Thursday, May 15, 2014

Never Open the Death Closet

One of the poop-covered victims
Our apartment has a death closet.

Mind you, we don’t provide the bodies. The birds do it themselves, flying in through an opening on the side of our building to drop in to our water heater closet through the vent. Too often, they’ll injure themselves and fall/crawl behind the water heater, where they then can’t get back out again. We hate it, but none of our previous supers would put grates up, and short of developing some sort of bird pulley system there’s nothing we can do.

It’s better when the birds can fly, and we have a rousing game of “fly out the open door you stupid bird.” One of the birds that showed up after the last rainstorm did just that, while the other one insisted on a game of tag first as it tried to fling itself against our closed and screen-covered kitchen windows (that were three feet from the open door, mind you).

The following morning, I heard more noises from the bird closet. Our new guest had no interest in flying, and when I tried to grab him he just tried harder to wedge himself in the crack between the wall and the water heater. I had to get to work, and I didn’t want the guy to get back there if I could help it, so when I left for work I kept the door open and hoped it would see sense.

When my roommate got home, she texted me that there was a bird trying to fling itself against my bedroom window and no sounds from the closet. She got the bird out and closed the door, and I told myself the matter had been solved. The bird she described sounded too big to be the one in the closet, but I wanted to think that it had gotten out.

The next morning, though, I swore I could hear birds in my room. Now, sounds echo oddly through the thin walls of my apartment building – when I’m in bed I can hear anyone knocking in my building – but I was certain enough to get up twice, put on my glasses, and peer desperately around my room. Finally, I convinced myself I was hallucinating and went back to bed.

I later got up, went to work, then came back home. As I was hanging a shirt up in the closet, I heard a flapping noise from somewhere around the floor. I shrieked “I knew it!” and proceeded to hunt for the bird, which was trying to wedge itself into a tiny space behind the filing cabinet. After an exciting adventure behind my bookcase, we got the bird and deposited it in a safe place outside. Finally, all the birds were accounted for.

Somewhere, the universe was laughing at me.

Later that evening, I was on the phone with my sister, and when I turned around there was suddenly a bird sitting on my bookshelf. I made an unholy noise, which caused the bird to disappear again, at which point I starting shoving my way through the solid two feet of furniture and assorted crap that stood between me and the corner. One of those things was a stuffed animal that made a trilling noise. It activated when I threw it, at which point I shrieked, “There’s another one!”
I was overwhelmed enough I had to hang up the phone.

When I’d collected my thoughts a bit I realized it was the stuffed animal I’d heard, and I was calmer as I finished clearing everything else out of the way. Then I looked down into the dark corner and saw two little birdie faces staring up at me, their expressions clearly wondering why I was freaking out so much.

I then walked into the kitchen, laid my head on my roomate’s shoulder, and said “There are two of them.” She patted my shoulder and came to help.

The first one was relatively easy to get – plastic bag gloves are an important part of this process – and as I carried it outside she tried for the second one. This one, unfortunately, wanted to die, and we had a whole adventure behind two different sets of bookcases while it ran back and forth along the entire length of one wall. My roommate had it at one point but it escaped, making her wedge her hand into an inch tall space while she cursed the bird’s ancestry and all its cousins.

Finally, though, she got it, and I hurried to the front door to open it for her. Just as I left the room, I suddenly heard her scream (and I quote), “Fuck! There’s another one!”

At that point, I was laughing too hard to breathe. After that, getting the last bird out was almost anticlimactic.

I’m still finding poop in my room, and our landlord swears we’re finally getting a grate. Until then, though, I’m not opening that damn water heater closet for anything.

Friday, May 2, 2014

The body inside my head

Photo courtesy of Microsoft Office
Here’s the thing about weight loss. It doesn’t change the body you have inside your head.

Honestly, I didn’t even really mean to lose weight in the first place. I’m a bit of a pessimist, so I didn’t think it was even possible. But a few years ago I realized that I was so out of shape I no longer had the strength to take the short walks I used to enjoy so much, and I was horrified. I had always been proud of the strength in my legs, and I wanted that back.

So I started walking, which is about the only exercise I knew I would reliably keep up with. Slowly, my route increased as my energy did. Later, I realized I was probably eating enough for two people, so I tried to be a little more reasonable about my portion sizes. I found I could walk even further. I would start walking places just because I knew I could, proud at how much easier it had become.

It was a surprise when I realized I could once again fit into t-shirts and tops I had stopped wearing a long time ago. It was like I had been re-gifted with an entire half of my closet again, and I enjoyed it in much the same way I would have a surprise shopping trip.

Having people tell me I looked good was even more of a surprise, and even now I’m still not entirely sure if I believe it. I’m panicking about the shirt I’m wearing now – even though someone just complimented me on how good I looked at it an hour ago – because it touches my ribs.

It’s only the lightest touch, the kind of top people wear all the time because apparently it’s normal to want to give people an idea of what your general body shape is. This is, I’ve recently discovered, a normal thing for clothes to do. In fact, less-than-skinny people are told to gravitate towards these kind of tops, because big, baggy things only make you look larger.

But I didn’t care about looking larger, because I had given my body up as a lost cause. I had decided there was nothing I could do to make my body match the normal expectations of beauty, so I wrapped myself in large shirts as if they were protective blankets. I wanted only to hide.

Even now, when I have been told time and time again that I should be proud of what I’ve accomplished, the feel of fabric tight against my ribs feels like staggering out into the world without my protective shell.

The thing is, though, I have nothing to hide. More importantly, I never did.

So, in addition to exercise, I’m spending an equal amount of time learning to appreciate my body. I’m learning decorating it in ways that appeal to me, much the same way I take careful time finding just the right spot for the butterflies flying on my walls.  I’m enjoying not only the t-shirts that have come back into my life, but the fact that I look pretty darn good in some of them. I’m teaching my brain that feeling that fabric against my ribs is nothing to be scared of.

It feels like running into someone I’d thought was a childhood enemy, only to discover after spending time with them that they’re actually a really nice person. It’s not an easy process – old instincts die hard – but I’m finally starting to realize that my body might be a friend worth having.

There’s no amount of weight loss in the world that can make you realize that. You have to find it out for yourself.