The thing I never talk about: Thanksgiving, and eating disorders

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and for a lot of people, it’s a day of stress, struggle, fear, and self-hate that has nothing to do with our relatives. For people struggling with an eating disorder, the holidays – from now through Christmas – is the hardest part of the year.

You’re not alone.

I have had an eating disorder for more than twenty years. I don’t know exactly when it started, when I went from uninformed choices to bad habits to an actual disorder, but I realized I was doing unhealthy things, sometimes things I couldn’t control, when I was around 20 years old.

I’ve been thinking about this blog post for months. A couple of years ago, I decided to seek help for abnormal and unhealthy eating habits. I’ve had issues with food, beginning with not having learned what healthy eating was in the first place, all of my life. When did recovery start? When I wanted to change? When I got help? When I started making changes? I’m not certain I know.

I do know that I’m not recovered yet. Maybe, like alcoholics and other addicts, I will never be “cured”, only managed. As long as I’m healthy, that would be okay with me.

I am getting there, though. Gaining weight this year is actually, oddly, proof that I’m recovering. I’ve stopped doing all the things I did to lose weight, most importantly I’ve stopped thinking that not eating is the best way to lose weight. Most people think of extreme calorie restriction and anorexia as something you can easily identify: those girls who weigh 80 pounds and hide food in dresser drawers so their parents won’t know. That’s a face of it, certainly, but in adults it’s often unnoticed. We don’t have to hide food because no one is monitoring us. We can simply not eat.

Restricting is about control. Mix it with binge eating, which is usually about satisfaction, literally filling an emotional void with food, and you get what most people will write off as yo-yo dieting. It must be that I was trying to healthy (when I lost weight) and then stopped trying (when I gained it. Even thin, I wasn’t being good to myself. I’m healthier now, at my highest weight ever, than I was during the rest of my adult life.

I can say all of this now because I’m over the harder part. I’ve learnt to stop restricting, stop binging, stop weighing myself constantly, stop hating myself, stop hiding all of it. It took years. It took help, and support from someone who loves me no matter what.

The next step for me is taking the hearty, healthy food I eat now, and find the portion sizes that are right for my body. I overeat now, not too much, but enough that if I carried on the way I am, I wouldn’t lose much fat. As I get older, I worry about my knees, my heart – I worry that my fat is keeping me from activities I want to do, and of course I know it makes other people judge me. I want a career that isn’t marred by employers who equate overweight with lazy or unmotivated.

I’m ready to try but I’m nervous, too. Restricting my food at all makes me tempted to restrict it a lot more. It’s tempting to “just lose the weight fast, then worry about keeping it off”. It’s tempting to ditch the rich, flavorful meals we eat now for diet foods which don’t have calories, or nutrients, or the feeling of satisfaction that tells your brain it’s actually full. Or skip meals entirely. Make a game of it, a challenge, see how long you can go without eating, how little food you can eat, how fast you can force down the dial of the scale… Count every calorie, every step, every time you thought about food. And after a week of that, after dropping several pounds, isn’t it nice to “take the night off” and eat pizza, soda, snacks, anything and everything you’ve been craving? You can go back on the diet again tomorrow…

I’d rather be overweight than go back to that life.

I’ve told myself that a million times but for once, I know that I mean it.

Tomorrow, we’re cooking a big Thanksgiving dinner. It’s just the three of us, like it had been the last couple of years, and we’re making only the things we love best. I can’t promise that I won’t question my choices or feel regret that I indulged. I can promise that I’m going to focus on eating what I think I’ll actually enjoy, in a healthy portion, without restricting or binging. I’ll get some exercise. I’ll take it one day, one meal at a time.

Two acceptances: Apex Magazine and Scifaikuest

Two pieces of good publishing news this week!

First, Apex Magazine accepted my 5100-word short story, “Lucky Old Sun”. (Yes, the title, and the story, reference the classic song, “That Lucky Old Sun“.) It’s an alt-history tale, set on the eve of a world changing event, and follows a couple of regular people. Not heroes or villains. Not policy makers, generals, or mad scientists. Just a small town, and the family next door.

I couldn’t imagine that story anywhere but Apex.

Publisher Jason Sizemore was running the annual fund drive, and I gave permission for my story to be a reward level in the drive. Meet the goal, and “Lucky Old Sun” would appear in their January 2016 special issue, rather than at the end of the year. And they succeeded! My story will appear in Issue 80, along with a new short story by Chikodili Emelumadu, extra poetry and reprints, and a new novelette by Ursula Vernon, set in the same universe as her Nebula award winning story “Jackalope Wives”!

In other news, I sold three science fiction haiku to Scifaikuest yesterdayOne will appear online; the other two in their May 2016 print issue. They published two by me last year, and I recommend them as a market: they’re one of the few places that actually pays for something as small as haiku.

After a year+ where I only sent out one submission – the poem which just appeared in Star*Line – it feels good to get back on the horse. I’ve got another poem out on submission now, and several stories that are in need of a revision, but just a little one, and then will be sent out.

I have this time. I’m not going to waste it.


Hello Patreon (a new way to support me and my work)

Using GoFundMe, I raised almost $1000, mainly in September. It was great for a quick burst of donations, but isn’t sustainable in the long run. I still have those bills each month, a growing pile of debt, and another couple of semesters of college to get through. Plus, I never felt comfortable just taking people’s money (though I remain deeply grateful). I wanted ways to give something back to the people who supported me, in a more concrete, consistent way. So, I’ve closed the GoFundMe drive, and created a Patreon account instead.

Patreon allows people to donate small amounts, once a month. Collectively, you’ll be helping me to pay my bills while I go through college, and paying me to set aside time just for writing. My goal is to gain enough income from my Patreon that I can truly make writing into my part-time job. In exchange, you’ll get the first look at my newest poetry, flash fiction, and maybe even short stories and essays. With enough contributors, I’ll even podcast my work.

I’ve got reward levels, too: everything from getting those monthly updates to receiving a postcard or poem in the mail, or signed books. You’ll even get more here, because if I can build up a little financial security, I can go back to writing more informative blog posts and essays, shared for everyone to read.

Please check it out here:

And thank you, so much, for your support.


Do not ask me to perform sexual acts on you (it’s still harassment)

To begin with, I think it’s clear to most people that emailing random strangers to offer them money (or anything else) in exchange for sexual favors is a very bad idea. It is just as bad as sending unsolicited nude photos. It is just as bad as contacting people to threaten, insult, or otherwise make them feel unsafe, for any reason. In fact, all of those things fall under the category of “do not do this for any fucking reason, okay?”

It’s safe to say that I’ve gotten my fair share of the last type of emails and comments. Though I don’t seek to antagonize anyone, there are issues for which I will stand up and make my opinion clear. Doing so has occasionally gotten me the unwanted attention of trolls, sexists, white supremacists, and other folks whose desperately-insecure need to control everyone around them is bigger than their IQs. That isn’t my fault, since I’ve never gone out of my way to contact anyone and force my opinion on them. I’ve never searched our anyone’s email address and sent them threatening messages. I’ve never done anything which might cause someone to fear for their life, to contact the police, or removed themselves from the Internet or other public spaces out of fear of me.

But others have done so to me. I’ve kept the smaller, occasional stuff to myself, and shared only when the burden of it got to be too large for me to handle. I think that’s how most folks deal with harassment. We hear about it when there’s a surge in attacks against them, but there are little aggressions they carry alone. It gets tiring to talk about this stuff, after a while.

The last few weeks, I’ve gotten harassment of the other sort. Someone I don’t know and have never interacted with has been sending unsolicited emails describing his* sexual fantasies and asking that I join him. He’s offered money, dinner; he’s been polite, then apologized for contacting me, then emailed again, describing his kink in greater detail (classic obsessive behavior). He isn’t sending these to my private email accounts – he’s sending them to my professional, editing email account. He’s sending them to my work space.

I haven’t, not once, responded. He hasn’t stopped.

I share everything he’s sent with another person, so there’s record of the messages and escalation, and another human I know in real life to share what I’m dealing with. But other than that, I’ve been too uncomfortable to even go into my email. (If I owe you emails, I’m so sorry. I’m not ignoring you, I promise.) This person is reading my blog and Twitter; he’s mentioned going back through several month’s worth. He’s asked me to meet him in person, so he has a good sense of where I live, and has made it clear he can get to me.

All because he thinks I seem approachable.

And the truth is, I want my fans to appreciate my work. I love to hear what people think of my writing. As a freelancer, I’m always open to new work, and have to be accessible to clients. As a person who needs support to get through college and keep writing, I know I have to share a little more of my life then maybe other people do, in order to give something back to everyone who’s helping me. I am an introvert who rarely talks about her child, boyfriend, or personal life online because I want as much privacy as possible, but I accept that I have to let the world in more than I’d like.

I accept all of this. THAT DOES NOT MEAN YOU CAN INSERT YOURSELF INTO MY LIFE WITHOUT MY PERMISSION, OR TAKE SOMETHING AWAY FROM ME. That’s what harassment does. All forms of it. Even the most politely worded requests for something you weren’t permitted to have invade the other person’s space, comfort zone.

This person who’s emailed me… I didn’t publicly share their contact info and particulars of their admittedly-unusual kink because I don’t want to get into a conversation about what’s too weird, as if more vanilla forms of solicitation are somehow okay. (They’re not.) It isn’t the kink that’s the issue. And I’m hoping this person will realize what they did wrong, never contact me again. I’ve already spent so much more time on them than I should have been forced to give up.

And in time – time I couldn’t afford to lose and potential work I couldn’t afford to miss – I’ll get over being afraid to check my email. I’ll get back to work. I’ll move on from what this person took from me.

It won’t be today.

* They identified themselves as “a guy” so that’s what I’m going with.

Want to read my latest short story? Subscribe to Apex Magazine!


Apex Magazine is running their annual subscription and fund drive. Over the weekend, I heard from publisher Jason Sizemore that he’s accepting my short story, “Lucky Old Sun”, to be released as a reward level for giving! That means, if you want to see my story, please head over to Apex and subscribe to the magazine. Or, if you’ve already subscribed, you can donate to help with their operating expenses.

I know how hard it is to run and fund a speculative fiction magazine. Apex Magazine is one of the best, providing award-winning fiction to its readers, gorgeous art, and professional pay rates for its authors. They have a $5000 goal that they need to reach by the end of the week – but they’re only about $1200 of the way there. They need more subscribers if they’re going to meet, and exceed, their publishing goals.

Even though you’re already getting a year of amazing work when you subscribe, you’ll also get rewards for helping Apex reach their goals, since each level of donations unlocks a new interview, poem, or story that will appear in Issue 80 (January 2016):

The current ToC for Issue 80 includes brand new stories from Ursula Vernon, Lettie Prell, and Jennifer Hyke, poetry by Samson Stormcrow Hayes, Zebulon Huset, Anton Rose, and Greg Leunig, and a nonfiction article by Lucy A. Snyder. The cover art is by Matt Davis.

As we reach goals in our subscription drive we will add to the following to the ToC:

  • $500 – A 5th piece of original poetry (UNLOCKED!)
  • $1,000 – A new short story by Chikodili Emelumadu! (UNLOCKED!)
  • $2,000 – Interview with Chikodili Emelumadu
  • $2,500 – A 6th piece of original poetry
  • $3,000 – Interview with Ursula Vernon
  • $3,500 – A new short story by Carrie Cuinn!
  • $4,000 – A second reprint exclusive to the Apex Magazine eBook/subscriber edition
  • $5,000 – A new novelette by Ursula Vernon, set in the same universe as her Nebula award winning story “Jackalope Wives”!
  • $6,500 – Stretch Goal! We will open to short fiction submissions on December 1st, 2015, rather than January 1st, 2016.

Read more, subscribe, or donate here.