Friday, September 19, 2014

The third step

As Adam and I were driving to Red Bluff on the way to Portland tonight, we were talking about acceptance. Could it be that acceptance is the Higher Power, and basically what that means is giving up perceived control over things I really have no control over?

What's the third step, then?

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to God as we understood him. 

If I can replace "God" with "acceptance", I think I can get into this. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Still struggling with the second step

How's that for alliteration? The second step in any twelve-step program, OA included, is all about turning oneself over to a Higher Power to "restore us to sanity". I think I'm really having trouble with that wording. I don't consider myself insane and I don't think I ever was. Then again, what's the definition of insanity? A derangement of the mind. What does getting stoned in the middle of the night and eating a shitload of whatever (popcorn, popsicles, rice cakes, you name it) mean? Is that a derangement of the mind?

And the whole turning oneself over to a Higher Power? I'm having trouble with the Higher Power concept, even though a while back I thought it might be -- for me at any rate -- the whole Buddhist concept of Nirvana. I still identify more strongly with that idea than any idea of a god, though I'm not an atheist by any stretch. Maybe I'm just a bit of a control freak and I don't like the idea of surrender. Then again, maybe it's redefining the idea of surrender in order to work for me. I do feel that this program is a good fit for me. I go every week, skipping only the meetings I have to skip, because I do feel that it's part of my recovery.

Okay, here's a snippet from the Brown Book:

At this point most of us had trouble for one reason or another with step two. Some of us did not believe in God. We despaired of finding a solution to our problems if that meant we had to "find God." Some of us walked out of our first meeting when we heard that three-letter word mentioned and didn't return until  years more of compulsive eating had made us desperate. Those of us who stuck around made a wonderful discovery. OA doesn't tell us we have to believe in God -- only that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. We are invited to define that Power however we wish and relate to it in whatever way works for us. OA only suggests that we remain open to spiritual growth and show tolerance for others by neither criticizing nor promoting religious doctrines in OA meetings.

So okay, there you go. Still, I just don't feel it in myself yet. I don't feel the ability or the willingness to give myself to a Higher Power. I can't move on to another step until (or if) I feel it.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Say cheese

No more Berkeley City College

During the summer, I got it into my head that it would be fun to take a few classes locally. I signed up for two Berkeley City College classes: Scriptwriting and Storyboarding and Survey of Web Design.

I dropped both this week. I was disappointed in the professors and to some degree in my fellow students. But most of all, I was frustrated by the amount of group work required. I'm not a team player and I prefer to learn on my own, especially when it comes to creative pursuits.

Of course, I neglected to drop by the deadline to get my money back. Go figure.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Berkeley Marina at dusk

My friend Maya Blum took this ... gorgeous! We had Maizie with us. Jack was home recovering from the 5K we did earlier.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Unfinished, from 2009

Girl with Green Eyes

I’m browsing amongst handbags when the phone rings. Of course it’s Scott. No one else calls – I’ve trained all of them to email – and he’s the only one whose call I’d answer anyway.

“Who buys these things?” I say into the receiver by way of greeting, startling the woman next to me. Good. The people in this store need a wake-up call. “The uglier they are, the higher the price. And what’s up with the straps? Is there a secret that I don’t know about, a way to carry these things without holding them in the crook of your elbow so your arm goes numb and you lose all feeling, and, I don’t know, you die of arm paralysis?”

He says: “I got an email.”


My name is Elena, and I’m a catastrophist. If we were in one of these twelve-step meetings, you’d probably say, “Hi, Elena!” and then sip coffee from a styrofoam cup held by a jittery hand. But it’s just me, talking too loudly in a group of shopping strangers that is unsuccessfully trying to ignore me. My cheeks redden and I can feel my heartbeat throbbing in my temples.

“It’s from Joy,” he says.

I go to slump against the wall with relief and realize there is no nearby wall, only a gray-haired woman against whose shoulder I almost fall. I stumble and manage to stand up straight. She snorts and puts a fair distance between us.

Can’t say I blame her. I’m smart enough to know that I can get a little ... intense.

“Joy,” I say. “Joy. You scared the shit out of me. You know how I am. But you get me all riled up over Joy?”

Joy is my sister. She is my inverse. She is the part of the battery marked with a plus. I am the minus. Of course Scott got an email from Joy. Joy emails everyone. She wants to spread her ... Joy.

He says: “She told me she wants to fuck me.”


I’m not just a catastrophist. I’m also extremely possessive. Not to mention insecure. Do I even need to mention that? You know those two sisters skip together hand in hand, daisies in their hair.

Except how that would never be Joy and me. I don’t skip, and besides, the bitch would never be caught dead with a daisy near her carefully layered hair. The bitch has a thumb so black it’s purple.

I’m the gardener in the family. I know how to raise things. She just puts her boot in the soil and ... stomps.

“Fuck?” I say. My voice is no longer loud. I am leaning against a wall for real. I sound like a little girl whose favorite toy was co-opted on the playground, leaving her alone and aching.

I am six again. But this time with a wedding ring on my finger.

“Where are you?” Scott asks.

Saks, Macy’s, Gremlins? Is there a department store called Gremlins? Do they sell munchkin handbags with straps barely big enough to fit your wrist, let alone your shoulder?

“I don’t know,” I say, and wonder how permissible it is for a 33-year-old to suck her thumb.

Recovery mode

We're back in Berkeley after nearly a week in Southern California. These visits are always tiring. Lots of running around, lots of family time. We've agreed that the next visits will consist of us going separately to visit our own families, which I think is eminently reasonable. There's no purpose in always going to see each others' families each and every time.

Some positive highlights:

- I had amazing sushi at a place that also serves diner food. Go King's-Got Sushi!
- I lost three pounds.
- I got to hold my nephew.

So there were good things there.

Monday, September 1, 2014


My father-in-law said to me today: "Time will tell whether you lose the weight and keep it off." His tone was almost that of a challenge. 

It didn't surprise me. I heard from none of Adam's family after the surgery. I wanted to confront them about it, but failed. What can I say? These are people who haven't taken a single picture of me in the ten years Adam and I have been together. They have never said "you're good for him" or anything remotely close. Why would I expect support from a source that is not forthcoming?

They did say I look good. They were wrong. I look damn good.