Sunday, May 11, 2008


I'll get to the photo eventually. You'll have to hang in there with me while I get to it though.

After Friday's verbal diarrhea, I've had loads of time to think. The overriding thought has been how I censor myself -- sometimes here, overwhelmingly so in everyday life.

I grew up in a household in which certain things just weren't discussed. As a result, sometimes reality seemed like a dream. I didn't know how to ask the questions as a kid and so I chalked things up to an over-active imagination. It's always kind of surprising to find out that those supposed imaginings were in fact real. (And there's the stuff that's buried so deep that I will never have a memory of it.) And then you're told to not discuss these things with others. These things along with the other memories about which you have no doubt.

And I think that this is the very core of what we like to call dysfunction. The incessant lies. I suppose the good thing that comes out of this is that you can spot someone else's bullshit a mile a way. Because if you're really good at the whole thing, others may suspect that at times you're full of it but they can never really prove it.

Me? I'm really good at putting on the happy face when I need to. And of saying what I think others want to hear. If it's all a lie? Well, it was all for a purpose. (We won't even get into how I have learned how to read people pretty well over the years and so can manipulate them pretty well when I so desire. It's all about survival but more about that later.) When things started to fall apart for me in undergrad, no one around me really had a clue how bad it was until it was almost too late. (Don't worry. I vowed years ago that I would never go back to that place again and I know in my heart that it's true. And when my mother tries to tell me about all the horrible things that people do to one another, I remind her, "No one can do anything worse to me than I have already done to myself. And I survived that." Because my mother likes to remind me that we are both survivors. And if we're ever put in a situation that means our survival or the other person's? Well, we know who will walk away from the situation.) Hell. I started in high school. I could tell classmates fantastic tales about my life and they would look at me saying, "I know that you're lying to me but you're so convincing that I want to believe you." I explained to them that the first part of telling a convincing lie is first convincing yourself that the words that are about to pass your lips are the absolute truth. Because isn't that what good acting is about? Finding that part of yourself that can relate to the story you're about to tell? But back to the matter at hand. I've found that holidays -- the ones that most people spend with family -- tend to bring out the worst in me emotionally. The times when the acting is a little more difficult to pull off convincingly. The times when I am most likely to drop my guard and to say what I really think. Like what I did on Friday night. Because I write those kind of posts all the time. They just never see the light of day.

At these times, I fall into the comfortable -- obsessing about my weight. I know that when I look in the mirror, the person who I see is far from what others would consider fat. This is fine for the very logical part of my brain -- the part of me that makes me good at my job. But then there's the emotional me. The me who felt hurt and abandoned when my parents divorced all those years ago. This person doesn't understand logic in the least.

Food has always played a big role in my family. My father's mother's wonderful cooking. Well, my mother's mother is a wonderful cook as well. But unlike my other grandmother, she has always been obese. My mother's older sister as well. No. My aunt wasn't always obese. That was something that came later in her life. And my mother and one of her younger sisters have always dieted and exercised so that they too will not become obese. And somehow I can look at my mother who wears size 10/12 and think that she looks perfectly normal. And it probably has something to do with the fact that she is completely comfortable being that size. Even though, when I was growing up she was a 6/8. And the majority of the women in my family think that I could stand to gain some weight. Even now. And for a brief moment I thought of culture but then thought that I don't feel like going down that road right now. Well, not completely. Let me leave you with this one question. Is the quest for thinness a part of the assimilation process?

As I thought of all of this, I thought about how much of a woman's identity is tied up in her appearance. My mother tried to raise me to not think about my appearance -- well, as much as a Southern woman can. To my mother, one should never worry about being pretty but one should look presentable at all times. And me? Sometimes I don't look presentable. Because I will go to the grocery store with my hair pulled back in a scrunchy, no make-up, and wearing a ratty t-shirt and jeans with flip-flops. And every now and then -- well now that I'm an adult -- my mother will say to me, "You really don't notice, do you? How people stop to look at you? And you know if you paid more attention to your appearance..." Oh, and when my mother says this, she means "positive" attention. As in some guy
breaking his neck" to see me. And then I explain to her that because of how she raised me, I just don't notice because that's not really important. But that's a lie.

And I think of how my mother feels. When we go out to eat, my mother points out how waiters are always quick to respond to my requests but virtually ignore her. When I go out in public with her, she comments on the attention I get -- whether it be here or in Mexico. And now as I age, I understand what my mother is feeling. It is our love of youth. And my mother has never been one to buy-in to Miss Clairol so her white hair gives away her age. A few years ago, I took her to a salsa club in San Francisco. My mom can salsa with the best of them. I was merely her driver (My mom almost never drives into San Francisco, partially because she gets lost.) and so had no intention of dancing. Yes, I can salsa but it really isn't my thing. So there was her horror of sitting there and discovering that most of the guys didn't want to dance with her because she was "too old." Well, at least that was our take on the situation. Instead, guys would come to ask me to dance and I would suggest that they dance with my mom instead. And yes, my mother and I have had a strange relationship over the years. When I was in high school, many family friends commented that I acted more like the mother while my mother was the child.

Where was I before I was sidetracked? Oh yeah. One of the lessons I learned in college is that a woman's appearance does matter. And when people think you're pretty? Well, you can get away with a whole lot of stuff. Especially if you have brains and wit to back it up. Like you can get guys to do things for you. One of my college roommate's told me that the reason why I was so successful with my demands was that I always put them in a tone of voice that could be taken as a joke.

Once you have tasted power, it's hard to let it go. And one of the lessons that my mother taught me is that as a woman ages in our society, she is often thought to be less attractive. That's why my mother always stressed the brains thing. A girl has to have something upon which to fall back. And I'm not the botox or plastic surgery type. But I do love my Miss Clairol. And staying thin.

So today I headed up to my mom's house because it had been at least two weeks since I last checked on it. And there was the one item there that I have never owned -- a scale. I've never had much use for scales in the past. But today I was full of myself. I knew that over the last couple of weeks, I had dropped at least five pounds. Imagine my shock when I stepped on the scale to discover that I weighed what I had previously thought was my all-time high in weight. That means that I had been weighing much more previously. And I reminded myself that this was still less than what the "ideal weight calculator" I had found online this past week said I should weigh. But then I thought of my closet. And originally I had thought that I only needed to drop another five pounds or so but now I had to up it to five to ten pounds.

OK. I know that ten pounds sounds like a lot but that's where I was about five years ago. Back when my mother didn't ask me when to expect her grandchild. In my twisted control freak mind (because the logical part of me knows that this is the origin of it all), it's one extreme or the other. And it's a lot easier for me to lose weight than to gain it. Or at least that was the case in the past.

After stopping at my mother's house, I bit the bullet and went grocery shopping -- something I really haven't done in weeks. Because I know that I'm better off eating stuff that I've prepared instead of buying takeout. Well, except for that fabulous salad I had from Specialty's this past week. And then I cleaned out the lab experiments from the fridge.

Lab experiments? Well, they must leave the house immediately once they have left the fridge. And so while at the dumpster, I ran into my neighbor. Who works for a chocolate company. Thus the photo. Because he had been promising me chocolate for some time.

It's a good thing that I don't like chocolate that much. And almonds? Hate them. So that bar on top will be going into work with me tomorrow. The others as well. But maybe I'll taste a little bit first.

Bottom line. Just what a chick who is feeling a little obsessive with weight needs... (And that was said with a smile in case you were wondering.)

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