Nice things lately

I have to put together a list of nice things that have happened because I complain too much. God do I complain. All the time! Even though I have so much to be thankful for, it is my wont, my wont, my wont to use a Shakespearean word like wont because it is all I still have from my five-years of English degree liberal arts education, that and the best places on campus to take a real nap that didn’t involve being slumped over on a desk or sleeping in my car. Plus, I can point out six different coffee shops where you used to be able to smoke cheap cigarettes and talk about whether or not you would go to grad school or share which books we hadn’t read yet but pretended we had by employing vague and broad descriptions and reactions which could apply to anything (i.e. “That’s interesting!” “I didn’t think the plot was deserved, it could have gone further.” “What do I mean? Uhhh” “Please don’t ask me anything more.” “I didn’t really read this.” “I’m a sad person.”)Here are some nice things that have happened to me recently, in no real order than my brain is shutting down, either to early onset dementia or late realization that I am just dumb. Here goes! 

1. I was taking a walk this weekend (way to throw in your mild attempts at low-impact exercise, Mona!) and found a lot of photos tossed along the sidewalk. It looked like it had fallen out of a bag, there were photos of a family, a photobook from 2011, some prom pictures, but all in excellent condition. 

This was not trash. I tried to google some combination of names that appeared but nothing substantive came up, despite the fact that I am very very very good at google. Next level CSI (all cities even though Miami is my favorite), NCIS, Where in the World is Camen San Diego (and if you are too young to recognize that reference, why are you even here. Take your youth and metabolism to some EDF flower-crown concert where you can make fun of me for unironically “raising the roof.”) So I posted to a mom’s group that I found these photos and if anyone could help me get them back to the owner. 

And instead of disappearing into the digital ether, my friend knew who they were! And connected us in a message and that night, the photos were back on its way to their owner who had no idea how they got to my neighborhood but was happy to get them back. And it made me happy to do this, to take notice instead of ignore and walk by (again with the exercise, Mona!) and pretend that it was something for someone else to clean up. 

the kind lady took this photo, my kitchen doesn’t look like this. at all.

2. I got a lot of alcohol for free this weekend. In the same moms group, a nice lady posted that she was clearing her bar cart and if anyone wanted these glasses and liquor. To which I said: OF COURSE. I love these glasses and I know when I use them, it’ll elevate me from the level of glasses I use which are really either from Denny’s or the extra-large cup I saved from the Hunger Games 2 movie screening (which is still in tact for some reason–mostly the chemicals that are killing me with each cup). Plus, Malibu Rum + vodka + soft drink is my favorite drink, even though a bartender straight up made fun of me by saying, “Are you in a sorority?” Which I didn’t take as an insult because thank you for thinking I’m in college! As a student! And not someone who has to be kicked out of the library because I’m sleeping in the section they store senior theses. Sorry Ross Gellar!

So I have fancy glasses and alcohol even though I can’t really partake in them because I’m on a diet. Why would I take free stuff from a fancy person? I am a low level hoarder, a free stuff lover. An island girl in a big city who just wants more more more even though I don’t need it, even though I didn’t pay for it, even though I can’t drink it (yet) because I’m on a Our Lady of Perpetual Low-Carb High Protein diet.  

Even though I am a low-key hoarder, I am a high-level get this out of my house I don’t need any money, I just want to get this out of my life purger. This weekend I also donated about four bags of clothes and toys because TJ hates all the pants I saved for him from Nathan’s jean days so I guess that’s not going to work. And now my garage is cleaner, my glassware is nicer and that is something to drink to. 

3. I took a barre class this weekend, thanks to free passes from my work. I chose the barre class that was between an actual bar and a donut shop. It’s also across from a maserati and ferrari dealership. Which I guess shouldn’t mean anything to me but it does mean something to me, broke lady who does not drive a maserati or has been in a maserati but when I breastfed Nathan I had mastitis and sometimes I wonder about the praying mantis and my favorite person on Oprah was Nate Berkus. Anyway! 

There weren’t many women in the class, maybe it was because it was 7:30 AM on a Sunday I was able to keep up with most of the exercises, except for the leg lifts and my butt cramped up which is something I never thought I would experience or type in a sentence. It hurt! Throughout the class, I wondered, could I keep doing this? Yes, of course if it’s free. But could I pay real money and I don’t know. I’m really cheap (read above: free stuff) and I only have two cute workout outfits and everything else is just saggy yoga pants and T-shirts big enough to cover a king-sized bed. California king. 

I quit my gym membership in February and I started walking, drinking less and YouTube kettlebell exercising (Mona’s gratuitous exercise mentions in this post: 3?) and so far I have lost 16 pounds. I’m about 5 pounds away from my first goal weight and 20 pounds away from my dream goal weight and 50 pounds away from my Hollywood goal weight. 

I know I should be happy with my body at any weight. I do want to fit into the bridesmaid dress I was fat-shamed for trying on and I want to sit without feeling uncomfortable and asking to borrow a baby or a small child to sit on my lap and cover my lumps and bulges. I don’t have enough time to deprogram that part of my brain, the patriarchal religious anti-feminist voices that tell me what I should look like but for now, it feels good to wear clothes I haven’t fit into in a hot minute, to shop in my skinnier Mona closet and to say, “Hey, not too bad for two kids.” Cheers to that, friends. 

story of a dress

A few weeks ago, I was in the Nordstrom Rack dressing room, clutching the fabric of an expensive dress on sale. It was a gorgeous dark purple gown, marked down to $40 from $279. But it was long. Too long for my 5’3″ height, I requested the tailor and asked her what it would look like if it were hemmed higher. I explained that was going to be a bridesmaid and I just needed this alteration.

She paused and stared at me. Then said, “Don’t you want to lose weight first?”

She must have seen my face fall, the way that I was so excited to have this dress at such a great price, only to be knifed by a question that I would have asked myself before any activity, not just dress shopping. As I’m about to step on a stage with a bright light shining on every protruding roll and lump that appear because I forget to suck in my stomach because it’s hard to do that and you know, BREATHE, but then I shouldn’t get on stage at all because the void in my brain where self-esteem should be is an echo chamber that repeats: “DON’T YOU WANT TO LOSE WEIGHT FIRST?”

She leaned toward me, like trying to make it okay, soothe my wrinkled and apparently FAT face. “Nordstrom has a great return policy. You can return it in 90 days.” Then she continued like she was giving me the lowdown–see how much weight you can lose, then alter it, if not you can return this. You know, if you fail.

Maybe she spoke this way to me because she saw my face and racially profiled me as Someone Who Would Be Cool With Shame. Though, I am certain to the marrow of my bones she would not have spoken like this to a white lady. Or anyone who would have clutched her pearls in a “why I never!” shock. But she spoke that way to me and it hurts in any language.

I gathered my things in the dressing room, looked at my body. There was no cellphone reception so I couldn’t make an all points bulletin distress call to my friends so someone can say something nice to me. Instead I stared at my body, how the dress clung to my frame, but how gorgeous it was. And I bought it.

I went to an open mic afterward and told some of the comics who were in disbelief that someone could talk to me like that. But even though people had said, you should report her. I didn’t want to. Somehow I wanted to protect this woman, this woman I didn’t even know, to explain that where I’m from, this bluntness is normal, even though it’s not right. I saw in her the women in my life, my relatives and loved ones who have all said the same thing. Who have all bought into the idea that my life would be better if I were skinnier and that life with extra pounds would be much more difficult. I didn’t want to punish her, I just wanted her and the ghosts of all my relatives to just cut that shit out.

When I got home that night, I showed my mom the dress and she loved it. How elegant it was, how beautiful, how high-class. I told her that the tailor said I should lose weight and my mom, the historian of my body at every age said, “Oh no need, just wear a girdle.” She then helped me pin the dress to be altered on Saipan, where I won’t be able to try it on until I fly home next month.

I’m glad I bought the dress and I’ll wear the hell out of it while celebrating my friend. Because no one is going to say, Mona, could you please lose weight first before you land because our island is fragile and the 10 extra pounds you’re carrying is going to destroy the ecosystem. They’re going to say, welcome home Mona, please eat something, you look sick. And even if they’re lying, I’ll take it anyway.


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