Taking up Space

Got on the scale this morning, and I’m still carrying the extra ten pounds. It’s probably time to stop calling them ‘extra’ and to start realizing this is the new normal.

First of all, what the heck was I doing on the scale? Do I still want to define myself by a number? Nothing good ever comes from weighing myself.

Because, whether I like it or not, those crazy old thoughts pop in. ‘Wouldn’t today be a great day to start losing weight?’, ‘Who will love you if you’re not thin?’, ‘If you’re not careful, you’ll be gigantic’.


I hopped right off the scale and decided to have a great and happy day, just exactly as I am right now. I am so blessed and lucky in my life and can not be bothered with a number on a scale. What a waste of time.

My new attitude delights me! Free, free, free.

I used to want to be so small and to take up such little space. When I was just 20 pounds heavier, I commuted from New Jersey to NYC on the bus every day. I worried that I took up too much space and no one would want to sit next to me. I’d try to cram myself into the window, so there’d be no chance of crossing the line between me and my seatmate. (If someone very heavy sat next me, I’d do the same thing, not wanting them to feel about badly about their size.)

My current weight seems really healthy and content. Even at 10 pound less, food looked more interesting than it does now. I was still restricting in a way, I guess. I denied myself real portions and some tasty things – like mayonnaise and butter and creamy salad dressings, spaghetti sauce and cheese. I wasn’t starving and did eat foods I like but in such austere moderation.

I just re-posted on a Facebook a picture from a few years ago at dinner with my sister and brother-in-law. My first thought – I look fabulously thin (ten pounds ago.) My second thought – I worried about my weight through the whole meal. The food was rich and I’d eaten a bigger-than-usual lunch. I ordered roast chicken and steamed veggies and tried to eat as little as possible. What a waste. (Can you believe I remember exactly what I ordered and ate over four years ago?!)

So, here I am with the new normal. I have a completely clean Visa card. Time to go get some pretty new clothes that fit!

Me in 1985

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is still my favorite book. I first encountered it as an excerpt in a magazine before the book was published in 1985. I was sitting in the Allwood Branch of the Clifton Library in Clifton, NJ when I read it. Scared the crap out of me.

At that moment in 1985, I was 21 and a three-time college dropout living at home with my mother. We weren’t getting along. At all. Her creepy boyfriend of many years had just moved out and the house stood in tatters from his lifestyle. But I was more broken than the house.

Having left honors programs at the University of Michigan, the University of Wisconsin and NYU, I started waitressing at a local restaurant, Charlie Brown’s. To say I was a terrible, terrible waitress would be impressively kind. I spent my days spilling on customers – strawberry dacquiris, french dressing, marinara sauce, gravy…

Before I came back home to New Jersey, during my final year of college, I only ate (gaining 80 pounds in six months) and had chronic insomnia. I never slept. Once I got back to my mother’s, other than work, I only slept. I’d wake up, go to work, come home and fall asleep. I’d fall asleep everywhere – at movies, in cars, waiting at doctor’s offices.

It felt like the end of my world. What was going to happen to me?

And yet my world didn’t end. My best friend, Frank, came home too (he’d actually graduated from college, of course) and we began to have fun again. I quit the restaurant (hallelujah) and got a fun job at a hair salon. I made new friends and moved out of my mom’s. Eventually, I went back to college and finished.

Life has had it’s ups and downs since then. Times are quite good these days. But although it’s been 32 years. The Handmaid’s Tale is still my favorite book.