Friday, May 30, 2008

It's not like I'm dying or anything

I saw that new shrink.

She was nice and a good listener, especially since my rehashing of life was rather scattered. I'll see her one more time, and then if my bank breaks I'll have to move on.

She doesn't take insurance.



Gotta go to a new shrink today. Feel like I'd rather throw up or walk most of the way to San Diego (today we drive) instead. Nah, I'd rather just stay here and keep organizing. I talked to the woman on the phone and she talked to SD shrink too. She seems nice, but it's like going up to a stranger and saying, "I'm interviewing for the position of my new best friend. I found your name online and thought I'd give you a shot."

As blessed at it is, sometimes the sentence that comes to mind is, "I hate my life." But I don't. Just this fucking disease.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Graduation Day

Medical school is finally over.

Sure Justin is still working on his paper, but it has already been submitted for the necessary credit, he's just at this stage of finishing up some more research and getting it published (above and beyond the necessary, but why not since the research is that significant?).

I am so glad the class celebrated their success a month ago when they were finished with their last rotation (save a few gluttons for punishment). No one cares now, except the families.

Most of the students, at least the ones we know, are looking at this graduation as a long and final three hours sitting-as-required and listening-as-required.

Justin, who dreads being the center of attention and looks forward to these events with the anxiety of a shy kid going to the first day of kindergarten, is all funky about it. I keep telling him I'll do all the arrangements, that it is my graduation. And I adore being the center of attention.

Besides, medical school kicked my ass and I am so happy to graduate from it. All those late nights. All those pep talks before a test or a new rotation. All those parties where the people spoke a different language and I learned some new words and some medical procedures from the insiders point of view. Not to mention our mutual survival of me--the second elective wives club woman--who got so sick and financially unsupportive in the midst of it all.

I am graduating from medical school. It's an event for the families to celebrate. And I will be celebrated. With a toast to Justin.

Thank God it's almost over. A month after the work ends the idea of graduation loses its luster.

Middle Age

When did this falling happen?

I used to look at middle aged women and think, "I'm never going to let my body do that. No sagging boobs, no protruding stomach that isn't the celebrity pregnancy bump--is she pregnant? the headlines read, no aches and pains and groans on rising from or lowering into a seated position."

Then one day I woke up and my stomach was practically lying beside me.

I look at the pictures of my cousin-so-young, and my college age friends and think, "I was that skinny once."

I look at the box of clothes from just-last-year and believe somehow that they will fit again.

Middle age: the time when if I stop going to the gym because boxing becomes a storage activity instead of a stress-relieving exercise, and I start eating anything I want, and maybe more because I'm not depressed so much and maybe because of the new medication, I suddenly weigh more and have bigger body parts, some of which look OKish with the proper outfit on, and some of which should ban me from board shorts forever.

Woe be to the take-out food that living in two apartments yet not having a functional kitchen because of the boxing...

My hope is that when Justin returns to work I'll start eating like me again--granola and yogurt are great breakfast, lunch, snack.... and three meals a day don't have to be eaten as though I may never get another chance to eat in my whole entire life.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Some of the choices in our neighborhood:

Evangelical Free Church
Child Evangelical Church

Justin wants to know if the Evangelical Free Church is free of Evangelicals. He wants to go there and raise his hand during the sermon, "Excuse me, you sound like an evangelical. What are you doing here? This is the Evangelical Free Church."

And the one with the Child.... I suppose getting an early start on recruitment is their goal?

There's also a church that serves a pancake breakfast each Sunday morning. Justin does not like their logo--while the feed everybody idea is nice, the cup has a cross that is both crooked and leaning off to the side instead of centered. He likes symmetry.

So I'm watching the Hour of Power--because it is replete with the USMC band from Camp Pendleton and Denzel Washington will be interviewed later.

It is Memorial Day Weekend.

Jesus take the wheel. All these people are looking at a screen with words on it... or they have them memorized and are looking at the flag.

The music is extraordinary.... sopranos and pipe organ... I can do this for an Hour of Power.

Oy vey.

Friday, May 23, 2008


Welcome to Los Angeles.

Now get dodging.

The drive up in the rental truck enlisted Justin's USMC skills to brake and make evasive maneuvers whenever a car decided to cut him off on the freeway or quickly turn out of a driveway on the side streets of LA.

We just went to Target to buy bathmats, a welcome mat and nails to hang photographs.

In the bath section there was this guy hiding at the end of the aisles as if he were a little kid playing cops and robbers--or a Mexican Blackwater mercenary training among the rows of towels and toothbrush holders to go to war in Iraq.

He kept doing it--dashing between the aisles, spying on someone between the tiny holes of the particle board display cases, crouched and peering around the corner and then hiding quickly, in case The Enemy saw him.

Missing an anxiety medication in the morning usually yields no effect within a day, but this guy had Justin nervous, my heart beating and palms sweating. The guy was holding a little boy's Superman pyjamas crumpled in his left hand, so we thought maybe he was playing with a kid, but we couldn't see the kid. Just women sorting clothes in the shoe aisle, a Target employee helping a customer with a purchase decision, and a couple of others stocking shoes and storage supplies.

Justin and I finally had to just go to another section--the welcome mats--because I was too scared to stay in the bathmat aisle and Justin was ready to "break out some maneuvers."

When the man put his hand in his pocket I planned to hit the deck on the otherside of the corner of the aisle and Justin was planning to tackle him or hit his hand (he was really really nearby).

Finally concluding that the man was a security guard, since the pocket device turned out to be a walkie talkie instead of a gun, we still felt compelled to get out of the way. In a nearly complete panic attack, my palms were sweating, I felt like vomiting and I was dizzy.

We managed to choose hardware for hanging wires and photographs, and then I mentally chose the grape-purple bathmats for the master bathroom.

A woman shrieked, "Get off me!"

"TV?" Justin asked.

"No. 'Get off me.'"

"It sounded like it came from outside," he said. We voyeristicly wished we could have watched it happen... Mr. Vigilante Rent-a-Cop jumping on some large Black woman who just pushed out a cartful of Target clothes as if she had paid for them.

There are security cameras everywhere in this Target. Even the parking lot.

I have never felt so unsafe as a Target shopper.

We went straight to the pharmacy for my medicine, and then Justin drove me home.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The best teaching compliment ever


Jason Brent Johnson is a piece of shit

And I know that is libel, but whatever.

So I had this teacher for newswriting last semester who I thought would be great, because he's a full-time staff writer for the Chronicle and has a truly impressive resume of jobs and internships. Unfortunately, he was a terrible educator. And what's worse, he was completely unwilling to improve his skills. Okay, if a staff position isn't hacking it and you want to make a little money on the side, do what everyone else does and freelance. Don't teach a college class -- full of intelligent adults, some of which will be as old if not older than you are -- unless you truly enjoy it. [. . . .}
He read my first writing assignment in front of the class. So apparently, it was good enough to be published. I had taken journalism in high school, but he didn't know that. Did I mention that he assigned this first story to us without first practicing writing a full story in class? Yeah. We had written a couple leads, a couple nut graphs, and then it was, "ok kids, 500 word story. And I want interviews, but I'm not going to tell you that before you turn it in."

So after I received a C+ in this class because I hate reading the newspaper, I was pissed. I got A's on every single writing assignment and turned in all of my homework, but apparently that wasn't the ass-backwards point he was trying to prove. I managed to swing an A- in fucking statistics, but got my ass kicked in J221.

Up until now, it may seem that my grade was in proportion to my effort. However, it must be mentioned that in our review session for the final, he was still clarifying to several people in our class that a lead was supposed to contain about 50 words. As much as Olaina is a bitch, in that journalism class we learned how to write about 5 different kinds of stories and put together an 8 page newspaper in the time that this guy couldn't get across how to write a lead, let alone an entire story. Granted, I'm sure there were some idiots in that class, but if he hadn't wasted so much time on news quizzes and pod casts and other extraneous stuff, we might've actually mastered NEWSWRITING.

So I ran into Erna Smith, chair of the department and former Wall Street Journal reporter, in the pub lab yesterday and she asked me what I was doing for the summer. She asked me what I got in newswriting, I told her, and she said, "yeah, I saw that, and I thought, 'that can't be Meghann'." So there you have it. This woman has never seen me write more than a 2 page book critique and she knew that I couldn't have screwed over newswriting so badly.

So good riddance, Mr. Johnson. I'm sure I'll have a great time explaining the only C of my entire college career in my grad school interviews. 0 comments

And now my comments:
A beginning journalism student that considered me a "bitch" as her high school journalism teacher did recognize that I taught her apparently everything she knew about journalism once she got to college. And she chose to major in the field despite her dealings with a serious, demanding, sometimes moody teacher--which I think is a little amusing given the moodiness of teenage girls. But I digress. If I was occassionally bitchy as a high school journalism teacher and still a successful teacher (my goal did not include being my students' best friend or idol or favorite person) because the students learned what they hopefully set out to learn when they signed up for a journalism class.

I was a teacher. Students learned to be journalists. My job was done. And done well--imagine if they were not prepared to deal with bitchy journalists in their future.

Do note: it is no small victory for me not to be crestfallen at the "bitch" label. It is less than perfect. But I do not, could not, will not miss the compliment of being a better teacher than, oh say, a piece of shit from The Chronicle.

Thanks, Meghann, and best of luck out there in the journalism world and world-at-large. I know you'll encounter journalists of various personalities (I can't think of any I know who do not have some rough edges), and I also know you'll make friends with people whose purpose is friendship--and I hope they won't turn out to be bitches.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day Traditions

We went to Alice's Breakfast in the Park in Huntington Beach. I made everyone hug me. We took pictures with the camera Justin and I bought as our own anniversary gift four years ago before we went to India. It's a slightly bulky digital Olympus that does 4.0 megapixel 10x optical zoom work... slowly.

Here we all are! Plus the friends that are always at the park....

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Needed: a new night watchman

People do die without friends. And that's fine.

Nate--I don't think this woman had anyone in her life...

David--Try her high school. everyone has friend from high school.

Claire--No they don't. Maybe they have people they talk to or even do things with, but they're not really friends. They're just filler. ....I don't see why this person has to be mentally ill just because she had a life that doesn't conform to some image we have in our heads. Maybe she was living the life she wanted. The life without the hassle of other people.

Mother--What kind of a life is that?

Six Feet Under, season 2, episode 3

I know I do have real friends. I could list them, but that's so high school.

I might be coming out of my last depression. It's been about 10 days of relative freedom from the gravity of the couch, the bed, and the force field around the door that locks me in.

Freedom, which is serving to freak me out.

Am I manic? Am I healthy? Am I getting back to normal? What's a good normal?

The therapist and I decided perhaps I'm moving into normal again.

So a different kind of frustration and exhaustion settles in--exhaustion of vigilance.

I am so tired of observing myself. Depression? Exhaustion? Anxiety? OK?

Deep breaths and calm. If I have to accept being a wonderful person with a mood disorder when I'm depressed, I might as well learn to accept being a wonderful person with a mood disorder when I'm OK. I should just accept that I'm just OK.

It's a wonderful gift... and a horse not to look in the mouth.

I'm OK.


Yep. OK.

In any case, I would like not to observe myself constantly. This vigilance is exhausting. Perhaps I could just be and someone else could let me know if I'm sick. But last time I let it go that long I got so sick there was almost no turning back. After all this time and all I have learned, there seems to be no choice but wariness and vigilance. The therapist suggested I let her and the alchemist watch too... but I am not sure if that meant I am just supposed to Be while they Watch. I think it's a three person job, at least.

I need a Secret Service team for my brain, not just one lousy night watchman.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

hiding the knives

When we moved into this apartment I asked Justin to hide the knives.

I had just come out of the hospital and was exhausted. I believed that if the knives were hidden away in the cupboards--instead of out on the kitchen table, waiting to be sorted and carefully stored--that I would not be able to get to them in time to use them. I knew that by the time I moved all the boxes and furniture out of the way to get into the kitchen I would wake up from my dark stupor and remember that knives were not meant for me.

So now I can't find the ice cream scooper. Three years later, and the order of the kitchen is still a mystery to me.

I look in the cupboard, where two of the containers of kitchen utensils sit and do not see the scoop. I check the drawer near the stove. I call out to Justin, he says it is in the drawer on the right. I look where the regular cutlery is.

What drawer?

One more over, just above where I started--ice cream scooper.

We're packing the kitchen up to move to our new apartment in two weeks or so.

I am forbidden to take Welbutrin ever again. I have been on it twice--and now off it for about three weeks. I told Justin the second time around to watch for my memory loss problems with it, but he then said that he did not notice anything especially wrong. Today at dinner he said he could see the difference--that I am definitely better without the medication.

"What was it like to live with me like that?" I asked.

"It was like this: 'You know that thingy, that you drink... you know, it's got bubbles... beer!'

I have to go to that place I go every week, you know, on Tuesdays, with all that stuff, and I do paintings, yeah--my art class.'"

He definitely sees that my brain has returned, even if it is pushing its own pause button occasionally.

I am definitely in a better mood these days than I was the past four months. It feels good to be more stable again--less paralyzed, less careful-not-to-cry, less suspicious. The cool thing is that I can always maintain my composure during photography shoots. I can always model well. When I get into that work zone, I am fully present. It's just when I am around myself alone or in more private or familiar territory that holding it together becomes more optional and more difficult.

I am stronger than people might think.

I am a person who maintains a professional life and a personal life while also managing a disease that lives inside me uninvited. I can balance things with the people who are willing to be there with me.

The knives are in the drawers, I know.