Sunday, November 04, 2007

Musing While I Can

My manuscript is due December 1, 2007. I finished the sixth chapter last evening. Today has been kind of a day off except that I did two big loads of laundry, switched two bags of winter clothes for summer clothes, ran some errands & started reading a screed called Fat: A Fate Worse than Death? This is one angry dudette writing one thing over & over: society victimizes (she even uses the word "sodomizes" at one point) women by forcing them to be thin, wear make-up, try to stay youthful, paint & dye & squeeze & tweeze. I nearly put it down -- I have lots to read -- because the second paragraph uses a direct instead of an indirect pronoun.

The author photo shows a comfortably plump-to-large woman in a big cozy fisherman's L.L. Bean sort of sweater. She complains that her doctor won't tell her what obese is but tosses the word "fat" around in a way that only the once-thin (she gained about 40 pounds in her 50's) & at her top weight can. Which is to say, there is fat & then there is fat.

I've been thinking about the definition of fat for a while -- I think I wrote about it. We need some terms here. There is Misses Department Fat, 14 - 18. There is J. Jill Fat, up to 2X. Then there are the other Fats, on beyond Silhouettes & into the pages just after the underwear section of the Lane Bryant catalogue. I'm not good at guessing weights or sizes but I'm thinking she's Misses Department.

I'm thankful as hell to be J. Jill Fat. Really. I've been Muu-muu Fat & being able to wear jeans & not feel like a freak is still so astonishing to me that I sometimes forget that I am, still, fat.

I have six chapters to write in 26 days. There's no way I can do it if I'm in the food. I love this pressure because I get to be very small, very focused. I pray each morning for abstinence first, then being able to write, then the dogs & then productive use of my time. I go to bed as early as possible so that I'll have energy for the next day.

I spoke to my mom & a friend today & both of them were asking things about the Book that they might ask about my "diet". Are you working? Can you do it? Is it too hard on you?

Deja vu.

But today is a loose-sweater day, a phrase from The Rooms that, in its entirety, is a prayer & intention to wear the day like a loose sweater. No fretting. No having to take a Klonopin because I'm so anxious about dogs & writing that I'm having diahrrea. I don't have the time to get all the winter clothes but I have enough time to get out some.

I had to force myself to go grocery shopping, however. One of the problems I'm facing is dinner & cold weather. I want hot food. I'm tired from the day & don't want to make hot food. I don't have the time, even in today's loose sweater (or flannel shirt & sweat pants), to make a lot of food ahead of time. My freezer doesn't freeze & I don't have a microwave. I had to do some thinking about the simplest food I could make & I made the produce man laugh because he was ready to restock Brussels sprouts & I kept scooping them out. I left him a nice empty bin to replenish.

The grocery stores in the Heights on a Sunday night are frightful. All the yups have been with their kids or shopping, & the students have all been studying or getting over hang-overs (we have an enormous dorm for spill-over housing for Pace & NYU). Suddenly it's getting dark & there's nothing for breakfast! A mass exodus begins & you're taking your chances on getting those Brussels sprouts. The crowd was bad enough that I gave up after I had a couple of day's worth of fixings but interestingly (there is a point to this), the crowd was made much bigger by three people. I believe they were Dutch, who are now the tallest nationality in the world. Very blonde, buying Gatorade in, like, a 12-pack & Nutella. That was all I saw as I paid for my own groceries. They were conferring on every item & took up a HUGE amount of room.

The man maybe had some weight to lose; the women didn't. He had to be 6'4" & the women must have been nearly 6 feet tall. The blondest was wearing a leather jacket that nipped in at the waist. They were the personification of the K.D. Lang lyric about a "big-boned really couldn't call her small".

Thin people can be a voluminous as fat people. In fact, maybe more. They didn't move through the store with the self-consciousness that a lot of Us have about taking up room, or even that New Yorkers in general have a sensitivity about.

There's another side to this, I'm seeing. Because I'm so conscious, I have all these rules in the store. Put my cart some place out of the way while I gather up yams & apples, usually in front of the cake & cheese cooler where not many people are apt to brouse. Snatch-&-dash. No browsing. Get my groceries on the belt as neatly & tightly as possible so that the cashier doesn't have to search out the bar codes & the person behind me can begin unloading his/her cart, too. Push all the loose carts together in front of the fancy soap display -- out of the way, ready for the stock guys -- & stack the baskets with the handles in place. Pay by debit or in cash -- no signing credit chits that takes up more time.

I get pissy when other people don't play by my rules, when they dawdle over which flavor of Gatorade to pick up or sort through the yogurts without putting the strawberries back with the strawberries.

I'm in a pretty relaxed mood tonight so my pissiness was at a minimum. I'm abstinent & was wearing an L.L. Bean jacket so I wasn't lumbering down the aisles like the Stay-Puff Man.

But it was interesting to see these Olympians in their lack of...what? urban manners...& how much room they took up at every sharp turn of the aisles.

It's like how the skinniest women wear too much perfume, I guess.


Here's an oddity, & then I'll stop & take the chicken out of the oven. A friend & I want to make a gingerbread house for Christmas. I saw a mold & thought I'd get it cheaper at eBay. I probably will. But in scrolling through the cake molds, I came across a lamb mold that we had when I was a kid. It was a killer cake to make my mother said & it was paired with a Santa mold that was impossible.

The lamb was in a heated auction for $41. I grinned & looked for the Santa.


It occured to me that eBay is my den of inequity, next to the bakery shelf. & what I want most from it is my childhood. I didn't buy the Chatty Cathy doll I saw the other night that was said to be haunted & I haven't found the right Mary Poppins doll that I adored. But I have a Francie doll from eBay, dressed in an outfit I still had, & I browse Chatty & Mary every once in a while.

Go figure.


Lauren said...

I'm so glad I found your blog. It's nice to find a fellow OA'er, it gives me a sense that I'm not alone.

Vickie said...

My husband's next to oldest brother - that was here for the holidays last year and bought every child a wonderful book - personally inscribed by each author (he lives in Denver, it appears the whole world goes through Denver for book releases) - he has been recollecting his childhood on E-bay also.

I keep wondering if anyone ever ends up with THE exact/one that they had before/in childhood.

I wish I lived closer - I'd be so GLAD to cook for you for 26 days. Laundry too. But not dogs. . .

Laura N said...

So good to hear from you. I was relieved to read "I love this pressure" after "six chapters to write in 26 days." I work best in a pressure cooker environment too. I know your book will be excellent, and you will champion through the next 25 days.

Loose sweater day--love that phrase.

I'll be thinking of you over the next few weeks while you're writing. Stay strong!

Anonymous said...

Loose sweater day! I love that, You look more beautiful in that picture on your sidebar than I have ever seen you look...even in the picture from your book. Something must be shifting or maybe it was the company, but you look so radiant.

Stargazer said...

Really looking forward to your new book. And always happy to see a new post here--I just enjoy the way you relate your stories. You sound like you are in a strong place right now.

Thanks for the time you take to share your life with us here.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with your comment on how much space "thin" people take up, unapologetically. I notice this most on a plane. While I'm hugging my elbows together as to not touch the person next to me, they have their elbows splayed out and their knees crossed, invading MY space.
and everybody knows the rule of 3 empty chairs in the waiting area. You sit on one end and put your bag in the middle. That way the other end is open. Oh no, here's this oafish clod in the MIDDLE seat with his bag on the outer chair AND has his leg crossed over into the empty end chair. Plus he smelled bad. I always make sure to shower extra carefully before flying and I'm always next to the chimney with a ten year old plaid coat....
I agree your picture is amazing. Beautiful.

Anonymous said...

That picture of you with your childhood friend is SO AWESOME. You look lovely and radiant and happy. YAY!

Anonymous said...

From here on out, I think I'll just have a loose sweater life.

Anonymous said...

I have faith in you that you will finish in time. Your plan of abstinence and then writing seems like a good one; I know I can't do much of anything once I've picked up the food.

I found the FAT book online and I read bits and pieces of it, and I can't get through more than a sentence at a time, the style is atrocious and the content overblown. I will not be picking up a hard copy of FAT any time soon.

I love the new photo you put up in the top right corner - you look radiant!

Helen said...

Thinking of you over the next weeks...and, yes, chiming in with the "you look beautiful"s of everyone! :-)

Unknown said...

The woman who wrote that "screed" is definitely angry and you are right to point this out in a way that implies imbalance. However, all those things that "screed" is angry about are valid ones that, most times, women do not really complain about. Or, if they do, huge servings of guilt go along with it and the strong implication that the anger is just a cover for envy, i.e.: "I'm so big and fat that I can't wear high heels, so I will hate every woman who can, especially the thin ones!". Well, high-heels may look pretty but they are hell on the feet for more than, like a minute. They cause serious damage if one wears them for years. Yeah, "screed" is angry; I say: more power to her. As long as her anger is not the only identity she has. I also think that calling yourself "fat" when you aren't is not good. Your OA view of your body comes through in this way. I suppose, though, that I may have a more generous idea of what "fat" really is. And I loathe OA, so that's probably part of it, tool.