Monthly Archives: July 2009

Dating service discriminates against the disabled

I just got a sales call from The Right One.  They are the dating service connected to that I mentioned before on here.  The fellow, who sounded like he was in his 20’s, asked me a few questions to make sure I was single, then asked me the “screening questions”:

“Do you own a motor vehicle?”

“Do you have a driver’s license?”

“Have you ever been convicted of a felony?”

“Have you ever been arrested on drug or alcohol charges?”

“Do you have a mental or physical illness?”

At this question, I stopped him, and said, “I believe it’s illegal for you to ask that question.”

He said, “We are a private organization.  Your dates are going to want to know if you have a mental or physical illness, and these things are going to disqualify you from our program.  Do you have a mental or physical illness?”

“It’s illegal for you to ask that question.”

“It couldn’t be illegal, because it’s on my list of questions here.”

“Listen.  I talked to the disabilities officer at my school about this.  It’s against ADA ruling for you to discriminate or even ask this question.”

“Do you have a mental or physical illness?”

“It’s illegal–”

“Listen, have a nice day.”  He hung up.

I’m not sure what I’ll do about this one, but The Right One needs to be reported and prosecuted, I think.  They have broken the law.  In the meantime, boycott!


Eating again–one week later–and writing!

Yes, I have been writing.  It all started with an e-mail from my advisor from last semester, Darrah Cloud.  I wrote to her asking for help, because I was not writing and didn’t know what to do about it.  Well, she set me straight, telling me pretty much what I knew I needed to hear, that I should set aside a time to write each day like I used to, and make a schedule and stick to it.

Here’s what I did:  I decided that at that point all I could handle was 15 minutes at a time of writing.  So I planned four 15-minute writing sessions each day.  I planned these sessions for the periods before mealtimes and snack times.  For the times after eating, I decided I’d do a quick home cleanup for about five minutes or so.  I wrote my entire day’s schedule out on paper, including my usual morning and evening routine.  Here it is:


Wake up 4:45
Morning Coffee  Relax

Brush teeth Floss
Shower 6:30 Wash hair MWF
Clean bathroom daily
Dress becomingly
Walk Puzzle and feed her
Take meds and fold up bed
Clean one place in apt for two minutes


Laundry – Saturday

23-minute WRITING WORKOUT #1

Eat snack

5-minute home decluttering

Do something nice for myself

23-minute WRITING WORKOUT #2

11:15AM eat lunch

Brush Puzzle’s teeth

Clean floor Sun/Wed
Home scrubbing Mon/Thurs

Do something nice for myself

23-minute WRITING WORKOUT #3

Eat snack

5-minute home decluttering

Plan meals for tomorrow

Do something nice for myself

23-minute WRITING WORKOUT #4

4:45PM eat dinner

Prepare meals for tomorrow
Walk Puzzle and feed her
Clean one place in apt for two minutes
Wash dishes and wipe counter
Shine the kitchen sink
Take meds  Unfold bed
Set out meds for tomorrow
Wash up
Put ace bandage on knee
Write in journal

As you can see, I’ve now increased my time to 23 minutes.  This schedule keeps me far too busy!  Following it is very difficult!  But it is possible.  If I do all the writing sessions, I get an hour and a half of writing done.  That’s not much.  What I need to do is to combine sessions and write for longer periods.  This will come soon enough.

I am getting accustomed to eating again.  It is tough.  Sometimes I want to eat more than planned, but other times I feel very full, and I want to rebel.  At first, my weight climbed up, and I started to panic.  But my weight dropped again, which isn’t the best thing, but the ED in me thinks that’s just grand.  I believe I’ll be up to normal calorie range within a couple of weeks.  Scary.

Finally eating–bit by bit, bite by bite

Well, I’m doing it. This morning I reached into the caverns of my memory and retrieved to the best of my ability a meal plan I followed many years ago, and I’m going to try to follow a modified version of it.  Most sensible meal plans include all food groups.  Fad diets tend to leave out major food groups.  Low-carb followers: I know you think your diet is healthy, but it is not for me personally so I will stick to a plan that includes all food groups.

After eating my usual breakfast, and having a snack, I planned out the rest of my meals for the day.  I didn’t do too badly.  Total was three meals and two snacks.  I’ve included things like brown rice, which I am cooking now as we speak, and one of my favorite veggies, Brussels sprouts.

It all doesn’t add up to enough according to dietary standards, but for me, what I’m eating is a LOT of food.  So I’m taking baby steps here.  In a week, I’ll add a little more.

I left a message on my therapist’s voicemail and told her, very excitedly, what I was eating for the day.  Then I realized that I wasn’t doing this for her.  I’m not eating healthy to please her, or Dr. P, or Dr. K.  I’m doing this to stay alive, for myself–and for Puzzle.

Hey, this could be fun, too.  I might even cook up something elaborate someday.

Taking control of my eating and my life–???

My life feels out of control right now, and it is reflected in the state of mess in my apartment.  Knitting stuff is strewn everywhere.  My desk is disorganized.  The floor is filthy.  Puzzle’s blankets are rumpled.  My coffee table is covered with everything that shouldn’t be on it.  The kitchen is ready for the ants to move in.  The only clean room is the bathroom, which, thanks to, I keep clean.  I need to follow FlyLady’s advice and keep the rest of this place clean, but I think I need to also get the rest of my life in order as well.  If you go to FlyLady’s site, take note that FlyLady states that if one’s house is in order, everything else will follow suit.

I have decided to increase how much food I eat, in small increments.  I tried eating a little bit more today.  I was surprised at how difficult it was.  I hadn’t eaten much earlier, so I had to eat a lot of my daily intake later in the day.  I felt as though I’d just eaten a huge Thanksgiving dinner, and I lay down and felt miserable.  I hope it isn’t always going to be like this, but I fear that it will be.

I have read that if you eat very little, and then suddenly eat what a “normal” person eats, you can get a heart attack after a few days.  This is called “refeeding syndrome.”  Even some doctors don’t know about this.  It’s very dangerous.  They first saw this in WWII POW’s in Japan (and probably Holocaust survivors as well).

The Holocaust survivors, when they came out of the camps, were given foods that they couldn’t handle because they’d been starved for so long, and some of them died of diarrhea.

My mother was supposed to visit Saturday, but I figured this was NOT what I need right now, so I canceled.  I gave her the excuse that I am “tied up” for the weekend and the following week, partially true.

I get weighed Monday.  Fun, fun.

The Poop Hits the Fan at My Appointment Today

I went to see Dr. P today, my psychiatrist.  I told her, “All is going well, couldn’t be better,” which was true, except for the glaring problem: my eating disorder.  I have lost eight pounds since the last time I saw her and that I couldn’t hide.  She let me have it.  And she made me tell her what I weigh on my scale at home when I weigh myself in the morning.  I asked her if I could “plead the fifth” and she said, “No, you can’t,” and I asked her again, “Can I plead the fifth?” and again, she said, “No.”  So I admitted to her what I weigh.

She told me, “If you get under 90 pounds, you’re looking at hospitalization.  And that’s not too far off.  At the rate you’re going, that’s right where you’re headed.  You keep saying you’re going to turn this around, but I don’t see you doing that.”

At that point I got a little sulky and told her that I don’t do well in hospitals, and that this would not be the best thing for me.

Dr. P said, “We may have no other choice.”  Bullshit.

She then talked about “programs” that I should consider; that is, “day programs,” “evening programs,” etc etc, none of which sound appealing whatsoever.

I thought about it later, and re-read my graduation speech (below) and realized NO WAY am I going to give in to “them”!  NO WAY am I going to go to any “program” or be hospitalized!  Somehow, I will do whatever I can to prove to these people that I don’t need their kind of “help,” their kind of “structure,” their “babysitting programs.”  Because that is all that their “help” is–babysitting.  I am not a baby and I will not be treated like one.

I found out just yesterday that I get food stamps now, so on my way home from Dr. P’s, I picked up loads of groceries and brought them home.  I actually ate, too–all the food groups in one meal.  It didn’t amount to much but it was a meal.   I’m going to try to eat more.

I get weighed next Monday.  Today is Wednesday.  If I can keep from losing between now and then I’ll be satisfied.  It’s a start.

My Graduation Speech

Here is the speech I gave at my graduation on Sunday, July 12, 2009, at Goddard College in Port Townsend, Washington:

My name is Julie Greene.  I am a graduate of Goddard College.  As some of you know, I have a dog at home named Puzzle.  Puzzle is not in this bag.  What I do have, however, is one of Puzzle’s sweaters that I made.  (Show sweater.)  This is the granny square sweater that I began at the last residency.  Needless to say, I finished it up after fourth packet.

In 2005 and 2006, when I took time away from Goddard and was hospitalized, doctors and social workers had told me to give up on the idea of ever returning to graduate school, and to attend a mental health day program and join a knitting club.  I have, in part, taken that advice: I have indeed done plenty of knitting.  I knitted many, many sweaters for my little dog, Puzzle.  I knitted these sweaters to pass the time during my trip from Boston to Port Townsend, Washington, to attend the Goddard College residencies.  Today, Puzzle wears these sweaters without a thought, but to me they symbolize not only a journey, but my refusal to give up, my defiance of those people who were supposedly treating me, the very same people who doubted my ability to succeed.  Well, I have succeeded.

Of course, I am very apprehensive about what the future may hold.  But I will continue to revise This Hunger Is Secret, and work on my new book, a memoir about the most exciting and gratifying six years of my life.  This is what happens at the very beginning:  I am coming home from my boyfriend’s funeral, devastated.  A vase of flowers awaits me at my doorstep.  I unlock my apartment door, and greet the dog.  On my answering machine is a message from Paul Selig, with news that will change my life forever.

I would like to thank all those who made this moment possible.  Thank you, everyone.

Home again

Hi Everyone,

I’m back home at last, utterly exhausted.  I took the red-eye flight from Seattle to Detroit, and then a morning flight back to Boston.  Neither crashed.  This morning I awoke at 4am, then went back to bed, and slept until 8:30.  Luckily, Puzzle is well housebroken.

Stay tuned.  I will post my graduation speech and graduation reading as soon as I get a bit of energy.

Graduation Photos!

Here I am with my advisor, Darrah Cloud.

Here I am with my advisor, Darrah Cloud.

Pictured here are my classmate and fellow graduate Penny Johnson, me, and Beatrix Gates, my second reader

Pictured here are my classmate and fellow graduate Penny Johnson, me, and Beatrix Gates, my second reader.

Here I am giving my graduation speech.

Here I am giving my graduation speech.

Here Darrah is turning me around to face the audience, who have all stood up and are clapping and cheering for me.

Here Darrah is turning me around to face the audience, who have all stood up and are clapping and cheering for me.

The night before I leave for graduation

My bags are packed and I’m all ready.  Tomorrow the cab will pick me up at 10:30 and take me to Logan Airport.  I’ll fly to Seattle via Newark and spend the night in Seattle tomorrow night, then take the bus to Port Townsend Friday afternoon, and arrive at the college at around 4pm.

Puzzle arrived safely at Pooch Palace today at 2.

Am I nervous?  I was very nervous right before leaving Puzzle off, but now less so.  I’ve zipped up my suitcase.  All I have to do is leave tomorrow.

I guess sometimes the time spent traveling I might reflect on things.  Like how cool it is that I’m actually graduating.

Like how cool it is that I am alive.  I want so much to live.  I don’t want to die.  I tell myself this every day and I promise myself that I will work toward recovery from this stupid ED instead of burying myself in it.

I also am amazed at the fact that my family knows nothing of it.  I saw my mother briefly last month.  I think she noticed a change in my appearance and said nothing.  She was visiting, and left quickly.  She is totally clueless.  She’s been clueless all my life.

I told both of my brothers that I was restricting, and they both told me that it was “nothing to worry about.”  Both of them said that sometimes they don’t eat much.  (Gee, I think there’s a difference…)  I haven’t mentioned it since.  I just act like everything’s fine.  I guess they wouldn’t want to hear about it even if they knew.

It is weird having something going on that my treatment team knows about, and my friends know about, and CYBERSPACE knows about, but my own flesh and blood–clueless.

When I lived with them in high school it was the same way, at least with my parents.  All my friends knew I had problems.  My teachers suspected.  I wrote about it passionately in my journal.  I was aching to get help.  But my parents always believed that high school was a very happy time for me.  They were–to repeat the word–clueless.  They were blinded by their own ideas of what a Jewish suburban family in the 1970’s should be.

I believe my brothers see me as some kind of alarmist.  They think that I fret over little things too much, and that when I got upset that I was restricting, they saw it as making too much of something that mattered little.  Well, get over it, guys.

I’m going to graduation and I’m going to have a great time.  I’m going to be an MFA soon!  Like Sunday!  Everyone says I should think of this as a whole new life for myself.  In a way, I do.  In a way, I can hardly wait.  I do have some plans.  I’m less scared than I was because my thesis is in “final” form (i.e. prepared for the binder) and all my paperwork is done.  I should think of this as one of the happiest moments of my life.

Knitting: How to make a simple hat

Here is the hat I just made for myself:

hat by itself

Here it is on me.  Please ignore me and just look at the hat!

hat on me

Here’s how I made it:

I used Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice yarn, four different colors.  I chose Vanna’s Choice because that’s what I had lying around.  It is a 100% acrylic yarn that is easy to handle.  The main color is Dusty Blue.  The stripes are done in Olive, Dusty Rose, and Dusty Purple.

I decided to make a 19-inch circumference hat, which is appropriate for a small adult or woman.  I knitted a 4-inch wide swatch and discovered that with #8 needles, this yarn knits up at 4 stitches per inch, so I needed to use 76 stitches around, in a 16-inch circular needle.

To insure that my initial casting-on stitches aren’t too tight, I cast on to a #10 needle, then knit onto my #8 circular needle.  Make sure you don’t twist the stitches when you knit the subsequent rows!  I did a K1, P1 ribbing for 3 inches.  If I were to do it again, I think I would have used a #7 needle for the ribbing, but the hat came out fine with the looser ribbing anyway, so it didn’t matter.

Then I switched to stockinette stitch.  I knitted until the hat measured around six inches or so, then I made my stripes: Olive first, then Dusty Rose, then Dusty Purple, three rows of each (1/2 inch).  Then I switched back to the main color, Dusty Blue, and knitted for a half inch more before beginning decreases.

If you are making a woman’s hat, you should knit straight for six inches before starting your decreases.  If you are making the hat with a foldover, as this one that I made had, you should knit for eight inches before starting your decreases.

Infants’ hats are 14 inches around and 4 inches high.

Childrens’ hats are 16 inches around and 5 inches high.

Teens’ hats are 18 inches around and 6 inches high.

Small adult hats are 20 inches around and 6 inches high.

Large adult hats are 22 inches around and 7 inches high.

Add two inches if you are making a foldover.

Okay, now for the decreases.  Here is what I did:  I decided to do an 8-arm spiral.  I had 76 stitches.  I had to get to a multiple of 8.  8×9=72.  So I inserted my stitch markers: 10 stitches first, then 9, then 10, then 9, and so on, all the way around.  I had 8 groups.    Then, I *K2 tog the first stitches of the first group, then K the rest of the stitches of that group, then K the second group,* all the way around.  I had decreased by four stitches and have 72 stitches on the needle.  K the next row without any decreases.

With 72 stitches on the needle, I was easily able to do the 8-arm spiral.  K2 tog at each marker for the next row.  You will have 64 stitches.  K the next row without decreasing.  At the next row, K2 tog at each marker, resulting in 56 stitches.  K the next row without decreasing.  At the next row, K2 together at each marker, resulting in 48 stitches, K without decreasing in the next row.  Continue in this manner until you have 40, 32, 24, and finally 16 stitches on the needles (by now you have switched to DPN’s).  K2 tog all the way around.  With a yarn needle, weave the yarn through the all the loops on your needles twice and bind off on the wrong side of the hat.

You’ll want to neaten up the loose yarns on the inside of the hat resulting from switching colors.  I usually knot them carefully and weave them into the fabric and cut them, again, carefully.  Try to make the bottom of the hat look seamless by tucking in the end neatly.

So far, I have not chosen to make a pompom for this hat, but I may change my mind.  There are many good pompom makers out there.  If I were to make one, I think I’d mix all four colors together in the ball.  Well, I don’t know.  We’ll see.
Happy knitting!

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