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Bodies of Future/Past 3 comments

There is a video making the rounds at the moment, a three minute clip from an interview about Dustin Hoffman’s experience preparing for the role of Tootsie.

Dustin’s moment of clarity

I don’t always “buy” celebrity “moments” in interviews, but this one rings true.*  I admire him for connecting the dots with such resonance.

I had a rather personal response to this video. I lost 95 lbs over 18 months, roughly between 2008 – 2009. I held steady there for a while but gradually – with all the changes and stress – my weight has crept back up, close to where I started.

When I was losing weight, I noticed that more people talked to me. Men and women. Between having a year off work to consult independently, being in an energizing new relationship, and feeling more attractive, I was certainly projecting a happy, vibrant energy. Undeniably, it helped that I was also fitter, not just more proportional. I had more energy, more muscle shape, and I was really happy with this – especially the muscles and the cardio fitness. Happy people are more attractive people, of course. It is a non-vicious cycle.

Face Too Skinny?

Face Too Skinny?

I’m thinking about Dustin’s comment in his video in which he says that he wouldn’t go and talk to himself as a woman at a party, for example, because he didn’t meet his own brainwashed standard of beauty. When I say people were more interested in talking to me, this is what I mean – the simple act of choosing whom to have a conversation with in a social situation. This too is a variable, and a highly prized one in our society. Feeling attractive in these moments means feeling valued.

There was a very specific point at which, from my point of view, I became “visible” and “viable” to people around me. It was really at the point where I’d lost about 35 lbs. with ultimately 60 more to go in the overall attempt. I wasn’t “skinny” by any means but something happened in the perception of proportions that changed my look. I started wearing different clothes and that accented the change. From my perspective, the more weight I lost from this point onward, the “chattier” people got.

As I got down to my lowest weight point – still by no means “skinny” – I thought my face didn’t look quite right. Too harsh or hard, perhaps? The photo here is at close to my lowest weight.

My life has changed enormously since this time. New routines are hard to establish and maintain, especially given the amount of driving I have been doing.  All the changes have taken an emotional toll on both Knotty Girl and myself.  When there are stressors and demands, I’m not programmed to run to the gym and sweat it off. I’m programmed to consume foods that I shouldn’t.  Thus, in all of the hubub, the weight has almost all come back and I don’t look like this anymore. I’ve certainly been conscious of this trend, I’ve felt a bit powerless about it, and I have tried to note at what point I appeared to fade from visibility, generally speaking. At what point am I less likely to be the person spoken to at the party? Not surprisingly, it was right about at gaining 60 of the lost 95 lbs back. So, in other words, there is something magical in terms of the perception of the exterior self that happens right about at that fulcrum point.

This is a non-scientific experiment of course. The other variables – like my own moodiness or sleep deprivation or what have you – are hard to account for.  My own sense of feeling less confident, less sure-footed in my new roles at home and in the ever-changing tides at work, hasn’t helped.

Biceps of Future/Past

Biceps of Future/Past

If I were talking to Dustin about this, I’d tell him not to feel too hard on himself. We are all subject to the “physical attractiveness brain washing”, both men and women. We look at ourselves and judge. We look at others and draw conclusions, often within seconds. I know I do it. The trick is to become self-aware of this behaviour and to try to manage it somehow. I remember hearing Susie Bright say something like this (apologies for inaccurate paraphrasing): the most interesting person in the room is the least “attractive” one because they have to work their other skills – charm, humour, sexiness, intelligence – to gain ground lost by not being “attractive”.

So now what? When I reflect back on the weight loss adventure, I’m remembering how good it felt to be strong and fit. I’m going to aim for that. I’m not sure I’m going to even weigh myself, although those numbers are good guideposts. I’m not aiming to raise my visibility, per se, to anyone but myself. I’ll know I’m getting somewhere when I can walk nine holes without huffing, skate three periods without collapsing, and find myself admiring the curve of my own biceps.

*It is hard to view Dustin’s reference to his conversation with his wife, Lisa Hoffman, without a sense of irony.

Getting Married Today … NOT! 2 comments

One of my heros, Susie Bright, wrote a blog entry today about the enthusiastic tidal wave of queer marriage overtaking California at the moment.

I wrote the following in response.

It is posts like this that make me such a fan. Thanks, Susie … your common sense is SO HOT!

I've done the long-term monogamous gig that ended, rather predictably, in tears and eventual friendship. I've done sort of "open-ended, dancing on the edges of poly" dating. I've been single. I've watched so many others come together and come apart.

The legal partnership agreement that my same-sex partner and I drew up at the beginning of our long-term relationship worked perfectly when it came time to end it. We also had powers of attorney for property and health care put in place. Interestingly, these are still in place for both of us as no one has come along in a permanent sense to fulfill that kind of role.

This business of being "owned" or "belonging" to another person irks me, not surprisingly, but I'll leave that whole feminist anger management piece aside for now. More pressing it seems is the question of "What do you want out of marriage"? A scary question for people to whom marriage is an end point, a target, a life goal to be reached. I  worry that people "work" at their relationship up to the point of "I do" and then figure, well, my work here is done. Got'em! No one moves forward, no more growth … stagnation.

That is my nightmare scenario. On the upside, I do know of many long-term couples, straight and not, married and not, who see commitment, however they define it, as a signpost rather than an endpoint of that strange and fantastic voyage of "relationship". Their continuous improvement efforts warm my heart and give me hope.

I applaud that my American friends are, in some states, being at least offered the choice of perceived social equality. It is validating to be included, to be on equal footing, with one's neighbours. The power of this cannot be overstated within a community that has long felt excluded and ostracized, often by our own immediate families, by reactive and hysterical community members and by religious institutions.

And, of course, I too am a sucker for the romanticism of it … what fool wouldn't want to imagine that there could be some decent, kind, adventurous individual out there who'd be willing to say "yes, and for the rest of my life, yes".

However, when I breathe deeply, and remove the wedding-induced tears from my rose-coloured glasses, I know that the confetti biodegrades, as does the rice, and reality boils down to how you treat each other at your worst, and best, when you are together and when you are apart. No vow, no piece of paper, is going to guarantee consistency from we  frail and flawed human beings. We can promise to do our best for each other and ourselves, and to behave respectfully and with honesty. I'm not sure, if the opportunity should ever arise for me in the future, that I could ever commit to more than this, given what I've seen and what I know to be true about human behaviour. 

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Times Have Changed 1 comment

As most of you know, I live my life as a paragon of virtue, as pure as the driven snow. OK, as I look out my window here in Toronto, it is clear that driven snow isn't quite as pure as it once was … but I digress.

I present to you, dear readers, porn. Yes, that is right, real, honest to goodness, porn. Except, given that this was produced in the 1970's, it actually contains no sex, or at least this excerpt does not. And it is worth watching, I think, sort of. 🙂

Props to my hero, Susie Bright, who posted this on her blog today. An odd little Valentine, this … nonetheless, I heartily recommend that people check out Susie's blog on a regular basis. She has a lot of Important and Useful Things to say on everything from US electoral politics to sexual politics to sewing. Well, she doesn't talk about sewing as much as she *could* if she really let her inhibitions fly. The girl should really loosen up.

I also recommend her podcast, "In Bed With Susie Bright". You can link to it from her blog and there is a minimal fee to subscribe – well worth it. Susie keeps me basically sane in an increasingly weird world.

Speaking of weirdness, without further ado, may I present to you .. .Bat Pussy!

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Links Post #2: The “Sue” Links 2 comments

In my last blog, I had a sidebar to the right that I could fill with links to neat places. On the downside, there was very little room to explain why I put the links there. On the upside, the links were just … there. Easy. Handy.

No such luck @ Vox. (Yet.) I have voiced my blogging desires to the universe. We'll see if the universe coughs up.

Until then, may I present The "Sue" Links? It didn't start out this way, with me having three links to artists/writers named "Sue". It was just something I noticed one day.

One of my many heros is Susie Bright. A goddess, a proponent of sex-positive feminism, a wise-ass and all round smart chick. Here is her blog which gives more details on her wide and varied career in publishing, film and cage-rattling. Most importantly, to me, she hosts a weekly Internet radio show on all matters sexual and political called In Bed With Susie Bright. For sheer entertainment value this is, bar none, the best deal on the Internet. I've subscribed now for several years and Susie never fails to make me laugh out loud AND think very deeply about some of my own beliefs and why I hold them. The ultimate "laugh out loud" moment for me happened when Susie told the story of Hunter S. Thompson leaving her voice mail – long, rambling messages, ranting on about a wild assortment of things. This, in itself, isn't all that amusing until the moment when Susie acquired a new cell phone number and a local insurance broker acquired her old cell phone number. I remember listening to this while I was driving to a friend's cottage up north and I had to pull over, I was laughing so hard. Maybe the fairy goddess of all things Susie will drop on by and remind me of the Show number that this appeared on? Please?

Suzie Vinnick is a Canadian blues / folk artist who is yummy.  Yummy, I tell ya. 33 Stars is a CD that rarely leaves my CD changer for long. Lately, every time I get a notice about a live performance, I'm already booked which is annoying. Soon I'll be back out in the crowd, drunkenly urging her to sing that laid back Rock'n'Roll number.

Suzanne, a.k.a. Sue de Nym and several other noms de plume, is also a kick-ass musician. She rocks when she plays centre or wing on my hockey team, too! There are some cuts from Fanfaria here, but the quality isn't great. False Messiahs is my fav … maybe the artist herself will grant me permission to post the actual song in higher quality here.

There you have the three "Sues" who all spell their names differently, but who rank highly enough with me to get their own link post!

Update: Suzanne, bless her, has stepped off her longboard long enough to agree to let me post the full version of False Messiahs here. Thanks!

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