A Rose with Starry Eyes

{February 10, 2010}   excepts from Wasted, Part I

“I made a pact with a tall, thin girl who offered to help me lose weight. When I got to Interlochen, I was at something close to my ‘set point’, the technical term for your natural weight- mine is about 120. But 120 seemed too high, and I decided to drop that extraneous 20, down to 100 with the dancers and starving artists, and I’d been going around blathering about how I was on a diet. This girl came into my room at night, talked to me about what to eat, encouraged me in a most patronizing tone, and told me about how much better I was looking. And then, one night, I ‘slipped’. There were sundaes in the cafeteria that night. The girls had been talking about it all day – the future virtuosos of the world, the cream of the crop, la di da, had been discussing all day in hushed voices whether we’d break down and eat a sundae. couldn’t we just be strong and just eat the toppings, no ice cream? that would have less fat, wouldn’t it? what if we didn’t eat all day, and all the next day, then would it be okay? bless me father for i have sinned i ate an ice cream sundae. I went to the cafeteria, put together a sundae, and sat with the other girls. We laughed – for once we had enough sugar in our systems, for once we were eating regular food like any other teenage kid – until Ms. Diet Police came up from behind me, leaned over, took my sundae, walked to the trash can, and dropped it in.

“The furious little kid in me got good and pissed. I shoved my chair back and ran after my disappearing sundae. This girl turned around and I hit her. Whatthehell? she yelled, wide-eyed. Marya, I’m just trying to help you, you said you wanted help losing weight and here you are pigging out on ice cream! Near tears, I left, feeling like a compelte fool. What is my problem? I thought, heading back to my dorm. Am I such a cow that I can’t live without a fucking sundae? No self-control, none. Pig.

Sometimes you break down. The body and soul protest deprivation. We broke down from time to time, ordered pizza or subs, sat in the main room of the dorm in front of the television, eating. Sometimes I threw up, sometimes I didn’t. There was this weird, unspoken agreement: if we eat together, it’s okay, we’ve all got permission to eat. Those were good moments, when the part of us that wanted to be normal and healthy and loved food like anyone else broke through, and we sat giggling on the floor, munching away. Those moments became, for me, too few and far between. Marya, do you want to order a pizza? No thanks, I already ate. I’d disappear into my room to work. Sometimes I’d come out, sit with friends, eat the spare crust.

Of course I didn’t know then that I had all the obvious signs of an eating disorder: strange combinations of food, eating other people’s leftovers, skipping meals. Part of the reason I didn’t notice was because what I was doing was hardly unique. One day, late fall, standing in the main room after classes, a girl was eating a bag of microwave popcorn and offered me some. I took a handful without thinking and popped it in my mouth. Midchew, I asked to see the bag. I read the nutritional information and spit the popcorn into a trash can. She said, Marya, that’s like really weird. I said, it’s not weird, that popcorn is fucking full of fat. Another girl, sitting on the couch, concurred. I’d spit it out too, she said. The popcorn girl said, that’s bulimic. I said the hell it is! I ought to know, I used to be bulimic, and spitting out food it not it. She shrugged. Looks bulimic to me, she said.

“I distinctly did not want to be seen as a bulimic. I wanted to be an anoretic. I was on a mission to be another sort of person, a person whose passions were ascetic rather than hedonistic, who would Make It, whose drive and ambitions were focused and pure, whose body came second, always, to her mind and her “art”. I had no patience for my body. I wanted it to go away so that I could just be a pure mind, a walking brain, admired and acclaimed for my incredible self-control. Bulimia simply did not fit into my image of what I would become. Still, I was bulimic and had been for seven years. It is no easy addiction to overcome. But my focus had changed.”

page 106-107-top of 108



“Early on in the year, I’d decided to lose 20 pounds. Most of us had, having heard those obnoxious warnings about the ‘freshman fifteen” that people say girls add when get to college. We figured the same would apply to us. It seemed to be a rite of passage beyond our control, fifteen pounds magically landing on the butt, an event that one needed to vigilantly guard against. In my dorm hallway lived several dancers, a violinist, a voice major, a harp major, Lora and I. I’d become friends early on with the voice and harp majors, who were roommates. We were in agreement that we all wanted to lose weight and swore on pain of death to help eachother do that, while insisting that the other two didn’t really need to lose weight. We talked about food and weight nonstop, about how much we wanted to lose, asked each other: Do I look like gained weight? Lost weight? Does my butt look big in this skirt, in these jeans, when I stand like this? Does my stomach stick out, do my thighs jiggle? The two of them had a little refrigerator in their room containing Chrystal Light, small tins of tuna (“It’s a great lunch,” one of them said to me. “There’s only sixty calories in it and you’re totally full.”), bags of trail mix, yogurt. We took the Saturday bus into town, to Meijer’s, one of those superstores, and bought bags of food in bulk: banana chips, sugar-free candies, raisins and popcorn and stood in the diet aids aisle, surveying the goods. Debating the merits of Dexatrim versus Fiberall. We’d wonder how long a person could go drinking just Chrystal Light.

You cannot trick your body. Your body, strange as it seems to we who are saturated with a doctrine of dualism, is actually attached to your brain. There is a very simple, inevitable thing that happens to a person who is dieting: When you are not eating enough, your thinking process changes. You begin to be obsessed with food. They’ve done study after study on this and we still believe if we cut back fat, sugar, calorie intake, we’ll drop weight just like that and everything will be the same, only thinner. Nothing tastes the same. You want to talk about food all the time. You want to discuss tastes: What does that taste like? you ask eachother as you devour your bizarre meals. Salty? Sweet? Are you full? You want to taste something all the time. You chew gum, you eat roll after roll of sugar-free Certs, you crunch Tic-Tacs (just one and a half calories each!). You want things to taste intense. All normal approach to food is lost _____________

pg 104 – 105

pg 113 : sugar freak

et cetera