The Undeniable Ruth Rotating Header Image

The Oatmeal

My Disease is Always with Me

My disease is a bitch. Even in recovery, there isn’t a day that I’m not aware that I have an eating disorder.

The best way I can describe my disease is it’s the Fast-Eddie-used-car-salesman-older-cousin of The Oatmeal’s The Blerch. It feels like it’s floating next to me, everywhere I go, and I can’t shut him up. For St. Patrick’s Day, I had a constant barrage of thoughts about binging and purging. I felt like my Blerch was hovering next to me saying:

Back to My Old Life: Alone by Rachmanuddin Chair Yahya from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

“Check out all the St. Patrick’s Day goodies. You can have an entire tray of cupcakes with green sugary buttercream frosting. Oh – and a Shamrock shake. You’ve never had one of those. You can eat all the things, and don’t worry about the calories – because you won’t keep it down. It’s win-win. It’ll be great.”

Reality check: When I was in my active disease, forcing myself to binge and purge was not great. It hurt – a lot. Eating that much hurt my stomach, and then forcing it to contract to vomit really hurt. It’s violent, and when it’s over, my head throbbed, I had no energy, and I felt like shit.

Ugh. I wanted to growl, “Shut up shut up shut up. Shut the fuck up!” My disease tried to convince me that it’s not dangerous, that all the literature that binging and purging is hard on your heart and rips your esophagus apart was written by neurotic doctors. My disease said those are rare instances. It wouldn’t happen to me. Reality check: Eating disorders have the highest morbidity rate of any mental illness.

I dragged my fingers through my hair in frustration, then grabbed my phone and sent a single request to two of my confidants: “Tell me again why it’s bad to eat all the things and puke my guts out. My disease is messing with my head.” They both reminded me of the myriad of ways this disease can destroy my health. One of my confidants is also in recovery from an eating disorder. He reminded me of the powerlessness that comes with this disease. Giving in once makes it that much harder not to give in next time (and the next time, and the next).

I asked my therapist if my Blerch will ever go away. He said it might not, but it can get quieter. I likened that idea to Russell Crowe as John Nash in A Beautiful Mind making the decision to ignore his hallucinations, though they seem to always be lurking in the shadows. As he said, “I’ve gotten used to ignoring them and I think, as a result, they’ve kind of given up on me. I think that’s what it’s like with all our dreams and our nightmares . . . we’ve got to keep feeding them for them to stay alive.”

I’m not fond of the idea of living with my Blerch for the rest of my life, but that may not be something I can control. The disease of addiction never goes away. My default setting may always be to self-medicate and self-destruct, but choosing recovery means I don’t have the luxury of indulging these thoughts. Perhaps if I ignore it long enough, my Blerch will finally shut up.

The Next Four Years . . .

It’s still a bit surreal that Donald Trump is the next U.S. President. While part of me is still reeling from the fact that he won the election, I’m trying to be forward thinking and looking for ways to be realistically optimistic. The night is darkest right before dawn and there can be good that comes out of the worst circumstances. Instead of dwelling on my frustration and apprehension for what’s to come, I tried to shift my perspective to see where there are opportunities with this new administration.

Naked Trump by Len Smith from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Betting on the Trump Presidency
If you are the betting type, you can place bets on the Trump presidency at casino sport books and other betting establishments throughout the world. I suspect there’s an over/under bet for the number of days he’ll actually be in office. (Right now, my gut feeling says he’ll survive at least one year, but not three.) I wonder if you can place a bet on whether he’ll build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

Deliveries to the White House
I believe in sending letters and calling your representative to tell them what you want and what issues are important to you. I also endorse campaigns that send a powerful message, like sending crocheted vaginas to representatives to endorse the Violence Against Women Act and the Postcard Avalanche opposing Steven Bannon’s appointment to Trump’s cabinet.

With the suspected Trump kompromat, I would not be surprised if there’s an influx of packages to the White House from rubber sheet manufacturers. If you’re going to set him a set as a housewarming present, please select an American company – support the economy.

And since Trump is Trump, and there is a Republican majority in both Houses, I hope there’s an increase in deliveries from Dicks By Mail (gummy penis candies) to elected officials from their constituents if/when they act against what’s in the best interest of the public.  Ditto for Glitter Bombs and Poop Senders.

Micropenis Greeting Cards
Although there are a few options out there, there is an untapped market for greeting cards and postcards that communicate the message:

We get it.
You have a small penis.
Please stop acting like a dick.

I’d love to see what The Oatmeal could create in this genre.

EDIT: I couldn’t wait to see what someone else would create. I created it myself.

American Flag by Daniel Zimmerman from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Donations to Civil Rights and Health Organizations
There have been drinking games and bingo card incorporated into the watching of the presidential debates and other political speeches. But instead of buying booze, there could be a better way to put our dollars towards causes we care about.

I loved he influx of donations to Planned Parenthood in Mike Pence’s name following the election. To continue this trend, I endorse the idea of making a donation to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Anti-Defamation League, or similar organization every time Trump makes a racist, homophobic, or misogynistic statement.  For someone who extremely generous, expand this to everyone in the Trump Cabinet.

Increased Political Activism
Since the election, I’ve seen people become more politically involved, even friends who have shied away from doing anything political besides voting. (If you don’t vote, you can’t bitch.) With this new administration, we’re going to see more people being diligent and fervent about calling out elected officials when they do a poor job. (Don’t forget to applaud them for a job well-done too!) If you want to vote with your wallet, and boycott companies that carry Trump products, here’s the list.

If you hold public office, you work for us – and it’s a temp job. Expect more than annual review. I haven’t seen such a large population of people be this angry and motivated to take action. It’s exciting to see so many people putting their time, energy, and money where their mouth is. It’s going to be an exciting four years.

Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert for President 2016

American Flag by Uhuru1701 from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

American Flag by Uhuru1701 from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

I’ve been listening to NPR so I’ve been doing a decent job keeping up with who has launched a steering committee or otherwise looks like they’re considering running for President of the United States. And so far, I’m not impressed. I haven’t seen anyone who I would want to vote for; nobody seems to have the “total package” for what’s required to be the political leader of this country.

For full disclosure, I am a registered voter.  I think I’ve missed one election in the 17 years I’ve been eligible; it was a minor school board issue and I don’t have kids. My right to bitch is fully intact.

I am registered an Independent – the largest political non-party. A 2013 Gallup poll found that 42% of Americans self-identified as politically independent.   This tells me that a lot of people are unhappy with both political parties. This is why I’m a registered independent – I think Republicans and Democrats are too extreme. I agree with each party on some issues and completely oppose them for others.

Because so many Americans are unhappy with both parties and so far, all the potential candidates are inadequate, 2016 is the perfect year for an independent duo to challenge for the presidency. I believe Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert could run as a successful campaign and be effective leaders. I am completely serious, and yes, I’m aware that it’s ironic to be this serious about a pair of comedians.

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear by Cliff from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear by Cliff from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Stewart and Colbert could do what a lot of potential candidates are doing right now and start a steering committee or something to collect funds which don’t have the same restrictions as campaign fundraising through something like Kickstarter. I don’t think they would raise money as quickly as The Oatmeal did for his Exploding Kittens game, however, I think they could raise a lot of money. A lot of people trust these political comics a lot more than traditional politicians – just recently a poll said people trust Jon Stewart more than Bloomberg and The Economist. These people are known for saying it like it is, and calling out the ridiculousness of others’ behavior.

With other presidential campaigns, the vice presidential candidate is often forced to campaign with the presidential candidate because they don’t have as much influence on their own so it’s not worth it to separate them to cover more territory. But with a Stewart /Colbert ticket, they could divide and conquer and get massive crowds everywhere they go. The challenge for them would be can they fund this type of campaign.

I could see a Stewart /Colbert ticket having a daily podcast or at least a weekly one, YouTube videos, and taking full advantage of social media platforms to campaign and reach more people much more effectively than other candidates have in the past.

Jon Stewart is leaving The Daily Show this year and at last I heard he is unsure what he is going to do next. I think he should run for President. I know he doesn’t identify as a politician, he’s someone who makes fun of politicians. And I think that’s what makes him so appealing – he’s not a career politician, he’s all about restoring sanity to the country, and he appears to have a good heart. I’d rather have that guy in the White House then someone who is self-centered, riding a party platform, and doesn’t seem to really understand what’s going on in the USA or the rest of the world from the perspective of the average person.

I’ve never worked on a political campaign or financially supported a presidential candidate, but I would support a Stewart/Colbert ticket. I think if these guys ran, we would get the biggest voter turnout in recent history. We would get more people watching the debates – those debates would be hilarious.

I am one person with a blog. I know I have no influence over these guys, but I hope the people who do are telling Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to give serious thought to running. As the Klingon proverb says, “Great men do not seek power; it is thrust upon them.” As long as you keep being sane and thoughtful, where you lead, we will support you.

The Undeniable Recap of 2014

Wow – 2014 was a year for change for me. I never would have predicted that so much would be different in 12 months’ time – mostly for the better. It has been a tumultuous ride but I think it’s allowing to lay the foundation for more good things to come.

I keep a running document for The Undeniable Recap from the beginning of the year and it’s so fun to look back and remember everything I did in the last year. It’s always hard to come up with the top 5 events for the year but here goes.

Photo by Julia Kolsrud

Photo by Julia Kolsrud

1. We Moved! I’d been living in my parents’ second home since I moved to Phoenix and I decided it was time for Rosie and me to get our own place. After months of searching, I found a condo that I fell in love with at first sight. It’s less than half the size of our old place – just 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, an office, and an open kitchen/dining/living room. It’s the perfect place for a girl and her dog.

2. The Packing Party. I read about Ryan Nicodemus’ “packing party” in the book Everything That Remains by Joshua Fields Millburn. I’ve been an aspiring minimalist for a few years now and moving gave me a chance to step it up a notch. When I moved, I put everything in boxes and only unpacked what I needed when I needed it. It took 72 days to go through all my boxes and a lot of my stuff is going to charity. It was eye-opening to see how little I need to be comfortable.

3. Week in Wickenburg. At the recommendation of my therapist, I spent 5 days in Wickenburg last spring at a workshop at The Meadows. It was an intense experience where I got to do a lot of personal development work and look at who I am, what’s important to me, and when I’m in a hand basket. And with no computer or cell phones allowed on the campus, it was a valuable centering experience.

Post-Brunch Handstand - Photo by Erika Brown

Post-Brunch Handstand – Photo by Erika Brown

4. Birthday Stories. I had the most awesome birthday this year. I always take the day off on my birthday to do whatever I want. This year I asked my friends to send me stories about something related to our friendship. Dozens of people responded. I spent a few hours curled up in front of my laptop taking a wonderful trip down memory lane. I’m sorry I haven’t had time to thank each of you who contributed individually but know that your stories were very much appreciated!

5. Lindsey’s Wedding Weekend. The best trip I took in 2014 was for Lindsey’s wedding in the Bay Area. I’ve known Lindsey since she was probably 7. We were gymnastics teammates and we’ve been friends for decades. It was great to get back to my old stomping ground where I crammed in as many people as I could in a 72-hour period – teammates, coaches, and other friends. And to top it all off, I got to see Lindsey get married. Of course we had a post-wedding handstand contest.

Photo by Jeff Moriarty

Photo by Jeff Moriarty

Firsts in 2014
Aerial Yoga class
Polar Plunge
Encyclopedia Show
Yelling at a server at Buffalo Wild Wings (not my best moment)
Performing at the Orpheum
World’s Largest Pi Fight
Mass mailing for Carter Law Firm in honor of Captain Kirk’s Future Birthday
Virtual Presentation at a Conference – ABA TechShow 2014

Poolside Rosie

Poolside Rosie

Batting cages
Getting crapped on by a bird
Day trip to Jerome
10K race that I ran the whole time
Visit to the big dinosaur in Gila Bend
Ice Bucket Challenge
Overnight trip to Sedona w/ Rosie’s first hotel stay
Buying real furniture for my new place
Ignite Phoenix After Hours at The Mint
Driving myself to Prescott
Hiking the Wind Cave Trail
Local Events: Arizona Wind Symphony Performance, Art Detour, Scottsdale Arts Festival, Tempe Arts Festival, Heard Museum, and Zoolights

Hanging with Peter Shankman

Hanging with Peter Shankman

Medical Firsts: Cardiac ultrasound, Beta blocker, Anti-depressant, Stress test
Food Firsts: Pho, Rutabaga, Matzo ball soup, Sugar cookie in a mug,

Celebrity Sightings
The Minimalists – Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus
The Oatmeal – aka Matt Inman
Chris Guillebeau
Peter Shankman