Friday, September 30, 2005

I Didn't Fall Over In The Bathroom At Work

but i came damn close.

so okay. the bathroom on my floor of my building at work has three stalls. and you can always tell if someone's in the first two stalls because the doors are either open or closed. however, the third stall is tricky. the door is always automatically closed, so unless you hear someone, you can't walk in and know if someone's using the third stall.

now, it's not a big deal to me whether someone is or isn't in the third stall at any given point, but when i'm in the ladies' room, i like to know if i have company. you know?

and sure, i suppose i could just walk in and go directly over to the third stall and push on the door and find out if somone's in it, but if someone IS in it, i don't want to make them feel uncomfortable.

so instead, i use the first stall. i go in, and um, sit. and then i bend down and look for feet.

yeah, i know. it's just something i do. whatever.

anyway.

the reason i'm sharing any of this with you is because yesterday i almost caused myself severe head trauma and i thought maybe you should know why, if i'm ever rushed to the hospital from work and i'm in a coma because i've caused myself an otherwise inexplicable concussion in the bathroom, all anyone will have to do is read my blog and then they'll know what actually happened.

and what happened was that yesterday, when i leaned down to look for shoes in the third stall, i sort of lost my balance.

right. in the bathroom, on a toilet, from a sitting position, i lost my balance. (uh, breezy elegance anyone?)

i was just going about my leaning over to look for feet as i always do, but for some reason THIS time, i was too quick in leaning over. and you know how i'm kinda (very) top-heavy? uh huh.

gravity is a harsh mistress, my friends.

and when you're not careful and not giving proper consideration to said mistress, she will come get you. gravity will attack you, out of nowhere, and try and pull you down hard and fast.

and so yes. i actually started toppling over, head first, toward the cold tiled floor of the women's bathroom. and as i was falling, almost as if in slow motion, i could hear myself laughing. at myself.

and i totally would've landed on my forehead if i hadn't managed to somehow -- quickly and rather violently -- grab the bottom of the stall wall.

and so while i badly strained my forearm in the process of catching myself, i did manage to prevent some serious humiliation*, a la someone walking in a few minutes later and finding me passed out on the floor of the bathroom, blood trickling from my forehead, all because i have strange bathroom habits and also haven't quite mastered the concept of gravity.

sigh.

in case you were wondering, no one was in the third stall.




*except for the part where i tell the entire story on the internet. not the point.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Crazy Is As Crazy Do

sometimes when you live in san francisco and 300,000 people get dressed up for a certain, internationally celebrated street fair, and that street fair just happens to be taking place RIGHT NEXT to where your friends live, well...sometimes you just have to join in.

and so when you hear that they are allowing people to enter said street fair with open containers, you might also think that maybe bringing a plastic cup of champagne with you on your walk to the fair makes a lot of sense.

and maybe you might ALSO think that since your friends don't live so many floors up off the street, that rather than go ALL THE WAY BACK INSIDE (once you've made the loooooong trek down a WHOLE flight of stairs) (after like, 917 glasses of champagne), there might be a more direct way to get that champagne into your plastic cup.

and maybe your friends might encourage your thinking.

now, of course, MY friends would never do such a thing.

but THESE people? the ones in the picture who i have never, ever seen before in my entire life? THEY might do such a thing:






but that's because these people are clearly crazy.

kinda like the freak girl in this photo below, who seemed to think that wearing a cowboy hat and fake plastic monster teeth was a good look.



ah, san francisco. they'll let anyone in.

Friday, September 23, 2005

And follow.

it's fall. it's been unseasonably cool here in san francisco, and i have been loving it. in fact, the marked change of season – san francisco's rain and chill and fog – are almost enough to make me forget how spectacular autumn in new england is.

but not quite.

autumn in new england is almost everything i loved about growing up. the air smells sweet, full of ripened apples and burning leaves and by nightfall you can sometimes catch the slightest scent of snow.

the colors, of course, are amazing. experiencing the mutable foliage in new england is like watching a temper tantrum in slow motion. it's as though the trees are angered by the changing season, and turn several fiery shades in protest. but as with children, the tantrum subsides and eventually resigns itself to quieter tones. and soon the quieter leaves fall from the trees, asleep.

but i always thought the best thing about this time of year was that the drier, crisper days made it feel like something exciting was just about to happen. we all knew that september -- not january -- was the real start of the year because it meant back to school, and the air crackled with possibilities.

each year we'd be armed with new clothes and fresh, empty notebooks and we'd face a new configuration of schedules and classes and teachers and friends. what will it be like this year? i'd wonder, knowing that my fate was in september's hands.

so even now, even as a grown-up living in a city far from new england and even further from childhood, september will always be the sweetest month, forever alive with memories of things to come.




happy birthday, mom.


*****

Try to remember the kind of September
When life was slow and oh, so mellow.
Try to remember the kind of September
When grass was green and grain was yellow.
Try to remember the kind of September
When you were a tender and callow fellow.
Try to remember, and if you remember,
Then follow.

Follow, follow, follow...

Try to remember when life was so tender
That no one wept except the willow.
Try to remember when life was so tender
That dreams were kept beside your pillow.
Try to remember when life was so tender
That love was an ember about to billow.
Try to remember, and if you remember,
Then follow.

Follow, follow, follow...

Deep in December, it's nice to remember,
Although you know the snow will follow.
Deep in December, it's nice to remember,
Without a hurt the heart is hollow.
Deep in December, it's nice to remember,
The fire of September that made us mellow.
Deep in December, our hearts should remember
And follow.

Follow, follow, follow.

--Try to Remember, from The Fantasticks

My Gum Is Bleeding

i'm trying to multitask.

nothing major, just spending my lunch at my desk, surfing the web and eating. two tasks that don't seem like they'd be too difficult to manage at the same time, you know?

and yet i have just learned the hard way that despite thirty years of practice, i am not capable of bringing a fork to my mouth and getting it to go in the right place unless i'm looking at it.

because if i don't actually look at my fork, and, say, i keep my eyes on my monitor? apparently i will miss.

and i will stab myself in my gums with a plastic fork and cause myself to bleed.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Zit Who Lived

you'd think that after a good twenty years or so of battling facial enemies, i'd be able to defeat a chin zit.

apparently not.

this stupid thing is absolutely determined to be the 11th member of my a cappella group, and at this point, i'm ready to let it. maybe it can sing the descant.

seriously, after doing everything one does to properly (and swiftly) eradicate a sizeable blemish, i thought i'd gained the upper hand by yesterday evening. i felt we were at a turning point.

which is when i busted out with the green mud masque and applied it with fervor to my entire face (lest other pores of mine decide to up and form a barbershop quartet). and so i sat with it last night, as i blogged (yeah, sorry about the cranky tone last night, oops), letting the masque do its thing.

oh, and i could feel it working. tingling. and eventually hardening. i waited a good long time, didn't rush it, knowing -- just knowing -- that i had conquered the damn thing.

so when i went to the bathroom 40 minutes later, i was eager to see my (and the masque's) handiwork.

and as i looked at my face, covered in dried, cracked, green mud -- i saw it.

the zit who lived.

the zit had somehow managed to, i dunno, EAT the masque. because when i looked in the mirror, all my face was covered in masque EXCEPT the zit. it was just sitting there, whistling, twiddling its thumbs.

and smirking at me.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

I'm Very Busy Not Doing Things

i am sitting, now, at my computer, snotting all over the place.

(isn't that simply poetic?)

my sudafed-addled brain is having a very, very difficult time of things lately. i have finally reached the point at work where i have real responsibilities and deadlines and like, actual ShitToDo, and i gotta say, i'm a little out of practice.

and when you have ShitToDo, and drugs in your system, and flo, and a new Comic, and a performance, and a hideous break-out, and an unkempt apartment, and also life, there comes a point when the only thing you can think to accomplish is to blog about the sorry state of affairs that you have found yourself in and among.

and so you will rattle on about those affairs in no particular order because you are SICK of order because that is all you have been trying to create at work and no one is helping you because your official job is, apparently, herding cats. (remember when they tried to tell you that when you interviewed? uh huh. and what did you say? you said you love challenges. so there you go. meow, meow.)

but speaking of cats, my stupid cat, Monster, has taken to peeing at the front door. on the hardwood floor. in the same spot. roughly every other day. he pees, i clean it up. it is ridiculous and i hate cats. (not really, but you know.) he is insane and there is nothing to be done about it*. it is just The Way Things Are here in my otherwise cozy apartment: walk in the door, clean up the pee.

i feel glamorous.

and so to add to the glamour that is cleaning up cat pee and snotting all over the place, i am currently wearing sweatpants that are several years old and several sizes too big for me. and NOT in the flattering way.

and then on top i'm wearing a long-sleeved t-shirt that i stole from el_g years ago. but of course, by "stole" i mean "wore a couple times and spilled so much on it that he didn't want it back," which means that not only are the stains still present, but they have bred, creating a medley of shapes and colors that are splattered all over and that i should really be more embarrassed about.

but oh well.

so yep. sitting here, in anti-cute sweats. and a green mud masque. because as you might recall, in addition to also fighting a cold, i am fighting some freakish break-out that has decided to join me for my performance tomorrow.

along with the snot.

and of course, rather than figure out what i'm going to say to introduce the group at tomorrow's performance, i'm here writing about the things i'm not doing.

like...i'm not listening to my new super-adorable, super-tiny, super-pink mp3 player i bought for the gym. know why? 'cuz it's also super-BROKEASS. for some indeterminate reason, it only plays music in one ear, and sometimes not in either ear. um. but yeah, no. i am not returning it because that would be like admitting defeat and, well, i'm not so much completely sane.

i'm also not reading two of my favorite magazines, because i noticed they haven't been delivered in a while. and that, i thought to myself this morning, is probably because they're being delivered to me at work. at a company i'm not working for any more.

i'm not sure when i last paid any of my bills.

i'm not responding to about seven personal emails i desperately need to.

i am not doing laundry, either. (and i am not going to get into details here about WHY i am not doing laundry because it is enough at this juncture to simply say i have serious laundry issues to the extent that that's probably an entry of its own. and doesn't THAT sound riveting...)

i'm not going to the gym this week. i mean, i have actually been pretty good about going, but i am not going this week because the gym is full of scary, evil germs that are in better shape than i am.

and finally, since i'm pretty sure i'm also not being very interesting, i am not going to write any more. i am going to take a very steamy shower and try and get some rest and hope that tomorrow will not be as...uh..."busy."











*please do not try and give me advice on behavior modification for cats because shutup.

Monday, September 19, 2005

At Least My Hair Looks Nice

i woke up today with either the worst allergy attack ever, or the beginnings of a respiratory cold.

and also a zit the size of utah forming on my chin.

and also aunt flo.

"WHY!?" i asked myself this morning. "WHY is this happening NOW?"

now. when i have an a cappella performance in two days.

"because," Ish replied, "you have a performance in two days."

of course.

*grumble*


and if any of you are interested,
the Loose Interpretations are performing at the
Dolores Park Cafe on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
i'll be the one sneezing.

Friday, September 16, 2005

eSit-Down With The Knitting Mafia

i received an email today threatening to remove me from one of the
knitting blog rings if i failed to post more knitting-related entries.

this is not what it said*.


****

you call yourself a knitter?

you do one hat in the round and make your friend a scarf and that's all you have to show for yourself for an entire freaking summer?

didn't you start a poncho like, last year?

weren't you going to have KnitterStacy teach you how to make a sweater?

don't you have a nephew who'd look SO CUTE in about nine hundred million different things you could ACTUALLY knit and (probably) not screw up?

how many scarves are you working on at this very moment?

uh huh. three. is that supposed to impress me? did you or did you not start one of those in june?

that's what i thought.

and um, didn't you get a camera for your birthday? wasn't that supposed to inspire you to take more photos of your knitting projects? yeah, good job with that.

look. it's okay. i'm sounding harsh. but kristy, i think you should realize that knitting's not for everyone. i know you have the best intentions, but have you seen your ex-boss's blog lately? or her friend's -- you know, the one who tagged you** and who started knitting a few hours ago and who has already created her own patterns? uh huh. visited purl much recently?

you have to understand, kristy, that we really are a family here...here in this knitting stratum of the blogosphere. and i'm not really saying that your sisters are more valuable than you. but frankly, we're a little concerned. because to be a respected member of this family, kristy, we have to ask that you...produce.

and i think we both know you are not producing.

so where does this leave us?

i am not saying that you are no longer welcome in our family, kristy. i am just hoping that we can find some mutually agreeable solution. do you think that might be possible?

because i'd hate to see you...you know...leave us.

so why don't you think about it, hmm? maybe take some time over lunch, use that yarn in your bag to work on that checkerboard scarf you claim to have started. and uh, if you should want to photograph that work and go ahead and post those photos, well, i cannot say i'd be disappointed.

okay?

okay. i'm glad we had this little chat.

you have a good day.




*but it was TOTALLY implied. i swear.

**i'll get to that soon, promise.

Too Blond

i made a last-minute appointment yesterday to visit my favorite hair stylist.

the last time i saw her, she'd chopped her long hair to chin-length.

last night i walked in, and she was a brunette. it was startling. times, apparently, are a-changin'.

so i decided that maybe my ever-lighter blond was maybe not the right look for me anymore either. and lo and behold, i have gone (*gasp*) back (mostly) to my original, dark blond color. (well, okay, with some white blond and red streaks.) it's kinda cool. love having a new look.

not that anyone at work noticed.

not that this is interesting.

well anyway, i wish that i had had my notebook open last night because my stylist says the funniest things i've ever heard and i totally want to write them all down and recount them. but i think it would just make our relationship a little weird if i, while sitting in the chair with my head adorned in aluminum foil, suddenly burst out a notebook and asked her to speak slower, you know?

so there i was instead, sitting with my head adorned in aluminum foil, listening to her talk to one of her friends (who'd dropped by the salon). trying desperately to remember everything she said.

and failing miserably.

but i will give you the one snippet i do remember, just to let you know what you're missing. it went:

Stylist: we need to find a pair of tevas* to spray-paint white.

Friend of Stylist: for the bridal shower?

Stylist: yeah.

Friend of Stylist: why don't you just use yours?

Stylist:
what? no!

FoS: are they still velcroed to the table?

Stylist: oh, no. i took 'em down because we didn't want visitors asking questions.

FoS: have you even worn them recently?

Stylist: well, the other night when my roommate and i got home from the bar, we thought it would be a good idea to put on our matching onesie pajamas. and then i put on the tevas on over the feet of the pajamas because i thought they'd look cool. and then i busted out my gangster dance.

FoS: oh! yeah, i forgot about that.


right. so you can all now share in my wonderment at my stylist's life. not sure what the velcroing is about, but my color looks great.



*as in the kind of sandal that active people wear. people who are not my stylist, for example.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Share And Share Alike

okay. on second thought, i cannot let the importance of what you've shared go.

though i really expected you to find my original posts boring, it felt pretty good to just get some of that stuff out there.

but how i felt writing all that is nothing compared to how completely and utterly touched i am by what you've posted in return.

so i wanted to create a space just for what you've shared so far, and for any of you who might want to share more now.

so i will cut & paste some of your stories into the comments section of this post, and invite you to please add your own stuff if you feel like it.

i mean, it's so oddly and sadly comforting to know there are so many of you out there who can relate.

i feel like it makes us all friends. if ever-so-slightly invisible.

Moving Right Along

i cannot thank you enough for your tremendous feedback on my weighty posts.

they ARE a bit heavy though, huh?

yeah. and probably more is coming. not sure yet.

but to break it up a little, i thought i'd offer a few things.

if you're feeling a bit melancholy (or would like to), here's a lovely story from one of my first (and favorite) IIF's.

if you'd like something to make you giggle, this should do the trick*.

and if you'd just like something altogether simple and life-affirming, there's this:

(SisterHealy with BabyCharlie who will be 3 months old next week!)




*can i be all YMCrazyBlog-Giddy over the fact that not only did TheComic read these posts, but he (Ish) responded with this?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

"You Can Never Be Too Rich, Too Blond...

...or too thin."


your feedback has blown me away.

i had no idea.

i honestly thought these posts were going to get a lot of negative feedback, in no small part because i thought you'd find them boring.

i mean, these thoughts, this chronology, is SO ingrained that it's just matter-of-fact for me now. i don't think of it as surprising. i just assumed everyone knew.

um.

so i hope not inappropriately, i am inspired to share more -- in response to some of the points you've made.

***

like, for starters, i wasn't an unhappy kid. i wasn't even unpopular. i was active and social and engaged, i was just hiding a whole lotta shame at the same time. i don't want to give the impression that i spent my youth sulking or hiding from the world. i didn't -- i just hid my body and my related issues, the way people with eating disorders do.

i could be genuinely happy at parties (i even tended to throw them) in middle school, for example, just as long as i ignored that nagging voice of doubt. eventually, i just made a deal with my 11-year-old self that if i was having a good time somewhere, i wasn't allowed to look in a mirror.

***

maybe it resonates with you or maybe it seems odd that my best friend and i have never discussed our respective body issues (until, you know, 18 years later in front of our nearest and dearest invisible internet friends). but the truth is, i NEVER talked about them with anyone. ever. not really. not until i was older. i was just so ashamed of how i looked and how i felt that the only way i could cope was to ignore it as much as possible.

that said, i wanted to respond in particular to one of the anecdotes Em remembered:
...we were both wading in the pool and these two older guys ...came up and started talking to you. They were cute! They were fun! And you TALKED to them, like it was no big deal...they asked if you wanted to join them on the ride again...
it's amazing. i do OF COURSE remember, because of how it made me feel.

i am pretty sure his name was scott and he was 14. i was 11. he looked like a man. he was tall and had broad shoulders. and he was nice and he liked me and i wanted to like that he liked me and i wanted to be okay with it and that's what i projected.

in actuality, i felt gross. dirty, and disgusting.

i didn't exactly know why then, but i do now. this teenager was sexually attracted to me, and something inside me knew it and revolted. i didn't want to be thought of sexually! ew ew ew! i wanted to be thought of as cute, sure. fun, sure. pretty would have been fine. but there was something about our exchange -- maybe the way he looked at me? -- just something that i knew made me uncomfortable and i made me want to hide under a tent for the rest of my life. i wished i could look pretty like Em looked, or go play with my little sisters and do anything that wouldn't involve me having breasts. but what was there to do?

he was cute. and my mom was impressed that i'd attracted him.

***

i have been relatively (har, har) vague about my family's impact on my body issues, for a few reasons. mostly because it's hard to get across the fact that they loved me unconditionally, but also wanted me to be thin.

those things aren't mutually exclusive, and i didn't want to sound like i thought they were.

THAT said...

(uh, hi dad)

...my dad grew up (in stepford) as a popular jock. he dated beautiful girls, and then beautiful women. he was a frat boy and a swingin' single in nyc. and while we have never discussed it EVER, i suspect he's either laughed at (or told) a few fat girl jokes in his day.
i will not relate the WDW fat-ass photo contest story here. suffice it to say there WAS one, and i thought it funny at the time, too. fuck, i still do. but stuff like that doesn't leave one's consciousness, you know?
and given where he came from, how could he not? his father -- one of the most brilliant and thusly terrifying men on the planet -- used to pull me aside and explain to me, very plainly, that i was an amazing person/woman/grand-daughter, but what are we going to do about your weight?

yeah.

but and then.

oh, man.

and then there's my mom.
you notice i don't talk about her much? i don't because it's hard. it's been over three years now since she died, but maybe not surprisingly, i feel okay introducing her in a post about body issues. still, i'll just give the facts. that's easier. and you gotta start somewhere...
  • my mom struggled with weight and body issues her entire life, though after the age of about 14 she was ALWAYS thin. because she worked her ass off to be thin.
  • my mom didn't eat carbs (except on sundays) for about 20 years. i'm not kidding.
  • she also excercised regularly. she jogged 5 miles, 4 days a week for several years. she came to change her workout routine eventually, but even in her 50s she could kick my butt at tae bo.
  • when i was just starting to put on weight, my mom would give me little "tricks" for not eating bad stuff, like telling me i should just think of candy bars as being made up of tiny insects.
  • when i was around 11 or 12, she bought a "gag" toy that she installed on the inside of the refridgerator -- for her and me. it said (and i will NEVER forget it, because i heard it a million times):
"what!? you eating again?
no wonder you're getting fat!
you can stop, just close the door.
don't be a fatty fatty two-by-four,
can't get through the kitchen door.
remember, with thin you win!"
  • my mom would tell me on occassion, "you know, i always said i'd be anorexic if i had more willpower." she meant it to be funny.

and really, i could go on and on. my mom placed tremendous value on her having a hot body -- for her and for me -- even if she only let me know through quiet, indirect means.

so much so that later, when she weighed 86 pounds at almost 5'6" -- because she had cancer even though the doctors hadn't been able to tell us that yet -- and i was helping her shower, she was absolutely mortified.

not because of her frail health.

but because, when she looked down at her emaciated body, she was disgusted. she said, "my god, my body is so ugly."

and she paused and she looked at me, and with as much despondence as i'd ever seen in her, she asked, "do you still love me?"

***

anyway, the quote that leads this entry is one of my mom's favorites. and so has it been mine.

at the same time, i cannot forget that it was my mom who saw the humor in the phrase, "she just walks around with it."

truth be told, i'm pretty sure she'd be proud that i do.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Escape From Stepford: A Weighty History (pt. 1 of 3)

i just thought this was sort of due. it's neither funny nor exciting, but for those of you who may be curious, it's a little jaunt through some of my history.

because when it comes to weight and body issues, i know.

********

where i come from, it's not really okay to be fat.

i don't know how it would've been growing up elsewhere, but fairfield county, connecticut is home to some of the nation's wealthiest and most beautiful people. and while not everyone can be wealthy or beautiful, the bar is set pretty high.

yes, in the land of stepford*, the standards of beauty are nearly impossible. and though they are unspoken, they are simply understood, palpable and deeply, deeply ingrained.

in and around stepford, body issues and body image and fear of fat start early; and unless you find some impressive way around it, you'll take on these standards as your own. and judge yourself against them your whole life.

****



when i was seven years old, i wrote a diary entry about how i hated my tummy. i wrote that my tummy gets fat and then skinny and then fat again and that i wish i could just be skinny all the time.

i wasn't even a chubby kid, but at seven years old i knew that i didn't want a non-skinny tummy. and knew i didn't like my body.


by the time i was nine years old, i'd started developing. i'd been otherwise fairly precocious, so i guess my body decided it would be, too. and it was miserable. the last thing you want in pre-adolescence is something that makes you stand out.

i had at least two things.

i mean, i did everything i could to ignore the changes my body was going through, but even in fourth grade i could've filled out a training bra. i refused to get a bra, mind you, because the thought disgusted me. i wanted to be flat and sexless like all the other girls.

seriously, who's equipped to deal with their sexuality at nine years old? instead, i just started wearing enormous t-shirts and did everything i could to hide my body from myself and the world.

of course, it was also around this time that i started putting on noticeable weight. not so much that i would be considered "overweight" but enough that i wouldn't be considered a "skinny little kid," either. especially since i was tall for my age. my parents started to be concerned. i don't remember what they said, but i knew that i needed to start watching my weight (not that i hadn't been already).


when i was 11 and in sixth grade, i hit full-on puberty. just before school started i had to get a bra, and hated that shopping experience so completely it made me ill. everyone kept telling me that getting a bra is what "young ladies" do, but i just wanted to scream at them. i was only 11 and not a young lady at all. i cried for a week.

by the late fall of that year, i also got my period. it filled me with dread. i realized there was no way i could revert to being a kid, and that i'd have to deal with the 'curse' for like, ever. i didn't want to talk about it or acknowledge it in any way.

and with my hormones on the fritz, my weight was all over the place. i experienced (what i NOW know is) normal weight gain as i started developing hips and booty and that sort of thing. but i hated it. i didn't have great eating habits, and i wasn't really the sporty type, so i wasn't doing anything to counter the weight gain. i started creeping into the junior-size 13s.

i would still be hard-pressed to consider me chubby even then, but i definitely did not have the body of a "normal" 11-year-old girl. and because i wasn't "normal" i knew i couldn't eat what -- or how -- "normal" kids eat. that is, with abandon. meaning without concern for caloric intake.

and what do you do as a parent in that situation? my body was changing and i was gaining weight and i was clearly unhappy about it and they wanted to help. and so we would talk about it. i think we discussed different diet ideas, too, but i don't actually remember. i just remember feeling deformed compared to other girls who didn't have "curves" (or height or acne or dark hairs) to worry about, and wishing it weren't so. and in trying to be supportive, my parents (and grandparents, and kids at school, and magazines, and and and) validated the idea that i needed to change. as-is, i wasn't okay.

the summer before 8th grade, my parents offered to take me to a diet center, and i thought that sounded like a great idea, since i didn't seem capable of "fixing" my body on my own. i don't remember much about the experience, other than that the woman who was my counselor probably weighed around 300 lbs. she gave me an outline of what i was allowed to eat and what i wasn't. i didn't like many of my options, but i felt guilty for how much the center was costing my parents, so for two months i followed the plan precisely.

which means that the summer i turned 13, i ate only a preservative-free bran muffin for breakfast, an apple mid-morning, a beef patty for lunch (or a plain salad), 3 or 4 small pieces of melba toast in the afternoon, and then a single, boneless, skinless chicken breast for dinner (sometimes with dry bread if i'd only had 2 pieces of melba toast that day). i drank a lot of water and crystal light. and i had swim practice 5 days a week**.

i dropped probably 20 lbs. maybe more, but i don't really know. i knew i'd lost weight, but my body looked the same to me. i was probably a size 8 then, and it still seemed like i was huge.


by the time high school rolled around, i had absolutely no idea what size i was. my breasts were still growing, so i continued to try and hide them with very baggy shirts. and because i continued to have a much curvier body than almost any other girl in school (except for the ones who were clearly "fat girls"), i just felt like i was unattractive. boys who liked me, i reasoned, were attracted to me *despite* my body, not because of it.

when i graduated, i was probably 25 to 30 lbs. heavier than when i started, and didn't even know it. it all felt the same.


my first year of college, however, was a turning point. i spent the entire year miserable for lots of typically collegiate, maudlin, woe-is-me reasons. and by the end of it, i was heavier than i'd ever been. i had assumed when i started school that i would be popular -- i thought that the only reason i hadn't ended high school as a Popular Girl was because of the town i grew up in and the kids who'd known me my whole life. i discovered, though, that it doesn't matter where you are; after a certain weight, you have to work it HARD to get with an "in" crowd, and i didn't have the energy.


and then the summer i turned 19, my best friend dragged my sorry ass to the gym.



*"stepford" is a fictional name, but the original movie was set (and filmed) in the town my dad grew up in and where i spent the first 5 years of my life.

**during the summers from the year i turned 9 to the year i turned 13, i swam competitively at the country club we belonged to. the club was in "stepford," though my family had long moved to the urban town next to stepford. this had several implications: 1) i had swim practice mon-fri. it was the only athletic thing i did with any consistency. i was good at it, in no small part because i was exceptionally tall and strong for my age. it seemed rather unfair. it was nice to win a lot, but i'd rather have been 6 inches shorter and 20 pounds lighter than MVP. 2) spending my entire summer with rich, beautiful kids was pretty challenging, especially since i was born the antithesis of a shrinking violet. i learned how to pretend that my body issues were non-existant. i did an okay job, too. i became pretty cool to hang out with -- i'd be the girl that the boys would talk to about who they liked. and i was safe, because it was never me.

Escape From Stepford: A Weighty History (pt. 2 of 3)

everything changed.

the first day at the gym i was mortified. the picture taken for my ID card was horrifying. i couldn't believe i looked like that. and when i discovered i could only do five minutes on the stairmaster, i was shaken to my core.

"i'm only 19," i thought, "i have no excuse for being out of shape. i should be HOT..."

and that was it. fueled by 19 years of feeling like i had no control over my body or body image, i became obsessed. i spent the next year of my life determined to prove to anyone and everyone who had ever thought less of me for being overweight that i was better than stepford material.

better because i was also smart. and aware. and funny. and i'd known the other side of thin. and i finally realized that being curvy might actually be an advantage. maybe, it occurred to me, i had no reason to feel ashamed for being sexy.

i'm not sure how much weight i lost, but i went from a size 16 to a size 6.

the world was a totally different place, then. everyone treated me differently. i stopped hiding under my clothes. i stopped being ashamed of my curves. i relished everything about having a body that both women and men wanted.

well, except.

except that once i knew what it was like to be thin, i wanted to be thinner. i wanted to get a breast reduction. i started thinking about different kinds of surgeries i could get, like lipo, or having my stomach stapled so that i would never want to eat much of anything again. i started working towards becoming a size 2.

i started thinking that the thinner i got, the more rewarded i'd be. and you know, it was almost true.

but it wasn't sustainable.

don't get me wrong. being thin was (and is) sustainable -- but what i didn't understand then was that keeping the weight off has to be fueled by something other than resentment.

because when i met my husband -- a guy i ran into in college who validated all of me -- i started to feel less angry. and when we got engaged, and it seemed like the pressure to prove myself worthy of a guy (and life) like the one i was getting was off, i let that resentment go.

and gained almost all of the weight back.


then came the numbness. after i graduated college and was engaged and started my career, i returned to my old pattern of not liking my body. except this time, i didn't feel there was nothing i could do about it. this time, i felt like it didn't matter.

even if i'd be treated more professionally,
even if i'd be considered more attractive,
even if i'd be healthier and happier in better shape,
i couldn't find enough motivation to do it.

on the surface, i thought that my weight really didn't matter because who was i trying to impress?

on a deeper level, though, i had found a new resentment. i hated the idea that i was living in a place where no matter what i'd accomplished, my size would always been seen first. where my weight made me feel like a second-class citizen. where shopping was an embarrassment, and where people would question my husband's level of attraction to me, given...well...you know.

so try as i might, i was never going to lose weight so long as i felt like i had to.

(anyone who knows me knows i do NOT deal well with being "forced" to do ANYTHING.)

and so when my marriage fell apart (for many reasons), i decided maybe i should see if it would be possible to break free from the stifling stepford standards.

and thought if it'd be possible anywhere, it'd be possible in san francisco.

Escape From Stepford: A Weighty History (pt. 3 of 3)

turns out, i was right.

now, it didn't happen overnight and it didn't happen completely and it didn't happen without a few considerable bumps in the road.

but since i've been here, i've learned to enter a room -- at a party, at an office, anywhere, really -- and be myself and have faith that that self will be accepted.

i unlearned 20 years of second-guessing.

i stopped thinking that every time i met an attractive man who seemed interested in what i had to say that it was because he was just being nice.

i stopped thinking that every time people found me funny, they didn't also feel sorry for me, or think of me as someone who learned to be funny as a way to compensate for physical shortcomings.

i stopped expecting to be ignored.

and i have never felt more like MySelf since childhood.

but before any one of you suggests that maybe it was just a matter of confidence all along, and that my expectations were borne out of adolescent angst and actually self-perpetuated...well, don't think i didn't wonder that myself.

but last june, i went back. i went back east to visit my family and i made a pilgrimage to stepford and made a point of Going Out to the newest Hot Spot, equipped with my re-discovered self and all those shameful expectations banished. i looked good, i felt good, and i was ready to greet my past.

and do you know what happened?

i was completely ignored. shrugged off. for the most part, men wouldn't make eye contact with me.

in a two-room bar full of maybe 200 people, at size 14, i was the heaviest woman in the place. and even though i'm 30 years old, STILL no guy was grown-up enough to even DARE to have a conversation with me. because...well...you know.

so nope. not me. stepford.

and thus, here i am in san francisco.

and interestingly, here i am ALSO ready and willing and interested in getting back into shape. now.

finally.

not because i am constantly made to feel ashamed for how i look, but just because i want to. because it feels better than not. because it looks better, too.

certainly -- most certainly -- i will never let go of the idea that my size matters. i will never think that i look just as good overweight as i do thinner. i will never be okay thinking of myself as a "big" girl. i will never not be weight-conscious, or mindful of every single thing i eat.

(hey, you can take the girl out of stepford, but you can't take stepford out of the girl.)

however, for the first time in my life, on the days when the best i can do is just walk around with it? yeah. even those days are pretty sweet.




I'm Not Offended, I'm An Idiot!

you guys.

don't you know?

i mean, i'd think that by now you'd have guessed.

i didn't take my "weighty history" post down on purpose. i just finally started actually writing it, and then saved it as a draft because it wasn't done, and totally didn't think about the fact that it would mean the post would disappear from the site.

despite the fact that i've written like 200+ posts and -- in theory-- know how this blogger thing works.

i really don't mind the trolls (though i'm not especially good at ignoring them).

and the history post thing is a' comin'...

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Comic Relief



i don't know what to write.

i mean, i may not be especially funny, but i am a lot funnier than i am poignant.

and besides --




what words are there?

other than please help.



Harry Potter, The Scaling Lesbian, And Ladies Who Pee

anyone who knows me knows i do not enjoy or engage in any sort of potty humor, so i want to be clear about this: peeing is not a laughing matter. it is to be taken very, very seriously.

because i was born with a bladder the size of a walnut. and this means that a good portion of the time i spend at bars (which is, as we understand, a good portion of the time) is spent in line for the ladies' room.

i can't tell you how many parties i've been to where i had to hear about the good stuff the next morning. (when it's never as good.)

everyone: oh my god, can you BELIEVE what he DID last night?!

me: believe what who did? someone DID something?

everyone: oh, you must have been in line for the bathroom. don't worry about it. you just had to be there.

sigh.

there was even a new year's eve party where the line for the bathroom was sooooooo long that after i finished i got right back in line again. i didn't have to go, but figured by the time it'd be my turn, i would.

i was right.

my point here is that it's sad. not just that i have to pee with great urgency with great frequency, but that it takes FOREVER to do so when i am in a venue where there are lots of people...and i do NOT understand why this is.

i do not understand WHAT ON EARTH women DO in the ladies' room that takes longer than is humanly necessary. i do not understand women who SEE that there is a long line and who KNOW there is a long line because they had just been IN the long line, who then somehow decide it is perfectly acceptable for them to use the ladies' room as their own private retreat anyway.

seriously. do they think they have earned something the rest of us hasn't? what goes through their heads?

why is this line sooooo long? i hate waiting. i have to use the ladies' room right now. i shouldn't have to wait, waiting is for losers. everyone else should have to wait but i should not. no. and so i think that when it is my turn, i will prove how much i am not a loser by taking my sweet damn time. the other people waiting in line do not deserve the bathroom the same way i do. i am a creature of beauty and have some standards to uphold. no one cares what these other women look like, but me? it takes work to look this hot. peeing is not enough! i need -- no, i OWE it to the world -- to use this one, single stall to also fix my hair. several times. and retouch my makeup. and adjust my bra. and give myself some verbal affirmations in the mirror. and think about how much that guy is totally into me. he is totally into me, isn't he?

maybe i should ask my friend to come into the stall with me so we can talk about it...


now, i will admit that there is one benefit to waiting in a long line for the ladies' room. and that is the immediate bonding that happens between you and every other woman in line who is also standing cross-legged, rolling her eyes wondering why it is that the woman using the facility is taking SO DAMN LONG.

in fact, it is my belief that NOTHING will create a connection between women faster or more stable than the Bathroom Bond.

especially when those forming the Bathroom Bond have been drinking. a LOT.

so um, are you wondering what harry potter has to do with all this?

no?

because i think i might be. you know, if i had been teased by the title of this post. and what about the lesbian? i might also wonder. and kristy, i might even think, in a kind of pissed-off way, this post doesn't sound anything like the one el_gallo suggested. seriously, why are you talking about your bladder?

and in response, i'd be told by--

(uhmm, in this scenario i'd have to be told by me, huh? stupid set up. whatever.)

-- by me that it's because i went too long being blocked and now there's a sudden outpouring and i have no filters and shutup because this is all relevant backstory anyway.

well, except for the part where i talk to myself about my post.

moving on.

see, never have i experienced the power of the Bathroom Bond more acutely than...


::My First Halloween In The Castro::

for those of you who live in a sane part of the country, halloween might be a ho-hum holiday for kids, or -- at best -- an opportunity for adults to play dress-up and drink more than usual.

in san francisco, however, halloween is epic.

the illustrious castro* is cordoned off, and THOUSANDS of crazies pour in to show off their outrageous costumes to the other THOUSANDS of plain-clothed, killjoy vicarious thrill-seekers who clog the streets , gawking and drinking cheap beer.

the effect is something like this:




(click for larger)
(is this not unreal?)


the whole thing is perfectly insane and anything goes and i know it's not for everyone but exactly one week after i moved to this city it sounded like the best thing i'd ever heard of.

and so el_gallo and i got totally decked out and headed to the castro early enough to find a bar. and when we -- dressed as an alarmingly absurd prom queen and very realistic devil -- passed by one such bar advertising $5 margaritas, we knew we'd found a good spot.

but when we saw that the bartender was dressed as a very realistic and adorable harry potter, we knew we'd found the best spot ever.

so i started with the margaritas.

and because i loved harry potter so much -- since he is magical AND makes a killer margarita -- i had more margaritas than maybe i should've.

in rapid succession.

and so when all of a sudden i realized i had to pee, i REALLY had to pee.

now, it is worth noting at this point that a lot of the bars in the castro enjoy a predominantly male patronage. so while the location of the men's room was obvious, i had to ask about five different men where the hell the ladies' room was.

"if they have one, it'll probably be in the back," was the consensus.

and sure enough, as i headed to the back, i spotted the telltale group of women standing in line.

meaning i was gonna have to wait.

[to be continued below...]






*which tends to be considered sf's gay district, but i find that distinction so limiting for so many reasons...

----> continued <----



by the time i -- dressed as a ridiculous prom queen in an enormous gown and huge blond wig sporting seventy-two pounds of makeup -- got to the line, a butch pimp, a sleek catwoman and a cute cowgirl were in front of me. all also clearly drunk (harry potter has that power over us), and all also having to pee with the same urgency.

finally the Pimp looks at the Cowgirl and asks, "hey, have you been in line long?"

to which the Cowgirl replies, "a few minutes, yeah."

Pimp: is someone in there?

(this means, "have you knocked on the door?")

Cowgirl: well, it's locked.

(this means, "i tried to get in once and i don't want to be rude. but feel free to do it yourself.")

and since it's clear that Pimp is going to be more vocal than Cowgirl, she steps up and knocks on the door.

there is no answer.

Pimp shrugs and returns to the line. we are all silent again. two more women join me in line (both dressed as slutty schoolgirls**). another three minutes pass.

now there is general unrest. we have all been drinking, we have all been waiting, and we all think the silent woman in the bathroom is an evil bitch.

Pimp: what is she DOING in there?

Cowgirl: i don't know. it's been way too long...

Catwoman: hey, can you guys see through crack at the bottom of the door? is there more than one of them?

me: i hate when they go in as pairs, it always takes longer.

Catwoman: nice wig.

me: thanks.

Pimp: fuck this. [she starts knocking really hard on the door] HEY! there is a LONG LINE out here, could you HURRY UP PLEASE! [she puts her ear to the door] i don't even hear anything. [tries to open the door] PLEASE HURRY UP!!!

and when there was still no response we – and by now “we” included about a dozen very concerned, very uncomfortable, very costumed women – started getting angrier and angrier. which is when the shouting began.

slutty schoolgirl #2: WHAT IS GOING ON?

slutty schoolgirl #6: WHO IS IN THERE!?

slutty witch: HEY! GET OUT OF THE BATHROOM! THERE ARE PEOPLE WAITING!!!

and just like that, a coalition had formed. oh yes, me and my sluttily costumed sisterhood were in this together: we all needed to pee, and we all needed to get THAT BITCH out of the bathroom.

and just when our annoyance was reaching its peak, Catwoman did the only thing you can do to ebb the drunken flow of hatred towards a woman taking TOO DAMN LONG in the only ladies’ bathroom*** in a crowded bar. she asked a very good question.

Catwoman: do you think she’s okay?

a hush fell over the sisterhood. and just like that, we went from hating THAT BITCH to fearing for her. because being drunk and sick and feeling like you are going to pass out in a public bathroom is not something you ever want to experience and is something you absolutely need to be rescued from.

Pimp: maybe we should get a manager. do you think she’s okay? god, i hope she’s not passed out.

Cowgirl: we have to get in there.

Catwoman: hey, there is an opening at the top of the door, see! it doesn’t go all the way to the top. i bet you can see over it.

and with that – i swear i am not kidding – several drunken, costumed women (who still really really really had to pee) started jumping. to see if they could see into the stall.

jumping.

apparently drunken, costumed women who have to pee are very well intentioned but are not so much good with the physics because that door was really friggin' high.

Cowgirl: this isn’t working.

Pimp: i don’t want to get out of line, but someone has to do something.

and it was at about this point that Cowgirl did the most amazing thing i’ve ever seen outside a ladies’ room.

by now Cowgirl had been joined by her girlfriend, and so she handed her girlfriend her drink and got a very serious look in her eye. hey you guys, Cowgirl said to her girlfriend and me and Catwoman and Pimp, help me.

and then she stood up on a bench for leverage and leaned her body into the door frame. she put one hand on either side, and then slowly brought her legs into the frame as well. and then using nothing but her own strength and door frame resistance, she climbed to the top of the door.

let me say that again.

an itty bitty woman, dressed as a cowgirl, actually CLIMBED UP AN ENTIRE DOORWAY. because she had to pee.

having to pee is one damn powerful female force, i tell ya'.

anyway, when she reached the top, she clutched her hands on the door rim and lifted her eyes to the opening.

the entire line of women, in complete awe: uh…can you see anything? is she okay???

and here’s where i wish i could tell you that, thanks to Cowgirl’s heroics, we were able to get to a very sick woman and help her before it was too late.

except i can’t.

because of course what Cowgirl saw when she looked in was even more harrowing.

there was no one in the bathroom.



the sisterhood was collectively stunned.

(well, for like, 3 seconds. then it was collectively pissed off.)

and so Pimp ran and got a manager, who hastily walked past the enormous line of angry, costumed women. apparently, the women's room is used so infrequently that they don't always remember to unlock it.

given the enormous cheer that erupted when the door was opened that night, however, i can't imagine they'll forget anytime soon.


**because half of the women san francisco think it would be fun to dress as a slutty schoolgirl for halloween

***do not suggest to me that we could have used the men's room because the line is shorter; gay men's bathrooms do not work the way other men's bathrooms do