A Theory on Eating Disorders

My fascination with eating disorders was sparked when one of my closest friends developed severe anorexia several years ago. She almost died before getting the right treatment. Thankfully, she has recovered now, but her illness really got me thinking. I’ve come up with this theory, and someone is yet to prove me wrong. It’s this – everyone is a victim to disordered eating.

I know what you’re probably thinking: “No, not me, I don’t starve myself.” But it’s not just anorexia I’m talking about. I don’t just mean any eating disorder that you’ve heard of or that has a label for. In fact, maybe it’s not a full-blown eating disorder at all, but some level of disordered eating. There are these little quirks people have with their diets, which may not reach the extent of malnutrition, but nonetheless prevent an entirely healthy relationship with food.

PC: To the Bone (movie) https://m.media-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BYWIxZmU5ODctZGVmYi00NTViLTgxZTctMTE5YzJiMTI4MGVmXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTE0NTczNDAz.V1.jpg

I’ll give you some examples because you can’t have a theory without evidence. My grandmother weighs out her muesli each morning to the recommended serving, a friend of mine feels guilty to be eating if she hasn’t exercised that day, and my dad forces himself to polish off every morsel left on his plate. I’ve noticed parents who never stray from their healthy foods, a boy at my school who loads his plate with hamburger patties in order to “bulk up”, and a long list of girls my age who skip breakfast because they apparently don’t feel hungry in the mornings. The list goes on and on.

Thankful (Even Though Thanksgiving’s Over)

Every once in a while I experience these jolting moments. They go something along the lines of this: I’m living my day-to-day, sitting in a classroom, eating a meal, hugging a loved one, scrolling through my phone – and suddenly it hits me: this is my day-to-day life. Like how crazy is it that here I am living this beautiful, fulfilling existence on a floating rock in the universe? How crazy is it that this has become so normal to me that I don’t even stop to look around and simply appreciate the sheer brilliance of it all?

PC: https://free4kwallpapers.com/uploads/originals/2015/05/26/small-earth-view-from-space.jpg

Aside from the fact that life and humans exist (which is mind-boggling in and of itself), it strikes me that amidst it all, here I am. And I really am so lucky. I’m privileged enough to go to an incredible private school and receive a top-tier education when so many girls my age never even have the opportunity. I can afford to have enough to eat, and more so, nourishing and healthy food, where others don’t. I am fortunate enough to have people in my life who hug, love, and support me (and vice-versa) when many are alone in the world. I’m able to own a phone and access a wide range of technology when this is a luxury for millions.

I take all this for granted. But then, there are these shocks to my system. It’s the same feeling as vertigo at the top of a mountain or a skyscraper: everything zooms out, the fresh perspective leaving me elated and dizzy.

I’m sorry if this sounds like hippy bullshit but it is all sincere. I’m truly so grateful.

Poetry Pt. 4

dear [me],

i love the freckles that dapple your collarbone,

your double-jointed bent-backward elbows

i love the scar under your chin

and your dark unruly eyebrows

i love the blister you wear on your ring finger from holding a pencil wrong

i love your frizzy hair on rainy days

your voice cracks in the chorus of our song

i love how you speak to yourself when no one’s around

how you stumble over words when people are

i love how you sit slouched over at the table

and only ever play taylor swift in the car

i love the way your nose wrinkles when you laugh at your own jokes

but you loving yourself

is the thing i love most.

yours truly,

mine forever,

lulabean.

untitled V

i put salt on watermelon

to make it taste sweeter.

i wonder if all these tears

will one day make my happiness taste sweeter too.

starlight

the brightest stars are the closest to burning out.

maybe they already are

but you’re too far from them to know it.

PC: https://i.pinimg.com/564x/54/50/5d/54505ddc465e76fb4dd4797bf971faff.jpg

a curious sensation

they shouldn’t call it falling in love. 

i feel like i’m floating.

the falling part comes later

and some might call it heartbreak.

i hold my poems like a mirror

i read my handwritten stanzas back to myself

and i’ve never felt both so expressive and so understood.

i hear you,

you see me.

i’m staring through my soul with this magic we call poetry.

The Woman in the Window

When I was the age of 9, or maybe 10, I lived in a little bungalow on Montgomery St. It had wooden floors, no AC, and a backyard littered with spiky oak leaves. I would sweep these leaves off my trampoline before jumping to the sky. Bounce, squeak, bounce, squeak. Flinging my limbs into various shapes, I would flip and glide through the air.

One day, one bounce, I spotted a face. Over the fence, in the window of the old people’s home next door, a woman sat watching. She was old with a face creased like tissue paper and a fierce black mane of hair. We held eye contact for the second I hung suspended in the air. Bounce, I smiled. Squeak. Bounce, I waved. Squeak. Bounce, she smiled back. Squeak.

PC: https://www.westend61.de/images/0001194761pw/pensive-mixed-race-older-woman-looking-out-window-BLEF05671.jpg

Her eyes remained sad though, and even as I lay in my bed that night with trampoline-skinned knees, I couldn’t stop thinking about the woman in the window.

The following morning, I got out a thick black sharpie and several sheets of blank paper. I headed outside and, with resolve, started tracing out big letters. “Hello,” I wrote. “My name is…” I climbed up the ledge of the fence, and sure enough, the woman in the window spotted my paper messages.

I felt as if I had made a friend.

I don’t remember when it was that I first noticed the blind in the next-door window had been drawn. I was used to regular ambulance sirens outside the old people’s homes, but when my friend’s room was left empty, it affected me personally. Wherever she was now, I hoped her sad eyes had regained a spark of joy.

Stories

I love stories. I always have. I love people, movies, TV shows, songs, artworks, and especially works of literature that tell good stories.

In my early years, my favorite stories were The Hungry Caterpillar and The 12 Dancing Princesses (the book, not the movie). As a child, my favorite stories were Scooby-Doo and the bridge in “Shake It Off”. In middle school, I fell in love with the stories my English teacher told about his students in the Oakland ghetto and New York Times articles. Now, I find solace in the poetry of Rupi Kaur and the film, When Harry Met Sally (which is, in my opinion, one of the best rom-coms ever made). These are just a few of hundreds, maybe thousands, of stories I have encountered and retained over my 16 years.

PC: https://s.abcnews.com/images/Entertainment/ht_meg_ryan_billy_crystal_when_harry_met_sally_jc_140711_16x9_992.jpg

What makes a story good, I wonder. I would like to say it’s all about how it is told – the language, imagery, etc – but I actually think that is not always the case. Sometimes, poor acting, an unimpressive screenplay, or a bad melody are of no importance if the storyline itself strongly resonates with me. I don’t mean to say that a mediocre story can’t be told in a way that turns it into something incredible. What I mean is that an incredible story cannot (easily) be turned into something mediocre.

I’ll give you an example. The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemmingway, has an incredibly simple premise: a Cuban fisherman in his attempt to catch a giant marlin. And yet, it is so effectively written and constructed that we remember this book as one of the great pieces of literature. On the other side of the spectrum, the Harry Potter movies, in which (let’s be honest) the children actors hardly live up to their roles, have still seen unprecedented success. Why? Because J.K. Rowling’s phenomenal story trumps any criticism.

Poetry Pt. 3

another batch of poems:

unitled iv

it’s time i stop waiting on you

just think how many dandelion wishes

i’ve wasted on you

womanhood

i thought ‘womanhood’ meant

blood spilling between my thighs,

lipstick the same shade of crimson,

boyfriends and sparkling champagne.

but now,

i hurry home before it gets too dark,

i clutch keys between my knuckles.

[remember to use the public restroom in a pair, 

just in case, just in case.]

now,

i report accounts daily for unwanted dick pics,

i bite my tongue as a catcaller whistles,

daring the older man across the street

to look me in the eyes.

now,

i find imperfection in every inch of my skin,

i am told it is my stomach is a distraction, 

because, “boys will be boys”.

now,

it means

glancing over one shoulder and

eating disorders and

snide comments,

pervy math substitutes,

catcalls and 

cramps and-

on my 13th birthday,

my mother bought me pepper spray.

this is womanhood.

Poetry Pt. 2

A collection of unrelated poems of mine:

to be perfect

i’ve always liked numbers, the way they add up perfectly

with only one answer, one solution. i used to wish all things were as perfectly

organized. i wished i were organized as perfectly,

wish i looked it, dressed it, acted it.

wished all my problems could be solved perfectly.

set equal to zero and isolate the x: a mechanical

procedure taught from a textbook. perfectly

scoring academic tests is easy enough

but answers in life don’t add up as perfectly.

people don’t work like 1, 2, 3, experiences aren’t

scored alphabetically, and i can’t live this perfectly,

because i am not.

i am not perfect or close to it. but i am perfectly –

imperfect.

summer rain 

i take her hand,

bare feet slipping on the soaken grass.

we watch the rain as it falls 

and speckles the pool surface.

“one, two, three”

interlaced fingers and shrieks of laughter 

as we fall with the raindrops.

two skinny bodies in polka dot underwear

crashing through the water.

together, we tilt our heads towards the clouds

and drink in the summer rain –

nothing has ever tasted so good.

untitled i

you kept me afloat for so long,

        when you drifted away

     i forgot how to swim.

untitled ii

i wonder if being

in love

will make me feel any less

incomplete.

untitled iii

i think it’s strange 

no one likes a caterpillar

but everyone likes a butterfly.

PC: https://media.istockphoto.com/id/89288958/photo/monarch-and-caterpillar-on-milkweed-plant.jpg?s=612×612&w=0&k=20&c=ID3GSnp161j8jHkye0GQhkOk1etXnlJktqOxsj-xhfw=

Beauty in my Backyard

I think humans have developed this extraordinary ability to ignore the minuscule. We go about our everyday lives without paying any attention to the little joys all around us.

Thoreau, the Transcendentalist philosopher we are studying in English class, spent a great length of time at Walden Pond. He took up residence in a ramshackle house which he refused to upkeep and lived the most simple of lives out in the wilderness. Though I do not believe myself capable of his feat (I would grow lonely within a week), I admire his efforts to console nature for advice.

The other day, I was laying in a hammock when I spotted so many tiny insects in the soil around me. Within a two-foot radius, I saw green bugs crawling up blades of grass, ladybugs munching on leaves, and a huge number of ants scurrying over the dirt. It was beautiful. I guess I had never before considered how much life there was in my back garden.

They are always here – the little sources of beauty – whether they come from nature or another. We are just so used to turning a blind eye and a deaf ear. We have let ourselves become distracted by materialism, work, or responsibility so that we overlook one of the best parts of life: the details. I want to open my eyes and ears again and appreciate every last grain of sand, a speck of dust, snowflake, and ladybug.

PC: https://i.pinimg.com/564x/2d/aa/a2/2daaa2750cff5a221f82650a0505cc0d.jpg

If I Could Have a Superpower

If I could have any superpower it would be the ability to press pause. I’d watch as vehicles stopped in their tracks, raindrops hung suspended from the sky and people froze like statues in a museum. I can picture it clearly. My world of chaos would dissipate, and calmness would take its place.

“statues in a museum” PC: The MET

Amidst this setting, I could finally organize the mess that is my life. I’d be able to complete all my homework, chores, and responsibilities, with time to spare. I’d spend hours devouring books, articles, and literature in all its shapes and forms, acquiring knowledge far beyond my years. I’d learn Calculus and how to paint; I’d try a new sport and play piano. I would live lavishly; taking bubble baths and treating myself to spa days. I’d finish all seasons of Gilmore Girls and binge Friends for the millionth time. I would cook myself incredible meals or waltz into a Michelin Star restaurant and help myself to the dishes balancing upon waiters’ hands. I would sit with my thoughts – something which I rarely have the time and space to do – and reflect on my past and my future; who I am as a person, and who I want to be.

Everything would be totally under control. I forgot my computer charger? Pause, and I’ll go pick it up. I’m almost dozing off in class? Pause, and I’ll take a long nap. I would do all this and so much more with all the time in the world. And when I got lonely, I would only have to press play, and my day would resume its natural course.

Thoughts on Starting a New School

Friends, family, neighbors, and peers often ask me how my new school is going. Again and again, I tell them: “It’s a big transition.”

Coming in as a junior is challenging because everyone is already familiar with the teachers and classes. I finally feel I’ve adjusted to the academic side, but it took at least a quarter of the school year.

Socially, it’s also been difficult, as everyone already has friend groups that have formed over the length of two years. It’s not that I don’t have friends at school – I have people to talk to in class, people to sit with at lunch – but outside of OVS, I tend to see people from my old school.

I miss them so much. I miss sitting next to Ula in every class and laughing with Siya in the lunch line. I miss my favorite teacher, Marie, and our advisories out on the soccer field. I miss hugging Danielle and Estrella each morning, working with Tomoki on math homework, and all the other mundane activities that, in reality, meant so much to me.

I spend every weekend catching up with these incredible people, but for the other five days of the week, it feels like a piece of my life or even of myself, is missing. “It will take time to adjust,” I tell people. Eventually, I will find a balance between these two parts of my life. But for now, I’m trapped in the space between.

PC: https://www.archpaper.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/S8C_OVS-Buildings-twilight-Aug-2021_01.jpg

^^ Our beautiful campus here at OVS.