The Downsides of Being Down Sizes

Weight loss. I would venture to say that the majority of people reading this think that it’s a thing into which they’ve put thought. But there are some things NO ONE ever talks about. At least I never heard anyone talk about them: the negative aspects of major weight loss (50 lbs or more). 

- Acclamation to Perception. Most fat people have been beat over the head with a fat-free-low-sodium-high-fiber-healthy-people-are-skinny stick their whole fat lives that they should feel bad about being fat. Some of us have been lucky enough to fight the terrorism by – *shock face* – accepting our bodies as beautiful works of art or whatever. The latter group (of which I am thankful to be a part) learned how to be sexy, fashionable, talented, etc. not in spite of our fatness, but because of it. We developed an attitude of, “See me? Well, okay, you kinda can’t miss me…anyway, I’m here, I’m fat, get used to it.” (Everyone loves an overused cliche.) But you know what happens when you lose weight? You’re not as fat. You’re also not skinny (yet, for some). You’re in this in-between land of, “Well, I’m not fat-hot anymore, but I’m not skinny-hot either.” You’re pretty much tepid. And we all know how awesome tepid water is. It may be ideal for hydration, but not taste. So we’re good-for-you-hot. That sounds SO sexy…

- Missing the Fat. Yup. You got it. There are odd advantages to fatness: the belly fat that holds your napkin on your lap, the extra cushioning around your bones, lying on your side and using your stomach as a resting shelf for your top arm. Lose a bunch of weigh, those things go away. My napkins are constantly falling off my lap, certain bones feel too “there” when I’m sleeping (and I have a good mattress), almost every night I fall over because my arm’s weight can’t balance as well…it’s like tripping, but lying down. And with your arm. 

Unnecessary Compliments. I’ve kvetched about this before, but who doesn’t like excessive kvetching? People like to compliment you, to encourage you, to make you feel valued. But for me (and I’d venture to say for other tepid-weighted people) it feels like, “You used to be such a cow, but now you’re looking more socially acceptable. Good for you for being more aesthetically pleasing!” I realize that it’s not meant in that way. It’s just how it feels.

Shape Shifting. You grow a sense of what styles look best on you, what cuts of jeans are most comfortable, etc. But as you lose weight, you may be losing it evenly, or your body may do its own form of experimentation. In the past year I’ve purchased 6 pairs of jeans, all the same size, based on varying the cut. One cut will fit for a time, then one day not so much. The size doesn’t change as often as the cut of the same size (although it seems I may need to switch cuts and size down…again…). To some people this wouldn’t seem like a problem. To me…I just want 3 pairs of comfortable jeans that I can wear any day, preferably in different washes. I don’t want to keep needing new jeans before they’re worn out. It seems incredibly un-frugal, and I’m nothing if not frugal. 

- Fat Days. When I was fat (ter), I never had “fat” days. I never had a huge meal and felt momentarily fatter afterwards. I was always fat. That was it. But now my clothes fit differently depending on the day of the month or the meal I just ate. There are actually times when I change my outfit depending on where I’m going for dinner. Sushi = skinny clothes. Pizza = yoga pants. Ice cream = t-shirt, no pants, and a pillow.

There are probably more that I either haven’t thought of or just haven’t yet encountered. On the whole, it’s been great to sit in movie theatres without feeling the arms cut into my sides, to have a looser seatbelt, to feel less judged by random strangers…and by people I know, who would NEVER admit they were judging me (and that’s okay). It feels great to look forward to going to the gym, and then feeling invigorated afterwards. It feels great to eat healthier. 

But sometimes I miss being a true-blue fat person. Mostly when I’m bending over to pick up my napkin…again.

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Annihilation of Disbelief

When I was growing up, we only watched television as a family. Unless it was news, then it was just Dad watching, sometimes joined by Mom. But Friday nights were special. After the evening news at 10, Dad and I would watch reruns of the Carol Burnett Show. Then he would go to bed and I was allowed to stay up to watch my favorite show by myself. I was under the impression, until I was about 11 years old, that it was educational programming, a documentary show.

It was Star Trek reruns. I fully believed that Vulcans were real, and that somewhere up in space our fearless Captain James T. Kirk was exploring the galaxy and transmitting his findings to my television. I was always confused when I heard people talk about the amazing feat of landing on the moon, the space shuttle, etc. What was all that compared to actual space exploration?!

Obviously, I realized that it was all fiction. There was no warp drive, no dilythium crystals, no Spock. Transporters and tricorders were imaginary, and never once had humans from Earth had to evade the warring Klingon race. Reality sunk in, and all we had done was land on the stupid moon. BO-ring.

As I grew up, I became a bit jaded about space exploration the way some kids do about Christmas and Easter upon the discovery of the lie. I would hear about advances to technology and space travel and discount it all as not good enough. I pretty much gave up the idea of Federation utopia.

Then recently, science kind of exploded. Suddenly I was hearing about medical tricorders, teleportation tech, the project to send people to Mars. The 10 year old girl lying dormant in my brain started to wake up. Maybe it wasn’t as much of a lie as I thought.

But the biggest, most amazing news I’ve read recently was the theoretical, hopefully-soon-to-be-true, warp drive bubble. I watched a video explaining all the science behind the theory, and was enraptured with the thought that maybe, just maybe, Star Trek wasn’t a lie at all. Sure, Kirk, Spock, Bones, and Uhura aren’t real. But their universe, their reality, might soon become ACTUAL reality.

While watching the video, I started to tear up. Imagine if you suddenly had video footage of the Tooth Fairy putting money under your pillow and then flying out the window. It felt that amazing. I feel like a kid again, and the world holds more positive potential than negative for me.

Yes, I was a strange child. But my strangeness may have better prepared me for what’s happening with science and technology than if I had merely believed in leprechauns. I’m excited about this more than I have the capacity to actually feel, much less state in mere words.

I wonder if Narnia is real, too.

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Retrograde Development

I was 10 when they showed up. I was relatively aware of what growing up would do to my body, but I wasn’t ready. I was sure boobs were what grownups dealt with. Maybe teenagers. But not ME. My mom, sister, and aunts were average, and developed at an average rate. I assumed I would, too. I was SO wrong. 

The training bras lasted for about a week. Then I was borrowing my mom’s bras (36 B at the time) until we had time to go buy me some. By the time we got to the store, Mom’s bras weren’t working for me. I was in a C-cup, and that lasted until I was about 12 or 13. Then one day I woke up and they wouldn’t fit. I concocted a system of putting on the ill-fitting bra, and then wearing two toddler-sized tank tops that were were tight enough to keep the evil things squashed down as much as possible. I had to look horrendously uncomfortable. But I just wasn’t ready for them to BE there, and for the near-constant staring of the pubescent boys around whom I spent a lot of my time. 

So off Mom and I went to a bra fitting specialist, i.e., an old lady who made custom-fitted bras in her house and helped clients into them. Basically, I was 13 years old, standing in a stranger’s sewing room with her hands all over my breasts, moving them into the right places and then strapping them into the crazy bra-like contraption (it’s nearly impossible to describe them…suffice it to say, they had multiple parts that had to be donned in a specific order), while my mom watched from a nearby chair. The trauma of this occasion was eclipsed only by coming home and showing them to my dad (he managed a lingerie factory) so he could inspect them for quality. I hated those things, but only half as much as I hated the reason I had them. Stupid boobs.

As people do, I grew up. I finally graduated to “normal” bras (34DDD) around the time I went to college. As people also do, I put on weight sometimes, lost weight sometimes. When I put it on, the boobs grew. When I lost weight, they STAYED THE EXACT SAME SIZE. Basically, by the time I was 30, I was wearing a 44H. 

About 4 years ago, I started a serious weight-loss journey, with great success. I was pretty pleased with the way my clothes were fitting and how I was looking and with the numbers on the scale. So about a year ago, I measured myself, confident that I had surely lost some of that annoying breast fat. I had not. My measuring left me with the ideal bra size of 40 I. I. If you know bras, and how to size them, that meant that while I lost circumference size, I lost zero breast size. I broke down and cried. I was sure that they were always going to stay exactly the same, while I lost weight, leaving me looking like a freak, like the Godzilla of tits. 

But today I went to the only store that carries my size (in only two styles) to see what they had in stock. I tried my old size and it was too big. I kept going down a size and finally found a bra that fit: 40DDD. That’s down 4 cup sizes. Yay for more styles and availability!

So, obviously, I started crying in the fitting room. Why? Joy? Nope. Completely senseless devastation. Because now I feel like the things I’ve hated almost my whole life, the things that keep me from wearing button-up shirts and supportive swimming suits, were TOO SMALL. That’s right, folks. In my crazy brain, 40DDD is the closest I’ve felt to flat-chested since I was 10 years old. I have two new, pretty, comfortable bras, and they make me sad. I know that in reality 40DDD is still a lot of breast tissue to lug around strapped to my chest. But it’s unsettling and, yes, moderately devastating. 

I wonder if any therapists do counseling on breast-separation-anxiety…

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The Golden Code

When I was 5, I attended kindergarten. For two weeks. My mom missed me so much that she decided to homeschool me, so I never attended school again until college. It was pretty revolutionary at the time. In Missouri in 1983 there were no homeschooling laws in existence, so my mom and a handful of her like-minded peers worked to ensure that they could legally educate their children in their chosen form. It changed the view of home education, and countless families have benefited from the actions of those few women. 

But this post isn’t about laws or women or even education. It’s about me. While home education is definitely not the ideal choice for all students (my brothers, for instance), it was perfect for me. I spent the next 14 years with as little structured education as possible. When I took an interest in a subject, I could learn it to my heart’s content. Sure, I studied math, history, Spanish, literature, etc. in order to “keep up” with the standards. In some traditional subjects I even excelled. We annually took standardized tests, we organized different group learning classes. We had field days, field trips, etc. But the biggest benefit I took away from the entire experience was a love of learning.

To this day, I love to learn new things. Sometimes I learn something that makes my brain go *zing* and I want to learn as much as possible about it. Sometimes I learn all I can from that moment, but that’s all the interest I take in it. Regardless, I feel that I spend much of my time filling my brain with data. It can be a bit overwhelming at times, but still I like it very muchly.

The thing is, learning isn’t enough. Just flooding my brain with information isn’t enough. In a recent piano lesson, my student that day said to me, in childlike awe, “You are the smartest person I know! You know everything.” It was cute. I told her that I just try to always be learning, and when I learn something, I try to share it with the people to whom I think that information will matter. I don’t want my knowledge to be a secret, a party trick, or a way of feeling superior to anyone. I share because I think other people should know that wonderful things I’ve had the opportunity to learn, not because I want them to know how “smart” I am. Some bits of data take years for me to share, because I haven’t found the person who would appreciate it in the right way; some bits I share immediately, because I think EVERYONE should know, ASAP.

You may have heard this basic principle for life: Love G~d, love your neighbor as your self (which means to love yourself, too, although some people tend to forget that part). It doesn’t matter what god you have, or if you have any at all. Just be loving. Done. 

I have my own basic principle for life, my own golden rule, as it were: Always be learning, and share what you learn. From my perspective, learning isn’t complete until it’s shared. This is my way of being a loving person. It’s the way I live my life, practice my career, talk to people I know and those I’ve just met. I learn, I share, and in that way I love. It is my code.

That’s why I’m posting this. Because once I realized that learning and sharing and loving are all the same to me, I couldn’t keep it to myself. It’s one of those ASAP moments. And now that you have obviously read this to the very end, you can share with whomever you choose. You’ll be glad you did.

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What a Girl Wants

Like pretty much every person not currently in a romantic relationship, I’ve passed time thinking about what I would like in a mate. (Yes, mate. We’re all animals here, no matter how many pairs of shoes we own.) I’m really enjoying being a single person at this time in my life, but eventually I think it would be nice to have a special person. When I’m ready. So until then, here’s my working list of the qualities with which I feel would be mutually beneficial to both me and my mythical, “perfect” partner:

1. Male. I know that being gay is the “cool new thing”, but I’m just not. I have lots of gay and lesbian friends, and I love them to pieces. But I like dudes. Don’t judge.

2. Money. While material things aren’t important, money exists in this imperfect world in which we live. It costs money to be able to do things like enjoy food, clothe yourself, pay for your lifestyle (home, car, pets, etc.) I have my own money. Myth-man needs his own, too.

3. A good job. This isn’t about money. Even if the perfect man is independently wealthy, I want him to have a job of some sort. It’s good for character, no matter who you are. And character matters most to me.

4. Sexuality. Our lovely society propagates the idea that all men are created with a perpetually high libido. It’s not the case. I would like someone whose libido reflects my own. Obviously, no two people will be exactly alike in any area. But I need to be shown physical love, and often. I compromised this aspect of myself before, to my own detriment. I have learned that this is simply an area where I need to compromise less.

5. A dream. This could be his job, his hobby, his personal life. People who have something for which to strive are highly attractive to me. My own dreams are immensely important to me; that is a feeling I need to share with someone. If I’m the half of the relationship that works towards dreams, then I’ll eventually choose that dream over him. It’s been my life’s most consistent truth. If we each have dreams, then we won’t need to live vicariously through one another, and we won’t have to sacrifice aspirations for the relationship, or vice versa. 

7. Trustworthiness. It’s not about fidelity, although that’s important (moderately, at least). It’s about knowing he’s going to do what he says he’ll do. Trusting that he’ll answer the phone/texts/emails, that he’ll show up when he says he will, that he’ll be there to listen when I go on a rant-fest or a cry-jag. It’s about never being afraid of him or what he’ll do, no matter what.

8. Personality. A funny, introspective, conscientious, artistic (negotiable), ambivert who knows how to effectively communicate thoughts and feelings. When we fight, I want to hear the truth. I don’t want someone who blurts out things he doesn’t mean because he’s angry; I don’t want someone who never says what he really feels because he’s afraid of my reaction. I simply want honesty, which really isn’t simple at all. Relationships aren’t all sunshine and daisies; there’s a lot of fighting. But the fighting needs to lead to something, to help the relationship grow, so there can be prettier daisies later on.

9. A personal sense of style. Not fashion, because that’s fleeting and meaningless. Style, to me, means that you put effort into letting your inner self show in your clothes, shoes, hair, accessories (not many straight men accessorize, but if they want to, why not?), etc. Your body may not be the essence of you, but the way you decorate it should try to convey as much as possible.

10. Political and Religious tolerance. I am a Reform Jewish Libertarian. There’s approximately three of us in the world. My life philosophy revolves around being allowed to do, think, act, and believe what makes sense to me at that moment. My worldviews don’t have to be shared by my partner (although that always makes things easier), but I can’t spend much time with a person who doesn’t accept my point of view as valid. These are things about myself that I’m not willing to let anyone try and change about me. Obviously I’ve gone through changes in my life (except for being Libertarian; I’ve been Libertarian since I was about 10), but they have been a result of my own journey, and not imposed upon me by another person.

11. Intelligence. Formal education is cool, but not important (although I love my degree and my alma mater). Education means bupkis when it comes to intelligence. Some of the most intellectual people I know have no post-high-school formal education. But they care about using their brains. And that, above all else in this post, is of highest importance to me. A well-used mind is the hottest thing possible. 

So if you happen to run into a single, straight, tall, attractive, rich, intelligent, funny, Jewish Libertarian man with a penchant for revolutionizing the world via heavy accessorizing, send him my way, We’re perfect for one another. Because I have no flaws whatsoever.

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Wizard of Me

I have come to the realization that my life is like an inverted version of “The Wizard of Oz”, wherein I am Dorothy. I’m living in my home state, and I’m continually searching for the way to get to my metaphorical Oz. But more than that, I have three wonderful friends as companions on my journey.

I met my Lion in 1982. He cried a lot. As we grew up, we bacame the kind of best friends that only siblings can become. We had many life events which shaped us as a family, and many more have happened after we each became adults and started to lead our own lives. One thing has always been apparent to me: my Lion is one of the most courageous people I know. He has had major setbacks, more difficulties than I would have known how to deal with, were our situations reversed. But he has always persevered. He hasn’t been too afraid to do what he needed to do, he has grown and changed without fear of judgement, he has always been a strong (and highly sensitive) force in my life. And because of his courage, my Lion has made me a braver person.

2005 brought me the Tin Man. We were instant friends. Over the years, we have gone through a lot and managed to remain close friends in spite of it all. My Tin Man has the biggest heart of anyone I know. He may not always know the best way to show it (who does, anyway?), but he’s always trying. And I know that whenever I need to pour out my heart, he will always be there to listen, sympathize, and give a giant bear-hug while I cry.

Two years ago I began my friendship with my Scarecrow. I have always taken (a bit too much) pride in being the smartest person I know. Yet the brain of my Scarecrow has changed that. He is my first friend to constantly challenge the way I see the world. Rather than advice, he offers perspective, challenging questions, an alternate (though similar) perspective. He definitely has more brains than anyone else I know personally, and having him as my friend has caused my brain to grow in new and exciting ways.

I love how each of my companions has his own integral part to my story. Now I just need to pay off these friggin’ ruby slippers and I’ll be all set.

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Loss of More

Harold Ramis died yesterday. I loved him in “Ghostbusters”, as many others did. So, since many of my Facebook friends are major geeks, my newsfeed is full of tributes to his memory.

It makes me think something many others have often stated: why are we so affected by the death of celebrities? They are people with whom we have interacted. The only things we definitively know about them are their contributions to whatever artistic medium in which they were involved. At first glance, it seems silly, superficial, and strange to be so upset over the loss of a life that wasn’t part of our own.

But are we truly mourning the loss of life? I would argue that this is not the case. Many people die on a daily basis. It’s a virtue of being a living thing; some day we will cease to be living. Mourning the life of a celebrity makes no sense. Instead, I feel that we are instead mourning potential. We have been entertained, amused, occasionally enlightened by the artistic contributions of these celebrities. We enjoyed their presence in our entertainment so much that we want to see more.

I doubt anyone was actively thinking, before yesterday’s news, “When will the next Harold Ramis flick be out?” But while he was still alive, there was a possibility. We COULD have woken up to the news of another Ghostbusters sequel, and if that had happened, some people would have been overjoyed, others would have complained about yet another sequel, and the rest wouldn’t have cared. But it didn’t happen. (Thank god.) instead, the possibility of Egon’s return has been lost. The possibility of any more Ramis movies is gone.

So when the next celebrity dies (someone posted something about Leonard Nimoy’s poor health), we will all be moderately saddened. We will remember fondly the times our lives were punctuated with their performances. We will be shocked if it happens to be a young person dying in some tragedy. And we will mourn our individual, personal loss. The loss of potential. The loss of the idea of more.

And isn’t that honestly the loss we feel when anyone we know dies?

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