just notes

February 1, 2005

excerpts

Physical Fitness tests.  Some New York State standard.  Flexibility, strength, endurance.  Flex arm hang, sit & reach, crunches.  The height we got to write down on the paper ourselves, even our resting heart rate.  But when it came to weight, the gym teacher had to weigh us.  Why would a school even have a scale—I don’t get it.

I spent my early years in Mother’s closet, pulling out thin silk scarves and tying them around my chest.  I spent hours at her vanity table—working foundation into my skin, like creamed butter.  Pressing my lips together in pink—flawless.  I drew a beauty mark beneath my eye with a brown eyebrow pencil.  I was gorgeous.  Fabulous, took the pins that kept her rollers in place, silver metal clips, dangled them from my ears, the closest I could find to make me resemble Olivia Newton John at the end of the movie Grease.

For Halloween, I always wanted to dress as a witch, an excuse to wear black.  I never looked like a witch; I looked like a hooker.  Mother’s black feather boa was my favorite item.  I was never allowed to paint my nails red, either.  Pink nails dressed in navy were the closest I got.  She dressed me in pastels and florals.  Laura Ashley sneezed all over me.

When my father’s mother Beatrice died, I had nothing to wear.  In a closet full of nothing to wear, all that fit were shoes.  In the changing room at Ann Taylor, I broke down crying.  Mother had brought me there for a suit to wear to the funeral.  The largest size they had didn’t fit.  I cried without tears, silently, in the fitting room.  She walked me across the mall to J. Crew.  There we no more options.  We found a size 16 black gabardine skirt suit.  $600.  I heard her arguing with my father that night, through their closed bedroom door.  “Donald, I didn’t want to spend that much.  We had to.”  My father was used to having Mother carry back armloads of garment bags.
“How much did that cost me?”
“Oh, wait until you hear how much I saved.  Such a bargain.”

The only thing I ever heard them fight about was money.  She resented feeling like she was on an allowance, having to account for each penny spent.  She bought dented soup cans to save, but she shopped at Tahari for her clothes.  He resented that all she did was spend.  To this day, he has no idea what ladies shoes cost, or sheets or towels or a new frying pan.  I’m glad about the ladies shoes.

When mother changed to show me her different outfit purchases, she changed in the bathroom or in her closet.  As she changed, she would emphasize the bargain, calling to me through the door.  She fingered her cellulite thighs, jiggling them.  “Bad, so bad.  Will you look at this?”  Enter my role model.  She was of course, thin, and beautiful.  She can eat like a trucker, never dieting.  Now, we’re finally the same size—size 6.  Except when I’m miserable, I’m a size 4.

I read books about blonde twins living in Beverly Hills.  Girls who make midnight wishes for some boy to like them—their wishes always came true.

My dad said we wore the same size in jeans.

When it came to boys, it always came down to which one liked me.  I only liked a guy I thought might be into me.  I always had to pick a guy to like, a hobby, like choosing a variety of yarn I wanted to spend my evenings knitting.

Wooden hangers, all facing the same way, hang beneath shelves of piled jeans and one pair of black leather pants that must have only fit me for a minute.  They’re unreachable in every way.

The summer after Eric Fink broke up with me, two months later, he called to see how I was doing, to ask if I planned on attending Shiva’s party.  “I’m good.  I lost weight since we last saw one another.”  I was certain he would want me if I were thinner.  Man, even now, writing this, drinking my water, ignoring the growls, planning how little I can eat for dinner and be satisfied.  I feel that being thinner will make me happy.  When I’m fat, I got gardeners.  When I was thin, I got everything.  I always had emails and new voicemail messages waiting.  Being thin is being popular.  Attention from boys made you popular.

Lust makes me diet.  Wearing his shirt and nothing else—smelling seex on my fingers, at it all day, my stomach growls.  My ache feels like hunger.  Meals, menus, shopping lists are replaced with dates, candles, lingerie.

There is always one girl who wears the same shirt too often, her smell makes you turn.  She walks like a giraffe, careful and suspecting.  When you’re ostracized you walk differently, trying not to be noticed, to yield to the stronger colors, to fade like thin water.

Spanikopita is my Christmas.  Sweet butter pooling in the pan as the pastry crisps up, it’s ledges lifting.  Flakes melt.  Salty feta bounces.  I am too impatient for the cooling—I let it roll in my tongue—short Lamaze breaths.  Christmas.

Strips of phyllo are tented in damp cloth.  Work quickly.  Spoons.  Clear plastic bowls of melted butter—the milk solids separate and hover near the edge like beginner swimmers clinging to the ledge.  A larger bowl is home to the eggy spinach puddle.  Feta floats like buoys.  I want to taste it raw.  Salmonella.  “Eh, eh, eh.” Mother smacks my hand as it reaches for a dip in the bowl.  “Get folding.”

Layer of phyllo, zig zag butter drizzle, phyllo, butter, phyllo—it’s music.  “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”  Spoonful of spinach mix is tidy on the phyllo runway, folded in its triangular pocket, like a gem hidden in a handkerchief.

Other kids went on teen tours of Israel or across America—playing Jewish geography on bus rides.  In fat camp, we made detailed lists of all the foods we craved to eat with our return back to the “real world.”  We remembered our favorite foods in detail—like speaking of a dear friend with whom you had a fallout.  Living in the past, where friends seemed truer, times were more fun and outrageous, where the guy adored you, where your jeans were so damn tiny.  The past tastes better.

I continue to finger size 12 rack.  When I hear “fatty,” I am certain they mean me. When I got to college, I heard someone chant "Moose."  "Oh dear God, it followed me here!"  I was panicked.  Thankfully, once I turned around, I noticed a football player with moose antlers attached to his helmut. 

There’s a small fear in revealing that I’m a former Crisco Chick.  I imagine it’s akin to letting a guy know your mother hasn’t aged well and that she has let herself go.  Ugs.  It’s an indicator of what could be.  Well, ya know what, screw it.  This is me, stretch marks and all.  Deal.

A car brings freedom.  Music as loud as I wanted, making out.  Smoking.  It brought me freedom to binge—to hide in my car and shovel.  During binge drives, I feared I’d run into fran, with a shopping cart full of “how could yous.”

Being intimate at camp took work.  They had PDA rules.  Councelors were instructed to break up public displays of affection with a whistle, or a hose on a hot day.  I got wet a lot.  Evenings provided opportunities.  In the dark, no one was responsible.  You could eat what you found, and kiss until your lips hurt.  In the dark, we found freedom.

At night I writhed and heaved into my pillows. Curled in fetal position, I cried for God to please take the pain away, please protect me, please give me strength to get through this, please. Then I swallowed and let the tears go.  I felt left behind and alone.  It is the scariest place I’ve ever been.  I hated my life—my fat empty life.

20 Responses to “just notes”

  1. friend Says:

    You are absolutely adorable (read beautiful, passionate, and brilliant). Love yourself. The rest will fall into place. I love you.

    Reply

  2. ak Says:

    i only started reading your blog a few days ago…it's pretty clear to me why you were nominated for best writing…you've def. got my vote.

    Reply

  3. Frances Says:

    Ah, despair comes easily in the darkness. Strangely, the last paragraph reminded me (for some reason) of my first night wearing braces. My entire jaw was straining angrily against the metal, and I cradled my head in my arms and curled up facing the wall. I bit my lips to keep myself from sobbing and had this miserable, resigned hatred for what was thrusted upon me.

    I know the situations are completely different, and mine was tiny and brief, but I can imagine the pain you felt. I'm glad it didn't consume you.

    Reply

  4. Lain Says:

    Your writing is something to aspire to, and I can relate to your story more than I would even care to admit, but something about the whole thing makes me cringe a little. For someone who is so beautiful, talented, and apparently together I just don't know why you place sust an emphasis on your weight. I know that some stranger isn't going to make you change the way that you feel about yourself, but there is so much more than if some undeserving guy thinks that your ass has the appropriate elasticity. It makes me kind of sad. For you, and for women in general.

    Reply

  5. Stephanie Says:

    Hey, I'm 18 years old (and still impressionable…haha) and I found your blog from a friend, and I've just gotta say that I love it. I never really thought about how much I enjoyed writing myself, but then I started reading all you had to say and it made me appreciate good writing so much more. Congrats on the bloggies, I voted for you! I really hope my writing will be like this some day :)

    Reply

  6. curious Says:

    you say in this post you're a six, but on january 16th you wrote about buying a pair of jeans with a 31 waist, which is a 10. damn girl! how did you lose that much weight so quickly?

    Reply

  7. Stephanie Says:

    The 31s are now too big. The 28s are still too small. I'm probably just right…

    I found these notes in one Microsoft Word document and thought I'd post them. It's how my head works… this was just a natural flow of thoughts.

    Reply

  8. Kristi Says:

    Aah- it would be so easy to say "Let go of worrying about your weight and learn to love yourself at any size" but it isn't as simple as that, is it? I hate that I can't be stronger than that, that I still care about acceptance, that I'm still trying to right all the childhood wrongs of my past- despite the fact that when it's all said and done, our obituaries won't give the size of our waist or the weight of our bodies, but will be a measure of the life we led full of accomplishment, kindness and love.

    Reply

  9. glycerin Says:

    Perhaps Lain doesn't realize that overweight people are still the only group of people that can be openly mad fun of and humiliated in our modern PC society.

    Someone can call a fat girl "moose" yet nobody would dare go up to a Vietnamese person and call them a "gook."

    After I lost a bunch of weight, suddenly I was no longer invisible.

    Reply

  10. jeans Says:

    curious -

    desginer jeans sizing is all over the place. One could be a 27 in one brand and a 29 in the other and the 30=10, etc. is almost never true.

    Reply

  11. Lain Says:

    Glycerin- I do realize, I do relate, and I do understand. I just don't see how THAT translates into having a lower self-worth.

    It could just be me.

    Reply

  12. hugo Says:

    i meant to comment on this post but then i realized your last post is titled "whoring around" and i must confess that with that single image i lost my train of thought…

    Reply

  13. BB Says:

    "Being thin is being popular. Attention from boys made you popular." This is increasingly true everwhere in the world. I wonder what we can do to change things, in small ways.

    Reply

  14. canadian Says:

    You can start by stopping with the fat hysteria.

    Reply

  15. braincandy Says:

    I feel your pain Stephanie.Guys just don't notice the fatties. It's mostly visual with boys.Funny though, you never hear of an overweight obvious beer bellied guy not going out, hiding behind his fat jeans or wrapping his arms around his midsection to hide the fat when he sits. In fact this fatso wants a top "10" bikini clad model cause "he doesn't date" fat girls.
    Here's what we can do to even the score..

    date guys with 6 figure incomes ONLY regardless of intellect, character bla bla…state a la "I don't date fat girls" fashion, that I ONLY DATE RICH MEN.

    Pass over any guy who seems to be sporting 2 muffin a day habits for a guy who eats burgers minus the bun( oh so gay)

    if dating a slightly lard challenged man, point out at the dinner table that he needn't order dessert as it'll make him fatter and less appealing to you, and your friends.

    when in public with said man, repeatedly point out men getting out of any vehicle that looks like it's worth the downpayment on a small townhouse. ooooo and aaaahhh outloud over how much money he must make.

    point out pricey items to said man friend and tell him "alla why don't you dress more sexy" fashion, why don't you make more money and sport a Patek Phillippe instead of a Rolecks ( that's not with an "x")

    a fewsuggestionsto help even out the score

    Reply

  16. whatever Says:

    Wouldn't it be nice if the world wasn't so full of vain, superficial people?! Get a grip!

    Reply

  17. Kristi Says:

    Whatever- wouldn't it be nice if people didn't blindly judge someone without knowing a little bit more about them and have enough empathy to be able to read between the lines?

    What am I saying, though? I'm sure you're perfect.

    Reply

  18. whatever Says:

    kristi–perfect, no. Perfectly happy with myself, my life and all of its imperfections, YES!

    Reply

  19. StephanieKlein Says:

    Whatever, if that's true, if you're really perfectly happy with yourself… then you don't have any reason to try to better yourself.

    Those who aren't busy striving for self-improvement are comfort-focused… and those who are comfort-centric are lazy. They do what's easy not what's right.

    Reply

  20. glycerin Says:

    Lain, how it translates to lower self worth is: directly. People insult you, again and again, you start to beleive it about yourself. Also, if nobody is giving you any attention romantically, how great can you possibly feel about yourself? It's a no-brainer in my opinion.

    Reply

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