Borderline (poem)

Wake, the day cracked like glass
Feel through shards of past
I ache – it’s okay to be sad
Just that, sometimes I forget
I am, life is more than me
Then, to breathe mountains
Sing morning without a sound
One day falling can be flying –

Today I cracked – no solid ground.

Tumbling, alive (poem)

Are you safely alone, tumbling
through the whistling of the birds,
having quiet conversations with the trees
The city’s buzzing far ahead
I was in love, but to make clouds, darkening,
using nothing but my breath, or
weave bracelets of colored pain,
like childhood’s daisy strings
I loved but didn’t let me –

Wanting to die, life, was my biggest lie
I only wanted to go home, ever falling
through the silence between words
I wanted – I didn’t say –
But if I am transparent, only visible
I can see the stars reflect at night
I can ask the sun, to shine through me,
and make rainbows dance inside

Brussels adventures

Brussels is a strange name. Why is it in plural? Anyway. I had to travel to Brussels today to fetch a code from the Belgian government to do stuff with – immigrant life, yes -, and I’m not paying 20 euros (= 21 US dollars / 17 English pound) train fare just for some code, so I did some tourist things as well. Since I don’t really seem to have followers from Belgium, I thought I’d tell you some things about our cave of a capital that no one here likes. The parts around Brussels central station are alright – there’s the pretty city hall and such things. But don’t go anywhere else, it’s all gray concrete and it sucks.

train ride
is quite nice, because Belgian landscape – if you travel south a little – is just these calm, flowing undulations, which makes it look a bit like the ocean. You know, a (mostly) green ocean with houses and cows and trees and stuff. I always find it really calming to look at when I’m on a train here.

je ne parle pas français
Brussels terrifies me because it’s big and strange, and most people speak French and my French is, well, pathétique (yes I know that my blogging name is French but that’s just for exotic reasons). I have absolutely no idea what’s going on when people suddenly start talking French to me. My social anxiety can’t handle it. But I conquered the city of foreign tongues! Also, I found a secondhand bookshop (those are the best!) and bought a copy of Jules Verne’s Vingt mille lieues sous les mers 20.000 Leagues Under the Sea in English – so I’m going to go ahead and read that until I can read French.

getting lost
so Brussels is big. It’s so confusing. Took me about 20 minutes to find the government building, which is right next to the train station, but the train station has a million exits, which is nice. Also, their sign is about 3 centimeters big and right next to a hotel sign, which is about 2 kilometers big. Because who needs to find the government? Not Belgians. But at least you’ll have no problem finding a hotel to spend the night, in case you need an additional day to search for the government. That’s nice of them. But I found it and got my appointment etc., and then I wandered around the train station again for about 30 minutes looking for the exit that I had memorized from my former visit, which I knew I needed for my touristy stuff. Couldn’t find it. Turns out I was at the wrong train station (Brussels has like 15, it’s hard).

military
we live in a potential war-zone etc. these days, so Brussels is filled with militias. Plus, Brussels has 6 police districts (Belgium is divided and strange and I’m not even gonna try), so they seem to all be there, plus, someone from the railroad apparently decided that it was a good idea to hire a scattering of security companies, so they are all there, too. Brussels is so nice and cosy, it’s great (Antwerp too). But you get used to it. Their big automatic guns are fascinating, in any case.

Manneken pis
our national pride, AKA the little pissing man statue (it’s this), AKA “the noble Lord” (quoting manneken-pis.be). If you’re wondering why I love Belgium: this is it. I’ve lived here for 3,5 years now and I still hadn’t seen it, so now was as good a time as any. Walked right past it. It’s 61 centimeters (24 inch) tall. Luckily, though, there was a group of tourists around it calling for my attention, so I did see it. So yeah. Totally worth it.

art
Brussels has quite a lot of museums, so that’s cool. I Went to Bozar, an art museum, which was a mistake. Should’ve gone to the museum of Belgian beers instead. But what can you do. Anyway, Bozar can have nice things too, it’s just so … expensive. You pay per exposition and they’re not that big, so if you want to see all of them (or, if you’re me: 2), you’re broke. Kind of annoying. The lockers are free though, so that’s a plus. I just picked a random expo because it was crowded + I suddenly had to pick one and I wasn’t prepared so I panicked, but it turned out to be quite all right. I suppose you have to like modern conceptual art, which I don’t always do, but I quite liked this one. Saw Yves Klein: he “made” his own shade of blue and they’d put a big, hmm well I don’t know how to call it but this, on the floor, somewhat like a river, which was kind of mesmerizing. I find his shade of blue very calming. He also did thinks like painting with fire, where he’d spray with something on a canvas – water? I heard some people say “spray de l’eau”, I’m trusting the French -, as in, he’d position naked female models against the canvas and spray their figures. And then he just went over the whole thing (except for the models, they’d leave first) with a flamethrower, so he’d end up with a canvas filled with strange colors and figures. Pretty cool. They had little clips of that, among other things. So it was kinda worth my 16 euros in the end.

train ride II
took the wrong train back. I mean, it was the right train, but it also wasn’t because it was the snail one that takes a massive detour. Took me almost 3 times as long to get back to Ghent. Don’t do that. Unless you feel like spending time in a train, then do.

Ghent is better
that’s my conclusion. I’m not biased at all. If you’re ever around here, come to Ghent, it’s super fun and pretty. Walking through the city center feels like walking through a fairy tale.

Okay that was it thanks for reading bye

Why I stopped eating

I just want to point out: This is mainly about the restrictive type of eating disorder (anorexia & EDNOS in that direction) but that isn’t to say that this is the only- or most important sort. In my experience with eating disorders and around people with, and therapists for, eating disorders, anorexia has (implicitly or not) almost always been the “true”, “best”, and “most serious” type – an idea that I find very annoying and damaging, and I don’t want to be a part of it.

I have boringly simple reasons for why I stopped eating. I was a ridiculously picky child when it came to food. Thinking back, I feel torn between a more distant, adult-ish view of oh for crying out loud stop acting so spoiled and just eat already! and my own memory of that time, really, really trying to eat these things but getting physically sick and ending up, involuntarily, purging the stuff back on my plate. I didn’t like the bread my parents prepared for me to take to school (this dry “kids bread”, non-bread that’s only alright if you toast it); I didn’t like butter (which they kept forgetting); school had no place where one could get other food (and even if it had, I had no money). I also didn’t like most types of dinner foods, and, while my dad was attempting to get me to eat like a bloody normal person, I was busy developing an adversity toward food in general. Food started to resemble forcery, powerlessness, frustration, and me always turning into a whiny ass baby, and I was fine without these things in my life, thank you very much. There was no drama there, no frantic flipping through endless editions of Vogue, no filling my walls with pictures of Perfect Body-models, no obsessively counting numbers (I didn’t even know what a calorie was until later on), no staring at people’s butts, thighs, bellies, no comparing them with mine and finding myself, always, in excess. I was ten, maybe younger, I had no interest in these things. Sure, I disliked my body, saw it as too round and too obviously “there”, but that had no correlation with food in my mind. That came later, as yet another excuse to keep on doing what I did, but not in the beginning. I just didn’t like my food, I didn’t like the things I associated with food, and so I didn’t eat.

You don’t necessarily need dramatic and tear-jerking reasons to stop eating. But no matter, I just went ahead and created my own drama show. I discovered that I liked the feeling of hunger, and this not-eating eating purging starving binging, became “my thing”. There were various reasons there. For starters, I wasn’t okay: I remember the first time I hated myself and wished to rip myself apart (four years old), the first time I wanted to die (six years old), my first suicide attempt (twelve years old). When you feel like your life has lost all meaning, you might become careless. Why not starve yourself to death? At least that’s exciting, and neither you nor life matters anyway. There was a lack of communication, I was a kid growing up in a chaotic, disruptive environment, falling through the cracks, feeling small, feeling powerless, feeling lonely, feeling scared. But in the end it just became a game, my own little secret, my system through which to understand the world. I enjoyed shaking breadcrumbs from the toaster on my plate when my dad was showering and say that I’d already eaten breakfast, coming home to an empty house, head stuffed into the pantry and not eating anything, priding myself of my Grand Level of self-control, floating through my days, being able, almost, to convince myself that I was not even there. Of course it wasn’t a game at all. But there, I think, was the rub: I wasn’t afraid to disappear, I actively sought it. Apart from my innate sadness and the creeping sense that I was already gone – a very shit feeling that I was desperately trying not to feel, whatever the cost – I was (still am) just very curious as to how far I could take it. I wanted to find the exact line between life and death. I felt like a magician, being able to stop existing without having to die. I’ve never really figured out why death and disappearing interested me so much, but that was the way it was. I think you need both of these ingredients: you need a reason to start, but you also need a reason to keep going. The Glamorous Game of Thinness and Infinite Excitement ended, of course, but by then I had successfully constructed my own private hell, starring me as the damned soul and me as the devilish gatekeeper, and I was trapped. Eating disorders, in whatever form, are not just a pastime engagement – they become an addiction, both mentally and physically, and if you take it too far they can kill you. They’re not fun and they’re not something to want or be jealous of (whether they make you thin or not); they take over your body, person, and life, and once you’ve come to your senses again it’s very hard to take those back.

So why does one do this? Why do so many people do this? It was me; there’s no doubt about it. But it wasn’t only me. And it wasn’t just me struggling with some teenage, infantile insecurities, clinging to some ridiculous notion of oh no oh no what if I get fat the world will implode. Almost everyone I know has some type of (mild) eating disorder, diagnosed or not. It just seems like a straightforward thing to do. We live in a culture where we’ve made it very important to not take up too much space, to “fit in”, not be too “different”. Welcome to Western society, we suppose we like you but privacy is of dire importance, act normal or leave*, less is more and please check your problems at the door. Well, alright. With that logic, one might conclude that one’s worth will increase only through one’s gradual disappearance, and it’s not too hard to give this metaphor a more literal, bodily meaning. I feel like I did a great job at shutting up and less is more etc. but it didn’t make me normal at all, it made me sick. Gosh darn it, man. Seriously though, it doesn’t surprise me that people get lost and/or just up and quit – we’re materially spoiled and emotionally deprived, and we don’t seem to have a whole lot of sense on how to deal with these things. I guess, with our endless obsession with thinness and eternal youth, eating disorders are as good a way as any.

Now we’re some sixteen years later, and I have become the most boring case: Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS), in remission. I didn’t think I could ever get out but somehow I did anyway – I don’t know, I guess I got tired of it? I wanted to be independent, untouchable, powerful, safe, needless, supergirl, Great, whatnot, and I didn’t become any of these things. Whatever you think your eating disorder will give you, it won’t. Instead, now, I’m trying to keep talking: about my own struggles but also about other people’s, and to approach people when they don’t seem alright, even if I don’t know them that well. I’m not exactly a natural talent, especially not when it comes to talking about myself, but I’m learning. It goes both ways, really; now that I am more open toward others, they’re also more open toward me. And, well, the world is really very weird and there’s actually quite a lot of room, so just try to be weird and “spaceful” too. It’s fine.

*A very swell statement from the Dutch prime minister (“doe normaal of ga weg!”), possibly the most normal, boring, privileged white guy on the block. I mean, his favorite website, on the entire internet, is nu.nl – a site that posts the latest news in very short articles, equivalent to reuters.com – and his favorite book, of all the books in the world, is the biography of Lyndon Johnson. It’s all so normal it is horrible.

Spring’s melancholy

April is the cruellest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain… Every year, I feel something sad in spring’s air. I can image it is somewhat like the front land felt, stirring again after shells and trenches and loss. Not an uncomfortable sadness; not a particularly sad sadness, even. Just something about nature waking up again, thoughtlessly, that makes me slow down, fall somewhat quiet. And quiet seems to equal sad, as least for me. A little drip of winter in me, not quite melting. As if you step on a warm bus after spending hours outside during a freezing night – it feels a bit like that.

I feel a landscape in beginning spring, tentatively waking, after years of heatwaves and winter frost, with no seasonal rhythm to hold on to and no guarantee. Soft piano notes are whirling over me like winds, a chasing violin. Winter may be back tomorrow, or it may be months away. I feel the shape of a thousand movie reel snowflakes but at the same time, I’m slowly moving away. Tumble down within me, a little bit more without me. Letting go: can you feel nostalgic about things you only ever wanted to escape? I’m feeling how melting snow turns into rain; but then, nothing grows in only drought.

Beginning quote taken from T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land
Soft piano notes… is Fabrizio Paterlini’s There’s a Light We Might See; really calming music, go check it out

Falling night

I build a home from feathers
Write silence when I lack tears
Long safely now, in careful dreams
Light as air, no stories to share
Wrap myself in these hours of glass

But love, I am still here.