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Another meme! This one is about books, from a blog that may turn into a book club, just you wait. You bold what you’ve read, italicize what you’ve started but can’t finish, and strike through what you couldn’t stand. (And I guess italicize and strike through what you started and dropped because you couldn’t stand it?)

The Aeneid

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
American Gods
Anansi Boys
Angela’s Ashes : A Memoir
Angels & Demons
Anna Karenina
Atlas Shrugged
The Blind Assassin
Brave New World
The Brothers Karamazov
The Canterbury Tales
The Catcher in the Rye
A Clockwork Orange

Cloud Atlas
Collapse : How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
A Confederacy of Dunces
The Confusion
The Corrections
The Count of Monte Cristo
Crime and Punishment
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

David Copperfield
Don Quixote
Eats, Shoots & Leaves

Foucault’s Pendulum
The Fountainhead
Freakonomics : A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
The God of Small Things
The Grapes of Wrath
Gravity’s Rainbow
Great Expectations
Gulliver’s Travels
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
The Historian : A Novel
The Hobbit
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Iliad
In Cold Blood : A True Account of a Multiple Murder and its Consequences

The Inferno
Jane Eyre
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
The Kite Runner

Les Misérables
Life of Pi : A Novel
Love in the Time of Cholera
Madame Bovary
Mansfield Park
Memoirs of a Geisha
The Mists of Avalon
Moby Dick
Mrs. Dalloway
The Name of the Rose

Northanger Abbey
The Odyssey
Oliver Twist
On the Road
The Once and Future King
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
One Hundred Years of Solitude

Oryx and Crake : A Novel
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
The Picture of Dorian Gray
The Poisonwood Bible : A Novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Pride and Prejudice
The Prince
Reading Lolita in Tehran : A Memoir in Books
The Satanic Verses
The Scarlet Letter
Sense and Sensibility
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Silmarillion
The Sound and the Fury

The Tale of Two Cities
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
The Three Musketeers
The Time Traveler’s Wife
To the Lighthouse
Treasure Island
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Vanity Fair
War and Peace
Watership Down
White Teeth
Wicked : The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
Wuthering Heights
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : An Inquiry Into Values

Huh. Weird. There are a lot of books on this list that I’ve read, and not many I didn’t like.


I got tagged by the lovely Mariellen over at Big Fat Delicious to post a Seven Things meme. These are the rules:

1. Link to the person’s blog who tagged you.
2. Post these rules on your blog.
3. List seven random and/or weird facts about yourself.
4. Tag seven random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
5. Let each person know that they have been tagged by posting a comment on their blog.

Here are my seven things:

1. I actively dislike hot weather and sunshine. I love winter and cold and short, dark days. Climate-wise, I’d be really content in Northern Europe or the sub-Arctic parts of Russia or Canada. In fact, I tend to get opposite seasonal affective disorder in which hot sunny days make me feel gloomy and low while cold days make me want to do things. I’m certainly built for a long, hard winter.

2. For a period of about six years, from sixth until eleventh grade, I read horror novels almost exclusively. My mother was really worried about me. I’m okay now, though.

3. I am an avid neti pot user.

4. I have a shameful hippie past that includes going on tour with two iconic jam bands, selling grilled cheese sandwiches and crocheted hats for a living, and dreadlocks.

5. I like doing laundry at the laundromat, listening to net casts on my mp3 player, and watching my clothes slosh around in the washers. I hate folding and putting away clothes, though. I really wish we had a clothesline.

6. I love going to bars. Not like, clubs or pick up bars or sports bars and not necessarily because it’s a neutral venue for hanging out with friends, although I do like hanging out with friends. More like the pub culture of a neighborhood local as a gathering place for various people and the way a good bar can allow you to be out in public while still only being as social as you feel like being at the time. Bars are also an awesome way to meet totally random people that you might not otherwise talk to. I guess that can be 6(a) about me: I love to meet different and interesting people and hear their stories or their views or their personal philosophies or whatever. I find humans fascinating and bars are a great gathering place for fascinating humans.

7. Do you have pictures of your new baby or your sibling’s new baby or your cats or your puppy? Well show them to me, because I ALWAYS love looking at pictures of babies and animals. I’ll even look at your vacation pictures and your high school year book. No, seriously. Bust ’em out. You’ve finally found the willing audience you’ve been waiting for.

I don’t know if I can think of seven blogs that I read that I feel comfortable tagging with a meme that haven’t already been tagged by the previous couple people, but I’ll try Digital Femme, Nudemuse, Queer Woman of Color, Pretty Pear, and Kameelah Writes since if nothing else, this is a shy way of saying “Hi, I think you’re interesting and I like your blog a lot.” I’m going to revise the rules, though (I CAN DO THAT) and say that if you’ve been tagged, you don’t have to link to me or tag other people, unless you want to.

Edit! I am tagging two more people: Rachel and Tari. That’s seven. I WIN.

My therapist suggested that I channel some of my body image woes into good, old-fashioned anger (I’m not entirely sure how beneficial being angrier could possibly be, unless rage induced brain embolisms are good for you now, but I like her so I’m willing to try it) so here you go, from the Chicago Sun Times:

Co-workers: He used the N-word, dressed up as a Ku Klux Klansman . . . How does this guy still have a job?

I’ll sum it up: Joseph Annunzio, nephew of the late Machine politician Rep. Frank Annunzio, had a sweet patronage position at the Chicago Department of Transportation. So sweet he felt like he could call African American coworkers “Mambo Gorilla” and “allegedly [put] a tablecloth on his head and [act] like a Klansman in the co-worker’s office.” He got fired and had a hearing before the Human Resources Board who gave him back his $77,000-a-year job because, despite the testimony of eleven coworkers that he was a racist asshole, none of them testified that Annunzio’s racial slurs were directed at them personally. And so “[t]he board did not think that kind of misconduct should cause someone to forfeit their career.

Big Joe can go to each coworker and spout a rich variety of racist statements, but as long as he’s always talking about somebody else, it’s okay, because we wouldn’t want to actually punish somebody for his racism. That would be unfair. And politically damaging to the members of the HR Board who handed down that decision.

I just wonder who on the HR Board owed whom a favor.

Somebody call Anthony Boswell. Oh no wait, he’s Mayor Daley’s political appointee to head the Office of Compliance, an office created by Mayor Daley charged with “enforcing terms of a federal consent decree banning political considerations in hiring and promotions of most city employees.” (Emphasis mine, and if you don’t see the hilarity in Richard M. creating and staffing an office designed to ensure compliance with an anti-patronage decree, then you must not live in Chicago.)

Once you’re hired, you can do whatever you want. As long as you’ve got clout.

Hm. Somehow I don’t feel any better.

Can I just vent here a minute?

I live in Chicago. It’s cold and sloppy outside. I don’t drive. I walk and take public transportation everywhere I go. Thus, I need boots to live. Tall boots. Warm boots. Flat or very low heeled boots. Boots that are stylish enough for the professional workplace. Boots that will zip over my calves.

Oh. Right. That last one. There’s the rub.

I know, I know. Duo Boots. But listen: THEY ARE OVER $200 USD. For the reasonably priced ones! Plus exorbitant shipping from the UK that takes a month! I understand the reasoning about paying for quality, and about how, by ponying up a car payment you’re making an investment. I hear that. And that makes sense, but only if you’ve got OVER $200 USD lying around. I don’t, but it would not be such a hardship for me to save it up, which makes me unusually fortunate.

Here’s the thing, though. I’d really like to try on the pair of $263 boots (with shipping, etc.) that I want more than anything else in the whole world before I pay for them, wait a month to get them, and then possibly have to pay exorbitant shipping to send them back over the pond when SURPRISE, once again I find that the way that math and measures work in my little world is totally different from the way it works everywhere else. I don’t think that is like some kooky pipe dream.

As I sit here, I’m wearing one Rockport Plainfield boot in black on my right foot, zipped up about halfway, that I ordered from Zappos. I decided to order them because I contacted customer service and customer service told me that the calf circumference was 17 3/4 inches. Perfect, I thought, as I have 18 inch calves and that 1/4 inch deficit would account for the elastic goring and stretch in the leather. Except no. They are actually only 17 inches around, and then only at the very top of the boot. About halfway up, where my freakishly large calves* start to really come into their own, the boots are a mere, Mischa Barton-esque** 14 1/2 inches.

Part of me wants to say, “Oh big deal, they are too tight across the toes, too, and really that heel is verging on too high and you know it, so this is for the best because if you’d been able to zip them up, you would have kept them and then they’d make your feet hurt and you’d have to explain to the husband why you kept them and he’s heard the ‘it’s so hard to find boots to fit my freakishly large calves that I tend to be grateful for whatever I can get’ story a bajillion times but he still doesn’t quite get it, not having freakishly large calves of his own to try and boot up,” and that’s true all but dammit, DAMMIT, there is little that destroys my resolve to just like my stupid body the way it is and never diet again like the way one simple fucking transaction for a life necessity turns into this huge massive undertaking involving research and measuring and calls to customer service and packing tape and standing in line at the post office over and over and over again and then is still ultimately unsuccessful. And I’m not even that fat, ya’ll. I’m either at the high end of “in-betweenie” status or the low end of… whatever comes after in-betweenie status. Medium-fat? Despite my boot drama, I can still nip into Anne Taylor for a new shirt if I dump coffee (actually, it was yogurt but whatever) all over the shirt I’m wearing.

I think that’s what I’m getting at here (well that and just whining because I’m really disappointed). I’m crying tears of fury at my failed attempt to purchase what is a Chicago wardrobe necessity, and I’ve actually got it good. It isn’t a totally kooky request to want to try on clothes or boots before you buy them, to avoid the hassle of carting packages home from work on the train because jerks steal the packages that you have sent right to your house. But if you’re above say, an 18 and you don’t live in a major metropolitan area or if you need an item of specialty clothing or you don’t feel like waiting a week to get your clothes or, God forbid, you just don’t care for all this empire waisted, bedazzled, caftan sleeved nonsense hanging on all the racks of mainstream plus-size retailers,*** that’s your fate. The mail order ghetto.

It’s just stupid.

*No, seriously. My father has freakishly large calves, and even when I was a wee little mini thing I had a hell of a time finding boots to fit. They are bigger now, in accordance with my overall increased size, but still proportionally, they’re some wide calves. I would like to be body positive about this but it’s raining and cold out and my new boots don’t fit and this means I have to stand in line for ten hours at the post office on Monday morning to return them and if somebody was going door to door offering back alley calf-ectomies right now, I would have a hard time turning that down. Even harder if they came with a free pair of these lovelies.

**Sorry, couldn’t resist.

***Although the last time I was this size, around the turn of the century (that is weird to say), the prevailing plus size look was “fundamentalist Christian kindergarten teacher” so I suppose I ought to be grateful for the strides we’ve made.

I went to a friend’s house last night for a semi-regular girls night out gathering, in which we drink wine and, well, mostly drink wine. One of our friends brought a couple of In Touch magazines and we reveled in the absurdity of celebrity gossip culture. (I also found out that three of my friends are walking encyclopedias of celebrity gossip information, and one of those friends doesn’t even have cable so I have no idea how she does it.) Somewhere within its pages of vapid prattle, In Touch offered some celebrity diet tips (this may have been the same issue that classified Mischa Barton as being “pear shaped”) that included bringing Windex or other toxic substances with you to restaurants and spraying your food with it after you’ve eaten the proper portion size so that you won’t be tempted to eat the rest.

The Pear-shaped Mischa Barton (Ed. note: I changed the picture so as not to upset all the Mischa Barton fans who were angry that I was unable to recognize that the women on the left in the original photo was actually Mischa Barton’s sister. Sorry Mischa Barton fans! I think there is an OC re-run marathon right now. You’d better run or you’ll miss it!) 

I’m surprised you didn’t hear the echoing boom of my jaw dropping three feet to the floor. The first thing I thought of was Anne Lamott’s heart breaking Salon story “My Secret Body.” The second thing I thought of was just how disordered spraying your food with window cleaner was. The next thing you know, In Touch will be recommending laxatives for those days when you feel bloated from eating a plate full of carb-laden pasta the night before. Hell, for all I know they probably already have.

Then the friend who brought the magazines opined that this Windex trick was actually a pretty good idea. You see, she had lived in England for the last seven or so years and since moving back to the States a year ago, had put on some weight. She felt sure this was because of the monstrous portion sizes set before her at every American restaurant. I pointed out that Windexing your food is really classic eating disorder-style behavior but this didn’t seem to phase her. I know I’m not supposed to encourage or privilege diet talk, but viewing it as the lesser of two evils I suggested the old Weight Watchers’ trick of asking for a take out box when you order and immediately boxing up half your dinner. Still a little disordered but at least your not spraying your food with toxins.

I also thought some about that old obesity bugaboo, giant portions, and how ridiculous that is. I mean, no doubt, in some restaurants the servers hand you massive, huge plates of food. But are we really unable to stop stuffing our faces until all the food around us is gone? If that were the case, could we safely even store food in our houses? The friend said that she was just so programmed to eat what was in front of her that she was unable to stop until her food was gone. But is that a portion size issue? Or just another societally inculcated disordered eating behavior? And who decides what a proper portion size is anyway? Given the variety in size, shapes, and metabolisms found in the human race, could there possibly be one objective standard quantifying how much of any one particular food is universally appropriate for every one? If there had never been “portion sizes” to begin with, would the heaping plates of spaghetti at the Olive Garden even be a problem? We humans would have learned to just… eat. And then, when we were full, we’d just… stop. Some of us would be fat. Some of us would not be fat. And life would go on.

Which isn’t to say that I’ve never cleaned my plate and left a restaurant feeling uncomfortably full. But as often I’ve left the restaurant with a take out container in hand. Or, more likely, I left the restaurant and left the take out container on the table, but you know what I mean. I’m not sure that all you can eat buffets are the problem here. I’m more likely to point the finger at a culture that considers Mischa Barton to have a “figure flaw” and recommends poisoning your own food to keep you from eating it.

First, Do No Harm: Real Stories of Fat Prejudice in Health Care is a new blog edited by bloggers and body acceptance activists Barbara Benesch-Granberg, Kate Harding, Rachel Richardson, and Fillyjonk that collects and shares heart breaking and infuriating stories of fat people’s travails in our health care system. It makes me want to take a left turn out of labor and employment law straight into medical malpractice.

*Sigh* So much injustice, so little time.

So I was like, really excited about macaroni and cheese, remember? In the comments, Sarah suggested I check out Martha Stewart’s recipe and since I do love Martha Stewart, I looked to her Perfect Macaroni and Cheese for guidance.

My macaroni and cheese differed slightly from Martha’s. For one, I left off the bread topping since the last time I did a bread topping, I felt like I was eating a sandwich. Also, I’m a ding dong and read the recipe incorrectly and rather than putting in either Romano OR Gruyere, I added both. This probably turned out okay volume-wise, since I was short on sharp cheddar, but I’m not entirely sure I liked what it did to the taste. Don’t get me wrong! The mac and cheese was tasty, but the Romano and Gruyere together gave it a really strong cheese taste that wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. Finally, the sharp cheddar was really greasy, although once the mac and cheese went into the fridge, that took care of the issue. Otherwise, the end product was pretty good and definitely plentiful. My husband and I ate macaroni and cheese for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner for about a week.

To be honest, by the time it was all gone, I was pretty sick of macaroni and cheese.

Yes, that’s right. I was sick of macaroni and cheese. Could it be that my monomaniacal obsession with macaroni and cheese (a dish that is undeniably delicious don’t get me wrong) was born as much of denial as it was of love?

Eh, could be.

Ehhhh…. could be!

And then, in one of those freak domestic incidents that really wasn’t about me being lazy and trying to cram a casserole dish into a space that was too small for it, no seriously, I am not being cheeky here, when I was putting the casserole dish away, it broke in half.

And so, although I had intended to make the dish again, except this time using just one of the two stinky cheeses and using a low-fat Dubliner aged cheddar in an attempt to lessen the grease content, and then trying out some crunchy topping ideas that I have, I just sort of let the whole thing drift away.

Now I’m really into tacos.

Chicago’s hilarious local WGN News aired a clip in support of this study about how fat people are destroying the environment by being all fat and gross and stuff. I really have to thank Gina Kolata and the fat blogs (is that a band? Gina and the Fat Blogs?) exposing the ridiculousness of the old “if fat people just did X, they would lose Y number of pounds every year!” trope. That was the sort of non-info that just kind of rolled right off my brain, leaving maybe an ooze of self loathing behind, but no real cognitive understanding of what it even meant to lose 13 pounds every year because I parked at the ass-end of the Shop Rite* parking lot.

Over video footage of the headless fatties (Gina and the Fat Blogs is playing a double bill at the Empty Bottle with Teh Headless Fatties next week, I hear – no cover and there will be snacks!), the WGN news anchor encouraged fat folks to get out of their cars, and stop eating hamburgers! Also, walk instead of drive. And I had to laugh into my beer at that one because this fatty walks at least a half hour every day (unless it’s one of those housework-focused days when I just putter around the casa, in which case I get all the cancer-fighting, slimming, gender-essentializing benefits of housework so I figure it evens out) and doesn’t even own a car, much less sit in one and eat hamburgers. So where is my 13 pounds of annual weight loss? Where do I write a letter of complaint? I have been walking at least a mile a day for the last three and a half years, so I should be showing a net loss of 45 pounds. I have been cheated and I demand to know who is responsible! Preferably before next Sunday when I attend a clothing swap and dump all my size 8 – 12 clothes, which, according to Dr. Georges Benjamin should fit me just fine, thanks, since I walk so fucking much.

This also made me think about the similar conundrum I faced while living in Atlanta. Against (white people’s) social custom and despite some serious inconvenience, when I lived in Atlanta, I took MARTA to work every day. At least until I joined a gym in my office building. Because, see, if I wanted to go to the gym, I had to schlep way to much stuff with me to take MARTA, since the gym had no lockers, so I had to drive. Plus, since I went at lunch, I had to shower before going back to work, which meant two showers a day. Plus I created extra laundry in the form of towels and gym clothes. I actually wrote on the blog I had at the time about how I was torn between being environmentally conscious by taking public transportation, or being environmentally conscious by exercising so I wouldn’t be such an over-consuming Fatty McFatpants. Given that Atlanta is about a week from completely drying up and blowing away, I wonder which course of action good Dr. Benjamin would advocate for me were I in the same situation now?

All of which just serves as more anecdotal evidence on how damn dumb, not to mention demonizing, that study and its attendant news coverage really is.

* What’s up, Delaware!

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November 2007
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