Yes, it has been a while since I last posted on the blog. School started last week, and I’ve been busy trying to get myself acclimated with the scene again. It shouldn’t be hard because I’ve been on campus ALL FREAKING SUMMER, but moving from summer teaching, which is every day back to MWF and TR classes is a bit hard. That, and I’m teaching four classes almost back to back and then I’m on campus for just one class on other days. It’s tiring.
ANYWAY…writing…yes, glorious writing. Something I haven’t been doing a lot of, I must confess; however, I have done a very little over the last two days, so I wanted to showcase my progress. There are a few projects I plan to work on over the next few months–for contests–so I’ll probably be putting THE LOSS OF WEIGHT on hold for a while. I will let y’all know how the other writing is doing, and I’ll also have a new interview to publish soon.
For now, check out my word count and read an excerpt of Chapter Two from The Loss of Weight.
I sat in my car and listened to Sade croon “By Your Side.” The digital clock on the dash read 8:58 a.m. I stared at the entrance to Books-A-Million and told myself that Dr. Cavanaugh was wrong. I didn’t need anyone to help me with my weight. I didn’t need a counselor to figure out how I got this way. I ate. I liked food. Food made me feel good. The point now was to learn how to turn my like for food into a like for the right kinds of food. Simple. With the world’s crazy obsession with weight and looks, surely there would be books I could read and having read them, I would say, “See, I read all this material and I’m fine. It’s not me. It’s just the types of foods I eat. Change that, and I’ll be great.”
As soon as a worker came to the entrance and unlocked the doors, I got out my red Chrysler 300C and set the alarm. Humidity clung all around me, making it hard to breathe. I rubbed my chest and took a few breaths before hobbling across the parking lot and into the controlled coolness of the bookstore. My cell rang, and I answered with, “Jay here.”
“Are you still coming?”
I sighed. “Yes, Danni. I’m going to meet you and Ma at Pamper in an hour.”
“Now don’t be backing out,” she said.
“Yeah whatever. Don’t worry. We won’t be mad when you don’t show up for the millionth time.”
“Bye Danni. I’ll see you in a little bit.”
I clipped my phone back to the handle of my messenger bag as I entered Joe Muggs and poured a cup of water at their condiment stand. I didn’t really want to go to Pamper. In fact, I knew part of the pain in my chest came from the inevitability of walking into Pamper and having people place their hands on me. The more I tried not to think about it, the larger it loomed in my mind.
I avoided the thoughts by pilfering through the self-help section. There were, what seemed to me, endless rows of books full of words guaranteed to help those who couldn’t help themselves. Most of them I easily cast aside; there didn’t seem to be a point in buying a self-help book from someone who seemingly was always perfect, or who claimed to know everything because they had a Ph.D. and had counseled people. If I were going to read a book, it needed to be from someone who had been in the trenches, who had experienced some things and came out a success. How could the writer ever understand what others went through if not for that?
I looked at my watch and realized I had fifteen minutes to get down the street to Pamper before Ma and Danni began blowing up my cell, so I quickly skimmed the last aisle.
“Screw this,” I whispered with a few books left to view. “No one can say I didn’t try.”
Journey of a Fat Girl was the second to last book in the aisle. The letters were white and big and round on the black spine. The slender, beautiful woman who smiled on the back cover did nothing for my wanting of the book; however, the subtitle caught my eye: A Girl’s Search for Her True Self. The book was a diary of sorts of the author’s young adult years and her journey to lose weight and become healthy. She also talked about her sessions with her counselor and the tasks the counselor put to her. My first task of the morning was complete. I would read the book. I would learn of this woman’s travails. No one could say I wasn’t trying.
I rubbed my left arm, trying to remove a tingling that had been building all morning as I looked down to the counter and saw a white guy with his BAM tag on, waiting for customers to ring up.
Now was the hard part. Paying for the book. As if slowing the actual moment of my execution, I trudged up to the counter, swinging the book and pretending to casually glance at books on tables. When I reached the counter, I smiled at the cashier and offered my happiest, “Good morning” before loosely dropping the book onto the counter, cover down. I felt like a boy buying condoms for the first time at his local pharmacy. You know the pharmacy, where everyone knows your name. And you know how the situation plays out, when the cashier gets on the speaker to get a price check on the Magnum’s. I prayed the cashier would just scan the book and drop it in a bag, but no. He flipped it over, looked at the cover, then me, and smiled. He kept that stupid smile on his face as he scanned the book, told me the price, took my twenty, and handed me the change.
He gave me the bag and said, “Have a nice day. I hope you get some use out of the book.”
My mind screamed, “Fuck you,” but instead of verbally wiping his smug smile off his face, I replied “Thank you,” stood straighter, sucked in a breath, and walked out the store as if good posture and holding my breath would create the illusion of me being smaller. Back in the car, I released the breath and grabbed tissues from my glove compartment to wipe the sweat from my upper lip and the tears from my cheeks.