so i don’t know what you do when you go home to your parents’ house for
holidays when you haven’t been back in ages and ages. but i can tell
you what i do.

first i go up to “my room” and “my closet” (i’m using quotation marks because my parents moved to port angeles [where i am now] after i left home so they designated a room as mine and put my stuff in it but i have never really lived in it and half the time i am at their house, one of my grandparents is sleeping in it) yah so i go up to “my room,” pull out my old clothes and start to measure my failure since high school.

i figure failure can be measured in clothing sizes (up) but a half
point can be redeemed by the ability to sort of squeeze into something
you should never wear around another human being. for example, the
dress i got in 8th grade is a size 8 and this afternoon i was able to
squish my body into it and zip it up. so that was about 4 failure
points (i tried on jeans today, so i know what size i should really be
wearing) with a half point reduction for the zip-up. but 8th
grade was apparently a low point (or actually a point when i was into
baggy clothes) because my sophomore year winter formal dress could
barely be pulled over my hips and actually started laughing when i
tried to zip it up. 6 failure points since 10th grade.

one thing still fit me: the skirt i bought in africa right before i left when i had just finished gaining about 30 pounds.


there is of course something sort of demoralizing and disturbing about
standing in front of a mirror, attempting to try on old dresses. it is
similar to the obsessive picture-looking i do when i go home. i have
about 1 trillion pictures from 6th grade until senior year of college.
there are stacks of them in my room that i don’t know what to do with.
every time i come home i look through them all and then put them
back in the drawer or box i removed them from without coming any closer to making them into something.

demoralizing and disturbing, i guess, but also a little funny. like there is a picture of me and my winter formal date, nick hopson, sophomore year, when the black dress that now refuses to zip was easy to put on. i look horrible like i do in every dance picture, because i am wearing make-up and it is freaking me out. also freaking me out: the dangly earrings and high heeled shoes someone lent me and nick, who was
at that time my boyfriend but only because neither of us knew how to break up and who i hated. also, i remember, i felt ugly.

a lot of the pictures of me when i was skinnier are that way. i remember
feeling ugly or clownish when they were taken. even in the ones where i
look sort of beautiful, like when my cousin got married and i was her
bridesmaid, in that particularly skinny year when i was 15. i was
wearing so much make-up i might as well have been wearing a frankenstein’s monster mask. so yah, i looked great, but i felt like a weirdo freak.

what’s also funny-ish, is that, especially after i got back from africa,
my skinniness can be directly equated to my misery. the sadder i am,
the skinnier. which i wouldn’t even mention but reminds me to say that
by failure points i mean SOCIETAL failure points. because i remember
one thanksgiving, the one that happened in my freshman year of college
when i was so ridiculously depressed that i actually stopped eating.
out of sadness. as in I COULDN’T PHYSICALLY EAT because i was so sad.
and (that’s when we still lived in corvallis) i came home and all anyone could say was, “oh you look SO great.” everyone. friends, family members, people i hated.

funny. ish.

because now i am in graduate school, complaining but not considering
throwing myself into any rivers and not totally losing it and crying
for days or shooting fireworks into people’s cars.

and most of my pants have waist numbers in the 30’s and most of my skirts employ elastic.

which means: i’m a failure.