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These episodes of binging got more and more out of control. I continued eating less during the day and then more than making up for it in the evenings. Several years passed, and my eating habits fluctuated. I had never even considered throwing up until I saw a Lifetime movie about a girl who had bulimia. The process seemed so easy.


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I could eat whatever I wanted and however much I wanted, and then just get rid of it with a simple flush of the toilet. The first time I purged was when I was in 10th grade after eating half of a tub of chocolate ice cream. After I had gotten rid of the offending calories, I felt lighter.

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You see, bulimia became a sort of coping mechanism for me. It ended up not being so much about food as it did about control. I was dealing with a lot of stress later on in high school. Nobody seemed to notice my bulimia. By the time I reached college, I was binging and purging daily. There were so many changes that came along with moving away from home, taking college courses, and dealing with life mostly on my own for the first time.

I remember going on a trip to New York City with some friends and desperately looking for a bathroom after eating too much pizza. I remember being in my dorm room after eating a box of cookies and waiting for the girls down the hall to stop primping in the bathroom so I could purge. I would go through good periods and bad periods. I remember purging after breakfast before my college graduation.

I remember having a very bad period of purging while looking for my first professional job. Again, it was often about control. You may develop heart issues, like an irregular heartbeat or even heart failure.

I remember blacking out upon standing quite often during my bad periods of bulimia. Looking back, it seems incredibly dangerous. At the time, I was unable to stop myself despite being afraid about what it was doing to my body. I eventually confided in my now-husband about my eating issues. He encouraged me to speak with a doctor, which I only did briefly.

My own path to recovery was long because I tried doing much of it on my own. When the doctor leaves, the father reads to Schatz from a book about pirates, but the boy is not paying attention and is staring fixedly at the foot of the bed. His father suggests he try to get some sleep, but Schatz says he would rather be awake. Both man and dog fall more than once on the ice before they find a covey of quail and kill two.

The father, pleased with his exploits, returns to the house. The father enters anyway and finds the boy still staring at the foot of the bed. He tells Schatz his temperature is fine, and not to worry. When the father gives Schatz his medication, Schatz asks if he thinks the medication will help, and the father answers affirmatively. After attempting to interest Schatz in the pirate book and failing, the father pauses, whereupon Schatz asks him when the father thinks Schatz will die. It emerges that Schatz has heard at school in France that no one can live with a temperature above 44, so Schatz thinks he is sure to die with a temperature of He has been waiting to die all day.

They lie around the fires, telling stories to pass the time, most of them tales of supernatural occurrences. Turgenev brings these boys to life, each with his own distinct appearance and personality, and there is something deeply moving about the way he portrays them; he takes them so seriously, according them dignity, and the stories they tell one another, there in the night, are in themselves incandescent. This is not the superstitious, reactionary peasant class of the revolutionaries and the historians; these are five boys, each with a life of his own, woven from the threads of their language, their culture and the camaraderie of their campfire.

At that time, serfdom still prevailed in Russia, which is to say that the nobility not only owned the villages on their land, they also owned the peasants who lived in them. It was, in other words, a form of slavery. He was assassinated 20 years later, his death witnessed by his son and grandson, who would become the next two czars, Alexander III and Nicholas II.

It is not unreasonable to imagine that his assassination was instrumental in turning both of them into reactionary, anti-liberal autocrats, so opposed to any sort of reform and so intent on gagging all opposition that eventually revolution became inevitable.

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It was called Bezhin Meadow, and it was an old woman who pointed it out to us. She was dressed in a skirt and head scarf, and she was working all alone in the middle of the field, gleaning corn from the stubble, a wheelbarrow by her side. Brown and Addario got out and stepped over to the fence. Brown said something in Russian; the woman replied.

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Suddenly I realized that I had to speak to her, that the museum, the trees and the old books, the things I had been focusing on so far, represented nothing but my own ideas about the country I was visiting. My whole view of Russia was based on myths and romantic imagery. What kind of hubris made me believe that I would be capable of saying something about the real Russia after a nine-day trip through one tiny corner of this vast country?

It was like describing a bucket of water in order to say something about the ocean. It was no great crime, though — the corn had already been harvested — and after a bit of back and forth, the woman agreed to tell us about her life. Ask her if she has any family. It appeared that the woman had been born in a small village just down the road. She had moved to Moscow when she was 15 and lived there until just a few years ago when she returned to the village to take care of her mother after her father died. But life here is different. She then pointed us in the direction of the meadow, and we walked on.

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The trees lining the hill beyond it seemed to soak up the darkness. They stood there in inky silhouette against the still palely gleaming sky. There was utter silence, our footsteps the only sound. And their grandchildren could have risen up against the czar, and their grandchildren could have been crushed by revolution. I stood watching and listening, waiting for some sense of connection.

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Everything around me was just as it would have been in the s. The trees, the meadow, the valley, the hills, the twilight, all of it. And yet everything was different. The train to Kazan stretched for what seemed like miles alongside the platform at the Moscow station. The green-painted locomotive and the long string of gray carriages looked like something from wartime.

We had a second-class compartment with four berths, and as the train slowly pulled out of the station, I took out my book on Lenin, tucked my suitcase under the bed and settled myself by the window. I was reading about Lenin because the places we were going to for the next seven days had been set up in part with him in mind: In just a few weeks it would be exactly years since the October Revolution, when he almost single-handedly seized power in Russia. Everything in the old world would be eradicated to make way for the new; no price was too high and there would be no way back. I desperately wanted a cigarette.

Brown said it was against the law to smoke on the train, but if we just bought something from the crew, a candy bar or some tea, she was sure they would be able to suggest something.

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After we finished our tea, I followed Brown through the carriage. Just then the conductor emerged from her little cubicle. Her face was set and solemn, grim almost.


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She opened the door leading to the narrow passageway between the carriages. I stepped out onto the juddering, swaying metal platform, one side of which was open all the way down to the rails underneath, so the sound of the thundering wheels filled the tiny space. She shut the door, and I bent to light a cigarette.

When I got back, we walked through to the adjoining carriage.