The moon
is not romantic. No.
It's a fact of life and still
we aren't inured.
- Adrienne Rich, "Four Short Poems," Fox

It's the beginning of a year which seemed impossibly distant in the future to me for much of my life. I've been reflecting on the past, and thinking about the future, both with hope and trepidation. These fragments leap out at me.


I.
In 1985, I was a silent, too serious eight-year-old with a habit of staring intensely at objects for entirely too long. The year before I had been cheerful, gregarious, ready to talk to strangers at length about any topic (my mother insists that extroverted, smiling child I was is my "true personality," as if the introvert who hates asking for help will one day slough of his skin and revert to a sunny-tempered innocent who effortlessly befriends people. I doubt it). I was now withdrawn and sullen and always walked as close to the walls as I could manage, sometimes brushing my elbow against them. I was in a Highly Gifted class in a magnet school in Los Angeles. Our teacher, a strange, big-haired Texan named Miss Van Deusen gave us an assignment: we were to write what life would be like in 2025 and how it would feel to visit ourselves.

I wrote a pair of stories. The first was unremarkable. I wrote the standard childish fantasies about wealth, power, robots and flying cars. The only notable thing about it was that wealthy future-me didn't have a wife, even at the impossibly old (to an eight-year-old) age of forty-eight. The second story was more interesting. I travelled to the future only to find that I didn't exist. There was no record of anyone with my name. This future was still full of robot butlers and flying cars, but it was a less friendly place where people spoke in whispers and kept dark secrets. Time-travelling-child-me, full of the bravery of boy adventurers spent most of his time desperately trying to track down his future self and running into obstacles. The story ended with boy adventurer-me taking a trip to the moon and finding myself at last, preserved at the age of nine, deep asleep in a crystal tube.

I got a better grade on the first story.

The next January, the classroom watched a live broadcast of the Challenger shuttle. Twenty-three fascinated children were glued to the television thrilled with the idea of an ordinary person, a schoolteacher going into space with a crew of astronauts.

Far too late, Miss Van Deusen lumbered across the room and turned the knob on the television, switching it off. There were tears in her eyes, as she tried to regain control of herself and the classroom.

It would be three years before I would write about the future again.


II.
In 1989, we had a short story assignment for English. My frustrating, brilliant English teacher gave us no more guidelines than this: the story needed to fit into five hand-written pages. In my tiny, cramped script, I wrote six pages about a Rick Selner, PI, a stereotypical hardboiled detective hired to protect treacherous femme fatale Donna Lasagna ("Oh, those saucy curves") from her multi-billionaire husband. Rick, who was not nearly as stupid as Donna had hoped, uncovered a vast conspiracy of murder, lies, and betrayal and nearly had his life ended by an industrial laser.

My teacher loved it, except for one thing. "On Page two, I see you introduce a futuristic element. I'm not sure this is necessary. You should remove it."


III.
In 1990 I had my first kiss. It was on the top deck of a cruise ship. A boy I had been running around with all week leaned over as I watched the moon's reflection trail across the black waves and kissed me, hard on the mouth. It was nearly perfect, and then ruined a moment later by him laughing and saying, "I just wanted to see how you'd react."

I was leaning over to kiss him back, and pulled away and back inside myself at his words. I smiled and laughed without humor, and hugged myself and looked at the moon.


IV.
In 1992 I was on my way home from school on the city bus when I overheard people in the back angrily discussing the Rodney King trial. The officers had been acquitted, they shouted. I chuckled to myself, thinking that they must have the information wrong. At fifteen, I had a near-religious belief in the inerrant course of Justice. The world was ordered and purposeful, and things proceeded the way they must, I thought.

The thing I remember most is how the next morning everything was covered in ashes.

V.
In October 1996, I sat on a Greyhound bus with my face pressed against a cool window. I was on my way home from Minnesota, clutching a book of Anne Sexton poetry. The moon broke out behind a cloud over a Nebraska cornfield. I broke out my notebook and began to write. As if I could write out heartache.


VI.
In 1999, I worked in downtown Los Angeles for a company that supplied a significant amount of water to Southern California. My job was to document all of their plans and efforts to avoid a catastrophe at the beginning of the year. I organized and managed physical files and a database that catalogued their efforts to avoid a breakdown in the water supply due to the dreaded Y2K bug. Despite being able to read increasingly fantastic scenarios of chaos and destruction that their engineers had come up with, it was ultimately a very boring job, and I spent entirely too much time staring out my window at neighboring Union Station, watching trains.


VII.
In the summer of 2007, I attended Clarion West, an intensive six week workshop that focuses on Speculative Fiction. It was the end of that exhausting, wonderful period, and at the last party, I was announced as that year's (and actually, the first) Octavia E. Butler scholar. Hugged by my classmates and my Samuel Delany, and applauded by the party's attendees, I broke into tears, grateful for the kindness and faith that everyone had shown me. My classmates cried. And overwhelmed by the warm feelings and attention, at the first opportunity I snuck into an upstairs room, laid on the floor by myself and stared at the night sky over the big, rambling house in the Queen Anne neighborhood. In a few moments, I would recover, go back downstairs and smile and mingle. But I remember intensely that feeling of opportunity and fear that transfixed me as I let moonlight wash over my prone body.


VIII.
Last October. Drunk. Holding hands with the boy I love. Walking through the wet grass in Glasgow Green. I stopped to try and take pictures of the People's Palace, its greenhouse lit up with soft white light. The pictures didn't come out. As we turned to go back, he laid his head on my shoulder, and the moon broke through the cloud cover. I thought to myself "This. This is my future."


IX.
This morning I received news that a friend of mine who had been in a coma for much of the past month had died. We hadn't kept in touch much during the past few years, and it had been much longer since we were at all important in each other's lives. But it was still sad news. His thirty-sixth birthday had been a week before, and he spent it insensible. I had been irritated most recently by his insistence that the Mayan prophecies spelled the end of the world. And I reflected in the bath that for him, 2012 had been the end of the world. It wasn't funny, but I laughed and laughed for minutes.

Then I went out for a run and tried to put things in perspective, and thought about my past, and came home and read Adrienne Rich. The future is stranger than I could have imagined. And there are things to fear that I never considered as a quiet, bookish boy. But there are also things that are precious to me, and more wonderful than I ever would have guessed. I am both optimistic, and cautious, but above all grateful at the way the weird world keeps surprising me.

Man. Another daylog! I am getting pretty good at this.

 

I don't usually post any straightforward logs because I like to be annoying and write shit that doesn't really make sense to convey an idea that probably no one understands, but today is a special date and I wanted to share it with you. Today has been three years since my last relapse. Perhaps I'm using the word "relapse" wrong, but let me explain.

 

I was a pretty chubby kid growing up. I've always enjoyed eating, until now, and I'm built in a way that I do not possess a small frame, at all, so even at my lowest weight I have always been slightly big. Perhaps it's my ethnic heritage; I have the body of my mother and she has the typical Latin American build: broad shoulders, small waist, large hips and legs. Legs especially, large thighs and so on. We've never been thin women. We're built to work.

 

Anyway, my weight was always a problem of sorts, and this became a real issue when I became a teenager. At fifteen I was an awkward girl and I felt quite uncomfortable with my body. It was at this point that I started becoming obsessed with my looks and decided to start dieting and going to the gym in an attempt to change the woman I was going to become. The dieting became extreme, eating little to nothing for days, until it backfired and totally reversed into a binge eating disorder. I ate nothing for a day or two, and then spent a week immersed in junk food and sweets. This came with what it usually comes with, self-loathing, social isolation and so on. This caused me to put on weight on a steady pace for two years so that when I graduated from highschool at age eighteen I was around 50 pounds overweight. The binge eating didn't come on its own, I developed bulimia around age sixteen, so my habits went from restricting food to purging. Once I graduated and started working and earning my own money, it became easier for me to get things and it made the problem worse.


It seems stupid, it's just weight, isn't it? But this problem permeated into every aspect of my life, making me extremely shy and socially inept. I was embarrassed of myself so I couldn't make any friends, less alone have a healthy relationship with a boy (who was going to want to touch me?) and I even got into fights with my mother and my family when they tried to make me lose weight. I met a couple of girls who shared my disordered line of thought and even though this helped with the isolation part, I picked up some really bad habits. I started consuming ephedra, laxatives and diuretics almost daily, trying to lose the weight I gained by binging. I felt horrible, I had palpitations, insomnia and my metabolism was fucked up. I live in a country with high temperatures, and in the heat of summer I would be wearing sweaters and pants because I hated my arms and legs. I couldn't think straight because of the insomnia and weight loss pills, and I had terrible grades at college.

 

Anyway, at some point about a year later, my mom got sick and couldn't work and we started having some financial issues which I couldn't solve on my own with my minimum-wage job, and we had to move in with my aunt. My mom's disease occupied almost all of my brainspace and so did the money thing, and I suddenly felt really angry with myself. I mean, what the fuck was I doing with the stupid drugs and the eating and the purging? What is that shit about? Here's my mom with a serious health issue and I need to get some money so that we can eat and so that I can continue going to college and I am wasting my time and what little money I earned into... making myself feel like crap? No. Fuck this noise. I'm sick of it, it's stupid, and what was worse, I was doing it to myself. No one but me was the problem, and when I am my own problem, well, then I have to be the solution. I was done. I was done with it.

 

So, I concentrated on fixing what was to be fixed right then and there, my mom's health and our money issues, and then focused on getting healthy again. I taught myself how to eat vegetables and fruits. I stopped binging on food, I stopped taking laxatives and diuretics, and the ephedra. I took long walks and went to the gym. I lost all those 50 pounds. But what was most important of all, I just realized that my eating disorder was a disease of self-centeredness. The world revolved around me and about what I felt and what I wanted, and completely ignored what was going on out there and, most importantly, what my behavior was doing to other people. I thought that there were so many real problems out there, and there I was making up one for myself. Stupid.

 

Of course, getting over it wasn't easy, especially since I didn't tell anyone about it (my mother wouldn't have been able to handle it, considering her own issues with depression) and I wasn't seeing a psychologist or anyone that would give me an idea of what to do. There are no blueprints for it. I relapsed quite a few times, and by relapse I mean that I engaged in behavior that was bad for me, which I understand is part of recovery.

 

I'm sure I can blame this thing on a series of external factors; my mother was a model and I grew up with a fixed conception of what women are supposed to look like, I was teased endlessly at school for my weight, I was taught that what I was worth as a person was intrinsically linked with my appearance, and I remember being put on a diet from an early age. But the thing finally comes down to what I do with all of this. Do I blame it? Do I indulge in being a victim of my circumstances and excusing my behavior with these issues? Or do I take it and make myself stronger with it?

 

Maybe I was lucky. Maybe I had it easy, maybe my issues weren't so deeply rooted. I don't believe this applies to every person with an eating disorder, but it helped me to write this, to write about my recovery a long time ago, and I have always hoped to help someone else, too. I hope I can, some day.

Hi, e2. Been a while. Likely to be a while longer, too, if ever; I am in the final approach, the last lap; more prosaically, I am almost finished with the courses I need to sit for the CPA exam this April. Just two more this spring: the intermediate accounting course I failed through not having the intertubes at home so that I could do the homework, and a business law that I failed horribly for what boil down to communications problems. So between those courses, the Becker CPA exam review courses (which are the equivalent of another three college classes, except more intense) and about twenty hours a week in the tax mines - for that season has come again - I am going to be hard put to it to get the bottom of Maslow's pyramid attended to, much less have time for fun and frivolity.

Which is really what e2 is for me, really; it's a place for writing that is too serious and yet not personal enough for my livejournal while being entirely too long for Facebook. There'll be precious little time for that until May.

Even then, will I be coming back? I am very aware of the reasons auspice and misterfuffie chose to walk away from their responsibilities and the nodegel, but I am not involved in staff, will never be involved in staff, and have less than no interest in the governance of the site except as it affects me and mine. Which it has, and therein lies the problem; my ties to auspice are considerably deeper than those I have to e2, and I understand completely her decision to shut the door on e2 and move on. It smells slightly of disloyalty to continue posting here, and we have always been sensitive to issues of loyalty in this family. That having been said, I've made friends here on e2, friends I'm in contact with outside the site, and am not sure whether I should pass up the chance to make others.

I'll get back to y'all on that.

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