the long overdue health report is that since i’ve been back from burning man, i’ve been experiencing some moderate to severe physical symptoms that are vague yet consistent. these include: dizziness, vertigo, weakness, fatigue, strange burning/tingling sensations in my head and up and down my extremities, nerve tweaks/spasms, vision funkiness, pressure in my head, and sometimes nausea.
a few weeks ago i went to see my general physician and she didn’t have much to say – such vague symptoms without anything really “happening”, she couldn’t give me a diagnosis other than i should literally and figuratively get my head checked: revisit a neurologist, given my history of seizures (which were never attributed to anything specific being wrong), and possibly a psychologist/psychiatrist, to see about my anxiety.
after looking at my old records and giving me a few tests and asking a few pertinent questions, the neurologist also figures it’s generalized anxiety, as i don’t actually have what one would call a “headache” (suggesting a scary problem like a brain tumor), and my cognitive functions have remained just fine (suggesting i haven’t had any seizures), but with the continuing persistence of symptoms i am having the MRI and EEGs done again next week.
at the end of last week i thought i was getting better, that every day i was feeling a bit stronger, and i was feeling 90% ok. but then saturday came, and i spent the whole day weak and trembly, and since then i’ve felt horrid.
this has been more or less occupying most of my time, dealing with this, and has kept me from doing a lot of things, being a lot of places, writing a lot of blogs. i’ve been able to function at work just fine, although i’m probably a bit more irritable and surly than i should be, and i’ve tried to go on with my life as though everything is fine, which is maybe the worst thing to do, not ignoring the problem but not letting it take over my life. but everywhere i go, i am monitoring all these strange sensations in my body. when i walk down the street for lunch, i wonder if i’ll fall to my knees. when i’m sitting in a theatre seeing a play, i feel weak and wonder what would happen if i lost consciousness. like the world is so heavy, and my life force so weak, that i just might collapse under the weight of it all. i have also had a couple of standard anxiety attacks – the sweaty palms, the difficulty breathing – but these other symptoms are pretty much nonstop. all day long. the weakness and dizziness, and weird pressure/tingling in my head. i haven’t fallen, i haven’t lost consciousness, but it constantly feels like i might.
it’s so hard to write this here, i don’t know why. maybe because i don’t want to hear everyone’s advice or seem like i’m asking for sympathy. or maybe because it feels like i am overreacting, and putting this into writing here, for everyone to read, feels like making a mountain out of a molehill, exaggerating my symptoms. are they really as bad as they seem? or am i just being hypersensitive? maybe because its so personal, and when things are really deep, really personal, i am usually silent, and this seems like a lot of myself to share. or maybe because regardless of what is or what isn’t, i’m fucking scared.Filed in autobiographical, epilepsy, food, health & vegetarianism, me myself and i, most linked/commented on | Tagged with anxiety | Comments (12)
it’s been 10 days or so since i posted anything autobiographical, mostly because while much has happened and been thought about it’s all just been….stewing. there’s been a lot of stewing. and i didn’t really feel like bitching and moaning publicly here on a daily basis, and thought i would wait and see what came to pass.
i haven’t been doing much modeling or performing lately, mostly because i haven’t been asked, but also because i was finding that backstage culture involved a bit too much to take. or perhaps, like so many other things, i took it as far as i was comfortable with, and then got bored, because i never really wanted to push it further. i blame part of it on having a day-job; but also, really, i just don’t ever get that involved in things. getting involved means sacrificing parts of yourself and your life: your time, your privacy, your personality. i’m not sure why, as i know that is what draws some other people to their passions – the sacrifice, the giving-it-all-to-see-what-happens, but i’m just so….mediocre in that respect. i do things for a while, get to know it within my own parameters, and then move on. something new. what’s next? i do it with music, fashion, hobbies, foods, restaurants, and yes, even sometimes, friends. definitely scenes – circles of people and the things they habitually do and places they habitually go. maybe this is a character flaw of mine i should think about more, this never taking anything very far and instead dilettanting around on the surface, never really breaking a sweat.
as recently noted, i’ve been really struggling lately with the dominant feel of my scene, part of which is being so obsessed with “coolness”, defined in a very specific yet vague way, and how the art scene in SF values and trades coolness. it’s one of the reasons i almost didn’t go to burning man this year – i’ve got so much of a hangup about it (and i do recognize it’s my hangup, even though it may also be shared by others) i wasn’t sure if i could handle it again, so intensely; more importantly i wasn’t sure i could stop caring enough to enjoy myself, which i know is the secret. i know that is it the key.
when anastazia of bad unkl sista called me to ask if i would do a performance with her at the event last weekend, i was excited because she’s one of the people i know who’s really raging against expectations, but at the same time i was sort of feeling……not interested in being a performer, being on stage, being one of the actors in the scene. although her performances aren’t about fashion, they are about costumes, and it was right after i had decided that i was going pretty much totally anti-fashion on the playa this year and just wearing coveralls all week, because i feel like i can’t even have fun just being myself and dressing up like i have always done because then it seem like i’m trying to participate in the coolness game, and so it’s not fun for me right now (does that make sense?). i know i should just say ‘fuck everyone’ but it’s really hard when you walk into a scene and it feels like everyone is judging you head to toe… do you fit in here? are you wearing the right costume? maybe it’s my own chip on my shoulder right now and i’m projecting onto other people, but that’s how it feels and given the number of people i’ve talked to about this, while part of that may be true i think there’s more to it than me being my usual confused self.
anyway, when i arrived at her studio on wed for rehearsal and saw that what we were doing was so totally uncool, unfashionable, and with zero attempt at being sexy, i was at first admittedly a bit trepidatious – partly because i felt really unattractive in my costume (body image issues still lingering hugely as background noise to all of this), and partly because i wasn’t sure people would “get it” and we’d look like dumbasses, but as we rehearsed and all got really into our characters, i dropped all that – i mean, wasn’t that what we were TRYING to do? wasn’t that what i was ANGRY about, and wasn’t worrying about those kinds of things what i wanted to get rid of and expel?- and by the end of it i was super fucking happy and excited, and once again felt understood and really grateful to have other people sharing in the sentiment and experience.
i have no idea what anyone else thought of what we did (a horridly tacky dance routine to C+C Music Factory while dressed in sequins and bad wigs – vera’s got more on it here) – i heard there was a lot of WTF? in the audience from people expecting something mysterious and sensual, like bad unkl sista usually is – but as far as we were concerned we pulled it off – awkwardly, uncoordinatedly, and without any shame like total rockstars, and i got to really work out some of that bad negative energy i’d been soaking in all week about all the pretentious shit going on these days. sometimes you really do just need to make a fool of yourself in public to feel better.
and then a few days later i got a very brief but direct email from a woman who worked in my building a year or so ago who i didn’t really know very well but we shared a few laughs and an affinity for odd-colored hair and jokes while passing in the hallway, and though we didn’t talk much we were definitely kindred spirits. in the 2 sentence email she asked me, bluntly, with very little preface, how i maintain happiness.
i still don’t know if she was asking this generally, pontificating while bored at her new desk job, or if there was an assumption embedded that i am happier than most. this set off a series of longer emails wherein we both expressed feelings of oppression by cultural expectations, most specifically, the pressure to have a career. neither of us are interested, nor have we ever been, in having a career. maybe this is because i don’t understand what a “career” is. maybe this is because the only examples i have of people with successful careers are workaholics, and i don’t think i can measure up. maybe this is because i’m less interested in achievement and more interested in experience.
i do have artist/musician friends who have “art” as their career, and hell, as much as i want to be, i am not an artist. believe me, i’ve tried. and, most of them struggle. a lot. and it doesn’t look fun. if anything i’d like to have a career helping people, and while my current job focuses a lot on helping people get things done, i don’t get much direct satisfaction from helping people in a hands-on kind of way, as what we do (public policy) is usually separated from real people by layers of bureaucracy and academics. most of my friends who have spent a few years teaching/working for NGOs have burnt out. fast. it’s a short term thing, not a career, unless you want to go into public service, and oh my. no way.
this girl just wants to have fun, contribute to creativity, and help some people, but i’m not sure how that forms into a career, and honestly, i see nothing wrong with that. but somehow, the peer pressure – well, maybe not “pressure”, but the pull to sort of to go with the current of your community – makes me feel like a loser all the time. i’m 32 – my friends are now all becoming doctors, lawyers, owning their own businesses, and here i am sitting at the same admin desk job that i have been for the past 8 years. really, i don’t want to “work” either. i feel guilty that i don’t want to work, like there is something wrong with me, but at the same time i don’t understand why everyone else is so into it (see: this. see also: smart people traps). i mean, i like to DO THINGS, but i don’t necessarily like to do things for other people for money, day in and day out, over and over again.
all the extra-curricular activities i do could be seen as overcompensation for my dissatisfaction with the fact that i sit at a desk all day, whether or not that desk job is a good job. not that i don’t ENJOY all the dancing and costumes and crazy etcetera, but sometimes i do think i’m doing it not because i love it but because it’s the opposite of sitting at this desk being “normal”, you know what i mean? like, if i didn’t have this desk job, i probably wouldn’t be so compelled to have my second life at night. i would just chill. and relax. and omg that sounds good.
and then, related back to the beginning, there’s the rapidly approaching departure for burning man, for the fifth year in a row. why am i not super excited? why can’t i work up the enthusiasm that other people have for things? am i not as fun as everyone else? am i not as into escapism? i think that it’s impossible to maintain enthusiasm for something/someplace you’ve been to/done repeatedly. it seems ritualistic, the excitement, and that’s another thing i don’t get into: rituals. like christmas. so while i’m barely excited for burning man (again) this year, i now think it’s less feeling bitter and jaded and more just feeling like the glitter has faded to the point where it’s just rather … ho hum. going to burning man. naked people. fire. drugs. art. woo. hoo.
i envy people who can keep getting excited over and over again about things. sure, the people and details are going to be different every year, but overall….it’s not new. i wish i could be more excited about all the new little things instead of always wanting a new big thing.
more than anything, i think that’s what i get preoccupied with that keeps me from really being grateful and enjoying my present life which, we all know, doesn’t suck. what is it? what’s next? what’s the next big thing? i think i get really anxious about this one-life-to-live deal we’ve been dealt, and while the simple man would say to stop and smell the roses and enjoy what you have, sometimes i feel like you can only smell the roses for so long before you gotta move on down the road.Filed in art, autobiographical, burning man, fashion, friends, personal favorites | Tagged with anxiety | Comments (5)
i’ve been in a fog
like the headlands and the coast
shivering from the impact of the world
i’ve spent days and nights curled up
head tucked under
waiting for the sun
but still there’s a slow fire burning underneath
fueling my dreams
waiting for the time to come
a believer in synchronicity
the alignment of time and place
and those forces you cannot push
or can you?
more and more manifestation seems to be real
and the only solution.
there is not enough time to wait.
what then, of these dreams
do i really want to manifest
what of the fantasy would bring beauty in real life
and not a monster?
as i’m ponding these things, my friend GhostOrchid writes, so succinctly and with much truth, guidelines to remember:
1. There’s always candy. Being an adult means not taking the candy like the impulsive five-year old you want to remain.
2. We want what we can’t have. We also want the things that push us out of our comfort zones while simultaneously never really wanting to leave our comfort zones. This causes us much discomfort and confusion.
This hits the nail on the head (superfuckinghard, too) about the source of my current persisting internal ennui/melodrama. There are so many shiny things glimmering on the peripherals of my life – so many options, so many choices, some of them push farther than others, in various different ways. how much outside my comfort zone(s) am i really willing to go? or is it just that the grass is always greener, and daydreaming of these escapades is actually all i really want, when in reality i know i don’t really want to go there…or do i?
this ongoing struggle between logic/reason and emotional meanderings…..
6. While you can break attraction/love down to a set of XYZ things that you like about someone, or things that fit neatly into your perfectly crafted world, love/attraction is not reasonable nor rational. You can’t live in a monkey’s world with the mind of a robot. You can’t live in a robot world with the mind of a monkey either, apparently.
i find myself trying to rationalize emotions/desires so often – somewhere in the back of my mind there is a voice that tells me the “grownup” thing to do is to make sure the choices i make are “grounded in reality” and not fantasy, e.g. that they are logical moves, not emotional ones, but i am a hyperemotional human, and so am then often torn between following the heart v. following the mind, which seem to diverge harshly; finding a path that lets you follow both…..seems impossible. i know it’s out there though, and maybe that’s what i should be focusing on: the intersection, aka the monkeybot solution.
is this where human adulthood begins – finding the balance between our natural childlike urges and logical reasoning? finding the place where those intersect, with compassion and respect for others? and why am i just now, at almost 32, finding this to be so important?
i think what’s hard for me more than anything is that many people i know who are also finding themselves pondering these things are coming at this from the other end of the monkeybot spectrum: they spent their 20s/youth doing a lot of foolish things, romantically, socially, professionally, jumping from lover to lover, job to job, place to place, following their empassioned whims, spending their youth in the ways we should, like monkeys. i however, spent my 20s in the same job, in the same city, with the same lover. outside of that initial spree of graduating from college and moving to CA without a job and with a very new boyfriend in 1998, i have made most of my choices rationally, based on maintaining security. and now i sit here on a precipice, wondering if i’ve lost that chance, if i’m now too reasoned to behave such a way without so much logic weighing down each moment. one of my friends thinks that middle age is going to hit this group particularly hard, when they look back and see all the years spent in intoxicated hedonistic binges, aka “wasted youth”. however, from where i’m standing, it’s the opposite: i look back at all the years i’ve spent not doing those things, and wonder why and what chances i might have lost.Filed in autobiographical, friends, personal favorites | Tagged with anxiety, ennui | Comments (5)
it always creeps up slowly,
peeks its head out from behind otherwise normal thoughts
until eventually it becomes a total filter
like a huge umbrella used to block the sun.
i was taking an online market research survey yesterday
and one of the questions was something like:
“which of the following have you experienced in the past year?
returned to graduate school?
had a baby?
bought a house?
bought a car?
and even though i don’t really want any of those things
except maybe that last one
i was suddenly sucked down into the idea that
nothing has happened in my life in the past year.
even though i have done lots of things,
none of them have been life changing.
none of them have moved me forward.
none of them have changed my direction.
i’ve just been treading water
while so many friends and colleagues have moved on -
new jobs, back to school, trips abroad, new ventures.
what’s new? people ask.
and i have nothing to answer.
remember when i said things were going to happen this year?
well, they haven’t.
after work i went to the gym
because i haven’t been and i know i should
and it would probably make me feel better
and i pulled in the parking lot
and sat in the car.
i did not have the energy or will to get on a treadmill
or do any pushups
or lift any weights
or even change into my gym clothes.
after 5 minutes of sitting in the warm car with my eyes closed
i turned the key in the ignition and went home.
i curled up on the couch
and tried to go to sleep
i thought i was so tired
but my mind kept me awake and
i eventually grabbed the nearest magazine and started reading
unfortunately it was Traveler, which for some reason still arrives every month
even though i hate it.
after reading about all the eurail trips i will probably never take
i just lied there on my back staring at my white walls and tall loft ceilings
thinking about how disappointed i was in myself.
how i am not a good employee,
not a good girlfriend,
not good to myself,
and how all the things i want to do and be get shelved
because of laziness
because of fears
and perceived limitations
and how i have allowed myself to just get stuck.
stuck in the familiarity of my job
stuck in the comfort my relationship
stuck in the shape of my body
stuck in my habits
and although it seems i have this wonderful life
it’s not the life i want.
it’s not the life i could have.
i stay stuck because i don’t have a mission,
and i am told you need a mission and a plan before making any big decisions.
otherwise, you are a fool.
i don’t know what i want.
i don’t have a plan.
i don’t have a goal.
whenever i try to come up with one,
or someone tries to help me talk about it,
i just get frustrated.
the goal is happiness!
the obstacles are so small,
like a 2-foot tall fence you just keep following the line of
instead of climbing over.
that’s the part that frustrates me.
that’s the part that makes me disappointed in myself.
because i know i could just step over the fence if i really wanted to.
“People are where they are because that’s exactly where they really want to be . . . whether they’ll admit that or not.”
- Earl Nightingale
note:Filed in autobiographical, me myself and i, not poems | Tagged with anxiety | Comment (1)
i was reading recently a study that correlated lack of choice in certain cultures with greater happiness – that “simplicity of life” correlates to calmer, happier citizens as opposed to cultures such as ours full of angsty citizens who have too much to choose from (similar to ideas behind communism, the Amish, and other minimalist cultures) – and then yesterday read in the news that people of Bhutan were resisting their new democracy. they don’t want democracy; they want a king. their bucolic mountain nation has been very successful under the monarchy, their king has put “gross national happiness” above all else, and many fear that democracy will only bring strife and the western problems that comes with it. so is there a correlation, then – do the Bhutanese correlate fewer choices with happiness, or do they just not trust democracy? i wonder.
the question National Geographic currently asks about Bhutan and also Iceland (another small, sheltered nation), and many others have asked about the general course of modernity is this: can you be part of the modern world without losing your soul?Filed in culture and random linkage | Tagged with affluenza, anxiety, happiness | Comment (0)
“Life’s just much too hard today,”
I hear ev’ry mother say
The pusuit of happiness just seems a bore
And if you take more of those, you will get an overdose
No more running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper
They just helped you on your way, through your busy dying day
Doctor please, some more of these
Outside the door, she took four more
What a drag it is getting old