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Last night’s ER trip
Jan 13th, 2018 by Dr Karma

I haven’t felt right all week. My shoulders and neck are visibly swollen and painful to the touch. I have a stabbing pain in my mid-back on the right side.
I’ve been so exhausted that I have to give myself little talks–assuring myself that I will in fact make it across the quad without falling down.
And then yesterday, my heart was racing and I was sweating.
And I told myself it was nothing.
And then another voice said, “these are the symptoms of a clot or a heart attack.” And then it added: “you have talked about these things with your pre-meds before–about how people need to know that women’s heart attacks often present as severe neck pain, exhaustion, etc.”
And then I was talking to our HR woman about my file, and she said, “Are you okay?”
“No. And I’m aware that I’m changing color right now.”
First, she was afraid that a technical glitch with my file (my application to keep my job and to get a raise) was giving me a heart attack. I had to assure her that it wasn’t, that I would call the advice nurse, etc.
So I called.
“I’m hoping you’ll tell me I’m over-reacting.”
“I’d like you to call 9-1-1.”
I didn’t do that–I called my son. He’s cheaper than the 800$ ambulance. And I walked to my classroom, cause class was about to start. Lacking coherence, I explained what was happening and that we were still going to stay on schedule for their draft next week.
The boy took me to a packed ER–the flu had it filled. But they took blood and did a chest xray and an ekg right away. And then I sat there for several hours.
And then those tests were clear, so they ran more tests on the blood.
Two more hours.
And then it was time for me to go home. Something is wrong–they want me to see my primary guy right away, but I’m stable. ish. The medical mystery continues.

ER doc: Sorry I don’t have an answer for you.
Me: If you were able to diagnose something right now, the news would be really bad.
ER doc: Yeah, you’re right. I never thought of it that way.

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2017 By The Numbers
Dec 31st, 2017 by Dr Karma

Daddy’s funerals: 1

Deaths I will never get over: 1

Seeing Hasan Minhaj film his stand-up special here at Davis: 1

Other Mondavi shows: 3

Major Pet Injuries: 0

Dinner parties hosted: about 51

Book contracts obtained: 2

Benefits for Charity with my Stand-Up Club: 3

Countries visited (Colombia, Wales, England, Scotland, Australia): 5

Books read: a lot

First-Aid trainings: 1

Courses taught (including independent studies): 17

Plays seen: 23

New Atwood series binged: 2

Countries with Nando’s visited and enjoyed: 3

Koala butts touched: 1

Kangaroos seen: a bunch

Live platypi seen: 0

Body parts sprained while falling down stairs: 2

Canes my son made me buy: 1

Unsuccessful dates: I don’t wanna go back and count them

Formal whiskey tastings: 1

Castles/Palaces/Prisons toured: 7

Stand-Up Performances about Chronic Pain: 2

Nieces and nephews I got to spend time with: 6

Times I finally got a smartphone: 1

Churches visited: a surprising amount, but never during a service

Visits with the Out of Fucks Writing Group: 1

Times that Margaret’s gluten intolerance got us an amazing free meal: 1

New used cars obtained: 1

Mysterious synchronous flat tires on old car: 2

Salt mines with salt cathedrals entered (of the Virgin of Salty Water): 1

New recipes tried: a lot (and almost all were great!)

Sleepless nights: too many

Conferences Presented at: 8

Weird hotel rooms in Australia: 1

Overheard tourists who had no idea what Alice in Wonderland was: 2

Alice Days in Oxford: 1

Weeks in Oxford: 5

Times I made jokes about studying at Jesus college: too many

Times I’ve met Raj Patel now: 1

Fairy penguins seen: lots!

Aardman exhibits: 1

Harry Potter Studio Tours: 1

Tests of Spinal Cord Stimulators: 1

Museums and Galleries: a lot!

Wonderful students: almost all of them

Times I’ve asked a man holding a machine gun if I can go into the space he’s blocking (in Spanish): 1

Times that’s worked: 1

Reasons Melissa and I will never live in Colombia: 2 (they aren’t a wine drinking culture, and you can’t flush toilet paper)

Margaret Atwood seminars taught: 1

Wisdom teeth removed: 1

Asses I’ve made of myself: a bunch

Medical appts: about 4 a week

Piles of unorganized files, cds, flash drives, etc. that I inherited from Daddy and have to go through and organize: enough to last a lifetime

Sense that I inherited Daddy’s organization skills: diminished

Trips with my work wife: 4

Nights of seeing stand-up: 10

New exotic meats tried (kangaroo): 1

Heat waves in other countries: 1

New favorite Australian fish (barramundi): 1

Amazing bars found in Cincinnati: 1

Nights at the amazing bar in Cincinnati: 2

Mix CDs made: 3

Doctor Who courses taught: 1

Doctor Who Experiences in Wales: 1

Boyfriends obtained: 1

Monkey went with me.

The most dapper on-site coordinator

Things I want in 2018: 8

More movies, more plays, more comedy, more time with friends, more countries, more adventures, more new recipes, more sleep.

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The Continuing Adventures of Karma’s Dating: Entry 77
Dec 25th, 2017 by Dr Karma

I hate having to go into my boyfriend’s office. Everywhere one looks, there are naked and nearly naked women–there are three pin-up calendars, signed posters from porn stars, etc.

One day, I had to give up when looking for scissors because I was way too distracted by how many pubic regions I could see from every angle of the room.

Now, I have some pictures of male stars on my computer (David Tennant saying “You Should be Writing,” for example), but they are clothed.

My boyfriend thinks I shouldn’t be upset about the walls of boobs because he knows all of these women and has slept with most of them.

Yes–you read that right.

He thinks it should bother me less that he has naked pictures of his exes in his office than just random naked women. (These are the only pictures of humans in the house–no friends or family.)

(And yes, he’s slept with a lot of models and porn stars.)

I don’t mind people having pictures of their exes. I have pictures of mine. They’re mixed in with the many, many pictures I have of friends and family around the house.

However, one can walk through my house without seeing any of their erect, throbbing penises.

Today, I’m trying a compromise. One of my boyfriend’s presents is two posters of me–one of his favorite picture of me, the other is KarmaZuul. Alas, I don’t have any naked ones, as I’m not a porn star or exotic dancer, though I’ve played them before. Am pretty sure Costco doesn’t want to make a giant poster of a naked me, either.

Readers, I’m gonna take over the wall.

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What I Learned in my Atwood Seminar
Dec 22nd, 2017 by Dr Karma

This quarter, I taught a seminar on Margaret Atwood–we read poetry and short fiction, but focused on The Handmaid’s Tale, Oryx and Crake, Alias Grace, and Hag-Seed. It was a great course, and my students were engaged.

A few observations:

  • the current socio-political climate came up during discussions of each book–they’re frighteningly apropos
  • I had to explain second wave feminism, female genital mutilation, the difference between r and x rated films, and many other fascinating things as they came up in discussion
  • my students think Alias is pronounced uh-lie-us
  • a couple of my students, prior to taking the course, thought “feminist” meant its opposite; when one kept saying the commander was being “so feminist,” we cleared it up

My favorite part of the course was on the last day, when we talked about what, if anything, we’d learned together. One of my students said that what all the texts had in common was a warning to pay attention–to wake up to the world around us and to do something about it.

Thank the universe for Atwood.

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On Days and Diaries
Dec 17th, 2017 by Dr Karma

I used to be good at keeping a diary.
Now, unless I’m traveling, I almost never do–except here, for you, which is different. This is not just a space for me–there is an audience with needs, to whom I give background, for whom I try to be coherent.
Diaries unfortunately lost their appeal for me when I was married in my late teens.
My brief disastrous marriage had a lot of wrong in it–readers might remember that my ex liked my looks a lot, but not me–not my smarts, not my drive. He misrepresented himself, hoping that marriage (and his god) would change me.
What I haven’t written about as much is his jealousy. We had a bad dynamic. I wanted to be trusted, but he wasn’t capable of giving it. I had watched my mother date possessive man after possessive man (most of whom were cheating on her), so I hated that sense of being watched, being accused. My ex’s mom had been cheated on too–and thus he said he couldn’t trust people.
And so there we were.
Our marriage deteriorated very quickly, and I pulled away emotionally. And I wanted out. And that caused his jealousy to rise. And that caused me to pull away and to want out more. And so on.
And then he started reading my diary. He justified it by saying that married people didn’t need secrets from each other–they were one flesh and all. As soon as I realized that I couldn’t have privacy in my home, I stopped writing.
But he kept reading, going back in time.
I remember once coming home to find him upset and jealous over some guy I’d had a crush on when I was fourteen.
Him: Why didn’t you write about me like that?
Me: I was 14!
I lost everything I wrote when I was younger, so that it couldn’t be used to pressure me, to judge me, to guilt me.
I burned my diaries.

 

 

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A few things that made my stomach hurt this week
Dec 9th, 2017 by Dr Karma

  • The Republican tax plan, especially the effect it will have on insurance, teachers, the poor, the middle class, blue states, etc. My taxes would go way up, and Alexander would soon find himself without insurance and without a path to grad school.
  • Al Franken’s resignation.
  • Republican support of a man who says that women shouldn’t have the vote, that Muslims can’t serve as lawmakers, that homosexuals should be jailed. . . and wasn’t there something about him being a sexual assaulter and harasser too?
  • The violence in the middle east, created by Trump’s nonsensical, unilateral decision to provoke it.
  • The Republican plan to go after social security, medicare, and medicaid next.
  • The California wildfires.
  • The fact that Republicans are going after wildfire disaster relief.
  • Trump pretending he gives a shit about civil rights, when he characterizes those who fight for civil rights now as traitors and praises Nazis as good people.
  • That Trump is still President.
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Finland’s Independence . . . and ours
Dec 6th, 2017 by Dr Karma

It’s Finnish Independence Day! In fact, it’s the 100th anniversary.

Happy Anniversary, Finland!

On this day in 1917, Finland broke free from Russia. Historically, Finland had to break free a lot–its neighbors didn’t respect it, but the Finn’s sisu (a uniquely Finnish characteristic involving perseverance and stubbornness and quiet resolve) has freed it time and again and kept its culture and language unique.

(Independence did not, by the way, stop Russia from re-invading during WWII. And for some reason, the Finns had to pay a war debt for defending their own country. Apparently, since the allies won, and since Russia was an ally, the Finns were supposed to just say, “sure, c’mon in, the sauna is all warmed up for you.”)

When I was in Finland several years ago, I spotted this painting in the national museum:

I was drawn to it immediately.

“Yeah, girl! Protect that book!”

Of course, I discovered it wasn’t just celebrating bibliophilia.

The woman is the maiden of Finland, defending the rule of law against the Russian eagle.

As we celebrate Finnish independence today, let’s all take a moment to consider the sad fact that we need a picture just like this, with the Statue of Liberty instead. Or Mueller. Or a donkey.

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The Continuing Adventure’s of Karma’s Dating: Entry 76
Nov 26th, 2017 by Dr Karma

I know that I’ve complained a lot about all of the guys out there who have wanted to change me, from the strangers on the internet who want me to be the kind of person who will give them a chance, even though they’re smokers or dumb or married or dumb married smokers, to the men who have supposedly loved me but wanted me to change into someone who wants more children or who believes in female submissiveness or into a very unhappy submissive woman with lots of kids.

My boyfriend does hope that I’ll get more comfortable with the “m” word one day, but on the whole, he accepts me for who I am.

I should therefore feel a lot more guilty about not accepting some of his particular shortcomings.

But I do want to change him.

He’s a brilliant, talented, sexy, successful man, but he had never seen Outlander. He’d never watched Sherlock or Doctor Who. He’d never even heard of One Mississippi or Maria Bamford or Stranger Things.

At the risk of being a cliche, I am now a woman on a mission to change a man, to improve him for the better, for both our sakes.

 

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Before I Moved to California
Nov 18th, 2017 by Dr Karma

Before I moved to California, I had never

had Indian food

had decent wine (you know, the kind from a bottle instead of a jug or box)

met an out kinky or poly person

had gin

met a Hmong person

had goat cheese (or any good cheese, really)

had lamb

had been able to send my son to a school where they had enough money for classroom supplies like toilet paper and thus didn’t make each family buy a big list of stuff

tasted Thai food

met a Jewish person

had Vietnamese food

experienced a drought

known there were “asian” pears–and that they’re awesome!

had a good tomato that hadn’t been refrigerated prior to serving

seen heavy snow

seen an apple in the grocery store that wasn’t a Granny Smith or the ironically named Red Delicious

met an out transgender person

understood how black and white my upbringing had been

tried Afghani food

had to think about writing less American-centric prompts, since I only had American students

met a Sikh person

felt an earthquake (although it was so minor that I thought it was the neighbors waking me up with exceptionally brief sex that shook the wall)

had the opportunity to join a union

gone wine tasting

had access to healthcare as an adult

 

Some of this is because I was in Florbama . . . there are more cosmopolitan areas of Florida.

Some of this is because I was raised fairly white trash. It’s probably possible to get decent wine and cheese in Florida–I just didn’t see it.

 

But still–I had never had INDIAN FOOD!

If I had consistent access to grouper out here, y’all, I might never go back home.

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A “me too” story
Oct 21st, 2017 by Dr Karma

When my best friend of many years came to visit me and, by default, the guy I was living with when I was 19, he kept making “jokes” about threesomes.

During one of the “jokes,” he grabbed her breasts.

If he’s on social media right now, he’s shaking his head at all of his female friends saying, “me, too.”

He’s astounded at what men do to women.

I know him.

Unfortunately, I was briefly married to him.

So I know he’s not thinking about having assaulted and harassed my friend.

He thinks he has never done that. That he never would do something we would label that way.

He thinks he’s a good person. In many ways, he is. He is generally kind, generally generous, etc.

And he’s religious–very religious.

And that’s part of the problem–he thinks that because he goes to church, he’s a good person.

He doesn’t see the way in which evangelical Christianity is at odds with treating women with actual respect.

Once, we had an argument about “chivalry.” He’s Southern (like me), and he thought it was the right way to be.

Me: But answer me honestly.

Him: Okay.

Me: Do you go out of your way to open doors and stuff for fat middle-aged women?

Him: No.

Me: Then it’s not about respecting women. You “chivalrous” guys treat young women like me differently–and part of it is so you can have a chance to be physically close to us, to talk to us, to have us smile at you.

Marrying him was one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done, and I won’t go into all the ways and reasons here, but he had pretended (lied) about believing in equality before we got married.

And then when we did, he said words like “submit.” He said he had “hoped God would change [my] heart” after a marriage based on that lie–that I wouldn’t believe in what I believed in anymore.

In his mind, he was a good man.

In believing myself equal, I was a bad woman.

Even though, “in the image of God created he them, male and female.”

Until he got with his current wife, he came to me with his dating problems, even though I all could do was laugh at him sometimes. Like most people his age, he slept around. Then, he’d say things like this: “I really like this one, so I talked to her and we’re going to try not to have sex anymore. It’s what God would want.”

I never could get him to see the strangeness of that logic or any of his logic about how he interacts with women.

Once, he came to me worried that a woman was going to call the police. He had run into a girl he knew in high school at a club. He had always wanted to fuck her. When she left, drunk, he followed her home, to make sure she was safe. He said she invited him in.

The next morning, she asked how he got there, how he got in, and if they had had sex.

I don’t know what happened, really.

But I know that he thinks he’s never assaulted anyone.

I know he thinks he’s one of the few good Christian men who treat women right.

But I also know that one day, after dropping my son off, long after our divorce, he made a move on me. His desire for “ex sex” was something he’d commented on before–I had made my lack of interest clear.

I asked him to leave.

He moved closer.

I asked him to leave again.

He moved closer.

I told him that if he came any closer, I would punch him in the face.

He left, after I punched him in the face.

I’m lucky that he didn’t punch back–that he didn’t force himself on me.

He probably thinks that’s where the line is–that he’s not guilty of anything because he’s never used force.

I tell this story not because he’s the worst or most dangerous or most threatening man who’s ever done something to me.

Far from it.

I tell this story because my grandmother died thinking the worst thing I ever did was to leave him, because he was such a good Christian man–and because he knows that’s what she thought.

And because he thinks it too.

 

 

 

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