Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Weight loss update

I've lost about five pounds, give or take. That doesn't seem like much, and given the vagaries of the female body and water retention it's really not, but it's a start. I'll feel better about it when I get to ten. It's much harder to write of ten as "not real change," which is a huge bugaboo for me when dealing with weight loss. Even more than a shift in numbers, though, I'm fitting into pants I was last able to wear last summer. That's pretty spiffy, all things considered.

Rising Waters, Season 2.5: Session 1!

So, for those of you who are more recent readers of my blog (I think there might be a whole three of you :)), I have over the past few years run a sporadic Dresden Files game which I call Rising Waters. It's set in Baltimore, and it has a motley collection of characters. It keeps going on hiatus as real life and grad school intervene, but my players, God love them, seem to enjoy it and always want me to pick it back up again. I'm therefore running it once more, picking back up from where we left off six months ago. For previous sessions, please see the "Rising Waters" tag on my blog -- that'll give you the character backgrounds, etc.

So. When last we left our intrepid heroes, we were roughly a week out from Midsummer, which means a week out from Uno's engagement party to the summer lady. Dylan had just finished working to create a diving bell/old-fashioned submarine, which he planned to use to find evidence of ghouls in the river off Fells Point. We met two weeks ago to spend advancements and remind everyone of where the campaign was and what their characters were doing, and last night we put all of that into play.

We joined our story at the point of getting the diving bell into the Inner Harbor. Uno put a solid glamour on the van they'd used to get it to the area, so that no one would pay any attention to it. They managed to offload it and get it into the water, mostly due to Uno and Victor being extremely buff. They hooked the air line and the rope up to a dragon-headed paddleboat, as those are pretty common in the Inner Harbor. Adia, Zeke, and Victor rode in the paddleboat, while Eldi and Dylan got into the diving bell with Adia's sugar skull, to use Josh as a relay/walkie-talkie between the boat and the bell. Uno stayed on shore as lookout.

The diving bell worked, though the one window was somewhat limiting. Victor took a potion he made to gain the "Aquatic" condition so he could look around as well, and dived off once they were in position so he could examine things more closely. They definitely found what they were looking for, plus things they weren't.

Dylan started creating "pings" and using old-fashioned sonar (hit the metal side with a wrench, do math) to try to figure out what the landscape was like and where they were underwater. Eldi looked out the window, amazed at the whole world and FISH. This was all well and good, until they started getting "pings" back that they didn't create. As they got into position off Fells Point, they managed to catch a glimpse downriver and Eldi saw something huge, half made of debris, floating in the midst of strange-looking water in ways it shouldn't have been. They couldn't easily turn back to see it, however, and Dylan was focused on ghoul evidence. They found some, along with a trail up to shore, but where they ghouls were really living they didn't get a chance to discover.

Dylan determined that the sonar indicated something was off about that mass after all, and asked Victor via a note in the window to go get a sample of it. Victor got close to the unmoving mass and looked at it with the Sight, wherein he discovered that it was a huge underwater demonic construct that either had a demon inside or was powered externally by a demon; he was hoping it was the former rather than the latter, because anything that could create that externally was not something he was prepped to battle in his current situation. He managed to disengage from the Sight, but once he did, the thing started moving -- and at its size, it covers ground quickly. He swam back up to the surface quickly, trying to get away, and got in the paddleboat.

In the meantime, a storm started coming up out of nowhere, prompting Adia and Zeke to message down and suggest it was time to get out of the water. Seagulls started circling, not something that normally happens in the face of a storm, and they were flying closer to the paddleboat in a threatening way. Zeke remembered his Hitchcock and pushed Adia down while taking a shot at the first bird to dive. He missed, but took a head wound for his troubles. Adia starts using her purse to try to frighten the birds away, but then calls on Josh to help scare the birds, which he attempts to do with only partial success.

At the same same time, the sugar skull goes active, but it's not Josh (which it should have been, given that Adia turned it into a home for him/item of power during advancement). Instead it sounds like a mic in an echoey room has been turned on. Dylan grabs salt and draws a circle of power around it and the sound stops, replaced by a low-pitched chuckling. A voice comes out of the skull, asking "why are you here, wizard?" Dylan replies that he's looking for evidence of ghouls, as well as something more. He asks the voice's name, but the voice refuses to give it. Dylan tells Eldi to release the first ballast, and they start their ascent. "I'm looking for the creature in the deep," says Dylan. "These are my waters," says the voice. "The municipal water department of Baltimore would disagree with you," Dylan replies, gesturing to Eldi to release ballast 2. They rise higher. "Don't come back, little wizard," says the voice, "lest you find your way to Davy Jones." Dylan starts asking if Davy Jones is real, or if that's the name of the speaker, but there is no answer.

They get up and pop the hatch, but what they discover is that the seagulls are in the midst of attacking. Eldi uses glamour to make a flash of light to scare them off, but it doesn't last. Dylan accelerates the wind and blows the birds into the side of the waterfront buildings. Most of them fall down, necks broken and wings smashed, but five of them pull back and start circling around again. Zeke takes two shots and misses -- he's not used to dealing with such small, speedy opponents. He asks Sauriel for help, and Sauriel points out that these birds aren't birds, they're demonic. He holds up his cross, mentally rolling his eyes, and prays for protection for he and his friends, forming a warding around them. One of the birds comes into contact with it and there's a flash of light, and the bird turns into black goo and then vanishes. That same thing happens out over the water four more times -- they birds were connected and functioned as a single organism -- and finally the water is quiet.

They all make it to shore and get out. Dylan is seasick, but holding it together. Eldi disguises the diving bell to look like random tidal trash and hides it up against the wall. Dylan grabs his data out, but forgets the sugar skull, still sitting in its salt circle. Uno comes up, trying to help, but then a wave of rotting sea fauna and old, dead blood hits all of them, and Dylan throws up, back into the water. Looks like the ghouls are closer than they'd realized.

And that's it for another two weeks!

Saturday, June 20, 2015


This is the best damn cheesecake I have ever made. I win.

Note: potential eating disorder triggers below.

I've never had an eating disorder. If anything, I've let myself go the opposite direction. I'm overweight by something like 60 lbs, by my reckoning, though if you were to ask a physician based solely on BMI, they'd likely say something closer to 80 lbs. I have scoliosis and my ankles are prone to giving me hell, and in recent years I've heard a mysterious crackling sound in one knee. I also have high blood pressure, currently controlled through medication, and a history of heart disease and stroke in my family. I really need to lose some goddamn weight, as Patton Oswalt would say.

My aunt, on the other hand, did have an eating disorder. She was 10 years older than I was at the time I remember figuring out something was wrong, which puts her in high school while I was in grade school. She would eat almost nothing, and it was typically a fight to get anything into her, and then in a bit she'd throw it back up. But she was so skinny and so beautiful, and I wanted to be like her more than just about anything... except in that way. That I knew, without a doubt, I did not want.

I have slowly gained weight over the years -- I got fat as a teenager starting the year I was 12, finally lost it around 17, but never felt skinny -- never as skinny as my mom, never as skinny as my aunt. I'd diet on and off and try to get smaller, but a size 12/13 was the smallest I ever got, clotheswise. Of course, looking back now at pictures... lord, I was thin. I wasn't model thin, but I had cheekbones and a face shape, and it was all good. I wish I could have recognized it sooner, but at least I can see it now.

Now I'm doing Weight Watchers -- the weight inching up thing happened while I was studying for my exams, and I hit the limit of what I was willing to let happen. My activity's gone up and I'm eating better, and their online tools are spiffy and easy to use. I hit my first 5 lb mark today, a month in, so now I'm about back down to where I was before the last time I started dieting, and that's with a con and a vacation and visiting my parents during that period of time. Not too shabby. I've finally managed to give up sodas, much to my regret, and I'm learning to like iced tea and lemonade now and again instead, as well as water with lime slices, which is a long-time favorite.

One of the weird things I have continually noted about me and dieting, however, is how hard I have to work to take an interest in food. It's as though I have to make an effort to find interesting and tasty stuff to eat (much easier these days thanks to my amazing husband) or else stop noticing food altogether. And while it might sound like an optimal sort of problem to have while dieting, it's really not.

You see, when I stop noticing food, no food looks good to me. And then I stop wanting to eat. And then I start getting crashy all the time, because duh, not eating. It becomes far too easy to measure my success at whatever by how far I've managed to game the scale this time, and to measure my self-worth by how much willpower I can exert to avoid this whole food business. When I start to look for skinny, not healthy, though -- that's bad. I think of my aunt and how easy it feels to use food and denial as a form of control for stress. Even if I can't handle anything else, it seems like, I can do this. I can control this much of my life. It starts to feel good to do that, to find some tangible evidence that I am not out of control and that I do have a say over my body. And then I think of my aunt (who is happy and healthy and not struggling with an eating disorder any more, thank heavens). And I think... no.

So yes. I plan treats. I try to stay invested in planning meals and finding desserts and small cheats that will be within my points but keep my brain and tastebuds from just shutting off. Thank heavens Matt loves to cook and is so good at it, and is watching points with me, as it keeps me balanced as well -- it was really bad when I was just cooking for me after my divorce and trying to diet, which is largely why I gave it up as a bad plan seeing that down that path lay me just not cooking anything ever.

One of the things that feels different this time though, in addition to Matt's cooking, is that I'm not doing this because of my partner. I'm not doing it because I'm worried about how I should look. I used to be -- there were things I wanted to wear and people I wanted to look like, and attention I wanted to get by being skinny and more feminine and thinking that losing weight would make me look like the people on TV and magazines... but I'm in my 40s now. Many of those ships have sailed, and even the ones that haven't, I've largely outgrown.

I have a partner who thinks I'm attractive just the way I am, and I believe him when he tells me that. I kinda like my body, at least some of the time, in the shape and configuration it's in now, even if I am one of the rare small-breasted fat women in the world. I feel pretty good, and I love going on wine trips and eating amazing food and sharing that with my husband. On top of it all, I've become a pretty darn good baker and pastry chef -- my grandmother would be proud, I think. I'm not willing to give all that up. And the amazing thing is that now, in my 40s, I don't feel like I have to. My worth as a woman is not conversely proportional to my dress size. As long as I manage to keep the urge for control at bay. As long as I remember and think of my aunt and her journey. As long as I keep pushing to stay interested. As long as I remind myself, as I have now, that being present and grounded is not simply a win condition, it's the end game.