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Thursday, May 31, 2007

I've Got a Secretrant

Can you keep a secret?

I can. With the best of them. It's part of what I do for a living. And that may be part of why I really don't like to do it in real life. Let me amend that. It's not that I don't like keeping confidences. Actually, keeping confidence is my default mode. You don't really have to tell me not to pass something along. Unless you specifically tell me to pass it along, I probably won't. No, what I don't like is being snared into keeping secrets, in real life.

I have one relative who is fond of telling me (and others) something, usually something personal, sometimes "juicy," often controversial, and saying, "You cannot tell ANYBODY." And then when I am around the "anybodies" to whom she was referring, I can tell that she's told them the same thing. So we're all there, knowing, but being forbidden from discussing it with one another while we all pretend we don't know what we know and aren't thinking about what we're thinking about. You know?

It happens with people sometimes who tell you something awful that a mutual acquaintance/friend/relative has done to them. But you mustn't say anything. To quote Pearl, "I'm tired of this crap." Telling me how you've been victimized may relieve you of some of the distress about it, but it delivers that distress right onto me. I can't confront the person who did you wrong because you don't want me to (or do you?) and because it's "not my business," (then explain to me again, why am I in this?), and I can't pass it on to someone else to relieve some of my distress about it, because that would be gossip, and that is against my religion (unless it's something totally worth breaking that rule for). So . . . here I am, stuck with your crap. Not that that's an unfamiliar position for me to be in, or one that I can't handle. It's just that normally, when I'm in this position, I collect a check after 50 minutes.

I'm aware that both my personal and professional history contribute to my regard for secrets. How many good things have to be kept secret? Not an upcoming "surprise," but an ongoing secret? Good things don't become secrets. It's the illegal, immoral, unethical things that become secrets. And most of those things couldn't go on apart from the secret-keepers' participation, collusion in them. And in the end, I believe nothing remains secret. Light shines eventually. Do you know of a secret that has been and will be a secret "forever?" I don't. They've either been revealed, or I can see how they will be, even years down the road, even after some of the main characters are long gone.

I recently received an email from the mother of one of LG's friends. The subject line said "Something weird about LG, I thought you'd want to know." The email explained that LG had mentioned to the writer's daughter, Sneezer, something that she had seen in a TV movie. The topic was of a disturbing, controversial nature. When I scanned my feeble memory bank, I almost immediately knew what LG was referring to. It was from the movie, "The Stand," which we allowed her to watch part of, on a Sunday afternoon a couple of weeks ago. I think it's a great movie. It's also over LG's (age 11) head, but I hope some day she'll watch it. The part in question was, ironically, a scene which LG didn't even see. Jif changed the channel. But I, open-minded, open-mouthed therapist Mom, told LG why she couldn't see it. In doing so, I told her what happened in it. In exactly . . . six words. That is to say, I did not give her a graphic description, the very thing that Jif and I were trying to protect her from. But apparently the brief explanation was striking enough that she told Sneezer something like, "I saw a movie in which [six words]."

I wrote back to the mom that I knew exactly what she was talking about, and I was sorry if hearing about that was distressing to Sneezer, and I would discuss it with LG. Before I went to discuss it with LG a few days later, I reread the other mother's email. And I had not caught this upon first reading, but she said there, "If you discuss this with LG, do NOT tell her that Sneezer told me and I told you. Sneezer is worried about getting her in trouble."

(Here's the part where I shatter any remaining illusions that I am a pleasant, easy-going person; I really think I used to be. I don't know if it's WTF, or old age, or what, but stuff bugs me now, and I say so.) Maybe it's just me, but that pissed me off. I didn't get any say in the matter. I was being instructed on how to handle a sensitive subject with my child. I really resented this other woman making the rules about how I could and couldn't do that. And somehow, just the very act of my opening her email obligated me to follow the rules contained therein, or else be a . . . bad person? Bad friend? Tattletale?

I wrote back to her,

"I didn't bring this up with LG earlier in the week, because we've been so busy. I went back and read your email before approaching her about the subject, and I was glad I did. I didn't catch the first time that you didn't want me to mention Sneezer. I will talk to her about it without mentioning Sneezer, as you asked. But I did want to let you know, for future reference, that's not how I normally communicate with LG, i.e., bringing up something but being unwilling to fully disclose where I'm coming from. I wouldn't want her to do that with me, so I don't like to do that with her. I only mention this because I hope that if anything arises in the future that you think I should know about, you will still tell me, even knowing that I will tell her where my information came from.

. . . And you can reassure Sneezer that LG isn't in trouble; I don't think she did anything wrong. I do need to remind her that not everyone talks about all the things we talk about. Occupational hazard, I'm afraid.

Thanks again for letting me know, and I hope my way of doing things won't prevent you from communicating any concerns in the future."
I don't know whether she'll ever tell me anything after that. I do know that I don't want to be constrained by her ideas of parenting, so if she chooses to keep something from me, because I will be honest with my child, that's the risk I choose to take.

I think it's the mixed message about these examples that pushes my buttons: I trust you enough to confide this in you, but I don't trust that you can choose how to handle the information in an appropriate, constructive manner. So I'll tell you what to do with the information.

How do you handle imposed secrecy? Is it hard for you, or is it just me?

file under: &About Me &Family

Monday, May 28, 2007


While visiting virtual friends recently, I was reminded of how very much I enjoy children's artwork. William sent others here to see the turkeys and the snowmans (perhaps my favorite posts here), and he showed us the chilling charming examples of his own artwork. The depravity imagination depicted there was inspiring. At about the same time, CK talked about viewing her son's artwork at the preschool teacher's conference. These friends got me to thinking about my own experience of children's artwork, as therapist and as mother.

Part of the teacher conference in LG's preschool was the viewing of the children's artwork. While Jif and I waited our turn to chat with Ms. Stacey in the circle time area, we went to look at the children's self-portraits on the bulletin board. LG had been drawing self-portraits for ages. Hers were characterized by remarkable attention to detail, for her age. Her drawings of "wittle dirls" featured not only fingers, toes and ears (advanced for her age) but perhaps even earrings, nail polish, a scarf, a purse. She was a girly girl and didn't care who knew it.

As we stood there happily scanning the bulletin board -- "Oh, look at this one! Isn't that adorable?" -- my eyes came to rest on one self-portrait that was not like the others. The subject had somewhat of a circle for a head. But no face. No limbs. The body, however, appeared a convulsion of shape and color. Hmm, this can not be good. The absence of a face. Ohdeargod. This child is probably severely neglected, completely under-stimulated, perhaps abused. There are no legs, with which to run and play -- or to escape. There are no arms, no hands. A clear indication of powerlessness, helplessness. I feel almost sick. I look closer at the body. It is triangular in shape, such as children draw to indicate a woman's dress. The colors are bright -- I would even say "loud," and the shapes swirl around one another wildly. I fear this child is psychotic. I glance toward Ms. Stacey, who is just finishing up with the parents before us. I stealthily lift up the corner of the red construction paper on which the self-portrait is mounted, so I can read this poor child's name. There it is: LG Fairchild.

While I stand there, stunned, Ms. Stacey sidles up to us and greets us cheerfully. She sees that I have seen, and she gives me that head-slightly-cocked, lips-pursed, brow-furrowed look of concerned compassion that teachers sometimes give to parents of the not-quite-right. She says, too brightly, "You know, LG is very good at many things..." and she leads us to the circle time rug where we put big butts in little chairs and listen to the very many things that LG has mastered. All the while, I can't focus on what Ms. Stacey is saying, because in my head, I am saying, "What on earth was she thinking? She draws way better than any of these little rugrats. What is that drawing? Ohmylord, does Stacey think she's abused? Psychotic? Is there something wrong that I have missed?" And like that.

We finish up with Ms. Stacey, and return to look at other displays around the room. LG, who has been playing across the hall with Ms. Betty, joins us in her classroom and quietly escorts us around its perimeter while Ms. Stacey meets with the next parents. We find ourselves in front of the self-portrait bulletin board.

"This one's mine!" she says proudly.

"Yes, I know. Can you tell me about it?"

"It's me."

"It's hard for me to tell, that, though. Because I can't really see your face . . . "

"I got bored with faces. And hands. And stuff. Do you wike my dwess?"

"This is your dress?" I ask, pointing to the wildly colored triangle.

"Yes! I designed a new fabwic! Do you wike my fabwic?! I was going to finish my face and stuff, but I took too wong on the fabwic! Do you wike it?!"

"This is fabric?" I asked, my voice catching in relieved giggles/snickers.

"It's paiswees! Do you wike my paiswees?!"

I WIKE 'EM A WOT! "These are the loveliest paisleys I have ever, ever seen. You are a most excellent fabric designer!" Thank. GOD.

At the end of that school year, Ms. Stacey pulled out the first self-portrait, and another one, the one that LG did at the end of the year. The final one had a face, and hands, and fashion accessories, the way most of LG's drawings had for a long time. And Ms. Stacey was so very proud at the progress LG had made under her guidance over the school year. I never told Ms. Stacey that while the other kids were mastering hands on the ends of their arms, LG had moved on to textile design.

The moral of this story: ask a kid to tell you about his or her drawing before you call protective services.

file under: &Family &Can't Make This Stuff Up

Sunday, May 27, 2007



Sunday Post ~ "Do not waste time bothering whether you 'love' your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone you will presently come to love him." -- C. S. Lewis

Matthew 22:36-40

file under: &Sunday Post

Monday, May 21, 2007

Too Much of a Good Thing

You have always been my type. You know this. I have never been able to resist your kind. But today, as I look at you . . . it's just too much. You're too much. The things I've loved about you in the past . . . overwhelm me now, in this new incarnation of you. Your best qualities, they're overdone now; my favorite parts of you . . . frankly, they're too damned big now. I can't handle all of you. The thought of it . . .

I have to admit I am tempted. But I would almost have to take you in, in small installments. I'd be . . . overcome, incoherent, if I tried to take you all at once now. You and I had an unspoken agreement -- moderation. You are anything but moderate, now. And yes, I know that we crossed boundaries from time to time. There have even been moments of compulsivity to our relationship, I'll admit that. But we always got back on track. We always knew that moderation was the only thing that would allow us to keep seeing each other.

But now . . . what were you thinking!? I know there's a lot of pressure out there. To change, to morph into one thing or another. But how did you let this happen? You need to RESIST! Fight the power! I was so excited to be alone with you today, but when I saw you, completely uncovered before me . . . the parts that I once loved, so looked forward to, are now almost vulgar, obscene. Just put something over yourself, would you? WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOU?! Is it steroids? I've heard about that. Ohmygosh . . . is it CRACK?! I've heard it said that crack takes your natural qualities and magnifies them. That would explain a lot. But I won't love a steroid junkie or a crackhead! There is too much going on in my life for me to become addicted to an addict.

No, this is it. The fact is, you've changed, and bigger is not always better. I have to pass. You may have an awful lot to offer the right woman, but it's not me. Maybe someone younger, more active, could handle you . . . but no, it ain't me, babe. Not now. Not ever again.

Goodbye, my sweet.

chocolate chip extremism

the big-ass chocolate chip cookie at the local coffee shop

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Sunday Post ~ "Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness." -- James Thurber

Matthew 6:25-34

file under: &Sunday Post

Friday, May 18, 2007

WTF Q & A: Non-celeb Edition

Q. So really, is there any news?

A. There wasn't until today. There were just people telling me, "Yep, it looks like what you think has happened is probably what has happened. But you are the only person in the world that this has ever happened to, ever ever ever, and there is no one in this world who knows what to do about it."

But theeeeeennnnnn, I talked to a co-worker, whose spouse was recently named the Big Cheese of healthcare in this state, and he talked to the Great Big Medical Cheese of a huge university in this state, who talked with me today and did not say, as others have, "that could not possibly happen." Instead he said, "I will talk to my toxicologists and one of them will call you on Monday."

Q. So, is there anything you would like the people reading this to do?

A. Why yes, there is, thank you kindly for asking. I would like such people to pray, and vibrate, and chant, and dance, and send up smoke signals, and visualize, and whatever healing, positive thing they can think of to do, in the hope and faith that such toxicologist will know something, or will know someone who knows something, about how to get me fixed.

Q. Anything else?

A. Well, yea. While you got the prayer thing going, and the finger cymbals and the bonfire, and the face paint . . . there are some other people needing some other things, that I know about. People who visit here sometimes, people whose paths you've crossed. I know of two people who really need new places to live, sooner rather than later. And someone who needs to get through her cancer treatment and be OK, and a few someones who need relief and healing from panic disorder, and probably more than we even know about who need help with depression, and some having rough spots in their love relationships, and it's not all bad, you can also say a great big THANK YOU because there's someone else who's having a hootenanny this weekend to celebrate five years cancer-free . . . so, yea, while you're praying, etc., just lump us all in together. God can keep track.

Q. Anything ELSE?

A. Um . . . just . . . thank you. So very much.

Q. Are you going to keep doing these crazy-ass posts where you pretend that people are asking you questions? It's a little weird, you know.

A. I might. :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

WTF Q&A: Celebrity Edition

Sometimes I get so tired of thinking and talking about WTF. My symptoms often give me no choice regarding the thinking part, but I do try to limit talking about it. Still, I know that some people would like an update. I've decided that instead of my talking more about it just now, I'd invite some celebrity friends (what? I do so have celebrity friends) to answer some questions that I completely made up to fit the quotes I found many people have asked.

Q: You've had WTF for over a year now. Just what is known and not known about it, at this juncture? Has anything really happened recently?

A: "Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't know." (Donald Rumsfeld)

Q: You've been through an awful lot of invasive, painful tests. How do you feel about this?

A: "I feel like a human pinata. The disappointing thing is, no candy is going to spill out." (Katie Couric)

Q: Jif drives you to a lot of your many medical appointments. Isn't he getting tired of that? Doesn't he wish you'd just take the bus?

A: "Being sober on a bus is, like, totally different than being drunk on a bus." (Ozzy Osbourne)

Q: So you rely very heavily on Jif. What would you do without him?

A: "The man for me is the cherry on the pie. But I'm the pie and my pie is good all by itself. Even if I don't have a cherry." (Halle Berry)

Q: Can you describe your most recent physical symptoms?

A: "I think there's a little bit of sizzling here. Honestly, I can feel it. The ions are flying back and forth." (Regis Philbin)

Q: What if you need surgery to get rid of the Ti that may be causing your problems? Are you worried about a scar?

A: "I think scars are sexy because they mean that you made a mistake that led to a mess." (Angelina Jolie)

Q: You used to be so private in your blogging. Then you started with the peepee troubles, and moved on to putting your CT films in your dining room window, and posting your gigantic orange pee jug. What has happened to your dignity, woman!?

A: "If you make a fool of yourself, you can do it with dignity, without taking your pants down. And if you do take your pants down, you can still do it with dignity." (William Shatner)

Q: How do you handle all of this chronic uncertainty, the not knowing what's happening, or what's next?

A: "I pretty much try to stay in a constant state of confusion just because of the expression it leaves on my face.” (Johnny Depp)

That's all the latest (waiting for more test results, really). A big thank you to all my celebrity friends, for fielding those hard-hitting questions for me.

file under: &WTF Disease

Monday, May 14, 2007

What is that, some kind of egg dish?

Out to dinner to celebrate Mother's Day, we decided to splurge, calorically, and take a look at the tempting dessert tray.

The waitress tells us the name of each confection, "white mousse pyramid, strawberry cheesecake, chocolate-chocolate cake, baklava, pecan tart, chocolate chip Bavarian . . . "

LG had been waiting for her to identify that one. "That's it! I'll have the chocolate chip ovarian, please."

Do me a favor, go see my good friend, Kranki, and do just what she tells you. Thanks! :)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

how to behave

Sunday Post ~ "The two biggest questions to ask ourselves in life, at any age, are: Are most of the people I know glad that I am here? Am I glad that I am here, myself? Anyone who can honestly answer 'YES' to those two questions most of the time has learned to BEHAVE in this world and to live a happy life." -- from the book, above

If you look at my Mother's Day posts of the past couple of years, you'll see that I am not territorial about this day, as a mother. I see it as a celebration of the qualities in any person that go into mothering others. Nurturing, guiding, taking care, being an example to, teaching others. I want it to be a day of inclusivity for all those who extend themselves to others. Thank you to those of you who visit here and have mothered me in these ways, with empathy, advice, reality checks, humor. And thank you to those of you who've let me mother you a little bit, without taking offense or recoiling in horror.

Today is not just Mother's Day. It's my Mom's birthday, too. 84. I've been thinking and talking with a couple of my brothers about some of the things she said to us as we were growing up. Little Momisms that we heard far too often to appreciate back in the day, but that have stuck with us.

As many good Hillbillian mothers do, she would preface some of her sayings with, "Remember, the Bible says . . . " In adulthood, I've discovered that the Bible says no such thing, much of the time.

"Cleanliness is next to Godliness." I'm pretty sure this was a "the Bible says," but it doesn't. But it could. But it doesn't.

"You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar." And my eye-rolling response was always something like, "Yea, but who wants FLIES?!" Even so, this one probably had a lot to do with helping shape my personality.

"You're no better than anyone else." I learned this one well.

"You're no worse than anyone else." Still working on this one, sometimes.

"You treat the janitor the same as the governor." Not that I ever had much occasion to interact with either the janitor or the governor. But if the opportunity ever presents, I'll treat them the same. I'm pretty sure I got that one down.

"Never put off 'til tomorrow what you can do today." I have SO flunked this one.

"If you want something done right, do it yourself." I bought this one for many years; it's not really the best advice, IMO.

"Things will look better in the morning." This is often true; sometimes, these days, it's just for a moment in the morning, but still, it's true.

"Pray about it." Got that one.

"Never take from someone what you can't return." She was talking about someone's reputation. That's a good one.

"You can dress up a dog turd and make it look good." I don't think that one was in the Bible. And then there was the seemingly contradictory, "You can't polish a turd."

"It doesn't matter how you feel, as long as you look good." This was partly in jest, but partly not. The message was something akin to what Shawkey's mother told her, "Get up and do something, you'll feel better." My Mom was saying that even when you feel lousy, you should get your bath, and "fix your face," and put on something pretty, and nice-smelly, and you'll feel just a little better. And I have to admit, grudgingly, it's the truth.

"Now smile and get it all over your face." She would say this when I was being pouty, moody, and it would make me mad, but I would eventually be unable to not smile, then laugh.

"Pretty is as pretty does." People thought I was a cute kid. They told me that rather frequently. This was her way of communicating to me that what was inside was more important than what was outside.

And the absurd, but hard to argue with, "People have more fun than anybody."

My Mom doesn't know about my blog, or any blog, for that matter. So this isn't really "for" her. She did teach me how to behave, and why. Her advice ranged from the deeply philosophical to the exceedingly silly. Just thought I'd share a little of her with you, today.

So what did your Mom tell you?


Proverbs 1:8-9

file under: &Sunday Post &Family

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

*What About Susie?

Alternate Title: My Therapist's Tree Fell in My Yard

This is the post that I always thought would be my last, my blogging grand finale, because I hope to God nothing more bizarre than this story happens in my life. But now I've decided to tell it here, and I don't intend for it to be my last, but you must admit, it is bizarre, even for me.

In the early Spring of 2002, as LG was about to finish kindergarten at her little private school, Jif and I did some much-needed life assessment and planning. We lived in a two-bedroom bungalow which was bursting at the seams. Our road was far too busy for LG to learn to ride a bike, scooter, etc., and she was falling way behind in these lifeskills. We lived in a public school district in which we didn't want to (non)educate LG, and we couldn't really see enrolling her in a religious (i.e., Roman Catholic) school; all other private schools in the area were out of our price range. Conclusion: we needed to move, to a quieter street, with a little bit bigger house and a lot better schools.

The search for a new house can be terribly stressful. Particularly so when your old house sells, and you must have a place to go by a certain date. I unloaded some of this househunting stress in my semi-every-now-and-then-when-things-are-stressful therapy session. I talked with my therapist about where I would like to live, based on the school research I had done. Indeed, I wanted to move into the school district closest to her office. She knew the schools there, and agreed that they are excellent.

Fast forward a few weeks to another therapy session. By this time we had seen dozens of houses, with no luck. We had even seen one in a neighborhood very near one of the best schools, but the house was in very bad shape. In bad shape in creepy ways, that gave me a bad feeling about the place -- the doors to the private areas (bedroom, bathrooms) had all been removed, among other oddities -- so we definitely didn't want that one. When I described the location of the house, on Fox Hole Drive, my therapist (also named Susan, but called Sue) said, "The one by the pond?"

"Yes," I said tentatively. "So do you know the neighborhood?"

"I live there!" she said.

I had to gather my thoughts quickly. "Right there?"

"No, no," she clarified, "other side of the street."

Oh. OK. I know the house she means. Nice, normal suburban house on a little hill directly across from the pond. Yea, I could see her living there. She went on to tell me about the area, the schools, etc., and agreed that getting into that school district would be a good thing.

As I left that day, glancing at the little business cards in the holder on the table by the door, I noticed that the address printed there was not the office park address where I saw her, but an address on Fox Hole Drive. I suppose I had always known that it wasn't her office address on her cards. But I had never, would never, have tried to figure out where she lived, because as a fellow therapist, that's just creepy. My name is in the phone book; my clients could find my house if they wanted to. But I hope they don't, because, again, that would creep me out. So out of . . . whatever that sense of respecting boundaries is, I would not have tried to find out where she lived. Of course, I now knew exactly the house she lived in, because she had told me.

We continued looking for houses. It was such an ordeal. I recall walking out of more than one and crying in the yard, in frustration, because the amount of money we wanted to spend would not go far at all in that school district. Then one day, as we were on our way to see a house that our long-suffering realtor had told us about, we took a short cut across Fox Hole Drive. And just as we passed this pretty little (medium-sized) house, a woman was putting flyers in a "for sale by owner" sign in the front yard. We stopped abruptly. And went in. And I think we knew when we walked in the front door, just from the feel of the place. When we saw the stone fireplace and the nice, big backyard, we were hooked. Then when the seller gave us brownies fresh out of the oven . . . fuggedaboutit. We had found home.

But wait, this is a little weird. It's on the same road as my therapist. Yea, that is coincidental, but Fox Hole Road is about 3 miles long. She lives close to one end, just across from the pond, and I will be living close to the opposite end. Interesting coincidence, but no big deal.

No big deal, until I go in to see her. And I tell her how happy I am that we found a house, but, "You are not going to BELIEVE where it is . . . "

"Where?" she asks, eagerly.

"Right in your neighborhood!"

"That one beside the pond with no doors inside?!"

"No, down the road a ways. 3377 Fox Hole Drive."

Her smile fades just the tiniest bit, and she nods slowly.

And then my smile fades just the tiniest bit, and I nod slowly, because it looks like she doesn't want me living down the road from her, even though when I told her weeks ago we were looking in the neighborhood, she thought it was a great idea, great schools, etc.

Then she says, "That's right next door to me, you know."

And I say three words that I don't think I'll ever forget. "No it isn't."

"Yeeeees, it is. I live at 3379."

Then I say, "No you don't."

Then she says, "Yes, I do."

And I say, "No you don't."

"I do."

"Do not."

"I do."

"Do not."

It is during this eloquent exchange that it occurs to me that I understand, perhaps for the first time in my life, the precise meaning of the verb, "to freak out." I am freaking out. Out I am freaking. I don't know what to say. I have bought the effing house next door to my therapist.

I had so many thoughts rushing around. Mostly, "Do not! You live in the house on the hill across from the pond!" Eventually I did say that. Turns out "across the road," didn't actually mean "right across the road." It meant more like, on the other side of the road from the pond, and a couple miles north.

I felt like a stalker. And I had been very cautious not to be a stalker. In the many years I had known her, I had never looked to see where she lived. I made a little speech to that effect. And thank God, it had been many years, because she knew me well enough to know that I was telling the truth. So we spent the next hour, and probably another session or two, talking about the absolute weirdness of the situation. She was, has always been, as gracious about it as one can be. She even said that she saw our daughter running around in the backyard as we were touring the house, that day the sellers had the open house. Of course, she didn't know it was my daughter, but she said that she and her husband said how nice it would be to have a little girl next door, and that they sat on their sunporch praying that they would get nice neighbors. So, she considered our buying the house an answer to her prayers. (It's not God's fault she forget to add, "who aren't my clients.")

People who know this story (and there aren't many, until now) have asked me if it's weird living next to my therapist. It really isn't. Now. I completely forget about it until it happens that we both go out to get in our cars at the same time to drive 10 minutes to her office when I'm her first appointment. Other times, one of us will call the other and start the conversation, "It's the neighbor calling . . . " to talk about the fox that's been hanging around, or the fallen tree, or picking up the vacation mail, as opposed to "It's the therapist/client calling . . . " to change an appointment, etc.

I don't drive by her house thinking, "That's where my therapist lives." But I do drive by, or sometimes walk by, that house across the road from the pond, and every single time, I think to myself, "That's where Sue doesn't live."

But it did freak me out thoroughly enough that I haven't yet found out who lives on the other side of us, or across the street. I fear that the one is my gynecologist and the other, my dentist.

*reference to What About Bob?, one of my favorite movies, in which the therapist can't get away from his client

Monday, May 07, 2007

Loaves and Fishes

In order to keep my head-shrinker's license current, I must endure receive 40 hours of continuing education every 2 years. Last year, I got zero hours. I was too ill to sit all day in a hard chair under fluorescent lights and listen to someone dumber than I for 6-8 hours. (I have an attitude about continuing ed. in my profession. Not that I don't think we should be required to pursue it; I absolutely do. Just that it has become a big money-making racket for the providers, and their offerings are often of little value to those with years of experience in the field.) Anyhow, last year, I kept thinking that at any minute, someone would diagnose and treat me, and then I would feel more like sitting all day in a hard chair . . . yadda yadda. Well, ya'll know that didn't happen. So now, because I still hope to return to my work full-time some day, I must get 40 hours this year. And I'm more ill than I was last year, but that reality just is what it is. I try to pick out continuing ed. events that are of maximum interest, and require minimum travel; then I pick a seat from which I can exit quickly if I just can't bear to be there any longer.

A couple of weeks ago I attended such an event, just five minutes from my home. And there was an excellent presenter, and an interesting topic, and a remarkably comfy chair in a very pleasant ampitheater kind of place in a resort hotel. And I had the seat just by the back exit. All good. I remember much of what the presenter said, because it was interesting and educational, but I remember more vividly a moment that was not officially part of the "show."

About ten minutes into the presentation, the back door opened, and in walked a handsome young man with an open face and brown skin, in a waiter's uniform, carrying a large tray. He paused for a moment when he entered, taking in the room. He then proceeded to the front and presented the tray to our speaker. He appeared slightly flustered as he said something to her, quietly.

She then said to us, "They screwed up my breakfast this morning and I had to get started, so they're bringing it to me now, and I'll eat it at our first break."

The gentleman then stepped to the microphone and addressed us, in a thoroughly charming Caribbean accent, "I am sorry I do not have enough for all of you. If I were Jesus, I would bless this breakfast and make it enough to share with you all, and we would have baskets of food left over."

We all laughed and applauded, as he smiled warmly, and the woman next to me called out to him, "If you were Jesus, we wouldn't need to bother getting our continuing ed. hours." Amen, sister. And thank You, Lord, for the unexpected delightful people that happen across our paths from time to time.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

tulip before

tulip after

Sunday Post ~ "When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves." -- Victor Frankl

Ephesians 3:14-21

Friday, May 04, 2007

WTF Update

This MIGHT just be something. I'm not going to spell things out, because when the people who should have been researching this for the past year start researching it, I don't want them to end up here.

Last July, I told the New Rollogist, as I had told others, that my gut told me that something went wrong during the kidney stone procedure. Specifically, I believed that metal (Ti) clips in my body from a prior surgery were damaged, and the particles from them were now poisoning various systems in my body.

He said, "That couldn't happen. If that could happen, we'd all know about it."

A couple of weeks ago, he agreed to "humor me" and finally test for metal poisoning. His testing instructions weren't clear, so the lab called him to ask for clarification. He told them (dismissively), to test me for whatever I wanted to be tested for. I am not a medical professional. I came up with 3 or 4 metals, off the top of my head. The one I most wanted to be tested for was Ti. The lab tech wasn't sure if the blood test ordered would test for Ti, so she asked if a urine test would be OK. I said yes; the doc on the phone basically said, "whatever."

Earlier this week, the New Rollogist called to tell me that all the tests were negative, including the blood Ti test. OK, so my hunch was wrong. Then I said, "Can you think of anything else at all to test me for?" He said that he hadn't even thought of those things, they were my idea. I hung up and cried.

Today I went down the road to visit a friend for about 30 minutes. A visit that I desperately needed. When I returned, there was a message from the New Rollogist. The Ti urine results came back. I have FIVE TIMES the safe amount of Ti in my body. He doesn't know what that means, and suggests that I see a toxicologist.

I don't know how this will turn out. But it MIGHT be something. Finally.

Have a good weekend, Ratsasstafarians. Ace your tests and respond well to your treatments. You know who you are.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Ten Things About Me #7

61. I have a (little bitty) celeb crush on Apolo Anton Ohno. I have since the 2002 Olympics. He's just a baby, but still... I now see him twice a week on Dancing with the Stars. Yes, I admit it, I watch. Hey, y'all vote for him and keep him on there for me!

Oh, and while I'm talking about TV, I love Friday Night Lights. If you haven't watched it, it's not just about football. In fact, it's more about everything else than it is about football. If you like the show, I think this will crack you up. If you don't watch the show . . . I'm not sure . . .

62. I love to look at those color swatch books from the paint stores. The big, fat kind that you don't really get to take home unless you're a contractor or something, but that I occasionally get my hands on somehow. Probably because a relative stole it. Or maybe not. Anyhow, I love to do that, even when I have nothing to paint.

63. In second grade (or was it first?) I stole Marcia Whitlock's triangle scarf. There's probably a better name for it than that, but it was a fabric triangle with strings attached, that you could tie under your chin or under your hair. They were fashionable back then. It was white pique fabric, with white rickrack. And of course I could never wear it, because the only place I wanted to wear it was to school. I was (rick)racked with guilt, and I eventually threw it away. I'm sorry, Marcia.

64. Being a "yankee" in a southern mountain high school, I was a bit of an unknown commodity, at least when I first got there. I would openly skip school to spend the day with my boyfriend, by telling the guidance counselor I was leaving for an appointment with my psychiatrist. He didn't dare question that. Even though, as far as I know, there wasn't a psychiatrist within 50 miles of the place. (But then, maybe that's why he thought it would take all day.) I would also sometimes skip gym class by telling the teacher (who was the guidance counselor's son) that I was still getting acclimated to the new culture. I was horrid! And I cracked myself up.

65. I guess I'm remembering this now because of #64, but there was this guy I dated when I first moved there, I was a freshman, he was a senior, and he said to me, the first time I was alone with him, "I'm just gonna ask you straight out: how do you feel about two people f*#king?" CAN YOU IMAGINE? I said, "I think it's great." He became very happy. Then I said, "As long as neither of the two people is. . . you know . . . ME." And that was the end of that. Twerp.

66. One would hope, wouldn't one, that mental health professionals would be more mentally healthy than other folk? Or at least AS mentally healthy? It ain't necessarily so. I once had a therapist who went nuts. Just nuts. With me in the room. And I left, worried about him. But who could I call? Who would believe the patient saying that the shrink had gone nuts? To his credit, when I talked to him again, he offered to pay for both me and him to go to a third party shrink, to try to repair the damage to our relationship. I did that a few times, and it was helpful. And that was that, with that shrink. Be careful out there, friends.

67. Speaking of being careful . . . and maybe you all know this, and I just need to say it to myself, but be careful online, too. I have been really, really hurt by people I've met on this blog, to whom I got close and they were not at all who they claimed to be. (For instance, as Nilbo recently pointed out on Circus Kelli's blog, I am, in fact,

"a morbidly obese 57 year old former mental patient named Eugene who sits all day in his sweats and a torn Empire Strikes Back t-shirt, brushing the greasy hair out of his eyes as he trolls chat rooms looking for victims. He sits in his parents' basement on his computer and tries to get young girls to meet him.

His Mom used to scream at him to "Get a job, Eugene! Get a goddamned job!" but she doesn't say much any more. Sometimes there's a gurgle of gases and a whiff of quicklime from the barrel in the corner, but that's about it..."
I'm just sayin' . . . )

68. I'm working with a speech therapist to try to manage my throat and tongue symptoms from WTF well enough to get back to work, on some level. It's the speech thing that mostly interferes with my work plans. I saw recently someone said (and I don't even know who it was or what the context was, but it jumped out at me), "Do what you do best for as long as you possibly can." I'm a really good therapist. There might not be one other G-rated thing that I would say I'm really good at, but by gosh, I am good at that. And I really want to get back to it.

69. You know you're really sick when you ask your husband to go shoe shopping with you. Because you just aren't sure you can pull the boxes out, or get up from the little bench. Even though his presence means you probably won't buy the really impractical kinds that you love, and probably not multiple pairs, either.

70. When Alec Baldwin was recently in the news for leaving that horrendous voicemail message for his kid, I was very critical of him. But, truth be told, I wouldn't want my worst parenting moments recorded and put on TV. :( I hope that was his worst.

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