Everything That Happened on my First Day of Burnout After I Said I'd Go to Rehab

March 15th, 2018

Montréal, Québec, Canada

Wake at 5:30 freaked out that I’ve done something terrible and messed up. My mind is spinning wildly: what will I do without alcohol? No more fun. I like it so much. I really want it. Do I have to give it up completely? Start brainstorming on titles for my next blog post and write them in the notes in my phone:

“Life Without You”

“Relapse: The Delayed Promise of Supreme Joy”

 “The Warmest Embrace”  

Then a feeling of dread: Do I deserve this burnout and should I be allowed this time off? What will everyone at the office think? Are they all angry at me? I hate being gossiped about. Feel angry that my best friend _____ isn’t present for me in this moment. Hurt that she hasn’t checked in for weeks and wonder if she’s tired of me. Re-read our last texts and they’re loving and friendly. Maybe we’re just in this “ebb” like she said she wanted. Maybe she feels better without me because sometimes I feel less judged without her, and then oftentimes I feel worse. Think she’d probably be proud I’m going to rehab because months ago she said I had “great coping mechanisms” but not enough professional support. She wanted me to go to AA or Al-Anon but I hate the groupthink and feel burnt by my experience with AA; there’s not enough critical, nuanced thought in the rooms. Feel resentful of her for a little bit but then wonder if it’s because I feel powerless at the moment so I quickly surrender it. 

Lay there a few hours like this. Hear upstairs neighbours and don’t feel angry at the noise now that the woman and I have had friendly text contact. Feel comforted by their presence somehow. Put my pyjamas back on which I’d taken off in the middle of the night after I felt too hot. My white cotton sheets are too cold but then my hormonal body gets too hot. My boobs have been sore for a week and aren’t letting up. Get up around 7 and look in the bathroom mirror—I’m surprised how pretty my hair is this morning. Legs a little sore from yoga the evening before.  

Put on kettle, put two bamboo scoops of matcha in a large cup, add boiling water and whisk it up. Sip it while writing a few “appreciations” in my journal. Start boiling the lentils I soaked overnight. Cut up broccoli and put steamer pan above lentils to cook it. Put water in other sauce pan to boil last egg in fridge and eat with steamed broccoli. Eat egg, guacamole, salsa, and broccoli while reading my diet book. Drink rest of tea and feel sleepy. 

Put on hoodie and go back to bed. Wake two hours later to like 11 text messages from ________—he’s freaking out about our tentative plan to drive to Vermont on Saturday, my diet cheat day, and try different cheeses; writes that he has too much to do and can’t go. I’m annoyed with him for being such an agreeable pushover with loose boundaries and don’t write him back. Lately, I’ve been communicating with him a lot because he always wants to hear about my elaborate nighttime dreams but his need to please is boring because there’s nothing to push against. Last night when he shared that he’s questioning how much of his life he wasted doing things he doesn’t love, I felt coldly turned off by his vulnerability even though I initiated that thought for him the week before when I asked what he would be doing if money was no object and he responded with “bartending, working in the forest”, occupations that weren’t even remotely close to his computer work and city dwelling. I didn’t tell him in the moment but this admission at the age of 45 made him seem hopelessly undetermined. I realize all of this annoyance, boredom and judgment are at the heart of my problems with intimacy. 

There are a few messages from a female colleague named __________. She asks to go to lunch. I write back that I’m at home on burnout and about to enter a rehab program. Tell myself to get up and shower and then say aloud, “Today, we’ll go back to the hospital to get the tests and the prescription filled.” I talk to myself aloud using “we” when I’m feeling detached and avoidant. In the shower, I feel the warm water curl around my body like a hug. It feels good. After the shower, I dry off with beige Turkish towel and put on a white waffle bathrobe I bought at the Monoprix in Paris in 2013. I take out raw pork tenderloin, carrots and yellow cauliflower from the fridge, cut open the package and put the piece of pork in a baking pan, pour oil over it, rub in a bit of thyme and salt. I cut up the vegetables and put them in the pan with the pork, turn the oven on to 350F. I cover the pan with an old piece of tinfoil from the day before that’s still reasonably clean and put it in the oven.

My phone rings and it’s ______. I speak to her about being off work for three weeks and she’s supportive which is a relief. Tell her I’ll start an outpatient rehab and also deal more deeply with other mental health issues I haven’t been able to address. She agrees that I have mental health issues and I feel defensive and hurt but continue telling her how difficult things have become, how anxious, paranoid and confused I feel on a daily basis and how I’m getting worse.

Half an hour has passed while we talk and I take the cooked pork loin and vegetables out of the oven. Check the inside of the meat and it’s a faint, iridescent pink but cooked to perfection. I cut a slice and eat it. She tells me about her personal issues and I listen while eating more pork and vegetables which have become sweet and candied in the oily pan. I suggest she see a therapist because “It’s important we have objective support through times of extreme change and stress.” She agrees and asks if we can hang out next week. I suggest tea, she counters with meeting in a bar where she can be pretty and look at men and get attention. I agree to do it even though I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to go to a bar when I’m trying to get sober again and in detox but my boundaries aren’t bouncy enough to spring to attention when I need them. At the same time, I understand that this is how she wants to deal with feeling rejected by the man she’s having a love affair with, and some part of me wants to be pretty, too. But I never feel pretty in bars because I believe you have to be thin to be attractive in a bar setting, or drunk, or both. When you’re thin, you’re under the constant gaze of every man present and when you go to a bar with a thin friend, or friends, they usually don’t have energy for deep conversation because they’re focused on being the central focus of the men in the bar. I have come to accept that I don’t like conversations unless they’re deep even though this is something I don’t always enjoy about myself.

I get off the phone feeling a little sore about her agreeing that I have mental health issues but also annoyed at myself for always being so transparent, especially with women I’m not sure I trust. I put on a pair of black wool pants with puffy front pockets and a white, V-neck t-shirt by Maje—it has very pretty gathered shoulders which make my arms look a bit thinner and a decorative neck with flecks of sparkly silver and green. I put a dark green cardigan over the t-shirt and pull on black socks. I’m dressed like a small child but I like the look for a day visit to the hospital. My hair is wavy, bangs straight in my eyes. I put on a little bit of makeup so I don’t feel too exposed.

I eat a bite of pork and vegetables then wrap it up in the tinfoil and put it back in the fridge. I brush my teeth and spray on mimosa perfume, a sample by Joe Malone from about a year ago when I felt stressed and wanted nice things from nice department stores in my vanity to make me feel better. I haven’t bought things like that for a few months now; my money is now carefully accounted for on a daily basis. I gather up all my medical documents and hospital card plus the Alice Munro book I’m reading and put them in my bag. I decide to wear sneakers instead of boots even though it’s snowing outside. I feel like having comfortable feet in the metro and waiting rooms. I put on a brown coat with red lining and walk outside. There’s a bit of ice on the sidewalk and it feels good to be outside in the fresh air, bits of snow blowing around like white dust.

I check the time and it’s 2:22. I’m really sensitive to repetitions of numbers, or patterns of numbers. Like if there are 3 or 4 of the same number in a row, I’m on the right path and each number represents different types of paths. If they’re numbers in perfect numerical order, like 1:23 I’m taking the right steps. 5:55 seems to be the most magical of the repeat number series, 1:11 appears most frequently. 2:22 is very reassuring. Once I saw 18:18 on a 24-hour clock somewhere and thought it was beautiful and original as a series because it added up to 9 ad infinitum and the number 9 makes me smile.

I arrive at the St. Henri metro station and take off my snowy hat and scarf, shake them out. I pause for a moment before taking the Montmorency direction and remind myself to change directions on the Green line at Lionel-Groulx, the opposite direction of how I normally go to work every day. I’m amazed at how many people are milling about, wonder what the 2:30-afternoon crowd is: shift workers? Students? Single moms on welfare? New immigrants? Everyone is wearing dark coats and the effect of this under the bright cathedral ceiling and colourful tiles is that people become void anti-beings. Winter induces discomfort because humans must turn in on themselves, plus the grit and dust of leftover sidewalk and street salt sucks all the moisture, or the life, out of every indoor environment.

I get out at De L’Église station and begin walking to Verdun Hospital. Outside, I hear one girl say to another in white-girl English, “Yeah, like, the professors honestly DO NOT get it.” Students, yes! That time in life when you think you know everything and mill about cities you didn’t grow up in talking shit with your friends. What an awful time. I wonder if, like ___, I also secretly regret all the decisions I’ve made in the last 20 years and if I’d “do it all over again with the mind I have now” as he said on the phone. With the exception of not letting myself be a writer and artist much earlier, I’m very understanding of why I chose to have a career as a copywriter. It was clearly an unskippable stage of life because it got me an apartment with comfortable furniture and health insurance I could burn out on so now I’m finally able to see psychiatrists and doctors about lifelong anxiety and paranoia, relationship issues, and excessive substance abuse. Soon I’ll tell doctors equipped to deal with anxious, fragile people that I’m terrified of contact with nearly everyone, and that my heart rate increases when I receive text messages because I’m afraid someone is going to be angry or critical of me, especially if I’ve told them something emotionally resonant. If I hadn’t built the stable platform I stand on today, would I have ever believed myself deserving of this level of rest and care? I can’t yet picture what kind of life I’d have if I were an artist first and office worker second. My words and creativity and yearnings as an artist do manage to leak into my professional work, but I do not yet walk in the shoes of a true artist.

I enter the hospital and get turned around in all the strange corridors looking for the blood lab. There are brightly coloured signs indicating each section of the hospital. Wonder who has that job making those signs? Colours and patterns and numbers—I feel like that’s the kind of puzzle I’d enjoy solving every day. An elderly couple come out of a door and I wait a moment for them to pass. She’s distressed, he’s holding her arm and listening lovingly. I get to the blood lab and there’s only one woman ahead of me—she looks young from behind because she has dark black roots on really bleached blond but when she turns around, she’s shrivelled and worn out. Only one person! This is great. I came at the perfect time. A nurse walks by and says I smell good. When the weird screen with the random numbers dings with my number, I go to the counter and the reception woman says dryly, “Not many people smell good around here so it’s nice when people smell nice.” I say, “Yeah I put on perfume to make people happy.” None of the numbers on the screen have interesting patterns.

I can’t help but think some very un-PC thoughts looking at the ugly people in the waiting room: why would life choose to live itself out in a smoky, shrivelled poor lady who speaks repetitively about the various rules and regulations at social services? Why does God come into the planet in the form of someone beaten down and ugly and desperate, someone simple and struggling? And why am I facially unmarred and clean and sweet smelling? In all of life’s infinite complexity and variation, why does life choose to be rejected by other great swaths of life? What does life achieve when some parts of life, the parts at the “top” continue to get more rich and more beautiful, and others nearer to the “bottom” stay stuck and rejected? Believe me, I don’t allow myself thoughts like these very often and make a point to greet everyone’s spirit in the metro in the morning so I don’t resort to finding them annoying and ugly. 

I keep flashing to when I told my boss a few weeks earlier that “God came through my fingers” and she scoffed and looked at me like I was completely insane. I quickly clarified and said, “Not like a man in the sky but the process of pure creation”. Because modern, educated people are so deeply uncomfortable with spirituality and the idea of God, I felt more embarrassed about saying that than the other shameful reasons I was sitting in front of her getting scolded for my drunk antics and big mouth. But also: am I legitimately crazy? 

I’m finally called into the blood lab and the beautiful Middle Eastern nurse with big eyes asks me to take my coat off and roll up my sleeves. I take off my coat and sweater and put them on the table beside me. She continues her conversation with the other nurses as she ties the strap around my bicep and gets the needle ready. “Un, deux, trois…” she inserts a needle and puts a little vial on the end and blood starts filling it. I look at the thick, dark blood then look away because it occurs to me that I can’t put new blood back in—that my blood is gone forever. She takes the first vial off and puts on a second while chatting about the eye-rolling antics of her conjoint, partner, with the other nurses. A man enters who wasn’t called and they all seem to know him by name. He’s old and greasy and has rotten teeth. He’s wearing a brand new McGill University hoodie which is a very odd contrast with the rest of him. They tell him his number hasn’t been called yet and to please return to the waiting room. These nurses are probably the only people who give him attention all day and I sense a tenderness in their stern instruction. People who work in health services are actual living saints. When I was fifteen, I told my auntie Linda I wanted to be a nurse and travel the world with the International Red Cross and she said: “Your grandma was a nurse and let me tell you, you need to have a certain disposition to be a nurse, it’s a very, very tough job.” I guess she knew I didn’t have whatever disposition that is and I went on to study political science and French because I thought it was a good idea to study something “intellectual” so I could get a government job.

The nurse gives me a plastic cup and another vial labeled with my name and healthcare card number and tells me to go to the bathroom, pee in the cup, then pour the pee into the little vial and leave it in the tray outside the bathroom. “Pour it into this?” I respond, holding up the little vial. She nods. Gross! Why does my doctor ALWAYS make me get pregnancy tests? She never believes me when I tell her I have really irregular periods. Yesterday she just said, “It would be stupid and negligent for me not to give you the test.” I go into the middle bathroom which I immediately regret because it’s much smaller than the two end bathrooms which I’ve used other times I’ve been here. I can barely get turned around to hang up my coat, scarf and bag. It smells and there are watermarks of other people’s urine on the counter. I really, really have to pee so depositing the urine into the cup is no problem but then where the hell do you put the cup while finishing? The whole operation is really unpleasant and the bathroom so cramped that I’m basically leaning my head over the open garbage can the entire time looking at other people’s pee cups and wet towels. I finish and madly scrub my hands and arms with soap and cold water till they burn with the frigidness of the water. There aren’t any hand towels so I have to dry my hands on the back of my shirt (can’t dry them on wool pants!) and now my backside feels cold and wet. I throw out the plastic cup and rinse the vial then dry it with toilet paper.

I put the vial in the tray outside the bathroom and tell the volunteer attendant that there aren’t any hand towels in the 2nd bathroom. I leave the blood clinic and walk to the family clinic to ask my doctor’s clerk the name of the rehab because when she said the name yesterday, I was in such a state of shock and disarray, I forgot it. I come up the stairs into the waiting room and there is a man who reeks of pure cigarette smoke waiting in the middle of the corridor. There’s also a cute couple with their tiny baby sitting nearby. The daddy is playing with the baby, bouncing it in his lap and as it reaches for a button lapel on his jacket, he jolts it a little so it misses and they both giggle. I ask the African lady wearing a colourful scarf on her head at the reception desk if she can help me find out the name of the clinic I’m supposed to be receiving a call from and she asks me to speak a bit louder. I don’t want to announce to the entire waiting room that I’m an alcoholic so I quietly repeat that my doctor gave me some information yesterday that I’ve forgotten and she directs me to the next door to ask the secretary there. The woman looks irritated but searches my birth date and name and tells me the name of the centre and I write it in my phone notes, thank her and leave. 

Walking back to the metro with my taped-up inner elbow itching, I talk to myself a little: “Okay so now we’re going to go get your prescription.” As I’m riding the train, I start recording my day down in the notes in my phone. I’ve been reading Karl Ove Knausgaard’s “My Struggle” series and am inspired to challenge myself to write out an entire day. It’s engaging to be drawn into the mundane details of his daily life and have access to his private thoughts. I’ve been completely engrossed and inspired by his writing style. Apparently it’s very Proustian but I’ve never read Proust. I actually compare it to Elena Ferrante’s writing because she puts us so deeply into her character’s daily lives and their minds and the greater political and social realms they inhabit. I guess I’ve tried to achieve something of the sort with my book but it doesn’t even come close to what Knausgaard or Ferrante have done.

We likely started writing our books around the same time but he’s also an older, award-winning author with critical success and fame. He’s a “real writer” in that sense. I always compare myself to people like that because I chose to have a corporate career and write when I can. Recently though, in feeling this burnout coming on like a giant tsunami wave, or like an overhead bombing (both images from recent dreams), I’ve been wondering if the thousands upon thousands of words I produce in my job actually empty me of all the words? I used to think that I was right on the edge of my dreams because I got paid to write all day, but now in this vat of emptiness and supreme fatigue, I’m questioning this logic because if my words come from deep inside me, then giving them to corporations might be working against my soul’s better interest. And yet, what if I didn’t have the stability that my word-giving talent has permitted me? Would I even have the confidence to believe that I was a worthwhile writer?

Sometimes people at agency say that my words are good and powerful and I honestly assume that’s how powerful every copywriter’s words are because the words I give to my professional work have to come from a cubicle inside me, filtered through layers and layers of marketing strategy and images I didn’t choose and concepts I didn’t come up with and a massive hierarchy of other people’s needs, so I can’t understand how anyone could find them powerful. I suppose they’re as pure as I can make them given the heavy and challenging circumstances of what I put out every day.

I come out of the Lionel-Groulx metro station and wait at the crosswalk for the light to change. A man almost steps out but then notices a cop car across the street and stops himself. I mouth silently to myself “Don’t do it dude, there’s a cop there.” I go into the pharmacy and drop off my prescription for some pills that are supposed to help me sleep better. I walk around with the little buzzer they give you and pick up some probiotics because my diet book says that the brain in your gut contains more serotonin than your actual brain and since I’ve been feeling low and depressed, it can’t hurt to supplement with some healthy bacteria. My beeper buzzes and I walk to the counter to get my drugs. The pharmacist assistant is a larger girl with dark hair on her upper lip and pudgy hands. I like her soft, withheld energy and have the urge to hold her and tell her how beautiful she is.

The pharmacist tells me that they’re an anti-depressant but that I should only take the pills before bed because the dose won’t do anything but make me sleepy. I place the paper bag with both bottles of pills in my bag and make my way out of the back door. The sun has come out and I put on my cheap H&M sunglasses I had to buy after I lost my $300 Ray-Bans while very drunk on gin martinis a few weeks ago after work. I’m still furious with myself for losing those glasses, but __ got me a new pair for half price from his friend in Vancouver who is a Ray-Ban rep. I’ll pay him back the $123 when he gets them in the mail—I thought the amount was a really nice number and so, according to the numbers, digging into my precious savings to pay for these new (but old) sunglasses was “the right step”. On the phone, I told him that I only wanted to be friends even though we slept together while I was extremely drunk on those gin martinis the night I lost my sunglasses and he said, “Yeah Carmen I knooow, it’s not like I want to be your husband or something!” and I found it funny how people will tell you exactly what they want when they’re telling you what they don’t want.

I walk to the Atwater Market to get a few groceries. I enter the dried goods store and it smells wonderful, like spices and roasted nuts and chocolate. I love it in here because of the scents but also because the attendants are always in the best mood. I come down the small staircase and a young woman working there is chatting quite loudly in English with the other guy worker, he’s older than her and wears a wool hippie hat.

“I don’t know, like I just don’t get why people go see a band like Muse, I’d never go see Muse or The Black Keys, like I tried to watch The Black Keys once and couldn’t get into it,” she says.

“Yeah but Muse is really well-known for excellent live shows, like they’re known for that,” he says back.  

“Oh really? I just wouldn’t go out of my way to see them.” I smile because I really like how I’m kind of part of their conversation in this wonderful dried goods store in the late afternoon at the market.

“Excuse me, where can I get some miso?” I gently step in her direction.

She leads me to a fridge behind her and asks what kind.

“The cheapest I guess.”

“Oh take this one here, it’s $6 compared with the other ones and it’s just as good.”

“Oh it’s Japanese, too!” I say.

“Yeah!”

I go into the next room packed full of gourmet pastas and teas and the two continue their conversation about music. I am truly happy I am to be a tiny part of their day today. I browse the teas but decide not to buy any and turn around to pick up some nori for the spicy miso soup I’m going to make. There’s a long lineup of people speaking both French and English to their partners and the lady at the register and this fills me with supreme joy for the city I’ve chosen to make my tiny life in, for how we city dwellers traverse these linguistic lanes every day with humility and tenderness. Being with strangers on a Thursday afternoon is a sublime gift and I feel as if I could wait here all day to be served because I am so, so lucky and the spirits are alive and they do love me.

I take my bags and make my way out of the market. I pick up my phone when I’m almost out the door to call my friend ______ and let her know I’m off work on burnout and about to enter a rehab program. I feel like she’ll want to know about my wellness and since she’s retired, she’ll be able to keep me company during the day. I feel guilty sometimes when I look at my phone in public places, especially open markets where one should make eye contact with the sellers and absorb the beautiful colours of the fruits and vegetables. It rings a few times and _____ picks up, “Hey honey, is everything okay?” She sounds concerned.

“Yeah, yeah it’s fine, it’s fine I’m just, well I’m off work because I'm burned out and freaked out and also I’m going to do a rehab thing and well I just wanted to tell you because I thought you’d want to know and thought maybe we could meet up soon.”

“Okay thanks for letting me know, dear, I’m just here at my sister’s with my mom and can’t talk now but I’ll call you tomorrow, okay?”

“Sounds good, thanks a lot, I appreciate it.”

“You take care of you, okay? I love you and we’ll talk soon.”

"Thank you, I love you, too."

I get choked up saying goodbye because I always cry when people show me care.  

I walk in the cold wind with my bags and turn west onto Notre Dame street. I decide to stop at Sumac to get some of their chicken and salads because they won’t have carbs in them and my new diet is basically no carbs, sugar, or dairy for 6 days a week then full-fat cheat day one day a week. I come into the warm restaurant and there are lots of tables available. There’s a white business man sitting at the high counter with his laptop cable stretched across the passage where people line up to order—his stuff is piled up and spread everywhere. A sweet-mannered Asian guy standing in front of me with a group of three women is unwittingly standing on the cable and the business man looks annoyed and gets up to unplug it and mumbles under his breath about standing on it. What a moron.

I see a girl I used to know a few years ago is working and I don’t feel like talking to her so I avoid eye contact. She’s lost a lot of weight and looks really happy. Isn’t that how all small, thin women feel? Loved? I know she has a rich boyfriend who has a successful local clothing company and they’re friends with other nice-looking young couples with jobs in food and fashion and they go to nice restaurants together and drink wine they can name and take pictures of their #bliss for Instagram. They live in nice apartments or condos they own and go for Sunday dinners with their parents, and take trips to Italy or Spain for friend’s weddings and cuddle with their designer dogs and cats in the evening after working hard. I order a few items then find an empty table for four and awkwardly put my bags and coat down. I take out the Alice Munro book I’m reading but get distracted by continuing to record my entire day on my phone and can’t wait to go home and write it all out for real. Maybe I’ll post it as a blog? No, too personal. I could even submit it as a creative piece of writing for a literary journal. Wonder how many words it’ll come to?

My friend _____ in San Diego sends a text to ask how I’m doing and attaches a photo of a book she’s reading. I say I’m tired, meh, out running errands. She asks if we can chat on the phone for a bit and I tell her I’ll call on my way home. I finish most of the chicken, all of the lamb chickpea soup and a few bites of the beet salad and ask for the rest to be wrapped up. I leave the restaurant and the wind is blowing fiercely but the sun is shining. This weather reminds me of walking home from grade school under a mid-afternoon burning sun that warms the face as the wild wind slices it. I notice a lot of the old stores on Notre Dame are shuttered up or for rent. The neighbourhood is changing fast. I always find it funny when middle class bougie people comment critically on gentrification because honestly, do these same people really frequent the old mattress stores, or gets massages at the Chinese massage places, or eat regular meals at greasy spoon diners? The “creative class”, they love to fetishize places where “the people” shop for mattresses and buy sexy massages and eat fries and gravy as decorative art pieces of lower class realness. I bought a mail-order Casper mattress like pretty much every other person I know these days, I get my massages at nice spas, and haven’t been to a greasy spoon in years (though they were always great for hangovers I got after being out at fancy bars).

 ______ and I talk all the way home. I’m trying to remember everything we’re saying verbatim but between the wind that keeps cutting me off mid-sentence and the frazzled, anxious nature of everything that’s pouring out of my mouth, I concede that my talent for remembering conversations is much lower than recording my thoughts and actions. I come in the door, drop my bags off on the kitchen counter, take my coat off, then come into the living room and lay on the couch as we continue chatting. We always talk a lot about where we are emotionally, what we’re facing in intimate relationships, how we’re growing. She gives me an enormous amount of space and understanding and because we speak so frequently, it always feels easy to catch her up on whatever is going on. She said that my choice to enter rehab is really courageous and good. She gives me an analogy about how when we move past the closed, protected egoic self and out into the community to ask for help, it’s massive growth. This is what my best friend _______ was referring to when she suggested I get more professional help, or community support, and it’s what I constantly resist because it’s very vulnerable to tell doctors and psychiatrists and professionals about how much pain and paranoia I experience. I want to fix it with all the resources I have available to me in my own world, but this time, I admit that I need people more than ever. This seems to be an improvement in my ongoing issues with intimacy.

We get off the phone and I feel a bit better than I did earlier. I open my email and check the documents I’ll need the doctor to sign, enter my purchases from that day into my Excel spreadsheet, and then put the groceries away. I eat the rest of the chicken from lunch and peel a couple of carrots to munch on while listening to a podcast called “Inner Hoe Uprising”. It’s an interview with a queer trans woman who identifies as Asexual. She explains all the nuances and complexities of different queer and kink identities and the two hosts ask really good questions. It’s all a bit beyond me but I find the queer world really comforting because they always explore boundaries and seem to be really good at setting them and there’s an open boundary practice that’s missing in the hetero world. I keep trying to set my own, especially with men, but it’s a huge challenge. I write some notes on my diet calendar then read a bit of the fourth Knausgaard book. I’m getting sleepy so I lay on the couch and put on a movie with Kate Winslet and that insanely hot actor Matthias Schoenaerts called “A Little Chaos” because I like the title. I manage to watch about 30 minutes before falling asleep.

I wake to the music of the end credits and pour myself a bath, putting a bit of rose oil in it. I make a clay mask with the powdered clay _____ sent me a year ago, mixing it up with apple cider vinegar then lather it all over my face and neck. I get into the bath and my freezing cold toes and hands burn and tingle. My poor circulation continues to be poor. I pick up the Anne Carson poetry book “Glass Irony and God” sitting on the mirrored table with my oils and perfumes. I read a poem or two, put the book back down, then wash the clay off my face and get out, dry with the Turkish towel, put on my pyjamas, brush my teeth, turn off all the lamps in my living room and get under the down comforter. I fluff the pillows and turn off the lamp. I’m exhausted but my mind is still spinning out about a million things and wonders if everyone is disappointed in me and what am I going to do and it takes me a few hours to fall asleep, but eventually I do.