Monthly Archives: January 2014

The Body Will Deal With What the Mind Won’t

So I mentioned I contracted the flu, right after Christmas. And unfortunately for me, I then had to drive the car my parents gave me cross country (well… North to South, not cross). I told you guys all of this. Anyway, when I went to see my shrink last Wednesday, the day my divorce was finalized, I was still coughing in the morning. That night I wound up meeting a guy I know who’s also going through a divorce (and with whom I have a lot of sexual tension, but I’ve told him I just need to be friends). We drank beers, and I bummed two of his cigarettes but didn’t really inhale. No really, I’ve been doing the “just suck it into my mouth” thing since I actually bought my own packs of cigarettes (age 18-19), and so I didn’t think weed did anything for me because I… never actually inhaled it. Like Bill Clinton.

But I digress.

The next day my chest felt a little tight, and I felt really low energy, but I chalked it up to staying out late and drinking three beers. And I went to a 90 minute, intense hot power yoga class. With a live DJ, even. They wanted us to hold wheel pose for 5 minutes, and I just couldn’t. The next day my chest was hurting even more, but I again went to yoga and felt like everything was much harder than usual, like the instructor was deliberately torturing me. By Saturday I felt as though my body had been stuffed with bags of sand, and the pressure in my chest was intense. It felt like someone was pushing down on me, hard. Like anxiety, but deeper in my chest cavity.

Having not received the necessary documents from J, I had no insurance of my own yet. And actually, I was surprised to find that I’d been off his insurance since Dec 31. I was stuck- with the pain growing worse, I searched for an urgent care clinic, cancelled my evening plans, and drove to a strip mall clinic that turned out to be closed. I sat for a while in the parking lot searching for anything open and nearby, and though the Bellaire ER didn’t have any statements on their website about accepting uninsured patients, I desperately made my way over there. I was the only patient in the entire building that Saturday night.

I had to turn down an X-ray, because it was just too expensive out of pocket. Without that, the doctor guessed that I have pneumonia, or bronchitus. Or bronchial pneumonia. A jolly nurse made me pull down my pants, so she could give me a steroid shot in the butt (IN THE BUTT!!), and I was left in the examination room for a while to drink my free Keurig coffee and contemplate how I’d gotten sick AGAIN. Or never really gotten well, I suppose. From not being sick for years, I descended into a string of bad colds and other ailments around when J and I decided to divorce, and I haven’t been able to go more than 1-2 months between illnesses since then. A short time later, while I waited for my antibiotics at the 24-hour CVS, (rather than going to watch movies with B), I contemplated whether this was my body’s way of forcing me to confront an emotional pain that I otherwise compartmentalized, and only dealt with in those brief moments when my sorrow managed to get away from me, to leak from beneath its lid.

It’s Thursday, and I’m done the course of antibiotics, but my chest still aches and my limbs feel heavy so I have gone almost a week with no yoga class (SIGH). I’ve been so exhausted and ill that I’ve spent most of the week on the sofa, convalescing. If this is my body’s way of healing my “soul”, then so be it. But considering how long this particular illness has been dragging, I hope it gets everything out of me for good this time.

(On a hippie friend’s advice I bought this sub-lingual B vitamin stuff at Whole Foods. Taking it is like pounding a shot of espresso, since I don’t usually drink caffeine. But even through the manic-hyperactivity, I feel the chest pain lingering.)

***

I just started reading the newest book by my former advisor. I put it off as long as I could, but I need it for my dissertation. I find it unbearable to read him, so GOOD is his work. He makes me want to give up, convinced that there must be enough brilliant anthropologists in the world already. I mean, good work seems good to me in a way that I cannot access; I have trouble remembering things- names are a particularly sticky spot. Names plus their major theoretical contributions are even more difficult. I’m good at imagining. I’m good at wordcraft. But I’m not good at details, just like my mother.

I am impatient with people in my daily life who think they’re smart because they haven’t really had to test it by matching wits with the absolute smartest in our society- no, the world. I’ve actually gone on a few first dates with such people this year. Accustomed to walking around feeling smart because of the company they keep, they have no idea how tired is their logic, how thin their justifications, how stupid they really sound. And I’m NOT a jerk, I’m not. I don’t let on that I’m thinking this (maybe that’s still being a jerk?), but try to gently challenge their arrogance. I don’t have the luxury of arrogance, unless I’m self-deluded. Honestly, I don’t know how anyone manages to be arrogant in academia anymore. Maybe it’s just personality. Maybe it’s that everyone is just deeply insecure and arrogance is the default posture of some.

Anyway.

In his acknowledgements, my ex-advisor thanks the woman he met around the time I first met him, and who became his wife. She’s an artist/art prof. There is something about the way he thanked her that made tears well up in my eyes. I want that. I want a creatively and intellectually stimulating partnership grounded in the fiercest of love. I might have actually met that person recently… he’s a playwriting/theater professor. I dream of writing some heartbreaking homage to him, (or if not him, someone else), when my dissertation becomes a book.

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I Don’t Need Your Shenanigans

Feh, I’ve been sleeping too much. Like, going to bed by 12, getting up at 8 to deal with the dogs, and then going back to bed like a lump for another 2 hours. Because I can, sure, but mostly because of the anxiety/stress.

J and I are supposed to go to divorce court and finalize this divorce this week, and that has me all sorts of twisted around and emotional. J seems to not really be carrying around any sort of sadness about the whole thing, but rather anxiety that I’m going to freak out at the 11th hour and delay the process. You know, I don’t even have to go to the courtroom… isn’t that odd? I can just sign the docs, and he can go by himself. I could be tied up in a closet somewhere, or coerced or… well, I guess we do have to sign them in front of a notary.

I’ve also been spending too much time with notaries lately. And the one up the street takes her job very, very VERY seriously. Raising hand and taking a solemn oath that I am who I say I am seriously. (The one before her told me: “I just got divorced too. Fuck ’em!”)

I had a bit of a meltdown on Saturday morning when I stumbled into the kitchen feeling all sorts of broken and battered and fragile. Still in my jammies and pre-coffee, I wasn’t prepared when J came sailing into the house unannounced and asked if his girlfriend could use the bathroom. Apart from scaring me, I was horrified. What if I’d had a -boy- over? What if I were naked? He’d texted, but I was still in bed so I didn’t know… We had a fight about privacy and house co-ownership and legal cohabitation that led to me curled up on my couch for an hour or so that afternoon, feeling like I’d been beaten up.

Honestly, I need to prepare to see him. Surprises aren’t my favorite thing when they involve people EVER, but particularly not when they involve him right now.

So that night I had am ill-timed date with S, the other Japanese dude I was seeing. I was really emotionally and physically spent, so I don’t think I was my usual sparkly self. But we had a good time drinking wine and eating tasty Italian food and cake balls. In the corner of my mind I was thinking “I need to break it off with this dude”, because I didn’t think the chemistry was there, and I’ve met another guy who I actually really like (but who is currently living close to my parents and not in TX!)… Anyway, S and I talked about all sorts of interesting things (Japanese comedy from the early 2000s!) and then parted relatively early, at 11pm.

Yesterday I got this text, typed out verbatim (he’s lived here for 10 years so we communicate(d) in both English and Japanese depending on what we wanted to say):

“Hi L, how are you? I’m really sorry to tell you that I got very turned off knowing you were interested in women before and you sound you still are [sic]. It was kind of shocking. You are a very interesting person and it’s fun spending time with you. So I would still like to see you as a friend. But I think I lost interest as a date to be honest with you. Sorry but this can happen while we are knowing each other. We can talk on the phone if you like.”

Ok… ok what? So on Saturday I’d told S about how a hotel clerk in TN thought my sister and I were a lesbian couple, and had tried to be thoughtful by suggesting he could move us to a room with one bed… then S asked me if I’d ever had experiences with women, and I said sure, I ran the bisexual student group for a while as an undergrad. I dated women, although none of those relationships made it past the 1 year mark, because I met J in the midst of all that. I told S honestly that these days my orientation is pretty straight.

Anyway, I didn’t think the conversation was a big deal. This is a Japanese guy who doesn’t mind my tattoos, let me go on two feminist rants about Japanese politicians during that same evening, etc. His sisters both married gaijin and moved to South Africa. He’s a typical Todai (University of Tokyo) salaryman in some ways, but…

I haven’t answered because I want to bitch slap him. I have no patience for needing to explain basic sexuality, and why would I want to be friends with someone who finds a basic aspect of my self-identity icky? Dude, this is why you’ve never come close to being married at age 43. Freakin’ evolve already, or don’t date girls with lotsa tattoos and punky short hair. I imagine most of us have smooched a lady or two.

Fehhhhhhhhhhhh. If I could only afford it, I really wish I was going to my shrink more than once a week. Oh, and my dog is sick and I don’t know how to pay to have him taken care of (the vet said it’s either Cushing’s or a tumor, but a more comprehensive, $350 test is needed to determine… ) Meanwhile, I miserably watch as he spends his days drinking liter after liter of water and peeing it back out, shnuffling and coughing etc.

I so wanted to get back to my routine here in HTX, but now that I am here, and I am alone I am just… blah. Trying to keep up the basic productivity. After all, I am on borrowed time with being able to stay in this house, and bleeding my parents dry as they try to support me through this difficult period.

I have too many feelings these days, guys. (Oh dear, a bee just flew into my house. It’s so nice in Houston that I’m working with the bay doors open and they have no screens.)

2014 WILL be better

Our hotel in Slidell, LA. The dog decided she'd like to travel by suitcase.

Our hotel in Slidell, LA. The dog decided she’d like to travel by suitcase.

Oh goodness, 2013’s final present to me was the honest-to-god flu. One of the few bright moments between coughing up a lung and coughing up a  lung has been finding Rohto(ロート) eyedrops in American drugstores. Mint eyedrops in my tired eyes while sick and road tripping across the country? YES SIR. Or wait, maybe they’ve been around for a while in the U.S. and I just never noticed. When I searched in English, this popped up first:

Urban Dictionary, rohto:

Gods [sic] true gift to stoners. The best eye drops on the market

I see. Well…. yes, I can see that (no pun intended).

Anyway, so yes My sister and I roadtripped from near Philly, PA (my hometown) to Houston, TX over the course of three days. It’s about a 24 hour drive, but I broke it up into more like 10-8-5. (With stops, since I basically needed a hot beverage constantly and was drinking about a liter of water an hour, it was more like 13-10-7.) What did I learn from this road trip, other than that cruise control + the flu + stretches of monotonous landscape in Mississippi and Alabama = road hypnosis?

1. Apple maps can still suck it. We followed a highway sign in rural Tennessee to try to go to a Starbucks, because I desperately needed a hot drink and wanted decent (enough) tea. But, typically, the ‘Bux was nowhere to be found once we highway-exited. So I asked Maps. After it tried to turn me onto a dirt trail, I almost chucked the phone out of the car. We kept driving, trying to find a place along the winding road to pull over, and wound up easing into the gravel lot of a dilapidated and unsteady-looking nondenominational church with black crosses in the windows and its own wooden-stand “salon” in the front yard. It was across from a burnt out barn, nonetheless. No lights but our headlights. It would have been a lovely setting for a horror movie, and my sister was legitimately spooked. After that I used Google maps to guide us back to the real Starbucks location, and actually even got a free tea at the lovely new building. Guess it wasn’t -that- rural.

2. People in rural Alabama don’t know what to make of me: I’m not that weird. I’m really, really, not, right? I did have a fresh haircut, so the sides are shaved. I got confirmation throughout this roadtrip that I look like a lesbian (an adorable academic dyke, I’m hoping!), by people for whom this is not a good thing. The car’s low-fuel light was on, so we stopped at the first no-name gas station we could find in a small town. I was paying cash for gas, so I went in to get a coffee (hot beverages!) and pre-pay for my gas. When I entered the shop, everyone inside stopped what they were doing, comedy-sketch style, and sized me up. I gave them a goofy grin and moved to nonchalantly pour myself a coffee while being stared at so intently I was sure I was going to drop something or trip. I smiled big at the good ol’ boy standing to my right, who wasn’t trying at all to hide the look of incredulity and disapproval on his face.

What? Just the short hair? I don’t even merit that kind of attention in Japan, people. (Although… Japanese folks are probably trying harder to hide the stares, eh?)

Similar experience in rural Georgia.

3. New Orleans on New Year’s Eve is exactly how I imagined it. (Enough said). Watch out for flying Mardi Gras beads and unsteady drunks! People watching at its best and worst all at once.

But.. my sister and I found the best live broadcast in rural Louisiana, transmitting from a dive seafood shack. The DJ just did not care that he was singing and talking over the songs, and heckling the customers. S. and I were absolutely crying with laughter. Bonus points for the FEMA trailer jokes.

4. The mountains of Tennessee and Virginia are beautiful. We saw some views that really took my breath away. Blue Ridge Mountains, you are a sight. Mountains meeting bright blue water, and the road running around and through it all, taking the ache out of my lungs and throat for a few minutes. Everything blue and grey and black and white and vivid. And the cold, dark waters of the Louisiana swamps, with trees popping out here and there in the middle of the water- the bridge from Slidell, LA to NOLA…. yeah.

5. Subway has sriracha sauce as an option for their subs now. What’s a vegetarian / health foodie to do for lunch on a road trip, when she’s got two dogs that can’t be left in the car and is trying to bust tail to make good time? Subway! It’s pretty much the only option. So I got my veggie sub, and truth be told, the sriracha sauce was a bit overwhelming on it. But the spiciness was, um, welcome cold medicine.

J wants to go to court and finalize our divorce next week. I was “meditating” this evening (and generally feeling lonely), when I realized that rather than sitting with my eyes closed, doing my meditation-thing, I was staring into space sadly. I told him I had a dream that he fell in love with me again and asked me to re-marry him. He is refusing to engage when I say things like that, and really I don’t even want that dream to come true but… I also want to stop doing things like staying out all night making out with a guy in my parents’ car while visiting them for Christmas. Yeah, I did that. Day after Christmas. The guy gave me the flu.

I thought I couldn’t wait to get back to being home alone, to my routine. The routine is good, and a certain amount of alone time is also good. This is the first night I’ve been alone though in three weeks and it feels weird in a bad way. But I’m -making- myself do it, because the nonstop parade of guy distractions isn’t the healthiest thing either.