March 29, 2012 § 8 Comments
Last year was the worst year of my life. It’s no more than a statement of fact. I don’t need people feeling bad for me, and I definitely don’t need people comparing my worst year of life to that of, say, one of the lost boys of the Sudan. Last year was a bad year relative to my other years. I get that.
But it doesn’t mean it didn’t take me down a peg. Friends were dropping like flies, my job was in a never ending rough patch (we know how that turned out…), and I couldn’t seem to find my mojo. It was really lost. Actually, I think I ate it. Along with everything else that wasn’t nailed to the floor. I excel at eating and drinking my way through personal trial. And so it is that this year, the not worst year of my life, I am getting things started with an extra twenty pounds of me. Unfortunately, there is no prize for having more of yourself. Unless you consider self loathing a prize.
Unlike my previous weight loss effort (Super Slim Down 2009), where I whittled myself down to an almost unrecognizable hottie, I don’t have the motivation. I’ve already run a half marathon. I already got my yoga certification. I already got skinny and hot and realized that it’s a lot of work. So. much. work.
I’m lamenting to my mother on the phone about my current physical appearance, telling her about how I know there’s a problem, but I don’t have the energy to solve it. Since my mother believes everything can be traced back to severe depression, she was quick to point out that it sounded like I was depressed. After assuring her that my medication was all order, she immediately found a new solution. After two months of searching for the perfect birthday present, she was going to buy me a subscription to Weight Watchers Online.
Now, before you freak out about my mother being an asshole– which I usually wouldn’t argue with you about– you should know that she does have insight into my darkest corners and she knows that I don’t like being a fat kid. As much as I don’t want to lose this weight, I want to be a fat kid even less. She was being a straight up problem solver. Plus my mother and I have spoken open and honestly about each other’s flaws for many, many years.
I won’t go into the details of Weight Watchers, as I’m sure many of you are familiar with the system: track points, lose weight. And, if you’re so inclined, go to meetings. (This is key to building a support system, or so I’ve heard.) Nowadays tracking points is–theoretically– a cinch. I’m sure you’ve heard Jennifer Hudson singing about it. There’s an iPhone app to help you with points, both how many certain foods are and how many you have left for the day. There is also an online community of people who say sickeningly inspiring things to one another. It’s like cheerleading camp, except not. Because cheerleaders just do a few cartwheels when they need to drop a few.
I was going to start yesterday, but after adding up most of my day I realized I was over my allocation by 100% and that didn’t seem fair. So I started today. And let me tell you something, those assholes running this Ponsi scheme have not pulled the wool over this girl’s eyes. I know EXACTLY what is going on here.
First of all, kiss your benders goodbye. This program is designed to ensure you never get to binge drink again. Forget vodka sodas. Forget everything you ever learned about getting potted for the lowest number of calories. They’ve rigged the system. If I sacrificed all my food for a whole day I would be allowed seven drinks. Now, I don’t want to scare anyone, but come on. What about Sunday Funday? Nope. I might as well take up Christianity. My Sundays are now open.
Now the points are based on a top secret algorithm that takes into account fat to carb to protein and fiber ratios. But you want to know what the super secret is? You’re never eating another carbohydrate again. At least not a good one. I spend 1.5 hours at the Whole Foods today calculating the points in every form of carb I walked by. Nope. Nope. Nope. I spent 20 minutes on pasta alone. WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO PUT UNDER MY TOMATO SAUCE? A PLATE? Apparently.
And in case you weren’t feeling sorry enough for me, they’ve rigged the cheese too. The only cheese that is low enough in points and high enough in quantity is Babybel Minis LIGHT. Like chewy pucks of spackle. And forget eating them on something like a baguette. Perhaps you’d like to count out some Wheat Thins? Maybe a Triscuit or two?
I get it. I know that it’s a clever way to help people understand portion control and the importance of moderation, but I don’t want to know the importance of moderation. I want to know the power of a high metabolism.
In an effort to jump into this with enthusiasm and optimism, I decided to go online to the “community” part of the website and see what it was all about. It’s basically a mini Facebook with a little Match.com sprinkled in. You can ask to be someone’s friend based on similar interests or join a group of people who share a common interest. Unfortunately it appears that I do not share any common interests with the people of Weight Watchers Online. I spent the majority of my evening responding to questions about why it was so hard to find Weight Watchers friendly options at major chain restaurants. I went there looking to see if anyone knew how many points were an eight course tasting with wine pairings.
I’m still a person, though, and it hurts that no one has requested to be my friend. Where is the welcome wagon? It’s not like I’m expecting a muffin basket, we all know these nazis don’t allow for anything that good, but maybe a few fluff friends so I didn’t feel so all alone?
As day one comes to an end, I’m paralyzed. I accidentally ate some leftover mousse cake from an office birthday party. It didn’t completely derail me, but I also wonder if I should forgo dinner so that I have extra points for my alcoholism tomorrow. You can eat lots of vegetables for no points, but don’t get near a sauce or condiment or you’re going straight to points hell. I haven’t even looked at mayo yet because I know it’s going to break my heart. Is there no compassion left in this cruel world?
One day down. 15 pounds to go.
August 24, 2009 § 7 Comments
I personally don’t know a single person without body issues. Except the hubs. I don’t know if it’s the circle of friends I have, the socioeconomics of my circles, race, ethicity–what. I don’t know. But everyone I know, except my husband, has body issues.
I was once watching a reality show on MTV where a group of very, very large girls went to summer “camp”. “Camp” was of course fat camp, thus the show, and I sat on my couch for a full, riveting hour watching as these girls spent an entire summer losing 16lbs in hopes that their parents would love them a little more when they picked them up. What I started to realize during the show was that these ginormous teens were not entirely different from my friends, the affliction was just different. Amongst them was a smattering of girls breeching (no pun intended) 300lbs, and one or two safely within the 290s, thusly making them the “skinnies” in the group– an aspirational leadership team who had graduated to tankinis, rather than the usual t-shirt over the one piece.
I watched these 293lb “skinnies” give eating advice to each of their friends, tell them about the best way to get a guy to notice them, show them the latest fashions– be the outright envy of their friends. The friends who, to the rest of the world, were no different. From my couch those three lbs made no difference. They were all at fat camp.
My point is that I think we probably gravitate towards people who are like us because–no matter how individual we are– we want to be individuals with other people. In my experience, true individuals are like swamp monsters. There is proof of them, but no one can ever seem to actually capture one. This may be because true individuals get very, very lonely and end up taking their own individual lives. Sad, but not so far fetched. Being an individual requires a unique blend of ego, confidence, lack of self awareness, and emotional vapidity that is hard to attain. I don’t say that to be rude, but because I believe that not caring what people think is a cold and isolating place, and to live in that place means shutting people out. When you love someone, you care what they think. It just happens.
Anyway, to continue my story (which I understand isn’t really even a story)… body issues. I’m not stupid, and I do see that there is a very, very good chance that somehow the cosmos aligned to bring me together with my body doubting brethren. It’s not as if I interviewed my friends, checking to make sure they were self conscious about their bodies, or put an ad on Craigslist for people who have food issues… we just found each other. It was likely a moment; one afternoon in early friendship a dessert menu probably arrived. I looked at the new friend across from me, reading her eyes. Did she have self discipline? Was she going to order dessert? Was she going to ask for water with lemon? Or was she like me? Hoping, praying to an higher power that our companionship would lead to dessert? And with small phrases like “molten chocolate” or “bananas foster” the first step towards understanding was made.
The story doesn’t end there, though. The true test of our fondness would come later. Would I receive a delayed text message bemoaning our decision? Would my new friend go through the motions of feeling guilty about our decision? Like magic, I would. And the next step, the crucial one, was made. Next thing you know I have a whole group of friends with questionable decision-making skills, a propensity for overindulging, and a consciousness for what the human form should look like. Body issues. Yay!
The problem is that as I grow older, I also grow tired of jealousy, competition, and most of all body issues. I do not want to be in competition with anyone, but rather learn from everyone. Take something from their lives and apply it to my own, but only if it works for me. I want to be a woman who relishes the joys and achievements of my friends and does not take them as an opportunity to identify how I have failed. I want to be encouraged and inspired by those acts. I also want to stop doing the naked mirror dance, agonizing over the parts of me that do not conform to some idea I have in my head. One that I am not even sure would make me happy.
I think this means I want… happiness.
So here’s the big question, the one that far greater men and women than myself have dared answer: what the hell is happiness and how do you achieve it?
I don’t have any clue, but here is what I do know: I am going to figure it out. I am going to rid myself of the bad, search desperately for the good, and try really, really hard to see what it is that so many people are so damn… happy…. about.
So here, based on an email from my good friend and gym BFF Nicole, is my beginning. On the road to happiness, these are the things I accept:
I accept that my parents got divorced and there is nothing that can be done about it.
I accept that I am not a morning person.
I accept that most people are morning people.
I accept that there are a lot of really annoying people in this world, but they are not out to get me.
I accept children.
I accept that I miss my dad, but that those choices have been made. I can be hurt, or I can rely on my friend Hailey to always hand me a cocktail and give me a solid hour to cry and say mean things…
I accept that I’m not an individual in the way that so many people are. My tattoo doesn’t make me a hipster, and my hair doesn’t make me a debutante. My apartment doesn’t make me a yuppie, and my shoes don’t make me a prep. I am better than an individual. I’m a chameleon.
I accept that I get sad.
I accept love.
I accept that I’m not a friendly person.
I also accept that the road to happiness may force me to be a touch friendlier, and I’ll do my best.
I accept that my apartment, though not big enough for dinner parties or house guests, is perfect. It’s my home. It’s where I’ll find Stuart and the hubs.
I accept that there are adventures in my future.
I accept that heartache is a journey to someplace I don’t even know exists.
I accept that with enough practice, enlightenment is possible.
I accept that I was not built for a bikini.
I accept other people’s opinions, but do not hold them so close as to allow them to make me question myself.
I accept that this body is not the one in magazines and on TV. But this body can run ten miles. This body is capable of one of the most beautiful Urdhva Dhanurasanas in the Metro Boston area. This body has done the very best that it possibly can.
I accept that happiness isn’t about being happy, but about setting an intention to be happy. Intention is half the battle.
I accept that life does not mean to make things difficult, it just happens.
I accept that humiliation does not exist. Humiliation is simply an inability to laugh about what we have attempted, but not perfected.
I accept that people do not like me.
November 15, 2008 § Leave a Comment
Earlier this year, the hubs and I lost our prized kitty Milo to some sort of mysterious medical phenomenon. We’re not exactly sure if it was an actual phenomenon or if they just told us it was so that they could spend 10K trying to figure it out. Apparently the hubs and I have “I’m with stupid” tattooed on our foreheads, because they milked us like a wetnurse. For money we didn’t even have. I didn’t blog about the experience at the time because I was so mortified at how emotional I was about the whole thing. I was like one of those dry wombed women. I would well up with tears every time I saw a Jewish BU girl in sunglasses walking down Newbury St. You know, because they all look like owls, and owls love mice, and Milo loved those little, furry, catnip-filled mice from Target. Everything in the world was an emotional trigger.
After I watched my 10K dead cat get carted off by the vet, I had an unexpected moment. I hadn’t made my way through the (however many) steps of grief, but I can say that in addition to being overwhelmed with sadness (he was, afterall, only three, and it was totally unexpected), I was overcome with the urge to have him taxidermied.
Now, you may be thinking “what the fuck is wrong with you, Caroline?” But truthfully I was in a very fragile emotional state and the only thing pulling me through my cloud of grief was imagining all the ways that I could use his marble-eyed, sawdust-stuffed body to scare the piss out of people. Ala Scrubs, I would probably have him done with his little arms hooked up in front of him so I could hang him over the back of a chair, or over a door– peeking over to see everyone. Then when people saw him, I could say really fucked up stuff like, “Silly Milo, he just LOVES being a part of the conversation” or “Oh! Be sure to scratch behind Milo’s ears; he goes CRAZY for that sort of thing.” Not unlike those women who have life-like baby dolls made to look like their departed children. (You think I’m fucking with you, Google it.)
Alas, my willingness to spiral out of control is always cut short by the hubs’ refusal to go down with me, so Milo was donated to a class of sniveling Ruskies at the Tufts vet school. C’est la vie.
In the weeks that followed, I made dramatic statements about how we just weren’t ready to bring another cat into our lives, or how we just weren’t sure that any other animal was going to be able to fill the void. Ultimately it was just that we had a few pre-planned vacays coming up and we were pretty sure we couldnt find anyone to care for the new addition. Just for fun, though, I made inquiries to all the shelters, letting them know that my husband and I were “just starting our search” and if they had anything to please let us know. (Let me tell you, Madonna thinks she had it hard? Try adopting an animal in Massachusetts. Children can go home to their crack whore mothers and eat moldy Wonderbread three meals a day, but if a productive member of society wants an animal, they better call in Chavez or whatever the fuck his name is, because unless your home is a nest of love and 12-hours-a-day free time to love and cherish your animal, you are going home empty handed.)
We were put on a list of “potentials” and occasionally I would get a call that Garfield or some such stereotypical nonsense was ready to start interviewing potential parents. The system–quite literally– involves a two-hour animal interviewing process wherein an animal psychologist assesses the compatibility of pet and owner. If you fail, you’re name is going down to the bottom of that list, right above Michael Vick. Eventually, my liberal and earth-loving facade started to crack and I was dialing up kitten mills up and down the eastern seaboard. There was not a one of those ten-children, twenty-cat households that was going to deny me a cat because I had a day job. A familys gotta eat.
We were looking for a 6-9 month old orange cat. We didn’t want a kitten because the brutality of having a small being in our midst made the hubs think about children and then his nuts would shrivel, and quite frankly anything that needs “love” in order to make it through the day isn’t going to last long around here.
Well, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. To that point my loving mother called me one afternoon with a wonderful surprise (ironically, I was standing in a cat house about to do a good deed and adopt an antisocial curmudgeon cat when she called). She found us a cat. Better yet, he looked like Milo and had a bunch of extra toes like Milo.
It wasn’t that we were ungrateful, but like a couple who has waited years for a little Asian baby, only to find out that they’re getting an accident from Kansas, we felt like we weren’t in control anymore. This new cat was coming into our home with no pre-interview. There was no pet psychologist to sign off on the acquisition. What happened if we couldn’t love him.
Well, we were about to find out.
Stuart Wayne George Beaulieu was brought to Boston in September. Not only was he not orange, he was not 6-9 months. He was so young that is age was mentioned in weekly increments, which meant that in addition to food and water, he needed the one thing the hubs and I couldn’t give him. Love.
Unlike his noble predecessor, he was not a couch-loving, prim-time-TV watching kitty. He didn’t have any catastrophic health problems that were unknowingly responsible for limiting his motor skills, thus making him the greatest animal ever. Stuart was young, vibrant, and totally vocal. The cat has a voicebox that wakes the dead.
In addition to his twelve meals a day, he likes to sustain himself during the long, lonely hours by snacking on paper products. While he particularly enjoys the subtle flavors in a roll of Viva papertowels, he’ll gladly take down an $8 birthday card, or even a semster-long drafting project. Super.
Sometimes the hubs and I will stand in the kitchen, staring blankly between his full food bowl, overflowing water dish, scattered neon plastic toys, and his small meowing body.
“What does he need?” we’ll silently ask each other.
And so the hubs will pick him up, sling him over his shoulder, and continue cooking dinner. As Stuart watches silently. Loving every minute of it.