18 June 2005

ten years! TEN! YEARS!

i was thinking of grosse pointe blank when i wrote that title. before i wrote the title, i was thinking about how the summer of 1995 was ridiculously, incredibly, obscenely eventful. pivotal, even. now, i know that all of you read my blog for the insightful commentary (ha!) rather than the self-involved blather, but seriously, it was so momentous. i have to share.

1. 1995 was my first summer in SPA. being in SPA was an abusive relationship: i kept getting hurt, and i couldn't get enough of it. my mother forced me to audition, trying to avoid another summer of reclusive, embittered adolescent instability, and i was consigned to the theatrical near-death of "children's chorus" in joseph and the amazing technicolor dreamcoat, and then the only thing i wanted to do for the next several years was be in musicals. it was...well, i guess it was something to be passionate about.

2. 1995 was also my fifteen minutes of spelling bee fame. that should not have been a defining moment for me -- after all, i missed the televised rounds (though i did make it to the second day, and i did know the final word). maybe it was like being in the chorus in a million and one shows, though. seeing some sort of elite academic competition, hobnobbing with the private school kids and the kids with the spelling tutors and stage parents, and then having it be over so suddenly...let's just say that i discovered my will to win. my nerd-will to nerd-win.

aaaaand...here i am in a ph.d. program. well done me.

3. last but not least: by most objective standards, summer 1995 was the last time that i was a fat person. i have done a lot of stupid things in my life, but nothing approaches the mindbending stupidity of the "diet" that i began that august. [moment of levity: in october i computed several models, both linear and non-linear, to predict my weightloss by day. dork dork dork!] at thirteen and fourteen and maybe even fifteen i thought that i had discovered the secret to real success, which is to say, i was sure that thinner would always equal better (and therefore happier). after all, that was what they taught us in junior high.

ten years later the polite term for my feelings on the matter is "conflicted." my animosity toward the appearance culture (see my sidebar?) is very intense but that i can't decide, given the realities of the situation, how i would advise my thirteen-year-old self. being fat gave me a first-hand appreciation of the power of physical appearance, and fueled my first academic interest in gender and appearance politics. losing weight made high school (seem) (more) survivable, shoved me into a world of social engagement i hadn't yet seen, and exposed some of my classmates as irretrievably shallow. [note: any reasonably intelligent person will think you are a bitch if you ignore and/or abuse someone for several years, then greet them warmly fifty pounds down the line. bad move, girls!] it also played havoc with my health and failed to produce any sort of lasting happiness. i often wonder where i would be today if i hadn't lost the weight. the bottom line is that, given that i continue to experience myself as a rather fat person, it's jarring to realize that it has been nearly ten full years since my body mass index indicated that i actually was a fat person.

hmm. well, that was fuller disclosure than i really intended. but hey: it's the internets! the internet(s) love(s) oversharing, right? i would like to, but will not, promise that i will return to writing about current events soon. stay tuned.