I was going to write a post about something Taren said. Instead, I ended up writing about her.
Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman is an activist. She founded SumOfUs to work for corporate accountability. Their motto is “fighting for people over profits.” She has a two paragraph wikipedia page. The first paragraph is about SumOfUs. The second mentions her relationship to Aaron. In interviews and articles, television and film, she is identified as “Aaron’s Partner.” And that is who she’ll continue to be in these digital archives.
We can talk about Hilary Clinton. Hilary moved far above and beyond her identity as First Lady. In eight years she went from wife to senator. Eight after that she was secretary of state. This is not to say she wasn’t always competent, but this is how we knew her.
That’s how we know Taren. We don’t know her as an activist or someone who makes a difference–we know her as a woman, above and beyond all else, doing what a woman is expected to do.
The man and woman are on the street. She’s crossing. He’s running behind her to catch up.
“You said,” the woman started. She never got to finish her sentence.
“I said love, honor, and cherish, in sickness and health, until death do us part. And I didn’t even say that!” the man cut her off. “I said–”
The light changes and I don’t hear the rest.
I found a cake recipe I really like and added it to my repertoire of basic cake recipes. It’s fluffy and moist, which is a nice combination for a cake. I made a modified vegan version. I’ve cooked it twice, once with chocolate and once without. I don’t eat soy, so I don’t cook with it. You could use soy yogurt or earth balance. I make no promises on how it will turn out.
2 tbsp ground flax meal
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup soy-free earth balance
1 1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup coconut (or almond) yogurt.
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup boiling water
0) Turn oven on to 350.
1) Take the 3/4 cup water and mix it with ground flax. The ground part is important. Put these in a pot and boil it. Eventually, it will gain the consistency of snot. Or eggs. They’re basically the same. I do this first so it has time to cool.
2) Mix earth balance and sugar. Once it’s creamed together, add cocoa powder if that’s how you’re doing it.
3) Add yogurt and the flax meal goo. Sorry for calling it goo. I love the flax jelly you can make. It’s wonderful and adds moisture and cohesion, but it looks pretty gross.
4) Add the dry ingredients. If I feel fancy, I mix the dry ingredients separately. If I don’t, I just dump them all in at the same time. If I’m adding, say, sprinkles or chocolate chips or fruit, I mix them up with the dry ingredients. The original recipe says to sift it, but I don’t have a sifter.
5) After everything is mixed, add a cup hot/boiling water. Be careful. Stirring this can be tricky.
6) Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.
Recently someone wondered at me how people judged him for hanging out with the fat girl. He has five or six inches on me, and I have five or six pounds on him. The weight sits lithe on his frame. How do you think people judge me for being the fat girl? I want to ask him, but I don’t. Instead, I think it every time I see him. How do you judge me for being the fat girl?
These thoughts, and thoughts like these, are things that consume my mind every day. On the street walking, on my bike. Eating lunch and buying groceries. Seeing advertisements in the bars of my web browser and on buses, the T, taxi cabs. At work.
My being fat isn’t really a secret. These sorts of things can’t be. I am officially listed as “overweight” on the BMI charts passed around in doctors’ offices and gyms around the country. I’m one of those “healthy fat people.” I can run a 10 minute mile, and average 13 when running three of them. I bike the three miles to work every day, 20-minutes or less in traffic. Like a delivery man. I like hiking. I’m not fast, but I can handle nine miles and thirty-nine hundred vertical feet–it just takes me nine hours.
Even though I wish it didn’t, my brain tracks these numbers. These distances and times and splits as evidence–empirical evidence, quantitative evidence–that being fat is only one part of having a body. I take these numbers and I repeat them to myself: One mile. 5.9. Sixty seconds. 12 miles. 12-hundred vertical feet. 370 miles.
One of the things about being active and fat is that you have to prove yourself to everyone around you constantly. When someone puts you on a 3 mile round trip hike with a climb of 900 vertical feet, you have to kill the thing in two hours and bushwhack your way around the peak, climbing over rocks and through underbrush. You have to bike to Walden Pond and then swim across it. You have to go down and up the rocky and icy steep sides of a lake without taking your skis off. You have to do what everyone else does and then you have to do more and hope that maybe, just maybe, someone takes you seriously because even then, they don’t always.
A year and a few days ago a friend’s brother killed himself. I knew him, I liked him, sometimes he annoyed me. We weren’t close–we were tightly tied to the same people. This was after I’d learned how to read suicides in the news. Died suddenly is a phrase people like to use, especially in the media. MIT has ways they talk about these deaths in the community–they might be official or just polite. It’s that kind of glaring politeness that doesn’t help anyone. Died suddenly.
I remember my friends going to the funeral. I pictured them there, in their suits and dresses. They wore pants my middle school teachers would have called slacks. Blouses and collard shirts. Those are the words I used when I saw them in my mind–those outdated words that belonged to middle school teachers.
When my grandmother died, there was an open casket for the sake of my cousin. My aunt and uncle looked at the body and said some condescending things about how they’d done her up. My mom told me to look if I wanted to or if I was unsure. You’ll never have another chance.
I’ve seen two dead bodies in my life. One was my grandmother’s. One was the grandmother of some friends. We would hang out at her house. I showed up there one day and she was dead.
Death is a lot of waiting around. Someone called 911, and we had to wait all day for them to arrive. Hours and hours. The bathroom was on the second floor, next to the room where she–the body–lay in a bed. I kept going up there to try and catch a glimpse. I’d never seen death before.
“I have a few ideas,” you say to us. You go over them. I retract into myself.
“I think that’s the most appropriate,” someone says. It might be me. It might be you. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that enough of us believe it.
I look at the mountains, tracing the peaks with my nail, scratching through the front on the inside of the car window. I name the peaks, remembering how they looked in the summer, in the fall. Under the moon and in the rain.