twitch

I have this image of brains. Not actual gross anatomical brains, but up close, CGI wisps of semi-translucent colors. Of high magnification images. Stained and dyed.

Image of Golgi stained neurons in the dentate gyrus of an epilepsy patient. 40 times magnification.

Gyrus Dentatus, MethoxyRoxy, CC-BY-SA

Inside of these brains are signals that move, flashed of light that travel like subway cars at light speed. There is brightness and shining. There are also dark places. There are things that lurk where nothing else is, hiding among dendrites and axons. These are the little twitches in my head, the thoughts I am ashamed of or uncomfortable with. Unkind things. Things I wish I didn’t think or feel. I imagine that these don’t want to be found, even though I know exactly where they are.

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death, 03

I sat down with my new supervisor for the first of our weekly one-on-one sessions. “I don’t know what CN told you,” I said with little warning, “but there were two deaths in my family last month.”

“I knew you went to Florida,” JC said.

“Yeah, so I fell really behind. I’m still catching up.”

Death is like that. Still catching up. AA, my cousin who came to our grandmother’s funeral, was given three days of bereavement leave from her office. I took nearly a week and it still wasn’t enough. I’d still been reeling from the news of my uncle when my mom called me at work and told me my grandmother was in hospice. I retreated to one of the conference rooms in the office. I sat there in silence for several minutes before I began to cry.

I went home after that and sat in the shower with the water running until the steam and scalding drops turned cold and the redness in my skin faded. I’d barely been functional at work since the news of my uncle–the day I buried myself against W and my body rocked with sporadic, uncontrollable sobs. I spent the rest of December useless. I’d sit at my desk, sometimes just staring at the screen, looking out the window, doing nothing for hour after hour other than listening to my own breath and watching the clouds move.

I won’t lie and talk about how close I was to either of these people. I was closer to Alec than I was my uncle or my grandmother. I felt, I feel, bad about how deeply I was–am–affected by these deaths. I grin and say I’m okay, that it’s not that big a deal. Both were, in their own ways, expected. That didn’t make them any easier for me. I didn’t want any sympathy and I didn’t want to share it. I had the liberty of privacy. My grandmother, the last of her generation, had been an extraordinary woman with a quiet life. My uncle’s death was not reported by anyone outside of his family. No one knew unless I told them and, even though I told the internet, it passed with silence. My sadness was my own. I needed it to be. I needed time to process and understand and grieve and I still do. Three days could never be enough.

Someone I was–am–in love with once told me that how I feel is how I feel–it doesn’t matter what anyone else says I should feel. I shouldn’t be apologetic. I return to my grief, the grief I feel I don’t deserve. I grieve for my student and Jeff, who both killed themselves years apart. I grieve for Moses and Alec, my grandmother. Now I grieve for Aaron. I am angry and sad and my heart aches for my friends who lost someone. This grief is mine, this struggle for understanding is mine, and I deserve it.

Shows

I love television. I used to not. I don’t want to say I bought into the idea that television isn’t a thing for the intellectual crowd, but I did. I wanted to be one of those cool intellectual people–and they didn’t watch television. Sure, it was okay to check out some DVDs someone else lent to you, but that wasn’t really watching TV. My junior year I met a girl named JK.

JK loved television without shame. She loved the shows that smart people are allowed to love, things by Aaron Sorkin, and those shows that you were just too young for when they were on. (Buffy is a good example for me.) But man, did JK love them.

Suddenly it was, at least a little bit, okay. And not just in the sense that my roommate wanted to watch Gilmore Girls, so we sat with her, or seeing Arrested Development while everyone else in the dorm watched it. Studio Sixty on the Sunset Strip was one of the first major forays into shows on the air.

This past fall I picked up Grimm, Once Upon A Time, and Pan Am. This fit into the already rotating docket of various things I catch up on in batches. Shows on hulu I watch as they come out. Sometimes a small stack will fill up–there are some four episodes of Sanctuary (something I mostly use for background noise) waiting. Otherwise, I binge. I wait and wait and then grab them all at once and drop them into a queue to devour nearly non-stop.

I became reliant on television while living alone in Korea. My hours left me at a loss most of the time, lonely in my apartment–the whole place was as big as the room I have now. It was quiet and I would fill the silences and emptiness with any voice I could pluck off the internet and feed into my room.

One of the things I did when I came back to America was to sit with my dad and work our way through Stargate Universe and Caprica. We’d always bonded over scifi shows–it had been a family thing–but the tivo allowed us to treat it as a visual feast of Thanksgiving like proportions. And there was something pretty great about that.