Sour Lemons

Monday started with a huge glass of sea-salt in tepid water. I’m not sure if it was my water-quality or an effect of the sodium but the lukewarm water had a slimy and filmy quality, contrasting all too sharply with the sudden spill of salt that dumped into my mouth at the end. Monday was supposed to end with a mug of herbal laxative tea, the only cup of tea I was allowed each day. In between were lemons, cayenne pepper, lemons, and more lukewarm water. 

I’d decided to start a cleanse. This is not out of the ordinary for me. What’s even more common than my sporadic desires to purge my body of all my mistreatment is the fact that I always waiver on the very first day. Monday did not end with a tea to make me shit out maple syrup nor did it end it with my crying of hunger. Instead, I was crying of frustration. I took about two liters of my “lemonade”to work with me and came home at 4 pm feeling satisfied, even a bit smug. It was so easy; I wasn’t even hungry. The worst part is that I wasn’t even hungry. My mind, like always, started talking me out of it and I went from wondering if I should venture out in the rain for laxative tea to feeling determined to go so that I could buy salmon because suddenly, I was over the master cleanse. I left the house, no longer determined to give up eating for the next ten days but instead to just eat incredibly healthy detox meals. Then I got to Carrefour and reasoned that I should probably binge because I could start my detox the following day. i probably shouldn’t tell you about everything I ate over the weekend preceding my ten days of the master cleanse that never happened.

This is a pattern of mine. It was exhausting to write and although I like to ignore these truths, it is far, far worse on my body. Now, I’m trying a new approach. Believing that I am ok and that I don’t need to do anything extreme. I want to stop fearing how fat I will get from eating a piece of cake and then binging on the entire thing (with a bowl of ice cream). I’m even reading a Gwyneth Paltrow endorsed book by Dr. Habib Sadeghi.. and the weirdest part is that I’m actually enjoying it! I’ve known that my battles with food have been emotional for a long time. It really only makes sense that instead of using diets and exercise to make myself feel temporarily better that I try a different approach and heal myself from the inside out. Here’s to hoping it works.

Like It’s Your Last

Refinery 29 had a life advice article up about changes to make in 2014. The last one asked a few questions about what you would do given the knowledge it was your last year on earth so I decided to record mine here in the hopes that I will be more inclined to follow and reflect on them.

WHAT WOULD YOU LET GO OF: I think I’d have to let go of my newly introduced worrying about time. I guess turning 26 just really hit me and made me feel like I’d accomplished so little and felt such a lack of direction. I would stop thinking about what I’m going to do in the future, whether I’ve done enough in the past, and if I’m doing enough in the present.

WHAT WOULD CEASE TO BE IMPORTANT: My weight and money. I wish I could get these things to mean less to me now but it’s so hard to not think of my financial security fears and the extra rolls on my stomach.

WHO WOULD YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE/ LESS TIME WITH: I’d want to spend my last year on earth laughing til my stomach hurts as much as possible so definitely my close friends. I’d also want to spend more time with my family since I’ve never really been a tight-knight-family type of person.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY: I’d say “I love you” a lot more when I really feel it and I would say “I’m sorry” when I don’t mean it a lot less.

WHERE WOULD YOU WANT TO VISIT: I spent this past September and October visiting where my dad grew up so I think that I would want to take a nice long trip to really see where my mother was from, Shimonoseki, Japan. To see the cherry-blossom trees and spend more tan just a few weeks visiting would be amazing!

Last Days

The last days that my mother was on earth were not much of a contrast to the strained and somewhat unbearably strange distance that two people living in the same home can have. It would have been a great opportunity for us to have opened up to one another, revealing our long withheld secrets to each other as a way of reestablishing the bond that only a mother and daughter can have, dissolving any pent-up resentments and judgements, and edifying me for a future without motherly love. But out relationship was not like that and so there would be not Benjamin Button-like reading of diaries in the last hours. 

 

November 1, 2010

I returned home to Los Angeles after spending Halloween weekend in San Francisco in the afternoon, heading straight to my computer to catch up on the world at large, probably with some type of dessert or food to ease the consumption of news. It was a Monday and I always worked Mondays until 9:45 but on this particular day, I was exhausted from days of debauchery and in my pajamas. If I hadn’t been home when my mom got back from her doctor (She’d been in remission from Leukemia for about two years now and had sharp stomach pains over the weekend so went straight to the hospital that day) then I’m not too sure how she would have told me. I don’t think she would have allowed herself to cry. In the previous years that were filled with chemotherapy, hair loss, blood transfusions, a bone marrow transplant, and having to live in a lonely hospital room for months, she always cried behind closed doors. And I always allowed her. Looking back, I really wish I’d broken down these walls. If I’d knocked lightly on her old wooden door, she probably would have let me in and we could have cried together instead of me retreating downstairs to do the exact same thing as her. That is always the sad truth: One should be prepared to kick down doors to show their love to a person who would probably open it to a light rapping anyway. 

Anyway, she came home and I probably left my earphones in. She approached me in a strange way and then only and only reluctantly did I remove them. The first thing she told me, and this I can never forget no matter how much else i have forgotten, was “I’m so sorry”. Tears started filling up those eyes, the eyes that I had inherited, the ones that I had sometimes been embarassed about because they were slanted and looked weird with eyeliner or something else incredibly shallow. I can’t remember how she told me because for some reason, I always just zoom in on the “I’m so sorry”and everything else becomes hazy. We hugged and she went in to her room and then I went in to mine. I cried so much that night and I tried to be as quiet as possible. I had this really silly belief that by acting stoic, I was being strong for my mother, providing her with hope that there really was nothing to cry over. Another regret. 

Early April, 2011

My mom has been in and out of the hospital repeatedly but you become used to this sort of thing if you have a family member battling an acute illness. With her first bout of cancer, it was all so foreign and awful and excessively sterile. The shock of having to wear gloves and a mask every time I visited was as shocking as the fact that one couldn’t bring her flowers or her not being allowed to leave her room. It was necessary because the chemo had weakened her body so much so that her immune system had been pulverised into defenceless specks of dust. All that I’d really taken from it, after the fact of course, was that she’d survived, she was fine and by fine I mean in remission. So this time, visiting became part of a routine and if truth be told, it was more neglected than my exercise regimen. When I went, I felt like I had nothing to say because it is absolutely impossible to not become paralyzed when one of the strongest people you know suddenly amounts to a scraggly body and bald head swimming in clorox soaked hospital wear. I was an awful daughter and more the worse because I took anger upon my brother for not visiting (he visited less than I did and for the same reasons) and allowed myself to feel better because I was at the hospital slightly more than he was. 

This time, she told me that the doctors told her she wasn’t going to make it. And then she added probably. She always talked about when she would get better, a sweet little lie that allowed us all to go on pretending, and even now as she finally produced honesty, she had to taint it with the uncertainty of a doctor’s diagnosis. I think that even then it didn’t completely hit me. It hurt at first, like ice being thrown at me but then it just kind of numbed down and I still didn’t see her looming death as imminent. 

June, 2011

“Can you hear the birds singing?”. I think that when my mom said that to me, the day before she passed away, that’s when I finally knew. Her brain was going and I had been waiting for that signal. A friend had told me that when her dad died of cancer, she remembered that he started going crazy beforehand. This was it. Even though the doctors told me they thought she would die soon and should be released into a hospice, I didn’t comprehend. Even when my bosses insisted I take time off work to be with my mother, I said that I thought she was doing better and that the doctors were being cryptic. When my mom asked me that question, I knew finally what others had known all along. What the doctors were trying to tell me. 

I found a bible and brochure in her night stand. My mother was an Atheist, a fact that she was proud to declare because to her it signified a break from her overly traditional Buddhist parents. I was confused. Looking back, I can’t remember if I tried asking her about it and she was unable to answer (by this point she was floating in and out, sometimes fully comprehensive and others not at all) or if I just closed the drawer quietly and told myself that the hospital had left it there. Her incredibly Christian friend who was out of the country kept calling me and saying that her priest friend wanted to help. When I finally returned one of his many calls, he told me that he’d visited my mom and she had finally wanted to seek religion or God. I didn’t believe him and tried to scare him away. It still nags at me sometimes. I don’t know if I had defended my mother’s beliefs or simply taken my anger and own inflexibility out on someone that was listening to my mother’s wishes and trying to relay them. 

June 30, 2011

I’d been sleeping in my mom’s room for the past few days and the previous night i had as well, leaving around 6 am to de-cramp myself from the discomfort of sleeping on a chair by going running, eating, showering, before heading back. I peeled myself up off the sticky faux leather and saw my mother sleeping peacefully so I very quietly went over and touched her hand. I don’t know how I didn’t recognize that she was dead. Probably the same reasons that I didn’t know she was so near death in the previous months. I told her I’d be back in a little bit. More than ever, I felt our roles reversed. I felt like a mother looking at her innocent child and wishing they could stay like that forever which is a selfish and specious thought when I take into consideration how much pain she was in and how many times she was hitting the morphine button a day). Her hand was limp but i’d grown used to that. I drove home and at some point between the drive and entering the house, I got the call. The nurse thought i’d gone to the bathroom since I’d slept over and were apparently looking for me. Then she told me that my mother had died after I left. I argued that she may have been dead when I left but the nurse sternly said it was after I had left. I still think that she died before; it gives me a bit of comfort to think she didn’t die alone. It also helps me feel a bit better about myself to think that I may have been a shitty daughter but I was at least there when she died. It’s so weird that twenty minutes, five minutes, 30 minutes; they never make a difference until they make all the difference in the world. Hospital records say that she died at 7:00 am but I respectfully disagree. 

Rawk Bawtawm

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What are the major differences between happiness and sadness? In Israel, being on the road with my dad and listening to the Beatles while watching the carved-by-nature architecture of monotone desert landscapes pass by… that is happiness. Coming back to a city that is flooded with rain and being unable to find ginger that isn’t rotten for three days (I could spend days talking about the amount of determination it took for me to get it! and also how worth it making Gwyneth’s ginger-carrot dressing is!) and it really doesn’t matter because all I’m thinking is that the sky may permanently stay grey if it holds this face for too long. Well, is it sadness? I feel sad of course.. and I am the type of masochistic person that enjoys watching really depressing movies, reading heat-wrenching existential novels, and listening to King Krule when I’m sad. Maybe Santiago de Compostela and I were made from each other; We both don’t believe in just a light drizzle. If she is going to rain, she will pour. And if I’m going to wallow in sadness, I will make sure i drown. Anyway, it got me thinking about how much I take pleasure in being sad and how much it heightens my experiences of happiness. It’s why I like smoking weed or reading a book or daydreaming in ways that create a letdown of reality- it makes the bittersweet experience of living more real…and I would take that over some watered-down version any day. 

I recently watched an interview with Louis C.K. and he expressed some fears that cell phones were numbing people so that rather than feel really good or bad, they just kind of always felt ok because they were distracted, they were always connected. I think he’s right and I guess my typing this out on a blog may seem contradictory, but there is something to be said about being comfortable with feeling alone. I’ve come up with far too many resolutions a few days too late (I had lots of time to kill in an Instanbul airport) and they range from studying greek mythology to exercising more to being more grateful. More than anything though, i want to make sure I continue to document how I feel for myself and to really listen to what I go through. I think it will make me stronger at being able to understand and really appreciate other people as well.

Mugs

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Just sipping on my fifth (sixth?!?) cup of tea today. It’s not too hard to blow through tea when your entire day consists of reading Bolaño, looking at beautiful photos, and watching old re-runs of Friends. 

THE PROUST QUESTIONAIRRE

Your favorite virtue. Empathy

Where would you like to live? I want the best of both worlds (city and country) so I’d say the French countryside and SF. Although where I live now, Santiago, is pretty fucking amazing.

Your favorite prose authors. Gwendolyn Brooks, Roberto Bolano, Zadie Smith, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Your favorite poets. Roberto Bolano, T.S. Eliot

Your favorite painters and composers. Rothko, Cezanne

Your favorite heroes/heroines in real life. Snowden, Pussy Riot, and basically anyone who gives up the comfort of life to alert people about the horrible lies they’ve been forced to swallow down. Manela. Everyone who has ever fought to speak up for people who aren’t given a voice. 

Your favorite heroes/ heroines in fiction. Robin Hood, Jesus Christ.

Your favorite food and drink. spaghetti with buffalo mozzarella and eggplant (the way my mom made it); green tea

Your favorite alcoholic drink: (I added this question because I wanted to and hope that it will show growth as the years go by; for example, 10 yrs ago I would have said Mickeys, 4 years ago prob stella) sangria

Your favorite names. Simone, Zadie, Penelope, Sebastien, Joaquin

Your pet aversion. Leafblowers (aka the most useless and lazy invention ever)

What characters in history do you most dislike? Columbus, and well to be honest, about 75% of men (most of them white) in power

What is your present state of mind? This really weird mixture of bliss, loneliness, happiness, and fear

For what fault have you most toleration? bad memory

Your favorite motto. “and so it goes”

Your favorite qualities in a man. sense of humour, the ability to be open and non-judgemental, kindness

Your favorite qualities in a woman. same as a man

Your favorite occupation. for myself, one of power.hah, no probably doctor

Your chief characteristic. awkwardness

Your idea of happiness. walking through a field with the sun beaming down on me, holding hands

Your idea of misery. the feeling of pure cold running through my body and having nothing to help warm me up (both literally and metaphorically speaking)

Your favorite color and flower. gold, peony

If not yourself, who would you be? Gertrude Stein

NOVEMBER 17

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Tomorrow is my birthday. Let me preface that by saying I am terribly sick, hopped on a plane yesterday and moved to a new city, and know LITERALLY nobody. Oh, and I don’t really know how to communicate with anyone given that I don’t know the language. I’m really big on birthdays as long as they aren’t my own so it’s not like I really would have done anything special but it just seems strange to be turning 26 in a completely foreign place. There is a bit of sadness to it but I have to admit that it also makes me so happy. My birthday is like this secret that noone here knows but me and i get to ring it in while exploring this absolutely devastatingly fantastically bee-U-tee-ful town. I really can’t complain, other than about feeling a bit lonely, I am getting to know myself in ways that I never have before.

 

Six Thirty

and I can’t sleep. I’m leaving London for good in exactly two days. I’m not even sure how I actually feel about it or how I should. All I know is that I have been up since six a.m. and I’m thinking about everything and nothing. I should be excited for France and Spain; I mean, of course I am ecstatic about going but I just keep thinking about what I want to do after. I may have realised that London isn’t for me but the problem is that I may spend years and money searching for a place that is me and never find it.

Oy Vey

Vibrations of the bus are both a reminder that it has been far too long since I’ve laced my legs around a body and a lesson that reading Simone de Beauvoir is like watching porn. 

Tomorrow Never Knows

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Sometimes, or for a sadly large number of people, often we go through the motions of what we are meant to believe a normal day is meant to be. We make our beds (tucking in the corners) and brush our teeth (reaching for the unreachable molars) and do our laundry (and even iron except i never do) and go to work (staring at the clock and smiling awkwardly at our bosses) and catch the subway (please do not board the train until all passengers have exited) and come home (taking our shoes off at the doorway) and eat dinner in front of the television (go to bed early) and fall asleep late all with the anticipation that we will do the same thing tomorrow (except tomorrow I will pay my bills and take out the trash and do all the things that I tell myself to do the next day). And the stage is set and we have memorized our lines and we do this play every day so we are not only experts at it- we don’t even have to think while we do it! but then there are those moments, the ones that remind us that our hearts are fragile and ready to burst from love, sadness, etc. Things happen in our lives that are not part of the routine and they shake us and move us in unexpected moments that are often indescribable. Yesterday, I sat in a crowded victorian theatre to watch James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave in “Much Ado About Nothing”. The play was amazing and at the end I felt it- everyone felt it and we all clapped until our hands were raw and my heart was bursting with love for art and theatre. Today, I walked down a desolate street in London after a very heavy rain and now light sprinkle feeling like I was the only person out enjoying the blotted purples and oranges of leaves as the rain and I trampled over them. And I had the most sublime melancholy, that awareness of being alone and being incredibly thankful for it while also a little sad. I sometimes force those moments on myself. I watch movies over and over that make me cry or when I want to remind myself that I have a heart. They are sometimes Wes Anderson- that man is a genious at tugging at heartstrings in the most subtle and unusual ways. It can be art or seeing a couple in love or biting in to an especially sweet or bitter fruit or realising you have nothing to say to someone you once loved or listening to the beatles on a road trip. This is why I am ok with life and all the awfulness that I can not erase but only hope to help ease someday, somehow.