Thursday, April 29, 2004


Nice Google, trying so hard to provide some ads that relate to my blog content. Apparently related to my allergerific posting last week, the top of my page presently features two links to industrial-caliber sneeze guards. You can even get them with etched glass! Art, that.

Jettisoning the Professional Friend

So, last week I dumped my therapist.

That's probably a loaded phrase, isn't it? But how do you end it--an amicable-but-also-covered-by-the-health-plan relationship like that? You break up with him? You fire him, all Trumpin' it with the little jabby hand-gesture and everything? There isn't a word for it, I don't think.

I have--had?--been "with" the Good Doctor, been "seeing" him, for seven years. Almost to the day, I now realize. When the ExLoveOfMyLife dumped me, seven years ago, I called the number on the refrigerator magnet distributed by the Employee Assistance Program; they entered my global positioning coordinates or somesuch and matched me with the Good Doctor. (The building that held his office also housed a bakery, so I knew that therapeutic comfort of one kind or another would be handily available. Some days, I applied both.)

Seven years. That's longer than the relationship with ELOML that put me on the couch in the first place. It's probably not a stretch to say that it's the longest, most positive relationship I've ever had with...a man. Gender isn't a factor, here...but then again, it is. Isn't; is. Transferrence all over the place. And yes, we talked about that too, over time.

How did I figure this out? The last month or so has been strange. I'm still distracted by my House Joy, feeling generally content and happy. I'm working out; I'm writing this blog; I've lost 6 1/2 pounds. I would go to therapy and find myself groping for things to say, or fretting more about, say, my sister's mental health than my own. We were talking about ice cream. Then, three weeks ago, busy working from home, I completely forgot my appointment--didn't think of it at all until I saw his name on the caller ID, 90 minutes later. Which was a whole new can of worms: he admitted he rarely called the no-shows, but wanted to make sure I was okay. Was concerned. Was worried, maybe.

I've searched myself a lot on this, too--with firm proof that he "worried" about me, am I just fleeing? Is this just responsible Me, fleeing the burden of needing to keep another Grown-Up from worrying, from suffering on my behalf? We talked about that a lot, the next week, but ultimately...I still felt ready. I hadn't missed therapy, whether or not the Good Doctor missed me.

So, we talked about it. I did fret...I hate to be forgotten, after all. I told him a story about revisiting a couple favorite old high-school teachers, when I was a graduate student. English teachers! In whose classes I had cranked out pages of prose, had fancied myself a genius, had laughed and cried and been forced to read Ophelia to my secret crush's Hamlet, the worst indignity ever...anyway. They didn't remember me, couldn't put a name to my face, just four years later. Ouch. The Good Doctor declared that horrible, and said he would be unlikely to forget my name. This moved me deeply...though a bit later it did occur to me that my last name is his first. Heh.

But I was ready. I was grateful, I was happy, and I was ready. He said "goodbye," which I don't remember him saying before. He would not see me next week. And I cried...and did my ears deceive me, or did he sound a little choked up, too? But...I still left.

Absurdly, now, I want to thank him profusely...all "To Sir With Love" about it...or recommend him to others, like a restaurant. How do you thank someone? Where's Lulu when you need her? The thesaurus fails me here, also.

For the record, though, I still possess both crayons and perfume. I'll leave it to you to guess which of those gets more frequent use.

Thank you, Doug.

Friday, April 23, 2004

In your face, gals

Saw a commercial last night for some sorta wrinkle-reducing face cream; the voiceover promised it would help minimize "expression lines." Expression lines! Apparently you're not doomed just for laughing anymore; betraying the least glimmer of all those petty, pesky emotions is a one-way ticket to CrowsFeetVille, you decrepit hag you.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

If you believe in fairies, clap your hands!

Grrrrr. Hard day. I woke myself up by sneezing uncontrollably this morning; at first I thought I'd inhaled a stray cat hair in my sleep, or something, but the snuffliness persisted. I popped a Benadryl, the only thing in the house, and headed off to the gym, where I was given cause to wonder, is it possible to fall asleep on a Nautilus machine? Because frankly I was thisclose.

Then to work, where the day was consumed with one of those busywork, cut-n-paste tasks...tedious, but weirdly satisfying at least, when you can quantify the pile of items you've moved to the "Out" heap from the "In." I continued to sneeze and sneeze and sneeze and sneeze, though, in the grip of what I hope is an allergy attack; after six hours and change of trying to blow my face off the front of my skull, I staggered out and caught the earliest possible bus.

But. On the bus, I was unable to stop listening to the conversation of the two women behind me. And believe me when I said I tried. I struggled to doze; I hummed the love theme from "Dr. Zhivago" to myself. But no...I had to pay attention to them, and their first topic, The War. You know, the one in Iraq? (Thank goodness that's over with, huh?) Woman A was insistent that President Bush had "honorable intentions," whatever the hell that means, and that we should stay there and finish up the plan. (Woman B, to her credit, seemed to be taking the "uh, what plan?" tack that was trumpeting in my own head.) Woman A also was very disgusted with those nations now pulling their soldiers out of the region, backing out on their "promises" to help; they were "cowards and quitters!" in her eyes. I wondered whether under her guidance we'd still be sorting out Vietnam. I sneezed. I bit my tongue. Thankfully, they moved on to a new topic: The Gays. Uh oh.

I wasn't going to get all po-litical in this blog. I wasn't! It was going to be all wry observations and pop-culty fun-ness and would you believe the koo-koo things people order at the espresso cart? So if you're here reading for that, scoot on off to TWoP or something for the afternoon, loveys, and I promise you ruminations on hotdish and bingo tomorrow. But at the moment, I have a soapbox to stomp around on.

I'm pro-gay marriage. I have multiple reasons for this; the first is that I see it, at its core, as a church/state issue. Marriage is a legal, civil contract in this country, first and foremost; you don't have to get married in a church, or make religion a part of the ceremony at all, but you do have to get that license in your hand, just like you do to drive or to fish or to dispense cocktails. It's a civil right, and to deny it to a segment of the consenting adult population is discriminatory, period.

I also support it for general cultural (and pop-cultural, I guess) reasons. I don't get the gnashing and wailing over protecting marriage as An Institution. Are you kidding me? Look how the straight folks have botched it up, for crying out loud. (Exhibit A: my poor, young, clueless, ill-suited, now-divorced parents.) How many straight couples are going to court for a Do-Over, or loathing each other through decades of marital acrimony, or throwing their hands in the air and just shacking up, or fame-whoring their way through the latest round of "The Bachelor" on my goddamn television? I hate to break it to you, folks, but The Institution, she is in a world of hurt already. Why not let the homosexuals take a crack at it? There are gay and lesbian couples clamoring to get married; maybe weddings will become a hot new trend. Look at what the Queer Eye fellows have done for belt-wearing. (Thom! Love ya! Need a hag? Call me!)

And I support it for personal reasons. For the record, I'm straight, and single. I just bought a house on my own, and I'm proud of my independence therein, but I long for a boy to play with, and make weekend plans and pancakes and babies with, and possibly get legal with, not necessarily in any order. But friends of mine, people I love dearly, and who love each other dearly...can't get married. They aren't entitled to seize the exact same joys and miseries and legal protections and property rights and social acceptance and big fat Greek wedding and tax status and public declaration of unity that I'm entitled to, someday, just because I happen to be a girl who likes boys. And that's wrong.

It's time, people. It's just plain time.

Back to the ladies on the bus. Woman B, again taking the middle ground, voiced the belief that some folks are just born gay. (Actually, she said that "God made them" that way. I shan't quibble.) Woman A, though, was more dubious; she was "fine" with the gays, as long as they weren't all "in [her] face" about it. Woman B pointed out that she didn't know anyone who ran right up and shouted "I'm gay!" at first meeting. Woman A was still uneasy, though. "I don't mind...I just don't believe in it," she kept saying. Believe in what? Gayness? Gay people? Like ghosts or alien abductions or the Tooth Fairy? (Okay: hee.) I don't believe in blabbing one's sociopolitical opinions so loudly on the bus (yeah, I prefer the subtleties of the INTERNET!)...but dammit, Woman A, you were still there.

So. Recap: allergies, sneezing, gym, work, cranky, yay gay marriage, vote Ron Sims, over and out.

* * * * * *

Got home to find arborists dismantling the giant, limb-tossing, decrepit evergreen in front of the house...which needed to be done, but the chain-sawing and wood-chipping? NOT SO SOOTHING. Grrr.

Friday, April 16, 2004

And how!

Readerboard sign on a church in my neighborhood:


Well, right on. You go, Jesus!

Sunday, April 11, 2004

"A *rabbit*?"

Time for a seasonal reading. I've got a few pieces of writing that I turn to over and over at certain times of year (state-fair time has its own entire category), and this is one of them. C. K. Williams, from "Flesh and Blood," copyright 1987 (don't sue me, I replicate out of love). Happy Easter, everybody.


As though it were the very soul of rational human intercourse which had been violated,
I can't believe you did that, the father chokes out to his little son, kneeling beside him,
tugging at the waistband of the tiny blue jeans, peerng in along the split between the buttocks,
putting down his face at last to sniff, then saying it again, with quiet indignation, outrage,
a power more moral than parental: at issue here are covenants, agreements from the dawn of time.
The child, meanwhile, his eyes a little wider than they might be, is otherwise unblinking;
all the time his father raves, he stares, scholarly, detached, at a package in his hands:
a box of foil-wrapped chocolate eggs, because it's spring, because the god has died, and risen.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Story problem

Is it general knowledge that I am not a math fan? I'm not all Barbie about it, but beyond the ability to balance my checkbook, or determine how much carpet will fit in a room, I've never found much application for the numeric arts in my daily life. I chose a college without a math requirement--that was far from the main reason, but it didn't hurt. Over the past few years, my sister's taken some math courses to fill out her Associate degree credits, and for some reason she'd call me up asking for help. A rocket measuring 54.1 cm leaves a platform 120 cm high and traveling at a rate of zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...just...static, in my brain. Don't need those cells anymore, and they're gone daddy gone.

But. Today's P-I featured this article about transferring the Seattle Public Library's collection to its ever-more-awesome new Central Branch building. They calculated the book volume, in linear feet, in exacting detail--months and pages and reams of diagrams and analysis. Now that's some math! I'm somehow charmed, that all these numbers blah blah blah math blah have been brought to bear on...words. Moving great quantities of tangible literary arts around. Cooooool.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

This mall has everything!

Whoa. In exhaustive detail, word for word:

The Pepsi Syndrome
"Now, the nuclear fuel here is used to generate energy here, which is sent to your homes to make toast."

The French Chef
"Crap! Oh! Oh, now I've done it--I've cut the dickens out of my finger."

Little Chocolate Donuts
"I logged a lot of miles training for that day."

Horses sweat, men perspire, ladies...glow

I sat up later than I might have, Monday night, watching an episode of American Experience on PBS (thereby cementing both my nerdy and snobby status--NerdSnob! SnobNerd!): a film on the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island.

Odd experience, that. I mean, we know that, generally speaking, Things Turned Out All Right. Twenty-five years after the fact, if we could see the gentle glow of the Keystone State from the top of the Space Needle, we'd have caught on. But I was surprised by how much tension the documentary managed to create, Liev Schrieber narrating the blow-by-blow of a really bad week at the ol' plant with measured calm...against a backdrop of bawling evacuation sirens and officials going all Han Solo as they stammered assurances, "Negative, situation normal, everything's fine are you?" President Carter, grimly wading about in his skinny 70s suit and protective yellow booties.

Is it still haunting because we know now how bad it could be? I'm thinking of a link I snagged from Mike: Elena's haunting photo essay of Chernobyl from the back of a motorcycle. "Ghost Town" is a bit of English vernacular that's clearly crossed over to the Russian states, and her blankly terrifying pictures show it: every single day is April 26, 1986, falling slowly, endlessly into poisonous ruin.

I don't know why that, in particular, gets me: the emptiness, the abandonment. How decay marks the infinitesimal passage of time, though the empty world doesn't care whether you live to tell about it or not. In William Langewiesche's series of hotly debated Atlantic articles on the World Trade Center attacks, later collected into his book American Ground, the sequence that continues to stick with me is his regular visits, over a period of weeks, to a conference room in an adjacent bank building, where people had clearly fled their breakfast meeting. He writes about checking on the progress, such as it is, of dust-filmed danishes and the scum of orange juice shrinking away in the glasses. This is the image that continues to cross my mind, beyond what marks the event on television (the planes, planes, planes, always the planes).

Back to Three Mile Island, though. The other--really, only--memory this documentary stirred in me was of what must have been the first "Saturday Night Live" sketch I ever saw. In it, President Carter is touring a nuclear plant when there's a meltdown; exposed to radiation, he grows to tremendous size, Amazing-Colossal-Man-style. Badly bluescreened "huge" through a window, he tells poor teensy Rosalyn that he's leaving her for the plant's similarly affected cleaning lady (who, my brain suggests, was portrayed by Garrett Morris).

I remember finding this hilarious, at the time. What could it have meant to me? I can't imagine my getting any more out of it than "the President is GIANT! that's funny! and that man is wearing a DRESS!" I was nine years old. What the hell was I doing up at that hour, even?

You can find pretty much anything on this here Internet in ten minutes, so I checked: this guy has all the original airdates and episode synopses. Ep 78p, April 7, 1979. Rickie Lee Jones sang "Chuck E's in Love" and, apparently, Belushi extolled the virtues of little chocolate donuts, a fauxmercial I only grew to love in adulthood.

I guess that's the gift of pop culture, what it does: slaps a funny wig on history's terror and misery and boots it out on stage for a laugh. Every night, surely, all over the world in countless television markets, Homer Simpson fishes that glowing ingot of nuke outta his shirt collar and flings it from the car...ahh, that's better! And thank God for it, frankly.

(Incidentally, I searched a little more and found my other seminal SNL skit memory: Ackroyd, again, as Julia Child, cutting "the dickens" out of his finger and bleeding out in the kitchen. Wah ha ha hah! And I reiterate: why the hell was I out of bed? Raised by wolves, you'd think.)