Mind Fields: Food Disorders And Other Fun Things to Do To F**k Yourself UpPosted: June 3, 2022 | Author: artrosch | Filed under: Commentary, Mind Fields, Opinion | Tags: Addiction, Arthur Rosch, Eating Disorders, Mind Fields, Social Commentary, Writing to be Read |4 Comments
2022, The Year Of The Great Fungus
I have a conceit, i.e. that I should hold the title as “The World’s Most F**ked Up Person”. The only problem is that all of you would also like to hold this same title. Don’t try to con me. I know what you think. The only reason I know what you think is that it’s the same thing that I think.
Or. I used to think. When I recognized that each of us claims this title as the most neurotic person on Earth, I began to have more confidence in myself. Surely, I reasoned, if I am exactly the same amount of f**ked up as everyone else, then I must belong to this Family of Man. I’m human. And we all know that there is great dignity to being human. We are builders of pyramids, makers of satellites and space ships.
I have a very weird relationship with food. The first time I grasped that I was deeply crazy was when I began to eat huge amounts of food. I indulged especially in sweets. If I were to make a pie chart of my life (and refrain from eating it), I’m sure it would show huge chunks of time in the bulimia/anorexia’ zone. The worst of my food disorders followed me through adolescence; years seventeen through twenty two. I was out in the world, trying to maneuver by being on or near college campuses.
I had a sneaky way of being anorexic. I deluded myself into thinking that this was a spiritual discipline. Macrobiotics. It would get me high, exalt me spiritually. By eating small portions of brown rice and onions, chickpeas in barley, I was the paragon of yogic discipline. This was who I wanted myself to be. I got skinny. I weighed 125. On top of this I was taking LSD and smoking DMT. I was deep into my purpose, my destiny of becoming a musician of salvation and a figure of reverence. I was grandiose as all hell.
Then I came to a breaking point. After a year of Macrobiotics, I had such a craving for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that I bought the ingredients and took them back to my hidey hole. “What are you doing?” I asked myself. “This is a self betrayal, this is the opposite of Macrobiotic food. You asshole, what a failure you are!” So I ate it. Then I ate something else sweet and gooey. Then I couldn’t stop eating every kind of junk food on the planet. I had been like a spring ready to snap. Boing!
I was so ashamed of myself. This was 1967, before eating disorders had been invented. I was a pioneer. My bulimia wasn’t the pukey kind. It was the Exercise Freakishly type of bulimia, the one where on alternate days I would purge with sweat and effort, then follow with a day of relentless eating: an entire apple pie, backed up by a half gallon of ice cream. That kind of eating: epic, disgusting eating. After that came the cookies, and so forth. One day exercising. One day binge eating. Back and forth, one followed the other, for more than a year. I looked for help. I went to the college shrink. He said, “I don’t know what’s happening to you and I can’t help you. Besides, you’re not even enrolled as a student at this college.”
I lost weight during this time. It was paradoxical! How could I be losing weight? My metabolism must have been very confused. My waist was a twenty nine or thirty. I was living in a vacant student’s quarter, avoiding the security guys and bedding down with a pad and sleeping bag. I got money from my dad. I worked as a stable boy at a local horse ranch. A stable boy. I had my drums stashed at the university’s music building in a practice room. I practiced there for hours every day, getting high by all means and experimenting with the limits of my technique. That was the point of not going to college. I let my dad pay for semesters at Western Reserve or Wayne State, and then I would slip down to Yellow Springs from Cleveland and hang out with people who talked to trees. I would practice all the time, working through the famous “Stick Control” books and listening to Coltrane records.
This was a pleasant period that lasted about a year. I may be conflating two different periods of time. It doesn’t matter. That’s the way memory works when it sort of fails to work. I think there’s a memory bank in the brain and it gets filled up and needs to be purged once in a while. It’s all just story anyway. Life truly is fiction, it has to be. I just want a subject to write about and my life has been so bizarre that it qualifies as the stuff of novels. That poor guy (that is, myself) didn’t know what lay ahead. He thought that if he took enough acid, did yoga, ate rice and played the drums then he would launch himself into nirvana. It’s not a bad plan, really. The problem was that I was fractured psychologically, harboring behaviors that would shame me again and again. I was very (he says solemnly) very f**ked up.
These were adolescent ordeals, but they were precursors to my future. In the sixties my eighteen year old self dreamed of cosmic unity while the biggest thing that lay ahead of me was coke and heroin addiction. I interrogated my psyche by reading about psychology. After that came years of therapy. I was determined to save myself ,in spite of my terrible behavior.
It took a long time but none of it can be repudiated. It’s lucky I’m still alive and well.
After my food disorders came cocaine, and then, heroin.
I’m still slightly food disordered. I control, compensate, manage. Mostly I exercise.
The cocaine and heroin almost killed me.
Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.
Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.
More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com
Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos
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HI Art, I am sorry to learn that cocaine and heroin nearly killed you. I think you must have a bit of an obsessive personality and that can lead to food issues and drug and alcohol issues too. I am also obsessive and so I have always been very careful to avoid anything addictive because I think I am high risk for addiction.
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Robbie, overcoming this junk is the story of my life. A “bit” of an obsessive personality? You have no idea. Let’s see…I was homeless for ten years. Even worse, possibly, is the year I spent living in a fleabag hotel in downtown San Francisco. BUT…I wrote about it. That makes it OK, right? Well…the artist’s life can be weird. That’s often what makes artists become artists.
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You are right, artists create their best work from extreme adversity. I could have said a very obsessive personality, but that would have been rude in terms of my upbringing.
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Robbie, your allusion to your upbringing is cryptic. I’d like to know your story. At the appropriate time.
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