Volunteer State- Part 4 “Song”

IMG_5455I leave the solitude of my cabin and spend some time in Nashville for New Years Eve. I’m not quite sure how to properly honor the occasion but I do know that I want to see more of what this city has to offer.

I’m self-conscious with my haircut and half-wishing I had already shaved my head in order to practice dealing with its awkwardness in the company of strangers. I can’t tell what exactly it is that I want out of this night. To make friends? To flirt? To have some great epiphany? No way to guarantee any of them but my choices of how I spend my time will make some outcomes more likely than others.

I go to an OA meeting, I take myself out to lunch, I write and drink coffee at a downtown cafe and almost order a cookie. I know where that leads and that is one thing I definitely don’t want for myself today.

As it gets dark I walk around and into a trashy-yet-self-aware “boogey bar” with some of the best free live music I’ve ever heard. Now you’re talking. After awhile I float down the street and into a karaoke bar. To sing karaoke in Nashville was the one cultural goal of my trip and here’s my chance. The bar is pretty much empty and I get picked right away to sing “Bobbie McGee.” I love that song but its hard to sing and Janis is so weird and I as self conscious so I don’t make it through very many of the la la las. Why did I even pick that song? It’s so much longer than I remember, I wish they’d cut me off. At least I did what I came there to do. Continue reading “Volunteer State- Part 4 “Song””

Volunteer State- Part 2 “Sleep”


I sleep for 15 hours. Well, I wake up a few times along the way. But there was no phone or clock to check and my head was impossibly heavy on the pillow. Nothing to do, really. Why not let it happen? Just sleep.

Finally I get up at 3:00 pm still tired. I am sick and the sore throat that started with hearty gospels in the car yesterday has stuck around. I am proud that I have allowed myself this excess. I wonder how I would have accommodated this illness if I were back in my normal life. Would I even press snooze? Would I drink a cup of tea? Would I force myself through yoga and binge my way through the uncomfortable feelings my body was putting out? Whatever it would be, this is certainly gentler.

I walk around the woods awhile, I pick through my books, and I write. From the comfort of the Pepto-Bismol-pink soft-with-age sheets, I write out my lofty goals for my time in this distant place.

  1. I want to Get Clean: I want to get off sugar. I need a foundation of abstinence to get me through my “normal life.” A controlled environment, a peaceful environment, I believe this will help. I believe abstinence is possible here.
  2. I want to read: A pile of books sits next to me. I want to pass hours turning pages, get tired, close my eyes, and go back for more. It used to be that I never read a book without finishing it, now the exception has become the rule. Where did my persistence go? I want to indulge my love of learning and be patient with the time it takes to mosey through the countless lines of text. I want to reach the last line and smile.
  3. I want to write: Always so much to write about. I want to write by hand, in this journal. I want to finally finish my 3rd creation story. I want to write out my confessional to facilitate my recovery. I want to stain my left pinky in ink.
  4. I want silence.
  5. I want to shave my head. Well, I don’t really want to, I want to be willing to. I want to be brave enough to. I want the freedom to. The idea first occurred to me just over 3 years ago, when just about everything in my life was different but the aching desire to be free of my addiction to food. The desperation tugged at me then, it does now. A few days ago, my sister cut my hair to give me bangs (with my permission) but she did a very sloppy job (without my permission). Earlier today, feeling like the shave was inevitable, I cut my own hair with a pair of scissors in the mirror of my little rustic cabin. I didn’t like the ends, with their damaged dyed blonde scraggly ends, but now it is short and embarrassingly childish. Nothing is inevitable but I’ve certainly set myself up for a dramatic recoiffiture.

Continue reading “Volunteer State- Part 2 “Sleep””

You Righted the Wrong Girl

“One-year postscript to You Robbed the Right Girl

IMG_3476 (1)

Today is the one-year anniversary form the day my soccer team bought me a brand new computer. With one exception, it is also the longest I have gone without throwing up in 11 years. 5 years ago, I enjoyed a 3 month reprieve during which I truly believed myself to be free and clear and cured. I was wrong– I was far from cured and it was far from over. Of the 4,000 days in this decade-plus of addiction, I probably have passed 3000 of them with one, or two, or three, or a dozen violent acts of purging somewhere between waking and sleeping. For most of this time, a week without vomiting was a heroic and rare occasion. For much of the time, a day without it was impossibly hard. For a long stretch, every meal contained a sacrifice to the toilet and all that was digested was what had been absorbed before I got rid of it and what remained after the mighty tide took the rest away. I was not well.

I have always hated this disease, have always known it was wrong. From the very beginning, I confided to friends and sought therapy and fought against it. But it was deceptively strong and I found I couldn’t control it so eventually I gave in to it. It demanded a lot from me: I lied, I stole, I wasted money and time, I lost my self-respect to keep my addiction alive. For as much as I gave to enable it, it is nothing compared to how much I have given to overcome it. I took medication and years of therapy. I went to rehab. I ended my marriage. I went to rehab again. I quit my job and walked 700 miles alone through the wilderness. I moved to Detroit. I went to rehab again. I got in a relationship. I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and flew a kite on the summit to symbolize my recovery. I ended a relationship. I got into a new relationship. I ended that. I got back with my old boyfriend. I broke up with him again. Each of these things played out in a concert of reading, writing, medication, hypnosis, self-intervention and public confession; each of these and in whole or in part was an effort to get well, to overcome my demon, to save my life.

One year ago, at some miserable point along that cycle, I took a routine trip to CVS to buy food for a binge. Returning to my car with a carton of Moose Tracks, a box Cinnamon Toast Cruch and a gallon of milk no more than 3 minutes after I had left it, I encountered a scene that rocked my entire world: broken glass, broken window, missing computer. The platform for all of my writing, the home for all my photos, the means for all my income– gone in a moment. And for what? a $9.00 8,000 calorie high that was destroying my body. Continue reading “You Righted the Wrong Girl”

Troopers- control


This morning, the weather is clear. It’s time to go.

Everything mom does is slow. Maybe not slow-slow but slower than I would do it and it’s frustrating me. Why can’t I be patient? Why do I see in each moment an opportunity to show her what she could be doing better? I feel out of control. There has never been a car with so much steering from the backseat. “Maybe you’d like to drive?” Mom says and I agree but we don’t switch right away. We are going the same place, we are going there together, and when we get there, we will still be together. Breathe. Two minutes later, a car slides down a hill into our lane and smashes into us. Continue reading “Troopers- control”

Troopers- for the love

Waking up in the hotel room is nothing like it was in the little cabin. There is no window to sit and watch the sunrise from. In fact, when I look out the window, I see nothing. The storm has subsided not at all and sunrise will serve only to change the hue of our blindness.

The storm is so serious that the people on the news have given it a name– Neptune. I am inclined to scoff at the dramatization borne of the 24-hour news cycle but there’s no question the storm is worthy of a proper noun. Downstairs, at the front desk I find out that all the roads are closed or closing. There is no way out of town. Snowmobiles are being blown off the road. “Would you like to make a reservation for anther night?” I’m sad to think about our little cabin, the place that mom and grandma love so much, sitting there at the opposite perimeter of that white throbbing blob on the Doppler. Reluctantly, we put that extra night on hold.

I take the opportunity to use the hotel sauna. It’s not the authentic Finnish variety that the UP is known for, but it’s something. It feels nice to be too warm, to take a break from my family. The only other person in the sauna is a middle-aged man who tells me about the ice caves he visited yesterday. I tell him I’d like to go with my mom and Grandma and he asks me if I’m married. I’m so caught off guard that I answer honestly– “no”– instead of appropriately– “what the hell?”

Being cooped up like this makes me think about the phenomena of “hurricane babies” where, in the prolonged absence of modern diversions of electricity and transportation, people commence to partake in some very old-fashioned distractions. Today happens to be Valentine’s Day and I smirk just to imagine the improvised celebrations that will come out of all those cancelled dinner plans. I predict that there will be a swell of bellies this summer, a sweep of babies this fall and that, for as may lives as he may take today, time will reveal Neptune to be quite prolific. Continue reading “Troopers- for the love”