Monday, February 27, 2006

News. Plural.

New roommate who brought cat for whom I have a
newfound love - didn't know I liked cats, and while we're talking about my ignorance let's discuss
new boyfriends.
New boyfriends? Are you sure about that JoBiv? Not really, have to take it slow, considering
new therapists,
new doctors,
new people in the program who are too much like me and freak me out! As freaky as a
new job search, which hasn't really started but needs to. Speaking of need, I need a
new briefcase for interviews and I bought
new shoes and a
new suit. Yikes. Oh! Also expecting a
new nephew! In June, hooray! But will I be able to go home then? Will I have a job? Love these
new anxieties,
new fears,
new doubts... Even positive things are scary as hell when they're

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Briefly, my Wednesday

10:00 - First time I was asked by many group members, "Whoa... are you okay today, Jo?"

12:12 - Could not control tears. Had to leave the room so I could sob properly. The discussion: What happens when the people who are supposed to protect you harm you instead? That thought is pertinent, but this thought upset me more - What if you don't let your protectors help you; do you then deserve all that's happened to you?

12:30 - Sniffled through lunch and noticed everyone's discomfort with me too weak to entertain them.

3:00 - Booked my ass to Beacon St. for intake at a certain psychotherapy practice. Withstood intake as well as can be expected. Cried s'more. Withstood compliments as gracefully as possible with snot threatening to drip onto my shirt.

4:40 - Made it to Cambridgeside mall to look for interview clothing. Found it, bought it. Decided that I felt grimy and went to a salon to have my hair washed. "Only washed?" they asked. "Yep," sez I. "Oookay," they said. The washer and the receptionist couldn't figure out what to charge me, so I just gave the washer a tip.

7:30 - Walked into English Jo's apartment exactly on time, very proud of myself. We went out to dinner at a place called Orinoco that had lovely food and strange service. Flan = HEAVEN.

10:00 - Wandered to Wally's to catch some jazz/funk fusion. So good. So tired.

10:50 - Slugged myself to the T and knitted all the way home. Except when I was walking.

11:50 - Took cold medicine and sleepy-time medicine. Will pass out shortly.

Monday, February 20, 2006

JoBiv's endless numbered days

Ready? If you need to, take notes or breaks as you see fit.

1. One week of partial hospitalization done! The doctor said something about me being there for only one week. That was untrue. They want me there for three weeks.

2. Yes, I went to Vermont - TO SKI!! J to the Bivvo on skis? Sounds like a bad idea, unless you know that I'm an undercover jock. It's true! After two days of dawdling and blaming the weather for my pokeyness, Mel and I decided to take a beginner's course in skiing. Turns out that I didn't need it. Everything came back to me from when my Dad first traumatized me on the slopes of Gore Mountain at the tender age of nine. It felt so good to swish my way down the slopes, to control my body and my speed, to get comfortable with the chair lift. Mel had a hard time, though, and tried to be happy for my success.

3. Baby Mama asked me to meet with her, remember? I did, in fact, meet with her and the Baby Daddy at Pea's last night. They were awkward, letting me hold Pea and play with her, conspicuously quiet between brief spouts of smalltalk. Pea fairly leapt into my arms as soon as I walked in, and wouldn't let me put her down for a good forty minutes.

Eventually they got up the courage to tell me they're letting me go. This, after all, is a perfect time for a transition for them. Y'know, while I'm sick. They're looking for someone who will cook and clean for them as well as watch Pea. And yes, I did cry right there in their kitchen. I thought I had prepared myself for this... I was not at all prepared for the smack of emotions while I watched the baby move a magnet from the refrigerator to the washing machine - something I taught her.

I'm heartbroken.

4. Today I stopped my tears long enough to make a follow-up call to an agency that has seen my resume and actually wants to talk to me. After a week of phonetag, I spoke to the woman who emailed me. She said, "This is how our process works. We do an initial interview of about three to four minutes on the phone..." And then my brains shot out my ears and I was dead on the floor.

Okay, not really. Then we had a phone interview, which was fairly easy since I'm excited about this agency and had lots to say about how my experiences fit the job. This woman will be in touch with me "soon," which, in non-profit terms, could be a month.

5. The Novelist took me out last Thursday. The first thing he said was, "Wow, you look really amazing tonight," and he blushed. Ding ding ding! We have a winner!

I'm seeing him this Thursday, too, and we have tentative plans for Saturday. Trying to move a little carefully just now, with all the world spinning away from me these days.

And I have to learn how to take his compliments graciously... I'm not accustomed to such flattery.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The bends

I'm surfacing, but maybe too quickly. The weekend and today's group therapy left me dizzy and disoriented, and a bit antisocial. Becca took me out to dinner Friday, then I met up with Norah Saturday, and then I had a date with The Novelist on... er... yesterday. Jenny and I also met prospective roommates Saturday. Action-packed, I tell you!

All of that stuff kept me busy, but the anxiety comes rushing through my body because of a few other incidents. My brother Smacks texted me (I keep forgetting my phone can do that) yesterday, saying, "Why do you suppose you were in the hospital?" What a funny question, as though I might not know. And then there's the disturbing alacrity of the rumors flying between my brothers. Cripps sent me a message Friday demanding an explanation. I don't remember how he knew, if I left a hint somewhere... At any rate, I called and asked him not to tell Mom and Pop. He didn't call back.

So I called Smacks after the text message. He tried not to sound pissed, but I could tell he was annoyed that I hadn't called while I was in the hospital. And worse, that I hadn't planned to tell my family at all. Now I've talked to both Cripps and Smacks at length, and the consensus; I should tell Mom and Pop.

Don't they look happy? Ignorance IS bliss...

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Does Johanna exist?

From "Does Joanna Exist?"

... What sort of world would this be if you

(or anyone, surely Joanna herself)

were to find after a lifetime lived

otherwise that Joanna is not the creature

all had assumed, but is in reality

some weird emanation from eternity

sealed up in a mind that thinks itÂ’s Joanna,

a body that lives in Joanna‚’s house?

...Of course she exists, everyone sighs.

And you exist too, Joanna replies.

-Bonnie Jacobson

I walked myself to Beth Israel Deaconess on Sunday evening, having had a terrible epiphany that I would never get healthy on my own, and having no idea how to get help. I walked to the wrong building, which was a little funny. They took me in an ambulance to the correct one, the ER, where I cried my eyes out with unchecked anxiety. I talked to five different doctors and nurses, telling parts of my story, and then I was left alone in a room with a big glass doors looking out on the nurse's station. I was there for a total of 20 hours while they looked for a bed for me in a psych ward somewhere in Boston.

Another ambulance, another hospital... They had me strapped to a stretcher, but let me walk once we were on the right floor. The people there gave me a kit of toiletries, johnnies to wear, and hospital socks. They were frantic to get me something to eat, but I wasn't hungry. I had arrived during snack time, and all the other patients congregated in the TV room, snatching cookies, oranges, pie, milk... I sat there, trying to eat, looking at the people, hoping they weren't looking at me and I wasn't in anyone's way. Someone poked me with a needle and got a blood sample. Someone else took my blood pressure and temperature. I took a shower with my tiny shampoo bottle and hospital towels, tried not to look in the mirror, went back to my room and put myself to bed.

The next four days were strange. I had meetings with doctors, a nurse assigned to me every shift (and different nurses every day), medication to help me sleep, some slight choice in food that I gradually felt like eating, and bizarre conversations with legitimately crazy people. I showed up for every scheduled event. I monitored my reactions to drugs. I managed stilted friendships with the less debilitated. I made phone calls without completely losing it.

I had to call the Baby Mama on Monday morning, early, to tell her I couldn't work. She asked if I was okay, asked if she could do anything. I told her I'd probably be out all week. I told her I'd be in touch when I could tell her more. She was pure sympathy.

I got a call from her on Tuesday asking if I could work this week. I called her back to tell her I couldn't. She, again, offered her services if I should need them. I said, no, no, I'm fine, thanks... She said, "When you get back home I think we should sit down to talk," in a very serious manner. In other words, I may have gotten fired for getting sick.

I'm back now, but not completely back. I have a day program to go to for the next two or three weeks. My symptoms... well, they were aggravated for a week, so I think they can only get better now. But, it turns out they're not just symptoms; I actually have OCD. Awesome.

I didn't have to be honest about this, but how could I leave it out? I'm trying to be more honest with myself. This was a pretty big event in my life. I didn't disappear completely for a week. I do exist, most of the time. I think.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

A moment of unexpected boldness

Unexpected, but not unrehearsed.

I wanted to go to Rami's for dinner today. Well, that's probably not true. I wanted to pass by J. P. Licks. He was working. I passed by, proud of myself. But, of course, I eventually went in.

We flirted while I chose ice cream. I sat, he came out and flirted. He had customers, came back out and flirted. I felt this antsy energy fizzing in me. Finally I got my jacket on, wrapped my scarf around me for an extra defensive layer.

"Yo," I said, calling him to the swinging employee door.
"I have to ask you something."
"C'mere, though."
He wandered over, his eyebrows peaked in open curiosity.
"Are we ever gonna make out?"
"No," he said, no hesitation. I wasn't looking at him, for that second, but that was silly. We made eye contact.
"Then you need to stop teasing me," I said.
I nodded.
"I'll try to stop being so charming."
"Was that fun?"
"Oh yeah."
"Tons of fun..."

A block down Harvard I wanted to run back to give him another order. "Don't ever tell me why." Boys like him seem to love to tell me why, and the list grew in my head as I walked.

You're too crazy, too much to take on.
You're too big... my roommates would make fun of me (Seriously heard this one before.)
I can't be in a relationship right now (until the next girl comes along)...

Fuck this list. Nevermind.

Foood is goood

Over the past few weeks, Norah, Melissa and I have gotten into the habit of cooking on Fridays. Chris the Giant often helps out, too, but he's in LA this weekend. Poo on him.

Tonight we attempted dinner in my apartment. This marks the SECOND time Melissa and Norah have crossed my threshold. I've noticed this of late; my lack of guests. People don't tend to hang out at my apartment. But then again, I don't tend to hang out in people's apartments at all, except for Friday night dinners. I tend to see people at choir rehearsals, out for dinner, at movies, etc. Plus, I haven't been too terribly social.

BUT, I'm proud to say that my apartment can be very homey with people cookin' in it. We made a super-peanut-saucy thai-ish noodle thing. It was frickin' amazing. The girls were kind enough to split the recipe so my portion wouldn't burn my tongue out of my mouth. Sweet, aren't they?

It's funny, I haven't quite felt at home here. That's not so surprising, considering the rapid change of venue. Anyway, tonight felt nice, cooking in my place with friends, knowing where all the dishes are, finding a peeler I didn't know we had, lazing around the living room til we got sleepy, tucking away the clean dishes and the leftovers... It's home.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Coats of many colors

The snow of two days ago melted, and most of it dried up as well. Today was a warm day with blue sky here and there. Pea was as eager as I was to get outside. She actually stood still while I put her many coats on.

Here's the thing about Pea's outerwear -- all her clothes are hand-me-downs, and none of them are warm or unstained. Thus we layer. First, of course, is the onesie, long-sleeved for super cold days. Then the shirt, then the sweater or sweatshirt. That's her outfit for bopping around the house. When we go outside, I say, "Pea, get your jackets." She tippy-taps over to the dining room chair where we hang her many worn coats, drags them off, brings them to me, then runs away when I go to put them on her.

Jacket numero uno: actually a fleece from Gap circa 1999. It's thick, though, and big enough to fit over her sweater. It's a deep, sporty blue color and screams BOY BOY BOY, evidenced by the many, "Oh he's so sweet" comments we get as we stroll down Harvard.

Jacket numero two-o: a once-downy, lumpy patchwork with disintegrating cuffs. This coat is probably her warmest, but it's officially ratty. It's also got the Brookline Hippie thang goin' on - androgynous color scheme set off by fairly-traded shell buttons carved into the shapes of little bunnies. I call this one Pea's Starfish Coat because it's puffiest in the arms, which means she can't put her arms down when she wears it. Funny, but cruel.

Jacket numero trio: The Ugly Coat. I have two words for you: color block. Add in a third - NEON. Are we done yet? I actually have a song for this coat. The melody is unimportant. The lyrics are uninspired, but state my opinion clearly.

"S...'s UGLY coat
Let's wear the UGLY coat
Go get the UGLY coat
Zip up the UGLY coat"

Now, the ugliness is offensive enough, but it's just plain disturbing that this has become our go-to coat considering that it's about as thick as two-ply Scott, it has no hood, and it's two sizes too big. Why does she wear it? Because it has snap-on mittens. Yep, that's the whole reason. It's impossible to keep mittens on her fingers, and so she gets the ugly coat instead.

Did I mention the color block? When a certain ice cream scoopin', sex shop hoppin' friend of mine saw it, he summed it up like so: "That's a fly coat."

And the cherry on top? Her hats are hand-me-downs, too. She has a baby BOY blue one with white bears knitted in and a pom-pom. That one's fairly cute, especially when it slips over her eyes and she has to wrestle with it. (Is it cruel of me to think that's cute?) The other hat is from Old Navy. The boy's section. It's navy blue and grey fleece and fits her well, but when I put it on her she is completely incognito. People who know the bright green stroller doubt themselves. "Is that... Pea? I thought that was a boy in there."

Now I'm not one for enforcing gender roles, but it's really frickin' annoying to correct people all day, and slightly concerning to correct people who know the family. I tend to make sure she's wearing purple or pink or ridiculous flowers on the bottom to give people an indication, and they're still confused.

Gah. Anyway, take a moment now to close your eyes and imagine the combination of all three coats. With either hat. Egads! The effect is horrific. Lucky for Pea, her cuteness outshines the egregious wrongs done her by such a fashion faux pas.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Of sex shops and sci-fi

I set out for Good Vibrations with every intention of being a little late. I wondered if he'd artfully choose something to look at so I'd find him with something incredibly sexy... What would that thing be? A book would probably be the least threatening. Ah, yes, I'd walk in and he'd be thumbing through something deliciously erotic, thinking of me.

I scooted down the wide, friendly alley leading to the parking lot behind Coolidge Corner. The entrance, spicily enough, is in the rear. The entrance also had a sign on it: "Private Party, Please come back tomorrow!"

I could see shadows moving behind the fogged glass. I could hear voices murmuring. It was all beyond my reach. Was he in there? Thumbing? Waiting for me? How'd he get in? I stood outside, dumbstruck, until another girl came up and said, "Hey, is this the sex shop?"

"Yeah, but it's a private party, apparently," I said.

"That sucks. I wanted to get something for a friend's bachelorette party."

I thought, is this what women always say to each other when they go to sex shops? Another girl came up and hovered, reading the sign.

"It's closed to the public?" she asked.

"I think so," I said. "I thought it was going to be a big open party. Not so."

A young woman with a logo-emblazoned apron came out of a side door and looked at the three of us, our faces hopeful.

"Sorry, ladies, it's a closed party."


After standing there a little longer, pressing for details on the store's hours, robbing food from the catering trays as they passed us by, the girl got us some freebies and we went our separate ways.

Hmm, thought I, I bet he's in Coolidge Corner, feeling likewise dejected. I checked out his haunts. Nowhere to be found. Eventually I got dinner, then settled into a booth at J. P. Licks to await him, wondering where he could be.

And guess where he was? IN THE SHOP. He got in, saying he had an invitation, and got a WHOLE LOTTA LOOT for free! He came to sit with me and gingerly showed off his goodies. I pouted. I showed him my comparably tiny consolation prize - a pack of creepy-looking condoms and lube I'll never use - and he laughed in my face. I pouted some more. He laughed some more. I got annoyed rather quickly.

"Why are you so upset?"


He suggested we take a walk. We walked... to choir rehearsal. I was looking for an alley to duck down, myself. After choir we had our ceremonial ice cream with other friends, and then he got on his bike and went home, renegging on the drink he'd offered earlier.

At that moment I knew I wanted two things simultaneously: to rip his clothes off, and to punch him in the neck. I did neither.

On the bright side, I had a cozy little email from The Novelist waiting for me when I got home. It doesn't compare to the make-out session I could have had, but it's something.