Friday, July 27, 2007

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Fat, Broke, and Lonely

Someone was telling me about a book called Fat, Broke & Lonely No More!. Amazon has the following description about it:

Do you ever obsess about whether to order dessert, buy those pricey sandals, or be totally honest on a third date?

If so, then you are already acquainted with the fear of being fat, broke & lonely. If only we could eat less, get paid better, and be more outgoing.

Only it's not that simple. Our endless quest to be fit, flush, and partnered (no matter where we fall on the scale) inevitably makes us feel fat, broke & lonely. The symptoms are anxiety, shame, and fear, and the diagnosis is feeling miserable about ourselves. We have two choices: give up, convinced that this is just a lifelong, losing battle, or go toe-to-toe with our negative self-image and take back our lives.

Real-life anecdotes, practical strategies, and a touch of sass make this revolutionary five-step plan a must-read. First, Moran helps us discover the root of the symptoms. Then we learn how to break up with fat, broke & lonely for good. And finally, we learn how to hook up with the life of our dreams—and who doesn't want that?

I havent read this book yet but I am very interested in it. I am curious at what her solutions might be. I hope it is something more that a glorified instruction manual for losing weight, earning more money, and gettin' hitched. Nevertheless, just the title got me thinking. I have to admit that I think it is interesting that the author of this book is addressing all of these things together in one book. At first, I thought it was odd but when I stopped to think about it, it all makes a kind of sense because those things are all connected in a way.

I mean, I am fat. And like it or not, being fat makes it MUCH harder to find a mate. Being single increases loneliness. But it also has financial implications since single women tend to be poorer than married women. In my own case, I have a household income that is just slightly below the mean household income in the USA. But if I were married to someone with the same income, the two of us would have an income in the top 20% of household incomes. That is a difference between having a middle class income and an upper middle class income.

So...Fat, Broke, and Lonely. Here are my thoughts on each of those things.

Re: Fat.

Well, since I *am* fat, I pretty much always feel fat. What I have learned is that being fat is probably outside of my control. Or rather, what it would take for me to be not fat is more than I can do and still be sane and happy. I have also learned that doesnt mean that I am a bad person. Being fat also doesnt mean that I necessarily have to be terribly unhealthy. So I changed my goal away from losing weight and have made new goals that are more attainable. e.g. walking several times a week is a goal. Making sure I eat enough fruits and veggies is a goal. Reducing my sugar intake is a goal. Those are all good things but are not things that cause me to lose a significant amount of weight.

I have put a lot of focus on not internalizing the messages our culture has about fat, especially those messages that arent based in fact. For instance, it isnt laziness on my part that keeps me fat. It isnt a complete lack of willpower that keeps me fat. It is a constant battle though because our culture tends to shame people for being fat. A lot of people consider it a moral failing.

Basically my solution to feeling fat has been to change my outlook on what fat means. It doesnt mean I am unhealthy although since it is a risk factor for certain things, it does mean that I need to monitor my health more closely than others might need to. It doesnt mean that I am a bad person. It doesnt mean that I am ugly. It just means that I have a body shape that is different than most people's.

Re: Broke

I am often broke. Some of that is due to some bad financial management on my part but ironicly some it that is due to good financial management on my part, i.e. I feel broke when I dont have enough money to buy things that I want but not buying them anyways on credit is good financial management.

Lately though, I have been under more financial stress than usual. If I were to lose my job, I dont know what I'll do. Unemployment benefits would not be enough for meto live on. I might need to sell my house in such a situation if I couldnt find a job within a month or so. Almost all of my savings are in my retirement account which I could access but with penalties. I would hate to do that but if push came to shove, I guess I would have to.

What this has taught me more than anything is that I *really* need to work more on getting my financial house in order. I need to spend even less than I am spending now. I might need to try to find a roommate or something. I need to save more money so I can have that six months of salary that everyone recommends saved up so that if I ever find myself in a situation where I might lose my job, I wont be stressed out about it.

Re: Lonely.

I guess there are different types of loneliness.

There is what I consider real lonliness where one finds oneself cut off from the rest of the world. Sometimes in the winter I experience this because I tend to get depressed in the winter. It is a vicious cycle. I get depressed enough that just going to work sucks up most of my energy so I dont make an effort to socialize. Then the lack of social interaction means that I start to feel lonely, which makes me more depressed, which in turn, makes me even less likely to do social things. I often have to make a real effort to socialize even if it is only talking to someone on the phone for a half hour.

Being social and making the emotional connections that prevent loneliness are hard work. But important work. When I feel lonely, I call people and make an effort to see them. I tell people I love them. I hug my friends.

There is also the loneliness of being single. Some of that, though, isnt real loneliness on my part, but rather a response to cultural expectations that people, and especially women, be partnered up. Mostly, I have decided that I am going to be single for the rest of my life and I have come to terms with that. I honestly believe that it is better to be single than to be with the wrong person. If the right person should happen to come along, that is great.

Being single and feeling that particular kind of loneliness is still hard though. I dont meet very many men that I am interested in but when I do, they have (so far) pretty much always rejected me at some point or another. Well, all the men have rejected me except for the ones I rejected first! haha. Seriously though, that is a mind set I fall into occasionally. I will think, "Every man in the world has rejected me" but really that isnt true because there have been men who havent but whom I felt were lacking in one way or another so I actually was the one who rejected them. I guess it is easier to forget the people one rejects as romantic partners than the other ones. And ok, while I am not beating my many suiters off with a stick (although I did recently have a guy camped out on my front lawn), I do have some men who are interested. It just hasnt been anyone in whom I am also interested.

In conclusion, I guess I have to say that I am fat, broke, and lonely at least by many other people's definitions and I dont think it is all that bad really. There are worse things certainly and my life is generally pretty good!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The friends have arrived

Well, Shannon/Caleb and family have arrived. So I probably wont be doing *too* much blogging. Here is a photo of Anja updating her blog...

I have to say, that her blog is pretty interesting for a blog written by a kid. If you want to check it out, Click Here for SuperJimPandaBear

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Job Hunting

It turns out that the anxiety I was feeling yesterday at work was totally and completely well founded. I am currently looking for another job. I think that finding another job is a skill and one that I have never really cultivated in myself. The truth is that I have never gotten a job where someone I know didnt ask me to come apply. Jobs in the past have landed in my lap. I dont think I am good at selling myself.

But I need to get better at that. I have a lot of skills that someone surely will find useful. The question is how can I make others see that I am a hard worker and that I am really smart? I work well with others. I actually really love giving really good customer service because there is nothing nicer than making people happy all day or making other people's jobs easier. I am really good at that too.

Anyways, I think the hardest part of this is going to be all of the rejection I am likely to get. I mean everyone I know who has gone on a job search has always had to apply for several jobs and has always needed to go on several job interviews. I think I am ready for that though. I think I can present myself well. So wish me luck!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Angst and The Rules

I feel really weird at the moment. I guess it is a feeling that can best be described as angst. Probably it is just a normal worry about the next horrible situation at work that I am likely to have to deal with. I hope that is what it is. I wasnt feeling this earlier in the day.

Today actually started out pretty good. I had an email from a long lost friend in my inbox and that made me really happy as he was at one time one of my very best friends. We've just fallen out of touch in recent years which happens sometimes. I kind of had to laugh though because I have been saying "I know that I never call and never write but that doesnt mean that I dont love you" to a lot of people lately.

Which kind of reminds me of that lovely dating handbook The Rules. Because one of the things they keep saying over and over is that if someone is interested in you or cares, they will call. I KNOW that isnt true because there are a lot of people in this world whom I LOVE dearly and whom I seldom call. I found a copy in the free book room lately and brought it home. I figured it would be good for a laugh. And it was. I mean the whole thing is just chock full of crazy rules that I cant imagine might work. I can say that out of a sense of curiosity, I decided to follow all of "The Rules" for one week. They didnt work for me any better than the more traditional dating advice of "just be yourself." The advantage of the latter though is that I kind of like being myself. So I am going to stick to that one.

Reading The Rules did get me thinking about some things. Mostly I thought the entire thing was complete bullshit. I had to wonder how I might feel if following The Rules had helped me. I mean, it is basically a manual on manipulation. Not my thing really. And I think I would resent being with someone if I felt that I had had to manipulate him into being with me. Ah well, the chapters are short and it is good bathroom reading. Like most things there are a couple of good points tucked in there here and there. Things like, you cant change people so if the guy you are dating isnt treating you well when you are dating, the odds are that he wont suddenly shape up once he has a wedding ring on his finger. But ok. Other than that, it is pretty much bullshit.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Crazy Weekend
Man, I can not believe how wild this weekend has been. I put in 10 hours of overtime for work by 3p Saturday afternoon and pretty much all of it was involuntary. Unfortunately, I cant really talk about the details because of my company's draconian blog policy. But I was in danger of missing the graduation party my sister was having for me and the conflict was *really* stressing me out. It isnt common for my job to reduce me to tears but it happened this weekend. Oh well, I have sent out some wish me luck. I have to admit though that the whole prospect of a serious job search stresses me out a lot too. I have rejection issues and all of the rejection that is a normal part of a job search really gets to me.

I got lucky though and the universe aligned in my favor so that I was able to show up at my sister's party on time and I was able to enjoy myself. She lives on the same lake that my parents do and I love hanging out there. I had lots of good conversations with everyone.

This morning though, the hard drive on my laptop died. And of course, I have no backup and I should know better! Oh well, I'll try to recover whatever I can. Luckily these laptop hard drives are cheap and I can get one twice as big as the old one for under $100. Now, I am sitting here on my other computer which I dont like as much. But at least I havent been cut off of the internet. I mean, how else could I spend an entire day procrastinating about cleaning the house?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I'm So Hot, I Have Men Camped Out On My Front Lawn

I am really tired today. I woke up at around 4:30 this morning and I happened to look out of my front window. There was a guy camped out on my front lawn with a sleeping bag! At first I thought he was a dog so I went and put some clothes on so I could go out to see if it had tags but when I looked out of the window again, I noticed he was standing up and wearing his hooded sleeping bag like a cape and dressed only in his underpants. I really couldn’t tell much about him except that he was no dog. He was just a silhouette in the glow of the street light.

He kind of reminded me of a guy I used to know named Bruce who always wore a hooded cape and had I not recently learned of Bruce’s death, I might have actually thought it was him. Not only because of the cape but because it simply wouldn’t surprise me to find Bruce sleeping on some random lawn in Ypsilanti. In a way I wish it had been Bruce because that would mean that the rumors I had heard of his death had been false. Also, I know that he wouldn’t ever hurt anyone.

I thought of just ignoring the guy and letting him try to get some small amount of sleep. But I couldn’t. I mean, I just couldn’t go back to sleep myself knowing that guy was out there. It was creepy. I kept thinking of that naked man who broke into my house a few years back. What if *this* guy decided to try something similar while I was asleep? There were my neighbors to consider too. What if he decided to try something similar over at their houses while they were asleep? It just didn’t seem prudent to ignore him.

I didn’t want to deal with him on my own though either. So I called the police. As usual, I was very impressed with the response I got from the Ypsilanti Police Department. I called their non-emergency number and they were still at my house within five minutes. They told me that hanging out dressed in underpants and wearing a sleeping bag like a cape is not a crime but they were sympathetic that I was scared about the guy being on my lawn. And they got him to leave although he left his sleeping bag. I moved that this morning because it looked like it could be an expensive one and since today is trash day, I worried that it might get picked up. At any rate, I continue to have a strong appreciation for the Ypsilanti Police Department. They’ve always responded quickly even for minor things.

I cant get this guy off of my mind though. Why was he camped out on my front lawn? I mean other than the obvious explanation that I am so beautiful that it isn’t surprising at all for me to have men camped on my front lawn ;). But seriously, I wonder what his story is. Is he one of the mentally ill guys from one of the local group homes? Is he one of those people in town who get caught up in all of the drugs and prostitution that goes on over on Michigan Ave? Was he kicked out of his house in the middle of the night to wander the neighborhood wearing only his underpants? I guess there is no way to know. I hope that he is ok. I hope that the police could help him.

Update: I found out later that the sleeping bag belonged to my neighbor where it had been stolen from her truck. I am especially glad that I moved the sleeping bag now that I know it didnt even belong to him but actually belonged to my neighbor.

Monday, July 09, 2007

What a Weekend!

Whew. I had a busy weekend!


I spent Friday night at my grandmother's house. She is pretty old and is having mobility issues and is in danger of falling. She cant even get out of bed on her own which is an obvious safety issue. So someone has to stay with her all the time. Usually it is my aunt who does that but she was on vacation so my sister and I were watching her over the weekend. It was nice spending time with her but exhausting too. I cant imagine being the primary care giver for an elderly person. My hats are off to anyone who takes on that role.


On Saturday, I went and hung out in Detroit with a whole bunch of people who, like me, grew up there. A bunch of them still live in the city and some are like me and have moved out to the 'burbs.* We hung out at Brent and Gianna's house for a bit which was cool. My friend Anna was visiting from LA. I could go on and on about what a great person Anna is but I figure that the people who read this who know her already know that and no one else will really care.

I went to the City Fest at the New Center by myself because Anna wanted to go to a movie at the DIA and I didn't want to see it. I got really lucky because I ran into my friend Burton within about five minutes. Burton always cracks me up and makes me laugh. I went to middle school with Burton**. I must have met him in seventh grade which would mean that I've known him since I was 12 which means that I've known him for more than 25 years!

At City Fest, I got to see a band that I particularly enjoyed called Yo La Tengo. I had never heard of them. I don't usually indulge in too much live music because I am really cheap. But this concert was FREE which is my favorite kind. One of the best things about free concerts is that it allows a person to take a chance on something. I mean, what was the worst that could happen? I might not like which case, I could just leave. But I did really like them! Now I might have to buy an album or something.

Eventually we all ended up at the Majestic where I had a pretty nice time talking to lots of people. I sometimes think of myself as being kind of anti-social and it is true that I do spend a lot of time alone and also true that I generally enjoy that time. But I am also a talker and once I get going...well..."blah blah blah"! It was wild being there at that bar with lots of people with such similar backgrounds to me. I mean, I have a lot of friends "from high school" but most of those people are from the high school I went to for my senior year, CHS in Ann Arbor. They are all fun people but none of them understand anything about the high school I went to for three years in Detroit, Cass Tech. It was kind of fun talking about Cass Tech and stuff.


Sunday was hot. It was one of those days with a hot wind where you just cant get cool no matter what you do which, of course, means that there is only one thing to do: Go to the LAKE!!! I had quite a day there. I had my sister's dog Buddy with me and my own dog, Brooke. The evil dog hating neighbors were there so I put Brooke and Buddy out on the swim raft which worked really well until it was time to go back to shore. Neither one of those jerks would get off the raft. I thought about climbing onto the raft myself to push them off but decided it would be easier to just take the kayak out to them. I got on the kayak and both dogs were willing to get on it. Unfortunately, Buddy isn't much like Brooke who sits still in the kayak and he leaned over too far and tipped the kayak over. Brooke got stuck underneath it which was really scary for her. She could of drowned! But she didn't and later on I took her back out in the kayak and she didn't seem too scared of it so at least that didn't traumatize her.

The best part of the day though was when two loose dogs came by and went over to the horrible neighbors' house where they were all gathered. I am not sure but I think they had food on the ground like last time and I think the dogs went for it. It was awesome because this time I could laugh at them for keeping their food on the ground knowing that the really bitchy lady wasn't going to come yell at me for it. All I had to do was sit and watch the screaming and chasing of dogs and general chaos. Ah...sweet sweet schadenfreude!

* It is funny, though, because even though I am 1/2 hour from Downtown Detroit, I just don't think of Ypsilanti as being a suburb of Detroit. I think of it more as a suburb of Ann Arbor.
** At Burton International School (just another weird coinicidence)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Power and Control: The Corporate World

I had a conversation with a co-worker today about a former supervisor of mine. More than any other supervisor, I really disliked working for this guy. One time I even got so upset with him that I stood up and walked out. I have never done that before or since but that day, my choice was to calmly say that I wasnt feeling well before walking out or to start screaming my head off. I guessed that the latter action would have been rather embarrassing for me.

Mostly what I didnt like about this guy was how controlling he was. He was constantly looking over everyone's shoulders to try to catch us surfing the web. He got himself on a committee to change the dress code to one that was more restrictive. He would just randomly tell people to do things and would get angry if anyone questioned him at ALL. The time I got upset with him, I was clocked out but sitting at my desk when he came and told me to move. I said that I was at lunch and he said that it didnt matter.

So I said that I would move right on over to the time clock to punch in and he forbade me to punch in so I told him that I was punching in and if he had a problem with it, he should discuss it with the HR department and then in my own special "fuck you" kind of way that I know others find annoying, I told him that when he talked to the HR department he might want to mention the FLSA and the Dept of Labor's views about firms having their employees work off the clock.

Basically, a little bit of labor law worked in my favor that day. He couldnt fire me because it would have been illegal (and an incident with another co-worker that happened a week later kind of led me to believe that he would have fired me if he could have). I was insubordinate but since he was telling me to do something illegal, I was protected.

The funny thing about this guy too was that he actually is a pretty nice guy in every other situation. He is not alone. So many people, when given any kind of power over anyone else, act as if someone had just given them a jackass pill! That is what happens when one guy gets to supervise 8 people. What happens to people who find themselves in charge of large corporations?

The other day I was watching a documentary about Ralph Nader. They mentioned that after _Unsafe at Any Speed_ was published, Nader thought he was being followed. Nader reported that strange women would come up to him in places like the grocery store and ask him out. My first thought was "man, that guy is paranoid" but then they started interviewing people who backed up his story. They interviewed people who had noticed he was being tailed. They interviewed people who had been getting strange phone calls asking them for information about Nader. Was he fucking anyone? Was he a pot smoker? etc.

It turned out that it was GM who was doing all of this in an effort to discredit the Nader. They even admitted that they sent the sexy women to try to seduce him so he could be found in a compromising position! Now that is a company with too much power, imho. It was too bad for them that Nader is such a nerd because they never were able to find any dirt on him. It pretty much took an act of congress to get GM to lay off!

It got me thinking about large corporations and the power they wield. I worry that our current SCOTUS is giving too much power to corporations by essentially making some of the labor laws and antitrust laws meaningless. I worry that a lot of people have an attitude that corporations should be allowed to amass huge amounts of power.

I am not really sure what I can do about it other than to talk about it and to remind people that who they vote for in the presidential election can really make a difference with this. The damage in this area done by the Bush administration and their appointees to the court might last for decades. Who knows how much more powerful large corporations might become in the mean time?

I also think that besides voting, it is very important to support consumer activists who work hard getting the word out about corporate misdoings. The corporations have a lot of power but they *need* the rest of us as labor, as consumers, and as stockholders.

So let's all just think about all of this a little bit. What kind of world do we want? One where we are powerless and subject to the whims of the CEO class or one where we have regulated capitalism designed to keep any one firm from growing too large?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Universal Health Care

There are many reasons why universal health care would be a good idea. I am going to talk about just one of them: The lack of universal health care gives too much power to large corporations when it comes to employee/employer relationships.

Under our current system, people can get health insurance or coverage only in certain ways. They can be a veteran which allows them to access the VA health care system. They can be old enough for medicare or poor enough for medicaid. Or, they can get their health insurance from their employer. Most people get their health insurance from their employer.

Because of the nature of insurance and spreading risk over groups, larger employers can provide better health care benefits than smaller employers who in turn can provide better benefits than what an individual could buy with the same amount of money. In other words, large corporations have a big edge over small businesses and the self employed.

The lack of universal health care can stifle entrepreneurship. People can find themselves chained to employment at Big Company or at the very least they are less likely to try to go it alone since even if they are successful enough at starting a business that they can eventually get some employees, they *still* cant provide health insurance at the same low cost that large employers do. In the labor market, workers look at total compensation packages. They add up wages +benefits and come up with some idea of the total compensation. They dont care that company A can provide health care at half the cost of small business B. So small businesses lose out and fewer people become self employed which over a long period of time can mean that larger segments of the work force end up working for large corporations.

Having an employer provide health care benefits also gives them an incentive to discriminate. A pure profit driven incentive too. Which means, that companies who discriminate and thus are able to lower the rates of illness in their group will be more successful than companies who dont. (And trust me, a result of at least one SCOTUS decision, large companies will probably be able to get away with discriminating even if there are laws prohibiting it). For example, companies might do what they can do in order to reduce the age of their workforce. They might decide not to hire fat people. They might decide not to hire people who smoke even if they dont smoke at work. They might decide that people of certain races are more risky health wise and they might avoid hiring them. They might be wary of hiring the disabled. And so on. I am sure there are many ways that employers can unfairly discriminate against groups of people with a goal of reducing health care costs.

Universal health care does two things that take power away from large corporations in the labor market.

#1 - universal health care is likely to result in an increase in the number of non-corporate jobs out there. It will increase the self employed which in turn is likely to increase small businesses. That would mean a smaller percentage of the jobs would be in large corporations. Would people still work for large corporations? You betcha! It just would mean more options available.

#2 - universal health care would reduce a very real economic incentive for employers to discriminate against groups of people in our society. It will also provide them one less excuse for prying into employee's personal lives.