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It Could Be Worse, You Could Be Me

August 1, 2010
arielleve.jpg

Author Ariel Leve and her most recent published work

Ariel Leve is a New Yorker. A 40-something New Yorker with a succesful career as a journalist who still has things to complain about – and I like it.  She goes to therapy (for what problems I do not know!). If asked about her interests, “sitting” would surely be in high-standings. She is not a social butterfly – she does not see the point of the effort. She is comfortable in her apartment and in her way of life. She is not too sensitive about things; she calls it being conscientious. Ariel Leve’s memoir chalk full of anecdotal tales of her life through her grey-color glasses places a smile across my face. Despite its obviously pessismistic outlook (which I do not see as a negative thing – har har), her anecdata stirs up an ample amount of interesting revelations and epiphanies in regards to social dynamic and the many different ways someone can live their life.

Cheers, I am enjoying it! I present one of my favorite passages:

The Dangers of Al-Fresco Therapy

There’s a new trend in therapy. A therapist in New York has decided to run his practice outdoors. His patients spend the entire session with him in the park: walking and talking.

I can’t think of anything less appealing. Why would someone choose to be outside in the oppressive sunshine when they can be safely inside in the womb-like safety of a darkened room?

But also, there are a multitude of other practice issues. For instance, if I’m going to spend fifty minutes walking that means I have to wear trainers. What if I’m not coming directly from home? I’ll have to carry my gear around in a special bag. The way some people carry a bag for the gym, I’ll have a bag for therapy? Trainers, pants, sun block and tissues.

Then when someone wonders why I’m not in better shape since I seem to be working out all the time I’ll have to explain. “I’m not going to the gym. I’m going to the shrink.”

Moreover, what about those of us who have allergies. are we not supposed to have therapy in the spring? How will my shrink know if I’m crying or if my eyes are watering from the pollen?

I’ll have to take an antihistamine before my appointment. But if I take one with speed I’ll be power walking. And if I take one without, it will make me drowsy.

That’s not very productive. If I’m spending $150, I don’t want to be lying down on a park bench fighting to stay alert.

Where we meet is a potential disaster as well. Meeting at an office is easy. But that wn’t work  because by the time we got ot the park, we’d ha ve to turn around and head back. So I assume tis means we’d meet at a designated spot somewhere inside the park. i’m anxious just thinking of this. I’ll end up in the wrong place.

I can hear it now. “I thought you said to meet at the fountain?” Then we’ll spend the next fifteen minutes discussing what it means that I never listen to directions.

Then there’s the possiblity of running into someone I know. That’s terrifying. Do I stop to say hello and explain the situation? “I’m in the middle of an emotional crisis so I can’t chat. But nice to see you – you look great!”

Even worse than into someone I know – running into someone I’m talking about. I could see obsessing about an ex who coincidently happens to be strolling through the park at that very moment with his new girlfriend. And Of course this happens on a humid day when my hair is frizzy.

Triple session on the spot.

Research shows that a person is likely to feel more alienated and alone when they witness others whose lives have worked out. Was I the subject for this research? Walking through the park, thsi is a co nstant danger. It can actually cause harm. How? By subjecting a semi-depressed person to increased levels of inadequacy and plunging them into a full-blown depression.

On the other hand, witnessing those who are worse off can be euphoric.

I do see one advantage to an out-of-office therapy session. there’s a far greater chance of going over the fifty minutes. Where are the clocks?
When time is up, it’s not like a therapy can kick you out of the park.

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For him

July 14, 2010

For him, placing the cigarette upon his lips was the split-second moment of composure. The exhalation was, obviously, the release – all the upkeep of exhausted social mores and fucked up shit was puffed into the air; the catharsis. Opened his lips, the smoke flew through the gap between his first two teeth and seeped deep into the air – like a cloud that distances himself from the outer world outside of our bubble. I felt like I was controlling his movements, I was the puppeteer drawing his lips apart and lifting the smoke into the air above. The smoke was the dwindling residual effect of the moments of let-go. He spoke and he let go. He spoke and I listened. I spoke, I saw him think, we reflected and then he spoke – his responses filled me with validation.

Rinse, Wash, Repeat::Lips, Let-Go, Smoke. There was always more to let go of because we were both so loud inside. I was just pissed; I hated everyone because they were damn assholes and I was suicidal. He was suicidal too, in a different way, it was the openness of his heart that was going to kill him – letting too many people into his vulnerabilities, and exposing his soft-spots. Or maybe I was just the jealous asshole who wanted to be like him and emulate his willingness to expose himself personally, intimately and holistically. I was a fucking bullet, whizzing through the air – always untouchable – but also a liar. I was never fearless; I was just lonely and full of desire. He quenched a thirst that was insatiable, even momentarily. Everything was fleeting for me, even more so than for others because my emotions existed as a super bouncy ball: plummeting much lower than expected and never returning to even the base line until picked up and flung so high that the sky, and total Nirvana, is in reach. He was present during it all. I loved him but had never let myself slip up and expose that part of myself – it would kill me, remember?

These were our moments – Jake and I. I wanted to tear myself down, I was angry in every way and also redundant – fuck it all, go away I want to be alone, and I was tired of being angry. I wanted to tear myself down and obliterate every blip of my soul and inanity – like a gunshot to the head except instead of death I would have Ground Zero and a new ground for creating and molding – it was to be golden and great. …

It never came because I never let it; I was stuck in my disease.

Was gone

July 4, 2010

Quite ill. Hopefully improved.

Summer is beautiful.

And family can also be.

A week of expression can undo so much isolation.

“Loneliness is like starvation: you don’t realize how hungry you are until you begin to eat.”
— Joyce Carol Oates

Pursuit of Substance

April 24, 2010

I have a lecture series at Johns Hopkins where we bring in seven to eight hundred school kids each month. I talk to them about medicine, neurosurgery, what I was like at their age, and their potential. Usually, near the end of our time together, I stop and ask them questions before I give them the opportunity to ask me questions.
‘I ask, ‘How many of you can name five NBA players?’ all of the hands go up. Even the girls. So I ask, ‘Who can name for me five movie stars?’ Not a problem in the world. ‘Five singers?’ No problem.
‘How about five Nobel Prize winners?’ Forget it. It’s not gonna happen.
‘What about the capital of Malaysia?’ Can’t do it.
‘What’s a microprocessor?’ I asked not too long ago. One young fellow out of eight hundred raised his hand. He was so proud of himself. I said, ‘Okay, tell us, what is it?’
‘He said, ‘A microprocessori s a tiny processor.’ And that was the extent of his knowledge on the subject. Extraordinarily superficial knowledge. and you know, this is what we must battle, all of us who have had the opportunity and benefit of education.
‘What are we fighting against in our culture? Look at what’s emphasized. Sports. Entertainment. Lifestyles of the rich and famous. The very same things that other great nations in history became enamored with–before their falls. Greece. Rome. Egypt. Go back and read their histories–they did exactly the same things.

— The Big Picture by Ben Carson

The Ouroboros

The Ouroboros - an eonian symbol of eternal recurrence and renewal

Wasted

April 12, 2010

Wasted, a memoir by Marya Hornbacher is a beautiful intimate piece of work which chronicles her tumultuous journey through bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa. Just for the sake of clarification, bulimia originates from Latin, its etymological meaning being “ravenous hunger” or “ox hunger”. Etymologically, anorexia finds its roots in Greek, meaning lack of  desire to eat. “Nervosa” translates as “for reasons of the nerves”, distinguishing these conditions from disorders of the digestive system.

This post will be a long one, mainly because its length will conclude as a reflection of my journey and my take on hers.

As someone who has recovered and yet is still dealing with the remnants of their eating disorder I was told this book would be very triggering. I am reading it anyway, for telling me no operates almost identically as telling me yes. I am in no way perfect and perhaps I was searching to be triggered. Hornbacher’s retelling of her journey is poignant, devastating and has sent me down an affecting yet  blissful voyage of deep, deep introspection. She writes beautifully and I see so much of myself in her reflections of who she used to be psychologically. Like Marya (MAR-yah – two syllables) I have been named “Precocious”, “talented”, “not reaching full potential” have been uttered at me within seconds of each other and in quick succession for as far back as my academic career goes.

 Moreover, I love the fact that she in no way glamorizes the diseases (she vacillated between the two) and in fact, her account provided me with validation that I NEEDED: it told me that I had actually suffered and what I did was bad and not normal. These simple facts have not yet fully settled in my consciousness, however they are there – working to surface and take hold of me. This piece of art, this ironically yet expectedly cathartic piece of utter magic is tender. Her articulation of the way in which our culture is full yet devoid of sustenance on page 135-136 is breathtakingly accurate.

The usual line on eating disorders is that they are an attempt to become a child again, a regression. Rather than looking at eating disorders as infantile desire to return to an ex utero symbiosis with the mother, I think it’s important to note that they might be a cultural generational phenomenon of plain old-fashioned burnout. My generation was weaned on subliminal advertising, stupid television, slasher movies, insipid grocery-store literature, MTV, VCRs, fast food, infomercials, glossy ads, diet aids, plastic surgery, a pop culture wherein the hyper-cool, blank-eyed supermodel was a hero. This is the intellectual and emotional equivalent of eating nothing but candy bars – you get malnourished and tired. We grew up in a world in which the surface of the thing is infinitely more important than its substance – and where the surface of the thing had to be “perfect”, urbane, sophisticated, blase, adult. I would suggest that if you grow up trying constantly to be an adult, a successful adult, you will be sick of being grown up by the time you’re old enough to drink.

Wasted by Marya Hornbacher

 

Who is Marya Hornbacher? She is me.
She is you.
What is Wasted?
It is my story.
It is your story.
It is us, because in part, it is a story of the consequences of our culture’s collective inclination towards homogenous idolization of one specific look, one specific you, one specific us, one specific Perfect.

 

All of us have theories about the world and about ourselves. We will go to great lengths to prove ourselves right because it keeps the world in our head coherent and understandable. My theory was simple: I was a screwed-up person. The phrase “self-fulfilling prophecy” comes to mind. (195)

This is the most part of recovery, the journey and conquest that comes with conquering and defeating the mindset of never-good-enough and viewing perfection as a reachable end.

And now my favorite, for this phrase personifies my crisis, my identity, and my burden:

My entire identity-being was wrapped up in (1) my ability to starve, and (2) my intellect, I had a complete identity crisis when I realized neither of these was impressing anyone. (199)

Sports Illustrated

March 13, 2010

Allow me to present my findings: a quirkly collection of important moments in the history of sport, annotated with mathematical concepts and terms of the physical sciences.

I found them HERE. If you are responsible for this comical work, then please say so – credit is deserved. 🙂

 

tuh starht uff teh weke

March 1, 2010

ppl shud b luss c-riuz

Twatlight and another equally amusing thing

At first I was :O then I was :DD because this is too funny to be groceThe Mexican Walking Fish fyt

TOILIGHT PAPER?! HAHA FANNY, GET IT?