April 5, 1994. Kurt Cobain killed himself. There’s an essay in me about that day, but I’m not writing it now. I’m just remembering how it led to almost two weeks of staying in bed, miserable, partially for Kurt but also for me.
I was nearly finished with my first academic year at UH Hilo, a difficult, challenging, almost desperate year headed for a glorious finish. I’d be awarded a creative writing award in a week or two. I had a cool summer job lined up. I was on the newspaper staff, and I’d made real friends — fellow English majors, the newspaper crew, and the campus ministry friends. Most importantly, I’d made enough progress that I was finally finally finally finally finally about to have senior status.
Two more semesters. All I had to do was get through two more semesters and eight years after graduating high school, I would finally have my bachelor’s degree.
In those ten or so days a month before finals week, I almost blew it. I went to bed and crawled out to eat, use the bathroom and somehow (somehow!) make it to my weekend job.
Side note: it’s not that surprising, really. In my history with this thing, I’ve always managed to get to work and do my job. I hadn’t had it long enough in 1994 to understand it yet, but this thing was low-grade, something I managed without counseling or medication. Not powerful enough to devastate me, but tough enough to mess up more than its fair share of semesters.
By this point in my college career, I at least knew enough about myself to know it was coming. So at the beginnings of all my semesters in Hilo, I made sure to get off to a really, really good start. To meet with professors during office hours, to make friends in class, and to establish enough goodwill to get me some mercy when I missed a week or two of classes. I turned long-term assignments in early.
I think often about this time, because it was one of those cases when this near-crippling burden had a reason, and when it felt miserable. Also, it’s one of the few I remember specifically because it’s tied to Kurt’s death.
I forget that most of them don’t feel miserable. They feel numb. I don’t stay in bed because I feel terrible; I stay in bed for no discernable reason. I get up and do things — go to work, make a meal, use the bathroom — and then go right back to bed, and it’s a relief. It’s nothingness, and it’s a relief.
I realized this evening that I’m in it. I was looking one way for dark clouds on the horizon and this other thing snuck up on me from the other direction. It’s been so long that I didn’t even realize it. I thought I was ill, and maybe I am, but it’s not just physical illness. Perhaps the emotional stuff was brought on by illness, or perhaps the two illnesses merely coincide, but dang it. It’s weird that I forgot what it was like.
Anyway it helps that I know what it is now. It doesn’t feel like it’ll last very long. Although who knows?
Work was difficult. In fact, I’m writing this now and then getting back to it. I didn’t return a few emails because I just didn’t want to deal with stuff. This is bad. I’ve got to clean this up before it gets really bad.
Food was good today. For breakfast I had the leftover mashed potatoes with green beans and corn. I made some turkey chili for lunch in the Instant Pot. It came out pretty great. I had it for dinner too. With hapa rice. I had five or six tiramisu Oreos for a snack, a few after lunch and a couple after dinner.
Lying in bed numb, I realized I’d just stay there if I didn’t get up and do something. So I went for a short walk — we’re talking fewer than 4000 steps. Just walked down the hill, put my Netflix DVD in the dropbox, walked around the neighborhood a little, then went to Long’s. I didn’t even need anything, but I spent $40 on some canned goods, some frozen food, and a bottle of local honey. Just to shop. Just to do something normal.
It was a small triumph. I’m glad I did it.
My first text message this morning was from AJ in San Diego. She sent me a tracking link for the puzzle she mailed me. She’s so funny. And adorable.
JB messaged me to tell me he and his son have a favorite Korean baseball team. In case you don’t know, the Korean Baseball Organization (don’t ask me why it has an English name with an English acronym) opened play this week, and ESPN is contracted to air their games, with American broadcasters doing play-by-play and color commentary. American sports fans are so starved for sports I expect it to be a big hit. I don’t have ESPN so I can’t watch, but I think it’s just as well.
Crush Girl texted me and I can’t say what we conversed about without giving away identifying info about her, but it was nice, and I was able to do her a long-distance small favor. It made me feel good. And it was nice to hear from her.
Okay. Insert my usual message here about reaching out if you’re having difficulty connecting. I may not respond right away, but I’ll get to you! I’m going to answer a few emails and get to bed.
Friday will be a better day!