The bright, pink neon world screams at me.

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.





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!


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.

And dollars.

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!!! 💗

If only I could survive to see it.

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Death goes on

The first post I ever saw from “Youngest Oldest Cat Lady” was the one she timed to go up after she killed herself.

She was just beyond my online ecosystem. People I followed, followed her. But I didn’t. Her words found me though. After we lost her.  

An Instagram pic. Two cute kittens. And this caption:

“Hello all,

Thank you for the years of support and a wonderful life you’ve given me. I don’t want anyone to take this as a sign to quit. I have been struggling for so long. I am so sorry I was not strong enough to continue. This battle is over for me. And with that, I am at peace. Please, take care of each other.

This is a scheduled post.

April 9, 2023.”

Instagram immediately followed up like a pesky sales rep. “Want to view all 9,084 comments?”

Like fuck, Instagram. Give me one fucking second to process what I just read. Jesus.

The woman is fucking dead.

“This is a scheduled post” stalked my thoughts. I kept wondering if anyone considered that this is how people would eventually use that feature when they created it. Was this the first one she wrote? Or had she scheduled hundreds of these over the years only to delete them before they went live? What was she thinking about when she typed it out? Why didn’t she give us time to save her? Why do I, someone who never even followed her, feel entitled to have had time to save her in the first place?

Ashley Morrison.

Youngest Oldest Cat Lady was Ashley Morrison.

She had 250,000 followers on Instagram. She rescued kittens. She couldn’t be rescued.

If I didn’t meet her after she’d already died, I would have wanted her life. Ashley. April 6, 2023. 31 years old.

Just as I got really good at pushing my soaking wet grief over her death out of my brain, Heather Armstrong killed herself.

Dooce. The original blogger. The one I wanted to be when I grew up. The woman who’s writing style still influences my work. Dead. And nobody could save her either. Heather. May 9, 2023. 47 years old.

Again, I wasn’t one of her followers. I had intentionally unfollowed her last year after she posted an anti-trans rant. But I spent most of my 20s wanting to be her. Praying for her life.

What does it mean when the people you want to be kill themselves? Is this the fate of the anxious, blonde-haired women? Are we destined for self-inflicted death?

I’ve been twirling around suicide preferences in my brain for nearly three decades. In the 90’s, I’d lay in my twin bed, crying about how horribly acidic my teen emotions felt, wondering if an entire bottle of ibuprofen would kill me.

Eventually, at 29, I got sick and started having chronic pain, so my potential methods got more realistic. I saw on Kevin Spacey’s House of Cards that sitting in a warm bath with some aspirin in your system is the best way to slit your wrists — so that was usually my favorite fantasy.

But when my physical pain was ignored for long enough and I went days without sleep, I got more chaotic with my contemplations. Laying in the hallway, feeling fully in hell, I decided swallowing the bottle of Drano that was just sitting on the bathroom floor would be best. Or, while driving to work in excruciating, clawing, knife stabbing pain, I thought slamming my car head-on, full speed, into a concrete wall was better.

I think a lot about why I never did it. I like to pretend it’s because I wouldn’t want to do that to the handful of people who’d probably be upset if I did. But I have no idea if that’s the real reason. Maybe the real reason is a mix of reasons. I finally found a doctor who took my pain seriously. I convinced myself good things would still happen to me. And I never was very good at following through on my big ideas.

Am I eventually going to kill myself anyway though? Why would I assume I’m any different than they are? Ashely. Heather. If anything, they were lightning bolts better at life than me – and it still wasn’t enough. 

What about their pets? Ashley obviously had cats. I think Heather had a dog? Do the animals understand why their people are gone? Did they tell them goodbye?

What was their last day like? Did they do their laundry? Pay their electric bill? Run the dishwasher? When was the last time they bought groceries? And what were they thinking about when they died? Is it stupid to want to believe that two overachievers were actually hoping they’d fail? That they both just desperately wanted help?

Obviously, for Ashley, it wasn’t an impulsive decision. She prepared a scheduled Instagram post like she was setting up an out-of-office message. Was there anything anyone could have done to save her? To save Heather? And if nothing could stop them, what will stop me?

Looking back, rationally, I know it was good I never killed myself. So much has happened. So many miraculous experiences, loves, joys, and days of overflowing happiness.

But what’s ahead? I’m unemployed, uninsured, and tired. There’s no help coming. Everyone counts on me to figure it out.

Back in college I was editor-in-chief of the college newspaper. We planned a trip to Chicago for a journalism conference and we were set to meet at the train station at 6 am to go to the city. But I overslept. My alarm never went off and I woke up at 5:50 am. I lived across the street from the train station, but I had not packed the night before. I grabbed a couple items of clothing and ran out the door. I made it. When I arrived, out of breath, I asked everyone why nobody had called to see where I was? The general consensus: “You’re responsible. We assumed you would get here. And look! You did!”

Sure. But getting a phone call at 5:30 am sure would have helped.

See. It’s a metaphor. Get it? You understand? Everyone assumes I don’t need help because I never need help. And then they’re proven right when I make it to the train station on time. They were correct! Very smart! I didn’t need help!

Still kinda want it though.

I’m self-aware and self-absorbed enough to know that the last couple of years have been pretty fucked up for me. COVID started in 2020, and by the end of the year two of my old friends had been killed by it. First Jason. Sept. 20, 2020. 38 years old. Then Bronson. Dec. 1, 2022. 44 years old.

Well, technically Jason was liver failure. But I blame COVID. I think he had it. Even heavy drinkers don’t have liver failure at 38 years old without an underlying condition.

I lost my breath processing those deaths and then COVID killed my dad too. Dave. Feb. 23, 2022. 67 years old.

A couple months later my aunt died. It wasn’t COVID this time, but it was sudden. And she was too young. Perforated ulcer. Jean. April 28, 2022. 59 years old.  

Then, in June 2022 I got laid off. Gave 11 years of my life to a company and when they let me go their main concern was making sure I mailed back my cheap Dell laptop.

I don’t even remember the rest of the summer. And the fall of 2022 was a blur. I look back at posts I made on social media during those months, and I don’t remember writing them.

And then. In December 2022, my sister’s dad was hospitalized. Paperwork said “WITH covid, not FROM covid. But covid didn’t give a fuck as long he died, which he did. Gladstone. Dec. 24, 2022. Just 7 days after his 69th birthday.

I wasn’t close with him. And to be honest, I wasn’t very close with my own dad either. But deaths have a way of soaking through everyone around them. Like black gasoline sludge that can’t be bleached cleaned. It’s the fucking finality of it all. It doesn’t matter if you were close with someone. It doesn’t even matter if you only ever saw their Instagram page after they died. It’s still fucking shit. It’s still fucking awful.

Once they’re gone, the unanswered questions become permanent lore. Infecting our minds until one day, we die too. That’s really the fuck of it all. We all die. And time insists on thriving anyway. Eventually, we’re forgotten, and none of this mattered. If only constantly contemplating that counted as healthy long-term thinking.

I spent all morning working on this essay. Then I opened my email. Another death. My former publisher. Chris. Melanoma. May 23, 2023. 58 years old.

To paraphrase the Beatles.

Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da, death goes on, bra,
La-la how their death goes on.

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How are you supposed to feel when you get laid off?

Note: I wrote this back in summer of 2022, a few days after I found out I was being laid off from my job of 11 years. I thought it was finally time to put some of my more personal work back out into the world. I’m hoping to write an update on how things played out after this, but I’m not sure when that will be.

Laid off.

How are you supposed to feel when you get laid off?

Shouldn’t I be more stressed out right now? As a journalist I spent the most of the last two decades petrified about the possibility of losing my job. I always imagined I’d panic.

But I’m not panicking. My breath is steady.

Well, steady with a touch of guilt because I feel like I *should* be upset. In 16 days I’ll no longer have a job. Shouldn’t that terrify me?

It doesn’t.

Is this denial? Or have I just endured so much personal trauma over the last year that my trauma response has shut down? Like someone hit mute on that part of my brain.

My friend died. My mom was hospitalized. My dad died. My grandma was hospitalized. My aunt died.

And then, after all that, I lost my job too.

It’s the first time in my life I’ve been let go. Yes, technically it’s a “lay-off” but HR kept calling it a “termination” when they went over the logistics of it all. And to be honest termination does seem to be a better fit.

My time in that jobs has been terminated. It is complete. Over. Done.

I could feel myself wanting to *want* to cry while I was the phone with the HR woman I’ve never met in real life thanks to remote work. But I didn’t. I just listened patiently as she explained how I should mail back my equipment. I took some quick notes about my 401k and the date my health insurance ends. I made a mental note to ask about some of my ongoing projects.

Then, I went to the vet.

I had already had an afternoon veterinarian appointment set up for my grandma’s cat. So as soon as I hung up with HR I switched mindsets completely and started to work on the one truly challenging task I had to do that day — getting a cat into a carrier. Which I did, successfully. With a little help from my fiancé.

I didn’t think about work (or my looming lack thereof) for the next 3 hours. When I got home though, I finally noticed how exhausted I was from all of it.

It’s a little weird to realize that for the first time in my professional life I don’t know what’s next. I started working as Walmart cashier in 1999 — two and half weeks after I turned 16 — and I never stopped. Not once in those 23 years have I ever been let go. Always the breaker-upper, never the breaker-up-ee.

I grew up poor enough that I am constantly worried the professional world will figure it out. That they’d finally realize something I’ve always assumed — I don’t belong among them.

Sure, I got myself a nice little bachelor’s degree as part of the ruse and then I followed that up with a quick master’s for some extra cover.

I learned fluent Corporate. Faked my way through work travel. Figured out which fork to use when at formal dinners. And it worked. I made it all the way up to my dream job.

Only to be defeated by the economy.

Now that I’ve lost (my job), will they finally see me for who I really am?

Will they notice all the childhood trauma? The years I spent in dirty clothes as a teen. The schizophrenic father. The way I struggle to smile when they tell me they are, “Mitt Romney Republicans.”

Am I destined to beg for a minimum wage job somewhere? Is that what happens when they see you for who you really are? They make you go back to being poor?

So many times over the last year I’ve heard the cliché.

“I’m sorry for your loss.”

My friend died.

“I’m sorry for your loss.

My dad died.

“I’m sorry for your loss.”

My aunt died.

“I’m sorry for your loss.”

Well, now I’ve lost my job too I guess. Which seems to officially make me a loser.

But can I tell you a secret? After all those real, deep losses? The job one feels numb.

I keep thinking about my garden. How much time I spend pruning my basil. How important it is to cut things back to force new growth. How you can’t get more cucumbers unless you cut off the cucumbers that are already on the vine.

While I’m pruning it often feels like I’m causing pain— cutting off pieces it worked so hard to grow. But I have learned through experience that, in the long run, it’s what’s best. In fact, it’s the only way to help it grow.

So, take heart — there’s no need for anyone to be sorry for this particular loss. Actually, don’t think of it as a loss at all. It’s just a pruning and eventually, some new growth.

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