Saturday, 28 April 2012

Modern Love

"I love the Styles section!" he said, after I'd warily confessed the names of the publications for which I write. (The MD/PhD had winced when I'd mentioned Styles -- he said he'd dated a fashionista, and apparently it did not go well.)

"I'm dazzled by the presence of The Times in my life, however sparingly. For secular Jews it's like manna. If only my grandmother were here to hear me brag I'm flirting with a real, actual Times reporter."

Is telling me about your mediocre online dates – and how women are jealous of your semi-retired-at-age-37 lifestyle – what passes for flirting in the 21st century? I always knew I was born in the wrong century.

If this is an emergency, hang up and check your Facebook messages...

Friday, 27 April 2012

Another Low

Just when I think I've hit the bottom, I just keep on digging.

A week ago, a friend who has a history of bingeing called me. I was in mid-binge after a haircut (seriously, sometimes that is a trigger for me – all dressed up, so to speak, and nowhere to go) and a lame-ish event. It was approximately my fourth binge in two weeks, and I was on my fourth or fifth stop of the evening, wandering around the bodega thinking: "I cannot live this way anymore." And yet there I was – having eaten cake and pie and heaven knows what else -- buying a bloody ice cream sandwich.

I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket. I saw her name flash up, and chose not to answer it. Then I thought: I should call her back.

"How are you?" she said.

"I'm eating an ice cream sandwich," I blurted out, starting to cry halfway through the sentence.

She talked to me all the way home, past the bodega on Bleecker Street, past the Magnolia Bakery, past countless other stops I might have made – or made excuses to get off the phone and make.

I thought I had turned a corner. I woke up the next morning feeling crummy, but not as crummy as I would have felt if I'd carried on bingeing. I got through the Friday. But then I started bingeing before a dinner party Saturday night and carried on bingeing afterwards. (At the party: An adorable MD/PhD who lives in San Francisco and throws words around like "bioinformatics." Swoon. I know, I'm weird.) Sunday I woke up and could not face figuring out what to wear – because so many things were already so tight.

I binged Sunday. One long, continuous binge that only stopped, mercifully, because I had promised to take two editor friends to spin class Monday at 8 am, and I knew there would be a point where I absolutely could not do it. (Sometimes – hell, often -- this does not stop me but in this case luckily it did.)

I have not binged for four days, but it has been a struggle. I've been unable to exercise due to recovery from being sick – and from having woken up yesterday inexplicably unable to put weight on my left heel. (Really hoping this is not plantar fasciitis.) Being sick makes everything feel a bit gray anyway, and for the first time in several months, I've been struggling with getting work.

Last night I went with a friend to a trivia night in Brooklyn and ate a huge, greasy sandwich. En route to the bar I had eyed places I could binge, and I thought about them for the first half hour in the bar, and again at a break between rounds. It seemed a dead cert that I was minutes away from stuffing my face.

Somehow – I am honestly not sure how – I did not. Maybe it was the dread of having _really_ nothing to wear at a lunch and another event to which I knew I had to go today. Maybe it was something in the ether – or the sauvignon blanc (ha). Nor did I binge today, although I so wanted to after lunch.

Now it's nearly 2 am, and here I am, tappity-tap-tapping away and thinking I should go to bed because being tired is one surefire way to make it easier to binge. Will I ever get to 30 days again? I can't think that far ahead. One day at a time…

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

No Day But Today

About halfway through a couple of drinks with a reasonably powerful editor I know – because years ago in Washington DC I hired her as an intern – I could not stop thinking about how soon I could get out of there to binge.

I thought about muffins. I was pretty sure I remembered they sold muffins in the bakery next door. Would it be open circa 9 pm, or whenever I got out? I remembered they sold crummy cupcakes. Hmmm, but the Gourmet Garage would be open and I could get cornbread and macaroni and cheese and...

I tried to return to the conversation. I hadn't seen Madam Fancypants Beauty Editor since I was in New York trying to see editors when I was still living in London. I had met her at the Hearst cafeteria, where – although I desperately needed help or work or something – she spent the entire lunch complaining about a freelance assignment she had for a very well-paying magazine. (She is powerful enough and good enough that she has a fancy title yet works parttime and freelances the other.) I'm not sure I got in a word edgewise at that lunch.

I had forgotten about her and that I knew her, to be honest, until I received an email from her a couple of weeks ago, saying she was looking at the first bound copies of an upcoming issue of the magazine and there I was. (I've written my first piece for her magazine, without her help, thankyouverymuch.) Did I want to get a drink?

So I said sure. And we met up and she proceeded to spend almost the entire time complaining about her sister and how all her sister does is complain about her job. (Ha.)

In fairness, she did ask me what I was doing these days. I gave her a brief account of the miserable job and my entry into the world of freelancing. I said it was a struggle because I hadn't worked in New York before, and didn't really know people, but that I was enjoying learning how it all works. She admitted that her incredible success in terms of getting assignments was mostly down to having worked with various editors on their way up, yet made zero offer of any help, even at her own magazine. I didn't expect any, frankly, but many people in her position might at least have offered.

She then commenced the complaining. I actually had forgotten that the last time I'd seen her she complained the whole time until she triggered the Hearst cafeteria memory. By that point I already was long down the I'm-going-to-binge-track.

I half-listened to her, half-considered my options. She would probably go west to the subway – should I go east to Sixth Avenue and Citarella? Or should I walk with her to the subway and hit the Gourmet Garage or even the Dunkin Donuts? What time would it be when we got out and what would be open? Ah, decisions, decisions.

I surrendered to the idea that I was going to binge; that soon enough I would be finished with her and full up with carbs. Way too full of carbs. I tried to remember what I had to do today – what, essentially, I would have to struggle through post-binge. I couldn't remember. Muffins. Muffins. Muffins.

Though only she had bar food – and is the only one of us employed – she wanted to split the bill. I decided not to make a production. I just wanted out. She decided she had to go the bathroom. I went after her (it was one of the single-person kind) and stood in front of the sink and looked in the mirror and closed my eyes and then opened them again.

Gotta get out of here so I can go binge, I thought. I could feel the feeling reaching fever pitch – the sort where I am impatient with lines or whoever is serving me because I want whatever I want that much.

And then I thought: You don't have to do this.

And an even stranger thought: Your life is worth more than this. You do not need to spend an evening overstuffing yourself and then losing the next three days of your life to this. You do not want this, and you do not have to do this.


I thought about how much I wanted rice, and where I could get it. And maybe I could just have the macaroni? Maybe I should just get one really good dinner. But what, in this state, is "a really good dinner"? And would I taste it? And would it be enough? I doubted it.

Keep it simple, I told myself. If you have to go anywhere and make decisions about what to buy or order you are going to binge.

I went home planning to have breakfast for dinner, because it was a meal that required no preparation or further consideration. It was my last Fage, meaning I wouldn't have any on hand for breakfast. I always wake up starving. Maybe I should go out and buy some yogurt now because I might binge tomorrow if I have to go out in the morning for it?

Yes, but you might binge now if you go out and get it now, I thought. Tomorrow is tomorrow. You can deal with it then.

I wanted to eat more. I thought about eating the muffins in my freezer I often have as snacks; the chocolate square; more cereal; anything that would make me fullfullfull.

It was 10 pm, and I'd stayed up past 4 am that morning writing another Times story I had due. You're tired, I thought to myself. Just go to bed and let this day be over.

And I did.

Four hours later, at 2 am, I woke up. I debated eating any number of things over the next 2.5 hours, as I tried to sleep. But I didn't.

This morning I straggled to the bodega, still in these ridiculous pink and white pajama bottoms I bought at least five years ago at Primark. I couldn't face changing. Nor could I face my contact lenses, and I didn't bother with my glasses, so I could barely see.

Of course the bodega was out of yogurt. (I know, only in NYC would a bodega have Fage 0 percent fat Greek yogurt. And the CVS has Chobani, though only in nasty flavors.)

I continued on to the grocery store, where I bought the yogurt (and noted grimly that being nearsighted, which I am, allows you to see all the goodies left by the cash register perfectly clearly without aid.) I got myself home for breakfast.

Tomorrow is a possible date, often a trigger. And Friday I've accepted an invitation to a friend's parents for Passover. That's the sort of evening I plan my next day around, so sure am I that I will binge.

But neither of those days are today. And I don't have to binge today because I might binge tomorrow or Friday.

Or so I'm telling myself.