30 January 2010

if i get up during the night, for instance for a glass of water, my cat follows. i could accept such affection from no one else with this ease but consider this one of the best parts of my life.
in my unwritten life right now i am remarkably still. there's not much to worry about and i get things done.
my best friend who sold me out and laughed at me when i became psychotic was a loud, combative, pain-afflicted achiever like this person, though not as sweet. my no-longer friend is the reason i cheer for minnesota teams to lose. when older men in positions of authority express disappointment that i am not like the people discussed above i miss a beat before grouchily thinking, away with you.

29 January 2010

i am a bit frustrated that i was not able to keep records like this of talking with the good psychologist. he told me to and that i would want them but i found it too difficult to face.
what i don't usually do: ask, what is so cool about this and how will i communicate it? and think, how will i talk about it even if i don't know.

i don't want to, how will i talk about it anyway?
remembering how to do things simply is not such an easy thing. tips from my tuesday meeting: remember you can go back for things, logic will often get you there faster (strange after liking math and physics i trust it so little), translating aesthetic-seeming choices into something more language-like can help (though the aesthetic choice will seem to fit better and it feels like a rip-off), simple patterns can be extremely elegant, go for multiple choice.
my feeling is that i am a mollusk and a psychologist is a knife prying under the shell.

28 January 2010

i find psychologists slightly creepy. "therapists" or people with education degrees in counseling are totally off the wall nuts. but with psychologists there might be a payoff. this one said i was strong, and that was okay. he talked a lot about my sister, which had my attention completely, but was minimally helpful and not okay in the same way that exaggerated empathy for an ex-boyfriend is not cool. he indirectly passed tips in identifying people being stupid, which really only causes me to become irritable.

i thought about this while on the train some guy was sucking loudly on a straw that made an annoying noise. i whispered, "that straw is fucking annoying," from behind him and his headphones. he put down his stupid rubbermaid container and as if hard of hearing, loudly took a call from an associate weightlifter. i wish him hemorrhoids. actually i don't, he likes having roommates to keep him from getting lonely. if i could make short people stop trying to make themselves bigger by walking slowly through the absolute center of every available space i would be much appeased. please i am trying to get on a train. one day. lets all mentally roll out the red carpet for the short people.

27 January 2010

found: someone's bibliography of the neuropsychology of shamanism.
at night behind closed eyelids my brain played static like an old tv.

26 January 2010

question to the neuropsychologist:

"how do you cope if you're not smart and you're psychotic?"

the answer is that you acquire multiple opinions to help account for how vulnerable you've become.

privately, if i may say so: i hate when psych people push buttons, even though i know it's mostly mental status testing... unless they're the kind of person who is all about "compliance," from whom the neuropsychologist told me to always make a speedy getaway. what else? i can be bored into submission, i miss things and i had fun playing with blocks.

25 January 2010

i had a panic attack and i am not sure if it is because i'm getting neuropsychologically tested tomorrow, because i am not working hard enough (which would be a good thing, a reversal of brain wiring), or because after a couple days of testing lentil recipes (the secret to brown lentils is dried fenugreek leaves and no onions. also, i found a magic rasp/grating tool.) i ate meat and my body had an extreme reaction. woe.

24 January 2010

there was a sale at zara and i was there wearing things and strangers were telling me to buy them, if not actually looking at me while doing so. in one case i had a change room directly in front of the mirror a girl and her friend were looking at themselves in, and the top of the shirt i was wearing didn't fit. in the second case i was standing in line discussing whether or not the "crazy cat lady" sweater i was holding was, "too literal." i think i had her at, "my cat really likes polyester."

23 January 2010

it feels like springtime here and my cat is grumpy. i don't want him going out to cavort and getting mixed up with coyotes. so he was making a scene at the door and i picked him up and took him for a walk in the back yard. he doesn't normally like to be carried but apparently it was even better than an open window.
my dad keeps reporting on his employees for inappropriate internet use at work (sending him chain mail) and he keeps driving home with nails in his tires.

21 January 2010

egon schiele, twenty years old and bitter about it.

mother and child.

20 January 2010

i just discovered that the double-sided pages of an article on derrida's 'circumfession' i photocopied, years ago, were reversed (side c-d followed by c-d rather than a-b). i did such a bad job copying (and how?) i'd chopped the numbers off. what makes this an act of god is that i had not noticed until now. it's actually a beautiful and sensuously attuned piece of writing, well organized and with deft scholarly apparatus.

18 January 2010

there is a boy i was thinking about asking out for a drink. he set me up to ask the question. he's a drinker and somewhat angry, although i hope the two don't really combine. i don't want to make him nice and his kind of social game is not particularly fun or exciting for me. he's smarter than me, academically my brain isn't working, and as much fun as it is to listen to someone be smart i don't want to be yet another person's grad school cheerleader. in my experience doing so is not a gift that gives much back, either. so i guess what i'm saying is i don't think he wants to be friends and this is an opportunity i don't really want, although i think we could be friendly and don't know anyone else who will go to a whiskey bar with me and there are a lot of i don't knows i'm making here. and what if i've only seen his annoying habits?

my sense of self now feels vaguely eroded. i think the bottom line is, i need to keep meeting new people.
i've lost my ability to cope with not being actively engaged. things like data entry, visiting with relatives, working in a produce store, reading the news wires, become set-ups for psychosis. for now i cope with studying, active listening, taking care of other things, exercise. i worry about how i'm going to have a life. it's a small practical worry.
today i returned to my cat friends. a little girl cat had a cold and i called for a doctor. she liked to toss toys in the air and chase them, and to snuggle against my shoulder. she had a fever and i stayed extra long to snuggle her back. she was good at getting attention. there were two scared cats, and i spoke with them gently, from outside the open doors to their cages. there was a big orange man cat who sat in my lap. he was sweet (the little girl cat tried to jump on his head and play with him and he lay there quietly) and mellow. one ear was torn and ragged, someone had taken a chunk out of his tail, and his hip bones protruded like an old cat's. i suspect he once met with a nasty raccoon. it was good to be back with my gentle cat friends.
at night when i'm lying in bed the right side of my face twitches, beside my nose. if i rub it it stops. i began to wonder why only the left side of my brain was acting up, and then i noticed that it happens when i become particularly anxious. it's like having a magic 8-ball on my nose, with direct access to what my brain has coded as worrysome. does my heart break a little for mad bird's baby sister? nose says yes, heart wishes her moments of joy and compassion shared by mad bird. do i think taking classes is a bad idea for me? nose wiggles yes. then my mood starts to improve and i remind myself exercise will help with this.

17 January 2010

tonight i made coq a vin, adapted from smitten kitchen and julia child. since switching medications i've lost so much weight my hair started falling out. hence, for comfort i have been cooking really good things lately and the velvety smoothness of this, with the early evening of peeling little onions over a beer and later the three pans over the stove, was very satisfying work. i only wish the thyme i dried this summer hadn't gone missing... in any case, we all thought it was great and next time i will have cognac, if not bacon.

16 January 2010

crazy idea.
3.5 thousand million years of evolution from the origins of life on earth to human brains. The relative size of the forebrain has increased most during evolution - fishes have a very small one. The prefrontal cortex tripled in size in just two million years. Brains are so remarkably conservative in that simple animals such as sea slugs provide ideal models for understanding human neurological function. The sea slug, with 20 000 neurons, served as a model for how memory works.

girlfriend for my cat. via

15 January 2010


memory, time and multiple realizability. plasticity.

14 January 2010

note to self:

disjunctivism, emergence, consciousness: a very short introduction and philosophy of mind.

13 January 2010

i am registered to be part of the brain study! i will receive a cd of pictures of my brain!

p.s. since changing to b.i.d. dosing i feel unnervingly stable.

12 January 2010

providing my cat with a stable morning routine is how i start the day off right. he purrs as i wake up, then he has breakfast in the kitchen with no disturbing noises. i make coffee and encourage him to play (breakfast is very invigorating for my cat), and while the coffee brews in the french press i freshen his water and top up the dry food.

10 January 2010

"the americanization of mental illness," via the ny times. this kind of cross-cultural, over-time analysis of psychiatric issues is one of my interests.

09 January 2010

today it was rainy. i had to ask the man sitting beside me on the bus to stop touching me. he was drunk and said that people like his brother in el salvador prefer white skin. his fingernails were cracked. "that's weird," i said, and he laughed and stopped trying to talk. a little while on he pounded another beer.

i'd thought he was psychotic, which made me calm with recognition. he reminded me of a girl i met in the hospital who in a similar kind of state seemed clairvoyant, or onmidirectionally empathic. in any case, i'd come from a yarn shop and wasn't wearing my knitted mittens.

07 January 2010

my omi say that i am related to this dude. you can see we both have his big nose. hers is pointier than mine. mine looks almost exactly like his in profile, though. she says that there is a genealogical table that clarifies the relation, but i haven't found it yet.

06 January 2010

introspection: i practically don't know how. my favourite writers do, that's why they are my favourite - they fill a missing space. i tend to ruminate, and behaving like a quadrupedal beast is not good for my mental health. i am so relieved not to be depressed; i am relieved every day that i am not, and that my memory continues to serve, and that i feel like a part of the world. being lost takes me many places, but it does not meaning make.

05 January 2010

today a female rabbi phenomenologist introduced me to 'mr lee's cat cam.'

to enjoy i suggest you click on 'cat cam' and then on 'photos.'

i was wanting to learn about methods of interpretation of the hebrew bible during late antiquity. we both like metaphors. afterwards i felt light and grounded and happy as though i had been speaking to my much-missed psychologist, who, like her, knows phenomenology and educational philosophy.

03 January 2010

[screaming, mentally.] this anxiety is purely psychological. my brain buries stress in fantastically convoluted ways. it's a gaudi house in here.
one thing i covet seriously is cookbooks. i picture the kitchen i will have when i grow up and it has a substantial shelf filled with them. i like their pictures and i like them as compendia of ways of life and exchange. i am still cooking my way around the mediterranean, particularly the eastern mediterranean, with frequent excursions to india. lots of people seem to learn about food by eating in restaurants but mine is an idiosyncratic book-based education.

01 January 2010

one thing that is very comforting to eat is roasted things.

you can roast brussel sprouts (peel off the outer few leaves, cut them in half and add a diced slice of bacon (even better is prociutto), a tiny bit of olive oil, some salt and pepper and let them sit in the oven at 325-400 degrees for 30-45 minutes). in 2009 this was so trendy i knew about it.

this winter i have made a lot of roast chicken. because a whole chicken body grosses out my father, i roast chicken parts, skinnless thigh or breast meat. the bones can be left in. i use a heavy pan. some people have special expensive ones, but a glass baking pan, corning wear, or even a baking sheet is what i'm after. chicken for however many portions goes in the pan, along with yams (potatoes or sweet potatoes work too), skin on if you like, cut in large chunks. i add similarly sized, peeled, chunks of butternut squash and an onion cut in eight pieces. use a big knife and a vegetable peeler.

i drizzel the whole thing with a little olive oil (the fat all cooks off and runs to the bottom of the pan where it prevents sticking and is generally delicious) and shake some dry rub, barbeque sauce or seasoning salt on the meat and some salt and pepper on the vegetables. prep time is maybe ten minutes, and then you let your things bake at 325-350 for a couple hours while the house starts to smell delicious as though you've worked very hard.

to roast chicken as fast as you can, bake it at 425 for 30-40 minutes.
i have yet to make a really spectacular stir fry, yet it is something i make all of the time. my dad likes it with strip loin steak, but de-boned chicken thighs or breasts are good too. i buy steaks that the marbling in the meat will be easy to trim. one is good for about 5 portions. brown rice is good, i like basmati, and white rice will do as well.

the issue with stir fry is that there is a lot of chopping, so i do it when repetitive activity will be calming. i don't make a fancy sauce, so most of the flavour comes from aromatics. i slice an onion in half, and cut it in to narrow half moons. i dice a tablespoon of ginger, or leave it in inch-long rectangular slices. i add a couple cloves of garlic, which i mash through a garlic press (easier than dicing). cut into thin strips the meat cooks quickly, and when it is yet to brown i add the onion, ginger and garlic. did i mention you add about a tablespoon of cooking oil (olive, grapeseed, canola)?

the fun part of stir fry is the variety of vegetables you get to pick to go in. i hate carrots and green peppers. i like brocolli, chard, bok choy, gai lan... dark green things. red or yellow peppers, green onions, zucchini, mushrooms, snow or snap peas and long beans get a neutral review from me. those get chopped and added once the onions are a little less cooked than you'd like them to be when you eat them. when i was a teenager i used to eat bowls of vegetables and meat cooked like this.

sauce can be bought from the store, which i recommend you do if you're not normally a big cook. choose something that looks promising and is in the $1.50 a pouch range. one sauce i do make involves 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon oyster sauce, 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch, and a scant half cup of cold water. i like to add a few shakes of red chili flakes. none of these things are very expensive once you get past the start up cost. the sauce should help the vegetables steam, not boil, until they are tender crisp, which is just a couple minutes. the cooking time for the whole thing should be a little less than it takes the rice to cook (15-20 minutes), with maybe another ten required for meditative chopping.

the vegetables make me feel very good.