PETER’S DEADLY SECRET “SHOWROOM OF PERFECTION”

28 06 2011

PETER’S DEADLY SECRET

 

A few months into our marriage, Peter and me have settled into an unspoken deal. It goes like this:

 

“I eat like an out of control pig, but you don’t notice the ungodly amounts of cookies and sandwiches I stuff down into my expanding and emptying belly, over and over again. In exchange for that, I make excuses why your beautiful face has become so haggard and empty, how shrunken your lovely blue-eyed pupils are most of the time and that we never have sex again. You are loaded on Heroin and I’m high on food. We both act like all is good and normal. We are just a happy couple, laying next to each other, not interacting, not speaking and giving each other space.

 

Except, my drug is not as powerful as yours and during the few moments when I come up for air between binges, I check out your eyes and what I see scares the shit out of me. You’re loaded. You’re high. No doubt about that. But since you don’t mention anything about the ungodly amounts of food that are disappearing in front of your heroin-eyes, I accept our silent agreement”

It works. For now.

Until I need to make a doctor’s appointment and find out that my insurance has been cancelled. I call them and rage, my natural reaction with institutions.

“You must be a real unorganized bunch of losers”, I bark in my best dominatrix German. “I have paid every single bill from you and I can prove it. You better check your records or I’ll have my lawyer on you”

“We checked. I am sorry, but your last three payments are not in our records” the poor lady on the other end of the line sounds apologetic.

“Then check again. You better find my payments, cause I’m not up for this crap” I snap.

“No reason to get abusive, Miss” she pleads at first, but then she raises her voice “I do not have to take this kind of language. This conversation is over”

“No! No, no, no no. It isn’t over. Here” I reach for my checkbook and read the numbers of the checks I’ve sent to them.

“No, Miss. We have not received those payments. I am sorry, but that’s how it is.”

“What is wrong with you?” I yell, “What else am I supposed to do than send those totally overpriced premiums? Do you require a personal delivery so you can file my payments?

That would be kinda impossible, with you in Alabama or wherever you’re located. I mean, even a dumb ass clown like you would get that, no?”

She hangs up on me.

I am so angry, I want her to stay on the phone, so I can give her a piece of my mind. How dare they? I call again, but – surprise – I get her voicemail. I leave a threatening and angry message and go through my checkbook. WTF! Here they are, the copies of the checks that Peter wrote with my signature. He’s been so helpful. I’m overwhelmed with my growing business and he has offered to take care of our bills. He writes the checks for me, tucks them neatly into the envelope with just the part for my signature sticking out. All I have to do is sign and I’m so grateful that I can focus on designing, selling, producing and running my business. I always wanted somebody to take those pesky tasks and intrusions into my busy day away from me. I’m so above menial bill paying. I got the money, plenty of it and I have better things to do than dealing with bills.

 

When Peter comes home from his job, I rage about the incompetency and idiocy from the Insurance Company. But instead of joining me in my rant about corporations, especially those crooked Health Insurance Robbers, he starts to cry. He jumps out of bed, where he was comfortably settled to watch another episode of “Star-Track” and rips his earrings and then his bracelets off. He slams them on the cracked concrete floor of our super-chic loft and paces back and forth between the bed and the kitchen. He lights a cigarette at the wrong end.

“Fuck! I can’t even do this” and grabs another one. His hands are shaking when he lights this one and he inhales deeply. He looks at me and quickly averts his eyes. I pick up his jewelry that I love so much on him, but he tosses it down again.

“I don’t deserve this stuff. I’m such a loser.” He wails.

I’m speechless. And scared. This Germanic God of a beautiful man is breaking down in front of me.

“Baby, what’s wrong?” I ask, trying to stay calm.

“I have to tell you something. I love you so much and I can’t live like this anymore. I have to tell you the truth”, he cries and sits down on the edge of the bed.

 

The moment he says those words, I fall asleep. It’s like something knocked me out. I know what he’s going to tell me and I can’t, I don’t want to hear it. I’m out cold.

 

I sleep for twelve ours and when I wake up, he has left for work. My stomach is in knots all day and for the first time in 5 years, I don’t binge all day. I can’t. A survival instinct has kicked in and my heart knows that I have to be strong. I can’t knock myself out because I know I have to be present and prepared for something I’ve known along, but refused to acknowledge.

He tiptoes into our loft at night and this time I listen.

 

“I have been shooting heroin for a few months. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m such a horrible person. Here I’m married to the women of my dreams and I can’t stay clean”

In emergencies I always managed to stay calm. This time is no different.

“It’s alright, baby. Just start over again. We’ll handle this. I love you and am not leaving you. You can do this.”

He hugs me so hard that my ribs hurt.

“I’m a liar and a cheat and I can never repair what I’ve done to you.”

I don’t want to let go of him, but he pushes me away.

“I don’t deserve to have you. I fucked you over so badly, I’m the worst piece of shit alive and you have every right to kick me out.”

“What? What have you done that’s so bad?” I grab his hand and smile “Come on. We all know that relapse is part of recovery. It’s no big deal. I’ll help you kick and in a few weeks you’ll look at this as a mistake and pick up where you left off and slipped”

“No” he says, choking up again. “It’s not that simple. I’ve stolen all your money and the money from the company. We are broke.”

“No, you didn’t. There are over ten grand in the account. We are fine”

“We’re not. All those bills I’ve been taken care of? I wrote all those checks to myself and our utilities will be shut off any moment”

“No way! I signed those checks. I saw the envelopes.”

“Exactly. All you saw where the envelops. You signed every single check out to me. I hate myself. I hate who I have become.”

It all makes sense. I flash back to the neatly folded bills, with just the part for my signature visible. I never looked at what I signed.

“And there is more” He’s on a roll now. “ I started to steal your checks and faked your signature. I’m a fucking criminal. Turn me in.”

Oh God. The health insurance lady was right. I jump on the phone and call the automated bank service. Sure enough, what I hear fills my brain with panicky fear.

Not only are all our accounts empty, but overdrawn. I quickly calculate. I’m about to receive payments from a few stores, somewhere in the amount of six, maybe seven thousand dollars. It’s a setback, but not the end of the world.

“Turn you in? Man, I was a junkie myself and did exactly what you did. Jeez, karma hits me back fast – not in another life time, but right now, way too soon”

I used to go sneak into my mother’s house when she was married to the impotent and arrogant Millionaire in Calabasas in that gated community she hated so much and snatch a few checks. The lady at Bank Of America liked me and never questioned the checks I presented to cash. Of course, it took only until her next statement arrived for her to find out.

I will never forget her call to me. I braced myself for a tirade of rage, but all she said was, in such a sweet voice that the memory of it still breaks my heart: “You are in trouble, Monah. You need to get help”.

“I do” I immediately sobbed and fell apart. “I do. I can’t live like this anymore. Please help me. Please get me into a rehab, mom.”

“I will. I’ll try. But please” and now she cried too. “Please don’t die before we find help”

 

So now, I find myself in my mother’s shoes and I react just like her.

“Peter?” I say, “Peter, look at me. We’re in this together and we will take care of this.”

“I don’t know how you can be so nice to me” He mumbles and lets me take him into my arms.

We’ll call Impact tomorrow and you’ll just get clean again. We can do this”

“I love you so much” he whispers.

We slip under the covers and hold on to each other for dear life. This night, we even have sex and it’s the most romantic and intense love I’ve ever felt for anybody.

Honesty is an aphrodisiac for me.

But the help I expected to get for him right away, is not as easy to come by. During the next month, where he has to call Impact every day or lose his queue in the line, I go through hell.

I’m instructed to throw him out. It breaks my heart. He sleeps in his truck parked next to our loft. Then an AA-buddy takes him in and I am told to stay out of it, to not call the buddy and find out how he’s doing. It’s so hard to not call. I miss him, I’m worried, I know he has a gun on him and all I want is to have him back.

But the one time I let him come in to take a shower, my checkbook is missing after he leaves. Addiction is so damn ugly. I lose another 15 pounds and can’t sleep.

What if he dies? What if he od’s? What if he doesn’t love me anymore?

This man, who has been the best relationship of my life so far, is ill, so seriously ill, that the chance of him dying is a real possibility now.

Finally, after 20 days of daily calls, they have a bed for him. I’m going to drive him there the next day.

For the first time in three weeks, I sleep. He will be safe. He will make it. I just know.

 

 

 

 





KEEP YOUR G-STRINGS ON (AND EVERYTHING ELSE)

24 06 2011

 

 

KEEP YOUR PANTIES ON (and everything else)

 

MY good friend is an extremely successful “Love-Coach”. She teaches women how to flirt, make contact, dress sexy (but not slutty) and play their cards right – so they snag the guy and hopefully walk down the aisle with him.

She’s good at it. She has charm and wits, is eloquent, totally fearless and last, but certainly not least, she’s a knockout. She’s gorgeous, vivacious, beautiful, and sexy and knows how to dress in the most effective way that shows off her curves and makes it impossible not to be noticed by every man once she enters a room.

One of her loudest advice is: “Girls! Keep your G-Strings on!”

I am single after a very long monogamous (regrettably, on my side only) relationship and marriage. My best friend, another extremely attractive and charming beauty, signed me up for one of the more sincere and serious dating websites, even though I was not sure at the time, that I was ready to date. I still carried a ton of bitterness, anger and disappointment around and I wasn’t about to let that go just yet.

But eventually, on my second try, I found myself excited about it and I discovered a lot of desirable and even hot and attractive men on this dating site. I’ve gone on 30 or 40 dates so far and I’m getting the hang of it. It’s all about practice. I’m not nervous anymore and 99% of those dates are at least somewhat pleasant, even fun and entertaining.

Until recently, I would go on dates, chat and laugh and enjoy myself but then I’d go home and didn’t feel the need to see the guy again.

No problem. Because what this practice has done for me, is that I’m now so well versed in the dating game, that I have lost my shyness and awkwardness and that makes me attractive to guys pretty much wherever I go. Now, I’m not a classical beauty or the kind of women who has to fight avalanches of men off with a stick. But from the reaction of men when I go out, I sometimes feel like I must be somewhat hot, because I meet men wherever I go. Since I’m still the same person I was a few months ago – except that I was lucky enough to find a surgeon who decided that my drooping eyelids compromised my peripheral vision and fixed that flaw for free through insurance – I credit the dating website with my new confidence.

But the one thing I realize, this being America and not Europe where I grew up, is that “Keep your G-String on” is way too liberal for what I’m looking for.

After a few dates with guys I had an immediate (and mostly sexual) attraction and connection that made my heart beat faster and caused me to throw my usual caution away, I want to warn all of you women who are looking for a real relationship.

I’ve kept my G-string on. But I allowed my momentary attraction to lead me into a few very sexually loaded situations that included intense kissing and – I admit it, a little bit more than just kissing. Nothing real serious, but still….making out and getting quite close has brought me to a few “feeling in love” moments. Damn those Oxytocin hormones!

And guess what?

In good old fashion and almost 50ies like reactions, the men I allowed to kiss and touch me in a more than a friendly “Good Bye” kiss at the door at the end of a date, they have not stayed around. Not for more than two or three dates at least.

Coincidence? I think not.

Bad Chemistry? Oh no!

After a few of those dates, where I was so sure that they would develop into something more, specially into what they claim in their profiles about really wanting to find “The One” for a long-term relationship, it was a surprise – a quite painful surprise to be honest – to not hear from them anymore.

Which given the facts that I’m quite attractive and certainly interesting, makes me wonder if the old rules still apply. Not more than a friendly kiss and no sexual favors of any kind, even if I keep my G-Strings on, any of that is too much if I want to develop a relationship.

In the modern dating world, we are still stuck in the fifties.

So, Girlfriends, don’t get hot and heavy, no matter how big and sweet the temptation, no matter how “modern” the guy you’re hitting it off so well might seem, DON’T!

The only guys who are still calling and begging for another date are the ones I kept at arm’s length and gave the speech of “Six months of dating before any kind of sex”.

All you hopeful dating-sisters, don’t even think of G-strings (or Cosabella- and La Perla panties). If you want them to pursue you, keep it all on, including bras and too intense kisses, making out in your living room or outside the Dresden Room. Just say “no”!

Then and only then, they’ll keep coming around for more.

In the end, It’s a game with strict rules, like it or not.





“Bags” from “Showroom of Perfections”

21 06 2011

I’m in trouble. My desk drawer in my glorious penthouse office on top of the Cooper building is almost empty. I loaded it up a few hours ago with bags of nuts and cookies and while I pretend to sketch new designs – naturally, I’m dead inside and have no idea what to design next, since my focus is on my desk drawer – I eat everything that’s in there. I pace myself, but eventually, as all things end, there is nothing left.

My stomach is so extended; I look like I’m six months pregnant. I have to get to the bathroom ASAP to get rid of al of this. I’ve done my research: the window of time to vomit it all out before it reaches my small intestines, is 20 minutes. After that, digestion starts and with this, the crap I’ve stuffed myself with, will turn into fat.

In order to get to the bathroom, I have to pass my assistant and the receptionist and on most days, I manage to slip by, sucking in my bloated stomach and when I return, I am able to walk upright, looking like my normal skinny self again.

But today, my boss is here from San Francisco and with him a bunch of CEOs, VPs of merchandising and a whole load of other people who wait for my sketches.

They are all sitting at a conference table right outside my office. No way can I slip by unnoticed this time.

And with my whole body about to explode, I can’t risk walking out there. I know they’re waiting like hawks to present them with sketches and not only that, I’d have to sit down and explain them too. With enthusiasm and confidence. In my state, that’s impossible.

Damn, I berate myself, Couldn’t you just for once hold off until they are gone? But such is the nature of my humiliating addiction: No matter what I’d like to do and should do, the drawer won. Again.

No way can I walk out there and face the expectant people who can’t wait to see the prove that I am a design genius who deserves to earn the salary I’m getting. I have nothing to show them, absolutely nothing.

I panic. But hey, I am creative, just not the way I should be. I’m a solution solver. I always find a way to save my fuck-ups. I grab one of the empty bags in my desk and Thank God and Hail Mary, they are sturdy. I open up one of the bags, bend over it and throw up inside it. It fills up quickly and I have to reach for another bag, quickly. I fill that one up too. Jesus, how much have I eaten? I need a third bag.

Now I have three bags of vomit in my office. How in the world could I hold all this crap inside my 90-pound body? At one of the few Overeaters Anonymous meetings I forced myself to go to, I listened with disgusted fascination to a very young boy who talked about how he would vomit into bags and weigh them before discarding them. “Eight pounds” he informed a room full of people who have heard it all “Eight pounds of vomit. That I hade to hide from my parents. I have 31 days of abstinence since then. This was my lowest point, my bottom and with the help of my Higher Power, I have not had to do this disgusting thing again” Everybody clapped and cheered.

I am far from that. The little bit of honesty that still lives inside me lets me know that this is not the end of my bulimia, far from it. Those bags are an inconvenience, not a deterrent. I should be so lucky. I’m not there yet, not at all. I have another seven years to go until I reach this point. Thank God, I don’t know this yet.

But what now? Those bags have to disappear quickly before my boss enters my office to check on my progress. There is no way to carry this mess out. I notice the open window. Despite the A/C that runs on full speed all day, I always leave a window open. It’s a waste of energy, but I need this connection to the outside air, just so I can pretend that I have a tiny space of connection to Downtown “Nature”.

The window opens over the parking lot of the building. I grab those shame-bags and drop them out of the window. We are on the 12th floor and I have no way to control the directions of the splash of hose bags. They might hit a car or – God forbid – a person walking to their car. All I can hear is a faint plop and I hope that it hasn’t hit a human.

I’d be pissed to get hit with a bag of vomit. I’d be disgusted and hurt and horrified. I’d complain and yell and scream for sure.

I lean out the window and wait for protests. Nothing happens. I wait a few minutes more and when there is nothing but silence, I am so relieved and high from having gotten away one more time, that I sit down on my drawing board and – hell yeah – I sketch a bunch of designs. Suddenly I’m inspired. I draw designs that are fresh and original – I surprise myself with the sudden flight of creative inspiration that soars through me.

Half an hour later, I step outside and present my ideas. My boss and his posse pass my sketches around and nod with satisfaction.

“ Monah is a brilliant genius” one of them beams.

“She’s got it, she gets it, she knows exactly what “she” (the bebe costumer is referred as “she”) wants and needs. Great work, Monah”, my boss’s wife squeals.

I grab a bottle of water on of the many plastic bottles that are always lined up at meetings like this and gulp it down, restoring my depleted hydration.

“Thank You” I smile “I’m so happy you like my ideas” I say humbly.

“No, thank you” my boss praises as he lays out my sketches in the middle of the table “Now lets decide which one of those we will put in the next campaigns.

I feel slightly faint. I’m hungry like a starving kid in India. But I know how to deal with that. Hunger is something I have learned to endure and even appreciate.





FRIED FEVER, PART 3 “Showroom of Perfections”

18 06 2011

FRIED FEVER, PART 3

 

As soon as the doctor, a sweet and cute looking, but tough Asian/American doll leaves the room, Peter and me stare at each other.

“I have AIDS. Holy Shit. Our baby has AIDS. I will be dead in a year,” I scream with my little weakened voice. “Fuck! Fuckin fuck fuck.” I press my face into the iced pillow and clench my teeth.

“No, you don’t. She said it could very well be a false positive result. Stay with this, baby, stay here with me. Don’t go into future nightmares that are not confirmed yet.”

“Yes, I do. Oh God. I fucked everything up. Come on, hate me!”

Peter lifts me up. I’m a slack washcloth, too weak to resist. I hang in his strong arms and listen to his heartbeat. I love him so much. I give into a bout of crying, silent at first and he strokes my hair so gently that I’m overcome by even more love for him, regret and shame about my past and guilt for him. If I have it, he must have it too. We never used condoms.

A nasty memory flashes into my mind: I bought a bag of sealed syringes from my sleazy dealer and when I got home and used them, they were all dull. Obviously used. But the sealed bag fooled me into false safety. How could a sealed bag of syringes be used and be contaminated? Now I can see it. It takes nothing but a cheap contraption, a machine used to seal frozen goods, available at any Wal-Mart or drugstore. I’ve been duped and my stupid, gullible drug addled moron self has given me AIDS. It’s my entire fault.  I’ve infected our baby and the man I love.

I’m dirt and will soon be dirt six feet under.

“I could never hate you. And I could have given it to you.”

We spend the rest of the weekend in a haze. We slowly come to accept that we will die. Like so many of our friends before us.

The nice nurse puts fresh sheets on another bed and fluffs up the pillows.

“You can get out of the icebox now” she says with a strained smile “your fever has come down and you might as well be comfortable now”

“Ya, thank you, I will be very comfortable knowing that I have AIDS and be dead in a year,” I snap.

“We don’t now that for sure. Those tests are not sophisticated at all yet. Try to relax” she says, but I know she’s lying.

I’m so sick, so weak and I have to get up with all those infusions and bottles connected to me in order to make it to the bathroom every ten minutes. I know from reading about AIDS that diarrhea is a certain early symptom of AIDS. I’ve got it, no doubt about it.

“I have nobody to blame but myself.” I whine to Peter during the minutes I am able to lay down. “I fucked up and here we are. This is what happens to junkies and what an idiot I was to believe that I slipped out from under it. Nobody does.”

“Shhhhh” Peter says while he rubs my back. “We are in this together and we will stay together, no matter what. I love you”

I try to smile at him, but I have to rush back into he bathroom.

Those cramps are more than intense. I can’t imagine how a two-inch baby can have the strengths to hold on to my uterus, while my body expels everything and more that is inside me.

Another infusion pumps a powerful and merciful tranquilizer into me and I sleep and doze during the rest of the weekend. Peter lies next to me on a cot the hospital provides, but he doesn’t get any meds. He is remarkably calm and never leaves my site.

“Do you believe in a power greater than you?” I ask during one of the rare moments when I’m lucid enough to speak.

“I do” he says, “and everything will be okay”

I envy him for his faith. And I’m grateful for it. I don’ t know how I’d be able to get through this if he was as scared and hopeless as I am.

Sunday turns into Monday morning. I look out the window and see a glimmering sun rising up. The sun doesn’t care about a pregnant couple with AIDS. The sun rises no matter what. It is brutal and doesn’t care.

At seven am, my doctor rushes into our room. Her cheeks are red and her eyes glimmer with excitement.

“The second test is negative. Did you have Syphilis at any point in your life?” the words spill out of her like gold marbles.

“Yes, I was treated for it, years ago” I sigh “But I might have neglected to show up for the check-up. I mean, I thought I was cured”

“You were. But those tests sometimes react with a positive HIV result when somebody had that in the past.” She checks my chart and bobs her head up and down when she sees how much my fever has gone down. By now, it’s an almost normal 100 degrees.

“We still have to wait for the cultures to tell us what you have, but it certainly is not HIV. And not Hepatitis C either. You are also free of any other sexually transmitted disease and anything else you could have picked up during your drug addiction. Congratulations. You are a very lucky couple. We can release you now, so you can recover in your own bed at home.”

I almost jump up, but the tubes yank me back.

“My guess is that you caught an extremely nasty bug, most likely from contaminated meat, do you remember if you ate anything suspicious?”

I do. That fried poisonous burger before the meeting. I gag when I think about it. The one time I was “good” and did not throw up almost killed me. It’s so ironic, but I can’t laugh about it. My very first hamburger ever.

Eventually, a few days later, the test results come back: Lysteria. It stays with me for the next six weeks. I lose so much weight, that I certainly don’t look pregnant anymore. I spend hours in the bathroom, racked with cramps and pain. But the baby holds on.

My doctor brings the issue of abortion up again, very carefully.

“No. I’m having this baby. It has gone through this nightmare, so it must be extra ordinarly strong and resilient. I have faith that it will be alright.”

“If you feel really strong about it, I will do anything I can to help you. But first of all, we need you to put some weight on. You think you can do that?”

“Of course I can,” I say. But I’m not sure. I haven’t told her about the bulimia. Nobody knows but me, not even Peter. One more time, I swear to myself that I will never throw up again. One more time, I’m certain that I will keep this promise. Because it is only 11 am.





FRIED FEVER, Part 2 “Showroom of perfections”

15 06 2011

 

 

FRIED FEVER, PART 2

 

When I first come to, my doctor is moving the ultra sound machine gently across my belly.

“Listen to this”

Bum-da-bum-da-bum

“Your babies heartbeat! She smiles. “So far everything seems alright. Look” she points out a bean-shaped transparent thing that pulsates.

I am so emotional that I immediately weep. My baby’s heartbeat! This is real, this is really happening.

“But we need to get your fever down immediately. A fever that high during the first trimester can literally fry the babies brain.” She turns the machine off and touches my arm. I realize that I am connected to a bunch of tubes. A clear transfusion bottle drops whatever it is into my body.

“We have no idea what is wrong with you. I need your consent to test for HIV, Hepatitis C, Syphilis and every other disease that could cause this.”

Peter rushes in.

“She has been tested for everything. Just a few months ago. She’s been clean for two years, so that can’t be” He takes in the machines and tubes and his face crumbles.

“Unfortunately, and I hate to tell you this, but sometimes, HIV takes a long time to show up…”

“Show him the baby, please” I interrupt. I am so weak; it is difficult to say anything. But I have to get her to stop talking about AIDS, if just for a moment.

She turns the Ultra Sound on again and shows my husband what is growing inside of me. He reaches for my hand and grabs it so tightly that I wince. Everything hurts. But I need this touch more than anything right now. He beams when he hears the heartbeat and for a moment, it looks like he might cry.

“Is the baby alright?” he asks.

“So far, it looks good. But, like I told your wife, we are really worried about this fever.”

“Of course, we consent. Test for everything there is!” Peter says.

“If we can’t get that fever down, I need you guys to think about an abortion. You don’t want to give birth to a baby with major brain damage. You are young, you can try again” the doctor sighs.

“No. You have no idea. I’ve had six abortions already and if I don’t do it now, I’ll never have a baby. I just know”

I pass out again.

 

I am so cold. I am so fucking cold. I’m shivering so hard that my teeth clatter. This is like the one time I shot poisoned Heroin and got what they call “Cotton-Fever”.

Everything around me is icy cold, under me, next to me on every side. I’m lying inside a bed of ice, like a salmon at Gelson’s. Peter sits next to my bed and looks pained and worried but he forces an encouraging smile when he realizes that I’m awake.

“What the hell is this?” I stutter. I can’t talk because I’m shaking so hard. I’ve never been so cold in my life, not even when the ski-lift stopped working for a few hours and my dad and me sat helplessly in a chair that tangled over a gaping landslide far beyond us.

“Why are they doing this to me?” I cry.

“They already tried everything else while you were out. Meds, Infusions, fluids. This is their last chance effort to get your fever down.” He touches my forehead and pulls his hand back.

“You’re so hot. I can’t believe how hot you are.”

A nurse appears from nowhere and sticks a thermometer in my mouth. She counts my pulse and pulls the thermometer out. She shakes her head.

“It’s still 105. We have to put another ice blanket on you. I am sorry. I can see how painful this is for you, but no matter how advanced today’s medicine is, sometimes we have to reach back to old fashioned remedies that are quite cruel. But we want you to leave this hospital alive.”

And with this, another nurse, a male one drags a heavy blanket to my bed. For a merciful second, I imagine a blanket of warmth, but as soon as he drapes it on top of me, I’m back in reality. The blanket is made of ice.

“How. Is. This. Going. To. Help?” I can hardly get the words out. I’m shaking. I want to die. No, not really. I heard my babies’ heartbeat and I want to live, but this is too much. I want to protest and scream, but I’m paralyzed from the ice all over me and I wonder if this is death. My dad used to tell me that hell is not made of fire, but of ice-cold lack of love. Of course, as a sex-addict, that would be his personal fantasy of hell. Cold and love-less, ha!

But my saving grace is Peter. He is love. I’m delirious and he is a hot God saving me from ice-hell. His warm hand clamped tightly around my feverish hand is heaven and the only connection to life right now.

At this moment, I surrender my fight against him. I’m as helpless as an insect under a scientist’s microscope. If he wanted to, he could pull off my wings. He could cut of my legs and watch with childish curiosity how my mutilated body jerks and quivers, totally dependent on his mercy. In my feverish nightmare, he has all the power to save me.

The pain of the cold and the pain of the disease that envelops me are so overwhelming, I don’t know if I’m already dead, but Peter’s hand is the only reality that keeps me here.

I go under again. Merciful darkness and sleep lift me out and up from the ice-reality and the pain in my bones. All there is, is his hand and I grasp on for life.

I wake up with my bowels growling.

“I have to go to the bathroom,” I scream.

“Take it easy!” Peter says in his most soothing voice.

“No! I really have to go” I throw the heavy blanket off me. “I’m not going to shit on myself” I struggle to get up.

“Who cares, baby” peter whispers. “Who cares? You almost died”

“No way!” I say. “Help me to get up”

Peter knows me. He knows that I’m not going to shit the bed, no matter what. He helps me up and guides me to the bathroom with the pole of infusions attached to my arms. I barely make it. I close he door to the toilet and sit down. A stream of liquid pours out of my ass. It goes on forever and just when I think I’m emptied out, there is more. I stare at the bloody and brown mess under me. After years of bulimia, I am used to this kid of mess. It just evacuates from a different opening of my battered body.

“I’m okay” I assure him. “Really, I’m aright”

Finally the crazy evacuation stops and I pull myself up on the handles they provide in hospital bathrooms and I stumble back inside the sickroom. I’m awake now. I crawl back under the torture blanket.

I can feel that I not so sick anymore. I feel a little bit alive. Peter calls for the nurse.

She rushes in and scolds me for getting up. Again, she measures my temperature.

“102’ she examines. “It is working”

Peter beams. “This means she is fighting it off”

“I know,” I say and my voice is so much stronger. But as soon as I say this, anther wave of urgency sends me back to the bathroom. The cramp inside my body knocks me almost out. How in the world is this baby able to hold on when my stomach acts like it is in labor? This baby has guts and clearly wants to be born.

The doctor appears and closes the door behind her. Not a good sign. She sits down and takes both my hand and Peter’s in her own. A very bad sign.

She pauses for an eternity before she says what she came to say and it is clear that she would rather be somewhere else. Anywhere but here.

“Your test for HIV came back positive. I am so sorry”

Off our horrified faces, she adds, not very convincingly:

“Those tests are not 100% reliable. We are retesting. Sometimes, another underlying disease can show up as a positive result. We have to wait until Monday to get the second result”

It is Friday afternoon. This will be a long weekend.

“I am sorry,” she repeats, before she lets go of our hands and adjusts the transfusions.

Then she is gone.





FRIED FEVER “SHOWROOM OF PERFECTION”

11 06 2011

FRIED FEVER

I’m almost three month pregnant and if I thought that PMS was debilitating before, I’m learning a whole new level of it. Early pregnancy is like PMS 300 times worse.

I’m enraged at Peter (my husband and the baby-daddy) and I let him have it. I’m enraged at everything, but what I really feel is bottom level fear. Raw and powerless fear because Peter is fresh out of Impact and has no job yet. My instincts of motherly need for protection kick in so violently and I’m so scared that he will not be able to provide for our new family that I’m out of my mind.

I want to provoke him. I want to tune out my panic and the best thing I can do at this moment is to play Einsturzende Neubauten. The noise and anger of this music expresses how I feel, but I am not able to name what makes me so mad. I turn up the noise and its rage resonates with me and I feel less alone in my world of isolated fear.

I tune it up some more and then more and more, louder until the walls of our loft seem to shake. The windows rattle and finally reach Peter who is engrossed in his favorite show reruns of “Mayberry Something”. How can he watch shit like this while I suffer such existential fear? How can he be so clueless?

He gets up from his comfort zone and turns the TV down.

“What the hell is wrong with you? Turn it down!” he yells over Blixa Bargeld’s wails. I turn it up higher and put my feet on the sewing machine and cross my arms.

“Why?” I scream over the screeching and menacing noise. “So you can pretend to live in Mayberry Land and not deal with what’s going on? Fuck you!”

“Please turn it down. I don’t want trouble with our neighbors,” he pleads.

“This is a loft in the middle of nowhere, in case you haven’t noticed yet,” I yell “And I need this right now. I’m freaked out”

“Come on, baby” he turns the noise level down, just enough to understand what I’m screaming and sits down next to me. He grabs my hand and looks at me with love I his beautiful face. I rip my hand away from his.

“Fuck you. Leave me alone!” I yell.

“Talk to me, tell me why you’re so freaked out” he pleads.

“If you don’t know by now, you’re even more stupid than I thought” I snap and turn the dial up as high as it will go.

“Futter my ego, futter my ego” Blixa wails and I stare my husband down.

He kicks the amplifier. Blixa goes on with a curdling scream.

“I’m pregnant! I’m pregnant and I don’t trust you. I don’t need you. Why don’t you fucking leave you loser. I’m on my own with this baby anyway.”

“What are you talking about? I’m your husband. I’m on your side. I want this baby. I’m getting a job. Please stop this rage”

“No! You’re not getting a job. You’re gonna go back to shooting dope and leave it all up to me to support us”

“I’ve fucked up. But this is now and I swear I’m taking care of our family and you. Please. Please trust me. And please turn this down, it’s giving me a headache”

“No. Fuck you. Get out, get the fuck out!” I scream with tears choking me. No way am I going to cry. But I know I’m wrong and unfair. It’s just I can’t admit that. My fear of this pregnancy and that I’ll have to rely on another human being is too much for me to handle. I don’t want to rely on him. I want to be strong and independent, the way I’m used to be. I don’t want to need this man to take care of me, of us, of the growing baby inside of me. I feel shitty and fat and out of control.

“Lets go to a meeting” he says and turns the sound system off.

“What’s that got to do with anything?” I say into the sudden silence. “How is this going to help?”

He takes me into his arms, so tight that I can’t fight him. With my head buried into his chest, my rage turns to hysterical sobs. He strokes my head while I cry and punch his stomach with the little space he allows me inside his tight embrace.

“Get it out, baby, get it all out” he whispers. I collapse into his strong body and weep.

“There, there, that’s it, that’s what you feel. I love you so much and I’m so proud of you, baby. We’re going to have a baby.” He turns my face up to him and I notice a glimmer of tears in his eyes. “We’re going to do this. Trust me. Just lean into me and let it go.”

I cry what seems like hours inside his embrace. When I finally catch my breath, I kiss him with passion I haven’t felt for a long time, too long, way too long.

“You’re right. We both need a meeting,” I say and peel out of his loving arms “lets go!”

On the way to the meeting, we pass a Hamburger Place across the street from the Tropical Café.

“Stop here. I need a hamburger.” I state.

“A hamburger? Is this one of those weird pregnancy cravings?” he wonders, “In all those years I’ve known you, you’ve never ever wanted a hamburger”

“Well, I do now”

“Okay. Whatever you want, baby” he smiles and pulls into the take-out lane.

The smell of burning animal flesh and stale oil hits me as soon as the take out window opens to take our order. I have to roll down he window on my side of his truck and stick my head out for fresh air.

“You’re sure about that?” Peter wonders.

“Yes!” I say through clenched teeth, trying not to breathe, “Yes, I need a hamburger right now”

“Well okay then. I’m not hungry, so you’re on your own with this” he laughs and plants another kiss on my tear streaked cheek.

He orders and pays and I tuck into my steaming peace of meat and bun. The novelty of a never before tasted food fills my mouth and I take another bite. This is sensational, new, gross and bad all at once. It doesn’t last, though. After the third bite, my pregnancy nausea hits me like a sledgehammer. I gag and throw the whole thing out the window.

“I knew you can’t eat shit like that”, Peter smiles while he starts the car up.

We get to the meeting and those three bites roll around in my stomach like marbles. No, more like rocks. I think about the wolf in “Red Riding Hood” and wonder if he felt like me before he died. I consider the bathroom, but I want to be good. I want to not throw up. My baby needs food.

“If I still feel like that, I’ll throw up after the meeting,” I promise to myself while I sit through the meeting.

Afterwards, when we all stand outside, Ernesto looks at me and comments: “You look fabulous, you finally put on some weight. It really suits you”

I want to die right there.

“You know, if you ever want to have a women in your life, don’t ever say something like this, you stupid moron. That’s the last thing any girl wants to hear,” I snap.

“But you look great! This was a compliment! You were way too skinny” he stammers.

“Shut up!” I yell, “ This isn’t a compliment. It’s an insult. You are the biggest stupidest idiot I’ve ever met”

“Sorry. I’m really sorry,” he mumbles as he retreats towards another gaggle of happily chatting people.

“Not that this is any of your business, asshole, but I’m pregnant” I yell after him.

Everybody in ears length quiets down.

“Really? Oh my god” a tattooed girl with piercings all over her ears hollers “Congratulations! That’s so cool!”

All of a sudden I’m surrounded by well meaning and excited people, hugging and chattering at me. I’m swept up in a cloud of genuine excitement.

“Yes, It’s true. I’m pregnant. Not fat,” I laugh and I feel happy and excited myself for the first time. All of a sudden this is real. Peter beams while he folds his arms protectively around me.

When we finally climb into his truck, after patiently listening to well meaning and loving advice and congratulations, I feel a wave of serenity and certainty that it will all work out envelop me. Such is the power of meetings. I’m not alone, we are not alone, a miraculous being is growing inside of me and all will be well.

I don’t throw up when we get home, even though waves of nausea make me feel dizzy and tired. I’m feeding my baby and this is just normal. I assure myself before I fall asleep.

When I wake up, Peter has left to help a friend move. I glimpse at the clock and am surprised that it is afternoon. I never sleep that late.

I try to get up, but can’t. A hit of unbelievable pain in my head slams me back into our bed. I lay there, wondering. Then I notice my head. It is throbbing. I have to close my eyes to shut out the blinding light that creeps through the half open blinds. Every limb in my body hurts with such intensity that I have to curl up in a fetal position and hug myself as tight as I can. The urge to go pee forces me to get up and I manage to crawl to the bathroom, inch by inch. I search blindly through our medicine cabinet and finally find the thermometer. I stick it in my mouth and it beeps after an eternity while I’m crouched over the toilet.

106 degrees. That can’t be right. I slowly crawl back to the bed and take my temperature again. This time, the mercury stops at the end of the thermometer – it has shot up to the end of what is possible. I manage to find the phone that is mercifully placed next to the bed and I call Peter.

“Something is wrong. I’m burning.” I mumble.

“Calm down, baby. What is it?”

“I have a fever that’s higher than the thermometer can measure, at least 106 degrees. Oh my god, what is happening to me?”

“Stay in bed. I’m calling the doctor right now” he says and hangs up.

I lay there, hot and cold with a kind of pain I’ve never experienced before. Half asleep and delirious, hiding under all our covers, I’m able to pick up the phone when it rings, I don’t know how much later.

“You need to go to the hospital immediately” I hear my doctor through a cloud of delirious fatigue “An ambulance will be there in a few minutes. Try to let them in, so they don’t have to break down the door”

With almost inhuman strength, I make it to the door and unlock all the bolts that a loft in Downtown requires. Then I pass out, on our chic grey concrete floor, somewhere between the door and the bed.





ALL GOOD NOW from “Showroom of Perfections”

10 06 2011

All Good NowNEW ALL GOOD

It’s been more than four years that I haven’t had to battle bulimia. This is such an unbelievable miracle and I still wake up every morning, with the grateful realization that I’m not living in this hell anymore.

I have scars and serious wounds from it, like Ostheo porosis and teeth that had to be replaced with so many implants and crowns that I could have bought a house with the money I spent on saving my smile. My stomach and esophagus hurt and burn all the time and my kidneys took a serious beating.

The other result from this horrible disease is that I have now a total disinterest in food. I wish I could just take a pill to get all the nutrients I need to have the energy and nourishment to do all the things I love to do now. Dealing with shopping, cooking and eating steals time that is so precious now.

After 19 years of binging, obsessing, cooking, shopping and creating meals that didn’t bore me, I’m so done. Food was my drug, my lover, my comfort and solution to everything. Food was my enemy, my tormentor and captivator.

I ate so much. Thousands of calories, pounds and bags of food that would seem truly unbelievable to a person who is normal, a person who eats because it’s pleasure and part of life.

But I was addicted to eat so fucking much, compelled to scarf down such insane amounts of food; I should not be surprised that I’m over it now.

All my creativity went into coming up with new combinations and recipies – after 19 years, there was nothing left I hadn’t tried. Now my interest is dried up and wilted, like a leftover tomato clinging to its vine after its time.

What I am interested now in is not connected to food. I create fashions and write and I am in love with people, work, friends and life. I really am in love with life.

So I eat because I want to be alive. I’m not stupid. I know I need food but I’m bored and sometimes disgusted and annoyed with the fact that I have to go through the motions of everyday food requirements, just so I have the stamina and power to live.

Now my –sometimes-obsessive – love is belly dancing. It’s demanding and requires me to have energy. So I am willing to eat because I want to be able to dance.

My other love is work and that too needs nourishment.

Everything I love needs me to be alive and since I’m a physical body, I have to respect this. I’m realistic and respectful of my incarnation as a physical being, so I eat. I choose healthy foods because I need the energy to dance, go out, be accessible and available for the people I love.

So there. I grudgingly accept my humanity.

After years of Pilates, running and Yoga that I participated in to offset my daily binges, I never felt a connection to that. I did this out of vanity and really did not like it while I was going through the motions – It was one of those many activities I endured because they made me feel good afterwards. But not while I huffed and struggled for the reward of a good body and the feeling of accomplishment.  It always felt like a biter medicine I took to feel and look good after.

But then I stepped into a Bely dance class at the South Pasadena YMCA and I was in love.

For the first time in my life, I did not look at the clock, hoping that the hour would be over soon.

I sucked really badly at it, I was so clumsy and clueless, but I was entranced with the music and the rhythm that I was willing to be a silly fool for it. I kept going week after week with a teacher who happened to be my daughter’s husband’s ex-girlfriend (small world…) but I loved it so much that I took the humiliation of bumping into other dancers, stumbling and falling down and looking like a spastic moron. I was clearly a burden and a joke in this class.

Belly dance saved my life.

Because it became so important to me, that I started to eat, just to be able to do it. And now, three years later, I can do things, like shimmy and isolate and follow choreographies that make me feel like I’m getting somewhere.

Four years ago, I sat in my house, totally isolated, cooking and eating and purging, all the way knowing that I might die next to the toilet bowl.

Sometimes I feel like I might die dancing. Because it is so hard and difficult. But should I die in a belly dance class, it will be beautiful compared to dying next to a toilet bowl filled with vomit.

At least it would be a death that is proof that I have actually lived. I was dead inside for so long, caught in the clutches of the loneliest addiction there is. I was alone, scared and so terribly ashamed, full of hatred and guilt towards myself.

Now I go to different teachers five times a week. Sometimes, I still want to be destructive and binge and purge or take some pills or drink alcohol, but the prospect of a class at the end of the day, makes me abstain because I want o be able to participate and be present. Dance is now my deterrent to self-destructive tendencies.

And sure enough, at the conferences on Eating Disorders, belly dance is now recommended for women who suffer from bulimia and Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

Because it celebrates the womanly figure. The girls in my classes who are not skinny have such an easier time to learn it. Their bellies jiggle and shimmy with so much less effort than I have to put in. I have to work way harder than the women in my classes who are round and soft.

But whenever I go to a party or dance, or Coachella, the little bit I’ve learned goes a long way to stand out and the attention from guys who watch me move my hips and arms is so worth the effort and time I put into learning it.

It beats my lonely kitchen table every time.








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