Napa Rose at Disneyland

Ahhhh, Napa Rose at the Grand Californian at Disneyland/Disney California Adventure in Anaheim, California.

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Disney’s Grand Californian Resort & Spa, Disneyland, Anaheim, CA

So Many Stories

Napa Rose is my absolute favorite Disney restaurant. Besides the exquisite food, the staff is one of the most unobtrusively attentive.

I’ve eaten at Napa Rose with my family (several times), just Zack and I (several times) and by myself (a few times). I can remember almost every dinner, too. That’s gotta say something.

Michael Jordan, Master Sommelier

The very first visit, Zack and I were in awe. The decor of the restaurant, how it overlooked Disney California Adventure… and then there was Michael Jordan.

Jordan isn’t at Napa Rose anymore, but we were blessed to experience him during his 8-year tenure. He’s a Master Sommelier, 1 of 15 in the world!

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Master Sommelier, Michael Jordan in the Wine Room at Napa Rose.

When we were seated, we studied the wine list, then decided to ask Jordan for his recommendation. He came up, a delightful smile on his face… one of the most humble men I’ve ever met. We talked for a long time and when he learned I was a midwife, he said his mother was a midwife and she’d delivered Frank Sinatra (who was 13.5 pounds and had an incredibly difficult birth) in Hoboken, New Jersey. Apparently the birth was so difficult, they called in a doctor who used forceps on the baby Frank Sinatra, scarring him for life. And then he said that Dolly Sinatra delivered him! What a fun story that bonded Jordan to us within minutes. And he did, indeed choose an awesome bottle of wine for us. That night and every other night we ate there.

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Napa Rose interior, overlooking the wolf (or bear) inside Disney California Adventure.

Mushroom Soup

After my gastric bypass in 2001, a woman in Anaheim wanted to meet to talk about my experience. I was eating tiny bits of food at the time and did worry about what I was going to eat. I didn’t need to! The chef blended up some of their mushroom soup for me and I took my first slurp with him standing there, loving the soup so very much.

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Napa Rose Mushroom Soup

About 10 spoonfuls in, I began to feel ill. The mushroom soup was incredibly rich with cream and my new gastric bypass body could not handle it. I began to dump (when the body cannot process sugar or fats and floods it with insulin to try to metabolize the offending food… called Dumping Syndrome).

I excused myself from my new friend and hightailed it to the bathroom so I could moan in peace. The hypoglycemia was so bad (and I did not recognize it at that time), all I could do was lay on the cool floor, curled into a ball. Someone heard me and went to Jordan who called EMS. They got there fast, while I was still clinging to the ceramic floor and kept asking me if they could give me an insulin shot. I was in a daze, but haltingly explained the gastric bypass and the dumping that comes from it. After 30 or so minutes on the floor, the distress slowly lessened. EMS stayed to take care of, or transport, me. I remember when I could sit up again, realizing I was laying on a bathroom floor… one of the grossest places on earth. Blessedly, the restaurant had just opened so at least it was still clean and I wouldn’t have nightmares about acquiring germs and laying in filth.

I said goodbye to my friend and drove the hour back home.

Dining with the Kidlets

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I can see us eating at Napa Rose right this moment… as if it was yesterday.

The 4 kids (Zack’s son included), Zack and I and Napa Rose. Michael Jordan would choose us a nice bottle of wine and we would settle in for some great food and fun conversation.

One particularly hilarious conversation occurred when I was on-call as a midwife. San Diego was 90 minutes away, so when I went, I asked my ladies to give me an earlier heads-up than they might have otherwise. So when one of my moms called, I excused myself and went to talk in the bathroom, away from the table.

When I came back, the kids started peppering me with questions: Did her water break? Does she have gloppies? (Gloppies are when women are getting ripe, losing their mucus plug, etc.) Is she engorged? (If she was nursing.) I could hardly talk from laughing so hard at how my entire family knows so so much about childbirth and breastfeeding… through osmosis!

Our Favorites

We ate here so often, we all had our constant favorites.

Zack’s son loved the Sizzling Beach Rock Appetizer.

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Sizzling Hot Beach Appetizer

The rock under the shrimp was hot as fire and the food on skewers would be laid on the rock to cook. It really was an awesome display of creativity.

My favorite was the Lobster Martini. I can taste it right this second.

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Lobster Martini

Lobster, avocado, mango and a pinch of something spicy combined to delight me every time. If I went to the restaurant and it wasn’t on the menu, the chef would make it for me anyway. I sure would love one now!

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Heirloom Tomato Salad

Michael Jordan had an enormous garden at his home and when the heirloom tomatoes came into season, he harvested them and brought them to work. Organic, so so so sweet, with a light mango dressing. Delicioso!

While the desserts at Napa Rose were amazing, sometimes I wanted the Cheese Plate. Exquisite cheeses and breads, always something new each time I went.

Diligently Selected Cheeses @ Napa Rose Lounge
Cheese Plate

As I said, the desserts were amazing.

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Dessert Sampler

This Sampler Plate has 3 of my favorite things at Napa Rose: the Vanilla Crème Brûlée, the “World’s Best Hot Chocolate” (at $13 a cup!) and the crunchy lacy thing standing up on the Chocolate Mousse in the back.

I loved the crunchy lace cookie-like treat and would ask for a big bowl of them. Yum! Especially with the Hot Chocolate!

Zack, on the other hand, liked some dark chocolate while he finished off our delicious red wine that Michael Jordan had chosen for us.

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Dark Chocolate Discs

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I would love to visit Napa Rose again. Tonight! Instead, you go for me!

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Blog Refocus: Life Through the Eyes of Food

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At My Daughter’s Nudging

So, after my Baking Bread Memories post, my daughter Meghann, also a writer, insisted I start another blog and talk about my life through the eyes of food. Not wanting to start over with yet another blog, I decided to edit this one and begin the project my daughter asked me to write in this one.

Besides the food refocus, I could not edit out my Bipolar and Diabetic experiences. I really feel my mental illness as well as my diabetes are intertwined with my life of eating; they are inextricably combined.

Long List of Memories

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My mama’s hand.

I began a list last night of times in my life where food took more than center stage and already have 29 potential posts!

Come along with me as I jot down memories for my children and entertainment for you readers.

I better get to writing.

 

My Wall-E-esque Life: Part 1

“Fat Acceptance” has been a catch-phrase for at least 40 of the years I have been alive. In 2 parts, I share my experiences and lessons learnt being a part of the…

Fat Acceptance Movement.

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I’ve been fat ever since I got my tonsils out when I was 7-years old.

Fat kid, teen, adult and now a “mature” adult.

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Trials (and Errors)

I’ve done dozens of diets, been prescribed Black Beauties & other speed (starting at age 8), belonged to many gyms, taken Phen-Fen (with success, but with heart valve damage), tried Topamax (fail), used Wellbutrin (fail), had a Roux en Y Gastric Bypass (with fabulous success, then epic failure), done hypnosis & acupuncture (fail & fail), become a daily Mindfulness Meditation fanatic (fail for weight loss/huge win for pain relief), have tried to have anorexia, then bulimia, hand-written hundreds of thousands of journal pages, letting them “hold” my pain, shame, revulsion, self-hate, wishes, fears, hopes &, eventually, resolution with my size.

I remain in resolution.

I will never diet or take diet drugs again. Ever.

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Time & Money

Thinking about the masses of time and money I’ve spent trying to lose weight makes my head spin.

Time

  • Going to the gym
  • Writing out menus
  • Researching rules and techniques for success
  • Real life or online support group meetings, including social networks talking about losing/gaining weight
  • Shopping slower to read labels and make sure food is “appropriate”
  • Learning new cooking methods
  • Fighting with family about the change in foods in the fridge and cupboards
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artist: Sapphire4723

Money

  • Gym membership
  • New cookbooks
  • Membership fees & apps
  • Tools for success (exercise equipment, pedometer, walking/running shoes, gym clothes, etc.)
  • Tossing all the “bad” food in the garbage
  • Buying all the “good” food
  • Probably eventually buying more “bad” food for my family because they whined so much about foisting my diet on them
  • $28,000 cash for RNY gastric bypass (GB)

Can I include the time and money (including the taxpayer’s) for the years of therapy discussing and crying about all of this?

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Positive?

I was a Fat Activist in the mid-late 80’s, mostly in the lesbian community. I’ve written about being fat-positive for almost 3 decades.

In the beginning, when I was in my 20’s and early 30’s, I was healthy… labs were fine, no diabetes, my joints or feet didn’t hurt. I crowed (bragged, was arrogant) about how it was the fat-hating that made fat people sick and die, not the fat itself.

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Reality

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Now, at 56-years old, I see how delusional I was. I am well on the road to dying before most people in my family did, and they all had diabetes, too. My future resides in my memories of my Cuban relatives & the diabetes complications they endured before dying. Heart attacks, going blind, having toes, then feet cut off, eventually dying in a coma because the body just gave up.

I see it coming as if it was a roaring train heading right for me.

Litany of Pain

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Here are my fat-related illnesses and issues:

  • Type 2 Diabetes (diagnosed at 34 years old), now on 2 insulins and metformin
  • I heal terribly because of the diabetes, often needing antibiotics for residual infections
  • Stage 3 Kidney Disease from the diabetes
  • Pain with every step I take
  • Osteoporosis and arthritis in my feet, which have broken 3 times just from walking for exercise, and one foot breaking while swimming
  • Broke one foot falling off the Wii Fit Board trying to exercise… needed 3 surgeries to repair
  • Arthritis in my lower back, was on opioids for 8+ years for the back pain, becoming incredibly addicted, finally getting clean 3 years ago (yay me!) Now I use Mindfulness Meditation for pain relief, though many times I wish for some Norco.
  • It took me years to find surgeons I felt safe with to get my 4 hernias repaired (one surgery) and then my gallbladder out (a separate surgery, with 3 hospital visits afterwards because of infection)… several turning me away because of my enormous belly size (blessedly, I found the docs and those issues are resolved)
  • Bone loss from possibly 2 main sources: lack of exercise & the GB
  • Walking with a walker, but should be in an electric wheelchair, my feet hurting so badly
  • Using an electric wheelchair when I shop

Nautilus

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My world has gradually become smaller and smaller. After 32 years in birth work (where I hurt daily as well), I am now a sedentary Phone Sex Operator. I live in a small space and leave the house only for doctor appointments, physical therapy, shopping and seeing my doggies at mom’s house.

Writing that makes me sad.

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Part 2 On Its Way

In Part 2 of My Wall-E-esque Life, I will talk about the place the Fat Advocacy Movement does have in our lives. While it might not be health (despite the incessant refrain that it does), it is most assuredly have an enormous place in our physical and emotional world.

More soon!

Broken

 

Conflict

My wonderful submissive, my (Muslim) cublet, and I had some conflict this week about stuff going on in Europe (Freedom of the Press, Turkey, Netherlands, etc.) and he was feeling badly about how he responded to the discussion. Very badly. He felt that he’d let his Mistress (me) down.

After we worked things out, he asked me if, when I was a submissive, I ever disappointed Zack (my Dom) over and over and how did I deal with that.

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Endless Failures

I’m not sure where it bubbled up from, certainly from the recesses of my psyche, but I began talking, almost trance-like, about how Zack and I tried new diets every few weeks. It wasn’t a direct order to follow the regimen, but it was implied. I am able to follow the rhythm of these attempts in my Facebook Memories each day and, as I see each new diet, each new pledge to “Stick to this one!”, I wince knowing that I failed. Again. And again. And again.

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I’ve written about how I snuck food, hiding it, eating in the car and throwing away the evidence before I got home… how I still hoard food even though I have no need to whatsoever. Old habits and all.

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1 of about 6 hiding (hoarding) places.

When Zack and I learned about a new diet (always the Famous-Diet-of-the-Moment), it was up to me to research and make menus (which I despised doing). Then I would school Zack, we’d set a date to begin within the next couple of days and, once the sun rose on that date, we were off and running.

I knew as soon as the diet was brought up what was going to happen. Promises of “This Time!” and “I’m going to the gym every day.” Vowing, even to myself, that I would not cheat.

Yet within a few hours of the new diet, my stomach (mind) was rumbling and I needed food. Not healthy salads, which I could eat as much of as I wanted. Not the vegetable soup that I could serve myself every half hour if I desired. But food. Carbs, mostly. Bread. Tortillas. Potatoes. Burgers, fries, candy, cake… that endless list of Forbidden Fruit (yeah, fruit?!)

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I would fly through this entire cycle in about 4 hours.

I became a demon in search of the poison that (never) filled me up. I would sit thinking, “Where can I get money to go buy food? What excuse can I make to get out of the house? Where can I hide the other half of the burger I can’t eat while in the car?” Looking at me, you’d think I was merely watching TV. Inside my head, I was a military officer strategizing the next battle, down to the last marching step. Obsession does not begin to describe the experience.

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I always found food. Even if I had to steal it from my sister-in-law. Or sneak money out of Zack’s wallet to buy it. Or sell something for the few coins I received; candy is pretty cheap.

There it was. I was a failure. Again. A crushing failure, doomed to disappoint Zack. Again.
When he realized what was going on (how he didn’t know within hours is beyond me), usually after the second week’s weigh-in and he’d lost gobs of weight and… lookie there! I’d gained 5 pounds! That he believed in me each time, that he trusted me to tell the truth “this time,” (which is how he didn’t see me cheating – he trusted me) made my failure all the more bitter.

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Clinging Together

So when my cub asked if I’d been a serial disappointment, I don’t think he expected an entire post to fall out of my fingers about it.

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So, he and I met online almost 18 months ago, both of us traversing different worlds, surely never to meet in real life, but here we are, my cublet and I, both sharing those same shame feelings.

Curious. Do you think everyone has them? If we all talked to each other long enough would we all find we had this deep place inside that feels we disappoint the ones we love most?

I know people really well… human nature really well. But I cannot recall others feeling broken the way he and I described to each other.

And how do 2 broken people find each other anyway? Is it a psychic connection that says, “Join and you shall begin to glue each other back together?”

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Does the mere airing of the pain begin the healing? (Provided we are in therapy, of course. I am aware that 2 dysfunctional people will not spontaneously heal the hurt.) This phenomenon really is quite baffling.

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Be-ing With the Pain

I spent several days deep inside, remembering these horrid feelings of shame and disappointment, actually worried I was getting depressed and might need a med change. Instead, I just sat with the feelings. Allowing them to curl around me, reminding me that, even if I don’t remember them, they do still exist and have an effect on my life.

Writing this has been an exercise of sitting with the pain, crying at times, really deeply sad other times and now that the post is winding down, I think I am finally finding some peace.

I hope it lasts.

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artist, calmdownchristina

Fat Girl Stories: Hiding Food

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Binge Eating & Food Hoarding discussed.

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If I died right this moment and someone had to go through my room, either throwing things away or giving them to my kids, they would find, in several different locations, stashes of candy.

Quite the mind-fuck seeing the candy juxtaposed with the insulin and metformin, isn’t it.

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Learned Behavior

I come by the behavior honestly.

Growing up, mom was periodically on diets. When she was, so was the entire household. I called the feast or famine cycle, “Celery or Eclairs.” Either mom created delicious baked goods or we had celery and carrots filling the refrigerator. It didn’t take long to learn to bulk up for the famine that was surely to come in a couple of weeks. As a ravenous fat child, I scavenged for calories when we were supposed to be eating far fewer of them.

You see, my mom hid candy, usually plain M&Ms, in her drawers, under her marabou-lined lingerie. Being a nosy brat, I scoured the room, looking for the candy, then eating it when it was finally in my greedy hands. I didn’t process the information that mom would know I had eaten it when she couldn’t find it. That was irrelevant. Eating it was the goal and eat it I did.

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crispy M&Ms keeping company with my meds

Hoarding

When I was in a relationship (pick one), invariably my partner would have issues with my food intake. Reading my Facebook Memories makes me wince as, nearly every 2-3 days, I was starting yet another new diet or forcing myself to go to the Y.

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When I went to the Y, I would ride the exercise bike until I sweat, go as long as I could, then get off and get in the car to go home.

And then began the fight, the tug-of-war to eat before I went home. Carl’s Jr. was open; I could go through their drive-through. I could go to the grocery store and get something quick to consume. Whatever I chose, I wouldn’t be able to eat it all, so would need to either throw the rest away or bring it home with me. (Another wrestling match in my head.)

I hated throwing the food away, especially when I could eat it later. So I’d tuck the leftover burger or sourdough baguette and cheese in my gym bag and hope Zack wasn’t awake so I could hide it in the closet.

My shoe holder (a long canvas bag that hold 12 pairs of shoes) was my favorite hiding place. Fuck, that is gross looking at that now. Then, it seemed like a brilliant idea.

I had to move slowly so the wrapping didn’t crinkle too loud, betraying my plan.

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Visceral Reactions

I’m sitting here trying to figure out how to explain how much I hate discussing food with anyone, partners most of all. My body tenses as if I was about to be assaulted, every hackle raised trying to protect my Self from the (invariably) negative and judgmental bullshit about to come out of their mouths. Yeah, yeah… I know… “they mean well.” Well, it doesn’t feel well. It feels horrid, defending myself, my size, my food choices, intake and why am I still fat even after dieting/exercising/having a gastric bypass/using medications/etc.

Don’t I know what eating so much/exercising so little is going to do to me? Don’t I see my Cuban relatives as the Cautionary Tale for my own future with diabetes?

Today’s Freedom

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my low glucose drawer

I haven’t had but the briefest mentions of my weight with anyone besides medical people in over 2 years… and it has been heaven. Sitting and writing, even this far out, I can still feel the intense tightening of my muscles as I remember the inevitable tap dance discussion of my weight and food the moment someone began with, “Honey, I am worried about you.”

I’m not stupid. I was a health care provider. I’ve read the articles and papers about being sedentary and fat. I know my life span is infinitely shorter because I don’t “exercise and eat right.”

But the freedom from the stress of discussing it cannot be described. Doesn’t that account for something?

It does in my world.

Fat Girl Stories: Ugliness

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artist, Jenny Saville

Avoiding my reflection at all costs

No mirrors, no glass windows

Nothing form-fitting

Overlooking any signs of weight gain.

Self-consciousness submerges into unconsciousness.

At the height of ignorance

I spill secrets with abandon

Forgetting the flayed flesh

That comes with disclosure.

How stupid could I have been?

I whirl around with joy

And smash into the looking glass

Shattering my image into a million broken shards

I fall back to earth with a heavy thud.

Barely breathing, I do not move.

Slices ooze.

My raw hands hurry

To scoop up pools of blood

Mixed with tears;

It will not reabsorb.

I am fat.

Fat fat fat fat fat fat

Fat fat fat far fat fat fat

Fat, fatter, fattest

Loved, yet still so unlovable.

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Fat Girl Stories: Cyber-ly Abled

So when I watched Avatar and saw Jake, unable to walk and in a wheelchair, take on a Na’vi body that allowed him to not only walk, but even run, I felt pangs of jealousy.

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“In Real Life” Reality

I have not been able to walk very far for several years. After the Gastric Bypass in 2001, I lost lots of weight (which I have gained most of back), but also any calcium I took in wasn’t absorbed and now I have osteoporosis.

I have broken my feet (both) two times from trying to walk to lose weight and again last year falling up some stairs. I have broken my left foot requiring 3 surgeries after falling off a Wii Fit board, also trying to lose weight. Ironically, I fell over a balance scale in 1995 and broke my right ankle and that required 2 surgeries to repair and left me unable to walk but to the bathroom for almost 3 years. I am quite accustomed to the post-surgical boots now.

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(And no, losing weight will not fix it. It could make them hurt less, but trying to lose weight when you cannot exercise is a distinct challenge. Even swimming, I have cracked a bone in the top of my foot.)

I have been counseled several times to get an electric wheelchair, but have balked. Now with the new #NotMyPresident coming into power, I might have lost my window for getting one with insurance paying. Instead, I use a walker when I have to walk somewhere (therapist’s or doctor’s office, for example) or an electric cart if they have one (Target, Costco, etc.). I no longer walk in the mall, Disney World, concerts or go anywhere I have to walk further than about 4 minutes and when I do, I go very slow to preserve my bones.

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Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality is used for a variety of rehabilitative purposes, including with autism and others who need help acclimating after an injury that changes the person’s abilities. It is used with spinal cord injuries to teach folks how to move and even walk again.

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Even so, there are detractors, saying:

Some people also worry that steady exposure to virtual reality could alter the way people perceive the real world. Concerns have also been raised about the effects of people mostly communicating with others online. But on the other hand the internet and VR-enhanced communications can also be a great way of bringing people around the world closer together and enable disabled people with restricted mobility and independence, to interact with a wider network of people.

The thing is, I am not playing with Virtual Reality, but am creating my own Scenes, scenarios, storylines and community online through my writing. But yes, I know being online has increased my interactions with others… absolutely.

Cyber-Reality

When I am online, which is a lot, I am freed from those pesky real life limitations of being fat and physically disabled. I am able to walk miles, run through (metaphoric) meadows, sit on my cub’s lap and do all the things I ache to do in real life that will never happen again. I feel like Jake; freed from the constraints of my flesh and (brittle) boned body.

I cannot go out for coffee or have delicious sex as much as I desire because of my physical restrictions. Online, my life is robust and I would say almost completely satisfying. I miss my kids and grandbabies and miss going to Disney World (and those are enormous things to miss), but other than that, I am pretty content where I am behind the screen. I never want to be in a face-to-face lover relationship again; my virtual one is amazing and I embrace it fully.

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I love being able to have unencumbered sex with my sweet osezno, relieved of the logistics that real life would dictate. And what’s wonderful is he, too, is able to suspend reality, allowing me to be free… outside my body… and flying inside my mind. It is a gift he allows me that is completely dependent on the mechanism with which we communicate; the computer. Together, we tangle, we swirl together, we move around as if we were two feathers dancing on a current of air. Real life sex was never so uninhibited. It is a joy to be in this luscious place without my lifelong concerns… and occasional anguish… revolving around my body size, history of sexual abuse or even (seemingly) illogical psychiatric issues.

It is in these beautiful places that I do, most assuredly, feel cyber-ly abled.

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