Slow and Steady

I was encouraged by the immediate, dramatic improvement in my condition after my first acupuncture treatment 2 weeks ago. The second, last week, was equally effective. I’ve learned, as I was told, that the benefits continue for 48 hours. By late Wed. and Thurs. of both weeks, I was aching anew, but never again as critically as when I was near panic.

Nevertheless, this thing is real. I have to remind myself that it’s okay to feel it. I’ve been gettting a cankle, of all things, for a couple of years now. The swelling is worse sometimes than others, and now it’s accompanied by pain. (Stabbing down from the back of the knee – which creeps to a deep ache of the joint – or even from as far as the hip, when it’s all I can do not to cry and curse God.) It’s a challenge to accept it, and I must continually remind myself that damage isn’t being done. I’m just… older. I elevate and try to “pull” the edema out.

I find that my pain is concentrated almost entirely on my left, as though I’ve been split down the middle. On exalted days, I express thanks that my dominant hand and wrist aren’t affected so harshly as the left. I can still write. I believe a different part of the brain is activated (and healed) through hand-writing, and it’s interesting to see the difference between my private private thoughts and my “show journal,” which you’re reading. I think I hold nothing back, and I tell the truth. But I do come off rosier here, and more evolved than there. I value my space to throw tantrums, and it’s my paper journal. I don’t write as much or as often anymore. Being restricted from my space to cry and scream because my knuckles ache, makes me cry and scream! HahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaRah.

I sent my best friend a birthday card. On the cover it reads, “Getting older is like frying bacon in the nude.” Inside, it teases, “You know it’s gonna hurt. You just don’t know where.” Normally, I would never buy such an ugly card. I like pretty, inspiring, or cute things. But I couldn’t help it. We were teenagers together. This was never supposed to happen to us!

(It also pleased me a great deal to make her cringe at the word “nude.” My bestie is the biggest prude!!! I love to make her skin crawl with stupid hippie images of naked goddess earth mothers, which I would most certainly be if I’d ever been pregnant.)

I wrote a love letter to tell her how I really feel, “You were born, so the sun stayed up longer than it would for the rest of the year, and the evening breezes smelled like blossoms.”

I honestly feel like the luckiest girl alive sometimes. I find that it is a remarkable thing to have even one person to understand and accept me wholly, and I have that. I miss her.

I skipped yoga again to go hiking, but then my buddy was too late to start that day.

I started a new job 3 weeks ago. I’m stressed and tired, but I like it. My move to Idaho is in flux again, because I’d like to stay. As a young person, I felt that my identity would come from a career that I would somehow feel a call to. I know now that I simply have to find something I can do well and people I can handle seeing every day. These people… I can work with these people! They can stand me, and we have the perfect blend of gettin’ it done and enjoying each other’s company.

I feel… grown-up, for the first time. I don’t feel young. I did, as recently as March. There is something profoundly different about me now. I am a middle-aged woman, no longer merely amazed that my decades number FOUR. I feel like they do (though I’m still utterly gobsmacked). I’m not a kid. I want more from my life than what I’ve created so far. I’ve been childish for a very long time. I will always be enthusiastic and ebullient, but I’m not quite as immature as I once was. It’s strange. 🙂

I will, however, return to that great bastion of my youth, the drum circle, on Sunday next, my first of the season. I finished my drum. It’s not the best tone, but I love it. I’m back in class. I can’t wait to pound out the entire summer at the park. I love being outside in Summer. Parasol and shade, here I come!

(I made an appointment with a dermatologist. I’m having the first bad patch on my old, fair skin removed. It begins! Hm. Time to schedule my mammogram.)

Progress is slow, but I feel good.


Abondan is from the Bauli tribe in Ivory Coast. When the King comes through town, all the young [perky] women grease themselves up and dance topless. It’s a great rhythm! We played for an hour straight, when Michael thanked Quinn.

“Ah, what a beautiful picture that was.”

“Oh yeah!” I laughed. “Thanks for reminding me!” I’d been concentrating on keeping up (and stressing a little about the pain – Ohhh, is this gonna dog me the whole session?).

He closed his eyes and smiled. “I never forgot.”


Progress Check

I was supposed to go to yoga yesterday. I was excited to keep up the momentum, but this new job triggered a bout of insomnia unusual to me. I get them, but typically I can kick it in a day or 2 and get back on schedule. This time, though, this fibro flare put its 2 cents in, and stress and discomfort conspired to keep me awake.

My pain perks up at bedtime, it seems. Skin-crawling, jaw-clenching, aching pain. It’s pretty distracting, but not too worrisome since I’ve put a program in place that’s already showing that it means to succeed. I have total confidence I can quiet this down and live with the ebb and flow of this disease.

Now if I could just quiet my mind.

I haven’t slept much in a week-and-a-half and by yesterday evening, I was so tired and spun, I wrote an entire set for my stand-up act. I have to check the Off Broadway comedy club on Main to see if there’s an open mic night now. Seems I’m a comic.

So it’s been a nice, pleasant little buzz of the mood and I slept like a baby last night. (“Shit yourself and rolled over in it?”) Today, I’m sleepy and feeling right on track.

Feeling Fifteen

Generally, I’ve inured myself to the soul-crushing endlessness of empty hours. I long ago left behind the guilt of non-productivity. I’ve begged to take on menial tasks to fill mindless hours and free some up for others who aren’t the definition of government waste. They know I’m available, wishing to do more/know more. In the meantime, I’ve watched more hula hoop videos in the last three months than ought to be allowed. (I picked up two new tricks this summer!) I’m even, gulp, sucked into Pinterest.

Work is not a chore.
Work is a bore.

And then… my co-worker talked me into installing Instant Messenger. She’d been trying to get me to start a conversation, but we sit next to each other. Why do I need an instant message? (Oh! Happiest of updates! I’m not alone up here with the old woman! I have a buffer!) (And, yes, they hired another person, when I’ve been begging for things to do.) She could not be made to understand my inability to understand our need for IM, so yesterday I finally caved. The tech who installed it immediately began messaging me. 🙂

We’ve been “noticing” and grinning at each other every time we pass in the halls since I started here in April. We exchange pleasantries, with flirtatious intention, when I deliver mail. He’s smart and funny, a little cocky. I’m too flustered and blushing to stick around for anything more. We’re going out tomorrow.

Well, I’ll Be Damned

I haven’t practiced Tonglen so much as I recognized it could be useful in my professional struggle. Whenever my co-worker has told me who was on the phone after hanging up, I’ve thought bitterly, “I know. We all know.” So I haven’t behaved, according to my own goal, set just days ago. I ignored her new update until I heard a change in her tone.

She was in the emergency room on Sunday. I’ve been hearing about it for 2 days straight. I know her Coumadin levels are low, and, sure enough, the gal who did her labs called just now to report my co-worker’s residence in the “Danger Zone,” to confirm that she’d had another pulmonary embolism, and to instruct emergency medical follow-up this time. By now, I’d taken off my glasses, giving the woman my full attention as she cried about having to inject herself in the stomach for the next 4 days.

And I’ll be damned, my eyes got watery. Tonglen is real, folks. I didn’t even do it, just thought about it, and it did the rest. It softened me. If only for a moment, it softened me.

“Thank god for modern medicine,” I said to her. “I’m glad there’s a solution, and that you don’t have to do it for long. But I’m with ya,” I continued. “That sounds pretty awful.”

“Isn’t that awful?” she sobbed.

“It really is,” I agreed, “but you can do it for 4 days. Thank god it’s not forever.”

Thank god, too, for my first hell-free moment as a government cog.

Then she told me about the time her mother’s gall stones moved into her pancreas.

Take This Job and Shove It

So this little task I’ve been fighting all day… I finally figured out who to talk to for access to the restricted information I’m meant to review. He promised to add me to the permissions list and get back to me, which he did, asking for Cindy.

Simple enough misunderstanding, I think. “This is Christie,” I corrected him.

“Oh,” he replied, confused. “I need to talk to Cindy.”

“There is no Cindy. I’m Christie.”

“Are you the lady I just talked to?”


“You said ‘Cindy?'” he asked, still confused and now annoyed.

“No,” I answered plainly. “I told you my name was Christie.”

“Okay,” he said, disbelieving and still annoyed.

SERIOUSLY? I might explode. Stupid people are insufferable!

Tug-of-War with Tonglen


I played too hard over Memorial Day weekend to feel sufficiently rested for work, and I am cranky. I started out the morning being friendly enough with my office mate. I felt patient as she recounted everything that’s happened since we saw each other last week. For about an hour. Then I tuned her out and began a new project I’d been handed. However, as per usual, I was given no instructions with my assignment and quickly grew resentful when the natural investigative resources I have were exhausted and I simply sat in need of TRAINING, already! Meanwhile, the crone at the other desk is still talking about her 2 pulmonary embolisms. And eating a cinnamon roll.

I didn’t want to bother my manager, who assigned the task, because her instructions had been to ask my officemate, should I have any questions. This time, my co-worker can’t even try to explain it to me – starting at the dawn of time – because she just doesn’t know. So she stands over my shoulder shouting in my ear, “Try this. Try that.”

I DID!!!!!

And… she spits.

I wonder if I really need this. My friend Dave, who got me into Africa Heartwood Project, works for the city and comes to my office every now and then. He asked me 2 weeks ago on the way to another performance with the group how I like it here. I confessed I didn’t yet and why (the training issue, not my disdain for a poor, infirm woman). He reported that this office seems to go through a lot of temps. “Maybe that’s why,” he speculated.

I’m miserable.

Is this a chance to practice a new spiritual/life skill or is it just a waste of my time? I’m an awesome temp. I’m always working. I don’t need to feel like this. It’s certainly not worth the wage. Is this an instance of wishing to avoid uncomfortable situations and emotions or can I simply leave a circumstance that doesn’t suit me or meet my needs? (“Simply,” in that context, meaning without feeling disappointed in myself for not following through or finding a workable solution.) I cannot be a useful employee here because no one will demonstrate what’s expected of me. I’m bored and aggravated.

I don’t know what to do.

“So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do.” – Benjamin Franklin

Professional Challenge

Even while closing yesterday’s rant, I had the thought that this might be an opportunity to live Tonglen. I only recently discovered the concept for myself. So far it has uplifted and excited me. Now it’s real. Tonglen is not easy. Tonglen is a tool that requires application, discipline, and intent.

I intend to succeed. I don’t know what that will look like. To date, when she’s begun a new story (which she finished 5 minutes ago), I’ve not responded at all. I totally ignore her. I feel so rude. I’ve tried the polite, silent smile or a glance of acknowledgement, but it’s fuel. Best to continue unresponsive. I think she’s used to it, sadly. She doesn’t seem to notice. The challenge is to not curse her every time she speaks.

Additionally, I must recommit to doing my job with integrity. I confess, hating my post, I have phoned it in. I resent that I have no training, yet I’m charged with a task I have no resources to complete… except to ask her. (Remember, she’s growing senile. She can still do it, but she can’t demonstrate how! And she starts at the advent of this strange box called Computer!!!) Worse, asking for her help is an invitation to hear her script. She begins with renewed vigor, and recites ALL OF IT.

My response has been not to do it, my job. “What do I care?” I rationalize. “I’m a dirty temp.” And, “What are they gonna do, fire me?”


I have defined my new professional challenge. I accept this opportunity to live Tonglen. Ugh.