Wednesday, April 23, 2008

in praise of lists

i'm heading back to chicago tomorrow for the screening of my guy's movie on saturday. i'm all atwitter with nerves and excitement. i'm kind of starting to freak about about leaving my little furry babies in the capable care of strangers. i'm starting to freak out about my weight (like these peeps care - they know me at this weight!!). i'm starting to freak out about seeing my mom - she and my sis had a particularly bad blow out about two weeks ago and now she's fighting with my dad... who wants to visit that hot mess? i'm freaking out about what to wear on saturday. i've been freaking out about work and have been fighting towards deadlines like crazy this week.

but the coolest part is that all the freak out is more of a mellow hum than full blown frenetic energy. i've been taking calculated, measured steps to get myself ready for this trip all week. i made extensive lists to keep me sane and guide me at home and at work. i'm sure my kitties and pup-eroni will be just fine - they always are. and knowing that i'll only be gone for four days makes any mom-stuff seem totally tolerable. and i get to see my favorite favorite girlfriends.

chi-town, here i come!!

Monday, April 21, 2008

when the best thing ever gets sullied by the worst thing ever... in front of 11 strangers

tonite i had my first sewing class. i've been looking forward to this class for months... i've tried to sign up for it twice and twice it was full. i thoroughly researched this place and even though it was a bit more expensive, i just knew it was the right place for me.

i moved my whole day around so i could get to this class on time... got up extra early so i could leave work early, planned an outfit that would have enough comfort and longevity to get me through a full work day and a three-hour class, ate a large, late lunch so i wouldn't be hungry during the class...

and when i finally got there, it proved to be awesome. only 12 students so the instructor can spend lots of one-on-one attention with each student. the instructor is a fabulous old queen with more sass in his little finger than one would find in a cranky kindergarten class. and the other students were all gals... of various shapes and style sensibilities.

we started off with a bang. a few jokes about being the next project runway contestants and introductions on sewing 101 how to.

things were going great until we took a short break around 7:30. i went to the restroom only to come back to the instructor talking about how important 'fit' was. "forget size! have you seen what banana republic is calling a 12 these days? GEN-ER-OUS." shee-it. things started to go downhill from there... words from his introduction a few short hours ago were ringing in my head, "i can tell every single one of you what your measurements are - trust me. i've been doing this for
that long." i wear a size 22. what the fuck do you think was going through my head after he basically just declared 12's to be ginormous?!

it was at that point that i became acutely aware of trying to not shift in my seat... the least amount of attention i could bring to myself the better... don't let the chair squeak, don't sip from your water, don't look up... just smile... smile... don't betray that anything else is going on.... i was SO uncomfortable. it seemed as soon as the size vs. fit diatribe started, an unmercifully hot, bright spotlight focused on me. i was so paralyzed that i couldn't even look around the room to confirm my suspicions that i had become the center of intense, boring gazes.

the instructor went on to evidence his 'fit matters most' bit by giving a couple of examples of famous women ... who are larger... who always look meticulous. "i've met queen latifah in person and believe me, she ain't a petite gal... but she always looks like a million bucks!!" true, but why use her as an example? why not talk about how bad kirsten dunst looks when she wears rags that hang off her tiny frame?

just when i thought i couldn't take another moment, it got worse. we were handed patterns and told that we were going to be measured for the patterns... right then and there.



the instructor started going around the room measuring each gal's hips. he was quick. he gave each woman's number to her under his breath. very polite. very sensitive. when he got to me, he had trouble reaching around me... so it was taking longer than everyone else. and then, when he finally gave me my number (51.5 in a VERY hushed tone) i didn't know what else to do but say out loud, "28?! how lovely!!!" get this... EVERYONE laughed. even the folks on the other side of the room. was everyone waiting to hear my gargantuan waist size?

i was dying from the mortification. i think at that point he was talking more about how to read the panel on the pattern packet... i have no idea what was told to us because i was busy falling down an inner spiral of shame.
the fun didn't stop there, though... once he told us how much fabric we needed i realized i was a full inch and a half bigger than the biggest XXL measurement on the package. holy christ. now i have to ask what to do in my situation??

i summoned all the courage i had left and waited till the end of class and asked the instructor. again, he was completely nonplussed by the question and said something about 'wear ease' and how i would be just fine.

i have never bolted from a place so fast. thank god that's over. i'm actually kind of glad i didn't know that there was measurements-taking in store at our first class... i think i would have psyched myself out of it had i known that we would actually have to be measured... out loud... in front of strangers.

despite the utter humiliation, i'm glad i went. i'm glad i didn't lose composure when faced with a surprise measuring... there were definitely unsavory elements about this evening. but i refuse to let it tarnish my long standing excitement about learning to sew.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

unsolicted weight loss advice

i recently received a couple of emails from my aunt, with whom i established a lovely relationship when my dad was in the hospital. i've never really had a realtionship with Auntie M before, but spent a lovely evening chatting about this and that and catch-up when i was back in chicago. we exchanged email addresses and promised to keep in touch at the end of the visit.

two days ago, she sent me a short email greeting. the weird part, though, is that she also included images of a couple of wedding dresses she'd found on the internet... sweet gesture (i guess) considering that i briefly mentioned that my guy and i had wedding plans on the near horizon, but a little odd, too... sure, i mentioned that after 5.5 years together, we wanted to tie the knot soon so as to A.) get my folks of our backs about living in sin; and B.) to avoid reproducing bastard children, but this information was shared in passing, just one bit of conversation lost in the mix of a variety of 'catching up' tidbits. funny thing is that both wedding dress images were of plus sized models in CHEESY dresses. she informed me that she would also forward images from her friend's wedding because her friend's dress was a thing of beauty. she closed with a directive, "get excited about your wedding."


frankly, i think i'm probably the only woman on the planet who isn't head over heels about planning my wedding (it's been nearly six years, for crissakes! the thrill is gone... although i couldn't love my guy more, but make no mistake...i am not the picture of blushing virginal bride). so the directive to "get excited" seemed strange... as strange as the wedding dress images, because i don't recall talking about dress buying with her. i didn't take her email to heart, though. i figured that she was probably trying to build on the connection we made in chicago - reaching out to me via something she thought i was interested in. i sent a short note back thanking her for thinking of me and letting her know that i was glad to hear from her. and that was that...

...until the next email came. this one had a link to an extravagant wedding dress manufacturer (vastly different from the initial images) and the note said "this is the dress that my friend wore... although she's not a size 0 like the models... she has a full and beautiful figure." *blink*blink* what the hell does that mean? again, i thanked her and noted how lovely the gowns were.

the third email came last night... she had forwarded some information about a technique called "tapping" which she said may help with my weight loss (again, i don't remember talking specifically about my weight loss journey to her... maybe i said something about weight watchers in passing at another point in the visit?? i certainly didn't go into detail about it.) my weight loss?? she went on to say that she thought i was beautiful as i am, however, if i wanted to lose weight, it was my prerogative. WTF??

i'm SURE i'm just being sensitive. from the weekend i spent in my aunt's company, i got to know a little bit about her life... and she's lonely. she doesn't have close girlfriends. she doesn't even have family that she can rely on. so i choose to take her recent emails as simply reaching out to another compassionate soul in the universe. after all, she also said on numerous occasions over the weekend that she was so delighted to feel part of a family.

still... i was a little... hmm, i don't know how to describe the feeling... taken aback?.. by the content of my aunt's emails. she is not overweight... she's not underweight... she's perfect the way she is (and who am i to judge this?) so i thought it was kind of weird that she would dwell on MY weight in every single email. it kind of felt presumptuous on her part that she would be able to inform my personal journey with weight loss. this is a very personal thing to me. i feel a certain level of vulnerability around my weight and my choice to lose weight. i certainly did not invite her in to comment on my journey. so why was she doing so IN EVERY SINGLE EMAIL???

perhaps i really am being a ninny... after all, via blogging, i'm opening up some of my most personal and private feelings around this whole weight loss/body acceptance journey to perfect strangers... what's so wrong about sharing with my auntie?

what's so wrong is that it's not on my terms... that's why it feels a little uncomfortable. the enlightened part of me sees this interaction with my Auntie M as a means of getting to know a brilliant member of my family (after all, she's a harvard phd and does huge humanitarian efforts in africa!!!how cool is that??). if my weight serves as a catalyst to a fruitful and deep relationship with another amazing female who is FAMILY, then who cares?

but then there's the smaller, more sensitive part of me that feels like, "HEY! i did NOT invite you into my room! GET OUT!!"

for now i guess i'll be satisfied with the middle ground and be grateful that
  • my feeling really weren't hurt by her emails
  • how cool is it to develop an adult relationship with an amazing lady who lives her life more outside of herself than most peeps i know??
  • how cool am i for not being sucked into the she's-taking-liberties-with-my-person-that-she-has-no-business-taking
still, it feels better to get it all out...

Monday, April 14, 2008

well ain't that a sonuvabitch...

saturday morning i awoke to the sound of dripping water... and lots of it. a flurry of kitchen sink activity from the upstairs neighbors bubbled up through our sink due to a clog somewhere down the line. my guy and i are not early risers. our neighbors are. by the time we woke up, there was an inch of water covering the kitchen floor, and the counters were completely drenched.

needless to say it wasn't the best way to start the weekend. i admit that i was a little shellshocked from waking so abruptly. and from the aegean sea which manifested itself on my kitchen floor. but i was also undone by the size of the task at hand. call a plumber? call the landlord? turn the water off? where? for the building? talk to the neighbor? how do we even clean up this much water?? is this a hepatitis breeding ground??

fortunately, the overflow ceased shortly after our discovery. not only was there water EVERYWHERE, but since it was sink water, there were little bits of food and sink mung covering everything, too. SO FREAKING GROSS. i was paralyzed by the situation. i had all these questions and what-ifs crowding my mind. my guy only added to the swirling confusion in my head with his own questions, "should we go buy a mop? should we throw towels on this? does our lease cover this situation?" i was overwhelmed. the clean up task looked insurmountable.

i waded out of the kitchen and walked back to the office. i sat in front of the computer and just stared. my guy followed me in and asked what was going on. it was bad enough that the flood gates had released themselves in my kitchen, but now my internal river of emotions surged forth. i started whining about all my worries, all the questions that the kitchen situation brought forth. my voice sounded like a worried little kid as the concerns tumbled out of me. but here's the thing - as soon as they were out of me, as soon as i had released all the worry, i felt totally fine. describing the cloud of question and worry in my head seemed to deflate it. it dissipated and sanity started shining through.

i headed back to the kitchen to survey the situation. "you go get the mop. i'll stay here in case the sink starts overflowing again," i directed my guy. we took turns wading across the river to empty off the counter tops. we also cleared out the cupboard under the sink. once my guy left to find reinforcements, i tackled the standing water. i crafted a tool out of a 1 liter plastic bottle to help me bail the water out of the kitchen. it was slow going. scooping and dumping, scooping and dumping. as i sat there, in the middle of the drowned kitchen floor, something unexpected happened to me. i was overcome with peacefulness. i started thinking about how bailing out a flooded kitchen was an appropriate analogy to my weight loss journey. discovering the situation was just horrifying. in november of last year, when i finally hopped on the scale after so many years, i was dreading the little digital number. and yes, the reality was jarring. but once i committed myself to a newfound relationship with my body and weight loss, the situation didn't seem insurmountable. i recognized that there was a lot of hard, often 'yucky' work ahead of me, but it needed to happen. if for no other reason than for longevity of life and health reasons, it needed to happen. so here i am, in the midst of this weight loss journey, riding the highs and holding on through the lows. just bailing myself out. and for as much heartache as it can cause sometimes, i find that i am truly happy with the distance i've come thus far. i'm getting to know me. in the same way that i had to pull the fridge and the stove away from the wall to clean up the standing water (and the wet under-fridge-chud), i've had to pull metaphysical obstacles out of the path of my heart and mind. my first emotion this floody morning was shock, followed by dread. somewhere along the way i encountered grateful. i was actually grateful for an opportunity to so thoroughly clean my kitchen. i am grateful that i have an opportunity to clean out my body and mind.

by the time my guy got back with the mop, i not only scooped all the water off the kitchen floor, but i scrubbed down the bathroom, too... i was a woman on a mission! despite the day starting out in the shitter, it ended up quite nice.

it's nice to know that others are also appreciating similar journies, too.

Friday, April 11, 2008

shelves are for books... not for butts

i'm having one of those yucky days where i don't quite feel like my clothes are fitting. i've been uncomfortably tugging and pulling and trying to cover myself up all day. i was 45 min late to work because i couldn't find a suitable outfit combination that felt good (even my weekly pre-determined options weren't working for me).

i waffled unnecessarily and extraordinarily long about whether or not i should get up and go to subway. my stomach got the better of me and when i finally got to the parking lot, i pulled into a spot, got a little overwhelmed and PULLED OUT TO LEAVE, then pulled back in again... i was so consumed with this idea that i looked SO bad today, that i nearly talked myself out of going into subway for five minutes to get lunch. cuckoo! fortunately, a shinning moment of crystal clear sanity broke through the dense fog of my poor self esteem. confidence! exude confidence and that's all they'll see! besides, seriously? unless you've sprouted a third arm, you look FINE.

after i got back to the office and finished lunch, my neurosis got worse. only now all of my attention was focused on my butt. there is a full length mirror in the ladies room and everytime i went in there, my eyes immediately dropped to the silhouette of my derriere. i carry most of my weight in my ass and stomach and depending on the clothes i'm wearing, sometimes it looks like i have a pseudo shelf-butt. from a side angle, it looks like theres a little pooch that sticks out past the round fullness of my hip/lower back/butt. i cannot stop thinking about my shelf butt. about who's gonna notice my shelf butt. about how all the kids are going to make fun of me and play pranks like set a vase or a gramaphone on my shelf butt when i'm not looking! behold the mysteries of the human body! behold the shelf butt! AHHH!!!

you know that film that my guy did the soundtrack for? it was accepted as part of this local film festival. tonite we are attending a viewing. i'm freaking out, people! FREAKING OUT! what if my shelf butt destroys the place? what if it doesn't fit into the seat? what if someone at the reception mistakes my shelf butt for a side table and tries to place their drink on it?? what if it tries to TAKE OVER THE WORLD??

breathing... breathing... serenity now.

for all my hysterics, i actually feel a lot better having written down all of these feelings... like i just vented all the 'insane' out the cargo doors, leaving the calm to reclaim me. i won't have much time to get ready when i get home, but i've got a plan... just a quick change of blouses, a jacket and some accessories and i'm sure i'll walk out the door feeling 100% better than i do right now...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

button bliss

today i was able to fasten a button that i haven't been able to close in a long time.

funny how the simple act of buttoning a button can color the whole day with magic, wonder, and delight.

i've also found that there is magic in these wise words over at fat as hell.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

are you losing weight?

is it just me or is this one of those questions that sends shockwaves of fear through others, as well?

one of my coworkers approached me recently and said, "are you losing weight?" the rational part of my mind knows that her tone was innocent enough, that she was likely proffering a compliment, but here's what the irrational, and in-control part of me (at the time) saw and heard:

i was minding my own business, happily humming a peppy little tune, waiting for the copier to churn out all 5 trillion color copies of my latest project, when one of my coworkers approached, stopped mid-stride, turned to me. she scanned me up and down like a cylon assessing whether to blast my human ass away or identify me as similar to her: a non-threatening run of the mill cog. noting her pause in my peripheral vision and sensing possible danger, i abruptly stopped humming and slowly reached for my trusty side arm, a terrifyingly swift stapler.

suddenly the skies darkened, the roof violently flew off the fourth floor of the office building. thick red clouds started churning overhead. i looked over at my coworker who was morphing into a fearsomely, huge demon with an evil, knowing smile slowly spreading over menacing, yellowed teeth.

she pointed a long, gnarled, accusatory talon at me. "ARE YOU LOSING WEIGHT?" she boomed.
i could feel myself shrinking, wilting in the face of this horrifying accusation. i could do nothing but tremble before the creature, mouth agape in sheer horror.

the beast screeched again, louder than the din of the surrounding hellfire.

"i... i... i... "i quietly stuttered.

the loathsome beast just glared down at me with piercing, red eyes.

"well i guess i've lost a
little weight... ab-b-b-bout eight pounds or so..." no response. i was snared in her all consuming judgment-filled gaze. "i've b-b-b-been doing weight watchers for a few months," i stammered on, trying to fill the silent void. "i mean i know it's been a few months, and if i were really following the program the right way, i would probably be down a little more... but it's been good so far... i mean i have so much more to go... but you know, it works for a lazy-ass like me..."

my self deprecating spiral was suddenly halted by Joe Poke, another coworker. instantly the roof returned to the building and my coworker magically resumed her original shape.

"um, excuse me - are you almost done with the copy machine?" Pokey, Office Shlub interrupted.

"uh... yeah - almost done here." i said, still reeling from the terrifying exchange moments ago.

Pokey wandered off, leaving me with my shape-shifting coworker. without skipping a beat, she said, "well, whatever you're doing, you look good. i can totally see it in your face." then she walked away.

what the hay? what was that? was i just complimented or slighted? and by who? did i just totally insult myself for like five minutes??

i'm pretty sure (rational me here) that my coworker was only passing on a nice compliment. i don't think that she was saying wow. your face used to be so fat before that we had an office pool going as to whether you were smuggling puppies or lawn furniture in your neck folds... btw, deck chairs won.

i realize that i also need to subscribe to the less is more camp... not only with portion control, but with diarrhea of the mouth. a simple "i have" would have been a perfectly acceptable response to 'are you losing weight.' i need to remember that i don't have to defend myself for my diet. i don't have to disparage my successes or my body. nor do i have to go into extended detail about how i got a few pounds down. (besides, who really wants to hear that tedious crap, anyway?) finally, i need not forget about my trusty stapler, which, in a pinch could really help me 'zip it'... or, er... staple it?? (the mouth... not the stomach... you know, just to be clear.)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

home again home again jiggity jig

i got home mid-week last week. i was exhausted and newly sick, but utterly delighted that my dad was well into recovery and even walking around by the time i left. as a matter of fact, he was doing so well that the hospital released him on wednesday. it boggles the mind to think that 4 days prior to his release, he was on an operating table with his thoracic cavity completely exposed and his heart unable to function on its own.

i spent the entire plane ride to chicago steeling myself against the potential bullshit factor that i just knew was waiting for me. my mom picked me up at the airport, gave me a quick hug, then shoved a large cookie at me. "here we go" i thought as i turned down the baked goods. i couldn't have been more wrong in my assumptions, though. the visit was surprisingly really really good. all but one of my siblings returned home. my younger brother and sister stayed for nearly a week longer than i did, but i'm really glad that i went back even if it was for just a long weekend. my mom was the epitome of graciousness - which completely took me by surprise. and my sibs were supportive and generous with their compassion and helpfulness. there was no weird undercurrent of animosity or agenda. it was just really pleasant.

one morning, before visiting hours, i ducked into a salon for a much needed cut and color. about an hour into my highlighting, my mom called the salon. since there was no one else in the shop, we could clearly hear the desk clerk talking about me. she was telling someone that i was in the middle of my appointment. i said some snide comment to my stylist about how it was
probably my mother and how it would be her drama queen style to call the salon instead of my cell phone to relay information on my dad's status. turns out she called to give her credit card number to pay for my visit. wow. i sheepishly joked about putting my foot in my mouth to the stylist and sat there for the rest of the dye job feeling like a total louse.

the exchange at the salon got me thinking though. i was surprised at how quick i was to disparage my mother. as soon as i heard that she was on the phone, i immediately went into blame mode. how shitty of me. my knee jerk reaction at the salon also caused me to reflect on my interaction with my mom when she first relayed the news about my dad... perhaps it was i who was the drama queen? maybe it was me who was overreacting to the news? me who was getting all spun up? after all, i am my mother's daughter...

my dad's sister flew out from the east coast, too. she is another crazy broad with her own set of issues. my mom and my aunt have never really gotten along and in recent years, their relationship has escalated to all out war. my aunt booked a ticket and rented a car, but made no lodging accommodations. i was delightfully surprised at how my mom handled the situation. she attempted to clear the air with my aunt before the rest of us got to chicago and even offered an apology to my aunt. she also extended her home and included my aunt in all the family activities. (of course, my mom bitched to me about how my aunt didn't offer an apology or responsibility for any of the bad blood between the two of them, but that my mom was able to shelf that shit for the duration of the visit? well bravo, mama. bravo.)

anyway, it feels good to be home... dare i say... i was actually looking forward to returning to los angeles? my, how the tide has turned...

i'm sending a prayer of thanks out to the universe - i'm grateful to have an extensive community of support both online and in person. i'm grateful that my father is making an amazing recovery. i'm grateful for my family. i'm grateful for change, and surprises, and for the ability to admit when i'm wrong. and i'm grateful to be home.