Archive for April, 2012

Morning Migraine

I woke up with the worst kind of migraine this morning. Although my research is purely anecdotal with an n of one, having suffered with anywhere from 4 to 23 migraine days a month since 1999, I feel I can say this with a fair degree of confidence. What makes it the worst kind of migraine? I’ll tell you.

1. Waking up with a migraine is definitely disagreeable. For me it usually means that very little will be accomplished that day. If possible, I will take migraine medications and head straight back to bed for an hour or two. If that isn’t possible, it means not taking the medication and still not getting much done, pushing through a fog of pain to do a lackluster job. It is depressing to wake up with my head aching – much worse than having a migraine come on in the late afternoon – at least I can see it coming! Also, because it is much more likely for me to have a migraine in the late afternoon, I have learned to do things in the morning to be certain they get done, for instance, running. A morning migraine negates this practice, obviously.

2. Knowing in some way, I helped it along. You might think it is worse to have a migraine come out of the blue, with no warning and no idea what caused it, but that isn’t the case for me. For me it is much worse knowing that I made some choice(s) that increased the chances of a migraine, like staying up way too late or going running when I already knew a migraine was simmering in the background. Or waiting too long to take the migraine medication so that by the time I take it, it’s too late, the migraine has gained too much ground for the medication to help.

3. Finally, a clear presence of valid stressors makes this morning’s migraine land firmly in worst place. Of course, everyone has stressors and many of us stress out about things that are beyond our control or that mostly exist in the “whatif” dimension.

 

But this week, many of my stressors are real and not imagined. Once I woke up with my head pounding, my first thought was, “Damn, I was supposed to go out today and hit the ATM to get the money for my rent.” Which led me to —> “I wonder if my paycheck cleared? Because if it didn’t then I will have to call my landlady and ask her to hold it – (a fate almost worse than death).” —->

—–> Oh, what about that automatic payment that is supposed to come out of my account on the first? Will there be enough money to cover that? Do I have to call them, too?

—–> Well, if I’m not going anywhere today, I better work on my dissertation. Wait, what? with this migraine? Who can even look at a screen?

—–> Hold on, where is that program that I am supposed to be using for my research analysis? 

—-> Whatif I left it in my old house? Is it still there? Will I have to call someone to go and get it? Then mail it to me?

—-> What kind of person leaves something that important in another state?

—-> Maybe it’s self sabotage. Maybe I’m afraid to graduate?!

—-> I’m so behind on my dissertation now, I may not make it in time to graduate.

—-> If I don’t graduate, I can’t do the postdoc!

—-> I need to get started on that right now!

—-> Except I still need the transcriptions done, and I was waiting for the student loan money to help offset that cost.

—-> Of course with my head throbbing like this, good luck getting any real work accomplished.

—-> I wish I had heard about that grant sooner – I really need some $$ help on the dissertation.

—-> I cannot believe it has taken so long to get this loan!

—-> What was I thinking I could do all the transcriptions myself?!

—-> Is there some way I can get people to donate money for the dissertation?

—-> Only a loser has to ask their mom to cosign a student loan at my age!

Ok, well, I did say that many of my stressors are real and not imagined. At any rate, obviously my financial concerns are real, as well as my dissertation timeline. This pushes the migraine into the worst category because again, it is something I did to myself.

Hmmm. Typing that last line I was reminded of something my therapist said. She posited that I have “a high tolerance for crazy.” I won’t go into the details of that theory, but part of what she was saying is that I find myself in these chaotic situations and at some level, I believe that I can – or should be able to – get myself out of them. While that is sometimes true, and on some levels that very quality has proven beneficial to me, some of the time, the situation really is kind of crazy and/or completely out of my control. My attempts to “manage” these crazy situations leave me feeling frustrated and often demoralized. Not to mention incompetent. I’ll have to let that percolate a while.

Either way, morning migraines suck.

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Pastries, or rent?

I jokingly said to my co-worker that it was a good thing pay comes before rent this month, because I might not make it. I went on about my life as usual, however. I filled up my gas tank, bought Bodhi’s medications, and hit Costco for tofu. While I was there I picked up blueberries (for salads!) and pretzels (for work snacks), too. Seriously, there were 8 items in my cart.

I got home and went online to deposit my paycheck. At which point I realized that I was actually in trouble for my rent. This floored me. I have not been that broke in…a long time. I cannot even remember the last time I was worried I might not make my rent!

And then I started thinking about the money I spent in just the last 2 days. I could have just put a few gallons of gas in my tank – my work is only 2 miles away and I usually only fill up once a month (unless I go into Boston, then twice). I could have skipped the damn blueberries or $5 worth of pretzels. I could have bought half a month of meds for Bodhi – there’s no weird insurance thing and that would have saved me $30!

Then I realized I am out of brown rice. Which is what the dog eats. Yes, I could go buy some kibble at the grocery store, but that would mean he’d be sick until I can get the rice. So I pulled together all the cash I could find and went to buy a bag. The Korean store I get rice from is in the next town over – not far, really, but I only go over that way once a month and it happens to be be right by my favorite pastry shop. I seriously considered going over there as I pulled out of the parking lot, thinking, “I’ll just get one little pastry.”

Tripoli (not Libya)

This is when it struck me that my thinking about money is radically out-of-sync with my financial situation.

I’m currently making a grand total of $15,000 for the year. No one is silly enough to call this a salary, rather it is considered a stipend. I took out a small “extra” student loan to keep me going while making $880 a month and paying $850 for rent. I also paid for my CSA before I came out here, with the money I was making before I moved. But these stopgaps are not working for me any more.

Here’s the thing, I have been poor before. Very poor. But apparently I have forgotten how to live that way. I have been able to buy pretty much what I want to when I wanted to for a long time. And now my foolish decision to fill up my gas tank has me worried about paying my rent.

Yup. Nearly $65.

I told a friend today that this is a good reminder for me. I know that most of my clients are living below the poverty line, but I have forgotten what it’s like to have to juggle such little money around. I have forgotten that it is a kind of privilege to be able to drive further to get a better deal. To be able to pay a little more up front to get a lower per-use cost. That there is privilege in my going to the next town over to pay $18 for a big bag of brown rice that would cost me so much more if I had to buy it in little one pound bags from the local grocery.

Yes, I chose rent over pastries today. 

From November, people...I didn’t actually go there today

I can do bad all by myself – just bad?

The Wayward Woman

I want to start by saying that I know this is just a movie. And I understand that for some reason, all movies need romance. Which I think is ridiculous, but not the fault of whoever made this movie. I heard once that one of the reasons a great film based on Ender’s Game hasn’t come out is that every time some company tried to get the rights they wanted to make Ender have some romantic involvement. The story takes place when Ender is 6 years old. Please, people, get real.

Anyway, this is not a criticism of this movie, which I enjoyed. I did.

But there are parts of this movie that really bug me. So, the good guy in the movie hugs the wayward woman when she finds out her mother is dead. She’s crying, distraught, he holds her a few moments. Then she goes upstairs and the bad boy pushes her away in his sleep without even noticing that she’s upset. So far, so good. I get where they are leading us.

The good guy...

Later, when she asks him why he held her “like that, “ like he cared about her, why was the answer supposed to be “because he’s falling in love with her”? Yes, I know he didn’t say that out loud, but that was the implied answer. Why couldn’t the answer be “he’s a decent human being with some empathy and so was able to be there for her in a moment of need”?

Because you know, even if I didn’t know you well, if I were next to you when you found out your mother died, and started crying – I’m pretty likely to hug you if you turn to me. Why is the message always that we get all that we need from our love interest? Or that people only do for you if they are interested in you?

What you need is to put down that drink...

When she’s in the bar, crying into her drink over the bad boy’s bad behavior, she says, “I need a man. A good one. One who cares about little kids.” Really?! That’s what she needs? Why? Yes, yes, I know it’s hard being a single mom (especially overnight) and it tends to be easier with help. I got that. But why does the storyline go there? Why can’t she discover strength in herself?

And finally, why, when she says that she wants to learn how to love, does he pull her into his arms and kiss her? Here she is, looking vulnerable, admitting that she doesn’t even love herself too much, asking for help from this “good man,” and his response is sexual? Blech. If they could have spent 30 seconds on a tender hug first, I think I’d have been ok with that scene, but it was just too…too, Ah yeah, now I’m gonna show you love, baby! Ick.

Yeesh

Maybe I’m hypersensitive to all of this because of my interest in community. Maybe it’s because the story that the American public is sold every day about fairy tale endings (see my recent post) is on my mind lately. Maybe it’s because I feel like part of my job every day is about people finding other people – not necessarily love interests – to help them out, to support them, to care about them.

Sing it!

And maybe it’s because of the way the rest of the movie is made. This movie pulls no punches as it makes clear to us values it counts as important. Family, religion, community are all front and center. He’s a bad boy first because he’s cheating on his wife. She hasn’t spoken to her mother in a long time. The church people help out the good guy in return for honest labor. I just wish they would have taken one more step and stood up for strong, independent women. 

Why can’t she do good all by herself, too?

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