November 26, 2008
I love the smell of turkey in the morning...
The amount of busy-ness in my life is inversely proportional to the amount of writing I have been doing here online, which is a fancypants way of saying YA'LL I MIGHT NEED TO MOVE TO AN ASHRAM SOON.
DO THEY TAKE CATS? AND SHOES?
Anyway all the sudden it is up and Thanksgiving Eve! Which is very exciting because I love thinking about all the things I am thankful for and grateful for and in love with, such as:
2) The miraculous support of underwire
Oh you know I just being silly. Except deodorant -- so necessary. I am also in love with my family and my friends and my cats and my Jeep and the fact that I can joke finally without breaking into sobbing tears that my 401(k) is now a 101(k). I am also thankful for jokes because I'd sure be boring without them.
Speaking of people I love -- I got to see two of my beloved friends this weekend:
It's Kim and Astrologer Phyllis!
This picture was taken after I said, "Kim, Kim, Kim, Kim please tear your eyes away from your beloved iPhone, yes I know the iPhone is sexay, but please look up and smile..."
Heh heh. Kim loves her iPhone.
We met up with Kim's friend Sharon and we had a good time with the fine Reverend Dr. Michael doing a little singing and getting our Sunday on down at Agape. How much do I love Los Angeles, where a nice Southern Catholic gal, an Astrologer and two Jewish ladies can meet up for spiritual goodness and star-sightings at an L.A. church hotspot? Really now.
I love the singing part the best, nothing says Sunday to me like some good old-fashioned SANGIN'. You southerners know what I mean. When I was younger I used to attend this church down in Mississippi that could have doubled for a hotspot if it hadn't been Sunday morning. Also there was no bar. But there was a full brass band and a piano player that was ON FIRE and everyone dressed to the nines and they would stand when the spirit moved them and the energy and love in that little tiny place in the Delta stayed with me my whole life. I was the only crazyass white girl in attendance and no one ever made fun of me for glowing in the dark. Or for the fact that ya'll, I cannot carry a tune in a bucket. I am the most off-key individual you have ever met but I do it with great vigor and enthusiasm. Anyway, I'm not much for dogma and rules and of course just last week I tried to give an officer of the law a social disease WITH MY MIND, so I am no good through and through but Lord I do love some SANGIN' on a Sunday.
Here we are standing in line before services last weekend (people, I do not even stand in line for a good club!) and notice how I look like I am wrapped in a shroud:
It was cold. What can I say? Also, am I pale? Have I mentioned I was so sick earlier this month that me and "death on a cracker" were synonymous? Note to self: lipstick. EVERYWHERE.
Later we went for coffee and I got this great picture of Phyllis getting into her car, I love that bumpersticker:
That's how I feel too. Bless all of us! Even the turkeys, even the traffic cops, even the little kitty cats who just last night played hockey on my torso. I know this has been a trying time for so many people (see: 401K downgraded to 101K) but it's the blessings we don't buy that carry us over, like good friends and dirty jokes and the love you have inside you, even if sometimes it comes out off-key and you forget the words. I'm being mushy. Must be the weather.
Happy Thanksgiving Eve!
Posted by laurie at 9:58 AM
November 21, 2008
No no... thank YOU, Officer.
Yesterday I got a ticket. My very first ever actual TICKET. Mind you I was once caught driving through Mississippi doing 67 in a 35 MPH zone and managed to get off with a warning -- so I am no angel -- but the ONE time I was not actually even VIOLATING THE LAW I got a ticket from an officer whose real name is obviously A. Jerkoffe. I think he was German or something, from the surname. BUT it IS legal to make a right on red unless posted and it wasn't posted, which I pointed out with great dramatic gesturing as I got out of my car and got my camera out to document. So then he changed the ticketing excuse ON THE FLY and made up some bullhockey thing about me not stopping for three full seconds at the red light which was a baldfaced lie, clearly it was quota day and the man wanted his toaster. So he wrote me a ticket as I watched my morning disintegrate as I of course missed the bus but ran to try to catch it anyway and pulled a muscle in my left leg and spent the rest of the day hobbling and also, mad. Really really mad.
And when you tell people about your (stupid and not even illegal-based!!) ticket you immediately discover who has been in Los Angles forever and who has either never visited this ridiculous city or who has not lived here for enough time to grow a scabby wall of malaise around their heart. Yet.
Those who are not Los Angelenos will say, "Are you going to fight it?" or "You should fight it! Tell the judge what he did and they'll dismiss it!" and you look at them with wide-eyed mystery. Because they are so innocent, and hopeful. Like Bambi in the first ten minutes of the movie. You wonder if you were yourself once that innocent, if you were once a person who believed in The System, too. Because it's sweet and naive and you really don't have the heart to explain to them that taking a day off work and sitting through eight hours of traffic court in Van Nuys is about as useful -- and pleasant -- as getting all the hairs plucked off your body one by one with scorching hot tweezers. And in the end of course I am not A) a celebrity or B) a cop or C) the son of a prominent Orange County Sheriff's official, so I would have to pay the ticket anyway. Useless. Painful.
Those who are Los Angelenos, though, listen to you complain endlessly about your stupid (not illegal!) ticket and then say: "Hey! I know a great guy who is still waiting on his SAG card and he's teaching comedy traffic school somewhere off Sunset right now, you want his number?"
Or they say, "Hey! You live in the Valley! I heard there was a new stripper aerobics traffic school in Sherman Oaks somewhere, you ought to try it, I hear it's great for your core! Way better than Pilates Traffic School!" And then they go on to tell you about the time they took traffic school and Sinbad was in their class and kept trying to be funnier than the (not-yet-SAG) stand-up teacher.
And a fair amount of my morning drive in to work (2 hours, ten minutes! Awesome! Thanks, Los Angeles!) was spend envisioning specific parts of Officer Krupke's anatomy falling off dramatically with great oozing pain and only later did I realize that I thought these mean, hateful, CRUEL thoughts with such vigor and enthusiasm that if his penis does indeed detach in leprosy fashion from his body it might be my fault. I knew it was wrong to think such things. I know only bad people have such vengeful, colorful evil fantasies. BUT rather than feeling bad about being such an agent of evil, I just felt AWESOME and hoped to give him syphilis with my mind. Which makes me a crappy human being, I know, and frankly I should feel worse about this. But it's so hard trying to be good all the time, and think good thoughts and wish everyone well especially when you live in a place where it's more likely to get a ticket for NOTHING AT ALL than to have someone answer 911 as your house is being broken into. You get put on hold when you dial 911 here. For HOURS. And the hold music is really bad.
Maybe I 'm just not cut out to be a good person. Maybe I would rather drink 9/10 of a bottle of wine and make catty remarks about fashion with my friends than think happy, healing thoughts about stupid traffic cops. Maybe I am going straight to hell. One can only assume I am on a one-way street with a direct diamond lane to Hades, no right turns on red needed.
Right after I complete stripper aerobics traffic school, of course.
Posted by laurie at 9:13 AM
November 19, 2008
Who are you, who who?
A long procession of black SUVs and towncars lined up in front of this building across the street from where I work. I noticed it as I was out waiting for the bus. There must have been ten of them in all, a veritable convoy of stealth, except not stealthy at all. I wondered who everyone was waiting for... there were a fair number of buff guys standing around in dark suits and dark glasses talking into their sleeves. Maybe it was James Bond, who knows.
Speaking of the Quantum of Solace, here is my knitting:
That photo has no composition, no artful arrangement, no order. Much like my life right now, where I was sick and got behind on everything and now I'm playing catch-up. I've made very little progress on anything, really, but isn't that life, anyway? Just when you think you're ahead something reminds you to stop and look at your knitting. I am sure that has to do with quantum entanglement (yarn!) and maybe living in the Now or something profound but really all I can think about is whether or not I should put up the Christmas tree this weekend and if you can lose weight by dreaming you exercised, because last night I was running from something in my dreams and surely that burned up a calorie or ten!
Can you believe it's just a week-and-a-day until Thanksgiving?
If only holidays were meant to be spend under a blanket watching Spencer Tracy movies and knitting and drinking warm tea spiked with calvados while the cat sleeps on your feet. Now that's living.
Posted by laurie at 9:51 AM
November 17, 2008
Welcome to Los Angeles, where smoke is the new yoga...
This morning I woke up and prayed for rain. A huge gushing downpour that would drench the fires and wash the ash away and clean the air because the sky is now so heavy and thick you can slice it and serve it with barbecue sauce and potato salad.
Anyway, it didn't rain. I still can't control the weather and it's very frustrating! On the other hand, I'm finally feeling human again after all the croaking, sniffling dramatic wheezing flair of the past week. The one downside to being that kind of sick is that you lose your sense of smell, which is also conversely the only upside of being that kind of sick -- you lose the sense of smell! When you take mass transportation in a big city, it's best not to have any olfactory sensation. Between the folks who have only a passing acquaintance with soap and those who bathe and steep in vats of horrible perfume, the sense of smell is by far the most offended while riding a bus or train.
I don't wear perfume because I think it's anti-social to show up on a small, crowded, enclosed bus or train and sit next to someone while your chemical scent is oozing into their airspace. A nice bath with soap and water ought to do the trick, leaving nothing but fresh, clean sensory-neutral inoffensiveness. Maybe I should make a pamphlet explaining to people the real perils of mass transit. I could include a Passengers' Bill of Right Actions such as:
1) Arrive at chosen form of mass transit smelling freshly washed. Soap and water essential.
2) Do not bring smelly food on transit or use hairspray while trapped inside bus or train with other humans (seriously -- people using aerosol hairspray. On the bus. IT HAS HAPPENED.)
3) Do not floss on mass transit.
4) Ditto shaving, tweezing or nose-picking.
5) Do not stare at women like they were juicy steaks and you are a starving dog.
6) Do not try to sit on a woman's lap or otherwise indulge in handsy pansy on mass transit. I will cut you.
7) Do not play annoying games on your cellphone with the music turned all the way up! If I have to listen to your muzak version of Super Mario music one more minute I will cut you.
8) Do not start yelling at the bus driver and calling him or her nasty names as said bus driver is responsible for our lives for the next 1 hour 45 minutes and if we crash I will cut you.
9) When feeling the urge to strangle other passengers, close eyes and think happy kitten-covered thoughts (this one may just be for me.)
10) If other people are obviously trying to reach a zen, calm acceptance of mass transit scenario by wearing their headphones and quietly amusing themselves with music and/or whatever, refrain from constantly trying to start up conversations whereby the laboriously remove headphones and try to act interested but really want to strangle you with the cord on their earbuds.
Wow! I feel so much better just typing this all out! Behold the cleansing power of a list!!! I didn't include anything about those people who bring rolly bags on the bus or train and can't seem to maneuver them thereby holding up all passengers but we can't expect radical change all at one time. I'd be happy with a Mass Transit Bathing Act (Addendum Article 21: Usage of soap, not excess perfume) and we'll go from there.
Anyway, none of it matters today since we all smell like kebabs straight off the grill (Love you Los Angeles, stop being on fire now!) but this too shall pass.
Posted by laurie at 9:24 AM
November 14, 2008
Still breathing, still not smelling anything
Well, I'm not dead, just croaky. I haven't been this sick in a long time. Yesterday I thought the teabags were undulating, so apparently it's affecting my vision as well.
I do have that sexy throaty voice thing going, where you think you sound like Kim Carnes singing "Bette Davis Eyes" but really you kind of sound like an eighty-nine-year-old male smoker. Tomato, tomahto.
I managed to soldier through most of the workweek but today I'm at home, padding around in my pajamas and making tea and trying to decide if 9 a.m. is too soon to go back to bed.
But I wanted to post this picture I took yesterday at the bus stop, I was standing there wondering if anyone could smell the Vicks Vap-o-Pub wafting off from my direction when I looked up and saw the most perfect little bird's nest:
Isn't that something? How do birds manage to create something so perfect and beautiful and round without the use of opposable thumbs? And it looks so fragile there, like a strong wind could blow it away. Today we have these gusty crazy typhphoon-level winds so I hope the bird's nest is OK. It made me want to put up signs warning people to be gentle near the tree. Usually that's a sure indicator that I'm sick... when I start tearing up and getting misty and maudlin over things like bird's nests and Kodak commercials and Bob's little meow.
Anyway, I plan to spend my weekend home with tea and cats and my favorite movies, do you think the cats want to watch "Gone With The Wind" for the five millionth time? We are gone with the wind, all of here in Los Angeles. We talk a big game about how we have no weather but while we don't get tornadoes and floods and ice storms we do get this crazyass wind that blows hot and dry and makes everthing crackle with static electricity.
Time to go back to bed. Have a good weekend! (She said, in a scratchy, deep voice..)
Posted by laurie at 7:53 AM
November 10, 2008
Shlumpy top tem list
Oh, I haven't made a list in a while. Mondays are perfect for lists, the first day of a new week which I am so far behind on life that it's still October in my mental calendar. I tried to say Top Ten List but it came out sounding like I was pinched by gnomes. I am having challenges.
1) Significant Reason My Nose Is Red
I have a hateful and insidious cold that started creeping up on me late Friday afternoon so that I could spend the entire weekend sniffling and lazy and trying to hide under the covers. I am nasal. My friend Corey at work is also sick so we are together tag-team-infecting the entire office slowly and with great sneezy precision.
2) Cats Have Very Small Brains
I like to think the cats are smart, perhaps even superior to mere mortals, well... except Bob. Anyway. My felines have a veritable buffet of kitty food in the kitchen: Kibble #1 "The Healthy Kibble" and Kibble #2 "The slightly less holistically balanced food, which they actually eat." And I give them a can of wet food to share in the morning. But they LOVE Greenies. They love Greenies so much that now anytime I open any bag at all in the kitchen they come running at the very sound of rustling and whine like a pack of very small, daft dogs.
I keep the dry kibble in little plastic cereal-pouring Tupperware containers because I have mad love for compact organizational plastic. Really, it's a sickness, my love of organizational doodads. But yesterday as I was crinkling the cat food bag to add fresh cat food to the plastic seal-tight container, of course the feline wolfpack came running in and stared at me with great existential angst.
And we were out of Greenies.
So -- just on the OFF off chance they might be appeased with a substitute -- I put some of the dry cat food that they already have in their bowl on a new plate like it was a pile of Greenies. But this time I poured it right from the crinkly cat food bag.
And they ate it with great fervor and happiness! So now I don't even have to give them Greenies, I just have to give them their own dry cat food -- but pour it out of the BAG, not from the Tupperware and put it on a plate and not in their bowl. Which for the record already contains the same exact food.
Cats. Go figure.
3. I fear this Top Ten List will end at three. Perhaps that is what Top Tem means?
A magical number, yes? So even though I was paltry and sneezy I did not let that change my Saturday shopping, Target and Whole Foods (where let us not forget I was remiss in buying Greenies.) Target has all the Christmas stuff out, great big aisles of sparkly lights and shiny ornaments and usually this is the time of year when I complain and say I am not ready for Christmas yet and could the holidays please call a therapist?
But this year I felt warm puddles of happiness for bright sparkly lights and happy snowflake ornaments made out of frosted glass.
Surely this must be a sign that all those sad years of wondering how I can avoid Christmas Carols and jingle-bell encrusted cheermongers are behind me. Maybe? I'm not saying that I just love the pathologically cheerful -- especially when I am in traffic or carrying around Rudolph's red nose right on my very face, such as at this moment! -- but I don't expect to see myself coiled up in lonesome under the tree while drinking Jack Daniels from a coffee cup again this year.
Not that there is anything wrong with that.
And the strangest thing of all is how you can feel vaguely nostalgic for something that wasn't even that good to begin with. I'm glad Christmas comes every year whether you like it or not. It gives you the chance to decorate new all over again, and make anything you want out of it.
Posted by laurie at 8:46 AM
November 7, 2008
Friday: I am either the Walrus or the Webmaster. Not sure.
Thank you for all the nice people who gently emailed me to remind me, OH YEAH! I have a sweepstakes open to win Drew's book!
Here is a very funny story for you. I spent a little time last weekend updating my anti-virus software and settings on my laptop, which is the same computer that has FTP access to get into my directories and make changes to things such as say... closing the sweepstakes.
And on Sunday when I went into my little laptop to close the sweepstakes, I noticed, OH NO. I can no longer FTP! All of this is very exciting to you, I am sure. Because I am using fancy words such as "FTP" and also at home I was using very many colorful and fancy cuss words. But because I am a genius, I did not connect the dots between the updated superdooper anti-everyone settings on my laptop and the FTP problem all week long! I just assumed my laptop was mad at me and trying to get a one-way pass to the dump. I have run diagnostics, uninstalled and re-installed FTP, used a different FTP client, all to no avail. Then one of the tech guys at work said, "Have you checked your firewall settings?" And I said, "Do I have a firewall?"
And then after some re-adjusting of the alleged firewall I got my access back! Which is awesome because I totally FIXED the problem! Nevermind that I also totally CREATED the problem. The greater achievement is that I could solve a problem created by such a clever technical wizard. Clearly.
Also, next laptop I am so getting a mac.
Congratulations to my three winners: Denise in Irvine, Karen from Virginia and Melissa from lovely Mississippi!
Have a great weekend everyone. Let me know if you need me to come fix ya'lls computers, OK?
Posted by laurie at 11:03 AM
November 5, 2008
You knew it had to happen.... a change had to come!
That's right! You knew this day would come, you knew a change was in the air, yesterday was a momentous day of change...
... it rained on New Jersey's commute!
Our very adorable new coworker from back east hasn't really paid any attention to us crazypants people talking about traffic. Until he came in after a morning on the wet freeways and declared:
"Oh my God this city is &*%$#%."
"What happened?" I asked.
"It just started to sprinkle, I mean it wasn't even real rain! And all the cars just stopped! Or started running into each other!" he said.
"Oh yeah," I said. "Um, that kind of happens here."
"What is the problem with this place?" he asked.
"Well, New Jersey, there is actually a mathematical explanation for this entire phenomenon. Let me break it down for you:
Water spotting on your phat ride + the extra hair products you have to apply multiplied by the extra time it takes you to get to Starbucks + soymilk + latte ÷ the sum total of people who are on the Master Cleanse - pilates. There's a new math version that also factors in the square root of how many celebrity sightings you had last weekend at The Grove but I'm not into all that 'new' math stuff."
"You are insane and so is this city," he said.
"Yes, we belong together. It is my longest running monogamous relationship to date," I said. "I flirted shamelessly with Paris, but my cats don't speak French so I had to come home."
- - -
So there you have it, it rained, and New Jersey got to see his newly adopted city at its finest. You knew a change had to come eventually!
Posted by laurie at 8:41 AM
November 4, 2008
Ooooh, it looks like the fourth of July... and makes me want a hotdog real bad!*
(*Bonus votes if you know the movie this line is from!)
Well, election day is finally here and it's so exciting! I couldn't sleep so I got up at 4:30 a.m. and went for a RUN, and no one was even chasing me! That is insane! I only lasted 12 minutes then I had to walk fast.
There was a big long line at my polling place this morning:
You can't see it in the picture but the line stretches all the way around the building back into the parking lot! But it was worth waiting for.
My left boob totally voted:
The right one, not so much.
I know this election has dragged on for a bazillion years but in the end it was really exhilarating today to participate in the most historic election of our entire nation's existence. Not that many years ago women and African-Americans were not allowed the right to vote. And today I got to cast my own vote for President of the United States of America and one ticket has an African-American candidate and one ticket has a female candidate and that is an amazing and progressive thing.
I'm proud of us! Even though the election got nasty and there was so much negativity, at the end of it all I got to choose and cast my vote on this historic day. There was all this camaraderie at the polls, like people felt they were making a difference. No matter what your views, I'm glad you voted. We're really lucky and I started feeling all patriotic and sappy and then I got a free sticker for my boob. Yay!
Tonight is the Election Party and/or Election Wake at Faith & Michael's house, depending on how it all plays out. The cats are not attending because they are still mad about the new "Healthy weight & aging" food I bought for them:
When they get the right to vote, I'm in trouble!
Posted by laurie at 10:37 AM
November 3, 2008
It's a breath of fresh air -- and we're not used to that around here!
On Saturday it rained -- real rain, not just the little misting fog we sometimes call rain here in Noweatherland. It rained! And on Sunday morning the sun came out and the sky was so blue, the air was washed clean and the plants, the cars, the houses, the trees, even the roads looked clean and fresh. It's like Mother Nature came to Los Angeles and discovered it had a bad case of B.O. and then ... behold the healing powers of a bath! There is nothing more beautiful than Los Angeles after a rain, when air is colorless and the whole city feels shiny and new.
Then there is the Monday after Daylight Savings set-the-clock-back. This is the Monday that takes five hours to get home because the entire happy, shiny city has forgotten how to drive in the dark. Seriously.
Fellow Coworker and I have been trying to alert the new guy at work to this phenomenon but he doesn't believe us, because what major metropolitan area could be dumb enough to forget how to drive in the dark? And he has a point there. But perhaps it is the same metropolitan region that breaks into live coverage of the meltdown on Wall Street to let us, the whole city, know that Britney Spears had her traffic violation dismissed. THANK GOD.
And now there is only one more day left until the election!! I don't think I can wait, the suspense is killing me over here. Do you think Al Gore will win? We are all voting for my boyfriend Al Gore, aren't we? Do you also think one day the Secret Service will send people to my house to see if I am a stalker and a real threat to the only Vice President to ever win a Grammy? The evidence looks bad on the surface -- quiet, keeps to herself, has a herd of felines. But then again our suspect uses paper plates in flagrant defiance of her alleged Al-love and knows more about her patent leather spectator pump footprint that her carbon one. And she is kind of a slatternly stalker, what with the whole "I can't be bothered to drive south of the 10 freeway" thing and her deep distaste of placards.
And of course she carries duct tape in her Jeep. Except there is evidence of the entire Jeep being held together by duct tape and hope, so perhaps she is just a harmless fan. TIME WILL TELL!
I am just kidding about Al Gore. I am voting for Bob for President. Except have you seen the attack ads out against Bob T. cat? They are vicious I tell you what!
Posted by laurie at 8:17 AM
November 1, 2008
Heavy stuff, man
Recently something really confusing happened.
It started out just fine. I got contacted by a reporter from a major women's magazine who told me she was doing a story about women (plural) who had given up dieting for their New Year's Resolutions. She'd read some of what I've written in the past on this and wanted to ask a few questions for her story, and that was fine with me. I've already covered most of that in public anyway (and you can read those columns here and here and here.) Interview requests like that are pretty commonplace -- a reporter is doing a story and sees something I wrote about the subject, they email me, I answer a few questions and they give brief mention to the book in the article. The reporter gets a story deadline met with good quotes and I get a book blurb. Win-win.
This particular reporter emailed me some questions, I answered and we were done. But then it all started to change. The reporter had more questions -- and her editor now wanted the story to focus just on me, and they wanted a photo shoot and all of this and suddenly the story was no longer about many women who decided to give up dieting as a New Year's Resolution, suddenly now it was about me and "body confidence" and ... I'm just not there yet. I'm still figuring this all out as I go! I'm not anybody's role model for body confidence. The story I originally agreed to help with turned into something else altogether. Suddenly it was all about my weight and the way I look and I became very uncomfortable with that kind of spotlight.
The reason I gave up on dieting is because it made me crazy. I was in a relationship with food that wasn't working, it was totally screwed up, and I was unhealthy and exhausted and I just could not go on one more diet. I knew I needed to make some serious changes in my lifestyle but I could not diet again. All I knew for sure was that I was recently divorced, alone, overweight, unhealthy and miserable and I made a life-shifting decision to get a handle on my insanity. I wanted to be healthy and strong for ME. I wanted to feel good. I'd been feeling bad for so long I didn't even remember what feeling good was like!
That's when I decided I would never diet again. Ever. Even if I had to stay heavy my whole life I was going to deal with it and figure out how to treat myself healthfully and with the same care I would give to a loved one no matter what I weighed. I'd spent most of my life waiting to be happy until I reached X size or X weight .... that had to stop. I've written about all that stuff before, none of that has changed.
It takes time to undo a lifetime of habits. It takes time to develop trust in yourself. I didn't even know what to eat those first few months -- I had been on a diet so long that I didn't even know what healthy food was! I only knew food as the enemy -- whatever it was, I shouldn't be eating it. In a twisted way, dieting makes you think food is bad and if you can just stop eating you'll be in top form. At that time I knew all about points and calories and carbs, but I had no idea what nutrients my body needed. I had never paid attention to how food made my body feel, only to the numbers on the scale (or, conversely, when I fell off-plan as I always did, I would carefully avoid the scale.) To un-do a lifetime of diet mentality I had to learn new stuff and learn to stop my crazy either-or dieting mindset -- you're either "good" or "bad" but never in-between! On-plan or failing miserable! Being healthy or falling off the wagon!
But there is no wagon. It all goes into the same body, this "good" and "bad" food. It's just food, it isn't the enemy. God it's taken me forever to work all this out. It's hard. If you have never struggled with your weight I might as well be talking to you about particle physics right now. But if you've ever been there, well, you know. You might even understand the dread and panic I felt at having a large national magazine turn a big spotlight on my body size.
I was happy to talk to a reporter about my no-dieting decision in the context of health and sanity and breaking out of the diet-binge cycle. However I was not at all prepared to be held up as some model of undieting, a body-confident woman! I'm not that woman. It felt like a lie. There were other things, too. I am not going to use my body to sell anything, but especially not my book. And above all of that, I don't want people scrutinizing my body's shape and size to decide if I have succeeded or failed in their opinion. The whole point of stepping outside my diet mentality was to stop evaluating my self worth based on the size of my ass.
Because I have finally learned this ONE thing for sure -- my self worth has nothing at all to do with the size of my ass! And neither does yours! A photo focuses only on the exterior and not on the inside stuff. Anyone can lose weight, believe me, but figuring out what your messy stuff is, figuring out how to live and breathe all on your own terms and trust that you will stop eating if you don't have a diet plan -- that's much harder than counting calories. It's risky. There might be REALLY MESSY STUFF inside you. You might not be a size six, ever. You might not trust yourself at first. But it was worth it to me to get messy and figure it out because thirty years of dieting did not fix my problems and something had to change.
I knew people would see my picture and think I failed, yet again, because I am not super skinny. And yet I am healthier and saner right now than I have ever been in my life. I eat really nutritious food, I'm learning to cook, I exercise, I quit smoking. I drink in moderation, I pack my own lunch, I take vitamins. These things sound so small but for me they are HUGE HUGE accomplishments! I don't care what other people think of my little successes, and I don't want diet tips from other people or scrutiny about my body. I didn't make these changes for other people, I did it for ME because I am worth living healthy. And my definition of healthy is not the same as someone else's. Weight and size and food are personal subjects and each person gets to decide what works best for them. But I'm not naive, I know what happens when it all gets reduced to a single snapshot. That kind of scrutiny is not healthy for me, not right now. Not ever.
So anyway, I agonized over that article for weeks and when there wasn't any more time to wait, I had to make a decision and then I just knew. I knew where the boundary was: I was happy to answer the reporter's final questions but I would not be sitting for a full-body photo shoot for anyone. Any story that requires a "ful-length image of the body" of the author is not the story for me. That is not who I am.
As soon as I said it out loud I felt enormous relief wash over me. Relief was followed rather quickly by that old familiar feeling of being a bad person letting everyone down -- letting down the nice reporter, the nice magazine people just trying to do their jobs, my rockstar publicist who had to run interference for me in the end, the five million (!!) possible readers I would miss out on to promote my book. But it was the right thing for me to do. Relief, but what a mess.
And my publicist Kim really was a rockstar. She understood before I even explained it. I knew it was risky to give up the opportunity to be featured in that magazine but it felt wrong, it felt too exposed, it felt like something I just wasn't ready to do. I couldn't let myself be reduced down to a single picture, not when it's all so private and personal and sensitive for me. My weight is not a photo op -- it's a lifetime of struggle. Kim explained it to the reporter, told her I was happy to participate in the interview but not ready to be a feature model, sorry, thank you, so sorry.
The magazine canceled the whole story.
All of this stuff, it's still new to me. I'm just a normal person living a normal flawed deeply weird and goofy life. I'm not used to having a spotlight shine anywhere near me, so I don't always know where it's OK to draw the lines. I've learned some of it through trial-and-error here on this website, and I have big areas of my life that are off-limits for content (I'll be the first to caution you that if your personal life becomes your content then you will eventually have no personal life.) It's important to protect your own privacy because we all need that space, we all need to keep parts of ourselves private and safe. And it really is OK to answer all a reporter's questions up and until the line of questioning becomes uncomfortable to you. It's OK to say no, even if it is awkward. Even if you feel a little bad for having to say no (of course it feels bad when you first start to say no -- it takes a long time to un-do all that smile and act nice training we get as young girls.)
While it's flattering and fun to have someone want to do interviews, it's also clear to me now that there is a fine line between promoting your work and selling out. But where is that line? How can you know until you brush up against it? I wanted those five million magazine readers to see the cover of my book! But this whole approach didn't feel right. Pick me apart for my writing, my comma splices, my crappy typing, my thinking, my corny self-helpy lovin' cat-hair-covered personality, but don't scrutinize my body and sum me up with a picture. I am not that girl.
This is all new, uncharted territory. I'm so grateful for the opportunities. And I'm aware that the missteps are bigger now, the chances riskier. The trickiest thing about all this is knowing there are people -- maybe even people on your own team -- who think you're crazy to pass up any kind of opportunity. But they aren't the girl in the picture. They aren't the ones who have to pass the check-out lane in the supermarket with their body on display. And how could I really live my own life if I were still saying yes when I want to say no?
So in conclusion: it was awkward, I did not handle it perfectly, I had mixed feelings, but I made a decision I felt was right for me and the world kept spinning on its axis. No one came to my house to repossess my cute shoes, no one called me to tell me I was a bad person, the cats still like me, my friends still talk to me, I still love writing and will do it forever even if no one ever buys another copy of my book. The magazine story got canceled, the world kept breathing, and I'm still here and I'm learning as I go.
It's OK, I'll take it.
Posted by laurie at 9:25 AM