Monday, June 18, 2012

PUKE ABOUT IT

I don’t read a lot of blogs. In fact, I distinctly remember, at the tender age of 18 or something, telling anyone who would listen that I would never have a blog. In my mind I had constructed a well-developed character named “Amy the Generic Blogger,” and I hated this person. Amy was snark personified; a martyr for “telling it like it is.” She was self-involved, self-deprecating, desperate for praise, and slightly overweight. She wore hand-painted Chuck Taylors and told people that she can’t even like, watch television anymore.

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The truth is, the amount of disdain I reserved for imaginary bloggers at age 18 has only been surpassed by the amount of disdain I currently reserve for my 18 year old self. I was such a shit. Blogs are good. They’re fine. Some are better than others. In that sense, blogs are a lot like cheese. Are you following this?

My point is that, while I don’t read a lot of blogs, there is one thing I’ve noticed among the ones that I do frequent. Very few of them acknowledge in their first post that it is, in fact, their first post. They just get right into it. I thought that maybe I could attribute this trend to the general rule of educators, whether it be of grade school, higher education, or Zumba classes: “Don’t let anyone know it’s your first day. They’ll walk all over you. Forever.”


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The thing is - I’m not trying to educate anyone, here. I’m exposing the pulp of my brainstuff to you, my nuggets, and you can do with it what you see fit. In fact, I can say with confidence that you will not learn anything here. You might actually be dumber when you leave.

Call me simple but I always like to see a nice preamble when I dive into something new. So that’s what this is.

My name is Kristin, and this is the first blog post I’ve written that doesn’t have cake as a focal point. I’m acknowledging that. I’m owning it. I’m 24, and I live in Brooklyn, New York. I have strong opinions about things that some might rightfully argue don’t deserve such attention (like condiments and the insistence that I knew Severus Snape was on Dumbledore’s side all along), and little-to-no opinions about things that some might rightfully argue are the stuff of intelligent and worthwhile conversation (like politics, sports, and something called an IPO). It’s wonderful to meet you on this internet. My internet. I live here, please don’t touch anything.

Puke About It.

When I was a kid, I was terrified of throwing up. More than anything in the world - more than darkness, more than sharks, more than losing a loved one - vomiting was my downfall. It started around age 6, when my brother (4 years my senior) went through a relatively short phase where anything that smelled sort of iffy made him blow chunks.

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This poor kid couldn’t even eat in the cafeteria at his middle school. He had to eat in the hallway. Tragic.

Anyway, me being 6, my mind was malleable and I was already predisposed to being nervous about literally everything. Weighing in at a solid 40 pounds, I was like a bird. Skittish and not interested in socializing with humans.

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I stopped eating for a while. I have memories of staring at a plate of chicken nuggets and mixed vegetables for hours while my parents tried desperately to convince me that my dinner wouldn’t make me ill. I wouldn’t hear any of it.

I started carrying around a plastic bag in case of emergency. I might have been seven at this point. Every once in awhile, regardless of whether or not I was nauseous, I would stick my head in there on the off chance that the lunch I didn’t eat decided to exit through the in-hole. Eventually my mother gave me a canvas tote bag she had bought in Cancun, to replace the disposable Stop n Shop bag that had essentially become an extension of me. I still can’t decide if, parenting-wise, this was a supportive or an enabling move. Probably the latter.


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Here’s the kicker - I can count on one - maybe two hands the number of times I’ve actually vomited in my life. My longest hiatus was 9 years. I never once filled that bag with the contents of my stomach. It was all in my head.

At this point, the school nurse was my best friend. I would just hang out in her office. Our relationship was a one-way street, though. She grew weary of my constant visits and was not shy about hiding it.

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At age 8 I started seeing a therapist about it. She asked me to give my fear a name, and a shape. I chose Fred the Triangle. She then crouched down into the shape of what I guess she thought was a triangle, waddled around her office, and insisted that I address her as Fred. I remember feeling something I would later identify as patronized.

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Needless to say, therapy wasn’t super helpful.

With each passing year, I organically developed a more rational outlook on stomach bugs and all they entail. As I entered adolescence I had long since ditched the bag, and my involvement in competitive gymnastics made it impossible for me not to want to eat everything all of the time. In middle school, the nurse barely knew my name, let alone my neuroses. I was, at least on surface level, a normal if not physically tiny adolescent.


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The summer before senior year of high school, I fell back into my old ways. I spent one night in June writhing around with a pretty severe bellyache, and for months afterwards I was paralyzed with fear. Again, I stopped eating. Only now my behavior couldn’t be attributed to the irrational inner-workings of a child’s mind. No, now I was 16 and fully capable of reason. I went back to therapy.

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When school and athletics started up again in the Fall, the distractions allowed this dormant fear demon in me to ebb. I graduated a solid B student, went to my state’s university, and never looked back.

Let’s now fast forward to December 5th, 2011. Five days before my 24th birthday. Pain in my gut like I had never known. I thought I was dying. I worried about what a silly memory I would leave behind when people found out I was discovered dead in my bed wearing an extra-large Dutchess TShirt, at the tail end of a Netflix-sponsored Cosby Show marathon. Apparently I wasn’t self-conscious enough to switch to elegant silk pj’s and Breaking Bad, because when the sun finally came up, I found that my only concern was how efficiently I could get to some sort of emergency room.

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I laid there motionless. “If I move, I’ll throw up,” I thought to myself. So I didn’t move. My mouth filled with saliva, as it generally does just before chunks are blown. Still I denied it. Somewhere in my head, a voice told me that I’d feel loads better if I just let it out. I told that voice to go fuck itself.

I realized that I was in the unique position of being able to observe myself while confronting a fear that had plagued me my entire life. Questions that I had asked myself hundreds of times before - “Why are you so afraid of this? Is it really that bad?” - became entirely new when they were asked at a moment of fear-realization. “YES” I screamed at the voice of reason in my brain-space, “YES IT IS THAT BAD. YOU ARROGANT FUCK.” I denied, denied, denied all the way to the operating table 15 hours later, when after numerous tests (3 of which were pregnancy), they finally yanked out the offending appendix.

I didn’t vomit once throughout the whole ordeal, and instead of looking at it as a step backwards in my recovery process, I’m going to count it as a win against that fickle bitch, nature.

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BECAUSE WHATEVER