It is 2:41 a.m., and I leave for India in four hours. As my last post mentioned, the past two weeks have been a whirlwind, and when I went to bed this evening, I was exhausted, hoping that the exhaustion would afford me a good night’s sleep. I awoke about an hour ago in a sweat. Last night I had another dream about my teeth falling out — this time they were hanging from their roots — which always happens when I am feeling anxious or out of control. An hour ago, I awoke thinking about all the things I had forgotten to do, all the fears and anxieties. I’m staying over at my friend LR’s house because we work together, and her husband is taking us to the airport at 5 a.m. this morning: two hours and fifteen minutes from now.

My body is completely exhausted, but my mind is so awake… it doesn’t know what pocket to stuff itself in right now because I’ve never been to India before. I’ve never been on the exact opposite side of the world. When anxiety overtakes me, I generally play a game with myself where I think up the worst case scenarios of the things I’m worried about, then I write about them so I can see the ridiculouness of my thought patterns. These thought patterns generally include, but are not limited to, virgin pregnancy, escaped mental patients lurking in my closet to rape me, and various explosions involving household appliances. I’m generally okay unwrapping the humor of these fears because I have a reality under which to interpret them: Ann, you are not bearing the anti-Christ in a sci-fi novel-like world, which means that you do not need to fear that the immaculately concepted being in your womb will eat his way out your navel using only his gums and friction. Ann, no one is lurking in your closet, because you don’t have a closet, and no one is behind your metal hanging rack except a few daddy-long-legs spiders. Ann, no household appliances have ever exploded on you before, and if they did… can you say financially stimulating lawsuit??? You’d probably have the money before your eyebrows grow back.

Only this time, regarding India, my anxieties are just swimming around in my head, without any previous experience to reel them in and gut them, then crackle them over a nice warm fire. The closest thing I can think of to India is my trip to Mexico City about four years ago, but then I did not have to confront the reality of forced prostitution or the cast system or be on the exact opposite side of the globe from my dad. I know that I will fall in love with the place, and perhaps that is the greatest anxiety of all, knowing that something will change your life, knowing that loving something demands promises. It is much easier to hate than to love because love demands things that are often not easy to feel.

And OH MY GOSH there is a giant bug in this room that just fluttered down to my computer screen. Ew. EW, EW, EW.

So, I hate smashing bugs, and I totally just handled that by opening the door, turning on the hall light, and letting the thing flutter its way toward the light, then closing the door. Genius, except now I don’t want to open the door to go use the restroom. In moments like these, I really wish I had a husband who could have killed the bug for me. Also, it may be nice to have someone turn on the light beside me and say, “Woman, you’re going to modern India, not to the year 1347 to confront the Bubonic Plague. Calm down.” Or, you know, if he didn’t know fascinating historical trivia (although who could marry a man who doesn’t?), he may roll over and say, “Woman, why are you reading Wikipedia articles at 3:15 a.m.?” Because, you know, I need that guy. Or maybe just an arm to slide around me right now. He wouldn’t have to say anything, just the phsyical contact to acknowledge that yes, dear, you’re slightly crazy, but even crazy people need their beauty sleep.

India or Bust

April 26, 2009

So, these past two weeks have been some of the craziest of my life. Last week was supposedly the craziest, but then I lived through this week, and this week definitely takes the trophy, and it still isn’t over. Did you hear me? It’s 12:46 a.m. on Sunday, and I’m still pretending like it’s last week. I will be pretending that it’s last week until 6:45 a.m. on Tuesday, April 28th, when I hop on a plane to India and will finally have a moment to relax. Did you hear me? I’m leaving for India in less than 72 hours, and I still have a billion things to do, but I am taking some time tomorrow to have fun.

Currently an acidophilus pill is dissolving in my stomach. The lights were out, and I laid in bed for about an hour before I decided that I’d better get up and do something because I can’t sleep. The last two days have been extremely hectic, and I worked a 12.5-hour day yesterday, as well as working all afternoon even though it’s Saturday. I won’t bore you with all the details of what I’ve been working on, just that it’s pertinent to my job, WHICH I LOVE, even though it very nearly killed me this past week. Thankfully when I got home this evening, I was able to lie in bed and sleep for a few hours, hence the complete alertness at this late hour.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about where I was three months ago, before I knew I got this job. It’s such an amazing feeling to be able to tell people that I love what I’m doing, even through weeks like these. I know that going to India will change my life, and that some of those changes will be draining and grueling. I will be there for two weeks and will hopefully have some time to blog. Afterward I’m extending my layover in Minneapolis, so I can see my family and recover a little before returning to Orange County. On Monday, I am mailing some of my clothes to my parents, so I have something to wear when I get to Minnesota. I’m packing light to India since we’ll be traveling to three different places — Mumbai, Tenali, and Kolkata. I have a feeling that when I get back to the States, all I’ll want is a pair of jeans and a hamburger. And my mom.

Easter came and went with K by my side. I slept in J’s bed while she was out of town, and K and I got chicken and waffles at Roscoe’s, an adventure I had not yet experienced and am now grateful to have had. We sat in the booth and talked about the stuff we talk about… art and blogs and writing and love and trying to remain sensitive in a jaded world. We talked about personality tests and discussed our strengths. It was a time of peace and maple syrup.

I miss LA. We drove familiar and unfamiliar streets. We drove past the graffiti and the street performers, past the man selling bootlegged DVDs on the curb. He wished us a happy Easter and a happy breakfast. Each part of LA wraps you up in its culture when you drive through, the sun and how all the smells are warmed up, and the concrete boxes of buildings, some empty and barred; sometimes every neighborhood holds a different story, be it through the diversity of skin color or the amount of smog on the windows. We got Italian sodas at Psychobabble and talked along the sidewalk. I took a photo of dozens of plastic, waving cats in a store window. They were terrifying. K took a photo of abstract art someone had drawn on a phonebook. It was hot out. K bought sunglasses; on the way back in the car, we decided we’re 100% friends, the kind who could tell each other 100% of stuff, the kind you keep closer than the enemies that you supposedly keep closer than your other friends.

We went back to her house. She made iced tea, like a good Southern girl, and we watched YouTube videos. Last Easter a gathering of friends came over to my house and we ate Easter dinner… ham and this cornbread apricot stuffing that is so good that it’s made me more friends than my talent and beauty.

We went to a party the night before in West Hollywood with some mutual friends, the film industry types who are not stars but who have met stars from working the industry for over ten years… the people who really make the movies. They talked about how Wes Anderson was at a party with them, and one of their gay friends kept exclaiming over the shape of his hands as he played the piano. They drank too much wine and argued heatedly about whether or not parents ought to vaccinate their children. From what I could tell, none of them had children. I wanted to state an opinion in the matter because I had an observation no one had considered, but decided not to when the girl started yelling. “I will never feed my children anything but organic! I will never let them drink soda or watch TV or eat meat! I will never let them become autistic by vaccinating them!” And then the man, a tall, skinny bearded man who plays the cello and tells witty stories with hilarious punch lines, started calling out, “50% versus 5%! Your child has a 50% chance of dying. Dying. 50% versus 5%!” Apparently these two used to date.

At one point in the evening, the lady asked the group, “Have you ever read ‘The Death of Ivan Illyich’?” I answered, “I have.”I’m not even sure why she asked, and those were the only two words I said to her, but later that night she introduced me to three people as “The beautiful and talented Ann.” It made me laugh every time. There was a woman who looked just like Barbie and a man who looked just like Ken (even his hair! EVEN HIS HAIR!), and they magically found each other and only talked to each other the whole night. People of equal beauty tend to attract one another in LA.

K and the host moved the coffee table aside and swing danced, and I thought about how cool my friend is, that she can swing dance that well, and with a man who is so tall and gangly, all legs like a newborn colt. Then this other man sat down by me. His eyes looked like Al Pacino, and he had grey scruff on his face. Apparently he had been eyeing me all night, according to K, and soon she came back by my side. We girls have to take care of each other. He was a 40-year-old drinking a White Russian. We talked about our jobs and then our other friend, NN, gave the signal, and we said our goodbyes.

It being Easter weekend, I thought about redemption a lot. I thought about Flannery O’Connor a lot. She’s my favorite writer, and some of my most poignant moments of thinking about God and the interactions between Him and people have come through her words. I don’t have any amazing revelations to share, just that I thought about it, and the thinking was good.