Saturday, April 27, 2013

The End

Hi darlings,

After an extended period of mostly silence, I have decided it's time to retire Things Deb Loves. I won't be deleting the blog (meaning it will still be here for re-reading if you are so inclined), but I will no longer be posting on it. I have very much enjoyed sharing with you my love of all the things and my having of all the feelings, but the time has come to move on.

I have started a new blog, which you can feel free to follow if you like. I'm not sure yet what kind of blog it will be, but I needed a new space for new reflection and some artistic experimentation.

Hope to see you there.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Just Once

I hope you are not disappointed that after all this time my first blog post is a poem I did not write. But when I happened upon it randomly just now my heart swelled and I wanted so much to share it and I wanted so much to be a poet half as brilliant as Anne Sexton and write a piece half as wonderful and brief and true.

Just Once
Anne Sexton

Just once I knew what life was for.
In Boston, quite suddenly, I understood;
walked there along the Charles River,
watched the lights copying themselves,
all neoned and strobe-hearted, opening
their mouths as wide as opera singers;
counted the stars, my little campaigners,
my scar daisies, and knew that I walked my love
on the night green side of it and cried
my heart to the eastbound cars and cried
my heart to the westbound cars and took
my truth across a small humped bridge
and hurried my truth, the charm of it, home
and hoarded these constants into morning
only to find them gone.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Things Deb Doesn't Love: Internet D-Bags

Well guys, it's Saturday morning, and I am at work. I've gotten up at 5:45am for the past 3 days, I have been working pretty much non-stop for a month on a conference that ends today, and while checking my email this morning received a message from a dude on OkCupid. This happens every now and then. I have an active profile on the site mostly so that I can tell those who suggest online dating to me that I am "trying," even if I am not trying very hard. I thought it would be just another generic email, "You look fun, let's get a drink." But this one was special.

It read, "Look at your pictures - do you see why your single?"

Um, really? You are going to send me grammatically incorrect hate mail on okcupid? ON A DATING SITE? I was blown away. I still am. At first I felt hurt. Then confused. Why would a perfect stranger* want to insult me on the internet? Did he think he was offering a piece of helpful advice? What did he mean look at my pictures? Is he making reference to my fatness? Or my curly hair? Or the fact that I look (and am) vaguely Lebanese?

Normally I would try to let this go. I would try to be the bigger person. I would try to "ignore" him while actually internalizing the message of shame. And then I would feel ashamed. Of my body. Of myself.

Not this time, douchebag.

I responded with the following message:

"If you have nothing better to do than send messages like this, I could ask you the same thing, asshole.

And for the record, I love all those pictures.

Also, fuck you."

And because I DO love all those pictures, here they are.

Don't I look fun and cute and fat and attractive and awesome and, most importantly, LIKE MYSELF?

I thought so. 

*This guy's username is de8jr333. So if you happen to be on OkCupid and come across his profile, maybe you should give him some constructive criticism on what he, a perfect stranger, could do to be less single. Cause apparently, according to him, that's an appropriate thing to do.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dad in Hospital

Around 11:30 on the evening of Sunday, July 8th my Dad woke up with severe pain in the right side of his chest. He yelled and cried so loudly my mom had no choice but to call an ambulance to take him to the ER. The paramedics arrived quickly, and as they examined him he appealed to God for relief. "FATHER!" He yelled, "FATHER, HELP ME!!!" While following the ambulance in her car, my mom called me 5 times. I was, of course, sleeping. When I didn't answer the 5th time, she texted me, and for some reason the text woke me up. When I saw 5 missed calls from her, my heart stopped. I looked at the text message, a simple, "Dad in Hospital," and started to weep even as I called her back.

To say I love my Dad is an understatement. Or at least it doesn't adequately describe the visceral need I have for him to be alive in the world. He no longer supports me financially, and I rarely heed his advice. But being able to call him, to hear his voice, to yell about politics (and I mean YELL), to be asked how I am in his dad voice, to be given advice I will probably ignore, to be sung to on my birthday--how can I do without these things? To say I fear my Dad's death is also an understatement. The idea of his passing has been a constant presence in my body for the entirity of my adult life. It oftentimes takes possession of my ability to sleep and breath. Sometimes his death is everywhere, other times it is just a tiny spot at the base of my left lung, but it is never gone. 

I stayed awake all night that Sunday, as did my 6 siblings--a cross-country vigil. All day Monday, since he still had no diagnosis, it felt to us all as though he could die at any moment. After spending the day unable to function, I decided to fly home. By the time I boarded the plane on Tuesday morning we knew he wasn't going to die anytime soon (well, from this ailment at least), but still... I just needed to see him.

His chest pains, it turned out, were the result of a series of blood clots in his lungs. Apart from the memory of the pain, a daily medication, and a newly discovered awareness of his own mortality, he walked away relatively unscathed. But the reality is had those clots traveled to his brain or his heart, he could've died and the text message from my mom would've brought infinitely worse news.

After his diagnosis, he had to stay in the hospital until his blood was no longer at risk for clotting. My brother, Allan, who lives an hour and a half drive from my parents' home, had stayed the night with Dad on Monday but had to leave Tuesday morning to start his summer courses. My mom, currently unemployed, had a job interview on Wednesday afternoon, so it fell to me to sleep in the hospital on Tuesday night.

My dad fell asleep at 8pm, like he usually does, but woke up at 11:00 squirming. His C-Pap machine along with his denturelessness made him difficult to understand when I asked what was wrong. "I'm cold. I'm so cold." I rang the nurses button. "My chest hurts," is what I believe he said. "Like Sunday. Like on Sunday." That I heard clearly. He was shivering violently and grasping his chest, his face so pained. I stood next to his bed terrified and helpless. I kept asking him again and again if he was all right, desperate for him to not be dying right in front of me. The nurse, a wonderful man named Eric, came in. He gave Dad a heated blanket and a pain pill, and my dad stopped shivering relatively quickly. Eric sat with me making small talk for almost 30 minutes, even after Dad was asleep. He would joke the next day that Dad had, "scared [me] half to death!" At which my dad would laugh, grab my hand, and cry a little.

Dad would stay in the hospital a full week, the entire time I was in Dallas. Every moment that was not spent showering at home, sleeping at home, or eating dinner, was spent in the hospital room with him. Luckily, it was not all life and death. I watched a lot of True Blood, read Clash of Kings, and met a plethora of my dad's friends from church. I heard the story of Sunday night so many times I had it memorized. I had to help my dad in the bathroom and saw more of his genitalia than I ever thought possible. I could tell he was a little ashamed, so I would make constant testicle jokes. I even composed a song, accompanied by my signature shoulder shrug dance. It would make him laugh every time. We got into a huge fight when my mom and I told him we were not going to stay in the hospital with him the last two nights because even experiencing what feels like the brink of death can't keep a De Laurell fight from escalating. At one point I yelled at him, "It's really hard to feel sorry for you when you feel so fucking sorry for yourself!" Not my proudest moment.

He was released Sunday, July 15th, and on Monday was already doing the grocery shopping at Costco. He is feeling recovered, or at least as much as a person can when he thought his life was about to end.

So many have shared with me that the day you realize your parents are vulnerable is a sad, hard day. And it is, but for so many more reasons than I thought. When I was a child I thought my parents omnipotent, immortal beings, and I knew that someday I would grow up to be just like them. I too could be whatever I wanted, live however I wanted, do anything and everything. I knew that life was long, and my place in the world would be lofty and strong.

So inside my father's mortality, inside the anticipated pain of his death, inside the absence of his voice and his presence, is my own death, and the death of all things. Solid, sure, inevitable. The delicacy of life and the precariousness of my place in the world has become the undeniable truth.

I keep looking back to how I felt after my brother Mark died, trying to remember how long it took me to feel like myself, to feel normal. I never did. I will never be able to go back to how I was before that. And this. Thank God my father is still alive, not only alive, but well and full of gratitude for his life and his loved ones. I have gratitude as well, but I also have this new thing. The weighted stone in my stomach, that taste of death, of my dad's, of my own.

How do I move forward from this?

I don't ask expecting an answer. I ask because it repeats in my mind over and over and over. I ask  because, though I don't expect an answer, I want one. And I want the answer to be, "No one you love will ever die." I feel like a child in the middle of an aisle at Toys R Us flailing on the floor about a Barbie my parents will not buy me. Except I am 30. Except I am working so hard to contain the flailing, to not want the stupid Barbie, to be an adult, to be all right. But I'm not. I'm not all right.

That first night Dad spent in the emergency room, he learned the names and countries of origin of all his nurses. Apparently his favorite nurse was named Rose, a Haitian woman who helped my dad practice his French. He also blessed some of the aides and called the rest of the hospital workers his "angels." When I spoke to him that Monday morning, I told him how wonderful that was and he said, "It's important to be kind." He also told me his 5th floor room must be where the furniture was stored because it was so quiet. I asked him if he liked it, and he said, "Oh, yes. Very quiet. I love it." Then he told me God heard his cry for help and saved his life. Maybe He did.



Help me.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Fatkini

Last summer, after I got back to my normal weight, I was left in a predicament. Namely, that much of my wardrobe didn't fit. I mean, I was fine with day to day clothes: jeans, shirts, skirts, dresses, etc, but, as a family reunion in Florida loomed, I found myself without a rather essential wardrobe piece--a bathing suit. Finding clothes I liked, both online and in stores had proved a somewhat pleasing, although often times daunting, task so I assumed bathing suit shopping would be the same.

It was not.

First of all, my breasts are big. Like REAL big. As a side note they are also awesome. They also have no real... lift,  you might say, on their own, so whatever bathing suit I was going to buy would need to have either a built-in bra, or really, really resilient straps.

Also, it couldn't be a halter, because I have neck problems and having the entire weight of my pendulous breasts resting on my neck would be a recipe for sublaxation and pain.

Also, I didn't want a one piece.

Also, I didn't want it to be ugly OR look like it was designed for someone over the age of 70.

Also, I didn't want it to squeeze my chubby belly like a stuffed sausage.

I suppose I must also mention that never in my life, since this little two piece that my mom bought me when I was 4, had I ever owned a swimsuit I really liked until the summer of 2009. It was teal and stripey and glorious AND had a built in bra. And I had been spoiled. I had seen the light. I had owned a swimsuit I loved, and I was NEVER GOING BACK.

About $600 and probably 15 swimsuits later, I stopped trying to order a bathing suit online and decided to brave some stores. This was a bad idea. At one point, while in a Sears dressing room trying on as many swimsuits as possible before the store closed in 15 minutes and on the verge of tears, I said to my Hetero, "I look better naked." Which I did. And do. I would deign to say that MOST people look better naked than covered in that weird, shiny, stretchy material they use to make bathing suits.

After pretty much giving up, I stumbled on a swimsuit at Target which I didn't hate (nor love) and which was reasonably priced. I purchased it then and there, wore it in Florida, and got a wicked sunburn. Wins all around. Then, as though a gift from heaven in the middle of winter, I found a $20 (originally $120!) swimsuit I legitimately loved while purchasing a puffer vest on I returned the Puffer Vest (cause it looked so dumb on me) but kept the swimsuit, a tankini composed of a light blue and white top and a sunshine yellow bottom. It looks a LITTLE BIT like my butt is jaundiced, but the fact that I finally owned a swimsuit which fit me, was pretty, didn't squeeze my belly, AND wasn't black felt like a miracle. And I was perfectly happy with my winter purchase until I discovered the Fatkini.

This is Chastity Garner, my VERY FAVORITEST style blogger (except Zoe).

Chastity is the queen of alterations so actually make this fatkini from a Monif C one-piece bathing suit.

She is sporting what the fat-o-sphere calls a fatkini. It is what you call a bikini when a fat person is wearing it, and I WANT ONE.

But since this decade is the decade where I really take hold of my finances I will not be buying one until it seems fiscally responsible (maybe one of them will eventually be on sale for $20 in the middle of the winter). That does not stop me from sharing my favorites with you here.

I love Domino Dollhouse. The styles I love are like punk rock meets Mad Men. Also they sell petticoats in EVERY COLOR OF THE RAINBOW.

Now there is no possible way my breasts would be held up by that tiny string, but this bathing suit is HAWT. I love the ruffles on the legs, the little tie, and the color. I wish they sold it in more extended sizes though. I bet even the bigger big ladies want to get their Retro Doll on!

SimplyBe's Beach to Beach Bikini Top and Bottom:
I have yet to order anything from SimplyBe, but I think this bathing suit it AMAZING. I am including a photo of Gabi from Gabifresh because I think she looks about 50 times more awesome in that fatkini than the model from the website. SimplyBe also has some more traditional bikinis if that's your jam.

I am not normally a fan of Leopard Print but holy mother I would wear that in a hot ten seconds.

Monif C also has a TEAL one-piece bathing suit covered in FRINGE. Not super practical, but awesome all the same.

Think you are too fat to wear a bikini? Gabi (pictured above in her awesome stripey fatkini) started a Fatkini photo project on xojane! I've now scrolled through every photo twice and all I have to say is TAKE THAT HATERS!!!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Keep Calm and Wear a Tutu: Zoe Enabled Alterations

There are so many things to love about my friend, Zoe. She is funny, charmingly irreverent, warm, silly, creative, unapologetically herself, and, it must be said, INCREDIBLY well-dressed at all times. The dress she wore to my birthday party was a paragon of crinolined awesome.

Zoe is my suburban adventure buddy and knows all the best thrift stores. She is a co-lover of all things Lesley Kinzel and went with me to her book signing where we got into a heated discussion about whether or not people who are not actually fat can participate in fat acceptance, and she SCHOOLED me. She is always up for dessert, whether it be ice cream or milkshakes or waffles, and she is a flexitarian after my own heart. She is one of my favorite people in the world, and I am so glad she is my friend.

Now, to heap on top of ALL THAT AWESOME, she bought me pretty much the coolest and most generous birthday gift ever: a brand new sewing machine. I believe I carried the box around the birthday party for a hot 10 minutes with tears in my eyes so that everyone could see its beauty.

Please note, the sewing machine box matches my pink crinoline.
In addition, Zoe gave me a trash bag full (literally) of clothes that she had picked up for me at various thrift stores AND the pink crinoline featured in most of the party pictures, which she had purchased for her Halloween costume last October.

Zoe and our friend Maribel bought me those socks too. They have HAMBURGERS on them.
Not all the thrifted pieces worked so I had to rethrift a few, but my favorite by far was this silver number with the black flower brocade at the bottom. There was only one problem. It was inordinately long on me, and, for all it's cuteness, looked pretty dowdy.

Please ignore my super messy room. Please don't ignore my awesome bedhead.
As my mom and I were reviewing how to use the sewing machine the Monday after my birthday, I was shocked at how much I remembered, since, according to my shoddy memory, the last time I had really sewed anything was in my clothing class my sophomore year of high school. Then I remembered that my old voice teacher at the University of Redlands had enlisted my and a friend's help in sewing many of the costumes for our department's production of Oklahoma!. While sewing with Dr. Tosh I learned how to make button holes, install a zipper, install an elastic waist, and make ruffles.

Then there is how effortless all this crafty stuff seems to me. Heathersies says I am the idiot savant of crocheting, but I think this might be true for all things crafty. I don't feel confident about many of my skills, but for some reason this sewing and crocheting thing has just come so easy and is so fun and so rewarding.

So I decided to shorten this skirt. I didn't want to hem it as I didn't want to lose the brocade pattern, so I took apart the waist line/elastic, cut off 7 inches of fabric, reinstalled the waist line/elastic and voila!

The Perfect Length for my short self!
I feel so proud this turned out, and now feel EVEN MORE excited for making my own clothes from scratch so soon.

Skirt: Thrifted and Gifted by Zoe, and altered by ME!
Sweater: Good Will
Cami: Lane Bryant
Shoes: Torrid 
(circa 2002--these are the first pair of high heels I ever bought)
Fascinator: Gift from my dear roomie, Steph

Fascinator Close-Up
 I can't wait to share more crafty projects with you guys!!

Also, I am going to, for the first time, end this blog with a question. 

What's your crafting dream? Sewing, Crocheting, Knitting or Macrame, what piece do you dream of making for yourself? Let me know in the comments section!

Happy Crafting!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What I Got

Last Friday I spent the last two hours of work google stalking the man I loved for 3 years, as I had, rather out of the blue, become obsessed with finding out if he had gotten back together with his ex-girlfriend. Luckily his internet presence is minimal, and I found nothing, except a current photo proving that he is just as handsome as ever. Barf. But I was left wondering why I was spurred to even look him up in the first place.

He and I first became friends in 2007 back when I was a self-hating Fattie. From our first real conversation I was completely smitten. Even though we worked in the same building, our friendship was pretty slow moving. Then he started sending me gifts of burned CDs delivered to my desk by his work study students and coming to visit me at least once a day, and I thought, "Oh, man. He likes me." I couldn't believe it. I was so into this dude that I lost all appetite and could hardly sleep. I became suddenly tranquil about my own singleness because I was so convinced it would end. But nothing happened. Months later, he ended up fooling around with a friend of mine, which was, I suppose, his way of telling me he wasn't interested. Or something. I heaped all the hatred and anger I could onto my body, telling myself he didn't want to date me because I was fat.

Then in 2008 I joined Weight Watchers. I like to think I lost weight for, what I perceived was, my health, but a part of me was also convinced if I could lose enough weight he would love me. That my body was the only obstacle to us being together. Not his emotional unavailability, not his inability to see my worth as a partner or a woman, not his investment in how things look versus how things feel, no, my body was clearly the primary deterrent.

And I lost a crap ton of weight. I had sex for the first time with some random dude and felt sexually appealing and amorous in its aftermath. Then, one night in the summer of 2009 I stayed at his house in his bed. Nothing happened, but we slept really close. I thought, this is it. But, of course, it wasn't. He didn't talk to me for a month after that. An appropriate amount of time to let me know that sleeping in the same bed meant so little to him that he wasn't even thinking of me, let alone wanting to call me. And this is how it went for the next year. Physical closeness followed by weeks or months of silence. I told myself my body just wasn't thin enough yet. That I had to keep working. The problem was still my body. Not his loneliness and willingness to use me for physical affection, not my idealization of him as a partner and person, not my inability to confront him and say, "WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON WITH US?!" No. The problem was still that I wasn't thin enough and that my body was shameful and unattractive to men.

He moved south for a job in the summer of 2010. Our contact was sporadic after his departure. I was in the process of gaining weight back by this time, in the midst of feeling more betrayed by my body than I ever had before. In 2011 he and I had a falling out, and I felt the need to insist he never contact me again, a decision I still stand by.

It's been almost a year since we interacted. And yet, for some reason I google stalked him, and in the process reawakened all those old, shitty feelings that my body is never, and will never be good enough for love. But there was a new feeling too: the feeling that the price I pay for loving my body as it is is the love of a man. That to exist in my current body is to be unlovable. It's a common thought in any woman's mind I'm sure, so common and commonly accepted that it often feels like a sad, sad truth.

As a 30-year-old (I'm 30!), single, woman who identifies as fat, I feel as though I am often put in a precarious emotional situation. I am constantly thrust into social situations where people say things like, "You look good! Have you lost weight?" Our culture's idea of fat-as-unattractive permeates even the most mundane of social interactions. And then I have to go home and talk to myself about this idea's untruth, talk to myself about the system of attractiveness that keeps women slaves to their appearance, keeps them snarking on their own bodies and the bodies of others. I envy the fat women who have husbands and boyfriends if only because they have simply to get into bed, allow their lovers to touch them, to be affirmed in their body's base attractiveness, while those of us who are single have to content ourselves with masturbation and positive self-talk. "I am a sexual being. My body does not intrinsically exclude me from sexuality."

I suppose I could end this blog with the actual truth. I could spout off about the complexity of attraction or the effect one's confidence has on sexual desirability. But really what I want to do is punch that dude until he falls over, and, as I stand triumphantly over him, say, "You missed out on something pretty awesome, mother fucker." And then crouch down and whisper in his ear, "Cause what I got? Oh, honey. It is so. fucking. good."

Or something like that.