Saturday, August 14, 2010

Dead Certain

Thursday (08/12/2010) was a pretty busy day for me, and it certainly had an impact on me.

I started out bright and early with the first jog since my surgery. Actually, it was more like a walk/jog, because a) I haven't completely healed, and didn't want to compromise my recovery and b) after a week without jogging, spent mainly lying down or going on long walks, I was pretty out of shape.

Isn't that funny that when we're recovering from something like surgery, or cancer, or some other 'common' or 'normal' disease (aka that happens to, I wouldn't say everyone, but most people) we do everything we can to ensure a proper and speedy recovery, whereas with an eating disorder, we cling to our disease like starved beggars pulling at the rich man's cloak with vain hands, desperate to stay sick.


After that, it was a rushed trip to a therapist I was seeing for the first time. My whole family went. It was good, because she really explained to them all the intricacies of anorexia, the habits, the rituals, the thinking behind it, which I think my parents were relatively blithely unaware of up till that point. It also helped us establish that I've felt alone, unsupported, and unencouraged in my recovery, and that they really need to encourage me help me eat more and gain weight.
I realized that I need them to make it known that it is acceptable, it is okay, to eat. And particularly, that it is okay to eat this or that food.

That afternoon, we saw the Fisher exhibit at the SFMOMA - what an impressive collection of art! I loved Agnes Martin's subtle paintings, and Wayne Thiebauld's utopian view of San Francisco. Also, I found Cy Twombly's philosophy intriguing: history is fragmented, therefore any understanding of the past is incomplete. Ironically, I disliked his paintings. I found them dark, depressing, almost like Munch's nightmarish paintings.

After a hummus and pita bread appetizer we shared and a spinach and asparagus pasta, we went to Royce Gallery in San Francisco to see a play called "Dead Certain." It was a tiny space, with hardly a classroom size audience (about 30 people) in a cozy, intimate gallery space.

The stage was already set - a desk (with brandy, coke bottles, a first aid kit, play bills, scripts...), two armchairs, book cases, a female mannequin with a bright pink satin negligee, and no curtain to hide any of this.
There were only two actors: "Elizabeth" and "Michael". I won't get into the plot, which is extremely convoluted and mind-warping. I will only say that it was very good.
What I want to talk about is the fact that Elizabeth was in a car accident, and crippled for life. She spends the entire play in a wheelchair, rolling herself around now and then. She feels extreme resent at her handicap, and wants revenge on Michael whom she thinks is responsible (see? Here I am telling you the plot when I vowed not to.)

I didn't think much of it then, but the next day on my jog, I thought, wow, how lucky am I? I can run and jump and live. We, as human beings have been gifted with the faculty to move, to be physically active and capable! Is this not amazing? We are so, so lucky. I thought about Elizabeth, a former ballerina, now chained to her wheelchair, unable to ever get up and walk, play, do anything at all.

I would really go mad if I were in such a position of handicap, sitting at my desk all day, unable to walk down the stairs or move on my own, or shower, or do anything for myself, by myself. Then I thought, but... this is anorexia. When I was in the deepest, worst throws of my illness, I had so very little energy that I could hardly muster up the strength to run, or walk for long distances or periods without feeling utterly drained and exhausted. Even now, in the midst of my recovery, walking around the Museum of Modern Art two days ago completely sapped me of my strength - I could hardly get up off the bench to walk into the next room.

Actually, near the end, I was nearly dead on my feet. So, I want to let you know of a feat I performed. Isn't that ridiculous and pathetic, though, to consider things that normal people think are the easiest and most natural in the world, feats? Anyway, with about 3 more large rooms to go, my mom told me there was a rooftop café, and asked if I wanted to have a drink their to restore my energy.

We forged through the last rooms and I actually got a full-fat hot chocolate. Can you believe it? Every single time I order a dairy beverage (generally my favorite moccha latté) I specify that it must be made with non-fat milk. But this time I made no such specifications, and saw the very bottle of organic clover milk he used. And you know what? It was the best fucking hot chocolate I've had in my life. We sat out on the rooftop garden, lounging, soaking in the sun like deprived iguanas, admiring the various sculptures on display. Perfect.

Okay, where did this digression come from? Anyway, to get back to my point, I see anorexia as a type of chosen handicap, often used to incite compassion and love (I certainly felt so) among other things. We are purposefully restricting our power, our range of movement, possibilities, ability to go out and run and jump and do sports, to goof around and play with our friends, to live. By choosing anorexia, we are choosing to be Elizabeths. We are choosing to be the withered cripple in the wheelchair, whose life holds no hope nor possibilities.

I choose to be the athlete. The person who has overcome their disability with physical therapy. The person who has chosen to live. Of that, I am Dead Certain.

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