Eerie, eerie

I was goofing around on my new computer a couple days ago and decided to look up an old friend from college. Last I had known, she was going to a Columbia Law School, which surprised me, because she’d always been sort of non-corporate and non-conformist. However, when I started typing in her name, the first thing that came up was an obituary! It turns out she died in the middle of 2013. The details were vague, but the more I could find out, the more creepy everything sounds. She died in England, and her parents thanked the staff at a particular hospital in Basildon. I looked up the name, and found it was a psychiatric hospital. From the way I understood it, she actually died in the hospital, although nothing in the article said how.

So, that leaves me wondering what happened, and if I really want to know. I looked at her online things like Twitter, and everything stops abruptly at the end of February, when she seems to be in the US, and she died in England in June. I found that she published a book of song lyrics some time that year, and in it she says she’s in Ecuador. But when was that, and what happened between then and June?

I kind of suspect it was some sort of drug-related disaster. She was really into experimenting with hallucinogens while we were in college, which made me very, very nervous. Did she have some really bad experience with them and go off the rails?

Her parents also thanked NAMI in the obit. I don’t know if she had had mental problems in the past, or if she had had drug-related problems in the past. I know she had moved home for a while for no clear reason, even though she didn’t have such a good relationship with her mom.

The whole thing is very eerie and makes me feel very sad.

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Computer has been bought!

I ignored the guy in the computer store, paid attention to my friends, and got the MacBook Air 11.6″. It’s very light and comfortable to type on. I’m really enjoying it so far.

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More computer buying complications

I was going to buy a computer today, but it didn’t work out again. I decided because I hated 8.1 so much and everyone I know from the Shanghai Flickr chat recommended getting a Mac. I thought I’d get a MacBook Air 11 inch, but then somebody from the Flickr group said I should get 13″, and then the guy at the store said that the 11′ and 13′ were practically the same but they didn’t have one to show me. Then he implied the MacBook Air can do practically nothing because it’s too slow, so I ran out of time and eventually had to go to class. All the options are freaking me out. Really, I want a very light computer that is a good value that I can do photo editing, plan classes and surf the Internet on. Any advice or ideas, anybody?

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Toronto booty

I went to Toronto for a convention, but arrived a few days early to relax and shop. My trip booty includes:

One dress
Three t-shirts
Two pairs of pants
One jacket
One pair of all-black Chuck Taylor sneakers (my favorite kind!)
A bottle of foundation
Two change purses
A film studies magazine
A copy of The Kingdom and the Beauty
A copy of Shinobi no Mono
A two film DVD containing Shaolin vs. Ninja and the oddly titled Shaolin Chastity Kung Fu

A also saw two films: What We Do in the Shadows and The Babadook.

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PPP (Perpetual problem person)

It seems like I’m always unhappy with something. I’m always complaining. I’m really sick of myself. I think I must be very irritating. Do I even want to feel happier?

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Woke up too soon

I had a dream this morning where I was walking around Dog Man’s old neighborhood. It was really different than it had been in other dreams, where it was sort of a slum where everything was made of old wooden boards. Now it was sort of an industrial slum, with lots of metal, and lots of gates with locks to secure different areas. As I walked through I wondered if it had been improved with money he had left to everyone. I saw his brothers at a long table in a yard playing cards, and when I came up to them, I saw that Dog Man was there. I was totally astonished that he wasn’t really dead, but before I had a chance to even figure out what I felt or what I wanted to say, he saw me, and exclaimed (in English) that he had wanted to get in touch with me, and had written me an e-mail, but had spelled my address wrong so I hadn’t gotten it. He called himself an imbecile, which for some reason he pronounced in the French way. He was about to tell me what the e-mail said, but then I suddenly woke up.

The dream left me with an eerie feeling.

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It’s named after me!

From Casshan

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RIP student; strange conversation

Unfortunately, a student was murdered by her ex-boyfriend last weekend. I was talking to two co-workers about that incident and about the time I intervened when I saw a girl on campus being mistreated. Then the conversation got really weird.

First, the female colleague started saying that the situation (the murder) was probably partly the fault of the girl. She went on to say she thinks girls are often lying when they accuse men of rape, and that they are just having kinky sex and calling the police because they regret it later.

Then, the male colleague started talking about how students drink too much and how he partly blames girls for getting into these situations because they drink so much. I commented that in the murder case, there was no indication that either person had been drinking, and that in the situation I got involved in, nobody was drunk either. He started arguing with me. I was like, “Look, neither of the people were drunk. They guy was just roughing up his girlfriend.” Then he was like, “Well but you know, the students drink a lot.” I said, “Yes, but the WEREN’T drunk. I talked to the girl for like five minutes. I know. Besides, it was like a Wednesday at 8:00.” Then argued more, saying that even though it is Wednesday a lot of students still drink, so the girl must have been drinking. I was like, “No, she wasn’t. I said I talked to her for like five minutes. I would have noticed if she were drunk. She wasn’t.” Then he continued going back to this “Oh, they are both at fault because they were both drinking” thing. It was really important to this guy to believe they were drinking and blame it on that, for some reason, and for some reason he couldn’t believe my account of what happened, even though he wasn’t there and I told him three times what had happened.

I’m really very shocked at both of them.

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Super holiday trauma

I haven’t said anything about my winter holiday, because it involves a lot of gross stuff that didn’t happen to me. I guess because it was such a big deal I’d better talk about it, though, leaving out some of the more embarrassing personal details.

So, I left Ohio early early because my dad wanted me to speak at the meeting of this club he’s involved with. I did, and everything went fine. Then later we came home and my mom really irritably complained that she was hungry so it was about time we have dinner (which I guess my dad was supposed to make). We were about to eat, when all of a sudden she said she didn’t feel well and went to the bathroom. She was in there for a long time with her typical stomach problems. The second time my dad came back from looking in on her he said she was vomiting blood.

I went in, saw that it was a lot, and said we’d better call 911. My mom didn’t want to go, and for the next ten minutes or so, she and my dad went back and forth about it. It was a lot (three and a half to four cups, I think), so I thought they should go as soon as possible. My dad didn’t want to make her mad, so I said I’d call and he could blame me for it. Eventually I did call, and an ambulance came and took her to the emergency room. While she was there they diagnosed her with a bleeding ulcer and gave her two units of blood. From there she was transferred into the ICU.

There was a lot of talk about why that happened for the next several days. Apparently it is because my mom was taking a lot of prescription NSAID painkillers, which can damage the stomach. My dad thought my mom was taking excessive amounts of them. I talked to the neighbors, who very nicely invited us over for dinner on Christmas Eve, and the neighbor said she had also thought my mom was taking too many painkillers, and that her doctor wasn’t doing a good job. The neighbor also said she had tried to motivate my mom to get into physical therapy, which she actually is supposed to have been doing for several years now, although she has not.

Going back to add information, like five years ago my mom had a knee replacement (which was why she missed my MA graduation) and never did the physical therapy she was supposed to do afterward. As a consequence, she is still using a walker five years later. She also does have a lot of problems with arthritis, but also won’t do anything for that except take painkillers. My tried to get her to try this therapy cream that she uses and I tried to get her to try acupuncture, but she wouldn’t do it.

So, my mom stayed in the hospital until the 29th and then came home. That afternoon I went out with my little brother and came back when my parents were having dinner. My dad and mom were fighting about how my mom would not each enough, wouldn’t eat vegetables, etc. Then my mom felt sick again and went to the bathroom. She stayed in there for a long time and then went to the bathroom in her room. She was in and out for several hours, and eventually my dad went to bed at like nine. Because my mom snores and says it hurts her whenever he moves in the bed, my dad typically sleeps upstairs in my old room but moved to the basement while I was there. So, anyway, I was the only one on the ground floor with her after that.

She was all sick, complaining of feeling hot and dizzy; I was wondering what I would do, and how I would deal with the rest of the night. I thought I couldn’t go to bed because maybe she’d fall or something during the night. I was thinking maybe I’d sleep on the floor, or on the edge of her bed or something.

All of a sudden she started vomiting blood again. Again, it was a lot. I think eventually it came to more than four cups. As soon as it started I went to get my dad. My mom didn’t want to go to the hospital again, but I called 911. While we were waiting for the ambulance to come, my mom wanted me to wipe her butt (which sucked), and she wanted me to go put socks on her. I got these warm ones with treads on the bottom, but she said she didn’t want those, so I had to go get other ones and put them on her. While I was doing that, she was holding this bucket of blood on her lap, not to securely. While I was putting the socks on, I kept saying, “Hold on to the bucket! Don’t let it fall on my head!”

Eventually the ambulance came and she was taken to the hospital again. My dad and I finally got home from the emergency room at almost 2:00 a.m. I couldn’t sleep well, and I was still so tired on Dec. 31st that I went to bed at like 10:30. So that was my New Year’s Eve — my mom was in the hospital, my dad went to bed at nine p.m., my little brother was out with friends (he did not ask me to go along) and my older brother was working, I guess.

Oh yeah, one creepy thing was that from the time until my mom got home almost until she got sick again, she kept wearing the green “do not resuscitate” bracelet they put on her at the hospital. All it said was “DNR” and I wondered if she knew what it meant.

She was still in the hospital when I came back to Ohio. She had a few different procedures to fix the ulcer and one operation which I think was supposed to remove the ulcerated part of the stomach. They didn’t work, so she was transferred to another hospital, where she went through a few more procedures.

My dad and I talked about what should happen, and I said I thought she should go into some sort of rehabilitation place rather than home, where someone could be watching her all the time, they could make her do physical therapy, and make sure she was not taking too many painkillers. I thought having her at home was pretty dangerous, both for her and my dad. Something could happen to her while my dad went up to go to sleep. Or, my dad could start sleeping on the couch downstairs near her bedroom, which would be uncomfortable and stressful for him. The only workable option would be for my dad and brothers to rotate staying up all night and watching her, which would be really difficult for them, and also would not deal with the physical therapy and painkiller problems.

So now she is in a nursing home, and she will probably be there for another three weeks at least. I’m not really sure what is going on, but it is a stressful situation for everyone involved, with my dad and my little brother going to see her every day. I don’t know how well she’ll be at the end or how she will be able to function at home.

That’s a pretty full account of what happened during my time at my parents’. I did go to Duff’s for the first time with a friend from high school, but didn’t get to see anyone else because of the flu and the novovirus a lot of people had.

Then I came home and got the flu! So that was my vacation!

Edit: Oh yeah! I actually forgot a few things! While I was at home my parents both criticized my weight several times. Between the time my mom came home from the hospital and she went back she told me I am “looking chunky,” and my dad commented several times, saying things like he thought I would balloon up like my aunt, who to my knowledge was never overweight except for the period in which she had cancer and was taking a lot of medications for it that caused weight gain.

My older brother kept talking about how he hated his new employers, and snooping around in his old room upstairs I found a gun. It freaked me out and I told my dad about it. He said, “I know. I put it there. I use it to shoot geese out of the bedroom window.”

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Database of North Korean films

Here it is! I’ve seen two of the films on the list: ORDER NO. 027 and the one they call WHEN WE PICK APPLES

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I tried to figure out Ban Ki-moon’s name in Chinese, and I got it right! How’s that for a geeky thing to be proud of?

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To the stinkbug who has somehow been living in my house for like two months. I don’t know what it had been eating. I would see it from time to time and be surprised it was still around. I found it on its back today on the kitchen counter with its legs in the air. :(

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Three pieces of good news

I got three pieces of good news today. I’m actually not as happy as I should be — I think I was a bit wrung out with worry.

1) After having more pictures taken today, I’ve been told my breasts are okay.

2) A little kid I used to play with at the orphanage is getting a cochlear implant, which is great because she is completely deaf.

3) I found out there is a lot more money left in my Chinese bank account than I had known. Yeah!

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Bad news and something awkward

On Wednesday I got a phone call from the doctor’s office that my mammogram had come back abnormal, so we scheduled a follow-up appointment to take more images for the radiologist to examine. I found out right between classes at the tightest point in my day — I have only 15 minutes between classes, and my next one is in a building about seven minutes away. What with putting my stuff away, and answering the questions students usually ask at the end, it’s very hard to get to the next one on time. Having such a short time was especially difficult Wednesday, because I felt a needed a couple minutes to pull myself together so I could act calm in front of my class. Therefore, I ended up being like five minutes late, even though it was a presentation day. I think it was a little worrying to people who were going to speak that day, but in the end everything was fine.

I was writing about this in my diary at home, and it had been a long time since I had opened it up, so I wrote about something else that had happened. I’ll repeat it here:

“Another awkward thing is that somebody liked me, it seems, but then changed his mind. This other professor asked me out on what I think was a date, but I got really embarrassed and didn’t answer for almost a week. He probably thought I was really unenthusiastic or something. Finally I wrote him back and we set something up, but then he cancelled at the last minute and hasn’t mentioned anything to me about it since.”

Ironically, the same day he cancelled, the box I sent from China that contained the purse I bought for a date with Easily Agitated German, that he cancelled, arrived in the mail.

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Going “radio silence” is one of my bad habits

More frequently than I ought to, I suppose, I think of that guy I used to call Easily Agitated German, and wonder what his deal actually was. I also think about how apt it was for him to disappear suddenly. That goes back to the first time I saw his picture online. I thought, “It’s the male me!” because he looked so much like I did when my face was thinner. We had a ton of things in common too, in terms of values, experiences and attitudes. Even his freak-out, when he wrote, “I’m not an easy-going guy!” is like something I would do, getting all freaked out because somebody liked me. Most ironically, disappearing suddenly, without any explanation, is something I do too. Sometimes I’m offended by someone, or just get shy, or don’t know what to say, so I disappear. It’s a bad habit. I’m sure I’ve hurt people because of it.

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Strangely enough, I’m mentioned in the Wikipedia-esque Chinese version of a German science engine! Both Mary Frances Berry and I are listed as scientists, and my blurb appears above hers, even though my achievements are miniscule in comparison.

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Tasting but not “tasting”

Since I got here I’ve been experiencing a weird phenomenon for the first time. When a migraine is coming on, I start “tasting” metal. The thing is, the sensation isn’t coming from my mouth. What I mean is, I can tell the taste isn’t being generated from anything I’m eating or drinking. So I’m experiencing a sensation that registers as taste although it’s clear it’s not taste at all, just a product of my brain, and as I experience it, I know that’s all it is.

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It’s snowing!

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Thoughts on where I am now

A few people have asked what I think about my new school and about being back in the US. I haven’t written too much in here. One reason is I’m trying to be discreet because I once got in trouble about something I wrote about my old US school.

But, here is something I wrote to a friend/old colleague of mine yesterday:
This school is super-interesting — kind of strange. The American students are very, very polite, but on the other hands it’s a huge party school with all sorts of heavy-drinking related incidents each weekend. Despite the weekend binge drinking, the students seem very health conscious. There are always students jogging everywhere, and generally they are very physically fit. The school is pretty far south in Ohio, but yet students here are really accepting of homosexuality, whereas in Bloomington, which is a few hours away, there was always a lot of prejudice (while I was there, anyway).

As far as weird stuff goes (and this is something I did not tell my co-worker), there are signs around town, like on the library door, the courthouse door, and even city buses, that people are not allowed to bring a firearm on. My students were astonished that something like that is even needed. I was pretty surprised too. My friend Pilot P. said that lately a lot of people have gotten really militant about open carry rules and so they are carrying guns around scaring people.

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I just ordered the new Alexander McCall Smith novel!

In other writing news, I’ve finished and polished up my first Half-Horse Boy story and mailed it to some friends who wanted to see it.

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