The loss of my security, my fat

By Sarah Floyd

10/18/2018

I’ve always had a weight problem, genetics has not been kind to the women in my family.  I was born in 1966, spent the 1970’s in elementary school and the glorious 80’s in high school.

“Fatty Fatty two by four, can’t fit through the bathroom door!” was what I was greeted with when I was in the lower grades.  This was always followed by my braided hair getting pulled by  the little shits that were teasing me. I would get mad and start to cry; but would always say something smart back to them or sometimes whack the kid teasing me.

I remember thinking during my pre-teen years in middle school, “If I can just stay at 135lbs like I am now, I’ll get older and be the same size as everyone else.”  Great plan! Didn’t work worth a damn.  I got into high school and ballooned up to 185lbs.  Although I was still teased a bit, it wasn’t as vocal as it had been in the elementary  and middle schools.

I wasn’t beautiful, but I cleaned up o.k.  I learned what Aqua Net was and how to rat my hair and managed to “almost” blend in.  My sophomore year found me with my first love.  A boy who was shy, played on the JV football team and for what ever reason saw something in me, he thought was worth spending time with.

I don’t remember why we broke up, but he always stayed my friend.  After graduation, we all got busy with adulthood and  lost touch with each other .  In 1994, that shy boy committed suicide.  He had hung himself in his garage and one of his kids had found his body.  My first love was dead and I was heartbroken.

In the late 1970’s, we had a “JC Penny’s Catalog Store” in our town.  These stores were actually tiny little shops.  You went in  and stood at a counter with a Penny’s catalog.  When you picked out what you wanted the attendant would place your order for you and when it came in, you’d get a call to come into the store and pick the item up.  I know… I can’t imagine shopping that way anymore either, especially with endless shopping on the internet right there, from the comfort of your home.  AND you don’t have to get dressed in your good clothes to go the other room and do your online shopping.  In the 1970’s, it  meant you changed out of your play clothes, got dressed in your good, clean clothes and went to town.

I always hated shopping for clothes.  My mom usually made our clothes for us.  She used a lot of that gawd awful bullet proof polyester that was so popular then, but I didn’t ever see a size, nor did I get looked up and down by an uppity catalog store clerk.  At the Penny’s catalog store, the lady took my measurements, in front of everyone in the whole damn store, and told my mother in a condescending tone “Well, she’s just going to be a ‘Chubby’ size. She’s not into women’s sizes, but it’s close.”  Mom shot her a look and we continued to look at blouses in the catalog.  I found a dark green velour v-neck blouse and it was with-in the amount my mom had told us to stay under.

As my mom was placing my order, the uppity clerk commented on the style of blouse, she told my mom the length was not long enough to hide my being on the chubby side.  She shot her another look, this time a bit more stern with almost squinting eyes.  She was silently warning her “Back off, or you’ll get a mouthful of filth.”  I pretended not to hear what the attendant had said.  We finished at the store, headed home, I got changed back into my play clothes and went about messing around in my tree fort.

I think during all of those years I got hardened to the way people would look at me, or speak to me;  not really engaging in conversation with me, but instead saying enough to be polite and then heading off to somewhere or someone more interesting.

As odd as this sounds, I started to become secure with my obesity.  I’ve lost and gained at least 200lbs and every time I become a thinner version of myself, people start telling me how good I look.  “Wow!  Look how pretty you are!”, “You are looking SO good!”, “How much have you lost?”.  My thoughts every time someone makes an exclamation of how wonderful I look, instantly go to, “Holy Shit!  How awful did I look before?! ”

I do get that nano second of “way-to-go” thoughts, but then I go back to feeling that insecure feeling that comes every time I lose weight. People start talking to me more, they seem more interested in talking to me.  It’s an uncomfortable feeling and my mind starts to obsess with thoughts of “why is this person taking the time with me now that I’ve dropped a couple pounds when before I lost weight, they wouldn’t give me the time of day!”.

It kind of turns into a never ending cycle. Gaining weight and becoming someone who is looked “past”; seen, but not really seen. Then losing the weight and realizing people start to pay attention.  Getting older, for me,  has helped quite a bit as far as people being judgemental.  It seems with age comes acceptance.  I have had the pleasure of meeting people who have been accepting of me at different times during my life.  I truly appreciated each and every one of those people.

Now, in my 50’s, I’m losing weight again.  The same feelings of a “Sunken-in” sensation when I wake up and start to move around.  The feeling of my clothes loosening.  Seeing the expression on people’s faces as though I look different, but they can’t put their finger on what that difference is.

For me, my security starts to take a dive.  I know I’ll have to start talking more to people.  I’ll look different and will get “those” comments from kindhearted, well meaning people who have no clue how their words of congratulations are actually affecting me.  The sudden positive comments coming from what seems like every direction can be very overwhelming for me.

This is why I often think of my fat as being my “Security”.  It protects me from over-stimulation from the people around me, from strangers who now “see” me instead of looking through me.

I have a great personality and, as my late father would say, I was “vaccinated with a phonograph needle”, meaning I could talk a blue streak.  I don’t think I’ve ever met a stranger; I can strike up a conversation with most anyone who is interested.  The funny thing is, as soon as I start losing weight, I don’t “look” for those people who are interested in talking.  It’s not as easy for me, it’s as though I don’t want the attention drawn to myself.

So here I go again; on my way down to whatever weight I end up at this time.  Usually my goal weight is one that allows me greater ease of movement, a healthier and more energized version of me.  My doc will be tickled pink and my psychologist will look at me with her little sideways grin and squinting eyes, telling me how interesting I am.  She’ll tell me with the wave of her one of her little bamboo and paper type fans how she has never had anyone have that issue before.  I’ll giggle at her and grab a burger on the way home. I’ll think about how good I feel and how if I ate that burger I would feel awful from all the grease and gluten I’ll be eating.  That thought lasts about a minute.  I happily bite into my burger, enjoy the juiciness of this heart attack on a bun.  I can worry about the outcome later.  Maybe the real reason I give in and have the burger is the thought it will make me safe as I have one after another and begin to gain my weight back.

I wonder sometimes why people don’t ever say “Wow! Look how good you look with a few extra pounds”, “It’s nice to see you’re back into your plus sizes.”.  Maybe people don’t make comments like this as it’s not polite.  Maybe they feel they would be encouraging a defeat; one in which the person who has gained the weight back is suffering due, to the fact the pounds are packing back on.

I guess it’s a double edge sword, like many things in our lives can often be.  We each deal with them differently than most people would.  But those differences are what make each of us unique.

The next time you see a friend or family member who  has lost weight, try to be a bit less excited for them.  Tell them quietly how you feel.  Let it be a private moment between the 2 of you.  No matter what, love that person unconditionally and let them know it.  Big or small, let them know you love them.

 

 

 

You got no Fetchin’ up!

SHORT READ

Her name was Ruthie Maude.  She was in her early 60’s and a slight little thing with a sharp tongue and deep Southern accent. Born and breed in Arkansas she was  a “God-fearin’” woman.  She smoked “More Cigarettes”;  you remember the ones, they were the long, brown skinny ones.  She preferred the menthol kind.  She would lite them off the butt of the last one, a chain smoker.

Ruthie was married to my Uncle Pogo’s brother Dow. Both men had “real” names, but these are the names I grew up hearing from my dad.   She was one of my greatest influences when I was 16.  She and Dow were “Snowbirds”, meaning they would travel from Washington down to Arizona in the winter, Then back to Washington in the spring time.  Like many other Snowbirds, they pulled their house behind them.

While sitting under the Big Leaf Maple where their house was parked on Uncle Pogo’s place, I would sit in a comfy lawn chair with Ruthie Maude and the other old timers who were both family and friends and listen to their stories.

I loved sitting in the warm breeze of summer, with the bugs zipping around us and the smoke from those long, brown cigarettes wafting around.  Ruthie Maude was an extrovert.  She was forever injecting funny and endearing Southern sayings in everything she talked about.

“I’m fixin’ on….”

“You ain’t never gonna ….”

“I’m PLUM worn out!”

“Bless your heart” and many more I can’t think of at the moment.

Of all the sayings Ruthie Maude had, my favorite was “You ain’t FETCHED up right”, “You got no Fetchin’ up”, You gotta fetch ‘em up right…”.

“Fetchin” didn’t just mean “to go get something”.  To her and others from that region of the United States, it meant the way a child was raised.  If a child or adult did something she didn’t think was polite, she would stand her little thin self right straight in front of you and say with a hand on her hip “You got NO fetchin’ up!?  I tell you what, right then and right there, she had your attention!  Then her serious face would melt into a smile and she’s start to belly laughin’.  It was so contagious.

I think about the people who have influenced my life and helped to shape me into the woman that I am today.  As I sit and write this, I can see her clearly laughing, smoking and telling stories from her days as a bare-footed, knock-kneed kid in Arkansas where her dad worked in the Cole mines and suffered from Black Lung.  Talking quietly about her brother “Bud” being one of the soldiers to die during the Bataan Death March after the fall of Corregidor during the WWII.

So many people help to shape our lives while we are being “fetched up”.  Do you remember any of the people who influenced you while you were growing up?

My quest for the perfect pie crust

 

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A pie

My mother grew up in depression era Iowa, the oldest of 3 daughters of a Share Cropper.  She milked cows before going to school and again as soon as she came home.  Her 2 best friends were a pig named “Herk” and a mule by the name of “Coley”.

My grandmother was an old school, meat and potatoes farm-wife cook.  You woke up to a hot breakfast, came into a good lunch and  at 6 o’clock a filling supper with sliced bread on the table and always a pie for dessert.  My favorite part of supper was knowing I would be able to dig into that yummy, mouthwatering pie and be in food heaven.

I watched my mom very closely when she cooked.  I wanted to be just as good a cook when I grew up.  I remembered the coffee she put in every beef pot roast,  that is now my “secret ingredient” in my pot roasts.  The fluffy pancakes she would make every Sunday morning with lots of hot coffee for the grown-ups and milk for my sister and I.  The thing I loved the most was company coming over.  Whether it was my dad’s fishing chums, a neighbor or family members;  everyone was welcome.   There was always a cake, pie or cookies of some sort for them to sit around the living room and enjoy with a hot cup of coffee.

I loved watching my mother roll pie dough.  She would dust our kitchen table with flour,  use a fork to take out a ball of dough from her mixing bowl and lay it down in the flour.  Never handling it too much.  “You don’t want to ‘Mother’ that pie dough to death or it’ll be so tough, it won’t be fit to eat!”  She would always give me tips of how to handle pie dough the right way making sure I knew it wasn’t bread dough.

Making pie was like second nature to her as I’m sure it was with most women her age.  Her recipe was the basic Betty Crocker pie dough recipe.  Flour, salt, lard (Crisco at our house) and of course, Ice water.  Her wire pastry blender was so old and beat up from making a life time pie crusts that the red paint on the wooden handle was nearly worn through.  Her rolling pin was never washed, but only wiped down with a clean cloth. She would stand at the table, cutting in the dry ingredients while turning the bowl and only looking down a couple times while watching Merv Griffin opening his show with some sort of crooner-type love song.  Of course the front of her apron always had two hand sized spots of flour on them because a dish towel wasn’t handy.

She had 2 very old tin pie pans that my sister still uses to this day. “Juice Saver” pie pans that were deep dish and wider across than the normal clear glass Pyrex Pie Plates.   Her pies were mouthwatering, juicy and the crusts were perfectly flaky.  At least in the eyes of a 10 year old tom boy girl.

I made my very first pie the year the Mount St. Helens erupted.  In 1980 I was a freshman in high school.  It was a blueberry pie for my dad’s work picnic and boy was it UGLY!  The blueberry juice had bubbled up through the steam slits leaving dark purple puddles on the crust and it seeped out through the edges where it hadn’t been sealed properly.  Ugh…mom said “It’ll be fine”, which was her generic answer to what ever it was which was clearly NOT fine.  I put it out on a table at the picnic, one of the ladies sliced and served it with juice running everywhere due to my not adding enough flour in to the filling mixture to thicken it.  We took three quarters of it home and it ended up being a nice treat for our chickens that evening when my sister fed them.

Fast forward 20 years in my own kitchen.  I had gathered together all the gadgets I needed to mix my pie dough.  A rolling pin which I had broken in on many batches of cut-out cookies, an old wire pastry blender I was lucky enough to find at a swap meet.  It was  like my mom’s, accept mine has a little tab at the end of the handle to put your thumb on.  I had a beautiful cranberry Pyrex bowl to mix my dough in and I was ready to go.  I had tried my best to make a pie dough that I was happy with, trying not to “Mother” the dough too much while mixing it.  I tried recipes that had ingredients like vinegar, mayonnaise even eggs.  Nothing was as good as what I remembered my mom’s pie crust tasting like.  Finally I saw a recipe for pie crust that called for milk.

I decided to go for it.  I didn’t like the taste of regular Crisco.  I wanted to try the Butter Flavored kind.  Wow!  What a difference in taste that made!  Changing the liquid to milk, I was really starting to like this new recipe.  I also started rolling my pie dough out onto a flour sack type dish towel.  I sprinkled flour onto it and rolled out my dough.  It made it way easier to control my rolling surface and clean up was a snap.  It was also easier to take the towel out into the front yard and shake out the flour and bits of raw pie dough for the dogs and little birds to enjoy.

I tried to remember how my mom had put it all together.  How did she crimp the edges?  How many slits in the top do I need?  I checked out cookbooks and looked at pies in the bakery sections of Costco  and Safeway.  The one thing which stood out in my mind, really made me say “Holy Crap!” was Turbinado Sugar.  More commonly known as “Sugar in the Raw”.  The sugar crystals are much bigger and have a slight Carmel color to them.  Sprinkled on top of these bakery pies gave them  a “finished” look;  as though the baker actually CARED about the finished product.  So after a light  spray of water from a water bottle, I sprinkled the Turbinado Sugar lightly all around the raw dough and decided on cutting 6 slits in the top of the pie.  I decided on this amount as they could also serve as cutting guides.  I suppose other people would cut 8 slits for smaller pieces.  I would rather a person enjoying pie and coffee in my home get a good, hearty piece that will give them something to come back for like my mom’s did with her guests.

At the time when I started to experiment with making pies, all I had were metal pie pans.  The dough was good, but didn’t seem like it was getting brown enough on the bottom.  This is when I discovered Crockery Pie Plates.  Ones that had been made of clay on a potters wheel.  I have 4 or 5 of these beautiful pie plates.  They’re spendy, but well worth the money as the finished product is so nice.  I experimented with different pies and found my new pie dough recipe along with baking them in the crockery pie plates was an absolute winner.  The smell of a pie cooking makes the whole house happy.  Cracking a window or opening your front door allows that smell to waft out into the world.  Driving up our driveway and smelling that good smell of pie baking is a treat in its self.  Walking over to the kitchen and seeing that beautiful pie plate with a yummy looking creation in it is just icing on the cake!  The flaky crust, the little bits of crystals reflecting on top and a peek into one of the steam slits seeing a piece of apple,  cherry or strawberry gets your mouth watering and ready for that first scrumptious bite.

After what seems like years, I have found my groove when it comes to pie crusts!  The HOLY Grail of pastry!  I love to watch a person eating my pie.  Their eyes light up, they stop chewing and say “this is REALLY good”.   It doesn’t taste like my moms pie.  It does evoke the same reaction people had when eating her pie.  People talk about my pies like they did hers.  That’s as good as it gets for me.  The feeling I get when people leave my home and I know they enjoyed their selves;  that knowing the time they spent with us made them feel good.  A full belly topped off with a delicious piece of pie will do it every time.

 

Miss Sarah’s Pie Crust 

2 cups All Purpose Flour

1 cup butter flavor Crisco or regular butter (at room temp)

1 teaspoon salt  (lessen this amount if you’d like)

1/4 to 1/3 cup milk (enough to make a workable dough)

Roll out 1/2 of the dough on a floured surface to 3″ bigger than your pie pan.  Place dough in pie pan so that it falls over the edges of your pan.  Fill with your choice of pie filling.  Roll out second 1/2 of dough and place on top of filling.  Fold dough  away from you and under its self.  Crimp how ever suits you.  Spray or baste with water and sprinkle ample Sugar in the Raw on top.  Bake at 400 degrees until juice bubbles and pie crust is golden brown.

 

My secret to being a happy narcissist

1990's little sexpot

“I’m lookin’ kinda cute” so says I to my husband as we’re headed out the door on our way to somewhere.  He chuckles, replies “Yes you are” and away we go.

After getting my swim suit on, I exclaim to no one in particular, but in the general direction of some of the ladies from my swim class “do you not LOVE this polka dot tankini?!”  A muffled laugh comes from the lot of them and then that endorphin releasing sensation of the “atta-boys” that I crave!   “Oh! That IS cute!”, “Where did you get it from?”, “I love that swim skirt too!”  My 300lb ego has been boosted and OUT I go, all a flutter and feelin’ good with the other ladies to the pool for our aquatics class.

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Hmmmm…I hear what you’re thinking right now, is this gal REALLY this self-absorbed????  My answer is a resounding YES! I recently read a blog on line about how to tell if you’re a narcissist and according to that article, I’m a complete and utter, born and bred down to the bone narcissist.   UGH!

I do post pictures of yummy things I make onto social media sites.  I love to see what people have to say about it, how good it looks or how tasty it must be.  The comments left by friends and friends of friends make me feel good. It’s instant gratification to receive positive comments from people.

My social media is filled with endless photos and stories of all the great things I do.  Whether it’s a sewing project, an afghan I’ve just finished crocheting or a counter full of hams I have just retrieved from my smoke house.  You can get lost in the pictures and comments of (and about) projects and things that I do.

When I blurt out comments about myself as I did in the lady’s locker room, it’s an accidental positive affirmation for me, if that makes any sense.  The reactions of people around me are mostly smiles and laughs.  The last I knew, if you’re not happy about what a person has said or done, its more than likely you’re not going to respond with smiles and laughter.

I was born with an overabundance of personality.   My dad used to tell me I was “Vaccinated with a phonograph needle”, (a phonograph needle plays vinyl albums, hence if you were vaccinated with one, you talked a lot.)  To be quite honest, I’ve NEVER met a stranger and I am an extravert.  REALLY???  Nothin gets past you!

All of that being said; does this mean I am truly a narcissist?  That I am a self-absorbed individual?  I know people who would tell you I would absolutely give you the shirt off my back.  I have others who believe very strongly, that I am very conceited.

I really do enjoy doing things for people.  When there is a death or an emergency, I’m all in for standing up and getting the job done and receiving nothing in return. However, If I do something nice for you and don’t get some sort of gracious reply, I probably won’t ever do anything for you again.

This means, unless I get back something for my act of kindness, I’m going to be unhappy, have hurt feelings, or even be pissed at the person who has failed to acknowledge my good deed.  Then again, NOT acknowledging a person’s kindness could be construed as narcissistic.  “I don’t have to say, ‘thank you’, she KNOWS I appreciate what she does!”  AND “assuming” gets us back to the old adage of it making an “ASS out of U and ME”, at least that’s what the old timers used to say.  Either way, to not say something as simple as a “thank you” is just plain bad manners.

So now that I have you thinking about whether or not you fall into the category of “narcissistic”, I also need to point out the negatives of being a Happy Narcissist.  Deep down, inside, I don’t WANT to be self-absorbed.

Other than to put myself together in the mornings, I hate looking in the mirror. I see people walking past mirrors and taking long, sideways glances at themselves.  It’s like, almost creepy, the way some people do it.  That’s not me.  I hold doors open for people, I say thank you. I’M the one in the checkout line who will let the person behind me go ahead if they have less than I do.  I will give you my beloved hanky if you’re crying.

My beautiful picture

I even had a cloth hanky back in the early 70’s!

It all comes down to this.  I have no clue if I’m truly a narcissist or not.  I am, by no means, a perfect personality.  I have my bad days right along with everyone else BUT,  I laugh easily, I talk freely and I enjoy my life.  Guests to my home enjoy being around here, they’re comfortable.  I say funny things which make people laugh. I smile a lot and people smile back. To my way of thinking, there is nothing wrong with any of those things.   If all of this means I’m a self-absorbed person, with a true “narcissistic” personality, so be it.

At the end of the day, I’m a cool person.  I can accept the eccentric narcissistic person that I am.  I can also look in the mirror and like the person who looks back.  In my opinion, that’s the important part.

So, tell me, do you think you’re a happy narcissist?