written for SCHOOL PUBLICATION


when first asked to write this piece i was…hesitant. of the little i remember of my time at school, i regret much. my story is is certainly not one of juilliard's great successes. and yet. it is mine. for all its faults and flaws and that's worth sharing, no?

the white blank page before me disagrees. i've been unable to piece together...anything--about any of it. how does one sum up school or the subsequent three years in a nice and tidy pile of words? if the story is fragmented and messy how does one do it justice on the page? 

i lost myself at school. that's the long and the short of it. i came to new york at the tender age of eighteen and while others marveled at skyscrapers and central park i acquainted myself with an unnamable sadness. in fact, sadness became my sole companion. perhaps i was too young. perhaps i should have attended a basic liberal arts college. perhaps, perhaps....truth be told it's remarkable i survived at all. but when graduation day finally came it was not a marker of success but a desperate gasp for air. i had failed. deeply, i had failed. and i had lost that little kernel of faith in my ability to act, and as it turns out, myself. 


so i stopped. acting, that is. four years studying the thing and i couldn't stomach it. i know, i know, just what anyone wants to hear as they prepare to leave school or continue on in their education.

but here's the thing failure, as it turns out, proves fertile ground. and in the absence of acting i began to write.  i simply meant to document. to put pen to paper to help me remember or preserve a period of my life for the future. but those words became a solace that slowly unfurled me--revealed me to myself. the great roadmap of the journey inward. and i found that all that i had learned at school in terms of sounds and shapes of vowels and the discrepancy between what is thought and what is known leant itself beautifully towards writing. 


and writing, as it turns out, gave me back my life. does that sound terribly dramatic? well, it is. and it was.  
there are moments i wish i could go back and do school all over again. as the person i am now. perhaps this time i'd be ready. perhaps this time i'd get it right. perhaps, perhaps. but i have to remind myself that few stories are truly linear. we twist around, circle back on ourselves, and when we're lucky, move forward. and that's okay. my story is not done. i left acting but whether or not i will return  is a part of the story i've yet to write. 


what i mean to say is this. if things don't go as planned, that's okay. (i know, i know, everyone says that.) how to tell you--to make you understand.

how about this: failure is essential. fail as much and as gloriously as you can. fail in little, seemingly inconsequential ways when no one is looking. or fail on a stage under the lights. the thing is, others might not see it as such. and given enough time, it might actually reveal itself as something else. because when the failure fades or passes or wears another mask it gives way to a joy so profound, it lies beyond imagination--even that special brand of imagination that juilliard encourages.

and joy, more than anything else i've ever known,  is essential to art. (yes, joy).



sometimes i wonder how i'll look back on this period in my life--as a pause in the story? as a precursor to the next great plot twist? a time when i was tied to nothing, living anonymously in a small, sunlit apartment, way high north on the island of manhattan next to the train tracks and nestled against the river--and i think i'll be a better actor because of these days, a better person, if nothing else. 

one of many small and tangible resolutions...

the scale i own is sitting in a bag next to the door waiting for a goodwill pick-up.

that was one of my new year's resolutions: rid my room of the scale.

to be fair i never really used it. once or twice in the past year, maybe. instead i would find it stored away in strange places like in my suitcase or sandwiched in a storage bin under my bed--such is the life of a new yorker where there's never enough space and storage is a commodity.

so while i never used it, i'd every so often unearth the thing.

and i'd feel it taunting me, climb on, it would say. let's play--let's have some real down-home-fun. 


i got the thing my freshman year of college when this disaster (i mean, adventure?) began and i still thought that the measure of one's health (and thus subsequent worth) was determined by the three numbers the scale offered up to me.

now in my old-age and generally-aknowledged (ahem) wisdom i know better. my health is the culmination of countless factors--many of which i can't control. but i know when i'm eating well. and i know when i'm exercising. and i don't need a scale to measure those things. so ipso-facto-ergo...what use have i for this antiquated device? scales provide the surface amount of information. they hint at things. like health. but they aren't the end-all-be-all.

i remember seeing something on a blog once about bus-stop benches in sweeden? norway? denmark?--some progressive european country. as a way to discourage obesity they had taken to measuring the weight of the seated person and projecting that number up above. i know what you're thinking: shocking, appalling, the wrong approach, right?

well...maybe a bit misguided but the more i thought about it the more i realized the number projected is simply that: a number.

our outrage stems from the shallow notion that weight is the ultimate end. in our culture each number comes with a stigma--an emotional attachment. bridget jones tells me that 140 is an unacceptable number. whereas, when i'm at 140 i border on looking way-too-thin. i see tweets all the time--people saying they're this tall and this is their goal number because that's how tall so-and-so is and that's how much they weigh. but weight sits differently on different people. we truly cannot compare our body to anyone else's--it's not fair, not healthy, and a really ridiculous benchmark.

maybe what we need to work on before we can worry about lowering the number that's flashing above us is detaching the number from the story we've assigned to it. it's just a number, that's all. and yes, it provides us with some information--but it's such a small slice of the pie.

when i started physique i looked leaner almost immediately and the number on the scale increased by more than a few pounds. oh wait, this was mean to be a physique update, no?

okay, okay, that'll come this afternoon...

an alternative to all the terrible weight-loss, diet ads that bombard the start of the new year: in the form of a post.

before beginning:
this is a continuation.
of a story. about ned.
ned being my nasty, little eating disorder.
he's the worst.
for more information,
check my sidebar
(under the photo of me in
the winter mittens).

i have been meaning to post about ned.


for a while now.

and yet i put it off. sit down for another episode of the office and promise i'll do it tomorrow.

but many tomorrows of tomorrows have passed and i am no more ready today.

but i will begin. in spite of unreadiness.

it is hard to write about ned, but for extremes. or past-tense. let me explain: when i know where i stand with ned--whether it be really bad, or really good, i can write from those places. or if i know how the segment of the story ends, i can write the history. it is the unfolding story with no answer of an ending--the space between--the constant adjustment to perpetually shifting plates that undoes me. and steals my voice.

going home for the holidays was perfection. a place and season that were once the hardest, this year proved easy. and so for whatever reason i got through fifteen days binge free. i denied myself nothing and never once felt as though i over-ate. and because of that...because i felt so unerringly normal, i declared myself happy.

and then i returned to this city. and i am lonely. and now helplessly homesick. and i wonder if this is depression or ned. or are they one in the same as they have been in the past?

i want to write from a place of past. but ned is present and the war wages on.

but progress has been made.

actually there is so much good that has come out of all of this destruction. i am wiser and now a huge advocate of arming one's self with knowledge.

i've almost completely stopped eating meat. not because i dislike meat. hell, i'm from texas, i love the stuff. but i strongly disagree with the factory farming system as it exists today.* and i know that this decision is one thing i can act on each day that will have a positive effect on the environment. this is not to say that i am a vegetarian. as someone with an eating disorder i am weary of imposing any kinds of limits or rules on my food intake. if i want meat, i will eat it, but i like to know where it comes from--if it was produced locally, whether the animal was treated humanely.

i am trying to cut out processed foods. frozen dinners. candy. snack packs. are the ingredients simple and easy to break down? can i figure out a way to make it myself?

one of my goals for this new year was to make my own bread. and so yesterday, in my shell of a kitchen i baked up some spelt (an alternative to wheat) biscuits. and i loved it. i like helping to create the things that go into my body. and i like knowing that what i take in, for both sustenance and enjoyment, is not at another creature's or the planet's expense.

it is my great belief that food and health is now a social and political issues. diets don't work (but, shhh, don't tell that to the billion-dollar-a-year diet industry). there is a reason that 60% of americans are overweight and it sure as hell doesn't have anything to do with lack of will-power.

now is the time to seek out alternatives. a healthy life-style that is good for us and our planet.

what we put in our body affects our mood and mind. and whether the weight fluctuates up or down, our health is far more tied to fruits and vegetables than frozen smart-ones.

i am not ned free. but my real new year's resolution? to do everything i've put off in the past because of my eating disorder. (like going out on a tuesday night in search of cute guys). or taking pictures. {one day i might just write a field-guide for those with loved ones suffering from an eating disorder. i will explain why things like walking past a mirror or a confrontation with a camera can be both crippling and ultimately the answer to survival, but i digress--that is another post for another day}.

and so i told dr. tom that i am ready to take on the second-phase of treatment which involves standing in front of a mirrors and describing your body in non-judgmental terms. it's a five-week course that sounds like some new circle of hell yet undiscovered by dante, and i'm not ready, i am so not ready (i was going to wait for a time when i was) but sometimes it's best to jump in. even if you think you might sink.

and so here i go.

splash.

i want to be normal again. i want to be me without ned.

this might just be the year.







*loving in the information in Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals and Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. (in fact i gave both these books to my father for Christmas so we can discuss)


the story of ned (my nasty little eating disorder).


you're wondering who ned is.


i don't blame you.

ned is my name for my nasty little eating disorder.

i was diagnosed about two and half years ago with non-purging bulimia, after struggling with little or no help for two years.

so now its been close to five years and i finally feel like the story of ned is...well, it's not ending so much as, just becoming less important.

i made the decision to speak openly about my eating disorder because one of the reasons it was so difficult to find someone to help me was that so little is known (even among medical professionals) regarding eating disorders.

if you think you might be dealing with your own ned, i can't emphasize the importance of seeking help. and i'm not talking about your general practitioner or even a run-of-the-mill therapist. look for someone who specializes in this field.

with any questions or comments, don't hesitate to email me: fee.meg@gmail.com



so here's the story from the beginning:

(the first two posts listed give the best background information)








the white flag. (where i am currently).


in a day.


on monday night i chopped all my hair off. 

i needed a change.

yesterday, i bought myself an unforgivably expensive purse (euf. thank you birthday money).

and this morning i packaged everything i own into plastic bags in preparation for the exterminator. turns out preparing for bed bug demolition is like moving (without any of the organization). 

everything can change in a day.

two weeks ago i looked in the mirror and began to cry. i saw myself. as i haven't seen myself in four years. 

you see, when ned pitches a tent and stakes a corner of my life.... well, my face is the first thing to change. it swells ever so slightly which changes the overall appearance. it's not a big change. just enough to change... everything. so i looked in the mirror and cried because i thought, oh my god, my mom's going to look at me and see her baby girl for the first time in four years. 

when this thing... this ned...first came about it took so much time to interpret him--to learn his language, and convey his meaning to those around me. so by the time everyone understood, i feared most for my mother. she thought it was her fault. she hated that she couldn't help me. if there is anything unforgivable about the time with my eating disorder, it is the pain i have put my mother through. i know because i'm tethered to her. when she is sad, i feel her sadness tenfold. i can't imagine what she has felt throughout this--this process. 

so, that's what i thought, yes, my mom's going to look at me and see her baby girl for the first time in four years. 

and then of course the bed bugs descended. and my birthday. and the impending arrival of my family (we have a wedding to go to tomorrow). and if you don't know it by now... i tend to not do so well with big events. i've dampened many an important holiday in the past (i seem to recall a very difficult thanksgiving two years ago) and with the arrival of all these things, ned crept back in. by small degrees i allowed his onset. 

this... thing that today i cannot give more of a name to than just that: thing, is a constant lesson--an experiment in humility. just as soon as i am ready to claim victory, i am reminded that there is no such thing as victory. there is only this day. and tomorrow. and an endless fight. and that's not necessarily bad. because the fight won't always be hard. but it will be. the difference between a very healthy me and a very... not healthy me is at most two inches on the battle map. 

have you ever noticed that laughing looks an awful lot like crying? and making love can resemble a fight between two people? this world is made of infinitesimally small lines that we all traverse each and every day. 

the past two weeks have been not so good. but last night when i had the impulse to cater to ned's wishes (yes, that pun was intended) i didn't. and that's all it takes. one moment of unbearable strength where you pull yourself over the cliff and begin the slowly and steady walk away from the edge. 

so whereas i was not okay yesterday, i am today. and so yes, everything can change in a day.

when i see my mother tomorrow, i may wish that my face still reflected what i saw in that mirror two weeks ago. and i may way wish i looked slightly better in my dress, but, c'est la vie. there will be time for that in the future. so for tomorrow i will smile and know that my eyes hold all the me my mother will ever need to see. 

________________________________

back in high school i listed in on a lecture by a visiting shakespearean scholar. 

this is what he said:

the average american has a vocabulary of about 3,000 words.

the most educated americans possess about 6,000.

language fails us. all the time. every day. is it any wonder people suffer from any form of mental illness--when there aren't enough words to aptly express the full gamut of human emotion?

shakespeare's vocabulary? culled from all his plays and sonnets?

36,000. 

holy moly. 36,000 words. 

the man made them up. if it didn't exist. he created it. 

so on this day i wish i had all those 36,000 words to thank you all for your kind birthday wishes. i'd like to thank each and every one of you individually (and am hoping to... eventually) but for now i leave you all with just these two words.

thank you.

my birthday was a lovely oasis in the midst of these past two weeks. it's funny, 24 has gotten off to a rocky start. but i've never been so hopeful or so positive about what's just around the bend.

thank you. all of you. this thing--this blogging community--changes my life each and every day and helps me heal in a way unlike anything else.


love and thanks to you all,
meg

_______________________________

ps: one of the best birthday gifts i received was the knowledge that president barack obama was known as "barry" back in college. 

barry.

awesome.

my gift to you:



_______________________________

post ps: i am a child of october. october is the month the gods of baseball reign. the yanks took down the twins 7-2 in the first game.

game two is tonight.

let's go yankees.