Join hosts Tori and Amanda in talking Arthur Miller’s great play, The Crucible, while talking about what an actual damn witch hunt is and discussing what a fascinating man Miller was.
Month: March 2021
On My 600 lb Life
I’ve had too much time on my hands. I’ve been coughing and lounging for days. I’ve been recovering and in my lax state, I found another reality television show that quickly sucked up too much of my attention and thanks to my heady mix of personal experiences and traumas quickly became a time sink that I have come to deeply regret. My 600-lb Life is a show that capitalizes on the trauma and poor coping skills within all of us and focuses on the morbidly obese of the United States who are ain desperate need of weightloss surgery to stay alive. The show is led by a small little foreign man who goes by Dr. Now and a revolving cast of people who desperately need help getting their weight under control. The show is mostly set in Dr. Now’s Houston clinic but does feature a decent amount of back and forth between the home of the patient in question and the Houston clinic.
There are a lot of things I wanted to cover as I sank myself further and further into this, let’s be clear, problematic as hell reality show but there was one thing that kept circling around and that was the finances and economics of weight loss and dieting. Maybe next time we can talk about my personal trauma when it comes to morbid obesity or the horrible framing of the show.
It started with an observation: many of the people on the show are living in poverty; that isn’t a judgement, it’s just a fact. And if the patient of the week is not indeed in abject poverty they are a part of a large family with a single breadwinner and several children/dependants that rely on one paycheck. Listen, eating healthy is expensive and Trader Joe’s aren’t all over the place. Food deserts are places where it’s hard to find healthy or fresh food in a neighborhood; besides if you have 20 dollars to feed a family of four: you’re going to McDonald’s, not Panera. Junk food is just more cost-effective. I remember being raised by vegans back in the early 2000s before it was cool and there is a reason Whole Foods Market is not-so lovingly called Whole Paycheck. In theory, you can shop there on a budget but everything there is indeed more expensive because you are paying for the luxury of organic and small-batch.
I say this because I noticed how often that participants of the show had a hard time buying healthy, not just because their minds and bodies had been conditioned to love junk food but because of the expense. Many work so fast-food is the only option to feed themselves or their families and even though in theory every fast-food establishment should have some options that are in theory healthy but even as a short-term solution; grilled nuggets at Chick-Fil-A does not a meal healthier make.
There were a few cases that particularly struck me: the ones where medication and money were involved. James K. is a patient who despite being very easy to mock and jeer at because of horrible framing faced quite a few financial issues during his journey to Houston which is a vital part of the show. That’s right, folks, you have to uproot your entire life and move to Houston: a hell swamp with miserable traffic and no memorable skyline. And you don’t even move to Houston immediately, though some do. Many have to make hours long trips across states just to visit a small man who is here to mostly berate you about your lack of weight loss. I’ve been on long trips: they are expensive, time consuming and I can’t imagine having the commitment to anything that isn’t anime to do so for one man who can’t even promise a solution. If the patient does not lose enough weight, they will be denied for surgery and while the show frames that as a lack of will and while my personal inner goblins do, too; we have to see food addiction and trauma as serious issues and realize that there are at times major psychological factors that lead to food addiction and not being able to work out. Another patient, a mother, could literally not afford to feed her family with the frequency of trips she was taking to Houston and she dropped out of the program and continued to lose weight on her own. Dr. Now vilified this action because he has to make money somehow and we the audience are thus told that driving yourself into poverty and letting your children go hungry are worthy sacrifices for weight loss and weight loss surgery.
My mother was obese and she developed a pretty serious case of agoraphobia because of it. She felt constantly judged by a world too small for her and while I wasn’t always the most caring child or teen about the issue as an adult I can now understand why such things are easily traumatizing and can lead to more complex psychological issues. I never knew what was the root of my mother’s obesity: what the inciting incident was that led her to turn to food rather than therapy but maybe it’s for the best that I don’t know. I think my mother’s own lost journey with food addiction, obesity and diabetes puts a lens on the show: it makes it doubly conflicting to watch: one part reliving the trauma of having a chronically ill parent and one part bitter anger at the lack of good personal choices made by seemingly everyone involved.
I could go on about this show, and I probably will considering how much real estate it now takes up in my mind. From the awful framing to the considerable pressure and toll that is put on caregivers I may touch on this show again but for now, cost was the most important factor to discuss. And while in theory TLC does offset some of the costs and participants are said to be paid; with many of the numbers not adding up it seems that Dr. Now and the producers are still asking too much and refusing to budge for the sake of patients that find it simply too expensive to try to save their own lives.
My Year in Captivity
To say that 2020 was a hectic and insane year is a massive understatement. A pandemic, social unrest and political turmoil made the year exhausting, scary, uncertain and with many many days spent inside. There are lots of things I’ve learned about myself and others and the world as we approach the anniversary of when this whole thing kicked up in the U.S. and we assumed this should be done and finished in no more than a few weeks. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned, things I’ve come to appreciate and hardship I’ve been through this year.
Don’t Be a Dick
I can’t think of a time where I’ve ever ordered so many things to be delivered to my door. I finally get to live my dream of being like the Onceler in The Lorax and just order in all the time and never again be held down by the tyranny of pants or a bra. But with this newfound freedom I’ve found that people on the outside, unfortunately, are still terrible. There have been a few instances where orders have been wrong or items have not arrived on time and each time, thanks especially to the barrier to technology, I’ve been able to just stay chill. I used to work retail and I’ve learned that being cruel to front-end workers is never the way to get anything done. And honestly, not being a dick has carried over into my personal life as well. When my friends seem to need more time to vent or are acting in a way that seems unlike them I am quicker to be more understanding. These are insane times for everyone and it’s important to be mindful of that. You never know what someone is going through: best to air on the side of caution and exchange the grace you may need yourself later on.
Indulge, The World is on Fire
I woke up with a desire for sweet and sour chicken from my favorite Chinese restaurant in the city: and thus I ordered it. I’ve been more mindful of my budget but the benefit of not being able to go out shopping all weekend if a more balanced budget and more wiggle room for indulgences. Now, I admit the amount of privilege I have; however it is nice to be able to splurge every once in a while. The world is on fire. There’s a pandemic outside, white supremacists, people who don’t think the pandemic is real and racism, sexism and homophobia all still exist: even when you haven’t left the house.
Routine Can Be a Comfort
The times I can think of that I really struggled during the pandemic was my brief stint of unemployment when I had no solid routine. I applied to jobs, laid on the sofa all day, napped like a spoiled house cat and rarely ate anything of substance. The structure of having to clock in for work even if it’s from home and having to take medicine and then getting off of work to have an evening up to my own devices was incredibly important for me to survive the days that all rolled together and continue to do so during the pandemic. It’s hard for me to compel myself to a rhythm sometimes, thanks to years of depression and anxiety, and it’s much easier for me to have a structure set in place for me and then I figure out how to make it my own and bend it to my will.
It’s an easy thing to do when depressed: close yourself off, ignore humanity, coil into yourself and shun those who care about you. Luckily for me, I have a very insistent friend and family group that refuses to let me climb into the little box of sadness for too long. If a few days pass without contact, someone certainly is messaging me or calling me to make sure that I am still amongst the living and have not fallen into a puddle of self-loathing. And if my friends or family are for some reason busy, I’m fortunate enough to know myself right before I fall off that edge of misery and know when to reach out and say that I’m struggling and need a lifeline. No one has to go through this alone and really, no one should: you are worthy of help if you need it.
It’s Okay to Not be Okay
How anyone manages to leave the bed without some resistance nowadays is a genuine surprise to me. I often lay there begging the clock to go back, let me rest and try to fill a fatigue that is never relieved. But I still get up but the feeling I have is something in between just existing and being just sort of a grey color. Malaise, I think is what the French would call it. I’m fine but only just so and there are plenty of reasons inside and out that would add to a feeling of not being anything more than “existing” or “alive”. The world is a scary place and even though I think I don’t internalize the anxieties and atrocities of the modern world, I do. I hold onto them and they root deep in me and come up as fear usually right before I try to sleep or in the moments my brain is quiet. But what’s amazing is to talk to my other friends and know they have similar fears: we’re all scared. We’re all aware the future is uncertain and the present is strange and nebulous. I was not and am not alone in being less than peachy and that was remarkably comforting. It’s okay to not be okay within reason; really, is anyone right now?
I’ve spent a year indoors and the last 3 months even more isolated, rarely leaving the house due to either illness or injury. I’ve spent a year rarely seeing friends and rarely seeing family. I’ve been closed off from the things I love doing and I’ve had to find strength in myself and trust in those who want to help me. It’s been interesting: finding small ways to return to normalcy, the little indulgences I’ll allow myself, the small breaks I take when I finally leave the house and for what reason. I’ve done a lot of baking, a lot of podcasting, a lot of writing and talking to my friends but I’ve mostly spent time with myself trying to work through many of the bags I’ve been carrying with me for the past 10 or so years. What else should I do with this vast expanse of introspective time?
Thank you all for being with me during this year: you’ve all made it a little easier to face the future.
An Update and an Apology
It’s been a while since I’ve been able to pen a proper post on this blog and I am sorry for that. In all of my years of blogging, I’ve rarely been this off schedule. There are a few reasons behind my inability to write nd mostly, the resurgence of some people with too strong opinions on guinea pigs and some not so nice comments on how I should moderate my own blog. It spiraled me deeper into a depression than I expected and made it really hard to trust my own skills and my own abilities.
I’m feeling better, slowly gaining the strength to write more and hopefully I’ll be back on schedule soon. Thank you all for your patience with me during this time.
Unfortunately, Required Reading: Episode 53- Julius Caesar
Join hosts Tori and Amanda through some Latin, some Roman history, serious WiFi outage and mostly talk about Deadliest Warrior and Caesar salads.