Friday, August 15, 2014

More Writing About the Stuff I Always Write About

I pick up again on scanning the many boxes of family photos I haven't looked at in years. The project begins about a month ago but the fat pictures of myself freak me out and I take a breather. This batch, unfortunately, seems to be even fatter. I know that the person in the photos is me but for the sake of sanity I've had to disown her. I can barely conjure now what it was like to move about and navigate the world in that body. That said, I was always active and certainly present and capable for the kids. Additionally, while I was probably a time bomb, at the time of my bariatric surgery my blood pressure was normal and I showed no sign of the “co-morbidities” often associated with obesity. Still, the photos are beyond disturbing. Because my friends and kids and family are in so many of them I refrain from destroying them, but as there are ample others of loved ones without me, I might change my mind about that.

Laura Bogart has written a number of excellent essays about the experience of being fat. A recent piece on Salon chronicles the plight of the fat woman in romantic relationships. I was in a thinner phase, after months on The Rice Diet (just rice and salad with mineral oil dressing...really), when I met Himself so it was definitely a case of bait and switch. The advantage of seeing someone every day is that he doesn't notice the weight creeping up. Or, notice the pounds melting away either. So my long marriage has exempted my body from both criticism and praise. My personality and intellect, not so much.

While I believe that Bogart is at peace with who she is and her decision not to diet or weigh herself is a liberating one, she does eloquently express the difficulty of finding a partner who loves about her what she loves in herself. She recounts one relationship with a man who was embarrassed to express affection for her in public. There is also an issue of fetishists, who in their way are just as shallow as men who seek bimbo trophy wives.

For me, at the minute, it seems like I've gone through so much that it's worth, what on some days feels herculean, the vigilance required to stay at a relatively normal weight. There is a woman at Weight Watchers who is not much overweight. She constantly mentions “stomach stapling” as an “easy way out.” She is a nice woman so I don't slap her. I know a number of people who've undergone bariatric surgery (there are no staples involved btw) and after a year or so of dramatic weight loss begin to regain and finally exceed their pre-surgery weight. Friends assure me that this can never happen to me. They are wrong. At present, I am above my comfort zone and even that is about twenty pounds more than the Weight Watchers chart says I'm supposed to weigh. A lifetime of yo-yo dieting has messed up my brain chemistry, and despite bariatric surgery I have very little sense of when I am truly hungry or full. I have to vigilantly keep track of every morsel I consume and wake up at 4:30 every weekday morning for a walk.

I totally get why Laura Bogart has opted out. I believe that with decent habits one can be morbidly obese and still remain relatively healthy. My own bariatric surgery was followed by four additional surgeries which resulted in a serious problem with pain meds. I look at the horrible old pictures and am assured that it was worth it but, perhaps if I nurtured the same self acceptance as Laura Bogart has, I would have been spared some ugly suffering.

I am able now to make it from Casamurphy, in Baja Mount Washington, up over Kite Hill and past the Self Realization Fellowship to the top of the mountain. Aside from shopping for normal clothing sizes, being able to self propel is perhaps the biggest perquisite of weight loss. This is the first week of school and I pass the Mount Washington School. Nervous parents. New backpacks and fresh haircuts. Never again will I shop for school supplies at the Target or fret that my kid gets the “good” teacher. No more carpools or play dates. And they won't let me hold their hands when we cross the street. The changing role is bittersweet. I am nostalgic for the sweet innocence of little kids but also I am gratified when I see the young men that mine have become.

Last week's new TV campaign paid off. The new model for the bedroom is on order. Himself relented not because I am unable to see the present tiny set or because it is an energy sucker but just to shut me the fuck up. I have yet to touch any of Rover's accoutrements at the office and I have never gone to work without I dog. I miss the furry presence. Not to disparage the characters of the two home-bound canines, suffice it to say, they are not suitable for the workplace. Despite my avowal to never ever ever do it again I am thinking that it would be nice to get a little dog to take to work. I mention the possibility of new little dog, but strategically, when Himself is just about to doze off, and he mutters something that doesn't sound too outraged and might even be construed as acquiescence so I think maybe a new companion is a possibility.

Spuds and I are discussing the new TV and Himself rolls his eyes and says to him, “How would you feel knowing that your opinions bear no weight whatsoever?” Himself gives me no credit for editing, with him in mind, many of my wants and desires. I only badger him relentlessly over really important stuff. I make a huge strategic gaffe and mention now the little office dog. Spuds goes ballistic and accuses us (unduly harshly in my opinion) of being borderline negligent with the special needs canines we already have. Himself smirks in satisfaction. Spuds returns to New York on Monday. I will have to keep my mouth shut about the dog for awhile, given now the unholy alliance of Himself and Spuds. This gives me until December to find Himself in a good enough mood to revisit the dog issue and complete the adoption before Spuds returns.

I've had both kids simultaneously at home for less than three weeks this summer. Joe College is back on campus and Spuds will soon be gone. We will meet in San Gabriel for some Chinese food and then it will be December until the four of us are together again. Last year is my first experience with the totally empty nest. There is a lot of wonderful travel but the time at home is a challenge. I realize that there is more to the morass than just the kids being gone. I have lived many more years as a fat person than as a not so fat one. I coped with being fat by being an over achiever. I had to prove to the world that I was smart and nice and funny and the World's Best Mom. It took a lot of effort. With less to prove and no kids around to micromanage I sometimes struggle with purposelessness. I'm thankful to have a nice new TV to look forward to. And maybe a little dog too.


John L. Murphy / "FionnchĂș" said...

It's hard to start the cycle, as this blog entry's about ups and downs, with another dog, for one gets so attached and then has to let it go, and then replace the lost one to fill the gap for the remaining presumably bereft dogs (and owners). I'd like to reduce this stress on all by simply waiting out the last dog standing (if on three legs for our Corgi) but again, my wishes must balance or capitulate to the majority rule. But given as you here document the challenges you face and conquer, climbing every mountain (or 850 foot from sea level at least hill in the local case), yeah, I understand. xxx me

Anonymous said...

I love your blog Layne. We had six girls, from thinking the work and worry would never end, to realizing it is over in an instant, in my mind, compares to cliff diving, providing one climbs up the cliff in bare feet first.
After they started leaving for college, we traveled a lot, liked each other more and had a half dozen or so second honeymoons.
Then the grandchildren started coming and to this day, they take our breath away. From the granddaughter now in medical school, to the gorgeous 16 year old who only lives for her horse,while the boys call at the house and end up talking to her mother. Then there is the curly topped redhead who wears her Harry Potter cape to bed and has read two of the books, even though she is barely seven..
This post-- kids life compares to finally noticing the scenery at the top of the cliff to enjoying the warmth of the water, without the barefoot climb to get there. or the terror of the steep drop..

There are also the little things, like being able to eat lamb whenever we like, or liver, or steak and kidney pie, all things we like, but the kids hated. Never starting the car and having the radio already tuned and blaring the lastest teen music was quite the treat for a while, too..
I could go on, but trust me, the best is yet to come.
Please excuse the fact that most of my periods are commas, my keyboard and stiffer fingers are not friends..I should write a country song about 'all my periods are commas now', I'll get right on that, tomorrow, or the next day, or whenever.
It gets so much better, trust me. I wish I'd done all this stuff First..


p.s. Himself looks a bit like James Joyce it seems. My guy looks like Arthur Miller, which was good enough for Marilyn, at least for a while.

Barbara Effros said...

Layne, you looked fabulous last I saw you. Always beautiful, but thin as well! great work taking care of yourself! Xo