a blog, “No news is bad news.” So how often do you think I should update this thing in order to hold myself accountable? Once a week? Once a day? Chime in at will.

Last night I went to our local comedy club for a benefit being held in memory of a 26 year old musician/social worker who died due to bum lungs. The kicker is, he didn’t just die of one set of bum lungs; he had a double transplants before he died and was waiting on his 3rd pair when things went south. He died in his hospital bed with his family and music friends surrounding him, a guitar at his side.

I hate dead people. I love them, but I hate them. People get all misty-eyed and say all this great stuff. “He was such a good person. There were so many things he had left to do. He had no personality, he never made mistakes, and he gave handjobs to the homeless in his spare time from the goodness of his heart.” Not this dude. Everyone that got up there would joke that this could be the most annoying, insufferable, intractable little man they’d come across, but that he made them smile, think, and affected huge change in the world at every turn. Then they’d play one of his songs or a song they wrote for him, and DAYUM. This boy had skills. I’ve never heard such fluidly composed, poetically lyricized music before. I’m not a big fan of 21st century musak. I don’t understand the current fads. Personally it all sounds like goblygook to me. I like the 90’s, the 60’s, the 30’s– apparently music goes in waves around every 30 years of not making me want to chew off my own ears. And this guy had it all.

His sound/lyrics were a combination of Caroline’s spine, Three Doors Down, and classical guitar, with a bit of the Dead Kennedies feel thrown in for politics. But the thing is, not a single song we heard last night was negative. Nor was it “in your face,” one-cliche-after-another positive. It was a guy who was pissed about dying but in love with living, and he showed it. He essentially wrote every one of his friends a song to tell them everything he’d never be able to tell them in the future. Holy shit, it was moving. I cried. Twice. But in my tears, I laughed. This guy had soul.

In short, it was a much-needed night with my very few friends and their very many friends all coming together to celebrate a man I’d never met. But now I feel like I did meet him. And I know him. Here’s the page to the album he was working on when he died: https://catperil.bandcamp.com/album/glow-in-the-dark

His father told this great story about how after his lung transplant he completed two social work degrees, then decided to become a runner– because he could. The son, Pat, went into a running store and asked about running shoes. The employee assisting them asked, “Oh, yeah? What’s your distance?” (Which is a typical runner thing to say.)

Pat replied, “I can almost do my first mile!”

To which the employee condescendingly said, “Oh. Well that’s… something, I guess. A mile is a good start. I run marathons.” (Which is not a normal runner thing to say. At least not with that attitude.)

Pat just laughed and agreed with the guy, but his father bristled. All he could think about was how, sure, Pat was only running a mile, but he was running a mile with another person’s lungs inside him! But the father didn’t say anything, because he knew his son never would. His son was the kind of person who would let that thing slide. How was Mr. Runner Guy supposed to know?

A better man than me, I guess.

Pat’s friends all told stories of how strong he was. Again, not in the cliche way. They would tell stories of how he had a double lung transplant and became a runner. They’d tell stories of how he defied the odds and got two social work degrees before the age of 26 because he didn’t have much time left, so he wanted to help as many people as he could. They told stories of how he learned any musical instrument he could find because it was a way of putting something out into the universe without expecting anything in return. Something everybody could enjoy. They told stories of how he was sarcastic and playful right up until the end.

But it wasn’t the end. Not really. The same person staring out from his eyes is staring out from your eyes, and my eyes, and his father’s eyes, and the eyes of that douche-monkey at the running store. He’s made an impression. And he’ll continue to make that impression for as many times as a story is told, a song is heard, or a joke is repeated.

The running theme of Pat’s music is bravery. The bravery required to learn something new, connect with your vulnerability, and make mistakes in the process.

My husband collects musical instruments from all around the world, but neither of us are very good at playing any of them. So I’ve decided to learn to play the piano. I know a few chords. Why not give it a go? This morning I got a few books on the subject. I don’t know what’ll come of it, but it doesn’t hurt to find out.

My eventual goal will be to play classical guitar. I’ve been in love with it since the moment I first heard it. But now, I think I’ll also learn some of Pat’s songs. That way he continues to affect people for as long as I, too, can affect people. So on and so forth until one day only the message remains.

Thank you, Pat. And thank you to all of Pat’s family and friends who helped him become who he was.

PS– Screw you for making me cry. Jerk!

Up at four in the morning because I once again can’t sleep. Insomnia. It’s the best.

I’m thinking about a lot of things. Maybe it’ll help to get them out on paper– or whatever this is called. digital paper?

1. Depression: I can’t be in this city anymore. Not being able to walk anywhere, do anything; it’s killing me. I… I seriously don’t think I can keep doing this. I’m going to do everything in my power to move back to my hometown for a year once my lease is up in August.

2. Loneliness: I have zero friends in my area. Really, I have two, but they’re always busy with work, school, hobbies, and volunteering of their own. But it goes deeper than not having friends.

3. Identity: I write often about how my personality is dying. One example is that at this point, I don’t even know how to talk to people. Even the most casual gossip/opinion/analysis is distorted (actually, clarified,) by a Buddhist lens. There’s a director’s cut behind my words that’s thinking, “Don’t believe your beliefs; don’t believe your beliefs!” It’s great for not being a jerk. It’s awful for trying to maintain relationships in 21st Century America.

4. Not knowing how to talk to people: This one deserves its own paragraph. When I say that I’ve forgotten how to talk to people– it’s bad. I don’t talk about the SnapChat or the Facebook or that one picture on that one picture site because, guess what? I can’t see pictures, and I really wouldn’t care even if I could! I don’t read web-comics, most websites are inaccessible, I don’t have opinions on very many things, I don’t have hobbies (besides reading, which is solitary,) and I have absolutely nothing in common with, well, anyone. At least, anyone besides people like Aporia, Diana, Reven, and my other friends who all live hundreds or thousands of miles away. But I don’t just need friends, first I need to learn to make friends, and before that, I need to learn to have real-life conversations with people. How do you learn to talk to people when you have literally nothing to talk about besides a job/school that makes you furious and Buddhism that makes you question everything you thought you knew about yourself? If I knew, I wouldn’t be writing this.

5. Fury: I’ve been in straight-up rage mode for about an hour. No immediate reason. Just that beautiful and psychedelic mixture of insomnia and depression that peeks its head out every once in a while when you’re desperately trying to sleep before a 10am commitment. God, how I loathe commitments. But man, I’m furious with my school program. The students are great. The instructors aren’t terrible. But being a blind person in a program that’s written by sighted people, for sighted people, that implicitly refers to blind people as stupid and helpless at every turn? I’M DONE. I’m so angry, and all I’ve been trying to do is tamp down my fury so that I don’t get kicked out of the program. On second thought, no. I’ve been trying to tamp down my fury because I have it in my head that being angry about this is somehow against my Buddhist vows/identity/self. And yes, I know, doing something because it feels like what you should do is nothing more than spiritual materialism, but look: Buddha doesn’t care if I beat a hoe down with a chair for saying that 70% of learning is visual, and therefore blind children are 70% less capable of learning than their sighted classmates, but I do. I do because no matter how great it would make me feel in the moment, I’d eventually recognize that another creature was in pain because of my actions, blah blah blah, and that would bite. But for real? What the heck is wrong with these professors? If I were a woman in a Women Studies program which didn’t have any women professors, and the men professors had never spent time with women, had never read books by women, had never investigated a woman’s perspective on literally anything, had only read and assigned books by men authors, who openly devalued the perspective of women because, “Well, they’re women, how could they know? They’re clearly too close to the issues,” and had no women students in the program, I’D BLOW my FUCKING BRAINS OUT.

I’m angry. I’m depressed. I’m exhausted. I’m friendless, apart from people who I can only see once or twice a year. I don’t have basic life skills like conversation-having or relationship-building. And I honestly don’t think there’s a way out until August, and maybe not even then. It all depends upon where my program decides I’m going for my student teaching. If there happens to be an internship available in the area of my hometown, amazing. If not, then I won’t be able to move until December 2016, and that would mean breaking my lease and spending an unplanned $1,600 that I don’t have.

I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m making headway in some areas while completely falling apart in others. I’m not anxious much anymore. That’s cool. But I’m wrapping duct-tape around my skull in an effort to not let the darkness spill out in a lava-filled lake of hate and rage. I’m angry. I’m alone. I don’t know who I am anymore, and I have no idea what to do.

And it’s all part of the journey.

You know, I’m really pretty sick and tired of hating myself.

I’m depressed. I’m anxious. I have body-image issues. I’m a calm, meditative Buddhist, but I’m also a 300 pound black woman with a handgun and an attitude (sometimes.)

I love that I have a few friends who I can call and rant at or question about how to be more comfortable in my own skin, but I hate that while they’re helping me understand life, I feel like they probably despise me and our friendship is seconds from bottoming out.

I hate that sometimes I’m so confident that I’m arrogant, while other times I’m so self-conscious as to be paranoid.

I don’t know myself. I don’t know much of anything. I can put a brain together or tell you three thousand years of Star Wars history, but I can’t tell you how to load a freaking dishwasher or have a conversation with your friend that doesn’t leave everyone involved wondering why the hell you waste their life.

My life would be a whole lot easier if I were just one person in one body who did one thing all the time.

If I were always depressed, or always anxious, or always confident, or always uncertain. If I either knew what to do or I didn’t. I could get used to that.

Too bad! That’s not real life. Real life is what happens when you have no clue what you’re doing. That’s called learning. Responding to a situation sometimes means not having a plan and having to make one as you go.

DEAL WITH IT!

I hate that some days I don’t wake up because I’m so depressed that my brain shuts off. I hate that when I do wake up, I feel guilty and ashamed for trying to understand it better. I hate that I don’t know what to do sometimes. I hate that even though I have one of the highest IQs in recorded history, I’m still a socially incompetent weirdo who makes most people uncomfortable because I don’t know what to say, or do, or think, or like.

I love that I call people just to ask them how they are and remind them that I care about them. I love that I investigate my own insanity rather than continue to be a victem of it. I know that I’m likely going to become someone who I truly enjoy being. But a huge part of that is going to be realizing that I’m not two-dimensional, I’m going to have different responses in different moments, and I don’t have all the answers.

I’m afraid that being reflective and compassionate and uncertain is going to make the people I care about walk away.

Newsflash: The kinds of people who walk away because you learn to care about yourself are not the kinds of people who I associate with!

I’m so, freaking, sick of hating myself.

I’ve been wondering how to be confident with my peculiarities for a while. But maybe I don’t need confidence. Maybe I just need enough security to be able to look at the world and say, “This is where I’m at right now. Take it or leave it.”

And maybe that’s the best kind of confidence out there. The ability to just be exactly where you are, and to hell with all of the unnecessary crap.

More soon. I’m not done, but I don’t have anything else to say at the moment. And that’s okay.

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