I was a chubby kid. When we lived in town, a couple of boys in my school used to stand on the sidewalk and chant a rude verse at me on the way home (“Fatty,” it began. I sometimes worry that as my brain disintegrates with age, that verse will be the last thing I retain.) I was almost thirty when I lost weight, going to Weight WAtchers. I don’t know what WW is like now, but back then, you’d get on the scale, and, if you’d lost anything, the group would applaud; if you’d gained, they offer warm support for the struggle. I lost 60 pounds, I’ve more or less kept them off for 30 years, but I still have days like today, where I cleared out all the ice cream in the freezer. Ten years ago, I finally got rid of my size 18 clothes, but I’m thinking I should have kept an outfit, just in case.
At the same time I was struggling with my doctoral dissertation, which I did, ultimately, finish, but that was a long battle, too. I had a friend who was doing her own dissertation, and going with me to Weight Watchers meetings, and we thought we should start “Dissertation WAtchers,” where you weighed you output each week. “Two more ounces, well done, Eileen. Ooh, threw out six ounces, too bad Sara, but you’ll do better next time.”
I think about DW often because writers seem obsessed with how many words they’ve written. I belong to another blog, the Chicago OUtfit Collective, and people talk about doing their weekly stint of 7500 words, or brag about producing 5000 words a day. I know the feeling, counting the words, as if it had something to do with the quality of the story. I do it myself, and yet, when the writing is flowing, the number of words is irrelevant, and when it’s ground to a halt, as it has for me this week, the lack of words on the page feels like a summary of all my inadequacies.
Okay, enough whining. Here’s something real to worry about: death threats against President Obama are 400 percent higher than against previous presidents. And cute kids on the religious right are using a Bible verse as a cloak for, asking God to kill the President. And they’re getting support from Fox media. Surprise.