Friday, February 29, 2008

Ugly on the inside

At my physical therapist’s insistence, I finally went to Jacksonville to see my orthopedic surgeon for my exit x-ray. I am officially healed. He said that the only way I can really hurt it at this point would be if I were to do something calamitous—again. Here’s the thing: it’s ugly.

He pointed to the bone fragment that chipped off and my whole tibia and said, “Here is what was broken, and see, new bone has knitted in there.”

I asked, “Is it chunky monkey?”

He looked at me like I was nuts, “No, it’s fine. The piece is a little out of alignment, but it’s not over the joint so it should never give you any problem.”

“But it’s chunky monkey,” I said, pointing to the projecting bone. “It didn’t go back into place exactly. It’s kind of sticking out.”

He looked at me weird again. “Yes, it is kind of sticking out.”

“You can call that chunky monkey.”

He finally caved, “Your bone is chunky monkey.”

That settled, I was totally bummed that my leg healed ugly. It’s healed alright, but the x-ray does not reveal a pristine tibia restored to its former wholesomeness.

“My leg is ugly,” I told Matthew.

“But it’s healed,” he pointed out, trying to get me to shut up about it already.

“It’s chunky monkey. It doesn’t look good.”

Look from Matthew.

“When I’m a mummy, and they x-ray me, they can look and say, ‘Here’s where the specimen broke her leg ante-mortem and it healed ugly.’”

“Yeah, that’s what they’ll say.”

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Lines in the mirror

There’s lots of little things (and some big things) to worry about in the mind of Christine Wy. Will I get the interview I want? Where did I put the romance novel I’m reading? Is the weather tomorrow finally going to be just right for my outdoor self-portrait?

My worry lately: will my face look like worry?

I’m worried about worry wrinkles. The wrinkles that make you look unhappy even if you just feel, you know, even.

Today, Peculiar Woman approached me and said, “You look like someone who is deadly bored.”

That stung. In the first place because it was Peculiar Woman, and in the second place it was just because I wasn’t smiling at my computer monitor. So does my regular face look like worry?

And—wait—if I am worried, is it wrong for my face to look worried? I mean, except that I don’t want the worry lines, right?

To counteract the worry, I try to smile to myself at random times. Now I’m worried I look creepy. Which makes me look worried…

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Hullo, I'm Christine Wy

This is my 300th post. In honor of it--I'm doing nothing! How bout if I promise to work harder at taking pictures? Like a New Year's resolution? Ooh, I will also promise to set up my scanner and do scanograms of the detritus that shows what's going on in my life. How bout that?

Love and more love,
Your Lady Friend

Hold my bones

I’m bone weary today, though I can’t put my finger on why. Emotionally ragged? Sleeplessness catching up with me?

I’m starting to climb out of my sadness fog. That little gray raincloud over my head is lightening up, but today I need snuggles. I need to cozy up with someone and talk about nothing. Things we saw on the internet, movie phrases we like, Simpsons quotes.

Instead, I’m at work, cloistered and alone behind a desk, working on the world’s most tedious microfilm project. I’m trying, I’m really trying, but the project is like… it’s like… a noxious odor that you know you have to scrub away before you can be clean again.

I miss you, all of you, just guess who you are. I wish I could snuggle you right now and we could tell each other it’s going to be alright.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Seems late for Christmas, right? Not in our house. Discussions of gift giving reverberate through the whole year. And have for many years. There is my husband’s great revelation that I give gifts I think the receiver should want, but not what the receiver actually does want. Then there is the issue that Matthew’s gifts are always “almost” but not quite right.

Christmas 2007. My gifts to him: Bowl of Cherries, by Millard Kaufman and Comedy by the Numbers, by Eric Hoffman and Gary Rudoren. While he admits that Comedy by the Numbers was dead-on gift-perfection hilarious, he also told me he doesn’t like books as gifts. Let’s see, other recent gift purchases by Christine for Matthew: What Ever Happened to Orson Welles?: A Portrait of an Independent Career, by Joseph McBride, Christmas 2006, and Monkey Portraits, by Jill Greenberg, Valentine’s Day 2008.

My logic behind these was that Matthew loves slap-stick comedy (got that one right at least), Orson Welles, and monkeys. Turns out Matthew didn’t care as much for the foremost contemporary Welles biography as I thought he would. And monkeys? He loves monkeys. Why wouldn’t he love a book of monkeys? He said, “It’s pictures. You look at it once and then you put it away.” Ouch. I thought it was genius.

He loves video games. This morning, as I walked out the door, we agreed that in the future of all gift-giving situations he will make me a list of the video games he wants to be given. That’s the most unromantic gift situation I can imagine, but whatever is going to keep us sane is what is going to work.

But, wait! Matthew’s not innocent either!

I won’t get into details because that’s shitty to slander him on my blog where I reduce him to defenseless words, but I’ll give you one example. All I wanted for Christmas was this stuffed sheep. I begged for it. I sent out more than one Christmas list e-mail saying how badly I needed the sheep. Not only did no one who read my Christmas wish list get me a sheep, but neither did Matthew. When you demand a sheep, don’t you expect at least your husband to get you a sheep? I loved the sheep so much, I even gave a frog as a Christmas gift to someone else (who loved it like I would have loved a sheep).

What did I get instead? Silver earrings. This may sound nice, but there are two reasons this gift flopped with me, one practical and one medical. First, my sheep was half the price of the earrings, and he was seriously over-charged for the earrings he got. Second, I’m allergic to most metals and can only wear silver earrings for a few hours. So these expensive earrings would then be useful only at special occasions where I could wear them for a few hours and then take them out immediately, when I would next hit the cortisone cream and Benadryl. The sheep I would have used every single night.

Anyway, we’re all guilty. I want to give gifts that reflect me and my tastes so that I can share myself with the gift receiver, but Matthew claims I’m wrong and that no one gets what they actually want from me. I don’t know which of us is actually right—I still think there is a part of the giver in the gift—but I know that in the future we’re sticking to the play list. No more surprises, since the surprise always leads to disappointment.

So ho-ho-ho, merry effing Christmas, quite late.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I'm knot a knitter

I don't knit, but I love the last sentence of this post:

"I could cast on another sock and admit: I am an unfinished project."

My shoelaces are loose

If I had a microchip that connected my brain to a word processing program on a remote computer, my blog would be full to the brim. When me and my sleep dysfunction lay side-by-side, we think of awesome sentences that put all the words together in such an echt way. I feel like an ingénue laying in bed awake at night, but there’s no way for me to type out the words and still fall asleep.

Awake, the thought nuggets are there, but they are sleeping at last, and the sentences just don’t go together the way they should. I have a million fragments of one sentence openers I’ve written, but never gotten farther than that one premise.

Too bad I can’t stay up all night. I’d be a genius.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Butttermilk Pie

Also called Magnolia Pie

Pre-heat oven to 325

2 cups sugar
1 stick butter, room temperature
4 tablespoons flour
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell

Beat eggs (slightly). Add butter, sugar, buttermilk, and vanilla (my method is to run the mixer and slide the ingredients in). Add flour last.

Pour into unbaked 9 inch pie shell and bake for 1 hour at 325 degrees or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Allow to cool.

This recipe calls for a 9 inch pie crust, which is generally difficult to find. If you make this recipe and put it into an 8 inch pie crust, you will have batter leftover. I like to buy three pre-made graham cracker crusts at the grocery store. If you double the recipe, you can make exactly three 8 inch pies! Tah-dah! Share the two extra pies with your co-workers, and they'll hate you less ;)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Dreaded questions

I probed, I prodded, I may have prevaricated (a little). I demanded, I plead, I hypothesized, I proposed. I cornered, I pinpointed, and I cajoled.

And the answer was “Yes.”

I have asked everyone whose opinion matters to me, “Do I keep the dreads, or do I give up now and start growing out my hair?”

Worst answer: “Either you do or you don’t.”

Best answer: “Make the decision based on your career goals and how you think your hair will affect how you get there.”

Right answer: “I think they look cute.”

My dreadlocks have been a self-esteem struggle for me: “Do I look cute or do I look ridiculous?” They’ve been a career struggle for me: “Do I look eccentric or just badly unprofessional?” A motivational struggle for me: “Do I wax them tonight or do I procrastinate again for the thirtieth day in a row?”

Now, I feel the decision has come to a head, as it were. My dreads have looked basically the same for the past month, neither particularly improving in their healthy roundness nor disintegrating into wiry frizz. I feel like this is the crucial moment where I make the decision, to cut or to commit?

I asked everyone’s opinions, but, ultimately, their answers revealed what was in my heart all along but I wasn’t listening to. Some said “cut them off” in a kind way, but I still wasn’t committed to that answer, no matter how committed to that person I am. I finally got a row of three people--a good friend, an acquaintance who hates dreadlocks, and a barber—to all say, “They look unconventional but they look good.” They all said that. All three in a row. And there was my answer. There was the mirror to my heart: “They aren’t quite right but I like em.”

To all the respected “no’s” I received, thank you for your input. I really needed it as a balance, and it made me decide what I was feeling on the inside. And to all the people who said “yes,” thank you for revealing what I really felt.

The dreads stay. Who knows how long they’ll stay, based on what does happen with my career, but for now, they stay. It’s still a fun ride, though some days they drive me nuts.

When I’m ready to hear “no,” I think the “yes’s” will tell me what I’m really going through inside.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Emulsion propulsion

“Tightly bundled neuroses kept marginally in check by a slight grasp of reality.” If I had only one sentence to describe myself to eternity, that would be it. I don’t take it lightly, really. As contrary as I am, I also recognize the full weight of those words. That might not be the one sentence my dear readers would choose to describe me, but that’s the one I feel. To the outside world (but not the world wide web, of course), I seem like a pretty together babe. On the inside, I feel churny.

Sometimes churny is good. Sometimes churny is powerful and motivating and brings about change. Sometimes, though, churny makes my brain all twisty-straw and my thoughts are goopy fluid being twirled in spirally circles.

The churny’s been pretty out there lately, as readers know (but not my co-workers or my fake friends or … who else is there?). I’ve been taking great care to change the churny things about my life that I can control. I’m looking for a new job, for starters, which answers a bunch of churny yearnings like depressed pay and depressing work, and I’m looking for local friends. I found a new psychiatrist (yay crazy pills!), and I’m on track to find a new therapist, so the things that I can master I am trying to master.

Except the creation churn.

I don’t believe that one day I hatched and discovered that it was of critical importance to me to be an expert at something before I even tried it, but I do know that I woke up one day and realized that’s how I was acting. I don’t want to start anything new just in case I’m not awesome at it. I don’t want to walk into a room and not already be the most advanced science club member present. I don’t want to crawl and then walk and then run—I want to hit the ground a well-honed Olympic sprinter. I want to walk into fiction writing class and be Margaret Atwood. I want to walk into the stable and be Annie Oakley.

I’m taking a free photography class for fun. Let’s insert “fun” in air quotes here. I was having a great time on the first few weeks when we talked about theory and “this is how a lens works,” lording it over my pathetic air-quote “peers.” “Fun” ended Monday. For the first time Monday, I saw my classmates’ actual photographs. Damn, they’re really freakin good. Like amazingly light-years ahead of where I am in compositional skill. I went from being the girl whose hand was always up first in class to the girl who was like “How do I do this lasso thing on Photoshop again?” I went from teacher’s darling to girl-who-ties-up-the-color-printer-with-her-sophomoric-attempts-at-photography.

Doesn’t sound “fun,” does it? See? That’s the churny. Why can’t I look at their work and say, “Wow, that’s really inspirational that they’re just students too and were able to accomplish so much”? Why can’t I take that inspiration as a challenge to try harder, to push myself to achieve at their level?

I can’t wrap my mind around it. My intellect says, “You’re being foolish. Get out there and shoot; it’s the only actual way to improve,” but my lower intestinal tract says, “God you’re arrogant and naïve to walk in and assume that you are holier than anyone in your presence. Since you'll never be good enough, you should quit now.”

I try to channel Camus in these moments: “Imagine Sisyphus happy.” Can I? The first time I heard that quote, my heart swelled with understanding the thing Camus wanted to tell me, but I’ve never been able to hammer it inside me properly. Can I be Sisyphean-ly happy? Can the quest gratify me? Or do I need to have the boulder at the top of the hill before I’ll even condescend to be pleased?

My superior behavior is condescending to others. I let myself down when I descend into condescension. And I descend a slope of scree when I expect myself to master the tightrope blindfolded without ever trying a harness.

Crawl; be new. Be Camus’ Sisyphus. Be contented with learning. And making mistakes. Obviously, this bundle of neuroses will never be perfect, so un-churn a bit, let loose, and, hey, have fun. Make your one sentence "Imagine Christine Wy happy."

Friday, February 08, 2008

I watched “Thirteen” so you didn’t have to—you’re welcome

If memories of the adolescent social scene make you uncomfortable (check), if you remember your friends as backstabbing, fashion-obsessed, nasty bitches (check), and if seeing real teen trauma go untreated brings back too many flashbacks (check), well, then, you can skip this one. Oh, unless in your real life there was no light at the end of the tunnel. Well, I guess if you have internet access and you read my blog, there was probably light somewhere at the end of your tunnel, but whatev.

The movie opened to the typical “I’m a nerdy middle-school girl jealous of the in-crowd” and quickly montage-d into “this is what it’s like to *finally* be accepted!!!” complete with surrealist lighting and spinning camera angles. Cliché! But, wait, is that Holly Hunter? It is! What’s she doing here?

Chicken, egg, I don’t know. Holly Hunter made her appearance as the mom right around where the movie started to get less hackneyed and more believable. But! Even our quirky, indie-film doyenne couldn’t save this movie from itself.

For its genre, teen-angst-a-thon, Thirteen was actually pretty decent. It felt sort of documentary in that there wasn’t a whole lot of moralizing or interpreting events, rather, they just let teenagers be teenagers and do the things terrible teenagers do—hurt and be hurt by each other. There’s the peer pressure to shop lift, which mounts to peer pressure for body piercing, which escalates to peer pressure to make out with guys, which then turns into peer pressure to escalate drug abuse. Frankly, it’s just “kid-gone-wrong” stuff.

Until we learn Tracy is a cutter. We learn that Tracy’s home life isn’t as All-American as it seemed in those opening shots, and that one reason she’s so susceptible to let pressure escalate her self-destructive behavior is that she’s already engaging in out-there self-harm. This kid isn’t just acting out the way an adolescent does, this kid has serious problems.

The conclusion was so real it hurt, though. In the end, once Tracy has been kicked out of the cool girls’ club, her erstwhile best friend, Evie, rats on everything Tracy ever did. It begins when Evie spreads lies about Tracy to get her shunned at school. It worked. Then Evie had her guardian stage a disingenuine intervention with Tracy and her mom, pouring out onto the coffee table all the secret stashed cigarettes, alcohol, and pills. Coup de grace? Evie wrenches up Tracy’s sleeves to reveal the long rows of cutting marks from her wrist to elbow.

After that dramatic catharsis, Tracy and her mom fight, but Holly Hunter has learned that Tracy needs love more than she ever realized. Mom grips Tracy and says, “I’m never letting go again.” They fall asleep in Tracy’s bed, wrapped in each other’s arms. It was an unexpectedly genuine moment in a movie that alternated between real youth drama and clichés.

All of this leaves me wondering who the prospective audience was supposed to be? You know I’ll watch any crap, but there were many times I wanted to turn this off because it was so boring. And obvious. And tedious. The zinger? It was rated R. Seeing it, I know *why* it was rated R, but the movie fell into a teen no-man’s land in between the grit-free PG-13 and the gritty R. Audiences most likely to be affected by it are in that no-man’s land too, I guess.

If you really want to see Holly Hunter do good angst, watch Laurel Canyon. "Thirteen" is only worth watching if you had a clinical problem as a kid and want to feel vicariously vindicated through Holly Hunter’s love.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Ten little bits

1. I don’t like Dinosaur Jr. I’m really sorry, Matthew, I’m trying, really I am, but I just don’t get it. I think it’s one of our generation gap things.

2. That earlier piece on being fat, that really was written a whole year ago. There’s lots of ways I’m not OK, but, at the moment, I’m a proud size 16 shopping for plus-size sexy bikinis for my summer flirty beach debut.

3. I don’t like watching re-runs of Sex and the City because I get all twitchy. I start thinking I’m investing too much in a relationship that isn’t happening on my terms and that I’m not appreciated or loved enough and that maybe my love for Mr. Big just isn’t big enough to carry both of us…. And then I remember that I’m the Mr. Big in the relationship—emotionally unavailable, difficult to love, taciturn, whatever. Oh, but I’m not rich. I also don’t have a car and driver. Anyway, me, I’m not Carry Bradshaw. I’m going to make a flash card that says “You’re not Carry Bradshaw” and tape it to the entertainment center. “Oh yeah, right, I’m angst-ing out over something totally fake. Duh!”

4. I wish I spoke German. Or French. Preferably German and French.

5. This one shouldn’t be relegated to Number Five, but when you’re trying to keep something outside your brain, sometimes that something slips in somewhere weird. My little baby nephew had some sort of seizure. I didn’t hear it called a seizure, but something bad happened and he behaved abnormally. He had a spasm and then couldn’t be woken up. Good news is that it happened on Sunday and he seems perfectly fine now. He went to the emergency room, woke up, had many tests and observations done, and they think he’s fine. If it happens again, he’s not fine, but if it’s just once, he’s fine. That’s pretty vague, huh? I’m opting for the “he’s fine it was only once” vague but comforting route. Also, he was excited about the hospital room. He pointed to everything and said, “Mama, we have a new TV. Mama, we have a new lamp. Mama, we have a new bed.” To me that’s comforting evidence that nothing about him has changed.

6. In honor of the Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment spectacle called “Elimination Chamber,” which is really just a cage match or “Hell in a Cell” but fancied up, I have decided to re-name our bathroom The Elimination Chamber. The first time I used The Elimination Chamber tonight, it took all my powers of self-control and maturity to not shout: “Hey Matthew! I’m in The Elimination Chamber!”

7. It turns out that Matthew doesn’t even like bikinis. I guess that cancels out the search for the world’s sexiest and sturdiest support bikini ever. That’s OK. There’s a lot more one-pieces for us chubbos out there.

8. Lately I need to be physically restrained from rescuing dogs. Only the reminder that our lease was very grudgingly written to include just one dog keeps me from dialing that rescue number at the vet’s. Is this nesting for childless people? Wanting dogs?

9. As usual, I really ought to be in bed.

10. Love ya, Ta Ta For Now!

Saturday, February 02, 2008


January 31, 2007, excavated today:

Lord, give me the courage to fast. No, not be fast. Give me the courage to fast.

I want to be anorexic. I long to be anorexic. I want to switch to a diet of caffeine and cigarettes and smell terrible but wear size two clothes. I want to be my teenage shape, petite to the point of tiny. Everyone gripped my forearm and said to me, “God, your arm is so thin I could break it with one twist.” Proud—I felt pride. I was so fragile I could be broken or protected. Or both.

But even then I didn’t see my body as magazine thin—and that was fifteen years ago, before models looked really anorexic. Not that I was allowed to read magazines other than peeks sneaked at my mother’s Southern Living. What I saw when I looked down were jiggly thighs and loose abdomen. Looking down I saw imagined cellulite and pasty skin.

Psychiatrists call it body dysmorphic disorder now. Fuck that. Fuck them for making it a disorder. I want to be size two again. I remember when I grew to size four and I was devastated. Fast forward to size fourteen, and I’m a hulking monster.

God, I want to be anorexic.

Maybe I want to be a zero. Maybe I want to be nothing. Nothing at all…

***Update, 2/5/2008: That whole bit was from a year ago. I don't feel like being nothing right now. I found that unposted blog entry and thought it was interesting that at a year ago I was having a tough time too. It felt parallel. And the message was never about suicide--it was about dissolving into un-being. Write me if you're worried and you need to talk about this. I won't tell you I'm OK, but I will tell you that I'm getting help and that I'm positive I will be OK. See? Not so bad after all, right?

Friday, February 01, 2008

Help me I'm fallin'

Depression is a mind hole, but, falling into it, I feel no impact. There’s no point of contact. I bump against the walls of the well as I go down, but there’s never a bottom to land on. No place to say, “Well, I’m here; now it’s time to climb back up.”

It’s not even a bungee free-fall plummet. It’s not a roller-coaster’s descent. It’s not cushioned or feathered, it’s not soft or hard--it’s not even a slope. I just wake up one day and realize I’m falling.

I’m so used to falling by now that I never know when it’s time for help. When is it my ordinary dip and when is it a plunge? Where is the dividing line between “get over it” and “seriously Christine, this is bad”? I can’t feel that space.

I always ask my therapist, “What is normal sadness and what is clinical?” I ask, “When is it my need to pull myself out and when do I need your help?” He says he can’t answer that. He says, “No computer can do therapy because there is no scientific parameter to it. It’s too delicate.”

Wednesday, my husband said to me, “You need to call your doctor.” At the time I wanted to ignore his advice because I didn’t feel like calling anyone, which, coincidentally, is a sign of depression for me. I didn’t resent him, I didn’t feel offended by his request, I just didn’t want to do it. How did I know this wasn’t normal and that I needed help? I didn’t know, but I guess he did.

I called my doctor Thursday. I felt better Thursday, which made me feel kinda silly for calling, but Matthew said I should anyway. My doctor said—without any prompting on my part—“It’s good that you called and told me this. We need to get you back to baseline.”

Baseline. It sounds like the starting point of a base jump. Is that depression? A base jump with no parachute? No target, no landing zone?

How do I rewind? How do I un-jump backwards, pulled up by invisible wires, like a kung-fu movie in backward slow-mo?

Matthew wants me to come back. He wants to help. He sees me bobbing away and knows I’ve gone too far to reel myself back in. On Thursday, after I called my doctor, I told Matthew, “It’s good of you to have told me to call my doctor. I want you to know that. Sometimes I need that outside perspective of someone who can see me and tell me it’s time to check back in.” I hope he understands how much he helps me when I’m falling.