How Am I so Effing Slow?


I am looking into the possibility of going to law school in 2017 or 2018.

What I have discovered is that I may not have much trouble getting in… but the trouble will come with the paying for it. Although I am prepared to sell my house, quit my job, and take out loans, I’m really not going to feel comfortable going for it unless I can get about half of it paid for by scholarships.

How does one get a scholarship to attend law school, you ask? Well, the best chance of getting one large scholarship is scoring really high on the LSAT. Of course I will look into other avenues for scholarships, but I actually am a very good taker of tests, so I thought I’d start with the LSAT. Since the LSAT is required of me just to get in and I’d probably want to take it by December, if not September, I thought I should get on that. Also, taking the LSAT is a nice, noncommittal step I can take to gauge whether this is a terrible idea or not.

I took a diagnostic test yesterday. And I did not do terribly. I scored average for all takers of the LSAT, so I certainly would need to do better if I want to both get into law school and receive moneys.

There are some very specific things I struggled with, though.

  1. Who the hell thought it was a good idea to test people for 180 minutes? That’s a horribly long time to sit still and think, and I don’t have the stamina I used to have. I will need to take a lot of practice tests to get myself used to sitting for that long.
  2. I need to think significantly faster. There were 102 questions on the test, and I didn’t even get to 12 of them. I also got something like 8 questions wrong towards the ends of the sections, because I felt rushed. That alone is the difference between full ride and no financial help at all.
  3. I bombed one particular section. Basically, they give you a list of 6-8 items and tell you those items must be sorted into 2-3 columns with 6 or so rules about how you can do it. Ex: Adam, Brian, Charles, Derek, Ed, Fred, and Greg all go to the bar and purchase beers. The bar’s best sellers are Shocktop, Blue Moon, and Red Stripe, so the guys each try one of those. Each guy only drinks one beer. Brian and Ed choose the same beer. Adam and Greg choose different beers. Derek chooses Red Stripe. Two of the guys drink Blue Moon… and then they ask you 6 ish questions about which item falls into which column. I took what can only be described as a glacial pace at this. It wasn’t the I couldn’t answer the questions; it was that it took me twice as long as they gave me to answer each of these, so I ended up guessing quite a lot. I think my biggest problem was that I hadn’t seen a question like that in more than a decade, so I had to build a framework for each scenario and how to answer it, rather than just knowing what I needed to do to figure it out.
  4. Even on the reading comprehension section, I was pretty slow and didn’t finish, because they gave you like six ish really dense paragraphs to read… when I say really dense, I mean that it was the equivalent of reading Shakespeare. The sentence structures were out of control. The diction was out of control. The content was often specific to a field in which I had zero experience. And then, they would ask six questions, each of which took up about half a page, because they were wordy and ridiculous, as well. There were twenty four questions in this section, to be answered in 35 minutes. I didn’t finish.

So… what I’ve discovered is that I am smart enough to do this… but if I don’t hurry the hell up, I disqualify myself from scholarships just by not answering enough questions.

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With the decision of whether to go to law school or not, I’ve tried talking to people about it in advance, because I’ve been described as impulsive, and because I want to be better about including others in the major life decisions I make… and what I’ve discovered is that there were very good reasons I did things without consulting others in the past – not the least of which being that so many people have been completely unreasonable in their responses.

So, here’s the deal:

Why am I thinking about doing this?

That’s a great question. I think this might be a perfect fit for me, or as close to a perfect fit as can actually exist. I think I might be good at practicing law, and I think I might find fulfillment in it.

Also, I hate wondering if I’ve wasted my life, and I think I might wonder if I don’t give this an honest effort.

Also, it hit me like a whisper from the Holy Spirit that I should do this. I’m not saying God definitely told me I should do this. He didn’t… but I think He may have pointed me in this direction, and I try to listen well when I think God is whispering to me.

Isn’t law school competitive and difficult?

That’s an insulting question. Are you implying that I’m not capable of succeeding in law school, or that I’m daunted by challenges? Are you implying that I shouldn’t attempt it because it difficult? Do you genuinely believe I don’t know that law school is competitive and difficult and you’re telling me something new?

Please don’t ask me a question like this.

Do I know what it’s like to try to get rid of student loan debt?

This might be a good question to ask me once I have my LSAT scores, have applied and been accepted, and have been denied scholarships. My slowness to decide on the right choice may be detrimental to me when test-taking, but I think it’s probably wise to take time on each step of this real-life decision, rather than racing ahead 5 years to the day when I’ll have to pay off student loan debt. I’d prefer to figure out whether I’m capable to getting this completely paid for before I give up because it’s so expensive… it may actually cost me nothing to do this. We won’t know until I apply.

Also, I don’t believe money should necessarily deter me, even if I don’t get any financial help with this. The value of seeking and eventually finding my niche isn’t really measurable, and if it were measurable, I suspect it would be worth more than $80,000.

Where are you going to live?

I don’t know. I haven’t even applied yet. There are three schools I’m currently considering applying to… so I don’t even know which city I’ll be in IF I get into any or all of the schools to which I’m planning to apply. Slow the hell down.

What if it doesn’t work out? What if I get there and it’s too hard or I don’t even get accepted?

…then it doesn’t work out. It’s okay to try things and fail. I’m not going to be crushed because I tried something hard and it didn’t work out. I won’t be crushed if I don’t get accepted. I may even just reapply again a year later. Who cares? Trying and failing costs me exactly $208 and a knock to my pride at this point. It’s succeeding that’s costly. A better question would be, “What if it works out?”

 

 

The Status that Can Never be Updated


Something Lori said to me about six weeks ago has stayed on my mind, because it so reflects the gospel. She was talking about her family, and she said that you can be completely, fiercely angry with family and they can be completely, fiercely angry with you, but your status doesn’t change: you’re still family. And the next time you talk, family doesn’t think less of you.

I’ve struggled for what seems like ages with the fact that my status with family changed to the degree that I was no longer welcome at the holidays. I’ve struggled with where the line is that just cannot be crossed without a status update: ___________ is no longer sisters with Katie James…

I almost have a numbness to people saying they don’t want me as around; it feels like it happens all the time. It’s really only a few times that it’s happened, but sometimes I think it’s my fault. I think about how I must’ve really done something terrible… I must be a terrible person for family not to want me.

It’s actually been the absurd responses of people who don’t know me very well that have most steadied my nerves about it. They say things like, “What did you do? Have you been selling drugs?” or “They must’ve found out about that time you shot a guy and had to get the hell out of Reno.” People saying that to me is so incredibly and unexpectedly helpful, because it reminds me that I’m not an uncommonly bad person. It helps me put it into perspective… I was disowned because I wrote a blog post… or because I wasn’t good at being a Maid of Honor… or because I…

Sticking with people is really difficult and painful. There’s no denying it. I get that it’s really stressful to work out conflict, and it’s much simpler to just find a person to replace me. There are endless masses who are looking for a new spouse/friend/sister/etc… at the very same moment someone has decided it’s time to move on from me.

But I wonder how it would change the world if each of us looked at our lives right now, listed the top ten most important people to us, and determined we would stick by them no matter what…

Mom, Dad, Jennifer, Dave, Lisa, Lori, Steve, Ashly, Matt, Lauren, and Danny.

Okay, so I picked 11 – that’s not the point.

What if we looked at our lives and committed unconditionally to however many people…?

I really struggle sometimes to believe that my status before God is consistent – that He adopted me once and for all – that He looks at me like I’m His daughter every single day and every single moment. I struggle to believe that He sees me as righteous, blameless, and pure. It’s honestly the greatest struggle of faith to trust that Jesus took care of it and I’m okay. There’s nothing more I can do to be cleaner and more perfect before God. My status before Him is secure.

I think it would be easier to believe if my status before my friends/sister/coworkers/etc… wasn’t so subject to change. I’m going to try to be better at letting those closest to me know that their status isn’t subject to change.

Life Update: July 2016


Failure to thrive is a really mysterious diagnosis. We actually have hospice patients who are diagnosed with Adult Failure to Thrive. Basically, a person who has no specific disease diagnosis… no Heart Failure, Malignant Neoplasm of the ________, COPD, Parkinson’s, ALS, MS… a person can be disease-free, taking in a normal number of calories, and yet, be wasting away.

Like the physical diagnosis “Adult Failure to Thrive,” I believe there’s a really mysterious thing that occurs spiritually and emotionally that’s almost exactly the same thing. I’ve seen it in myself and the people around me. I’ve seen myself and others do all sorts of crazy things to try to fix it. Shasta got a personal trainer and learned to play the violin. I took up yoga and volunteered at an animal shelter. Amy took a sabbatical from work and traveled. But it’s never the things we do to try to make it better that actually make it better.

I really wasn’t well a year or so ago. I knew I wasn’t well, but nothing I did seemed to make it better.

However, as much as I want to understand what went on, because I want to be able to keep myself from wasting away like that in the future, I don’t understand.

I am doing well now. And I find the weirdest things making a huge difference in whether I’m thriving or not. So, I thought I’d take a bit of time to write about the things that are turning it around for me.

10. I started new projects. I really hadn’t been able to write at all while I wasn’t thriving. I kept writing, but it wasn’t good. It was just writing to keep the blog from dying. I certainly wasn’t able to put emotional and creative energy into my manuscript, but I’m not the type who does well with nothing to work on. I need to constantly be trying to improve something: my spiritual life, my house, a friendship, my race pace… So I decided to become a Vegetarian and lose weight. That sense of incremental achievement helped.

9. Roommate Kendra moved to Phoenix. I adore Roommate Kendra. She is the best roommate I’ve ever had, but I think my thriving needed complete privacy. I think my thriving needed to know that whatever Katie was, no one would see and have an opinion of it. It’s not that I was afraid Kendra would have a negative opinion. It’s just that if I’d had a roommate who was home and saw me regularly, she would have an opinion, and sometimes, a person needs to know that no one is watching. The hardest thing in the world is to run your own pace when you know someone is watching – Scott Jurek.

8. I watched TV. I’m generally not good at watching tv. It’s too inactive for me. I can usually make it through a 20-minute show, but beyond that, I feel the need to get up and cook something or vacuum or go for a run or read a book or chop down the Oleanders in my yard. This is fine most of the time, but I think sometimes thriving requires a still, gentle nap on the couch to exist. I think it requires the brain to stop turning and the body to rest. Sometimes, it requires the inaction of a good, long tv show.

7. I backed up on friendships. This could truly be its own post, so I’ll try to keep it simple. I generally believe that it’s not okay to give up on people, so I felt a really strong tension between that belief and some friends who had been my constant critics. The situation I found myself in was that I was living one of the low moments of life and my friends were relentlessly kicking me while I was down. It wasn’t the first time I’d felt an underlying judgment and unkindness in how they interacted with me, but it was the first time I realized I deserved better. Everyone’s friends mess up from time-to-time. Friends are flawed and human, and that’s okay. This wasn’t that. First, I tried to talk with the people who’d hurt me, but when they’d ignored and refused my attempts at reconciliation, I just backed away slowly and moved on. From my side of things, we  are at peace, but we aren’t close. It’s the first time I feel I’ve really stood up for myself with those friends. 

6. I got a dog. Moose is so important in my life.:-)

5. I found something I can be good at, but isn’t easy. Volunteering for Victim Services feeds so many parts of me. It is part ministry, part community, part adventure… It’s challenging, but manageable. It’s the things my job isn’t.

4. A comic shop opened a branch in Northwest Tucson. I know this sounds stupid, but it really somehow brought me joy to be able to stop at the comic shop after work. I hate ordering comics from online, because comic shops seem like this last bastion of the local book shop. They are nostalgic and remind me of a time when people went to Blockbuster to browse, when movies and books weren’t quite so accessible as to be just a click away. I want comic shops to have my money, because I want them to hold out against Amazon, but it also seems stupid for me to drive for 35 minutes, browse and buy for 10 minutes, and then drive home for 35 minutes. Also, there is something really beautiful about the comic shop in how it provides a place of belonging and hope for people who don’t quite belong. So… now the geeky and nostalgic parts of me can be fulfilled simultaneously with a quick trip down to Fantasy Comics.

3. I exercised. I never really stopped exercising when I wasn’t thriving, but I was training for marathons rather than kick boxing. It’s a different kind of exercise.

2. I prayed. Like exercise, I never exactly stop praying, but I sometimes close off and pray obligatory prayers. I pray for things that matter like the world, others, and the glory of God. However, I thrive when I pray for the most minuscule, mundane things. I thrive when I pray for sleep and rain and weight loss. I thrive when there isn’t any part of my life that I hold as too personal or insignificant for God’s mighty hand.

1.Brandon offered to help me build a table. Brandon and Kira are a couple who I’ve actually known for something like 5 years. With the slowness that is my nature in friendship-building, I had probably only considered them to be my church friends until pretty recently. However, there was this sort of exquisite moment when I was admiring a table that Brandon had built, and I had said that I might try to copy him and build my own, and he said something like, “I’d love to help you with that.” I’d actually already pictured myself building that table and I was always alone. And it occurred to me in that moment that I could let Brandon and Kira help me. Brandon hadn’t offered because he felt he was going to earn points with God. He genuinely seemed to think it would be a fun project. So, I’m still imagining myself building that table, but I’m also imagining the help I might have in doing it. And I’m thinking that one of the absolute keys for me in thriving is having a strong sense of community. A sense that people are there for me because they want to be… I don’t struggle to be happy when I’m alone. I don’t feel a strong drive to be around people, but I’m realizing that I do feel a strong drive toward family, and that I truly thrive when the church takes on the role of family in my life.

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There have been a few setbacks recently in my heart… things that shook me and ache, but, by the grace of God, those things haven’t knocked me off my horse yet, and I’m still in the land of thriving.

Thoughts and Prayers Ring Hollow in the Presence of a Corpse


John Scalzi wrote a blog post in response to Orlando, and his basic thesis was that it’s not enough to offer thoughts and prayers after the fact. He cited Matthew 6:5-6 and Matthew 7:21-23, and even though I’m fairly certain he labels himself as something other than a Christian, I thought his point was right on.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing to post on Facebook that your thoughts and prayers go out to the survivors and families affected by tragedy, but I do feel a grating on my nerves every time I see one of those posts.

I had my first Victim Services call where I was in the presence of a corpse. It was a man who had gone out in his backyard to garden and whatnot, and instead, he ended up collapsing face-first and dying there in his yard. By the time his wife found him, ants were crawling on him and the blood had settled into his front half and toward the ground.

I stood with the deceased’s brother-in-law while law enforcement checked the body for personal items.

It was a humbling experience.

As I stood there, I prayed. I always pray when I go out on calls, because I believe in the power of prayer. I believe God hears me even though the people around me don’t hear me. So don’t take this the wrong way, but my prayers would have been hollow if I hadn’t also been there. If I hadn’t stopped what I was doing and gone there.

Right? What if I had received the call, decided there wasn’t anything I could do to be of help, and just posted on Facebook, “My thoughts and prayers go out to the surviving family of the man who died in his backyard…”?

If I posted that, you’d think I’m a lunatic. You’d probably be like, “Wtf?”

And yet, that’s what we do with tragedy. We (by we, I mean Christians… not all Christians, but a lot of us) are conspicuously uninvolved when it comes to the broken world around us. We offer our thoughts and prayers, and then we go about the business of living.

I’m feeling particularly stirred up about this right at the moment, because it has been non-stop questions and weird comments since I started volunteering with Victim Services.

Why did you decide to do that? I’m so sorry you had to see that.

At first, I was a little overwhelmed with the number of people who wanted to know why… I think they thought they were asking me why I chose Victim Services rather than something else, but it took me a long time to think of it that way. I honestly thought they were asking me a question with a self-evident answer: I decided to do it because it’s good to help people.

That’s honestly the only answer I have. I didn’t exactly choose it over something else. There wasn’t a profound epiphany or a message from God. There was an opportunity to help others. Roommate Kendra had been talking about it, and I thought I was probably capable of doing it, so I decided to do it.

I don’t believe helping people is a choice. I believe it’s an ethical mandate. I believe it’s about saying yes when an opportunity is in front of you, rather than sidestepping it and hoping for something that’s a little less daunting. I don’t think the Good Samaritan just happened to find exactly the opportunity he was looking for; I think he was walking along and came across someone who needed help. Well… I was walking along and my roommate told me about people who need help.

It’s not about Victim Services; it’s about being what we pretend to be. I can write a status update that says, “My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims in Orlando,” or I can take an extra shift on the crisis unit and I can donate blood.

As far as saying things like, “I’m sorry you had to see that,” or “I’m sorry you experienced that…” I’m sort of at a loss. You’re sorry I had to see… the brokenness of the world, up-close? You’re sorry I had to experience being there for someone who’d experienced great loss? I just…

Volunteering for Victim Services isn’t an unveiling of the world for me. There are calls that haunt me, for sure, but the world is as it always was. People are sinful and they wound each other. People die. Limiting my interaction with tragedy to New York Times articles and status updates doesn’t change the world… it doesn’t help anyone. It honestly doesn’t even help me sleep better or feel safe.

I stood next to a stranger this weekend and talked to him while his brother in law laid in the sun under a tarp. We talked about all of the losses he’d seen in his life. We talked about God, family, history… we talked. And a police officer went through pockets and struggled to get jewelry off of hot, swollen fingers and a swollen wrist. The stranger I was talking to was there because that’s what he could offer his sister, the spouse of the deceased; he could stand outside in the 115 degree heat while she cried inside. I was there because that’s what I could offer them both; I could stand in the heat and talk so that this stranger didn’t have to be alone when law enforcement put the rings, wrist watch, and pocket contents of a beloved corpse into his hands.

I hope and pray that when tragedy strikes me you will offer more than a Facebook post.

The Sanitization of Christ: People Cannot be Good Enough


I’ve really struggled with how to write this post. This is the third post in a series that I expected to have finished writing by now, but I got hung up writing this one.

If you want to look at the other two posts in this series, you can scroll and click and find them yourself, because I’m too lazy to give you a link.

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The important doctrine to believe here is that no person can be good enough to earn her own salvation. The problem I’m having with this post is that morality does not have a straight-forward, simple function within Christianity. Morality is important in Christianity, even crucial, but it’s also paradoxically unimportant.

It’s confusing, even if the sole influence on your beliefs about morality is the Bible. However, most people are also influenced by strange beliefs that have nothing to do with the Bible. Take, for instance, the scales at the pearly gates. Someone, somewhere, came up with the idea that a person’s morality will be weighed, and as long as the good outweighs the bad, she’ll get admitted into Heaven. Problem: these scales are not at all Biblical.

Another complication with this post is how desperately I want to rely on the Old Testament for my biblical support. I said I wasn’t going to do that, but the Old Testament is morality-heavy. Reading the book of Leviticus is all it really takes for me to realize that I am not capable of living up to the law of God.

So… with those complications/challenges in mind, let us strike out into the land of Things the Bible does actually say:

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 6:23

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

1 John 1:8-9

I have to use these two verses as building blocks. I tried not to, because I’d rather have three verses that state my point, rather than building a foundation to my point, but I really don’t see a way not to start here.

First, “the wages of sin is death…” this means that there is a cost of sin, and that cost is death. There is some interesting interchanging going on with the word death, because it could probably mean both physical death and spiritual death. Regardless, we have to start out by understanding that there is a cost that must be paid for every sin.

Second, “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves…” this is pretty explicit; all people sin.

Third, “the free gift of God is eternal life…” Gifts are given, while trophies are earned. Trying to earn a gift is actually kind of offensive. If I give you a book because we’re friends, and you go online, find out how much the book costs, and give me the dollar amount tomorrow, I’m going to be pissed, because you clearly don’t understand the nature of gifts.

*There is more we can dig out of those two verses, and I didn’t want to cut off anything about God and Jesus, but I’m going to move forward.

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“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Ephesians 2:8-9

This is the classic verse that Christians quote to prove this point, and it’s a good one, because it explicitly states that a person’s salvation is not of her own doing.

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“I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6

This is also a passage that lots of Christians know and quote. I’m using it because the verse from Ephesians stops short of explaining what/Who the gift is that saves us. This verse addresses that, and I want to spend some time on it.

Unfortunately, John 14:6 is a verse that’s often wielded, like a weapon, against anyone who isn’t a Christian. It’s something people use to say that people who don’t believe in Jesus are going to burn in Hell, and I suppose it’s effective for that, but I want to go back to just a scoash before this verse, because I think Jesus spoke those words as a comfort, rather than a battering ram. Also, I think the chapter break interrupts an important flow.

John, chapter 13 deals with the Last Supper. It’s a gorgeous depth of the final things Jesus tells His disciples. It’s Him washing their feet, telling them to love one another after He’s gone. The chapter comes to a close when Peter asks Jesus where He is going and, in his arrogance, Peter basically says, “I’ll follow you anywhere. I will die for You.” Jesus corrects Peter and says that actually he (Peter) is going to betray Him (Jesus).

Then the chapter ends.

However, in the very next verse, Jesus tells the disciples not to let their hearts be troubled, and I feel like it’s meant to flow. You are going to deny me three times, but don’t get caught up on that. There’s something more important…

I’ve not read this anywhere. I’ve not looked at commentaries, so we are purely in the land of Katie reading a passage and explaining what she thinks it means.

I believe Jesus is trying to show the disciples that their betrayals of Him should not break them. If they will believe in God and believe in Him (Jesus) – trust that He is preparing a place for them in Heaven, then they will be with Him and the Father in Heaven. I believe He is affectionately comforting them that when they betray Him, they need not hang themselves, because their salvation never rested in their own choices and actions. It always rested only in Him. They don’t need a map so that they can follow Him. They don’t need to know where He is going… He is “the way, the truth, and the life,” and He has and will take care of all they require.

I think this verse is really a gentle, beautiful verse, because it’s God telling us He will pay the wages of our betrayal of Him.

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The point of the gospel – the point of Christianity – is that no one is good enough. That’s why Jesus came to Earth. That’s why He was tempted, but did not betray His Father. That’s why He died. He paid wages that no one else can pay.

Shaming the Fat Kid


I have always thought of myself as a fat kid. Always.

As an athlete, I was never the fast girl whose job it is to get on base and run. My job was to hit the ball really far so that that fast girls who were on base in front of me could score. I wasn’t super-fat. I know that, but I was definitely aware of the fact that I was not an outfielder or a short stop. I could play those positions competently, without making errors, but I didn’t have the range to play them if there were other tiny girls on the team. When I’m honest about it, I really just think of myself as on the edge of fat. I always out-ran the skinny girls over distances greater than or equal to a quarter of a mile, which meant something, but I still wanted to be agile and quick.

I went to the doctor a few months ago, which is actually a big deal. I hate going to the doctor. I hadn’t been in something like 7 years, because they seem to always shame me about something. Last time, the shaming had to do with my unwillingness to submit to invasive exams and tests aimed at identifying problems I almost certainly (like less than 1% chance) didn’t have. This time, the shaming was about my weight.

During the visit, my NP told me I was morbidly obese. Then she reached over and grabbed the extra flab on my tummy. Then she told me I was probably infertile and that she wanted to run a bunch of tests on my hormones along with doing normal lab work. She also wanted me to lose 60 lbs. by logging all of my calories and eating almost no carbohydrates, aka Atkins.

I went home and did some BMI research, and, realistically, I was something like 75 lbs short of morbidly obese. To put this into perspective, an adult male Golden Retriever might weigh 75 lbs. That’s the upper range of their weight. So now, picture Katie, running a marathon (which I did about 6 months prior to my doctor’s appointment) with a large, male Golden Retriever strapped to her stomach. That’s how absurd this whole thing was.

I decided to do an assessment of my weight for myself. If we start with a mild respect for the BMI, which I really don’t have, I was about 10lbs into the obese range. I’ll admit that I’m overweight. That’s what I mean when I say that I’m on the edge of fat kid… I have both a figurative and literal soft spot for caramel lattes, microwaved cheese crisps made with aged, sharp, and expensive cheddar, and good gelato. I know that. I also know that I can hold plank pose longer than even makes sense and I can run for more than an hour without too much trouble. Regardless, BMI said I was obese, so I decided I should probably lose weight – not 60 lbs, but maybe 20.

Then there was the hormone thing to deal with. NP felt pretty confident that I had a serious hormonal imbalance and needed to be put on the pill. When the labs came back, they showed that I’m really pretty healthy. I had a Vitamin D deficit and low HDL (the low HDL is very likely a genetic thing passed on by my father). Most of my other numbers were on the healthier side of normal. I had two hormones that were slightly out-of-whack, but those two are highly dependent upon what time of the month it is, so we’d need to test them a few more times to know what’s actually going on with them, and I really felt like the amount of out-of-whack they were exhibiting was negligible.

Basically, my Nurse Practitioner made it seem like I was on death’s doorstep when I’m really very healthy. She scared the hell out of me and completely shamed me… needlessly. She didn’t listen to anything I told her. I told her that I’m a really active individual. I’m a runner and a yogini (yogi?). I’d recently become a Vegetarian. I didn’t feel any aches or pains. I felt I’d had too much wine in 2015, so I hadn’t had any for several months. I didn’t have any noticeable symptoms of anything. What she heard was, “I’m in denial and I’m ashamed of my actual behaviors so I’m minimizing them to you.” I told her there was no way in hell I was going to download an app to count calories because I hate technology and would rather jump out of a moving vehicle than count all of my calories. She heard, “I’m lazy and intend to gain 5 lbs a year until I become completely bed-bound at the age of 55, needing a hoyer lift to transfer my morbidly obese body from bed to recliner.”

And the horrible thing about all of this is that I’m probably not going back to the doctor for another 7 years. I may try to talk myself into seeing someone else. Or I may just continue what I’m doing and harbor hatred and disrespect for PCPs, even though I know they don’t all suck.

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Sidenote: the result of my own research is that I decided to lose 20 lbs. I’ve currently lost 13 (in about 11 weeks). If I gain back 3 of those lbs, I will again be obese, but, for now, I’m simply overweight.

How did I lose 13 lbs, you ask? I did not log any of my calories anywhere. I did not limit my carbohydrates to Atkins level of intake. I did continue drinking a caramel latte every morning. I did completely give up gelato, substitute cauliflower for rice, stop eating snacks, stop eating at 7:00 pm most nights, and add about an hour (maybe an hour-and-a-half) of workouts to my week. I did watch every documentary that exists about food and diet. I did limit myself to eating two meals a week that were prepared or cooked by someone other than me – this includes Chipotle and the Trader Joe’s frozen food section. I did spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about food and what I was going to cook. I did read a ton of cook books and check out every Bob Harper, Jillian Michaels, and Billy Blanks workout DVD the library has.

That’s what works for me, because in he 31 years I’ve known myself, I’ve figured out that I am not okay with giving up my morning caramel latte. I’d rather spend the entire day fasting from all solid foods than give up my latte. I am okay with working out all the time. I’m also okay with cooking all of my meals myself. I am not okay with phone apps.

I just wish healthcare professionals brought a sense of creative problem solving and diversified care to the table. It’s almost as if they believe I am the same as every other person who has a high BMI. It’s as if they don’t understand how much I feel like life is not worth living without a good latte… as if they don’t understand that there is an uncountable number of variables that impact a person’s body weight… as if they believe there is only one way to skin a cat.

 

 

 

The Definition of Home


I started reading a book called Saturday Night Widows. It’s not a book I intended to read or had ever even heard of, but I happened upon it when a volunteer was using my office, so I had nowhere to go for awhile, and I really couldn’t work on anything because everything was in my office. Thus, I was skulking in Sally’s office, bothering her. The book was on her desk.

I picked it up and started perusing the blurbs, eventually realizing it was a book I needed to read. So I’ve been reading it.

“Holding on there through so many momentous changes, I often wondered about the definition of home. Is it the place where you live, or is it the place where the people you love reside? And if the people you love are gone, where is home then?”

Becky Aikman is the author and that quote is about losing her husband to Cancer.

I’ve been blessed to have been adopted by more than one family at the crucial moments when I needed help understanding what home truly is.

As a kid, my understanding of home was sort of impersonal. I came from a hoarder’s house, so items were to be protected, catalogued, and hidden away for the future behind stacks of newspapers and beneath protective layers of dust. Food came out of bags and boxes. There tended to be a lot of television, solitude, and homework at home, while the substance of life existed elsewhere. Work/school/athletics were the primary focus of the day, and home fell into that the same way rest stops contribute to road trips.

I’m not writing that to complain. It’s just… I needed someone to show me that home wasn’t like that for everyone.

In adopting me, the Johnsons showed me that home came be a place of connection and community. It’s possible to invite others in, even when it’s messy. They showed me that food can slow down the relentless forward motion of a day, and wine can completely pause the world on its axis. There is a discipleship I received Mr. Miyagi-style by eating weekly dinners in the Johnson house.

The Hilsts, in adopting me, showed me that holidays can be simultaneously prepared for, yet relaxing. They showed me how tradition can feed the heart, and how Black Friday may not actually be beneath me. In my childhood, my family had a strong aversion to events. We liked for things to be casual and informal, but I found a joy in the eventishness of Hilst holidays, and I never once felt formal. They also taught me how to watch television with others, rather than next to others.

Home is, and probably always will be, a struggle for me. I always worry about decisions I make regarding the other people who inhabit my house, because I never feel like I’m a strong enough force to build the sense of home I want in the face of opposition. I fear the various ways others have robbed me of my sense of home in the past – both family and roommates.

I own the mortgage on a 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom house, and as much as I’d like to see myself as that person who has people coming and going the way Martin Luther and Katerina Von Bora did, I find myself wanting to curl into myself a little bit. With my parents in North Carolina, the Johnsons in Phoenix, and the Hilsts in California, I feel a little lost. I feel like home is so incredibly fragile.

Sadly, I’m not writing this out of a mopey feeling at the loss of the Hilsts. I’m not wallowing or melancholy.

A year has passed, and with that year, I’m beginning to accept that home is no longer with the Hilts. It cuts me to write that because I really wanted to believe things would change only in superficial, unimportant ways when they moved. I believe that, of course, I was their home and they were mine. In the wisdom of Pink: “If someone said three years from now, you’d be long-gone, I’d stand up and punch them out, ‘cus they’re all wrong…” I write that sort of absurdly, because I can’t believe I’m like that – thinking in sappy song lyrics, but I do. I don’t think them begrudgingly at all; I don’t feel there’s a wrong in the quiet and distance the Hilsts are keeping. It just feels unaligned or off that I’m not close with the people who’ve been home to me.

As always, season turns to season, and I’m beginning to feel it might now be the worst thing in the world to be vulnerable with a few people with whom I’ve never been vulnerable before. It might not be the worst thing to tell geeky stories of ComiCon to people who’ve never heard them before, or to try to convince a whole new people to attend ComiCon with me. Maybe it’ll be okay to go through those beginning stages of friendship with new people, trying to explain why 200-mile relay races are awesome, books are wondrous, predestination is beautiful. It’s a stage of friendship I haven’t had to do since like 2005, but it is a fun stage of friendship when you embrace it.

 

I hate vulnerability, but it’s probably time to give it another chance. After all, it worked out pretty well for me last time; I found myself adopted into two great families.