After returning from a road trip to L.A. for Disneyland and a Doctor Who convention, I ended up being sidelined by a major flu bug which took me down for nearly 5 weeks. I’m at the point of the year where I’m starting to look back at my social media posts at the time and some of them are amusing to me in hindsight. When I was terribly ill, I couldn’t even get out of bed some days, but at least I guess I kept my sense of humor?
As I checked my Twitter feed for a final (I told myself) time last night, I saw something pop up that I just couldn’t bring myself to ignore. A tweet about Chloe Dykstra, which pointed to a Medium post where she wrote, in great detail, of her emotional abuse and sexual assault at the hands of her ex. She doesn’t call out the ex by name, but I certainly know who she’s talking about: Chris Hardwick, who took the label of “nerd” and somehow spun it into a personal brand. He props himself up to be a man of the common people. See, he likes the same weird shit that you do and he gets paid to talk about it! He’s funny! He’s self-deprecating! He makes fun of himself for fun and profit!
And he’s so wrapped up in his own affirmation of his self-worth that he was obviously willing to drag someone else down with it.
Chloe’s post is here, and it is a heartbreaking account of her time spent as Hardwick’s girlfriend. I read all of it last night, couldn’t really wrap my head around it, but hopefully this blog post will help me wrangle my thoughts in.
The stresses of the external world, of life, have possibly just heaped too much on my normally resilient psyche. So when I checked my email this morning (and I reached my Hollywood Reporter newsletter of stuff happening in the world of entertainment), I stared at the headline, but I couldn’t quite BELIEVE the headline:
Anthony Bourdain Suicide
I follow his Instagram. He’d just posted a couple of days ago. Another trip. Another scan over of a hotel room. Another view from a moving vehicle. He was always moving. And each video felt so intimate, a peek behind the curtain of the glamour of traveling all over the world for his CNN show.
I first became aware of him from his first show, A Cook’s Tour, which felt unique among the world of shows on Food Network. It felt like he wanted to get past the “oo look at this exotic food. Isn’t it weird?” that pervaded travel shows at the time. It was different. I loved different. I read his tell-all expose of the restaurant industry, Kitchen Confidential. I found out about his notorious past, how working in NYC in the ‘70s & ‘80s meant a lot of things. How he should’ve died probably a dozen times over because of all the heroin and coke that pervaded the industry. And he got through that somehow.
Bourdain’s shows have been a salve through the years. His eager explorations of food and culture made me feel a little less alone, a little less ashamed of my Filipino heritage. In fact he consistently championed Filipino food as the great unsung cuisine of Asia. He didn’t exotify non-Western food for Western audiences. He told it like it is. It never felt exploitive or manipulative. He approached it all with respect. He genuinely loved food, and the cultures that created that food. He spoke out against colonialism. He was a staunch supporter of the MeToo movement, an aging punk still trying to change the world, someone to look up to and emulate.
I met him once, at a book signing. I was pretty mush-mouthed so I didn’t exactly get a chance to tell him how much his work meant to me at the time. But it’s still a highlight of my life.
And yet sometimes, that doesn’t matter to my body.
I get migraines. I keep them under control with medications and careful awareness of my triggers. I’m pretty good at keeping them at bay, to the point where I only get one or two debilitating attacks a year, and I’m one of the lucky ones. But none of that matters when you don’t have control over things like the weather.
I felt fine for most of the day on Saturday. It was above 90 but while running weekend errands, I thought I was careful. The AC was on in the car and I felt comfortable. I suppose I didn’t realize how much the heat would affect me. Looking back, I think I might not have drunk as much water as I could have. So by the time the evening rolled around, I felt…not awful but not well either. Twinges of vertigo kept knocking at my head, and slowly but steadily, a migraine began to pound at the right side of my head.
See, I’m lucky, as migraine-havers go. I usually get a visual disturbance. An aura that blocks out a part of my vision. Have you ever had tunnel vision when you’re out of breath or just exhausted? It’s something like that, but I didn’t get my early warning signal of incoming migraine. All I got was a pounding headache and overwhelming nausea. I lost my dinner (RIP enchiladas) down the toilet. I tried for sleep and after continuously tossing and turning in my too-hot bed I gave up and took a cool shower in the middle of the night. This cooled me off enough for heat relief, so I finally got some needed rest after that annoyance of a day.
I’m being more careful today. I’m drinking lots of water and I’m not taxing myself too much, and the forcast calls for cooler temps for this week. This is a welcome relief, and I don’t want to have to continue on my brain-induced adventure.