October 29, 2011

Snow, Rain, And Times Square

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Today I embarked on my adventure into Times Square.
I was excited for many understandable reasons, but mostly because early this morning it started to snow!
Yes, snow!
In New York City.
In October.
Hooray!
It was decidedly supercalifragilistic; I love snow!
(Also, sorry about any Mary Poppins references and allusions included in this post: it's currently playing on Broadway and I spent a good ten minutes standing outside the theater staring wistfully at the billboards and advertisements for it, wishing with all of my heart that I could afford a ticket. If there was one musical I would love to see, it's about my favorite female character from my childhood, who is "practically perfect in every way." And as if to taunt me, I kept passing by more advertisements, and even a whole section of shirts and memorabilia in the Disney Store. Someone out there is mocking me!)
Anywho; snow.
The only problem with the snow (besides being cold, which really wasn't a problem until later in the day), was the fact that I couldn't take any of the promised pictures.
I feel like an absolute cad for not following through on my many promises of photographic adventures, but I cared more about not ruining my new camera than anything else.
By far the best part of the trip was the New York Public Library.
First of all, the building itself is magnanimous. Marble, large stone lions; it was absolutely stunning!
On the first floor is a sort of museum full of original manuscripts, engravings, ancient books, Chinese scrolls, even some cuneiforms! It was fantastic to wander around and see a whole book of Audubon's original bird paintings, E.E. Cumming's typewriter, a 15th century, hand-copied, Latin Bible, the original copy of George Washington's resignation speech, the first draft of F. Scot Fitzgerald's Nobel Prize acceptance speech (written in the back of an old novel he owned at the time), a hand-dedicated and signed copy of Ballad of Redding Gaol by Oscar Wilde, T.S. Eliot's final, hand-corrected draft of The Waste Land, Virginia Woolf's diary and walking stick, Charlotte Brontë's writing desk, Christopher Robin's original Pooh Bear, Eeyore, Kanga, Tigger, and Roo, and so many other fantastic delights to fascinate and captivate. I was absolutely and utterly in love with the place, and especially enchanted by the upper story, which was full, floor-to-high-ceiling, with books.
(I may or may not be a great deal obsessed with the place.)
Luckily for me again, the park immediately behind the library is enchanting as well: Bryant Park. It's full of lovely little greenhouses that were actually shops and even a coffee shop in one. Although it wasn't open today, there is also a skating rink that should be available soon.
Needless to say, I will be spending some time there next weekend as well.
Bring a book, eat my lunch, sit in the park, sit in the library: good, cheap fun.
(Not as fun as a ticket to Mary Poppins, but that's certainly not cheap. *Sigh*)
Tomorrow I'll be skating at Rockefeller center, and spending the day in SOHO as well. Hopefully it will be dry enough for pictures.
Cheerio!

October 25, 2011

Going Home

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Ladies and gentle-folk, I have a discharge date!
As of November 21 at approximately 5:30 PM, I'll be officially on my way home!
*Insert wild screaming and happy dance here*
I can't describe in words how ecstatic I am to be going home!
The best part is that I honestly believe that I am going to do well.
Faced with challenges, yes, but I'm going to be challenged by this disorder, this disease, at least intermittently for the rest of my life.
But I am ready to be home.
Ready for each of those challenges, and ready to overcome them.
Ready to head into battle at home having overcome the greater half of the demon, and having the Lord with me at all times.
And ready to eat Thanksgiving dinner (without compensating for it later) and enjoy it.
God is so good.
So very good indeed.
In the mean time, this gives me a month to prepare and get as much information, practice, and fun in as I possibly can.
I'm planning to visit Time's Square this Saturday and do some exploring in SOHO on Sunday. Next weekend I should be hanging out with my amazing, opera-singing sister from Boston. I have souveniers to buy, places to see, pictures to take...
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...I'm going to be a busy, busy bee.
Thank you for all the prayers and cards you've sent me so far. The encouragement and hope I've gleaned from them have gotten me through so much!
On another note, I am absolutely loving New York in the Fall. I was passing a small park area, headphones in playing Innocence Mission songs, sipping a $0.75 cup of hot tea (who said New York was always overpriced?) and enjoying the way the orange and gold leaves fell around me. Everyone in this city is in a hurry, and almost everyone is wearing their heaphones or talking on thier phones. Eye contact isn't generally made on the street, but especially not on the underground nor in elevators. But I meander around going at my own, Cali/Idaho pace, (yes, my headphones are in but sometimes I feel like I have a better, more mellow taste in music), and do not sport designer lables or a knockoff; I don't even care that I'm not sporting a designer label or a knockoff. I gaze up at the frescoes and beautiful, small details on the old apartment buildings I pass, I take in the sights, the smells, the pace of everything around me.
It's certainly a dirty, crazy city.
But it most certainly has charm.
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But for all that, I can't wait to get home to Idaho, my family, my friends, and the life I have there.
Even though I feel God's call in my life to move elsewhere at some point, I don't feel that that time is now.
A lot of things are going to be different when I get home, but the things that are going to be the same will be the loving arms that await me, the wonderful, cold weather of a fast-approaching Winter, and a great church and church family.
Life is only just beginning.
:)

October 21, 2011

Success Tastes of Bacon and Eggs

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Today has already been full of so much: both accomplishment and activity.
My request for the final level was accepted (of course) as was my first meal pass- accompanied by one of my favorite staff members- and went so smoothly, not to mention utterly deliciously.
At this point, anything tastes better than the hospital food I get on a day-to-day basis, but there's something about a funky, classic, New York family-style diner that's both charming and a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach.
The bar with the round, swivel stools.
Cooks visible through the window- paper bus-boy hats perched atop their heads, towels slung over their shoulders- busily flipping eggs, pancakes, and bacon.
Waitresses pouring orange juice, carrying meals out to the many tables and booths set up in the small space.
Customers sipping black coffee, enjoying plates of hash browns, English muffins, omelettes.
The radio- slightly fuzzy- in the background; the volume just high enough that you can hear the traffic report, listen to the latest news on the Wall Street protest.
It was all so picturesque, I wish more than anything I'd had the wherewithal to ask to bring my camera (at the risk of looking like a tourist).
Success tastes of a bacon, egg, and cheese on a kaiser roll, of a cantaloupe with cottage cheese, Tropicana orange juice, strong English breakfast tea.
I can't imagine my first pass going more splendiferously.
I didn't even think about the food, the fact that I was eating, besides to marvel at how wonderful it tasted.
Edifying and moving conversation with Edie about everything from the battle I'm fighting, to how wonderful the Lord is, to how much we both love cats.
Afterwards, a stroll around the block as we digest- taking the long way back to the unit- and enjoying the crispy, windy, Autumn, New York morning.
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God is good.
Today is going to be a good day indeed.

October 20, 2011

Anticipation

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This is it.
The big moment.
After a month of struggles and carefully monitored weight gain,
Of being cooped up in a small unit 23/7,
Of working and wearing my mind thin,
Exploring every emotion, every though,
Writing,
Drawing,
Laughing,
Crying:
After all that, I've finally reached maintenance phase.
I'm finally putting in for the last level.
As of 10:30, I'll officially be allowed to venture out on the streets of New York City, within a certain block radius of the hospital, for 90 minutes a day.
But the best part is that I can put in meal and leisure passes for anywhere in the city (probably in the state), and explore (Ladies and gentlemen, charge your cameras!), eat, and challenge myself outside of this small unit.
I'm in nervous anticipation, not because I think my request will be denied, but because I am excited to challenge myself and learn how to apply all of what I've learned here to a wider area and outside on my own.
It's not going to be all easy peasy rice and cheesey, but it's going to be good.
Good in a way that includes the struggles, the fear, the happiness, the triumphs, the failures: everything.
Good.
"Be of good courage and He shall strengthen your heart, all ye who hope in the Lord."- Psalm 31:24
I'm nervous, but that verse reminds me that I cannot possibly fail.
So that's what I'm doing today, in between art therapy, yoga (bleh), menu planning, discharge planning group, lunch, dinner, and snack: looking forward to the days ahead.
To spending a day with my sister who is going to come down from Boston for some NYC fun.
To being able to eat something besides hospital food (no matter how challenging).
To feeling worried and anxious and learning how to successfully overcome it.
To being able to take pictures of the city, of myself and send them home.
To maybe arranging Skype dates with some friends (and my momma!) back home.
There is so much to look forward to.
What are you anticipating?
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October 16, 2011

Cabin Fever

As it happens, I've become a horrible, no-good, lazy blogger whilst being here in "food rehab."
But I have an excuse!
(Kinda)
They somehow manage to keep me busy in an active sense for probably a little more than half the day.
So what on earth am I doing with that other little-less-than-half of my day?
It's all in my mind.
No.
Seriously.
It is.
A good deal of recovery- in fact, a good deal of the disorder itself- has all to do with "rewiring" my mind: the way I think, the thoughts I have, my perceptions, my self-image.
As you can probably imagine, it's exhausting in a manner that I'll refer to as "emotionally" for lack of a better term.
However, with our seemingly packed schedule of groups and therapy that happens daily, they compensate for how little time we get truly to ourselves by compiling what they think is our due, and dumping it on us all at once over the space of two days. More specifically, on Saturday and Sunday.
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What probably sounds wonderful to you (I mean, two days of complete laziness and lack-of-structure? What's not to love?!) is actually a bit of a nightmare to us.
Those of use who aren't at a level that permits us to leave the building and roam unaccompanied all day are forced to sit inside and twiddle our thumbs for hours on end. Occasionally we can guilt one of the staff into taking us out to Rite Aid (the epitome of thrilling!) or, the real adventure that requires a trip up to the Bronx on the underground, to Target. Sunday afternoons Lawrence, the recreational therapist, comes around and takes us for an hour or so to go exploring.
We are also allowed to have two cups each of caffeinated coffee and/or tea both of these Mondays. However, the treat is a bit spoilt when it has to be accompanied by an Ensure Plus, as in my case.
I honestly don't mean to complain, because it's across these two days that the bulk of my musing and overall improvement occur. With all of this free time on my hands, I have nothing to do but think about the therapy sessions I've had, the topics and lessons we've had in our CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) groups, as well as the other gatherings and discussions that are sprinkled throughout the day.
I think what makes the weekend hardest for me is an ever-increasing case of cabin fever.
I am absolutely dying to get out and see the city!
So much so that it's becoming unbearably tempting to apply for the highest level- the one that allows us out on meal and leisure passes on our own- even though I don't think I'm quite ready to take on the challenge yet. I don't want to eat a meal by myself and find the rest of the day is ruined because I can do nothing but think about it/food/how miserable it makes me feel about myself. I want to be able to deal with and ignore my obsessive thoughts and any other behaviors before I venture out by myself. But the tantalizing sights, the promises of adventure, all beckon so strongly I'm hard pressed to say no.
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So to stop myself from taking action, I've been praying that the Lord will make it clear to me when I should apply for the next level, and am, in the mean time, compiling a list of the places I want to go (keeping it as low cost as possible. So far, the only cost to access these places is the $2.50 it takes to ride the underground). Because I need to have meals planned in advance before each trip out, I'm hoping to one day do a You've Got Mail trip with my older sister (who's living in Boston). We're going to visit as many of the places as possible that Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan go in the movie, and I'm personally hoping to eat lunch in the Cafe Lazlo.
(By the way, if you haven't seen You've Got Mail, you need to drop what you're doing and go watch it. It may be the cutest film ever.)
What have you all been up to since my last post? I've made many forays into the blog-o-sphere this weekend, making sure to get as caught up on what's going on with you as possible. Have any of you visited NYC? What are some suggestions for spots I ought to see?
Hoping you all have a great upcoming week!
Cheerio!

October 14, 2011

I Got Rhythm

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What is it about this city that is so...enchanting?
What is it about those three letters (NYC) that conjures to mind so many different pictures?
Taxis
Dirty streets
Blue coffee cups
Crowds of people
High heels
Briefcases
Skyscrapers
Cardboard lean-tos.
And under it all a fascinating, quick, rhythm that makes this city what it is; sets it apart from all the others.
Central Park
Broadway
The Met.
All of these places that somehow call my name, tantalize me with the promise of an adventure, no matter how small, if I go to discover them.
Crowded delis
Yelling cabbies
Cozy cafes
Independent book stores
Boutiques
All blend together in some sort of painting that's a mix of the angles and juxtaposition that describe Cubism, yet with all of the color and expression of an Impressionistic painting.
New York,
I love you.

October 5, 2011

Jealousy

I am jealous.
Jealous of the people that I see from my un-openable, bullet-proof glass window, as they laugh and joke on the street before and after work.
Jealous of the people I can hear on the other side of the fence as I meander around the patient park during one of our fresh air breaks outside; I can hear them playing with their dogs, leading children, calling names.
I am jealous of my peers who have earned the privilege to walk in and out of the locked doors, as they go out on passes and adventures into the city, and (more often) spend their allotted 90-minutes-at-a-time exploring and enjoying the several-mile radius around the neighborhood that they are permitted to wander at will.
I am jealous of the staff- morning and night- as they greet the day, and then say good night hours later.
I'm jealous of everyone out there who can eat meals, think about food, view their bodies, and live their lives in a completely healthy, un-obsessive, non-eating-disordered way.
I am seething with jealousy.
The more time I spend here the more I see how much my life, my way of thinking, and my ideas have been tainted by this disorder. I can see all of the emotions and problems that I've spent years internalizing and running from, avoiding, cowering in fear from, suppressing. And how all of the anxieties and stress, all the things I've taught myself are wrong or frightening or bad, are now coming back to haunt me, trying to find release and reprieve through behaviors and dysfunctional thoughts.
There is so much to sift through here.
But at the end of the day, one of the most predominant emotions I am left with is jealousy.
Believe you me when I say that I will never take things like going out of doors at will, using razors, electronics, the bathroom, how, when, and where I want (for the latter it's only an issue of not being allowed to use it for an hour after each meal or snack). Fresh air has become a blessing here that can only be got four times a day-if you're lucky- when you're on a lower level.
However, I am somewhat delighted to say that I've been doing well, and as of tomorrow I should probably be on level Four-B. That means I'm allowed to sign out and wander around the building, without staff supervision, for a set amount of time. It's the second-to-last level, and I'm looking forward to achieving the privilege to be outside of the general unit, and able to find a quiet spot away from everyone and everything.
I already have my eye on a spot by the window in the main lobby: it has a long series of windows that overlook the Hudson River, and there is a small sort of cafe/coffee shop that sells basic coffees, pastries, and-most importantly- tea.
Of course, the real goal is level Four-A. That's when you're allowed to take passes out into the city when you want, take your laptop and/or cellphone, or take passes out for most of the day and eat out, explore around. I've had several outings around the city (one of the them being on the way to a research PET scan AKA two-hour nap in a machine that scans my brain), but to do so without general staff restrictions and by myself!
The Gypsy: taking NYC by storm!
Believe me: you'd want it too.
Especially considering how marvelous this city is. I'm absolutely in love with everything about it; and this being said by someone who's living in a grungier part, and has only been up the glorified Madison Avenue once in passing (and was rather unimpressed by all of the Gucci/Prada stuff. I really want to adventure into SOHO, and spend afternoons in the NYC library and Central Park).
I say all of this, though, for lack of a better topic. I feel rather crummy about my lack of blogging, but things have been so imbalanced here, and I only now feel as if I'm beginning to get into the real rhythm of how things go. I had so many research projects last week alone that I thought I was going to have to be moved to the real psyche ward on the floor below ours!
But improving I am, jealousy and all, and I'm slowly getting a grip on things and how to deal with them.
As mentioned above, I am doing well enough (by the grace of God alone!) to be allowed to wander around the building, but I'm truly looking forward to the day I get to eat out -a true challenge- and be by myself in this dirty, fantastic city. I'm also looking to taking said laptop and maybe organizing a Skype date with my mum eventually: phone conversations and emails are nice enough as it is, but there's nothing to compare to actual face time, especially when my face has been changing.
Please forgive me for my spotty posting, but thanks to all of you who still check in to see if I'm writing at all, and especial thanks to all of those who are praying for me (and sending me letters! I love love love getting the mail you send)!! Please know that I am staying updated on all of your blogs as well, lack-of-comments aside.
Cheerio, all!