Subtraction: My Uncomfortable Relationship with Numbers in Weight Loss

Note: Body-image issues beneath the cut. Consequently, trigger warning.

The other day I was weighed for a medical test. “Wow,” said the nurse. “I never would have guessed that to be your weight! You hold it really well!”

…insert spiral of shame, here, until I forced myself to write this entry in my blog.

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I’d Rather Move Bodies

Have you moved recently?

Good, then you’re going to feel me on this one. Settle in.

I’m a freakin’ James Bond when it comes to moving. I’ve moved from one residence to another (both across-the-street and across-the-country) nearly twenty times. I’m good at packing. I’m ruthless when it comes to keeping stuff or dumping it. I’m organized enough to know what I have to do when, experienced enough to anticipate what I’m going to break or what’s going to be broken (who needs an air conditioner in June in Alabama?) and  cynical enough to understand that this isn’t going to be cheap no matter what (I break leases like I break hearts).

And the funny thing is, this has been an incredibly smooth move-in. Nothing horrific has happened. Sure, there’s been minor drama, but nothing that isn’t par for the course when you’re moving 32 boxes, furniture, and clothes up two flights of stairs into a place previously inhabited by four (four!) galloping pitbulls and their owners (my downstairs neighbors just LOVE me and my two cats, let me tell you).  But moving to a new state takes time, money, and stress management skills that unless you’ve done it, you simply don’t understand. For example:

1. You must expect to get ripped off.

Generally, people aren’t even doing it out of malicious intent. They just have 7,342,394,300 fees to charge you because it’s what they’ve always done. Applying to live here?  $50. Running a credit check to live here?  $50.  Have pets?  $200 (and that was a deal! With two cats, I should be paying $400 but the manager was super-sweet and let me do it for $200). Need internet?  That’ll be the monthly fee plus installation plus parts plus labor.  And don’t get me started on Huntsville Utilities charging me $300 just to sign up for an account. I’ll see half that money again in 2 years. I’m not holding my breath.

2. You don’t need all that stuff.

When I was leaving Florida to move back here to Alabama, I had a pretty clear policy: if you want my furniture, you can have it for free.  The caveat to this policy was that I was not going to help you move it. Disassembling and getting the furniture down the three flights of stairs was entirely on the person who wanted the free furniture. You’d be surprised how many people went “oh yes, I want your Mistress of Pain dungeon set!” (hypothetical) only to back out once they realized that they were responsible for lugging it downstairs themselves while I drank gin and tonics on the couch. I gave away a TON of furniture. Most of my furniture, actually. I had a few kind people who asked me “are you sure you want to give this away?” and I said “YES, PLEASE, JUST GET RID OF IT SO I DON’T HAVE TO RENT A BIGGER U-HAUL” and they were worrying about my sentimentality getting the best of me. I assure you, once you start moving, you will realize what you want to keep and what you want to give away because you have to pack that shit in a box and then lug that box across the galaxy. You don’t realize the value of belongings until you’re forced to actively deal with them. I lost so much stuff I feel like a lighter person.  It’s fantastic.

3. Moving is never quick.

I’ve been in my apartment since May 15th. Here are the things that I still don’t have: a bed, cable, internet, towels, a bathroom trashcan, dishcloths, a bedside table, a desk. And all my art is on the floor, unhung. I’ve been working my ass off to get my apartment “done”, and I’m just beginning to remember that when moving into a new place, YOU ARE NEVER DONE. NOT FOR A YEAR.  You have to order stuff. It takes two weeks for them to ship it. You can’t just get cable; they have to come install it. Etc, etc. When I hear about my friends who have plans to move into a new house over a weekend I have myself a nice long laugh, because their definition of “moving” must include “using our boxes as a coffee table for the next six months because Jesus fucking Christ this shit is never through”. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But I hate smug movers who assure you that their moving experience was done in a weekend. Yes, there are moving hipsters. No, I don’t get it.

4. Hire someone to help you move, or rely on easily guilt-tripped friends. You can’t do it yourself.

Moving from the rental house to Huntsville, I hired two guys who got all the horrible lifting done in an hour-and-half versus all day of me huffing and puffing.  It cost $200 including tip and it was the best investment I’ve made in the last year. Before that, I begged my friends to help me move with promises of Cracker Barrel and beer. That worked out nicely, too, and it costs almost the same amount (a little cheaper, but it made some fantastic memories).  Thank you, easily-guilt-tripped friends!

In short, moving is torture and I’m stress-eating. Don’t do it unless you love your apartment. I do.  But holy crap this mess THIS MESS.

How I Work Out

I work out sporadically. I’m told that my lack of routine is a hindrance toward progress, but since working out is strictly based on the factors of guilt, boredom, and whether or not I can fit into my “average day” pants, workouts simply aren’t something that happens with any regularity. For those of you wondering what I mean by “average day” pants, here is a brief caveat: I have about three times too many pants in my closet. One-third of them are too little, ranging from “could lose 5 pounds” to “sausage casing tight”. One-third of them are too big for those days of lounging around or for days I feel huge. And one-third of them are just right. This Goldilocksian approach to fashion has made for a bursting closet, but there’s something optimistic about staring at a size 6 and going “I could probably… feasibly… get into that… if I took out my ribcage and ate nothing but leeks…” Continue reading

On Accumulating Stuff and My Zen Thoughts of the Day.

This weekend was a dust-covered, sweaty, mash-your-fingers-in-a-door-jam mess. The insurance company delivered about 30 cardboard boxes of cleaned items that had been pulled from our collapsing house last July.  There was a satisfaction in prying open box after box to uncover belongings that survived the fire (or… sort of… survived the fire), but there was also a lot of amused frustration.  “That damn painting,” I said as I pulled a truly crappy oil painting I’d done in high school from the box.  “Why the hell did this piece of shit not catch fire but our photos did?”

Mom had the same reaction to being reunited with her boxes of her fine china. “I was hoping these had broken!” she whined, pulling out a twee-looking teacup from the 1950s.  “We never used them.”

So now we’re planning an Ebay excursion. It’s not that this stuff isn’t treasured, in its own way: it’s that we’ve gone without it for nine months and forgot it existed. That’s how unimportant it is to us in the grand scale. She will mourn her Zuni pottery, and I’ll think fondly of my Playstation (may it rest in peace), but there is so much stuff that we’d collected along the way that we didn’t care about. It’s not really until you lose nearly everything that you realize how irrelevant most of it is.

On the plus side, I’m inheriting some of the extras for my new apartment. Uncaring that the sets don’t all have the same number of settings, I’m receiving a gorgeous set of crystal wine glasses, champagne glasses, and sniffers. That way when I veg out on the couch watching old episodes of House I can drink in semi-alcoholic style.

I guess what I’m saying is that no matter how much or how little you have, it’s easy to part with some fraction. Get rid of old things, and breathe a little larger.

Just don’t get rid of it with a house fire, because that’s ass.

My Stupid Mouth: Job Interviews

Job interviews are a particularly dazzling example of why I shouldn’t be allowed to interact with other people.  Nearly everyone hates them, even the ones doing the interviewing, and they’re pretty much 99% verbal bullshit and 1% dressing like you will never actually dress for the job, but for some reason, they remain a requirement. Ostensibly, it’s to ensure that the job candidate isn’t the type to stir up trouble, has the right attitude, and doesn’t pick their nose like it’s a goldmine. I get that. The problem is, I’m one of those people that warms up to people slooooowly. It takes time for me to get out of “pat answer time” into “actual person mode”. And while I can deliver those pat answers like a pro (“An example of a time in my past job that I used problem-solving skills?  Oh, let me count the ways!”), I get into major trouble when the interviewer deviates from the expected set of questions. I also sometimes just blow the entire thing like a two-dollar hooker.  For example: Continue reading

Where I Grew Up: Portrait of a Small Alabama Town

I won’t romanticize where I grew up: there were some problems. The Blair Witch would consider the woods out back behind my house as being a little too wild.  We have a nest of copperheads in my front yard, water moccasins in the lake, and rattlesnakes in our backyard. In the summer, mosquitos buzz heavily, coming up the wooden floor’s slats on the back porch, and in the winter, we’re clinging to the side of an icy mountain with no easy way to get into civilization in the valley below.  My country town is the sort of town that has more cows than people.  More tanning beds than people, even.  There’s a bait shop/church/wrestling club all in one building, and that building used to be a gas station a few years back. Rusty pumps lay on the ground in the parking lot, large hand-painted signs declaring  “GIVE YOUR HEART TO JESUS” and “OPEN WRASSLING EVERY THURSDAY” in the pines above.  There’s an active KKK chapter, but there aren’t any minorities to harass, so instead they burn crosses in the front yards of business rivals. One Klan member recently burned a cross in the front yard of a guy who refused to sell him his dirt bike.  That Klan member was the sheriff’s brother-in-law.

I don’t put much stock in all the people of my hometown. There are some truly kindhearted people, and there are some people who are terrifying in their backwardness. What I value in my hometown is how in some ways it was one of the last nostalgic All-American places to grow up (provided that you were white, of course. I won’t claim it’d have been pleasant for anyone more racially-diverse). But picture this:

  • I tore all over those woods as a kid. Six, seven, eight – I have memories of finding arrowheads, of tying rattlesnake skins to my wrist, of running with jackrabbits and finding an old moonshine still.  No one called for me, no one watched me. I was powerful and free and wild. I squeezed berries and painted my cheeks red, and when I was hungry, I sucked the juice of local honeysuckle.
  • Norman Rockwell himself would’ve declared our Fourth of July’s The Best Ever.  A massive picnic in a neighbors yard, a potato salad competition, a caving expedition, more brownies than you could possibly eat, a pool party, and then fireworks at dusk. Star-gazing followed, and firefly baseball. (What is firefly baseball, you ask?  It’s… exactly what it sounds like, but you only got points if you whacked a firefly while it was lit up, the glowing evidence of it smeared on your baseball bat.  Should I be admitting to this? Aren’t all children basically horrible? I still feel a little guilty. Poor fireflies.)
  • Everyone knew your business, everyone knew your name.  This was good and bad, obviously, but when my parents’ home burned down last summer, the neighborhood rallied and watched it go, holding Mom and Dad up with a silent dignity.  We had pies and water and clothes and a place to sleep thanks to our neighbors.  Southern hospitality is no joke here.
  • It truly is beautiful. The trees stand proud against the side of the bluff, and the drop-off into the valley is staggering. The colors of the fall are something off of a postcard, and now in the spring, everything is vibrant and flowering and new.

There are some problems, of course, such as the above-mentioned casual racism.  I’ve been invited to a book burning or two (usually Harry Potter, and yes, I declined).  In recent years, the gun violence has escalated. And meth use has sky-rocketed.  I think my memories of growing up here wouldn’t be replicated in today’s world.

But I’ve got them, hard and warm like a stone in my hand.

You can be socially awkward without being diagnosed with something, I promise.

There’s this “Cult of the Introvert” running around Tumblr right now; maybe it’s running through Real Life too but I don’t have a life right now so I wouldn’t really know.  Maybe you’ve heard of it. Basically, the gist is this: introverted people are creative, intelligent delicate little flowers who need their social phobias/awkwardness/whatever catered to and extroverts are all big, bullying, clueless, and desperate, like a needy dog that’s not housebroken.  It is, of course, a crock of self-congratulatory bullshit likely penned and popularized by a literate (if angsty) teen with a romantic streak, but nevertheless the general concept has caught on like wildfire.

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