Monday, January 30, 2012

Week 5, part 1: Monday

Weight this morning, 208 pounds.  Loss this week, 4 pounds.  Total loss, 9 pounds.

I was excited this weekend.  I was going to tell you.  Except that now it's gone.  It doesn't hold up to rational examination.  There is a boy.  He is friendly and good-looking and interested in dancing.  At the time, just having him pay attention to me was enough to make me giddy.  At the time, I could pretend that maybe it could mean something.  But I can't quite manage to pretend anymore.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Earthquake Prevention

When the sign says, Congratulations on a Safe Work Space-- 146 days since the last accident, we like to think that it's because we're doing something right.   We are keeping the bad things at bay.

But, most of the time, it's more like saying, Congratulations on a sturdy house!-- 3 years since it last fell down, when it's just that it's been three years since the last earthquake.   Congratulations, it's been 3 years since the last earthquake.  We're doing such a good job at stopping earthquakes.

My house is not sturdy.   I am not practicing earthquake prevention.   I am not any closer to the person I want to be, I just hadn't been shown otherwise.

This is not the letter I am going to write.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Where You Are Depends on Where You're From

One of many delightful things I have discovered in Iowa is 50° weather.   Here's the thing about 50° weather: On the first day it hits 50°, some time in the spring (or, sometimes, a freak day in the middle of January), it's a miracle. I walk outside in my short sleeves, and I'm not cold.  And when it's been months of cold, that feels like a miracle.

On the first day that it hits 50°, some time in autumn (or a freak day in August), it means I can finally wear my hoodie, or layer my shirts, or tall socks. I go outside and love the chill on my face, because it feels so good to feel cold.

And, yeah, I get those feelings sometimes at 45° or 55°, and when it's 50° and dreary outside I might not be so ecstatic.  But, to me, 50° means change, it means something new is coming.  Even when it's something I've seen before, by the time it comes around again, I feel like I've forgotten.

What's funny about all this is that I really do feel cold when it's 50° in Autumn, and I really do feel warm when it's 50° in spring.  I'm not actually thinking "comared to that, this is warm." I am simply warm. Or cold.

Last summer, I spent about 3-4 weeks working on losing weight.   I started at 212, and made it down to 200 before I stopped.  And when I started, 212 was monsterously fat.  I couldn't stand to wear anything but the baggiest of t-shirts.  At 200 I felt like I had made a difference, and I felt good showing off.

Today, I am only barely past 212, but because I started at 217, it doesn't seem so monsterous.  The way I look right now feels like an accomplishment, even though six months ago it was a failure.

I guess what I'm trying to say is: context.  It matters.


Today, someone found my blog by googleing "i seldom kill people."

This morning, within the space of five minutes, my scale weighed me at (in order):


Apparently it was a very eventful five minutes.  This is unusual, and worries me, because even though I know my scale is cheap and therefore not entirely accurate, I don't like to think about it making mistakes.  And this is so clearly a mistake.  (I decided, of course, to write down 208.6 pounds.)

I have a sketch for my tattoo.  It brings me joy.  The layout and a lot of the decisions were taken from old Navy tattoos (not to be confused with Old Navy tattoos), and the tattoo artist has worked on nearly everyone I know in Iowa City.  I feel like this is my grounding tattoo, my connection to other things.  To history, of sorts, because there are traditions I am referencing, to my home in Iowa City, to my body, because I feel as if I am claiming it.  I am decorating, therefore I am moving in, for real, and not just passing through. 

I have decided against the Ansay quote.  It resonates with me, but isn't something I want to focus on.  On the other hand, I am quite pleased by the poem.  I like that it's odd, and it even feels a bit irreverent, although I'm not sure I could explain why.  I like the idea of it, celebrating unexpected beauty, celebrating the now.  I've never thought "this is my favorite poem," but I've remembered it for the 13 or so years since I first read it, and I always enjoy it when I go back to it. When I first thought, "hey, let's think about text, what poems do I like?"  It was the first that came to mind.  I mean, I like Plath, I like her a lot.  I think she does amazing things with language.  But I am not going to get a Sylvia Plath tattoo.

I think that I would put each stanza on a leg, starting at the back of my thigh and moving down.  It means that one leg will have more than the other, and I like that.  I think that one should have an illustration, something with an oval border, a tree in a meadow.  Something like a John R. Neill illustration.  (Oz wouldn't be the same without him.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


My mouth hurts because when I don't wear my tooth for a long time (like an entire weekend, oops), then my teeth start to shift, and the denture acts like a retainer and pushes my teeth back in place, which hurts, and by the end of the day I'm achy and grumpy.  And my toes hurt because I have new shoes, and they haven't stretched out yet and I have ridiculously wide feet.

Oh yeah, and I have a meeting with my tattoo artist tomorrow to look at a first draft of the tattoo.  And it just occurred to me that it might hurt.  I forget that, because the other one didn't hurt.  Not in a "oh I toughed it out" kind of way, in a "pain is not the right word for that slightly odd scratching feeling" kind of way.  I'm assuming that boob-area, being all fleshy, won't be that sensitive, but then I don't know how close to my clavicle it will go.  So, you know, there might actually be pain in my future.  And in case you missed it, I suck at pain.  I don't tough things out.  I scream and yell and cry. 

And while we're at it, it's time to start thinking about what I want to put on my legs.  I'm thinking about text.  I'm throwing up ideas on the walls of my brain and seeing what I'd like to live with.

Things like,

Tomorrow when the farm boys find this
freak of nature, they will wrap his body
in newspaper and carry him to the museum.

But tonight he is alive and in the north
field with his mother. It is a perfect
summer evening: the moon rising over
the orchard, the wind in the grass. And
as he stares into the sky, there are
twice as many stars as usual.

"The Two-Headed Calf," by Laura Gilpin


I was filled with what I'd felt as I crossed the tracks, just after that moment when I knew I wouldn't make it: the unexpected relief that I'd been wrong.

from "Read This and Tell Me What it Says," by A. Manette Ansay

Week 4, part 2: Shivering Isles

As of this morning, 209 pounds.  I didn't go to pub knit last night, partly because I just bought Oblivion for the Xbox and wanted to get to the Shivering Isles, and partly because I'd just gotten home from talking to the night classes in ABW and felt like it had already been a long day, but also partly because I thought I might make good choices about food if I went, but I knew I would make good choices about food if I stayed.  And I've been trying really hard to not think about this in terms of shame.  The world is full of shame enough for a million fat girls; I don't need to add any of my own.  But one more day of weight gain would feel like one more day of failure, and I couldn't stand the thought of it.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Week 4, part 1: Reckoning

8am, Monday.  212 pounds.  Gain this week, 3 pounds.  Total loss, 5 pounds.

I just want one thing to be right.  I want something to work.  I want to feel like there is something I am not failing at.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

breathing again

Sometimes, it feels like a miracle.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Week 3, part 2: Classes begin

Things I probably shouldn't have done right before classes start:

1. Lose my phone.

2. Eat myself sick.

3. Run out of anti-depressants.

On the other hand, I am pleased to announce that I have saved the universe from evil robots.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Week 3, part 1: Another Reckoning

10:30 am, Monday. 209 pounds. Loss this week: 5 pounds. Total loss: 8 pounds.

This week I learned that when I am invited to a party with large quantities of really good food, eating a small meal directly beforehand so that I won't eat there doesn't necessarily work.
I'm not sure what the solution is.  Next time, don't let myself even have a few snacks?  It's easier to maintain an extreme position than a moderate one.  Next time, go late enough that people won't really be eating?  Sucks when the party revolves around watching a TV show together.  Maybe do like Emily does and bring my own special food so I have something to snack on while everyone is eating, but it's veggies & low-cal dipping sauce?  I can still eat too much of that, but at least it won't do as much damage as eating too much fajitas. 

On the other hand, I was also reminded that what goes on in a day can be taken off in two.  Real disasters take time.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


A list of things I like in heart tattoos:

bright colors
gradients in the heart

Things I don't like in heart tattoos:

thorns/barbed wire

This is what I do when I should be plugging in the projector and making sure it works.

I heart things.

So, you know how I was saying that I built up "being fat" as the thing stopping me from all these things I want?  Here's one example.

I have a tattoo.  It looks like this:

I got it when I was 19, at Dragon Moon in Glen Burnie, Maryland.  It's part of this Escher print:

And, pretty much since I got the tattoo, I have been aware of how it could be better.  It's not that I don't like it, it's that I know how I'd like it more.  I wanted the tattoo to fade in and out of skin, rather than have such a distinct line between the filled-in water areas and my skin.  Sort of like this:

(Please excuse the sloppy Photoshop.  I think you get the idea.)

So, for the last 13 years, I've had this "some day I'll fix my tattoo" in my head.  But first there was the problem of having the cash and not having other things I wanted more.  And then,  once I started losing weight, my "someday tattoo" plans got mixed up with that, and it wasn't just "when I have the money," but "when I like my body."  Or "when I get thin."  It was one of the rewards I set up for myself for when I succeeded at my weight loss goals.  And any other tattoos I might want have to wait until I fix the one I have. 

And I was talking to my friend Fenna, who has many gorgeous tattoos, and is planning some more, and I was so very jealous.  Because I want more tattoos.  And I was explaining why I can't get more tattoos, because first I have to do this, and then this, and wait for this.  And I finally decided that I didn't want to follow the rules I made up because I felt like I should

So I'm getting a tattoo.  I am getting a new tattoo before I fix the old one.  I am getting a bright red heart with a banner and possibly flowers or birds on my left boob.  And I am leaving the banner blank so I can write in whatever I feel like heart-ing for the day.  And, yeah, it's a joke tattoo, which I would have told you was not a good idea.  But I've liked the idea for, oh, five or six years so far.  And I want it.  And I've decided that I can have it.

Friday, January 13, 2012

for the shoebox

I haven’t spoken to her in five years. I haven’t seen her in six. I try to remember her last phone call, but what I remember instead is lying on the floor of our dorm room with my head in her lap while she strokes my hair. Her fingers carve grooves along my scalp like rivers flowing from my temple to my neck. Her hands are as small as mine, but hers are thin and elegant. She doesn’t bite her nails.

I am waiting for the epiphany. Where I realize that I have moved on. I have to move on. But there is no epiphany, and I can't let go. All I have is this: a love letter to my best friend, which is really a love letter to the two of us at eighteen, alone in the dark on the third floor of Gallagher Hall, two girls in twin beds whispering secrets across the room. Those girls are lost now, grown strange and old. But I will spend the rest of my life trying to find them again.

Post 441

3 years, and 440 posts later, I have decided that I am tired of duplicating my blog.  Those of you who read this on flickr, please come see it at blogspot. 

Thank you.


I sleep in a converted attic. It’s the biggest bedroom, but has the lowest ceiling; I am five feet tall, and even I can’t walk from one end of the room to the other without hitting my head. My housemates are both much taller than I am, and didn’t fight me for the room. When I wake up in the middle of the night, the light from my room makes a path down the stairs and into the bathroom. I like the way my light looks from the bottom of the stairs.

I grew up in a single story ranch house with soil-colored shag carpet and soft, lumpy, ceilings. When I slept on the top of my bunk bed, I could reach up and brush off bits of ceiling onto my blankets like dandruff.

The next two houses I lived in had two floors, and when I left my second story bedroom for a third floor dorm, and started writing fiction, I could never conceive of a bedroom that did not begin and end with stairs. One comes down from ones bed. It is simply the way of things.

When my brother tried to kill himself, he was going to jump off the roof from his second floor bedroom. I realize now that this would probably not have killed him, but I'm sure it didn't seem so obvious at the time. I wasn't there. And when I examine my memory of my mother telling me, in the car on my way home from college for the summer, I don't really remember what she said. I don't remember her saying it. And I wonder if I'm wrong, if I’m remembering everything wrong, if my brother tried to kill himself while I was away at college, and I don't even know how he was going to do it.

It all makes sense now.  All the scattered things I've been trying to make that I can't finish because I don't know what they're about—the story about Sheila, the story about Caboose, the photos with Chinese restaurants and my father's living room and the lions in front of that movie theater in Keokuk—they're all the same thing.  I am filling a shoebox with all of these things, which are connected, and not.  It's not about any one thing, it's about all of them.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Week 2, part 4: Therefore, blog.

(I am apparently going to do a lot of make-up work this weekend.  Which is fine, I already kind of knew that.)

One of the reasons I'm blogging so steadily about losing weight is because I'm trying to keep it out of my real-time interactions.  Losing weight is a constant activity.  I'm not just sitting here, typing (when I should be scheduling), I'm sitting here typing and not eating.  And that takes effort.  Not particularly soul-killing effort, not now, not today, but still, my weight is on my mind.  It has to be.

It's also a really big deal for me.  I've spent most of my life blaming things in my life on being fat, blaming my fat on me, making tidy little shame spirals to fall into.  I have set up in my mind that being fat is the One Thing that keeps me from having the life I want.  By losing weight, I gain access to all those things the fat kept me away from.  And, rationally, I know this isn't so.  But we're not talking about reason here.  We're talking about fat.  So even though yesterday I accomplished some awesome things at work, what I came home proud of is the number on the scale that morning.

On the other hand, I really don't want this to be What I Talk About.  It's repetitive.  It's problematic.  It's boring.  I mean, people use "talking about the weather" as the epitome of the thing you say when there's nothing to say, but at least the weather is something that everyone shares in.  (Also, few things affect me as pervasively as the weather does—it colors everything that happens every day—so, yeah, kinda big deal for me.)  And unlike my internet dating obsession, losing weight doesn't generate anything I can turn into an amusing anecdote.  I have introspection, I have soapboxes galore.  And so I have this blog.

Saturday, January 7, 2012