Man, my trip through my RSS feed today was depressing. Check out what’s going on around the ‘net:
One of the most empowering Disney princesses gets an unfortunate makeover!
American Girl dolls become less inspiring and more impuissant!
Readers judge even fictional females more harshly than male ones!
Alongside a conversation my mother and I had last night regarding the fact that women still have not celebrated the centennial of their achieving suffrage - and won’t for another seven fucking years - I’d just like to put out a friendly reminder that shit is still all fucked.
Since I’ve graduated, people keep asking me how I’m feeling, if I’ve had any grand adventures, and isn’t it just wonderful being out of school.
I haven’t been well.
I’m staggered by the confines of my free time. In lieu of having assignments, orders passed down from above, I write out my leisure activities in sprawling lists that de-leisure them entirely when I get to them: Read book. Play music. Learn French. Have drinks with friends. The other day I took myself to the beach and forced myself to sit there for three hours. Yesterday I did the same thing for ten on my couch.
I’m doing everything and I’m not doing any of it. I skim articles. I half-listen to television. I’m too busy thinking about all the other shit that has happened, is happening, will happen. I remember my parents remarking, when I was a child, that I was (regrettably) not a Type A personality like them. Well, guys, you got your wish. I guess it just takes a while to cook. I hate it.
And I keep looking for outs. Every job I see (I’m not even supposed to be looking yet, I keep telling myself frantically to relax, relax) feels like I’m ridiculously under-qualified, left pale and white and pudgy-handed from years in the halls of academia. I’m already thinking about rushing back – I’ve looked at graduate schools already even though, again, I’m supposed to give myself a year. I know that a huge part of it is just that it’s all I know how to do: be a student. That’s the trap of academia. It’s required at first and then, suddenly, smoothly and seamlessly, you’re at a graduation ceremony with academic regalia worn all around and you see that it’s a boy’s club. And if you’re like me – if you’re quiet and sensitive and scared of people – you wanna go. But you don’t ever have a chance to try anything else out. I don’t know.
I saw a man walk by at the gym today with a cross tattoo that said “life” over top of it and “savior” underneath. And I totally get it. I smirked at his inability to cope – but I’m jealous, too, because man, it’s cold out here in the face of the absolute absence of meaningfulness and direction. I’ve been saying it isn’t this whole last three years, but now that I’m suddenly adrift, I get it.
And nothing seems worthy or noble. The jobs I can get at the moment are Sisyphusian (always more people at the bar, always more files to be filed, always more phone calls, always more), but even the longer-term plans of mine – teaching, writing, art, music, maybe motherhood – even those, when you look at them long enough, are just self-perpetuatory. Masturbatory. And I get that there’s not another point here we are, human race, keep going. So maybe in a way they’re the most honest. But I can’t shake the feeling that it would be really nice to just… get on a train. See where I end up. I’m so afraid to do that. If I don’t do it soon, I know I never will.
So I keep organizing my hard drive and my dresser and half-watching episodes of Arrested Development. I know rushing into anything won’t help. I know I just need to sit the fuck down, to be in the middle of things and to take it. And I know that even if I clean this house to its barest bones, nothing’s ever perfect. Entropy – the dust starts reaccumulating as soon as you turn your back. And besides, the myth of the pristine house is as soluble as the myth of the perfect body. I’ll never, ever fucking get there, and when I get as close as possible, I still won’t be happy.
So… here I am. We’ll see.
As I walked around town, two young men passed me by and one asked how I was doing. I smiled but ignored him; his friend then said, “Yeah, how are you, beautiful?” I said I was doing well, asked him in return. He responded by saying, “We’re wonderful now that we’ve seen you.” I laughed. He said it was true. I said it was glad. Most adorable catcall ever.
A little girl - maybe three years old - said “Thank you” to me loudly while I held the door open for her, her mother and her two siblings. She made me grin.
A young girl in bright green pants that didn’t fit right in the crotch perused an SAT prep book at Barnes and Noble before approaching her boyfriend, also in green and sitting in the hard-backed chair, making what sounded like a mewl from my distance. He had a bruise under his right middle finger I mistook initially for black nail polish. Maybe it was.
Alright, so harping on the weight loss thing is pretty shitty, I think, but I came across some new old photos of me today that I hadn’t seen in about three years. And… well, I lost a lot of weight. It’s nice to get some perspective. Shit’s been pretty crazy and despite my efforts to finish the thing, I’ve been bouncing around the same 10-ish pound range for the better part of six months (original loss goal was 80 pounds; most days I’m 65 and 70 pounds down from my original weight of 213).
I spend so much time hating the fact that I can’t seem to eat less than 1600 calories a day, that I cheat at least once every couple of weeks, staring at what I think of as the ruined bag of my body in the mirror and pinching the skin on my arms, thighs, and stomach that no amount of time or exercise will tighten. I look at girls far (far, far) weaker than me walking around with “perfect” bodies in clothes I could never pull off because of the years I spent as a different version of myself. And I’m jealous and bitter and angry, a lot.
But I lose sight of exactly how radically I’ve changed, how much stuff I’ve done, the work and dedication that’s gone into it. I’m in the best shape of my life easily, I outstrip almost everyone at the gym — even many whose thighs might look better in shorts than mine. And although it seems superficial, the entire process has utterly changed who I am, how I think about myself, the person I walk around as — in a way that’s actually really difficult to reconcile and deal with on a day to day basis. I find myself letting my hands drift over my legs in class or in bed or whatever, just because it feels like I was dropped into a new body. This one’s imperfect, too… but some perspective feels good.