Coming home after the Steelers Lost the Superbowl: Bikram Day 78


It has been now seven days since I started my new diet.  I haven’t lost an ounce.  But I’m not really trying to lose weight.  I’m performing an experiment.  What will happen if I stop eating meat, chicken, and pork, and all fowl, and all other animals except for fish, and only wild-caught fish, and if I also radically cut back on my dairy intake, and eliminate all processed sugars from my diet, including wine?  Will my body change?  Will I have more energy?  Will I feel better?

Yesterday I felt very strong in yoga, but today I was tired.  It probably had nothing to do with my diet.  Might have.  Hard to say.

Last night and tonight I have hung out with people I like a lot, and with whom I almost always drink alcohol.  But since I’m on this diet, I’m drinking water while they’re having wine.  Ever notice how it makes people uncomfortable if you’re the only one not drinking among them?  You have to reassure them that you’re having a good time.  I was!

I love my girlfriends.   They make me laugh, and I can say anything with them.  I had a blast.  And it was easy to drink water with them.  No one pressured me to imbibe, although there was some disappointment when I said I wasn’t going to eat the chili.   I was calm.

But I was more thoughtful, too.  What hit me on the way home was not–“isn’t it great that I’m completely sober while I’m driving home just after the Steelers lost the Superbowl?”

No.  I mean, yes, that.  Of course.

But what was better than that, way better, was just being there, being conscious, being with myself and liking myself.The alternative radio show Echoes was on DUQ as I drove.  And it was perfect:  I was in my little silver Miata.  I was wearing  jeans rolled-up to show my witches/Steelers’ socks,  a black turtleneck, and my Mom’s fabulous swing leopard-print wool coat.  I love those clothes

I also love to drive.  I love to be alone on the road listening to good music.  Tonight I wanted to drive all night–preferably up the coast from LA to Santa Barbara at night under a full moon.  But a mountain road would have sufficed.  Trouble was, there were a lot of drunk drivers on the road.  So I took myself home.

Now  I’m listening  to an album that John Diliberto sampled–the Icelandic group, Skuli Sverrison, Sería.  Awesome.  Haunting, soothing, passionate, resonant.  I don’t like the vocal tracks as much as the instrumentals, but there’s something piercingly sweet and mysterious about the woman’s voice.   Not sure I’d listen to this album over and over again as I do Philip Glass, who does something somewhat comparable with more traditional western instruments.  But I have a strong feeling I’m going to be playing it a lot in the near future.  I like the rhythm, the fluidity of the chord progressions, the strumming.  Acoustic guitar expertly played.

It seems that I hear my friends better when I’m not drinking.  And also that I hear myself better.

What could be more depressing than to watch the Superbowl, though, and to be so acute to the sexism of 99 per cent of the ads!!!!!

Not that we’re surprised.  Or, some of us aren’t.  The ones among us who are thinking are not surprised.  Some of my girlfriends are thinking.  Some of them laugh and snarl with me when I snarl that the Superbowl trophy is penis-shaped and that it’s a sacred object that each player on the winning team wants to touch, as though it had magic power not only to confirm but also to magnify his masculinity.

And then the semi-important bald guys–the one who got to carry the shiny, silver penis to the podium, and hand it to the guy at the podium, who got to hand it to the team coaches and also to the Money.  Notice how both of those guys tried to hold onto it for a long time?  While the many words they spoke puffed their chests up and out?  The coaches looked decent enough.  That one guy looked Norwegian.  How many times to the Norwegians win the Superbowl?  Kinda cool.  And they didn’t have shiny penis heads, either.  Doesn’t mean they’re not assholes.

While watching the game I talked to at least two women who were extremely distressed because they have been beaten up by men, men they loved, and neither of them has yet found a perfectly safe situation yet. We couldn’t talk about it there, for obvious reasons, but I heard them and need to call them tomorrow.

Life is Patriarchal men are hard on women.  One in four women.  Let’s not talk about the victims.

Let’s talk about the abusers.  Let’s talk about the monsters who call themselves men who think its okay to demean women, to slur them, to insult them, to bully them, to beat them, to slap them, to rape them to “keep ‘em in line.” Men who have so little respect for themselves and who are so cowardly and vile that the only way they can begin to feel that they are “manly” is by pushing a woman around.

Men who are beating up their girlfriends or their wives or their kids in this city, or your city, in every city in the country, probably, on the continent, in the world, right now, as you are reading this.

Plenty of men out there.  But not many of them showed up on the screen, on the field or in the commercials during the GAME.  It’s possible to be a gentle, caring, compassionate, courageous, decent, kind, peaceful, egalitarian man.  I know some of them.  Patriarchal culture pressures men to live in fear, however, fear of losing their manliness, which the frightened ones must continuously demonstrate to one another.

If you’ve been reading my column, you know that I am a big fan of William Gay, #22.   Now there’s a real man:

Please donate to the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh.

Extreme Plastic Surgery, “Artificial” Sex, and the Insane Death of Carolin Berger


Today’s post began as a response to ECHIDNE of the snakes. who brought Carolin Berger to my attention

She was a German erotic actor who died in her sixth breast enlargement surgery, at the age of 23:

She went under the knife for the last time at the Alster Clinic and was having 800g (28oz) of silicon injected into each breast.  But her heart stopped beating during the operation. She suffered brain damage and was put into an induced coma.The tabloid’s headline read: “The senseless death of Big Brother star Cora shocks the whole of Germany. “(Her) frail, 48kg (106lb) body struggled against death for 224 hours. She lost. Cora is dead. …Her previous five operations were reportedly done at a private clinic in Poland which refused to admit her for a sixth time.

I kept going over those weight numbers, the amount of silicone to be injected into her and her body weight. Then I started thinking about the widespread impact of heterosexual pron on what women’s breasts should look like and how we now regard artificial breasts as really the natural ones, how seeing a very thin woman with very large breasts on television now looks normal, in the sense of averages. Porn has also affected the shaving of the pubic hair.

If it has done all that, surely it must have had some impact on general interpretations of sexuality and on the roles women and men take in sex?

I think that the cultural turn towards increasingly artificial bodies would indeed affect sexual habits and roles.

Women who are willing to alter their bodies dramatically are likely to engage in degrading and humiliating acts that do not sensually stimulate themselves, but, rather, their partners.  Of course, being able to excite their partners would theoretically also get them off.  Presumably, they would be more stimulated by partners who fit the roles that they have learned to find exciting–wealthy, powerful, dominant.  These are the very men for whom they are mutating their bodies, after all, the men for whom they (think they) live, presumably.

Or would it be more accurate to say that these women live entirely in the Gaze, permanently disconnected from themselves as subjects, and utterly and only aware of themselves as objects?

I think that porn alters the mind and sexual experience because the culture has prepared the mind to alter.  We are all subject to deep and long patterns of dominant-submissive  behavior that are not at all “natural” in the sense of being permanent and unalterable.

In other words, it has not always been this way.  We have been humanoid, Homo Sapiens, upright, intelligent, and communal, for approximately 100,000 years.  Only about 10,000 years ago did human males begin to figure out how to dominate human females. Human females learned how to cope with that arbitrary and unnatural situation in various and often freakish ways.

Sexual desire is very malleable, easily manipulated–we know this.

But at what point does the subject who is experiencing sex as an object, and nothing but an object, utterly lose herself (or himself)?  At what point does the long-objectified self break down completely, in severe depression, catastrophic phobias, or addictions, or bizarre, disfiguring and self-destructive behaviors?

Coralin Berger seems to have broken down in the last sort of way.  We can imagine that she at one time had a sense of herself as a person, a girl, a young woman, before she became obsessed with her body, or, rather obsessed with the notion of herself as a body, a body that needed, in her eyes, continually to be improved.

We can speculate about the forces that influenced the way that she came to think of herself.  They are the forces that influence all of us: the family, the church, the schools, the juridical system, the economy.  There is also the increasing power of the media that manipulates our sense of ourselves as women, as men  (for some good examples, check out About Face and the film Generation M).  Each one of us resists these forces to the best of our abilities.

My question is: at what point do these forces drive us completely insane?  At what point does the self who struggles to think independently break down so completely that there is nothing left but a shell, thin, brittle, and driven to the operating table for the sixth and final fix?

Day 19


Day 19.  It was good to hear that Mayhem, who is also on day 19 in the challenge, had a lousy day today, especially since I have been having some pretty crummy times in class lately.  She’s a roller-derby queen.  I think her real name is Michelle.  She doesn’t like it as much as her derby name, Fannie Mayhem, which, you have to admit, is pretty cool.

I liked her the first moment I saw her.  She has a beautiful smile, great teeth, very white, which she flashes a lot at you.  Her face lights up when she speaks, and she looks at you directly, usually with a smile.  Plus she is very frank.  She announced to all of us in the locker room in the very first week that she had to do this challenge because she has gained so much weight since she started skating.  And then she told us exactly how much she weighs, and how old she is, and other things, like what it’s like to be in the roller derby.

Anyway, she’s great.  And it is great to be able to say to each other, today is day x….  But I think she’s going to stop at Day 30, which will be hard for me, since I’ve taken the challenge for 100 days in a row.

I had to do it because I’m pretty lazy, and would come up with all kinds of reasons not to go if I hadn’t publicly announced that I was going for the big run.  My name is up on the poster board in the studio, and every day I get to put a sticker to mark off my accomplishment.  Since most of the names up there are followed by 90 or 100 or more stickers, my little run of 19 lady bugs, happy faces, gold coins, and penguins looks pretty short.  But it’s longer than it was a week ago.

As I’ve probably mentioned, I’m doing this primarily out of curiosity.  To see if my body will change, as everyone assures me it will, to see HOW it will change, and to see if I can do something for 100 days straight.  It’s a long time for me to stay in one place.  I can’t even leave for the weekend.

What else.  I’m starting to make friends.  Mayhem and four other women from the roller derby signed up at the same time, all on a groupon.  They’re quite a bit younger than I am.   I like imagining how it might be to be a roller-derby skater, at my age, roaring around the rink, smashing into women, getting all my aggression out.  I think I’d like it a lot.  I wouldn’t shave the sides of my head, as Mayhem has, but I’d enjoy drawing attention to myself in other ways, by wearing some ridiculous pink outfit, for example.

What’s interesting is finding out who all shows up every single day.  A certain solidarity builds up over time.  What’s more interesting is that the people who do show up every day are not all incredibly skinny.  Some of them are quite round, even rounder and blubberyer than I am.

Maybe because you really do get incredibly sweaty–I mean the sweat streaming off you patters on your mat like rain, and your face gets really red in the heat, if you have a complexion like mine, and you have to pull your hair back into a pretty tight pony tail to keep it from driving you mad–and because it is impossible to look good doing this, the practice does not appeal to princesses and glamour girls.   Many of us may indeed look glamorous (and yes, the teachers certainly do) after getting cleaned up.  But you don’t see the kind of women you often see in gyms who appear to be wearing brand-new, tight, sexy little outfits every time they show up, and who actually wear make-up on the floor.   It would be severely stupid to wear mascara or foundation to bikram.

OK, some of the yoginis flaunt their incredibly thin bodies in incredibly tiny shorts and bras, but that is not because they’re showing off but rather because they want to have a little fabric next to their skin as possible.   And plenty of the fleshier women wear the same sort of thing.  It’s not pretty.

I am vain, so I suffer the extra cloth.  I just can’t stand to look at my stomach muffining out over my shorts just yet.  Maybe I’ll get there.  Probably not.

O, and, I’m not really losing weight.  Maybe a pound.  Maybe six pounds.  I was scarily over-fat just before starting, and dropped five really fast.  But they were the kind of pounds that you pack on in one day and lose right away.  Water weight?  I don’t know.  I am down one pound from the amount my body seems to have stabilized at for the past year.

Got to run now to see my incredibly thin therapist.