Friday, May 13, 2005


I finally responded to comments...go check if you wrote me!

So much to catch up on. Random thoughts:

* Listened to Jonesy's Jukebox yesterday, where Aimee Mann was a guest. Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols (an amazing DJ - see if they're streaming on Indy 103.1 in LA) was playing acoustic with her and they were talking about musicianship. I love listiening to real musicians - such a stark contrast to corporate pop.

Anyway, he was asking her how she got started, and basically when she was 18 she could only play a few Dylan songs on her guitar, so she took a 7 week course at that Berklee music school to see if she had any writing talent. Then Jonesy asked her if she could read cleffs, and she said she wasn't great at reading or writing music. Which lead them to discuss the difference between the two, and how everyone they knew trained on classical could only read and play but couldn't write - that those skills go into a different part of your brain. Which made my jaw drop. I trained on classical piano for 12 years and was pretty good, but as soon as I really started studying, I stopped writing and improving on the piano. Totally lost that ability. Still can't pick anything up by ear, but by God I can still sight read a medium-difficult Chopin or Bach piece. Interesting.

* Saw Kathy Griffin's Allegedly last night. FUNNNNNY. Highly recommended.

* We've finally found someone to help Mom around the house. Lukas, our handyman saint/actor on Everwood is going to have his sister and her friend come over several times a week. I'm so thankful. So Brenda and I will finally have some time to work on our own chores.

* Speaking of stress - if you're a squeamish male, stop reading now - for the first time in my life I skipped two periods. Which completely freaked me out. Ovarian cancer? Menopause? Something worse? Saw my doctor yesterday, and she said it was sort of a bonus for getting older and still being on the pill. That a lot of women love that. Which seemed weird to me, because as a doctor's daughter I'm trained to be very wary of any sudden medical changes that you can't correlate to any prescription changes. But she did say it was my body screaming at me that there was something wrong in my life, that I should look at my weight and stress levels. To which I burst out laughing. Me have anything to be stressed about? I told my friend Charlie 16 months ago I was going to have a nervous breakdown if I didn't get a mini holiday. Guess what? Still haven't had one. Just been soldiering on.

She was also concerned that it might be from the small change in my thyroid medication. The thyroid controls so much brain chemistry, and because of my head injury my brain chemistry is all effed up and out of balance; something I'm constantly struggling with and responsible for if I want any semblance of a normal life. But I'm very happy we're going to be getting help around here, because basically I only have room in my life for three things at a time. Right now it's been Mom, UCLA screenwriting, and practicing socializing with friends. But if I want to lose weight, I have to take one of those things out to be able to add nutrition/exercise (which is a strain because really those are two categories). And if I want to get a job, it has to replace one of those three categories. So you can see my life is a constant juggling act where nothing much can ever really be accomplished.

It's so hard to explain to people how little energy I have or how just doing those three categories at a mediocre level requires 100% of my attention. People my age look at me strangely when they figure out I don't have a job or a boyfriend right now, but there's no room. Not unless I can hire someone to do the other things for me, which is what I did when I was successfully working at a corporation a few years ago. I made enough money to essentially hire an assistant to run the rest of my life, my second category was health, and my third category was nutrition and maintenance like chiropractors and neurofeedback and meditation classes to deal with the agonizing headaches from pushing myself beyond my physical limitations. And I never saw friends. Ever. I came home and went to bed and slept over the weekends. I remember my boss telling me I took work too seriously...he could never understand it was all I had in my life.

The thing about the three categories is, that might sound reasonable to some of you. But who I was before that drunk driver hit my car...I was taking 18 quarter units at UCLA, the equivalent of 18 units in acting classes outside of UCLA studying with William Alderson from the Neighborhood Playhouse, AND working stunts on Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers while training on the black belt path Tae Kwondo and Hapkido with Jun Chong. That was the kind of schedule I'd maintained since I was seven, always focused towards a career in film. And I was engaged. Typical Type A overachiever, with a dogooder complex all focused on changing the world through film. Then I got in a car accident and lost EVERYTHING, including any belief in God or a universal energy field or whatever.

I'm not sure why I'm explaining all this right now. I usually don't talk about my head injury because it freaks most people out. Also, when people found out I lost 20 IQ points and am still this smart...well, they don't see how tired I am all the time or how much I have to concentrate to look normal. It's a dangerous thing to talk about. I've been let go of from jobs when they've found out I was disabled. I've lost friends over it. I've had lovers and friends and my own lawyers use it against me. It's not a pretty thing to have thrown back in my face, especially when after seven years of intensive rehab (I call it my Jedi Master training) I'm the highest functioning patient my doctors have seen (the leftover high IQ, bulldog tenacity and belief in patient responibility and reasearch and alternative therapies helps). In some respects my memory is more reliable because I'm constanly documenting meetings/conversations. All those strategies I resented so much at first.

Okay, I'm done writing now. No clue why I'm saying any of this to you all. Probably reallly dangerous to have on the internet for posterity. Guess I like living on the edge. But maybe it could help someone. At some point I imagine I will get questions from other mild head injury survivors. The main fear is that I won't be hired for a job because of being outed - but I really am capable of a high level of quality work.

***New addition at 7:45. LDH sent me this link to But You Don't Look Sick, and I've never seen what my life is like explained more beautifully. Wow. If you know anyone who is chronically ill, you've got to read this to understand. Seriously, I'm sitting at home right now instead of at a good friend's party because my day didn't go the way I took five hours to get Mom to the doctor and back, so I ran out of spoons. Don't have the energy to shower and go to my friend's party, and I'm so worried she'll be mad at me.***

How depressing. Next time I'll tell you all about my stripper class!


Andrew Ironwood said...

Unu: I think where i went right in my piano lessons was the fact that (much to my various teachers' eternal consternation) I always rewrote all my assignments ("The ending to this phrase was pretty lame, so I changed it from one measure of 4/4 to two bars of 3/4...")

Du: For what it's worth, I've taken to using this as an explanation for physical/mental fatigue...

Tri: Is it permissable to say I'm *really* looking forward to hearing about the stripping class? (grin)...

Lynne said...

Sis, I did not know all the details of your injury and consequent challenges. I'm fairly new to your blog,and haven't read'em all, but knew there was a disability of some kind, and I am glad you expounded on it a bit.

You're a pretty amazing person, and I think I'd enjoy knowing you in the real-for-sure world. Keep working, thinking, doing..... I have a feeling your spititual self will return as well. I sense a huge spirit in you, therefore it will call you back to nurture it.

I'll be back to read.

Lynne said...

Wow. Spoons. I totally get it. That's my life too.

and my spoons are plastic.

Kid Sis said...

Ugh. I know what you mean. Hang in there! I've heard it described as pie slices before...but spoons makes much more sense.