31 December 2010

I am drinking mint tea and thinking about maybe participating in a graduate seminar on the history of the book with a professor who I idolize for his nuanced and beautifully written scholarship. It's history of the book or history of medicine, both of which come with challenging, exciting projects, neither, though, of which are very sexy. I wrote to my old psychologist for advice and go for it is what he suggested. I failed badly when I was his patient, I would always lose my nerve. Initial reading for the class arrived via e-mail and historiographically I get exactly where it is coming from: the class I am finishing has set it up perfectly (the same is true in reverse: the new ideas have for once issued a brainstorm to tie up loose ends on an old project). Taking the class was like staring out the window on a long train trip, only I was staring at a numbingly boring discussion.

I have been watching a lot of hockey (boring/stimulating), collecting books and not thinking about what I can do to cope better. I wonder about the extent to which being forced to show that I will take medication has left gaps in conversations, and about how much more I give up now, relying on a pill. Sometimes I think that I generally coped better when I cared intensely about the music I was listening to, but most music now annoys me, grates on my nerves. Then I coped by eating less, dampening my physiology with long walks and a little starvation, which would have not helped me to think better. Now I take a long-acting sedative every night, knowing that it impairs my memory and mental sharpness, but willing to take the trade so that I can be calm enough to write sentences. I could be calmer still if I took another antipsychotic, but so far the matches have caused me to lactate, raised hormones linked to causing cancer, and caused me to gain weight at an alarming and irritating rate.

I am not sure whether I am talking myself in to or out of things.

30 December 2010

my cat deserves a distinguished-looking photo of himself in cushioned splendor.

29 December 2010

One of my former professors had published a book. Her language now not incomprehensibly continental, though it is, and humorously, slightly psychotic. I read it with delectation.
My sister's masks, her ways of being around other people, require a lot of work. She demands a high degree of attention and playing along. Plus it's emotional, everything is emotional to her. Each time my mother remarks that she finds it exhausting. With me it's different. My sister calls it overreacting, the way she goes for the jugular when I finally say something. Around her I retreat into myself; she interprets interaction as rigidity and selfishness. I think it's called an aristocratic temperament.

26 December 2010

The grocery store is still closed and I have run out of antipsychotic, the only antipsychotic that does not come in tablet form. By three pm I feel vomitous. I rummage and come up with 80mg capsules, twice too much now that I take a divided dose. I open one up in the kitchen and start dividing the powder in half with a bench scraper. "Are you going to snort that?" my sister asks. "The delivery system would be too fast," I reply, "I'm going to sprinkle it on stewed plums." "It will still metabolize faster," she says, "try taking half." Sound advice. Five minutes later she was completely crazy again.

24 December 2010

"Are you done with this?"

"We can't throw away the jam cosy, grandma crocheted it with her arthritic hands."

"It looks like... (turning up the rim) a cat hat. Wait, I'll get the camera."

And so the cat posed, in all his Christmas glory, bracing himself on my knees but purring and keeping his cap upright. In one photo the flash makes his eyes glow.

23 December 2010

"Why" is generally a good question to ask people, both in terms of generating conversation and nurturing a good relationship.

22 December 2010

I have fallen off the success wagon, all the way to academic purgatory. At this point I would rather die than try to write another word.

20 December 2010

I am guilty of doing this. Not literally, but in other contexts.

19 December 2010

At the family gathering my sister got upset looking when I walked over to say hello to her. She walked away before I could. It wouldn't have been such a burn if she hadn't been corresponding friendily all week. She avoided me all night while talking about her illness in detail with relatives she never sees. Afterwards I wanted to punch her.

The only things she will complain about are things she remembers selectively and unfairly... and the truth is I don't have the emotional capacity to hold her while she does her worst.
My dad has five brothers. Four of them have kids; the fifth has a wife who sings in a classic rock band in which he plays guitar. We get together the week before Christmas. Grandma, who is 81 and all there, advises me to stay out of the kitchen, so I visit with her and check out a fourteen year old cousin's fingernail painting skills on her iphone. There is wine but not everybody drinks, and there is potluck supper. My uncles get excited about bean bake and cinnamon buns. There are gifts for the little ones, who go totally bananas for football jerseys, electronic drum sets, and a baby is a wicker basinet. Grandma gives everybody jam and hand knit dishcloths. Then everybody sings, with the guitar and without the guitar. My uncle Bruce, who is hot in an athletic, clean-cut, got five kids kind of way, is making Crown Royal and ginger ale so I get in on that. The sugar sobers me up a bit and I think he's making mine weak until I have a second that makes the room threaten to spin. I am sitting on the couch with Jack who is rolling his eyes at Courtney, who is talking about "food babies" and they are hilarious.

17 December 2010

trying to understand antique varieties of racism so I can write about them.

15 December 2010

When we lived in Ontario my family would go out into the woods to cut down a Christmas tree. The branches were more sparse than on farmed trees. The trees my parents get now look forever too bushy.
two things make me shake: excitement (ideas count) and low blood sugar.

14 December 2010

"It's okay"

But I am still climbing the walls.
I had an morning dream about rolling down a hill very fast and being worried I was going to fall but it was allright.
I had to go to the museum to check up on my documents again (I needed evidence of archeological digs and it needed to be thrilling). I did the archivally unthinkable and photocopied my eighty year old documents, because if I had to spend another day typing things I was going to go absolutely bananas. It was already 2 pm. Real scholars use digital cameras. The curator walked by and said, "you're helping yourself, that's good."

12 December 2010

almost done my christmas shopping... just one more thing to pick up tomorrow. I remember that Christmas I broke cookies up into tiny pieces so my non-wheat-eating boyfriend could try a selection and I smile. He was a total bad boy and we weren't even dating anymore and he came to Christmas Eve with my German grandparents, to drink beer and roll the most perfect dumplings any of us had ever seen.
German spice cookies, wine, and chicken soup making on the stove. Except for the books which require frequent out-trips, I am a big-time homebody.
What does it tell you that I mostly read the home and garden section of a newspaper?
I wish my cat could have a play date with Chili. She's hilarious and so much fun, and my cat is an easygoing guy stuck indoors with nothing to hunt. It is too bad we live so far away.

11 December 2010

My mom has some of the same incomprehensible psychological knots as my sister. A tendency to become emotionally enmeshed in other people and situations, an inability to see their problems as affecting other people, a complete physiological shutting down if asked to talk about their treatment, a victim mentality, very public withdrawals. I can write them sympathetically but the limits of what I can give to them come up all of the time. In their absence, over breakfast with my mom, watching me go crazy, my dad has over the past couple years become noticeably more nurturing, more emotionally present. His affection feels real. He bakes banana bread. He tells me to be generous and not to judge anyone else from my place. I always worry about him getting home safe.

09 December 2010

my own problems plus a whole nother family's have combined to produce a panic attack, despite my best potion-producing technologies. gentleness and loving is a difficult message to get delivered.

08 December 2010

Got up early and went to school. Picked up library books and drank coffee in the sunshine between showers. There was no school today, so I went to the museum to re-read my primary sources with better-researched eyes. I was relaxed, happy, bored, even. It felt good, like I was a legitimate part of the world.

07 December 2010

I was about to have a Christmas meltdown when Google helped me locate a recipe for Sicilian X cookies. Now I have to decide whether these cookies, which have figs, nuts and chocolate in the filling, are best made with rum or with wine. If I start baking now I can make both.

06 December 2010

Happy St Nicholas day. I hope someone put chocolate in your shoes, or you had a Girl Least Likely to eat latkes with.

05 December 2010

am looking at my cat, who is enjoying his fur suit way too much.
By late afternoon the hoards of sticky children had made it home from the Santa Claus parade and the smell of alcohol and stale cigarettes had dissipated. Seriously kids, the habits you bring home. As I stood up and turned to exit the bus there was a man slack-faced and dirty, eyes fixed and agitated gripping the back of my seat. I had a pretty good idea what he was feeling but felt I had no right to disturb him. Doing so would probably have been unwise.

04 December 2010

I like my gray clothes.
I wonder where she got that shawl.

02 December 2010

make a date with me for chrismukah latkes at solly's.

01 December 2010

Got locked out of my e-mail today. I am afraid someone was in there deleting an important inquiry!