weight! watch this!

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.

Bread. OUT.

Pancakes. HA.

Tortillas. POBRACITA!

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.

Go me.


butterflies and unemployment

Here is what I know about applying for jobs: it ranks right up there with my freshman year of high school. I know that everyone likes to talk about how they were the most awkward or most unattractive and I’m not here to debate that. You were probably uglier than me. Whether or not you felt uglier is debatable. Whether you managed to accentuate your lack of grace and beauty with glitter and hair clips the way I did is not. I inadvertently did everything in my power to paint a huge glittery sign that says, “I am so uncomfortable in my own skin that am borrowing clothes from my best friend who is 6 inches shorter and 50 pounds lighter and pretending I’m her.” Who is buying it?

Hear that silence? MY POINT EXACTLY.

Do you remember those butterfly clips? Not clips with butterflies on them, but clips that actually were butterflies. Their wings, ironically, had teeth that held your hair in place. I’m fairly certain you could buy a jug of them at Claire’s for a quarter. Those butterfly clips were “my look.” I could style my hair to look like 100 permutations of a plastic monarch colony. Some nights I’d go to bed only to find that a stray butterfly had nestled it’s way deep into the frizz and imbedded itself into my skull upon impact with my pillow.

A personal favorite, and go-to style for a casual everyday look, were the upper-middle class, white girl cornrows. These involved framing my face with rows of twisted strands held in place by one butterfly. Somedays I’d go monotone, others I’d have a rainbow of plastic insects in my hair. It was worse than when a friend comes back from Jamaica with those little braids. (I don’t know what happens to people in Jamaica that makes them think it’s okay to do that, but it’s not. No matter how many times you get accosted on the beach, you need to remember that you are going to look stupid and your friends aren’t going to want to go to dinner in public to hear about your trip.)

The key difference between my years of butterflies and job hunting is that everyday when I got home from school, I didn’t have to wait for someone to call and tell me how stupid I looked. I went years thinking I was the hottest shit around. I actually believed people when they told me I could be a professional stylist. I eagerly shared my secrets for where to score the best clips. And no one ever told me later that they were just being nice.

Job hunting, on the other hand, is brutal. You can look forward to waking up to a few emails about how nice it was to read your resume, but how, bottom line, you’re just not good enough. Occasionally you’ll get the, “oh my god! I LOVED your resume and would love to just be friends.” WHAT? NO! This is not a dating site, it’s a job hunting site. I don’t want to be your friend! I want for you to get me a job! I AM GOING TO END UP LIVING IN THE PINE STREET INN! SOMEONE IS GOING TO EAT MY CAT!

Then there is the reality of meeting a potential employer, likely someone you will report to, and realizing they are retarded. As you sit there imagining how much money they make, it occurs to you that not only will you not be getting the job, but someone else with a half of a brain will be. Probably someone related to the person you’re attempting to communicate with. That’s always nice.

I can almost imagine the annual job-hunting year book signing. Unlike my freshman year, when people wrote nice things like, “UR hair is AWESOME! Stay cool.” and “2Cool 2B 4gotten”, my job hunting year book would have things like, “UR not awesome enough for us!” and “2Bad UR not an MBA.”

But the worst? The ones that really sting? Those are the ones you love. The ones you’re sure you’d be a super fit for that don’t feel the same way. Then you really are back in high school again. You’re sitting across the table from some super cool guy who you are SURE would think you were the cat’s meow if he’d just hang out. If he’d only take a second to realize that you’re a little shy and that’s why you come off so… strong. But he won’t. And you go home and don’t say anything, but eventually your dad comes into your room and for no reason at all tells you that he thinks you’re the most beautiful girl in the world. And while it doesn’t make it better, it makes it bearable. And you actually believe him when he says someday everyone will see how beautiful you are. He says that even though you look like the ring master at a My Little Pony Circus.

But when you’re all grown up, it’s highly unlikely that dad’s going to burst through the door and tell you how you’re gonna kill the competition. You have to look yourself in the mirror, remember that those butterfly years didn’t hold you back, and hopefully neither will these. You have to open your computer and keep sending emails, keep asking people to give you a chance. One cool football player after another.

And hope that one of them really will give you a chance.



when no one else thinks you’re funny

"Amazing Laughter" sculpture by Yue ...
"Amazing Laughter" sculpture by Yue Minjun (Photo credit: Matthew Grapengieser)

A lot of years ago, maybe seven or eight, I bought a card with a sheep on it. The caption above the sheep read, “and to add to my misery, no one here thinks I’m funny.” It’s the kind of card you send to a good friend when they’ve left you. When you find yourself standing amidst a group of strangers who don’t understand you. Or worse, they misunderstand you. They don’t laugh at your jokes. They don’t even pity laugh. They just look at you.

I didn’t buy the card for anyone in particular. I just bought it to have. I have a rather large collection of cards that I’ve bought over the years. I pick up cards to keep, to read, to have, and to send. I think cards are one of the top ten loveliest things on the planet. Truly. The sheep card, however, has never made it into the rotation. Year after year I see it as I flip through my card drawer and never once have I thought it was the right card to send to anyone. I think that’s because the card wasn’t meant for anyone. It was meant for me.

There have been lots of times when people haven’t thought I was very funny. Many of those times were made worse by the fact that I really did think I was funny. Sometimes I’m not trying to be funny. People sometimes laugh at me for no good reason. The hubs laughs at the way I grocery shop, or the way I like to walk home from work. He thinks it’s peculiar that I sit in the bathtub for long periods of time or create “adventures.” Clients laugh at the way I dress, or the stories I tell. People even laugh at the way my house is decorated. Those things are meaningless.

But when you are trying to be funny and you realize that the entire room is staring at you like a mad person, those are the times it’s painful. You can’t go anywhere or do anything. You just have to sit there while all those eyes look expectantly upon you, wondering if you’re going to redeem yourself or wallow in humiliation. I choose the latter. Wallow. I keep my eyes downcast and I wallow. It’s the only way to regain composure.

The root of the pain is pretty simple: you misjudged your audience. They don’t get you.

Last week, I gave up my job. I didn’t really quit my job, nor did I get fired. I just gave it up. I felt like I was holding onto it so tightly and I couldn’t bear to imagine what my life would be without it. It didn’t define me, but it had been so much a part of my life and my success for the last four years that to imagine my existence without it was impossible. I didn’t even know I was going to give it up. I actually had no idea. But something started happening, something I was ignoring. People didn’t think I was funny anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, there were moments when people though I was funny. How could you not? But those moments were fewer and more far between. I started hearing words like “negative” bandied about in reference to me and my personality.

For a long time I thought that being serious– taking things more seriously– was what you were supposed to do as you grew up. Your career is a competition. There are others out there who will beat you to your dream and you better be ready to crush them with your intellect, smash them with your clever ways. If you didn’t look smart, you looked stupid. If you weren’t at the front, you were at the back.

Believe it or not, there was a time when I was known for being easy going. I’ve never been one to roll over when it came to something I believed in, but my methods were cheerful, my disposition that of someone who wants to learn from others and embrace new ideas. I don’t know what happened to that girl, but my guess is that she died a painful death a few years back. I killed her. Probably in the bathtub.

There’s no doubt that my natural inclination is that of a defensive player. Give me something to protect and I will do so fiercely. I was always shit at shooting baskets, but keeping some other beastly chick from doing it was never a problem. But the truth is that I longed, always, to be an offensive player. And I’ve worked really hard to be an offensive player. It doesn’t mean I can’t be aggressive, but it does mean I need to remember that I’m on a team and that what’s best for me isn’t always best for everyone else. I don’t want to continue with this sports metaphor because it’s making me uncomfortable, but you understand what I’m saying, right? Sometimes you realize you’ve become a fierce asshole when you meant to be a rockstar collaborator.

Now, do not misunderstand me. My job did not make me a fierce asshole, I made me a fierce asshole. My job gave me every opportunity in the world, but my priorities got fucked up and I started focusing more on the me and less on the we. I took the weight of success–collective success– onto my own shoulders and frankly became a touch Machiavellian. It’s no wonder people didn’t think I was funny. I was foaming at the mouth.

And so it happened. I was gripping my job so tightly that I had no choice. I needed to let go. I needed to let the one thing I couldn’t control float away. In a funny way, I needed to throw myself into an unknown place– one of fear and doubt– to really understand who I was and what I wanted. Nothing will do that quite like become unexpectedly unemployed.

And now I’m going to rebuild it. I’m going to take the incredible people, places, lessons, and triumphs of the last four years and I’m going to apply them to finding a new future. I’m going to find a place where people do think I’m funny and I’m going to keep it that way. I think.

Here’s to optimism.



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