Secrets From A Fat.. SO?!

Archive for the category “Portland”

Story of a Girl

Once upon a time, there was a girl. And she was fat. She didn’t like being fat either. She thought everywhere she went people were judging her on her fatness because as life experience had taught her, they were. But this girl kept her head high, ruthlessly resilient and determined to prove to others that she was more than she appeared. For years she shouted from rooftops, preaching her differences, her ideas and ideals, believing that they made her special. The people around her would shake their heads and chuckle, sometimes even giving a small patronizing pat on the head, before shuffling along. It wasn’t that they didn’t believe her, they just never once took her seriously. She was of course, the girl with a million and one dreams. And she was lonely.

 Then this girl met a boy. She had met boys before. But the boys of Before either couldn’t see past her fatness or they tried to hold her back. The boys of Before were like statues, perfectly content where they were in life, and the girl wanted more. She wanted more, much more, only she wasn’t sure how to get it. And this boy, the boy of Now, was on a similar journey. The boy of Now understood how she felt about her body. He didn’t try to fix her but never the less, he was always there to help. He didn’t just listen with interest to every one of her million inane plans or her body concerns, he selflessly jumped in with both feet to help her. And befuddling to the girl, he found her beautiful. The boy shared his life with her. And so this girl and this boy became fast friends and helped support each one another.

For a few months, this boy and this girl lived in a bubble built for two. They shut the rest of the world out of their lives and for a while, that was enough. Months passed by and suddenly, the girl became restless. Through the bubble, she began watching the world move around without her. The life of two was just no longer good enough for her, and again she began to crave something more. Part of the void inside of her had been filled but it was like watching carbonation bubbles deflate after it reaches the top of a glass. Her cup had not yet runneth over. It wasn’t enough that the girl had found someone who loved her completely, she wanted the relationships she idolized that were cultivated on television. She wanted a Kramer and a Carrie and a Lorelei and a Phoebe in her life. In her own way, this girl wanted to create her own family.

“Suddenly I realized – two people isn’t enough. You need backup. If you’re only two people, and someone drops off the edge, then you’re on your own. Two isn’t a large enough number. You need three at least.” – About A Boy

But like any illusionist would have you to believe, such things are often much harder to come by than they appear. The thing was, the girl was lucky. Like all human beings, she had the tools to accomplish anything she ever wanted but, she just didn’t know how to use them. And so she went through life constantly asking the imaginary audience, “is this your card” until this girl finally had an epiphany. The truth is, the answer has always been there, had always been there and always will be. It was a simple question really: How could you really comprehend another’s love for you when you cannot understand what it is to love about yourself. Most know what it is to unconditionally love another soul but cannot comprehend what the other see’s in return. Or at the very least, I didn’t.

And so, a little over a year ago I went on a journey to change myself. I may not have understood what I was getting into when I started it all, and my attempts certainly didn’t intentionally begin that way but never the less, it’s where my feet, and heart, ended up. I don’t have all the answer’s yet, and I doubt I ever will. There are days when I feel like I am little more than an annoyance to be tolerated by all those around me and then other days that are full of such joy that words could not even put justice too. I understand now what it’s like to completely surrender one’s will to thyself, not to a god or any one person, and to love what they see. It’s more than not feeling guilty over eating a whole box of cookies. I don’t have to love the parts of me I deem as flaws, but I do accept that, as a whole, it doesn’t make me an ugly person.

It’s a journey of just letting yourself be happy, even when the world around you is constantly trying to rain on your parade. And it’s time to move on to the next chapter, I guess. If the first stage, or chapter, is just loving yourself, then the next is letting people in. That in itself is a scary thought. There are too many fears to simply relay in an already long-ish entry. Fears that are common that almost every single person has ever had like, what if I get hurt? If I can forgive, how do you trust again? How can I communicate well to others? How can I make others understand how I feel?

And the truth is like before, I don’t know. I don’t know how this next chapter will play out but, I can make the same promise as I did when I started out last year, to just keep trying.

Luck Be A Lady

I think most women will agree with me that, being a woman is hard. Don’t get me wrong fellas, I’m not proclaiming one sex has it easy and the other has it hard. I just feel that, in the battle of the sexes, women generally get dealt the shorter end of the stick. You’re free to agree, or disagree, with that statement. But, as you’ve probably figured by now, I’m going to explain why.

Women in general, have a lot of negative stereotypes. And we’ve had these same negative labels associated with our gender for thousands of years. I could get into plenty of detail about the history of women and give you countless examples but let’s face it, not many will disagree about the struggles women and our rights have fought for. When it comes down to the basics, in any culture, in any society, women always have much harsher and higher demands placed upon our heads. And sometimes it does costs us our heads if we fall below those standards.

That’s not to say that being a woman are without their perks. I know there are people who would argue that women today have more unfair advantages then men. But I’m not here to argue which gender has it better or worse than the other. On that note though, one thing I love about being a woman is, we as a gender are amazingly resilient and are always finding a way to push through the envelope. We are always looking for way to place a toe beyond the forbidden line of standards and push our boundaries further and further back till one believes these lines are non-existent. For instance, did you know that since Chinese women weren’t allowed to know how to read or write, for thousands of years they created their own secret code of writing? They wrote poems and letters as they developed their own system, they passed down through generations.

 But sadly, despite wishing for equality, the boundary line of expectations and standards women are supposed to have are always still there, and they quite  never disppear, no matter how hard one tries to wish otherwise. The tricky part of these standards for women are, they can’t really be blamed on men anymore. I mean sure, the jokes men still make about women making them a sandwich are enough to roll your eyes at, but it’s not really what holds our gender back. But I’m getting ahead of myself here and excuse me while I back track a ways.

For my boyfriend Chris’s thirty-first birthday, I decided to buy him a bike. I don’t know anything about bikes. I spent some time nonchalantly acting like any girlfriend does, asking advice months in advance about bikes as if I were shopping around for one, and what kind of bike he would get. And so forth. I was successful in my plan of utterly surprising him but the hitch was, he would be slightly delayed in receiving his present until I could finish paying off what I thought was a good Trek bike from a pawn shop. I was told I could switch out the bike, or bring it back, if anything was wrong. Finally, five weeks later, I finished paying off his birthday present. Three days later, the bike’s gears wouldn’t stay and worse, the bike seat came flying off while he was riding it home from work one night.

Two days later, I took it took the bike back to the pawn shop, hoping I could switch out bikes. But no such luck. The bike seat had gotten lost after Chris almost crashed and had to run to catch the last bus home at one in the morning. The pawn shop told me that no seat, no credit, and that was final. To say I was upset, is a understatement. I tried putting my foot down and pleading for humanity, that it had taken me five weeks to pay this off of my pitiful salary. I tried explaining the sacrifices I had made but none of it made any difference. They were unmoving and unsympathetic to my plight.

I left the store feeling defeated and stupid. The moment my feet were outside, I wanted to run back in and try harder, fight harder. I didn’t feel like I had truly left all stones unturned or tried hard enough. But I didn’t. It wasn’t so much that I was afraid, it was more that, I was afraid of not looking like a lady.

Little girls are told to be good, but above all, to act like a lady. What exactly a lady is, or expected, is tricky to explain and different in many people’s eyes. It’s typical for a lady to be portrayed to be as old-fashioned, conservedly dressed, well spoken and usually found drinking tea. Stepford Wives comes to mind. But honestly, I find that concept a little dated. Because a woman and a lady aren’t the same thing. One is born a woman, and one becomes a lady. But how? And if what we define a lady is no longer so black and white anymore, what makes a woman a lady? It’s bad enough that women degrade ourselves, and each other, to make such an ideal of becoming something as simple as a lady, nearly incomprehensible.

For I knew why I didn’t press harder in the pawn shop. Because deep down, I may not feel like a lady, but as nuts as it sounds, I am always fighting myself to reach that ideal. I’m always trying to teach myself to be more graceful, poised, charming and as much as I don’t like admitting it but, complacent too. And if I had argued back and pressed the issue, till I had thrown a huge scene, like my mother would have, was just something I didn’t know how to pull off. I never reach the lady like ideal, at least not completely. It’s like that quote from Sex in the City, “I know I’ll never be the girl with the perfect hair, or be able to wear white without spilling anything on it, but that’s okay.” And it is okay, at least for the most part. Because I’m not striving to be perfect and honestly, nor does anyone really expect me to be.

The thing is, trying to act like a lady isn’t as arcane as it’s perceived to be. I think there is something to be said about how little we put into our appearances or manners today. A lady doesn’t have to know an entire twelve course place setting, knowing how to use each and every fork. But she does know how to eat gracefully, without slurping or spilling food onto herself. A lady knows how to dress for her body, so therefore there are very few wardrobe malfunctions (but nobody is perfect). A lady is articulate and chooses her words wisely. She debates rather than argue. A lady doesn’t have to raise her voice to be heard, nor does she yell, throw tantrums or often swear. A lady has direction in her life, or at least a life, but does not over dramatize every bump in the road. A lady is comfortable with her body and doesn’t sweat over a few measly pounds.

I know I have trouble with a lot of those sentiments but, for the most part, I do try to live up to what I just said. When it comes down to the nitty-gritty though, the problem isn’t about trying to be perfect or act like a lady. Because having a little tact, a little charm and a little grace in today’s society are sorely lacking. The problem is among our own gender. The boundaries we should be pushing are for less hate and more acceptance among women. Because honestly, we are the ones who label too many of ourselves negatively. She’s too fat. She’s a bitch. She’s a slut, prude, weird, nerd, drinks too much, etc. So, let’s stop being in such a rush to grow up as we’re missing steps along the way and just let, Luck Be A Lady.

A Fat Girl’s Chubby Chaser

There are many universal facts that everyone knows but no one really talks about. Like we all know that there are many different types of people in the world. We all know these people not only look different, but have different, opinions, interests and tastes. And we know that these opinions, interests and tastes don’t always match up with our own. What one person may love, we can safely assume that there is probably someone not so far away who will hate what we love. We learn that even if we try to deny ourselves, or force feed people to like the same things we like and have the same opinions are ours that the independent will of a person is, inevitable. For instance, a child could find this out simply when a bully confronts them and makes that child cry for no apparent reason other than they’re different.

And so we spend our childhood and early teenage years trying to get by and fit in as best into whatever cliché niche we can. Essentially, most of just want to be liked and accepted. For some, fitting in comes more naturally than it does for others while the rest of us are constantly working or struggling at it. We try to figure out how to balance fitting in and finding our own likes and dislikes as we continue to try on different outfits of ourselves. But in the end, we learn that no matter how hard we try, not everyone will like us nor will we like everyone we meet.

At some point, there is a moment when we notice a boy, and we start to think he’s cute. We’re not sure why we find him attractive, but we do. And we start to like him. Then there’s the moment when a boy first starts to like you. You may not know why they find you attractive, but they do. Sometimes we like them back and sometimes you don’t. The first time a boy had a crush on me, I was mean to him. Not only was he not in any socially cool cliché but not even known by association like I was. He was tall, chubby and a complete dork. Just like me. So the moment he passed me a note in 7th grade English class if I would go to the Halloween dance I was help putting together, I circled no. I avoided him every chance after that I could. And when it couldn’t be avoided, I found ways to taunt him away.

In truth, he scared me. I had never had a boy like me before and yes, I was a little shallow. All around me were these ideal expectations being driven into my head about the kind of boy I should like. Because by tween standards, Eric was a loser. And maybe I should have been too, if my two closest friends hadn’t been in the “popular” group. But, I had also developed my own reputation by being acquaintances with at least a couple of people from each social group from band to a members of Student Council (a great way to get out of class I tell ya!) I never quite fit in, but I was accepted. Much like my life today.

It didn’t take me long after to fully appreciate and understand the sentiment, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” It wasn’t hard for me to admit the statement not long after I started high school. I felt bad how I treated Eric because I knew I had been unfair. My thirteen year old self had assumed that if I circled yes on that piece of paper then I was signing my life over to a boy I didn’t want to be with. My thirteen year old self didn’t understand I could be casual friends with a boy and do things like, go to dances with, without being labeled as a boyfriend/girlfriend.  But then, that’s middle schooler’s for you, always in such a rush to grow up.

However I felt though, it didn’t seem to wash away the guilt. I still felt bad for how I treated the first boy to like me. I knew after I left middle school, I was going to choose a guy for what I saw in him and damn anybody’s else opinion. Some people consider this lowering my bar but,I saw it as readjusting my perspective. As long as I saw a decent human being, I was going to give every guy a chance and not care what anyone else thought. Maybe it was also a way for me rebel against the “good girl” I was cast typed as and maybe I was also growing up a little bit faster than my peers around me.

Over the years, while I had learned to love and accept other people beyond their physical appearance, I forgot to love myself. Yes, I just went there with that corny sentimental LifeTime television network phrase. But it’s true, I did. I could love a guy unconditionally for the potential I saw within him but there would always be something slightly missing. No matter how happy I told myself I was, there would always be a wedge of doubt. I found myself continually making compromises for another person’s happiness instead of my own. Which is only half unfair to say, because bringing joy into other’s life does bring me pleasure. I had just lost my voice.

My “me” had turned to a “we” and I had to learn how to insist what I wanted and I liked in guys instead of reinventing myself into the type of woman a guy would want me to be. Before, all my stories consisted of memories of “us” and most of the time when someone was referencing my name was just thrown in with his, if at all. I wanted my own identity but I felt the security in sharing one, and I felt guilty while I felt myself pull away. But, I found one. Or more like, little by little I just learned to love myself unconditionally and to let others do the same.

Because of the billions of people we share this planet with, there are many, many different types of men. And although it feels like I’ve been out with every single one of those types, I realize that I haven’t even come close to touching the tip of the ice burg. Frankly, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter how many dates you’ve been on or what type of person your attracted to if you’re not honest with yourself about your own needs and let yourself be happy. Sometimes that’s hard and sometimes it hurts other people. Okay, it’s almost always hard and the medicine is what I need to keep reminding myself to swallow. But like I said in the beginning, the independent will of a person is, inevitable. I know that no matter how hard I try and fight against myself, that I will eventually lash out and free myself from any bonds I let myself get tied up in.

Becoming Your Own Best Friend

I love how beautiful Portland get’s when it’s nice out. I love the way the sun shine entices Oregonians out of our holes, makes us rub our eyes and come out of hibernation. We whine and complain all year-long for this weather and once it appears, it’s like we’ve become reborn. Of course we’re still physically the same people but, suddenly, I’m no longer the only one smiling. When the majority of your year is covered in overcast and rain, you really learn to appreciate when the sun finally does decide to make an appearance.

I grew up in Los Angeles, which unless your from a country without TV or the Internet, is in California. I grew up in a single parent house hold and lived next door to my hippy, “peace, love and pot smoking”, grandparents my entire life. My house was built by my great grandpa who was an infamous rodeo cowboy. I had my whole world in this tiny protected little nook of Westwood. And I loved it. I knew their were kids who had it better than me and their were children who had it worse. I knew there were other lifestyles different from my own, not only in this city, but scattered all across country. But I couldn’t imagine a better world beyond the one I lived in and I never ever wanted to trade places.

When I got old enough, I was never afraid to just leave my house and go off and do something. I never had a shortage of things to do. Everything was in walking distance or a bus hop away. I could walk two blocks to my elementary school to play or reminisce. I would just start walking and spend hours exploring every inch of my neighborhood border’s until I hit a major street like Wilshire Blvd. I would walk up Wilshire to Westwood Blvd and to the left I could go to the Pet Store, 7-11, see a movie at CREST or spend countless hours in a nook inside of Boarder’s bookstore. I could even pop in to say hello to Maryilyn Monroe’s grave. To the right was Westwood Village, UCLA, countless movie theater’s, music stores and odd over priced stores like Ahh’s.  Sometimes I made the long trek to the Westwood Rex which was a park and community center. And if I was in the mood, I could hop a bus that went to Santa Monica and either go to Third Street Promenade or the Beach.

The point is, I wasn’t afraid to do things alone. I did them all the time by myself. And when I did do something with someone, it was usually just with my best friend Leah and sometimes Rori. I was alone, but I found a way to keep myself company. I found a way to be my own friend. I’m not saying this was the greatest of ideas as I probably should have been pushed to make more friends than spending so much time in my own little world. I probably should have been pushed the older I got to join more activities, to expand my ‘social network’. But at the same time, learning to be your own friend is a trait that I think is highly over looked.

After I moved to Portland, you could say I was slighty agoraphobic as I hated leaving my house. And while I was in still in high school my life consisted of school and home. With each neighborhood I moved to, I got to know the area a little bit, but not much further than the boarder’s of my neighborhood. By 2006 I had pretty much stopped trying to explore my neighborhoods. I learned enough to get by but I had barely gotten to know Portland. I didn’t do anything fun or touristy or make much of an effort to really try to get to know the city. I liked it, and I liked the people in it, but I didn’t let Portland become apart of me.

I did this because I was pretty much afraid. I was afraid of people seeing me. I was ashamed of how fat I was and too afraid to explore anything on my own. My mother didn’t have time for me and I didn’t have anyone besides Tony to talk to. So when Tony took the three-hour bus ride on Greyhound from Seattle, I always wanted to go out and do things. But we never did. We talked about them but all we ever did was going to a mall, watch a movie, go to dinner and come home. We spent the rest of the time in my room or living room inside the house. I’m not blaming him for our lack of activity, this wasn’t even his city!

And it wasn’t mine yet either. I could feel the heart of Portland, the way you feel the bass in a stereo but I couldn’t hear the music. I couldn’t hear the music within her that brought so many people alive. The trouble was, it wasn’t like she wasn’t extending her hand out, I was the one who just wasn’t open to be receptive to see it. For a small city, Portland offer’s a hundred great things to do and a hundred great people to meet everyday if you choose to take her up on it. It was just for the most part, I didn’t want to.

During my teenage years, there are very few experiences and memories I remember having of just enjoying my city. I remember the cute guy at Coffee People who whenever I ordered hot chocolate with my friend Miss V, he would do something fun and crazy like put gummy bears, whip cream and cinnamon without even having to ask (or pay extra) for it. I remember ditching class to go down to Powell’s books and spend hours loading my arms up with more books than my arms could carry. I remember sitting on a bench waiting for the 51 bus in front of what used to be known as PG&E Park and a woman walking up to me just to give me a flower for no reason.

Those are the moments that made me fall in love with Portland. Because I knew for a city, she is beautiful. Those are the moments I am constantly trying to recapture. Do you hold your breath as you go into a tunnel? Do you get butterflies in your stomach as you try to both concentrate on your wish and trying to ignore the uncomfortable sensation of not breathing? Do you try to hold on and make yourself hold out for just for a little longer. Then just when you think you can’t make it, you emerge from the darkness and into a light do you let out a silly sigh of relief? To me, that is Portland moments in a nutshell. She fills me with butterflies of excitement and I try to hold onto them for as long as I can till I’m about to explode.

What I don’t understand, why am I so afraid? This city accepts me, I fit in and I love it. I just don’t go exploring by myself anymore. I get afraid or I talk myself out of doing things I want to do. I talk myself into finishing a blog entry (which by the way was on the to-do list) instead of jumping cannonball style into a pool on the gorgeous first day of summer. I talk myself into staying in and playing video games instead of running errands because I don’t want to go by myself. There are afternoons where I want to just go downtown and photograph parts of Portland simply because I want to see the city through her eyes. But I don’t because I’m scared of how silly I will look to other people as a fat chick taking random pictures.

I get caught up in my own inadequacies and fears of being alone these days. What used to make me feel so secure, like in Los Angeles, no longer has that same effect. While I am finally learning to not only make new friends in Portland, but to start making plans to go out with those people, I seem to have forgotten how to be my own friend. I get too caught up with how I look to stranger’s. And the only defense I have to that is when I am out and about having a good time with somebody else. It’s like that extra person unintentionally acts like a shield barrier to where it’s easier to block everybody else.

So now that I have called myself out on the issue, I have no more excuses. I don’t want to be alone but I also don’t want to be afraid or simply just say I don’t feel like doing something because I don’t want to be by myself. Because what is so bad about being in my own company? Is it because when I have no one to try to charm and make smile, I get lost in my own thoughts. I think it’s time to start making my own memories, ones just for me. Ones like where I did in Los Angeles, hidden in a nook with a book at Boarder’s. That girl is still somewhere inside me, I just have to find her.

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