This week I’ve woken up every night at 2:15am, 3:20am, 4:00am, 4:30am, then 4:55am. At this point I usually gauge whether to sleep longer, or capitalize on some pre-dawn quiet time in the kitchen… That all depends on what happened the morning before. I usually alternate. Today I slept in until eight, because yesterday insomnia won at around 5:15am.

My insomnia is the product of a mix of concerns – mostly future-related thoughts, punctuated with a few regrets. Some are more realistic that others. If I were Julia Child, this would be my boeuf bourguignon (stew) of anxiety.

My reader and confidant – I’m sure you know I would tell you every excruciating neurotic detail of what’s on my mind in the wee hours of the morning. But, I can’t bring myself to publish this on the internet for the world to see. You understand. (If you’re curious, hopefully you have my number. Call me maybe?)

This week I talked to a few friends about feeling disappointed/angry/scared/ disillusioned.

“It’ll be okay”

People do not like suffering. When you can’t escape it via sleep – because your internal monologue makes that impossible – the next escape route seems to be hope. “This pain will feed future joy”. “This emotional compost will nourish personal growth”. “No mud, No lotus”. My facebook page is dripping with inspirational quotes ranging from Maya Angelou to the new testament to Anonymous. There is an epidemic of optimism out there.

Maybe it won’t be “okay”. Maybe I won’t find a “next step”, I won’t accomplish what I set out to do in the world, and my life will culminate into a semi-tragic end of wasted potential and loneliness. (Reader, did you know I have a thing for hyperbole?)

I wrote a few days ago that sometimes I’m drawn to the darker sides of things. They are not always a path to redemption or justice; but they are no less valuable to the experience of being a human – capable of feeling sadness or loneliness or rage at any given moment… Hence the legacy of tragic storytelling (Shakespeare, etc), 80% of music by Mahler and the Counting Crows, and some of the best poetry around. Sometimes life sucks. And that’s an important plot twist.

November is my favorite month to be a pessimist. I’m going to leave it at that for now. It’s time for lunch.

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On Sunday at 1pm I picked up Georgia at her home. We have been friends since January, when she was in the middle of 3rd grade and I was in the middle of my 3rd year of residency. Last summer we had a brief interruption. I went to Asia and she went to camp. I brought her back an elephant key chain, and by now we’ve agreed we will be friends forever.

Despite November, reliably the most depressing month of the year, the sky was blue and the temperature was not as cold as it probably should be. Georgia and I walked on 36th Avenue toward the subway holding hands.

“Where are we going???” 

“I can’t tell you. It’s secret.” 

“Ugggggh”

“Okay. A hint. It’s in Manhattan.” 

“… Oh my gosh, are we going to Staples?!” 

“I can’t tell you.” 

Georgia frowned. “I hate the subway.” 

“It’s worth it. I promise.”

We went into the same Dunkin Donuts we always go to, so I could get a coffee and she could get hot chocolate. I have explained that coffee stunts your growth, which is why I am only 5’2″, and why she can’t have any until she is done growing.

“But my mom drinks coffee.” 

“Your mom is shorter than me.” 

We waited on the platform for the N train, sipping, talking like the old friends were are destined to become. Yes, I told her, I voted for Hillary. I was very sad she didn’t win. Georgia slurped thoughtfully, swallowed, then lifted her chin with a very precocious amount of confidence. Well, Roz, you can’t always get what you want.

The N train pulled up. Doors opened. We sat together on the blue plastic benches, and her pink puffy coat made a squish while my brown leather jacket let out a groan.

So, Georgia, I need your advice.” She looked intrigued. “What TV shows should I watch? I haven’t watched anything in forever, I don’t even know what’s on anymore.” Without missing a beat she answered, “General Hospital.” I widened my eyes. “YOU watch General Hospital? I love that show. But I haven’t seen it in years… Is Sonny still on it?” She nodded. I was relieved that certain things will never change. “He’s still on it. He was a gangster, but then he became a cop, and pretended he was in a wheelchair at a wedding so that he could arrest the guy who was getting married. He was the real bad guy,” she explained. “You know,” I said “I used to watch that show everyday. It’s why I became a doctor.” She responded with a very precocious eyeroll.

We stepped off the subway at 14th Street. Up the stairs, reemerging into the daylight and foot traffic of Union Square.

Does Donald Trump own this?” 

“No.”

“Good.” 

Now that she has gone to summer camp, I’ve decided to give Georgia more choices. Her first choice: a) Barnes and Noble. b) Crowded playground. c) Sephora.

Within 5 minutes she was racing through an isle of age-defying lotions, while I explained the rules: 10 minutes. No more than 4 perfume sprays. If she had a question, she had to ask one of the sales associates. Devin – who had on heavy red lips, impossibly long eyelashes, and a black apron – explained how to try on lipstick. Georgia took a magenta gloss and got to work in front of a big round magnifying mirror. The feminist in me felt like a parent letting her teenage child get drunk for the first time “as-long-as-it’s-under-my-roof.” Finally, ten agonizing minutes were up, and Georgia went back to being a nine-year-old.

The next two hours we ran around the Museum of Math – MOMath, for those in the know. Imagine a video game arcade, infused with geometry lessons. My faithful reader, would you believe me if I told you I rode a bicycle with square wheels that was once ridden by Bill Nye the Science Guy? Yes. It happened.

The sky started to blush, the air was chilly. Everyone was tired. We walked up 5th Avenue holding hands. Georgia said unexpectedly, Roz, how are you going to be my mentor when you leave New York and go to Atlanta?

We went into a deli, where it was warmer and lighter.

Well, first off: I don’t know if I’m leaving New York. I will be your mentor for the rest of the school year for sure. And I have lots of friends who don’t live here – we talk on the phone and on Skype and they visit me sometimes. If I leave, you and I can do the same thing. But, like I said, I don’t know yet.  I’ll know more soon, and I promise I will tell you and your mom everything as soon as I find out. 

She drank her soda. Ok.

It was almost dark. November is still reliable for somethings.

“Now where are we going?”

“34th Street”

Why?” 

I can’t tell you.” 

Uggggggh”

Do you still have the $10 your mom gave you?” We approached Staples. “You have 20 minutes to spend it.” And with that she vanished.

Back on the N train, squish/groan, I held on to Georgia’s plastic bag. It had a tub of model clay, and a roll of hot pink tape. She took charge of my phone, which is now inundated with selfie videos.

It was dark by the time we got off the train.

Georgia, check it out!

From the 36th Avenue platform we could see the moon above the row homes in Astoria, – full, bright, and closer to the Earth than it had been in either of our lifetimes.

 

 

 

100 days, and then

November 10, 2016

I finished 100 days of meditating and writing in a journal. July 24 – Oct 31. It was tumultuous. Not much blogging (see below). I’m glad to have a few scratches of a record to make up for my increasingly inadequate memory. Journal entries are dehydrated ideas, preserved at their bare minimum, to be resurrected much much later; not unlike the jar of lentils in my pantry. They are not ever as good as fresh reality – only ingredients for relivable snapshots (at best). Someday I’ll read the lentil-sized stories I wrote in August, and let them simmer in my proverbial pot of hot mental-water. I might not actually be in Asia at the Red Cross, but it damn well might feel like I am. For just a moment.

But first, a quick summary since last August, to get you and I back on track….

August: I wrote a lot when I was in Bangkok. Nostalgic Reader, if you want to reminisce with me about preventing HIV, or transgender health, or ordinal logistic regressions, just ask.

September: back in the states – there were a few endings. Some hurt more than others. I have a secret affection for the angsty painful moments in life – the sour ones, the bitter ones, the flavors that flesh out what an experience means, or meant.  I am not a masochist. A friend once said I take comfort in discomfort. Kind of. In that growth-from-struggle way. Anyway, sometimes not getting what you want is the best thing that ever happened.

October: the pendulum inevitably swung the other direction. The spaces the endings left behind were filled with beginnings. The tension resolved with release. It always does, doesn’t it?

November (1st week): I started a new journal. It has orange zigzag stripes.  Still meditate daily. Last weekend I went to an Ashram. My favorite reset button. Om. I am in disbelief about the election results. Also over-saturated with everyone’s responses on social media.  Maybe I’ll save my two cents for another entry.

NOW -3:48 EST – I am sitting in my kitchen. I finished lunch (lentils), and am working on coffee. I am procrastinating because I don’t feel like studying spanish. I need to learn it quick. I will work in Puerto Rico for two months this winter. More to follow when that happens, or upon request.

¿Usuario útil, hablarás español conmigo?