Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Squatter Evangelism

I want a squatter toilet.  With a Bidet.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Hell Month

As Hell Month comes to a dragging close, I feel inclined to explain my "prolonged" absence and attempt to begin September anew.  August is typically difficult for me no matter what; it's the month where summer student projects realize their failure to culminate properly, when grant money comes in, when last years money must be spent or be lost to the government, when deadlines abound, and when I realize that I have been dawdling all summer and must reclaim some kind of focus.  This August, however, has been particularly acerbic.

I have not written much since July because my emotional mind has been inhabiting a very dark place.  It appears that I did not actually recover from my PWD phase until very recently.  Since I have not cried for a mind-boggling four-day continuum -- with the exception of M&L's wedding yesterday, which does not count -- I think it's time for a celebratory return to the real world.

This August, everything came crashing down.  My baby brother alone and unhappy in his new college surroundings; summer student projects failing to culminate; the complete revamping of my journal papers, which would be fine except for that the longer it takes my boss to edit them, the less likely it is that I will have their publication on my graduate school C.V.; weddings of those dear friends who decided last-minutely not to attend my own or send a gift, or a card, or even acknowledge an intent to do so, but who expect my attendance at showers, bachelorette parties and their special days (and, yes, I know exactly how that sounds); the sickening regrets about my own wedding that I seem to hunt down, which is its own special kind of painful and stupid act; the desperate need to get H.K. on my health insurance, which has been delayed by the marriage certificate fiasco, the name-changing social security card fiasco and the title and registration DMV fiasco that is guaranteed to occur; the realization that I am, Crohn's wise, exactly where I was last year at this time and somewhat terrified that it will all begin to replay at any moment, and the major anxiety that last year will fully repeat itself and I will not get into school again, even though I'm more qualified than 90% of applicants in the country (yes, I know exactly how that sounds, too).  This is do-or-die year.  If it doesn't happen now, it's not going to.

There have been several instances of tummeh turbulence that put my Crohn's panic into play.  Namely, a weekend out in Seattle with dear friends where eating out twice a day, despite my greatest efforts -- and I was very careful... excepting the alcohol -- sent me into a painful reenactment Monday evening.  Secondarily, the immense stress I've felt deep into the dorsal horn of my spine makes even butter a dangerous contender.  'You're doing so well,' I tell myself, 'don't throw it all away in the name of gustatory freedom.'  And it's so much more easily said than done.

Sleep?  None to be had.  Exercise?  Fluctuating with the consistency of supermarket produce quality.  Meditation?  Intimidatingly unsuccessful unless there is alcohol involved.

I need something good to happen here.  In the mean time, I am at least escaping from the grasp of beastly depression.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

how we are hungry

No one in my line of work ever says, "It's so beautiful - so meaningful - what you're doing."  People don't look at graphs and n's and alpha values and feel the shell harboring their emotions crack.

I have to.  Every so often, I have to hunt for a study that is so powerful, and so beautiful that my jaw clenches and my eyes swell.  If I don't, I break under the politics of science.  I rarely find one.

So many years spent choreographing souls, extending life in my arms and dancing disease out of existence.  Science is not like dance.  No one ever reaches through the laminate of graphs and methodology to find the empathetic compassion of a fellow scientist.

I need to know that it can be so powerful - so beautiful - what I'm doing.

Apparently, it can be, and I lose sight of it:
What you do makes my jaw clench and my eyes water, though.

You see the day to day, deadlines to keep grants, shooting mice in the stomach with needles, and training new med school idiots who are clearly beneath you.

My second host mother, E, had the most warm, loving, wonderful parents. Her tall, strapping, powerful father slowly began to shake more and more each day until he was diagnosed with Parkinson's. All of a sudden this strong man was made to feel like an incapable child in his own body, leaving his tiny, frail wife to treat him like an infant. He felt emasculated and helpless.  He went on the most top-notch medication known at the time in order to control his uncontrollable shaking and ended up having psychedelic nightmares every waking and sleeping moment of the day. Waking up, shitting himself from fear, literally seeing a wrecking ball smashing through the room, muscling his weak body over his wife to protect her from his delusions.

I've seen another man, not much older than your parents, with a teenage child. But instead of looking his age, the stress from Parkinsons leaves him looking in his 70's, barely capable of continuing his accounting practice because it takes him over 5 minutes to write his name. He can't keep a conversation because the shakes take over and he can no longer concentrate. "It's a bad day," he says to me, when he can't even complete a sentence, asking me about his [business transaction].

My heart breaks. But you are doing something about it. Your blood, sweat, tears, frustration, stress, training...your life will contribute to the future. So other people won't go through life like this.
When I found out this is what your focus was, I heard my host mother in my head. "I don't wish this disease on anyone." She was on the verge of tears as she watched her father try to simply walk through a doorway with so much difficulty. I was so proud of you, and to even know you, right then and there.
Thank you, K, for reminding me that what I am doing can be so beautiful, and so meaningful.