Tuesday, September 27, 2011


It is a strange transition, going from a year of fellowship funding in NY to a year of teaching in LA. When I say strange, I mean both my body and my mind are having a hard time coping with how very different life is here and now than there and then.

In NY, I was spending nearly all of my time and energy coping with grief after my mother's long illness and eventual death last October. Had I not been on fellowship, I would have had to take a leave from school, because there is not a chance in metaphorical hell that I would have been able to deal with working steadily. I joined a chorus eventually, and I had roommates and friends and family I saw from time to time, and I even got work done and joined a gym, but the vast bulk of my time, especially in the first half of the year, was spent sitting on my couch and trying not to think about Mom.

Now I am back in LA. I am singing and playing with the UCLA Early Music Ensemble, coordinating my department's dissertation seminar, going to the gym or yoga three to four days a week, teaching an undergrad class that starts tomorrow, meeting regularly with my advisor and producing prose for those meetings, volunteering at the LA Gay and Lesbian Center (starting Thursday), being a Head Steward in UAW 2865, and conducting interviews for the dissertation (starting next Tuesday). Plus I'm still seeing friends, though not roommates or family anymore.

On Saturday, I had a panic attack, which I am not used to. Before this week, the only panic attack I had ever had was when I read up on the details of ALS after Mom's diagnosis and saw the average prognosis of death in 2 years from onset of symptoms. Now I've had another and come close at least one other time. My therapist isn't available for another week.

This morning I hurt a friend by accident, in a way that was totally preventable. He hurt me in response, but only because I lashed out first. When an acquaintance looked stressed passing me in the hallway, I assumed I had also hurt her somehow without knowing it, though I haven't seen her in many months. When the conductor of the EME gave me a style tip, I thought she was angry with me for not having done what she was asking already. When a friend was tired this morning after yoga, I thought she was mad at me for inviting her to come to the class.

It turns out that getting back into a life that involves other people in a major way is difficult. I have spent a year basically not connecting with other people in any kind of official capacity, interacting a fair amount socially, but not at all formally. I came to LA with a lot of NY energy, and I have not yet expressed that energy in healthy or positive ways. I will work on that with my therapist, with my yoga, with my friends and students; I don't want to be as brittle and caustic as I have felt over the last few days.

Right now, I will sleep, and that may help. Tomorrow, I will go to the gym, have lunch with an acquaintance from college, and teach my first class of the quarter. Those all should help too. I insist upon regaining my equilibrium, equanimity, and equipage; there's nothing like a horse-drawn carriage to make me feel better.


Alexandra said...

HUGS. I think you are awesome. I will always be glad that you are back in LA! Anytime you need anything, let me know.

Anonymous said...

<3 and *hugs*

Not that you hear from me often, but I think of you often (in a very positive manner).

Ms. Li said...

email forthcoming . . . good to see you today.

my dad was perplexed by your skirt (as usual) which i thought you might find amusing.