There’s a lot of construction going on where I work right now; throngs of people in and out every day, it would probably be impossible to remember all their names, if you even knew them to begin with.

A pair of electricians show up one day; one older guy and a younger guy behind him. Both in work clothes, a little sweaty – my interaction with them is so minimal that all I can tell you is their names are Greg and Mike. They seem friendly enough; I point them in the right direction and off they go.

Oh yea, Mike is fat.

My boss returns from some errands and starts telling a story about said electricians … “So I’m talking to the fat one…” I felt my eyes widen, I felt surprised by his distinction, I say ” oh, his name is Mike” and I just assume he didn’t know and let him finish his story.

He leaves again and the guys come back past me and ask a few questions that I don’t have the answers to, but say I’ll pass them along. The next day I say to my boss…

“Mike wanted to know about moving that one outlet, if you still wanted to do that?”

“Who’s Mike?”

“The electrician….?” I respond

“Is he the fat one or the other guy?”

I just couldn’t – even though it shouldn’t have been such a surprise – I couldn’t believe an adult, a successful business owner would categorize people that way. A grown man with children, who would more than likely pass that classification on to them, he can’t be serious!

“I guess he’s overweight yea, but his name is Mike”

“What do you know him or something?”

“No, why?”

“You seem defensive is all”

“I am, I mean, if we know a persons name that’s how we should address them, isn’t it?”

Awkward staring at each other.

“All right, Miiiiiiiike and the other guy. Better?”

“Yea, sure, that’s better. It just makes me wonder how many people referred to me as ‘the fat one’ if they hadn’t known or remembered my name?”

“Haha you made your point, now you’re just pushing … you’re not even fat”

“…Not today”

This is the thing about people who only know me now, in my less uncomfortable, smaller body. They are comfortable to make judgements about other people’s bodies, to shame them in my presence and to make fat jokes without a second thought.

I’m more offended by jokes now, than I was at almost 300 pounds. I feel like a traitor sometimes to be present for them, like I somehow tricked these people into thinking I was one of “them”.

I’m getting better about speaking up. I try.

I try to speak up for the people who don’t get the chance to for themselves, the people who are unknowingly the butt off others jokes for merely existing.

I try to speak up because there are people I love, admire and respect, who are also fat. I try to speak up because I hope people have done it for me.

I try to speak up because fat is just a thing we have, not who we are.

let’s [maybe] talk

A friend of mine used to work in a pharmacy and I would tease her for fitting it into any conversation she could; Person opening a cough drop, lady at Bath & Body Works pushing hand sanitizer, cashier in a clothing store.

That’s me now.

I’m so obsessed with the way my life and my opinion of myself has changed since having weight loss surgery that I can’t not talk about it.

I have talked about it with the guys in Vitamin Shoppe, the member services gal at BJ’s, my hair stylist, a cashier at the grocery store and the lady taking my order at Five Guys.

In addition to a slew of people on Instagram, Obesity Help, Real Self and anyone who even hints at being curious. I’m a mentor for the pre-op and post-op patients for the Weight and Wellness Center at my hospital, I’ve spoken on a panel (& will again in October!) at an expo they held. I’m starting classes for counseling in the fall, I’m reading up on taking additional courses for bariatric counseling certification specifically.

I’m into it.

I wanna talk about it.

With everyone.

Well, almost.

Regardless where you went for surgery, or are considering going, there are very similar guidelines post-op. Things like no soda, no drinking while you eat, no solid food for about 2 weeks after; there are stages of eating that you go through and they’re pretty standard.

I can’t hear any more about my girlfriends boss who had the surgery a less than a year ago and a month out was “so hungry” that he had to have a cheeseburger and fries, and complained about how sick he felt after, but continued to eat that way after.

I can’t discuss our progress with a girlfriend who over lunch about a year post-op for both of us got a huge fountain soda and when I (casually) inquired about her drinking soda she said “Oh its fine, they just tell you that but they don’t really mean it”

I can’t offer any more advice to someone who questioned me to death about everything and then four days after their surgery, still healing, swollen stapled up stomach, ate six meatballs, even if “they were really mushed up”.

I sound cold maybe, but these are the people stereotypes come from.

The people who make others think this is “the easy way out”, people who aren’t committed to making changes, people who want a “quick fix”.

To be fair, some may have issues deeper than I am currently equipped to see them through, or deeper than they are even aware of. There’s some leeway there.

It’s been almost three years, but it’s a lifelong thing. On a patient and personal – not yet professional level – I’m serious about my commitment to myself, to the process, to the changes. If you are, or think you are or want to be, or are just curious, we can totally talk about it.

Everyone gets a chance; but some people are just window shopping for advice, and I don’t have time for that.


driving miss jae

When my family moved from New Jersey to Wisconsin in the early 2000’s, one of my brother’s and I would make the drive back occasionally to visit friends and see some family.  Depending on your route, and your stops, it could be done in about 12 1/2 hours.

We would usually leave after 10pm, and drive through the night, getting to our destination by early the next afternoon. If I was driving the first leg of the trip, it was more like an ankle. We would get from my parents house, maybe to the Indiana line, which was about two hours, before I would be yawning myself to tears. After busting my chops for a few more miles I would eventually swerve a little too much for his comfort and he would take over the duration of the trip.


Rightfully so, he teased me for years. He also assumed that I just didn’t want to drive and did this to get out of it. I wondered if I did, too, but really I felt exhausted from driving.

Years later, when I’ve moved to Massachusetts, Steve and I are making the drive to Wisconsin for that same brothers wedding. The trip is about four hours longer, and we agree to leave around 9 and split the driving. I’m sure you can guess how that went. Barely into NY and I can’t keep my eyes open, so we switch seats. He needs a break so in the morning I’m driving again, until I all but doze off behind the wheel and he shouts, demanding I pull over.

I promise you I never made a connection between my weight and endurance on a long car ride; but again, in retrospect I find myself sort of piecing it together.

In 2015, just under one year post-op, we once again are driving from MA to WI for my other brothers wedding. We talk about flying because the trip is a lot for one person to drive, and we know that’s what happens, but we have a suit and a dress and favors and camera gear so we decide to drive.

I start the trip off driving and drive for almost six hours straight, without a break or, oddly enough, a complaint. We switch on and off for the rest of the trip and we joke about what a fluke that was, and I brag to everyone like I’d achieved something incredible.

After that, he’d “make” me drive more places we went, joking that I had recovered from my “driving apnea”.

I’d forgotten about any of that until this weekend when I was attending my girlfriends bridal shower about three hours from here. I was considering the logistics; would I go down the night before? Should I be local the whole weekend to avoid the driving all at once? I ultimately decide to drive down the morning of, and then home afterward. When I tell steve he laughs, “Who are you, me?” since he has on many occasions spent 8-10 hours in the car for one photography outing with friends. We laugh, and I don’t think about it again.

I did it; I drove something like 325 miles, with a several hour break in the middle full of mimosas and delicious food and socializing, and never got tired, or felt like it was too much. In fact, I got home, made us a late dinner and then watched some tv before going to bed at my usual time.

You might roll your eyes like “okay, losing weight made you able to drive longer distances? that’s a stretch” and ya know what, maybe it is. But in losing weight, I gained some things too, one of which was clearly increased energy and stamina, so let me have it 🙂



trial and error(s)

Yesterday I had a conversation with a stranger about weight loss, and then, of course, weight loss surgery. We talked for about fifteen minutes, she asked about the process, how it worked, and what kind of “diet” I followed now.

I was, as you might have guessed, more than happy to spill the details of the last few years. She congratulated me, and asked what I would tell my former self if I could go back and talk to her.

Without hesitation, I say ” I would tell her not to wait, to go to a doctor who would get her on this path sooner” because that is the truth; I have not a single regret, maybe only that I didn’t make the decision (three or four or) five (or six, or seven) years earlier.

She nodded and said “I bet. But would you tell her to try anything else? or just go right to surgery now that you know?” [curiously, not condescending]

“Ya know, of course I would want her to try everything else first – but I already did. I had tried every thing you could probably imagine and it didn’t work, or help beyond a temporary period”  She rolled her eyes “Oh, I know how it is.”

Nobody I know personally, who has had any type of WLS (weight loss surgery, for short) just woke up one day and was like “Shit, I’m fat, better get my stomach cut out” – although I am sure there are people who just skip over everything until a point where it is just too late and it’s a do-or-die lifesaving option.

Many of the people I know, had similar struggles to me, and to each other. On more than one occasion, sharing any part of my life-long (I mean, it was!) struggle/concern with my weight elicits “Oh my god, I was the same” or “YES, me too!

Here’s an abridged history of my personal weight loss trials prior to agreeing to let a medical professional remove 80% of an internal organ that I have had all of my life.

  • Weight Watchers – as far back as when there were cards you moved from one side of a little folder over to another one and all the way up through the points plus system.
  • Atkins – varying degrees, but I must have done the ‘induction’ phase at least thirty times in my life.
  • Juice Fast – only a handful of times; the shortest of which was 2 days and the longest was 7, just fruits and vegetables and water in my Vitamix all day every day.
  • Low Fat eating – Yep, just eating low fat foods, or foods with naturally low fat content, staying under, i believe 40g a day.
  • Adipex – prescription appetite suppressant/diet pill
  • Stacker – alleged world’s strongest fat burner, first time I took it I was so jittery i dropped a pizza I was serving onto the table, upside down.
  • Hydroxycut – Only once I think I tried this, three days later my grandmother died and I forgot to bring it in the bag I packed for her funeral; I still think she made me forget it.
  • Dairy free – For 48 days I had not a single stitch of dairy; no cheese, no milk products, no yogurt, nothing.

And of course, I made a ton of salads, drank all the water I possibly could and skipped plenty of desserts, fried foods and snacks. I used lettuce to wrap “burgers”, ate deli meat wrapped in cheese instead of on bread, didn’t put croutons on salads. I cut everything I could when i could. I did the cardio stuff at the gym, tried yoga, bought gimmicky exercise shit (shake weight / ab doer / wonder core / ab slide, to name a few), walked around parks and trails, bought hand weights easily a dozen times.

Once while Steve was away I ate nothing but salad for every meal, and walked about 3 -5 miles every day that he was gone – 2 weeks! I GAINED weight.

Sometimes your methods don’t matter, sometimes things are just out of your control. I didn’t believe that was true regarding weight loss, but my body was a traitor.

My surgery was a metabolic reset in addition to reducing the size of my stomach. And the only thing about it that makes me feel bad, is the anguish that could have been avoided for so many years.


rest assured, i’m eating.

When someone you know is losing weight, please refrain from saying “Don’t get too skinny”.

I laughed the first time, as if “too skinny” even seemed like a possibility from my place on the scale. The second time I didn’t laugh as much but thought “Huh, is that even possible?” and here we are at almost three years and ninety pounds later and it’s just not funny.

It’s not because it goes against being body positive or talking to people about their weight or their bodies in general; because I don’t have a hard stance on that stuff. I myself am an open, filter-less woman who will talk about and discuss almost everything.

It’s just annoying.
You don’t have to say anything.

Nobody talked about my body in fear of it getting too fat, but this too thin thing would apparently be an issue.

Nobody had anything to say when I loaded up my plate at a BBQ or holiday but plenty comment on my smaller portions now; “Is that all you’re eating?” “I hope you’re not starving yourself”

I don’t remember any comments on photos I posted about “blowing up” or “being huge” but I now get them about “disappearing” or “wasting away”

With a BMI of 40, a weight of 278 and blood pressure that far exceeded white coat syndrome at 178/100 nobody said shit. I had a great personality and was fun too be around …nobody ever said “Don’t get too fat”

Guess what? I got too fat.

Too fat to feel comfortable going on job interviews.

Too fat to try kayaking even though my boyfriend asked me to go every summer for five years (hey – we’re going on July!).

Too fat to (confidently) go to group exercise classes; or gyms.

Too fat for a dozen other things I can’t recall at the moment.

I got too fat for me.

I did that, and I am in absolutely no way saying that anyone else is responsible for what I did (or didn’t do) or let happen with my body, at all.

I’m also not saying I don’t appreciate the compliments and positivety thrown my way.

[ I do, so thank you! ]

I’m just saying … let’s maybe not say anything beyond the social niceties of “You look good” or “Hey, you look great” and let that be the gateway for a person to choose (or NOT choose) to continue on a conversation about their weight/weightloss.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who was self-conscious about their previous body, so I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels a little self conscious after comments like “you’re wasting away!” Or “I hope you’re eating!” …it’s like you can’t win no matter what you’re doing!

Rest assured, I’m eating.

it was a wrap

“Hey, remember that time you cried over the sandwich?”

“It was a wrap”

“Same difference.”



I was about a week post op from an emergent gallbladder removal. Emergent mostly because after about four or five ER visits with crippling attacks that ended with me going home because I felt better after some drugs, or had no insurance, or honestly was just afraid – they were like, ‘Nope you’re staying this time’

The morning I am released the surgeon who performed the surgery told me that he also repaired an umbilical hernia. I remember saying “I always thought that bump was because my jeans dug in to my belly”; he went on to say he was surprised I had even noticed with the folds in my belly.


Well, at least he didn’t call them rolls.

He comments on my weight and advises me to make some changes to my diet, but sends me on my way to resume mostly normal activity and says I am free to eat anything. I have minimal appetite for days, and am treating saltines and cranberry juice like steak and champagne a few days later. After a full week or so I accompany Steve to a shopping center nearby where he is going to buy a new laptop. Short and sweet, but fresh air.

After we leave, out of habit mostly, he asks if I’m hungry. To our surprise, I am. There’s a restaurant nearby where we have gone a few times and I decidedly say I want to go there and know exactly what I am going to have.


We sit down, order drinks and peruse the menu. My eyes dart up and down, flipping pages; where is the Southwestern Wrap? Come ON.

When our server returns I ask her if they took it off the menu; she says she’s never heard of it and has been there for a few months so she assumes so.

I grimace.

She tells me she can ask the kitchen if they have the ingredients and if they do, she can’t imagine they wouldn’t make it for me. Do I know what’s in it she asks … As if I have been studying for this moment all of my life I say “Chicken, black olives, cheese, sour cream, lettuce, diced tomatoes, black beans and jalapenos”

She comes back happy to report that one of the guys said of course he remembers it and can still make it.

Crisis Averted.

The plate placed in front of me may as well have been gold, covered in lace, with diamonds strewn across it. I mean, I had barely eaten in a week, but my eyes must have widened like a child on Christmas morning.

With sky high levels of anticipation I take a bite and instantly shake my head in disappointment, spitting it into a napkin. Before I could even tell Steve what was wrong with it, I’m crying.

Full on, SOB crying.

In my defense it was just lettuce, sour cream and chicken in a wrap. That’s it. Gross.

He tells me to get something else …

“I don’t WANT something else. I fucking wanted this and they said they could make it and this is disguuuuuuuusting

Our poor waitress. She offered me every resolution but I just asked her to take it away. With tears running down my face I explain that I had surgery a few days before and was still taking pain medication and it was my first experience with anesthesia and I’m really sorry and she laughs and consoles me and takes it off the check.

I leave her a big tip because I’m a fucking downer in the middle of a lunch shift, I KNOW. I even wrote an email a few days later to the manager to tell them how awesome she was even when I was acting like an irrational baby.

The story is funny because who cries over that?

But what’s not funny is that this is just another story in a long repertoire of stories about being annoyed or upset over food. Almost anyone who knows me, and has known me for years probably remembers me throwing something out of a car window, in the trash or in the case of foods that you eat with your hands, violently squishing things that were not prepared the way I expected or requested.

When I think about it now, I just see this sad fat girl uncomfortably sitting in a booth crying over a sandwich. Er, wrap.



people pleaser

I’m a recovering people pleaser.

I thought for a while that it was just in my nature, my genes even.

My parents are good people.

Like, really good, give-you-the-shirt-off-their-backs good. I was raised watching them help when they could, nurturing and taking care of others.

So I did the same.

I’m not saying I’m some Mother Theresa who let my heart and hands bleed for the good of every person I’d ever met. I definitely didn’t. I did used to joke that I was the meanest nice person you’d ever meet.

A large portion of my adult interpersonal relationships had been flooded with phrases like “sure, that’s fine” or “whatever you want to do”.

Every job I have ever had, too, has been caring for others in some way. Retail and office jobs aside, waitressing, personal assistant, nanny; the reward for me was monetary, but the reward for the other half, endless.

It was just who I was.

It might not have anything to do with my weight.

[you know I’m going to tell you that now I think it did; at least maybe a little bit]

A few years ago I was working for a woman who was pretty put together and had lost her husband the year or so before. I met her and her kids and decided that it sounded like a good fit, and accepted her offer.

On my very first day, while she was showing me around their neighborhood and explaining what the duties might entail, I said, in no uncertain terms “Whatever you need”.

And for more than three years, I stuck to that.

I stuck to it when it interfered with my own plans.

I stuck to it when it seemed unreasonable.

I stuck to it when people would roll their eyes.

I stuck to it when I didn’t want to.

I stuck to it to the point that I was stuck.

Don’t get me wrong she was fine, and took excellent care of me. In retrospect, if I was doing it without complaint, why not let me.

It was during my time with her that I started going to the Weight & Wellness center, going through the process. It was about six months after my weightloss surgery that I would finally give my notice and think only [at least for a moment] about myself.

I also remember a time when my boyfriend and I were hosting a traveling model and her husband for a night. I made everyone breakfast; like a serious, scratch biscuits, eggs, juice, fruit, coffee situation. I served them, and ate while I was cleaning up.

After the third or so time that I checked on them, the husband says “Hey yea I need something, how about you sit down and hang out, you don’t have to serve us, geez!” We joked about me being a people pleaser, about me being a Libra and then he basically said “Well cool, but get over it and sit the fuck down”.

I didn’t ever want to rock the boat. Maybe if I just went with the flow and was nice and sweet and good to everyone they wouldn’t notice. If I could be mostly true to who I thought I was, but make myself just small enough to blend in… maybe I could distract them from my big mouth, my big personality, my big body.

It could totally be because I’ve gotten older and gotten more comfortable with myself as a result, and that’s probably the bulk of it.

But humor me that it could also be the shift in my self esteem (which I never thought was low, ironically!)… That with the weight that bothered me (and in my opinion held me back in some ways) gone, and the increase in my self esteem, my clearer view of my value as a friend, a girlfriend, a woman, a person; I’m less willing to say yes to others, if doing so means I have to say no to me.


A friend messaged me today and was basically like “Hey, I don’t like when you talk shit about your former self; that’s my friend you’re talking about…” which was sweet and honest … we had a chat and she made some good points and I hadn’t really considered that anyone might be actually bothered by my self deprecating quips (aside from my long time friend Zeebs who always puts me in my place).

It got me thinking though ….

Some time last year I posted an older photo on my weight loss instagram account of me at one of my favorite places to visit when I am back in Wisconsin; Mars Cheese Castle. In the picture I am standing next to a cow statue, grinning from ear to ear and the caption said something along the lines of ‘not realizing the irony of standing next to a cow statue’ and about there being ‘280 pounds of USDA grade A beef in the black jacket’ … I later added parenthesis and said that I was just being a goof and not mean to myself, that it’s okay to laugh a little ….

But honestly only because someone commented about how terrible and rude it was to compare myself to a farm animal and how I should consider the feelings of others when I post things like that.

Wait. What?

I should consider the feelings of others when I post a photo of ME and make comments about myself?

Why should we have to be positive for other peoples insecurities? If a person is so content or confident in their body; why should it matter how I feel about mine? ‘Hey I love my body and by you making jokes about yours I feel like you want me to hate my body.’ Nah, I don’t, but you bragging all over the place about loving yours doesn’t change my feelings, so why let me disrupt yours?

I responded to her much that way, politely but basically saying that I am not in the business of making other people feel badly about themselves; and I certainly hope that nobody would base their self worth or personal feelings on what I say about myself.

I meant it then and I mean it now. My story is mine, and yours is yours. Similarities aside, they are totally separate things.

I have always admired people who were comfortable in their skin no matter what, but I am not going to apologize for not having been in mine.

The truth is, I hated that body and I’m glad I don’t live in it anymore, no matter how happy I was with my life or anything internal or external. I felt betrayed by it for years despite my best efforts to change it.

But I will say this; I didn’t hate myself.


[So, please don’t make that assumption.]

I almost always thought I was the cutest and funniest person I knew.

I don’t bash old me because I think she was stupid or pathetic.

She’s me. What was on the inside at size 22 is on the inside at size 10; maybe sharper, maybe more comfortable, maybe wiser and happier – but still there.

I don’t forget that I had a fat body, I don’t pretend that I didn’t.

Clearly though, it didn’t sit well with me; if it did, there would be no old pictures to cringe at or joke about.

If you hear or see or read that I say something negative or disparaging about my fatter self, it’s not because I think I’m hot shit now and want to shame other people or fat me; my opinions about myself, my jokes, my snarky comments are mine, and to me, they are retrospective.

In the same way someone might look back at pictures of themselves from high school and say “Who dressed me?” or “Who let me have that hair?” … I look at pictures of me and think “Was I really that fat?” or “How come nobody stopped me?” (that last one is totally rhetorical because what could anyone have said or done)

Losing a significant amount of weight, no matter how you do it, is a roller coaster experience. You rise, you fall and even have brief periods where you are stuck in one position waiting for people or things to get on or off.

It’s weird, really.

Nobody can prepare you for the mind fuck that the whole thing is; yea your eating changes, your cravings, or your diet [way of eating, not a fad] but so does almost everything else. You would think I’d be used to it by now; the feelings, the outlook, the attention and ideas, the emotions; but I truly am still learning things about myself every day.

Today I learned that people who love me don’t want me to call myself names.

Hey, I’ll try.



when i did the thing

If you’re considering bariatric surgery, or if you’re on the other end of the spectrum where maybe you think it’s for losers and slobs who take “the easy way out” you need to know, first and foremost, that they don’t just wheel you into an ER and cut you up and then you get skinny and life is perfect and happy.

I was only three months post op at the time I started to write about it and I couldn’t even believe what I had gone through in the 6 months prior to the big day. I was still learning how to properly eat and drink in a way that didn’t make me sick, or miserable. Still monopolizing the cardio machines at my gym.

I had follow op appointments with almost every branch of the hospital already scheduled for the following 12 months.

Food is the last thing I think about but also the thing that I am forced to think about the most. It’s a full time job, and in all honesty, the “easy way out” would be to stay fat and lounge and eat and waste away.

Before I was even able to meet the surgeon who would potentially preform my procedure I had to have a mental health visit, three visits with a nutritionist and a full day orientation. Not to mention a battery of blood work, EKG and endoscopy. I am not complaining, I signed up for it. (I later learn through instagram and the internet that not everyone’s experience was as thorough)

They tell you in the initial visit, even the initial phone call what you can expect. After you meet with the surgeon, a goal weight is determined for pre-op and then you work on that with more nutritionist visits and food logs and standing on the practically wheel-chair accessible scale every single time you walk into any of the offices.

The last time I threw up was that year, in a hospital gown with no underwear on, sitting on the edge of a bed where yet another woman tells me I’m not going to.

I had just had a test to make sure my new sleeve was doing its job leak free. My reward for passing it is a barely cold carton of skim milk to pour into a packet of no sugar added vanilla flavored instant breakfast, and a cup of orange gelatin. Yay.

Before you get the “prize”, you are laid on a slanted machine that will basically x-ray your stomach and see if the liquid is making its way through properly.

What liquid, you ask? This god awful solution of chalk dissolved in flat lemon-lime soda that no matter how much you can choke down, it seems they still want you to “Take another big sip” I hadn’t had a thing to drink in days and there was nothing refreshing about this. I’m grateful to every god there is that they got what they needed and I didn’t have to take any more sips of Satan’s punch.

It was when I got back to my room that I am telling the nurse I’m going to throw up. “You barely have anything in your system, it will pass” She was right, it passed… right through my lips into the closest thing she could grab; a pressed cardboard bed pan. Black as old oil, it made my whole body convulse, fresh incisions and all. The breakfast reward seemed like a punishment now.

I’m not going to bullshit anyone and say it was great, it was a somewhat gross experience, second only to when my catheter had to be removed because it was so full I basically peed the bed. That being said, in the big picture, I knew it could only go up. And it did.

’twas the season

Everyone barfs.

In the fifth grade I barfed for what was probably not the first time, but the first public time and man did I go whole hog with that one. Christmas Eve mass, sitting on the altar as part of the children’s choir and I would be the one who announced the hymns. All dressed up in my green and black sweater dress with the matching cardigan from the Misses department at JC Penny.

Every Christmas Eve afternoon my dad and I would scour stores for last minute extra gifts for my mom, and stocking stuffers at a huge pharmacy that had everything you could dream of in the way of trinkets, treats and actual necessities. I always got a few of the first two, and then we went out to lunch.

When I recount almost any story from my youth, or my life in general my boyfriend playfully teases me about the food memories. “How the hell do you remember what you ate when you were at a friend’s house when you were twelve?” To some of us, food is nourishing in more ways than one.

So here we are at this diner who’s slogan for as long as I can remember has been “Where good friends meet to eat” … over the years I would have gravy fries after prom, middle of the night burgers with friends after one too many drinks, and early morning pancakes with a heartbroken friend who couldn’t sleep. Today, this seemingly average weekend afternoon I am having a pizza burger with my dad. For a few years I remembered what I drank, and if I had to guess now I would say fruit punch because it sounds juvenile and like a bad idea when poured on a pizza burger.

We sit munching on our respective plates and talking about how to wrap the odd shaped manicure kit or heart shaped picture frame. I say we just tie some curling ribbon around the little bag of jelly beans or Brach’s candy by the pound we got for her stocking. I had had at least forty-five jelly beans myself because the sheer variety of flavors was overwhelming you couldn’t have just one, or twenty.

At 5 pm after the running around and the eating, we clean up and dress up and head to church. I’m on the altar with at least three other people; one of which is a boy a grade below me and his mother who is playing the guitar for some of our songs and maybe someone else. We’re sitting in the packed church and despite being December, it’s warm. It’s hot. Or I’m hot. I’m also nauseous from incense or something and I feel slightly dizzy so I tell guitar mom that I think I am going to throw up. “Oh, you don’t want to do that” she said. I remember that exchange so well because even with a pizza burger fighting its way back up my gullet and my fifth grade brain I thought, who the hell says that to a kid? Or to anyone? Of course I don’t want to throw up. Not ever, never mind here on a literal stage in front of my peers and community. I didn’t want to at all, that’s why I’m telling you lady, get me out of here.

I have to stand up to announce the next hymn and I must have moved in just the right way to shake it up. I felt every damn jelly bean coming up in a hamburger filled fruit punch sauce as I started to stand, so I sat back down.

Oh god, it was happening.

I threw up, violently, all over the lap of my sweater dress. On the altar, in the only moment the church was silent the whole hour. I don’t know who can see me and I can’t care, I have to get this pizza flavored betrayal out of my body. A few ushers and maybe parents from the front rows come up to help me, so this doesn’t turn into one of those chain reaction vomit fests you see in the movies. I don’t get up with their prodding because I can’t.

I can’t get up because while I was vomiting my fun afternoon all over my dress I was also crapping in my queen sized tights.


I’m in the back room off the side of the altar and some nice man who counts the collection money after mass is trying to help me clean up with a brown paper towel from the ancient dispenser – the kind that says pull with both hands but you always have to turn an awkward dial to really get it going. Another lady is there, maybe some more ushers, and they ask me if I can go back out and find my mom. I’m about 10 but I’m pretty sure my response was the 5th grade catholic school equivalent of “Fuck no. I am covered in my lunch and I have shit dripping down the back of my leg.”

If ever there was a time I needed someone to get my mom for me, this was it.

I don’t remember what part of the mass it was but I know my parents packed up my brothers and we all left, somewhat discreetly out of the side door.

I cried all three miles home about what turned out to be a stomach bug going around. “Don’t worry, you’ll feel better tomorrow. Santa will still come if you’re sick. Why are you crying?” my mother asked from the front seat.


“Because we’re supposed to go to Bennigan’s and now we can’t …”

I’ve always had a lot of heart, so I’m sure I was upset that I ruined everyone else’s good time; Christmas Eve tradition, my parents dinner out, my brothers missing their chance to drink root beer out of bottles and check the color of the soap in the restrooms and stopping to see our grandparents on the way home.

But when you’re sitting on a blanket in the car covered in your own vomit and poop and crying over not getting to go out to dinner… you have to assume my relationship with food was questionable since before I could even spell relationship.