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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Why I Don't Blog Naked

This post is unlikely to be of much interest to anyone but me; however, these are some thoughts I've been thinking, and I decided to write. This weekend marks 6 months that I have been a blogger. When I started doing this, it was for two reasons: 1) I wanted a reason to practice writing, to find out if anybody would care to read anything I'd have to say, and 2) Pure recreation, silliness, unwinding, stress-relief, etc. Since I began, I have discovered other motivations and inspirations, but these two remain the most important. I never intended to blog for therapy, or for self-discovery, or to send anyone a message, or any such thing.

I read and enjoy a lot of other blogs. Sometimes I read someone who does what I call "naked blogging." People who seem to be expressing their truest, most vulnerable selves here in blogworld. And I try to be appropriately reverent; it is a sacred thing when a human being risks showing other human beings who he or she really is. As some of you have commented, and more of you have probably noticed, I don't blog naked. Sometimes, rarely, but sometimes, I wish I did. But I don't, and I won't. Sometimes I email naked, in response to a naked post. Or I even comment naked. But I don't usually do a whole naked post. Here's why I don't blog naked:

1) Directly to my right as I sit at my computer, is a window.

OK, seriously,
2) I am a very private person. I have quite a lot of friends, a lot of family, and only Jif and maybe one or two girlfriends know most everything about me. Only God knows absolutely everything. In spite of the volume of words that come out here, in realworld, I listen much more than I talk. It is simply not my way, not my temperament to tell all here. And as I said, it was never my goal. This is where I am as goofy as I can be, without getting my professional license revoked.

3)Here is the biggest reason why I don't blog naked. It's the reason that I wished I could blog for the longest time before I ever took the plunge. I thought that a therapist can't, shouldn't, have a personal blog. Sometimes I still think that, and I try to walk a very fine line between letting the world see some genuine parts of me, and not letting current or future clients see anything that could impact negatively on their treatment.

Some of the therapy that I do is cognitive and behavioral. In that setting, and with doing marital counseling, the therapist is sort of like a coach or a consultant. In that type of counseling, it's OK for the therapist to reveal some of her personal experiences. Not a lot, but some. Sometimes it is genuinely helpful to a client to know that the therapist has dealt with something similar to what they are dealing with. That's the criteria for when I reveal something personal: is it therapeutic to say this thing to this person at this time?

This is a very small world. Clients have discovered this blog, via various avenues. Only a couple of them, but still. And that's OK. I could have been much more anonymous on here than I have. I took some calculated risks, but have not revealed anything that I believe could affect anyone negatively. However, because I don't have any way of knowing who will be reading here, I have to, on some level, assume that clients will read. So everything that I write must go through that filter. It gets even more important for those clients with whom I use more "psychodynamic" kinds of treatment. This is longer term therapy, relies very heavily upon the relationship between the therapist and client that is built over time. One of the tools of this therapy is a phenomenon called "transference." Briefly (and volumes have been written about this phenomenon), this is when the client transfers onto the therapist thoughts, feelings, etc., that originally would have been directed toward another significant person in the client's life. Mother, grandmother, brother, ex-wife, perpetrator, whatever. Whomever that client may have unfinished business with. In order for this tool of therapy to be effective, the therapist has to present herself as pretty much a blank screen. The reality of her history, her personality, etc., can't get in the way. In the process of working through the transference, some healing, some recovery takes place. Perspective gradually shifts to the here-and-now, and the unfinished business is more finished.

If I blogged naked, I couldn't be a blank screen for those people who need that type of therapy, and their treatment would be compromised. It's not OK for me to make that compromise so that I can have a richer blogging experience. And that's OK with me. This experience is plenty rich as it is.

Another risk if I revealed my own struggles in the way that the naked bloggers do, is that clients could become concerned about me. I find that most people who avail themselves of therapy are sensitive, compassionate people who could easily become concerned for their therapist if they knew she was having a tough time. That's not fair to those clients. The time and money that they spend with me is all about them; I'll get my own attention somewhere else.

The personal things that I do reveal here have to do mostly with my humor and my faith. These two components are so much a part of me that I couldn't hide them in real world if I tried. That's why you get the goofy and you get the Sunday Post.

I continue to wrestle with where the boundaries are here. I have read other therapist bloggers who reveal much more than I would be comfortable with. I don't judge them for that; I just have to do what I think is best for me and mine. And I'm sure there are still other therapists who believe as I once did, that we shouldn't have personal blogs at all. I will never go completely naked here; but I am increasingly feeling led to blog some experiences that I've had that I believe could actually be of benefit to readers. Even client readers. I'm still working that out. Stay tuned. And if you've read this far, aren't you a loyal blogfriend? Thank you for that :)

Monday, August 29, 2005

I Need an Alibi!

UPDATE: I was shocked and delighted (mostly delighted) that one of the "principals" from my original "Central 17" post popped in and commented. Rather than direct you back there, I have copied her comment here, and I'll reply here:

Anonymous said...

This is the KT mentioned in this blog post. I'm still laughing about this ancient episode in my high school past. I always regretted not being involved. How flattering to be described as having good sense and being cool at the same time. Some other things of interest: The Beaver Creek school was torn down, so hopefully all the Beavers can finally put this behind them (ha). I live about 150 feet above the famous fart-smeller road inscription. I think of it often when I drive that road. I think Susie and I should seriously think about a book/screenplay regarding this and other episodes from our hillbilly past. Has Susie posted anything about her foray into the world of beauty pageants? Just an idea for ya, doll!

12:36 PM

KT, I am so tickled to see you here. If only we had known they were going to tear down the school anyhow, we could have saved all that hard-earned money. I have not posted, and I may never post, anything about pageants. There's blogworld and there's realworld, but pageantworld is a whole 'nother Oprah! That was too horrifying and traumatic a world to share here, without having gotten considerable therapy. I mean, even more than I've had! So seriously, is the "fart-smeller" thing still on the road? Is it like a landmark, "I live in the third house on the left after you drive over 'fart-smeller'?" I like how you called it an "inscription." That sounds so much nicer than grafitti. I'll email you. Study hard!

I now return you to your regularly scheduled post. Just wanted you to "meet" my friend "KT."

I have a bit of a situation, and I need your help. Over the weekend, there may or may not have been a mini-reunion of the "Central 17." We might possibly have met in South Dakota to reminisce, see the sights, compare art supplies. Hypothetically speaking, you understand.

Then this morning, I received a photograph in a plain brown email. I fear that I am being blackmailed. I need to ask that you all vouch for my whereabouts over the weekend. If anyone, like, say, a small town Southern sheriff, asks about me, please tell him that I was right here, giving y'all flowers and scripture verses. Please? Thank you. Oh, and if you want to embellish my alibi to make it more convincing, by all means, go for it.

I've never seen these guys before in my life! Well, maybe once . . .

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Sunday Post ~ Try looking at things differently.

Ephesians 1:18

file under: &Sunday Post

Friday, August 26, 2005

Biscuit Friday ~ Fine Dining

Do you MIND? I'm trying to eat, here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

My Night of Crime

This post is probably rated R, for language and for allusions to erotic art (NOT).

The item that attracted the most attention from my last "10 Things About Me" post, was the fact that I almost didn't get my high school diploma, on account of my criminal behavior. So I thought I'd tell the story . . .

It was nearing the end of senior year, at Central High (I'm not kidding), and there was a party. You must remember, my senior year is a lot more likely to show up on the History Channel than most of your senior years, so it's a bit hard for me to remember details, but I will try. It was at someone's parents' cabin in the woods, as I recall. And it was my first and probably last "wet T-shirt" contest. I remember claiming, with some conviction, that I was the winner. This was based on the very reasonable criteria that my T-shirt was the wettest. I remember something like hide-and-seek-and-sneakuponpeople-and-throwapotofwateronthem! That was fun, I don’t care who you are.

A couple of interesting things about this party. There were maybe 20 people there; I later learned that the group of us under police investigation was called the "Central 17" (it's a wonder folk songs haven't been written). There was, to my recollection, no alcohol or drugs at this party. And almost to a one, we were the good kids. The kids who had never given parents or teachers a moment's trouble. We were about to try to make up for lost time.

One of the boys, Jon, with the bright red hair, freckles and braces, was the mastermind. Even as I write that, I know I should have seen trouble coming. Jon obtained what he called "water-based paint," with which we were to go around the county painting insults and the like on the schools of Central's archrivals. Did I mention that we mostly were athlete, cheerleader, pep club, Student Council types? Yea. Did I mention that I drove my brother's van throughout much of high school? Yea. The gold one with the tinted windows, the padded floor and shag carpeting in the back, that would soon become known as the getaway car with the incriminating paint on the shag carpeting on the padded floor in the back.

Jon told us that "water-based" meant that the paint would be removed from any surface with a little soap and water. So that in the unlikely event we were to get caught, the worst that could happen was that we'd have to hose down the buildings we painted on.

After the wet and wild party, we loaded into our various vehicles and set out to the school near Horse Creek. They had recently built a huge, tremendously expensive enclosed pool. That enclosure looked to us like a blank canvas, baby. But there were people, adult-type people, hanging around. That was a stroke of luck for us. Had we ruined that new pool, we would have been up worse than Horse Creek. We proceeded to our next target, Beaver Creek. I'm not kidding. Our athletic rivals were the fighting Beavers of Beaver Creek High School. Could you BLAME us for wanting to vandalize their buck-toothed, wapping-tailed butts? (No offense, Bucky.)

We get there, and we divide up paint, brushes, etc., and set about painting things and stuff on the brick exterior of the school. What did we paint? Well, we painted words. Big words. No, not "impressive vocabulary" type big words, I mean big as in large size from top to bottom and side to side. No, the words themselves often consisted of only four letters. Bad words. That's what good Hillbillian kids paint on the walls the night they finally go ape-shit wild.

When we finished, we ran like wild, crazy savages through the field, laughing and yelling. I remember my best buddy running along side me, and we caught each other's eye just after we both noticed another classmate, Johnny, who wanted to be a mercenary when he grew up, thrashing wildly through the weeds with a machete as he whooped war whoops. In my mind, the look that my friend and I exchanged said these things: 1) Can you believe how exciting this is? 2 )Can you believe how stupid this is? And 3) Johnny is even crazier than we suspected. (If you went to Central with me, and you're reading this, did Johnny N. become a paid assassin?)

After we finished the painting, some kids went home. Some of us went back to the cabin first, to enjoy being scared to death together. I think all of us were smart enough to know how incredibly stupid we were. Adrenalin and adolescent group-think are a powerful combination.

The next morning, I surveyed my van. Van-Go, it was called. If anyone went looking for evidence, I was so busted. There was paint everywhere. I got some soapy water and went to work. OH. SHIT. That paint wasn't going anywhere. I went to the home of one of my good friends (hey, KT!) who had not been in on the, um, project. She was, and is, a woman of good sense. But still cool; very cool. I was too embarrassed, in the cold light of a May day, to confess to her. But I did tell her something like, "I heard some kids painted stuff all over Beaver Creek High School last night" . . . and I went on to describe some of the things that I had "heard" were painted there, including a crude euphemism for the female genitalia. Here, the conversation took a turn for the weird:

K: What color did they use?
S: I think white . . .
K: How big was it?
S: Oh, 'bout 2, maybe 3 feet high.

KT ponders this, then . . .

K: What was the angle . . .
S: What?
K: I mean, did they show the legs, or . . .
S: What are you talking about?
K: The %u&&y.
S: NO! Not an actual %u&&y!!!! Just the WORD, %u&&y!
K: Oh. I thought you meant they drew one.

I don't even know if this conversation was funny to me then, but it certainly is, now. The truth is, for better or worse, neither the males nor the females in that troupe had enough up close and personal knowledge of anyone's %u&&y to render it three feet tall on brick!

The days that followed were tense. Seventeen teenagers cannot keep a secret. Especially when one of them is driving around in a paint-splattered van. And I just remembered, we had even gone to the trouble of painting something on the road in front of our own school, to throw The Man off our trail. That graffiti was a bit milder; as I recall, it said "[Assistant Prinicipal] is a fine feller; but [Principal] is a fart-smeller!" What can I say, we were new to being criminals.

The Sheriff and deputies made several visits to the school. I think it was the new girl in the group who cracked first, but I don't know for sure. I know at some point we were all hauled in, individually, then in small groups, and shown photographs of the carnage. A giant brick %u&&y in a photograph proffered by an officer of the law in the daytime looks SO MUCH more sinister than it does in person in the nighttime. Over a period of several days, we were all busted.

The principal said that we could not attend the graduation ceremony. A number of the best students and athletes in our class were among this "branded" group. Some teachers and some students were openly hostile toward us. We had "shamed" the school. I felt then pretty much the same way I feel now: I could have made a list of students AND teachers who had, indeed, shamed the school; and none of us %u&&y-painters would have been on it. I felt that there was tremendous over-reaction. Many threats were made, to our freedom, our finances, our scholarships, our acceptances to the colleges we were preparing to attend. In the end, no formal charges were filed, and at the very last minute, after we'd already arranged a separate diploma-dispensing at a local church, by a forgiving minister, they said we could graduate. Not everyone was happy. I was relieved. Our punishment was that we had to pay restitution. We had to pay to have Beaver Creek sandblasted, repaired, etc. This was, of course, fair. It came to a few hundred dollars for each of us. For some kids present, or rather, for their parents, that was pocket change. For some, it was a fortune. Mine was paid by me, not my parents, and it was, indeed, a fortune.

Oh, and we had to go to Beaver Creek and make a sincere, public apology. To the entire student body, faculty and staff. At an assembly. On the stage. We decided to have one spokesperson to deliver our heartfelt apology, while the rest of us sat in a row behind her and looked appropriately remorseful. Now, on this memory, I have not compared notes with anyone, but here is what I recall. The spokesperson was Tammy, A-student, future surgeon, cheerleader, always dressed-to-kill Tammy. And she wore an extremely low-cut dress, displaying cleavage that none of us, to my knowledge, had ever seen before. This was in the day before Miracles and Wonders (I'm talking bras here), and I don't know how she came up with that (literally), but I was most impressed. There was cleavage; there was red lipstick; and maybe I have embellished this moment in memory, but I swear I think she wore a big ol' hat, too. Now, the accessory that I am certain I recall accurately, and the one that I thought completed the "F-you" tone of the ensemble, was the pair of hickies on her neck. Many people had those things, back in the day; but you covered them up, for heaven's sake, you wore a turtleneck, or some makeup or something. That is, unless you were Tammy, spokesperson for the Central 17, making a formal apology to the Beaver Creek Beavers. THAT was some STYLE.

The Beavers did not appreciate our efforts. I believe we were booed. Booed by the Beavers, as we sat on their stage. Later that day, as I sold char-broiled burgers in Hardee's, two Beaver Creek athletes appeared in my line. I either found this funny, or I was nervous about it, because by the time they got to me I was giggling. Then they started laughing, too. One of them said, "You’re not a bit sorry." I told them it was nothing personal, that we meant them no harm, it was a joke that ended up much worse and more expensive than we'd intended. They said it was funny, and they would have done the same thing to our school if they'd thought of it. Free fries for you, Beavers!

The 25th class reunion was a couple of years ago, and although I did not attend, I understand that this incident was a topic of lively discussion. I was told that some were very happy to have been in on it; some thought it among the worst experiences of their lives. For me, it was certainly memorable. It was not among the worst experiences of my life.



I do believe she has fixed my blog. I can't tell you how she did it, because if we told you, we'd have to kill you. But now, at least for this moment, I can save drafts, and write long posts, and even empty the little bitty trashcans. Thank you, Bucky :)

Celebrating the Genteel Art of Letter-Writing

Kitty said...

Dear Blogger,

My only happiness in life is reading this blog. If you do not help my friend Susie soon, I will be forced to hack into your datacenter and post close up pics of my cellulite on your blogger toolbar. Flag this you bitches.

Oh ya, and f**k google too.

That is all.



10:20 PM

Who needs my posts when you have my commenters? What? Oh, yea, without posts I don't get any comments. Doh!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Getting What I Pay For

I can't post again until 1) Blogger repair comes to the rescue; or 2) I get huge amounts of extra time dropped in my lap. I cannot save any drafts in blogger. That feature just is not available to me anymore. I did download the blogger for Word and tried to publish a story directly from there, but it shows up with so much garbage, so many bizarre symbols in the text, that it's almost unreadable. And what's worse, those symbols don't show up in html, just when I actually publish it on the blog, so I can't even go in and clean it up efficiently. For the longer stories that you know I like to write, and some of you hate to read, I need to be able to save a draft while I'm working on them, and to do a little editing. I HOPE IT GETS FIXED SOON. End of whine. I'll write again when I can.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Sunday Post ~ "...let us not love with words...but with actions..."

I John 3:16-20

file under: &Sunday Post

Friday, August 19, 2005

I Thank Y'all Kindly for Coming

I appreciate your attendance at this blogger pity party. Or this "blogger is pitiful" party. I'll keep sentences short and sweet, and try to offer you a nice spread in return for your kindness.

Care to wet your whistle?

I splurged; y'all are worth it!

Oh, who brought the lovely fruit? Is Plum here?

Someone has raided the garden to share with us.

Roast beast, anyone?

Eclectic? We need a refill on the chips, here, darlin'.

Let us eat cake!

Who brought these, um, carrots?

Technical Difficulties

If I write something really short, and don't preview it, and don't try to edit it, and don't save it as a draft at any time, I MIGHT be able to get it published. If you're reading this, then it worked. All week, through today, anything I save as a draft disappears; and many things I was working on in draft form have also disappeared. I don't need the aggravation, so I'm outta here until it's fixed. I'll check on it from time to time. I've written to blogger's alleged "help." We'll see. You wanna write to them, too, and ask them to help me? Yea, I didn't think so ;) Have a good one. I'll try to get a pic up on Sunday.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Ten Things About Me #4

31. I don't usually curse in realworld. Occasionally, but not usually. Most likely to when I am alone with Jif (not like THAT), when commenting on a news story or what some @*@%(!@%#+ we know did.

32. You are not likely to hear me say the word "boob" in real life, because I hate that word. The word "breast" is just fine with me, as are any of the euphemisms that most people consider more vulgar than the word I hate. I prefer those other terms. I am not sure why this is, and I realize that it is strange in this culture of boobs, boobies, and the like. I think it is an ugly word. I probably find it misogynistic because it nearly always has a negative connotation: the boob tube, a booby hatch (nuthouse). I have used the word in blogworld; it seems the term of choice, and that's OK. I just don't like it, don't say it.

33. My favorite job, other than the ones in mental health, was as a production assistant on the local 11 o'clock news, while in college. I liked that a lot.

34. I have had 9 miscarriages. I don't think I've said that on this blog, although I have said it on others. Someday I may post about it. Or not.

35. I almost didn't get my high school diploma, because I was one of a bunch of seniors, almost all goody-good kids, who vandalized a rival high school. The short version is: the kid who got the paint for us promised it would wash off with water. We thought that even if we got caught, we'd just have to hose off the school; no harm done. Um, no. There was extensive sandblasting, brick-repairing involved. It was quite a scandal, police, the whole enchilada. The moral of the story: don't trust Jon L. to get the paint when you're planning a vandalization (is that a word?)

36. I have not had a beer in . . . . about 27 years. Just never liked it much.

37. I have had dreams, about personal matters and major news events, that have come true. It hasn't happened in a few years, and I am glad because that frightens me a lot. (Think "Medium," but without the deadfolk visiting.)

38. Once, while in Vegas, three nights in a row I dreamed the names of the horses that would win in the next day's races. At first I just gave them to Jif, but word spread and I developed a little following of gambling geezer groupies. Then the dreams just stopped. The groupies left, but Jif stayed :)

39. I get very excited when my Hallmark rewards certificate comes in the mail.

40. I am a very thankful person. I have worked on being that way (still do), because I don't like the alternative, in myself or in others.

And Blogger is being very mean to me; I can't save any drafts, so can't leave to find any links, etc. Just stop it, Blogger!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Small, Small World

A man waits anxiously in Exam Room 1 for the nurse who is about to perform a simple, yet delicate medical procedure. She enters, smiling, and introduces herself, first and last name. Then she says, as she prepares the instruments and gestures him into position, "I know your wife."

"You do?"

"Yes, I know her well. She's very nice."

"How do you know her?"

"I used to be a client of hers." He doesn't know what to say. His wife is a psychotherapist, treating people with a wide variety of mental disorders and life situations. Apparently this woman has looked beyond the name on his chart, to find out if he is married to her former therapist. His wife is very careful not to interact with clients or former clients outside of work, if it is at all preventable. Should he stop the procedure and ask for someone else? Just then a cold, powerful sensation smashes against his left temple, and his glasses are knocked off.

"Oops!" she squeals, and laughs . . .

My office is just outside the city limits of a major city, major population center. It is an area where there are more therapists than you can shake a stick at. Yet I am often reminded of just how small the world is. As a general rule, I don't treat family members of my individual clients. And I don't treat people whom I am likely to encounter in other areas of my life, e.g., my vet, my dry cleaner, a teacher at my child's school. My boundaries in these matters are far more cautious than some of my colleagues, but that's my choice. And sometimes, it doesn't seem to matter, because, it's a small world after all.

Many years ago, when my office was in the inner city, I treated a young mother, suffering from depression. When she was a child, her mother had died from complications of alcoholism. My client had a history of having been in foster care, and was now having trouble with her new marriage and new baby. She was also estranged from her sister, who was an alcoholic, and was gay. My client did not accept that her sister was lesbian.

I completed therapy with that woman, and about 6 years after we terminated, I sat across from a new client, a recovering alcoholic, who came to me hoping to learn to make better choices in her work life and financial life. She also needed to recover from some childhood trauma. In about the third session, her story started sounding awfully familiar. The mom's escapades, the foster homes, the younger sister whom she had tried to raise. Then it hit me. Here I was with the sister of the client I'd treated years ago. That was a bit of a dilemma. Her story matched point by point with her sister's old story; except my client was not telling me that she was gay. But I knew; because her sister had told me. It is not unusual for someone to withhold such information for a while. Sometimes I already suspect by the time they tell me, sometimes not. But never before or since have I already known, because of prior information from a family member.

I felt very stuck. I could not say to this client, "I know you're gay, because your sister told me years ago." I could not let her know that I knew her sister; that would be a violation of my former client's privacy. At the same time, it did not seem ethical to work with this woman, while "pretending" that I did not know such vital information about her. What to do, what to do . . .

I only had to ponder my dilemma for about a week, when my new client came in and said, "Oh, my sister said to tell you, 'hi.'" Whew. They were no longer estranged, and my former client had told my current client of our prior relationship, including the fact that I knew she was gay.

Another time, I was seeing a family in which the mother's brother was divorced. Very little mention was made of this brother; he and his sister were simply not close. At the same time, I was seeing the ex-wife of this mother's brother. (You with me?) This went on for months before I became aware of the connections. There was no good reason to terminate after this realization, but I was careful to never schedule these clients back-to-back.

Once, I was working with a family who had a fifteen-old-daughter who had been molested by an uncle. There was a court case pending, and there was tremendous family upheaval. The father and uncle worked together in the grandfather's business. Everyone in the extended family had turned against my clients, saying that the girl was lying. The aunt, wife of the accused uncle, was particularly unkind to the daughter in my family. I worked with these people for about two years. As we were approaching termination, I received a call from a very distraught woman whose parish priest had referred her to me.

She was having marital problems, problems with her young adult daughter, and dealing with the stress of accusations which had been made against her husband, and which she was now starting to believe. Yes, she was the wife of the perpetrator in my client family's story. Before I realized who she was, I was about to schedule a consultation. When she began to give details about the family business, the light bulb came on. This was a hard one, because we had had really good rapport on the phone to that point, and because this was a woman who had agonized for ages about calling a therapist. For me to "reject" her meant that she may become too discouraged to get help. I had already agreed to see her, and I had to backtrack. As gently and diplomatically as I could, I told her that during the course of our call, I realized that there were some ethical considerations that would prevent me from seeing her. That it had nothing to do with her, but with some prior commitments on my part. I was incredibly vague. I suppose I could have lied about why I wouldn't see her. I chose vagueness over lying. I did send her off with names of some other therapists whom I thought could help.

Then there was the man whose name was so unusual that I recognized him immediately when I got his phone message. He was the man with whom I had served on the board of a local private school, just a couple of years earlier. I returned his call, thinking it was unusual that he would have called me at work, since that board was very casual, we would not have hesitated to call one another at home. When I identified myself, and offered that I was returning his call, he launched into a story. It remains one of the most heartbreaking stories I have heard from an adult. He began talking, and crying, and did not stop for several minutes. I realized that he had called me as a shrink, not as a fellow board member. What I didn't know was whether he knew that he already knew me. But I didn't think so. And I was right.

I began with, "You know, Rociferous, you and I have met . . . " He didn't know. Someone had given him my name and he had called, barely even reading the name on the paper. I suggested that I help him find someone else, but he was adamant that he was no longer serving on that board, and that he could not tell this story again this week. I agreed to see him. So far, I believe it was a good decision.

Sometimes I tell clients early in our relationship, about how I handle those situations when we might meet in public. Even in this huge area, it happens all the time. When I was new to my work, I saw some clients in a store once, when I was with my family and they were with theirs. I ignored them. I thought, on the spot, that that would be the best way to preserve their privacy. They were pissed. Very insulted. So I came up with the spiel I give now, something like, "If I see you out in public, I will not acknowledge you, in order to protect your privacy. I have no way of knowing if the people you are with know that you're in therapy, or if you would want them to know. And the people I am with certainly don't know you're in therapy. You are welcome to acknowledge me, and then, of course I will speak to you, but only if you go first." So far, every time, they have spoken to me. And then they speak to my husband and kid, saying nice things about me, and telling them how they know me. If they don't tell my husband how they know me, he will know anyway, because I simply say, "Jif, this is Lisa." The fact that I offer no additional information is, of course, additional information itself, about how I must know this person. So far, this system works.

I don't tell my husband who my clients are, or were. But sometimes, my clients tell him. Like last week. Like in the freaky deaky story that started this post. Remember Jif's ear trouble? It has persisted. After his doc's appointment last week, to which he took LG, he told me the story. The "procedure" was an ear irrigation.

Jif asks me, "Do you know Jane Jones?" The name sounded familiar, but then, a name like that would. "She said she used to be your client."

"Oh, OK. Yea, why? Where'd you see her?"

"She's a nurse at Dr. Mac's office. She did my ear today." When I heard this, my brain went all fuzzy and smelly; like bread in a third grade mold experiment.

"WHAT?" Even as alarmed as I was, and even with Jane having been the one who violated her own privacy, I could not give Jif details about her diagnosis, or treatment, or prognosis. But I did keep saying things like, "No. She's not a nurse. Oh, my gosh, no, she is not a nurse, not not not a nurse, not a nurse . . . . "

LG offers, "Maybe she became a nurse since you saw her last."

How can I put this? "She is not someone who could . . . or would . . . ever really be um, eligible, or um qualified to be a nurse . . . . " She's crazy as hell, oh, the stories I could tell . . .

After she introduced herself to my husband and to my child, and shot my husband in the head -- thank GOD her only weapon was a giant syringe!!!! -- and splattered my kid with the ricocheting water, sending her cowering in the corner, the doc came in and rescued my family from Calamity Jane.

I don't like this one bit. I imagine that our doc, an exceptionally kind person, took pity on Jane, also a patient of hers, and gave her some sort of assisting job. But please, oh please, keep her out of our orifices! And our files! Aaaaggghhhh!

We are outta here, again. Just for a long weekend this time, back on Monday. Thanks for visiting, be good to one another. XOXXOX

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Oh, the HORROR!

The other night, this 23-year-old client comes in for her regular appointment, and is clearly distraught.

She is grimacing, fighting back tears. "You know my best friend, Cindy?"

"Yes . . . what's happened?"

"Her fiance . . . he . . . got drunk and cheated on her . . . "

I am appropriately sympathetic to Cindy, and to my client's empathy for her. She goes on, "and that's not even the worst part . . . " sniff, wipe . . .

"It is the grossest thing I have ever heard . . . he . . . " wipe, sniff

"What did he do?"

"He had sex with a 45-year-old woman! Can you IMAGINE?!"

At this point, my therapeutic response was to:

A. Burst into tears
B. Laugh hysterically
C. Bitch slap the client
D. say, "I can see that's very distressing to you . . . tell me about that . . . "

I can't make this stuff up . . .

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Did You Hear the One About . . .

Warning: This post is rated LURB for language unbecoming a respectable blog. Due to profound profanity, political incorrectitude and just general wrongness, the following is for mature audiences . . . I mean, people who, in the real world, pass for adults at least part of the time. If you are likely to be offended by, or simply unlikely to enjoy, the previously stated attributes, please come back another day.

Two jokes I really like:

An egg and a chicken are lying in bed late at night. The egg has a dreamy, contented expression on his face, as he smokes a cigarette. The chicken appears agitated, almost hostile. "Well!" She says, "I guess we answered THAT question!"

Two friends are out walking their dogs in the afternoon sun. They walk several blocks, and become thirsty. Just then one of the friends says, "Hey, let's go in that bar on the corner and have a beer!"

"We can't go in there with the dogs," says the other guy.

"Sure we can, watch this!" says the first guy. He pulls his sunglasses out of his pocket and walks his dog right into the bar.

A few minutes later, the other friend goes over to the bar and looks in the window. There's his friend sitting on a barstool, sunglasses on, enjoying a beer, while his German Shepherd lies contentedly on the floor next to him.

So the other guy decides to join him. He puts on his sunglasses and walks into the bar, dog leading the way.

"Hey! You can't come in here with that dog!" yells the bartender.

"What? He's my seeing eye dog; you have to let us in!"

"Yea, right. A chihuahua is your seeing eye dog?"

"Son of a bitch! They gave me a chihuahua?!"

And my very favorite. This is the first "dirty joke" I ever heard, when I was in about 4th grade. It still makes me laugh.

Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse are in divorce court, back in the day before "irreconcilable differences" was considered a good reason to divorce.

The judge says to Mickey, "I am afraid I cannot grant your petition for divorce. I have examined all of the evidence very carefully, I have read your statement, and I can find nothing at all to corroborate your claim that your wife, Minnie, is crazy."

Mickey says, "NO, your honor! I never said she was crazy! I SAID she was FUCKIN' GOOFY!"

I realize I may regret this, but OK, tell us yours. Adult, OK, but not offensive, OK? And I shall be the sole arbiter of what is offensive, and if it makes me want to puke and/or join some sort of protest march in support of some racial/ethnic/cultural/religious minority, then I will delete your ass with extreme prejudice. And I mean that in the nicest possible way :)

Monday, August 08, 2005

Doing This Monday Motif Makes Me Absentee*

Brewing makes me tea

Drinking it makes me pee

Drying flowers makes me potpourri

Hearing jokes makes me teeheehee

Arguing makes me referee

Living in this family makes me three

Getting a facial makes me jolie

Swinging makes me wheeeeeee!

Writing this "poetry" makes me see

Poeting is not what makes me me.

Today's Monday Motif is "Poetry Challenge," issued by mrtl, with a suggestion of this formula,

"[gerund] makes me [word rhyming with "me"]

Ooh! Ooh! Is an English lesson in order here? A gerund is a present participle (an -ing word, like gardening, crying, sleeping, and running) that is used as a noun."

Can you believe her? I am quite sure I suck at this, however it is not really what makes me *absentee. I will be working from early morning until late evening. Feel free to help me with my alleged poem :)

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Sunday Post ~ Make today count

Psalm 91:12

A song for you, Life Means So Much

Every day is a journal page
Every man holds a quill and ink

And there's plenty of room for writing in
All we do and believe and think

So will you compose a curse?
Or will today bring the blessings?
Fill the page with rhyming verse?
Or some random sketchings?

Teach us to count the days,
teach us to make the days count

Lead us in better ways,
somehow our souls forgot

Life means so much
Life means so much

Every day is a bank account
And time is our currency

So no one's rich, nobody's poor,
We get twenty-four hours each

So how are you gonna spend?
Will you invest or squander?
Try to get ahead?
Or help someone who's under?

Has anybody lived who knew the value of a life?
And didn't He give His own to show the worth of yours and mine?

Teach us to count the days,
Teach us to make the days count

Lead us in better ways,
Somehow our souls forgot

Every day is a gift, you've been given
Make the most of the time, every minute you're livin'

Every day is a gift, you've been given
Make the most of the time, every minute you're livin'

By Chris Rice, on "Smell the Color 9" CD

file under: &Sunday Post

Friday, August 05, 2005

With a Little Help from My Friends

I think today's SPF assignment is "show us your mental illness," and while I could certainly give y'all a run for your money, I'm thinking that might be bad for business!

I've been feeling droopy and suffering from writer's constipation this week, but some friends have contributed to the cause of keeping this blog operational:

Circus Kelli, known blogworldwide for being HOT, used her considerable automotive skills to Pimp My Ride. This is the world premiere of my pimped out '99 Saturn:

This is the car we bought 7 years ago, just after LG entered the world of "big girl panties." I remember this because we took too long haggling with the salesguy, and she squatted and peed on the showroom floor. I empathized with the impulse, but I refrained. This is also the car that, on one of the back quarter panels, has the word MAMA scratched into it by a 3-year-old's fingernail. I still don't get how that's possible, but it's there, quite visible for all these years. "Now you'll always know it's your car, Mama." Yep. That and the fact that now it's HOT!

Another friend lifted my spirits this week. My little buddy/daughter, LG, shared with me her favorite jokes from our church newsletter, to help me feel less droopy:

A grumpy teacher was teaching her elementary students about whales. Some students asked if a whale could swallow a person, and the teacher said, no, that whales' throats are much too small to swallow a person whole. One little girl raised her hand and told the story of Jonah and the whale.

The teacher, annoyed, repeated that whales cannot swallow humans.

The little girl, said, "Well, when I get to heaven, I'll just have to ask Jonah how that happened to him."

The teacher said mockingly, "What if Jonah didn't go to heaven?"

The little girl said, "Then you can ask him."


A kindergarten teacher was watching her students as they drew pictures. One little girl was very engrossed in her artwork, but the teacher didn't recognize the subject matter.

"What are you drawing there?" she asked.

"I'm drawing a picture of God."

"But no one knows what God looks like," said the teacher.

The little girl kept working hard. "They will in a minute."

My writer's block is so firmly established now, that I think it deserves the benefits that all firmly established blocks have -- a neighborhood watch, a back-to-school block party . . . I'll post a sign-up sheet.

And maybe next week I'll post my favorite jokes -- which are profane and/or politically incorrect and/or in highly questionable taste, and will most definitely not be published in the church newsletter.

But for now, how about telling us your favorite "clean" joke, one that I can tell my kid?

As much as I did not set out to reveal my various mental disorders, sometimes things take on a life of their own. See Nilbo's "city boy and cow" joke in the comments, and my reply. Nobody pimps out a farm animal like Circus Kelli :)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Shalom, Sarah

The following was Sarah Kaplan's last blog post before she left her home, to fly to a city where the medicine was better -- the technology, the experience -- for treating her illness. She was prepared for 120 days, of preparation, then bone-marrow transplant, then recuperation. Then back home. Her partner, Nikki, was with her, and so were her sisters. I "met" most of them, either here or at their blog, Sarah's Wacky, Loving Family.

I learned today that Sarah died yesterday. When her sister, Shoshie, posted that yesterday was "the beginning of the end," I misunderstood. I thought it meant that Sarah was dying; that the end was approaching. To swlf, it meant that the end had already begun. I am sort of glad I misunderstood, took that time to grow accustomed to the idea. And even as I write that, I realize how absurd it is. I'm not one bit accustomed to the idea. I'm quite numb.

Sarah popped in here not long ago, and as soon as I read her comment, I had to go and "meet" her. I "bloved" her immediately. She is smart, and funny and kind; my kind of blogfriend. Then I visited what I came to call the "sisters' blog," and I bloved them, too. If you didn't go and read what Sarah wrote, and what Nikki and the sisters wrote, oh gosh, you should. So much love, and hope, and frustration, and beauty. So much of what makes us human, in the best sense of the word. I am blessed for having met them; you will be too, even now.

Isn't it curious how "close" we get, how much we like someone we've never met? And how much we miss them when they're not there; even though they were never really "there" in a literal sense. I've had this conversation before, with other blogfriends. Some of us answered that MIT blog survey, and had to say whether the blogs we read are written by "friends" or "acquaintances," or others. Can someone be your friend if you've never met them, and in all likelihood never will? What is it that makes someone a friend? Before I started blogging, I would have been highly suspicious of claims that people you've never met are "friends." Now I know better.

Here's Sarah's last post. The title made me laugh then. It makes me smile, now. She's still smart and funny and kind:

Thursday, July 14

Elvis has left the building

Ok...I just love that phrase. While I am away
getting my breast augmentation--whoops---I am
getting a stem-cell/bone marrow transplant.
Damn good thing I remembered. I would have come
home sick as shit....but a size 44 DD...

I am not sure how reliable my dorky sister's will
be regarding posting on their site...how much
candy I have consumed....but you can look if you
are way bored, and I mean way bored.


or Lea may post on her site


And it will on the National News if I need more
candy....RSG/Susie said they would drive that bus

Thanks from the bottom, the middle and the
top of my heart.


Shalom, Sarah.

Eat some candy in Sarah's honor. Or better yet, share some candy with someone.

Monday, August 01, 2005

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

I realized a couple of things:
1)In order to get a FUNNY story, something has to go just a little bit wrong. This account isn't going to be all that funny, because it was an incredibly good vacation!
2)I like taking pictures out the windshield while driving through tunnels (well, while Jif drives me through tunnels):

Go toward the light!

Taking pictures in the tunnels served as a very effective distraction from the claustrophobia that I might otherwise have felt.

Our little cottage was, according to the website and the brochure, an elegant place. The price of the place would have seemed to support this description. Our friends arrived there before we did, and when we called them on the cell, I asked the Dad of that family, "So . . . is it GREAT?" And he answered, "We're doing fine, having a good time . . . " Ruh-roh. OK, it wasn't elegant. It was over 100 years old, truly. It was rustic. Once we embraced rustic, we really did enjoy it, had no real complaints (except about the toilet paper, but I'll get to that in a minute).

We stayed on this road:

In this cottage:

We were with Jif's friend, who is LG's godfather. "Parran" is allegedly the cajun word for godfather, and since this friend married a girl from N'Orleans, we all are apparently cajun by association, so we now call this Maryland-born friend "Parran." And Jif is Parran to Parran's little girl, as well. You with me? We had two Parrans, two wives, and two little girls. In one 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom cottage in the mountains in southwestern North Carolina. Frankly, I was a little apprehensive. I need a considerable amount of personal space -- no, that's not another "ass crack," it's a crack, I mean a commentary, on my level of introversion, my need for privacy. I must say, though, that we blended wonderfully with these good people. There was no tension, no awkwardness, nothing at all unpleasant between the six of us. I think that's quite something. We would happily go on vacation with these people again. (And no, they don't know about the blog, so I'm not just blowing smoke up their chimneys.)

To describe our experience overall, the phrase that comes to mind, attributable to another blogger (I don't remember who said it first -- if it was you, by all means take credit here in the comments) is: "moist as a snack cake." The phrase was originally used in a sexual context I believe, but isn't it just an appealing combination of words? Oh, how did it apply to our vacation? Well, we went to the "cool" mountains, where the lowest daytime temperature most days was 94 humid freakin' degrees. That makes for a certain amount of "moist" right there. Add to that time in the pool, in the river, on the lake, and hiking in the heat to misty waterfalls -- moist, we were. As snack cakes.

We were all over Hendersonville, Flat Rock, Asheville, Brevard, Chimney Rock, and various points on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We met interesting, exotic critters:
These bears were among many that line the streets of Hendersonville, until they are auctioned on October 22. They're quite wonderful.
This guy stood guard outside the Biltmore House, the largest private home in the country, built by the Vanderbilts in 1895.

We relaxed a lot, in hammocks and swings . . .

We hiked to these beautiful waterfalls:

We had excellent food, wine, company, scenery, and daily arrangements of the loveliest flowers, freshly picked and masterfully arranged by the sweetest little girls:

We were doing just fine with everything until we ran low on toilet paper. We waited a bit to see if "housekeeping" at the resort would bring us some, but no one showed. So when we went to the office to mail our postcards, we asked for some. There was a failure to communicate, I believe. First, I handed over about 15 postcards to the young woman behind the desk. As I was saying, "Will you mail these for us, please?", she was saying, "I'll put these on your bill." I thought, "WTF?" And I said, "You're going to charge us for putting our postcards in the mail?"

It seems she didn't notice that our cards already had stamps on them; when she saw that she agreed not to put a postcard mailing charge on our bill. Then I said, "Oh, we'd like to pick up some bathroom tissue and some small wastebasket liners, please." She looked at me as though I were crazy (I know this look well). She said nothing. So I altered the vocabulary. "Some toilet paper and trash bags? Please?"

She says, "How long are you staying?" Now I was quiet for a moment. Did she have some formula about how much toilet paper or how many trash bags a guest is entitled to, per day? Per week?

Finally, I said, "Seven days. Why?"

"Oh, if you are staying for less than 7 days, we supply toilet paper. More than 7 days, we expect you to supply your own."

I thought, "WTF?" But I said, "We're staying for exactly 7 days." And I waited.

And she said, "Then we expect you to supply your own."

And I said, very pleasantly, "I called this office, twice, before we came, just to make sure we had everything we need. I would have been happy to bring toilet paper, except that both times when I specifically asked about that, I was told that it would be supplied. In fact, both times I called, I read down a list of 'will we need to bring...' and both times I was told that you supply -- among other things -- toilet paper and trash bags. In fact, both times I was told that ALL we needed to bring is dish detergent and laundry detergent. So we did."

"Well, our policy is to supply toilet paper to guests staying less than seven days..."

STOP. We've paid roughly 2 grand for this rustic/elegant place. And this chick is gonna stand here and go all TP Nazi on me? Uh . . . NO.

"Um, seriously, are you refusing to give me toilet paper?"

"Well . . . I could give you one roll . . . would you like for me to give you a roll?"

Would you like for me to give YOU a . . . "I would like that SO much. I really would appreciate that." So she gives me one roll. We told the story to the menfolk, who said they'd go over and tell the TP Nazi that they needed LOTS of TP, and they needed it NOW, implying some impending toilet crisis . . . they came back with two more rolls, so we were good. It's the principle of the thing, you know?

My very favorite part of the week was after we went to Chimney Rock Park, and stopped by the Rocky Broad River. I love rocks, as I've said here in blogworld many times. I love their history, their permanence, their evolution. The photo from yesterday was taken as I sat on a big rock in the middle of that river. We put our sneakers here:

And we went out to the middle of the river and climbed on large rocks and just sat there and watched the water rush around us:

Imagine how this feels:

OK, so they're dirty and have sneaker-dents, and the pedi could use a touch-up; I'm not showing you because they look good, I'm showing you because they feel good. Just imagine, after a long, hot hike, sitting on a rock chair resting your piggies on a rock ottoman in a cool river . . . aaahhhh . . .

Oh, I just remembered. Before the river and after the hike, I was sitting on a bench outside a little store, enjoying a bottle of Deer Park, when this little fellow comes up and sits down beside me. He's a cutie, Mexican, I believe, and chubby, about as wide as he was high, probably not quite 3 years old. He leans on my thigh to get a good look at my drink, jabs his finger at it and says, loudly and accusingly, "You got frekkin' donkey water!"

OK, first, why is a two-year-old using language like that, and second, what the frek? I look at him quizzically, and I hold my bottle up to the sunlight, cautiously inspecting it for evidence that it is, in fact "donkey water." I got nothing.

"Donkey water?"


"Show me." So he points to a picture on the label on the back of the water bottle, some kind of promotion that depicts . . . SHREK and DONKEY. I'm drinking "Shrek and Donkey water." Phew! That was a relief. "Ha. Yea, I guess it is Shrek and Donkey water. It has their picture, right?"


The only real "crisis" of the trip occurred when I got locked in the bathroom at the cottage. I was in mine and Jif's bathroom, which, I had discovered, had a broken lock. No worries, there were plenty of bathrooms in the place, and intruders weren't likely. But this one evening, after we returned from the day's adventures, I went in there and I locked the door automatically, out of habit. And the lock worked. OK, good. Until I went to unlock it. Uhohnowlook. It won't open. My companions are all outside, now. Remember, I'm claustrophobic. I was really OK, though. The fan was blowing (the switch to it was outside the door; had it been off, I would have been more anxious); there was a window; there was all the water I could ever need. And, to be blunt, if you're going to be locked in somewhere, a bathroom isn't the worst place to be . . . like, you know, the worry about "what if I need to go" is pretty much a non-issue. So, after I established that I was, in fact, calm, and giving myself credit for not freaking out, I started yelling and banging on the door until Jif came and picked the lock with one of those fancy "Leatherman" pocket tool things. I think that's what it was. Hakuna matata restored.

That night at a restaurant, we had to wait over an hour for a table that we were told would be ours in 20 minutes. We were uncomfortably tired and hungry by the time we were seated. My little bathroom incident only served as a reminder of how good my life was at that moment. While the others grumbled, I said, "I'm not going to complain. I'm just thankful I'm not locked in a bathroom anymore." Sometimes a little attitude adjustment makes all the difference.

On the way home, we stopped in one more NC town, Montreat. What a charming, lovely little place. A college town. And they liked me, too. I made such a splash there that they named the lake after me ;)

Well, that's purty much it. It was really nice. Thanks for your happy vacation wishes, and your "welcome backs." (Welcomes back?) And thank you for visiting and praying for Sarah. She's in trouble, now. Please don't stop praying. In fact, how about right now? THANK YOU :)

(Please pardon any wacky formatting here, I used blogger's pop-in-a-pic feature, and I clearly don't know how to do that very well.)