Where Were You Born And Raised English Literature Essay

I was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota and grew up in Arden Hills (a suburb of Saint Paul) in a large home. My dad, who was a medical pathologist, had enough money to provide us with essentially anything we wanted. Our house even had a large gymnasium with a basketball court attached to our house. My mom, who used to be a researcher who cut up brains for Alzheimer's research,

Relationship with parents while growing up. Were you closer to one parent over another?

My parents both served a purpose. My mom was the one that I could talk to about sensitive topics ("girl topics"), whereas my dad was the one I was closer to. I was essentially a female clone of my dad. We had identical personalities, we liked taking chances, being spontaneous, we both loved to bike and appreciated photography...  he was my idol growing up. Whereas my mom would often judge me by the things I said, my dad would always forgive, after all, he saw so much of himself in me. 

Meanwhile, the relationship with my brother and sister was very complicated. Until we were 7 years old we were three peas in a pod-- we did everything together. We would run around the gym on stick horses, race around the cul-de-sac on our tricycles, and chase eachother around the playground. But as we became older, my brother quickly developed the role of "teaser" and my sister became the "bad-tempered one". My role? "The mediator." At this point my sister and I were close in the sense that as kids we would play barbies together or, later, being ones that we could rant to about the unjustices of our lives. But I didn't trust her. My sister was a pathological liar, an over-anxious over-achiever,  and always throwing a temper tantrum (Even in her teens)!  At a young age my mom tried to take her to see a therapist and she locked herself in the bathroom refusing to go. My brother quickly developed a debilitating case of OCD at age 10 and would tie his shoes, open and shut drawers, and do essentially everything 5,6, or 7 times. I felt like the good one. The one that wasn't screwed up. Of course, when I hit 14 this all changed. More on that later.

 

One of my first memories:

This is copied and pasted from a 'blog' I wrote around 10 years ago, so please excuse the grammer and cheesy phrases.

At a young age, my brother, sister, and I would sit and watch my mom cook. Whenever she cooked, she looked as graceful as Snow White trimming the crust from the pie, and any aromas that wafted from the kitchen made our mouths water. In our minds, no profession could be more noble than a chef. So, we decided to get started at an early age.

One day, my mom was down in the basement exercising on the treadmill and we decided to surprise her with a feast. I was in charge of chocolate-covered animal crackers, my sister was in charge of soup, and my brother was in charge of cake. None of us ever considered that we had no idea how to cook.

We dutifully put on our aprons and began. I grabbed a handful of chocolate chips in one hand, a handful of animal crackers in the other, and proceeded to submerge them under the hot sink water, melting the chocolate (and the crackers) in my hands. The leftover gooey, melty cracker-and-chocolate mixture I plopped on a plate. Mission accomplished!

My sister had concocted a delightful soup. She'd filled a metal bowl with water and milk, dumped half a bottle of green food coloring in it, and then floated handfuls of cheerios at the top.

Lastly, my brother, the only 'real cook' actually had something solid. His brown mixture had flour, sugar, and butter in it, along with melted chocolate. He had proceeded to pour it into a cake pan and microwave it. We could not figure out why the cake wasn't turning out like our Mom's!

When my mom came upstairs from exercising she masked her surprise with an unsettling calm. The kitchen was covered in flour, green food coloring (some of the counter is still stained from it!), and chocolate. She even managed to try a sip of Kelly's "soup" (she tells us know that it tasted ghastly).

Today, we are all accomplished junior chefs. My brother can bake just about anything, and we love his breads and cakes. I cook mostly coffee cakes and pies. My sister, alas, sticks to only the Betty Crocker chocolate chip cookie recipe. However, we all know she can cook well. When our school FACS class assigned us to go home and cook dinner, my sister made a 5-course delicious French meal (in her usual over-achieving way) that had Monte Cristos, Lemon Sorbet, Chocolate Mousse, Vinaigrette on vegetables, French Onion Soup, and enough tidbits to last us for a week.

Still, whenever any of our friends ask us how we became such good cooks, we always tell them this story. Remember, you have to start young if you want to become a master chef! Next week I'm going to try making creme brulee.

 

A Dangerous Game of Hide and Seek

If there's one thing that bothers me, it's claustrophobic situations. Darkness, enclosed spaces, and lack of fresh oxygen are all factors that make me freak out. I hate being trapped.

One Thanksgiving I went to my Aunt's house with my millions of cousins and second cousins. My aunt was famous for her mashed potatoes and thanksgiving rolls, and all of the kids were running around excited for our Thanksgiving Lupper (Lunch/Dinner). My aunt was my dad's older sister... the first of eight children. She also had eight children of her own, and each of her children had an average of 3 kids.... As you can see it was a large brood.

We organized a game of "Sardines" on the giant 25-acre farm. It was a magnificent, impossible game similar to Hide & Seek. There were hundreds of wood shops, barns, antique vehicles, and hidden nooks to hide in. We were running around, kicking up golden leaves in our race to be the first to find the hidden cousin. I was the best finder. The first hidden cousin I found in a grain tower. The second I found in the old barn converted in to a basketball court. It was finally my turn to hide and I had the perfect spot. Nobody would ever find me.

I snuck off, darting between buildings in an evasive action. Finally I found the small rundown shed I had been looking for. It was hidden in the off-skirts of the farm and was crammed floor to ceiling with old woods boards and bird poop. I crept through and found what I was looking for... an old antique blue car. I remembered this spot because my aunt had hidden my Easter loot in here back in April. I opened the door and crept inside. The inside was dusty, but otherwise clean. The leather seats were comfy, with no spiders. I knew it would be a comfortable place to sit while I waited for them to find me. Most likely I would be so well hidden that they would just give up.

I climbed in and slowly pulled the door shut. Ah, relaxing. Suddenly, claustrophobia built up in me. I was in an old antique car with no way out. To satisfy my irrational claustrophobia I reached to pull open the door, but then realized.... the door handle had been removed!

Panic built inside me. Was this a normal thing that people did with antique cars? Remove the handles? I took deep, stifled breaths. The air was stale. I pushed on the window, which gave a little, and tried to suck in some fresh air from outside. Instead, I got a snoot full of dust.

I tried to calm myself, figuring that I would soon be found, but instead adrenaline was coursing through me, along with panic and fear. I had to get out. I was trapped. I was hot. I was going to die!

I began kicking furiously at the windows with every ounce of my strength. The windows didn't budge. How come in movies people can punch through a window so easily? In case you're wondering, those windows would of had to have been made of foil. I kicked for about 10 minutes straight, causing a huge racket. I climbed to the back seat looking for an exit. My breath was ragged, I was overheated and could hardly breathe. I punched at every surface- the roof, the back hatch, the windows. I was trapped like a mouse in a mouse trap. Except... nobody was there to get me out.

Finally I resorted to calling for help. "Help!!! Help!!!" I screamed hysterically, louder than I knew was possible. Surely, people had to be able to hear me from a mile away? Nobody came. What was worse, past the old wooden boards, the firmly shut wood-shed door, and the woods, my family was probably sitting and chatting nearby, not knowing of my plight.

"He-elp!!!!" I screamed hysterically, my voice breaking awkwardly. I began a rhythm. Screaming at the top of my lungs for someone on this forsaken earth to free me, while beating at the windows with every ounce of my strength. I was confined. Maybe years later they would find my skeleton still sprawled across the hot, sticky leather seats of the antique car.

"Help!!! Help!!! Help!!!" I screamed, my voice high. I prayed to any higher being there might be, just let me out.

Suddenly, I heard a noise. I froze, and couldn't believe my ears. "Help?!" I asked hopefully.

It was laughter. My sister and brother had entered the woodshed and were laughing at my plight from afar.

"Open the door!" I yelled. I wasn't sure if they had heard me. "Help! Open the door!!!" I screamed.

What if the door wouldn't open for them either? I thought. Would the fire department come and free me? Or would I die of heat exhaustion or a panic attack before then?

"Please! Open the door!" I yelled as my sister came forward peering in the windows and laughing hysterically.

"It's not funny! Let me out!" I screamed.

"What are you stuck?" She sneered, laughing.

My face was red, I was panting, panicked, and now.. humiliated and embarrassed.

"Please!!!" I said, kicking the stupid window to no avail. "The door is stuck!"

My brother must have felt sympathy, because he tugged the door open and I leaped out like a jack-in-the-box. My face red, my heart racing madly.

"There's no handles on the door!" I explained, breathlessly. Wanting to run out into the open sunshine immediately.

My sister was still laughing. A group of cousins had gathered by the door, hearing the ruckus.

"Found you!" One of them cried.

I had forgotten all about the stupid game of hide and seek. There was no way I was playing that hazardous game again. Who knew how long it would have taken for them to find me if I hadn't screamed and thumped and rocked the car. It had still taken them 30 minutes, with all the noise I was making to try and make them find me.

"I'm not playing anymore." I said, my face red and my adrenaline still coursing in me.

And with that I sprinted out of the woodshed as fast as I could and into the wide open air. Ah... freedom. Never again would I be in a confined space like that again.

At that moment Thanksgiving Lupper was called. I wasn't hungry after that adrenaline rush, but I still went and grabbed a plate of turkey, bread stuffing, and my aunt's famous rolls.

That Thanksgiving I insisted on eating outside on the front steps by myself. I don't think I could of managed being trapped in an enclosed space (or house) for a while.

See an article on a similar plight called "Car Trouble Leaves Cowboy Trapped" on this website link:

http://www.pntonline.com/articles/college-20844-coupe-prison.html

 

 Guppies Story

This was also copied from my middle school blog... again, it's very cheesy, so I'm not sure whether it should be included (Feel free to remove any stories that are not very interesting/trivial).

 

Guppies are fascinating creatures, don't you think? They come in glimmering colors, feathery tails, and variations of all kinds.

I loved the idea of having a tank full of millions of colorful fish, all glistening like jewels in the sunlight. So, in 7th grade I combined my tank of plain, boring science-experiment female fish, with the colorful, irredescent, multicolored male fish.

My favorite two guppies were Kiko and Zinc, both males. They were Fancy Guppies, with scales like ball-gown dresses. Kiko was a brilliant orange and yellow fish, with a tail so long and feathery it would make any guppy proud. Zinc was my "leopard fish." He was black with golden brown spots along his body.

 

My female guppies were all transparent, grayish, and ugly. I hoped that any guppy offspring would inherit their father's colors.

A few weeks later we had a brood of baby guppies. There were hundreds of them. Although, some of them gotten eaten by their parents (hey, it's guppy parenting love!), most of them survived. Like all "guppy fry" they were born clear and ugly. I prayed they would develop their colors.

 

Our tank was practically filled again when another brood of guppies came. This time with hundreds of more plain, ugly, big-eyed baby fish. I desperately tried to seperate the females and males, not wanting any more fish, but somehow, a few weeks later, there was another batch! What was wrong with these fish? They were multiplying madly!

 

I decided this was a real emergency. Only so many fish could fit in a tank before there was no more room to move. I had filled 3 tanks full of them and was at a loss as to what to do. All the baby guppies (now older), were ugly and plain. Not one of them had developed their beautiful father's colors! Was ugliness a dominant trait?

I decided I needed to get rid of them... fast. I didn't want guppies anymore. They made messes, ate too much food, swam in circles, and multiplied. What was the use in having them?

 

I began asking everyone at school if they like guppies. I sounded like somebody on the blackmarket selling illegal wares.

"Hey, do you want some guppies?"

"How many?"

"I don't know, a couple hundred?"

At that point, I would lose all my possible buyers.

Finally, I decided I was desperate. If I didn't find someone to take them, I was going to smuggle them into my neighbor's backyard fish pond... seriously.

 

I needed to evoke sympathy, and who better to evoke sympathy from, than a vegetarian marine-biologist wanna be? I sought out Lauren, a girl from my grade and told her my terrible, heartwrenching story.

"[Sigh], I don't think my guppies are going to be around for much longer."

"What?"

"Well... you see, I have too many guppies, and if I don't get rid of them, my mom is going to flush them down the toilet."

 

"What?! How can she do that?"

"I don't know...[dramatic sigh again] it's either that or I find them a home."

"[gasp], you need to find your guppies a home?" She pauses to consider this. "I'll ask my mom if I can take them, and get back to you tomorrow. Just don't let her flush them down the toilet!"

 

Score 1 to Christine. I went home gleefully and waited until Lauren called me up.

"All right, Christine. My mom says I can take them guppies. I'll be over in 10 minutes."

Not prepared for the suddenness of it all, I gleefully began preparing my hundreds of guppies for transportations and stood waiting for her to come. When she arrived, I shoved the tanks at her before she could reconsider.

"Bye, guppies!" I called, gloating at my own good fortune. "Bye Kiko, Bye Dart, Bye Bubbles, Bye Ugly, Bye Zinc!" I called.

 

Soon, my hundreds of ugly guppies and 2 fancy guppies were gone... for good. I jumped with glee to have them off my hands. No more fish experiments for me! Now they had gone to a good home- where they had a compassionate, vegetarian marine-biologist owner, and no risk of getting flushed.

My Dad:

My dad is quirky. Always has been. Often he goes from one hobby obsession to the next, usually spending thousands of dollars on a temporary interest.

For a few years my dad was super interested in metal detecting-- every night he'd grab his metal detector and go to some other unknown park looking for hidden treasures, only to come home with 35 cents worth of coins from the year 1982. Then for a few years it was photography, gun shooting, and bike repairing.

Then, one year, he was super interested in the apocalypse. He started stocking up on canned food, reading books about what to do when the world ends, collecting guns, telling us that as soon as the apocalypse came our cats would be the first food to go, and he even had an architect design a tunnel that would go from the new farm house that we were building to the ravine (as an escape route in case we had to leave). This project was only cancelled because he ended up spending the $11,000 of tunnel money on my trip to Italy as an exchange student.

 

My various worldly trips abroad:

There isn't much to tell other than the fact that I've been to Italy (Twice), England, Ireland, Wales, and South Africa. In Ireland I remember only the fact that I went horseback riding in the pouring rain and that in England I was absolutely terrified after climbing the rickety stairs up St. Paul's cathedral in London.

My 2 year battle against various eating disorders:

The first is the copy of an essay I wrote about my first eating disorder (when I was 14):

 

During this period of time I had a case of Female Athlete Triad (perfectionism for the sake of a sport-- which, in that case, was nordic skiing), Control issues (I couldn't stand having my parents control what I ate, so I rebelled more by eating less), and eventually, anorexia. I recovered very quickly, actually. I went to an inpatient program for 2.5 weeks (called Melrose), and ate everything I was handed. In reality, the other girls there had such crazy body image and self esteem issues that I got totally freaked out. I pretty much got scared into getting better, knowing that there was no way I wanted to go down the 10-year-long road of recovery that they were on.

 

The Teacher That Saved Me

By Christine Catlin

All it took was a tear in my geography teachers’ eye to save my life.

           

            I had been battling an eating disorder for over six months- living off a ½ cup of cereal for breakfast with no milk (120 calories), a small cup of low fat yogurt for lunch (80 calories), and a ½ cup of pasta with tomato sauce for dinner with a ½ cup of milk (300 calories). I don’t know how it all started. Maybe it was when my brother called my skinny body fat, maybe it was when my dad congratulated me for being more muscular than the other girls on my volleyball team, maybe it was watching my mom exercising and dieting all the time. Whatever it was, my eating disorder hit me hard. I ran on the treadmill for 20 minutes before school, I biked 3 miles to get to school, I went to Nordic Ski practice for 2 hours after school, and I biked 3 miles back home.  Pounds melted off of me and I felt strong, fit, and fast… until my symptoms began to hit me hard.

 

            I became chronically cold- shivering in eighty-degree rooms. I became pale and weak. I was dizzy and light-headed, almost fainting when I stood up. But I loved my new body. My previous too-muscular thighs had become thin and sleek. My round facial cheeks faded into sharp angles and high cheekbones. I was addicted to improving my body. Then, one day in May, my geography teacher pulled me out of class. 

 

          He was my favorite teacher in the world. He was funny, kind, and like a father to me. He seemed to always keep an eye out for me. He made me feel special.

 

         When he pulled me out of class I was shivering from my eating disorder induced chills. He shut the door behind me and looked me straight in the eye.

           

        "Are you okay?" He asked. "You haven’t seemed quite right in class."

           

         "Yah," I lied casually, "just tired." I feigned a yawn and looked away.

           

        I realized he was staring at me oddly, so I looked back in his eyes. I was shocked to see his eyes looked wet. An uncomfortable knot formed in my stomach.

 

            "Christine, I don’t know what’s going on with you, but I want you to know that everyone here cares for you. You’re strong, beautiful, and smart. I want you to beat whatever it is you’re going through. I don’t want to lose you. You understand?"

 

            "Y-yah…" I said, awkwardly, before hastily retreating back through the door to my seat.

           

      The rest of that class I didn’t make eye contact with him and sat in my seat, many confused thoughts going through my head. What was wrong with me? Why was I starving myself? How did he know?

 

            When I got home I almost passed out again. Hunger gnawed at my stomach like a knife, but I couldn’t make myself eat. I just couldn’t. When my mom came home I reverted my gaze, before impulsively deciding to speak.

 

            "M-m-om?" I asked, my voice breaking. "I think I need to go the hospital- to get help."

 

            I expected her to break into a panic, asking me what was wrong, but to my surprise my mom looked at me calmly and replied. "I know."

 

           That evening I was driven right to the eating disorder hospital. I was admitted into the top floor, where I was moved into a room of my own with other identical, teenage stick figures. I didn’t show up to school for those last three weeks of school. Instead I lived at the hospital in a small bedroom. I slept, ate, then ate again, then ate again. I ate six meals a day. I had lost 30 pounds in a month, had a heart rate below 40, and I was at high risk of sudden death or cardiac arrest. I didn’t want to die. Instead, I ate everything served to me. 

 

             Never had food been so delicious. I felt as if it was the best thing on the world. The sourest strawberry tasted like a piece of heaven. An uncooked piece of chicken seemed to melt in my mouth like a piece of cheesecake. Food…. Food… food.  My deprived brain couldn’t stop thinking about it.

 

         After three weeks I moved back home and steadily gained all my weight back over the next few months. My thighs that I had hated so much came back. My cheeks reappeared. My prominent ribs faded back from my skin. At times I cried, feeling as if all my hard work had been for nothing, but soon I began seeing myself for who I really was. I was strong, smart, athletic and… beautiful.

 

            Now I am going in to high school. Although many of the girls I met at the eating disorder center have relapsed, I know that no matter what, I will never fall into such a terrible loop. Instead, I think of my favorite geography teacher, and the tear in his eye, and remind myself that no matter what, I have all the friends and family I need to support me, without killing myself through an eating disorder. 

      

     I never got to see my favorite teacher again after going to the hospital, but I won’t let him down.  I figure it’s the least I can do to thank him. After all, it’s not every day a geography teacher saves your life.

 

 And here is my journal from my first few days at Melrose. At this point I was in denial of my eating disorder (thinking that I didn't really have a problem), but it might give you a clearer picture of the experience.

 

Writing Sample 3: My Completely Unedited Journal of my first day at the eating disorder center

5/07: Melrose Center:  St. Louis Park

9:06 PM

Dear Diary,

Day one of my captivity (ha ha). 

               Well, I meant to save this journal until summer, but things have gotten so topsy-turvy that I couldn’t wait to write out my thoughts. As you know, I am Christine Catlin, a triplet, athlete, and fourteen-year-old writer.  Why am I at the Melrose Center? For various reasons. In short, I lost 25 pounds last November from all my sports and could not gain the weight back. It’s a combination of over-exercising and under-eating, just without the bad body image, disordered thinking, and depression. My problem, which they categorize as an Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, was creatively named Female Athletic Triad (ironically, the initials are FAT). It’s sort of related to Anorexia, just minus the disordered thinking (see the article below).

What Is Female Athlete Triad?

Sports and exercise are part of a balanced, healthy lifestyle. People who play sports are healthier; get better grades; are less likely to experience depression; and use alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs less frequently than people who aren't athletes. But for some girls, not balancing the needs of their bodies and their sports can have major consequences.

Some girls who play sports or exercise intensely are at risk for a problem called female athlete triad. Female athlete triad is a combination of three conditions: disordered eating, amenorrhea, and osteoporosis. A female athlete can have one, two, or all three parts of the triad

              I’ve struggled through many unsuccessful, not-working eating plans with Dr. Bedford, my pediatrician (all high protein), for 5 months, then I was taken to see an odd duck named Dr. Gary Remafedi. Dr. Gary has a bulbous head, huge arm muscles, and is less than five feet tall. He must have over-done the body building because he sure looks odd. Sometimes it is hard to take him seriously. 

              Dr. Gary had me do many medical tests, found me at high-risk of Cardiac Arrest, and sent me to the Melrose Center for an assessment. The Melrose Center at first refused to admit me because I did not have disordered thinking and they didn’t want other girls to influence me. So, I got jerked around, sent home in the rain, Mom and I had lunch at Baja Sol (huge burritos), and then, out of nowhere, they asked us to come back again because Dr. Gary had argued my way into being admitted.

              So I could stay here at Melrose for a few days or many weeks. I actually asked to come here earlier, seeing it as the quickest way out of this mess. The only problem will be keeping a clear head around the other E.D. (eating disorder) girls. Colin and Kelly (my siblings) are to tell the kids at school that I am "hospitalized for heart problems." I don’t want rumors flying around me like they did around Paige Bebus, a girl in my grade who had Anorexia Nervosa two years ago.

              Anyways, I’m tired and tomorrow is an early morning. A nurse, Jane, showed my Mom and me around this evening. I’ve already met one girl with a feeding tube- named Kayla. Two other new girls are here, too. Both are 17-year-olds: Zora and Kara. Dinner was a small bowl of chicken noodle soup- they are strict that you have to eat everything; they even have a glass table!

              I hope to recover, have time to write and relax, not get influenced by other creepy skinny girls here, and then go home! My current weight is 102 pounds (should be at least 127), and my heart rate is 40.

G’night!

 

5/08. Room 323 Melrose Center.

5:46 AM

Dear Diary,

My, we rise bright and early! Oh well, because of sleeping problems I normally can’t sleep past 5 AM anyhow.

               Last night’s sleep was restless. I tried to make myself comfortable by pressing the button to raise the bed up (high-tech) and by snuggling with Panthy (my stuffed dog), but nothing worked. I was cold, with a threadbare sheet over me (Mom hadn’t brought me blankets yet and won’t until this evening- visiting hours are late in the evening), I was anxious (not knowing tomorrow’s schedule), I was kept awake by hospital noises, I was uncomfortable (with thin pajamas, a bulky robe, and Panthy as a pillow), and even a little hungry (they start you out on low-calorie intake then you work your way up). At one point, around Midnight, I really had to use the bathroom. Unfortunately, as a new resident here (I am an Orange Band with zero privileges) I had to go get someone to unlock the bathroom for me and stand outside the slightly-open door while I went. Afterward they looked in a small container in the toilet that measured the amount of urine you had, wrote it down, made you dump the container out, and wished you good night, locking the bathroom door behind them. All this is extremely awkward, especially at midnight when you can’t find the light switch. I can’t wait until I get promoted to Blue Band (we where our bands on our wrists so that they know what kind of privileges we have. Orange Band is the lowest, next up from that is Blue Band, which allows you to go to classes on the second floor and have unobserved bathroom. Some people also get Blue Band OBS – which means they can go to the 2nd Floor but have to have observed bathroom, and others get Blue Band 24H- which means they can go to t he 2nd Floor but need 24 hour observation). 

              I have the privilege of having the only private, non-shared bedroom. I guess they don’t want me to get influenced by the "contagious" Anorexics, Bingers, and Bulimics. I feel like the only sane person in an asylum- I have to keep a clear head about me so I don’t go "insane" too (metaphorically).

              My room has a small, cold, hard white threadbare bed. The bed has buttons on it to go up and down, as well as railings that can be put up for people who have seizures. Next to the bed is a small packet of sheets full of inspirational poems and ED encouragement. On the other wall is a plain, wooden desk with nothing on it (they don’t want any objects that girls can hurt themselves with. Like a prison, all bags and items have to be searched before they come here) but my books and entertainment. Later this evening Mom will also bring my computer… that reminds me, I bet Mom is up worrying right now.

              A small shelf-like thing holds me two folded outfits and ratty, white gym shoes (no shoes are really needed here, everything can be done in socks), and across from that is a small, locked bathroom. I have a tremendous window over-looking the front of the modern (only 1 year old) Melrose Center and the St. Louis Park water tower. Above my bed is a small bulletin board (I haven’t added pictures- I don’t plan on staying so long that I need pictures to remember my family) and next to it is a small board, which serves as the world’s smallest window seat. So, that is my basic room. It’s bigger than the others and all the floor surfaces are carpeted.

              At 5:30 am I was in my own half-awake reverie comparing this place to a prison when one of the kind, sympathetic nurses wheeled in the cart to take my "Vitals". 

              She rolled up my robe’s sleeve and put on a blood-pressure cuff before taking my blood pressure (once standing, once lying down) and my temperature (with a mouth thermometer). I was polite and sleepy as she explained the morning schedule. She, like all the nurses, had a bad habit of staring me right in the eyes in a prying way.

              Basically, every morning, she explained, they do "vitals" between 5:30 and 6 am, then let me in to use the bathroom (I already went in a cup for the nurse at 3 this morning, so I don’t have to go again), afterward I would have to strip down and put on a dowdy hospital gown (that’s open in the back) and go down the hall to get weighed. After weighing I could either take a shower (I had no shampoo yet so I didn’t), get Meds (I’m exempt), or go to my room and "hang out" (I am right now).

              I thanked her and she wheeled her cart to the next room. I have a feeling I am probably the most polite patient here to the nurses. I, semi-self consciously (because of the always-open door) changed into a dowdy, old-lady hospital gown, leaving on only my earrings, watch, and underwear. Over the top of this I put on a white hospital robe and padded down the hall to the weighing room.

              At the weighing room I was the first one. The lady was another kind, friendly, staring, middle-aged time. I couldn’t believe it when I stepped on the scale (I have no idea what I weighed- they don’t tell patients) and she told me tomorrow I shouldn’t wear my underwear or watch. Does it really make a difference? I put my hospital robe back on and padded down the white-washed hall. I could see in each room. Many of the doors had colorful posters on them (the only splashes of color at Melrose- a girl named Kayla makes them for everyone) and inside were two beds, with usually colorful fluffy blankets on top, and tons of pictures on the bulletin boards. It was disconcerting- most girls looked like they had brought stuff so that they could move in here for a month! Hardly any other girls were out of their beds yet.

              Back in my room I’ve been recording my thoughts in this journal for the past 40 minutes. The sun slowly rises over the Melrose Center. I bet at my home everyone’s in bed (except perhaps Mom). Snippets of conversation drift down the hall to me. I’ve changed into jeans, a volleyball t-shirt, and my green jacket.  I have no idea how I look, since the only mirror is in my locked bathroom. Oh well.

              The words I repeat to myself are "keep a clear head, Christine." Those words will be important if I want to recover and don’t want to lose my body image like the other girls here. Breakfast will be at 7:15 AM in the dining hall. I wonder what the Dietitians will pick out for me today. They will slowly work me up to larger meal sizes. Yesterday I filled out a sheet to tell them the foods I don’t like- Tofu, Chocolate Ice Cream, and Ramen Noodles.

My Schedule today is busy. It will be a full day. The nurse and Mom emphasized how important it is to tell the Doctors/Dietitians that I am Female Athletic Triad, so that they don’t generalize or stereotype me as another freaky anorexic girl with a bad body image.

My Schedule:

Breakfast: 7:15 AM: Kitchen: 45 minutes

Dietitian: 8 am: Office: 60 minutes

ED Strategy Group: 9:30 AM: 3A: 30 minutes

Snack: 10 AM: Kitchen: 15 minutes

Life Balance Group: 11:15 AM: 3B: 60 minutes

Lunch: 12:15 PM: Kitchen: 45 Minutes

Check Up: 1:45 PM: Room 228: 15 minutes

Snack: 3 pm: Kitchen: 15 minutes

Clinic/Doc Thing: 4 pm: Clinic Room: 30 minutes

Dinner: 5:15 pm: Kitchen: 45 minutes

Snack: 8 pm: Kitchen: 15 minutes

*After each meal we have to hang out in the Adolescent Day Room, which is like a Lounge

 

              Mom will probably visit anywhere between 4 and 8 pm (the Visiting Hours) and bring some items I requested that I wrote out in blue crayon for her. I’m glad the visiting hours are so small; otherwise I know Mom would come here back and forth 5 times a day, despite the 30 minute commute. I feel worse for her. She needs to relax. She’s very stressed out. I have a strong mind so I’ll be fine. I hope she doesn’t bring Dad, Kelly or Colin. That would be awkward and embarrassing (plus, let’s not go pollute Colin and Kelly’s minds). I’m sure the nurses would love to see my siblings some time. They are fascinated (and, of course, sympathetic) about me being a triplet. 

Did you know 85% of the girls here have names that start with a "C" or a "K"? (Christy, Caitlin, Katrina, Kayla, Keera). I’ll just ask them to call me Kat.

My ED Symptoms:

Fatigue/Weakness/Dizziness

Blue fingers and toes/coldness/dryness

Extreme thinness

Low blood pressure

Heart abnormalities

Halted Body development

Loss of appetite

Dehydration but no thirst

Sleep trouble

Thinning hair

Fatigue and decreased ability to concentrate

 

I’m not looking forward to the Life Balance meeting. I already have life balance and a great body image! Here are some rules at Melrose:

Finish all meals or get a liquid supplement (like an Ensure), called Replacement

When first admitted you are observed 24/7 and have an Orange Band

Push in your chair all the way; roll up your sleeves; no jackets at the table

Bathrooms and showers are locked at all times

Orange bands have observed bathroom and shower

No laxatives, pills, appetite suppressants, etc.

No binging, vomiting and over-exercising

Meet physical therapist daily, therapist twice a week, and psychiatrist and dietitian as needed

No smoking, TV, razors, home medications, pro-disorder magazines, or stealing

Cell phones and computers only during "down time"

Patient room doors must stay open

No PG13 or R Movies- see supply closet

Earliest bedtime is 9:30 pm

No leaving hospital without parent consent and chaperone

Visiting hours: Monday-Friday: 6-8 pm, Weekend: 4-8 pm

Passes to leave the facility are 5 ours- staff will decide if allowed

 

The Dining Room also has a huge host of rules. You have to pace yourself, eat in the allotted time, eat it all, leave jacket and scarves, push sleeves up, keep hands on the table, use all spreadables, dump any cookies once in milk, have at least 2 noodles on a fork, drink at least 2000cc of water daily, not talk about food, not dissect/shred/mash/stir food, not get out of your seat, and not swap/switch foods. An Overseer sits at the head of each table and checks everyone’s plates afterwards, as well as tries to keep a conversation going. The rules are numerous but easy enough. I already follow most of them on my own. 

 

8:30 AM

        I’m not sitting in the Adolescent Day Room with about 10 other girls. It’s quiet except for music playing from one girl’s laptop. Sun filters through the windows, casting shadows across the girls, who are all perched on chairs/couches reading, and all the books and craft supplies strewn across the floor.

       Breakfast was late, at 7:26 am. The speakers beeped and a friendly voice announced breakfast, calling the teens and adults out of their rooms and down the halls, which go in a rectangle around the floor, to the dining room. I had to take of my green jacket at the door. Girls sat at their assigned places at the glass table, each taking lids off their meals. A small slip of paper had our menu items circled on it. Some girls got tea, some orange juice, some milk. Meals varied between oatmeal, cereal, bacon, muffins, cheese bakes, eggs, etc. I asked one of the nurses where I sat and she directed me to a spot by the table Overseer, across from the other new girl, Zora, and next to Kayla, the 15-year-old with the feeding tube. On my plate was orange juice, a small bowl of Rice Krispies with cereal, a carton of milk, an orange slice, and a packet of sugar. I realized the best tactic for meal times was to keep eyes down. There is no point comparing yourself to the other Anorexics who pick at, dissect, and generally refuse to eat their food. Clear head, Christine, I remind myself.

       I was cold in my t-shirt. I ate my breakfast without caring what the ED girls thought. Some of them picked at their food, preferring not to eat the high-calorie stuff and instead asking the Replacement. A 6th grader named Katrina was especially anorexic. Geez. Some of these people are in rough shape (especially the adults- eek)- they’ll never get out of here with those mentalities and stick bodies.

       They played word games around the table (similar to the "I’m going on a trail ride and I’m bringing…" game) while I stared at my now-empty tray, out the window, and at the stick figures at the tables. Outside it was sunny, probably frigid, but I couldn’t tell. At 7:55 AM the Overseer went around the table checking that we ate everything (I missed 2 Rice Krispies- she made sure I remembered them). Many girls got Replacement. Once girl was excited to be leaving today, two girls had birthdays. I was sad to see a lady that was at least 50-years-old in our midst, with long, thinning gray hair. 

       Filing out of the dining room we slid our trays onto racks and went down the hall to the Adolescent Day Room. In the Day Room some girls sprawled on the floor to bead or draw, some curled up with books, one sang along with her computer, and others painted. Patty, a nurse, read the newspaper on the couch. I sat on the only unoccupied seat- a brown pouf, and read Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul until a slightly frumpy, middle-aged Dietitian (another kind, sympathetic nurse-type) called me out. The Dietitian had curly, graying hair and a green shirt. She and I sat at one of the mini-couches lining the hallways.

       I started out right away by explaining my Athletic Triad thing and how I wanted to improve. She said half the battle was the right attitude and said good job.

       She started out by asking me questions. I told her the 3 foods I don’t like (chocolate ice cream, ramen noodles, tofu), and explained my different opinions on foods. I told her I liked what I’d eaten so far and that yes I liked fish, yogurt, shrimp, oatmeal, etc. etc. She told me later in the week I’d have a group meal with my family (hmmm… I wonder what that will be like), and that Mom would get to pick my meals from the various available choices. She encouraged me to share any concerns or problems I had throughout the week.

       We didn’t talk long before I went back to the Day Room. In the Day Room all the older teens had left to Strategy Planning, leaving 4 middle-school girls, Patty, and me.  I wrote and we had brief conversations ("Did you sleep well?" "No" "Why not?" "I was cold- I didn’t have a blanket" "You should have asked for a blanket!" I didn’t know."; "Do you play any sports?" "Yah." "Like what?" "Volleyball, basketball, soccer, inline rollerblading, skiing, and lots of others." We talked briefly about how my coldness and blue fingers should soon go away (it had for the other girls) and how it’s important to eat enough for all my activities. We ended up falling into a cozy silence, broken only by the sound of turning pages. It’s 9:10 am now. Strategy group meets at 9:30 am. I can’t wait to brush my teeth and put in my rubber bands. Random: My finger hurts from yesterday’s finger prick.

       In the Day Room there are papers on the floor, beading, painting and drawing supplies, computers, and books. There are a few small couches and chairs, along with a few small, cluttered tables. On top of a cabinet are some Disney movie and board games. An off TV is on the wall near the huge windows. 

       One nurse sits on a couch doing paperwork (now that Patty left), Katrina, the petite 12-year-old is reading her book and listening to her Ipod. Kayla is on the couch on Facebook on her laptop (occasionally commenting "oh that guy is so hot.") and a 13-year-old red-head, Meghan, is writing. They’re a friendly group. Like normal girls if they weren’t so thin. I hope they (we) recover. Here it’s odd, but age doesn’t matter. 12-year-olds talk to 17-year-olds. Maybe because we’re all relatively small ad slightly underdeveloped we all look the same ages (correction- I’m not short, but the rest of them are). Oh, got to go. They have to take our Vitals (we lay on the Day Room floor and they take our blood pressure). Next stop: Strategy Group. I wonder what my family is doing right now… this is relaxing, I don’t mind it so far. Outside the window it is gray. I could be doing something productive (brushing my teeth, writing a story, reading A Tale of Two Cities), but this quiet room leaves me enjoying the peace and quiet. Is this all some weird dream? Will I wake up? It sure feels like it.

10:20 AM

        I’m back. What an odd experience. Strategy Group consisted of 5 girls and me. There was Meghan, the red-head, Katrina, the shrimp, Kayla, the faint-voice, Brittany, the drawer, and Keera, another soccer shrimp. We headed out of the Day Room, down the hall, out the double doors, and to room 3A. I immediately like the room- half classroom, half lounge. There were chairs around the perimeter facing in- all big, comfy arm chairs with foot rests and sliding mini desks. Across, in one of the chairs, was a guy in black pants, black shoes, and a green flannel shirt. We each plopped ourselves in chairs and he did "role call." He asked us to go around the room and describe our day, our goals, our stresses, anxieties, etc. It was like one of those alcohol confession groups. 

We started with Katrina. The guy asked questions in the patient, annoying voice of a psychologist. Katrina started out in a quiet, melancholy voice,

               "Well, yesterday was… hard. I kept getting Replacements sand I was really full. I want to have another day where I eat either 2 whole meals or 2 whole snacks… I did that on Thursday."

              They went around the room complaining about seeing their family, crying, being full, etc. I wanted to shake them and say "Snap out of it! You’re anorexic- any normal person could eat 2 full meals in a day no problem!" They announced pitiful goals of going 1 day without any Replacements and complained about Family Meal Days. When it was my turn (Cat, they called me) I announced I wanted to get used to my new surroundings and find my way around.

              The whole thing took under 30 minutes. I reminded myself to keep a clear head and not be influenced by them. I went back to my room and met a wonderful African-American nurse named Sunny who let me use the bathroom. I still haven’t gotten a chance to brush my teeth.. Yuck.

              Shortly after I finished, the Speakers announced it was time for snack. I dropped off my notebook in the Day Room and followed the others down the hall to the Dining Room. Once again I was cold because I had to take off my jacket. 

The whole thing was becoming pretty routine. I asked for a straw, drank a glass of water, and ate a small container of applesauce. If possible, I may be eating less here than I was at home (since I’m still being worked up to a higher-cal intake)… backwards. We went around the table  naming celebrities for letters of the alphabet (Abe Lincoln, Britney Spears, Carrie Underwood, Drew Barrymore, Emma Watson, Fergie, George Bush, etc.) I tried not to pay attention to what others got or how they ate. 

              We threw away our garbage, put our cups on a tray, and went to the Day Room. I wrote, the others hung out, one girl painted a cool tree-forest by the water. I was escorted by Sunny to my room to brush my teeth and put in rubber bands (finally) and got out of the Day Room once for a doctor to chat with me. I sat in a HUGE reclining leather chair and was asked the same questions as always about how I slept, my opinions on food and exercise, etc. I admitted I was anxious about being influenced by the girls here. The doctor reminded me that it’s not actually "contagious" to have an Eating Disorder. Afterward, I went back to the mellow Day Room. Sunny took my vitals (sitting and standing blood pressure on the Day Room floor) ad I listened to the conversation. I realized you actually can get bored here in the Day Room. One girl talked about a patient who tried to stick a bean up her nose, ad another who stuck crumbs under her fingernails… oh my gosh. They also talked of nit-picky rules and how there’s a rule for everything (no blankets in the day room- people have thrown up in them, push in your chairs- you could hide food behind you, no loose socks- people throw up in them).  "Desperate people do desperate things." Kayla said darkly.

              Geez, the day blends together. Meal-class-Day Room, Meal-Class-Day Room. I couldn’t remember for a minute whether I’d had lunch or not! The time is so different and slow here. It could be 6 pm for all I know.

11:58 AM

               Okay, I am officially CREEPED out. I came back from Life Balance group. We went to another half lounge/half classroom with comfy armchairs. About 10 other girls were in my class. Another huge window spanned a wall (lots of natural light) and our instructor was a young lady named Chelsea (who was 5 months pregnant).

              They popped a CD of pop music into a player, put out boxes of brand new crayons/markers/pencils and paper and told us to draw a map of our future. The girls here had mixed reactions. Most of the girls who are more short-term (like me) recovery got to work right way. The long-term girls who keep leaving and coming back for 90 days at a time stared at the blank pieces of paper. I drew high school, college, world travel, my life as an author, and settling down in a home in the mountains with lots of animals. Kayla was sitting next to me. My jaw dropped when I saw she’d drawn 3 different paths. I could read the nearest one "School- be fat + miserable". I looked at her thin frame. Did she really think that? She ripped up her paper and said, "Chelsea, this is making me stressed out. I have other art projects I can work on." Her eyes went really weird and wide and I swear I was not looking in Kayla’s eyes, but at Anorexia’s. I was disturbed. Keep a clear head, Christine.

              A few girls shared their colorful posters. They hopefully would recover from their Eating Disorder. Some had drawn 2 paths- a dead end eating disorder path with death, and a successful other path involving college, travel, careers, and family. Chelsea asked Kayla what she had drawn and Kayla cleverly tore up the rest of her paper, pretending to be demonstrating an origami cross. 

Brittany said, "It’s hard. I just can’t imagine my future. I can’t imagine leaving and not being fat and miserable."

"Yah." Kayla said.

               I was shell-shocked. My god, did they really think that?

              Chelsea asked, "What do the rest of you see that will help you succeed and accomplish goals?"

              Nobody answered so I said, "recovery."

              Chelsea looked relieved that someone had spoken and went on to talk about how recovery was essential to moving on to a normal life and accomplishing our dreams.

              We were dismissed and went back through the double doors. I got a nurse to let me use the bathroom and then hung out in the Day Room writing. The Day Room is getting old. I can’t wait until I’m recovered and can leave this asylum. It’s a long day.

1 pm:

               I came back from Lunch. While other girls got bowls of wild rice soup with grilled cheese sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, or chicken dumplings with pie on the side, I got… half a cold sub sandwich. I had a little green sheet with my circled menu items on it. I ate my sub sandwich with ham, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes and drank my milk, watching as the other girls picked at their meals, taking miniscule bites. What the heck is wrong with them? Clear head, Christine. Clear head. I vaguely wondered what the reaction would be if I asked the girl next to me if I could have her pie… that’d be funny. They’d probably faint and then send me home with a recovery discharge already.

              I recalled how earlier, during Strategy, the girls had spoken of the dreaded "Family Meals" and had either cried or refused to eat. During lunch one girl, Keera, flat out cried as she ate her desert. Another completely refused and had to get Replacement. I looked at the adults who were at the other table. Two had IV’S, one had white hair and skin and looked like a ghost; others were creepy skinny with pointy faces and angles.

              We went around the table and answered questions. We said "what would we save from a fire at our house?" (My answer: my cats), "What do you want?" (A dog), "What is a fear you wish you could conquer?" (Kayla said "well that’s obvious" and put the card back.)

              Watching the others eat was driving me crazy and I was cold. Kayla, Katrina, Keera and Brittany (oh, and Kara too) are the most screwed up of the E.D. Patients. 

              The overseer dismissed me after examining my tray and I went to the Day Room. Kayla is a cheerleader who has been struggling with an eating disorder for over a year, so is Brittany (who is a dancer). Some girls don’t look as thin here as others (rounder faces), but are obviously internally in very bad shape. Is this how you tell the difference between Anorexics and Bulimics?

              I wrote in the Day Room. Jenna drew a Mother’s Day card wit her special markers. Katrina came in clutching her stomach and saying "I feel disgusting" after having her Replacement. Sunny talked about her 5 kids and the girls talked about how we didn’t get enough "real world experiences" here. 

              Then I listened to Kayla whisper to Zora. She told of an 18-year-old whose parents abandoned her in Inpatient, she complained about eating, she spoke of her last year of struggle, and frankly, she sounded like a depressed, lost cause. Kayla is as good as dead. I was pretty sure the conversation they were having was one of those on the "not allowed topics" list.  As she talked she drew another one of the colorful posters she was famous for (with markers that Keera had given her). Jenna complained she was always cold after she eats because "all the blood goes to your stomach." Then Kara began sobbing when got a phone call from her Mom, who talked to her about Residential (pure hell, 1 year at E.S.L.)

              One girl is getting discharged Monday but would have to continue outpatient 7 am to 7:30 pm instead of school…. It’s like you can never leave!

              I’m tired and bored and quite frankly, a little scared. It IS an asylum. These girls are totally nuts! Please protect me from their influence, whatever Higher Being there is. This day has really opened my eyes a lot. I hope I get out of here soon. I’ll be a different person after the horrors I have seen and heard.  Kayla is so screwed up; she has lots of friends with EDs. She said she wishes she could be as great as her friend. She says her insurance won’t pay for her much longer. She’s also very depressed.

              I’m bored… The nurse is going to bring me a Dixie cup of water (120cc, whatever that means).

              Oh monotonousness…

3:20 pm

               Ug, what a boring day. We sat in the Day Room until 3 pm. Kayla turned on her music and Patty and Sunny came in and started jumping and dancing to Michael Jackson. I laughed- they’re some of my favorite nurse assistants. We almost watched the movie Aquamarine, but the volume didn’t work on the TV. Kayla played some good songs by Dixie Chicks and Pray for You.

              Snack was good (besides the fact that I was cold without my jacket.) I sat with some VERY thin adults (their hair had thinned out so much it was hardly there and you should see their skeletal hands) and ate 4 nutter butters and water. Some other people had ice cream, some sherbet, some applesauce, and some pretzels… lots of variety.

              After being dismissed at 3:15 pm and putting my cup and bowl on the tray we went back to (sigh) the Day Room. Some girls left to Chapel, others stayed and read. Kayla turned her music on while the other girls did their guilt whining about "I had to eat so much!" Kara said she cried after lunch for having to eat a Tuna Melt. They are so screwed up.

              Ah well, not much happening here. I need to use the bathroom but I can’t until like 4:30 pm. The girls are either talking on their cell phones or talking about their boyfriends.

4:38 pm

               After a bathroom break it was time for me to go to the "consequences of Eating Disorders

 meeting in 3B. Zora and I were the only ones in the room at first. She sat and knit and we chatted briefly. She’s a junior and she told me I should ask for a Blue Band from the doctor (I did later- they said my "vitals" need to be a little more stable). The windows showed the entrance to Melrose.

              Later Kara and the instructor lady, a frumpy, gray-haired, kind, sympathetic woman, entered. Kara, blond and pale with puffy red eyelids from crying, sat to my left. We were all newbies, Zora, Kara and I, who had arrived yesterday.

              As "class" started we were interrupted by Zora, whose Mom called on her cell phone to ask what she needed. The instructor was slightly irked but started out talking about Osteoporosis, and a 35-year-old ED patient who shattered her hip, could not have it repaired (the bone was like sawdust), and spent the rest of her life in a wheelchair. I asked her if that’s why we drink so much milk- she said yes.

              We also discussed other consequences- coldness/weakness, lack of concentration (in school). I really enjoyed the discussion. Zora talked about how she "just wanted to leave" and how she was terrified of gaining weight. She wanted to request no more yogurt because she saw the calorie count (170) under the sticker (later in the week she got a king sized snicker bar- I wonder what she thought about THAT calorie count). She said she felt really guilty. She used to exercise a lot but then she switched to purging. She said she "used to be chubby" and didn’t want to be like that again.

              Kara said she too "used to be pudgy" (yah right) and was in dance line. She started dieting, and because of her OCD, obsessively counting calories. She said at times she looked in the mirror and saw bone skinny, and other times saw pudge. She started exercising obsessively and always worrying about when she could get her exercise in. She said she felt like her lunch Tuna Melt was oil sitting I n her stomach and was giving her pudge.

              I said my story of Athletic Triad and how I ate normally but exercised like crazy. I said I had no body image problem and asked to go Inpatient, seeing it as a quick solution. 

              The instructor had day-long discussion with us. She told us how and why we needed to trust our Dietitian and Physical Therapist. She answered lots of our questions and assured them the Dietitians would not try to give us extra food or make us overweight- they wanted us simply to be healthy.

              I was refreshed after our meeting with the Instructor. Many of my qualms had left thanks to her reassurances. Sure, Kara and Zora creeped me out, but it was nice to have a normal person, like the Instructor, to talk to. We walked (Zora, Kara, and I) in a companiable silence back through the double doors with new understandings of each other. I felt sorry for them. They Instructor told them "never to give up." She also told me my ED was not yet chronic enough to stunt by growth- thank goodness. I realized you have to actively make a choice, if you ever want to get better from an eating disorder.

              I grabbed my stuff room (books and notebooks) and asked the lady at the desk if my Mom had come yet (no, she hadn’t). Then I went to my nice, private bedroom to write in the sunlight. Once a nurse called me out to see her 4-month-old baby daughter. Later my mom called. I told her yes, she and Dad could visit, and that I had stories to share. I told her to bring shampoo and come after 6 pm dinner. I also briefly shared y qualms about creepy ED girls (she asked I would be okay- said yes, as long as there were non-ED adults to talk to and Instructors). Mom would also be coming 2:30 pm Sunday (Mother’s Day) to speak to the Dietitian. I told her not bring Colin and Kelly yet and said later in the week I wanted to take pictures of the place for my journal. Then I said bye and went back to my writing, feeling restored of my confidence. Diner will be in one minute… it’s been a LONG day. Can’t wait to have visitors!

8:38 pm

               Dinner wasn’t memorable. I feel like I’ve been here for a week! I had a potato with butter (I had to clean out the butter container well and eat the potato skin), a pile of veggies (including hiccuma), and half a piece of chicken plus a carton of milk. On the green slip of paper where they’d circled my menu items they wrote "16th" next to the vegetables, to show the small portion size, and ½ next to the chicken, to show how much. Many girls got Replacement again… they’ll never recover with Gatorade. 

              After people finished eating they asked for smethacome to soothe their stomachs… I didn’t ask for any, I don’t like how dependent they are on it. In the Day Room after dinner it was almost empty. Most people had visitors. I watched the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants for 30 minutes. At first I unconsciously stood and watched the movie, but a nurse assistant told me to sit down… oops. 

              At about 20 after 6 I felt a surge of relief as Mom and Dad walked through the door. Everything would be okay now. They carried bags with all the items I asked for and my computer. I went with them to room 323. We sat and I told them my horror stories of the day. They were uneasy about the other girls, and laughed when I told them about the "alcohol confession" in Strategy group. Dad joked that I should really shock them and ask for some candy bars in front of everyone I doubt they’d even let me have them anyways, because it wouldn’t be on the "menu plan." Dad was encouraged when I told him I actually had felt a little bit hungry this morning. I wore a smile for them, but in reality I wanted to break down crying after the experiences I had been through.

              Mom brought me a Teen Ink magazine and my flute. I looked at my schedule for tomorrow (the same as todays) and told her the times she could try to call. We talked for almost an hour and a half until I told them it was getting near snack time and I needed to use the bathroom. Mom gave me a goodnight kiss and Dad gave me a pat and they left. Here at Melrose I’m practically the only girl that gets along with her parents.

              I got a nurse to open the bathroom for me and checked on to my computer for 10 minutes (no worthwhile emails) before it was snack time. I hung up my cat-hair covered jacket (left over from Leo), dropped off my computer case in storage and went to the Dining Room. My snack was a small container of grape juice and three vanilla wafers… doable. The other girls wore dismayed looks as they chugged along. Snack was twenty minutes late (probably to allow times for the visitor’s to leave). I also drank a cup of water to reach the 2000cc goal (Whatever that is). Many girls drank tea.

              In the Day Room the blinds were pulled. Girls lined up to take their Vitals (I didn’t need mine taken) and whined about their bodies. I wrote while we had low-key chatting about school, uniforms, music (Pray for You and Adam Lamberts) and parents. Everyone was pretty tired. The nurse lady talked to us just like she was our age- she was an Adam Lambert fan. Reagan read, Cayman was on the computer, Elizabeth wrote, Kayla drew, and everyone else sat, chatted and observed. I can’t wait to go to bed with a nice blanket (my green horse one). This is a PRISON. Mom told me earlier she’d try to figure out school work. Grandma cried on the phone when she heard the news that I was in the hospital. My mom’s friend, Kat was nice and brought dinner (unasked) to Colin, Kelly and Dad yesterday.

              Well, tomorrow’s another big day and everyone’s leaving the Day Room. 

        

 

My Brother

 

 "I want chickens." My brother pronounced one day, as I was mid-bite in a peanut butter sandwich.

I set down my sandwich.

"You mean you want chicken?" I asked quizzically, not quite understanding what he was saying.

"No chickens. The animals." He replied seriously.

I was perplexed. "To eat or keep as pets?"

"As creatures to help promote self-sustainable living." He replied, casually flipping through a his "Hobby Farms" magazine.

I didn't understand a word of what he was saying, nor was I sure that I wanted to. What could cause my brother to go from a science-obsessed, cooking, brainiac brother to be a.... farmer?

"Um... okay. Well, I guess you could ask Mom or Dad." I suggested doubtfully.

I thought that would be the end of my brother and his chicken obsession, but it was only the beginning. Not long after that first conversation I started finding random catalogues scattered around the house that sold chicken coops and feed. My brother soon became a chicken encyclopedia, never talking about anything but chickens. It was de-ja-vu all over again. Just a few months ago he had gone through a "Bee-keeping phase", even though his one greatest fear in life was being stung by bees (go figure). Now he was in his 'chicken keeping phase', even though I'd never seen him interested in them before.

"Do you like Rhode Island Reds or Plymouth Rocks better?" He asked.

To me, both of them sounded more like tourist destinations in the Northwest, so I answered "Plymouth Rock", which seemed to satisfy him.

"Bantams or regular sized?" He asked me later.

"Er... Bantams" I replied distractedly. I didn't know what Bantams were. All I knew was that my 10-year-old soccer league had been called "bantams."

My brother hounded my parents worst of all. Asking them to petition the city to allow chickens, to buy him a new, ergonomic chicken home called an 'eglu', and ranting off statistics. He created multiple Powerpoints about the benefits of keeping chickens and eating fresh eggs, and often compared their messes to that of our 2 parakeets.

I couldn't really figure out what the point of keeping chickens were. They weren't affectionate, they were messy, and they lay eggs. I figured that Colin probably only wanted them so that he could create omelets with fresh eggs.

The thought of eating eggs from backyard chickens disgusted me. So did the thought of cutting off the head and eating the meat. Did you know that a chicken once lived 18 months without its head? It's true. If my parents didn't crush this chicken idea, then I would myself.

It was about a month later, after my brother dropped another line at the dinner table saying "when we get chickens...", my parents put their fists down.

"We're NOT getting chickens." My dad said firmly, setting his forkful of lasagna down with a crash.

"B-but..." My brother stuttered, the wheels turning in his head for a statistical retort.

"We lived in the city. End of story. No. Nada." My dad cut him off.

We all held our breaths, waiting for a retort but none came. Could it be really over?

To make up for the brutal end of the chicken obsession my parents bought my brother other chicken things. They bought him a pillowcase with a chicken on it, a rooster alarm clock, and started making farm-fresh organic, scrambled eggs more often. Although none of it could really replace a real chicken, I think it helped pacify him... at least until the next obsession came. This time it was bees, and yes, my parents did end up getting him two beehives and bees (which we set up at the farm). For years he was our official beekeeper, making honey and sending extras to the Minnesota state fair for judging.

 

Farm Flash Flood

 When I was just three years old, my dad bought a farm 2 hours south of where we lived. It was set on 8 acres, with 100-year-old buildings, and a barn with a roof that sagged in.

Immediately, my brother, sister, and I became real 'country kids'. We painted buildings and splattered our overalls with paint. We drove lawn tractors around wearing baseball hats. We sang to country music, gardened for hours on end, and caught fireflies in glass jars. The only thing we didn't have was farm animals.

My sister and I would explore the forest surrounding our farm for hours on end, each carrying buckets that we would use to collect mushrooms (morels were the best), rocks (we called them 'gems'), and old pieces of junk (we found old purses, shoes, and car pieces sitting in the woods). 

At the age of nine our dad started giving us driving lessons in an old jeep (or 'Trooper' as we called it). I also became a dirtbike girl. I spent all hours on my dirtbike- which I called a motorcycle- and would enjoy racing through the fields parallel to the highway, trying to race groups of Harley Davidson riders. My uncle Al called me Hell's Angel.

Then, one year we had a brilliant idea. We wanted to bring a friend to the farm!

We called up my friend, a girly-girl named Katie, and invited her to come, along with her mother and sister. We gave them a wonderful tour of the rundown buildings, showed them our favorite trees, and pointed out over one of the giant hills and pronounced "over that hill is Hogwarts." (We honestly believed it too).

It being April, the whole farm was damp from melting snow. The air felt fresh and alive. I couldn't understand why Katie seemed so underwhelmed. Couldn't she see the beauty in everything? That moss-covered log, the dripping storm drain, the rusty mailbox, and the sagging roof?

I decided it was time to show Katie the forest. If anything, that would impress her. 

My sister and I pulled out our huge map of the forest that we'd drawn and pointed out all the landmarks, before leading my mom, Katie's mom, and Katie's sister down into the forest ravine.

Throughout the middle of the forest a thin stream was flowing, which we happily leaped over. Mud squelched on the ground, and we crawled out over a log to point out the "Great Pine Tree of The Forest."

We were having the time of our lives pointing out the landmarks of our forest. My mom made small talk with her mom, and Katie's little sister let out a never ending stream of complaints about the mud (which nobody listened to). The birds were singing, the air was fresh, and we were out in the wilderness. I hoped a deer would show itself so that we could amaze Katie even more.

We turned around about halfway through the forest and began trekking back, our boots squelching delightfully in the mud. So lost in our reverie's were we, that we didn't notice the water from the stream starting to build.

By the time we had come back to our starting point, a roaring torrent of water rushed where the stream had once been. There was no way we could cross back over to the other side without getting dragged under and drowned. We were trapped, unable to get back to the farm!

My sister, Katie, and I stood in a row surveying the surroundings with an air of satisfaction at the adventure before us. A real flash flood... imagine that. Our mothers, meanwhile, were freaked out. They meant action.

They begin grabbing logs from trees that had been swept over by the surging current and placing them carefully over the water in a makeshift bridge. The water was steadily growing stronger, until it seemed the size and strength of a small river. My mom crossed over first, to make sure it was safe, and after some wild windmilling of her arms, landed safely on the other side of the current, sliding ungracefully in the mud.

My sister, then Katie, went next, creeping across the unsteady, slippery logs to the other side. When it was my turn I was paralyzed with fear, my eyes mesmerized by the surging current.

"Come on, Christine!" My sister yelled.

Sweat beaded on my forehead as I looked up uncertainly, than placed an unsteady foot on the slick log "bridge". I decided it'd be best to just get it over with, and run to the other side.

Slipping back and forth I did two wild leaps on the logs towards the other side. My foot caught the angle wrong and I felt myself slipping backwards, my arms windmilling. Just when I thought I was going to fall into the deadly water and get pulled under, a strong arm yanked me towards the other side where I skidded, the mud spraying in the air and landing all over my mom and her new jacket.

Breathing heavily, adrenaline rushing through me, my jeans soaked, I watched as Katie's sister and mom crossed last. The logs that served as a bridge were slowly getting loose as the current tried to pull them down stream. Both mother and daughter were taking very slow, cautious steps, hardly moving forward at all. I wondered why Katie's little sister couldn't just cross by herself, and had to be led by her mom.

At the last minute Katie's little sister began slipping wildly, her mom doing everything she could to hold her up. Then in a last moment of desperation, Katie's mom shoved her daughter towards my mom, who reached out to grab her, and at the same time got her legs soaked and her boot pulled down the river, never to be found again.

Everyone was safe and sound on the other side of the river. We were drenched, covered in mud, and panting with adrenaline as the current finally broke apart the makeshift bridge and dragged it down stream. Watching in a solemn silence, nobody spoke. Then, all in sync, we turned and starting dragging ourselves back to the farmhouse.

At the farm my sister, Katie, and I began babbling at 100 miles per hour about the adventure we had just survived. We could of died and drowned! It was so exciting.

Our moms, however, set together making hot cocoa in a sort of stunned angry silence. After we had all dried off and taken cold showers in the 100 year old farmhouse, Katie's mom tersely announced that she and her daughters were leaving. I didn't understand.

My sister and I said a regretful goodbye to Katie's family before loading up our own car to drive home ourselves. My mom had her lips pursed, which was never a good sign.

Looking back now, I don't understand it, but it seems that Katie's mom blamed the danger inflicted on her and her daughters on our family. Like somehow we had been responsible for the flash flood.

Needless to say, never again did Katie come down to our farm, or come over for that matter. Every time we called, her mom would politely tell us that her family was "busy doing other things" and that Katie would not be able to attend. As happens in the friendships where the parents disagree, we slowly drifted farther apart. Now I haven't spoken to Katie in 2 years, not because I'm mad, but simply because I don't know her anymore. I guess that's just the way things go.

 

Not being able to run again:

One of the most rewarding experiences I had in my life was at the young age of 15. I was a high school freshman, tall and skinny, and had been out of eating disorder treatment for about 4 months. I loved life, I was looking forward to the adventures high school was to bring, and I had lots of friends. Not only that, an unfortunate chain of events (getting cut during tryouts from the volleyball team, getting cut from the soccer team because of an argument between myself and the coach) ended up being one of the most fortunate events of my high school years. Because I got cut from these two teams I found myself with my friend, Colleen, on the cross country running team (I had run cross country in 5th through 8th grade because my friend had convinced me to do it with her, but I had never really enjoyed it). This turned out to be fantastic.

 

My first few weeks on the cross country running team were kind of slow. I was still getting back in to shape after a long hiatus period post-eating disorder where I didn't exercise. However, to my coach, Jimmy's, surprise I ended up not only placing third in the triathalon on my 3rd day of practice, but also winning 1st place at a JV race in Menomonie, Wisconsin. I couldn't believe my good luck. Encouraged by how well I was doing I began trying harder at practices until I'd gone from the 'slow group' to making the top 10 varsity runners in my 3rd week. It was a dream come true.

 

Every day after school I couldn't wait to taste the fresh air on my tongue and feel my feet pounding on the pavement. With the varsity runners I was very quiet-- I ran silently, listening to the conversations of others around me. Because of this I quickly was named the "most mysterious" athlete on the cross country team. Every once and  a while a few rumors would flit to the ears of Jimmy -- like the fact that I was a published author and was a triplet-- and he would look at me in a way that was absolutely bewildered.

 

Once the cross country season was over in November (I had even gone to state that year-- although I had placed second to last place because of overwhelming nerves) I decided to work out hard all winter and try to be the number one runner for Track that coming spring. I joined speedskating and would race around the track on ice for hours every evening at the Roseville Oval. Though I wasn't very good compared to seasoned speedskaters who had been racing since they were 4 years old, I still managed to get one heck of a workout.

 

That spring, back in Track where I belonged, I was the number one runner for the first few weeks until the others got back in shape. Once the senior runners were in shape a few weeks later, I secured a permanent spot as the 4th runner on the team for race performance, but 2nd runner on the team during workouts. The reason for this? I had terrible race nerves.

 

By the end of April I was becoming so enthused by running I decided to take a different approach-- train for marathons on the side. So every weekend I would tell Jimmy that I had something going on, and instead would go with my dad (who rode his bike alongside me) and run between 15 and 20 miles. My goal? To run Grandma's Marathon that June.

 

I had less than 2 months to train for the marathon but I was already in such good shape that it didn't matter. Every week I would add at least 3 miles on to what I had been running the previous week. I even ran the Minnetonka Half Marathon and won first place in the U18 category with an average of 6:45 minute miles. Because of that New Balance sponsored me with $1000 as well as 2 pairs of free shoes and a ton of running gear. But not all good things can last forever.

 

On June 1st (I was age 15) as I was gearing up to do a 23 mile run just weeks before Grandma's Marathon, I woke up with a terrible pain in my knee. I stood up and gasped in pain. I couldn't walk. Desperate, I hobbled one-footed to the front door and looked outside at the clear day awaiting. Feeling a strange sense of urgency, I strapped on my running shoes and hobbled out to the driveway.  I broke into a run, each step pure agony, but telling myself that I would ignore it and that the pain would eventually go numb. The truth was, my knee pain had started a few weeks before-- in fact, I'd just ignored the twinging, praying that it was just my imagination. But as I ran down the street, through Hazelnut Park, and down an adjacent neighborhood, I burst into tears of pain and frusteration. I stopped. I groaned. I took a hobbling, ginger step and gasped in agony.

 

Though I was less than a half mile away from home, hobbling back took me more than half an hour. When I told my parents what had happened it took all my strength not to break down sobbing. I told Jimmy I had to quit Track one week before the state championship. I was hurt and angry that I hadn't told him that I was training on the side. I felt ashamed. Not only that, somehow the Shoreview Press newspaper found out that I was leaving to go to Italy as an exchange student that Fall and had printed a short article about it. This upset Jimmy even more, knowing that his star runner would be unable to run cross country that following year. I was distressed.

 

It wasn't until more than a year later, after months and months of a painful cycle where my knee would get almost better and then mysteriously get very painful so that I'd be on crutches for weeks at a time, that I finally figured out what was wrong with my knee. I had a bizarre anatomical problem with my leg-- one where my upper and lower leg bones were rotated oddly so that they met awkwardly at the kneecap. I was told that I would never be able to run again. And that I would need surgery that December with a specialized surgeon all the way in Detroit (I was, at that point, 17 years old). It broke my heart and eventually led to a new eating disorder-- this time binge eating.

 

Here is an article by the Shoreview Press about me as a budding author and runner: 

Not feeling accepted by my family/ being the ice breaker

 

 Another large aspect of my teenage life was not feeling accepted by my family. I was always the ice breaker. My family, who didn't like to try anything new, essentially saw me as the black sheep. I was the one that got her ears pierced, her hair dyed; I was the one that first used iTunes, that first went on YouTube, that first left home. It was something I was very self conscious about and, almost, ashamed of. I was a free spirit. My brother and sister liked to call me names, the least offensive being "hippy" or "our sister that likes to be different". But honestly, the things I did to rebel would not be considered the least bit rebellious in any other family. Not at all. But, such was life at that time. It wasn't until my later teens that they finally began to accept me for who I am. In fact, when I was at the Emily program for binging, this was one of the big aspects we worked on during therapy.

 

 

Describe earliest memories.

Most of my early memories were pretty typical-- our triplet trio playing outside, blowing bubbles, going to our farm and picking vegetables, holding hands, playing with our pet cat(s). There were a few traumatic events-- the time when Kailey got bitten by a dog and went to the emergency room, the time Colin ran into a mailbox, the time I went to school with a hole in my dress... but we had a very typical first couple of years (for triplets, at least) and were adored by everyone. Not only that, my Dad coached our soccer team. He had even written a book about soccer and had it published. We played recreational soccer from age 4 until age 15.

 

 Also, I remember that at age 7 my sister and I believed we had pet dragons. We would take care of them, go on rides with them (mine was named Scaleseem) and at the farm go to the "dragon valley". We made a whole map of the woods at my farm and gave all the places magical names and stories to describe them. There was a "wishing tree" (which was a log that when you went to it on your birthday, your wish would come true), a valley full of evil wolves, a great pine tree that was the tallest tree in the world, a giant bird community of pheonixes, and also a cavern where unicorns lived. Yup, we had pretty wild imaginations. Hence why I wanted to be a writer.