It’s not like I look sexy when I do it (I feel maybe a little sexy, but I know I look far from sexy). It’s not like it fulfills me, makes me feel good, or satisfies me. In fact, it bankrupts me, makes me feel light-headed and kind of ick, and it is the furthest thing from satisfying to leave the house smelling like flowers and end up smelling like ashtrays. And yet, I continue to smoke. I buy a pack, I smoke a pack, I buy a pack, I smoke a pack, steady as a metronome. That ticking sound you hear? The counting off of the minutes of my life every puff snips off the end.
Tonight, Jayrad brought us all home treats from the convenience store–chocolate milk for E, a packet of peanut M&Ms for me. Peanut M&Ms: not known for their nutritional value. Me: Very, very full from a Chinese food dinner, not hungry at all, a little depressed and downtrodden by the most depressingly bad movie ever in the history of them (Red Dawn! a young Patrick Swayze! Jennifer Grey reminds me of my friend Harry!), and generally, just not in the kind of place emotionally where anyone with a healthy relationship with food would find themselves wanting to add peanut M&Ms.
Part of the reason I know I have a problem is because I am aware that I have a problem; I am aware of how a regular person would react to an unexpected packet of M&Ms–“Thanks!” they would say, and they would put the M&Ms away for later. So that’s what I did. “Thanks!” and I tucked them into my bag. And then, when no one was looking, I pulled them back out of my bag, tore open a corner, and shook out two. Then I put them back into my bag.
Rinse repeat, for what felt like hours, but was probably say, 30 or 40 seconds. Then it is time for me to head out. I shoulder my bag, and what I am thinking is “Now I can eat my M&Ms, when I get home!” and it is such an exciting prospect. Except as my bag shifts, I hear the candy rattle, and then spill across the bottom of my bag. At the same time, an existentially angsty NOOOOOOO rings out across the barren plains of my heart.
Seriously, there is a such thing as yoga that hangs you from the ceiling like a sack of meat. Yoga which involves dangling. Yoga in which you climb into slings and try really hard not to fall on your head and die horribly of some kind of snapped spine complication. Anti-gravity yoga! Except that they don’t actually turn off the gravity, and gravity can hurt. It’s really real, anti-gravity yoga! And it is completely awesome.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be the person who named lipstick colors (Hot Flash of Madness; A Suffusion of Peonys). Now that I am a grown up, I want to be the person who comes up with the completely insane exercise class ideas for which people will give good money to attend and which will sweep the nation as the newest, greatest, batshit crazy fitness trend to come down the pike and which is so ridiculously awesome, you don’t ever want to put down the glockenspiel.
E calls me sparrow, and asshole. I call him honeybear, and bitchface. We say baby, honey, sweetie, lovey, pumpkin, sugar pie, honey bunch, lovey, lover, dollface, love of my life, you rotten man, rudeface, gorgeous boy, beautiful girl, crazypants, bug, McGinty. Probably he is going to kill me for telling you that. The point is: We like nicknames. We are a fan of the nicknames. I think I have only just scratched the surface of the nicknames that we call each other, because they vary widely and range from the nauseating to the hilarious to the mean but in a loving way, which pretty much defines our relationship.
I was sprawled out on the couch, cuddling with the dogs. E was sprawled on the other, cuddling with a blanket. We were zoning, tired, unfocused. I don’t remember what we were even watching. But he looked over at me, and said “Come here.” I wiggled out from under the dog pile and stretched out full-length on top of him. He wrapped his arms around me, settled me into the crook of his body and covered me up with the quilt. He pet me, in long strokes down my back. “There,” he said. “Is that what you needed?” “Mmmprrrhhh,” I said.
Yesterday was full of things I didn’t realize I needed, wanted, and had been missing terribly. After a frantic Tuesday back in the office, so much catch-up and a flurry of jobs re-scheduled and emergencies and staying late, Wednesday settled back down into a routine. I got a lot of freelance work done on the train, got to work in plenty of time and even had a moment for breakfast. I was scheduled all day with jobs I don’t mind doing–actually satisfying ones. People dropped by my desk, in waves–we missed you, how was your weekend. People said things like, we should get drinks. We should get sushi. You have my eternal friendship. You are awesome. Drinks? And I beamed all day, like a flashlight with new batteries.
So here I am, two years out past weight loss surgery, and the time has come to call it. This is the size I am: 134 to 138 pounds (rather more when I eat oats), a size 4/6, kind of floppy (but firming up). Smallish, petite-ish. Narrow shoulders, wide ribcage, completely clumsy, utterly unathletic. A generally perky A cup. Soft stomach, with extra skin that hangs down. Short legs, pretty good legs, but also, hello inner thighs and extra skin. I still dislike my knees. Here I am, and here is my body, and now there are decisions to be made. Where the hell do I go from here?
I am supposed to start thinking about plastic surgery now. You’re supposed to wait a year, minimum–they prefer two years. At two years out it is the time when, if you’ve been daydreaming about giant boobs, to start figuring out how you’re going to pay for those giant boobs, that tummy tuck, that entire lower-body lift that leaves you crisscrossed in scars like Frankenstein’s monster but as firm and taut as a big, bass drum. Only scarier.
If I put off buying a car right now, I could go get myself an ass like an eighteen year old, if I wanted. With hundreds of thousands of dollars I could desperately pursue the erasure of the entire history of my body, delete all the evidence of ever having been fat, frantically pound Ctrl-Z, Ctrl-Z, beg a doctor to fix me and make me as close to totally perfect as I can get with a lot of money and a lot of surgery. Scars don’t count–scars are the end result of surgery. And wouldn’t I rather carry the end result of surgery than the end result of obesity?
I spent most of Saturday at a meeting, eating a lot of oats. As it turns out, larger quantities of oats and my belly don’t get along so well–to be fair, much of that oatmeal came in the form of cookies and bars, but still. I waddled out of the door feeling distended, and bloated (blOATed! ha!) and a little bit ill. When I got back to my hotel room, I took off my sweater, glanced at the mirror and kind of gasped–my entire belly was poofed out, as if I had just sat and eaten a whale, except it took me significantly under 89 years. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed such a direct result of food on my body, ever, and it was strange to see.
I recounted the story to a friend of mine–“And I was so bloated and distended! I was huge! It was amazing! Biology is amazing!” Eventually talk turned to other things. Eventually, a few drinks in, we started to talk about body image, as we sometimes do because we are both fascinated by it. And she turned to me and said, I have to tell you: It sounded to me like you were complaining that you were fat and unattractive. She said that the first thing she thought was that if I thought I was fat and ugly with a big old gut, then what must I think of her, and the size of her stomach?
Some of the side effects of the duodenal switch procedure for weight loss: it is necessary to take vitamins for the rest of your life, because you malabsorb them, and nutritional deficiencies are possible. You can develop intolerances to certain foods. Your body odor can change. If you are not vigilant with the amount of protein you consume, your hair can thin, and sometimes drop out. Your bowel movements will be frequent and unpleasantly loose. And if you eat some foods–particularly high-fat, high-carb foods, and sometimes dairy–you will experience noxious gas, and so will everyone around you. Sometimes, even if you don’t eat anything but protein, you’ll experience noxious gas anyway.
Some of those things, I’ve dealt with–I take my vitamins, some days more vigilantly than others, but I am working on making it an unbreakable habit. I’ve become lactose intolerant, to my great horror. My body odor hasn’t changed, and after a scary few months where I could see my baby-fine hair becoming baby-finer, my hair thickened back up. I poop a lot, and I carry matches with me everywhere, because of that. And I have noxious gas.
So many of you commented and wrote regarding the post about giving away clothing to people who need it. So what we’ve got now is a line to a few great clothing donation sites, for those of you who have been looking just like me, and also a whole host of you out there in a whole range of sizes who want to participate in a clothing swap. It warms the cockles of my cold, cold heart, and I am excited, you guys.
So the easiest way to do this, I think, is that we talk directly. A few of you have made requests in the previous post, but we ought to consolidate that conversation right here. Please post in the comments below:
- What you’ve got, in which sizes
- What sizes you need along with any specific wishlist items (i.e., I AM GOING TO A WEDDING–HELP!; my butt is naked, please send pants)
- Contact info–the best email address you can be reached at. You guys can get in touch with each other, figure out what you’ve got and what you need and what you can mail, and in a week, there will be a flurry of beautiful clothing criss-crossing the country and soon everyone will be gorgeously clothed and ridiculously cute.
Please do me a favor and if you possibly can, don’t just snag clothes–go through your closet and see if you’ve got anything to give away. Make room for your cute new sweater, and save someone else’s job interview at the same time.
With the office job on top of the non-office jobs and the
commute and the attempting to maintain my relationships with the various people
in my life, writing has fallen off the radar. That’s a really bad thing,
especially considering the fact that I have a lot of writing goals, and I
originally left my original office job and moved to a small town in order to be
able to afford to write and what I’ve done is–stop writing. I’ve lost sight of
things, and that is always so disorienting.
Grasping wildly at straws, trying to figure out a way to get
it back, while I am still sitting my butt in a cube for five days a week,
getting an email from Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo, all, “You deserve
to take time for yourself! You deserve to be creative and brave and set aside a
big chunk of your life for a crazy project only designed to make you
happy!” And losing my mind.
I signed up for NaNoWriMo! National Novel Writing Month. It’s a misnomer–it’s
more like “national write 50,000 words in one month” month, but that is a
little unwieldy to fit into a handy-dandy acronym, so a novel it is. A fairly
short novel, actually. But a lot of words for someone who hasn’t written that
many words since thesis crunch time in grad school. A whole lot of words for
someone who doesn’t have a lot of time.