Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Last night, while relaxing in the kitchen with my family and a big glass of wine and getting dinner sorted, my mother poked my thigh and said, Honey, are you sure you don't want to go to the doctor and see if you have a parasite?

Everyone stopped talking (it's sort of a conversation killer), and looked at me. I laughed, half embarrassed and half angry. Why, mother, do you think I have a parasite?
I already knew the answer but I wanted to provoke her.

I think you've lost weight, honey, and besides, didn't you say you drank out of animal troughs in Switzerland?

Yeah, but it was like once, and that was two years ago...

My sister leaned in then too and said, Yeah, I think you're more skinny than ever.
I looked down at myself. I hadn't thought much about it lately.

What do you weigh? My mother continued to pry.

I don't know. I don't own a scale. I think it's unhealthy.

Well, I want you to weigh yourself sometime this week.

Thankfully my father jumped in with, Oh, just leave her alone. She is fine.

And then I said, Yeah, it's not like I was fat and then I all the sudden became skinny. I've always been skinny. I feel fine. If I felt sick, I would go see a doctor.

But having a parasite can lead to all kinds of things, like colitis...
-Mom. Stop it. I don't have a parasite.

But ever since then, I have been conscious of my bones sticking out of my skin, and when I rub the back of my neck I feel my spine. When my friend Sean was massaging me the other day he kept commenting on how he could count my ribs through my shoulder blades, but he said he liked it. And later that night he told me he loved me, but that is an awkward story for another time. My legs and stomach feel normal, but my shoulders do feel fragile and small. Maybe it's because I've been spending all my days inside studying for finals, but I feel like I'm becoming more transparent and unattached to the ground then ever. Half of me seems lost inside another world, not a physical one, but near this one. I don't know.

Maybe it comes from too much reading, I don't know. My mother also said she didn't want to buy me the book on my Christmas list (The Bell Jar) because it was about a woman's descent into madness. Maybe she can sense that sometimes I feel too close to the edge of some precipice, and that it would just be easier if I threw myself off it. What glorious things would I see in the abyss? What beautiful, unworldly things would I see?

Sometimes when I'm feeling extra thin, and half gone, it's these things that I think I see in that other world, in my dreams, the one where there the rest of me is. It's not a parasite that's devouring me, mother and sister and Sean and you random strangers who come up to me and praise me for my slenderness (how sick is that?), it's not a worm or a disease or a mental illness. I can't change it as much as I can change my height. It's because half of me is missing. Half of me is somewhere else, not here. Sometimes I can almost believe that I can see right through my skin. If you held me up to the light, I would glow redly and warmly, and you would be able to vaguely perceive shapes moving about on the other side.


  1. There are worse stories about descents into madness than "The Bell Jar." "Johnny Got His Gun," "The Shining" and "The Snake Pit" are all either depressing or terrifying or both.

    An entrancing idea, being drawn bit by bit into another world. There is beauty and terror in that abyss.

  2. Postman, I know. I think most humans on some level struggle with the temptation of just letting go of all inhibitions and being wild. Maybe that's why we do crazy things when on drugs and alcohol... the lowering of barriers and boundaries and social taboos.

  3. Seems like there are so many barriers and boundaries and social taboos that you can't be yourself anymore. You can't make your own way, act or think independently. That's one of the reasons I enjoy apocalyptic fiction so much; with the breakdown of society and civilization (even if millions died in the process), suddenly the remainder are free to be/do/think/say whatever they want. I have to say that there's a terrible, horrifying part of me that would be truly happy if a meteor hit or the zombies attacked or the dinosaurs came back. Part of me would be yelling (in Mel Gibson's voice) "FREEEEEEDOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMM!!"

    Feels like the only place I can truly give vent to my true inner self is out on the dance floor. Videotape invariably ensues.

    Temptation to let oneself go is terrible, is it not? Worse than the pull of any addiction.