Monthly Archives: August 2013

on (not) eating

I have always had a robust appetite. I can out-eat almost anyone, including my 6′ 4″ husband. My Mexican step-abuela used to call me Gordita, and I once overheard my aunt and uncle’s hushed and anxious conversation about how much of their food I was eating on a weekend visit. I’ve weighed over 160 pounds since the 8th grade. I never had any willowy teenage or even childhood heyday. I’ve always been thick. And I like it all–Indian, Thai, Mexican, Italian, Korean, American, sweet, savory, spicy, salty, mushy, crunchy, moldy (just cut it off. just kidding. sort of.). Even when I was pregnant and had morning sickness, I wanted to eat all of the time. Then vomit. Then eat again.

For this reason, I’ve always struggled with my weight. I have to exercise a fuck ton to compensate for my appetite. After having children and turning 30, my already slow metabolism got even slower. Sure, I could stop drinking beer and have one breakfast instead of two. But I have never been able to. Last year, I trained for 18 weeks for a marathon, and I lost a grand total of one half of one pound. I regularly have vivid dreams about eating.

Until recently. For the last two weeks, I have found myself in the curious position of not feeling hungry, of not spending the forty minute drive home daydreaming about what I should eat next. I look at food I love, like pizza or ice cream or tacos or oatmeal cookies or Mediterranean garlic sauce, and I shrug. I have no urge to snack between meals. A vague sensation of nausea looms through my day. I don’t know where it has come from or when it will go.

This is me now:

nausea-picture

NO, I AM NOT PREGNANT; WASH YOUR MOUTH.

I’ve lost 6 pounds in this short time, and I’m thinking maybe I should make a doctor’s appointment. I keep waiting to wake up one morning dreaming of food. Instead, I think about what I can eat that won’t make me vomit and calculate how many calories I need to keep me running without passing out. I still drink beer because beer. And I can keep my food down. Whatever this is is not extreme. But nothing is as good anymore. I used to be ashamed of my appetite, but now I miss it. When I figure out what is wrong and I start feeling better, I will once again dream of maple bars and paneer saag (typing this is making me nauseous again), but next time, I will dream proudly.

Photo credit: www.home-remedies-for-you.com

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Miley, or the Misfortunes of Sexual Liberation

When my best friend introduced me to Robin Thicke’s song, Blurred Lines, I was immediately into it. It had a good beat. It had the fountain of youth, Pharrel Williams. It had T.I rapping about the kind of sex I like. And then Thicke sang to me about being the hottest bitch in this place. My feminist ovaries shriveled up and were just like “wait wait, nope, back it up. Can’t accept this shit.” I didn’t really think the lyrics were “rapey.” I still don’t, it just doesn’t give me that vibe. What is rapey is Thicke’s comments defending the song, “If I whispered that to a girl in the club [I know you want it] she’d know I was joking.” No, he’d be that creepy guy that just stands behind a girl trying to grind on her without asking. I was conflicted over this song. Eventually I got over it because I just want to dance to it. Being a feminist isn’t about not enjoying anything that’s “wrong” it’s being aware of why it’s wrong.

I won’t lie. I listen to extremely misogynistic hip hop in my car. The other day I was listening to Ying Yang Twins and Bubba Sparxx. I’m not proud of it but I had just left a fitness class called “Bootylicious Bottoms” and I just wanted to hear some ass shaking music. The Velvet Underground and Joy Division don’t give me that same feeling, obviously. At the class, our instructor, Swan, apologized for her music choices. She hoped that we wouldn’t run out of the class when the “B-word, the C-word, the F-word, the P-word and the T-word” came out. She told us she just listens to the beats and the music and she isn’t a fan of the lyrics. There isn’t much rap/hip-hop that’s feminist approved except maybe A Tribe Called Quest, Mos Def or Common but they don’t really make ass shaking music. They make the type of hip hop that make me daydream about going on a date with Mos Def where we talk about politics and disagree but still keep an engaging conversation without getting mad or annoyed. Yeah, I know I have high expectations even in my daydreams. So anyway, at this fitness studio where the class is offered, they also offer pole dancing, belly dancing, burlesque and just sexy classes. I took a pole and burlesque class last year. The pole dancing class was too much for me. I’m a fan of subtle sexuality so naturally I ended up loving the burlesque class. What was more important to me and what I appreciated the most was the confidence and the self esteem boosters I got from my instructors. Not once did I feel like I was being judged, looked down on or snickered at. The rest of the women were a myriad of femininity, old, young, skinny, fit, chunky, white, black, Asian and brown. Even at this recent class that I took, I felt silly doing some of the moves we practice. It takes a lot of sober balls to try and dance sexy next to 8-10 women in front of a mirror. But it is a damn good workout and different than the usual treadmill routine.

So, at Bootylicious Bottoms Swan had us “pop” our booty’s, “drop” our booty’s, get on all fours and pretty much simulate “doggy style” sex while jiggling our asses, all in the name of motherfucking sexual liberation (oh and fitness!.) And I was into it. We were all into it. We all had a different reason for being there but the root of our reasons lie in exploring and playing with our own individual and different sexualities.

When I sat down on the couch on Sunday night I didn’t have any interest on watching the MTV Awards because, like, who cares? I feel bad for artists who take that stuff seriously. I only intended on watching Breaking Bad and proceeded to flip the fuck out over “the confession.” But there was so much talk on the internet on Miley Cyrus and I was getting texts about it that my curiosity just took over. I managed to catch a repeat of the show and I felt expired. Apart from Lady Gaga and Rihanna, I didn’t really know or care for anyone else. I don’t care for N’SYNC because I was a Backstreet Boys girl and they did their reunion way better than N’SYNC. I just want that to be known.

Anyway, as I watched Miley Cyrus, Robin Thicke and 2 Chainz perform, I cringed. It was awkward. It was disturbing. It was slightly pedophiliac. It was just weird. My shriveled up feminist ovaries eased. I think every feminist fiber in me was just confused. We weren’t angry nor offended, just a plain out “what the fuck was that?”

As a professional thinker, I dub myself thee, naturally I had to analyze what I was watching. What I was witnessing wasn’t a girl transitioning into womanhood and exploring her sexuality. What I saw was a little kid discovering her genitals in the corner and going crazy over it. That happens to everyone, it’s ok. Most of us don’t have the inclination to announce it so publicly. Most of us weren’t sheltered Disney stars from the South. I sympathize with Miley. When I first discovered myself as a sexual being, I felt like a 13 year old boy in a 23 year old woman’s body. All I wanted to do was get the attention of just one person. To convince him that I could do all the things those other girls were doing, that I could dance and look sexy too. All I did was just make a drunken fool of myself and look like Miley. The truth is that just because you’re a woman, because you have breasts and a vagina doesn’t mean that is where your sexuality comes from. One’s sexuality or sensuality isn’t dictated by “twerking” or grinding up on 30 year olds. For Miley and for millions of girls and women who look to pop culture for a definition of womanhood and sexuality, tits and ass is where it’s at.

Sexuality is something that happens gradually. Miley’s performance was a hyper sexual display of what she thought was a grown woman defining and owning her sexuality. When we’re shown the myriad of sexuality in popular culture, women are always defined by their bodies. Even a self aware artist like Lady Gaga still uses sex to sell her music and performances. I guess the difference is the thought that goes into Lady Gaga productions because let’s face it, she’s pretty artsy for the mainstream. What Miley wanted us to know on Sunday is here is her body, here is her sex, she’s going to all these extremes just to let us know that she has grown up, we should want her because we want other sexual beings like Rihanna or Beyonce.

Unfortunately, Miley and millions of other girls have that same idea. Even as “nerd” culture becomes the mainstream, women are still expected to retain the sexuality of their physical bodies. Rarely are there messages that one’s intellect, independence or personality is alluring. Those things take effort. Being half naked is instant gratification and twerking is fun.

We don’t always get it right the first time around. People like Rihanna or Lady Gaga eased and played into their sexual roles with minimal effort. For whatever reason, we bought it from them because it came natural to them. Miley was forcing this hyper sexuality that she still hasn’t figured out herself. Nobody looks alluring with their tongue sticking out that many times. Latex isn’t always flattering. Wasted prancing teddy bears and teddy bear onesies borderline on pedophilia. Adopting certain aspects of a culture and exploiting it may be slightly ignorant. We failed Miley like we have failed at society. Miley simply projected back the definitions and expectations that as a society we have come to accept. And she’s the one getting shit for it.

As a feminist, I wasn’t offended. As a person of color, I wasn’t offended. As a woman, I was disappointed. I get accused of not enjoying things because I think too much, I read too much, I feminist too much but if we aren’t aware or discussing little things like things like this, mentalities will never change. It’s not the same as discussing the shit storm that’s going on with Syria. We could and we should always talk about those issues but most people aren’t willing; it’s boring, sensitive or just complicated. Talking about Miley, rape culture, misogyny at least touches nerves immediately. Not that it’s easier to talk about but collectively we might have more common than talking about Syrian politics.

But let’s calm the fuck down because Miley was just getting liberated, y’all. This was her Like a Virgin moment. Once her booty came into contact with Robin Thicke’s 36 year old crotch, he liberated her from a future of domesticity and unleashed her inner sexual animal, her nature. She asked for this. She wanted this. She’s just being Miley.

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Writers Are The Worst Kind Of Exhibitionists, They Keep Their Clothes On

I am reluctant to call myself a writer. I forget how to spell words all the time. I’ve lost my natural flow with words. I find it hard to articulate myself like how I used to. I completely suck at grammar and I’m always self conscious about it on facebook because I have two English professors on my friends list. I am completely grateful for this blog and to Angela for inviting me to be a part of it. If it weren’t for this blog, I’d be on tumblr blogging into the void. Yet this blog in particular is probably why I can’t call myself a writer. All the people who contribute on here are grown up, they have careers, they have babies, they have degrees, they are legit writers but most importantly they just seem to have their shit together. I’m here dreading turning 27 because I’m a fragile genius and 27 is a dangerous age according to Rock N Roll folklore. But I’m no rock and roller(or a genius or fragile.) Far from it. I had my party days, my wild days. Sometimes I’ll go out to LA hipster clubs and grind up against a dude and wake up the next day feeling like I probably looked like that out of place old person at the club trying to rekindle her lost youth, or I’ll feel like the female Michael Cera trying to prove I’m an adult (well if you count the numbers not the merits) with my awkward sexuality.

Faulkner taught me to fuck the credentials. Hemingway taught me to keep it simple, stupid. Miller taught me to keep it sexy. Kafka taught me to stay up all night. Mrs. Parker taught me to keep my head up despite the heartbreaks. And Lil’ Jon taught me to shake my ass and drop it to the floor. All in all, they all taught me one very important lesson, keep it honest. If you can’t strip or bleed on paper, if you’re not willing to face the darkest crevices of your memories, if you can’t face your desires and if you can’t be honest with yourself then you can’t be a writer. I can be a writer.

Right now my stomach is grumbling. I’m trying to ignore it. I’ve been trying to ignore it since forever. I remember my first communion and confessing my sins. On the top of the list, it was a very short list I was 9 or 10, was demanding to eat chicken nuggets. Most of my list involved food because my aunt had told me that overeating was a sin. So I thought, fuck that’s my whole life. I probably didn’t say or think fuck. Even though I was not the chubbiest kid in my family, my cousin was a good 180 pounds at age 9, I was made to feel like I was. That same cousin, clinically obese, would tell me I was fat. I was teased at school for being ugly, short and fat. The way I coped with the pain was to eat more because as cliche as it sounds, food doesn’t hurt you back. Not emotionally at least. Food is comfort. Food is delicious. Food is great. Bad food is the best. I wish I had drowned my sorrows in bags of carrots instead of bags of chips. I suppose my parents were enablers but I can’t blame them. Though, my parents are super thin people. My sister grew up eating worse than I did and she’s a size 4. I’m the Frankenstein of my little family. I feel like my parents just piled on the genes and said fuck it. That was my probably my dad. We have a tendency to start things and just kind of half ass it or give up half way.

My relationship with food is a complicated one. Now in my mid twenties, I am more aware of what I put in my body. I’ve learned to eat vegetables and love them. I love vegan food, vegetarian dishes and I appreciate the simplicity of cooking my own healthy food. I’ll have those vegetarian/healthy kicks. I’ll go to the gym. I’ll ride my bike. I’ll even lose 5-8 pounds and I’m happy because I think it’s easy. I’ll think about how I don’t think about food. I’ll think this is how it feels to be normal. This lasts about 2-3 weeks and then out of nowhere I’ll just feel like pigging the fuck out. I’ll crave KFC even though it gave me food poising. I’ll think about chicken nuggets at midnight. I’ll contemplate going to In&Out and making it animal style, baby. I can recall two awful binges and they stick out like the experiences of an addict. First there is an overwhelming feeling of restlessness. I can’t fall asleep. I can’t read. I can’t watch tv. I can’t do all the things they tell you to do to help you stop cravings. I’ve always been an impulsive person. I want that Barbie and I want it now. I want that dress and I want it now. I want to have sex and I better have it now. I want food and I’m going have it now, whatever time “now” is even if it’s two in the morning. Then the descent begins. I’ve made up my mind and I’m going to buy bad food. I get in my car feeling like a crack fiend. I pull up to the drive thru and I feel an overwhelming sense of shame. I always hope that the cashier isn’t some cute guy because he’ll probably think “typical fat girl getting food at 2am.” Walking from my car to the front door feels like the walk of shame with my fast food bag in my hand and my coke in the other. What must my neighbors think? If they’re up at 2am then they’re losers just thinking about what I am doing with my life. So then it begins. I scarf down the food like I’ve been starving in a third world country. In the moment, while I’m mindlessly chewing my food and its sending electrical waves to my brain and raising dopamine or whatever levels, it’s satisfying. I’m having a fucking Perks of Being a Wallflower moment, “And in that moment, eating a chicken nugget, I knew I was happy.” And then it’s over. And it feels exactly like a cocaine comedown. I just want to die. I’m worthless. Nobody will ever love me. I’m stupid. I’m ugly. I’m fat. FAT.

FAT.  It sounds silly. Even writing it down feels and looks silly. I know, I should get over it. There are worse things to be addicted or sad about. Everyone has their #fatgirlproblems right? I wish I could slap everyone who uses that by the way. I could probably get deeper into the reasons why I overeat or binge. Just like most addictions it’s about trying to replace a void. It’s about trying to find a place where you find sheer enjoyment while everything around is chaotic. You fool yourself into thinking it’s a balance. If I do X then everything is ok but most of the times it’s not ok, it’s worse.

This is a topic I’ve wanted to write about for a while. I don’t think I did it justice and I don’t think I conveyed the seriousness that I wanted to. If you knew me you know I try to see the humor in everything. I once wanted to be a serious and tortured writer, fragile genius at 27. Any creative type entering their 20’s has that wish or goal. I’ve grown a lot. My interests and personality have evolved, as they should. It took me a very long time to find a concrete voice. I’m still learning how to become a writer, a “real” writer. I always have those moments of anxiety where I think maybe what I am writing is not creative nor interesting, it’s just simply too much fucking info. Everyone shares their feelings and their struggles. We live in an age of hyper-information and full disclosure. We put our breasts and penises out there for the world, willingly. Well I don’t but I have sent butt pictures to my friends because it’s funny and the angle and lighting of the picture made my butt look really good. But we need writers. We need real writers. We need poets. We need lyricists. We need writers to convey all the embarrassing, happy, seductive, heartbreaking moments of the human condition in 140 characters or more. We need them more than ever. And this is what I mean about not calling myself a writer because I probably jumped off topic and I’m all over the place and there’s no harmony between my words but that’s ok because I’m a budding 26 year old fragile genius who sees the devil as a piece of breaded chemically engineered chicken nugget.

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Forgiving Myself

Image I almost killed my daughter after she was born.  She wasn’t a colicky baby; she slept most of the night.  She ate so well, I swelled with parental pride.  She had big blue eyes with flecks of gold and her face lit up every time I walked in the room.  Never in my life had someone loved me so unconditionally—without words.  Walk out of the room—tears, screams, agony.  Walk into the room—a smile pinched upward, blue eyes rimmed with red.  It was difficult to be so loved.

It was a scary time in my life.  I was only twenty-two.  The pregnancy and delivery had been enough to kill me.  My husband was drinking more than ever.  I wasn’t the kind of person who particularly liked staying home.  Even in high school, I spent many summers in summer school because I had simply wanted to.  Staying at home with a new baby, having just quit a job I had had for five years, having a marriage that seemed to be reeling away from me, was solitude I wasn’t prepared for.

*

It had been a summer day—maybe like a day like this one.  Not too hot but sunny, stifling heat in the car with the windows rolled up.  Bella would have been a few months old.  And because I no longer worked, I now felt resigned to clean all day: feed baby, scrub grout lines, feed baby, wash the coffee pot, feed baby and serve my husband something hot with two sides and buttered bread and a cracked-open beer when he got home.  (This is not to say that he expected this of me.  This was what I felt was my role since I was not working.  To be perfectly honest, we were both under a lot of stress.  He felt the enormous pressure of supporting three people on one income.  I felt depressed having given up my life—my dreams of a PhD, of writing books and traveling Europe, of having white carpet—yes, I know how vapid that sounds—to raise a baby I never wanted.  But we didn’t talk about this. )  I wanted out.

I strapped her into the car seat, tucked her chubby little arms under each shoulder strap, clicked the button at the bottom.  The car seat dropped into the latched base with a snap.  I shut the door.

Had the garage been empty, I might have pulled in, left the car running, watched the windows slide down.  But it wasn’t, so I stood in the glare of the sun, let my head go heavy. Having moved from Bella’s view, she started to scream.  I could have walked away.  I could have gone into the house.  Dan had just bought a gun (having a baby was a very intense experience for us–we were young and unprepared), but it was a shotgun.  I didn’t want to kill Bella, that I knew, but I wanted out.  I didn’t want to be the me I had become with her.  Call it selfish or immaturity—I wanted nothing to do with it.  It was my life I wanted to end–not hers.

So I got in the car and I drove.  I had no agenda; I might have listened to music, in fact, I probably did.  I drove aimless around the desert for a while, meandering down long stretches of highway, going just slightly above the speed limit, pumping the brakes softly when necessary so as not to wake Bella, who had dozed off in the lull of forward motion. As I crested Mt. Top off Highway 138, it occurred to me that I could drive us straight into the other lane of traffic.  Just swerve ever so slightly into any number of tractor-trailers lumbering up the steep hill and just like that it’d be over.  I pressed my foot down.

The riveted bumps that divided the two sides of traffic hummed with our intrusion.  A warning put there years before to help weary drivers stay alert on the dangerous mountain roads.  But Bella didn’t stir.  I watched a big white tractor-trailer plod around the bend at the bottom of the hill.  He tooted the horn giving me fair warning, but again, I pressed my foot down.

I didn’t fantasize about my death—what my family or friends would or wouldn’t say—I didn’t dream up all the compliments that would be given in my absence—how my parents would be devastated—Dan, a crushed shell of a man.  Had I considered all that, I wouldn’t have done it.  I loved my family.  I loved my friends.  I loved Dan.  I loved my daughter.  Who I didn’t love was me.

I was barreling toward the truck, hurtling right towards it.  The truck now honking violently, its lights a panicky Morse code.  I couldn’t look anywhere but the grill—that front silver piece, the slats like tiny windows.  I knew I’d chicken out if I looked away.

But then, without cause, Bella cried, wailed.  A shrill so piercing, I couldn’t help but to feel that hook of mothering—the one that makes your breasts hurt, the one that stirs your battered body hurtling through the dark to shush tears, the one that makes you steer your car back into your lane of traffic.

I remember the driver’s face, his wide eyes, locked on me in horror—his mouth a perfect Oh shit.  I remember the smell of Bella’s hair when I pulled her out of the car seat, her back damp and warm.  I remember telling Dan that I needed help while we tucked clean sheets around the corners of our mattress days later.  I remember the look on his face—his forehead without a wrinkle, without a judgment, his green eyes gone gray—how a broken heart looks behind eyes you have loved for years–how scared he looked, the sheets loose in corners, taut in others.

*

I had severe post-partum depression.  They gave me meds; they made me talk.  I learned to say what I had to so that the doctor could feel like I was progressing.  I buried my guilt in the deepest part of my soul.  I have tried to tell myself that since that moment I have been a perfect mother–or rather a better mother.  I have made it all up to my two beautiful children by tickling them every night to tears, by kissing them so often they ask me to stop (especially now that they’re older). But sometimes, on a day like today, when there’s not a cloud in the sky, not a task on our agenda, I might raise my voice too loudly, might sigh too heavily at their bickering voices—their arguments over books, remotes, who was using the bathroom first—and I feel the smallest little lump of guilt start to form—for all the dark, dark times; for all the things I said too harshly at them or too hastily; for all the times I didn’t or did (INSERT MISTAKE HERE).  And then I swallow.

 

Bella & Mommy Mother Daughter 2009

 

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