I had a friend in high school who would respond to any modicum of bitchin'/gripin'/general complainin' with one defiant rebuke: "At least you're not on fire."
This both amused and annoyed the hell out of me - my response usually being, "Yeah but still" - only to hear the refrain again. At least you're not on fire.
It's true. I'm not on fire. Nor am I homeless, or limbless, or penniless (working on that last one), or any other word suffixed with -less. But I am fat.
If that last part bothered you, please, cease reading now. It's been a long time coming, friends, but tonight, the blogging of RR (or, as I think of myself in my head to get used to my new rap name, Lil' Cthulhu) is gonna be heavy. See what I did there? Heavy? Fat? Get it? Lil' Cthulhu!
I will be 23 on Monday. It's not really a monumental age, but it is the first full year, a whole calendar, twelve entire months, that I'll be living the way I always wanted to live--I'm in a fuckin' awesome program, with some fuckin' awesome people, and I do some fuckin' great work, plus Wilmington is fuckin' paradise (62 DEGREES IN JANUARY BLUE SKIES AND HAVE I MENTIONED THE OCEAN!?!). So in my mind, it was high time to tackle that terrible beast that I inhabit, also known as my body.
I joined a program. You may know of this program. They have a very aggressive advertisement campaign that features (not the wife of Eddie Van Halen I hate that bitch) a little orange monster called Hungry. I identified not with the trim women vehemently ignoring this little orange monster's temptations of donuts and pizza, but with the monster. He's kind of cute. I also like the whole Points system, having gone to a school disciplined by Points--it's familiar to see the wide range of 4-12 points, mirroring the disciplinary actions taken should you be caught with some weed (incidentally no one could tell any of us how the 4-12 broke down when it came to weed - was 4 a joint, 12 a dorm closet greenhouse? 7 a bong, 12 a 12-foot bong?).
And sure, it's embarrassing. And sure, publicizing it like I'm doing now might not be the smartest idea, and I might regret it later, and you might be thinking TMI TMI Stop This Right Now, but I made a new discovery today, in addition to the fact that my weight is fast on its way to becoming a medical issue.
Jokes help me cope. Jokes, I think, are necessary to coping. I make a lot of bad jokes at even worse times, but it's an intrinsic part of how I get through the days.
For instance, I texted a friend of mine who is also a part of the weight-loss program in question and told her that truthfully, I was terrified. She said: don't be its like the least scary thing in the world. And I said: yeah i guess in general bears are scarier. (This same friend helped me last week when I admitted I was terrified of yoga. She: don't be its super fun and easy. Me: what if i fart? Because that is actually the root of my fears, which I did not realize until I cracked that joke).
So as I'm gearing up to go to this meeting, to sit in a room with all these other women, uniform only in how much older they are than me, I start composing this post in my head. My brother insists I don't make up any jibes on the spot, but keep a notebook that I refer to, that I sit in my room coming up with these--and it's partially true (but the point is he is just hugely jealous that my wit is so, so sharp, whereas he is dull and awful and terrible and doesn't even read this so I don't even care pffffft). In the car, I started listing all the fucking awesome things about my life, like my fucking awesome car and awesome boyfriend and awesome hair and awesome awesomeness. Then I got to the meeting. Then I kind of freaked out.
Truthfully, it wasn't mind-blowing. The sermon--sorry, lesson--was on emotional hunger versus physical hunger. Apparently you should only eat when your body needs to, not when you are sad or angry. No shit, Sherlock. Though I know, when I'm in the middle of a heated argument, putting my face in a cake really helps. That's why I always keep a cake on hand. Likewise, the rewards system is based on early childhood--lose 10% of your starting weight, you get a key ring! Lose 25 pounds, you get a charm (put it on your key ring)! I'm not making this up.
But the numbers were pretty staggering. I won't drag you through the Annotated History of Rachel's Weight (that last post about the journal keeping? Yeah, I'd say probably 70% of those journals are moody musings on body image), but I've been overweight for a long, long time, and I've known about for a long, long time. I have made efforts to remedy it for a long, long time, and probably now is the first time I've been doing something about it in a good way--eating better, riding my bike--versus bad ways (see: all of middle and high school). And this program-joining business is really a last ditch effort, but I have a lot of hope that someday I will be able to wear galoshes. Seriously. That's all I want. Knee-high boots that don't cut off the circulation to my feet.
And I know it could be a whole lot worse. I admit I am unhealthily obsessed with reality-TV programming about marginalized America, and there was a day while Rob was in NJ that I swear to God, TLC was having a SUPER-OBESITY marathon. And I watched a lot of it, and yes, took some comfort in it, knowing sure, I'm heavyset, but I'm not bedridden, good grief. Likewise, I don't eat cheese fries for every meal, or drink 2 liters of Coke straight from the bottle, or gorge myself on Ding-Dongs (there was a time when my diet was probably 3 parts Super Pie and 4 parts Keystone, but those days are over). I don't slather butter on ice cream and sprinkle it with lard. Well, sometimes. But rarely.
There's this new show on National Geographic called Taboo, where every week they pick a group of persons and cover them from different angles, and two weeks ago, it was the Fat episode. I made it a point to watch it, and it affected me more than I liked. There was the usual bit on someone super morbidly obese (so passe nowadays), an African country where fat is still a symbol of prosperity, but then the show closed with a profile of the Miss Plus USA Pageant and a 450 lb. woman who does soft porn. And it was amazing. Here were these women, unapologetic, fuckin' proud of their size--I mean, good lord, those are the two social pinnacles of feminine beauty, a pageant queen and a porn star! And they were huge!
So I guess the point of including them was to say I admired their ability to recognize their own potential within themselves and celebrate it. And Rachel-watchin-her-weight does not mean I'm going to eat only carrots and a single bean, that I'm going to stop going out or drinking or enjoying myself, or that I'm going to hate myself and be a bore to everybody.
Probably the opposite will happen--the whole time I was at that meeting, I just kept thinking what a hilarious story it would make, what awesome fiction data I was collecting, how this would make one heck of a blog post.
See what I did there? Get it? Cyclical posting?
And, you know, if all else fails, well--I am still not yet on fire.