REPORT A PROBLEM
I shakily gripped the sides of the toilet seat, waiting without luck for my breakfast to revolt from the confines of my stomach. This gave new meaning to the phrase "sick with fear." Being so close to vomiting made me want to stick my fingers down my throat. You could not make me get into a car. I struggled to subdue my weeping and the tension in my body before the trip, and I learned to shut my eyes and remember to exhale every time we passed a semi, or suffer another panic attack. I could see it happening again.
I'm slowly shaking off the black cloud looming over my head that hits me without warning. I despair and hate myself… and learn. I always knew that I could not be a doctor. Saturday's events cemented my certainty, exposing my weaknesses. I celebrate the human body in its beauty and perfection, and I'd be unable to deal daily with its ugly defects and blemishes. I'm still too cowardly and selfish to look beyond my own "suffering" to be brave enough to take on the suffering of strangers. I want to help fix our sorry world, but through a different medium.
Mom's voice comes softly over the phone when she tells me of some more follow up testing. Other good news: I guess I didn't get a good look at the aftermath because the towing company said it was something miraculous that we didn't die that day. The hood is completely demolished. Smashing into the call box a little bit more the right and Mom would have been gone, but only a few more inches to the left, and it would have been me. It's like the proverbial cat with nine lives, and I must be on my third life now.
Scene: Somewhere in Florida, a boy and girl are driving down a deserted back road.
Boy: (squinting into the sunlight) Babe, can you clean these for me? (takes off glasses and hands to Girl)
Girl: (anxiously) You can still see?
Girl: Because if you can't…(glasses lens pops out of frame into lap) (gasps) FUCK!
Boy: What did you say?
Girl: Are you sure you can see?!
Boy: Could you say what you said before again?
Girl: I'll get your contacts!
Boy: Did you say what I think you said?
Girl: I said nothing. Put in your contacts!
It's a different world up here. Life just s-l-o-w-e-d down around us, which is exactly what I needed. It's due partly to the old folksy atmosphere of the town whose closest market, the Piggly Wiggly, is a ways away. After our post-breakfast morning walk on the beach, he and I spent all day reading and forgetting reality and Monday morning. His grandmother, pleased with the company, cooked delicious plate after delicious plate of food for us. She and I later sat outside to watch the sun set over the ocean. I'd never seen the sunset on the west coast before.
Bryan was upstairs, shaving at the last minute. I was looking again at the family pictures downstairs, grinning inwardly at the size of his glasses, and feeling sorry to leave (you would, too, after a cook like her). His grandmother came over to chat with me and I impulsively gave her a hug. She held my shoulders in her hands for a few moments.
"I'm so glad you're with Bryan; the two of you look so happy together," she said, beaming softly at me. "You take care of Bryan, and I want to see you again."
I felt extraordinarily pleased.
When I woke up, he was still sleeping. I want this, on every morning of every day. To have him there with me when I wake up in the morning is something I miss so much when we're apart. I watched the way his chest rose and fell with every breath, pressed closer to the warmth he was radiating and decided I was a crazy person. (Oh, but I really am a crazy person.) This yearning for independence is could only be the byproduct of hormonal chaos because imagining life without him is like imagining life without…Christmas…or new books…or air.
With absolutely nothing to do at the hospital tonight, I was relegated to the corner of the office watching the raindrops trickle down the windowpanes. Privacy, that dirty word, was the cause of it all. Forbidden to see anything concerning the patient, I hardly see the patients themselves, posing a problem for the "patient contact" aspect of my volunteering. Volunteering was my way to alleviate some of the responsibilities of the nurses and expose myself to the people on the other side, giving faces to situations. Now with stupid HIPPA policies, I'm not going to learn very much at all.
According to the
New York Times
, we're so far behind in education in comparison to the other industrialized countries. What our high school students are not grasping (and failing in standardized tests for graduation), their middle school students are mastering. This is old news because I remember reading the same thing in
magazine a few years ago, but I felt just as disgruntled with my education now as I did then. Is this not some sort of paradox in which we, the richest and luckiest country in the world, are churning out far too many unlearned leaders of tomorrow?
The mornings here are deceptively clear with summertime sunshine, but we all know better. Boski and I faintly hoped that our walk home would be a dry one, but no such luck; midway through class, the lecture was drowned out by the Second Great Flood. While everyone milled under the overhang waiting for it to wane, Boski and I walked out confidently but not comfortably under one umbrella. We were sick of the chemistry building. And so we arrived home in squishing shoes, soaked to the knees of our jeans and perfectly content because we were finished for the day.
The system releases energy and the surroundings accepts it, the professor droned steadily on, and the disorder of the universe is always increasing. Heat is always shifting back and forth in equilibrium reactions. It's entropy and enthalpy! The boy next to me started humming under his breath: "To apathy, to entropy, to enthalpy, ecstasy, Vaclav Havel, the Sex Pistols, 8BC; to no shame, never playing the fame game--to marijuana! To sodomy, it's between God and me- to S&M! La vie Boheme!" I looked at him in amazement, our eyes met, and RENT aficionado flashed kindred spirit to RENT fanatic.
They use me for my eggs
I could incubate them
What of chocolate and diamonds
Deliriously drunk on this boy
And lusting after blue eyes
Tell me you love me
When will you ask me
Flooded with the sea of pink fluff
They ask how to steal
Manipulate language into a thousand lies
Trudge beneath the white winter moon
Whispering in tongues of honey
Between the sordid woman and delicate goddess is she who is to be adored
Worship the sausage says he
After the storm is the sun smeared in my window
(Playing with magnetic poetry)
Cable news has been saturated with Reagan's death and funeral services for the past week. He's fairly leaking out of their metaphorical pores. What hypocrites— he was in the public's disapproval while president, forgotten when he wasn't, and now media's making him out to be a saint, frantically and madly to the point where it's TOO MUCH. Even so, where was the respectful silence? The networks surpassed the boundaries of considerate coverage, making play-by-play commentaries as if this were a tennis match. I caught the newscasters pointing out notable profiles in the crowds, like announcing guests at the Academy Awards.
Quite out of the blue, John called me up this afternoon to make dinner plans. After months where he was the wallflower at all of our shindigs (and where he made it easy to forget him), it's unusual hanging out alone with him. There would be hours of conversation and he wouldn't contribute a single word. Needless to say, it is a new experience being the talkative one. I'm surprise how much my mouth can spurt out with the silence pressing in on us, until he arrives at some cryptic utterance that leaves me completely lost on a thought process.
Delray, my hospital supervisor, is, in a word, a hoot. Example: Today he glanced out the window and saw a fellow nurse, Stephanie.
"Check out Stephanie and her usual 6 o'clock tongue action with So-and-so from 5West."
"Another one?" asks our awed receptionist.
Chuckling impishly, Dell whips out his cell phone and punches in a number.
"Damn, she turned it off. Wait, she's looking at it--- she's ignoring me!" The voicemail came on. "Hey, Steph, it's me, Dell, I just wanted to say hey, but I think your mouth is full at the moment. Go ahead, hon; taste the rainbow."
This multi-storied library, a haven of silent sanctity in the midst of finals week, is unintentionally race-separated. Chinese graduate students occupy the highest floor; tread carefully. All other Asians, the majority Indian, are on the fourth floor. The "white kids" go down to the basement, and the black kids don't go any farther than the entry-level.
And in came the disturbers of peace. Completely oblivious to the loud "hem-hems" and death glares, two silly freshmen who wandered in continued to prattle away.
Kim decided to take matters into her own hands with her sign: "Shut the fuck up. –The Management"
I made two choices today that make me feel ashamed of myself, choices that go against certain rules for myself I thought I had. I cheated today. I could justify myself and say I didn't cheat
, that tests from this man are impossible to prepare for, to charge myself to never do it again, but that's weakness. I deliberately allowed myself to accept the help of a friend, who willingly told me what to expect on the test I would take later that afternoon. Of course, I want a good grade in this class. Am I that desperate?
I didn't study again today because of Aditi. She pleaded with me to join them for another round of bowling, and she wasn't planning to go to the last-minute review; she's the type of person to never attend class and effortlessly snag her A's. She and Kim are fun and boisterous and always make me laugh…but I always feel like the mommy of the group. Still, I felt entitled to a break and I met Z-Shawn and half of their school from Miami. Eventually, it was test time, and, quickly scanning the pages, we started laughing helplessly at its impossibility.
It was an infinitely lazy morning, part of which involved sleeping in the bathtub. And thus began my week of vacation from paper-thin walls (in which my neighbor's late-night IM conversations keep me awake and her alarm clock I've substituted for my own that I've lost), drunken Latina girls screaming obscenities to each other in the street, and the most important of all, chemistry (which takes up too much of my time). A haphazardly packed suitcase later and the fastest room clearing you've ever seen, Bryan and I sped happily homewards, and I promptly fell asleep in the passenger's seat.
Things I have inherited from Dad: short squat stubby un-feminine fingers, his nose and ears, the habit of gnawing off my fingernails, his temper and holding grudges, a weakness for coffee (and he taught me how to make it at a very young age), appalling eyesight, hearing what isn't said and not hearing what actually is, appreciation for the arts, a touch of right-wing policy, an insatiable love of reading, a driving work ethic (not yet to the point of obsessive), and the perseverance to keep going through it all. Yes, I am my father's daughter. Happy Father's Day, Daddy.
The curiosity that killed the cat got the better of me, and I went to meet him tonight, to satisfy this curiosity and see the girl who's been mentioned quite a few times now. It's like sitting off the edge of a rocking boat and tentatively using your littlest toe to test the temperature of the water, or cautiously stepping on a surface of freshly finished ice with your skates. I wanted to know what I was dealing with. So I saw her and my heart gave a little pang of something akin to jealousy because she looked absolutely perfect.
Everything is fine and dandy when I'm home, except when it comes to him. I hate the way it goes where our schedules don't coincide at all so that it's inconvenient for me to see him when he's free and vice versa. It's so trying and frustrating because DAMNIT, HE'S RIGHT THERE in the next town and not a hundred fifty-one miles away from me. Other than that, life is peachy. While shopping for dresses to wear at the wedding, my sisters and I stalked a certain Englishman around the county much to Kristen and my amusement and Bernadette's mortification.
this whole week with him is skewed last night horrible don't know what set it off don't know what to do confused will it always be like this it's better when I'm not here it's so unnatural and we feel like we're losing each other the only way to be natural with each other is when I'm not at home and I feel confined like I have to keep him at a distance I just can't do some things around my family and he has his life and I have mine and why they can't meet I do not know
Tumbling around in the ocean made my head spin, so Katy suggested a stroll on the sand, of course, to tally the number of good-looking men-things. Unfortunately for her, it was a family day or all the guys she was looking for were away with their girlfriends. We walked the beaches askance that all of Brevard County must have brought their children (who are sexing it up rather young, too).
"How about him?"
I looked in that direction. "Katy, dear," I told her, "accept that the situation is bad when I tell you that we're too old for the lifeguards."
A full tank of gas is soothing. It's empowering. It makes you restless when you have no place to be. I'm ready to end my visit home and go back to my car-less independence because I feel so restless on the roads I've left behind me. There was no driving around aimlessly this morning; I had a purpose and I destination, and when he took me into his arms, all was good. I found myself late that night watching Jenny and Kyle rocking slowly on the porch swing and puffing away on their cigars and blowing smoke into the darkness.
It's a tricky business, going out to dinner as a family. I couldn't handle it for a few years; it was just too mortifying. To avert any potential disasters, we requested a large booth and boxed in the little boys so that their shooting straw papers and bouncing antics would be as far away from the rest of the restaurant as possible. Grumbling stomachs demanded to be fed, so we ordered four different kinds of roasted ducks, pan katsu and some bowls of edamame, the funny soybean pods. All of us sitting down to dinner together is a rare thing.
Bernadette: Mom! John is jamming his bony butt into my leg again!
John: HER big butt is squishing me!
Kristen: Stop squirming, I'm trying to sleep.
Anthony: And, and the—hey, I'm trying to tell you something. Ate! Hey! And the—let me finish!
Dad: I'm thirsty; can someone pass me one of the water bottles?
(Calm for ten seconds as a water bottle makes its way from the trunk of the van to the driver)
Bernadette: STOP IT, JOHN.
John: I'm not—
Anthony: You're not listening to me, guys!
Mom, Kristen, Bernadette: JOHN!!
Mom: Yes, Anthony?
Anthony: I forgot.
They say there comes a point in every person's life when they realize that their parents are only human and not superheroes. For me, it's realizing that my sisters are actually people, not just other beings who happened to be mistaken for my triplet. Bernadette and I wandered around campus and adjoining streets today, and while a part of me still fulfilled the big sister role as her college guide, I'm not babysitting anymore. The look on her face today when soaking wet Oliver and Sam acted as if they were going to drag her to the fountain was priceless.
Aditi, Bernadette and I were walking home by means of University Avenue in the dark, which is not dangerous, providing you're responsible. The area we were passing was notorious for homeless people, and apparently, some crazies. A scruffy man sat in the threshold of a building under construction and was chuckling softly to himself, for no reason that we could see. Then, we passed a tall black woman who suddenly began screaming, "Shut up! SHUT UP! SHUT UP!!" to the music speakers of the restaurant she was passing. The three of us decided to call the student-run van service then.
Bernadette's facing the same dilemma that I did two years ago. She wants to leave home for some far away Ivy League school. When I was still had English aspirations, my choice was BU and Oxford for a semester. When I knew that I shouldn't go so far away, it was the private in-state university, but even with 75% tuition scholarship, I shouldn't do it. So I came here, like I knew I would. Because of me, she feels trapped with no choices. She's a smart kid, smarter than me, so I don't know why she's giving up so easily.
The Tip Jar