Thur’rupy Part 3: Paperwork

•July 12, 2018 • 6 Comments


T’aint pretty, but you get the idea.

“Hello, disis deright s’tetute calleeng you about makeeng ana pointment.”

It wasn’t exactly clear what the words were supposed to be, spoken hurriedly and through a distinct accent, but I caught the words “calling” and “appointment” and assumed it was the therapy center at last calling to schedule a session.

“Dees is the second voicemail.”

I definitely detected a note of rebuke.

I knew it was the second voicemail. The first one had come in on the afternoon of July third and had been so indistinct that I hadn’t even bothered to Google the number: I figured that I knew who it was and I already knew I wasn’t going to call back for another two days. If I called back at all. I already knew I wasn’t going to pursue sessions at the prices they had quoted me three weeks earlier. And it had been three weeks. A lot changes in three weeks. If I’d been in a bad place, would I just have been dangling for all that time? I figured so: it had happened to me before. And if I wasn’t in a bad place, three weeks was plenty of time to think better of pursuing a costly treatment that clearly didn’t require immediate attention.

I wasn’t sure the waiting period was doing them any favors.

I never did call back. I was curious to know whether they would follow up again, and, if so, how many times.

So far two.

The intervening weeks had not been easy ones. The uneasy mood that had caused me to seek out the therapy center’s website had intensified into an ongoing anger and depression that only seemed to be getting worse. Tiny setbacks sent me into a rage. Even thinking about my feelings raised a lump in my throat and started tears welling up in my eyes. I briefly, but earnestly, considered taking up boxing. Clearly something was happening in my subconscious. It’s a pretty good sign you need a change when you find yourself crying helplessly on the morning of your birthday and your husband has to use the Very Gentle Tone Of Voice to remind you that you sometimes tend to spiral.

And then, like magic, it was gone.

Whatever circuit was overloading finally blew the appropriate fuse and flipped my switches back to Normal. The second half of my birthday was perfectly calm. The days since then have been calm. Normal. Even keeled. The rage was gone and so was the lump in my throat, and I could prod the edges of my feelings without winding up in tears… if I could manage to think at all around a chronic sinus headache that settled in my face on Monday morning and has been there ever since.

So I decided to take stock of everything I’d been going through.

“As the only family member who’s actually gone to therapy, I should weigh in.” My Dad said over a phone call early on in this process. “It was helpful, definitely helpful, but it didn’t tell me anything that I didn’t already know. It just helped me act on what I needed to do.”

This rang true to me.

I’m not the kind of person who avoids self-reflection. I had a pretty good sense of what my problem areas were, and why, and about what and in relation to whom. I just needed to act on what I knew I needed to do. And I wasn’t convinced that I actually needed to pay someone in order to do that.

What is the point of therapy? I asked Google. For a friend.

I actually found some pretty useful answers on the first result:

Easy to follow concepts. Actionable points: things that I could work through on my own before looking for professional help. I could figure out what goals I wanted to reach, what problems I wanted to solve and what somatic responses I wanted to be able to control in my body.

So my first step was paperwork. I sat down and began to try to organize my thoughts in the most orderly way that I could manage. What were my main issues. TRUST and WORTH. Who did they relate to in order of importance and why? How were they affected by my evolving sense of identity? What patterns was I seeing? I wrote about four pages of a bullet-point list and tried to set goals about what I wanted to address with each bullet point.

The relief of getting these thoughts out of my head and trapped in ink-lines on paper was palpable. The sinus headache magically disappeared and has been gone ever since. It was as if the thoughts had physical mass and had been taking up actual space in my skull all this time. Even after four pages, I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of the topics I want to address, but it was definitely a big step forward.

Now, at least, I have a picture of the roads. Next, I’ll figure out how to draw a map.


Woman By The Well

•July 11, 2018 • 1 Comment

Illustration by Jerry Pinkney from “The Talking Eggs”

I feel like I’m living in a fairy tale.

To be clear: it’s not a Disney-Princess style fairy tale- I’m not sleeping under an enchantment, or waiting for a prince to rescue me, or dancing the night away in glass shoes. (Seriously, could they think of a less appropriate shoe material?) I’m not laboring away proving my goodness through acts of gracious service to win the heart of a prince and be swept away to a Happily Ever After.

I don’t think I’m the princess in this story at all.

I think I’m the Woman by the Well. You know the one: the one who is old and/or poor and/or ugly who asks for something humble like a drink of water, then proves to be an enchantress of some great power who was in disguise. If the character is “Bad” they dismiss the request and are showered with snakes and spiders. If the character is “Good” they oblige the request and are showered with wealth and beauty.

That’s totally me: showering my enemies with snakes and spiders.

Just kidding: I wouldn’t want to punish spiders or snakes like that- they didn’t do anything to deserve that kind of treatment.

More to the point, though, I’m at that place in my career where I feel like I’m waiting beside a well with no bucket and all I want is a drink of the water. Mostly I’m just waiting for someone to notice me there, but one thing is for sure whoever it is that finally helps me out is going to make a lot of money because of me.  Is that arrogant to say? Maybe. I don’t know. But I think it’s true: I have a lot of ideas. I think they’re good ones- marketable ones- and I know that I can work long and hard to make them real if someone can help me sell them.

And the waiting is hard work.


Mind Matter

•July 10, 2018 • 1 Comment

I gOt RhYtHm.


The alarm went off at five in the morning.

Strictly speaking, this was nothing new: the alarm goes off at five on every morning, it’s just that usually I get to smack it into silence and enjoy another half an hour of dozing before the *real* alarm goes off at five thirty. Because I like to live like a rockstar.

But on this morning the alarm went off at five and I forced myself to get out of bed on the first try. I’d promised to drive my sister, Bean, and her husband, Steadfast, and the baby, Nugget to the airport and they needed me to show up at their place by quarter to six so they could load in. And in all honesty, it wasn’t that hard to force myself out of bed: I was damp with sweat on both sides from the heat and it didn’t seem likely that I was going to be getting any more restful sleep anyway.

So I lurched upright with a sudden wave of nausea as my body tried to figure out what temperature it wanted to be. I dressed. I made a lunch. I ate breakfast. I gathered my wits and my belongings for the work day and I headed out the door, arriving at Bean’s place only a few minutes later than I’d intended.

It wasn’t until I was nearly down to the airport that I realized I’d forgotten to grab my lunch. I mean, I’d packed it: it was all ready to go. I’d even put it on the table so that I would see it instead of leaving it on the kitchen counter where I was likely to forget it. I forgot it anyway.

This, as it turns out, was going to be par for my day.

Steadfast, bless him, sneakily left lunch money under my keys while I was unloading the luggage, which I didn’t discover until later.

The Curmudgeonly Lion , bless him, drove down later in the morning to deliver said lunch, but got sideswiped by another vehicle along the way and had to take the driver’s side rearview mirror off the car in the loading dock. The mounting for the mirror was broken, but the mirror itself appeared to be fine so we’ll have to see about getting it re-attached, but it looks likely that the Sneaky Lunch Money is actually going to become the Mirror Repair money. Le sigh.

My mind and my body have been out of sync all day. I want to believe that my subconscious is processing one of my ongoing projects and I will suddenly have a breakthrough in which inspiration leaps from my head fully formed. In the meantime, however, the thought feels like a massive, physical thing sitting in my sinuses and blocking all other thought processes.

Trying to marshal my thoughts into a single train has been like herding cats: the only way I managed to make any progress at all was to skirt around the edges of my mind and hope that I was headed in the right direction. I wrote thank you notes. I went for a run. I puttered around the garden. I practiced (sort of)… even practicing felt like my brain was trying to issue instructions to my hands by using semaphore. There was a lot of fumbling.

So hopefully I’ll get a good night’s sleep and be back to my normal self in the morning.

And hopefully a breakthrough will be waiting for me when I get there.


•July 6, 2018 • 5 Comments

I wanted to believe that I was special.

Which, I mean, don’t we all? Of course I’m special. I am a beautiful and unique snowflake and anyone who says otherwise is trying to start a cult (I’m looking at you, Tyler Durden). But it wasn’t enough to just say so- I wanted to be able to prove it in a measurable way.

So I decided to do the math.

Of all the things that make me beautiful and unique, I regret that a facility with numbers is not one of them- especially when it comes to percentages and decimal places, so there’s a chance that my figuring is wrong and I’m just going to go ahead and say so up front. But it was a fun thought exercise, and I like to think that it has at least gotten me to the ballpark.

So, out of six billion people alive on this Earth, what are the chances of me being me? I mean, obviously, one in six billion, but… You know. Besides that.

Here are my variables:

17% of the world’s population has blue eyes.

2% of the world’s population has red hair

Since both red hair and blue eyes are recessive traits, the combination of red hair and blue eyes is the rarest combination on earth at approximately .017% of the human population.

OK, what else?

According to Myers-Briggs (which I realize is a less than scientific measurement system, but which anyways seemed to ring true to my experience) I fall into the INTJ personality. That means Introvert, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging…. A fiercely independent personality that enjoys making concrete decisions about abstract concepts through systematic reasoning (she says, trying to quantify and articulate her own specialness).

At any rate, it’s not a common personality type. About 3% of the population in total, and it’s a personality that skews heavily male. To be a female INTJ is to be .8% of the population

The bottom line is .00068%. Out of six billion people on earth, the percentage of red haired, blue eyed INTJ snowflake women is .00068%.

I’m still trying to figure out how to translate that into a “one in this-many” ratio, so if anybody is out there checking my work and wants to give me a boost on this one I’d be happy for the assist. I mean, I might be a special snowflake but that doesn’t mean I don’t need help sometimes.

Christ on a bike, do I need help.

Free Book

•July 4, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Like a gift from summertime Santa Claus, I discovered a brown cardboard shipping box tucked beneath the rose bushes as I stepped outside to deliver tomatoes to a neighbor.

A package? Who would be sending me a package? And on the Fourth of July of all days?

I glanced at the shipping label: it was addressed to me. It was from Harper Collins. It was, at last, the free book I’d been waiting on to start sharing it around with friends. I’d begun to give up hope that it would ever arrive and had written it off to the same place in my mind as the Amazon gift card that I’d been promised in return for a point of my blood (I’m looking at you, Red Cross) but had never received.

When did it arrive?

I still couldn’t figure that one out: I was positive that the postal services would NOT be delivering on Independence Day. And I didn’t see it yesterday: I knew that for sure because I’d liberally hosed down the roses for almost ten minutes. That wouldn’t have been good for a cardboard box and this one felt fine. Right?

I touched the bottom edge. It was damp.


So the box had gotten wet. I hurried inside and cut the tape to open it. The book was nested in a layer of crumpled paper and did not seem worse for the wear. I’d assumed that a free copy of a book would, by definition, be the same paperback edition that I’d recently purchased, but no- this was the official edition. The version that would’ve been a hardcover if it were not trying so hard to look like a revivalist’s hymnal. The cover was white faux leather with gold letters and tooling. “THE TRUTH!!!!!!” It proclaimed with all the subtlety of an eighties era televangelist on cocaine. The pages were edged in gold. The flyleaf was marbled with black and gold. CAN I GET A HALLEILUJA?!! Amen!

I was looking forward to giving it away.

I wasn’t sure I had the gumption to read it a second time yet anyway: it had already disrupted my train of thought quite enough. The first pass cut deep existential questions into my self awareness that had only just recently begun to scab over, and had even pushed me so far as to consider looking into therapy (which I’m still not sold on).

Who was I and what did I want out of life? I still wasn’t sure- but I knew that the answers weren’t to be found in any book, no matter how gilt with gold. I still need to figure these things out.


•July 3, 2018 • Leave a Comment

It feels like a Saturday. I’m so confused. The office closed early, which was good, because I was tired to the point of uselessness. The combined power of coffee and an energy shot failed to have any effect. By the time I got home all I could do was collapse onto the bed: too tired to function, too caffeinated to sleep.

After about an hour of drifting I got up and went for a run: that much seemed manageable. And it seemed like a good way to start the holiday. The sun was low. The temperature was pleasant. The run did me good.

For a solid ten minutes I was convinced it was Saturday and wondered why The Curmudgeonly Lion was making tacos. Tacos were for Tuesdays.

Oh wait.

Anyway, it was a good start to the holiday.

Small Progress: Smaugress

•July 3, 2018 • Leave a Comment

None of us slept well during the night, so most of the day was passed in a haze of sleepiness that coffee couldn’t seem to shake. Most of the day was smooth sailing, but sometime towards the end of the afternoon I began to fall back into frustration and anger towards EVERYTHING. I’m so tired of being angry. I was ready to go home to the empty house, plug in my earphones, and just start belting as loudly as I could to blow off some steam, but before I even made it to the front door my sister Bean arrived to visit.

So I sat and talked to her instead.

It was good just to put some thoughts out loud. Normally I hate talking about feelings because usually I start crying and then I feel hungover from it all. But I’m aware that there are some outstanding issues that I need to be working on, but which I’ve been keeping in a holding pattern in the back of my mind until I have the bandwidth to deal with them properly. Maybe that’s my problem: waiting for bandwidth. Maybe I just need to nudge the issues along inch by inch instead of trying to throw everything all nine yards.

Maybe I need to reframe my goal for addressing my personal character issues the same way that I’m reframing my practicing: maybe the goal is just to pick up the bass every day instead of having to dedicate a full hour to it. Tonight I picked it up, ran scales for ten minutes and moved on feeling like I’d actually done something even if it wasn’t for long. Maybe the same is true for insecurities and faulty thought processes: maybe I just need to run them over my brain a few times without trying to force an answer.

At any rate, by this time of night I’m thinking that sleep would probably be the most helpful thing all around.

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