bummer summer


I volunteered many hours over many years to help homeless families. I scrubbed floors, tutored children, helped women with their resumes, and I cooked… a lot. Now, I volunteer with City Harvest, delivering food to shelters. Every time I seem to volunteer it has something to do with food. Most recent example: a fat girl.

T: i have a band concert tonight…ugh…i have to wear a skirt
Red Diva 2OOO: I bet you look good in A-line skirts
Red Diva 2OOO: heavy people think they don’t look good in skirts, but they do
T: oh, well maybe
T: Stephanie, Camp starts on Monday. I leave Friday night. I’m nervous. Actually, I’m terrified. Why did I do this?! I CAN”T do this… I’m a little excited, or anxious, I guess, but mostly I’m scared. :-( I’m afraid I’ll go and no one will like me, or what if I can’t do anything?! What if I’m not like everyone else? What if its totally not what I expected, what if I don’t lose much weight? What if…it doesn’t work?

“T” is a young girl from Texas who Ims me asking for help. She read a post about my experiences at fat camp and worked up the courage to contact me.

T: I’m fat. I’m scared. I don’t know what to do.

I’ve spent hours talking to her about her weight, school, her friends, and her parents. Okay, clothes and food too. And now, T is the only person, besides Adam (one of the best people I know… I met him in fat camp), who sends me actual mail. I receive camp letters from T almost daily. There is such a pleasure in receiving real mail. It takes effort, saliva even, and it shows that someone really cares about you. I have views on mail. More people should take the time to use it for something other than birthday cards and bills. Tell someone you like them through the mail. That’s a power move.

Highlights from her letters:
“Stephanie, oh my god, you were so right about everything. I’ve loved every minute of it, minus getting measured and weighed. I weighed a lot, but it was right after aerobics. According to the instructors, you weigh more right after working out.”

“I like most of my bunk mates. Amanda scares me. Kathy and Tricia are lesbians. Rebecca never showers. Brenda is so sweet. I love her.”

“There’s a boy that likes me. My bunk mates told me. He’s short, NOT fat, but young. I don’t think I like him. At least I didn’t until I knew he liked me.”

“Today we’re playing capture the flag. Everyone is getting bitchy about what team they’re on.”

T once asked me “why are you being so nice to me?” When I was tortured, crying myself to sleep, at her age, I would have loved to have someone to talk to about it, someone who could understand it, and make me feel less isolated. It’s almost as if I’m advising my younger self, a back to the future move. And I imagine that’s what parenting must feel like from time to time. You see your kids face the same struggles, and you try to teach them, you try to tell them an easier way, but they need to figure it out on their own. Well, life’s too short to learn all the lessons on your own; sometimes it just makes sense to heed the advice and get on with it.

T’s letters remind me how far I’ve come, and make me a bit nostalgic for camp. But that’s what the Hampton’s are for.



  1. The funny thing about being a parent though is that your kids don't usually talk, or worse listen when you try to do what you are doing for this girl. Many times the voice and ear of an 'outsider' is really what they need. You're doing a beautiful thing!

  2. i rarely simply post sycophant "yeah!" type comments… but seriously, well done, klein.

  3. plus, havaianas? VIVA BRASIL, baby. i get two pairs a year from my brother in the mail. flip floppy goodness!

  4. Thanks for passing along the good to someone who needs it. Just don't let me get weepy; I ALWAYS fall in love right after!

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