Relapse, Recovery, Rewind

I don't check in over at PostSecret much, but I did this week, and lo and behold. I don't know at all that this sender has an eating disorder as opposed to, say, an illness that requires habitual treatment with steroids or an antipsychotic that causes weight gain, etc. But I can imagine. And this week, after the last two and a half months, after travel and funerals and holidays and the attendant changes of sceneries and plans and foods, I can imagine very well. Tonight was my first normal day in a while when conditions produced a perfect storm of ordinary circumstance and ordinary behavior. Just a normal work day, no holidays, funerals, trips out of town, or odd errands - and "normal" behavior, absolutely, abnormally on purpose. I feel nauseous, panicky, irritable, and trapped. And this is after one day. Of mostly normal behavior. This is what I intellectually knew would happen if I decided to relapse, and what I disorderedly decided wouldn't happen if I just happened to relapse. Because the excruciating process of recovery is the NUMBER ONE THING on any good anorexic's or bulimic's list of "Why I Don't Want to Relapse." The sad thing is, looking back over the past year, I'm not sure I can pick out any other options than "relapse" as comfortable coping mechanisms for what a shit storm 2009 was. The more that I think about it, I think I will definitely retract the last post's invitation to 2010 to "bring it on."


A friendly reminder from your neighborhood Nymph: This blog is basically semi-anonymous (to borrow a phrase from a friend). If you see me about using something other than my first name or nickname (say, on Facebook), please bear in mind that while I don't exactly go to great pains to distinguish Cynical Nymph from my other online presences, I don't go trumpeting the blog name about, either. That being said, would y'all do me a quick favor and toss this up on Facebook, Twitter, your blogs, etc.? It's an interesting perspective and deserves to be discussed more widely. (Why, for instance, the HuffPo didn't publish it, I dunno, BEFORE the holidays leaves one scratching one's head.)


Funeral Food, Holiday Food, Food Talk

2010 is already on my shit list. I got a jury summons... for my birthday. This calls for a flaming bag of poop on a doorstep.

I'm around, but just barely. My Nana passed away last Sunday so I was in Atlanta for the better part of a week and have been scrambling to get ready for Christmas and hosting the husband's and my parents.

The Southern funeral process involves a lot of fried food, in case you didn't know, and minimal fruits and vegetables, so I got stereotypically and appropriately freaked out about that. I also got to hear various family members telling me I ought to be "fattened up," which is just... people, that is the opposite of helpful. Getting "fattened up" is exactly what people with eating disorders are horrified might happen if they break their food rituals or take in a complete complement of nutrients. There's minimal difference in an ED patient's mind between being "fattened up" and "putting on incidental weight because one is taking in enough calories and one's body is re-attaining its natural set point." Funeral food combined with other stresses combined with upcoming holiday food equals CN Becomes A Little Ball Of Crazy. It's either hilarious or totally irritating, depending on whether you know me and/or care about me.

Anyway, so that's your tip for the holiday season: don't tell someone who's recently lost weight that they need to be "fattened up." You might be driving them to do exactly the opposite.

2010, bring it on. I guess. Or don't.


Cracked. Yes, Really. Cracked.

It's a bit off-topic for my little blawg here, but I have an important article from Yup. Cracked.

"... It's the implication that in each crazy person, good mental health is lurking about one-inch beneath the surface, ready to be cured in a couple of days. So when somebody raised on these movies actually runs into an actual mentally ill person, they can't help but wonder why they don't just get over it already..."

I love Cracked's lists. They crack me up. But let's be honest: they usually don't have much redeeming value to them. This one, shockingly, does. I know - I couldn't believe it either.


Fork in the Road Outlet Wall

Rowdy golf claps to Personal Failure, who has a wonderful post up quantifying and qualifying her hatred for The Biggest Loser, that bastion of the Last Acceptable Prejudice in mainstream society: fat shaming.

I had a counselor who told a group with mixed ED diagnoses, "I'm always interested to have anorexic patients and obese patients in the same group, because they're each others' biggest fears." That's an oversimplification, but a good point. Anorexics (and most average- or underweight bulimics) are terrified of becoming fat (or chubby, for that matter, because chubby is Fat). Eating disorders and obesity are intrinsically related sociologically, which is why I have such a huge problem with things like the NYC calorie posting rules. Not only are you not going to change mass behavior by shaming people, you're going to exacerbate dangerous problems in a small but vulnerable portion of society.

This morning I was telling my doctor about my apprehension toward Thanksgiving. My distaste isn't due only to the fact that it's not My Family's Thanksgiving; the real stick in the spokes for me is that at every family gathering, no matter how large or small, my husband and his father will always, always end up talking about Good and Bad Foods and about Losing Weight. They both know about my history and they both know I don't like to hear the talk, and they both do it anyway, every time. The last time we were down at the husband's parents' place, at the end of dinner the husband's father told him, "You see? I could eat more right now, I'm not really full, but I'm stopping myself." The husband nodded, trying to learn the lesson in his never-ending saga of Am I Skinny Again Yet?, and I clenched my jaw and just about threw a fork at something. I haven't been back there with the husband since this incident in early October. I just can't take it right now. I just. can't.

Unfortunately, Thanksgiving is mandatory. Equally unfortunately, almost the entire family is like this, so there's not always the option to switch conversational partners to escape the topic. Most of the people who'll be there tomorrow are either unhappily overweight or smugly thin. Or they're my mother-in-law and me, wishing everyone would STFU about it, but too polite to say anything. Or to throw forks. Honestly, I kind of want to see what happens if I launch a salad fork right into one of the pastoral paintings on the wall. If nothing else, it would probably get my point across.


"I Thought I Had Mono Once for an Entire Year."*

Oh, you guys. I don't know why, but this is me lately:

Aren't I adorable?

I had a flurry of travel between one weekend Pittsburgh, seeing my grandparents up in the Hudson Valley region of New York the next weekend, and then D.C. with a group of kindred spirits the following weekend.

WWII Memorial

Capitol Dome

During those weekends of missing weekend cleaning time, dust, clutter, and general muck reproduced at bunny-like levels. The worse the cleanliness situation gets, the more insurmountable it seems. The worse it seems, the less drive I have to do anything about it. Sound familiar?

And since 2009: YHGTBFKM isn't quite over yet, it must have felt the need to get in another swift kick to my teeth and ribs. Unfortunately, these kicks fell into the category of "don't want them floating around on the Internet forever and ever, amen," so not processing them a bit here functioned as sort of an extra little kick. Maybe not a full-on kick, but a nice elbow, at the very least. With the low energy level, 2009 feeling the need to get in just one more was really not appreciated, and by the time I had my annual lady bits exam two weeks ago, my weight dropped more. I'm skimming the bottom of the "healthy weight range" for my now-official five foot four. I'm thinking eating a little more sensibly would probably help with the energy level, but... Eh. Not tonight, dear.

And now, the holidays are upon us.

For the record, we get off light since no one stays in our one-bedroom apartment.

We're doing Thanksgiving with the husband's family this year, here in the City, and while it's nice not to travel, I am terribly attached to My Family's Thanksgiving. We were in Georgia last year - my first time there for Thanksgiving since 2003. In contrast, this year... Well...

My parents will be up here for Hanukkah and Christmas, though they'll miss the Solstice. I'll be delving into my Swedish heritage again this year, and am planning to get positively inspired with blue and gold (Swedish flag) décor (read: will try to make a really simple centerpiece from Real Simple and probably fail miserably).

Assuming I can work up the energy.

*"It turned out I was just really bored."


The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later

If you're interested.

I shudder to think what happens if the blogots (that's bloggers + bigots, and no, I didn't come up with it) take note of this anniversary recognition. They already take enough issue with The Laramie Project. :P


It's Hard to Be a Saint In the City

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is often utilized in eating disorder treatment. CBT's younger sibling, DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) is more rarely employed, but certainly isn't unheard of, especially with the accompanying diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, or a mood disorder (DBT came about to treat BPD, in fact). CBT can be individual- or group-based, but DBT is almost always both. Their shared main focuses are mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotional regulation, and distress tolerance. DBT works with these four ideas from a philosophical standpoint as much as a therapeutic one, drawing from Buddhist teachings as well as from Hegel (whence the "D"). A major difference, aside from the philosophical focus of DBT, is that DBT tends to be very. very. structured. The structure shows itself most in the group work; CBT group work can bleed into more generalized group therapy. I've done both CBT and DBT work. I found the CBT overlap of skills and talk therapy helpful at the time; and I carry with me the almost-drilled-into-me reflexes of DBT (when I can't be bothered to stifle the reflex, anyway). I have no idea what only one or only the other would impart to an eating disorder patient, but I'm glad I've had exposure to both.

This acronym-riddled, rambling paragraph is me saying, "I think structure is good. Yay for structure. But contextless structure is bad. Boo for contextless structure." DBT of course is not without context, so I exaggerate, but I can't see that DBT (the way I learned it) would have done me, as an eating disorder patient, as much good without a foundation of CBT...

... Sort of like it won't do you much good to slap the calories up on a fast food menu and then wait for the public to suddenly Get! It! about food choices. (Yes, that's really where I was going with the CBT vs. DBT thing.) (What? It's 1:00 a.m. You write something concise and relevant.) You can't shame people into eating healthier foods. But you can teach them about nutrition from the get-go, and you can retrain in adulthood to some extent. You can't solve body image issues by shaming everyone into eating fewer calories (which they don't do, anyway, according to this study). But you can promote respect and education, and so build a foundation for personal worth that isn't based on appearance. You can't toss someone a few arbitrary numbers (calories in a slice of Sbarro pizza) and expect them to suddenly and against all other logic start ignoring a set of NOT arbitrary numbers ($1.50 for a slice of pizza; $13.50 for a salad with grilled chicken at the place next door, as an example from my neighborhood). (And don't you dare get any dressing with that salad. The low-fat stuff has too much sodium, and we won't even discuss the full-fat stuff. Balsamic vinegar for you!) But shame on you if you eat that pizza slice, or that cheeseburger, or that Taco Bell burrito. Shame on you for being too lazy to work a second job so you can comfortably afford fresh produce at every meal (and snacks - processed snacks give you cancer!!1!). And shame on you for buying the 80% lean chuck instead of the 95% lean organic bison. Shame, shame, shame. What's that? How are you supposed to afford the more expensive stuff if you're already scraping by? Don't ask the City; it's not our problem.

This menu rule makes me ANGRY. It makes me DISTRESSED. So it's a damn good thing I have my CBT workbook all marked up under the bed. (What? You can't shell out for a CBT workbook because you're paying for daycare for your kid? Shame on you!! If you can't help yourself, nobody will help you!*)

Ugh. I'm going to bed. (Or, I will as soon as the drunk kid stops singing "Helena" at the top of his lungs out on the street. Ah, New York, New York.)

* They start for about $15 on Amazon. :-/


Guess How Shocked I Am (Scale of 1-10)

Gee. You mean public shaming isn't a viable technique of behavior modification? You mean choice is about more than slapping some numbers up on a board and expecting people to feel guilty and live by that guilt? You mean there might be more to this, like say, making healthful foods more affordable? I'm so shocked. This is my shocked face:


That's how shocked I am.


Food Talk: Like Car Talk But More Neurotic

I can be MADDENING as far as discussing food in terms of "good/bad." Maddening because I always seem to see-saw from being totally okay with talking about it that way and totally militant about NOT talking about it that way. This drives the husband nuts, because he asks me all the time if he ate too much, or if what he is/was eating is "bad." Sometimes I'll parrot back whatever my nutritionist would tell me about that meal/snack, but sometimes I'll give him a death stare and snap at him that I can't talk about that stuff, and that he has to ask someone else, because I have a hard enough time not having it play in my head about every single thing I put (or think about putting) into my mouth. The poor guy can't get a break with the consistency thing - I'm a food discussion Jekyll and Hyde.

I was emailing with some friends today, and restaurant portion size came up. One of my friends wrote, about appetizers, "It's so hard to find one that isn't disgusting (read, deep-fried :P)... Or soups, when it isn't some vile creamy thing on offer." I realize on the re-read that she's not saying anything hard and fast about food rules, only saying SHE finds the deep-fried disgusting, and SHE finds creamy soups vile, not that they ARE that, finito, the end, Food Law For Everyone. The fact she asserts isn't that they ARE; the fact is that she finds them that way.

Even if she were making such a sweeping statement about Food Law For Everyone (and pleeenty of people in my life do, but not this particular savvy gal), it would behoove me to parrot my nutritionist in another way, just to myself, and ask, "Who says?" When someone throws a supposed Food Law at you, step back and ask yourself, "Who says?" It's unlikely that the person who just told you that the only healthy way to snack on fruit is with one ounce of cheese and never by itself, for instance, is a nutritionist or a metabolic specialist. It's rather more likely that your conversational partner, say, read an article in the latest issue of Shape magazine.

It's still very hard for me to make that distinction automatically. I've found that no matter how far I've gotten into the recovery process, or how successfully or poorly I'm doing at whatever point in time, I've never yet been able to make that leap from having to deliberately remember to ask "Who says?" to making that question an automatic reflex. And yet, I can still play most of the first movement of Mozart's Sonata in C major (No. 16) on the piano. I learned it 20 years ago. Muscle memory and attendant reflexes? Work just fine. Cognitive dissonance filter and attendant reflexes? Need some adjustments. *sigh*


The Thought Process, Redux

(Or, I Thought We Were Past This)

Here's how it works: I go to the doctor and she tells me, "I want to see you in two weeks. I want you to wear that same outfit next time you're here, and I want you to be looking... wider... in it." And I don't take that as a medical suggestion, or a prescription. I take that as a challenge.

I can see where it's no different than, "Eat oatmeal every morning - you need to lower your cholesterol," or, "Start taking a 30-minute walk about every day - your blood pressure is high." Except I don't hear, "Get back on the nutritional horse - you're going to damage your body." I hear, "Show me you can do it - show me you can stay at this weight or come back smaller." At least, that's what I hear with a small, strong part of my ears and brain. That's terribly frustrating to the majority (and apparently weaker part) of my brain. I am, if you'll permit me to say, fairly intelligent. I understand the facts here, and I pride myself on easily grasping and identifying things like informal logical fallacies and cognitive dissonance. And yet... there it is. The challenge. The dare. The elation of losing yet more weight. The cacophony of a jangling, jostling place in my head that serves no purpose but to keep me disoriented and does nothing so well as to be the screaming, persistent minority.


The Mayor's Hang-ups: Let Him Show You Them

This is not surprising. Not one jot. Someone with their own hang-ups about food pushing those hang-ups on those under their sway? Yeah, not shocking.

Opinions run the gamut on New York's trans fats ban and the mandatory posting of calorie information at chain restaurants (defined in the ban as 15 or more locations nationwide). Take a wild guess as to how I feel about the rules, particularly the second. Here, I'll just tell you: I think it's fricking abusive. (To some people. On some level.) (Yes, I am abusing the word "abusive." Isn't it fun?)

I don't know much on the non-reactionary science regarding trans fats, so I reserve judgment on that one. But as far as posting calorie information, I'd kind of love to go into Starbucks and have anything other than a fruit salad once I get a look at the calorie info. I'd like to eat what I'm in the mood for when I'm at Au Bon Pain, rather than the thing I can find with the smallest number next to it on the menu board. But, quite frankly, I can't get myself to do it with the calorie info staring me smack dab in the face when I go into one of these places, or to feel like I can eat anything at all when I go to a national chain (Chili's, say) at the fricking airport before I get on a fricking flight that's going to be five fricking hours.

There are ways around this. I could not look. I could say, "Frick it!" and just get the fricking sandwich, or what have you. But Mayor Bloomberg doesn't seem to take into account that there might be people - nay, voters - in the City who don't need any extra help obsessing about the calorie content of the food at the place they've decided to try to step into and eat at like a normal person. (Sure, there are only a few of us, relatively speaking, but this is another one of those things that build environment.) And now that this article is running, his hang-ups about the whole calorie/trans fat issue make a bit more sense to me. I still think the only way to describe his measures is "draconian," but they do make more sense.

Proposed French Law Would Add Warnings To Photoshopped Images

A politician from Marseille wants to impose a health warning on pictures of models whose photo bodies have been digitally altered. The proposal was introduced by Valérie Boyer, a member of the UMP (same party as Nicolas Sarkozy). It's a nifty proposal that points out how French law, for purposes of public health, already requires health information on publicity material/labels for food & beverage products with added sugar, salt or synthetic coloring; or processed food products in general. Since the development of eating disorders is a matter of public health, like food and drink, a law is already on the books that sets the precedent for labeling, Boyer argues. You can read the proposal (in French... or via Google Translator) in the second link I tossed in back there.

Many of Boyer's laws concern public health in the environment, where "environment" is defined liberally. She takes on lead paint around babies and monitoring radon levels as well as photoshopped models. She's also a member of France's National Assembly's Delegation on Women's Rights. So this proposed law is right up her alley.

My French is rusty (I got through the bill summary on her page just fine, but only after having an idea what the law was about - that kind of rusty), so I'm sure I'm missing some big pieces of her history... But reading her homepage makes me want to make a moue, stamp my foot, and whine that I want a Valérie Boyer. *whines*


Link: Eating Disorders: All in the Family

Today at

I've read a little bit of Dr. Zerbe's work before, and generally find it comprehensive and accessible. The two questions featured here are particularly compelling, I think, because they deal with some rarely discussed facets of food and weight interpersonal issues: an over-controlling mother-in-law and a hypercritical/insensitive father.

One of the commenters calls Dr. Zerbe on her assumption (in answering the second question) that a teenager would be able or "allowed" to redirect the family dialogue dynamic. Commenter #5 brings reality onto the couch with this all-too-universal gem: "[A]ny attempt on my part to draw boundaries and protect myself was met with either 'You're too sensitive' (a favorite in my house) or 'How dare you try to control what I'm allowed to say?'" That second one is particularly interesting here in the land of the First Amendment. I have a family member who exploded (after a stressful car ride) at being asked not to talk about weight or diet (apparently around me; I did not issue this request). This just happens to be a family member who is obsessed with "healthy eating" and exercise, and who can never quite hold in the helpful feedback on food that springs from those lips during pretty much any situation that revolves around food in any way.

Some of the other commenters on this post aren't quite so... er... helpful. Some of the judgment therein is just... wow. Takes my breath away a little bit. I won't quote those comments here. They range from canonical statements of what is the Right Way To Eat to snide, backhanded asides about the luxury of being able to have eating disorders in the first place. Crap like that doesn't help anyone, and certainly doesn't deal with the underlying issues (individual and collective) that sow the seeds of eating disorders. Keep it in your thick skull, please. Cathleen, though, gets both my thumbs up for responding to a commenter who apologized for not being politically correct, "It's not politically incorrect. It's just incorrect.
Sounds like you missed Logic 101 in college." Bravo, Cathleen.

Anyway, this is a quick, interesting read with some encouraging (and some less so) commenters.


Eight Years







The Irony Here Is Like Stale Chocolate Cake

Yesterday I had a bad day. As in, a Bad Day. As in, yesterday sucked ostrich eggs. I made the mistake of getting on the scale the morning after a long weekend away and off my "routine." Usually I give my body at least two days to settle down from the extra salt, stress, etc. of going away. For some reason I decided yesterday morning would be a fine time for a reality check. The number terrified me. So - though I realized the absolutely farcical nature of having a number on the scale that is lower than it was two months ago in the first place - between that number and the weekend with the in-laws whose favorite pastime is to nag at my husband about his weight and what he eats, I proceeded to swan dive into a Bad Day.

And then I got this email, and everything felt a little, well, ridiculous. And hilarious.

Hi there,

My name is Amanda, and I’m with (I am not giving this shitty company free publicity), a marketing agency based in Los Angeles. I stumbled across your website and wanted to invite you to join our online review team for a product called (Ditto for their shitty product). As a busy [woman or mom] (LOL! Oh my Quantum Field!* At least make the one tiny change in your form letter, you lazy asshat. Also: why are they implying that one cannot be both a woman *and* a mother? When you become one does that automatically preclude your being the other? What is the IQ of the person who wrote this email? That is not a rhetorical question.) who has a lot on your plate, we wanted to see if (Shitty Product) may(you need a space here, dear)be something that can help you in your fitness and weight-loss goals.

We’d love to send you a FREE 3-month (Shitty Product) Starter Kit (a $197 value) to review and hope you will share your thoughts and experiences with your readers. We also will give you a unique code that will allow your readers to get a (Shitty Product) Trial Kit FREE for 60-days (that does NOT have a hyphen, OMQF, read your AP Style Guide). In addition, we will be running a contest where the site that has the highest number of trials will win some great prizes!

Please let me know if you are interested and I will follow up soon with more details about the campaign and prizing opportunity. We’d love to have your influential voice included. Thanks for taking the time to consider this opportunity – looking forward to hearing back from you!

Take care,


I mean, we all know that the lazier (and larger) group of Internet marketers does not actually read the bloggers whom they contact. But come ON. Who DOES that? Who emails an eating disorder recovery blogger about a weight loss product? The irony, it burns. Burns, I tell you. It also tickles. When I got this I laaaughed and laughed and laughed. And then I decided that today was going to be a Good Day. So here we go...

* Nontheist for "OMG." Credit goes to the illustrious Marielle.


"Opinions are made to be changed - or how is truth to be got at?"

Each time I've had some kind of relapse it always started with the same pledge: this time I can do it "right," this time I can strike just the right balance and things won't get out of control. That idea is a huge lie, one I and countless other eating disordered people tell, and we tell it again and again with flourish and conviction worthy of true bards, or perhaps politicians.

Eating disorder symptoms have one common denominator, and that is isolation. You can't be involved in an eating disorder and fully engaged in a social life at the same time. Instead of staying out to dinner until everyone else is done, you have to make up some excuse to run back to the dorm room to get to the bathroom. Instead of going to the BBQ spot with your girlfriends, you absolutely have to finish something at work (but it has nothing to do with the fact that you're sick of people telling you to eat something other than a salad with no cheese, no dressing). Instead of going on a trip, you need to stay home and stay in your routine because if you change up your routine, you're not sure you can get back into said routine of exactly such-and-such foods for exactly such-and-such meal (because you are of course weak-willed and a bad person), and god forbid you eat different foods than normal on your trip, because that might mean you come back into town one or two pounds heavier, with the hollows of your hips not quite so hollow, or your clavicle just a bit more padded than it was last week (thus coming back a bad person). I opted to engage in life this weekend, and not in my eating disorder. I started kicking myself for that the second I stepped off the plane in Chicago, and I really haven't stopped since.

When I booked myself into BlogHer in the winter, I was doing pretty darn well. I wasn't restricting, and while my mental acrobatic math never stops, I was eating pretty much what I wanted when I was hungry for it, and stopping when I was satiated. I wasn't purging. I wasn't skipping meals. I weighed more than I had in eight years, but my weight was stable, apparently happy with itself, and well within the healthy range. Then came 2009: YHGTBFKM, and I remembered that an easy way to deal with stress is to have a Luna bar instead of a real lunch, and to have some steamed spinach and 2 oz. of lean protein for dinner instead of whatever I really wanted. I lost weight - while remaining within an acceptable range according to those dastardly height/weight charts - and pared down my list of acceptable foods and practices. "This time," I decided, "I'm going to get it right. I'm being 'healthy,' that's all it is." And I knew exactly what I was really doing. I knew exactly where it could lead. As I watched the number drop on the scale and as a detached part of my brain took notes on a clinical clipboard and wondered if she shouldn't just go ahead and become a psychologist and at least make money off all this observation, most of me devolved into thoughts of, "How on earth did I even live with myself five pounds ago?!" And, "As soon as I get to __ pounds I'll feel great. That's the perfect weight for managing stress." Of course "__ pounds" is never static. It always edges lower and it always becomes more crucial and more central to an ersatz contentment. Anything above __ pounds always becomes more ghastly and terrifying.

It's a good thing I booked tickets to Chicago in early January, or I'd never have gone. If I'd never have gone, I wouldn't be sitting here kicking myself for eating more or less like a "normal" person all weekend. If I weren't sitting here kicking myself for it, that would mean I'd never shaken up the new (and yet old) routine.

In addiction the goal is: if you can't delay it, then interrupt the process at any point you can. Think you really have to have that fix? Delay 15 minutes or an hour or a day and distract yourself with something, seeing if the urge passes. Can't wait? Try to stop when you get your hands on the substance. Got the substance already? Try to stop when you have the line cut, or the tourniquet on your arm, or the pill in your palm. Already taken a hit? Try to step away after the first, or the third. As soon as you can interrupt the addictive ritual, you have a chance to extricate yourself for that moment.

In a way, this weekend couldn't have come at a better time for me, medically. I'm right at the weighty tipping point that I know leads, for me, either to a suspension of the relapse, or a mad pirouette that leaves me light-headed (and -bodied) for months. And I hate that I went and interrupted my ritual, and I detest feel bloated and angry and like a giant disappointment to myself. But I am, of course, in corner of myself with the clipboard and the lab coat, immensely glad of all this familiar discomfort.



I'd officially like to christen this year: "2009: You Have Got To Be Fucking Kidding Me."

So far in 2009:YHGTBFKM we've had two really close deaths in the family. My mom has been diagnosed with breast cancer. I've had occasion to visit psych wards multiple times, and not because I'm getting my MSW. My weight has taken its sharpest dip since 2003. Business has atrophied. And now the period of intense stress from around January and February is once again poking its nose up above the water like a nasty, smelly hippo. The cause of the "period of intense stress" is not something I want floating around on the Internet (as opposed to details about eating disorder recovery and relapse, LOL, irony) so I won't ever get into specifics here, but suffice to say: 2009:YHGTBFKM.

And now, bad news of the blogging variety.

A friend of mine, who is also a blogger, recently deleted her entire blog. This blogger (let's just call her "ND") is a single mother and a public interest lawyer, and a few weeks ago she was forced to take her blog down suddenly. She wasn't allowed to say goodbye to her readers or offer any explanation as to why she deleted her blog, and I know that she feels really awful about this. Please don't mention the name of her blog in any of the comments to this post, but if you wish to say goodbye to her, she is most likely reading and would love to hear from you. I followed her blog from the first post onward, laughing nearly every time she wrote anything, but also learning a lot about the realities of law and motherhood. She is quite possibly the most driven person I've ever "met" when it comes to both of those arenas, and the removal of her blog is going to be a big, big loss for the blogosphere, not just because of the humor and insight in the blog, but because she really had a lot to teach any fellow lawyers and parents. I feel lucky to call her one of my "imaginary friends," (that's all of y'all, too), but I wish I could still call her a fellow blogger.

And, since she's reading this, she should know that if she doesn't take that trip toward the end of this month, I am thoroughly capable of upholding my promise to track her down and smack her. Hard. Just sayin'.



Bodies ≠ public property.

You'd think this would be common sense, but apparently not.  In fact, based on anecdotal evidence, I'd say that a larger percentage of people understand the Boltzmann Distribution* than understand that someone else's body is private mental property.

I went to a lot of camps over the course of my childhood and young adulthood.  Ballet camp, gymnastics camp, theatre camp, another sort of theatre camp, sixteen-year-olds running a camp for four-year-olds out of their parents' house camp (we made Play-Doh from scratch), puppetry camp (ya, rly), shitty Catholic elementary school excuse for summer daycare where I was thoroughly traumatized at the tender age of 5 camp, Shakespeare camp (not to be confused with generic theatre camp), all-girls sleep away camp, nerd camp (Georgia Governor's Honors Program), and of course, eating disorder camp.  

That last "camp" is most relevant to this blog, obviously, but so are some of the others, particularly ballet and gymnastics camps, as you might have guessed.  When I was eight, my verbally abusive (called second graders fat, in public) ballet instructor wanted to put me on pointe.  (That's WAY too young.)  Between that and being called fat, and being screamed at all the damn time, I told my mom, not in so many words, "Fuck this."  She told me, in so many words, "You quit everything," and not in so many words, "I don't believe you about Miss Jan."  In my mom's defense, I was a drama princess from the word Go, so I don't blame her at all for thinking that I was fabricating the things Miss Jan said.  What do you know, but fourteen years later my mom and I run into the owner of the ballet studio, Miss Lee, at Lincoln Center.  (If I'd had Miss Lee instead of Miss Jan, I'd probably be a dancer, FTR.  No kidding.  She was such a wonderful woman and teacher, when I had her, the kind who couldn't help but imbue her pupils with the love and respect she felt for dance.)  What does Miss Lee say when we mention Miss Jan but, "Oh dear.  She was a mistake.  I'm so sorry you had her.  I remember that you should have been with me."  After some pleasantries, my mom and I sauntered along to see The Light in the Piazza and Miss Lee and the two dancers with her went to the NYC Ballet performance that evening.  My mom turned to me and acknowledged, "Well, you were right about Miss Jan, huh?"  I couldn't really reply without sounding slightly bitter, so I commented on the play bill.

Miss Jan in particular (and ballet and dance in general) is a personally compelling example of people taking the false premise of the Public Property Body to the extreme.  She's also an instance of the passing on of the Public Property Body idea into the subconsciousness of her students.  Tell me how an eight-year-old is supposed to set up mental defenses against an authority figure - one whose authority is based around movements of the body - who tells her that her body is open to comment, criticism, and correction?  "Straighten your leg" or "point those toes" are in one category, of course, and that category is called "Ballet."  "You're getting a pot belly" and "suck in your gut" are in a totally different category, and that is called "Child Abuse."  Especially when the eight-year-old in question does not have a pot belly, or a gut, or saddlebags, or what have you.  But you tell me how eight-year-olds are supposed to retain the idea that their bodies are not open for comment and criticism when they hear this week after week?

Move out from the specific instance of a specific ballet instructor, and widen your scope to see all the strangers who comment on pregnant women's bodies. (A non-stranger example:  My FIL to my SIL recently: "Boy, I just have to say, you look so much better with this pregnancy than you did with [my nephew].  You looked so big an uncomfortable last time!"  My SIL:  "Oh, FIL."  Me:  "FIL, are you kidding?")  Think of the last friend or family member you saw for the first time in a while.  Did one or both of you immediately launch into, "You look great!" or "You've lost weight!"?  And, naturally, look at any of the magazines in the grocery store's checkout line.  Don't even get me started.

We've got to fight this, in others and in ourselves.  We've got to war against the socialized impulse to claim subconscious ownership or control of others' bodies, and to allow it of our own, because ownership is what it comes down to.  Think about it: what on earth would possess you to comment on someone's body (whether to their face or behind their back) if you weren't on some level sure that it was yours to comment upon?  Why would you be socially trained to tell someone, "You look great!" instead of, "You seem so happy!" unless you'd been taught to believe something insidious about their body, your opinions, and their life?  You don't have to agree with me here, and you're more than welcome to decide I'm hyperbolizing and on about nothing here, but just think about it next time you catch yourself looking at an overweight person and thinking about their body, or the next time you see a pregnant woman sampling bleu cheese at Whole Foods.  Just take a step back and think about it, and see where your reactions are really coming from, whatever they are.  You might be surprised.

*If I think about this one too hard, I become convinced that I can feel my skin molecules colliding with each other and constantly changing velocity.  And no, I do not smoke pot.



I think someone was mad at me yesterday, because at the same time Personal Failure was recovering from her three-day-long migraine, I began to notice the indescribable weirdness which heralds migraines for me.  The first time I had a migraine I had no idea what the hell was going on, so keep that in mind as I relate the experience:  I was on the subway on my way to work.  I began to be bombarded by the smell of baby formula, of all things, though there were no babies around.  I started to see nothing but white light, became very sure I was going to die.  At the first stop since I got on I somehow - really, truly miraculously I had gotten on a subway car that exited right at the escalator at the 59th Street station - made my way up to the street at Bloomingdale's where I proceeded to faint (in a skirt) next to the garbage bin where I was aiming to retch.   When I came to there was a cluster of good Samaritans trying to see if I was okay, and my head was informing me that it had been run over by a truck tank while I was out.  Such was my introduction to migraines:  pretty much the most frightening kind of migraine you can get, if you have no idea you're getting a migraine.

Fortunately, yesterday's wasn't quite like that.  Aside from sleeping for twelve straight hours and still feeling weak today, it was mild as migraines go.  It still took me by surprise (they always do, because I don't get them often), though it really shouldn't have.  Stress can supposedly be a migraine trigger, and yesterday I found out my mom has breast cancer.  It's tiny and either Stage I or 0, and shouldn't require more than a lumpectomy and radiation.  The prognosis at this point is about as good as you could ask for with cancer, but... gah.  Our family has cardiac issues and autoimmune digestive issues, not breast health issues.  My mom takes pains to live a very healthy, medically approved lifestyle, so this was in all ways shocking.  There are no guarantees, eh?

This officially means I have to stop losing weight (oops), because that would not be fair to my mom.  Like she needs to worry about that right now.  Of course, stress like this adds another layer to the "food sucks" millefeuille that we e.d. chicks are so talented at whipping up.  Meh.


Various and Sundry

You lovelies know that I can run with the best of them in the hypochondria marathon, but honestly.  It's enough already with this swine flu.  Do you people know how many people get the regular flu, let alone die from it, every year?  5-20% of the population gets flu-like symptoms in the U.S. each year, according to the CDC.  200,000 are hospitalized, according to the CDC.  (In the U.S. alone.)  36,000 die from flu-related causes each year, again, according to the CDC.  Do you know how many cases of swine flu we have confirmed in New York state here so far?  About 45.  Do you know what percentage of the population that would work out to if the number of cases were to stay steady at that number each month for the year?  The population of New York state is about 19.5 million.  If there are 45 cases per month for an entire year - through next April - that's about 540 cases.  That's not five percent.   540 cases is less than .00005 of the population of New York state.  (A certain mother of hoofed ones tells me, "The problem is that with pandemics, it's not going to be a linear, maintained occurrence of cases.  If there's a jump in confirmed cases that points to exponential change....we have a problem."  My response to her?  "Meh.  This isn't a pandemic."  Famous last words?  Aaiieeeee!!!!  I feel like now, just for kicks, the universe is going to give me swine flu.

And now Egypt is slaughtering all their pigs, even though they haven't had a single case of swine flu yet.  "No pun intended," says Tommy Thompson on CNBC at 10 a.m. today, "but that is overkill."  LOL, Tommy Thompson for the gruesome win.



It's been 90 degrees in New York for the past few days.  Not that I don't enjoy hot weather (to a certain extent), but the miserly sadists who own our apartment building don't turn on the coolant in the AC thingy (whatever it is) until Memorial Day.  No matter what.  No matter. What.  Our apartment isn't exactly set up for optimal cross-breezes, either, so I basically have to sit in front of a dinky fan, half naked all day when we're in this predicament.  And not that it isn't nice to be admired, but there's only a certain number of times my boobs can be randomly grabbed per day (by my spouse - chill) before I get crabby.

It's back to 57 today and oh my gaaaaawd that's nice.



I'm going to Sonoma with my mommy a week from Thursday.  It's going to be freaking awesome.  You can either expect no posts, or lots of tipsy posts.  Or posts about how I contracted swine flu at the airport.  You've been warned.


Easter Confession

So,* here's what happened:

The beginning of this year brought with it a period of unremitting, profound stress unlike any I've known in my adult life thus far. (It was totally unrelated to the economy, hilariously enough.) Like any good former anorexic, one of my main tools to drag myself through the stress swamp was to stop eating as much as possible. The stressful period abated, mostly, after about a month, and I'd lost about five pounds. Not a huge deal either way, five pounds. But, like any good former anorexic, I found my affinity for hunger didn't fade into the background with the stressful situation. Now, in mid-April, I've lost more like 8 or 9 pounds. Still not the end of the world. I am still well within my healthy weight range (which is a larger range, for nearly every person, than the media would like you to believe). It's not a question of how much I weigh (about what I did at the end of college, in my final period of weight gain post-anorexia). It's a question of why I'm allowing myself to delay and shrink meals, to revel in the feeling of lightness if not lightheadedness, and to fixate on my waist or my arms or my belly in a way I haven't in several years now (that is to say, in an accomplished, purposeful way instead of a defeated, disgusted one). I am at a medically sound weight, but I feel that old, familiar pull.

* How many sentences do I not start with "So," on this blog? Maybe 40%? Yeah, I'm thinking that maybe Joyce Carol Oates doesn't write like that.


Gardasil And The Newest Rendition of "Boys Will Be Boys"

via Forever In Hell

I have nothing to say about this that Personal Failure didn't already say. Just try to wrap your noggins around the cognitive somersaults going on throughout this issue right here:

A Vaccine Debate Once Focused on Sex Shifts as Boys Join the Target Market

I guess the only thing I have to add is a very inelegant *headdesk*. Okay, let me try again. *ahem hem*

Let's start with Aristotle. (Yes, really.) Monsieur Aristote* proposed something called the Teleological Concept of Good which essentially holds that something is "good" if it hits the target it aimed for. Now, by this definition of "good" you could be either a good mother (whatever that means) or a good Mob enforcer (I think we're a little clearer on what that might entail). I'd say that vaccines can be categorized as "good" or "not good" based on the Teleological Concept there. They either work or they don't. They either cause less harm being administered than the disease they're aiming to prevent, or they cause more harm than the disease itself (in which case they usually don't make it to the FDA approval process). Gardasil, as far as we know today, mostly works and causes less harm than cervical, vaginal, vulvar, penile, anal, oral, or esophageal cancers. Its original target was to prevent the 4 types of HPV which cause most types of cervical cancer, but it can also (it is thought) prevent those other cancers listed by preventing the contraction of HPV. (Not to mention genital warts.) That is GOOD. And no amount of sex any one person might have before they're married can make that BAD for the rest of the vaccinated population.** Sorry, it just can't.

Now, let's talk about the whole boy/girl angle of the discussion. When, as the article in question points out, the vaccine was released for females, the no-sex-before-marriage crowd, and some parents, were put off or offended or shocked or frightened that the vaccine was approved for girls as young as 9. There were communities who balked at their school districts attempting to enforce the vaccine for girls of a certain age like they would for MMR or meningitis vaccines in kindergarten or college, respectively. The focus was on how much sex 10-year-old girls were obviously going to start having immediately after leaving their pediatricians' offices with Band-Aids still covering their injection sites. And now, again according to the article, that the boys enter into the picture, sex seems to have skulked stealthily off stage Right. (Ha. "Right." Get it? Like Right Wing? Haaaa.)

The quotation toward the beginning of the article concerning "gender bias" and our being still "more concerned" about promiscuity in girls than in boys is right on, I think, but the context doesn't entirely flesh out the meaning. Personally, I read an acknowledgement that society shrugs at guys' habits between the sheets, but still searches for a way to fix all the [female] sluts. That's essentially what this contentiousness over vaccinating the boys means to me. Boys will be boys will be boys, but girls will be saints or sluts. That dichotomy pops up so often that sometimes I find myself missing it entirely because I'm so used to seeing or reading it. But sometimes, like in this argument of dollars and cents versus female virginity and male sexual tendency, it's just too glaring to ignore.

* I veer into French when discussing philosophy since the only philosophy class I ever took was "L'Existentialisme et l'Absurde" and focused a lot on Sartre and Camus. It's a side effect, not unlike redness and itchiness at the Gardisil injection site. Not that I would know because my insurance started covering it after I turned 26. Which was also after I was married, but fuck them, right?

** In fact, the more sex a vaccinated person has, the more people are protected who would have been otherwise vulnerable.


Modesty, Malevolently

The tip for this post comes from everyone's favorite atheist, Personal Failure (ask her about cookies).

"Revive Our Hearts" appears to be a traditional Christian program (I'm not sure if this blog is the original format, or if this is a podcast, radio show, etc.) and this particular episode is called "Partial Disclosure = Exposure."  It is part of the series "Modesty: Does God Really Care What I Wear?"  I am not these gals' target audience.  Not only am I not Christian, I post pictures of my (clothed) out-of-con-freaking-trol boobage on this blog.  I'm sure that's not what they'd consider "modest."  But I figured I'd give this a look-see anyway.

Let me be clear: I believe that a certain level of modesty is a good thing.  We can't all run around with our tits flying around like pinwheels, after all; it tears the tissues.  And clothes certainly protect us from frostbite, sunburn, snakebites (boots), etc.  Aside from biologically sound, modesty can be downright convenient, if not always foolproof.  I don't know if the women involved in "Revive Our Hearts" have ever walked around Manhattan in the spring or summer, but you could be a three days into a non-bathing stint and wearing a mumu, and still get a certain amount of unwanted male attention.  

I also believe that the wrong sort of emphasis on the female body can lead to all kinds of twisty, snarly shame (helloooo bulimia or binge eating!).  If body image is a silhouette-shaped tree, its roots are firmly planted in the family environment wherein we matured.  Our family environment informs how we view our bodies, and how we define and categorize them.  One of the most dangerous ways to define our bodies is via others' perceptions of them, since that puts us totally out of control of our own selves.   Our bodies are us.  They are the most natural, basic, original expression of who we are.  If we are taught from our formative years to define ourselves only in terms of others, then what the hell kind of sense of self are we going to be left with?  "Not much of one" is the answer.  That's what I find initially dangerous and objectionable about the material of "Partial Disclosure = Exposure."  Defining the biblical purpose of clothing as covering "the private parts of the body" is all well and good, and I'm not about to go run off to a nudist colony.  But these women are urging their female acolytes to consider everything they wear through the prism of "where do you want men looking at you as a woman?"  And that's no way to conceive of yourself: only through a man.  Define your body through a man's perception of it.  I don't think so.

In addition to being dangerous in a metaphysical, intangible way (to say nothing of the physical ramifications of eating disorders and low self-esteem), I find the suggestions in this article dangerous on an immediate and frightening level.  
"I'm just saying think about whether what you're wearing is form-fitting and could be tantalizing or seductive to men, not in an extreme way perhaps, but in a way that you would not want to be influencing men's thinking."  Is that or is that not the most boiled down argument of "she was asking for it because she was dressed like a slut" you've ever read?  Our society (and Western society on the whole) has been clawing and white-knuckling its way away from such dangerous modes of thinking for the better part of a century.  It's maddening and depressing to me that some women apparently want to bring back into full force that culture of victim blaming and shaming when it isn't even gone to begin with.

Essentially, this write-up is the Eve argument in an HTML format. And I think it's ridiculous.  Ridiculously dangerous.

Plan B OTC Access Expanded

"The judge ruled that the agency had improperly bowed to political pressure from the Bush administration in 2006 when it set the age limit at 18."

If you read this blog on any sort of semi-regular basis, I think you can guess my feeling on this new ruling.  To sum up:  w00t.  Another quick excerpt from the article:  

Citing depositions, Judge Korman wrote that agency officials had improperly communicated with White House officials about Plan B. And, he said, F.D.A. employees sought to influence decisions by appointing people with anti-abortion views to an independent panel of experts reviewing Plan B for the agency.

Anyway, kudos to Judge Korman.  (God forbid a seventeen-year-old who's been raped by a friend be allowed to at least breathe a little more deeply about one of the possible physical consequences of such a crime.)  I wonder what else will be confirmed in the way of publicly acknowledged, open secrets from the past eight years?


Left Wing Conspiracy In Dictionary Publishing Industry Spreading Like Cream Cheese On A Bagel After Sundown On Yom Kippur

This is just so awesome that it's practically beyond words.  (Iiiironyyyy.)

A conservative website noticed that the entry on "marriage" in Merriam-Webster includes a definition covering same-sex marriage.  Now the "traditional marriage blogosphere" is up in arms about this breaking news.  ... Which appears to have happened in the 2003 edition.  I'm not going to link to them because I don't want to give them extra traffic, but a number of blogging members of a little organization called the DNA (just Google it if you're burning to know) currently have horrified entries concerning this travesty.

And I'm laughing my ass off at every one of them.

(See?  I told you it was a conspiracy.)

Theatre Thursday

As I mentioned and linked, some school somewhere is trying to convince us that Steve Martin's hilarious, thoughtful and poignant play Picasso at the Lapin Agile is a dirty piece of icky smut.  Screw that.  Screw that with an extra-thorny rose bush.   We did this play (a truncated version) at my very Catholic, Catholic high school.  I played Suzanne, a 19-ish ingenue who's been seduced by Picasso (twice).  Herewith, her monologue.  Because everyone deserves to see this really kick-ass play.

SUZANNE.  I... it was about two weeks ago.  I was walking down the street one afternoon and I turned up the stairs into my flat and I looked back and he was there framed in the doorway looking up at me.  I couldn't see his face because the light came in from behind him and he was in shadow and he said "I am Picasso."  And I said, "Well so what?"  And then he said he wasn't sure yet but he thinks that it means something in the future to be Picasso.  He said that occasionally there is a Picasso and he happens to be him.  He said the twentieth century has to start somewhere and why not now.  The he said, "May I approach you?" and I said okay.  He walked upstairs and picked up my wrist and turned it over and took his fingernail and scratched deeply on the back of my hand.  In a second, in red, the image of a dove appeared.  Then I thought, why is it that someone who wants me can hang around for months, and I even like him but I'm not going to sleep with him, but someone else says the right thing and I'm on my back, not knowing what hit me.

Then the conversation veers toward penises, and while I understand a high school not wanting to include that (ours cut it out), I mean... well, go get the play and read it yourself.  I can see why Steve Martin's willing to put up his own money to help this particular drama program do an off-campus production, just so the play doesn't get a seedy reputation.  It's really, really great.

Not very eloquent today, I know.  My brain has shut down yet again.  Meh.  Expect lots of links in the next few weeks.


Theatre (of the absurd) Thursday. Except Not.

We're heading down to south Jersey to visit my in-laws for about a week. We're taking the prince with us. In the car. I think this probably sums up the situation:


My Disordered Thoughts: Let Me Show U Them

Trigger: Packing for a week in Jersey with the in-laws. Trying on funeral-appropriate dress clothes in case of grandparent departure. Finding a skirt which didn't fit in the autumn now fits. (The skirt was too small around the waist before).

Belief: "Well, shit. I must have really gotten chubby. Chubster. Chubby chubster fatty."

Action: Stare in mirror and wonder, "How fat am I still? I'm probably still chubby and just can't see it. Hunh. That... sucks."

Departure from reality: Achieved.



NEDAW Friday

Your assignment for this weekend:

Go running by the river, climb a tree, stretch, traipse around the park, try on expensive clothes in good lighting, get a makeover, get a massage, get a henna tattoo, get a real tattoo, don't walk - strut, perfect your handstand, go dancing, get laid, hug everyone, crawl around with your kids, in other words...

Have FUN with your body.

Eating disorder recovery is a lifestyle choice. Need to learn how to make the choice? NEDA can help.


NEDAW Thursday

I recently experienced a period of profound stress. To some extent the stress continues, but it has alleviated at least 60%. This wasn't "fun" stress, like the stress of planning my wedding or the stress of moving, or starting a new job. This was no-shit, adrenaline-driving, panic attack-inducing stress. This past two months has probably been, now that I think about it, the most stressful time in my adult life, and certainly the most stressful time since I recovered from anorexia or [mostly] bulimia.

We keep a scale under the bed because it keep me in touch with reality. At the height of this fraught few weeks I'd lost a little over five pounds. By now I've gained back about three, so we're at net minus two. (I should really know if that's an actual accounting term, since I do our books and all.) Hardly a big deal either way, two to five pounds, and no big or small deal at all, medically speaking.

But it was truly intoxicating. I felt all the textbook things that weight loss triggers in eating disorder patients (and even just in some dieters). I imagined that everyone could tell I'd lost weight, and I imagined I had more energy and was more productive. I felt as though I was accomplishing something and bringing the world back under my control, and I envisioned keeping on losing weight, and keeping on cutting out meals and food, and I imagined that I could "get it right" this time and find the perfect balance of weight loss and optimal mind-body aesthetic.

Then I snapped back to reality. I had a bagel with eggs and cheese and realized I couldn't go back to anorexia not because I didn't have the ersatz willpower, but because I didn't have the desire. I realized I couldn't get back into a restrict/purge cycle not because I couldn't do it to my esophagus, but because I couldn't do it to my common sense and my desire to experience a full life.

I think I'll stay away from the scale for a week or so. I usually weigh myself weekly, since the daily number can fluctuate in a healthy person anywhere from - guess what - two to five pounds. It's the more general numbers, like weekly, or at least every three days, that chart the real trend, if there is one. So I'll step back, I'll make sure my head is on straight, and, more importantly, I'll do stuff like eat three balanced meals a day, remembering that Odwalla bars do not count in that category, and we'll see how it goes from there.

Eating disorder recovery is a lifestyle choice. Need to learn how to make the choice? NEDA can help.


NEDAW Wednesday

I am so, so super schnitty at meditation. A former acquaintance once told me, "There's no such thing as being bad at meditation!" but she was wrong, wrong, wrong. I suck at it. If the fate of the world ever rested on my being able to clear my mind and meditate, or even to just acknowledge the thoughts during meditation then to let them pass by and keep on meditating, we'd all be screwed seven ways from Sunday, because I SUCK AT IT. I'm not even good at yoga. Technically, you're supposed to cultivate the same mindful mindlessness in yoga as you do in meditation, and if you're focusing on your body and how many calories you're burning and how your muscle definition is coming along and how weak or strong you are, well then, technically, ur doin it rong. And forget going to the gym for me. It is the Trigger Of All Triggers that will lead to a restrict/binge/purge cycle like no other thing. (For now, at least. Maybe one day not.)

The only way I get any kind of exercise which is both physically and mentally salutary is by walking around Manhattan. Whenever we leave here, I will be royally screwed. (Unless we're leaving to move to another walking city, which is just plain unlikely.)

Walking is how I got "exercise" for my semester in Paris, too. Of course then, I would waaaalk and walk and walk, focusing more on the calories I was burning than on the beauty and grandeur around me. And when I got a twinge of hunger? I would pop into a cafe and grab a Diet Coke or an espresso. While this is a great way to whittle yourself down to 90 lbs. and lose bone mass to boot, it's not the most effective way of enjoying one of the culinary capitals of the fricking world. WTF, anorexia?! You're such a douche! Why, of all places and times, did you have to shack up with me in PARIS? The land of croissants beurres and croques monsieurs and foie gras and the gelati on l'Île Saint-Louis, and really the only place one can acquire an acceptable Camembert? Anorexia, you're a real assh0le. I'm so glad I kicked you to the curb while I still live in Manhattan, the home of pizza and falafel and chana saag and bento boxes and Magnolia Bakery and the Union Square Green Market.

Eating disorder recovery is a lifestyle choice. Need to learn how to make the choice? NEDA can help.


NEDAW Tuesday

I had the most fabulous brunch on Sunday. There's an awesome neighborhood-type place around the corner from the shop where I got my wedding dress. ('inoteca, if you're in this neck of the woods.) I got out of the house, got out of the neighborhood (a real feat) and had some seriously good food: bruschette topped with the freshest ricotta, pesto, and olive tapenade you can imagine (that's three different bruschette, not all on one), and the house brunch specialty, which is basically two egg yolks in scooped-out artisan bread topped with fontina, dried roe, and white truffle oil. Also: blood orange mimosas. Also also: Nutella panini.

It wasn't a ridiculous amount of food, all in all. It wasn't even a large amount of food, but a large variety. But you can't do a meal like that in the midst of an eating disorder. You can't relax at brunch, or at most any meal. You certainly can't relax about something like white truffle oil or ricotta or fontina, much less Nutella, unless you are that rare anorexic or bulimic who can truly compartmentalize. Unfortunately, non-compartmentalization is part of the disease and its progression. You start out able to compartmentalize to a certain extent, in certain situations, and by the peak your entire life is structured around your anorexia, your bulimia, your exercise bulimia, your binge eating, etc. That's not to say you can't eat any of these foods; but even if you don't purge them afterward you can't simply enjoy them, unless you get momentarily lucky.

Even several years out from my anorexia and several months out from clinically fitting the bill of "bulimia nervosa," I had to take quite a few moments to remind myself to enjoy. So what if this meal mostly consisted of bread? It was one meal, and it was a really, really good one. So what if prosecco added calories to the blood orange juice? Sunday brunch only comes once a week - more realistically, once every few months. In these moments of discomfort I paused in my head, and I breathed, and I resumed my enjoyment. And it was great.

Eating disorder recovery is a lifestyle choice. Need to learn how to make the choice? NEDA can help.


NEDAW Monday

It is a delicious irony that NYC Fashion Week ended last week, and that this week marks 2009's National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Head over to the NY Times or New York Magazine or WWD, or any of the countless other websites that would have coverage, and be prepared to be bombarded by shocking images of women who are wasting away.

You know it's getting bad when the celebrity show (Heart Truth Red Dress) features the "meatier" models.

Here's the thing about eating disorders: they're neurologically-based and they're biological devils, but their continuation is, to some extent, a lifestyle "choice." You can dedicate yourself to recovery mentally, but if you don't change your lifestyle as part of that dedication, you're going to keep eschewing any single food over 100 calories, or you're going to keep isolating to hang out with food rather than friends, or you're going to keep waking up at 5 a.m. to run 10 miles instead of sleeping in until seven on a Sunday. Last year when I blogged about the neurobiology of eating disorders, I got a few comments reminding me that, yes, there are biochemical factors, but recovery is a choice.

So this week let's celebrate the choices of cupcakes (but not too many), of exercise (but not too much), of bodies being themselves, and of giving a big middle finger to the hawkers of shame, scorn and digust.

Eating disorder recovery is a lifestyle choice. Need to learn how to make the choice? NEDA can help.


The Definition of Marriage

California's Assembly Judiciary Committee and its Senate Judiciary Committee are holding hearings today to consider drafting a resolution suggesting that state's Supreme Court overturn Prop 8. A hue and cry went out across the "traditional marriage blogosphere" last week (Freedom to Marry week) and this weekend with the goal of packing as many bodies and voices as possible in front of the state capital in Sacramento.

The tug-of-war between the two sides in this emotional debate hinges on clashing studies (each side is quick to discredit the other's; you have to look at the studies themselves to decide which have scientific weight), anecdotal evidence, and very often an acquired or intrinsic sense of which side is "right." It is hard to change minds, in either direction. It is not impossible.

One basic slogan of the Yes-on-8 voters and supporters centers around "not redefining marriage." I'd like to ask: which definition is being protected? "Marriage" has more than one definition. It has about 10, actually. For each definition that specifically includes "man and woman" there is a definition describing something more universal and, you could say, natural. (Go look up the definitions for that one if you don't like my choice of adjective. I assure you - it fits.) You can see some of those "marriage" definitions here.

The meaning of a word, any word, changes over time. (Hey, look at the word "gay.") "Freedom" has taken on many nuances and shadings in the short history of this country alone. The word "slavery" continues to adapt itself with dark panache. Even when words' definitions remain static, they take on new meaning constantly. "Voting" took on drastically new connotations between 1850 and 1880, and again between 1910 and 1920. "War" has acquired a new emotional and cognitive timbre over the past six years, as it did in the 1940's and the 1970's. It is not in the nature of words or of language to remain the same because it is not in the nature of the human world to stay in one place or in one state of being for very long.

Nietzsche believed that "[t]hat for which we find words is something already dead in our hearts. There is always a kind of contempt in the act of speaking." That's a bit, er, bleak, but I agree in this: in that words are only symbols of realities our hearts and minds are straining to grasp, so how can we expect those symbols to remain stagnant? We are evolving and growing, as individuals and as a species, all the time, and part of the growth occurs in language.

Let us evolve. Let marriage grow.