I finally managed to upload the pictures of the inscription Carnie Wilson wrote in the copy of her book I bought a few nights ago when we went to see her speak, and the picture she so generously and sweetly agreed to take with me and anyone else who asked. Beau took the picture for us -- he is turning out to be such a good photographer. He has an eye, not that this snapshot is a prime example of this because we had to make due with the poor lighting, the unattractive banquet room setting, the time constraints, and our shyness. But all in all I think he did a great job and I have this photo memory of having connected with this good woman who I admire.
Carnie is all about doing right by other people, she said that she likes to give more than she likes to receive and doing twelve to fifteen of these talks a year is one of the ways in which she gives back. Usually the number of attendees is quite high. As many as two thousand people will come to hear her speak and then afterwards stand in line for hours to shake her hand, get an autograph, and thank her for having saved their lives by inspiring them to have this surgery. She doesn't really like it or know what to do when people give her credit for their having chosen to have the surgery, essentially making her feel responsible for their having made this life altering decision. She said that at first she was overwhelmed by this and would go home and cry and cry. Then with therapy she got stronger and is now better able to handle this when it happens.
We were very lucky because for whatever reason very few people showed for this event. It might have been the weather -- it had been raining for a couple of days here -- but the room was surprisingly small and I had been expecting a conference sized event in a ballroom rather than the small room we had. I don't think there were more than fifteen people there so it was very easy to connect with her. She sat on a stool on a dais at the front of the room and just told her story. Then she opened it up to questions and invited us to tell our own stories, we chatted back and forth and then she wrapped it up by signing books and posing for pictures.
We have some mutual friends so we talked about them and something really special that she has been able to swing for one of my pals but I don't know if I can talk about it yet so I'll leave that for another time.
With all of the mean gossip swirling around about her having gained so much weight, it was nice to see that she had only gained a small amount of weight, and was just a little bit rounder and softer than in her Playboy pictorial period, and this could easily be due to her pregnancy as she is due in the spring. She said that she is up about thirty pounds from her lowest weight and that she goes up and down by about fifteen pounds and that she's decided that she's just going to have to let it be okay and stop stressing out about it.
The gossip magazines have been particularly unkind to her and they've made her cry but she's gotten tougher and stronger. She seemed so vulnerable when she was talking about this and it made me feel sorry for her. She says that they wait for her outside her house and hide in her bushes, that they're always trying to take bad pictures of her.
She told us about this one night when she got a phone call from The Enquirer. She said, "This is an unlisted phone number, how did you get my number?" And they said they weren't allowed to divulge that information. Then they proceeded to tell her that they had an "unflattering" photograph of her and that they were going to run it with or without comment from her, but that they thought they'd give her a chance to comment if she wanted. They said, "Why don't you tell us the truth, you're getting fat again aren't you, your're gaining weight?" She said, "Why don't you tell me the name of your photo editor and give me his home phone number so I can call him and ask him if I can come take an unflattering picture of him sitting on the toilet and then he can comment on that?" And then she hung up him.
Another time someone came and rang her front door saying they were a new neighbor who had heard she lived there and just wanted to get some weight loss advice. She thought it was kind of weird but being sweet and helpful she was actually answering this woman's questions, being friendly and chatty with her, until the "neighbor" started looking her up and down, obviously scrutinizing her and asking her exactly how much she weighed now and how much she had gained back of the weight she had lost after her surgery. These kinds of things kept happening and she was feeling so stalked and unsafe that she had to sell her house and move. Now she has a security gate and cameras and feels more protected. She said, "That's when I realized that fame is a really weird thing."
She was wearing a stretchy black pant suit thing, pants and a blouse, with her hair streaked blonde and sort of slicked back into a controlled pony tail, She had on a sparkling diamond wedding ring, what looked like a platinum Cartier watch, and a simple gold chain with a large mother of pearl pendant. She was wearing high turquoise strappy heels with a French pedicure and her nails were kept short and painted a deep pink. I took notes in case any of my fellow weight loss surgery pals would be interested.
Personality wise, she was a doll. She was grounded, pleasant, cheerful, open, honest, super-intelligent, well spoken, humble, kind, empathic, funny, raunchy, earthy, everything you would want a weight-loss, actor, singer, artist, fellow sensitive addict muse to be.
She began by telling us that she is pregnant and thrilled but "freaking out" about the changes in her body and the weight that she is gaining. She said that because she had a tummy tuck everything below her waist is pulled so tight that the weight gain is happening more above the waist and seems weird to her. She started to tear up when someone asked her how her Mom was taking this -- how she was feeling about being a grandmother. Carnie is very close to her mother and her sister. She said that if she could just be like her mother she would consider her life a success. she said that her Mother has always been supportive and is a very positive person. Carnie thinks that she gets this from her. She said that every day when she wakes up she feels positive and that just looking at trees will make her happy. She said, "I am inspired by the oddest things. Sometimes just the oddest, simplest things make me happy."
When they were little her father would be drunk or stoned or using drugs a lot and her mother was very open with the kids about it. She would tell them that their dad loved them very much but that he was a drug addict and couldn't help himself. The first time she remembers getting high she was a small girl. She had come downstairs and her parents and some friends were passing a joint around and asked her if she wanted to try it so she did. She said by the time she was eighteen she was, "Smoking pot heavily," and that her life was all about getting high, "What was I doing at twenty? I was with the bong and my friends."
She said that she craved and got excited about sugar and food as far back as she could remember. She craved sugar for comfort. She bonded with her famous father late at night over raisin bran cereal with Half and Half. She said, "I just wanted sugar and I wanted to eat. I wanted food. Food was safe and food was comforting to me. I was always on the hunt and that was it. I think of the Ho Ho's and the Twinkies and the Lemon Pies and I start to salivate even now. Sugar soothed me."
She talked a little bit about the success of her band, how much money she made, and how she gained weight and was pushed into the background of any videos or anything photographic. They sold something like sixteen million records and had three top ten hits right off the bat. She made and spent three million dollars and can't even remember what she spent it on. "I don't know what happened to it. It's just gone. I threw it away. I bought clothes and jewelry and overpriced houses. When it was all over I was in so much debt. Then the show came along and I was so grateful because I was able to get out of debt, but it was a circus and I have never been more stressed out in all my life. I would go home at night and cry. My feet were killing me from having to stand for so long. They didn't like anything about me. They didn't like that I swore. They didn't like that I paced. They didn't like that I said, 'Woah,' too much."
She said that they would make her do unethical things that didn't feel right to her. She gave the example of this one time when they had a woman and her husband on the show. The husband had been beating his wife and she had come on to beg him to stop, to try to save their marriage or to get out. The producers told her to go to the woman's dressing room and sympathize with her, to tell her how sorry she was, and how awful she thought what her husband was doing to her was. She was fine with this, but then they wanted her to go to the husband's dressing room and switch up her position, to tell the man that she was on his side, that she was certain the wife must have deserved it and that real men have to do this kind of thing to keep their women in line. She was told to say things like, "You kind of like hitting her don't you? It feels good," that kind of thing. And she hated doing this.
She said, "When it was over I was flat broke. I was lonely, I broke it off with my boyfriend and I hit bottom. I was barely making it on my radio royalties but my rent was $2,500.00 and I couldn't afford it. I had gained so much weight by then that it hurt to stand and all I wanted to do was sit and do needlepoint. I took a job at the needlepoint store making eight dollars an hour. I think that ultimately I didn't believe that I deserved to be happy and healthy. If all we heard when we were young is that we're a piece of shit, how do we get out of that? Finally my parents loaned me five thousand dollars, which barely helped me. But then I got this phone call from Al Jardine and this saved my life. He was putting together a tour and he wanted me to go with them. I was so happy to be singing and performing again."
"I believe we have to hit rock bottom to make a change in our lives, or have an epiphany of some kind. I was at my top weight, I was pre-diabetic, I was bleeding in between my periods. I couldn't feel my feet at times, they were so numb. My fingers were tingling. My cholesterol and my blood pressure were high. I would wake up every night coughing and choking with my heart racing -- I had bad sleep apnea, I couldn't breathe and was depriving my brain of oxygen. I had these terrible headaches that I would get at least three times a week. And then we went on tour and I was standing on this stage one night, it was my 31 birthday, and I felt like dancing, I thought, 'I'm going to get into this music and give it my all and just dance.' But the stage was shaking, I could feel it shaking and it was because of me."
"Then they brought out my birthday cake and I started to feel sick. I felt this tightness in my chest and this strong pain shooting down my arm. I had to sit down. My chest was tight, my heart was racing and I thought, "Oh God, I'm going to die." Then shortly after that I got Bell's Palsy which is when the nerves in your face are paralyzed on one side and I just thought, 'This is it, this is a sign from God that I have to freeze frame my life and take a look at what's going on."
She talked about how she had been thinking about having the surgery, how she had been researching it, when a friend called her and said he had an idea about her contributing to this medical health website. He wanted her to have the surgery and do it live on the Internet. At first she thought he was nuts but then eventually she thought about how maybe her doing this openly would help other people, "If I can help someone, I'm gonna do it."
She said, "These last five years have been a big transition for me. Having the surgery was the most empowering but also the scariest thing I've ever done. I've had to work so hard. Everything was so overwhelming and when I got down to these size six jeans I started feeling really sexy and it was too much for me so I started to self sabotage. I couldn't really eat like I used to, I mean I could snack on M&M's all day long but if I ate too much my heart would race, I'd feel exhausted and sick and have to lay down. So I started cross addicting, smoking pot again, and drinking. But I am getting help for this. I am working a program and I admit that I am an obsessive compulsive alcoholic -- that's me and I'm not ashamed of it. I try to stay positive. I really believe that positive thinking is like a momentum, it keeps you moving forward, and prayer is a big thing for me."
She talked about how she adheres to five basic rules for post surgical care; 1.) She eats protein first to fill up on and keep herself feeling satiated, 2.) She takes vitamins and gets blood tests every six months because she was slightly anemic to begin with and knows she needs the Iron, the B vitamins, and the calcium, 3.) She drinks sixty-four ounces of water every day without fail and is constantly sipping it, 4.) She is devoted to her exercise plan and works out almost every single day because it reduces her cravings, keeps her weight down, and makes her feel good, and wouldn't you know it, but I've forgotten what number 5 was and I can't find it in my notes. It's in her book somewhere though, the second one : )
I was happy to hear that she believes her grandparents and friends who have died can come visit her in her dreams. This is one of my pet beliefs and it felt good to hear her say it.
She said that she wants to get the message out to people that change is okay, that it's really like a river and you can get through it and that "you have to dare to suck." She said, "I think being original is great!"
She wants to name her baby Lola if it's a girl and her husband wants to name the baby Rocco if it's a boy and she didn't know that these were the names of Madonna's children until someone came up to her and told her.
She talked about her reconstructive surgery. She said it was unbelievably painful but that she thinks the best way to get through it and heal quickly is to be as positive as possible. She listened to hypnosis tapes before all of her various surgeries and it helped her a lot. She's spoken with lots of people who elected not to have reconstructive surgeries but she said that for her, she felt it was necessary, she didn't like sitting in the bath watching her stomach float upwards, waving back and forth in the water like Jello. "I just wanted it off."
The next projects she has coming up are a cook book and she is going to be a correspondent for Entertainment Tonight. She's really excited about the Entertainment Tonight gig because she's going to be a special correspondent and they have promised to let her cover whatever interests her. The book is going to have all of her favorite recipes in it with a fattening and a low calorie version of each one. She loves macaroni and cheese and is testing different recipes looking for the perfect one. The book is going to be called, "To Serve With Love," but she wanted to call it, "Fuck, that's good!" But her publishers said it wouldn't sell at Walmart with a title like that. She's had this problem with all of her books, she always wants to toss the word Fuck in there. She wanted to call the last one, "Fuck, I'm Still Hungry," and said that if she writes a pregnancy book she's like to call it, "Fuck, this hurts."
Oh, I finally remembered the fifth rule, no snacking, darn it. And she recommended continuing to go to follow up programs and weight loss surgery support groups. She said, "When I become complacent that's when my weight goes back up." She also said that when she exercises her orgasms are better.
Well, that's about all I can remember of have the energy to write about for now. She was so generous and I'm really glad I went and got to meet her -- what a total sweetheart! We had a nice long talk and I really enjoyed getting to meet her.
I have to go, I'm so exhausted, I caught Beau's flu/cold whatever thing and am trying to stay warm and rested because we've got our big Halloween event coming up. We got a lot of work done today and will work all day tomorrow. The producer of the documentary DVD project thing called last night and rescheduled for tomorrow, yeay. I really needed this extra day, now I'll be better rested and prepared.
I bought some giant ants and nailed them to the side of my house in a trail. I'll try to take some pictures tomorrow, if not then, I'll do it Monday.
Love you guys,