Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Today (sucks)

I am tired. I don’t know if I still techinically have bronchitis, or if it’s officially pneumonia, or if it’s actually nothing at all. But I’ve been sick for a freaking month and coughing up disgustingness from my lungs, some of which is blood-tinged and some fluorescent yellow, and last week I seemed to break or bruise a rib in a wild coughing spasm, which now constantly hurts my chest. Especially when I move, lift my arms, or breathe.

I went to a walk-in clinic last night, against my better judgment, because my chest really really hurt and the interweb told me to seek “immediate medical advice.” As predicted, the doctor said, “you have a chest infection.” I asked if it was pneumonia, and he said, well, maybe. I asked if my rib was fractured. He said maybe. As an afterthought, he took my temperature. It was okay. Not normal, just ‘okay.’  “Come back if you don’t get better.” Which is what the last doctor said. I hate doctors. I hate doctors so very much.

My puppy is sick. I was away from home for a day and a half, during which my puppy decided to get sicker than I’ve ever seen him before. I arrived home to a house full of diarrhea and vomit, some of which was blood-stained, and a dehydrated puppy who could barely wag his tail hello. I am the worst puppy-mummy ever. I am so, so sorry. I then borrowed emergency money from my mother to take my puppy to the vet, so he could get IV fluids and three types of medication, because I am the worst, most incompetent and neglectful puppy mummy ever. Also, I skipped work to do this, because I am also a terrible employee and adult.

So, today was my first day at work since being on vacation for a week and then taking an emergency day off to take care of my dog who was suddenly ill. But my vacation wasn’t especially happy or restful - mostly because the latter part of it was spent moving my sister into residence at her new university, which is three hours away and involves travelling extensively by foot, skytrain, bus, ferry, bus, and another freaking bus (I don’t drive, because I’m a terribly incompetent adult).

And this was not only physically exhausting, what with 300 pounds of luggage (did I mention the pneumonia?), but also emotionally hard, because I love my sister lots, and now she’s far away, and the house is all quiet after two months of constant companionship, and university is hard and I want her to be happy and I’m all maternally with my worry and obsession.

Arriving at work, I was not happy to be there, because it was only nine a.m. and ideally I’d sleep in till three. But I was happy to see people I missed, and happy to go about my job competently and responsibly without any major emotional upsets.

Until, at 11am, my boss decided to mistakenly send a reply-all email that was meant only for my supervisor’s eyes. The email was about me. The email was sent to all of my coworkers and sort-of-coworkers, and me, too. And in a short and sweet way, it said: “We should really force Ivy to go to this workshop on Basic [quality that is essential to doing her job well which she obvious lacks to an extreme degree, as indicated by my sending this email]. What do you think?”

In a hasty cover-up attempt which involved sending a second copy of the exact same email to all of my coworkers and sort-of-coworkers and myself again, my boss then replied-all: “Sorry about that. I meant that EVERYONE should take that workshop. In fact, I’m cancelling your staff meeting and making everyone go, even though several of you have requested educational workshops on other subjects and staff meetings are kind-of important. So, screw you all. But not specifically Ivy. Yes.”

So I spent my lunch hour crying, in the staff room, because the bathrooms were all full and all the exits were blocked by unavoidable interaction with people with eyes. And whenever I tried not to cry I ended up crying harder, which was awkward and causing much facial puffiness, and then I would try and reassure myself by saying my boss and job and ability to do basic essential skills weren’t that important, and that I could find another job, and then the prospect of leaving my job and all its implications sent me into a fresh batch of tears.

My supervisor entered the staff room and witnessed me crying, said nothing and quickly left. And then a coworker entered the staff room and witnessed me crying, and wordlessly fled the awkwardness. And then the rest of the day was spent surrounded by coworkers, only one of whom actually brought up the email, advising me to talk to my supervisor, which I declined to do (whilst crying).

And now I am home, with my sick puppy and my empty apartment and my bronchitis and pneumonia and fractured rib and some stains from the puppy diarrhea that I still can’t get off my floor, and the place is a mess and I need to recycle and do the dishes and my laundry’s not done and it’s all stupid and I hate everything.

But mostly, I hate work, and life, and anything that’s worth caring about or trying hard to do well. Because, inevitably, people fail, and then they feel all the worse for having tried so hard. Or something cynical like that. Peace out.

A Thousand Paper Cranes

I wanted to learn to fold origami paper cranes. I don’t know why, exactly - I suppose it was an extension of my weird obsession with colourful paper, which originally started out as a tool for faking my way through being a residence advisor and having to deal with people. (Residence advisors are like gregarious kindergarden teachers hopped up on caffeine and possessed by the spirit of Michael Scott. They ooze enthusiasm out of every pore. I tend to resemble a sad broken eggshell, even on my better days.) People tend to assume you’re perky and confident when you hand then handmade pink die-cut invitations covered in green and purple sparkles. Or so experience has taught me.

Then, my sister and I were talking about the atom bomb and all the effects of its fallout. Because, when you’re with a sparkling and bubbly person like myself, the conversation inevitable ends up at the long-term implications of nuclear weaponry. That, or the Holocaust. Any genocide, really.

She told me about the story of a little girl in Hiroshima with leukemia, and how, according to the Japanese, a thousand paper cranes entitles you to a wish (much like blowing out birthday candles in Western wish-mythology). So the little girl had folded a thousand paper cranes in the hope of wishing her leukemia away. And when her cancer did not go into remission, she started again. Because paper was in short supply, she folded the labels off of medicine bottles, paper bags, anything. She had folded a total of over one thousand, six hundred paper cranes before passing away.

And, because I had just heard a heartwrenching story of a little girl’s sad, hopeful battle against a trifecta of warfare, atom bombs, and cancer, and the needless loss of life that was one of thousands and millions of people whose lives were destroyed within a single, terrifying act, my thoughts immediately went to this:

Folding a thousand paper cranes can grant you a wish? Seriously? I can do that!!

So I bought a bunch of paper and began folding away. The internet assisted me, with helpful diagrams and videos, and eventually I figured out how to make a functional paper crane. And after fifty or so paper cranes were folded, I was presented with the following conundrums:
  1. These are a lot of paper cranes. What will I do with fifty, much less a thousand paper cranes?
  2. If I have a ton of paper cranes all over my house, will it become creepy? Like houses of people whose shelves are all lined with glass-eyed porcelain dolls, or cat figurines, or stuffed, posing animals that used to be roadkill?
  3. Are all hobbies creepy, or just the ones involving dead things and obvious crippling loneliness? Or do all hobbies imply loneliness? Oh god....
  4. What am I going to wish for, anyways?
I did not have leukemia. I did not have any crippling life threatening illnesses, that I know of. And, because all of my basic needs are basically met, I could think of no tangible thing deserving of a wish.

I could wish for money, but how much? And how, exactly, would the money be delivered? I may believe in wishes granted by invisible forces of the universe by virtue of folded paper, but I do not believe in thousand dollar bills falling from the sky without good reason.

I could buy a lottery ticket and wish to win, but in some clause in my head wishes and gambling are incongruent forces that should never be combined. Plus, of all of the sad people buying lottery tickets, who isn’t wishing to win - be it with happy thoughts, birthday cakes, shooting stars, or paper cranes?

I could wish for a yoghurt maker, because I really do want a yoghurt maker. But I don’t need a yoghurt maker. And a lot depends on the brand, because certain machines are finicky, and I’d rather have no yoghurt maker than a disappointing, crappy one. Plus, if I’m getting any appliances at all, I should really get a microwave.

I could wish for health. But health isn’t really helpful unless you’re happy. And happiness would be an okay wish, except that happiness always seems inversely proportional to intelligence and awareness of the shitty world around you. And I wouldn’t want to be happy whilst obliviously perpetuating the misery of others, because then I’d be everything I hate. And hating yourself is the opposite of being happy.

World peace, but not at the expense of human rights and challenging dehumanizing regimes, the definition of which is constantly evolving? No more famine, but also, a comprehensive education program designed to curtail birthrates in impoverished countries through empowerment of women and widespread availability of effective, cheap birth control? (Any and all interventions would have be culturally appropriate, though, and preferably grassroots, and still allow women to choose while making sure they make the right choice to have fewer children....arggggg.)

Nothing that I want to wish for seems easily summed up into sentence form. And every potential wish could be twisted to inevitably create a world and life infinitely more crappy and miserable than the one I have now, where at least all of my basic needs are taken care of and I have endless time available to sit folding paper cranes.

Inspired by:
This comic was inspired by experience - Hyperbole and a half