Thanks for the royalties

Royalty envelope

Twice a year my publisher sends me a royalty check. It’s always exciting, like getting a scratch-off lottery ticket that’s guaranteed to win. You just don’t know how much is waiting for you. It can vary by thousands of dollars from statement to statement, so I have no idea how much I’m going to get each time. I’m just glad I’ve been able to eek out a bit of a living from my writing and I never cease to be amazed by it. As a freelancer, I consider these checks to be like my Christmas bonus.

I am really grateful that my book Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir continues to sell even four and a half years after its initial publication. I watch what I spend my money on rather carefully, so it’s humbling to know someone (or multiple someones) decided my writing was worth their cash. If you’ve ever bought a copy of the book, thank you! I truly appreciate it. It does directly affect me and my ability to do things like fly home for Thanksgiving, so thank you, thank you, thank you! I will mention you when I’m giving thanks on that fourth Thursday of November.

Since I know you’ll ask, Chocolate & Vicodin is still selling too, but I’m still in the process of earning out my advance for that one, partly because I got a bigger advance for my second book. And I was able to get that bigger advance because my first book has done well, so thank you again!

Other people’s mail. Other people’s lives.


Here’s what I know about the person who lived in my apartment before me. She’s a woman. Her name is Kate B. She subscribes to Allure, a magazine I had never read before and a magazine I have no desire to read again after skimming my complimentary copy. She’s on the Victoria’s Secret mailing list which sends out a ton of mailings, making it difficult to believe they are secret about anything. It is very difficult to get off of the Victoria’s Secret mailing list, which involves a phone call that requires you to speak to an actual human being.

Kate received a pharmacy journal in the mail, so she probably is or was a pharmacy student at UNC like lots of other grad students that live in my apartment complex. There doesn’t appear to be a Mr. or Mrs. B. because all the mail comes addressed to Kate.

Kate received a lovely, little, blue card in the mail which was so cute that I was disappointed it was not addressed to me.

She shops at Crate and Barrel.

All in all, I think I would find Kate to be a pleasant enough person, but I doubt we would be soul sisters. She’s way more girly than I am, but we could probably make small talk about all the meds I’ve been on in the past five years. I’d ask her if she’s heard The Drugs Song and then we could sing it together.

I wonder what the person who moved into my old apartment thinks of me. Did she get my copy of Neurology Now and think I’m a neurologist? Is she as bewildered as I was that the Firestone in Indianapolis is still sending me coupons? (Sorry, I’m not driving that far for an oil change.) I don’t know. It’s odd what you can discover about people from their mail, but it’s only a sliver of a life. Still, the glimpse is rather fascinating because it leaves so much for you to fill into the blanks.

I bet to really know someone you have to go through their trash :)

Mix it up: Just like a mix

Mix it up

I sometimes come up with weird themes for music mixes. There was the Same Title, Different Song mix and the Aging mix back when I blogged at Here on JenFul I came up with the Callback mix and the Opposites mix.

My latest idea is the “Just Like…” mix which only includes songs with titles that start with the phrase “Just Like.” Granted, this mix was pretty easy to put together after I loaded all my MP3s in WinAmp and searched for the phrase “just like.”

The Cure – Just Like Heaven
James – Just Like Fred Astaire
Jesus and Mary Chain – Just Like Honey
Pink – Just Like a Pill
John Lennon – Just Like Starting Over
Bob Dylan – Just Like a Woman (YouTube only has a live version)
Happy Rhodes – Just Like Tivoli
Bell X1 – Just Like Mr.Benn
Brett Dennen – Just Like The Moon
Old 97’s – Just Like California

Feel free to suggest some more in the comments. And here’s a YouTube playlist of all the songs, because I’ve learned how to do that now!

Dear JenFul: What’s the best way for healthcare providers to address weight with their patients?

Dear JenFul

I got an email from a reader recently who asked a question I wasn’t entirely sure how to answer, so I decided to punt it to you guys instead. Of course, I might be stretching the meaning of the word “recently” when I refer to an email I received over two months ago. Sorry about that, dear reader! I got busy or lazy or both if that’s even possible. Here’s what she wrote:

A brief personal history: I’m typically in the mid-range of the “overweight” section of the BMI scale, I exercise regularly and eat fairly healthy, just a little too much of everything. But, my question concerns my role as a nurse practitioner in a college health setting. I occasionally see students who are at an unhealthy weight and I’m never quite sure how to approach a discussion. I tend to think most of us know if we need to lose weight, we just don’t always do what we need to do. I realize different people require different approaches, but I’m wondering what, if any, tips your healthcare providers may have given you that really helped in your weight loss quest. Thanks for any insight you can provide.

I replied letting her know I’d throw this one out to the blog, and I also mentioned the Health at Every Size philosophy. I believe it’s important that any discussion about a patient’s weight remain health-centered since that’s what you’re seeing a doctor about, your health, not your appearance. If you want makeover tips you can go to Sephora. It’s also possible for you to be overweight but otherwise have perfect health. For instance, I had my annual physical last month and if they gave out grades for your blood work I would have gotten a big, red A inked at the top of my report. I was told to get a bit more Vitamin D, but that was it.

The only negative impact my weight currently appears to be having on my health is that it’s stressing my knees more than if I were thinner. Of course, my weight also makes me more likely to develop health problems in the future, like type II diabetes which my grandmother got in her 60’s. (She happened to be a nurse, BTW.) So if my doctor were to bring up my weight I’d expect him/her to stick to those two topics – my knees and any future health problems.

But, let’s throw it out to you guys. What tips would you give to healthcare providers about how to have a conversation about a patient’s weight? I know many of you have horror stories about medical practitioners who handled this topic really badly.

Not what I (k)needed

Not my actual knee

Not my actual knee. Photo by Mike Davies / by NC-ND 2.0 CC

Last month I had two projects go so spectacularly, horribly wrong at the same that I had to run. Literally run, not run away from the projects, though that would have been lovely. Too bad I have a sense of professional responsibility and a need to pay my rent.

Exercising because I’m stressed out is a new thing for me. Usually I just eat a package of Oreos because I cling to the belief that cookies can fix everything, just like duct tape. However, my body felt so physically tense that even the gross output of the Nabisco factory wouldn’t have helped me, so I went for a walk instead. After a few minutes I realized walking wasn’t enough, so I burst into a run and I ran and ran and ran. While this did not solve my work problems, I did feel like I could go back to work without having an aneurysm.

Although I’d been walking fairly regularly, I’d been avoiding running because my knees are not in the best shape. They hurt a little when I go up stairs, and they hurt a lot when I’ve been going up and down the stairs all day for three days, like when I moved three months ago. They also make this unsettling crunching sound when I bend them, like I’ve got Rice Krispies and milk in my joints. So, I was happy and amazed that I was able to run for several minutes without collapsing on the side of the trail and having to crawl back to civilization.

I started doing intervals the next week, running for a minute and then walking for three minutes. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. This was going really well until it wasn’t, which was when I was lying in bed with achy, achy knees screaming that I was an idiot.

I decided to finally see a doctor about the problem. I had to get x-rays which required me to stand in a lunge position for an uncomfortably long period of time, which seems like the last thing you should ask someone to do when they’re having knee pain. I was referred a to a rheumatologist and the nurse said I was the easiest patient of her day because I was so young and disease free, which made me laugh and laugh and laugh on the inside because I could fill a Bingo card with every type of medical specialist I’ve seen in the past five years. But, whatever, evidently most rheumatology patients have it worse than me, those poor, poor, souls.

I made sure to wear a skirt to the appointment so I wouldn’t have to put on a robe, but I forgot to shave my legs. For some reason I feel like I should be well-groomed when seeing a doctor, like how I brush my teeth before visiting the dentist. It seems polite. But I’m sure he deals with much worse things than leg hair, so I didn’t feel that bad about it. I laid back on the examination table and he bent my legs a variety of ways, which sounds very dirty when I put it like that. But trust me, it was not sexy at all, especially not with the leg hair.

My doc then told me that I have hypermobility syndrome in my knees. (Disturbing photos here courtesy of Google images.) Evidently my knees can bend in ways they shouldn’t. I’m not a flamingo or anything, but I can bend them slightly past vertical when standing. The doctor was also able to rock my lower leg slightly left and right at the knee. All of this means that when I do something that stresses the joints, like walking up the stairs or running, the ligaments and tendons have to work harder to stabilize my knee. Doing this a lot causes pain. He said there really aren’t any drugs to treat this at my stage, and what I really needed to do is NOT RUN.

*Your blogger sobs quietly*

I have never been a fast runner or a particularly good runner, but I like the meditative qualities of running. When I was a baby, my parents could always soothe me by bouncing me up and down. Running is like that. I fall into a rhythm and fall out of the world for awhile. While my body is busy, my mind if free to do what it wants to. I get a lot of thinking done when I run. I’ve written a lot of blog entries in my head when I was running. I like running.

However, I will not be doing any running in the near future, because as much as I love running I like pain-free knees better. The doc recommended swimming, biking or the elliptical machine instead. None of which sound appealing because 1) I don’t know how to swim that well and I’m not crazy about being seen in a bathing suit 2) Bicycle seats hurt and 3) Elliptical machines are only found in gyms and I’d rather be out running on a trail.

Alas, we can’t always get what we want. And despite what the Rolling Stones say, I don’t think I’m going to get what I need either, which is BIONIC KNEES. I still haven’t sorted out what I’m going to do instead of running. I hope I don’t have any projects go horribly wrong anytime soon, because if I can’t run I’ll probably have to smash something instead, and if I run the only thing I’ll smash is my knees.

Keep reading: 

Want second helpings? Devour more entries in the archives.

Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir

Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, chronic headache sufferer, (former?) weight-loss inspiration, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She was formerly known as PastaQueen. You can contact her if you promise to be nice.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

My latest tweets

My latest tweets

Twitter: jennettefulda

  • It's equal parts annoying and funny how many pitches get sent to my work email offering to build my company a web site.
  • Just had to ask my downstairs neighbor to turn down his subwoofer. That's the third loud neighbor after midnight. Think I can find a fourth?
  • It's disturbing how much ear wax can fit in the human ear canal.


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