I have lost all expectation of pleasure

I’m paraphrasing Jane Austen here — whenever I read that line in Pride and Prejudice I think “It sounds like me.”

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EMDR and dreams

I’ve been getting EMDR therapy lately (I’ve done two sessions) and the therapist said I might be having some bad dreams. A lot of the ones I’ve had are not bad, per se, but they’re not set in the locations my dreams go back to again and again.

Two notable ones:
I’ve had two dreams about wanting to prove that I’m okay, or normal, and not being able to do it. In one dream I was going to go to a party with a group of people including this girl who I’d had a falling out with in Shanghai. I felt she looked down at me and I was filled with rage at her. I really wanted to beat her up, and even vividly imagined beating her up in the dream, but told myself that I couldn’t do it before the party because that would ruin the atmosphere — it was another friend’s birthday party and I didn’t want to mess it up. We had been staying in an apartment way up in a highrise, and it took like five minutes to go from the apartment to the ground. Throughout the preparation for going out, I kept trying to act not crazy, and like I was totally normal, but when we got downstairs and were ready to leave to go to a club or karaoke, I realized I didn’t have any shoes on. Then somebody told me my hair was messed up, I looked in a mirror, and found that it was all crazy and sticking out on the sides. I asked why nobody told me there was anything wrong with it, and nobody had any reply. I had to go back to get my shoes and fix my hair, but during that time, everybody left. I was supposed to come afterward, but it took so long to go upstairs, to fix my hair/shoes and would take so long to come down again I realized I would have missed a lot of the party. I thought it was futile to go, and stayed in the apartment, feeling like a failure because the person who looked down on me had been proved right, that I wasn’t normal.

Even the night after this dream I had trouble going to sleep because I could still so vividly imagine beating up that girl and I still felt really intense rage toward her.

Last night I had a dream where I was back in grad school in Michigan. I didn’t have a good reputation amongst some of the faculty in the department because I had complained about the way grad student TAs were treated, so being back was sort of a tense situation. I knew they didn’t think I would do well, but I wanted to, for my own self-respect and to thwart their negative expectations. As time went on, I realized that things were going wrong for me, mentally. My sanity was sort of slipping. I felt humiliated but had to decide what to do so things didn’t spiral out of control. I decided I should check myself into a hospital. I knew I had proved myself to be abnormal, just like they all expected, but on reflection I decided that I just didn’t care about their opinion very much. It didn’t really matter to me.

During the hospital/clinic part of the dream, there was a tornado, and when I realized it would happen, I took one of the people working there down into a basement for protection. We were down there sheltering from the storm, and while usually in my tornado dreams the storm passes by, in this time one actually came. The noise was incredibly loud, like a train was passing above us. We were okay in the end, though, because we were in the underground shelter.

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A cheeky exchange

I was going through the border checkpoint to Shenzhen yesterday and this Irish couple asked an English lady how much her visa had cost. When she told them the price, which was higher than theirs, one of them said, “Well, we never tried to take over another country.”

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Oh man!

I missed the Tin Hau Festival! I thought it was today, but it was actually yesterday. I had meant to go to the celebrations and take photographs. A big disappointment!

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Long time no write

I haven’t written here in some time. I closed this off, partly because I wasn’t sure if I had written to many inappropriate details about what happened with my mom.

I’ve missed it, though. However, I’m stuck between wanting people to read it and wanting privacy.

There’s been a big change since I wrote here last — I moved to Hong Kong. I saw a job listing online at the last minute, applied, and got it. Actually, it’s been a much rougher transition than I had anticipated, and I have actually thought about quitting and going back to the US many times. I think this is a much less caring, much more harsh society than the Mainland. People here are unhappier too as well. Work hours are long, rents are high, food choices aren’t as varied as in the Mainland. The students generally don’t have the same enthusiastic attitude toward learning so it’s hard to connect with them. They (and people here in general), only seem to be interested in what goes on here — if something takes place outside of Hong Kong, they generally are not interested. I haven’t really made any friends here yet, partly because people aren’t as friendly and partly because I’ve been really tired. Is it my age, I wonder? I’m fatigued easily lately.

The best thing so far this year is that I took a trip to Gansu, where I have never been before. Mostly I went because I like noodles so much that I wanted to go to Lanzhou. I also visited a town called Linxia, which people call the Chinese Mecca, since nearly everyone there is Muslim, and Xiahe, which has a huge Buddhist monastery. I took some nice pictures and really enjoyed myself.

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Melancholy anniversary

It’s just past the one year anniversary of finding out that Zhao Jian Rong (who I always called the Dog Man) died of cancer. It’s very hard for me to write about it. I sort of feel this sorrow that’s “wrapped up in my heart” and can’t come out.

There are still a lot of mysterious aspects to it — I think the last time we talked on the phone, I was really talking to his older brother. I thought that at the time, but it seemed really awkward to accuse someone you’re talking to of not being who he says he is. I’ve wondered why he would do that. I wondered if he lied to me because he didn’t want to tell me something that would make me sad, but I don’t think he was that kind of person. Maybe I’m not giving him enough credit, but he wasn’t a very nice guy. A second possibility is that he didn’t want me to know my friend was sick for monetary reasons. When their father died, he left everything he had, including the apartment, to ZJR. He gave everything to him even though he was the youngest, and didn’t will anything to the other five kids. I wonder if the oldest brother thought if I knew he was sick and went to visit him, there was a danger that ZJR/Dog Man would want to get married (which Chinese people often do when they know they will die soon), and then I would end up inheriting the property. But, if he died while single, the property and money would be split amongst his siblings, and they would get to keep the apartment, which ZJR had wanted to sell.

Anyway, it’s weird and sad. I’d be really sorry if he had thought I didn’t care that he was sick, or didn’t know I had tried to get a hold of him. I also feel like I’m in some sort of undefined situation. We weren’t married, and we had broken up before he died, and yet I feel like what happened is significant enough that there should be some sort of brief, concise way of explaining it in a way that indicates what a big blow it was in my life.

I also worry about Alice the Dog, and her fate. She was the sort of dog people eat. Who knows where she is now. If I had known something was wrong, I would have adopted her.

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Sofitel moisturizer mystery

Today as I was slathering myself from a travel-sized bottle of moisturizer, I realized it was from a Sofitel-affiliated hotel and had Chinese on it. When did I ever stay in a Sofitel hotel in China? I have no idea. Usually I stayed in JinJiang Hotels, which are really cheap but new, nice and safe. Was it when I stayed in nice hotel in Gaoxiong (Kaohsiung) in Taiwan? That’s the only thing I can think of right now.

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A bit guilty because of discombobulation

This semester I’ve felt really scattered, probably more than ever before. I’m having trouble keeping things straight. This week, for instance, I forgot that there were drafts of papers due on Wednesday. I’d never had remembered if student’s hadn’t mentioned it.

My computer troubles haven’t helped — my thumb drive where I’d had a lot of lessons conked out after being used once in the annoying Toshiba computer I had for a little while, so I can’t access all at stuff on there. It’s a real inconvenience because there were some things on there that I hadn’t saved on my regular computer.

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I’ve decided that I don’t want to work in the fall semester. I just can’t face it. Well — what I actually mean is I don’t want to teach full-time. While I’ve made the decision, it’s very hard not to look at job listings. It feels very strange.

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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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