Thursday, July 31, 2008

This is What Passes for Flirtatious Banter in My Life

On my noontime stroll I detoured by the food cart row on SW 5th. As I reached the end of the line, I heard the sound of small change against pavement. I looked over my shoulder.

“This yours?” A 40-ish mulleted man with hoop earrings and Popeye biceps held up a shiny quarter.

I hit pause on the iPod. “I don’t think so.” I patted down the outside pocket of my messenger bag. A broken zipper had necessitated an evacuation of all quarters days ago.

“I think it is.” He held it up between us like it was a rare coin to be inspected and admired.

“Okay then.” I deposited it in my pocket. “Thanks.”

“So what are you up to today?” He asked like we were old buddies old pals.

“I’m going to get lunch,” I said.

In the moment between the l-sound and –unch, his face lit up.

“I thought you were saying ‘I’m going to get—“ he mouthed “laid.”

Such a gentleman to protect my virgin ears from crude sexual slang.

“-Unch. I’m going to get lunch.” I said , over enunciating the -unch part, as he beamed a lascivious smile.

And so I did. A mediocre bahn-mi sandwich from the same cart where I purchased a bento that had a few pieces of raw chicken mixed in with the rice. Strike three and you’re out, Asian Station.

I wondered if Quarterman staked out a spot in front of the burrito cart during the lunch hour, tossing good quarter after bad in search of that one special lady who would fall under the spell of his wit, who was going to get l-aid. Good luck to you, sir.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Pardon M-oi

A short and incomplete list of stuff I’ve written for Crudbucket in the past few months but not posted:

• A way too long retelling of the first and only time I ever broke up with a boy. Bonus: Also includes story of the first time a boy broke up with me. Fascinating!
• A meandering short story about a philandering administrative assistant whose husband is accused of sexually abusing one of his students. This was inspired by a conversation I had with an Office Depot customer service representative who used my name way too much for a one-minute phone call.
• Exhaustive and exhausting account of my ongoing struggles in post-miscarriage/pre-should-we-try-again world.
• Tales of my days as a band lady (the drum and guitar kind, not the tuba and flute kind) and how I yearned to parlay my rock powers into bedding cute boys. Is there a groupie in the house? Ain’t I a bass player?
• A thingy about how I miss hating on the people who used to tape off spots for the Rose Festival parade.
• A theory about how Hummers and uber-masculine stuff is really gay.

As you see, I’ve been trying. And maybe one day soon, one or more of these exciting and enlightening pieces of crud will make their way to your screen. (Don’t hold your breath for that short story though. I have no idea where that came from.) But for the time being, I am letting them marinate in my own secret blend of herbs and spices. I don’t like to use this venue or any venue other than my journal to bitch about how I’m going through a tough writing period, but I gotta be honest with you, my awesome, generous, and forgiving readers: I’m having a tough writing period. Not a block per se. I can always scribble something on a page and later read it drunk and think “Brilliant!” but just a quality road bump of sorts.

Or, dare I say, was having a tough time of the writing?

Actually this last week I have witnessed the emergence of something shimmering and wonderful—an idea for a novel that I actually think I can finish. And I started writing it! And so far so good!! (And oh shit, I’ve probably just jinxed myself.) It’s easy starting a novel. Since finishing my first masterwork, I’ve started three. I’m convinced that I will return to each of them at some point in this life o’ mine, but for now I twirl around with this new idea, write when I have a chance, let ideas bounce around my head when I take my lunchtime walk, and block out the knowledge of the discouraging days ahead. Whenever I have an idea I secretly wish that I’ll sketch out an outline and some other force will write it for me while I sleep. Others have this notion too. Like the guy I work with who loves to tell me about all the “novels he has in him. I just need to write them down.” Well, that would be the trick, wouldn’t it.

So if I’m erratic (or erotic), please forgive me. I feel the tug of my blog and I will not leave it or you in the lurch. I am committed to putting out Crudbucket 8: The ??? Issue in the fall and already have a few nuggets o’ crud set to go. If any of the above ideas sound like something worth 5-10 minutes of your life, drop me a line or a comment. As always, thanks for taking a moment to share the crud.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hambone Days

“Will you still love me if I’m Hambone?” I ask Mr. Crud for the second time today.

“Yes, but you’re not going to be Hambone,” he says.

“You never know,” I say, shaking my head.

“Hambone” is our shorthand for morbidly obese. The OG Hambone was a sweet man so overweight that he could not leave his house. Richard Simmons tried to help him twice. He was on Oprah. Sadly, he died due to complications from his weight. RIP Hambone.

While I don’t believe that I’m going to gain weight of Hambone proportions in my rational mind, the body dysmorphic side of me forever taunts. Last week I injured my back (yet a-fucking-gain) attempting a yoga move that may have been slightly out of reach. I vividly remember thinking to myself Don’t be afraid. Be careful. Just try it. You’ll be fine. Since my first few back-caused time-outs from yoga, I err on the side of caution. When asked to move out of my comfort zone, I, despite the breathing and trusting my teachers, spiral into fear, into belief that I am about to injure myself so grandly that I’ll never do yoga or any other form of exercise again and will gain weight of Hambone proportions. Thus I will become somebody other than myself, I will not be liked nor loved, and every fear about my useless self will come roaring front and center.

Welcome to the Wonderful World of the Modern Woman’s Body Image. Maybe not all modern women, but certainly many of the women I know including some of the most fuck-you feminist ladies on the planet. The Beauty Myth rocked my world and gave words to the vague misery and fear that punctuated my young adult relationship with my body. It confirmed my suspicions that all this self-loathing was lining corporate pockets. In response, I wrote poems about strong, self-loving fat women. (Sadly, these poems are terrible.) I wrote stories. (Ditto.) I wrote an angry spoken word “piece” about my myriad of issues with my temple that I read at a yearly performance happening put on by my feminist buddies. I felt so fearless and hot that I thought it would get me laid for sure. (No dice.) I wiped my hands together. Well, that should take care of that. Not so fast.

In college I gained 80 pounds from my high school weight, or rather the weight I copped to on my drivers license, which was already a generous assessment. I did everything in my power to convince myself that I was beautiful, loveable, and worthy no matter what the scale said. Some days I believed it. But most of the time I caught my breath at the person whose image I caught in shop window reflections. Not the most delicate flower to begin with, I grew even clumsier as my brain hadn’t quite adjusted to my wider girth. I felt like a tank. I grew angry at all the fat-phobic fuckers that I found everywhere. Whenever a guy didn’t like me or want to make out with me, I blamed my weight. The fat-phobic lurked everywhere even in the progressive, punk circles where I moved. Could it be that the fellows and ladies weren’t so turned off about my body as my suspicious, angry attitude? Nah, of course not. It’s all about flesh, baby. Personality shmersonality.

In a fit of self-improvement and wanting to be able to climb a flight of stairs without degenerating into a heaving red-faced jelly of a woman, I turned to Jane Fonda. Her Fabulous Fat Burners set me back on the road to fitness. Over the years my fitness fix has taken many forms: from fat burners to fighting the insanity (I still have a soft spot for Susan Powter) to the weirdly Christian Tae Bo to cardio kickboxing to Pilates to yoga. Through all the phases, one thing remains the same: I gotta move. My weight goes up and down. Sometimes I can fit into the skinny jeans, some days it’s back to the more forgiving 501’s but as long as I have my morning yoga*, I trust that I’m staying within the range of what’s good for me. Not to mention all the spiritual, emotional, etcetera etcetera benefits that come with yoga. (Have I mentioned that you REALLY should give yoga a shot?)

But when I get injured, I get scared. First that I will immediately regain the 80 plus pounds that I’ve lost. Then, after I am again unable to climb stairs or ride my bike or smile without feeling the claustrophobic spread of my 5 new chins, I will lose my shit because my source of calm, my sweet prana conduit will have dried up over the week that I cannot do yoga. In short, I will be fat and sad.

The fear has complicated the most simple of interactions:

“Hey Kt, you look great,” says long time friend who I haven’t seen in awhile.

“Thanks, so do you.” I say while thinking: Does he mean I didn’t look great last time? Have I lost weight? Gained weight? Is he just being nice? Will he say that I look great the next time we see each other after I have become Hambone? Why does it matter what I look like? Oh G-d, I knew it, all guys care about is looks. Even if I’m funny, smart, cool, it’s not enough. Always gotta look great or else. Shitfuckshitfuckshit. Wait, that’s dumb. He’s a cool guy. We’re old friends. That’s what friends say to old friends. I’m married for fucks sake. Oh man, but I wanna look great. I want all people to think I am the most ravishing beauty they’ve ever seen. But they shouldn’t stare. No, that would freak me out.

“So what’s been going on with you,” he asks.

“Well, I hurt my back.”

I hope I haven’t raised the dander of any loud and proud fat ladies in the crud-loving audience. If I could kick my fear of fat’s ass, I would totally challenge it to a cage match. I have my own love-hate (mostly hate) relationship with my fat fear. Where does the love come in? Part of me is glad that I have this fear to motivate me to not fall into the abyss of uncontrollable weight gain. Though if I was okay with myself at whatever poundly state I find myself in then….ugh, I am giving myself a headache. The hate is obvious. I would feel much freer and happier if I could simply appreciate this old house for its health, for being a worthy vehicle of that namaste part of me, you know, the infinite soul part. (Is it possible to have a fat soul? Don’t answer that.)

I blame society. And my mom (“You’d be so pretty if only you lost ___ pounds.”). And my skinny (and later anorexic) childhood neighbor Donna who cajoled me into giving a strip show for the neighborhood kids and then made fun of my jiggles. And all the boys who wouldn’t date me because I was “big.” To their credit, or to the credit of their discrete friends, they never said fat, just big. Big? I imagined my crush boys as tiny Jacks trying to climb a beanstalk to kiss me. Mostly I blame society, the beauty industry, and—what the heck—capitalism for fucking up all people, large and small about their own bodies.

My first post-feminist way of dealing with this fear was denial. No, no, really, I’m fine. I don’t want any ice cream because I don’t like ice cream. Now I’m giving honesty a shot along with all the other Buddhist yoga techniques that I can muster. I will meditate on it, have compassion for myself and (grit teeth) the forces of society that instilled this fear and hatred of fat, and spill a cajillion innocent words over the state of my body and how I feel about it.

Not to mention ask Mr. Crud to the point of eye rolling if he’ll still love the Hambone me.

*Last night Mr. Crud told me about the new yoga class he’s taking. I grilled him about what poses they did, hanging on every word like he was sharing an exciting new adventure. “Oh yeah, warrior, and then what?” You’ve heard of the Food Channel as food porn. Do you know where I can get some yoga porn?

**Hold the phones. I didn’t mean it like THAT. Ew. My mental retinas are permanently seared.