Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Skinny Story of Fat America

              With the weight, the eczema has returned and I’m 290 pounds, again, with thick-flaking-red-scales at both my elbows, under one knee, on the joints of the two small toes, to the left of the big toe on my left foot, and covering the bulbous joint that sticks out like a little knob where the hand meets the arm.  My partner, Gustavo, knows the medical name for all of these joints; he’s studying to be a nurse. 
                When he looks up from his anatomy books in the evening he finds me worrying at the little clear bumps around my wrist, rubbing them into a solid sheet or peeling the flakes of skin away to reveal the red swollen under-skin. He’s a slapper; whacking my hand away and, in a sort-of rapid succession, he recites a number of infections that the rough digging of my nails might be inviting in.  I hesitate, sigh, stretch my hand, and return my eyes to the pages of the grammar book I’ve been perusing.  I hadn’t realized I was scratching, but, slapped and given an oral list of Latin nouns, I know I must’ve been.  It’s pretty standard procedure when we’re studying on the couch.
                We’ve been living together for about a year and have been sequestered by one another for nearly two.  There is no question about love, but there is no explaining it either.  I’m comfortable with him, happy to see him every day, and driven to the brink of insanity when I find his balled up ankle socks under the couch cushions Monday through Sunday.  That I stay through the latter is proof enough for me.
                When we met, I weighed 160 pounds, had decent musculature, only one chin, and took pride in dressing myself in-style each day.  The longer we’ve been together, the more weight I’ve put on.  So far as I’ve heard, this is pretty common amongst couples getting settled in.  A lot has changed since we’ve shared a bed, a house and bank accounts.  A lot has become a little more difficult.  It’s harder, for example, to find nice clothing when your almost 300 pounds.  My wardrobe has been whittled down to some colorful, elastic waist, old man dress-shorts, a few collared button downs that, un-tucked, break my body well below the waist, and a new “Dr. Who” T-shirt, XXXL, that Gustavo ordered for me off of a website.  The t-shirt is my favorite, but I can’t wear it every day.
                I was wearing my DW t-shirt though, while at Fry’s last Friday.  Gustavo and I had made our rounds and were grabbing some last minute produce items, broccoli and “guero” peppers.  Gustavo is one generation removed from Mexico and for a while I thought that guero meant ghost, but it means white--even though the peppers are pale yellow.  I was telling him how ridiculous it was to call a yellow pepper a white pepper, and avoiding running into the people in front of me, when I heard my name being yelled and turned to see my friend Maricella, her three small children, their dad (her sometimes boyfriend) and her pregnant swollen belly, bagging some tomatoes nearby. 
                “John! Hey, what you guys doin’out here so late in the evening?” Said Mari.
                “My God Mari, you’re huge. We’re just getting some veggies for Matt’s party.  When is the baby due?  Are you guys coming tomorrow?” 
                Gustavo had been shaking hands with Akim, Mari’s insignificant other, and another short middle aged looking man wearing black jeans, a baggy white t-shirt and a black head covering.  I hadn’t noticed him before, but leaned over and stuck out my hand by way of greeting.  We shook and exchanged pleasantries as Mari confirmed she, Akim and the kids would be coming for the birthday party tomorrow night and told me the baby was due September 13th.
                “This fool can throw down in the kitchen man!”  Akim was addressing the short guy, Mari’s older brother I’d been told, who smiled and looked me up and down.
                 Using his left hand to flatten the hanging t-shirt against his own rounded belly he said, “Well he sure looks like it anyway.” He was smiling and we all had a nice laugh.  Mari asked for my habanero stir fry recipe and I said I’d write it out for her and have it tomorrow.  I hugged her, waved goodbye to the kids and smiled while rounding the corner of an aisle.
                Once around, I couldn’t help it.  My smile bowed and I could hear the squeaky left tire of my unwieldy grocery cart under the hum of florescent lights above.  I had showered, shaved, layered my new t-shirt with a matching striped button down, wore some soft leather sneakers and accessorized with scrutiny.  I had picked at my hair in the mirror for 20 minutes and finished with a sigh of satisfaction.  I thought I looked cute.  I was vindicated when, leaving the bathroom, Gustavo planted a kiss on my cheek, said “babe, you look very cute,” smiled and asked if I was ready to go.
                And here was this stranger, a man who had only just met me.  He saw none of the effort I put in, he didn’t remark upon my praised cooking or my ability to pair colors with colors and patterns with patterns, he just saw a fat guy.  It’s as if, because I’m fat, I can’t be good at anything.  Nothing about me is worthy of remark, except for my size.  As I threw the groceries onto the conveyor belt I couldn’t help but feel worse.  Here I am, Friday night, buying more food.  Gustavo knew I had taken offense and tried to make me feel better by whispering mean things about Mari’s brother; telling me “he’s just ghetto,” “he’s fat too,” and then, the only thing that ever helps a little:
                 “I love you, no matter what.”
                “It isn’t my size babe, that’s really bothering me,” I said.  “Though that does bother me too, it’s just that, well…well, to be looked at…” I said while walking through the parking lot, “to be looked at and judged as something that would rather roll or plop than walk or run is just scratching the surface of it.”
                He opened the trunk and as we loaded the groceries I could see his trepidation.  His left eyebrow raised, his little lips parted as if wanting to say something but unsure, afraid it might be the wrong something.  I knew I was overreacting, but continued anyway.
                “Yeah, of course that person knows that’s what you’re thinking—sometimes, because a person knows what’s thought of them, they start to believe it too.  But it isn’t very true.  If I’m a fat character in a fat story I have the authority to say I’m not lazy or I’m no more apathetic, less so even, than anyone I know.  I’m not justifying fat-- it doesn’t need justifying.  Fat people exist. They always have and will continue, too. Their stories are big and the other characters, the ones with the lithe under-indulgent bodies don’t have the space necessary to hold them. Another gross inaccuracy, sure, but If I’m a no-good-do-nothing fatty, then I’m sure you can understand why you’re a boring, inhuman, conformist skinny-bitch.  Ugh.  But now I’m no better than you.  Now I’m writing your story.  Moving on.”
                “Nope, babe I’m not following you.  You’re all over the place.”
                I sighed. “To be fat, babe, is to tell without saying a word, to have a story, however poorly written, before you ever feel comfortable sharing your life with anyone else.  What story, differs as a matter of opinion; whether the carrier of all the extra details or the author in the produce section at the local market, writing the story sans research, the tale of fat is rife with inaccuracy, fraught with generalities and untruth.  It’s more prolific than the bible or Harry Potter or Dickensian Cities and the most subjective, creative, fallacious, disturbing lie the world tells over and over and over again.”
                “Babe…what the hell does fallacious mean?”
                The windows were down and we were pulling out of the parking lot.  I laughed.  “Is that what you pulled from everything I said?”
                “That and fraught,” he said. “Who even uses the word fraught when they’re speaking?  If you talked to everyone the way you talk to me, no one would talk to you.  That would solve all of your problems.”
                Again, I laughed. I told Gustavo about fallaciousness and about the professor who used fraught so often it became a part of my everyday vocabulary and forgot, until later in the weekend, the grocery store incident.  He called me a “guero” and I told him that while the term was more appropriate for me than the yellow pepper it was still being used in a fallacious manner because with all the Irish heritage and eczema, I tend to be more red than white.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Love-Life Playlist

I saw this idea on another blog, which I cannot find at the moment unfortunately.

The idea is that you make a playlist of songs that describe your love life with titles that you create yourself. They were so much fun to read, so I thought I'd try one of my own.

So, here's mine:

1. First Kiss, Age Six
2. I Peaked at Age Six
3. Asking Me to Help You With a School Project is Not Asking Me Out
4. What the Hell is Flirting and How Do You Do It?
5. Too Bad You're Such a Douche-Bag
6. Sadie Hawkins Can Suck It
7. Seriously, Why Are You Dating Her?
8. Seriously, Why Are You Dating Her? (remix)
9. Seriously, Why Are You Dating HER now?
10. If I'm Gonna Be Your Beard You Have to TELL ME
11. Disney Movies Set My Standards Way Too High
12. Myspace Stalking Means You're In Love, Right?
13. You're Still Together And I'm Still Single
14. My Facebook Friends Keep Having Babies And It's Freaking Me Out
15. My Cat Has a Boyfriend (but I don't)
16. Someday My Prince Will Come And He Had Better Be A Hottie

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Lake Monsters Are Real

I hate geese. I hate them. I hate very few things – I consider my hatred something to be earned – and they hold top spot on my “things that I hate” list.

It all started when I was four. My parents had taken me to the park to feed the ducks (the beast's significantly more tolerable cousins) when the incident occurred. There I was, innocently tossing bits of white bread to their intended recipients, when a few giant white things with orange knobs on their faces sauntered over. They were as big as I was. They were hungry. I was kind. I fed them the rest of the bread. They were not happy when I ran out. One of them in particular, a complete brute of a goose, decided that he was not yet satisfied – but that he would be. He spread his wings, screamed at me in his goose honk, and proceeded to chase me through the park. He snapped at my heels as I ran, attempting to devour me. His wings beat the air around him. I could feel the wind they stirred at my back. I screamed and ran as fast as I could - tiny feet pounding the grass, tiny heart hammering as I raced for my life. I kept running until I couldn’t anymore and had to stop and catch my breath. At some point the goose had given up the chase, no doubt to find some other easier prey. I found my parents (to this day I don’t know why they didn’t rescue me). They told me that the goose had mistaken my little white sneakers for more white bread. Then they laughed. They still laugh. But I knew better then and know better still. That thing had blood-lust in its eyes.

The point of this story is to let the world know the truth. Geese are monsters. Don't trust them. In case you're not convinced... Proof

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

10 Things I Love

Here is a list of 10 things I love:

  • Snapchat - I only Snapchat people I feel comfortable with. Or people who I never see, because sometimes I miss their face. I love watching people use Snapchat in public. You know, ugly faces. Ugly Snapchat pictures make me thrive. They make the world spin, 'cause somethin's gotta.
  • Being single - And by single, I don't mean "ready to mingle". By single, I mean "staying the hell away from the male species". And by species, I mean species. 
  • Deodorant - Especially in the summertime. Mom always tells me to stay away from antiperspirant because it will give me cancer, BUT REALLY MOM, you think everything gives you cancer. Sweating is gross. Makes me feel like a lard. A melting lard. Cute.
  • Eavesdropping on conversations - Sorry. My life is boring so I have to occupy my ears with someone else's. I only hate eavesdropping when I am in the library. I'm obviously trying to study, and the study room walls may be soundproof for you BUT NOT FOR ME. I don't care about Friday's rager. I don't care about how hard you're going to fail a class.
  • Pens that write well - I'm not the type to buy a bunch of cheap pens for quantity. I want one expensive pen for quality. 
  • Wintertime - Because I can wear big sweaters and I don't have to shave my legs. Real sorry if this bothers you, but shaving is awful. Shaving is the bane of my existence. 
  • Summertime - Because I can swim and drink smoothies and tan. The downside? I have to shave. 
  • Painting walls - WOAH, this girl is nuts. Yeah. I enjoy breathing in toxic fumes and wearing big T-shirts that I can splash with paint.
  • Driving to and from Tucson on the I-10 - It's the easiest, most relaxing drive in the world. Miles and miles of road stretching through a desert wasteland. Perfection.
  • 11:11 - AM or PM, I don't have a preference. Make a wish! I'll tell you a secret - I always wish for stupid things because I get stressed out that I only have one minute. EX) I wish my split ends would disappear. I wish for a bag of french fries. I wish for world peace and the end of world hunger. (That's only stupid because it's a wasted wish - THE WORLD WILL FOREVER BE FIGHTING AND HUNGRY.)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Being a Camp Counselor

Ever since I was eight years old, being a camp counselor always sounded like the coolest job ever. When I was finally old enough to be a counselor at the camp I went to for eight summers, I was so stoked! I got to pull out my big pink trunk and back up all my outdoorsy but still cute summer clothes. My friend Erin and I drove there together and when we got there we couldn’t wipe the smiles off our face. “This is going to be the best summer ever!” but boy was I wrong….. It was only the second day of the first session, and the first day was my day off so really I haven’t done anything to show weather I was a hard worker or not. I was sitting with my cabin during breakfast, and Portnoy, my boss strolls right on over with a creepy grin on his face. “Helloo Ally can I talk to you after breakfast?” “Uhh yeah sure, I’m almost done!” I became a little nervous but I knew he couldn’t have been mad at me because it was only the morning of my first day. After I finish breakfast, I tell my girls to get ready for the day and I go to look for Portnoy, I found him… “Lets go on a stroll.” Ew another creepy smile he gave me. We begin to walk and he talks to me about how he likes his camp to be run and that us previous campers are difficult to train. I just look at him in confusion, I have no idea where this is going because I haven’t been difficult at all. “You are one of my worst counselors Ally.” He said in a stern voice, my eyes began to glaze over. I’ve never been criticized on my work effort. “But it’s my first day, sir. How can you assume this??” I was in shock, this was no longer going to be the best summer later. Because of our little talk I was late to my activity that I worked at so my other boss yelled me at. “As the weeks went on, some were better then others but my dream of being a counselor did not live up to its expectation. My bosses were assholes and never appreciated my work or anyone else’s. On the night of the 4th of July, three of my bosses, were arrested for dui’s, public intoxication and fighting with a police officer. It was a sad day but we were now down three bosses and a few weeks after that Portnoy fired two of our employees for not doing, the best job that they could do. This made my job a lot more stressful. We figured out our under staffed problem a few weeks later and all we had to do was trudge on. I was a relief counselor and slept on a cabin with 6 other female counselors. On the second night of the third session, we found a bat flying around in the cabin. Of course we all freaked out like little girls and fled to our staff lounge, which we called “The Palace” it was no such thing as a palace. The next day, we went to our cabin to see if the bat was still there. Oh it was still there plus 3 other bats sleeping on the ceiling. For the next week, we had to sleep in our staff lounge, in an up right position on a lumpy couch. I was in hell, I was tired and irritable and one day after my shower I went into my trunk to pull out some clothes, I found a bat sleeping right on top of my clothes. I lost it, I started yelling and screaming and then crying. I decided to take my hour break off early and I called home crying, my dad offered to come and pick me up because he felt so bad. I decided to stay at tuff it out I only had 2 and a half weeks left and I’d just make the most of it. Being a counselor had a lot of up and downs, good stores and bad stories. I am glad I did it, I learned a lot and I even had a lot of fun. When I got back home, I decided to not ever go back to work at that camp ever again.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


I hate my environmental science course. I hate it so much, not necessarily because of the topic, because I have considered minoring in environmental science, but because the structure of the class is awful. Youtube videos take up the majority of the class time; these are the videos with terrible graphics and monotone old men. It's hard to resist the urge to spend the entire period on my cell phone, scrolling feeds and blowing my friends phones up with emojis to show how bored I am. Sometimes I cave. Sometimes I look at the girls next to me and judge them, judge them bad. They can spend the entire lecture hunched over their cell phones, and after 50 minutes of Twitter updates and group texts, they'll look up from their screens and have the audacity to say to me:

"I hate this class. I don't understand anything. Do we have homework? I hate school."

"I hate school."

I see it on my Twitter feed:
"why cant i be a prisoner they dont have to do homework"
"Homework: because 7 hours of school wasn't enough."
"Walk into school like whaddup i wanna die"
"Alcohol >>> Class"
I hear it in the classroom:
"Duuuude, this Friday class had been the first one I've been to all week."
"Bro, that's the shit."

I was searching through the souvenir keychains at a gas station in Las Vegas last weekend and I stumbled across a keychain embroidered with these words. These three words have been made into a product, sold and bought. It made me stop and think back to a TED talk I watched a month earlier. Here is the link:

After watching this video, I wanted to slap myself because I am guilty of being unappreciative when it comes to my education. How dare I complain? How dare I advocate negative feelings toward my education?

It is cliche to say that, as a society, we do not appreciate the education that we are given. But cliches are cliches for a reason. And this topic is not addressed enough. In the society that we live in, our education is not a privilege - it's something we must pursue, and if we do not, we will end up flipping burgers at McDonalds, working a job we hate. We will fail. Most of society's pursuit for education is driven by consequences, not the hunger for knowledge; the same hunger felt by the Afghan women in the TED talk, risking their lives for an education taught underground, entirely out of sight. Something needs to change.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Internet Wanderings

So, I'm pretty sure that most of you have a tumblr, or at least find yourself sometimes wandering through random places on the internet (those deep recesses of the web that you sometimes wonder about the sanity of the person who created them...). I know I have, and I love tumblr as a creative outlet. Recently, I've found some awesome tumblr and non-tumblr blogs and websites, so I figured that the Dungeon Diaries would be a great place to post them if any of you are interested or just want to waste some time on the internet.
A tumblr blog in which Google search is an excellent poet (and some of them are truly beautiful!), and which kind of makes me feel inferior to a search machine in terms of poetry...?
This is one of my favorite blogs - every day they post new quotes, and they have an excellent archive where you can search via book, author, or keyword. The quotes are hauntingly beautiful and always relevant.
This link goes to NPR for "The Picture Show", which features primarily photo stories. It is a really neat place to get some last-minute inspiration or just a deep thought.
For those of you with instagram, I highly recommend checking this out (especially if you enjoy cats, eyebrows, or just a good laugh every day). He looks so worried and it is really great.
Otherworldly is a tumblr blog that is really fascinating to me as a writer - it gives obscure/beautiful/interesting words, and gives the origin and definition of each. Some are from different languages or different times, but each is unique in their own way.
Lastly, I'm sure most of you have heard about this blog - Humans of New York, in which a photographer captures exactly that. If you haven't heard of it, at least check it out. For our class, I think we could look at the questions he asks them as a tool - they are really insightful, and provoke a quote from the subject that reveals so much.

Hopefully some of you found those interesting, and let me know if you have any blogs that you particularly love!