“According to Boccaccio, some men became abstemious and withdrew from outside human contact, while others did the opposite and indulged in all of life’s pleasures. They saw life as an ‘enormous joke’ and wanted to take advantage of the time they had remaining.”
“Some, like Camus, reach the conclusion that life is a meaningless struggle against death. Others, like Reade and Boccaccio, try to deal with the disaster and make sense of it somehow.”
These quotes really resonated with me. This morning I stumbled onto this Twitter thread by someone whom I believe is named Liz based on her username. She posted about a 2009 college paper she wrote about the historical response to the black plague.
And this specific part.
“Some, like Camus, reach the conclusion that life is a meaningless struggle against death.”
I envy those who are able to ignore our current plague. All signs are pointing to another devastating COVID winter ahead. More death is coming.
If you’ll permit me to do so, I will offer one defense of my life-is-hopeless outlook. When it comes to “indulging in life’s pleasures,” I do believe my day-to-day is my favorite thing. Most of my days are spent at home with my fiancé Chris & our cats. I’ve been reorganizing my life post-corporate-layoff life so that I don’t wake up every day with a stomachache of anxiety over unread emails. I’m volunteering at a cat shelter. Enjoying the peace that comes with eating vegan. And clearing the sludge of the last few years out of my brain.
My days are better now than they were. Espresso in the morning. Hummus, pretzels, & a Coke for lunch. And lots of intellectual discussion with Chris throughout the day. Those are all the same as before. But they’re different now. Better.
I still freelance. I’m still connected to the corporate world. But we also run a small, online Lego re-sell store now and I wholeheartedly prefer this life to the one I was living in the beginning of 2022.
The death never stops. The ones from COVID, the ones not from COVID, and the ones that could have been COVID but we just don’t know for sure.
We lost Chris’ mom Aug 3. She died from pneumonia after a long battle with other health conditions. Her life was hard. In so many ways, our society failed her.
As COVID surges, I’m bracing to lose more lives, both directly and indirectly.
For now, I guess all we can really do is, “try to deal with the disaster and make sense of it somehow.” So let me know if you figure any of this out. I’d love to make sense of any of it.
There once was a man named B. Counter. He counted out beans by the hour.
He’d sort through them all. Both the large and the small.
Until one day he just fucking died, and all he had to show for it was a bunch of dumb bean piles that didn’t even belong to him.
And when the Chief Bean Officer found out, he just shrugged, and then he told Mrs. H. Resources to make Ms. Unpaid Intern No. 53 sweep the millions of sorted-out beans into one huge, green-gray office trash bin — thereby casually undoing all of the meticulous work that Mr. B. Counter had spent most decades of his life doing.
The intern complied, and then she rolled the bin of beans down the hall to a dim, blank, brown office where Mr. N. Guy was excitedly setting up to start sorting out all the beans all over again.
And sometimes Mr. New Guy would find like one or two extra beans that they didn’t know about before, and he would get really excited, so he’d email the CBO and very specifically ask him where he wanted the beans to go? And the CBO would reply to the and/or question with, “Thx”
TW: Weight, Diet, Numbers.
NOTE: Just a warning, this post gets really deep into my internalized fatphobia, so if you aren’t up for that topic right now, please skip this one. I wrote this last fall. It’s deeply personal. I’ve never shown this to anyone, and it’s been buried on my Google Keep app for months. I wanted to share it now because I’m hoping someone else will see themselves in these words and realize they aren’t alone. As I mentioned in my last post, Heather Armstrong’s recent death really impacted me. Maybe I should see it as a warning about the dangers of sharing too much of myself online, but I don’t. I see it as the opposite. I see it was a warning about the dangers of keeping too much of my work locked away for no real reason. We’re all going to die and none of this matters, so I may as well tell the three people who actually read this thing about my silly little life in the meantime.
My eyeballs feel like sand and my lips taste like gravel. Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Phentermine.
This is my losing effort to lose.
To banish the weight my body desperately wants to hold on to. The weight it claws back any chance it gets. Obsessively hoarding it in messy piles all over my body. Refusing to let go.
I did not lose enough weight last month, so I have earned a lecture. “We really need you to keep losing,” the nurse says, with a mean girl sneer.
As though I didn’t need the same thing.
She does not follow up with any advice on HOW to keep losing. Instead, she flashes me a fake smile, and asks which arm I’d like my B12 shot in. Left. Always the left.
She doesn’t know.
She doesn’t know the Hell I subject my body to each month in hopes of being just a smidge lighter when I step on the antique balance scale in their sterile office every 4 weeks.
She doesn’t know how desperately I want the big balance weight to stop at 150 one day, finally, beautifully weighing me in at under 200 pounds again. How I pray for it. Beg the skinny gods for it.
She doesn’t know about the fasts or that even though I’m already vegan, and have thus given up multiple USDA food groups, I am now debating giving up all oils as well.
Constantly calculating: What else can I cut out to cut out the fat sloshing under my skin?
She doesn’t know.
And I don’t tell her.
Because I know that prolonging the conversation will only make things worse. Instead I nod and agree.
Yes, I need to keep losing. You’re absolutely right.
Of course I have been tested. For every conceivable reason my body could possibly have for being so large. Vials of blood leaving my arm because the fat cells surrounding my veins refuse to budge.
And then, casually, medically, I am told: The tests are back and I am “normal.” Well, except for the abnormally large stomach and the upper arms that wiggle statistically more than average woman’s.
The only remaining option I have is to hate my entire self. My body, for its fat, and my brain for allowing my body to be so fat.
Worse than that, I’m ashamed of my shame. Why do I insist on adhering to the same body standards I despise? I never want anyone else to do this. I never care how much other people weigh. Why do I hate myself so much?
Why can’t I just be normal?
Then, right when I started to allow myself some hope that a new cultural focus on body acceptance meant that maybe I could finally just fucking *exist* in this 39-year-old body that I have — a new trend. Y2K skinny! Now! Back in vogue!
The bright, pink neon world screams at me.
💗 GET YOUR LOW-RISE JEANS TODAY! 💗
💗CROP-TOPS, HALF OFF! 💗
💗VISIBLE THONG TREND RETURNS! 💗
💗ISN’T THIS AMAZING? 💗
To be fair, Y2K skinny never went out of vogue. We just started calling it, “wellness.” Claimed we were suddenly so worried about everyone’s heart. As in the muscle — not the soul. Why? What do you think? What?! Gross. Nobody cares how you FEEL! Stop being so emotional!
I am never as unhealthy as when I am restricting. 12-hour fasts. 18-hour fasts. 24-hour fasts. It’s. Not. Working. THIRTY. SIX. HOUR. FASTS!!!
And of course, the 1950’s Housewife Regime: Five cups of espresso to suppresses the appetite and stimulate the bowls. Lint brushes to collect the hair falling out in clumps. A bottle of ibuprofen capsules to ease the debilitating hunger headaches. And of course, saline drops for the eyes that feel like sand and balm for the lips that taste like gravel.
All punishments I’ve convinced myself I deserve.
Come on ladies! Beauty. Is. Pain. And it is always, above all, skinny!
📣WE MUST! 📣WE MUST! 📣WE MUST decrease OUR BUSTS! 📣
It’s not just beauty though. That’s what they don’t tell you. I am more than happy to be quite ugly. Unfortunately, everyone else can’t stand it.
I have to conform. I must waste hundreds, nay thousands of days.
Squeezing myself into their standards.
Salaries, job offers, friends. They all rely on my restriction. I know because I’ve had a front-row seat to all the ways the world changes for you when you’re thin. And all the ways it changes when you’re not.
Filled with praise for my will power, my dedication, my work ethic the more I waste away. “I’m so proud of you!” they beam, like a living heart-eye emoji.
But I can never be thankful. Never relax. Never reach the end. I know that my body will always, forevermore, claw back the fat the first chance it gets.
Obsessively hoarding it in messy piles all over my body. Refusing to let go.
One day, hopefully, I will die. And then, they will finally, permanently, burn all my fat. Turn me into a pretty little pile of ashes.
Me?! Little??!! Wow! What a dream!!! 🥰 Truly the best a girl could hope for!!! 💗