Oh to be Nancy Drew

When I was in about third grade my cousin introduced me to Nancy Drew. I fell in love with her immediately.

For those of you who have been living under a rock, Nancy Drew is a teenage sleuth (you have to use the word sleuth to describe her – it’s such a delightful word to say out loud – sleuth.) She and her two best friends, Bess and George (Georgia), and her boyfriend Ned would continuously run across mysteries that needed to be solved. Nancy, being the sharp cookie that she was, would always figure out the truth and save the day.

The name of the author on the cover was and still is Carolyn Keene (new books are still being written today even though the first book was published in 1930). Carolyn Keene is like Santa Claus, she never actually existed but you don’t want children to know this. Instead a long string of adults have pretended to be her, the first being Mildred Augustine Wirt Benson, who lived to be 97!

Mildred Wirt Benson (University of Iowa Press)

Nancy Drew has been translated into nearly 30 languages and in some countries is known by a different name (or a variation of her name) for example Alice Roy in France, Kitty Drew in Sweden, and Paula Drew in Finland.

The original company that created Nancy Drew was the Stratemeyer Syndicate, which also published a slew of other children’s series including Tom Swift, the Bobbsey Twins, the Happy Hollisters, and the Hardy Boys. Syndicate, hmmmm, sounds shady, doesn’t it? Librarians apparently seemed to think so because for years most of them (us) refused to carry any of the “Syndicate” series (admittedly it wasn’t the company’s name that made them do it but the idea that reading series led to laziness.)

Edward Stratemeyer definitely was the Henry Ford of publishing. He figured out a business model that turned out books quickly and created demand. He had a series of ‘guidelines’ that had to be followed (from Wikipedia).

All Stratemeyer Syndicate books were written under certain guidelines, based on practices Stratemeyer began with his first series, the Rover Boys.

  • All books would be part of a series.
  • To establish more quickly if a series was likely to be successful, the first several volumes would be published at once. These first volumes are often called “breeders”.
  • The books would be written under a pseudonym. This would provide apparent continuity of authorship, even when an author died, and would disguise the fact that series were written by multiple ghostwriters and plot-outliners.
  • The books would look as much like contemporary adult books as possible, with similar bindings and typefaces.
  • The books would be of a predictable length.
  • Chapters and pages should end mid-situation, to increase the reader’s desire to keep reading.
  • Each book would begin with a quick recap of all previous books in that series, in order to promote those books.
  • Books might also end with a preview of the next volume in the series: “Nancy … could not help but wonder when she might encounter as strange a mystery as the recent one. Such a case was to confront her soon, The Clue of the Whistling Bagpipes”.
  • The books would be priced at 50 cents, rather than the more common 75 cents, $1.00, or $1.25.
  • Characters should not age or marry. Protagonists of early series such as the Rover Boys, Tom Swift, and Ruth Fielding did grow up and marry, but sales dropped afterwards, prompting the Syndicate to make a rule that characters never marry.

Obviously the guidelines worked. For myself, when my cousin told me that she was already on number eighteen (or thereabouts) I knew that I needed to catch up to her. Although it wasn’t really necessary to read the books in order, there was a unwritten rule that you do.

“What number are you on?”

“I’m up to twenty-seven!”

Photo of some “antique” Nancy Drew books taken at an antique shop near Oconomowoc, WI.
Photo taken by my wonderful cousin who introduced me to the teenage sleuth.
Those yellow spines make my heart sing.

When I first started reading there were only fifty-one titles but more were published as I read. I think I gave up somewhere in the sixties. I was able to read an entire book in one afternoon. I relished reading them, especially if it was a rainy or snowy day. I would close the door to my bedroom, nestle in the chair near the window, get all cozy and sit there uninterrupted for several hours and just read.

Afterward I would feel so uplifted and happy and the first thing I would need to do is… clean my entire room. Yep, because the thing I loved most about Nancy Drew is how she was perfect – so neat and put together all the time. She always had on exactly the right outfit for every occasion, she knew how to do everything, she was always prepared for any situation. She was completely perfect. I wanted to be Nancy Drew and if I was going to be Nancy Drew I was going to start with… my room (which I’m sure you can visualize, it looked like the typical bedroom of an preteen.)

The first thing I would do is take every single piece of clothing out of my closet and out of the drawers of my cabinets. I would take everything off of my bookcase and dust, and then put everything back perfectly. I would empty all the drawers of my desk and put that all back. I’d clear OFF the desk and clean off the top. When I was finished my Mom would come in and oooh and aaah and tell me how wonderful it looked and I’d feel so proud. “I’m Nancy Drew,” I would think to myself! I’d lay out my clothes for the next day. I’d brush my teeth and wash my face. I’d climb into a clean bed and I’d sleep like a rock.

That would last about two days.

It didn’t take long for my Mom to figure out that connection between my cleaning my room and reading Nancy Drew. Eventually when she would notice my room looking like a pigsty she’d ask, “do you want to go to the bookstore and get a new Nancy Drew?” Hell, getting me to clean up my room for less than a dollar was totally worth it.

Now jump forty years later and I’m obviously no longer in 3rd grade. I’m living in a two-story colonial where I’ve had a major break-down because I was in the basement doing laundry and couldn’t get up the stairs. Turns out I have a degenerative joint disease and I need both my knees replaced. But here’s the rub – in order to have the surgery I have to lose fifty pounds but you try losing fifty pounds when you can barely walk. Yeah.

But I did it. I pretty much turned my life around. I moved from the two-story colonial into a ranch (my Golden Girls dream house) and I went onto a very strict (non-maintainable diet) where I starved myself for about 7 or 8 months and lost those damned fifty pounds. I had both knees replaced in a six month time period. Thank god!

When I moved from the two-story house to the ranch I decided not to take shortcuts like I had done in the past. This time I was going to do it right. This time I was not going to just pack everything up and pile up a bunch of boxes full of things I didn’t use in my basement. I hired an organizer to help me, because basically I had over twenty years of stuff jammed into my house.

We took TWENTY-SEVEN carloads to Goodwill and I’m fairly certain I filled up an entire Waste Management sanitation truck. It felt so good to purge my life of all of my accumulated belongings, things that I didn’t need or want anymore.

Going through the boxes in the bases was a riot. I found my Fran Drescher The Nanny Doll that talked and a miniature pair of Fruit-of-the-Looms and this 80s cardigan….

Yes, I actually wore this.

I also found many things that I actually kept. Things that were my Mom’s or that actually would be useful.

When were were about half finished I looked up at my organizer and at 51 years of age I said to her, “I’m so Nancy Drew!” Because I still want to be Nancy. Her response was “huh?”

Of course she knew who Nancy Drew was but she never heard the name used as an adjective before. I explained it in my usual long-winded way. From that point forward we would say our goal was to be Nancy Drew.

For me it still is, it always will be. To achieve complete Nancy Drew-ness is equivalent to a Buddhist reaching nirvana. Every time I clean up my work space, or wash all the blankets and quilts on my bed and remake my bed so it’s nice & clean, or delete mail from my inbox, or go through the stack of real mail that I’ve let accumulate and toss all the stuff I don’t need into recycling (and take care of all the rest of it right away), or clear off a counter or garage that I’ve let get cluttered, every time I do all these things it clears out my head and helps me feel more myself. I find that I remember things more easily – less struggling to find words, less likely to be going down the wrong row of a parking lot, able to recall the names of all the actors who played on particular episodes of ‘Murder, She Wrote.’ Faster than a speeding bullet, stronger than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound… Yep, all of these things, just because I cleaned up my room.

And actually, there is a bit of science behind this. Too much stuff can be distracting and can create stress, and you may not even realize it.

I have major sleep issues. I have trouble getting to sleep because I obsess about things – mostly about what I did wrong that day and what I have to do the next day or week. I also am a worrier. I can worry about everything and anything. What I discovered is that I sleep MUCH better on nights after I’ve done some major ‘Nancy Drew-ing’ of some sort. Did the laundry for the week and prepped for the next day – sleep better. Made a bunch of meals for the week and put them in the freezer – sleep better. Cleared out a bunch of mail (both electronic & snail) – sleep better. Checked off several important things from my endless to do list – sleep better.

And sleep of course, has a tremendous impact on a person’s health. I’m going to write an entire blog post on this so I won’t go into depth on that here.

The question is, why did it take me so long to figure this out? I have no answer to give. All I know is that at least I figured it out before it was too late.

So, I’ll stop because I need to get back to Nancy Drew-ing!

Oh, and one last thing, for any of you who are super Nancy Drew fans like I am, you may want to check out the new Nancy Drew show on the CW but be prepared – this Nancy is nothing like the one you have grown to love. This Nancy is still smart as a whip but she’s a bit selfish, she and her dad are not on good terms (which is really weird,) and she and Nick (Ned Nickerson goes by Nick in this modern version, I think because Ned would be considered too dorky?) are having sex – GASP! Nancy Drew doesn’t have pre-marital sex!

Also, the ghosts are REAL. Having said that – the show is a typical CW show, sort of like Nancy Drew mixed with X-Files. Which is, I suppose, why I kind of like it. That with the Nancy Drew references are keeping my attention. See what you think.

Nancy Drew — “Pilot” — Image Number: NCD101c_0397r.jpg —
Pictured: Kennedy McMann as Nancy — Photo: Robert Falconer/The CW — © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Five Things I Love (11/25/19)

Love may not actually be a strong enough word for some of these, but I didn’t want to oversell anything. Thought I’d share with all of you, on a weekly basis (plan to do this on Mondays), five things I came across, used, saw, thought about, well, you get the gist, during the previous week. Here’s my first go…

1. This video of Taika Waititi and Stephen Merchant breaking down a scene from the movie JoJo Rabbit…

Taika Waitiki came onto my radar after I had watched Thor: Ragnarok. Ragnarok was different from all of the other Marvel films up to the point and I became a little obsessed. I started watching everything I could find on YouTube – outtakes, deleted scenes, and all the special little videos that Taika had created for the fans about the making of the film. He’s amazing and it’s no wonder.

Chris Hemsworth and Taika Waitiki on the set of Thor: Ragnarok (click photo to go to Den of Geek interview with Taika Waitiki)

A native New Zealander, its no surprise that Taika is super cool, talented, AND has a fantastic sense of humor. But it’s also understandable why we here in the northern hemisphere hadn’t heard much about him before he directed Ragnarok. Thankfully his talent has been recognized and it has opened doors for him to do projects like JoJo Rabbit.

It seems a lot of people were a bit worried about a satirical movie about Hitler, so much so that Taika had to take on the roll of Hitler himself. But there’s a lot of awards buzz so it looks like he knows what he is doing!

2. FITS socks – I have been a SmartWool girl for years. I get cold feet and these things were like manna from heaven – wool but washable and not itchy? Pinch me! Then a friend of mine told me about FITS socks and said she liked them better than SmartWool. I was completely skeptical but I decided to try them. OMG, she was right! They still have all the benefits of SmartWool but with betters options in terms of height (fat calves over here) and padded heels (insert Hallelujah chorus). Both socks are a blend – Smartwool is Merino wool, nylon, and elastane. FITS is Merino wool, nylon, polyester, and lycra. Admittedly I do like a lot of the designs on the Smartwool better but I’m willing to give that up for comfort – you know what they say, “form follows function.” Sorry SmartWool, I’m afraid I’m a FITS girl now.

3. This photo of Ted Danson – the man is utterly joyful from being arrested. I LOVE THIS GUY!!!

4. This article about What We Can Still Learn From Mister Rogers as Adults By Shayla Thiel Stern. You’re going to want to read the entire article but the main points are:

  1. Routine and responsibility are the bedrock of your day.
  2. It feels good to make something, even if you aren’t very good at it.
  3. Put on your sneakers.
  4. The Land of Make-Believe is still there for you.
  5. Look for the helpers.
  6. Finally, just be a good neighbor.

5. These photos taken by photographer Jermaine Horton. An 8 year-old named Marian Scott (isn’t that an epic name for a little kid in 2019?!?) showed up to school in Jackson, Michigan on school picture day. It seems however the school has some sort of nonsense policy that kids are required to only have hair color in “natural tones.” Marian had red-extensions. What did the school do? They didn’t allow this 8 year-old to have her school photos taken. Can you say devastating? Well guess what – her parents were pissed to say the least and it got on the news. That’s how Jermaine Horton heard about and she offered to do a super awesome photo shoot for Marian free of charge. And as you can see, the photos are WAY better than any old class pictures would have been.

Photographer Jermaine Horton put on a professional photo shoot for 8-year-old
Marian Scott after she was denied school pictures for having red hair extensions.

Your Girls are Perfect the Way they are

A few weeks ago I read several articles about how the FDA has proposed new warnings for breast implants including a “black box” warning on the packaging, which is considered their most serious warning.

Ladies’ Home Journal, Calkins Corset, October 1898

These articles brought several disconnected thoughts to my brain as I read them –

  1. First as foremost: Women, you don’t need to mutilate your bodies to conform to society’s idea of what is beautiful (which in reality has been created by beauty magazines & marketing firms.)
  2. A black box warning? Really? How many women getting breast implants are going to see the packaging for their new girls? We all know that those babies are going to be sitting on a metal tray in the operating room already unpackaged and the person doing the unpackaging ain’t going to be the patient. And let’s say the doctors are required to share the information with the patients. Do you think that doctors who are willing to do breast implants* despite these warnings are going to be very diligent about doing so?
  3. I’m super skeptical that anything further is going to happen with this. It’s clear that these warnings are simply a proposal. The FDA is in dire need of a boost of good PR. They have been pretty lame for years, but since the Trump Administration, they have become borderline criminal about doing their job. They don’t protect the citizens of the United States. Nope, they do whatever lobbyists and wealthy donors who give to powerful politicians want them to do. Which is why I think that this won’t happen. Somewhere down the line the companies that manufacture breast implants will spend enough money to get this quashed. And we won’t even know. Because who follows up on this? Who is going to check weeks or months from now to see if this was implemented. And even if there are watchdogs that do, and even if they call them out on it, who will do anything about it?

Full disclosure, I actually had a breast REDUCTION. Some people might say, well, aren’t you a hypocrite! But there is a big difference between breast implants and breast reduction. Yes, both are surgical procedures, but breast reductions are generally necessary – women get them for medical reasons such as backaches or other discomforts.

In my case, I had lost a tremendous amount of weight over a ten month period of time (140 pounds) and I had a lot of excess and sagging skin. Did my boobs hang low? You betcha? Did they wobble to and fro’? Definitely. In fact, I really could tie them in a knot and tie them in a bow AND I could even throw them o’er my shoulder like a continental soldier. It was a NECESSARY procedure. And there was some serious chaffing. Sadly though, my insurance company didn’t see it that way, they still saw it as cosmetic.

And to be fair, their were also psychological reasons for my having the procedures. But if that alone was the reason, if I didn’t have the physical issues combined with wanting to look better, hell, I would never have gone through my surgeries (I also had an adominectomy). Because really, who wants to be cut open from hip to hip and, well, you don’t even want to know what they do with a breast reduction, trust me. Suffice it to say, they were both EXTREMELY painful.

With all the new information coming out about the dangers of having breast implants, I will say this again – YOUR GIRLS ARE PERFECT the way they are. Unless they are causing you physical discomfort, there is no reason to have any sort of “cosmetic” surgery. Seriously. We all need to start recognizing that we aren’t the ones that have to do the changing, it’s the people who think the rest of the world isn’t beautiful enough.

*By the way, just as a little FYI, here’s a link to the FDA page on the Risks & Complications of Breast Implants. If I read the stuff on here I know I’d never consider getting them.

The Fat Lady Ain’t Singing

A few weeks ago I was at a meeting. When it finished we were given a tour of the library where the meeting was held. It was a lovely library and a very interesting tour. (Side note: As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m a librarian and I’m notorious for taking busman’s holidays, or at the very least finding one library along the way to visit.) Still, I decided to pass on the very last part of this tour, which was going up to the roof.

There were a couple reasons for this. The first – I am never sure whether my knees can manage the climb (I had both knees replaced in the past couple years and they still aren’t 100%). The second – I am never sure about whether I will end up being embarrassed because I may not fit into a particular space (for example a smaller door frame, an antique chair, an old-fashioned carriage, particularly anything from when people were of a smaller stature). “Normal” sized people never have to think of these sort of things – I have to think about stuff like this pretty much every day of my life.

I waited on the upper level for everyone to return, plopping down in a chair near the top of the stairs. A man, balding and middle aged, made his way up the steps, not too quickly but not too slowly either. He had on a backpack and was huffing and puffing a little.

As soon as he reached the top he said, “I feel like a fat lady.” It was then that he noticed me. I felt my cheeks flush. His face fell as his brain registered that I had heard what was now obviously an insult. He began to backpedal. “A really, really, really big person,” he corrected, sort of sputtering. He turned and walked very quickly toward the stacks.

The thing is, he actually made it worse. Later he came over to where I was sitting. He bent over near me in a way that wasn’t particularly natural, but in doing so I could see his face, and he smiled at me as if to say – hi, see, I’m a nice person, I’m not a jerk. He picked something up but I couldn’t see what it was. I’m not sure whether he actually needed to come over to where I was sitting or if he was doing so just to smile at me. I smiled back and he turned around and walked away.

I’m hopeful that he learned a lesson, but I doubt it will stay with him. He’ll probably be thoughtful about not making similar statements for a few months or weeks or even days and then go back to his old ways. Because let’s face it, despite Bill Maher’s delusional belief that fat shaming went away, it most certainly has not. Most times it is like this, accidental or unintentional, other times it is not.

I’ve been itching to bring up James Corden’s response to Bill Maher. There were so many things wrong with what Maher said. And there were a few things that I felt were omitted from Corden’s response. So I thought I’d go through both clips and write up my thoughts or rebuttals on some of the statements that were made.

Even though I would rather not, let’s start with Mr. Maher’s extremely ignorant rant about how fat shaming needs to “come back.” (Full disclosure, I have never been a fan of Bill Maher. I think he is all about shock value just like Howard Stern or Alex Jones and I don’t believe his phony liberalism.)

I thought I’d pull out some of the worst lines from his rant:

“Americans eat shit and too much of it.”

This is actually the only line that is accurate, but unfortunately he missed an opportunity to gripe about something legitimate. The American diet is crap but there are reasons for this more than simply people have no will power.

One major culprit is the loosening of regulations. Hell, just a few weeks ago the USDA announced they are basically allowing the pork industry to go to a mostly self-regulating process. SELF-REGULATING. They are doing this despite the fact that there has been a significant increase in the number of food recalls in the past ten years. They are doing this despite the fact that the chief veterinarian with the USDA’s Food Safety & Inspection Services (FSIS), Pat Basu, refused to “sign off on the new pork system because of concerns about safety for consumers and livestock.” (Pork industry soon will have more power over meat inspections by Kimberly Kindy, Washington Post, April 3, 2019)

About a week after Basu left, the USDA sent the proposed regulations to the Federal register and they were made official less than a month later. Hmmmmm.

Again, full disclosure, the FSIS wrote a response to the WashPo article. They claim that Dr. Basu was not part of the clearance process and that his signature was not required nor requested. Of course that doesn’t mean that the normal procedure hasn’t always been for him to to sign-off on it. It may not have been required but it may have been the norm. As to the request, well, I suspect that if you are doing something that you think ethical people might disapprove of then yes, you wouldn’t ask someone to review your proposal. There is more, if you would like to read it you can find it here. I’ll leave it up to you to determine who has more to lose and more to gain.

(Side note: my family owned a meat packing company for nearly 65 years. As of the above announcement I became a pescetarian (wild fish only by the way). I’m so sorry Gramps. I had already reduced the amount of beef and pork I had been eating for health reasons. And I wasn’t eating lamb (my favorite) that often, mostly on special occasions, but that will be the most difficult thing to give up. Now chicken, which actually may be one of the worse culprit, that’s verboten. Of course unless I am in the EU, then I can go crazy!

But back to deregulation. Deregulation by the current administration is leading to bad practices, mostly by BigAg. It also creates confusion for already befuddled consumers. Small, family-owned farm owners (mostly organic) are actually pushing back though.

This leads me to the second reason Americans eat like crap – they can’t AFFORD to eat healthfully. According to 2017 estimates, nearly 40 million (39.7 million to be exact) Americans are living in poverty. Besides the fact that they have to opt for cheaper, unhealthy food choices, junk food may be the only indulgence that they can afford.

The third reason are product size and marketing. Too many companies, especially fast food companies, are creating oversized menu options and ridiculous menu combinations (I’m looking at you Taco Bell). I remember about ten years ago writing to McDonalds asking them if they could possibly offer some more healthy breakfast options and suggested that they have turkey sausage on a McMuffin or something with only egg-whites. I was told that they didn’t have the demand for it so thanks for the suggestion but no thanks. Wow. And don’t even get me started on Dunkin Donuts (I’ve never been but I have a few stories.)

Here is a fascinating article about food advertising. It looks at two studies, one done at Yale and the other at the University of Liverpool. They both came up with interesting results. They show how advertisers are able to manipulate viewers into craving foods. The second study also showed that children are more susceptible than adults, thus the increase in childhood obesity as commercials during their cartoons have turned from showing toys to showing food.

“Being fat isn’t a birth defect.”

Actually it is genetic and it is a defect.

Back in April the results of two coordinated studies were published in the journal Cell. According to the first study (the largest done to date, a half million people aged 40 to 69) completed at the University of Cambridge, it is easier for thin people to stay thin. They discovered a genetic alteration that makes people less interested in food. In other words, they really only eat when their body needs energy.

The second study, using the data from the first study, developed a method for predicting obesity, starting as early as childhood. Fascinating!

The study of the appetite-dulling mutation was led by Dr. Sadaf Farooqi, professor of metabolism and medicine at the University of Cambridge, and Nick Wareham, an epidemiologist at the university.

The study drew on Dr. Farooqi’s research into a gene, MC4R. She has probed it for 20 years, but for the opposite reason: to understand why some people are overweight, not why some are thin.

People with MC4R mutations tend to be obese. Researchers have recorded as many as 300 mutations in this gene, and they are the most common single-gene cause of obesity. Mutations in the gene account for 6 percent of children with severe obesity.

The mutations destroy satiety, the feeling of fullness after a meal, Dr. Farooqi and her colleagues have found.

Normally, when people eat a meal, the gene is switched on and sends a signal telling people they are full. Then the gene turns itself off. But some people carry a rare mutation in MC4R that prevents the gene from working.

As a result, their bodies never get the signal that they have eaten enough. They always feel hungry and often are overweight. Their risk of diabetes and heart disease is 50 percent higher than those without the mutation.

In the new study, Dr. Farooqi and her colleagues found that in some thin people, the MC4R gene is always turned on, instead of always off, because of different mutations involving a previously unknown metabolic pathway.

From ” This Genetic Mutation Makes People Feel Full — All the Time” by Gina Kolata, New York Times, April 18, 2019

Of course genetics alone can’t cause obesity, but add that to other factors:

  • Antibiotics in foods/being over prescribed
  • Additives in foods, cosmetics, flame retardants and other items people use daily
  • Stress/Anxiety, sleep issues, society’s fixation on being thin
  • Lifestyle changes – people are walking less (especially in the US and in suburbs), kids are playing outdoors less (safety factors are part of that), jobs are more automated
  • Things I mentioned above – poverty, deregulation, product size/marketing

Those are just a few things off the top of my head. Well, all of those things make it a hell of a lot more difficult to keep the weight off when you are genetically disposed to putting on weight. I’ll be discussing this more in-depth in a future post.

Maher cites the article Our Food is Killing Too Many of Us: Improving American nutrition would make the biggest impact on our health care by Dariush Mozaffarian and Dan Glickman, New York Times, August 26, 2019.

I had to go read the actual article right away. Shame on Maher and I wonder, did he even read it? He left out so many important things that the article suggested as ways to actually help (and I’ll tell you, NONE of them were fat shaming):

  1. ACTIVELY teaching people about nutrition through insurers and medical providers
  2. In addition to taxing some of the bad foods (such as sugary beverages and junk food) provide subsidies for healthy foods – this goes along with what I mentioned above about how low income people can’t AFFORD food that is good for them.
  3. Nutrition standards in school (and no, this isn’t a violation of anyone’s constitutional rights)
  4. This one was interesting, though personally I think it is a pipe dream: “The private sector can also play a key role. Changes in shareholder criteria (e.g., B-Corps, in which a corporation can balance profit versus purpose with high social and environmental standards) and new investor coalitions should financially reward companies for tackling obesity, diabetes and other diet-related illness. Public-private partnerships should emphasize research and development on best agricultural and food-processing practices. All work sites should demand healthy food when negotiating with cafeteria vendors and include incentives for healthy eating in their wellness benefits.” (‘Our Food is Killing Us’, NYT, Aug. 26, 2019)
  5. Creating something like the “National Institute of Nutrition” (LOVE IT!)
  6. And of course the government needs to step up and start doing something. You know, when Michelle Obama made it her campaign to help kids eat more healthfully and exercise more, well, it was awful that she got push back on it. Look where we are now.

“Everyone knows that obesity is linked to terrible conditions like diabetes, heart-disease and virginity [pause for laugh] …. not to mention cancer.”

It is true that being obese increases the risk of diabetes, heart-disease, and cancer. The virginity part only confirms he’s an ass.

“There is literally nothing that being overweight does not make worse: eyesight, memory, pain, fatigue, depression, you don’t poop right [pause for laugh]… it weakens your immune system.”

I’d like Maher’s sources for this statement because I call bullshit. Being overweight doesn’t necessarily cause these things. Having certain health problems may cause issues like these and the health problems may or may not be due to a person being overweight. For example, I have an autoimmune disease. When I was diagnosed with the disease, one of the first things my father said was it must be due to my weight (he thinks everything I have wrong with me is because of my weight so now I ask, every time, and you know what, more times than not is isn’t). I asked my doctor and it was not. My dad didn’t believe me but luckily I was able to tell him that Venus Williams had the same autoimmune disease.

And not pooping right? Besides the fact that he obviously put it in for laughs (Jeez Louise, I was a children’s librarian for 12 years, I know that using the word ‘poop’ in a storytime is guaranteed to get giggles) that is because people have a bad diet, not because they are obese. And not all obese people have bad diets. Just because someone is overweight, doesn’t mean they eat bad foods. NOT the same thing. And people who are thin can have a bad diet.

And frankly, there are a ton of factors that can affect people’s BMs.

“We scream at Congress to find a way to pay for our medical bills but it wouldn’t be nearly the issue it is if people just didn’t eat like assholes, who are killing not only themselves but the planet. The Amazon fires? are because farmers there are burning down the rain forest to make room for future hamburgers (and soybeans.)”

Oh yeah, let’s blame fat people for the Amazon fires. That’s brilliant.

It is true that the rain forest is on fire because farmers are making way for more cattle and more soybeans, which you might have noticed he threw in because someone called him out on it. But it is also for lumber (deforestation.) According to an article in EarthSky by Catesby Holmes, “Deforestation in the Amazon has spiked since the election last year of the far-right President Jair Bolsonaro. Arguing that federal conservation zones and hefty fines for cutting down trees hinder economic growth, Bolsonaro has slashed Brazil’s strict environmental regulations.” (Why the Amazon is burning: 4 reasons by Catesby Holmes, EarthSky, August 27, 2019)

Rachel Garrett, a Boston University professor who studies Brazilian land use, says there is no evidence to back up Bolsonaro’s claim. In fact she states the opposite is true. Since 2004, food production in Brazil has actually increased thanks to the environmental and sustainable regulations that have been put in place.

Read the article, it’s very interesting. And guess what, none of the reasons have to do with fat people. And I realize he was trying to say that fat people go to Mickey D’s and eat too many hamburgers and the rain forest is on fire because they’ve been clearing the rain forest for more cattle, but that’s only one of several reasons why the rain forest is burning. And one more thing, skinny people buy beef too.

“Because here in America we look at fried chicken and think, that’s a good start, now put it on a bun, and add bacon, and cheese, and something no one even thought to put on it. Make my mouth cum.”

Does he really think that regular Americans are coming up with such concoctions? Nope. It’s some clever team at a fast food company who are trying to get more people addicted to their products. Not only have there been studies showing that fast food and processed food contribute to the obesity crisis, there is also evidence that today’s diets have more sugar hidden the food than previous generations. It turns out that sugar is addictive. So companies will sneak sugar into foods and drinks to get people to want more/come back.

I have a nephew who works for a company that works with multiple fast food companies. He told me that Dunkin Donuts (okay, I said I didn’t want to get into this but I’ll be brief) puts sugar into all their coffees unless you specifically ask for no sugar or say you are diabetic. I was looking up the nutritional values of their drinks, if you order a large black coffee with mocha swirl but no added sugar you would think to yourself that it would be a fairly safe drink, right? I mean, how bad could a little flavoring be? How about 46 grams of sugar.

“Europe doesn’t look like this because Europe’s not always eating for two.”

Europe is experiencing an obesity crisis just like the US. According to the World Health Organization

  • The worldwide prevalence of obesity nearly doubled between 1980 and 2008. According to country estimates for 2008, over 50% of both men and women in the WHO European Region were overweight, and roughly 23% of women and 20% of men were obese.
  • Based on the latest estimates in European Union countries, overweight affects 30-70% and obesity affects 10-30% of adults.
  • Estimates of the number of overweight infants and children in the WHO European Region rose steadily from 1990 to 2008. Over 60% of children who are overweight before puberty will be overweight in early adulthood. Childhood obesity is strongly associated with risk factors for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, orthopaedic problems, mental disorders, underachievement in school and lower self-esteem.

The European crisis seems to be not as severe as it is in the US (lucky for them) and if I were to guess why I would say it is because many people walk more, there is much more regulation when it comes to how food is processed and what is in it, and there’s a lot more education starting at a young age on how to eat properly.

If I had to point fingers and name what is causing the obesity crisis outside of the US I would say it is the export of American processed and fast food products combined with greed.

“We weren’t always like this. Watching the footage of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, I was struck by how not-fat everyone in the crowd was. We looked like a completely different race of people. Now look at us, we wear shirts that our ancestors could have used as a sail.”

I shared this link earlier but he is right, people were skinnier. (And people were physically smaller in stature as well.)

“Can fat be beautiful? That’s in the eye of the beholder, but healthy? No, that’s science.”

It is true that there are many health risks that come with being overweight. Therefore an overweight person can’t be considered 100% healthy. But, an overweight person can have an excellent cholesterol level, good blood pressure, good resting heart rate, good blood work, etc. – in fact, an overweight person can have medical test results that come back even better than most thin people’s results if they are practicing a healthy lifestyle.

I wonder exactly what is the goal of saying that a fat person cannot be healthy? Should they just give up then? A person who is claiming to be fit & fat is most likely a person who exercises and/or who is eating right. They are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing and may not be losing weight. Maybe they aren’t dieting or exercising enough because of the multiple other factors that have been discussed previously. Are we saying they should stop? Seriously, Mr. Maher, I’d really like to know.

“Weight Watchers had to literally take the words ‘weight’ and ‘watchers,’ I’m not kidding, out of their name. It’s now WW, because merely the idea of watching your weight is now bullying. What’s next, banning scales? Hey liberals, you know how you hate it when conservatives won’t even let the CDC study gun violence as a public health issue? This is that. You are the NRA of mayonnaise.”

God, is he really this stupid? It was a BRANDING decision. Because in order for people to actually lose weight and keep it off, they need to make lifestyle changes.

And regarding the gun violence/NRA comparison – you aren’t comparing apples to apples. The mass shootings that are occurring are primarily killing our CHILDREN. In terms of threats to our children, a study done by the University of Michigan using CDC data shows that obesity doesn’t even show up on the list.

“Fat shame, no, we fit shame. Really, you hear it all the time. Someone sees a merely trim person, ‘you should eat something.’ No, you should not eat something.”

I’d like to point out that Bill Maher’s show is filmed in Los Angeles, the land of be-thin-or-leave. I don’t know about you but in the Midwest, well, I don’t hear people thin-shaming “all the time”. When Midwesterners see a “merely” trim person we usually don’t say much. For myself, if it’s an age appropriate guy I may check him out. If it’s a woman I might, well, check her out. If we see someone who is extremely thin someone might say something like, “wow are you thin.” Not as a criticism, simply as a statement of awe, almost in admiration possibly (or maybe a little concern.) Perhaps that is just a Midwest thing.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying thin shaming never happens, but to say that it occurs as often or MORE often than fat shaming is outrageous. And ultimately neither should be happening. The message should be simply this: body shaming of any kind is unacceptable.

“I should be more unhealthy so you can feel better about your fat ass.”

This is just an asinine statement. There is no more that needs to be said.

In August, 53 Americans died from mass shootings. Terrible, right? You know how many died from obesity? 40,000.

Again, throwing out a statistic like this without citing a source is bull. I am extremely skeptical that he could have found such a current statistic for obesity-related deaths that is accurate. WHO, for example, only has the 2017 statistics posted on its website because it takes time for stats to be submitted and calculated and compiled and put into reports. There is also the fact is that the CDC doesn’t list obesity as a cause of death, so it is impossible to know the actual number of obesity-related deaths.

But more importantly, what is the point of this comparison? Once again, it’s purely for shock value.

“Fat shaming doesn’t need to end, it needs to make a comeback. Some amount of shame is good. We shamed people out of smoking and into wearing seat belts, we shamed them out of littering and most of them out of racism. Shame is the first step in reform.”

Actually, shaming didn’t get people to stop smoking or to wear seat belts or to stop littering – LAWS got them to do those things.

Legislation and plenty of educational campaigns helped to get people to stop littering. Anyone who has watched movies and television prior to around the mid-1980s knows that was about the time seat-belt laws were starting to be enacted (and Hollywood helped promote them). And laws banning smoking from restaurants and other public places has grown dramatically since around 2000. That, combined with the educational campaign on the dangers of smoking, has caused people to quit (or to simply smoke at home or in their cars.)

Most importantly, shame actually is not the first step in reform. Shame will have the opposite effect. Shame causes people to feel badly and people who have emotional instability or addictive personalities will turn to whatever they use to make themselves feel comfort – for some people that can be a hobby, for others a sport, but for some it can be things like alcohol or gambling or overeating. Shame is never a solution. EVER.

Now, on to Mr. James Corden’s reponse.

To be honest, there is nothing that Mr. Corden said that has to be corrected.

I do have issue with one thing he did though I know why he did it.

I don’t think that making fat jokes, even when they are at his own expense, was the best tactic to take. If we are trying to get people to stop fat shaming (aka bullying), then we can’t do it to ourselves. This actually reminds me of what Hannah Gadsby said about her Nannette special in the NY Times: “‘I have built a career out of self-deprecating humor, and I don’t want to do that anymore,’ she says in the special. ‘Because do you understand what self-deprecation means when it comes from somebody who already exists in the margins? It’s not humility. It’s humiliation.'” (The Comedy-Destroying, Soul-Affirming Art of Hannah Gadsby by Melena Ryzik, New York Times, July 24, 2018)

And this was the best line from his response – “Fat shaming is just bullying.”

So BRAVO Mr. Corden and Thank you so much!!!

Fat Shaming is not dead

It’s been quite some time since I’ve experienced such blatant fat shaming.

Today I had a coffee with a friend. We had a lovely visit. I’ve been feeling relatively optimistic lately. This feeling is not very familiar. It’s really nice.

I was heading home, driving north on Port Washington Road. I came to where the road goes from two lanes to one. Being slightly ahead of the car next to me, I sped up a little to try to merge in front of the vehicle next to me. Suddenly the other car sped up and raced to get in front of me. Masculine competitiveness I guess, whatever. That’s when I noticed the driver’s window go down, he made some sort of gesture (kind of like what you do when you’re showing someone that something is really small, holding your thumb and pointer finger a wee distance apart), anyway, after that the window went back up.

I will admit, I have a bit of a temper, but what could I do at this point, he was quite a distance ahead of me. Besides, I’ve been working on ‘letting things go.’ So, I continued north in (relatively) calm manner. But, I thought to myself, if he got stuck at the stop light, I would give him a stern look. Grrrrrr.

He didn’t get stuck at the stop light. So instead, as I turned onto my street, I flipped him off. Yes, that’s the kind of girl I am. It made me feel better, even though I knew he couldn’t see it. He was too far away.

He turned into the deserted gas station on the corner. I took the opportunity to flip him off again, realizing he still couldn’t see me. It was overcast. I couldn’t see through his windows so I was fairly certain he couldn’t see through mine.

But then he crossed through the parking lot of that deserted gas station and drove onto the street I had just turned onto. He was about 25 feet behind me. I turned right. He made the same turn. I turned left and he followed suit. At this point I was in front of my house. I wasn’t sure what to do. I hit the button to open my garage door. My first instinct had been to drive into the garage, close the door, and call the police. But, I thought, that was stupid now. I’ve just shown the guy where I live.

So what did I do? I parked my car right in the middle of the street, right in front of my house, got out and walked toward his car. Now before you say – oh my god, you are an idiot – I know. I listen to the My Favorite Murder podcast. But honestly, I have never been in a situation like this before. At least not that I can recall (brain fog.) In the future, when people tell you that they do stupid things because they were in a stressful or dangerous or scary situation, you need to believe them. Because the fact is, you do NOT think clearly.

I walked up to his window and asked, “why are you following me?”

His response? “I’m not following you, get your fat ass back in your car, you’re blocking the road.”

My response, “Excuse me?”

His response, “Have you looked in a mirror lately? Now get back in your car, it probably won’t even support you.”

He also told me to go put “more color” in my hair. I have pink and teal highlights in my hair. I started this a few years ago after I finally let my hair go completely white. I was tired of paying to color it every four weeks. My all white hair really washed out my face and made me feel super old. So one October I got pink highlights for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I received so many compliments and loved it so much I kept it year round. Eventually I (or more accurately Rob) added the teal and even a tiny touch of darker blue. A few people have said my hair reminds them of cotton candy! I’ve had adult men, HUGE adult men, walk up to me and say, “I really love your hair.” Men, women, children – so many people, total strangers, have walked up and said, “I love your hair!” It makes me feel awesome, it makes them smile, and the interaction between us – well, these are all GOOD things. And here is this guy, giving me crap about it. I know it’s because of his own insecurities that he is desperately looking for things about me that he can taunt me about. I know that. Doesn’t make it any easier.

Unfortunately I lowered myself to his level at one point by telling him that he should take a look in a mirror himself. I couldn’t see his entire body because he didn’t get out of his truck, but I could tell he had some heft. But he didn’t deserve that any more than I did. Shame on me. I may have been hurting and it may have been a defense mechanism but that’s no excuse.

This is what he claimed – even though he had Colorado license plates supposedly he lived in my neighborhood. But when I asked him where he lived he said he didn’t need to tell me, “you’re not the police.” Also, he was saying that the reason he drove past his turn (supposedly) was to “let you (me) go first.” Which of course doesn’t make any sense because he didn’t where I was going and why in the world do I have to go first? Who let’s a total stranger “go first” on the road when you are four of five car lengths ahead of them?

I took down his license plate number. I’m tempted to include it here, but for now I won’t.

Unfortunately I had forgotten to take my phone with me today. I think I have forgotten my phone TWICE in the past ten years and this would have been the second time. Once I was through with his hatefulness I went into the house and called the police.

I spoke with my favorite officer. She is excellent, took down all my information and all the details. She found one guy she thought might be this jerk and had already checked him out. It wasn’t him, but she’s on it.

She did tell me one thing though – she said DON’T EVER DO THAT AGAIN! I know, I know. She said, if anything like this ever happens again (and hopefully it won’t) what you need to do is drive straight to the police station. It seems so obvious when she says it. DUH!

(Thanks Officer Wiesmueller, you rock!)

The thing is, I thought that I was too old to be fat shamed anymore. I thought I had “outgrown” it. In my adult life I think I’ve experienced it maybe four or five times and the last blatant incident was maybe 30 years ago. There have been a couple other times where people were talking about me and didn’t realize I could hear them (or didn’t care) but they weren’t talking TO me. Still, I thought I was safe because I’m old enough to be most people’s grandmother. Silly me.

Note: My post about the James Corden response to the Bill Maher ‘Fat Shaming’ clip is almost finished. I will be posting that hopefully tomorrow but I wanted to get this post published today.

Mixed Feelings – Part I

Whenever I read or hear about how body or size acceptance has made so much progress, how society as a whole has finally started to recognize, okay, has sort of started to recognize? maybe is seemingly recognizing? that fat shaming* is not acceptable, I’m always torn.

You’re probably thinking, what in the hell is there to be torn about? How can you of all people think it is absolutely not a good thing? Are you a butthead? (The butthead part may just be me.)

Well, I’ll tell you, I’m torn because not only was I born the year Twiggy’s modeling career began, but I’ve lived through a few decades where people, doctors, and even scientists were extraordinarily ill-informed on diet and nutrition. Truly a double whammy.

And now that things seem to be coming ’round, well, frankly, it’s too late for me. Which SUCKS. I mean, it’s great for all the younger people who hopefully won’t have to go through what I did, but I’ve already lived the prime years of my life – I don’t get a do-over. And the things that have been done to my metabolism and to my gut, and to my self-confidence, well, some of it is irreversible. Selfish, yep, but I can’t help it, the feelings are there.

But that is why this blog has become so important to me. It is the way that I plan on getting through the rest of my life. It gives me motivation to learn about what I can do to improve the quality of my life and hopefully I will help others along the way.


Okay, jumping right in. For as long as I can remember I have either had a weight ‘problem’ and/or dieted. About 15 years ago my Mom was diagnosed with a neurological disease (it ended up being Lewy Body Dementia – I am sure I will talk about this at length in the future). My life changed rather dramatically very quickly. One thing I started to do was begin scanning all the family photo albums (a total of about 5000-6000 photos to date.) My Mom was declining fairly quickly and was also heavily medicated, she couldn’t even take care of herself. I was worried that the photos would end up being misplaced or worse, accidentally thrown out.

As I began to go through them, I saw photos of myself from grade school and high school and I thought, “well crap, I wasn’t all that fat” (at least not by today’s standards) or “damn, I would give anything to be that ‘fat’ now.”

It made me remember all the diets I had been on over the years, all with my parents encouragement and financing – Weight Loss Clinic, Weight Control Clinic, Nutrisystem, dozens of trendy diets I can’t remember the names of, things like the Grapefruit diet or the Cabbage Soup diet.

One of the very first attempts was to send me to fat camp. It lasted for seven weeks during the summer before I started high school. That year I weighed around 170 pounds and was 5 feet 9 inches tall.

Me the year before I went to fat camp, I weighed about the same the next summer.

People (including doctors) used a rule of thumb back then (they still do but it’s been modified a bit) to determine how much a person should weight. For women, and this only works if you are 5 feet or taller, you start by saying a 5 foot tall women should weight 100 pounds and then for every inch over that add 3 pounds. Fairly easy. According to this, I should have weighed 127 pounds.

Problem is, it didn’t take into account things like whether a person was an athlete or possibly a person who just had more muscle mass. Most people know that muscle weighs more than fat, (sidebar, this is why the BMI – Body Mass Index is such bullshit but I will discuss that another day) or other factors that could account for why a woman (or a man) might weight more or less and still be the right and healthy weight for their body.

Anyway, back to my story. For the seven weeks I was at the camp we had pretty much the same routine every day and I still remember it even though it was over 40 years ago. We would get up early and exercise, usually that involved calisthenics and a 3 mile run. This was followed by breakfast. The camp was at a university so we stayed in dorms. There was a sports facility about 2 miles away. After breakfast we would walk over to that facility and each of us would be allowed to choose one of several activities – ballet, gymnastics, track, or swimming. We would take the bus back to the dorms (I’m guessing because of time constraints) for lunch. After lunch it was back to the sports facility to do two more activities. Then walk back to the dorm where you would have an hour free time before dinner. After dinner there was a group activity, usually a team sport followed by calisthenics, another 3 mile run and a snack before bed.

Me (center) and my parents right after I returned from fat camp.

Here’s the thing. I did lose 30 pounds in those 7 weeks. Boy were my parents happy. I weighed 135 went I got home. I was still 8 pounds over the ideal weight but so much closer.

I also lost some of my hair. And I didn’t have a BM for the entire time I was there. There is no way I could have continued the amount of exercise that we had done at the camp on a daily basis, I had to go to school for one thing.

Not only that, I had been eating fairly well to keep myself fueled for all the exercise I was doing and I had gotten used to it. Surprise, surprise, I put the weight back on and then some. The same with all the other diets. On each one I would lose about 40 pounds, almost exactly, then I’d hit a plateau. I’d quit and I’d put the weight back on plus 10. Every time. And my weight tick-tick-ticked up.

You know, people still use that rule of thumb thing but guess what, it’s been modified. They don’t use 3 pounds per inch anymore (well, I had someone tell me that is “model weight.”) No, I’ve heard a few variations but the most common is that you should try to be ideally between 4-6 pounds per inch for an average frame. You can go to 8 pounds per inch for someone who is athletic or larger framed. That means for someone who is 5’9″ the weight could be anywhere between 127 (for a model) – 154 (average frame) – 172 (larger frame). What did I say I weighed before I was sent to fat camp?

I have often wondered to myself, if I had just been left alone, would I look like I look today? Of course that’s only part of the story. There’s also the genetic thing, the antibiotic thing, the additives thing, well, there’s a lot of other things – and I’m planning on talking about them all. But I’ll stop for today.

To be continued…

My First Blog Post

If not me, who? If not now, when?

— Emma Watson.

It was important for me to launch my blog on the first day of autumn (if you continue to follow my blog in the future you will find out why.)

I have been thinking about starting a blog for sometime. People are often telling me I should write a book, but I’m not sure I actually have enough of a “story” to do that (or frankly, the discipline.) I have several social media accounts and I use them to discuss a variety of topics, but all of them seem too limiting. Because, the truth is, I’m a talker. If I had a nickel for the number of people who have told me to “try to be succinct” or “keep it brief” or “don’t be so wordy”, well, I’d be a super rich person.

To be honest, it was James Corden’s response to Bill Maher’s fat shaming segment that finally motivated me to get my rear in gear. I was incredibly frustrated that I didn’t have a real platform to discuss that specific issue. I also recently stumbled across a massive amount of information related to menopause and/or weight and I feel the need to share all of it as much as possible.

It was for these reasons that I knew it was time to finally create something where maybe, just maybe I could not only help other women who are going through menopause or starting menopause or wondering about menopause or are scared shitless about the prospect of menopause, but that perhaps I could also help people in general understand about women’s health, weight loss/gain, body issues, fat shaming and the mental health concerns that go along with all of these things.

I am not a medical professional, I am going to say that straight out, but I do hope to get opinions in the future from individuals in that industry. I also will be citing articles, studies, and books that contain legitimate scientific research.

So, there’s my first post. It’s not much, just an introduction really, but I think it might be one of the more difficult posts I will have to make. Because it was tough figuring out exactly why I wanted to do this and what I wanted to accomplish. Let’s see what happens. Are you with me?