Guest Witch Story: THE NASHVILLE LESSON by Lora Stevenson

These stories have all been so good. And you guys are in for a real treat tonight with Lora’s. Plus, I am glad to have a curandero introduced tonight, since we’ll need one again before this is all over.

The Nashville Lesson

by Lora Stevenson

A curandero named Urzua bought a sad guy in a bar another round.

That might make a great opening line for a joke. Except, the curandero is a male witch whose number one concern is finding a city he can live in anonymously…and that guy he bought a beer for? Well, his life’s goal is to be a star.

Urzua knew better. Every day, he closed the garage before sunset and headed to the same Nashville neighborhood pub as he had every night for the last seven months. So far, things were working out. The pub he frequented wasn’t fancy, and while it was only passably clean, that suited Urzua just fine. They didn’t refer to themselves as a “pub,” and that, too, was a point in their favor. Urzua thought of it as his place, which meant he didn’t draw stares still dressed in dark gray chinos and the matching work shirt he put on each day, no matter what city he found himself in after being forced to move the repair shop. He counted on no one at the bar remarking on or remembering his appearance. He slouched in, slouched at his stool, and tipped just enough–not so much as to draw attention and no so little as to draw ire. Another brown-skinned working guy here was not remarkable, and yet different enough from the usual white-collared after-work office crowds and rowdy college sports enthusiasts to remain apart and solitary without drawing speculation.

The Nashville musicians who frequented the bar, now, they were another story. Urzua knew them to be an unknown factor in his remaining under the bar management’s radar. He’d learned the hard way back in Austin that at times it could be impossible to tell whether some guitar player was high or happy, whether the drummer was drunk or sober. Musicians, like Urzua, tended to be comfortable on the fringe of any place they found themselves. They’d talk to poor, rich, ugly, beautiful, black, white, and every shade between. They always had an angle: to be known, and regularly worked any crowd to raise their profile. They were likely to see Urzua. That made them dangerous.

At first, that Monday night, Urzua went through his usual routine. He ordered a beer and a shot. Reviewed the checklist for closing the garage. He’d turned off all the lights inside and out. Locked the front door. Secured the bays. All that didn’t mean some lonely woman, passing by with the windows down on this cool autumn night close to All Hallows’ Eve, might not smell his work. As a result of catching the smell, as they had done so many times before, the woman would pull into the lot of Urzua’s Auto Repair, remembering a cracked tail light or the sticker the quick lube place had put on the windshield. Oh–how long was it ago? She would think. Then, she’d have to pull over a while to consider when the next oil change was due, or squint at the sticker in the corner of the windshield to make out the mileage and do the math. After that, Urzua would have a hell of a time getting rid of her again. They came from dusk all through the night, these women. Urzua could do little to prevent them. He’d barred the garage parking lot for years with gates, traffic cones; even buckets of tar. It mattered little. In Urzua’s experience, a lonely woman would move mountains to get to something she thought smelled right. They caught the scent that trailed after his repair work, and that was that. Once they pulled in, they had to investigate the heavy whiff of loamy, sweet growing things. Urzua drowned everything he ate in hot sauce to muddy that smell. Poured cayenne pepper around the garage and office. Yet they found the scent of growing things and burnt sugar that came just after Urzua’s hands had been on a car long enough to see where the manifold needed to release more oxygen, or the contaminants from hot roads had laid a film over circuit boards–oh, he loved removing that film; like the scab coming off an itchy, dry wound long healed. He left things so well repaired a machine was likely to run ten times its typical expiration date. As a result, Urzua never had to advertise or look for more clients. They found him. He just had to keep the women and the cats at bay with enough efficiency to drink and sleep in peace.

I love to fix things and I am not going to stop, he thought. It doesn’t matter about the women. It doesn’t matter about the cats. Urzua told himself again that Monday night, we’ll find the right city. Don’t give up. Nashville may just be it. The smell created by his repairs wasn’t something he could change. It simply was. We’ve gotten better—really good, in fact, at hiding odors. Maybe I should be in the perfume business. Being able to sense what needed fixing was the witchy curandero talent Urzua had been born with, though. It was life, that smell, not because he always made things better or returned them to the way they had been, but because, as Urzua had learned moving from place to place all his life and trying to repair cars and things and people along the way, healing was a very complicated but persistent effort of anything that grew.

Urzua had come north out of Mexico as a teenager, not long after the cats became an unavoidable plague. They found him everywhere, still, whether he worked at healing something or not. They were drawn to him from his birth. His padre had said they clustered outside the door of their small house with his first cry in this world. His mother didn’t mind so much, having chosen to marry an old-school curandero, oddities were simply part of the world. In the rural countryside where they had met and Urzua had grown up, the curandero was a community pillar. Every little town that had one boasted about it. A community with a specialist curandero was an even bigger point of pride. Before medicine was a profession, a male or female curandero might study and share herb lore, tobacco healing, special prayers, or even what rich Americanos would call “therapy.” Before there was a great divide between those who could afford to pay a doctor and those who could not—there were the curanderos, like Urzua’s padre, with a country garden and open door. While many larger towns counted their blessings and boasted of having their own priest, it was a Curandero rural folk relied on to keep the community well.

After his father died, Urzua and his mother had moved to town. Guernavaca was a nice place to be because his mother’s sister was there and Tia Maria was a connector of people. She found his mother work cleaning offices down by the river, even small jobs Urzua could do for hasty, tight bundles of cash without drawing the city priest’s attention. There was regular electrical power in Guernavaca, so Urzua had the opportunity to gather trash–broken toasters, radios, other small appliances–and quickly progress to more complex machines. It was in Guernavaca, not far south of the U.S. border, that Urzua found his ability to feel the wrong and incompleteness of things. Far away from official hubs of commerce and security, a used car or truck equaled status and freedom. Urzua learned to repair automobiles and discovered grateful people would simply mutter: Eh, el niño comprendes las máquinas. No one questioned if something Urzua had laid hands on kept running.

But Urzua had been caught climbing a neighbor’s fence one day. It was only the first time the cats would ruin everything. Climbing the fence was no offense for teenage boys, but drawing hundreds of cats from all over town while dangling from a tennis shoe caught at the top of the cathedral’s postern gate, was. Tía Maria had come and dispersed the crowds, but not before the presence of a Curandero had been noted by the neighborhood. It was just a matter of time before murmurs became trouble.

So, with his mother and a satchel of cash, after mending a cracked engine block and bringing a border guard’s favorite four-wheel-drive back to life, Urzua left Guernavaca behind and began his search for a city where he could fix things and also have peace.

That was many cities ago.

It’s particularly true that Monday evening, the week of Halloween, though the guy at Urzua’s regular pub seemed lost and in shock, his defenses should have been on higher alert. He remembered the guy hadn’t smelled bad or sick or drunk. Urzua got a good sense of his scent wafting its way from the bar’s overhead ceiling fans. He remembered hints of minty aftershave and a deep, tangy note of BBQ sauce hidden somewhere on the guy’s really loud, red shirt. The man’s hangdog expression was in sharp contrast to this bright red shirt. It featured parakeets and some vegetation that in the dim bar light might have been the huachera palm. Urzua, ever alert for the mystical and overlooked ordinary, knew it was unlikely some gringo dude wearing loafers with no socks and sporting a bad comb-over would be wearing a shirt covered in the sacred plant of Urzua’s own people. But it was dim. And it had been a very bad day.

The morning had begun with a “HIE! You guardians of hell!” shouted by the Professor, Urzua’s garage assistant, former patient, and, he supposed, best friend. Urzua had attempted a few college classes in Athens, Georgia. Now, that had been a good town. Good enough for his mother to stay behind in, when it came time, as always, for Urzua to move on. For better or worse, Urzua’s smart mouth had led to trying to heal his favorite professor, this guy who spoke seven languages and somehow, still, kept a sense of humor. That humor was the other side of depression, which the professor couldn’t shake. To make a long story short, Urzua had a coffee with his favorite professor one morning. A coffee that lasted all day, and ended with no more depression, but a passenger on the trip out of town. That was the last time Urzua had tried to fix a person.

That was sixteen cities ago. So, when The Professor called, Urzua left the buckets of milk he’d been carrying at the creek’s edge. It was good to have a guard for the garage, though what the thin, whispy-haired old man could do if a horde of ladies or cats decided to come in, he wasn’t sure. Leaving buckets of milk at the creek down below the shop each morning normally meant he could distract the cats long enough to open for business, get the mail, and answer a few calls.

“I’m burning some things in the front parking lot. I think the smell might be cover for us.” What, Urzua wondered, could he possibly be burning that would make a difference?

“I took some of your petty cash and paid a very amused group of local scholar- athletes for their hosiery,” replied The Professor, without Urzua ever uttering the question.

Cuales? Socks?”

“Used socks. Rather black . . . not sure they began life that way. Very used. Socks they practiced football in. I also gave an extra ten dollars to any of them who would give me the garbage from their lockers. The reek would wake the dead.” The Professor was gleeful, and perhaps deservedly so, not because it wasn’t a bad idea, but he couldn’t help adding a warning–

“Don’t say that. Good thinking, but don’t say that.” Urzua gave the old man his best stink eye.

Lo siento, mi amigo–forgot the season.”

Urzua slipped into the garage’s back door as they spoke. The three bays were empty, the last repaired cars sitting in the parking lot with keys and a very heavy hex against thieves laid on the ignition.

“We are too close to Halloween to be joking about raising the dead,” and with that admonition, Urzua left to open the first service bay. Unfortunately, what he’d found there was a fifty-something librarian with a wrench in her hand.

“Lady! . . . madre de . . . , Ma’am! Good morning. Can we help you with something?”

They had spent the rest of the day trying to convince the woman, of course—her name was Eleanor, that no, her Ford Focus didn’t need new tires. The engine sounded just dandy. All the belts were secure. Yes, her odometer was working . . . and so on and so on . . . He’d had to pull The Professor aside and warn him to stop flirting, and that yes, continually making veiled references to books Eleanor the Librarian may not have read but should, constituted flirting.

Perhaps Urzua was in a weakened state. He had bought the man at his favorite Nashville pub a beer, but knew—just knew—he’d used the universal male sign for “You’re welcome, now go away.” He acknowledged the man’s thanks with a nod of his head and a quick full-body turn in the opposite direction. Yet the guy had sidled up and fenced Urzua in by leaning on the bar. Next he knew, he was listening to crazy-red-shirt-guy’s story of how the Greatest Woman in the World had cheated and taken off with a car salesman. Shortly before thinking to himself, estupido, Urzua realized the man was telling him this was the third wife to go and–Urzua realized with no small amount of horror–it was an out-of-work musician he was talking to.

Dios mío, Urzua muttered under his breath, and began backing his barstool away. The man didn’t pause in his telling, though Urzua could have written the man’s story himself. He’d spent enough time in Nashville to have already heard this tale many times before.

He was supposed to be a star. But life is so unfair, and the music industry machine had gobbled up his good years on cruise ships and in late-night honky-tonks where the band’s bar tab and the night’s pay never came out in his favor. The tours had left him tired and spent, so that he lost track of time and money and other people living lives that involved trips to the dentist and the grocery store without a soundtrack or spotlight. He grew older as the new guys had come in: boys and girls in boots with enough daddy money to hire the best studio and players. Pretty enough for billboards and TV. They couldn’t play, they couldn’t sing, they couldn’t write, but they made the best puppets for crossing into pop and adding another layer of waxy shine to Disney Nashville.

And then–really, Urzua was still unsure what happened–he made another big mistake. Since he was leaving through the parking lot anyway, he didn’t stop this musician guy in the questionable red shirt from following him out the bar’s main door and across the dark lot. When he beckoned to Urzua from a restored ’87 Cutlass, how do these musicians with no cash all have sweet rides? despite of all the things that Urzua could have guessed, he found himself at the Cutlass’ passenger door. He got in and listened to THE SONG that should have been a hit. And though Urzua had only one shot and one beer, he found himself laying hands on that song. He didn’t think about the consequences. The melody sounded hurt and lame. When he should have asked more questions, like “What’s your name, red-shirt guy?” When he should have thought of the man as a patient, and done an assessment of his physical and mental health, right then and there; Urzua hadn’t. He had simply reached into the song with his heart and mind and talent. He set it to right, took a deep breath, and then reeled out of Red Shirt Guy’s Cutlass and away to his own car.

The next Urzua knew he was back at the garage, parking his ’41 Chevy in the third bay and throwing the keys down before hitting the small corner sofa in the office. He slept, long and deep, unlike other nights, somehow lighter and more peaceful as the song he’d fixed made loops on itself in his head.

“Mother-freaking cats!” Urzua heard the exclamation, followed by yowls and screeches. It was still dark out; he noted the single streetlight on Foster Avenue as he squinted through the office’s dusty front plate glass window. He paused for a moment and drew a deep breath, to prepare for blocking out the cats—and the Professor. He looked down at his watch, expecting to see “Tue” in the little window.

Gatos malditos y puta canción!” he screamed and threw himself at the door with a roar to scare the felines. He snatched the Professor’s tweed jacket and yanked him into the office, calling over his shoulder,

“Get the radio on. A COUNTRY station. ANY country station! Ahora! Ahora! If country radio has a hold of THE SONG, we’re screwed. They’ll have it on repeat. It’s just a matter of time until someone tracks us down.”

“What?” the Professor called, even as he was jerking a radio from under the front counter and plugging it in. “What did you do? Tell me, you horse’s petard. I LIKE this town. I don’t want to leave.”

As if to echo Urzua’s words, the evening jockey from local Lightning 100 erupted in a voice that echoed into the first two empty bays–LOCAL HERO RICK JOHNSON WROTE THIS NEXT TUNE. KEEP DREAMIN’, Nashville. THE NEXT HITMAKER COULD BE YOU!”

With a heavy sigh, The Professor dropped his head to the desk and mumbled, “When do we leave? Tonight?”

“Yes. Tonight.” And with that, Urzua launched into action, grabbing blue fifty-five gallon drums from the shop’s back corner and waving to the Professor to come help remove lids.

“Scatter these potatoes and apples everywhere you can. It has to be tonight. Don’t forget to slit them with your pocket knife–they’ll absorb odors faster that way.”

“Of course I will not forget. Did I not arrange to have the barrels delivered this time? I’m not the one who forgot that people shouldn’t be fixed.”

“I didn’t fix him; I fixed a song, dammit.”

“Same thing,” was the Professor’s quick reply.

Misterio. How the fuck was I supposed to guess that?” Urzua exclaimed, stopping to rest, hands on hips and chin thrust forward.

“Let’s head to Memphis next,” replied the Professor. “I know a blues man there. For a decent used car, he’ll probably tell you all about it.”

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The Fortune Tellers

Our dad owed a lot of money to The Wrong People. That’s how this started. He couldn’t have paid them back in a hundred million years and they were going to kill him. In a fit of desperation, he offered up, “My daughters can read fortunes and make them come true.”

My dad named me “May Marie” and my sister “June Marie.” So, where he came up with this bout of creativity, I’m not sure. It was utter bullshit. I mean, it’s how fortune telling works in the movies, not in real life.

But we were young, so this didn’t piss us off. We were relieved to have a way to help our dad and not yet old enough to understand what a terrible thing it was to put us in this position in the first place. And who knows why The Wrong People would have believed this was even remotely possible? I can only guess that maybe they were as desperate as our dad.

The Wrong People hooked us up with a guy named Paul, who was built more like a piece of furniture than a man. If you’d laid him on his side in your living room, you could have used him as a couch. We never learned much about Paul. He knew how to walk so that the floor never squeaked under him and he moved with a kind of grace you don’t normally see in guys that size. Before we did anything, he ate–usually a steak cooked pretty damn rare–and what we didn’t eat, when we ate with him, he finished.

The sum total of words I heard him say were “I’m” “we’re” “here” “sit” “shut” and “up.” He never said “shut up” to June or me. That was reserved for the people we went to see. He seemed to like the teenage chaos we brought with us everywhere–the gossip about crushes and which teachers were stupid and can you believe who said what seemed to comfort him. I always wondered if he didn’t come from a family of sisters.

I don’t know how old Paul was. To us, he seemed old like our dad was old. But our dad was the age I am now–thirty-seven–when he got in this jam. And thirty-seven seems too young to have the burdens my dad and Paul had. He handled his gun with confidence, but with caution. Maybe he’d been in the military. But maybe not ours. I thought he had an accent. June wondered how, from the six words he ever said, I could tell.

So, this is how it worked. Paul would park outside our apartment building or our school, depending on what time it was, and call one of us.

“I’m here,” he’d say and, no matter what, we’d go and get in that car. Then we’d drive all over the city, into the shittiest neighborhoods you can imagine or up some of the nicest drives you’ve ever seen. Paul would park his car and he’d lead us into our destination. I know, looking back, that he must have picked the locks or busted down the doors, but in my memory, it’s always very quiet when it comes to Paul.

June and I would wait right by the door once we got inside. We’d already checked a million times to make sure that we had our cards, but this was the point we checked again. We’d nod at each other, just to reassure each other that we had them. Meanwhile, Paul was sneaking through the house to collect our querent. He’d come back with the querent either walking ahead of him at gunpoint, or tucked under his arm like the Sunday paper.

“Sit,” Paul would say to the querent and he would shove him–they were almost always men–into a chair, usually at the kitchen or dining room table. “Shut up,” he would bark next.

One of us would sit across from the querent. Usually June went first. She would pull three cards.

“Oh, I see you just came into some money. Your family is thrilled. You intend to use it to benefit them,” she would say, kind of making up a story based on the pictures on the cards. I leaned over her spread. And then I put my three cards right on top of hers.

“You have a lot of nerve,” I might say. “You think you can fuck whoever you want, but your wife better never stray. Too bad for you we came along. She’s going to take a lover and spend your money on him.”

Rarely, very rarely, the people we gave new fortunes to squared things up with The Wrong People and we went back and gave them another new fortune, one that overrode the one we’d given them.

This went on for years. I was in junior high when it started and I was a senior when it stopped. Here’s what happened. As usual, Paul came and picked up June and me. We went to a restaurant, ate, and then made our way out into the suburbs to a house we’d never been to before. We went inside. Paul went to grab the querent and we went to the dining room to get ready.

“Paul!” we heard a voice from the other room shout out. “How are you, old friend?” Then a man thin and wiry, but as tall as Paul came out with him into the dining room. He was not afraid until he saw us. “Oh, man, are those the witches? No, Paul, you have to understand, I can get them the money, I just need a little time.” But Paul just put his enormous hand on the man’s shoulder and pushed him into the chair.

June turned three cards–the Hanged Man, for a man who is trapped, the Five of Cups, because all is lost, and the Ten of Swords, because there’s going to be a murder. June hadn’t ever gotten a spread for someone’s current fortune that was so dire. And before I could turn over my cards, to rewrite his fortune–and I sometimes wonder if we were there to deliver bad news, or if we might have given him a better fortune and he just freaked out before he could see what cards we would pull–he pulled out a gun and shot Paul, and then turned toward us and shot June.

He aimed the gun square at me, right in my face, but before he could pull the trigger, Paul shot him, dead. Good thing Paul’s friend was such a bad aim. Both Paul and June were hit, pretty bad, but Paul and I were able to get June to the car and I got them to the hospital, where they were stitched back together. They were both still back with the doctor when my father arrived.

“How could you let this happen?” He screamed at me as soon as he saw me. He ran over to me, both hands raised like he might strangle me when he reached me.

How could I let this happen? I was seventeen. My sister was fifteen. A hitman regularly carted us around town and we couldn’t say ‘no,’ or our dad would die. Let. As if I could ‘let’ anything happen. As if I had that kind of control over my life.

“Fine,” I glared at him. “It’s too dangerous. We’re done.” I let that sink in and then I turned away from him. By the time he got over to me, he was deflated.

You suspect, when you’re a teenager, that your parents don’t know what the fuck they’re doing. But when you’re confronted with the full truth that they can’t rescue you, that they don’t know any better than you how to fix things, it’s a terrible blow. You lose something between you that you can’t ever get back. Even if you suspect this is the great secret of adulthood, it doesn’t prepare you for knowing it.

And so it was on me to save my family from this terrible life our dad had given us. I knew Paul wouldn’t want to stay in the hospital any longer than necessary. He didn’t want to talk to the police and gunshot wounds would certainly have been reported to them. And I knew there was no way my dad would let the police talk to my sister. Fate had bought me some time.

I waited by Paul’s car for him to show up. Sooner, rather than later, he lumbered over, still wearing his hospital gown.

“I’ll drive,” I said. “Just get in.” How could a man who only spoke six words argue with me? He got in. “Point me to them.” I said and he did, motioning at the lights which way I should turn.

“Here,” he said, quietly.

“Paul,” I said, trying to muster all the authority I could, “stay in this car. I’m going in there to fuck these guys up and I don’t want you caught up in it. Promise me.”

He nodded. As I got out of the car, I noticed he was sweating and grimacing in pain. He’d left before they gave him any pain killers.

I went into the bar we had parked in front of, a dingy rat trap that, even from the curb smelled like smoke. I checked to make sure I had my cards and I pushed open the door.

They all turned to look at me, every man in the bar, and with the exception of a working girl near the pool tables, they were all men.

“You lost, little girl?” One of them hollered. I reached into my deck and pulled out a card. It was The Devil. I held it up for them all to see. And, watching their faces, I saw it quickly dawn on them who I was.

“I will pull three cards for the fortune of this organization, unless I have your word that my father’s debts up until this moment are forgiven and my sister and I will be forever left alone. Right now, your fortune is your own, to make or lose how you wish, but you know, when I turn three cards, that fortune cannot be undone unless I undo it.” I paused to let that sink in. “Here is your first card, gentlemen–The Devil. You know that can only mean betrayal. You will never be able to trust each other, because you’ll know everyone is looking for a chance to sell the rest of you out. You want me to go on?”

“I’m not afraid of some little bitch,” one of the men said.

“Shut up, Dima,” another snapped. I pulled a second card.

“Justice,” I showed them. “I hope you have good lawyers.”

“Fine,” Dima snarled. “Your father’s debts up until now are cleared. You and your sister are free to go. But good luck keeping your father’s nose clean.”

“I didn’t ask for you to ignore the things he does wrong in the future,” I said. “I expect my sister and I will not be dragged into it. I expect, no matter what my father offers, for you to keep your word to me.”

“Give me the third card,” Dima said. “Face down, slide it along the bar to me.” I did as he asked. Dima took out an enormous knife and drove it through the card into the bar. “Someone go get a hammer and some nails.” I heard later that the card was so securely nailed to the bar that you couldn’t even get a corner of it up.

When I got back to the car, where Paul was waiting, I flipped through the cards and saw it was the Five of Swords that was missing–the outnumbered man who defeats his opponents. I laughed when I saw that. I was their fortune all along.

I picked out three cards for Paul–The Fool, for new beginnings, the Knight of Pentacles for seeking and finding his fortune, and the Ten of Cups for a happily ever after. I handed them to him face down and said, “When you’re ready, you can have this.”

I don’t know if he ever flipped them over, but I never saw him again.

So, You Live in Middle Tennessee and You Haven’t Read A City of Ghosts But You Want to

Chuck over at East Side Story has made A City of Ghosts the next book in his every-so-often book club. Here’s the deal–you go to East Side Story. You tell him you want to do the book club. You buy the book from him. And you show up Friday, December 13th at 6 pm. We will discuss the book. I will be nervous and awkward. It will be fun.

If you don’t want to read A City of Ghosts, then carry on as you have been.

If you already have read A City of Ghosts, then you already know I love you. Carry on with your awesome selves, burdened only by the weight of my eternal gratitude.

 

Assorted Things

–The Butcher agrees that the afghan is basically a cloud of sleepiness.

–It’s the Butcher’s birthday. I told him he better get on it, because at this age, Jesus was saving humanity.

–There were a few moments on Thursday when it really struck me that the Butcher and I were going to have to do this kind of clean up work for our family regularly, from here on out. And it made me sad and relieved.

–I’m blogging over at Think Progress, starting tomorrow.

–Tonight is one of my favorite stories of the bunch as well as the last guest witch. I will be out to dinner with the Butcher, so let’s hope everything goes off without a hitch.

–I went to the doctor yesterday. I have, according to her scale, dropped at least twenty-five pounds since last year (this is not accurate for all kinds of reasons, but its accuracy is not germane to what I am about to say). I don’t know if you remember last year, but last year was the year that I supposedly dropped almost 20 pounds between seeing the gyno in May and the endocrinologist in June and then, when I saw this doctor in October, I had supposedly gained that all back and then some. Which I told her. And now, it’s all magically gone. She didn’t even ask me about it. In real life, it’s incredibly difficult to lose twenty-five pounds in a year. And you for sure don’t lose twenty pounds in a month unless something has gone majorly wrong. (And my endocrinologist spent a lot of time trying to figure out if something was going wrong with me or if it was possible that the scales were fucked or what. We settled on fucked scales or operator error, eventually.)

But I am a person who loves order and routine. I eat the same things every day. I wear the same clothes week after week. I go for the same damn walks. I haven’t taken up some aerobic hobby. If she had asked me how I “lost” the weight, I would have nothing to tell her. I’m not living any differently now than I was a year ago, with the possible exception of walking less because the dog wasn’t up for it as often.

I feel like, if I weren’t fat, this would be a cause for greater concern–the mysterious disappearance of twenty-five pounds. But I’m fat, so aren’t I lucky?

I feel fine, though, so… I mean, I’m chalking it up to my fucked up endocrine system and it just still doing what the fuck it wants as it feels like doing it.

But I find it a little strange that she thought nothing of it.