I worry too much–no, not too much; just a lot. A heck of a lot. I worry about my future, I worry about money, I worry about my mother, her health, her job, my health, the environment, the bad weather, famine, epidemics, asteroids–yes, asteroids–and all that good stuff. I worry. That’s what I do.
Mom had a doctor’s appointment this morning and, since I’m at home now–and have been since graduation last year–I went with her to translate some and nag the doctor. Nag nag nag. I do that, too. Mom’s blood pressure is good, her thyroid is good, her lipids are good, and her colon is good. Except it’s got little “pocket” things and “it’s very important that she has good, regular bowel movements.” Her red cell count went up a little, which is good; mom’s anemic. You see, the main problem we’re having at the moment is that she’s anemic and nobody knows why. Her iron is good, B12 is good, there’s no blood loss anywhere–and yet, she doesn’t have enough red blood cells. Well then, somebody’s got to know where they are!
I read somewhere that anemia could sometimes be linked to thyroid problems. I don’t know why, but I didn’t remember that until after the doctor had left the room. Damnit. The doctor wants to send her to a hematologist, but mom doesn’t have health insurance. And specialists cost mad cash–which is essentially the root of every problem that anyone’s ever encountered…almost.
If we had money, mom would have health insurance. She’d see the specialist, and whatever problem they find would be taken care of. But we don’t have money. And so, I worry. Secretly. Very secretly. And I think that’s a problem.
Some people don’t have a problem ranting and venting and getting things out of their systems. They talk about their frustrations, their anger, their sadness, their worries. More often than not, I don’t know where to start, so I clam up. I bottle everything inside, and then, one beautiful day, out of nowhere, the dam bursts.
The dam bursts, and it’s ugly.
I like to think that I’m strong; it really helps that everybody thinks I am, too. As far as everyone’s concerned, I’ve got my feet well on the ground and my head firmly planted on my shoulders, and nothing moves me. Little do they know, just thinking about certain things can make me sob uncontrollably for the next hour or so. Sometimes, I cry myself to sleep; bet you didn’t know that! I mean for Christ’s sake, I cried during Spiderman and Monsters, Inc!
The one thing that never fails to bring me down–I’m really setting myself up for failure here–is thinking about my mom’s death. You probably think I’m crazy for thinking about that, let alone bringing it up, but I don’t believe it should be a taboo. Death is part of life; we’ve all lost someone, we’re gonna keep losing people, and, one day, we too will have to go. It’s not a secret, and I don’t think we should avoid the subject. There’s no sense in being in denial, and I’ve decided to talk about openly (don’t burst my bubble; this is my way of coping with something before it happens).
We were watching Vân Sơn–a Vietnamese variety show–this past weekend, and the theme was “Mothers.” I was fine with that until this singer came along and started singing the saddest lyrics I’ve ever heard: “We will have to say goodbye,” “When you say it, it’ll make me cry,” “It’ll be the last time I hold you near”–etc, etc. I’m gonna stop quoting it because I’m already choking up as I’m typing this, but you see where I’m going with it. I had to get up and go to the kitchen to “make lunch” so as to not cry in front of my mother.
This is another silly thing I do–or don’t do, rather: I don’t cry in front of my mother. Ever. I’ve always successfully held my tears back when she’s around, and I’m not gonna let some stupid variety show where people LIP SYNCH ruin this trend. Seriously. I’m ridiculously good at not crying in front of her, because almost every time we’re together and something warrants a good hard bawling, that “something” typically concerns her and she’s already somewhat of a mess. I’m not saying that crying is for the weak–because it’s not–but if I cry, it’ll make her believe that things are not okay; that, in fact, they’re unbelievably bad.
Does this sound stupid yet? I guess the only thing you should know in order to make sense of this is that she doesn’t think I am ever nostalgic, get sad, or worry. She doesn’t believe I do any of those things. In sum, she doesn’t think I’m human, and I think I’d rather keep it that way for now. Just for now.
I don’t want her to know that, when she passes, I will be crushed; food won’t have taste, colors will look gray, I probably won’t step out of the house for a good month at least, and everything will smell like her.
Thursday afternoon, I rode Greyhound to Washington, DC for AU‘s CAS Graduate Studies Day. Lilly met me around Union Station, and we took the Metro to Bethesda to meet up with Chuck and An for dinner at Rock Bottom (we tried to hit up Union Jack’s, but it was too crowded). Before dessert, I had to take switch from contacts to glasses because something had been bothering my left eye for a while. After dinner (complete with DELICIOUS sundae), I was too full to walk!
Meteorologists had projected rain, but Friday turned out to be beautiful–sunny and warm. The day went by smoothly, and I got the chance to see more of the campus than I did the last time I was there. I almost met other prospective grad students, which made me happy–especially because I met another person interested in the French Translation program! I hope she gets in.
Lilly leaves for work around 8am every day. The event at AU wasn’t set to start until 10am (9:30am if you count registration), but I decided to leave with her. I got off after one stop at the Tenleytown-AU station to catch the AU shuttle to the main campus. It was about 8:30am, so I purposely missed two shuttles. I wanted to just stand around for a bit (as opposed to hanging around the campus… I don’t know why). I finally got on around 9am and proceeded to registration. I was given a name tag, a pen, and a folder containing various papers (agenda, map…).
Large round tables were set up. I put my things (heavy backpack, etc) down and got myself a cup of tea. Small talk was made as people entered the room and sat themselves down. After a brief introduction, we were all divided into our respective departments. I got up and headed toward a designated staff member as the Language and Foreign Studies department was called. As the eight of us gathered around the well-dressed, salt-and-pepper-haired woman, I noticed that she was speaking to everyone in Spanish. Maybe I got up too early. After introductions were made, I asked, “Is everyone here for Spanish?” The only boy of the group stepped forward and pointed at a tallish girl next to me: “She’s French!”
“Great!” It was only the two of us. The woman apologized, and led us out of the building. “Wait!” someone shouted behind us. “There’s one more!” A girl and two women walked towards us. A girl, her mother, and her aunt.
We walked to the building that houses the Language and Foreign Studies department (the name escapes me — Asbury?) and went down a set of stairs into the building. In between, I found out that the other “French” girl was from Fairfax. She had an accent. Was she actually French? We went down a narrow set of stairs into the building. We were briefly shown the computer lab where, “Shh, they’re taking a test.” We retreated to the tiny conference room, where we were to spend the remaining hour and a half. More folders. I looked at the French girl next to me. “It’s all Spanish.”
The woman told us that the two professors scheduled to speak were affiliated with the Spanish department.
She left and brought the faculty advisor for French Translation; we were thrilled. I asked questions, he answered. The French girl nodded approvingly.
A tall, slim woman peeked her head through the doorway. “Is this… Spanish?”
“I’m almost finished. Or I can be finished? Do you…?”
“Oh go ahead, I’m here to speak for the Spanish–”
“Oh okay go ahead–”
“No, no it’s okay, I’ll wait here.”
I had more questions. I would have objected. And so I kept asking questions until I was satisfied.
“Thank you very much,” I said. I turned to the group. “Sorry.” That is what Americans do, no? They’re a very apologetic people, I find.
“Oh no, no, that’s okay!”
“Don’t worry about it!”
“We’ll be saying sorry to you in a minute.”
“Exactly.” Second word uttered by the French girl.
The tall, slim woman took a seat at the head of the table. She talked a lot with her hands. She said she was “Spanish. From Spain.” Her voice was clear and firm. She spoke with a slight accent. She made eye contact and hesitated little. Her hair was short, brown, and neat. Her makeup looked flawless.
“Do you understand my English? Do you want me to speak Spanish?”
Did she really ask that?
“No, no we’re fine,” they all said.
The well-dressed, salt-and-pepper-haired woman came back with French documents for the French girl and me. We whispered “Thank you,” and the woman retreated, only to come back shortly after.
The Spanish woman was interrupted.
“I’m sorry, I just want to talk to the French girls a little bit–are you girls okay here or do you want to go out somewhere or…?”
The French girl and I looked at each other. I raised my eyebrows and nodded enthusiastically.
“Where should we go?” she asked.
“We can just sit outside,” I said.
We grabbed our things and left, but not before they gave us mugs and pens. More things to carry.
We sat with the woman on a stone bench in the little courtyard-ish area. I wrapped my new mug in my scarf that I didn’t have to wear. We talked–about translation, mainly. About languages, about the school. About ourselves. The salt-and-pepper-haired woman was Colombian. The French girl wasn’t French; she was Romanian.
I asked how long the campus tour–at 2:30pm–concluding the event would take. The Colombian woman asked if I was in a hurry.
“Oh no, it’s just that my bus leaves at 4:45pm; I don’t want to miss it, that’s all.”
“Well, we can take the campus tour now! We have some time.”
The now-Romanian girl echoed. “Yeah, we can take it now.”
It really was a nice day. The Colombian woman led us through the spotless hallways of the athletic facilities and the artworks displayed in the beautiful Katzen Center.
I stopped by the restrooms to take my contacts out; something was poking at my left eye again.
Before we knew it, it was noon; time to meet the others back at Asbury and head to lunch. The Colombian woman decided to stop by an office in the College of Arts and Sciences building (or something like that) to check on the rest of the group and learned that they had already left.
We hurried back to the building were everything started; they weren’t there yet. We were left there until the others showed up.
The Romanian girl and I started talking in French, and the others showed up not long after.
The boy approached us.
Or at least that’s what I heard.
“Sorry for kicking you guys out.”
Or at least that’s what I think I heard.
“Oh, no that’s okay. How was it?” I inquired.
I think he said it was “fine” and that he “learned a lot.” But I could be making this up; I heard similar things all day long.
The group headed to lunch. The boy, the Romanian girl, and I talked a bit. We went to sit down. Each department was assigned a specific table. We picked three chairs that were unoccupied and next to each other. We grabbed food, the table got crowded, we moved.
Lunch felt short. I learned the Colombian woman’s name. I also learned the Romanian girl’s name. Two professors came to speak. I glanced at the boy’s name tag.
The first professor’s talk was enthusiastic. It felt prepared, but not overly rehearsed. He read an excerpt from one of his works; something about his mother. It was well delivered. It was sad and nostalgic, and I fought back tears at the end of it.
The second professor talked about the feminist movement in Uruguay, if my memory serves me right. By that time, I was feeling awful and needed to get up frequently to leave the room and get some air. At one point, before my return, the boy left.
The only thing left was a panel of graduate students. A few people started asking questions, and I couldn’t handle sitting in there any longer. I grabbed my phone and stepped outside until everything ended. I told Lilly that I would leave at 2:30pm and head to Union Station.
2:30pm rolled around, and the Romanian girl grabbed a few cookies for me to go.
We left together and headed for the shuttle back to the Tenleytown-AU Metro stop. While waiting for the Metro to come, we exchanged contact information. One hour we hopped on the AU shuttle, I got off at Union Station.
I had about an hour to kill, so Lilly and I walked around. I told her about my day at AU and mentioned my contacts bothering me. That’s when I decided to check my eyes for redness with my mirror.
And that’s when I spotted a tiny white dot near the edge of my cornea.
“OH NO! Not again!” I whined. I thought for sure I had another corneal ulcer. I freaked. I stood at a windy corner and phoned my ophtalmologist’s office. I scheduled an appointment for Saturday at 10am. My enthusiasm for everything else quickly dissipated and we walked to the Greyhound station.
My bus was late.
I got back to Philly at 8:30pm and met my mom at the Greyhound station. We went to Sang Kee for dinner. Mom expressed anguish at the idea that she had to be on a clear liquid diet on Saturday and Sunday; she was scheduled for barium enema (rescheduled from last week) today.
I didn’t have a corneal ulcer. What I saw in my left eye–and later spotted in my right eye–was something that people tend to get when they have allergies. My contacts had irritated my eyes, and there it was. The faint dot I saw in my left eye in addition to the white dot was a scar–the scar from my previous corneal ulcer. About the dot in my right eye, the doctor said, “I can’t believe you saw that; even with the microscope it’s very subtle.”
I’ve got super vision.
With Mom being unable to eat pretty much anything, this past weekend was relatively uneventful.
We woke up early to prepare for the hospital. They were able to go on with the procedure this time, much to my mom’s relief–and mine, of course. We got back from the hospital around 11am and fixed ourselves something to eat, after which we decided to take a nap. It was 12:30pm.
We woke up at 3:30pm, groggy, tired, and generally uninterested.
It had been drizzling since this morning. It was cold, the sky was gray–thus casting a gray veil over the entire city–and everyone seemed miserable. It felt like a Sunday.
We were miserable. But then, nighttime came and everything was better. Have you ever noticed that? Nighttime makes things better because it masks the grayness.