This might be my last update for a little while, because I'll be on the road -- New York, Boston, Chicago and points beyond before I get to come home again. If you've already finished IN HER SHOES and are casting about for what to read next, let me recommend THE BITCH IN THE HOUSE, which is a new collection of essays from women writers talking about marriage, parenting, and anger, anger, anger. It's uneven -- some of the pieces are just brilliant, and others are just whiny (I'm always struck by how many New York City writer gals tend to conflate love and real estate, lavishing as many adjectives on their boyfriends as on their sunny, spacious Brooklyn floor-throughs with fireplace.) But the book is definitely worth reading, if only for Natalie Kusz's breathtakingly brave essay "The Fat Lady Sings," which is the most important thing I've read in the last while (it was excerpted last month in O magazine -- notably, disappointingly, without a picture of the author).

Kusz's contention isn't new -- Margaret Cho ended I'M THE ONE THAT I WANT with a similar rallying cry -- but it's worth hearing again (and again, aind again) -- losing weight and keeping it off is, for many women, a full-time job, a non-stop expenditure of effort and will akin to keeping a basketball underwater. And how could we spend our time and energy (not to mention our money) if we all said, "Screw it, I'm never counting another calorie, measuring another portion, buying another foolproof diet plan, diet meal, diet shake?" (Of course Kusz said this all a lot better than I am).

The only tiny point we disagree is about the exercise question. Like Kusz -- like lots of larger women who have the temerity to work out in a skinny-woman's world -- I've had the experience of having people shout unkind things when I'm out for a walk, or on a bike ride, or working out in the gym. (The most memorable occasion was from the skinny, wrinkled woman who walked up to me during a break in kickboxing class to say she was "impressed that I could do the workout, at my size." To which I responded, "and I'm astonished that you can form complete sentences, at your intelligence." Okay, I didn't say that, but oh, I wish I had).

But in spite of the occasional embarrassment, discomfort, and the near-impossibility of finding an exercise bra that fit (that is, until I found, I don't believe that being large dooms you to a life of discomfort, creaky knees, shortness of breath, and the looming possibilities of disease and death. I know I sound like a rah-rah aerobic bunny, or possibly Susan Powter, when I say this, but I think that you can walk, swim, do water aerobics, ride a bike, lift weights, dance, whatever, even if you're not a little pixie thing. And there's nothing that makes me feel as good as a workout (not necessarily during the workout, but definitely after).

So there you have it -- my pep talk for the day. Now I'm off to the train station, and NYC! Hope to see you all there soon!