I REFUSE TO EMBRACE MY FATNESS

Photo by isfullofcrap

Okay, in all fairness, I’m not fat, as in “The Biggest Loser” fat. But I’m fatter than I care to be. I hate to exercise. I have always hated to exercise. I grew up in Brooklyn, NY. There were no grassy fields to play soccer or baseball. The closest park was paved entirely in cement, and had monkey bars without any protective padding underneath in case you fell. No child frolicked through this park; teenagers went there to smoke pot and spit.

I can’t tell you how many notes I forged from my mother to get out of gym class. In my senior year of high school, at our graduation luncheon, every classmate was presented with a certificate of where they’d be in ten years.  Mine said I’d be promoting my book called 1 in 365—How to stay in shape while only exercising one day a year.

My way of staying thin throughout my twenties was to just not eat. I wasn’t anorexic by any means, because I was hypoglycemic and would pass out if I didn’t consume protein. I just didn’t eat that much. Food never really excited me. Eating is one big time-consuming drag, as is the preparation and clean-up of it, so if I could just pop a pill to get all my nutrition instead, that would suit me fine.

I’m not a stress eater, either. Stress drives me to drink coffee, drink alcohol, or yell. If I’m really emotionally unhinged, I’ll actually lose my appetite. This has served me well regarding weight management. Don’t get me wrong—I was NEVER bone thin. I was born with fleshy hips, thighs, and an ass, all made larger over the years by the fake estrogen in the Pill.

My best friend from high school, who was obsessed with her weight and super-skinny, would always lament over how fat she was because she couldn’t get down to a size two. I wasn’t even a size two when I was two. Her, and women like her, I want to smack. Seriously. Because if they’re unable to squeeze any flab, and yet are still complaining about how fat they are, what does that make me? Clinically obese?

Speaking of…that’s what my dear dad called me when I got up to an unfathomable 160 pounds five years ago. He had the gall to pull out his medical encyclopedia and tell me my BMI was so over the limit, that I was…yes, OBESE. Boy, with a father like that, who needs an abusive spouse? I’ll mention the fact that I put on weight after my son’s father left me suddenly after my son turned one. Enter Prozac, then Zoloft, then Effexor to keep me from driving off a cliff into the ocean, and you have a prescription for fatness.

I’m not sure why antidepressants make people gain weight. Is it because they’re not depressed anymore, so they regain their appetite? Is it a cruel joke played by the pharmaceutical companies that make them? (Ha! You cannot be both happy AND thin!) Are they so zonked out, they don’t care how fat they’re getting? (Whoa, I’m becoming as large as a whale. Eh, it’s all good.) Retention of water, in the amount of Lake Michigan?

What I do know is the older I get, the more my not eating solution from my younger days doesn’t work. In my twenties and thirties, I used to be able to watch what I ate for a few days and feel somewhat svelte again, but when I hit age 41, I finally bit the bullet and realized I needed to exercise. It was tortuous, but I penciled it in like a doctor’s appointment every other day. I lost the weight, tightened up the flab, and was able to go swimming without wearing a muumuu.

I kept this up for two years until this winter reared its ugly head, and I became depressed, tired, and unmotivated. “I’ll work out the next day” or “the next day,” and pretty soon almost twenty pounds came sprinting back, suctioning themselves to various parts of my body. I stared at myself in the mirror the other day and felt like crying. “Dammit, now I have to start all over again!” I whined.

My mother and I would have wicked arguments while I was growing up when she would try and tell me that the first step toward weight loss was Acceptance: Looking in the mirror and loving what you see, regardless of what you feel you need to change. And I’d look at her like she had two heads, squeeze a big chunk of inner thigh blubber and scream, “How can I love myself when I look like a fat cow?!”

Plus-size models may embrace their heftiness, because well, they’re getting paid to. But when I sit down and two rolls of stomach fat accompany me, I feel like moving to Hawaii so I never have to wear another waistband again.

I can’t afford to move to Hawaii, and I can’t afford a new wardrobe. I’ve tried eliminating food, except for the 3000 calories of heavy whipping cream I use daily in my coffee. I refuse to embrace my unwelcome fatness (unless it’s in my breasts, which, of course it never is). So that leaves me with only one thing left to do…

Sigh. Does typing count as exercise?

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THE ALMOST EMAIL

Patience is NOT one of my virtues, which is unfortunate for me, since every writer NEEDS, I repeat, NEEDS to have it. There is so much waiting involved in the business of publishing – waiting to hear back regarding a query, a partial, a full, rewrites and revisions. Waiting for a pub date, an advance, royalties, and the list goes on and on.

I submitted my romantic comedy, THE ACCIDENTAL COUGAR, to an epublisher some months back. My manuscript changed hands four different times, in the hope of finding a fit for it within their press. “Not erotic enough,” so off to the contemporary line it went. “Heroine too old” (She’s 41!), so off to the Last Chance at Love line (Last chance? At 41? Oy!). “Heroine too young,” so back to the contemporary line, only to wind up in the hands of a paranormal editor. What did they want to do — turn my hero into a ghost? I didn’t know, but I was starting to feel like a cheap hooker being passed around at a bachelor party.

The paranormal editor gave me a date for when she’d get back to me with a response. Bad idea, because I treated that date like the Absolute Truth. Nothing else existed for me, except the 24 hours of said date. House on fire? Trip to the ER? No big deal, as long as I had access to a computer to check email…

The date came and went. No news is good news, I told myself. A week passed. I bit off all my nails. Week two arrived. I started snapping at my son for no good reason.

I HATE WAITING! I’d yell to the dog. She’d look at me like I was nuts and then lick herself. I got on my favorite writer’s forum and asked them: Should I ask for an update? (otherwise known as a status query)

The response was unanimous. “No good ever comes of it. Don’t. Do. It.”

All these thoughts rushed through my head: What if the editor’s email got lost in cyberspace? What if Yahoo is having problems? Maybe she meant she’d get back to me in 2012, not 2011.

Still, no one wants to pressure an editor into a premature rejection, so I sat on my hands and waited. For two days. And then I just couldn’t take it anymore. I had to know. I had to query. I had no sponsor to call who could tell me, “Step away from the keyboard. The urge will pass.”

I sent a short polite inquiry, asking where I was in the evaluation process. And then I waited. My mood turned foul. I expected rejection, of course. Who wouldn’t after being rejected as many times as I had? Why would this time be any different? I’m 43 years old. Success had eluded me thus far. Maybe I would never amount to anything. I’d die penniless, husbandless, and 401Kless.

My self-pity rant continued with a vengeance, because once I board the express train to Worthless Loserville, there’s no getting off until I reach my destination.

What a big fat waste of time all this writing crap had been. Time that could have been spent with my son, playing Monopoly and Go Fish. Time I could have used to learn Spanish, or bake cookies, or meditate.

No wonder my father didn’t love me. Who could love a loser like me? No wonder my relationships never work out. How could they? I have a huge “L” branded on my chest, and my name’s not Laverne.

Things that had no rhyme or reason began to enter into the equation at this point.

No wonder my cat throws up every time I feed her. And why I don’t get reception on the TV even though I have one of those converter boxes, which should be called crapola boxes, because they don’t work!  No wonder I was overcharged at the grocery store the other day. Because I am a LOSER.

I checked my email for the 500th time that day. Finally, there was the email that held my fate.

I took a few deep breaths. The longer I waited to open that email, the longer I was able to hold onto the elusive emotion of HOPE. Hope is like a beautiful soaring butterfly that can quickly transform itself into an ugly cockroach, smushed by a steel-toed boot at a moment’s notice.

“I have submitted a request for contract from the senior editor of the contemporary line.” Did my eyes deceive me? Were these words of acceptance? Well, almost…I suppose if I had waited longer to query I might have received an email offering an actual contract. It would have been the equivalent of “THE CALL.” But that’s what happens when you’re impatient. No matter. I’ll take this.

The heavens opened up. Colors became brighter. I had a spring in my step, and a smile on my face. It was like the feeling of being in love – only better, because there was no man involved. It was a sense of validation; all my hard work coming to fruition. One person other than my mother liking and appreciating my novel. See Dad, I’m not a loser. I can actually string sentences together to create a story that someone “enjoyed immensely.”

There is the slight chance a contract might not come through for me. The pessimist in me says, “Ain’t nothin’ final till you sign on the dotted line.” But for right now I’m walking on sunshine and feeling worthy.