let go of making good things, she tells me.  let it be whatever it happens to be in the moment.  i make breakfast and carefully arrange the berries in my bowl before adding the yogurt and chia seeds, drizzling the honey like so, like the world is watching, an audience waiting in anticipation.

perfection and desire.

it's officially summer and i can't tell if it's the same neighbor who is weed whacking everyday, the loud whirr and burr of their machines comes into our house, makes our dogs bark, even though all the windows are closed.  when i take the dogs around the block, i look for the meticulously cultivated lawn to seek out the culprit.  

i don't know where the line is. season 2 of queer eye is out and i think about the before and after. the messiness of the everyday life without netlfix money and gay men and the cleaned up after with painted walls and the bright sunny newness of everything. i don't want to be john or whomever, with the khaki cargo shorts and the same 4 tee shirts but there is something comforting about the familiar.  at what point does it become detrimental for my well being?  

i cut out the necks of most of my shirts this past month because crewnecks are the new turtlenecks, stifling, suffocating and i tug on them to make room to breathe. now i am forever looking like i'm going to an 80s dance class, all showy shoulders and such. i am ok with this but i wonder what the fab 5 would replace this look with. a flowy blouse? a wrap top that shows cleavage? 

it's monday and i can't get my head in the game. my instagrammable breakfast consumed, my pyjamas still on and the gardening neighbor whacking weeds loudly. if it's not good, what is this moment?  monday is a petulant child not wanting to do the monday thing and get in line. it's realizing that berries and yogurt are just a prelude to a second breakfast which may happen in an hour.  it's the thought that we've evolved as a species to coffee, work, computer, computer, memes and bad news and i'm only okay with two of those things. 

garfield minus garfield = i am jon, like all the freaking time.

garfield minus garfield = i am jon, like all the freaking time.

this is how i love you

my body is this nebulous thing. i consciously avoid going too deeply. its mysterious rolling hills and valleys and dark places scare me.  knowing what lies beneath this skin means knowing everything. 

it’s easier to move through this world a bag of spaghetti and bones. inconsequential and  tangible and easy to swallow. 

not this dark sticky confusing mass of secrets

what if I look closely and confirm 

there is nothing special here. you are not worth knowing.

i can’t look at my round calves and proclaim their greatness.  I can’t present to you my belly, separated into two hemispheres, my belly button living in the deep fold of my equator, and tell you that this is love. 

the most I can spare is two long minutes in front of the bathroom mirror upon first waking up.  my hair sticks straight up and out of the messy bun I slept in, reaching for the sky. this is ok.

my face with fresh lines telling me I slept hard last night. this is ok.

I wipe the crust from my eyes and adjust my glasses and look again. 

this is what I look like. this is what I look like.

this is how I love you. this is how I love you.

again and again. it has to start small. everything else may or may not come along for the ride but today this is enough and I wash my face with cold water and my dog finds me and licks my calves telling me he is ready to start the day.    

what you own

i hide people more than i'd like to admit these days.  i've hidden everyone until my feed is all ads for budgeting apps and those weird vitamins that look like golden capsules filled with perfectly round spheres. reminders to wish people happy birthday and donate to their charity of choice instead of sending presents.

i don't know many people who send presents anymore really.  the "HBD!" wish that shows up is the tiniest amount of gold people can spare for you. and it's fine and it's nice and they thought of you enough to say something so that counts for something.  at the very least one point. one point to add to the good deed point list.

i've hidden everyone because i don't love you because you are on top of today's political machinations. i love you because of that one time i lost my wallet and you stayed with me to call all my credit card companies because i couldn't stop being mad and crying about it. 

i don't love you because your life is beautiful pictures of beautiful places you've been or your beautiful children being their beautiful selves.  i love you because of that night we sat in my dorm room singing love songs. perfectly sober and overwhelmingly sad over different people who would never love us. no shame in my tracy chapman game. we had that shit on repeat. 

 i'm completely aware of the need to play show and tell and the benefits of being able to let distant family members know we're ok without having to call them, i also feel completely isolated by all of the noise.  this is how we talk to each other now.  

i shouldn't complain. i'm horrible on the phone.

i remember getting in trouble for always hogging the line as a teenager, coveting that connection. 

now i  look at my phone with disdain when it vibrates and a phone number appears. i grumble and let it go to voicemail.

i'm busy. i can't be bothered. 

i'm sitting looking at my phone. i'm doing nothing and i can totally be bothered.

i am part of this communication breakdown.   


tiny treasures

i want to be lost in the algorithim of posts. leave little traces of myself that people may or may not see. a poem i liked.  a statement noting my distaste for raw onions in salads but some how they end up being ok in salsa. an admittance of a disorder. i used to only let myself have 8 blueberries and 12 pistachios a day as a snack. these are things i want to leave behind. these are the things i want you to know but only if the gods of the internet decide that you should see them. are you worthy enough to know that i don't know how to make friends IRL now that i don't really like alcohol? or bars? or most people?  does this intangible  network want you to know that i only really like it for a day or two when jeff is gone and then i miss him so much because when he's not here  i realize what parts of me are empty and hollow?

i want to give you my secrets. i want to bury them in shallow little graves that only some of you discover.  like the small random toy animals jeff is unearthing in our backyard when he gardens.  he brings these lost treasures inside and washes them in the sink and puts them on the window sill. the pink swan with the broken wing. the zebra with all its legs but refuses to stand up.  the soldier's horse that used to be white, now pitted and brown from dirt, weathered by nature. 

proof of life

i had no idea the dog was in the room with me until i saw him run out of the corner of my eye, scurry out the door, like catching an apparition right before it disappears, a tiny little ghost. 

i'm really good at doing the same thing i sneak in and out of places. i like to leave before anyone notices so i don't have to say goodbye or have a light chit chat about how nice it was to do or see x,y,z. there is some great freedom in my ability to ninja in and out of things. no one remembers if i was at josh's party.  i'm not in any photos. maybe one. i have a drink in my hand. that's the one i nurse until it gets warm and gross and i'll leave it on a table with a bevy of other abandon glasses. that's all they'll have to go by, my one discarded glass, the only evidence i've left behind.

existing with people in a room is the base minimum i can tolerate most days. to add on top of that a personality, a show, whether true or not, is a lot to ask of me.  the moment i start to feel trapped it's time to irish goodbye it. for a filipino my irish goodbye's are pretty good. it's taken years of practice. the first time i attempted to slip away from a party unnoticed i got caught and my friends renamed it the asian goodbye: try to leave, get caught and then get handed a shot of something, a penance for your offense.

what are you doing this weekend?

i never have anything planned. no, no plans, i say.  staying in, chilling out at home with the dogs and the husband, no big whoop, nothing to do, no places to go, no family to see, no movies to go to, no shopping trips, no friend dinners. we cocoon ourselves  into our home during the winter which makes sense and everyone nods their heads, yes, yes, that sounds so nice, cozy time are the best times.  but it's officially summer and somehow that answer is no longer appropriate but i give it anyway and then i feel bad. awkward. weird. i don't know how to have normal conversations.

my family is so far away. my friends are so far away. i know some ladies at my gym but they have car loads of kids and the practices that come with them. soccer. softball. kickball (is kickball a sport?) i have two little dogs who are perfectly content to burrow under the covers with me and binge watch bad television and a husband who can spend hours organizing and re-organizing the basement. i don't have plans and my life can feel so small and i wonder if i'm keeping it small on purpose.  i don't know why since i know that safety is an illusion but the need to go and jump out of a plane is something i lost a long time ago. 

i don't have any plans this weekend.  i know the weather is supposed to be gorgeous. 

why we tell stories

because it's hard to be seen when you're quiet.

because words seem easier than leaning in to show you something tangible.

because some days i wake up too full and i need to let everything out so i can have breakfast, maybe coffee and move on with my day, the business of existing, the boring stuff, emails and organizing and people you pretend to like.

because if i don't then no one will know that i am broken  and i need you to see this, so you understand why i do anything or why i love the things i love.

because if i don't then no one else will.


i don't even know how to start writing anymore. i know i need to do it. i know it'll help me process.  i know it doesn't have to be good or make any sense. it doesn't have to be anything but what it is and i should just get over this weird mental block I have about it and just do it instead of pretending that the kitchen needs a good cleaning or purging my closet for the up-teenth time or deciding i need to make a cake or any of the many unnecessary tasks i give myself to do instead of writing.

something else will always feel more important when faced with doing the one thing i don't want to do right now.

and what is it, to not want to write?  what am i avoiding?  why don't i want to drone on endlessly about myself and my many feelings about many things?  isn't that every narcissists dream?  isn't this why people blog in the first place?

there is nothing special happening in my life in this moment.  it's all work, pt exercises,  contemplating what to eat for each meal, possibly a workout, possibly yoga, most likely cancelling one of the two and mostly all dog all the time.

i look at bean square in the face on a daily basis and tell him i love him so much that i cry and in my masochistic way i think about what would i do if he died and then i start to cry harder. 

yes. i do this to myself. i don't know why.

it's like the week before my knee surgery i had a nightmare that someone broke all of charlie's legs and i cried every day leading up to my surgery about it. the pain inside about this thing that did not happen felt so visceral and real and sharp.  

but most of the time, most days, i feel like i'm tip-toeing around big emotions i don't understand. there is something brewing inside of me that wants out and i'm doing everything in my power to keep it in.  i just know that one day while i'm going through the business or work, earning a  paycheck and saying dumb things on the internet i am going to break in half and all of it will come spilling out, all of this wild emotion, a big to do about nothing.

i am filled with imposter syndrome.

i teeter the line of being burdened with glorious purpose and being nothing but a piece of lint in the stinky navel of one tiny universe in an infinite sea of universes.

the need to be seen and the need to be completely invisible both live inside of me and are at war currently.





"Pork is the meat of my people, I refuse to be shamed!"  I said out loud to no one as I flipped sliced spam in a nonstick pan. In typical me fashion I over oiled a pan I did not necessarily need to lubricate to fry my processed meat product. The smell of smokey pork slabs filled the air.  I turned on the blower.  My mother used to call the fan the blower when we were kids.  At some point she started calling it a fan.  At some point she stopped calling power outages brown outs, stopped eating kamayan and started making cold pasta salads with celery in it.  At some point my parents became full American New Jersians.  

I liked a lot of the changes that occurred during this slow and subtle transformation. I liked pastas with cream sauces. I liked the italian style cakes from nearby bakeries.  I liked the inclusion of of all sorts of foods to our typical buffet of two kinds of pancit, lumpia, lechon and various forms of sticky rice based desserts. 

it's funny how food choices changing at home is how I recognize my parents acclimating to suburban life in the states. 

I don't think anyone in the family makes spam for breakfast (or any meal really) anymore. I think it may just be me.  I may have rogue cousins who consume it only when they are in Hawaii. I purchase 2 cans of it every couple of months and fill my kitchen with the smells of the weekend breakfasts of my childhood. i don't know if i'm glad or not that longanisa or tocino is not readily available in my neck of the woods in Portland.

I flipped my rectangular pieces of spam in olive oil one more time to make sure both sides were browned to my liking before turning off the burner and putting the pieces into a shallow tupperware container.  I scanned my brain to see how I felt about this. 

About 15% shame and 85% neutral.

Not bad considering last year the numbers would be reversed.  Or the year before that where I would only dare make spam in the house if jeff was away for work and no one was around.  Or the year before where I would never even buy it and only walk past it in the grocery store with deep longing inside for the comfort it brings me but unable to admit to anyone outside my inner circle how much I actually thought about processed meat products after being vegan for 6 years.

the vegan years weren't even the worst of my ED.  those times actually felt quite normal and my relationship with food was teetering on the edge of disordered but not the full blown meltdown that started in 2013 after my breast reduction surgery where i decided that now i've altered my body in this drastic way i was only one step away from having the body I always wanted to have.  my new breasts were small and manageable, no longer the swinging pendulums of a 38G but the rest of my body felt so disproportionate in so many ways.  my belly was out of control. now that i could see past my boobs all i saw was a belly that was standing in my way of looking like the person i always thought i should look like.

(to be continued)



inside out

you do not have to be good.

the more i think about it, the more i need this tattooed on my being as a reminder.

i can know this. i can memorize this mary oliver poem and i can share it and i can tell people 'you belong, of course you belong, just as you are, exactly as you are existing in this moment.'  i can imagine this for everyone. i can imagine what glorious beams of light people would be if they remembered this.

but not for me.  not for me. never for me.

and wanting it changes nothing. having others tell this to me changes nothing. and i wonder where this comes from and why, deep down, do i believe i don't deserve it?

this wounded creature inside of me feels like this is impossible.

how long does it take to undo?  

my parents are different people these days. i love who they have become in their old age. i can almost accept my mother's stubborness because i see so much of that in myself.  but outside of these familiar traits, they are easier people. i'm glad that their life experiences have made them softer and not harder. life is not as much of a struggle. they are finally at home here in america and they have community and love and all those things necessary to feel like they belong with nothing to prove.


i will never live up to your expectations and that kills me.


existing in this world, in this body, exactly as i am, is the single most hardest thing i've ever had to do.

and i do it everyday.

it's a wonder why i nap so much.


food is easy and i'm lucky enough that it is regularly available to me, so it's been the best and most convenient way to cope.

drugs were nice but hard to come by and much more expensive monetarily and emotionally. i have fond memories of ecstasy.  i'm too old to call it molly.  i don't even know where that came from. i remember feeling complete, full of enough love for everyone in the world that it came spilling out of me.  i remember feeling weightless and easeful and i remember loving everything about myself in that moment, from the cargo pockets in my favorite rave skirt to the bad home dye job with patches of skin still dyed pink and purple, to the old lady glasses i used to wear. i was fine with all of this. i was more than fine.  i was elated with myself.  

24-48 hours later i hated myself more than i could ever imagine. depleted of serotonin, unable to care for myself and my poor frazzled nerves. drugs were totally awesome until they weren't. 

food was a safer option for riding that train to my happy place and i could eat whenever i wanted and no one ever had to know what i was eating or how much or why. 

there was usually a similar hangover after eating though.  it's interesting that the food hangover was filled with much more shame than the drug use.


no matter how well you think you know me i won't ever believe you when you say you love me.

when you say you love me, the first thought i have is "but, why?"


it feels like this bottomless pit. this deep deep well of sadness that is never ending. sometimes i think i'm just biding time until this is all over and the big sleep will come and maybe then, i'll be able to breathe.

this is the most dramatic thing i have probably ever said, typed, whatever. this feeling comes once in awhile and i don't know what causes it specifically. it never stays for very long, but i do feel it.  and then i worry about it because i know it's not good. and then i look down and one of my dogs is staring at me and i remember that this is temporary and i get up and give them a handful of treats because everyday they save my life.


a tiny part of me knows and understands that i have a very specific place in this world.  i can't describe what my role is and often it feels so miniscule and unimportant but then i'll make the most amazing batch of cookies i've ever made and all of a sudden i want to invite everyone in the universe to my house to have them.  come over, they just came out of the oven and they're falling apart and melty, but only for a small amount of time so you need to come over now.  this is all i have to offer the world and there's a deadline to enjoy them while they're perfect.


i want to tell people my story but like most storytellers, i only want to tell you the important good stuff, like how i triumphed over evil or how i overcame some impossible feat.  

no one wants to hear stories about suffering that does not have a guarantee of a happy ending. or even a satisfying ending. or any ending at all.  

a lot of the criticism i've heard about roxanne gay's memoir 'Hunger' was about how unsettling the end felt.  

i was like, 'yeah, it's cause she's still living and it's still fucking hard.'

i'm still living and it's still fucking hard.  and then i write shit like this and then feel guilty because there is pain out there much larger than mine.


i can only seem to write in these vignettes because the moment i try to write something longer my brain does everything it its power to divert me away from the truth.  i'm self sabotaging to a degree. it doesn't want me to go too deep. i've been avoiding writing because there is something inside of me that is afraid of what i'll find out if i tell my story, or more like, who i may become if i share it. 

so i live in what seems to be the safety of 4-5 sentences.

but how safe is it really if i'm just boiling it all down to the most important words?


i tell him how i can only write twitter style, in small chunks, otherwise, i become distracted and the urge to run to the mind numbing emptiness of facebook is great.

i also tell him the community pool has an open swim time starting in half an hour or so.

and then i start crying.

"i don't know whether i should keep writing or if i should go to the pool."

making decisions is hard and so much of this can feel so dumb.


I wonder if watching the entire season of Queer Eye has made me feel this dumpy.  I saw some recent candid photos Jeff took of me this week and I couldn’t get over how sloppy I looked.  My typical work from home uniform consists of one of many pairs of black leggings, a tshirt and a hoodie.  I don’t really do my hair. I’m lucky if I brush it. Often I keep it up in the 1/2 pony I put it up in at night before going to bed. When I wake up in the morning it’s loose and unwieldly but I notice it, dislike it, then open my laptop to start working.  The minimum I do in the morning is put on a bra and pants and then I hit the ground running.

No one outside of jeff really sees me.  My physical therapist sees me at 7AM twice a week but my disheveled attire is almost expected of me at 7AM. I’m not dressing up for 10 minutes on a recumbent bike and some painful joint manipulation.

Although I was unhappy with the way I looked in these photos I feel like I am unwilling to jazz up my everyday work wear with something fancier.  I’m not willing to sacrifice the comfort of elasticized clothing to not feel so sloppy because I’d rather be comfortable than look like a contributing member of society. 

Being in this skin, in this body, is uncomfortable enough.


I sometimes find myself looking for a snack because I’m bored.

And food is delicious and exciting.

I often feel like this makes me a bad person and only because I’m fat.

This is the shame society wants me to feel.

If I was conventionally thin and wanted a snack because I was bored no one would give two shits but because of the size of my body if I want to eat something because I'm bored everyone would be concerned about my pending diabetes and heart problems.


it's now 3:09 PM and i'm too late to make it to the pool on time before open swim ends so I guess I'll keep writing.


what i want to tell this version of myself:

"your body has been smaller so that's why you're taking photos like this so you can go on some sort of diet (aka "lifestyle change") and this will be your before photo.  your body has also been bigger than this but you've tried to forget that time because you were dating someone who was a feeder, someone who wanted you bigger, someone who didn't love you at all. your body will get smaller again in the future. it will also get bigger again. through all of this change, you will think you have it figured out and then you will realize that controlling the size of your body forever is a full time job that doesn't make you any happier. it will make you feel more accepted though.  when you're smaller you'll be relieved because it's easier to navigate this world in a smaller body.  you'll be thrilled because people will be congratulating you for being so "good".  you'll also be constantly sore from working out. you'll also be constantly foggy from giving up carbs.  you'll also look for shortcuts to keep yourself smaller. you'll go see a 'medical professional' who will give you weekly b12 shots and phentermine. they'll monitor your blood pressure, warn you of the side effects but it's no big deal. it's totally ok. you'll be fine. you'll be less hungry!  

you will basically be on regulated speed which makes you forget about food.  for the first time in your life food will be at the bottom of the totem pole or priorities.  you'll be busy with meal prep and measuring out your 12 pistachios and 15 blueberries into tiny tupperwear for snacks.  you'll be busy expelling all that extra speedy energy into multiple spin and circuit classes a day. you will overwork your tired body and not fuel it correctly. you will wear down cartilage in your knees and require surgeries.

but that's ok because you'll remain small!  the drugs will make sure of it!

until they don't.

until, like most drugs, you'll need more of it to have the same effect.

until you start to care more about how you feel than how small you are.

your body will feel broken in many ways.  but it will also get better because you'll start feeding it again. letting it rest again. 

you will stop seeing this 'medical professional' for b12 shots and phentermine. you will think about going back when your knee heals.  your knee will never really heal.

your brain will feel really bad about a lot of this. it will be resentful of the weight you will gain. it will be mad that your body will require this much rest and down time.  your brain will tell you that you are failing. you will continue to believe that you are failing at life because of the size of your body and how it is growing and growing.

your body just wants to live in it's natural state.  your brain will be mad it doesn't fit into straight sized clothing anymore. your wallet will also be mad because you'll need to invest in larger clothes.

your brain will be mad that you are eating pizza on a more regular basis.  your brain will be mad that you are no longer working out 5-6x a week. your brain will be mad about a lot of things.

your body will start to forgive you for years of food restriction.  your body will forgive you for all the phentermine you fed it that made your heart beat loudly in your throat and fried your nerves until it turned you into jesse spano in that notoriously bad' saved by the bell' episode where she took caffeine pills. (we all know those were speed.)

your brain will get tired of being mad at your body and will start to get mad at diet culture. your brain will do research on the harms of weight cycling. 

your body may get even bigger. your body may get smaller. this is not new and you need to know that it doesn't matter because you are still you inside of this ever changing mass of cells. you will not like your body very much. somedays you will hate it. on good days you will feel neutral about it. you may love it someday but, no pressure, you are not required to love it. you are however required to cherish and care for the soul that lives inside this body.  she's pretty amazing. she doesn't believe this very often but the simple fact that she exists and that she loves...that is enough.  that has always been enough." 

bad brain days

it's snowing. i'm trying to get back into the pattern of writing and it's hard. my mind feels like a field of stray cats wandering wherever they please. each cat is a thought and they are all over the fucking place.


days like this i should really check my bcp pack. you would think i've been yelled at by enough doctors for not knowing my menstrual cycle that i'd be on top of such things but this task just gets squeezed out of my brain's 'to know' list. i've been with my husband for almost 10 years and married for the last 4 and i'm JUST getting to the point where i know his phone number by heart.  I'm 6 digits in for sure, the last 4 are almost there.

it's one of those times i'm distrustful of how functioning my brain really is.  i'm not as smart as i think i should be. i'm not as clever as i know i have been in the past. 

fingers crossed it's just a blip on the radar. we all have bad brain days, right?  

i'm used to having bad body days that the idea of having a bad brain day makes me scream, "Noooo, you're my only hope! You can't fail me too!"

I feel like a bottomless pit since my trip to the community pool to do some PT exercises and a little swimming.  something about all that activity drained me. i'm 3 weeks post knee surgery and felt really good in the water. i moved so well and almost effortlessly.  then i got home and everything started to fall apart.  muscle ache. fatigue. gravity.  i managed to shower, eat something and fall in and out of a nap for several hours.

i was still hungry in the morning but nothing sounded good so i had some toast as a starter and have been nibbling on random things since then, looking for something satisfying.

I haven't figured it out yet.


well then THAT happened - 2017


2017 started out pretty quiet. no travel. no plans. no deaths. nothing. this is my speed. this is where i thrive. when it’s quiet and there is room to breathe.

2016 ended with a disappointing “detox” diet thing that was pretty much framed like every singe diet i’ve ever been on. no sugar. low carb. i went into it with gusto and within a week I was feeling pretty dumb.

it’s the same. it’s always the same.


So I said fuck it and went about my way into the new year trying to make peace with the fact that my war with my body needed to be put on the back burner. I had too many other things to do.

Like meeting my cousin’s new little baby.

he's now roughly 10x larger than this with a head the size of a honeydew.

he's now roughly 10x larger than this with a head the size of a honeydew.

See many many drag shows

See many many drag shows

dealing with the odd portland snowpocalypse that had the city shut down for weeks

i dug charlie a dog run because he is my child

i dug charlie a dog run because he is my child

i took a break from the gym. i stopped working out. it felt like i was punishing myself and i didn't understand why. nothing felt good anymore. especially cardio.


2017 was a shitshow for politics, for brown people, for LGBTQ people, for most people really.



but i tried to remain compassionate and understanding.


but mostly i was tired.

32307660835_71fbcba8b8_o (1).jpg

like, seriously tired.

dogs > humans

dogs > humans

it took a lot of energy to just get through the day so i did the bare minimum hoping i would figure out what was going on with me.



I started blogging again. I had seemed to have forgotten that writing helps and I had done so little writing in the past couple of years that I lost myself.



winter eventually melted and when I finally got out of bed and stepped into a late spring I contemplated if it was my first bout of seasonal affective disorder.  

I stepped out of the vat of misery goo that was 7 months of winter gloom in Portland into a sunny spring that included walking around our neighborhood finding gems


and fostering a shy and fearful little dog who came to us named Harry.


that we eventually realized we could not give up.


we named him bean.  he is my little white shadow.  he will do almost anything for food and will sleep 80% of the day.  He is definitely the dog version of me.


I had started to work out again but made the conscious decision try and approach fitness like a different person.  I couldn’t make it the center of my life anymore.  I needed to be more gentle with myself.  I needed to be nice to me which apparently is really hard when you genuinely hate your body.


I started taking selfies first thing in the morning to see if I could really look at myself exactly as I was and find things I liked.  It’s a process that doesn’t always work.

artwork by Lucie Larouse

artwork by Lucie Larouse

I put up reminders in my office


I changed my social media feeds.  I removed all “fitspo” & “health” oriented posts and hid anyone who talked about diet, about “lifestyle changes” about weight.  I made room for people who looked like me and not people I wanted to look like. 

jessamyn stanley, powells 2017

jessamyn stanley, powells 2017

i made cakes and I actually ate them. I found myself eating pasta on a fairly regularly basis. It was still riddled with guilt and a plethora of voices telling me I was a failure at life for being unable to eat salad and be happy about it.  I knew this was a problem but I didn’t know what to do about it yet or how to deal with it.  I chucked it up to being normal.  All “overweight” people feel this way.  I knew I wasn’t alone in the struggle and a part of me felt like this was ok because it’s the norm.

I felt like being public and writing about your food and body woes was “basic”.  No one wants to read this crap. No one cares that you can’t eat a meal without having an hour long conversation with yourself about what you are eating and if it’s wrong or right.  No one cares that what you have for dinner feels like it’s a reflection of who you are as a person.  You make this choice and people will praise you for being “healthy”.  You make this choice and people will think, “Oh, so that’s why you’re fat.”  

My plate had become a battleground for morality. 

I had been knee deep in healthism for a very long time that I believed all of this.

It’s painful to think about how much time I’ve dedicated to something that has never served me.

the amazing Cheyenne Gill,

the amazing Cheyenne Gill,

I found out one of my favorite photographers was going to be doing mini shoots in Portland and I booked one as a birthday present to myself.


sometimes it takes seeing yourself through someone else's lens to realize you are beautiful.

sometimes it takes seeing yourself through someone else's lens to realize you are beautiful.

This summer my parents came to visit and did their cute parent like things

the new camera for old folks is an ipad

the new camera for old folks is an ipad

I started a body positive weightlifting course that made me excited about exercise again.

the body positive lifting course is offered at

the body positive lifting course is offered at

I went back to physical therapy for my left knee which still was not straight. I also started seeing an acupuncturist on the regular. 

cupping is sort of insane in the good feeling way.

cupping is sort of insane in the good feeling way.

with the extreme winter we ended up having an extreme summer.  i spent a lot of time in here


weightlifting became helpful when I had to help the husband carry the 100 lb portable AC unit up the steps.  it was like many mini deadlifts.  my body had started to feel useful and capable again.

I kept taking selfies to remind myself this is what i look like. somedays i felt like i looked awful.


other days i felt like i looked strong. 



while i felt very selfish this year, spending my time trying to put myself back together, my husband continued to be the most selfless loving person i know.


while walking the dogs he came across this injured baby squirrel with no mama in sight.  he carried this little guy home on the brim of his hat and we managed to get him to a squirrel rescue.  yes, portland has a squirrel specific rescue.


i went to a workshop that made me realize what i had normalized as  “just being a woman in this society” was actually an eating disorder.


and through this i found community and a therapist.

i started nanowrimo.


and i finished nanowrimo in bali.

uluwatu temple - kecak

uluwatu temple - kecak

bali, the land of offerings and beauty and humidity and volcanos.

i spent thanksgiving with two of my favorite people and survived an active volcano.

i spent christmas on the east coast.  i rode a magical carousel that gave me all the feels, like maybe things were going to be ok


and while the beginning of the year felt like:


and a little like this,

I’m ready for 2018 which feels very much like:


and while i don’t feel like i’m prepared for anything, i’m just a little bit more sure of who i am and what is important to me.  i’m just a little bit more ok with my body, what it can do, what it can’t do and learning that all of it is ok.  i’m just a little bit more in love with  jeff, with bean and charlie, with portland and with that amazing banana cake from new seasons which exceeds all expectations on what banana cake sounds like (and trust me, I’m not the biggest fan of cake that isn’t chocolate).


here’s to more cake, more freedom, more openness, more forgiveness, more care, more gentleness in 2018.  here’s to radical new ways to love. it’s the only way.  it’s the only way.

wellness culture

"Your body does not know the difference between not being fed because food is not available and not being fed because you're restricting and on a diet.  To your body it's just "you don't have food."   Jes Baker quoting Dana Sturtevant on the most recent episode of Everybody Podcast.

Jes Baker talking about the elitism of wellness culture really hits a chord with me because I was so embroiled in all of it.  the affordability of wellness culture. the performance that being a person who is considered a pillar of wellness culture.  being as visible as possible while you "perform" your wellness and health.  being visible at the gym. letting everyone know about your work out. wearing the yoga pants and workout wear while you shop at whole foods.  letting everyone know about your paleo, your sugar free, your carb free, your gluten free lifestyle.  And oh no, it's not a diet.  It's a lifestyle.  (shhh, it's still a fucking diet, they just don't want you to know because the word "diet" doesn't test well in this market.)

a part of me feels like i still have one foot in diet culture because of my connection to the gym but I'm boiling it all down to what does my body enjoy doing.

i enjoy working out.

it's just such a trap as sometimes the waters get muddied and some movement feels like self care and some movement feels like punishment for food.

good thing I'm seeing Hilary today.

jeff is in the bay area. when he's gone i typically work work work, watch bad television in the background and begrudgingly take the dogs on their walk.

it's only tuesday but i've managed to work but also spend time cooking, reading and enjoying the dog walks because it's dry and sunny and beautiful outside for Portland in December. 

change is possible.  still working on the jet lag thing though.



Day 2 of exile


I’ve cried face timimg Jeff.  I’ve emailed my therapist.  I’ve felt ridiculous, much like a petulant child.

I want to be home and I want to be home NOW.


I don’t know why accepting my situation when it’s not a situation I want to be in but I have no control over anything is so awful for me.  I don’t outwardly throw a tantrum but I get butt hurt like this airport closure happened to hurt my feelings.


It’s like the time I had to share a sofa bed with Lisa and she’s a night kicker and I moved to the floor and got teary eyed because my feelings were hurt even though she was basically an unconscious ninja.


I got some of it out of my system and talked it through with Sadia who got it and made me feel better.  We hung out in the pool. We ate lunch. We watched it thunderstorm for hours while she worked and I checked work email and deleted hundreds of spam email.  I took a nap.  I don’t know how long I was passed out for. I got back up and read. We ate the second half of our lunch.  I read some more.  My brain is only partially absorbing Brene Brown’s “Braving the Wilderness”.  She’s going on about how our generalizations about people put up walls between us and some other stuff that feels intuitively right but I couldn’t tell you specifics because I’m halfway between the waking world and this “I want to be home” malaise like sleep status.


When I said goodnight and closed the door to my room I put on the soundtrack to “Dear Evan Hansen” and folded some clothes getting ready to pack, the air conditioning whirring in the background, I felt relatively normal.  This is familiar.  Listening to a musical,  folding clothes, the temperature significantly cooler than the rest of the villa (they really should have noted in the listing that only one room is air conditioned).  We’re leaving Summer Moon Desa Bulan and making our way back to Seminyak to wait out the rest of the volcano delay.  Sadia has been great in contacting Eva Air everyday to see where we are and if there is any update on waitlists.  The Eva Air customer service in Taipei has been phenomenal in comparison to standard US customer service.  They don’t break a sweat.  They don’t blink an eye.  They’re helpful and they’re calm which makes you feel calm. 


We’re booked on a flight out of Denpasar on 12/2 and on the waitlist everyday up until then.  This 12/2 flight feels solid and real but you never know.  We were able to login and choose seats yesterday.  Looking at a grid of seats and choosing one and clicking confirm feels real and good.  I know this is not a guarantee that this won’t change depending on whatever happens with the volcano but its’ the only thing we have to hold on to right now so I’ll take it and try not to get too attached to any particular outcome because well… who knows what will happen?


It feels really cheesy to listen to a musical soundtrack but that worked better than anything else.  I needed story.  I needed a very obvious and familiar story to listen to to get my  mind off of worry and concern and stress.  Earlier I had been laying on the bed, staring at the ceiling throught the mosquito net listening to Neko Case sing “don’t let this faded summer pass you by”  and while there is some comfort in “Magpie to the Morning” it’s much too melancholy for the moment.


I feel myself slowing down and becoming more of the internalized version of me. Quiet, subdued, slow to add to the conversation, partially present.  Sadia is feeling better after her bout of Bali Belly and is much more vocal and animated. Back to normal. Miranda had some sort of detox cleansing juice that caused the ultimate cleansing.  She had been puking the night before and was down for the count all day.  We had been bringing her coconut water, cold face towels and white rice trying to bring her back to life. And I’ve been drifting and somewhat out of it, consistently tired, always on the verge of a nap.  I haven’t been sick yet on this trip but my poop has been on the verge of diarrhea since we’ve gotten to ubud.  Originally I was really excited to get out of the more crowded seminyak to a more remote area.  Don’t get me wrong, ubud is beautiful and the villa being remote has been great but it’s also had its difficulties.  Me and my knee have dealt with the slippery rocks leading to and from our villa.  I’ve waded ankle deep in water in some parts just to find sure footing.  It’s just a bit more tropical here. More mosquitos, more bugs, more wetness and less taxis.  The villa has drivers to take you to and from central ubud but if you’re out late, you’re sort of stranded and have to take a local taxi home.  A local taxi meaning anyone saying they’re a taxi and you get into their car, which is not a branded taxi, to take you home.


Yesterday I tried to explain to Sadia how I get overwhelmed and it comes on rather slowly when we’re walking around the streets of bali.  I’m initially fine.  We walk for a bit and my knee feels ok. I feel ok.  We go a bit further, we saunter in and out of stores.  The knee and low back start making their presence known.  I’m still ok but there are warning signs of future crankiness. Meanwhile the unpredictable sidewalk terrain makes me work harder to maintain.  Meanwhile my baseline level of usual anxiety has moved from a yellow alert to an orange because of the occasional hole in the sidewalk that makes you move into oncoming traffic to avoid falling. Meanwhile the motorbikes are so close to you as they go by you lean away instinctively so as not to get hit.  Meanwhile you start to walk funny because your knee is failing you. 

It all snowballs.


And when you’re ready to go home you still need to wait it out for awhile because the streets are narrow and crowded and your driver needs to find you or you need to find a ride which constitutes more walking and more standing and your good leg is now mad at you because it’s doing all the work carrying you heavy body through this obstacle course.


It’s exhausting and it’s hard to be gentle with yourself and remember that you have an injury and this is what happens to people who have injuries.  It’s not happening to me because I’m fat, because I’m an awful person or because I don’t deserve vacations.

These thoughts are ridiculous but they are the ones that come to me when I’m not feeling great to begin with and I watch other people comfortably walking calmly down the street without great effort.


I’m fine.  This is normal. I am not defective. My body has not betrayed me.

If anything, I betrayed my body by believing in a health paradigm that applauds over exercise and dieting.


Return to Seminyak

I hate to say that I’m glad to be back in seminyak in a hotel. It makes me feel like I can’t hang.  Maybe I can’t. Or maybe it’s more like I can hang but I prefer not to.  I was done with living in the jungle and how difficult it felt to get what I wanted or needed. I was done with the nightly influx of bugs in the villa. They have their own schedule. They come in the evening and they congregate on the kitchen table and counter tops.  They swarm my sink. The beetles, so dark and matte black, they look unreal. The brown moths who never make it until the morning, their little brown wings scattered around like tiny little leaves.  How did they die? Why does this happen?  Nature is confusing. 

I grew up in New Jersey to immigrant parents who did not believe in camping.  Weve worked so hard, weve come to America to NOT sleep outside. Why would people do this?  The closest we’ve come is to setting up shop at rest stops during our long drive vacations.  My mom would be carrying the rice cooker around looking for an outlet.  They would never purposefully sleep outside.

So yeah, I can’t hang. I wasn’t built to hang.

Our first tour in Seminyak Sadia requested to get a pedicure and since I had just gotten one before we left for Bali I got a manicure, the first one I’ve had since my wedding.

This is never a good idea for me, the ultimate nail biter.

So I’ve had nail polish on for the duration of this vacation, even during the stressful parts and I’m consistently on the verge of biting them and then not being able too because…well, eating nail polish is gross.

The nail biting is not necessarily a stress reliever for me but something I just do all the time.  Maybe this means I’m stressed all the time?  I’m unsure.  It really could be a by product of my anxiety.

I don’t know what to do now that I can’t bite my nails.  The polish is chipping and pulling away from the edges so if I really wanted to I could bite some of them.  There is something about my right pointer finger.  Like that nail grows faster than all of the other nails and I’m itching to bite it off because all I do is feel it, extending beyond my finger, growing past the tip, annoying the shit out of me.
I don’t know how people have long nails. Seriously people, what the fuck is wrong with you?

If we do indeed get on a plan on Saturday I wonder if these nails will survive or if I’ll have bitten them to shreds in a fury as we wait out our flight delays. 

The airport opened today at 3PM as the volcanic ash has shifted direction and I’m trying my best not to get my hopes up too high that we could be home relatively soon.  I want to keep the relief at bay so I’m not so devastated if the volcano erupts again and closes the airport again and keeps me away from my husband and my dogs and my quaint little life on 65th Ave.  It’s amazing how much I miss my routine. I miss my gym, my ladies, my coffee shop. I miss Jeff. I miss Bean. I miss Charlie Pancakes. I miss my dining room table littered with mail and papers and too many coasters.  I miss my kitchen and I miss my annoyance and trying to keep it clean.  I miss listening to podcasts while I do dishes.  I miss our Halloween bucket of candy that will probably now be our yearly bucket of candy as I don’t want to stop refilling it because it’s nice having kit kats and peanut butter cups around for random snacking.  It’s nice not punishing myself for having candy in the house. I miss stepping out onto the chilly backyard in the mornings to let bean and Charlie pancakes do their business, gauging if it’s officially winter, if it’s really the first frost of the season.  I wonder if that has happened while I’ve been gone.  I miss working at the dining room table. I miss walking into the TV Room to check on Jeff, to say, to sit next to him on the couch and ask him if he wants lunch, ask him if he’s busy and how is work going.  I miss saying goodbye to the boys as they go out for their afternoon walk while I go upstairs to do my physical therapy exercises.  I miss asking the dreaded “what do you want for dinner?” question and I especially miss when we order in and curl up on the couch with the dogs.  I miss texting him from bed telling him I’m ready to go to sleep and he’ll come upstairs and meet me for snuggles.  Charlie Pancakes and Bean will form a wall between us but Jeff will sneak around them to appropriately put me to bed before he gets up to mess around with his synthesizers or play a video game or work. Work sometimes happens.  He’s always been the night owl. I’ve always been the early bird.  There is no worm to get though. Just quiet mornings which are nice.

I miss all of it.

I am a whiny bitch. I know.

a better title when i can think of one when i'm not so jetlagged

Bali is beautiful and busy and crowded and dirty and full.  It is full.  It’s bursting at the seams.  People want to give you taksi rides. People want to say hello. People want to give you massage.  The currency has so many zeros that it’s dizzying.  It’s hard to do math.  I’ve never been good with math and coverting so I’m especially challenged here.

This is Kuta and Seminyak. 

Day 0, arrival late afternoon, we finally made it to the villa after the madness of leaving the airport and weaving through crowded streets in a car with a driver.  I don’t know how people maneuver here.  It looks like it’s almost all instinct. You don’t have any set of rules of organization or “you go now and then I go then the next person goes and we all take turns.” Which seems to be the unspoken rule of traffic in the US when faced with an intersection.   You take a turn when it feels right to you and everyone else has to adjust and somehow we have not seen anyone plowed off the road.

Delirious and sweaty from 24+ hours of travel I nursed a warm bottle of water Sadia bought me in Taipei after I drank from the water fountain and she was unsure if that was ok.

I was grateful for the water because it was leaving my body through my pores at an alarming rate.

It’s like I had stepped into a hot tub with all my clothes on and then decided to hang out in a country wide steam room. 

The air conditioning in the car was nice but in a weird way it made me sweatier. Later on I would find this happening again and again whenever my body encountered air conditioning after being out in the tropical humidity. Sweating outside made sense and felt normal. Stepping into an air conditioned store for 5 minutes would cause my body to release all moisture inside of it through my skin and sweat would pour down my face like an unstoppable waterfall.

Surprisingly enough I’m ok with being this wet all the time. I typically hate the humidity and the heat.  There is nothing that reminds you more of your girth, your size, your weight, than being hot and sticky.  I guess in America when I find myself in humidity I assume it’s just me. I’m the one suffering because of all my extra layers of chub.  The thin people don’t look as sweaty. They must certainly feel much cooler since none of their limbs seem to be touching. They have much more air flow.

Here, south of the equator, it is no mistake that no matter your size, you are all incredibly sweaty.  Even playing field.

The only people I see who are my size seem to be vacationing Australians. 

I’m ok with this.

As soon as our French air bnb host left us after giving us the lay of the land, restaurants, the tenuous taxi situation and a vague explanation of massage that she describes as jiggy-jiggly, we put on our bathing suits and I was the first one in the pool.  The water was warm and I swam back and forth risking losing a contact lense or two because it felt so good to be moving in water that I couldn’t be bothered to get my goggles.

3 planes in 24 hours with odd meal times my body was ecstatic to be swimming.

This is freedom. I am weightless and movement is full of ease and joy.

Stepping out of the pool to go to the bathroom I am reminded of gravity, of knee pain, stiff joints and my heaviness.  Knee surgery cannot come soon enough.  January 24.

I am uncomfortable with my size but I am mostly interested in where this feeling is coming from.  I tune out the obesity and diabetes and epidemic talk.  This is not new.  People have always been judgmental of fat people.  It’s normal.  Standard sized bodies are scared of catching “the fat”.  Being fat means you have no control.  It means you do not care about your health. It obviously means that you don’t exercise and spend your time eating fast food and watching too much television and not leaving your house.



I move so poorly outside of bodies of water.  I should just sign a pact with a sea witch and give her my human legs so I could live in the murky deep and not have to deal with real people who are scared to catch my fatness disease.


There is something about the music being loud. There is something about the darkness. There is something about stomping my bare feet against the thin carpet on top of solid concrete. Feeling like the ground can hold me and then some. It can meet me where I’m at no matter how hard I stomp.

There is something about moving my body in time to music. I have decent rhythm. Without too much thought I can move my legs, my limbs, my hips in time to different kinds of beats.  I could be a decent drummer.  I feel like it’s in my blood.  In a way I understand music more than I understand anything else in this world.  I understand music and melody and beat more than I understand my feelings.  My feelings which are always changing and always fleeting and something that I often do not trust.  I trust this.  I trust that the beat will always carry me and this ground will always meet me and while I cannot walk a mile without pain I can dance for an entire hour and forget I have a body.  It’s all beams of light and sweat and sometimes I cry because I feel whole and I never ever feel whole.  I never feel free. 

So this is what it’s like.  Freedom.  I wonder what I’m doing with my life that this freedom accounts for only a small fraction of my life. Days go by without it.  I forget about it. It becomes a distant dream that I’m not sure is real or not.  And then I hear a song. That song. The perfect song at the perfect moment and I remember and it makes me cry.
Because I miss it. I want more of it.  It gives me space.



people living in bodies that society considers "standard" can be so threatened by fat people who can do whatever they can do because it can threaten their own view of their place in the hierarchy of the world.  especially those who have lost a lot of weight and continue to hustle to lose more or keep the weight off.  if you're #livingyourbestlife, then great!  i am here for you and love your love of salads and smoothies and working out.  we have some things in common!  I love working out too!  but if you're on a food and exercise plan that doesn't feel enjoyable or sustainable and doesn't always make you feel good about yourself then you are not #livingyourbestlife, you're living the most instagrammable life.  

i know because this was me.  i'm 100% guilty of this. look at me. i worked out. here are all my sweaty clothes, here are all my sweaty selfies, here are my plank and wallsit times, look at what i can do. i am so deserving of your approval.

cue up the gaga.

i've removed so many people from all my social media feeds but instagram was the most populated with #fitspo.  these images aren't for me anymore.  I'm also selective in following fat athletes because it still feeds into the part of my brain that wants to overdo it in the gym.  Last Saturday i wandered a Fred Meyer and listened to Food Psych #126: How to Reject Diet-Culture Marketing with Kaila Prins and Kaila proclaiming how she's tired of talking about bodies and seeing bodies and making everything about bodies has burned her out and she's over the whole thing.  this rang true for me. i'm on body burnout. 

there is more to human beings than their body.

i could also be burned out on this because of nanowrimo this year.  i'm analyzing my body through every stage of my life and it's maddening. I was a thin 6 year old.  and then i wasn't. who the fuck cares.

i don't have the time to film myself screaming into a coffee cup but why would i do that when this bird screaming into a cup is 1000x better.

16,000+ words into nanowrimo and i took a day off and i'm behind. BLERGH.


Lots of old journal entries talking about need vs. want.

Want was always the bad thing. I was always trying to talk myself out of want.

It’s only now that I realize it’s not bad to get the things you want or to let yourself have the things you want. 

Life is hard enough.  We struggle enough to just try and obtain what we need.  If we have the ability to give ourselves what we truly want, why would be say no to it?

I blame the fucking Puritans.

it all goes back to control.  

and power.

wtf world. do better.


There is something about lifting heavy.

I am heavy. I feel my weight when I’m moving through this world, I feel my belly get in the way. I go to a circuit training class and when I do a push up or need to lift myself up a box I am aware of my heaviness.  It reminds me that I am strong. No one else is carrying this weight. My quads and my glutes carry my heavy body up flights of stairs.  My traps and shoulders push me off of the ground and my core, deeply embedded somewhere under my belly fat keeps me stable in planks. It is no small feat that I can move this heavy body on my own.

Being heavy brings me advantages.

Sometimes I am immoveable. I can plant my feet and bend my knees, get down low and not be pushed over. Why was I never a football player? I will never fly away.  I am grounded. I am solid.  Women are rarely ever portrayed this way.  Women in romantic comedies are whisps of human beings. All histrionics and lots of flowing hair sending its message, letting me know that I am wrong. My body is wrong.

I can hoist a 33 lb barbell from the rack to my station. Sometimes it feels like the barbell is twice my height and it can feel awkward but I never drop it. It’s the extra extra in the workout carrying and adding the cake weights to the bar.   I wrap my fingers around the metal and step under the bar and place it on my back.  When I stand up I feel its heaviness.  It’s ok. I am heavy too.  I’ve got this.

Whether it’s sitting on my upper back or I’m foisting it up over my head I feel it’s weight and I feel my heavy and we are meeting each other in the middle acknowledging each other’s heft.

I am not conquering anything when I lift.  I am not saying, look at me, look at me.

I am just reminding myself of what I’m capable of. 

I need to replenish the well every week.  Every week, everywhere I look, I’m reminded of what I do not look like, what I cannot do, who I am not.

I will never look like that in that dress.  I am not an agile ninja in a movie. I do not walk into a bar and hold court because I am the life of the party.

Then I go to the gym to pick up something heavy, hold it over my head and tell myself,

“Yeah, you got this.”

Fuck all that other bullshit.