Dream of the Dolphin
Confessions of a Post-Graduate Pity Whore
The waiting game sucks.
Had my ultrasound today. Had to drag myself out of bed at an hour I can't really handle at the moment and hie myself down to Medical Arts, only to find out that the tech was going to be late (thanking God again that it wasn't a pelvic ultrasound). Suffered through the backless gown (ties in two places, but one of the ties was missing at each spot) and the superheated gel, only to find out that the ultrasound really really hurt. Like slow torture, only it's to help you, so you can't have the satisfaction of smacking the person who's jamming the doohicky into your spleen.
But the worst part is the wait. I know they'll call me if something is wrong, but I hate having to wait until the beginning of next week to find out why I can't eat anymore.
But at least this is giving me great fodder for TTLG. If I ever get my hands on a PDR, I might actually be able to work with the crew of the Asclepius again. Hey, it's possible to put a positive spin on just about anything. :o)
( 12:39 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Monday, November 26, 2001
Gatorade slushies. Some people are just smart.
( 10:09 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Learned many things today.
Learned that being THIS sick two months after getting mono is NOT normal, nor is nausea so bad you can't eat.
Learned that going "OW!" when abdomen is poked makes doctors say "hmmmm".
Learned that the Asian nurse is really good at taking blood (as good as the Spanish nurse), learned that the nurses feel the need to reassure patients on the 5th vial of blood, and learned that I'm "one of the brave ones", as most patients don't like to watch the blood fill the vials.
Learned that abdominal ultrasounds are scheduled for ungodly hours of the morning, and that the results take a week to come in. Learned that I'm REALLY thankful it's not the kind of ultrasound where you have to drink copious amounts of water and then aren't allowed to pee.
Learned that I get REALLY short tempered about anything that has to do with food right now.
( 4:06 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Sunday, November 25, 2001
Spent two hours on the phone with rogers trying to get my new netmail server with this stupid @home switch thing last night, had insomnia and lay awake listening to the rain on my skylight till 7 am, had to do my roommate's dishes because the flies were getting to me, which wiped me out completely. Realized I have to go back to the doctor. Again.
There are days where it just doesn't pay to get out of bed. And then I check my e-mail and find out that my fairy godmother is still watching out for me, and suddenly feel a little better.
When someone you know isn't feeling so great, drop them a line just to tell them you're thinking about them. You'd be amazed at how much good it does.
( 4:41 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Saturday, November 24, 2001
Today was another bad day.
Running count of what I had to eat today (as of 9 pm):
noon: handful of snack crackers
7pm: vegetarian sushi (11 pieces of various sizes)
9pm: more crackers
I'm consuming mass quantities of juice, but aside from that, I have no desire to eat anything else, and what I HAVE had is making me feel kinda nauseated.
It's been almost two months since I've had a real meal. Aside from the occasional chinese food my roommate orders with me, I've been living on porridge, crackers, soup, rice with assorted things on it, and apple chips. I'm not anorexic. It's the mono.
I'm getting scared. I was scanning some new pictures for Holly's site, comparing them to my grad photos from June, and really saw the weight loss for the first time. Granted, the latter batch were taken using the "look good for the camera" techniques my sib and I are getting pretty good at, but there's still a big difference. Not that I particularly mind losing weight, or didn't have it to spare, but this kind of weight loss is rarely good or permanent, and it's a reminder of how long I've been sick. I don't remember the mono being this bad last time.
I'm sick of being sick. I'm sick of not being able to make it up the stairs. I'm sick of this cough the doctors are calling flu that has settled in my chest and doesn't seem to be going anywhere.
My best friend in the world has been sick all her life, and I've always admired her strength, because she never let it get her down. But I got a call from her the other day saying she's giving up on her health; that she's realized she's only setting herself up for disappointment if she keeps thinking she's going to get better. I didn't know what to say. I still don't. But after hearing "I'm worried Sarah, your symptoms sound just like mine when I first got really sick", I'm feeling so lost. I don't seem to be getting any better, and I don't know if I can take what she has. For the past two months my body has been a stranger to me, doing things that I can't control. I'm so helpless, and tired, and... well, not hungry, but aching for a change in diet... And she's been dealing with it for the better part of six years now.
I know I have to fight through this. But there are nights like this, when I'm coughing, and aching, and alone in the house, and learning that my examples of strength can't take it anymore, that it gets really, really hard to keep my chin up. I'm going to go curl up with Harry Potter and hope things look better in the morning.
( 9:24 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Monday, November 19, 2001
I've decided that I really like having a fairy godmother.
The gods have apparently decided that I've been through enough this time, because my fairy godmother has just done a very nice thing that ensures I'll be able to go to the ICFA next year without having to worry about the flight, hotel, or registration if I don't place.
I'm crying again. The good tears that don't hurt my head. I suppose I'm just finding it hard to believe that someone can be so selflessly nice in a time when I'm faced with so much hurt and selfishness and frightened bickering. The thought "why me?" is going through my head a lot, and I honestly don't know. I just know that I've made a friend who cares about me, and that, I think makes me happier than anything she has done. The acts made me deliriously happy; the motivation behind them caused the tears.
Letting someone know you care about them is one of the greatest gifts a person can give. After everything that's happened to me in the past couple months, this comes as a big hug to soothe the tears and the hurt away. It gives me something to hold on to when things get bad again.
Someday, I'm going to be a fairy godmother too.
( 1:32 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Sunday, November 18, 2001
Change and consistency
Why is it that I can never go home without, at some point, getting kicked in the emotional kidneys?
I actually thought I was going to make it this time, too. We went to Harry Potter as a family on Saturday (something we don't do much anymore), and had a wonderful time. Everyone LOVED the movie (though I got strangely nostalgic for my convocation robe about halfway through), which gave us some great, non-controversial subject matter to discuss on the way home. Everything was fine, until my aunt and uncle showed up.
We get along well with this particular branch of the family. We had two Christmas traditions in our family: first, everyone in the family meets at Granny and Grandpa's house for Christmas morning and the exchange of presents (with the exception of two cousins, who spend Christmas with their mother and then come down Boxing day). I put up their tree on Christmas Eve (I'm sort of a Christmas nazi -- trees are my art form, and woe betide anyone who gets in my way). Second, after presents are opened, my family and that other branch we get along with have Christmas dinner together. The first tradition has been going on for as long as I can remember. The second has been going on since 1991.
Even two years ago, when my mother had the brain aneurysm, things didn't change that much. Sure, I spent my birthday (Dec 21) in the hospital with mum instead of at home putting up our tree, but the tree made it up the next day, and they let Mum out for Christmas, so we still had the grandparent visit and the family dinner (the other branch did all the cooking that year, but they were very good about it).
Last year, things changed a little. My grandmother's Altzheimer's was progressing, and she couldn't remember that I was the one who did the tree now. Fits were thrown as the family hauled a very tired me out of bed and threw me down the road, bagel in hand, to stop her before she started climbing ladders. My grandparents were included in our Christmas dinner, because my Grandmother isn't supposed to cook anymore.
This year, things are very different. Granny's gotten very bad, and the family decided that a big Christmas get-together would be too hard on her. Instead, everything is restricted to the family groups. If Granny and Grandpa do get a tree, it'll be a two-foot, tabletop deal. No more presents for the cousins, let alone seeing them. As Christmas is the only time I ever see two of my cousins anymore, I don't know when, or even if, I'm going to see them again.
And then, last night, after the movie, my aunt and uncle came over and said they didn't want to do Christmas with us anymore.
I don't think their not wanting to do it bothers me quite so much as the fact that all of the constants in my life have been pulled out from under me at once. University is a very transitory time, and this odd year-between is more so. I haven't lived in the same place for longer than a year since I came to university. I don't know what I'm doing or where I'm going. I could be working here next year, or I could be in Newfoundland studying seals. It's a bit like being caught in a storm, and now more than ever I really depended on those rocks of tradition to cling to. I needed some semblance of constancy in a period where each step puts me deeper over my head. And now I don't have them anymore.
I'll adjust. I'll adapt. I have to. But I don't like it. Not one bit.
( 12:25 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Friday, November 16, 2001
Sick. Soooo sick... (ahh, desiccate, mouth so dryyyyy.....). I've managed to attract some sort of secondary virus, and I'm NOT impressed in the least. Fever's up, walking's hard, napping's nearly constant, nausea is dreadful, cough is annoying, and doctors do nothing. NOTHING!!!
Ah well. Did a good deed for my roommate and made her happy, and I'm going to see Harry Potter on Saturday (provided I'm not comatose). Will shake this thing. Eventually.
( 12:45 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Monday, November 12, 2001
Mirror Mirror is driving me crazy.
It is, I think, my favourite of my short stories. There's things like unconscious image clusters in it because I was SO into it while I was writing it. And the big image cluster of the skewed reflection, from the golden-haired sister as a twisted reflection of Eira to Mirror Mirror itself as a skewed reflection of the original story (events are the same but happen for very different reasons) is one that Alexandra really, really liked.
And yet, it ended up being my first big bipolar story. The kind of story that people either love or hate. No middle ground. Either it's too derivative of the original and not up to my usual standards, or it's the most unique take on the story they've ever read and the best thing I've ever written. I've heard both sides of the argument, I don't know whether I'm coming or going anymore.
And this is the Asimov Award submission that I like.
( 4:22 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Friday, November 09, 2001
Thoughts on Twenty-Two
Insomnia is a strange thing. When you're lying awake at night, there's very little to do but think. I ended up waxing pretty metaphysical last night.
I'm twenty-two. I've just finished my undergraduate studies. Now is the time I should be deciding on my future, but that's really hard to do. Why? There are three roads stretching out in front of me. With most people, one road is more attractive than others (which are filled with rocks and potholes and dark gloomy forests), but not with me. Each path is different, but equally attractive.
The prof I'm working for thinks I lack focus, which is unprofessional, so I don't tell him about this anymore. But I can still see these three paths. They dovetail somewhat, but not perfectly.
Path 1: Cetacean research. No, I don't pick easy paths, I know. But when I set my mind on something, I stick with it until I get it. That's how I financed my university education. That's how I convinced various organizations at U of T to finance my trip to the ICFA last year. I applied for an NSERC scholarship this year to go work with seals (with contacts in the cetacean fields), and I have three profs who have expressed interest in taking me on if I get the scholarship. If I can't get into cetacean research post-grad, I have a list of dozens of marine mammal internships, who are not going to hear the end of me until someone accepts me.
Path 2: The Nature Show. Granted, this one is a lot harder, but the same theories apply. Get more research experience first, of course, and a degree would help, but I can write. I've told my idea to my biodiversity prof (who is very sick of correcting the various errors in national geographic specials she's sent, and encourages people with science degrees to get into writing), and she thinks it's a great idea. I've made some contacts in the industry, who are giving me great advice on how to pitch things. If I really wanted to do it, I think I could.
Path 3: Writing. There are times when I don't want to do anything else. I'll never cut it out of my life (the prof who thinks I'm unprofessional thinks I should focus and set such silly things aside, which is why he doesn't know about my writing either), but if someone came up to me and said "I'm devastatingly psychic and you'll be set for life if you write full-time", there are days when I'd do it in a heartbeat.
The problem is that I don't know if I want to give up any of the others. I love science. I do well in science. I think the research that's currently being done with cetaceans is absolutely fascinating, and I want in on it. I love working at the museum and communicating with children, getting them interested in science too, which is why I want a kid's nature show.
For a while, at least, I don't have to make a decision. I wrote a book as an undergraduate, and did just fine, so I think I can do it as a Master's student too. It'll be harder, but after the mono-induced lag I'm fighting, I have a feeling everything will seem easier. I'm going to have to know more about research and biodiversity before I have enough to start the nature show. Cetaceans figure in my writing a lot, so any research I'm doing will only help. I can use the nature show to focus on cetaceans, too, so either way, I'd get to hang out with them eventually.
But there will come a time when I have to choose which path I'm going to take, and that scares me.
Twenty-two is good. Twenty-two is a time of possibility. It's a jumping-off point for the rest of my life.
I just wish it lasted a little longer.
( 12:43 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
A word of caution: Shockball is not a book that lies passively back and allows you to read it. Shockball is a book that seizes you violently in its jaws, shakes you like a hyperactive terrier, and slams you into a wall a couple times before finally letting you go, confused and exhausted and exhilarated and not quite sure what just happened to you, save that it was really damn cool and you can't wait to do it again.
( 2:41 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Thursday, November 08, 2001
Last night was not a good night. It's unbelievable how the tiniest issues about food will send me into a screaming snit right now. I'd feel guiltier, but you try living on soup and rice every day for a month and a half, and see how you react to having the promise of something different yanked out from under you. :oP
However, this morning fixed all that. A gift from my fairy godmother had materialized at the bottom of the stairs when I went down for breakfast. I damn near didn't make it off to work this morning, either, because it's the kind of gift that sucks you in and won't let go again.
It's amazing how much random acts of kindness can make you happy (and this one definitely outshone any drive-by-giving I've been subjected to over the years). I was in tears (happy tears, which don't hurt my head, unlike the angry tears last night) for the second time in three days. Just learning that you matter to someone whose life you've only brushed from miles away, someone you may never actually meet in person... just knowing that someone cares about you can work miracles.
A hug is an incredible thing. One of my roommates noticed that I wasn't doing so good last night (granted, it was kind of hard not to, as I'd run out of energy halfway up the stairs and he would have had to climb over me to get to the top), but as I dragged myself up, admitting that I wasn't feeling so great, I was broadsided with a hug from behind. It was the first time he's hugged me, so I wasn't expecting it. But it helped. A lot. And the long distance hug I got this morning meant even more, because it was even more unexpected.
Life ain't so bad. I keep telling myself that when my health is backsliding. I have a job and a home. I have an imagination that can keep me occupied indefinitely. I have people who care about me. So I'm going to pass it on and pick up some flowers on my way home for another roommate who needs cheering. Because I've just been given a very valuable lesson in how small expressions of affection can be very big things indeed.
( 12:41 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Wednesday, November 07, 2001
It's an absolutely glorious and balmy 15 degrees out today, and I took advantage of the weather to head down to the library. I meandered over to Palmerston and lost myself. I don't think anybody's bothered to rake Palmerston Square since the leaves began to fall, and though there are cars parked there, I have yet to see one in motion, so I had a wonderful time ambling through the carpet of leaves (yes, I know, I have wretched allergies. Leave me alone). It was such a perfect Autumn day. I wandered along humming bits from Handel's Messiah (choral music = autumn to me. I'm not sure what the other seasons are, though) and had a thoroughly wonderful time.
( 4:59 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
3:30 am. Yup, you guessed it. Insomnia. Again. Probably the most ironic thing that can afflict someone with mono (except, perhaps, for a sudden and inexplicable need to drink copious amounts of alcohol and go out and play contact sports -- neither of which, thank god, I have any inclination to do, even at the best of times).
So I'm back in the fairy-tale, trying to convince one of the major characters to decide on a name and an age. He's waffling between Gavin and Kavin, and between age 8 and age 10, and nothing I do seems to convince him to make up his mind. Fortunately, Mari's doing enough talking right now to cover the age discrepency for a good, oh, 5 years or so. Hopefully Gavin (or Kavin) will have made up his mind by then. Oy.
( 3:34 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Tuesday, November 06, 2001
For those of you who haven't heard my rant, my life is a cosmic joke. Seriously, the universe spends a great deal of its time making my life resemble a badly-written comic slapstick sitcom (and those of you who heard how my roommate's cat got me hit by a car will understand), with me as the unwitting source of comic relief. However, occasionally, the universe will send me a sort of really nice apology before setting me off again.
Last year, when my finances were gone, my nerves were shot, and I was seriously questioning whether or not the university would let me graduate, I looked up at the sky on my way home, in tears, and said "a little good news would be nice right about now." An hour later, Rick Wilber called to tell me I was an Asimov winner.
This year, the universe revealed to me that fairy godmothers do exist in the unlikliest places. I'm still sick, I'm still dropping weight, but I'm no longer miserable because one very special person knew EXACTLY what to do to cheer me up. It was something she didn't have to do, something I never would have expected her to do, but she did it anyway. Because she thought I'd like it.
There's a character who has been wandering around the Fionaverse (that series of semi-urban fantasies linked by my Torontonian goth-witch, Fiona). She's the closest thing to a mentor that Fiona has. She runs a little Fantasy bookshop in Kensington Market, and sells certain things on the side that come in handy to people like Fiona (and the other hapless victims of the Fionaverse). She won't actually get involved directly when Fiona's in over her head and needs help, but she guides her, worries about her health, is fiercely inquisitive about her love life, and always seems to know how to cheer Fiona up when no one else can.
Today she got a face and a name.
( 11:16 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Oh. My. Lord. Joss Whedon is a God. 'Nuff said.
(I wish I lived in a musical...without the combustion....)
( 11:15 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Still hungry. Still tired. Still sicker than all get out. Well into the second month of mono now, and cursing this nasty little virus that decided Sarah would be a cool place to live.
The worst thing about the mono is what it does to the thought process. It makes you stupid. Or rather, being almost-constanly feverish, almost-constantly starved (when one isn't too nauseated to think of food), and entirely constantly exhausted, doesn't leave much room for coherent thought. Anything I do write has to be pulled out one agonizing inch at a time, which, I'm thinking, isn't terribly conducive to fabulous works of literary prowess.
That said, the fairy tale is progressing at what would, under normal circumstances, be a breakneck pace, but what is, in fact, a rather laconical amble. Which is more than I've written in over a month, so I suppose I shouldn't complain. I would dearly love to know why it is that my best work is done at 3 am when I'm too sick to sleep.
Ah well. I shall put on the Princess Mononoke soundtrack (something I'm sure my housemates are entirely sick of by this time, but at least it tells them when I'm writing) and see what it dredges up from the depths of this brain that is currently telling me that what it really needs is sleep, but doesn't care to take it right this moment, thank-you-very-much.
( 12:16 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Monday, November 05, 2001
Oh, how much do I love Bakka? I called them today to pester them about Shockball (reading Sheila's weblog is making me antsy), and he could say, without hesitation, "It's not in yet, but we're expecting it around the middle of the month". Small bookstores and people who know their stock. That's the only way to book-shop.
(Bakka: The Science Fiction Bookstore. Toronto, on Yonge Street, N. of Wellesley.)
( 4:29 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Now she's done it. Lena has thrown down the gauntlet to the Tensors and issued us to a 3000 word short story challenge. It's a good challenge too. I want to do this. I should do this. I feel like death warmed over. Aargh.
Didn't help to come home to a bill I can't pay and a lecture from my boss because the students I'm supposed to be supervising didn't do their jobs properly this weekend, and I didn't catch it because I'm lucky if I can put two thoughts together at the end of a day of physical labour. Oh, yes, I realize it's completely my fault. Which just makes me feel worse. Rats.
I'm going to go curl up with Summers at Castle Auburn for a while. At least until this latest bout of general uckiness passes. Then maybe I'll be able to do something productive.
( 3:36 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Sunday, November 04, 2001
My sibling took me to Monsters Inc. last night, and I had to take a moment to consider how fortunate I am to have a sibling who I not only get along with, but whose company I enjoy. (There's something wonky with the grammar in that sentence, but I find myself too tired to care).
I loved the movie (Sully really does have the most huggable fur ever animated), and I really wish there were more movies that leave you feeling so happy and contented when they finish. It was funny, it was cute, and the end was perfect. And nary a big-eyed, singing animal sidekick in sight! Man, does Pixar ever know their stuff.
( 10:28 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
I should be working on my Asimov stories. I REALLY should be working on the Asimov stories. All three were written in June, before commencement, but they need editing, and so help me, I can't do it. It's like pulling teeth. Must be because I HAVE to write them. The new novel (yet another retelling of a fairy tale) is nagging at me to write it, and does not want to leave me alone. Ah well. Maybe if I go do that, it'll leave me in peace to get my Asimov stories off to Florida....
( 10:20 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Okay, so the writing is not going well. In fact, it's not going at all. I blame the mono.
I'm trying everything I can, but not even Loreena is helping (though she did give me a title for the blog, which will probably change periodically, depending on the song I'm listening to. Thinking that "The Octopus's Garden" isn't such a bad title either) Maybe this'll get me going.
( 10:17 PM ) Sarah Jane ~