Chinese

Posted: May 6, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I had had a long day. I had gone straight from school to meet a woman I’ve been trying to make contact with for some time. I first wrote to her back in the middle of February. I first met her a month or so later, and then, things having gone cool and then warm again, texts and e-mails going back and forth as she changed jobs and took weekends at her parents’ place in the South and the like, finally met up with her again this afternoon.

That ought not to take too much in the way of planning, but, things being as they are, it’s an organisational nightmare.Image

I’d wager that if I ate and drank what you eat and drink on any given day, I wouldn’t function.

I made three large tortillas this morning, wrapped them and took them to work so I could quickly eat them and run off to the little cafe tucked away on a forgotten street a little distance from I. P. Pavlova.

After that, I went back to my school to teach my last lesson, leaving at gone six for the forty five minute or so journey back to my place in the largest sídliště in Prague in the South of the city. I was hungry by now. I have a very fast metabolism, so I stopped in at the Chinese place up the helter skelter staircase in the dirty old concrete row of shops and stalls set on the back of the metro station at Háje at the end of the line.

I enjoy cooking. If I had the time and the money I would undoubtedly cook from fresh every day. I would grow my own veg and do everything that Jamie and his farmer mate with the reality show piggies and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall are always telling us to do. But, you know what, life gets in the way. Life gets in the way even when I’m not struggling to maintain consecutive thoughts and can’t focus on any one thing for a minute at a time without having to take time – up to fifteen minutes – to corral my thoughts only to lose them again another minute later.

I got back and tried to read a short story by Eudora Welty before cracking on with packing for a trip tomorrow. I read it without much more than the expected number of figurative trips and falls, but missed a good handful of important details, meaning I had to go back and read it again, by which point it was becoming a struggle.

I knew long ago that I can’t eat Chinese food. But occasionally I dismiss those things I know, because, well, it’s not proven; allegedly, there have been no serious scientific investigations into how yeast and fermented food, MSG and casein, gluten and nitrates, coffee and sugars, starches and refined carbohydrates, could so quickly trigger symptoms such as abstract anger, restlessness, inability to concentrate, intrusive daydreams.

But in any case there is little alternative. I had no food in. There is little that is appropriate in the supermarkets, let alone appropriate, satisfying and in any way filling, which, with my metabolism (even my baseline metabolism before the running and physical exercise I have to do to maintain anything approaching focus and an ability to function), is critically important.

I had little alternative but to find somewhere to eat, and no chance of finding anything that would suit my needs and my pocket. Indeed, even had I had unlimited finances, I couldn’t have found anything that would not have threatened my ability to function for the evening.

I have been unable to relax – some chance of that! I have been unable to pack for going away tomorrow. I have been able to do anything. Were anybody with me, I would have been able to listen to them or communicate with them. I can feel the usual woozy swooshing inside my head, and know it may be a real struggle to get to sleep with my disinhibited mind.

Such effects have been documented for years. Take your dog to a dog behaviourist, and the first thing they will do on being presented with a hyperactive dog, is to tell you to change its diet. And yet doctors and friends, random ranters on the internet and self-styled guardian of a logical worldview, will claim that such a phenomenon cannot exist because it has not, according to their cursory Google search, been examined in scientific papers or research.

Even if this were true, which it is not, the funding of scientific research has not, and likely will never be, determined solely (nor indeed primarily) by a subject’s merit. A subject which has no money-making potential, no marketability, and which would indeed, if properly explored, reduce the profits of big pharma, and indeed the profits of that other danger to the Open Society, Big Agriculture, cannot compete with a brief to create a drug, though that drug may not be in the top two hundred best potential problems to a given problem, though indeed, there might not be a problem until it is fashioned by advertising.

So, a long day, followed by a meal, followed by three or four of the kind of wasted hours I have known throughout my life: my brain, my talents, my hopes, my life draining away into the gloop of a chinese sauce.

I have begun to write a letter to secure a referral to the Maudsley in London. I want this problem dealt with before the rest of my life washes away without my being able to hold a job, relationships, stay in one place, to use my talents for the benefit of the society I live in as I consider to be the duty of all of us, so I can, for example, write about this problem again to benefit others, without the burning anger and bloodyminded determination that has formed this as the symptoms are fading slightly at the end of a long day.

It won’t be easy. I’m in Prague. I am not registered with any doctor back home. Having moved again – I have moved nine times in two years – I moved out of one doctor’s catchment area. Were I to go back “home”, I would be confronted with the depression I knew in so many of the places I tried so hard to leave, and would fix to move on before any of the bureaucratic process got started. Not to mention the scores of middling gatekeepers who would condescend to me, filling me with a burning rage that stays with me as I leave the hateful office and for months after a single meeting, who tell me I can’t have such a disorder if I was not diagnosed in infancy, if I don’t have a criminal record, if I have a degree, if I have managed to write this post.

Anyone who wants to pick a fight, please do. Tell me I can’t feel the way I claim after a chinese meal. Tell me its psychosomatic. Tell me we all daydream sometimes. Tell me I’m a whingeing Gen x-er who wants to pin his failures on some fashionable “disorder” that didn’t exist fifty years ago. Tell me they want to bring back National Service, deal with slackers like me. Bring it: a just anger puts life in man.

And now I have to pack. Something that might have taken any of you fifteen minutes and which has now taken me four hours. I have to pack to go away for 6 days out in the mountains far from any supermarkets and decent restaurants. The difficulties for me there are impossible to overstate. Even from weekends away, I come back with guts you don’t want to hear about, angry and restless; it’ll take me three hours of pacing to go out for a run I need, preparing for a lesson will take hours when I will flick back and forth between an e-mail and a PDF of a textbook for an hour and a half or more without retaining information from one to the other. And then, when I claw back towards eating well with what organisational capacities and impulse control remains, it’ll take weeks of eating well to get back to the starting point. Fun fun fun.

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