The pictures on this page are courtesy of JeanMarie. Most of the
text on this page is taken from posts about the convention made to the
RMNAAFA mailing list by Dina Marroquin,
JeanMarie Olivieri and Patti Kelly. Thanks to them for sharing their thoughts
I'm feeling a little better today, but I'm still exhausted. Believe me, it's hard to be at work today. Here's my story...names have been changed or omitted to protect the innocent! LOL! (I'm just going to write whatever comes into my head, so expect some jumping around.)
I had a really good time. Even though this convention wasn't as well attended as the Boston/Framingham one, I felt that I connected with a lot of people, unlike the time before. This was probably because I was a bit more comfortable having had attended a convention before and because I attended the entire convention this time.
I checked into the hotel on Monday and met some interesting people. I helped stuff bags for convention goers and had a lot of fun.
Tuesday, everything started kind of slow as people checked in.
I visited with my cousin who is a hairstylist that morning...she did a
great job on my hair (which was good, because truth be told, I was very
nervous she'd screw it up--she did have to dye it twice because the first
color was too bold for me, but the cut was great).
Margaret, JeanMarie, Dina, and Sheri Make The Scene In San Diego
|The fashion show, pool parties, and dances were a lot of fun. The talent
show was spectacular. WE have a lot of talented people in the organization,
particularly our very own Ms. Angela Dutro, who kicked ass with her performance.
She made us all very proud. The Fatimas were there in all their fat, beautiful
glory and opened the show with a long set of dances and even some regional
African and Latin dances thrown in. They were awesome! There was a fat
drag queen group called Absolutely Flabulous who performed. They weren't
too shabby, either.
The rally on Sat. morning wasn't that great. I participated by being in the choir, but having the event in the hotel sucked. Big time. No real press coverage at all. Very disappointing. It wasn't well attended...most people ditched it in order to sleep in. People were partying the night before at the costume party and I for one didn't get a lot of sleep because of the dance and a particular after party that was in my room! Good thing JeanMarie was a good sport. You should have seen her face when she came into our room and it was full of partying fools (Patti included...don't let that innocent act fool you ROFLMAO). What can I say... ;)
I met some great people, including an FA from LA (ooh, that rhymes...)
who was hot, hot, hot!!! (I have witnesses who can prove it!) That's another
story entirely that I will not get into here. Suffice it to say that I
had a lot of fun and leave it at that. ;)
San Diego Skyline
|The hotel was beautiful, right in downtown San Diego, only a couple
of miles from the airport. Margaret K, Sherry, JeanMarie, Angela, Patti,
and I had a great time getting to know each other further as we shared
meals. The hotel food wasn't bad and the staff was wonderful. Margaret,
Sherry, JeanMarie, and I went out to dinner Thursday evening at this place
called The Fish Market overlooking the harbor. Very good, very fresh seafood.
I didn't have much chance to sight-see, but then again, I've seen plenty
of San Diego as a kid. JMO went out a few times to see the sights, and
Sherry ventured to Tijuana. I really don't know how that went, but hopefully
she'll share at the meeting.
One of the bad things about our experiences is that no one got any pictures. We had camera trouble all the way around. I lost mine, JMO's was having issues as was Patti's...oh well! Maybe the NAAFA site will have some of us. I'm still waiting to hear from security to see if they found my camera. I hope so.
Let's see...what else?
JeanMarie, Dina, And Sheri Perform At The Chapter Rally
|The workshops were great (ok, I didn't attend many but the ones I did
were good especially this fitness class taught by new NAAFA board member
Rochelle Rice). The people were great (except for the sharks hehehe) and
I won quite a few raffles, as did Margaret (of course, she always does).
Patti and Angela also won too. But check this out...Apparently, I won next
year's convention package! Margaret K called to tell me, as did Sherry.
There is some confusion as to whether or not I'll get it since I wasn't
present at the going away brunch, but Margaret seems to think that they
decided in the end to give it to me, since there weren't any posted rules
about having to be present to win. Isn't that awesome!?!? Even if it ends
up going to someone else, it's still a very cool thing. I've never won
anything worth so so much $$$ in my life!!!
Oh yeah, our skit at the chapter rally! It was ok. I say that because we had a few technical difficulties with sound and had a few false starts. But anyway, we did it. Sherry, JMO, and I did good. We had to do a cheer too which we improvised at lunch. Not too shabby. WE have to start planning for next year.
Anyway, I should get back to work. If I remember anything that I forgot to write about, I'll post later.
Tired and barely alive... (hahahaha)
Sitting By The Dock Of The Bay
Life has been on the fast track since I returned from convention but I did want to report on what I participated in there. First off I would like to say that the flight Angela and I had with Delta Airlines was wonderful. The two of us shared three seats and this can be confusing when making arrangements. Delta was very good in working with us so we were taken care of. On our return flight I handed my two tickets to the flight attendant taking tickets and let him know these were both my tickets. This way they understand the empty seat has been paid for and is not available for standby passengers and it also lets them know the two tickets I am using are not for me and the person behind me in line to board the plane. The gentleman taking the ticket made a statement about understanding my need to fly in comfort and then said "I have immense respect for you". I took that as he understands how hard to can be to get accommodations when you have access problems and what kinds of prejudice I face. This man also made a special effort to say thank you and good-bye as we exited the plane at the end of the flight.
Similarly the hotel staff was wonderful. Very helpful and accommodating the hotel layout was fat friendly in that nothing was too far to walk comfortably. I just wish their pool was bigger :)
After registering Angela, Margaret and I went to the "Meet the Press" workshop held by Jeanette Di Pati. She serve national as a PR person and media liaison. She gave us some good tips to use when speaking with the press and some insight on how the press works. National is lucky to have her as a volunteer to help out with the media. She was very professional and a good "first line" person to represent our cause.
Our Trio Hams It Up
|After a dinner out at Tom Ham's Lighthouse (wonderful views and very
relaxing setting) and a short trip to the Hotel Del Coronado with Angel
and Margaret I went to the pool party/reception. There I met up with Dina
and JeanMarie as well as some people I had met last year. These private
pool party's are very enjoyable. A lot of batting around beach balls and
then sending someone down to the street level to retrieve the balls that
went over the wall (the pool was on the 3rd floor). It seems that it is
a convention tradition to fit as many people in the hot tub as possible.
Just when you think there is no way anyone else could get in, another person
wedges themselves in. It was so wall to wall people that my favorite hotel
waiter, Chuck, did a kind of mosh pit dive over the top of us and never
got wet! I think we had 23 in the hut tub when I was there. Other night
they got even more people in. Needless to say there is very little water
left when we all get out.
The next morning Endocrinologist Diane Budd,MD spoke about the medical myth that fat=poor health. She spoke about the downside to WLS and diet drugs as well as resent medical findings supporting fat people can live healthy lives. I was pleased to hear her say something that I had believed for a long time. That is that we cannot relay just on vitamin supplements to get our nutritional needs met. There is no way we can know ALL of the nutritional elements we receive from the food we eat. This is a problem for people that have had WLS because they are unable to eat normal amounts of food. Dr. Budd also pointed out that this is a problem with Xanical because it blocks fat absorption. There are many fat soluble vitamins and nutrients that we would not get if we took this drug. Even if you tried to supplement with vitamins taken separate from the Xanical you could not be assured that there aren't some nutrients that we have not identified yet that are not present in vitamins. I add that Dr. Budd is a very small woman only because I am so thrilled whenever a small person understands the hardships of fat people. It was very good to hear her positive and informative message.
I then attended the Super Size SIG (Special Interest Group) workshop. I ended up joining this SIG, as Margaret has shared with me some of their past newsletters and I have found them very informative. This seems to be the largest SIG in NAAFA, with others being Singles, Big Men, Couples, Lavender, Feminist and Midsize. They are reforming the diabetes SIG. Also a group of fat Admirers (FA's) that met at this time to discuss the special needs of relationships with large women.
A Harbor Excursion
|Next off I went to a workshop about Lymphedema by Laura Baker. This
was an EXTREMELY valuable workshop with lots of information and a great
handout (I got an extra copy to put in our lending library). Unlike edema,
lymphedema is the pooling of lymphatic fluid. Most often in the lower leg
but also in the arms of many women that have had breast surgery and/or
lymph glands removed due to breast cancer. Injury to the lymphatic system
can effect the circulation of the lymph fluids and the pooling of this
fluid can cause pain and mobility problem. Unfortunately this is a condition
that many doctors know little about. Laura related a story about a childhood
injury that resulted in injury to her lymph glands on her left(?) leg.
Years later this resulted in that calf being 8 inches (I think that is
the number she gave) bigger then her right leg. After much searching and
traveling to get treatment she was able to get her left leg with in 1 1/2
inches of the size of her right leg. OK, I know I dig the medical stuff
but this really was a fantastic workshop.
Next I went to the chapter leadership workshop. This was both frustrating and informative. The officers of RMNAAFA have felt like we get very little support from national. It often takes several phone calls to get them to respond to our request and sometimes we never get responses. As with all volunteer organization, there is more work then there are people welling to help. I know national is taxed for time and manpower, as are our national officers. Heck, I feel it myself on the local level. I found out they have had data base problems and that has been the reason we don't get the info from them we need (prospect lists). It was good to meet some of the national board members in person. I think that will help with future communications.
Next was the talent show. What fun! The fabulous, fat belly dancing troupe the Fatimas had an excellent performance. As already stated, Angela was FANTASTIC! The show ended with a fun, fat, female impersonation group. They were plenty of fun. I love seeing all these fat, talented people perform. It really makes you proud.
Dina And Margaret In The Lobby
|JeanMarie, Sherry and Dina did a great job with the chapter skit. They
danced to "I Fell Like a Woman" and gave some background about RMNAAFA.
Many thanks to these brave three. They really made the chapter look good.
RMNAAFA is making a name for it's self nationally.
Then another private pool party followed by some fun in the hospitality room were I won a "Survivor" game...yeeppppy!
The next day I attended the fitness at any size workshop held by Rochelle Rice. Rochelle is a national board member and the president of "In fitness and In Health", a health club in NY City. This was a very good workshop helping us understand how important movement is to health and that at any size and mobility limitations one can get some movement. Rochelle is a very petite woman, which I again mention only because I love it when small people "get" the fat issues and Rochelle does. She had several (4?) of her employees there, all large women, illustrating exercises. They also related some prejudice they get from people saying "you work out all the time. Why are you still fat". One other positive thing at this workshop was it was videoed taped a young man named Dillion that is working on his masters degree about size acceptance. After the group gave permission to be taped, Dillion explained that he was troubled by our societies obsession with thinness. He wanted to illustrate fat women, healthy, happy and contributing to life. He is in hopes that his video will run on The Learning Channel or Discover channel someday. He was at most of the convention function (except the pool party's) and did a lot of interviewing and video taping.
Dina, Patti, JeanMarie, Angela, and Margaret At The Costume Party/Dance
|That evening was the fashion show with regular NAAFA members modeling followed by another private pool party.|
We had a wonderful costume party/dance. Many grand costumes and award were handed out. This, along with the Grand Ball the next night was very fun. Lots of laughter and dancing. Another group was holding a 20 year class reunion in the ballroom across from ours. On my way back to the dance after visiting the ladies room one of the men from that group asked what kind of party we were having. I told him it was BBW, BHM and their admirers having a dance. I informed him that this was part of the social events for the NAAFA yearly convention. He was pleased and said it was great that we were doing this. It was nice to have this stranger except us so readily.
As Dina stated the everybody good body festival was anti climatic. Having it in the hotel was more convenient but was not well attended. Both members and the press were notably missing. It will be interesting to see what they do next year.
Hope you all packed a lunch. I know this was lengthy. I just wanted to share as much as I could. I hope you all get to experience this for yourself sometime.
The convention was incredible! wonderful! marvelous! Motto for a NAAFA convention ..."Sleep? Who needs sleep? You're never going get it." - Barenaked Ladies
I did have a similiar insane travel schedule as Patti and Angela so I decided it would be better not to go to sleep at all on Saturday. I just went to the dance, packed, and stayed up talking all night. Hmm.. I stayed up talking most nights - except for the first night when I stayed up because Dina was snoring! [Sorry Dina, I couldn't resist. :) But seriously, other than the snoring, Dina is/was a really great roommate. This is the third time we've roomed together and it's been great traveling with her.
OK, back to the convention. Every person has a different experience of convention (duh!) and it varies from year to year. My first convention in LA was life altering, as evidenced by our thriving NAAFA chapter. My second convention in Boston - uh, I mean Framingham - was not great for a variety of reasons, mostly personal, although I did have wonderful experiences there too. But this year went beyond all my expectations!
Some of this was due to the fact that I've been around enough now to know. and be known by, a lot of people - if not by name, then by face. My conversations have been changing too. At first it was all about me! :) I would talk to people about my overwhelm, fears, and desire to know and understand more about what this size acceptance this is really all about. And now, while I do still talk about my issues, I've also been able to talk to others about all their issues and I'm starting to give back, to other people.
I'd like to share with you one powerful experience I had giving back to my fat community. The diabetes workshop, which so many of us on the fat diabetes email list were looking forward to, got cancelled due to some bad luck and mis communication. Oh well, it happens. So during the Saturday morning Everybody Goodbody event we had a table in the corner for people who wanted to learn more about diabetes. What happened was that I left big room during the event to sit in the lobby with a small group of people for a discussion. There was a man with diabetes who was just having a hard time and frankly, was not getting the education, information, and quality of care that he needed. He was very scared and overwhelmed. We were able to help him. I'm still a novice at learning about diabetes and taking care of myself, but I was able to give him a lot of support and information, including how to join the fat diabetes list (a lifesaver). He came up to me later to thank me. It was truly an empowering and emotional experience. hmm...
But it's not all about the serious stuff. I had a hell of a lot of fun. One of the highlights was that I led the conga line at the dance on Thursday - wearing my new mini skirt. hmm hmm hmm!!! Oh and a personal thank you again to Debbie B for loaning me the short, black, slinky dress for the dance on Saturday. I knocked a few eyes out! (wink, wink)
About Angela. Yes. She rocked the room. Like Patti said, I also got a little choked up. I was just so proud of her!
And I was proud of myself, Dina and Sherry for doing the chapter rally, although I was so upset about our false starts and technical difficulties. We were a little concerned about how it would go over and how we would feel being on stage so we planned on doing just half the song. The song "Man I feel like a woman" is really a big hit. (I requested it at the dance and the floor filled up right away.) Back to the rally, the crowd was just getting into the song when we cut it short and I realized right then we should have planned to stay on stage through the whole thing. But... we all live to learn.
I'd say that the Rocky Mountain girls really made a big hit. And now that we've broken through the performance barrier, next year, we're going to do a little more prep and we're going to really rock the house. Let's just hope that Jeff can attend so we can do the theme song from SHAFT.
Love to you all.