Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Marrying a Doctor (and others) -- the London Mews

In The Later Canon, The Great Betty favored RBDs of various stripes. They seemed to be doctors rather than surgeons, have collaborations with other doctors and not always did they even live in London. Ah, but when they did, it was in a mews cottage, with their gorgeous principal residence elsewhere. Here, then, is the London Mews Cottage:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

An Ideal Wife: Salisbury, Shieldaig, Lake District

Shieldaig, Scotland, where Louisa goes to visit her aunt and uncle:

Salisbury, Cranborne, Sixpenny Handley--Basically, rural Dorset:

Troutbeck in the Lake District, where Mrs. Gifford lives (and where Thomas and Louisa will live eventually):

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Dearest Love Locations

Little Venice (in London):

Wiltshire, near Tetbury and Malmsbury

Friday, January 1, 2010

That Resolution Thing

People have been asking: Do you resolve?  And yes I do.  Here were my resolutions for 2009:
1. Eat better (e.g., less fat, less white flour, less sugar, more vegetables)
2. Lose weight
3. More exercise (thanks to Coffee Jones and Dino Burger for the Wii Fit we received last month -- it's really increased the exercise for these chilly days)
4. Make four quilts
5. Be a better quilt guild member
6. Get organized with my legal work: more filing, more scheduling and use of the calendar, and more preparation for specific issues.

It goes without saying that I should blog more!
Okay, so how did I do?  Well, #1 is an ongoing process, but I definitely eat better than I did a year ago, so I'll give myself a check for that one.  #2 is also an ongoing process, but I weigh 12 pounds less today than a year ago, and 20 pounds less than my high point for the year.  Importantly, I've lost 10 pounds of the 45 I want to lose by next October 1.  That's almost on track, but I can do better!

Exercise -- yes and no.  Definitely can do better on that!

Quilting.  Well, *sigh* this is continues to be my Achilles' heel.  No, I was not a better guild member, and no, I didn't complete 4 quilts.  I'm going to drop the guild member thing (I could whine about how far away the meetings are, but who am I kidding? I just don't want to), but I should still be able to make four quilts in a year.  That resolution stays put until, damn it, I complete four quilts in a year!

Finally, I won't say my organizational skills improved over the year, but here's why I'm still going to give myself a check for #6:  I used to be deficient in my brief writing, a vital skill for a litigator.  Well, not this year!  As a result of the tragic appeal (for which I wrote three complete briefs in six months) I improved several times over (even if I did lose the case).  Ironically, I'm ending my legal career, but it's nice to know I actually tackled that demon to the ground.

Okay, how about for 2010?

Let's keep the first four in place:
  1. Eat better (e.g., less fat, less white flour, less sugar, more vegetables)
  2. Lose weight
  3. More exercise
  4. Make four quilts

    And here are the new ones for 2010:

  5. Complete, revise & polish two complete romance novels (not as daunting as it sounds; both are well underway)
  6. Do all that I can do to get published.  (See how I didn't resolve to get published?  But I play a large part in that, and I resolve to do everything within my power to market myself as a writer and my novels as publishable.)
  7. Be more confident
Okay, so that last one might seem like a ringer, seeing as how I don't come across as shy, awkward, or lacking in self-assurance.  But I've been in some situations recently where my first instinct was to run and hide.  Well, y'know what?  I ended up handling myself just fine, and I'm actually proud of myself for the way I got on.  It's not my actions that need adjusting, it's my attitude about myself.  

So: scorecard for 2009?  Three thumbs up, two thumbs down, and one thumb sideways.  Which, frankly, is not too bad.  The only resolutions I "broke" were the quilting ones, and while that's disappointing, it's not the end of the world.

P.S.  Oh, and did you notice that unnumbered resolution, about blogging more?  Well, here -- no, I did NOT blog more here at Narrow End.  Nor on the quilt or knitting blogs.  (Bad Magdalen)  But at my new blog, Promantica?  I kick ass.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Elephant in the Room

My brothers called me "Ten-Ton Twinkletoes" when I was a child.  I was fat then.  I'm fat now.  About once a decade I would lose a significant amount of weight, then gain it back -- not exactly the traditional format of yo-yo dieting, but also not evidence that I ever really wanted to be thinner.

But some things have changed in my life, and today (Starman and I weigh ourselves and the dog -- yes, the dog! -- on the first of every month) my weight is just below a really (really) round number.  I weigh less today than I have in 15 years.

Excuse me while I stop to answer some FAQs.  Yes, it is all about nutrition and exercise.  Yes, portion control is key.  Yes, it is a lifestyle change, not a diet.  Yes, I'm taking it slowly: about 4 pounds/month.  Yes, I have a specific goal: to lose 45 pounds by next October.  Oh, and one more thing:  I'm not taking any "herbal supplements" or the like, but I was put on an antidepressant earlier in the year that specifically helps with controlling urges.  That's helped a lot.  Talk to your doctor before beginning any weight loss or exercise program...

Okay, where was I?  Right: weigh less now than I have since 1994.  Here's what happened with my weight loss in the 90s.  I was in law school at a relatively old age (36 when I matriculated) and I got it in my head that I needed to lose weight before interviewing.  Now, I want to make clear that with every single one of my Weight Loss of the Decade experiences, at most I was going from "fatter" to "less fat."  I have never, in my memory, been anywhere near "thin" or even "normal."  The weird part of that being that my parents were "normal" as children and young adults, and their parents were as well.  My aunts and uncles: normal, and their children: normal.  So it's a familial thing, but just my immediate family.  (I'm clearly the "morbidly obese" one among my siblings; the other three are, at most, overweight.)

Anyway, in the 90s I devised an eating plan I could stick with (low fat, but with lots of white-flour pasta, as I recall) and got down to around 20 pounds lighter than I am right now.  Then my brother got married, and as I'm really quite allergic (i.e., I have an involuntary but negative reaction) to my siblings, that scuttled my weight loss.  I can actually remember the Dunkin' Donuts "Boston Kreme" doughnut that signaled the change from weight loss to weight gain.

I've known for a long, long time that my weight is connected to my damaging childhood.  Not only is overeating "feeding the hungry heart," as Geneen Roth put it, but being fat was like an instant invisibility cloak.  I know: weird, hunh.  As a very large woman (not only fat but tall as well), I'm hard to miss but easy to look past.  That's always suited me pretty well.  I didn't much want people looking at me, or perhaps a better way to express that is to say that I was used to people not seeing me.  In the manner of damaged children everywhere, I've been able to continue my childhood experiences into adulthood with a few additions.  In my case, a whole lot of fat.

I lost weight in the 80s, then had an affair with a married man (where the punch line was him cheating on both his wife and his "regular" girlfriend by sleeping with me), and regained the weight.  I lost weight in the 70s, had a family friend say, "Wow, I never knew you had breasts," and regained the weight.  I even lost weight in the 60s, when my parents sent me to a diet camp at age 10.  I lost 28 pounds (but still not "thin" even at that age), and when my older sister saw me she said, "Jesus Christ," to which our uncle, an Episcopal priest, replied, "No, that's your sister."  I regained the weight.

Other than the weight loss at age 10, where frankly my parents could (and should) have done a better job of learning how to manage the family's nutrition (to be fair, I would probably have still found a way to regain the weight, but I wouldn't have had so much help), I take full responsibility for every failed diet and every weight gain.  As the bumper sticker says:  I AM A VOLUNTEER NO ONE FORCES ME TO OVEREAT.

What's different now?  Maturity, I guess.  My body can't handle the extra weight now; at my last doctor's visit, I was pre-diabetic, which is an actual diagnosis.  Taking the weight off -- and it doesn't have to be all the weight; studies show that even a 10% drop can make a huge difference in one's health -- may well reverse that trend.  So I watch my sugar intake, try to eat more whole grains but less of everything else, and walk the dog daily.  At least I try to walk the dog daily; I probably succeed 4-5 times a week.

About that really (really) round number I dropped below today?  I remember the first time I weighed that really (really) round number.  I was 17, I think, and still in high school.  I've weighed less and I've weighed more, but until today I never thought, "Not seeing that number again."  And today I know I won't see it again.  Because whatever kept me fat is being dismantled.  I've found the antidote for my allergy to my siblings (I just don't contact them -- and they've never contacted me to ask why), I'm feeding my heart with stuff other than food, and I allowing people to see me.  I will have to continue the trend; it's not like my anxieties won't recur.  But it's a good start.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Back When I Worked in an Office...

A long, long time ago, I had a job in a governmental agency.  There was a single men's room and a single ladies' room on that floor, and roughly 50 employees.  Now, I have no idea if gender politics have improved in the past 20 years, but back then it was possible for a man in the workplace to treat other men differently than how he treated his female co-workers.

[I'll post another day about how women can treat women in the workplace -- gender politics are different but not necessarily better when only women are involved.]

Now I share the fascination with urinals.  Keep in mind that indoor plumbing is a relatively modern innovation and wasn't widely available until the late 19th century or early 20th century.  The urinal was invented (or at least patented) in 1866.  That's smack in the middle of the Victorian era -- weren't they supposed to be all uptight, sexually?  So why don't urinals have more modesty?  Whether men look at each other's equipment is a completely separate question from why they even have the option.

Back to my agency office.  I finally arrived at a theory of gender politics.  In a stable office place, meaning one with a low turnover of personnel, it stands to reason that all the men have at some time peed next to each other.  I figure the subconscious is a fascinating force of nature, so combined with the powers of peripheral vision, it stands to reason that while men may think they're not checking out whether the guy at the next urinal is bigger or smaller, after a while, they probably have some subconscious notions of where they rank in the (cough) pecking order.

And then it hit me:  the man who has a good idea that his is the smallest? -- that's the guy most likely to treat his female colleagues with contempt and condescension.  Because even if it's the smallest, at least he's got one!  By extension, the guy who is particularly fair and treats women with appropriate equality and respect?  He's got the biggest.  Stands to reason -- he's got no reason to make some fallacious argument (even subconsciously) about the value in the workplace of having an external male member.

I've posited this theory on a few occasions.  I worked one summer at the local energy company in an office where the women were mostly support staff.  When I explained my theory, they knew immediately who had the largest equipment and who had the smallest!  They were quite happy with that insight into the office politics, as it explained a lot of otherwise mysterious behavior.

Elsewhere, I've been met with disbelief and resistance.  And I'll admit, my theory is entirely theoretical.  But now I have the advantage of some investigation, albeit highly anecdotal.  Check out Christine Kelly's piece in Vice:  Men & Urinals: An Investigation.  In addition to being delightfully funny, it answers some questions.  I did not know, for example, that men instinctively leave an empty urinal between them and the next guy down.  (Akin to the empty movie theater seat maneuver, thus avoiding the awkward competition with a stranger for the shared armrest.)  On the other hand, nothing in this article disproves my theory that men subconsciously check size and relativity.

Now I just need Ms. Kelly to investigate another pet theory of mine.  Supposedly 5% of all adult men have some non-standard sexual predilection.  So, in an office with 100 men, can you figure out which one likes to wear women's underwear, which one likes to be dominated, etc. on the basis of how they behave in the workplace?  (It's a statistical fallacy to assume any group of 100 men will include precisely one practitioner of each predilection, but then it would be an equal fallacy to assume it includes none.  They can't all work someplace else!)

And yes, there is a reason why I don't work in an office anymore.  But no, it didn't involve any allegations that I promoted a hostile workplace.  I just like to make sense of my environment.