stood up

In ALL, BOOK PUBLISHING, FRIENDSHIP by Stephanie Klein50 Comments

I looked into the crowd at the faces in seats and toward the back where people were standing. It’s an exciting moment, before your name is called, before you’re announced into a room. But I wasn’t thinking of that. I was looking for you, a woman I’ve only met via email. I’ve never seen a picture of you, but I hoped somehow I’d know it was you. You’d emailed to say you really wanted to be there, but you were worried you’d be the largest person there.

"Stephanie, you have touched me with your writing before but today made me cry.  What you wrote about dieting and weight and happiness really resonated with me.  I am planning to come to your reading to see you but had almost talked myself out of it because you are so thin and I’m sure all the other readers that will be there will be young and thin too and I am not any of those."

Reading it made my heart sink. It’s not that I felt sorry for you; it’s that I felt exactly like you did for so much of my life. I allowed my weight to discolor the brightest moments of my life, including my own pregnancy–a time where I should have been over the moon happy. And it made my heart hurt a little to read it. I responded to your email like a self-help tape with phrases like "Don’t let fear govern your life." Then I added, "And all I can say is, we work shit up in our own heads, stuff other people wouldn’t even think. We think everyone is staring, but what they’re really thinking is, "did what I just say make sense?" or "does my breath smell," or "I wonder if his mom liked the bowl I bought her." People are all a little self absorbed, and chances are they are not thinking about you the way YOU think of you. Everyone is walking around worried to some degree. Live, laugh, love, and cry, sister-friend. I am with you, 100%, and I can’t wait to meet you!!!! I consider you a friend."

You closed your email with this: "Thank you for your writing. It inspires me, makes me laugh and makes me cry.  I can’t wait to read your book and meet you. I will be the most fat person there.  Don’t worry, my girth isn’t newsworthy – you know, "woman had to be removed with a forklift from her house" but I will be the short, fat woman with cat hair on her shirt.  No, I will remove the cat hair."

When it came time for me to sign books, a woman approached and told me her name. It was your name. I repeated it, lighting up, thinking she might be you. But it wasn’t. And it made me sad not to meet you. I just hope you know, as much as you’ve expressed wanting to meet me, I too was looking forward to meeting you. And I apologize if my use of "sister-friend" scared you. It scares me, too.

Comments

  1. What a great story. Whomever you are, anonymous lady, you are more than your weight and the cat hair on your shirt. You are loved.

  2. Stephanie, you just made me cry like you have the ability to do with your writing so often. I know what she was feeling.

  3. I hope no one at the desks around me heard my loud sigh! What a moving post. Thank you for being you.

  4. Heartwarming and tragic. Unedited and real. That is why I read you. Thank you for this. I imagine you get hundreds of emails like this.

  5. Great post…I love the honesty in your writing.

    I was almost late to work today because I was so wrapped up in Moose. Incredible.

  6. Stephanie –
    I read your blog frequently and have mixed reactions to what you write. But this post made me like you a lot.

  7. Great story. I hope that she was there. I think we have all had those moments- where we doubt ourselves, and think we will be the fattest/least attractive/less stylish person there. You know what they say, "you are your own worst critic". I think that applies all too often to me.

    By the way, I went into Walmart last Sunday for some pool floaties, and saw Norma and her mom (I am guessing it was her mom) in there with Abigail and Lucas. They were buying mangos and other produce. Such cuties.

  8. All the cool people wouldn't think of leaving home without at least a a quick spritz of cat hair on their shoulders, boobs & lap area. Years ago a co-worker at a job I had been on for only a week looked at me and asked "Don't you own a clothes brush?" But there was envy in her voice. I heard it. And I wish your fan had shown up and had had the confidence to not remove the cat hair.

  9. What a funny description. I love that she described herself as the one with cat hair on her shirt. I'm usually the one covered in dog hair. I have the pleasure of owning a goofy, tri-color terrier mix. No amount dusting, swiffering, or vacuuming ever removes her presence. And I lover her for it.
    I understand why she may not have approached you. Its the nerves. I had them when you were in Chicago for the SUAD book tour. You asked if I liked my name, you were considering it for Abigail. I stammered something stupid back to you. Not sure why, but I guess I can be shy. Maybe your friend just got a little shy.

  10. Great story, and I can actually relate to how this woman feels! As a work-at-home mom to a toddler, I spend my days 9-5 with my laptop, then 5-9 with my son at a playground or running errands. Since leaving the corporate track, I don't have much of an incentive to dress up or put makeup on when leaving the house.. So for driving across town to your event, I almost changed my mind at the last minute because I didn't feel like pulling together an outfit. When I forced myself out of the house, I was so glad I did!

    I also have a comment about Moose. I am about half-way through and love every word of it. I have to say, though, if I hadn't gotten to know you through your blog, I would never pick up a book titled "fat camp memoir." Did you ever consider another sub-title? Moose is about so much more than fat camp, and I am afraid that the sub-title is narrowing down your potential audience. I am guessing it also explains why your book is so hard to find at stores; the staff just doesn't know how to categorize it. Did you ever consider something broader?

  11. Beautiful post. Stephanie, you have such a big heart.

    Barbara E. – PLEASE start your blog already!! It's time!

  12. To the Lovely Lady that was mentioned in this post,
    I've never been skinny, I worry what people think and I ALWAYS have dog hair on everything (even after using a lint brush), but you know, this is my life, my world and I'm going to explore it all I want. I'm going to order dessert, travel, do yoga, do things that I want to do and I am going to find people that love me because of it, NOT inspite of it!
    It's going to be one hell of a ride and I hope you're on it too!!!!!!

  13. Oh, that is so sad that she didn't come to meet you. And she will regret not having that moment for the rest of her life. And especially more so now that she knows how much you wanted to meet her. I'm sad for the missed moment because I know you would have stood up and hugged her and that you both might have cried a little bit and, well, it just makes me really, really sad for that missed moment.

    And that's exactly what you're writing about, I think–how the outside of what we look like shouldn't determine how we live our lives, and she maybe didn't come for fear of being judged on that day. That is so unfortunate, and I bet she is such a good person. Sure sounds like it.

  14. You really are a great person. And just as nice face-to-face as you are online. Thanks again for reading in Pasadena. :)

  15. This anecdote illustrated beautifully how women find and make friends in the most remarkable ways (as well as the transformative potential of those connections). Stephanie's heartfelt e-mail to this woman and her palpable disappointment that they didn't meet at the reading were very moving to me. I hope "sister-friend" reaches out again. We all need encouragement now and then — and it's in mighty short supply in these hyper-competitive suburbs!

  16. Yep, I relate. Though as I get older I care less – "hey kid, you gotta problem with my being a tired 40ish desk drone in size 14 pants (looking just as much like a short, dumpy man with breasts as Hillary did in her suits)? You wanna piece of this? You only weigh 80 pounds, and in those stilettos I could take you with one hand tied behind my back…."

    That said, I do avoid some events. Like, if I'm going to be the only person over 30 and over 100 pounds who also isn't puking on someone else's shoes from alcohol poisoning – then I'll stay home with my rice crackers and watch NCIS, thank you very much.

  17. Oooh, now I'm even more upset I couldn't make your LA reading. Your writing is uncomfortably honest, sensitive and a joy to read. I am sad that that woman missed an opportunity for kinship. I'm sure she is sad, too.

  18. Like a perfectly tempoed song you write what I think but often feel embarrassed to say out loud. Thank you.

  19. Hi Stephanie!

    I just started reading "Moose" and it reminds me a lot of my childhood. Also one of those overachieving families with a skinny as hell mom and a father with high expectations not just for school but also for looks…and then there was me…I remember wanting to go to something like Fat Camp….but we didn't really have that in Germany and I remember reading about it in the US and wanting to go.;) Instead I got myself anorexia….but I am all good now. The book makes me remember lots of things…and, like you, I have a good relationship with my parents now, despite a lot of pressure to be thin ect ect. :)

    Anyway….looking forward to reading more tonight. :)

  20. I'm with Rachel. I just started reading your blog a few weeks ago and have mixed reactions. But this one was really cool.
    It made me like you a lot too!

  21. I'm in the market for a new best friend. What do you say Klein? You seem like good people.

  22. I love how relatable you are, skinny, fat, tall, short – you can relate to everyone and I love that comes across in your writing. Honestly that is the reason I come back everyday (ok maybe, once, twice or ten times a day – but whose keeping track??!). What a beautiful post.
    Also, as a side note – to those of us who may have missed you on this leg of the book signing, anyplans to come back around? Just wondering.

  23. Ok, this exact topic has been on my mind ALOT! I rescheduled my whole vacation around your NYC reading, tried to get a reading going here in providence and then was a complete chicken shit and didn't go! And I was only like an hour away at my parents upstate NY home. Why? Well I'm chubby too, a size 14, but more than that I'm a 24yr old black girl who really thought I would stand out like a sore thumb. Not that you don't have any black readers…I'm just saying. I've been reading you for so long and have even emailed with you and still I just couldn't. I love you, and you've inspired me so much. Its because of you I even took up photography and since then I've had shows and had my work displayed (and sold pieces!!!). I'm babbling but I just wanted you to know I have both books and one day when I get over myself I'm sure I'll bring them both and have them signed along with whatever masterpiece your done with at the time. K, girlfriend? (imagine a sassy black girl snap lol)

  24. this really touched me. Got your book Moose today and mentioned it to a b/n worker even after I spotted it in the front of the store. hehe. I KNOW that moose is gonna be great b/c Straight up and dirty got me through one of the toughest times of my life. I would read some parts of it over and over and when I was reading your book I felt less alone. Anyway, yay for Moose!

  25. There is something in your writing SK, that resonates. When you wrote this last book, I was just floored. I loved SUAD, but Moose shows your growth and your killer wit. The same wit I have come to so appreciate on your blog. I am not a big blog person, but I faithfully check into your blog everyday,
    sometimes twice a day, I squeak over the twins pics and kill myself laughing when your dry and merciless, I wept when your son was ill and I don't even know you, but I feel like I do a little, because you are so wonderfully giving in the tales, trials and tribulations of your life. I missed your signing 'cause I was in the Hospital, but I so wanted to meet you, even though I have lost my hair from Chemo and look like I have been having passionate sex with a Porcupine. I would have dressed in my sassy threads, grabbed my Pillowcase purse and been there. Because in my heart I would never believe
    that you would judge a person by mere appearance. Be it weight, poor choice in handbags, chrome dome, skin color or cat hair.

    I agree whole heartedly with Sk, I hope the lady that wrote in
    understands that she is so much more, so very much more. I mean after all we woman folk have to stick together, be us, Venti, Med. or stick like, bald or hair to the ass, blue ( see blue man on Oprah) brown, black, pink, rainbow…. Loud or quiet, obnoxious or reserved, rich, struggling or flat ass broke, we are all in it together. A bottle of wine and our prejudgements put aside, we would all be sitting on a porch somewhere laughing as only ladies can.

  26. Stephanie,

    What a truly moving post.. I feel this way too.. but in my case, it's about being in a bathing suit in public.

    I used to be a lifeguard and a normal weight. I've gained about 35 lbs (I'm 27) and I guess my genetics make me prone to stretch marks.. I don't think I've gained that much weight, but maybe it's the fact that I gained it and never lost it and my body wasn't able to stay stretched out that way. I have them on my upper thighs, hips and stomach. The ones on the hips are the least noticeable.. and overall, the rest aren't that bad. Still, they are there. I wish I could use the excuse that I carried a baby, but I've just gained a lot of weight. It is depressing considering that swimming used to be such an important part of my life. I want to be able to just say "Who cares!" and go out there anyways, but it's hard. I have two tall, slim and perfect sisters who look like models in bikinis.. and then there is me. I hate to admit it, but I do care what other women think. However, it's the men that I'm most concerned about.. I don't know of any men who aren't bothered by stretch marks. Especially when you don't have a child/children as your excuse for them.

    Has the reader written you back yet? I hope she does!

    I'm still upset that I couldn't make it to your reading in Coral Gables.. I'm 3 1/2 hours away and I wanted to go so badly, but I just didn't have the extra money to spend on gas.

  27. aw, I love this post. Look at all of these commenters who would welcome this person. I don't think the kind of people who appreciate MOOSE are the kind of people to be uneasy around. I can definitely relate to the feeling, though.

    I finished MOOSE last week and I miss it! Can you write another one real quick, thanks!
    It brought back so many of my own childhood/teen memories. Although I can laugh about them now, I know what I will do differently if I am lucky enough to have children of my own. But then I wonder who I would be if I didn't grow up overweight. I am satisfied with how I am progressing and I owe many of my better qualities to the lessons learned from my childhood experiences.

  28. I completely agree with Bee. SUAD was great but Moose. Oh Moose is exquisite. The depth is telling and the raw emotions of that time in your life really come through so well on the page. I would never in a million years think we had so much in common. I thought you and I were nothing alike. But there is a kinship there now. It is comforting to know adolescent me wasn't the strange, fucked up fat-girl she imagined herself to be. Stephanie – from the bottom of my heart, thank you for writing this book.

  29. Anyone else have a gulp and sigh moment here? Thank you Stephanie. Moose helped me more than I could ever show you.

  30. I have been a long time reader and commenter. Recently I began MY blog. 2 days ago, I wondered, personally and pubicly why I was writing it. This post reminded me. I want to meet them too. The people who could relate to my scared, my hesitations, and my dreams not because of my weight but because of my humanity, Thank you Steph.

  31. Cece:
    I too wanted to go when she was in NYC and felt self-conscious. I'm white, in my 40s and normalish weight. Can't explain it but I do regret it.

  32. Hi Stephanie,
    Without giving away important events to readers who haven't got to certain parts of Moose, I just have to say, what happened to you in Florida with your aunt… what an awful thing to have happen. So scarey, cruel and abusive. (No thanks to mom) You should be applauded for getting through those years.

  33. I am one of those people that didn't get up the nerve to come to your Pasadena event. I so wanted to meet you and tell you how much your writing means to me but I didn't think I would fit in. Stupid, huh? LOVE MOOSE!!

  34. Reading the comments here, I don't think I could have shown my face, let alone my body at any of the events that Stephanie had (if they had come to my area). People are talking about how "fat" they are in their size 14 pants? I have recently lost weight and am in size 16 pants and was feeling a little more confident in myself (I also left an abusive relationship after 8 years… so that may help a little). I would probably fit in a 14 if I could get rid of all the extra skin I have sitting around (yeah, that's right… extra skin… I'll give you a moment to gag). I have a 21 month old daughter and she keeps me active, but other than that, I haven't got the time or energy to exercise or stay in shape between her and my job and trying to find where I fit into this new life. The fact of the matter is, I used to weigh over 400 lbs… so my size 16 (as opposed to my size 36) feels good to me. I really used to be the biggest person in the room… probably in most buildings. I still feel like her sometimes. Reading these posts brought a lot of that back. Who knows… maybe this woman was there and she is a size 14 and to her that is huge. It is all perspective.

  35. Hi, I am that woman. Stephanie, I am so sorry I didn't come on Tuesday. I had returned from a business trip to Wash. DC to find my aunt in the hospital. She is better now but that, combined with my normal self-consciousness, convinced me that I wouldn't be missed. My aunt is better now and I just read her what you wrote along with all the comments. I'm surprised she could understand what I was reading through my crying. I will regret not coming forever but will keep these words close by to give me a boost when I need it. And calling me your sister friend did not scare me at all. It made me very happy. My sister friends are the ones who get me through every single day and I am so proud to have you as one. Again, I thank you all for making my day so special with your words. I'm glad you had a great time and next time, I will be there.

  36. For Stephanie – I agree with others, I read your blog often – sometimes with mixed emotions. At times, I can relate, at times I don't but this post renewed why I come to this blog.

    For MARY – I have weight problems too – so can relate to your emails to Stephanie. I would like to talk/email if you are at all interested.

    My best email address is satori.new@gmail.com

  37. the post gave me a smile and a sigh. her post back gave me goosebumps. Stephanie, you must connect with her! People meet for a reason!! :)

  38. I'm stunned. I never imagined that so many people wanted to attend but didn't, because of how they thought they'd be accepted. It's eye-opening; the way the internet brings us together in a way that doesn't translate to real life. It's sad, and Stephanie, that was beautifully written. I love the way you reach out to your readers.

    I'm beyond disappointed that I didn't make it to your Austin reading, but I hope to attend your next Austin event and force you to be my friend. ;)

    (I know you hate emoticons)

  39. Loved this post. I was not THAT person but got to meet you at a reading in Pasadena the other night. It was a pleasure. You said something about how someone had said to you when you were young, how you would always struggle with your weight and no matter what size you are you would always be fat. It got me to thinking because I have recently been struggling with my body for the opposite reason, I was always small until the last few years and in my head I am still that, but when I look in the mirror since I turned 40, I do not recognize the person looking back at me and I struggle to like her. I thank you for your honesty in sharing your story. It inspires many of us, whatever camp we came from.

  40. I just strated reading Moose and I have to say I'm drawn tot he way you are open and honest about your life which makes me think about my own choices and experiences. The part where you are in the supermarket with your mother reminded me of the way I used to manipulate my mother to get what I wanted. It was wrong. I see that through your experiences. I'm sure i always knew it but to see it on the page made it more real.

    Thank you for writing Moose.

  41. I have to say I've been jealous for a long time of the folks who get to meet you at readings! You were the posh New Yorker drinking martinis, with those cool birthday party pictures that I could never do myself (turn off the lights and the candles just blur on my camera.) Then you moved to a city right down the street from me and I didn't know cause I wasn't blogging or reading blogs much! Then I went and moved away so I can't even visit you in Austin! Bleah! If you do any readings in Shreveport, LA…. Or if you ever want an invitation to Canyon Lake (a lovely lakehouse right on the bluff looking down over the water) let me know, and I'll send one your way when we're in town visiting family!….

    I saw your mirror mastrubation video and laughed out loud. If you're really doing that, you're living up to the "Keep Austin Weird" bumper sticker well.!

    I haven't been by in a long time, other than a few days ago, mostly since your twins were still NICUs, and I'm glad your newsletter reminded me why I used to come here. I really need to grab your books next time I'm at B&N. :)

    You're a good person, Stephanie, and even when detractors or sideways comments come by that make you obsess over the bad stuff, you should know you touch people with your honesty and smiles. And personal growth over the years. :)

  42. I have yet to buy Moose. I will be picking it up for my summer trip to North Carolina. I love yur blog and your voice. It makes me think and that is a special quality. I'm skinny and tall and have many of the same taunts toward me when I was younger. I love that you say your adult life you struggle with what to keep from your adolescence and what to discard. I am always looking to that struggle.

    Thank you and I loved Straight Up And Dirty.

  43. You brought tears to my eyes and I am so sorry that you missed meeting this lady that stirred up the emotion in you. Self Esteem is my biggest issue as well and I always have that moment of "I'm going to be the largest person there…do I really want to go and do this?" And you know, the answer is usually YES! Because while I may be overweight, I love my life and I am not going to hide away and pretend to not like anything. So I can imagine the impact of the email you sent to this anonymous lady was pretty important to her. I'm just sad that in the end she couldn't bring herself to come see you.

    (And if you come to Phoenix, I might have those moments of doubt as well, but I would be there to see you ready to laugh it up.)

  44. When I log into your blog I always feel something. Sometimes I'm angry with you or cheering you on. Today I am in love with you.

    Love, me

Leave a Comment