that’s trash pie

Recently, a good friend of mine suggested that I put a picture of myself on my blog. She thought–since I’ve been gaining critical and widespread acclaim over the last few months– that people beyond my immediate social circle might be reading the blog. The concern was that because they’d never met me, they may think I was a five-foot tall, 450 lb, single girl who sat around eating bon bons and writing self deprecating blither about my life. And, if that were true, it quickly went from funny to really, really sad.

While I understood her point, I also had some concerns of my own. My vague anonymity meant that, at the very least, people who knew me in high school could still imagine the five-foot-nine-inch, 130 lb girl I used to be. They could relish the delicious humor I evoked by pretending I was one of the masses– a desk humping nobody who gained weight after college and accidentally started wearing sneakers over tights to walk to work. A photo, however, meant that I was going to have to face the music. I don’t technically hump my desk, and I’m somebody to someone, but honesty would have me disclose that I don’t relish the naked mirror dance the way I once did.

But, as you can see, I did put up a picture. Yes, it’s sepia toned, yes it’s cropped so that all you can see is my swanlike neck and pixie hair, but that’s sort of close to what I look like. Which is definitely more than the my-facebook-profile-picture-was-taken-my-freshman-year-in-college-and-I’m-unwilling-


crowd is giving you. I may not be sepia toned in real life, but then again, you’re not really as thin as your photo might suggest…

About six months ago, though, I did take some time to think about how I got to this place in my life. It couldn’t be the lack of exercise, or the inability to diet or deprive myself; it had to be something else. It had to be deeply psychological. I’m not a normal girl, so my weight gain had to be about something extraordinary. Not chicken and bacon pizza with onions, or boozing til all hours of the night. I was fat, and I couldn’t put my (chicken) finger on why. I decided to look over the twisted dieting history that was mine and find out why I couldn’t be thin.

Unfortunately, and on a more serious note, the history was littered with indiscretions. A little something sweet here, a Taco Cabana there… but it seemed that youth athletics had something to do with my overall fitness. I was a machine, but I was also being prodded along a wasteland of a track by a little Mexican man who, at 35, still had aspirations of being on the Olympic track team. I probably burned a lot of calories stressing over how to tell him that he was delusional and the closest he would come to the Olympics was being burned by a heroine lighter. Pass it on, hombre.

Fortunately, there was a pattern. (Is, if you want me to be honest…) As I sat in front of a bowl of guacamole last night, forgoing on polite, social conversation in order to keep tabs on the guac– concerned that I would never, ever again, ever, see guacamole, or feel its texture, or taste its delight and therefore needed to eat as much as I could as quickly as I could– I realized that I have no self control. I’m not just an addictive personality, I’m a whirling spiral. One bite, one sip, one look, one touch and there I am in a manic puddle on the floor, guac smeared across my wanting lips, thinking longingly about overspending, and wishing for another margarita–before I’ve taken the first sip of the one in front of me. Suddenly frantic for cheese, for sour cream, for stimulation and conversation. OH MY GOD MAKE IT STOP.

And then I’m running across the Common sphincter contracted, hoping I make it home before my guaca-holy fuckin’-mole makes a reappearance.

Have I always been like this?

Yes, sweetie cakes, I’m afraid you have been.

In the Spring of 2002, my father came home from work with a Chocolate Ice Box pie. Apparently, the ladies at the local church were selling them to buy yarn to make blankets for blind, shivery kids in Ethiopia (or something) and my dad was simply doing his part for God by buying one. My experience with pie is limited, because I dont eat warm fruit, but Luby’s had taught me that ice box pie wasn’t pie at all. It was manna from old ladies. A deliciousness rarely found on this cruel planet.

The pie arrived before dinner time, and I figured, after all the sprinting della Mexico I’d done that day, it was probably good for my glucose levels to have a slice. I couldn’t have known I’d eat half the pie.

When my dad returned from changing his clothes, he gave me a look that reminded me that while I was the apple of his eye, it was only relative to his feelings about my brothers, and doing something like eating half a pie made him love me less, and the relatively was then moot. I saw it there in his eyes, and therefore didn’t argue when he told me he was going to throw the pie away– in the outside trash– the BFI one that the city collects by hoisting it overhead and shaking it violently.

We didn’t talk about the pie over dinner. I knew that in some small way what he did was about love and life lessons. The pie was coming between us. Watching me frantically scarf pie, he saw a girl that was helpless and pie driven. He knew I wasn’t that girl, and he was helping me realize it too. I was grateful.

Later that night, I received an invite from a friend to go to a movie. Movies are perfect because if you can just bypass the candy counter, you are eats-free for at least 2.5 hours. GOLDEN. I would sit myself down and watch a film. I would digest the pie and start fresh the next day.

As I walked to my car, I noticed the trash barrel out of the corner of my eye. I was horrified by my own thoughts, convinced immediately that I needed an exorcism.

Pie. Pie. Pie. Pie. Pie.

No pie, cowgirl. No pie.

But there I was, waist deep in a trash bin in my dark garage, scooping chocolate mousse with my fingers and making noises–ignoring the deep digging in my waist. (The thin plastic side was digging into hip as I leaned further in to the barrel.)

Pie! Pie! Pie! Pie! Pie!

As the chocolate and whip topping made its way in and around my mouth, I thought that there was nothing wrong with a little pie. I wasn’t eating emotionally, I was eating because it was fucking delicious.

And then my dad opened the garage door.

For a moment, I stayed in the trash barrel. Like a three year old, convinced that if I could not see him, he could not see me, I stayed. And then I slowly lifted my cream-pie-faced self out of the can to face my father.

“You disgust me.”

” I know!” I wanted to shout. “I disgust myself! But it’s so delicious! And you put it RIGHT HERE, right where you KNEW I was going to walk to get to my car. YOU SET ME UP FOR THIS!”

But instead I simply turned around, walked to my car, and waited until I was around the block to lick the rest off my fingers.

We never talked about the trash pie.

the i caroline

In addition to being a place for insightful political commentary, cunning witicism, and a softness of heart that even Jesus is jealous of, my blog has become somewhat of a stomping ground for insights on how others view my life. Admittedly, I bring it in. Everyday that I write a blog post I am asking for people to tell me exactly how they feel about me. It’s like celebrities who go out to eat. What? Did you expect to be able to sit down and have dinner? You’ve got to be kidding me.

Over time, I’ve learned to take what people say, no matter how unfounded, ridiculous, and unwanted, and hold it up to my life– like a fat girl holds up skinny pants– to see if in some way, what they’ve said could be insightful. Usually it’s not. Not because my friends and readers are not insightful (most are highly articulate and intelligent people), but because I’ve learned (be prepared for one of the great realizations of our time…) that often times people use the critique and criticism of others as a way to bounce things off themselves. Those who cant do, teach, and those who can’t change, criticize.

How did I come to this earth-shattering revelation? By being a criticizer, obviously.

I know that for most people this is hard to believe. Soft-spoken, open-minded, all-loving Caroline? She couldn’t possibly be a criticizer. But the truth is that I am, and it’s because I can’t change.

I, Caroline, can’t change.

But here is a cleansing breath. The changing of the summer shades, the switching of the cold-weather wardrobe– this is the iCaroline. This is my criticism of myself. And next time I criticize you, remember that I criticized myself first… something you may want to consider.

1. On Marriage

The iCaroline admits that marriage is not her strong suit. There is something about the will and whim of others that I have never agreed with, and managing my expectations has always been a difficult task. Let’s consider CASE ONE: A FAT TUESDAY.

Last week I was using my upcoming menstrual cycle as an excuse for misery and disgust. I would not consent to making a meal, and neither would I consider what it was I wanted to eat, leaving hubs with no choice but to make a choice and endure the verbal lashing and marriage bashing that would certainly ensue. I’m a delight. He’s thrilled with his eternal choice.

Hubs works and goes to school full time on both Tuesdays and Thursdays, and most of the time I busy myself with plans, but sometimes I sit on the couch and focus intensely on something that makes me angry. After I’m good an angry about it, I stew on it until the hubs gets home. Sometimes I’m surprised he hasn’t found a new way home, something that keeps him out all night. On this particular Tuesday, he called to let me know that he was going to swing by CVS and pick up some allergy meds for me because he noticed I was out. I told him it was too bad I was on a diet, otherwise I would want some Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy too. Too bad for that diet.

I hung up the phone and waited for my ice cream, hoping he’d remember that I liked a banana to go with my ice cream. It was about that time that the vortex of hell opened up and made a go for my soul.

The hubs arrived without the ice cream. I couldn’t believe it. Wasn’t I the kind of girl who would read his thoughts? Know what he wanted before he did and provide it at any cost? Personal, emotional, or financial.

No, he said. I really wasn’t.

But looking into my eyes, I think he saw the madness. The kitten he married wasn’t there. The vacant eyes led to a vacant soul and beneath it was nothing but malice and the will to kill for chocolate pudding swirled ice cream. He decided he needed some ice cream, but he’d share it with me. He was even feeling like a banana.

Moral: Hubs is a saint. I’m a shit face with two personalities and an uncontrollable habit for consumption.

2. On Exercise

A few weeks back, in an effort to follow through with my mission to be anorexic by October, I tried to cancel my gym membership. The ideology was that it was too expensive and I didn’t really go that often. Clearly I could save money, plus be motivated to find more recreational forms of exercise: tennis at the community courts, hiking around the…, chasing after homeless people.

When I called, I was honest about my situation. Fat girl, no fitness goals, in debt, must cancel.

What they heard was: desperate fatty willing to pay thousands to keep the dream of the Barbie Body alive.

Thus I began working out with Lindsay, the pixie with a thumb print ass who laughs politely when I heave like a fat kid at camp with low blood sugar. She really is great, and her enthusiasm for the lunge rivals that of my mine for baked goods, and between us we make an odd couple. Her giggling and demonstrating with ease and agility, and then covering her mouth politely when my stomach fat keeps me from completely an exercise. I’ve become a target of my own defense mechanisms. There I am, lying on the floor, wondering what I’m going to have for breakfast… or if it’s anyone’s birthday at work. We always have the most delicious cakes.

When I informed the hubs of my decision to buy exercise I couldn’t afford, he was supportive. He told me he wanted me to work hard so that I would be happy with myself. I’m sure he just wants me to get some stamina going–so I don’t have to take a three day breather after sex. But he was loving and supportive, and even offered some compensation… in three years I will have paid off round one of my trainer.

Lindsay inspires me to do crazy things like get up and go to the gym before work, a habit that optimism tells her will become second nature, while the iCaroline knows that when the sessions are up, so is the dream of a better body.

Last week it occurred to me that unless I was willing to go into substantial debt maintaining this insane routine, I was going to have to cut our relationship off at the knees. As I lay on the flooring, staring woefully at the water fountain, I told Lindsay that it was important that we be honest with eat other. I needed her to tell me that I was out of shape and that she felt sorry for me, mostly because she could tell–from her experience– that I was incapable of having a better body. In return, I’d let her know that she was out of her fucking mind for thinking that any functioning member of society with even a SMIDGEN of normalcy would get up and do the shit she makes me do. For $134/month, surrounded by spa treatments and thousands of dollars in equipment, she had fashioned a mountain climber out of a sit up mat and two sweat towels. This is not the Congo, Miss Goodall, this is Equinox. We can use the Stairmaster. But no. We would tie sweat towels around my feet and try to run up a lacquered mat for 30 seconds– mostly just to prove that it cannot be done.

No fucking shit.

My dilemma is clearly the elemental identifier of who I am. The iCaroline may not be a beach body blonde with a penchant for sunshine and shimmery lip gloss. At the heart of me, being over served and eating cake is what makes living pretty okay. But yet every time the summer rolls around, or a mirror sneaks up on my naked self, I find a swirling of self-doubt and hatred. Who is that flubberfuck? Who ate Caroline?

Moral: I am aspirational, but not athletic… and most of all? I’m fucking lazy.

3. On Life

I once remarked on the very blog that I was horrified to learn what most people find exciting. It’s why it’s so hard to find stimulus. Where once there was education, there is now nepotism and competition, patents and intellectual plagiarism. It’s not exactly a breeding ground for the open exchange of ideas. Someone will steal your thought, make it better, and then invite you to a gala to celebrate his or her success. Like the plot of every Disney Movie every made…

Where once there was political discussion, there is the idiocy of arguing over fundamental beliefs that can neither be changed nor explained. Guess what? Sarah Palin is a miserable whore bag. But guess what else? Some people love miserable whore bags.

And where there once was stimulation, there is now TV.

The iCaroline knows that I should read Newsweek, The Financial Times, The New Yorker, and the NYT, but the iCaroline also embraces that I don’t like to read those things. I like that my knowledge to comes from secondhand, unreliable sources. I like knowing that most of my information is uninformed and ridiculously biased. Sometimes, I even like winning an argument by lying. Mostly because it makes people crazy.

But the iCaroline is about more than basic knowledge about me, it’s about basic knowledge about you. I can identify my crazy, explain it, hide it, or even be embarrassed by it, but the truth about being crazy is that it can either empower you, or make you very, very sad. And sad people, even without trying, become very lonely people.

When I write about my life, when I tell people I’m crazy or bitchy or mean, I’m only trying to show you that you’re not alone. I’m not asking for correction techniques, or what I could do to become perfect, or even perfect to you. I’m showing you how I function. I’m helping you become an more introspective person and friend.

Because I me, I expect more of you.

Beneath the funny is a very true story about how my life unfolds.

Exhausting, isn’t it?

you dont say.

* I know pretty much nothing about politics, except that I hate most republicans, and the ones I like, I’m making huge concessions for.

** I am not a racist. I love black people, white people, Latino people, and the occasional Asian person.

*** I love all gays.

When I was a senior in college, I took a column writing class with Jeffery Seglin, a NYT syndicated columnist and teacher extraordinary, who effectively hated to love me all semester. I can’t speak to his deepest desires, but I do know that in the end, he was disappointed in himself for not being able to wake the columnist dragon he knew was sleeping inside of me.

What I learned in that class, more than anything, is that people who write fluff about their families and short stories about their parents divorce or the tragic loss of a family pet, should not attempt to be columnists. Why? Mostly because their (my) level of insight into the world is limited. In other words, I’m a brilliant writer and a complete social idiot. Hmpfh.

I learned this for the first time when I submitted my first column for class discussion. The assignment was to write a column and submit it with the publication that you imagined it would run in. While some girls were smart enough to remain true to themselves–writing stories about starting their periods while wearing white pants and submitting it to Cosmo or Teen Vogue– I thought it was important to set a precedent. My column was bound for the New Yorker. A magazine that I have subscribed to for years out of principle, and read only about three of. I do like the cartoons though.

When I finished the piece, I was feeling pretty good about myself. Not only was I about to blow everyone out of the water, there was a good chance that my professor was going to give me a rec for the NYT. At 21, I was going to be the youngest and most famous columnist on the circuit. Fuck that Indian girl from Harvard and her panty novels. She ended up being a plagiarist anyhow.

What I didn’t think about was that underneath my witty repartee and Anderson Cooper references was a complete lack of basal knowledge. After 850 searing words denouncing the president, his plans for the country, and his failures in Iraq, I had managed to give a vague overview of their own common knowledge. Bush is a stupid fucker… Definitely the moral question behind every Pulitzer wining New Yorker piece. I should have written an expose on braille at ATMs or condom dispensers in high schools.

Unfortunately, it didn’t occur to me until after I’d passed out the essay that I was about to humiliate myself. As I watched the faces of my classmates reading–the stupid ones look pensive, actually tricked into believing I was the next Chris Matthews, the smart ones furiously writing notes in the margin– I wondered why I didn’t write a story for Jane or Prized Puppy.

Since that painful day, when a token gay boy told me my argument was “limp”–an interesting choice of words, I have kept my political conversations to a minimum. I try to read CNN or MSNBC, but the truth is that I end up surfing the medical mystery column, or week in photos galleries. A larger testament to my failures is my current existence– completely void of any journalism. I won’t even write my own Craiglist ads anymore.

So my decision to talk about politics today is about regaining a sense of self. That, and it’s pretty clear that even politicians don’t have a fucking clue what’s going on, so what harm is my commentary causing? Right?

As the election grows nearer, and my fear about Pops and Minx being elected grows, I wonder how we even got here. Am I missing something? When middle America casts their votes for Rifle and Drill, do they understand that they send their GED graduate, blue-around-the-collar sons to the slaughter? Keep voting guys, this can only get better. PIck-up-truck-driving, closeted lesbians from Dakota to Kansas are horrified by the idea of two men getting married, but haven’t thought for a second that their tit compressors and NBA certified merch are in jeopardy should they happen to– one fateful night– find a friend that they just feel special about. No babies for you, gaybos.

But what really kills me is Fred Thompson. I think you were a hell of a District Attorney (or whatever), and it was a damn shame that Cabot had to go into hiding after being shot at by a Latino mobster– I’m sure the two of you had a lot of criminals to put away together, but you’re better suited for a collapseable courtroom ala Dick Wolf.

Watching boy Fred at the RNC, I was tickled to notice that while he was rallying and whooping and carrying on, it was killing him not be able to yell across his red stated companions, “What the fuckin’ hell is goin’ on here? Is it just me or does anyone else realize we’re about to elect a NEGRO. This is America! The land of the goddamn free and the home of brave white men and their wives who cook! Remember the LA Riots? That was HIS PEOPLE. Goddamn liberals.”

While the Mormon Tabernacle Choir serenaded him.