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Wavy scarf for Christmas present in Manos del Uruguay (mostly on the shuttle, so it's slow going)

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Roasted peppers with crumbled queso fresco

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Artwork © Lian Quan Zhen


i got a new attitude - September 24, 2004

- - September 22, 2004

- - September 20, 2004

Is this thing on? - September 20, 2004

- - September 15, 2004


2003-05-07 - 8:41 a.m.

Half a cup of mint tea and two bites of bagel later, I'm still annoyed with my gastro system. I know nobody cares about this story, but I'm telling the stupidness anyway.

Imagine: I'm 19, I'm single, and I'm living in an armpit CA city with my folks, going to junior college. I'm working two jobs: one at the local OfficeMax, running the copiers 30 hours a week; the other grading papers and writing tests for my German professor 10 hours a week. I'm taking 19 units at the jr college and another 6 units through an exchange program - for which the work is all in German. I'm saving money to send myself to Germany for the summer - again, to work. I'm studying my fourth year of German and my second semester of Japanese.

In other words, I'm stupid and psychotic.

Then I meet an amazing guy; we'll call him P. P is engaged. But she lives in Idaho; he sees her every two months or so.

I haven't met anyone I like in two years or so. I've been on a couple of shitty dates with a strange Chinese guy from work who wants to take me home to meet his family. He won't let me say no. Another man from work, middle-aged and in marital trouble, has started stalking me. He follow me home, follows me to school, leaves me notes on the windshield.

I don't have time for any of this crap, not even P, with whom I want to spend time. But I ditch work, ditch school and spend hours with P listening to Lou Reed in his shitty apartment, shared with his alcoholic father who glares at me as if I've stolen something. I fall for P hard. He's bright, quirky and not at all conventionally handsome.

There's a critical point here. P and I never, never fool around. We write very long letters (I still have his; they average 23 pages), we talk about Germany and art, the Velvet Underground, David Bowie and the Illuminatus trilogy. I attempt to explain modern feminism; he smiles and suggests we go to the park to take a walk.

Then one day P tell me that Fiancee is coming to visit. The world drops away from me. Slowly, I go back to work, back to class and try to pick myself up.

My stomach often hurts. I attribute this to stress, to forgetting about meals to catch up on kanji practice. On my birthday in April, my folks take me out for dinner. I'm nauseated before we eat, more so afterwards, and finally somebody clues in. I'm not pregnant, so I must be sick.

The doctor never touches me, just orders me around with his index finger. Take this off. Lift that. Push here; how does that feel? And at the end of three separate visits, he tells me, smiling broadly, that I have a bleeding ulcer. I'm 19 years old.

I went to Germany. Stalker guy had himself regressed and sent me letters, quoting his regressor (sp?), saying he believed we'd been married in a former life. I threw the letters into my host family's recycle bin, carefully shredded. He followed me for the next five years, leaving more cryptic notes, hiding behind my office dumpster. The Chinese guy bought me jewelry and cried my final day at work.

P married his girl. She's gorgeous; red hair, slender legs and a singing voice the angels desire. I went to the wedding, fortified by a friend and large quantities of vodka rocks. It wasn't pretty. He tried to talk with me; the wife dragged him away. Unusually these days, they're still married. They're happy.

I ended up with a D in Japanese, four months in Germany working in a hotel, and a stomach that makes decisions independent of logic. Eating tomatoes one happy summer day? Not the rest of the week, buckaroo. Too much acid. Pigging out on ice cream with friends? Prepare to meet your maker.

So a day of nausea I can handle. But save me from stalking, schoolwork, German and loving the wrong one.

Thanks very much.

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