What’s your damage, Heather?

I have two nearly identical pairs of jeans in my dresser. Both were bought in the last three months. Neither of them fits. One pair is a skosh too big, threatening self-pantsing every time I bend or shift. The other is a teeny bit too snug; I am uncomfortably aware of the zipper abrading my lower gut-flap. The jeans themselves are perfect – they are 98% cotton, which is nearly impossible to find in women’s jeans these days. They do not flare. They are meant to be worn cuffed, which saves my stumpy ass from having to hem them. They would be perfect for someone I’m not. Someone I was three months ago, or someone I may be in the future, but there are no guarantees.

My closet is filled with “almost” clothes. Brightly colored tunics with flowing lines and scoop necks that now expose my bra. Half-empty molded cup bras gaping at the top. Pants just roomy enough in the seat they look sloppy in a way you can’t pin-point. There are some dresses that are still wearable, but I estimated the size of the tights I originally bought to go with them incorrectly and now they sag at the knees and ankles. I do not have the money to replace my wardrobe. I do not have the money to replace my bras, which at around $75 apiece, are the most expensive part.

My body is no longer my own. It no longer wants to use its own insulin to break down glucose. I’ve given it enough delicious potatoes and pastries throughout its lifetime that it’s just given up. Sorry dude, you’re Polish and Polynesian – I thought you wanted the starches. They sure were delicious, and satisfying, and happy-making. The medication I’m on now to help it remember how to use insulin plays merry havoc with my appetite, so much so that I’ve designated various states of being: Not Hungry (food? Oh yeah. I should probably eat a thing!) Unhungry (I’m hungry, but also slightly nauseated) and Oogy (ugh. Food. Gross). I’ve stopped giving my body all those carbs it doesn’t know what to do with, and have begun developing a list of items I can consume for each state of being. Not Hungry? Here is a meal with meat and vegetables. It will be delicious as soon as you start eating it. Unhungry? Have some almonds and some protein, an artisanal lunchable with something salty to remind you to enjoy eating. Oogy? Look, if there’s anything that doesn’t turn your stomach, just eat it. Don’t even look at the nutritional info. If nothing appeals, at least have a protein drink through a straw. Food is not enjoyable. Food is fuel. I think about it constantly. What I “can” have, what I “should” have, what is poison, what I miss, what I don’t.

I was very fat. I am now slightly less fat. I am still fat. I will always be one kind of fat or another. Nonetheless, my doctor is thrilled. Because she doesn’t know the end-game of this process.

Because my body, which is no longer my own, has responded to these depredations not by shrinking, but by deflating. As if waiting for my metabolism to figure out what I’ve done to it, and deciding it can make do with the limited food intake by slowing down again. It’s leaving room. This is temporary. This is not permanent. Like me and my skosh-too-big jeans. Waiting for me to own my body again.


In Which I Determine That L.A. Is Neither Paradise nor Sodom By The Sea

“Los Angeles is deceptive, just like it’s main export – movies.”

Look dude, I know you think so. Everybody thinks so. This was a cliche when the first eastern european emigre hauled ass out here, fleeing the east coast mob, to start a chicken ranch or a movie studio. Blah blah blah, artifical, woof bark, everyone’s so fake, oogly moogly everyone’s an actor/screenwriter/waiter. You could run out your toner drum printing out these “hot takes” dating from back when women rouged their knees, stack them up, set them on fire, and they’d blaze for nearly as long as our delightful fire season, the smoke giving off an acrid whiff of the sour grapes of a spurned lover. “I never wanted you anyway, plus you’re so fake!”

What makes L.A. alarming to people who lack the self-awareness to know any better is ironically, the reason those first studio execs gave instead of “running from the mob” for their move to this remote coast – the sunshine. It’s the sunlight that makes the city incongruous to those who only know it from our main export. Camera angles and back-lots and vast numbers of crew members can do a lot to make a place sparkle. The reality is that the sun illuminates the city without the benefit of a “kicker” to fill in the shadows. Lacking a perceptible rainfall, there is rarely enough water to sluice the layers of plant matter, brake-dust, general detritus and assorted filth off the streets with any regularity. The sprawling ex-urb that makes up the “city” of L.A. never got tall enough in most places to dim the daylight here, so the Orange Death Orb seems to highlight the crud making any moment of contemplation – say, waiting for a bus in a bus shelter with an oddly useless shade-free awning – turn into a meditation on how gross everything is. Better not to have any spare moments for contemplation then, and also, this may be why no one wants to ride the bus.

I never set out to write a defense of this city; I don’t think it needs one. Neither is it a love letter. My feelings for the places I live are always ambivalent at best. But I don’t like know-it-alls, and I especially bristle at the ignorant tearing down an easy target to make themselves look superior. So, with that in mind, please consider this essay both a tourism ad and a minor warning for the lovely, filthy, sunny, happy, lonely, shallow, meditative, hard-working Town of Our Lady Queen of the Angels; we really don’t give a shit if you think we’re all fake. We’re too busy getting on with our lives.