Monday, April 30, 2007

At funerals, we say goodbye. We mourn, we cry and hopefully, get the closure we need to close that chapter of our lives forever.

I’ve mourned, lord knows I’ve cried, but I really need to say goodbye and close the door on that chapter of my life forever. More than I already have, that is. That is why I am burying Jess.

Should it matter that he’s not dead?

Last year I read a book called Her Story, a compilation of short stories by women authors. In Funeral for a Live Ex-Husband, author Ellen Sommers writes of the turmoil she experienced after her husband left her for another woman, sending years of marriage and their entire way of life down the drain. Her friends got tired of her endless bitching and suggested some closure, so they had a funeral. A funeral for a man very much alive, but ceremonial in that it gave her the sense of peace she needed.

I never forgot that story. I too need a sense of peace, because there’s something I haven’t yet done. We will always be bound to each other, Jess and I, until I get rid of the one thing that ties is together. And that one thing tying us together is my hate.

I hate the man. I can’t help it. I hate the fact that he was a part of my life. I hate him for finding me and using me and treating me as badly as he did. I’m not perfect, but I don’t think I deserved that. I hate the bullshit excuses, the drugged hazes and the promises of better tomorrows. I hate how it ended, how he was never even remotely apologetic, or even thought of re-compensating me, or that six plus years of my life were wasted on the biggest jerk in the universe. I hate it all.

To get rid of that hate, I have to forgive. But, it’s not Jess I intend to forgive.

Why the hell should I forgive him? He’s an asshole of the worst kind, who landed on my life with the sole intention of making his easier. If I really forgave him, that would make everything he did okay. If I truly forgave him, it would mean that I’d have to forget. And if I forgave him, then I may as well have never broken up with him in the first place.

Jess doesn’t deserve my forgiveness, but someone else does. Me.

If there’s one person in this world that I hate more than him, it’s me. I hate that I ever looked at him. I hate that I ever started anything with him, and I hate that I gave him so much of myself. I hate that I gave him so many chances, I hate all the picked up tabs, and I really hate the hundreds of times he yelled at me until I was reduced to a blithering mess.

I hate that I thought he ever loved me, because that isn’t what love is. I hate that most of all.

I’ve been hung up on this for a long time now, that I made this mistake. This huge, unbelievable mistake that’s cost me so much time, and so many years of my life. How could I have been so stupid? Me, the girl who never took shit, falling for the biggest shit disturber around.

I’ve been thinking about it and thinking about it so much that I know I’ll never move forward, with anything, until I let this all go. I have to let it all go.

And so, it’s to the burial ground with Jess. A makeshift one anyway, because I’m pretty sure a legit corpse is required for cemetery occupation. I could only imagine his face if he knew I was doing this; he’d yell, he’d scream, he’d call me a lunatic of the worst kind and maybe even flail holy water at me. He was superstitious, that jerk.

But none of that matters, because he’s not around. What matters now is me, and which steps I take from this day on.

It’s time to bury the past.
I have a lot of work to do. If I’m going to be skating 20k in a mere few weeks, I have to eat right, exercise more, go back to the gym and skate every day.

Except when it’s raining. Slippery roads don’t mesh with wheels and besides, water makes the bearings rust. Not a good story. But it’s safe to say that if I don’t take the eating right, exercising and skating in dry weather part seriously, I’ll be wheezing within the first three kilometers.

While a big part of me is still all chattering teeth and shaky knees at the huge task before me, the other part is relieved for this change, this much anticipated genesis of all good things to come. I know once I get into the habit, I’ll be okay.

But there is something else I have to do first. Before I take on this biggie, this genesis of all good things to come, there is a part of me I wish to leave behind. There is something that needs to be settled; old ghosts must be laid to rest.

It’s a gorgeous day today, pearl white clouds against a crisp blue sky. The green grasses of spring are here, and the trees are starting to bud. It is the newest, clearest part of the year, that first turn in the cycle of seasons and the prelude to summer.

It’s a beautiful day for a funeral.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

June 3rd. 20K. D-Day.

Pros: I’ve always wanted to do this. It’s a highway full of smooth, beautiful pavement. The weather in early June is gorgeous so I won’t drop dead from heat exhaustion, and if I learn how to pace myself properly, I can do anything. Plus, it’s for a good cause.

Cons: I’ve never done this. I just might die.

While it’s very clear that I didn’t do all that much thinking before I signed up for this, I’m doing plenty of thinking now. Most of those thoughts circle around stroke, cardiac arrest, pulmonary respiratory failure, toppling over a guardrail etc. etc., there is that one tiny little glimmer whispering to me, You can do this.

Let’s go over my skating history. Got my first pair of Rollerblades for my 18th birthday, spent a few weeks with bloody knees but within a few weeks, was whizzing around just as easily as everyone else. I skated a lot that summer, and every summer after that, especially during that June and July of my eating disorder time. Skating was my one shining star then, and I easily did between six and 10 k per session.

However, it has been awhile since I’ve done any serious skating, making me all the more nervous of impending death. But I really do think that if I lay out good skating and workout plans, this is completely possible.

After all, this is Rollerblading. I love doing this. And I do need some kind of kick start, right?

I have just over five weeks to train. Let the games begin.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Well, it’s very safe to say that I’ve possibly gone ahead and done the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life. My whole, entire, ridiculous life. And believe me, it’s getting more ridiculous by the second.

The Becel Ride for Heart takes place every June in my city. A major highway is shut down for the day, and the cars are replaced with hundreds, thousands of bicyclists all united in motion to cure heart disease. They collect their pledges, bless ‘em, and bike up to 75k to raise money for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

I have always been in awe of these people, coupled by the fascination of wanting to exercise on a real live expressway, but never even thought of signing up. I haven’t significantly ridden a bike in years, and the thought of dying of a heart attack while in the midst of raising money for a heart foundation is a little too ironic.

I got my first pair of inline skates, Rollerblades, for my 18th birthday and haven’t looked back since. I love the freedom of it, the wind in my hair, the speed, every muscle in my body working as I push onward. I may have been a really fat girl on skates at 18, but boy, could I ever skate. I always thought, if Ride for Heart ever includes skaters, just maybe I’ll sign up.

I checked the site. They include skaters for 5k, 10k and 20k increments. In a moment of pure dementia, I signed myself up. For the 20k.

Here are the thoughts that were running through my head: “Wow, they finally let skaters in on the action! I so have to sign myself up!” So, I did.

Then, after seeing the 5, 10 and 20 kilometer distances, “Well, I can do the five no problem. 10’s totally doable, but 20, what an adventure! What a great way to get in shape too!” I checked off the 20 box.

After the forms had gone through and the screen congratulated me for being registered in Ride for Heart, I sat there with a smug smile on my face, full of self-indulged satisfaction that Wow, I’m going to skate 20k! I am daring, I am brave, I am going to attempt what I’ve never attempted before! I am Spartacus!

Five minutes later, after remembering that I haven’t done any serious skating in years, any serious exercise in months and that I’m nowhere near fit enough to do this, my thoughts somewhat altered.

Oh, man. I’m going to skate 20k.
Top 10 Things to Do when it’s official you’re Terminally Insane:

10) If you build it, He will come. Start building.

9) Reenact Ophelia’s madness for houseguests. Strew flowers.

8) Invent a new sorority, Kappa Delta Ya Ya. Make the uniform.

7) Bake dozens of pizzas just to spell out different words with the pepperoni.

6) Chase your childhood dreams and audition for the lead in Annie.

5) Quit your day job to become an alchemist. Claim you’ve cracked the formula for gold.

4) Run through the streets with your arms outspread, singing “Fly like an Eagle” at the top of your lungs.

3) Pierce your forehead. Convince everyone you meet that you’re just using the stud to fill up the bullet hole.

2) Design your own line of newspaper pirate hats. Sell them on street corners.

1) On a whim, sign yourself up for a 20k inline skate for charity knowing full well you haven’t done any serious rollerblading in a good two years.

Get out the butterfly nets.

Monday, April 23, 2007

I was watching Gilmore Girls last Tuesday night, one of the few TV vices I have left along with HBO mega dramas, and TMN On Demand.

In this particular episode, Rory, that darling, blue-eyed innocent of Star’s Hollow, has gotten a job. Not just any job, but a newspaper job. Jumping up and down ecstatically, she exclaims to Lorelai and Logan, “Someone actually wants to pay me to write!”

Well, aren’t you special. Born under a lucky star at the end of a rainbow with a leprechaun up your ass. Stupid Rory. If she wasn’t a fictional character, I’d want to rip all the hair out of her pretty l’il head.

What a lovely theory there presented on Gilmore Girls, that the very second one finishes Journalism school they’re snapped up by a fantastic paper. Hired, paid, with benefits and a 401K, doing what they love to do the most in the world: write.

While this has happened to people I know, the number is pathetically small and worse yet, I’m not among them. I really did think I’d be among the chosen ones, I mean I scored pretty good grades and was the only one to land such an opportune internship.

Bla bla bla. Point is, I didn’t get the close-to-graduation phone call from people willing to pay me to write interesting things, and outside some dithering stories on less than fascinating subjects, any call like that has yet to come.

So while I sit here in my angst, peeling a blood orange so roughly you’d think it did me a great personal wrong, something is becoming abundantly clear: I need a job search strategy.

Friday, April 20, 2007

It’s been a week and some change into the “new me” program. I set down some ground rules for myself, small things, and agreed that come what may, I wouldn’t be too hard on myself.

So, how’d it go?

I have been drinking at least eight glasses of water a day, but that’s no biggie. I’m a beverage girl by nature, especially during meals, and water is 99% of my liquid intake. I didn’t force that, either. I just don’t like drinking much of anything else.

I have had at least one cup of green tea every other day.

I haven’t eaten after 7pm for three whole days. Yes, I know there’s plenty of room for improvement there, but there’s even more room in the “eat whole foods only” section. While I did make a special effort to do that, I didn’t make a spectacular effort.

But keeping in the spirit of not being too hard on myself, I have to see this as a good start, albeit a shaky one. At the very least it builds for a strong foundation, I’m hoping. And at the very least, the waistline on my jeans isn’t so snug. Nothing drastic, mind you, just a bit more free flowing.

That has to mean something.

Points over the next week: try harder. And, lose the sugar.

New incentive: My cousin and his fiancée have asked me to emcee their September wedding. What is it with my family and September weddings?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Oh, how crude my friends can be. In fact just yesterday, when on the phone with Raj…

Me: Hi honey!

Raj: Where the fuck have you been?

Me: What are you talking about, I’m right here. I’ve always been right here.

Raj: You haven’t called me!

Me: Have you called me?

Raj: Only because I’ve been so upset at you not calling me!

Me: Oh, please!

Raj: What is this, you have some sex and forget about all your friends?

Me: Raj!

Raj: Is this what a few orgasms do to you?

Me: RAJ!

Raj: James, sweetheart, you-know-who hasn’t been coming to see us because all she does now is have sex! She’s too good for us now! Sex sex sex!


James: (in the background) Is there white stuff leaking out her ears?


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I took this picture from last week’s selection on The rules state that when you borrow from the site you’re supposed to link directly back to it, alas, I’m not good at those things whatsoever. I’m hoping the mention and address will suffice.

This postcard struck me right away. I caught myself reading it over and over, because I know exactly what she means. I thought being thin was THE answer.

At the time, I very much thought it was. It’s an easy notion to get wrapped up in, when you’re fat, that being a skinny, gorgeous goddess will solve absolutely every problem you ever had.

Why is this the case? Because being fat in a fat person’s eyes is, hands down, the biggest problem they have. It was the biggest problem I had and thus, every other problem stemmed from it. I was fat. I was ugly because I was fat. I didn’t like myself because I was ugly because I was fat. I was depressed all the time because I didn’t like myself because I was ugly because I was fat. I didn’t have a great job because I was depressed all the time because I didn’t like myself because I was ugly because I was fat. I didn’t have a boyfriend because I didn’t have a great job because i was depressed all the time because I didn’t like myself because I was ugly because I was fat.

Fat fat fat. It’s a vicious cycle.

So I was fat, so I dropped all this weight, so I became thin and for awhile it was a dream come true. But then, other things started happening.

I don’t know how a thin person thinks, in regards to a thin person who has always been thin. I don’t know how a fat person thinks, in regards to a fat person who’s always been fat. But being fat then becoming thin, I know exactly what’s going through that person’s head, the head that starts to play tricks with you once the euphoria has worn off and reality sets in.

I’m walking down the street; a good looking guy winks at me. Instead of being happy and oh, smiling back or tossing my hair, I’m thinking, Why didn’t you look at me before? I was still the same person. Is this the only reason why I get a second glance?

Dinner. I’m with my friends at a trendy little café, chatting the afternoon away. As we look through our menus and they all compare suggestions, my stomach is tying itself into a knot. I can’t eat this, or this, or this. I can’t eat anything here. I’ll get fat again.

Speaking of friends, this was also the time when I started to lose them. Some acquaintances here and there, I wasn’t terribly injured over those, but two very good friends, girls I loved and trusted, flew the coop. The first very suddenly started making fun of my appearance telling me over and over that I had a big ass. I found that more than somewhat strange, considering this was the smallest my ass had ever been.

The second, at the drop of a hat, decided I was letting my new appearance get to my head. Wearing tighter pants, fitted t-shirts, wearing my hair down, traveling Europe with my boyfriend, none of this was me. In fact, I’d become an insufferable snob.

But I worked so hard for this. You’re my friends, shouldn’t you be happy for me? Were you only my friends in the beginning because I was bigger than you, because I made you look good? Am I that bad a judge of character?

Then, I fell in love. Or at least I thought I did, with Jess, and I was skinny at the time. I was thin, I was fine, I was dressed to the nines and he didn’t stand a chance. Neither did I, for the affair that ensued. And every single day into it I remember thinking, Would this have happened to me if I was still fat? Do I deserve it more now because I lost weight?

The deeper I fell for that boy, the more I felt for him, the more I worried. I remember asking him once what would happen if I ever got fat again, if his feelings for me would change. Jess assured me that he loved me no matter what, and would always love me no matter what. As long as I was happy, he was happy too.

Well, look what happened with that.

I’m not saying I wasn’t happy with my newer self, I was. It’s just that I wasn’t happy as I thought I would be, because I know now that it wasn’t the end all, be all solution to absolutely everything.

There is no solution to absolutely everything. That’s why it’s so important for me to not do things so blindly this time around. I have to be doing it for all the right reasons, not just the flirting and couture. In the end, it’ll only be me and myself left to face the music. Fat or thin.

There will always be jerks on this planet for thin and fat girls alike, just because there will always be jerks on this planet, period. There will always be people who will like me better a certain way, or not like me at all either way. We live in a vain world, and no matter how beautiful one person may think I am, there will always be another who thinks I'm far from it. I’ll have to live with that.

As for the voices endlessly nagging me about what if, why not, don’t do this or that… I’ll just have to learn to let things go, one at a time, and definitely not be so paranoid.

So, why do I want to do this again? For dozens of reasons that I’ve mentioned dozens of times, but one in particular stands out.

I want to look at myself in the mirror again. Really look. And watch that face smile back at me.

Monday, April 16, 2007

I loved being thin.

I was 24 years old and not even two months into journalism school when the weight started to go. I’d been sick of myself for a long time by then and started the Dr. Stern Diet, a miraculous regime that advertised weight loss at five pounds per week.

Being constantly busy with school, sharing my first city apartment with Oli and being in the throes of newfound love boded well for my waistline. I didn’t have time for food, or at least I didn’t make the time like I used to. I started that diet a size 16; three months later I was a size 6.

The whole thing had happened so quickly, it took me time to get used to. I’d never been so small before. Everything felt lighter and men, lots of men, were taking notice. I was becoming braver, letting my hair down and dressing more stylishly. Slouchy pants and baggy sweaters gave way to low rise jeans and fitted tops, and I took shopping more seriously in general.

I loved the simplicity of it all. Things became so easy. I didn’t have to limit which stores I shopped at, because most everything fit and looked good on me now. I didn’t have to critique my appearance with the supreme efficiency of days past, contemplating if every single inch of clothing fell exactly as it should. I wanted to go to clubs, I wanted to be more physical, I wanted to dress sexier. And if a friend would nudge me to say that some guy was checking me out, I’d flash my pearly whites and believe them. Not, Oh please. There’s no way anyone would ever look at me.

I won’t say I didn’t love that attention, either. My, invisible girl, finally garnering some appreciation from the opposite sex. How you look, or how you think you look, drastically affects your appearance and how others react to you. If you’re miserable or down on yourself, everyone notices the black rain cloud over your head. If you’re happy and full of life, everyone notices your radiance. People want to be around you.

I knew I was looking marvelous, and that gave me all the confidence in the world.

Now, when I look back on that time, I realize just how lucky I really was. I had everything I wanted, you see, and I was exactly where I wanted to be. I was in graduate school, I lived in the city, I had a boyfriend who adored me and I was thin, THIN. I wanted to scream from the rooftops.

Then again, after experiencing all of that and being where I am now, there are other things I realize now too. There are lessons to be learned before I go down that path again, because as wonderful as it is to be thin, it isn’t the key to a charmed life.

In fact, a whole new set of problems come with it.

100% Real Juice: Showgirls

You read right, but I can’t blame you for the second glance. What inspirational anything could possibly come out of Showgirls? The writing is horrific, and the acting is overdone and cheesy. The doggie chow scene alone makes you cry blood. I always wondered if the producers made the movie terrible on purpose, guaranteeing it would become a cult classic out of sheer badness.

Anyway, seeing as the movie is more comedy than drama or boobs, it’s fun to watch every now and again. But only if it happens to be on when you’re channel surfing.

One of the scenes in the very beginning, when Nomi is still in the pickup with Elvis wannabe dude hitching a ride to Vegas, he asks her if she gambles. She says no, and he replies, “You gotta gamble if you’re gonna win.”

We all know this to be true. How on earth is your hand going to win if you don’t put any money down on the table? Similarly, in the grander scheme of things, how can you experience victory if you don’t, in some sense, put yourself out of your comfort zone? Or just even, go for it? How will you know what triumph really feels like if you don't reach out and try?

That’s my take on things, anyway. You can go back to staring at boobs now.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Being completely brain dead this morning and therefore at a total loss for words, how about we try something different?

Tell me what the above picture says to you, or what you imagine the story is behind it. Then, guess the name of it. In the spirit of Natalie's song snippets, I'll give you a hint. The name of this picture is contained within a line from the poem:

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
The night above the dingle starry,
Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
Trail with daisies and barley
Down the rivers of the windfall light.

And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,
In the sun that is young once only,
Time let me play and be
Golden in the mercy of his means,
And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves
Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,
And the sabbath rang slowly
In the pebbles of the holy streams.

All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay
Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air
And playing, lovely and watery
And fire green as grass.
And nightly under the simple stars
As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away,
All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the nightjars
Flying with the ricks, and the horses
Flashing into the dark.

And then to awake, and the farm, like a wanderer white
With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it was all
Shining, it was Adam and maiden,
The sky gathered again
And the sun grew round that very day.
So it must have been after the birth of the simple light
In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm
Out of the whinnying green stable
On to the fields of praise.

And honoured among foxes and pheasants by the gay house
Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long,
In the sun born over and over,
I ran my heedless ways,
My wishes raced through the house high hay
And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows
In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs
Before the children green and golden
Follow him out of grace.

Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me
Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,
In the moon that is always rising,
Nor that riding to sleep
I should hear him fly with the high fields
And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.
Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Quest for Peace, Love and a 24” Waist, Exercise #1: Writing your Story

Apparently it is mucho importante to answer certain questions about one’s self in order to discover why there are body image issues to begin with. We’re getting to the root of the problem, remember, and in order to do so, we must start from the very beginning.

Again, these questions are reprinted without permission, but I hope that if Deborah Low ever gets around to reading this, she’ll understand.

And now, let us delve into the past and therefore, the ugly truth.

When did you first begin to have issues with food?

Early teens. Eating just made me feel better sometimes. Most times actually, which is probably why I’m doing this test to begin with.

When did you first begin to gain weight?

When it really started to pack on I was 17, 18.

What was going on in your life?

A million things. Nothing. I was flunking physics, I had overly strict parents, a gorgeous sister who seemed to have it all. There was all that pressure to get into a good university, and my heart was broken. I thought I’d lost my soul mate.

How did you feel about yourself?

How do you think I felt? Awful, miserable, like shit. Less than human.

Are there any patterns in your story?

As a whole? Of course. Every time the going got tough, I made it better with food. I’d say that’s a pattern.

What weight loss methods have you tried?

Good lord, everything. Behold my shame: Calorie counting, the cabbage soup diet, the Scarsdale diet, performance drugs, a gym membership, Atkins, Weight Watchers, Slimfast, a personal trainer, body cleansesJenny Craig, starvation, diuretics, vomiting, Herbal Magic, the Dr. Stern Diet…there may be one or two more I’ve forgotten.

How did these different techniques make you feel?

The gym memberships and personal trainer made me feel great. The others, great in the beginning. I would get high off the initial loss of the first few weeks and then… crash and burn.

What have you learned?

That none of these methods work, or I don’t work for the methods? That the diet industry is geared towards failure? That I’m weak and not working hard enough towards what I really want? That I’ve wasted a lot of time, energy, and money? All of the above?

Where are you today?

At work, ready to start in 10 minutes, in the dreaded valley of in-between. Meaning, I’m marginally comfortable with myself physically, but not yet where I want to be.

Why do you want to lose weight?

To be healthier. To be happier. To look good in a bathing suit. Hell, to be able to actually wear a bathing suit. To not have to think about stupid things like the most flattering way to sit, or turning away from mirrors. To silence these stupid voices in my head, once and for all. To be a peace with myself.

Are you willing to challenge yourself and work at your goal?

Yes, but I’m scared. I don’t want to fail anymore.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Men and the Boys: Jules

Sometimes, every now and then, something happens to show you the more beautiful side of life. These lessons are not always obvious though, in fact they can be under the most cryptic disguises. Be careful because if you blink, you might miss them.

It was the beginning of the eighth grade, the first day of the last year of elementary school ever. The playground was rammed with chatty kids and adolescent hormones, and I was a 13-year old nerd.

Puberty had not been good to me. I was a year into my growth spurt, and maintained the record of tallest kid in the school. I wasn’t allowed to wear any kind of makeup and had no idea what to do with the mop on my head, my naturally curly, short, brushed out do that could’ve been the envy of all nefarious 80’s hair bands. Nor did I have any clue about things like upper lip waxing or eyebrow plucking, and went about with dark twin bushmen hiding my eyes. The final nail in the coffin was parents who’d wisely learned to budget with my growing ways, so I was stuck with ugly, too big shoes.

I started that year freshly returned from a Europe trip with Oli, knowing that even if I wasn’t the school bombshell, I did have the best tan. I also started the year still smarting from the emotional blows of Gabriel just months before, but with newfound adopted wisdom. The way I saw it, I’d gotten some hard knocks on the streets of love, but had spent an entire summer toughening up and getting him out of my system. Gabriel could never get to me again.

Just to prove to myself that I was impervious to Gabriel’s charms I sought him out on the grounds, quickly spotting the handsome devil. He was a few yards away and he wasn’t alone, talking to someone I didn’t recognize. New kids, from the looks of it. A boy. A really cute boy. And as I found out soon after, he was in our class.

He was a skater boy by the name of Jules, and his family had moved to the area just three weeks before. Jules had dark wavy hair, a mischievous grin, and quickly earned the respect of his peers by sarcastically putting the teacher in her place not five minutes into roll call. While that assured he would never be teacher’s pet, it automatically boosted him to the Uber Popular level of our class and therefore, untouchable to me. I was still squirming within the echelons of the geek squad, after all.

The first few months of the school year passed just the way I thought it would; I read a lot, studied a lot, and didn’t mix with the other kids all that much. My brush-ins with Jules were few, but he seemed nice enough. We almost never spoke, but it didn’t escape me that he never teased me or made me the brunt of jokes like the other, more beautiful kids did.

Then, for the second time in two years, the impossible happened. In seventh grade the teacher had put Gabriel next to me in the class setup, and now, in the eighth grade, the teacher sat Jules beside me. The desks in our room were arranged in three columns of pairs, and Jules and I now occupied the top right corner for the rest of the year. I may not have been cute and flirty, but reading a lot proved you always got to sit next to the cute boys.

Was I happy about this new arrangement? Yes. Did I like this boy? Yes. I dared not show it, though. If there was anything I’d learned from the year before it was that Jules never would and never could like me. I was an ugly duckling, too tall, too bookish, and the basic rules of physics dictated that popular kids never mixed with nerds. We just didn’t go together.

But that didn’t mean we couldn’t be friends on some sort of level, and sitting next to Jules everyday was a lot of fun. He was easy to talk to and a big prankster; we’d spend a lot of our time laughing about this or that. He had great music taste and got me into The Cult and Black Sabbath when the other girls in class were bopping to New Kids on the Block. We didn’t hang together at recess, but he never once ignored me or made me feel inferior.

It’s safe to say that the more I got to know him, the more I liked him.

As it turned out, Jules liked me in his own way. Our relationship, in all its early adolescent awkwardness, was put to the test. One day in the spring Jules and I were talking about something, I don’t remember what, but I do remember being reluctant to tell him because it was something I wanted kept secret. He may have been my desk buddy but he was still in the trendy crowd, and you know how they are. Any juicy tidbit from someone lesser, they tear to shreds and tease you for weeks.

He swore up and down it would stay between us, and so I caved. Unfortunately a busybody girl sitting in front of us heard me say the word “secret” and by recess, it had spread like wildfire that Jules had dirt on me.

I was prepared for this and spent that recess away from everyone else. Being alone often made things easier to manage. What I wasn’t prepared for was almost an entire class full of Jules haters, because he’d refused to dish. “I told you I would keep my promise” he said, as we went back to our desks.

“But no one’s speaking to you.”

“Who cares? Most of them are posers, anyway.”

I was astounded. Outside of Hollywood, boys like him didn’t protect girls like me. It just didn’t happen.

Things between us didn’t change after that, we still sat next to each other, talked every day, and teamed together over assignments. He was better at math and I was better at the comprehensive subjects, so we were a good match that way. I didn’t keep my hopes up that he was in love with me, but took very great comfort with the fact that we were friends. Good friends.

The rest of that year passed quickly and before I knew it, we were on the verge of high school. Our last day as eighth graders, the teaching staff had arranged a special dinner in the school library, followed by a dance in the gym. The library was bedecked in streamers and the tables were arranged in rows, covered in crisp white tablecloths, and rented china and silverware. I sat across from Jules because that’s where my place card told me to go. I figured our very wise teacher had paired everyone across from their desk buddy in the seating arrangement, to avoid the awkwardness of the recess cliques.

The gym dance opened up with some good fast music that the girls honed in on right away, while the boys either mingled amongst themselves or held up the wall. When the first slow song came on the girls did their customary “hurry up, stop dancing and grab a chair” thing, all of a sudden becoming sweet & docile, waiting for the boys to approach.

Ugh. I hated those times. I almost never got asked to dance and when I did, it was by my male compatriots in the geek squad. I knew the drill well by now, as did everyone else: the most popular boy would approach first, taking his pick of dance partner among all the girls, usually the prettiest one. This would muster the courage of all the other boys who, one after the other, would ask the remaining girls to dance. The second most popular boy, then the third and so on, eventually declining in status and looks until the last two squares went for their turn.

It’s amazing how the mating rituals of adolescents can be compared to those of mountain gorillas.

I took my place on a bench next to the wall and assumed my position of staring at the floor, waiting for the worst to be over. There were more girls in our class than boys, and past experience dictated that either one of the very last boys would ask me, or I wouldn’t get asked at all.

Not 30 seconds into my self-pity, I saw a pair of polished black shoes approach me. And then I heard, “So how about it, kid?”

I looked up. Jules was standing in front of me with his hand held out, and he was smiling. I looked around quickly and saw everyone looking at us, their mouths wide open, surprise written all over their faces. Jules, the most popular boy in our class had made his choice for first dance of the evening, and he’d picked me.

I smiled, stood up, put my hand in his and off we went. Everyone else watched us go, still in the throes of their shock so that we were alone on the floor for the first little bit, dancing in the atypical Catholic school style of a casual sidestep, one arm’s width apart. I don’t remember what song was playing, but I do remember thinking for the first time ever that maybe, just maybe, good stuff happened to too tall, big haired, nerdy girls too.

When the dance was over that night, so was our time as eighth graders. The next day our summer vacation would begin and in two months we’d all be Freshmen. Our ending was bittersweet, Jules’ and mine. We signed each others’ yearbooks, hugged, and left youth behind forever. We went to different high schools in the fall, and I never saw him again.

Looking back on it all, that was my first really first positive relationship with a boy. I started high school a little more grown up, and with a different take on life that would carry and grow stronger through the years. It's amazing what happens to a person when they realize that good things can happen, and that good things do happen.

I’m not sorry that nothing ever happened between Jules and I, not in the emotional sense that is, because I truly love remembering it for what it was: the impossible friendship of Skater Boy and Nerdy Girl.

Jules, if you’re out there somewhere, I’ve never forgotten you, or what you did for me. And, I’ve never forgotten that dance. Thank you.
Almost two months later, the time was finally right. I gave Sandy his Valentine’s Day present.

After a big family dinner at my parents’ place last Friday, I loaded us up in my car and feigned driving to his house. We really were going to his house but there was something I wanted to do first; something I’d been wanting to do with him for a very long time.

Although his face doesn’t easily betray emotion, Sandy was pretty surprised when I stopped the car on a random side street and then pulled a shawl out of nowhere to blindfold him. He did have a very nice smile on his face though, and made sure to hang on to Joey’s door while I sped and swerved us to get there. I had to take the most obscure and confusing route, see, to make sure he couldn’t map in his head where the car was going.

Only a few minutes later I made it to our location, and undid the shawl only after he swore to keep his eyes closed. I knew that was a safe bet, because Sandy always keeps his word. I still had to laugh though, as I maneuvered him around the car and through the parking lot. He was looking down, eyes closed, still smiling, and moving at a snail’s pace. “You’re very unsteady on your feet without your eyes, Ace.”

“Uh, yeah.”

The walk wasn’t far, and it wasn’t long until we were standing exactly where I wanted us to be; on the few metres of flat ground between the doors and the steps. I told Sandy it was okay to open his eyes and he did, taking only a few seconds to realize that we were in front of the public library where, 15 years ago, he first kissed me.

I was just 16 then and he was 18, two kids who really liked each other, pecking on library property. Now, as adults in our 30’s, we kissed the kisses of grownups and for a fleeting glimpse, felt young again. “You know I don’t consider myself a sap, Ace. Is this way to sickly sweet?”


Back in the car, he held my non-steering hand the entire way back and we didn’t say much, looking at each other every now and then with wide smiles. We may be adults now but with each other, even if only sometimes, we’re still kids at heart.

Monday, April 09, 2007

“Think. The big fucking picture.”

-- James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano on The Sopranos

A gritty HBO mob drama is the last place you’d expect to hear pearls of wisdom, but Tony, or at least the writers of The Sopranos have a point here. If there’s anything I’ve been trying to beat through my head over the past year and some change, it’s that the big picture is the most important thing, at least far more important than just a tiny clip of it. The film is always more important than a single scene, just like the apple tree is more important than one apple.

My life is more important than just a day. You get it.

Now, I’ve been discussing my life with myself (who better to talk it over with, right?), and we’ve decided that this Monday morning is a good time to start. I know, I know, when one starts to turn the wheels of change that should always happen as a “now” and not a “tomorrow,” but I just like the idea of morning beginnings. It makes things feel more fresh.

So in light of this and on the subject of days, I get a last one. One Last Day, that is.

All fatties know the Last Day very well, it’s the day before the day of your “big change” where you excitedly allow yourself to eat absolutely anything you want, sky’s the limit. Why? ‘Cause come midnight, it’s all strict. You do what you want and in plenty of excess, because tomorrow is all about change.

I’ve had many last days, and even though I’m sure they were great at the time, they couldn’t have been that memorable because for the life of me, I can’t remember anything I ever ate.

But still, since my life is going to be one nice big change starting tomorrow, today I’m going hog wild! That’s right baby, it’s all about the cakes and the ice cream and the sumptuous world of fats! Oink oink!


No, I’m not going to do that.

I’ve gone wrong far too many times on this road called Dieting, and the above is one shining example.

So we’re going to try something a little different this time. Wise choices is what it’s all about, and that’s got to be my new motto. No starving, no denial, no cutting everything out so the threat of pigging out looms just around the corner. You know how it works, you say no to chocolate forever and within the week you’ve got Nutella smeared all over your face.

Doesn’t matter that you’ve never eaten that much chocolate before in your entire life; the minute you said “No” to it all was the minute you wanted the stuff more than ever before.

If I’m going to cut out, it’s got to the for the most part, and not forever. Like coffee. With the exception fo extreme emergencies I just have to say, goodbye my darling; I’ll never forget our happy days. At least the weather is getting warmer, so my cravings for you are down to a minimum.

If it’s a bad thing but I really want it, and I’ve been good, then I can have it. Slow and steady wins the race, right? Argh. I don’t like slow and steady, I want to sprint around the track and call myself a winner. But I really think that in the long run, the slower route is the more guaranteed win. It worked for the tortoise.

So we’re going to start with some rules, minor ones, just so I can break myself into the system., but nothing so intense that’ll be too nuts to follow.

So, over this following week I will:

Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day
Drink at least one cup of green tea per day
Not eat after 7pm, and
Eat whole foods only. As in, the good stuff.

I will also rule one thing out: sugar. With the exception of coffee. For emergencies, that is. See? No extreme denial.

I won’t be having a last day, but in honour of all this hoopla I am going to have a last fun something. Not something overly fun either, if you get my drift, but lately I’ve been craving my comfort food of old and so tonight I made a bowl if it: Balkan yogurt covered with crushed walnuts, and drizzled in honey.

Then again, why should that be a last anything? Yoghurt, nuts and honey are whole foods and therefore, plenty good for me. Maybe not for everyday, but good nonetheless.

Oh and, Wednesday morning I have to be at work by 8am. Predicting a coffee emergency.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Awhile ago I purchased Deborah Low’s book, The Quest for Peace, Love and a 24" Waist, and like most of the “better me” books I’ve bought over the years, it ended up on a gigantic stack collecting dust.

I pulled it back out a few days ago, and a simple leaf through reminded me why I’d purchased it in the first place. Here are the first few paragraphs of Chapter 2:

I was once a most favored, loyal, and tormented member of The Diet Club, and with only a hint of apology, I believe that if you are reading this book, then you, too, may be a silent member.

Gee, thanks. I might be more offended if you weren’t so dead on.

Welcome to the club - and guess what? No initiation fees!

Why can’t gyms or health clubs have no initiation fees? Credit cards? Cell phone packages? Anyway, I digress.

Most new members become part of the club for free by passively adopting the messages of our diet-focused-body-conscious-media-crazed society.

I’d say. One glimpse of a bikini model’s behind makes me want to rip my hair out. And, even though she’s never done me any personal harm, it makes me want to hate her forever. How’d she get so lucky? Why is it so easy for her? How nuts am I to even think having a great body is lucky, when I know absolutely nothing about this person to begin with, or what they might have done to get that body?

The power these messages have on how we think our bodies should look, are insidious and complex. We sign the contract without consciously examining the mentality behind this ingrained belief.

A concise over-simplification of the message would read something like this: First, you must have the body. Slim. Lean. Strong. Sexy. Then you are permitted to reap society’s rewards – respect, a successful career, a loving man who desires you, and personal validation as a strong-willed, competent, bathing-suit-wearing, free-spirited female!

Sigh. Sometimes, being a girl really stinks. Stinks with that rotten egg smell.

But you can get the jist of what this book is all about: no vigorous exercise or meal plans, but the issues we have on being fat, and how that prevents us from really being happy in the now.

It’s an interesting theory, getting to the root of the problem. It’s more interesting that something in this slim book could make me think a different way.

Hare Hare Krishna. Break out the patchouli.

But again, in all seriousness, if beating the dead horse the past almost 20 years of my life has gotten me nowhere, then maybe a quick rewire of my brain will.

Ha! Quick, my arse. But it’s worth a try.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The scene: Sandy’s house. I’m ironing a blouse I want to wear when we go out later; he’s at the store getting groceries. After awhile I hear the key in the lock; door opens and there he is, bags in hands and wearing a nice smile.

Sandy makes his way over and says, “Hi cheech. You doing good?”


He gave me a kiss and right then, something really whack happened. For that moment, that split second, something completely new washed over me, a feeling I’ve never had before.


Hoo boy.

Naturally, this gave me an instant headache, and I teetered a bit. Sandy noticed. He bloody notices everything. “You okay cheech?”

“Yes.” Not really.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes…” I’m positive I’ll be fine once I finish having this stroke.

Once, a long time ago, I almost had a fiancé. Not once did I ever have a feeling like this.

Another time, not so long ago, I lived with someone. Not once in three years of sharing an address with that man did I ever get a feeling like this.

After assuring Sandy one more time that I was fine, I meandered over to the stairs and sat down for a bit. After my breathing and vision had returned to normal, I shared a good few minutes with my thoughts.

Quick consult with Catholic Right and Orthodox Left:

CR: Sweetie, this is wonderful! You're finally feeling true love, and all the great things that can come with it!

Sonofabitch. Time for Orthodox Left to snap me back to my ever-insane self:

OL: Nope. She's right.

Again: hoo boy.

Boyfriends, love, commitment, and the dreaded M word. You know, I honestly never thought I would come to a place like this. Even when I was with Jess, I never really thought we’d get to that next step. Even when I wasn’t alone, I got used to flying solo.

Sandy was in the kitchen, whistling to the radio and getting ready to barbecue some steak for lunch. His way of doing things, his way of going about life, makes me feel good. He always makes me feel good.

So maybe then, that thought, that feeling, isn't such a bad thing.

When my stroke eased off, I walked into the kitchen and interrupted his marinading to give him a huge hug. "Know what, Ace?"

"What, Cheech?"

"You're great!"

And with that million dollar smile, he replied just like I knew he would: "I know!"

I'm not ready for that M word yet, but maybe being on the beginning of its path doesn't have to be all that terrible. In fact, I think it will be very nice.

I do think I'm ready for something else though, and really, it's happening whether I like it or not.

Kids, I'm growing up.

Monday, April 02, 2007

you Thinking Bloggers, you

And now for something completely different: A man with a tape recorder up his brother’s nose.

Happy vibes and fortunes to whoever can guess what the above line is from. And on another note, I wonder how hard it would be to get a tape recorder up your brother’s nose? What on earth could he have done to piss you off that much?

I don’t have a brother so he can’t peeve me to that extent, and don’t worry Oli, you never pissed me off that much. Although a few times I seriously contemplated putting your hands in a bowl of warm water while you were sleeping. Damn you for being such a light sleeper.

This post is something completely different because it’s not a post per se, but an awards ceremony.

What, you ask, brought this on? A comment on my blog last week that gave me the shock of my life:

I wanted to let you know that I just nominated you for the "thinking blog" award. It is on my post for today and I am too inept to put the link in a comment. You totally deserve it. Posts like this one don't let people forget.

This was given to me by the most charming author of the blog entitled, “Almost Interesting Musings on Life” and most totally astounded me to no end. After a few minutes of mindless staring, reading that comment a few thousand times, I clicked onto Musings and saw this little tidbit about me.

Memoirs of a Fat Girl- Although her humor isn’t as obvious as the others, MFG (as I like to call her even though it reminds me of Girbaud jeans) has a very honest look on the world and I think balances the tragedy and comedy of daily life very well. She is straight-forward and her posts come straight from the heart. Although she has been a little more serious than funny lately, she always makes me smile. She has a big heart and isn’t afraid to share it. She is probably the biggest technical "thinker" of my bunch.

Natalie, just so you know… I cried. Yeah I know, I’m a sensitive shit. Thank you so much.

So, I’ve had the honour to bestow upon my humble pages that cute l’il award and I have to say that looking at it everyday gives me those warm, fuzzy peach feelings inside.

And now, I’m supposed to pass this award on to five others who I feel are "Thinking Bloggers." Drumroll, please.

(By the way, my efforts at linking totally nosedived, though I finally managed to get the pictures up. A techie I am not, so everything is just highlighted in bold)

My first pick is Active Corner, written by my Aussie friend b. She was one of my first overseas readers, and her blog is one of many parts: worldly musings, doctoral dissertation, psychological relationship dissection, and life as a girl. Her posts are deep and full of thought; heck, I even borrowed one of her entries for my August 10th, 2006 post. She’s a fun one, and has a lot to say.

My second and third picks are Lance of Lance Morrison and his boyfriend of Light ‘n Flaky fame.

Lance is my quirky superhot hair stylist, and when he’s not doing hair, puppy sitting, commiserating or saving the planet, he’s writing in his blog. He’s got posts about drunkety drunk drunk Liza Minelli, braiding in the first grade, and some truly heart wrenching, personal pieces about dying. We all thank our lucky stars you pulled through both times, Lancey. Your heart’s desire to make the world a better place via volunteer work and being a good person in general never fail to strike a cord.

Light ‘n Flaky has something to say about just about everything: Halloween costumes, irritating people, pie. He doesn’t post that often but I thoroughly enjoy reading when he does; that last nostalgic post about deciding not to revisit his childhood home, even though there was an open house, really got me right there. Always well written, and a deserving read.

(by the way, if both of you don't reply to this, you totally and eternally suck)

Mood Indigo of My So Called Love Life is more deep than you’d expect, with writing bordering on Sex and the City meets Carl Jung. Her ponderings on life and love make one think about their own standings in the here and there of the everyday. I don’t know if she’ll be able to accept or even respond to this award anytime soon since she’ll be in Africa for another two months, so we’ll just have to see what happens.

Last but not least, The Coffeehouse. Queenie doesn’t write as often as I’d like, which is a shame, but her views are never apologetic, and her want for peace makes me want to run out and join a demonstration against the numerous injustices in this world. She makes me want to do more, and that alone is enough for any reward.

Now, for all recipients of this, I’ve lifted the instructions off Natalie’s blog as to what happens from here on in:

To those I have chosen: Should you choose to participate, please make sure you pass this list of rules to the blogs you are tagging. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think, Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' (see sidebar if I can get it to work) with a link to the post that you wrote

Go on, get to it! And know that if you even have a link to the left of this writing at all, you’re a reward in my books. Hugs and Kisses.

PS: I’ve added a number of delicious new links to my blogroll, don’t forget to check them out!

Calorie Chronicles: The Eating Disorder(s), Concluded

Writing about that was really hard. Thinking about it was even more difficult. Doing it at the time was one thing, but looking back on it years later and realizing that I was stupid enough to do what I did… that’s something else altogether.

I highly regret every minute of it. Luckily, that same day Oli and I got on the plane was also the last day I ever forced myself to throw up a meal.

How did it all end? I thank our trip to Europe for that. If we’d never gone, I would have probably stayed in that loop for much longer.

Like all journeys, the traveler quickly realizes that how things are done in one country, are very different from how things are done at home. Changing continents is a shift most perceptible in the everyday simple things, like food.

In Europe food is more of an experience, and meals are more highly valued than in the West. On most parts of the continent there’s no such thing as, “Do you deliver?” You eat out at good restaurants, or you eat in with freshly made, home cooked food. If you have a family, you mostly eat in.

Having guests in Europe is the perfect time to showcase culinary skills, and if those guests are related, that’s yet another notch up the ladder. When you haven’t seen people in years there’s a lot of catching up to do, and what better place to do that then at a table of sumptuous dishes?

That’s a lot of work for the hosts, but the guests have their jobs too. Being the well-trained product of a strict European mother, I know my place at the table, and what to do. You smile, let yourself be served, and clean everything off your plate, period. There is no shitpicking, I don’t like this or that, and every dish gets equal respect. Meal done, heap mountains of praise upon your hosts, especially the cook.

Our first stop was Frankfurt Germany, where we stayed with our aunt, uncle, and cousin. We had great fun there, sightseeing, spending time with our relatives, club hopping and drinking plenty of weissebier. Our aunt had spent a lot of time preparing for our visit, down to getting the flavours of soda we liked (overseas I’m a Fanta junkie), and took pride in being like our second mom.

I enjoyed her food, and my body, at long last, enjoyed the wonderful feeling of satisfaction. I could have thrown up but wasn’t totally comfortable doing that in their tiny apartment with the one very small bathroom. I said I knew how to throw up quietly by then and I did, but it wasn’t a totally noise-free scene. The parents’ house back home was pretty big and I’d had my choice of bathrooms, and the dorm at school had that loud bathroom fan.

I couldn’t risk being caught in Germany, and something else was happening to make me rethink my actions: my hair was falling out. Every morning when I was shampooing in the shower, I’d pull clumps of hair out of my head. I may have been idiotic enough to attempt anorexia, but I wasn’t so stupid that I couldn’t figure out why this was happening.

No puking in Germany. Thanks to all that walking, touristing and dancing ‘til the wee hours of the morning, no weight gain either.

Croatia was next, with a brief stop in the capital city of Zagreb, then off to the islands for the bulk of our stay. In Germany we’d had the small handful of relatives, whereas in Croatia there were more than we could count. Lots of sharing, lots of stories and tons, tons, TONS of food.

After a few days I could feel the waistband on my jeans tightening. It wasn’t that I was making a pig of myself but really, any food at all after digesting nothing for so long was bound to make a noticeable difference.

Did I throw up in Croatia? No. Despite the hair problem I contemplated it, because the small gain was making me panic. I’d worked so hard to get rid of it all, see, but that issue was quickly resolved by a little seven-year old cousin who’d made himself my shadow. This kid followed me absolutely everywhere, to breakfast, outside, the balcony, and perched himself outside the bathroom door every time I had to make a visit. He’d be out there knocking madly, saying things like, “What are you doing in there? Are you going to be long? Will you come outside and play? Don’t forget to wash your hands!” and then sit on the floor and sing until I was ready to come out.

I didn’t want to vomit with him outside the door like that. He was just seven. That wasn’t something I wanted to explain, or try to make him understand. He was bound to learn about these things someday anyway. He didn’t have to learn them from me.

I enjoyed myself with my family for those few weeks, through all the talks and the meals; even through the several trips to the beach where I very nervously lounged about in a bathing suit, just like everyone else. Being in a bathing suit makes me nervous at the best of times, and during those beach hours I was a total wreck. In all the pictures I’m sitting upright on my towel, hugging my knees to my body in an effort to show as little fat as possible.

Miraculously I’d gained very little weight back during that trip, but I knew it wasn’t meant to last. When we got home, I made the executive decision to not purge anymore.

Why? Because my hair, once wild and strong, was lifeless, thin, and missing in clumps. Because I realized that I’d missed a few other things that normal people did, like sleeping. During that trip I’d slept soundly through every single night. The rotten, acid taste in my mouth was gone. My stomach, once wracked with emptiness and pain, was silent and content.

Of course every decision comes with its consequences, and I knew what was going to happen. Within two weeks of returning home, every single ounce that I’d worked so hard to lose had come back.

It was a bitter pill to swallow, but I did it.

My weight has had its ups and downs, and my opinions of myself have gone up and down, but I don’t regret not starving and throwing up anymore. That took awhile, a long while actually, to get over the panic of swallowing food again. And that rush of losing eight pounds per week… that notion took even longer to bury.

But some things are worth it. Sleeping, for one. Still, not shaking hands. A healthy head of hair. It took four years for my curls to get back to normal after that summer, but they’re back, and here to stay,

I think that’s a pretty good thing.