Tag Archives: girl power

a los ángeles itinerary;

sun your limbs for the first time in months. realize the thought “wait, i have ankles?” run across your mind as you take off your knee socks. appreciate californian trash cans because , unlike their massachusetts counterparts, they aren’t filled with broken umbrellas and melted snow. get a sunburn whilst wearing a sweater, because that’s just a classic mackenzie thing to do, of course.

prance around the grove in your most stylish socks. you have to impress dane cook at the laugh factory, after all. it’s hard to appear impressive when you’re the only ginger you’ve seen in four days and your face doesn’t have an ounce of collagen pumped into it, so the fox socks will have to get the job done. and thank god for fox socks, because they came along with me to paleyfest to see the cast of parks and rec, as well as to the set of the soup. try not to throw your bra (who am i kidding? sports bra) at joel mchale in between school-girl-like giggles. pat yourself on the back for not rushing the stage to kidnap (man-nap?) chris pratt.
go to diddy riese and experience the best use of lactaid pills on the face of this earth. get your birthday face on. witness the best #floridianswag you’ve ever seen, a pre-pubescent orlando magic fan decked out in magic-swag. realize that if you were sorority girl that these would be your signature biddy poses.
after rolling down ucla hills with one of your soul-sisters, prancing around campus, and eating cooke sandwiches, take a nap to prepare yourself for salsa dancing glory. become birthday bffs with a salsa teacher at ucla who shares your birthday, jamesie. cut the cake in between dances and begin to realize that this trip is basically about getting diabetes on an express schedule.
go to two more cupcake shops and begin to wonder if you can feel your limbs anymore. wonder if it’s possible to get diabetes after only five days of an intense eating spree. think to yourself “man, my blood hurts”. go to see your #8 library on your list of “libraries to see before you keel over” list, richard riordan library (l.a.public library). cover up your limbs once more, fox  socks in tow, and resolve to get borderline diabetic with l.a. again sometime soon.

i binged on fun at remuda ranch, part two;

…for part one, click here.

…for part three, click here.

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{ me, mackenzie, katie, katherine. reppin’ sagebrush house.}

The next week I was in a cold stupor, swaddled in another one of my signature men’s sweatshirts, being driven by my resolute mother to Renfrew, an eating disorder treatment center right outside of the high-class, glorified retirement community of Boca Raton, Florida. I thought of Rachel and whether or not she would have agreed to the fun ride I was about to embark on.  The girls I met at Renfrew had invented so many ways in order to not derive pleasure from their food, that it was almost monk-like. The first time I set eyes on the three girls that greeted me at the antiseptically clean entrance of Renfrew, feeding tubes in their noses, I knew I had found my new best friends. Within the week I had a handy feeding tube of my own, decoratively taped to the side of my nose for me to feed on what is essentially baby formula in small enough doses while I slept, so my body wouldn’t go into shock by being nourished for the first time in months.

We all matched, which is important when you’re fourteen in any context. Nicki, Bri, and Katie shaped my entire short stay at Renfrew. We were like a chain gang in a prison, teaching each other tricks on how to get through the place, all its strictly regulated meals, and the fact that you were monitored whenever you had a bowel movement to make sure you didn’t barf up your tofu pomodoro. What most people don’t know is that there is a skill to eating and there is a skill to starving. When you have anorexia specifically, enjoying your food is a no-no. Starving is your higher power, and to derive selfish pleasure from eating is to sin in the religion. You pray five times in the direction of hope, hope that you will transcend your own mediocrity. You’re never quite good enough of a person to eat. “There are starving, poor kids in Bangladesh that don’t eat so why should you, bitch? Put down your fork,” is the usual, soothing little Hitler voice that whispers in the back of your head if you’re even close to eating anything other than a bag of garden salad mix as a snack. So you put sugar on your spaghetti with tomato sauce. You mix mustard surreptitiously into your chocolate milk, when the food monitors aren’t looking. You live every day like you’re about to eat the most disgusting body part of an animal from the show “Fear Factor”. If you couldn’t starve yourself in a treatment center, you sure as hell weren’t going to enjoy any of that eggplant parmesan.

These girls taught me so much; how to steal the butter packets for your toast in the morning so you could throw them out and  save 100 calories (you stack those bad boys and slip them up your sleeve), how to steal salt packets so you could make your body retain water so they would think you were gaining weight and lower the calories in your meal plan, and I’m pretty sure they would have taught me how to carve my own personal shank if my insurance hadn’t cut out. We were diabolical. We were dumb. And they quickly became my best friends and my biggest saboteurs.

Twenty pounds gained and twenty seven days later, my mother’s insurance company thought I had made enough progress so they discharged me on account that I was now in my weight range. Such is the heartbreaking aspect of eating disorder treatment. You are simply a number on the insurance’s radar, and once your BMI pleases them they kick you out and there you are again at home, hiding tofu pomodoro in your trash can and rubbing your belly over how delicious it was, a faint gurgle of acid sloshing in your stomach in the background.

It only took me four weeks of butter-hiding and fainting on the tile to land myself back into the local hospital, this time twenty five pounds lighter. I made friendly with the nurses. I crocheted them all scarves for Christmas as they tried to placate me with chalky pink, strawberry ice cream-like drinks that were loaded with thigh-expanding calories. “Because, yes, I’d LOVE to drink a drink that mimics another highly caloric drink. Load me up,” I thought to myself each time my loving nurse would enter my room with a fresh batch of future fat cells.  Needless to say, these drinks ended up in the sink and I spent my days crocheting and sobbing silently to myself as I watched Christmas cartoons and botoxed QVC saleswomen try to sell me electric blankets. I fell asleep to the faint purr of my feeding tube apparatus once again, and two weeks passed as slowly as the watered down nutritional powder went through my digestive system.

My eyes, habitually blurred by tears and poor eyesight due to malnutrition, could finally see how low I was; I was almost fourteen years old, it was two weeks until Christmas, and I still didn’t know how to regulate my own body temperature. No one was there to braid my brittle hair or to gossip with me about how hot my doctor was. I became chummy with the hospital chaplain who came to visit and bond with me over a QVC series or three, rather than the sassy high school freshman girl friends I had grown up with. He didn’t know much about painting nails, but he was all I had and he never asked me how to catch an eating disorder. Which is really all you need, after all.

Fifteen pounds gained in fifteen days, the nightmare of most people on Jenny Craig, and out I was from the hospital. The scarf-clad nurses, my hot doctor, and my hospital chaplain waved to me from the entrance of the hospital, and I think we were all in solidarity of just how screwed I was.
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A month later I saw my mother cry for the first time one afternoon before I was admitted to lucky treatment center # 3, and she wasn’t watching “The Notebook” or any movie with Richard Gere in it. She was crying because of me. She was watching her only daughter waste away. And I didn’t know how to stop myself from letting this rapid deterioration take its hold over me. I was fourteen years old and I was just becoming another anorexic casualty. I was just becoming another statistic for Pat O’Brien to announce in his ever-so-nasally voice on “Access Hollywood” whenever a petite, hungry starlet fainted on set of her newest film.

But we’re not all hungry prospective starlets, us disordered eating girls. No, we’re far more than that. If I learned that anywhere, I learned that at Remuda Ranch, where I binged on fun. Oh, how I binged on fun.

My mother woke me at 5:30 am in order to catch our flight to Arizona from Florida, and I grumbled as I put on one of my many sweatshirts to cover my bony frame. We flew into Phoenix, the smog greeting us as we exited the airport. A plump woman with a mullet greeted us with a sign that read “Mackenzie- Remuda”, and for an instant I felt like a celebrity. She ushered us to a nondescript, white van and off we were on a two hour drive to Wickenburg, Arizona, home to one of the highest concentrations of treatment centers for meth addicts, alcoholics, and girls like me, with garden-variety eating disorders.

We drove up to a series of faux- southwestern houses, each housing what would be home to a combined total of sixty girls from 14-18 years old. After a few minutes spent checking myself into the center with my mother, they kindly asked her to leave, and I was left like a puppy who wasn’t done weaning in a cardboard box on the side of the road. “Well, Mackenzie. I never could afford to send you to summer camp and look,  it’s like you’re at summer camp!” My mom joked as she went back to board the van to catch her flight back to Orlando. They then asked me sit down in a hard, wooden chair that only hurt my bony ass even more and engaged me in a staring contest as they told me that I would need to eat some broth, steamed vegetables, a roll, and a innocuous-seeming glass of orange juice. I won the staring contest and used my one “Get Out of Lunch” pass and off I was to meet the thirty girls I would  bond with over taking glorious craps, and getting our periods for the next two months of my eventful life.

I hated everything for the first two weeks. I hated the cacti. I hated the fact that the nurses were too smart for my butter-hiding tricks and I got caught all the time. I hated craft-times. And I hated the fucking donkey of a horse they made me ride as “therapy”. I fell back into my old habit of shoving my face into the closest collection of cushions and feigning sleep. I didn’t speak to anyone who wasn’t capable of getting me anti-depressants. I got so close with my therapist, Mike, that we had a secret handshake, but no hair-braiding fun was to be had. I had delusions of grandeur that we’d all be the best of friends like my feeding-tubed friends at Renfrew. My roommate, Virginia, ended up running away my first night, was caught, and subsequently given a tranquilizer in the right butt cheek. I spent my first night falling asleep to her half-delusional mumblings. The girls came off as clique-y to me and I decided I’d rather read depressing memoirs from the Holocaust in “school” than interact with the girls. At one point in time, an innocent girl asked me what my favorite music was at snack time, in attempts to get to know me. I answered with a stoic “I don’t really listen to music.” In short, I was the worst. I wouldn’t even be my friend.

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{me, courtney, katie}

Two weeks and thousands of calories pumped through my nose later, a girl named Katie walked through the door and I claimed her as my own. She made a dirty joke, whispered softly because this was a Christian-based treatment center, and I practically got down on one knee and asked her to be my bulimic BFF. Because of her, craft-times became bearable. She was the Abbott to my Costello and we finished each others jokes like we had been practicing them in between our monitored bowel movements in the bathroom, the nurses as our audience. We pinched each other whenever the other was close to falling asleep in one of the six, count ‘em six, church services we had to attend each week. None of which were on Sunday. Go figure.

We hit on the guy who delivered the snacks to our house (“So, Frank, what you got for me tonight? [insert wink face here].”) We speculated possible romances between the therapists and the nurses (“Did you see Dr. Hegybeli undress nurse Candy with his eyes? Totally raunchy”). A week later and we added Courtney to our clan, a free-spirited, curly-haired former coke-addict from Los Angeles and bam, we were the Charlie’s Angels of Remuda Ranch.   Humor was all we had. When a list of rules is presented to you on your first day (“No running. No fast-walking. No shaking your legs”) you have to make your fun any way you can, especially when you start to notice that none of your clothes fit you anymore and the cutest guy you’ve seen in a month is Frank the Snack Guy. It got to be contagious and soon all of the girls in our house began to find the humor in everything. You’d see them slowly but surely lip-dub over multiple viewings of the only G-rated movies we were allowed to watch. And I can tell you honestly, that to this day I have never heard a lip-dub- commentary of “Veggie Tales” and “Gone With the Wind”  done any better than a group of thirty malnourished teenage girls.

———

One day in craft hour, we were advised to choose a wear-able craft that we could all don in solidarity. Since I had never been to summer camp, I was excited at the prospect of having something wearable to note that I had gone through this with others. This treatment center was our Vietnam, it gave us war stories, but instead of mangled limbs we decided upon bedazzled t-shirts and puff paints. A good trade off, I thought.

A lull fell over the craft-room all of a sudden. Not a pair of snipping scissors or googly eye was heard in the hush. We had no idea what to put on the t-shirts. And really, what do you put on a t-shirt as a souvenir for going to a treatment center? Surely, not a smiling hypodermic needle, nor would it be politically correct to put any sorts of smiling pills, beer bottles, or feeding tube apparatuses. “How about ‘I Binged on Fun at Remuda Ranch?’,” I suggested meekly, not sure if the counselors would approve of my joke. I had grown up on the outskirts of Orlando, home of at least six theme parks. I was used to tourist kiosks with t-shirts sporting similar phrasing, telling how they “survived” Splash Mountain or some other easy feat. But us girls, we had survived shit. Despite our jovial natures, we were hyped up on a grocery list of anti-depressants. Most of us had lost parents, gone through traumatic divorces, rapes, or natural disasters. We put all of those “survivors” of Splash Mountain to shame. We deserved our t-shirts. It was a visible battle scar that we were all going to wear proudly.

A week later, we each had our own “I Binged on Fun at Remuda Ranch” t-shirt, puff-painted to our individual tastes. Some people had simple “I Starved Myself of Sadness” or “I Barfed Up My Depression at Remuda Ranch” phrases on their own t-shirts, but for the most part we matched. Not with our feeding tubes, nor with our plummeting weights. We matched with our resolute solidarity of getting better. We realized through our own lack of inhibition, the fact that we were stripped of our privacy (full-body searches were common), our choice of what we wanted to eat, and our crazy teenage girl hormones, that we were gloriously flawed.

Remuda Ranch was everything I had never seen in Lifetime movies. Eating disorder recovery is seen as sad, arduous, and not a worthwhile endeavor. “You’ll never fully recover,” says every eating disorder specialist ever. “You’ll always hear that little Hitler of self-doubt in your head,” they’d remind me. And they were true in a way, recovery is an every day goal. Everyday you have to decide to eat that bran muffin. To remember you’re worth each morsel of food you approach with your mouth. It begins as a check list of things to do; an unnatural set of goals like eating all of your breakfast, making sure you actually leave your house and talk to other human beings, and breathing. We were not all fainting ballerinas and as I realized the moments they realized their lives were worth living, I realized that I wanted to as well.

I finally realized this eating disorder was not at all what I had wanted for myself. I didn’t want to live a children’s-size-twelve existence full of measuring cups, “Biggest Loser” reruns and living my life vicariously through my “The Sims” characters. I might not have been a starving child living in Bangladesh, but I was worthy of a pizza slice, or two. I had found my worth in humor, my worth in making Frank the Snack guy feel awkward, and my inability to see the last eight months of my life as anything other than life-changing.

I stayed at Remuda Ranch for a total of three months.  I turned fifteen there, a candle in a perfectly-portioned cupcake that I didn’t even freak out about eating. I began to listen to music again, like a normal human being. I began daydreaming about things in my future, something I hadn’t done in months. I gained forty pounds, thirty new friends, and way, way too many dirty jokes about “Veggie Tales” for a fifteen year old girl to be trusted with.

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{a good ol’ fashion eating disordered dance party. not too much movement, of course.}

{8 year old self project} bowl cut, revisited;

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if my eight year old self could see what i did last week, she’d be shocked, slightly disturbed in fact.

you see, when i was seven years old, i sat my loosed-tooth self on my couch waiting to hear the soothing whirring sound of my mom’s car entering our driveway. it was the afternoon of my 1st grade class’ christmas pageant and she promised me a brand new hairstyle to present to my friends at the pageant. christmas tree patterned stirrup pants AND a new hair cut?! i was on cloud nine.

another detail to note, is that my mom is very well loved in my hometown. from a young age i always strived to get to the level of awesome my mom got to. she made grocery shopping so inconvenient, because she was stopped my admirers, left and right. i remember thinking that if i ever had more people approach me at the grocery store than my mom, then i would know i had reached my goal. i’ve only had this happen once, but you best believe i wrote down that date in my journal. keeping this in mind, being well liked usually meant that people always wanted to give her discounts or free things.

like the barber. who gave me a bowl cut. just a few short hours before my 1st grade christmas pageant.

i remember sitting in the sticky pleather barber chair prior to the cut, swirling myself around and around, not knowing what my fate would soon hold. as my nausea heightened with each spin of the barber chair, i couldn’t imagine anything ruining my day. the barber finally spun me away from the mirror, so i could only imagine what the chunks of hair flinging off of my head could possibly mean. after 20 minutes of agony, he spun me once again in the direction of the mirror. i looked up, and then quickly looked down at my hair-covered stirrup pants. why was there a little boy in a dress looking back at me, i thought to myself. i am going to cry really hard in this barber shop, i thought once more. me want honey comb, i thought at last.

i bawled the whole way home. i wailed and wailed until a mondo drink was in my hand. how could this happen to me? i was so close to looking like an olsen twin, that it was almost eery. now i looked nothing like one of the girls who would be invited to one of the olsen twin’s slumber parties or adventures that i always watched obsessively on vhs.and gosh darn it, i wanted to help the olsen twins escape from a volcanic eruption, and have a pizza party. i looked like my name would be mavis. or gertrude. whose family had a sofa set that was covered in plastic fabric protectors. who ate vienna sausages at lunch.

needless to say, my sassy pants 7 year old self still went to the christmas pageant. and my hair eventually grow out into a luscious white girl afro that provided much comic relief in middle school and high school. and like the photo above suggests, i have decided to go back to my bowl cut roots. except, this time the hair-wizards over at hair cuttery tamed my mane much better than the well-meaning barber friend of my mom .

and i adore it. i feel like a free woman. while my hair was my comfort as a seven and eight year old, cutting it off on a whim has been quite freeing. i feel like i am more in touch with the 8 year old who sassily did hand stands whenever possible. and didn’t care if her stirrup pants matched her dress that day.

and gosh darn it, i still do want honey comb.

my new york city itinerary;


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get on lovely double decker bus to nyc. get “crunk” off of kombucha tea. choke down the delicious vinegar-y taste of said kombucha as you indulge in some good teen fiction. get incept-a-grammed by your favorite bros from high school as you down a veggie burger and watch portlandia.

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prance across brooklyn with aforementioned bros. stumble across nyu’s department of linguistics and have a nerdgasm. go into what might be the most unusual place i have ever been to in soho. survive the nyc subway system by yourself (!!!!)

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get smitten with columbia university. down multiple cups of tea and begin planning your escape from the northeast. make fun of guy friend’s rat tails.
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realize you are sort of obsessed with creepy churches at night. go to the strand bookstore and have a seizure over their children’s lit section. begin to understand that the northeast’s winters don’t play around, they are colder than a witch’s teat. stumble upon a german-austrian art museum, get tempted by the sight of “quark” (one of my favorite german words, it means “soft cheese” and is so fulfilling to say) on the cafe menu.


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make derp-y faces in front of the library you wanted to see the most, that you might have had on a list entitled “libraries to see before you keel over” for a few years now. spot a dismembered lobster and immediately miss the great state of massachusetts. make “home alone” references in central park that only you get. gallivant with lady friends and thaw out on your bus back to bean town, rinse and repeat.

blogging snaps;

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i like you guys. i hope that i’ve made that clear. you are all so funny, witty, inventive, and gosh darn it, people like you.

blogging is seriously one of the things that has defined the last 3-ish years of my life. if you can believe it or not, i started blogging with the support of a friend at my last college. we started a little turd of a blog called “the college authentic”, which became ironic when i took a year off from college to prance around, thus my blog-child was born, this blog. and i’ve met so many of you in person, and have gotten close to so many of you not in person. your posts lighten up my day, and the fact that a little over a hundred of you formally subscribe to my little blog-child, despite my creepy letters to my future man friend, squirrel friends, and general absurdity makes my heart tingle. really and truly.

so i’ve decided to spread some blog gems that you guys have put out in the last week or so. i’m snapping my fingers in your general direction, guys;

can we all appreciate this post? vintch is probably one of my favorite blogs that i’ve stumbled upon in the last few months. i think i had to catch my breath a bit after reading that post. and my ovaries hurt a bit, but that’s besides the point.

brissa, i don’t know how i haven’t met you yet. it’s beyond ridiculous and needs to change. this post only proves our soul-sister status. i’m sending you a virtual “be my bff? circle yes or no” note as i type this.

celeste, can i live in your blog? this post, i just, i just need to live inside of it.

molly, you just crack me up. on a daily basis. and you also made me obsessed with dumplings.

pretty sure danielle could bottle up her wisdom and sell it for the big bucks. this post only proves it further. so, so glad i got to gossip with you in harvard yard in the fall. come again soon, please?

and my real-life bff, gigi, has started her own blog! she is practically my little sister and i dare you to not be completely smitten with her posts. i dare you.

i met jess whilst swing dancing in berkeley, california last year. her blog is just as lovely and eloquent as she is in real life.

any gems you’ve stumbled upon in the blogging world? let homegirl know!

just kidding;

i’ve never been known for being silent anyways.

so as a motivation to finish all of my finals i’ve made a list of things i am going to treat myself to post-finals:

dancing around my apartment to the following songs

drinking some burdick’s hot chocolate. and buying children’s books.

signing up for my german class (!!!) ja, wohl!

daydreaming about  how many black bean burgers i am going to be eating at toojay’s once i get back to florida.

planning my trip to tampa to see my platonic soul-mate.

planning my 21st birthday trip to montreal. (emily. get ready for madness.)

going to enjoy this view at mt. auburn cemetery.

go ice skating on the common’s frog pond (!!!)

do a ceremonial burning of my speech class’ handbook.  seriously. this is the most important task. i need to do this for cathartic purposes.

read so. many. books. finishing the georgia nicolson series is top on the list, then some good ol’ fashion sci-fi.

i think i can. i think i can. i think i can.