Thursday, December 15, 2011


My love for Lady Gaga was a long time coming. I mean, "Poker Face" is catchy, and I will sing it at karaoke/while playing rock band any time because I always want to yell, "I'M BLUFFIN' WITH MY MUFFIN," but, after hearing her first two albums, I wasn't thrilled, and I felt like the largeness of her character didn't match the trendy, dancey pop tunes she kept releasing. That and she just seemed to take herself so seriously. But even though she wasn't my fave, my darling Heather's love for Gaga kept me tuned in to her goings on. I saw her in concert last July, and she was pretty incredible. I mean, that woman can sing, and she can dance. And the spectacle of it all... it really was breathtaking.

Then she released "Born this Way" as a single, which I still cannot listen to without smiling like an idiot. I bought the album for 99 cents on amazon the day it was released, but, due to my devotion to indie rock music, didn't really listen to it much. I think I was on a Black Keys kick when the album came out and was feeling particularly devoted to the grunting of Dan Auerbach. 

Then she made a guest appearance on SNL in the Justin Timberlake and Andy Sambourg video, "It's not Gay if it's a Three-Way," and she, finally and forever, won me over.

Well that and the fact that, though she is actually quite a tiny woman, with the help of some big hats, huge shoes, frequent nudity, colorful wigs, overtly sexual dance moves and, apparently, a sense of humor, she is, in the truest sense of the phrase, larger than life. 

When I was in college I decided to be an opera singer because I thought I was too fat to sing on Broadway, and the opera world was (at the time) kinder to the fat folk. Opera is huge in every way. Your lover doesn't love you? Sing as loud and high as you can. Your lover loves someone else? Kill him. You and your lover can't be together? Kill yourself. The grandness, the melodrama--it fit me to a T. We all know I have lots of Feelings, duh. But sometimes I wonder if my jokes about the sheer immensity of my feelings undermine how serious they feel in my body. Like when I want a man (like REALLY want him) it feels like my whole body is caught up in the wanting: the flush in my cheeks and chest, the sleeplessness. It's like there isn't anything else in the world but the wanting. It's terrifying and kind of wonderful. Or when I think about my parents dying: my breath stops. Tears spring to my eyes instantly and I think, "How can I live if they aren't in the world?" It's almost humorous. I mean, how can anyone really function having those types of feelings right on the surface? But that's why we have opera, and that's why we have Lady Gaga.

I saw her on the cover of Vanity Fair today while in CVS, and all I could think was, "I want that hat." 

I mean, come on. That hat is AMAZING. The hugeness, the wave of the fabric, the boldness of the red. It takes my breath away a little. I look at it and I think, "I am that hat." And as I write this I am crying. I am crying about Lady Gaga's red fucking hat. 

My whole life I felt loud and huge and ridiculous. I just wanted to be smaller, quieter. I wanted to take up less space in the world. I wanted to be the kind of girl boys wanted to date, the girl who was a shell into which a man would insert his desire (*SNAP*). 

Last night I had a dream about a man I loved once. He was a quiet man; he drove a shiny car and shopped at J. Crew. He drank beer and went to a gym and had a crush on a girl at a coffee shop we used to frequent who was sweet and quiet and tiny. During the time I loved him, and he did not love me, I always felt so angry at my body for being too big, at my voice for being too loud, at my feelings for being too complicated. I thought that because I was not the kind of woman he wanted no man would ever want me. I share this because, as a result of the dream, all day I felt like my heart, my debt, my needs... it was all just too much. 

And then I saw that picture, and I thought, "I am that huge, fucking ridiculous, fucking awesome red hat."

And then I may or may not have put my paws up.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Kickin' It Old School

I awakened in a VERY bad mood this morning, but now feel overwhelmed by things to love. I would like to credit the amazing Sociology Holiday Party playlist I made yesterday for my mood booster as it is 3 hours of my favoritest upbeat songs, each of which makes me want to dance and laugh and cry with joy.

So here goes...

1) Do you Realize?? by the Flaming Lips.

When Elizabeth and I bought tickets for the Flaming lips earlier this year, I really had no clue who they were, but, as Elizabeth is my music twin, I knew I would love them. Which I do. But this song in particular. And when they played it at the concert every time it modulated these two confetti cannons they had on either side of the stage would shoot a crap ton of colored confetti into the audience and the rainbow light thing on the stage would light up with every color in the world and I had a contact high from the guy smoking weed the row in front of us and I was with one of my dearest friends who had bought me a canned 40 of hard lemonade (because she remembered beer hurt my tumtums) and so of course I cried for joy!!!

2) Oatmeal made with milk and honey.

I eat this for breakfast almost everyday. And it is delicious EVERY DAY.

3) Elizabeth Bowler's face.

4) My chunky belts.

Last week I was having a most difficult day, so everytime I would get sad I would remember the beautiful chunky belts I had at home. Here is a collage displaying their awesome.

When I was a child I didn't know what a collage was. And they talked about collages all the time in my Babysitter's Club books. Apparently the key to being a good babysitter is collages. Anywho, whenever I would see the word "collage" I would read it as "college" and would be very, very confused. She's going to make a college with the kids she babysits what?

5) The Beach Boys.

Who doesn't love the Beach Boys? Hitler probably. 

6) Zumba with Travis.

Actually just Travis in general. Although I really enjoy our Zumba classes. Like A LOT. 

7) Corn Tortillas.

My brother taught me how to heat up Corn Tortillas on my gas stove pretty easily, and, though they make the kitchen smell like burning, they are pretty delicious with Hummus. Or with cheese. Or with pretty much anything. 

8) The Boston Pops Version of Sleigh Ride.


I particularly love the middle part where they BREAK IT DOWN.

And that's that.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Some Thoughts on my Long-Term Debts

Last night after a lovely dinner and dessert with friend Eryk and a phone conversation with my dearest Nicole Shirley, I decided I should log-in to my Sallie Mae online account. For days I'd been meaning to check it to make sure I was set with my forbearance through February and that my first full payment would be due March 14, as planned. I had to click on about 15 different links to get to the one I wanted (since the Sallie Mae website for some reason confuses me more than any other) and was finally given an outline of my current payment plan until my final month of payment in 2041. 

That's right, friends. As of right now, I will not have my student loans paid off until I am 59 years old. In addition for 14 of the 20 years I'm paying the required monthly amount, my payments will be incrementally less than I pay to rent my current apartment. 

Earlier this year I went to my nephew Matt's wedding in Colorado, and since my niece Madison is nearing college age, my family and I got into a conversation about student loan debt. It ended in me screaming at everyone and then weeping in the bathroom in the dark. 

Fifty-Nine years old. Because I wanted a Masters Degree in Voice. 

My senior year of college at the University of Redlands was one of the most terrifying years of my life. I loved that school. I loved the people there. I knew pretty much everyone in the music department and had developed some really fulfilling friendships in the philosophy department with a teacher of mine and one of her long time favorite students (I'm talking to you, Ellie Jones). The idea that I would have to leave that place was heartbreaking. My parents never forced me to move out of their house but that's what it felt like: Redlands was forcing me out into the world and I had no idea what to do. I had a Bachelor's Degree in Voice. I wanted to be an opera singer, but I suffered from debilitating stage fright and audition anxiety. I started having panic attacks at night. So I decided to go to grad school. I didn't really know how to be an opera singer, but I knew how to be a student. I wanted to live in Boston. So I auditioned for the Boston Conservatory. Because I didn't know there were other programs in Boston. Stupid, now that I think about it, but we all know thinking isn't my forte. I got into BoCo. I got my "financial aid" package, which was loans. So I took them out. And then I debated going back my second year. My brother and parents warned me about the cost, but I was too afraid to do anything else. So I took out a second year's worth of loans. I passed my orals. I had a recital. I graduated. I walked. And by this time I was so sick of singing even singing along to the radio was a chore. Maybe this isn't true. I was just so sick of listening to and critiquing my own singing voice, of trying to sound like an opera singer, of trying to teach my body good technique. I didn't want to be a singer. I just wanted to sing. Sadly it took me 6 years and $100,000 to realize this.

And here we are.

This morning, as I thought about writing this blog, I wondered why I feel compelled to share such personal things in such a public forum. I think it is because I want my life to make sense. I want to be able to write a piece and at the end have some kind of conclusion that brings me a modicum of comfort, and the writing and editing helps me to do that. But I already know where this particular blog will end. It will end with the knowledge that there isn't anything I can do but pay off the debt. Nothing. There is no one to help me pay this debt. It is just me. I borrowed that money without knowing what it would mean for my life, and now I have to pay it back. I've been graduated from the Boston Conservatory for a little over 5 years now, and I am paying for that reprieve from adulthood with my adulthood right now. Because I wanted to live in the Back Bay, because I wanted to eat at the Cheesecake Factory, and drink till I was drunk at various dive bars, I now have to budget to buy new shoes. I have to eat before I go to restaurants. I have to cancel plans with people. I have stress about birthday celebrations. This makes it sound like I have no money at all, but I do. It's just that I have to be so careful with it. And I am not good at being careful. I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me, truly I don't. This is something I did to myself with my own youthful thoughtlessness.

So, to quote Evita, "Where do we go from here?"

Well, when I feel sad, when I feel regret, I will just feel those things (for example the crying I am doing right now). I will allow myself to feel afraid that my past mistakes will disable me from buying a car or a house, or going back to school, or saving for retirement.

And then I will crunch numbers and I will, as I always do, make it work. I will cancel plans if I have to, I will be honest with the people I love about my struggles, and I will try over and over and over again to forgive myself.

There are things we can't take back. Things I've done and said that can never be reversed. I am a human being. I make mistakes. And I am learning to care for myself while still carrying the baggage of my past, because this is, sadly and joyfully, what every human being has to do.

So I will look at those numbers, at the physical manifestation of my melancholy, fearful, and compulsive nature, and I will make another payment. And another. And another. 

Until I'm 59. Because there isn't anything else to do.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


I am not a fast reader by any means. I am actually one of the slowest readers I know. I don't read avidly and, in fact, have trouble committing to books beyond 300 pages as my attention starts to wane around page 150. I haven't read many classics. I haven't heard of many authors. In short, I am not "well read."

But I have a love affair with books. I always prefer paperback to hardback because you can break the spine and because the cover shows wear. I prefer books that fit in my jacket pocket. I love the smell of new books and the smell of old ones. You can tell how much I've loved a book by how water damaged it is. And by the dog-eared pages. I love pages. My most recent book love (Gilead) was dog-eared on almost every page and, looking at it through weepy eyes, I felt so satisfied remembering how I had loved it. I love words. I love reading quotes I've loved to people I love. I love the way words look on a page. I love the weight of books. I love the way they look in homes and on shelves. I love that when people come to my house they can look at the books on my shelves and know something about me.

I was on the bus this morning and saw so many people with e-readers. I understand they are lighter and easier to hold and read while standing up on an insanely full bus. I understand that it is cheaper to buy books on an e-reader.

But I am a tactile person. I want to sit close and hug and touch everything and everyone I love (except EQ, for whom I show love by only giving a fist bump (except for the Bachelorettes Party, about which I am still sorry)). I want to be able to spill water on my books and mark the pages, and I want them worn and broken and present. Sometimes I think about the future of the publishing industry and about the consolidation of all things human, and I feel a little lost.

I want books on my shelves. I want clutter. I want broken spines and water stains and dogeared pages and physical memories. And I hope that, if/when I have children, they will have ready access to those things as well.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Keep Calm and Wear a Tutu: Deb Loves MAC as much as she loves Bright Colors

I don't yet have any concrete rules about what makes an outfit blog worthy. I decided today was a good day because I had planned to go to Zumba with Travis and wanted photo documentation that I looked cute today even after I became a sweaty beast.

But here's the thing I realized friends: MAC. MAKEUP. IS. AMAZING.

While changing back into my work clothes from my sweaty work out clothes I realized my eye make up was still ABSOLUTELY PERFECT. I was astounded as I was SWEATING BALLS in that class. 

Beautiful, no?

No lie, friends, this is EXACTLY what it looked like this morning. And even though none of you were asking I MUST give you my not-so-secret secrets.

I use "Bare Canvas," meaning I can make my eye lids whatever color I want. My go-to eyeshadow is "Naked Lunch" with some fun color in the crease. Today it is a combination of of "Shimmermoss," "Masquerade" and "Honesty."

When I started wearing makeup with regularity about a month ago I was using an angle brush to apply black eye shadow ("Carbon") as eyeliner. This looked great until around 2pm when half the eye shadow would have relocated to just below my lower lashes, giving me the appearance of a crack whore. So I revisited an old favorite. Fluidline is a paint-like liner that you also apply with an angle brush (though I am lusting after an eyeliner brush). The one drawback is that you pretty much HAVE to wash the brush every time you use it, or else you can't apply a thin enough line. This was obnoxious until I discovered MAC's waterless brush cleaner. SHEER BRILLIANCE.

If MAC ever discontinues this mascara I will end my own life. It is the most expensive mascara I've ever owned in my entire life ($19... that's like 3 Chipotle burritos), but the most amazing. I think my eyelashes look borderline fake once it is applied.

To make a short story long, I love MAC makeup. But onto the clothes...


Turquoise Sweater : Ralph Lauren, courtesy of Marshalls ($15)
Yellow Top: Old Navy ($10)
Brown Skirt: Good Will ($5)
Purple Tights: Lane Bryant ($5)
Boots: Famous Footwear ($50 2 years ago?)

I am also wearing these lovely koi earrings which were a gift from my dear friend Leslie. Koi fish are apparently a symbol of beauty (Holla).


And then my tried and true antique typewriter "D" necklace. I bought this years ago off of Etsy, right as I was beginning to really enjoy my body and myself. Whenever I put it on I associate it with proudly proclaiming, 

"I am Deb. I am ME!!!!!"

One time I thought I lost this necklace, and I. LOST. MY. SH*T. LIKE. WHOA. 
Luckily I found it, or the world might have ended right then and there and then I wouldn't even HAVE a style section in my little blog.

A scary thought for us all, I'm sure.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Keep Calm and Wear a Tutu: Fun in Home Depot in My Summeriest Dress

On Sunday it was 63 degrees when I left the house, so I decided to bring summer back with my favortiest summeriest dress. I meant to have my dear Nickers take a picture of me frolicking along the rolling grass of Cupcake Hill (aka Larz Anderson Park) but I was so distracted by the joy of sitting on a blanket with the person equivalent of my favortiest dress, eating a pumpkin whoopie pie on a beautiful fall day, that I forgot about taking pictures until we were in Home Depot.

With this metal crown I name myself the Emperor of Home Improvement!!!!

Crown: Home Depot ($20?? I don't know. I didn't actually buy it).
Long-Sleeved V-Neck: Tellos ($10? Maybe? I bought it like a year ago and $10 sounds kind of steep for Tellos.)
Dress: Lord and Taylor ($110. It's one of the things I charged early in the summer, so whenever I am struggling with buying food, I think on this dress and it sustains me. Not really, but wouldn't that be nice?)
Clogs: Born, courtesy of Marshalls like 5 years ago ($40)

Here's a confession. Everytime I think about this dress I wish I owned cowboy boots to go with it. Sadly, cowboy boots aren't really in the budget so I have doctored the picture using SnagIt.

My photoshopping skills are CLEARLY unparalelled. I am practically a graphic designer.

 MAN that dress is cute. Even without the air duct crown and "photoshopped" boots.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Living Within My Means

For those of you who haven't talked to me in a while (and it would have to be a long while since this particular issue has been rather prominently on my mind for quite some time) I have completely stopped using my credit cards. They are tucked safely away in an envelope in Soul Twin's desk where, barring espionage, they can only be obtained with the explanation of some very logical reason why I would need them. Hence, I have embarked on a rather interesting adventure called, "Living Within My Means."

I feel as though I must first explain to you a bit about my financial history. My parents can never make enough money. Meaning that no matter how much they make they never seem to have enough. My father is compulsive in his spending habits, a behavior which vexes my mom, but often complains about having to go on trips to various family members' birthday parties and weddings. My brother makes almost no money but also has no bills. He still wears the same shorts my mom bought him from the good will probably 10 years ago, and when his jeans become too worn he makes them into jean shorts. He owns less and spends less than any human being I've ever met in my whole life. Well, any human being who isn't homeless. 

I got my first credit card in college. I thought, "HEY! Almost Free money!" I would put small purchases on the card; I would pay them back. Then I wanted bigger and bigger things. So I would charge them. Then I couldn't pay them back. So I accrued thousands of dollars in debt. At the end of my senior year of college my dad lent me the money to pay it off, and I paid him back by selling my car before moving to Boston. Then I went to grad school. I lived in dorm housing and then an apartment in the Back Bay. I took out extra loans so I could have more financial "security" (a.k.a. live beyond my means with money that wasn't from a credit card), and yet, even then, I used my credit cards. I graduated from grad school, got my first full-time job, and the first 6 months I couldn't BELIEVE how much money I made. And then I started the loan payments, which I couldn't pay and buy food. So I deferred half of them for 5 years. And then I maxed out my credit cards. Since then I have vacillated between paying them off in huge chunks, and then using the available balance to buy more shit. When I ran out of "real" money it was all right, because I could always afford to take myself out to a nice dinner or buy myself a new purse to ease the pain of my financial stupidity. Then I went on a 6 month spending spree, bought myself a new wardrobe. Then I remembered that in March of 2012 I HAVE to start paying the other half of my student loans. And then it was a month ago. And I now have a whole bunch of clothes, and a renewed sense of my own debt.  So I put myself on a payment plan, gave my credit cards to Soul Twin, all the while thinking, "How hard can this be?"

I would never have said I was addicted to spending money. But now that I must do it in this calculated way, I find that I, in fact, was. The buying of new things, of clothes, of food, it distracted me from my life. A brief feeling of exhilaration, of newness. A feeling that (as I mentioned in my blog about the coat) I would finally be able to be the person I always wanted. Because the person I always wanted to be could have everything she wanted all the time (as though any person really has that luxury).

What I'm saying is, it's so hard to let that go. Because it means I will never get to be that person.

Up until 6 months ago, I dreamed of what it would be like to be thin. I would be able to buy clothes I liked, men would want to date me, I would find the perfect job, I would be able to do a handstand in Yoga class, I would know what I wanted from my life, my dad wouldn't have any guilt, my mom would be happy. It seems so silly to say these things, but I honestly thought if I could be thin, my entire world would be at rights. 

So when I decided I wasn't going to actively try to be thin anymore, and when I decided I was going to instead try to love my body just as it was and is, I was agreeing to accept that all those ideals I had for myself and my life were as impossible as the thinness. 

The bottom line is that no matter how much our consumerist culture wants us to believe otherwise, no one thing will make the business of being a human being in the world any easier. No amount of thinness, or Chipotle burritos, or coats, or skirts can change the fact that there is struggle and that some experiences are pain beyond comprehension. I'm not saying there isn't joy, or even that we shouldn't take joy from having things. But where joy is the truest has nothing to do with physicality, at least not in the way of ownership.

And there is also joy in this surrender. As I let go of the unattainable ideals, I am able to actually sit with myself, to take stock of what I want, what I can do, to take the limitation that is my life and my past, and take my little broken pieces and make them into something I can love right now.
As I relinquish the ideals I have held so long in terms of how my life looks, I start to realize the beauty of things that are unseen and the value of that which costs nothing. 

That sounds so lame and so cliche, but I feel at a loss to express what it is to be faced with my actual life, to express what it feels like to find relief from the burden of impossible desires. It sounds like I've found God or something, but I promise I haven't. These burdens have not been taken away. I have just found relief from the struggle in the struggle. If that makes any sense at all.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Keep Calm and Wear A Tutu: Flowery Shirt from the Good Will (The Beginning of a Blog Within a Blog)

I've been talking about starting a blog of my outfits for about a month now. The reasons are 3-fold.

1) So that I can get free clothes sent to me from distributors.
I read many fat style blogs, and they always talk about getting sent clothes to review. 

Well, I want that to be me.

Dear eShakti, ASOS, Lucie Lu and others, please send me free clothes and I will tell my almost 40 readers how awesome those clothes are, I promise!!

2) Because I'm pretty proud of the outfits I've been putting together.
As I mentioned in my blog about skirts I used to love to dress up. And then I learned to hate my body so I dressed like crap so no one would look at me. And now I've learned to love it again, and I think I look pretty darn cute on any given day, and I want to share that cuteness with the WORLD!

3) Because I am learning to love pictures of myself at my current weight.
I decided on this final reason just last week when Jan took a picture of me sitting on top of a statue that looked like a butt.

After having a mini freakout, I decided the following: I look fat in photos because I am fat. And, in my opinion, one of the best ways to accept and love my fat body is to take full body shots of my fat body in cute clothes, often doing ridiculous things like perching ladylike atop a statue that looks like a butt.

I promise that I will still love things and write about all sorts of feelings on this blog as well. And even if you care not a lick about clothes, you can enjoy looking at pictures of me being cute. And if you don't enjoy looking at pictures of me being cute then EFF YOUR FACE.

But seriously. No offense taken. 
Today's outfit features a tunic style top I purchased from the good will while shopping with my friend Elizabeth, paired with some awesome leggings. Ladies at my work are always talking about things they can't wear because they are too old or their bodies aren't good enough. But I decided to listen to Jane Pratt and "DO THIS DON'T." Maybe fat people shouldn't wear leggings as pants. 

Here's the Dets...
Flowery Top: Good Will ($5)
Leggings: Macy's ($22)
Booties: Lane Bryant (on sale for $35)
Yellow Necklace (and joy of my soul): Some antique shop in Dorchester ($1)

No lie, friends. When I look at this outfit I am AMAZED BY THE CUTE. I wonder, is that even me? And then I am overjoyed to remember that YES!! IT IS ME!!!!

What? You can't see my butt in this photo? Worry not.

And here's a close up just in case.

Hells to the Yes.

Monday, November 7, 2011

My Hair Today

I have not washed my hair in 4 days. I did not feel like washing it this morning. 
In an effort to conceal this fact I made my hair look like this:

And now I may never wash my hair again.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Time when You Could Fantasize that Everyone Else's Life was the Same as Yours

When I was in middle school, I wanted to marry Jonathan Taylor Thomas. And by "wanted to" I mean "was going to." He liked the color blue, and his birthday was one day after my best friend Leslie's. He also liked Feta cheese and, though I had never heard of Feta cheese, I liked pizza with cheese on it. Soulmates, duh. JTT was my man. So much so it actually never occurred to me that someone my age would have a boyfriend beyond a celebrity one, especially considering none of my friends had actual boyfriends.

When I was 14 I converted to Christianity, and I was pretty obnoxious about it. Like super obnoxious. (I am now a far cry from a Christian but am pleased and honored to have some of my very best friends in the world actively involved in that belief system, and they all, every day, prove that all Christians are not bigoted d-bags, and I am so grateful for them. If any of my childhood friends are reading this, I am SO SORRY I was so obnoxious, and I no longer even believe in hell let alone am worried you are going there.) I decided it would be more Christian if I did not date (though I harbored a hearty crush on a boy in my Youth Group at church (Outside, anyone?)). This was not uncommon. There were some churchy romances here and there, but overall most of my friends were in love with Jesus.

I remember being at my High School Grad Night with my friend Steve and joking it was my first date (still the best date I've ever been on). I looked forward to college being a plethora of dating opportunities.

It was not.

At least not for me. There was some dating and some hooking up and a wedding, but overall most of my friends were in love with either their instruments (get your mind out of the gutter, I was a music major) or their own singing voices. I graduated from college still never having kissed a man, let alone dated one. But BOSTON! A big(ger) city! New people! New things to do and see! Boston would be my time.

It was not.

After grad school, I worked at my first job. I had a crush on a guy there for a while, because he was just so nice to me. Then I met another man through a friend. I fell for him pretty hard. I don't mean fell like we went on dates and had great sex. I mean I was hopelessly smitten with him, and I thought maybe he felt the same way until he made out with one of my friends. And then he and I stayed friends, and I spent years hoping he would come around and realize he loved me. 

He didn't.

I ended things not so nicely with that man this past summer. I gained (back) 50 pounds. I went on a (still on-going) miraculous journey of self-discovery. I learned to love my body and myself. And here I am . Almost 30. I've been on a few dates here and there, but I've still never been in a relationship with a man. I've never even kissed a man I really liked. I have kissed a fair number I didn't like at all.

I've spent many years coming to terms with my lack of romantic history. It's been a slow process of convincing myself that my lack of experience will not be the always story, and that I am wonderful and lovable and would make a great wife, etc. It has been a process of attempting to attain a seemingly unattainable balance between wanting something different and loving what I have, of not letting my desire turn to desperation, while still acknowledging the huge space it occupies in my heart, even though there is no guarantee it will ever come to fruition. Being a single, almost 30-year-old woman is hard f*cking work let me tell you.

And lately all I see on facebook day after day is profile pictures changing to wedding photos. I am not complaining about going to or being at weddings. Not by any means. But for some reason every time I see the profile picture of someone I haven't talked to in 10 years turn to a picture of them cutting their wedding cake, or standing on a gazebo in ambient light, or looking super happy with their now spouse, I just want to slap myself. Yes, I want to see those pictures. And yes, I want my friends to be happy. But I just miss the time when the only way I would know everyone I had met in my entire life was married would be to run into them on the street. And the likelihood of running into every person I've ever met in my entire life on the street is PUHRETTY slim.

If I look at my life here in Boston, at the people who I talk to and spend time with on a regular basis, those of us that are single still outnumber those that are married. And though I expect these numbers to change over the years, it will be gradual. My single friends will meet men, they will date them, I will meet those men, I will hang out with them as a couple, they will get engaged, I will get notified of these engagements, I will see the rings in person, I will hear about wedding planning, I will get invitations, if schedules permit I will go to these weddings, I will drink and eat and dance, and then, AND ONLY THEN will I see wedding photos. My friends love stories are stories in which I am involved, experiences of which I am aware. I see them struggling to yoke their lives to their significant others, to love those significant others more than themselves without losing themselves, to make time for all the other people and things they love while existing inside something as all-encompassing as romantic love, and I can see that it is all a struggle, comparable to if not greater than my own. 

Facebook is a love story told in montage. We are treated to all the highlights with none of the substance. And for those of us single people it is hard not to see that, not to see person after person getting married and think the oh, so dreaded thought, “What is wrong with me?” 

I suppose I could withdraw from Facebook, but then how would I Facebook stalk my friends potential dates? Facebook stalking is very difficult without Facebook. It just means I am left to self-censor, to unsubscribe from friends who talk too much about weight loss, or weddings, or how their lives are perfect, when it feels like self-preservation to do so, and to dialogue with myself constantly about the truth of my own lovability.

I suppose I am just missing the time when the people I loved, when my close friends and family, were my whole world and that world was small and manageable, and I had a perfect, albeit small, place in it as Jonathan Taylor Thomas's future wife.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Things Deb Doesn't Love: Obsessing Over Things

I don't mean obsessing over something worth obsessing over. One might say I am obsessed with Heath at Every Size, or that I am obsessed with how awesome my friends are, or that I am obsessed with Diane and Heather's wedding and how awesome it is going to be or that I am obsessed with chunky, bearded guys. I freely and happily admit I am obsessed with these things. 

It's when I get obsessed with actual thing-things that I start to get... well... insane. And hence worried.

Recent obsession: this jacket.

Here are the reasons I am in love with this jacket: I have only owned 2 items in khaki my whole life: two pairs of ill-fitting pants I had to wear while I worked at Starbucks. Those pants, by the time my tenure at Starbucks was (thank god) finished were covered in coffee and tear stains. Coffee, from, well, the coffee, and tears from the times I would cry because my manager would tell me I needed to make the coffee drinks faster. Eventually I did. And by "made coffee drinks faster" I mean I made up coffee drinks. I had/have no clue what was supposed to go in half the drinks I made, so I just put in whatever struck my fancy. This was not a good Starbucks career move. They gave me fewer and fewer shifts until I just quit. 

But back to khaki. Whenever Soul Twin wears her khaki trench coat I think, "She looks so classy!" But every time I try on a khaki trench coat and look in a mirror I think, "Well, this isn't me." But did you notice the ruffles? It's a KHAKI TRENCHCOAT WITH RUFFLES. And you know what's all over the back of the coat (which I can't figure out how to capture an image of)? MORE. RUFFLES. When I first saw this on the interwebz I thought, "Huh. I like that." So I emailed it to myself so I could look at it the next day. And then I looked at it the next day (being today), and I have become obsessed with this coat. Literally obsessed.

Let me explain.

I am so obsessed with this coat that I feel if I do not purchase it right now it will be a significant life loss. 
Like if I don't have some sort of guaruntee that this coat will be mine I. WILL. DIE.


Here's the thing: I have recently bought a lot of clothes. Like a lot. I have a spent a lot of money on those clothes. I have almost bankrupted myself buying clothes. And about a week ago, with $1.50 in my bank account (shameful, I know) and my credits cards safely out of my grasp I decided I had to be done buying clothes. Because it was either clothes or food. And I might be slightly addicted to buying dresses, but I also kind of need to eat. So yes, the coat is on sale for $35. But  I could buy a lot of eggs and sprouted grain bread and lentils and veggie sausage and coffee with that. And I can live without that coat, but I can't live without my coffee.

But the point of this post isn't to discuss why I should or shouldn't buy the coat. It's to explore this seemingly manic need I have for things and the belief that these things will change the very definition of who I am. As though if I had a ruffley, khaki trench coat I would have all the classiness of Soul Twin with the all the immature, silliness of myself. As though, if I can just have and wear that coat, I will be my best and truest self. It sounds silly to write this out. But in my gut, I feel it. If I can just look the right way, I will be the right way. I will be put together. Men will want me. Women will want to be me. If I can just have that stupid, ruffley trench coat.

I keep thinking of an early episode of Mad Men when Don Draper gets high with his mistress's hippy friends. When the friends find out he is in advertising, one of them says, "You make the lie. You invent want."

So, I could try to opt out of this want-inventing system. But the (terrifying) reality of the system is that it is inside of me. It is embedded in my psyche: if I can look a certain way, I will be that way. What else would explain a sickening feeling in my stomach when I think about not obtaining a silly coat (a feeling that, even as I prove the silliness of the want, I STILL WANT)? It is overwhelming. 

I have lately been trying to pay attention to what happens in my body before I act compulsively, whether it regards food or coats or whatever. If it is something I do not, in my logical mind, need, how do I convince my huge feeling heart that I do not need it? A brownie or a coat or a new dress or new shoes or a new bike or whatever it may be. In my heart it FEELS like need. 

But it is not need.

Sometimes when I think of the things I want for my life, they are physical things: a condo in JP and children and husband and dog and all that. But sometimes, I just have to tell myself that what I want more than ANY one thing is to feel free from want. And contrary to what our culture would like us to believe, obtaining what we want does not free us from want.

Maybe in a moment of weakness I will buy that coat. And I will forgive myself and enjoy it and move forward if I do. But in the meantime, I will continue to remind myself that the only real freedom from want is truth and joy.

The Truth is that coat will not make my life everything I want it to be.
The Joy is the hope of someday having control over my compulsive behaviors.

And that, my friends, is how you overthink things.

The. End.

Blog Marriage

Well, friends, I have decided to once again become a one-blog-woman and officially combine my two blogs. Things Deb Loves is, once again, the only blog in my life. Does this mean it will return to only being about loving ridiculous things? 

Well, no.

I started Things Deb Loves at a time in my life when the only things to love were my friends (including two co-workers who kept me from killing myself at a job for which I was truly not suited (Zoe and Maribel FTW!!!!)), and I needed the light silliness of children's lunchboxes and videos of laughing babies. Not to say I don't still need those things. I certainly do. It's just that I don't want to feel separated into two people: a serious, contemplative fat activist and a light-hearted, giggly 30-year-old child. I want to be able to be ALL those things at the same time. In addition, as Soul Twin pointed out, I LOVE emotional processing so why shouldn't I be doing it on this blog of love? 

So I'm going to. 

I apologize if that turns off any of my readers (all 37 of you), but I certainly hope you stick around. 

Today Elizabeth asked me a very simple question that could've been answered in one word. I mis-heard the question and gave a 5-minute answer. I feel this explanation is a too lengthy response to a question you didn't even ask, but I am nothing if not verbose, and I'm sure you aren't surprised.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

This is Nourishment

Today I was walking to the the mini fridge on my floor to get my afternoon snack when I was struck with a feeling of normalcy.

As I mentioned before I have struggled with some very disordered eating since a very early age. Food has always been about so much other than food. It is pleasure, punishment, and distraction all at the same time. In the past, when I was feeling sad or overwhelmed, I would want to eat a pan of brownies so that I could experience the pleasure of eating something delicious, while punishing myself (my body is very sensitive to large amounts of sugar and wheat), followed by a period of obsession over how many brownies I ate, as well as a ghastly stomachache. But then the stomachache would wane, and I would be left with regret over my sometimes masochism and frequent incapability to really care for myself.

It amazes me how valuable it is to learn how to dialogue with oneself. It is not that I don't binge eat anymore, though I do it much, much less; it's just that I know how to come back from it. Years (or months) ago, a night of binge eating would lead to a week or weeks of more binge eating. And the longer it went on the harder it was to come back from. But I feel now as though I have some idea of how to talk to myself about the binge: to frame it as self-care (learned from Geneen Roth), to drink a lot of water, to journal, to combat the thoughts of "you don't know how to care for yourself" with viable proof that I most clearly do know how to care for myself.

I keep wondering how I got here from there. How I got to a point where there is an element of true nourishing when it comes to food, if even just for one snack. I suppose it has to do with the work I've done to love my body just as it is. It has to do with how I clothe and wash myself. It has to do with letting my body be, with letting her want or reject whatever she needs. It has to do with all the times I let it be okay that I ate ice cream every day for a week or had two cupcakes (or four) at a party. It has to do with the freedom to have cream in my coffee and to sometimes drink that coffee in bed, in my pajamas, even though I should be doing other things. It has to do with riding my bike, with feeling connected to the world through that little 15 pound mass of metal and rubber. In yoga, I felt connected to the earth. But when I am biking I am a part of the whole round world. On my bike, as I learn to yell at drivers about to hit me and ride in a lane clearly designed for cars, I am learning how to protect myself, how to take up space in the world. It has to do with going to my dance class and seeing my body in the mirror, back fat and stomach fat and bruised, scarred legs, and thinking, "that is MINE." And then plie-ing like I am a graceful swan. Because I am. Just a fat one.

What else have I done?

Lots of crying. And talking. Lots of eating. Lots of drinking. Lots of journaling and biking and sad dancing and happy dancing and online shopping. Lots of reading. Lots of reading the same thing over and over until I get it. Lots of hugging. Lots of anger. Lots of forgiveness and grace.

And then today I got hungry so I walked to the little mini-fridge to get my yogurt and honey, mixed together in a little tupperware this morning, and I ate it, and I licked the top of the tupperware cause it was so delicious, and I wasn't thinking about anything else, just how delicious that yogurt was. Every meal or snack is not like this. But this one was. And there have been others like it. And there will be more.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I am now going to complain about something really dumb.

So I love skirts/dresses/tights. I also love being hydrated. But the combination of the two is just not conducive to ease when it comes to peeing. For example, today I am wearing my new bird dress which I love. But it requires that I wear tights (as it's cold and rainy out today) as well as a slip so that the dress doesn't stick to the tights. Also my dress is made up of a long camisole dress type thing and then the chiffon-y dress part with the actual bird print (there are probably technical terms for all this crap that I don't know). In addition the actual dress part ties in the back which means there are strings dangling by my butt. All of this combined makes for a very difficult bathroom experience.

1) Lift slip and skirt

2) Get the tights down just enough so I don't pee on myself but not so much that I have to work hard to pull them up.

3) Pull the back of both skirts over my head so that the ties in the back don't fall in the toilet.

4) Do business without letting the skirts pulled over head also fall into toilet with ties.

5) Pull up underpants.

6) Work hard to pull up tights (even though you hardly pulled them down to avoid this).

7) Pull down and adjust slip.

8) Adjust long camisole thing.

9) Adjust actual bird dress.

And then do this every hour.

It is a choice I make, but is it obnoxious as hell.

The End.

Being Told I'm Beautiful By Strangers

Last night my glorious roommate and I had our first official roommate date. My friend Zoe had given us her BSO tickets to see YoYo Ma since Zoe was sick at home with a sinus infection, so Steph and I decided to make the most of it. We both came home from work, changed into some cute outfits, put on makeup. We even decided to drive into town and pay for parking so we could wear high heels (well worth it!!!). As we left the house I was thinking to myself, "We are the most attractive people in the world right now," a thought I haven't had in a while but a thought PenPen, Soul Twin and my Biscuit will remember well.

While walking down the stairs in the parking garage we ran into a woman who exclaimed, "You look so nice!" It took me a second to realize I didn't know her. She just wanted to shout about our beauty. Duh.

Now I've written about fat shaming, about cruel things that have been said to me by people I've never met. Another incident happened just the other night as I was riding my bike to my bike maintenance class. But for all the negative stranger experiences I've had many complimentary ones as well. 

It's picture story time!!

On my way to my darling Heidi's wedding a very handsome man kept smiling in my direction on the bus. As we exited the bus he caught up with me, just to say, "You are very pretty." And though I was already quite confident I looked amazing, it was nice of him to notice.

I was walking around a mall once when a woman stopped me to tell me I had beautiful eyes.

I was walking through Harvard Square when a woman stopped to ask me where I got my hair cut.

And then there was my magical JP day when a woman stopped me to comment on how great my new headband looked.

So yeah, sometimes dudes in cars/trucks can be super douches. But sometimes strangers can be/think I am lovely.

And today, well, I kind of agree with them.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How Mr. Bates Made Me Cry or Why Downton Abbey is Awesome

I was at a small get together at a friend’s house on Sunday and overheard a conversation between two women. One woman, explaining what she did for work, said, “I deal with research on different diseases. You know, cancer, obesity... things like that.” I responded to this by saying very loudly, “OBESITY IS NOT A DISEASE,” which was, of course, followed by an awkward silence.

My grandmother died of cancer in 2004. She was first diagnosed with Breast Cancer years before. She went through Chemo, and her cancer went into remission. Then it moved down into her intestines, and it never stopped spreading. My grandmother was a lifetime member of Overeaters Anonymous, and I remember, when she was still lucid, she would joke that it took chemotherapy to get her to her goal weight (it makes me sad to think that my grandmother was struggling her entire life to attain a weight that she could only get to by dying). 

As far as I know (and to be honest I could be totally wrong as I know not a thing about science) it is unknown what causes cancer. Yes, there are correlations, but it is very unclear why some people get cancer and others do not. 

Fatness is similar. Some bodies are fat and some are not. It is not known why some bodies are fat and some are not because, contrary to what most people would believe to be true, not all fat people eat more and exercise less than thin people. There are so many different components of fatness: genetics, environment, stress, lifestyle. 

This is the only way in which fatness is similar to cancer. 

To call Obesity a disease is, if you ask me, kind of insulting to other diseases. My fatness is not the same as my grandmother’s cancer. Or a brain tumor. Or this child’s disease. And though I have more body fat, my fat is not slowly killing me (whatever the media would want you to believe). I do not feel weak. I do not feel sick. My body is able to digest food, to move, to function properly in every way. My body is not, in anyway in fact, diseased and to call it such is insulting.

I am going to let you in on a secret: everybody dies. From the minute our bodies are fully formed they are deteriorating, some faster than others. We want to think that if we can make our bodies a certain way that somehow we will have some control over our own demise, and though that is true to a certain extent, whether I or anyone else wants to extend or shorten their life is just none of your goddamn business. Maybe I will die from a heart attack in the next 10 years. Maybe I will get hit by a bus on my bicycle. Maybe I will live to be a fat 82-year-old just like my dad. Or maybe I will get an actual disease. I just don’t know. No one does. 

I’ve been watching Downton Abbey with my glorious roommate. There is a character named Mr. Bates who has a pronounced limp from a war injury and walks with a cane. Mr. Bates is handsome and kind, but many of the staff look down on him for his limp. They assume he can’t do certain things even though he can. He decides he will attempt to fix it. He goes to a store where he purchases a terrible metal contraption that, if tightened a certain amount everyday, claims to correct limps. Mr. Bates wears it. Throughout the episode we see him in terrible pain. Finally he shows his leg to the housekeeper, Mrs. Hughes. His leg is bloodied and raw. We then see Mrs. Hughes marching Mr. Bates out to the lake carrying his limp corrector. She hands it to him to throw into the water and as he goes to throw it, stops him, saying, “No. Say your speech.”

Mr. Bates says, “I promise I will never again try to cure myself.”

You say obesity is a disease?

My response is: what Mr. Bates said.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

My Gray Hairs

I have the equivalent of a curly bob, but, since my hair is, as I said, curly, it pretty much just does whatever it wants.

This morning, distracted by an early phone call from my mom and subsequently finding a $200 round trip plane ticket to fly home for Christmas, I forgot that this morning I was supposed to wash my hair. Needless to say I figured this out way too late to truly remedy it.

NOT TO FEAR. Curly hair is great when it's dirty. AND Curly hair can look messy and put together at the same time. It's awesome. So I pinned my hair back using about 50 bobby pins and set off to work.

Two hours ago I decided the bobby pins were hurting my head, so I removed them all. This is what it looked like.

Hells to the yes.

Let me tell you why I love this picture.

1)  My hair is ridiculous
2) You can clearly see that one of my eyes is bigger than the other.
3) You can clearly see the scab from a pimple that was above the right (my left) eyebrow.
4) You can CLEARLY see my gray hairs.


I went through about a two week phase where I hated my gray hairs. You know, about to turn 30, getting old blah blah blah. But no lie, I love them now. And it is for no reason other than that they just look so cool.

And I love this photo.

Friday, October 14, 2011

This is an Angry Post

I have been or felt fat my entire life. I developed a binge eating disorder when I was 10 (that is at least the first time I remember looking forward to everyone being gone from the house so I could eat whatever I wanted) and by the time I was 16 I was a size 20 and weighed 250 pounds. I thought I was a big, fat piece of sh*t. I am being candid here. I fantasized about what it would be like to be thin. About the person I would be, the things I would do, the people who would be inextricably drawn to me. Whenever anything in my life would go wrong it was clearly my body’s fault. Clearly.

Three years ago, I started Weight Watchers. I lost 60 lbs. and all of the sudden I was available to the world. Every one told me how great I looked. I could shop in normal stores. I tried running. I did Yoga 6 days a week. Did I mention everybody kept telling me how good I looked? Cause they did. Over and over again. My weight loss was even a rather common topic of conversation. I am not saying this judgmentally towards those with whom I had the conversations but factually. I and everyone else talked about it. A lot.

But here’s the thing I want everyone to know. Even when I was thin I wanted to be thinner. It wasn’t enough. Even when I was thin I would binge eat. Even when I was thin I was worried no one would ever be attracted to me. Even when I was thin boys didn’t ask me on dates. I went to Yoga, and yes, I did/still do love doing Yoga, but I would freak out when I would miss a class because I was worried I had somehow lost that all the important muscle mass that would keep me from getting fat again. I was obsessed with not getting fat again. OBSESSED. I read Health at Every Size for the first time when I was at my thinnest and the book made me terrified that my set point weight was above my current weight. Anxiety-attack terrified. Couldn’t-sleep-at-night terrified.

And then I hurt myself. I fell up an escalator and dislocated my shoulder, an injury I still deal with today. I couldn’t do Yoga, at least not how I wanted anymore. So then I started gaining weight. It was slow. But over the course of the past two years I have gained back every pound I lost. This is while trying different dietary eliminations to keep the weight off, and trying Weight Watchers again. And then I read Health at Every Size for the second time, once again a 250 pound woman wearing a size 20, and I actually got it.

This is what I got:

My weight has no bearing on my health, IF (and only if) my habits are healthy
If I am eating the foods my body wants in the amounts she wants them, if I am moving consistently, if I am dancing and riding my bike and experiencing love and joy and good things then my weight has no bearing on my health.

Being thin will not get me the things I want
And this is contrary to everything you will probably ever hear from the media. To be honest I have more of the things I want now that I am fat again because I don’t have to wait for my body to look a certain way to have them.

Not every fat person has an eating disorder, but I know a fair number who do. Restricting your caloric intake and upping your exercise, even if it results in temporary weight loss, will never heal an eating disorder. Ever. My binge eating was worse than it had ever been when I was thinnest because I was so obsessed with the amount of calories I was eating as they pertained to how I looked.

Loving my body has brought me an incredible amount of joy
I love my body. I love what she can do. I love what she looks like. I LOVE how wide my hips are, and how strong my legs are. And apart from what she looks like I love that she houses me so well. I love that she reflects the largeness and delicacy of my spirit and of my heart.  I am proud of her.

Why do we all want to lose weight so badly? We want to be enough. We want to be loved or admired or beautiful or healthy or whatever other words our diet obsessed culture tells us we can be if we are just thin enough. But what if we could be all those things right now? Wouldn’t that be worth transferring all the effort we have been putting into wishing our bodies were different into enjoying our bodies for what they are?

I think it would be.

It was for me.