the little things

Firstly, you should know that my chair at work is your
standard, factory-issued Black Chair No. 43, with a swivel and a bouncy back
and arms that go up and down. Sometimes, when we are very bored and punch drunk
here at the office, we lift our feet up and we push off our desks and we spin
and we spin and we spin until the whole room is a whirligig blur and we are
vomiting into our trashcans. Fun!

Secondly, you should know that I do not approve of having
two feet lying flat on the floor, maintaining an upright posture. Upright
postures are for Victorians, or for those with rods up their asses, and also people
who are not me. I like to lounge and squirm and twist and bend. I tuck my feet
up under me, I prop my feet up on things, I lean and sprawl and contort and it
is possibly the least ergonomic thing you have ever seen in the whole history
of seeing things and judging whether or not they are, in fact, ergonomic. Which
is a fairly short history, but still.

When I read, I have to be lying on my side with my feet up
on a pillow or up on the wall or with my head hanging off the couch, or one
foot on the arm rest and the other on the coffee table and my arm propped on
the cat and 39 pillows and a llama on hand to make sure any sitting
position I require is immediately fortified for landing. When I watch television, it is a similar
set-up, of course, and when I go to the movies, the people in front of me hate it so much–so very, very much–to find a set of toes poking between their
chairs, propped up on their armrest. Hi, how ya doing? my foot says.

It drifts up there totally of its own volition. I do not
mean to be a sprawling, flopping, knees-akimbo rude thing. It is not what I do.
I sit down determined to be polite and neat and presentable and postured and
midway through the previews I am leaning back, feet propped up, arms hanging
off the armrests, eating popcorn out of everyone else’s buckets and screaming
at the screen, "NO! DON’T GO IN THERE!" I am awesome to hang out with
at the movies.

I wrote my entire novel sitting cross-legged on the couch,
hunched over a pillow, squinting in the half dark because my floor lamp glared
on the screen and it irritated me, with a perfectly good desk and chair and
non-glary, very attractive desk lamp not five feet away from me, because who
can think up exciting metaphors about the vagaries of life when you have both
feet on the floor? Communists, that’s who. And the crazy. Either way, I do not
trust that person as far as I can throw them, and believe you me–I have poor
upper-body strength.

This bizarre compulsion of mine makes sitting on a plane
difficult for me, for where do you prop your feet? How do you sit Indian-style
on a plane seat, unless you are very close friends with Mr. 26B, or would like
to become very close and best friends with Mr. 26B, unless he has a creepy foot
fetish, and in that case, you’re on your own. You do not. You sit bolt upright
in your plane seat and you stare straight ahead and you suffer in silence, all
stoic and brave and stoically brave and you don’t complain at all because
that’s what whiners do, and are you a whiner? Oh, shoosh.

Sitting in my office chair has historically been similarly
unpleasant for me. it’s an office chair.
There is room for a butt (wide) and a back, and two feet on the floor and
staring straight ahead into the abyss as it looks back into you and your soul
slowly dies a thousand writhing deaths under the pitiless sun of Working For a
Living. I used to unconsciously tuck my foot
up under my butt and sit like that, but it was uncomfortable, there wasn’t much
room in the chair, and my foot would go to sleep pretty quickly and that was
always unpleasant.

I work at a public service desk in a library, so imagine me,
when someone comes up to ask for help, leaping up from my chair, taking two
steps and sprawling forward in an attractive jumble of crazy, noodly limbs. Not professional. It’s a habit I can’t break, though, and I’ve
grown accustomed to clinging to desks and bookshelves and lurching my way over
to the front desk, because it is impossible for me to sit anyway but the crazy
insane ways.

Losing weight has not helped. Losing weight, actually, has
made me extremely bendy. I am on the futon, and suddenly I find I am breathlessly
watching Dr. "Mrs. Fitzgerald" House make his excitingly sexy diagnoses as he
does, and my arms are around my knees and my chin is propped up, and I am a
tiny ball of comfortable.

The first time I noticed it was at work, sitting in my office chair, one foot
tucked up under me. I was leaning forward, working on the student manual and
getting caught up in it, as I do. You wouldn’t guess it by looking at me (or
listening to me, or reading anything I have to say, or just knowing me), but I
have a lot of focus. When necessary. Occasionally. This time I did, anyway. And
I was bent over the keyboard and trying to come up with a synonym for "you
little fuckers" and my boss stopped to talk to me and said, "you look

I looked up at her and down at me and I realized I was
curled up in a little ball in my chair, one leg under me, the other tucked
behind me, and do you understand that this is completely 100 percent new
to me? I have never, ever been able to sit like that. I have never been able to
curl up like that, without my body fighting me, without being uncomfortable and
feeling lumpy and stretched out and blobby. And now it is something that
happens automatically, my body twisting into these positions that feel
perfectly natural and cozy. I am still a weird pretzel girl who can get even
pretzely-er. Which I suspect will make me popular at parties. The next step is
clearly yoga.

5 Replies to “the little things”

  1. Wow, I’m exactly the same way. My whole life my mom has yelled at me to get my foot out from under me because I was digging a crevasse into the couch cushion. Although now that I have my own couch I think that was kind of a big fat lie on my mom’s part. There is no crevasse. Just comfortable squishiness to curl up like a pretzel on. I’m enjoying the additional contortions my body can perform now that I’m losing weight.

  2. Hi, I found you via Dietgirl and just had to comment on this post -At last I have found someone else who thinks that sitting ‘correctly’ is just not normal. You made me laugh out loud with your descriptions of how you get comfortable to read! – I am the girl that takes the word laptop literally and curls up on the sofa to work. :-).

    I am so glad that your body is responding to your reducing size and allowing your positions to become comfier and comfier.

    keep up the great writing and weight loss!

    It must be wonderful to find that your body

  3. I tend toward the “splayed out like dogs dinner” when I’m sitting on my own on a bench or in the tailor’s position on the bed for writing. Oddly enough, I’m usually a card-carrying member of the posture police and tend to walk and sit very straight, particularly in straight chairs. Now and again, I do tuck my leg up under me, but it’s mostly when I’m on my own.

    I’ve found that open-toed “girly” shoes tend to keep my splaying to a minimum, oddly enough.


  4. Yoga is amazing, both for the bendy flexible thing and the focus thing. Totally worth trying! Plus it builds upper body strenght (you need it for throwing people according to another post) ^_^

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