Monday, February 1

Succeeded in goal of the day, which was to get cup of coffee in morning. In fact, drank three. Proceeded to vibrate for next several hours. Must rebuild caffeine tolerance. Went through pots of the stuff while at Medacad; cannot imagine how it has decreased so.

Am not on Inara's bad side, as she is not linked to ship's main plumbing system. V. relieved. Shall drink pot of coffee before visiting her, as suspect she will enjoy vibration.

Sunday, January 31


I'm missing two bottles of sedatives and several vials of smoothers. Must ask around, but immediate suspicion is items were taken by Jayne. Also missing hairbrush. Hopefully crew will see hairstyle as "artistically tousled".


Sat down to breakfast. Jayne took the last of the coffee before I could get to the pot. Tried to get everyone's attention to ask about the medicine, but was roundly ignored by all as they chatted and began eating their tinted protein (jin huang is apparently the color of breakfast). Repeatedly looked up only to find Captain looking away - could not catch his eye. Shepherd Book, oddly, was late. He finally arrived, barefoot, and sat down. Yes, barefoot.

I think Shepherds are taught how to make an entrance in their monasteries. When Book doesn't want to be noticed, he can be in the same room and yet entirely invisible; when he chooses to make his presence known, all eyes turn to him - and yet, I don't think I've ever heard him raise his voice. Wo ju de ci ji, especially when I've spent fifteen minutes lowering my expectations from trying to get everyone's attention to trying to get anyone's attention.

"Hey, Shepherd. Did God need a few extra words this morning?" the Captain asked.

Book cleared his throat. "No, actually. There appears to be a problem with the plumbing. The toilet...burped."

"Burped?" Zoe asked.

Jayne belched, as if we were unclear on the definition.

"Yes," Book said. "Only with more...effluvia than Jayne there."

"I'm plenty effluvient," Jayne said.

"Yes, especially after your run-in with that di lian biao zi on Persephone," I snapped. I'm so charming when undercaffeinated and underfed in the early morning. Jayne should fear me. Next time he takes the last of the coffee, I will replace his sugar with a powdered emitic. Would serve him right; he got off far too lightly after the stew incident.

The Captain cleared his throat. "Leaving aside Jayne's personal issues for the moment - Kaylee, you notice any problems with the plumbing lately?"

"No, cap'n, I haven't," she said, perkily. I'm sure she got coffee. "I've been spendin' most of my time babyin' the compression coil, though."

The Captain nodded. "Okay - when you're done eating, I want you to check out the septic system, see if we're about to have a problem." He glanced at me for a moment, but before I opened my mouth, he looked away again. He grabbed his plate and his coffee cup. "I got some important business I need to attend to."

"Captain, before you go - " I interjected.

He cut me off. "Sorry, Doc. It's gonna have to wait." Wang ba dan.

I would describe it as "vomiting", not "burping". Wonder if shoes are salvageable. Or socks.

I'm missing a shirt, as well. This is decidedly mo ming qi miao.

Went toward bridge to notify Captain of new issue. While walking past crew quarters, heard him shouting, "He chusheng zajiao de zanghuo!" He scaled ladder so quickly I wondered if Kaylee had altered the gravity in his quarters. "That ain't burpin', that's -"

"Vomiting. That's what I came to tell you," I said. His shirt-tails were hanging out of his pants, but did nothing to hide the bulge underneath, especially since the front of his pants were still unfastened. "Important business. I see. Was your membership to Chloe's Live Nude Cortexxx Review about to expire?"

The captain stuffed his shirt into his pants, fastening them up. "Never mind what I was doing. We got us a real problem." He came the rest of the way up the stairs. His boots were dripping. "Kaywinnet Lee Frye!" he shouted. "Time for us to take a look at the septic line."

Beginning to understand why doctors on Earth chained their patients to walls.

"There's a bundle trapped in the septic line," the Captain said to me. "An' I know for sure I don't have a shirt that fine, nor does Wash or Jayne. Got anything you want to be telling me, Doc?"

I sighed and let my head hit the wall. "River. I tried to tell you this morning; some meds had gone missing. She must have taken them and tried to get rid of them."

"Right. Well, it ain't comin' back up - it's got nowhere to go but out." He gave me a narrow-eyed stare. He doesn't need to shout - when properly angered, I think his eyes emit laser beams. I was certainly pinned to the spot. "We're gonna have to do a septic flush. Get suited up."

"Me?" My voice may have broken twelve years ago, but it still squeaks in times of duress.

"Oh, don't you worry, Doc. You'll have company. After all, you gotta learn to do it right. Think we're gonna cycle through it three, four times. Hope you're good for a long time outside."

"But...my sister..."

"Book can watch her," he growled. "Stop stallin', go change into somethin' a little more practical and get suited up."

Can think of far better ways to spend four hours with Malcolm Reynolds that involve far less clothing. Still unclear on what Captain thinks of as "more practical". Have removed coat and tie.

Hate leaving ship. Hate spacesuit. Hate septic system. Hate Captain. Hate sister. Hate Alliance, for making sister crazy. Hate chocolate for abandoning me in moment of need. Hate Jayne - not that he has done anything in particular since taking last of coffee, but on general principle. Hate sewage. Hate sewage very much. Hate Jin Tao Bergman, for pinning me down in schoolyard and making me eat dirt in third grade. Recognize this has no bearing on current situation, but felt this should be comprehensive list.

Ta ma de. Am going to sulk and read Jinping Mei. Would eat chocolate, but it is all gone. There is no justice.

I can't even be left in peace to sulk without a medical emergency happening.

Have successfully removed Jayne's hand from jar of candies. As am not man-ape, also slipped hand into jar while he was not looking and liberated several. Fair compensation for annoyance. Stormed back to cabin in full huff.

Knock on door. Chi shi!

Oh, no. That was Kaylee. Obviously must not show face in public tonight.

River slipped into my cabin a few minutes ago.

"You feel like stormclouds and pitchforks," she said.

I didn't raise my head. "You flushed your medicine down the toilet."

"It makes me feel fuzzy."

"In my shirt!"

"Can't touch the bottles. Could get hurt."

"And the dress Kaylee gave you?"

She scowled. "Zhen ta ma de hao kan."

"Our mother."

"No, just yours." She sat down next to me. "They gave me to Father for opening a new bank account."

"I thought it was a set of knives."

"No, those are Mom's. They're your sisters. Don't you see the family resemblance?"

Sometimes I can't decide if she's slipped out of reality or is merely making a joke that I, with my deficiencies of intellect, can't grasp.

She leaned against me. "Sorry."

"Oh, no, it's fine. Just the way I wanted to spend my day - standing in the bleak emptiness of space as fecal matter flowed over my spacesuit, trying to catch all the things you'd flushed before they went tumbling toward Andromeda."

She laughed. Brat. "Did you rescue it all?" she asked.

"Some Alliance cruiser is going to find a pink frilly dress stuck to its side," I said.

Must admit, the thought of Alliance soldiers attempting to scrape that horrible dress off the side of their ship is very amusing.

jin huang - golden yellow
Wo ju de ci ji - It's annoying
di lian biao zi - cheap whore
Wang ba dan - bastard
mo ming qi miao - mysterious
He chusheng zajiao de zanghuo - pig-fucker (more or less)
Ta ma de - fuck
Jinping Mei - classic work of Chinese erotica
Chi shi! - Fuck off!
Zhen ta ma de hao kan - looks as good as your mother

Saturday, January 30

Dryden's translation of the Aeneid is interminable and dull - an appropriate reflection of this journey. I'd give it up, but River consistently demands more; it seems to be a far more effective sedative than any of the drugs I've given her. Kaylee has begun dropping by River's cabin at night, as well, to listen to me read the Aeneid. She seems utterly rapt. Had not pegged her as classical literature fan. Obviously, as the one person in the room that is bai wu liao lai by this, there's something about Dryden's poetry I'm just not getting.

The visit with Inara provided an interesting counterpoint, although why she is sexually obsessed with Odysseus I'm not sure. I feel that my education in early Earth history is, at this point, rather well rounded.

Dr. Arienzo once said in class, "Anyone can teach themselves a new skill, if only they are willing to dedicate two hours per day to it." Of course, the scandal with the unlicensed Companions, the feathers, the large case of jin hallucinogens and the illegally obtained vat of honey gave some indication as to what he'd been practicing, but it remains good advice. I have been addressing River's issues in the wrong way, attempting to treat her while lacking the necessary background in psychiatry, thinking I could gain the necessary knowledge by reading a few papers that seemed linked to her symptoms. The only way to tackle this problem, I suspect, is from the ground up. I plan to spend the next several months reading the textbooks used in Medacad's psychiatry classes. I'm sure, if only I'm dedicated enough, I can find a cure for River. The answer has to be there, somewhere. I just need the knowledge that will allow me to find it.

bai wu liao lai - bored to tears
jin - contraband

Friday, January 29


River seems - well, whatever passes for normal - today.

Did dishes after breakfast and dinner.

Gave Wash analgesics for sore wrist and finger.

...wait a minute.

I have written the same thing for the past three days running. This means
  1. I am bai wu liao lai
  2. Someone's been taking advantage of my distracted state and leaving me with dish duty (and I am sure I know who)
  3. I need to do something to get out of this rut

Shipboard living seems to settle into an incredibly dull routine, especially when one is traveling in a small ship with a long distance between planets. There's no room for active games, due to the cattle in the hold, and Mal has made it clear that no one is to come near the cattle except to feed and water them after he overheard Jayne telling Kaylee about a planned cow-tipping expedition. The nai chou from the cattle means one cannot bu ke kao jin the cargo bay.

I thought treating River would take up all the time on my hands; obviously, I was incorrect. My goal for this week: find something to do.

Time to read another chapter of the Aeneid to River. If it were written in prose, it would be twelve paragraphs instead of twelve books. It would also be far less dull and thus unlikely to lull River to sleep.

Inara has asked me to visit her. Apparently, boredom is catching.

bai wu liao lai - bored to tears
nai chou - unbearable stench
bu ke kao jin - cannot go anywhere near

Thursday, January 28

River seems - well, whatever passes for normal - today.

Did dishes after breakfast and dinner.

Gave Wash analgesics for sore wrist and finger.

Researched various chemical treatments for River's issues.

Read part of "The Aeneid" (the Dryden translation) to River to lull her to sleep.

Wednesday, January 27

River seems - well, whatever passes for normal - today.

Did dishes after breakfast and dinner.

Gave Wash analgesics for sore wrist and finger.

Researched various chemical treatments for River's issues.

Read part of "The Aeneid" (the Dryden translation) to River to lull her to sleep.

Tuesday, January 26

Cabins decorated: 1 (not by me) - Monologues listened to: 1 (endless) - Sisters cured: 0 (and holding)

When I left to do research, River was still talking in her sleep. When I returned with her breakfast, she was writing on the walls of my cabin with a brush and ink (with perfect penmanship, of course). The walls were nearly full.

"Are we fingerpainting now?" I said. Note to self - in future, please disengage mouth until brain has begun operation.

"I need to get the words out," she mumbled. She took the calligraphy brush, dipped it in ink, and started dragging it around the corner and into the hallway.

I grabbed her arm. "Mei mei, I think it will make the Captain angry if you write on his entire ship."

She looked frantic. "The words need to get out," she said, tapping her head and then her throat.

"So, talk," I said, taking her hands.

"They need to go somewhere!" she said, frantically.

I pulled her back to the bed and sat her down. "Talk," I said. "I'll listen."

I've been listening for eleven hours, now. She's followed me to the infirmary, to the passenger lounge, and even to the kitchen, where she gave Jayne and Wash a stirring lecture on the mating habits of the sipuncula. (Jayne, for once, seemed too stunned to speak; I should sic River on him more often.) Any time it seemed I was not paying attention, she would develop an ominous fixation on the nearest writing implement and flat surface. I hoped that she would tell me something about what had happened to her, but unfortunately she didn't. The experience was like listening to someone vomit an encyclopedia; she gave immense amounts of information, on a jumble of topics linked by who knows what connection.

Kaylee was kind enough to spell me for a while, a few hours ago. When they came back from the engine room, she shook her head and said, "I sure know more about the elements in a fuel cell than I did when I went down."

River's words are starting to slow down, and a few minutes ago, she said, "You don't need to hold them anymore," and sat down with her back to mine. She's leaning against me, reciting trigonometric tables quietly to the ceiling, while I make this entry.

My walls give an exceptional explanation of the evolution of Asiatic languages on Earth; it even has lingual family trees. It's informative, and, of course, every character is beautiful and perfectly drawn. I just wish she'd written something more useful to our present predicament, like large sections of the DSM XXXI or perhaps the contents of "Surviving the Outer Colonies Without a Gun on 35 Credits a Day".

I think she's fallen asleep. Tonight I'll carry her into her own room; if she has another urge to redecorate, she'll have clean walls from which to start.

Monday, January 25

River finally fell asleep sometime yesterday. I'm not sure what time it was; we'd been awake for most of three days running. Life seemed to condense down to a small, white room in which my sister cried and trays of food would occasionally appear. The protein lumps are largely the same whether it's breakfast, lunch, or dinner, so they didn't provide much of a cue as to what day it was.

I fell asleep close to when she did, curled up on the bed with her like when we were children, and she had nightmares, and Mother told her to go back to bed and stop being nan ai. The tyranny of the bladder woke me at some point, and I stumbled to the head and then came back to curl up on the floor next to her bed. Um, my bed. The bed in my quarters which she was occupying.

When I woke up again, it felt like I'd been drugged. My brain seems to be one step behind, or off center, like the distortion one finds with a bad Cortex connection. I was also hungry.

I found the Captain making coffee when I entered the kitchen. "We thought you might've left us for good, there," he said. "You've been out a while."

"How long?" I asked. I haven't pulled a long stint like that since I was an intern. I tried to stretch the muscles in my neck while I talked to him; the floor is not an optimal place to sleep.

"Close to a day and a half, now," he said.

"Cai bu shi!" Although I remember sleeping like that as an intern, as well. Waking up this late in the evening will make it difficult to set my internal clock to a normal daytime rhythm.

The Captain added some more coffee to the pot. "You look like you could use some," he said. "How's your sister?"

It seemed such a casual question until he looked up. For all his effort to ai li bu li, I do believe our Captain has a heart, after all. Also, such stunning eyes. For a moment, I thought about telling him everything.

"She's getting better," I said. "She's sleeping."

"Well, you get her fixed up soon," he said. "We'd like to see you at breakfast. Jayne's fixin' on becoming intolerable without you around to bust on."

Captain only wants me as cannon fodder. How depressing. On other hand, suspect any affair with him, if even possible, would be short-lived and possibly deadly.

River is beginning to mumble in her sleep. She doesn't appear to be in pain anymore. Will try to get more research done before she wakes.

nan ai - trying (in the sense of difficult or annoying)
Cai bu shi - no way!
ai li bu li - look cold and indifferent