Sunday, May 5, 2013

Psychotherapy: A Story

Finding the right kind of therapy can take decades.
The room was sweltering hot but the door remained closed for confidentiality. Confidentiality in a group therapy session is like a negative multiplied with a negative ending in a positive.

Only this was not positive.

In the 80s a group of "therapists" who'd obtained their licenses per state law by simply appyling for one decided to try a new kind of therapy: re-parenting. I already have parents. I informed one of the "parents" in this group of this which did not go over well.

"I am your mother now!" said the "therapist." Her struggle to maintain control over me and my determination to thwart her non-parent parental advances resulted in my official removal from the group.

Fast foward a few years: class action settlement. I was not included in this settlement because I got out before I suffered any damage.

Rogerian counseling is the worst. Me: I am going through hell. Therapist: How does that make you feel? Me: Duh. What do you think?

My latest round of therapy makes much more sense. I have learned I have spongy boundaries. Spongy boundaries are ones in which you let someone steamroll over you as if you don't exist. There are two possible outcomes in a situation where one is using spongy boundaries. Either you get flattened or you exert rigid boundaries which could mean anything from a verbal explosion to slamming the door and never letting this person flat iron you again.

I also have inconsistent boundaries which also results in either an outburst or slamming the door so this person never stomps on me like an annoying earwig again. Ever. Never.

The goal is to have flexible boundaries. Flexible boundaries are filled with all those nice statements such as, "Let me think about that and get back to you," or, "I don't feel comfortable with that. Can we please decide on a vacation that does not have the high probability of bodily harm?"

If spongy and rigid stay together it's death for spongy. It's either literal death or the death of spongy or spongy will no longer know who she is. Rigid boundary violator will do just fine. Rigid wants to take spongy hostage. I am not spongy. Anymore. Thank you pscyhotherapy. -AW

The Way New York Times Book Critics Should Write

The following review of the 2010 bestselling teen fiction novel Will Grayson compares books to relationships and throws a well deserved low blow to Joyce's Ulysses. Thank you to this anonymous reviewer who does a better job than most paid reviewers!

More often than not, I have a tepid relationship with the books I read. I’m not really into them, and they’re not really into me. But we let the relationship play out just to see where it goes. This often ends with me bitching about them on the Internet.

Ending the relationship with a bad book is a very exciting experience, because it fills you with such hope.

The next one will be toes-curling better, I say to myself. Then I search through the crowd that is my bookshelf and try to lock eyes with the one who has been staring me down, watching me go through the motions of a going-nowhere read. When I finally spot that coy smile, I sprint toward it. No doubt the title in question can see my desperation, but that doesn’t matter. What I’m feeling is pure honesty. I’m excited.

As you might have surmised from the first four words of this review, it doesn’t always work out. Sometimes the new book is worse than the one that preceded it. That hurts. It makes you start to doubt your ability to choose for yourself. It becomes clear that you have no taste. Why are the good ones always taken?

This line of thinking always makes me question my motivation. Why do I do it? Why do I still count reading among my favorite activities? I have been accused, on more than one occasion, of hating books. And, to a point, it’s true; I hate books. But I love reading.

Tiny Cooper would get this, though it would leave the Will Graysons in the audience scratching their heads until the final act. It’s all about the fall, not the landing. The experience makes it worth it. For many of the same reasons you probably hate your high school boyfriend, I hate Ulysses. It was inconsiderate, self-involved, and, well, ugly. But there’s always the next one, which is why you’re still looking for (or married to) that guy. Unfortunately, there’s no real way to marry a book. The relationship is limited to a finite number of pages. It has to end. What’s left is the question of how. Will the ending be angry, forgettable, or bittersweet?

Will Grayson, Will Grayson and I ended our relationship with a pinky swear that we’d never forget one another. My heart felt heavy when I closed the book for the last time, but I was so glad to have known it. It was one of those stories you want to keep all for yourself- not the kind of thing you want to read about on the Internet from the next ex down the line. If I could take this book out of print and wipe it from the memory of everyone who’d ever read it, I would.

I’m relying on the literal interpretation of the GoodReads rating system here. This book gets five stars because I loved it, even if it was just for a single weekend in December. It has its flaws. There are pacing issues throughout, the other will grayson didn’t always have believable thought processes, and, while most of the relationships were thoroughly explored, some (like the one between Maura and o.w.g.) were left sadly neglected.

But that doesn’t matter. Books, like people, are flawed. And, sometimes, the ones with the most flaws end up being the best. (less)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Ghost Tooth

It is possible for a tooth to be happier than I am.

Men in a war
If they've lost a limb
Still feel that limb
As they did before
-Suzanne Vega

After enduring my first root canal in my entire life, I still felt that electrical shock the dentist assured me I would not feel anymore while chewing.

I was very happy to hear this after a year of avoiding using the right side of my mouth. That darn tooth! It started hurting again.

I was worried. I was becoming increasingly more upset. I wasn't smiling like the tooth to the right. Then I happened upon some information about "ghost tooth pain."

I don't want anyone to take this as medical advice. I had a serious talk with this ghost tooth. I informed it to stop behaving as if it still existed in its previous state.

I had an out loud conversation with my tooth, but not quite loud enough to startle my neighbors. I sent that tooth to proverbial time out because it is a ghost tooth. I spent over three hours with a dentist and dental assistant during this procedure following the previous dental procedure which was to place a temporary crown on said tooth.

There is nothing quite like being at the mercy of a dentist and seeing tiny bits of tooth flying all around you like the tiny sparks of light one gets when suffering an eye migraine. If you have mistaken an eye migraine for some spiritual awakening or the presence of angels around you, I'm sorry I just informed you of the real cause. Please don't drink the Koolaid.

My tooth stopped hurting the very next morning. Was it my telling the tooth to stop hurting? My therapist informs me human beings have no control. Her name is Bill W. and hence I presume my higher power is the only ones who knows for certain. -AW

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

I Lied. I Said I Want A Date. Sue Me.

If only people came with this t-shirt before you talked to them.
Dear Five Readers,

I thought I would throw myself out there into the virtual dating world only I was lying. That’s right, I was lying. I am not dating and not even interested in dating. 

I also must alert my parents, if they read this blog, that I did not throw out my personal address or real name onto some website. Relax.
This is precisely what I posted:

He's well-read, well mannered, classy and polite. He wouldn't walk into a coffee house and grab a cup before me. He would politely sit and then ask me if I wanted something.

He must be well educated. He would really take his time to get to know me. He would appreciate my wit, my intelligence and my just being. He does not spend weekends watching football games. He takes care of himself physically and eats healthy food.

He likes the outdoors, music and comedy. He appreciates independent films. Again, he was raised appropriately and is well-mannered.

The responses I received are as follow. The names have been changed to protect the guilty.

“Prodigious Intellect Here” James attached his picture, informed me he just spent four months in Africa and will be publishing a book soon about his adventure. He has already written one book. “But you knew that because you’ve already read it,” he said.

Actually James, I have never heard of you.

One man sent me his picture twice with no text. The pictures are taken at different angles.

I have asked for a well-read man. Edward said he saw my ad in the “personels” and said he is a “suiter.” I am not entirely certain what a “suiter” is. I shall never find this out actually.

In response to my request for a well read man, one person simply wrote: “How about in bed?” There are some fine manners!

Josh writes, “You are young enough to meet someone without to much problem. Guys are visual and not too bright.” Josh, neither are you. Thank you for informing me my days are numbered. I must inform you of the violation of the use of "to." Go to the corner of the room right now.

Anonymous sent a lovely picture of his anatomy. I am not impressed. What does this even say about a person? I would suggest he see the film “The Cook, The Thief, His Lover and His Wife” to frighten him. Yes, someone gets cooked in this rather disturbing film.

Mark writes, “I would not expect sex until after the second date, longer than that, then you must not like sex.”

Every one of these responses leads me laugh out loud. I am now teetering on the edge of fifty and quite frankly, if this is what the world is offering me, “fugeddabudit.” –AW

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Lost on an island: I'M GOING TO DIE!

There are no street lights on Bainbridge Island roads except in downtown Winslow.
Not many people like to take a ride with me. I skipped driver's education when I was in high school. In fact, I skipped a lot of things when I was a teenager. I even talked my way out of more physical education classes by pitching a logical argument that ping pong was not really exercise.

I live on an island roughly the size of Manhattan. While the downtown portion of the city has streetlights, the roads on the inner part of the island remain unlit and hence preserve a rural feeling. Sometimes I forget I live a short 35 minute ferry ride to Seattle. I am a country girl. However, back to my driving.

My new friend Sue and I decided to go for a walk last week. I have driven to the south part of the island several times so it's hard to exlpain how we got so lost. My decision to drive and not take her car with a great GPS system was about as logical an idea as driving into a mud wall.

I know I am completely lost when I keep circling around and see a view of downtown Seattle three times. I gaze at the Columbia tower building and all I can think of are lawyers. I think it is a well-known fact I want a lawyer in my life about as much as I would like to be dragged through the mud, burned at the stake or thrown into a river to see if I am practicing witchcraft. There are more lawyers in the Columbia tower in Seattle than all of Japan.

I am not saying lawyers aren't great for intellectual conversations, I am saying I never want to need a lawyer for any legal snafu I might encounter. Just today I saw a couple sitting with a lawyer in Poulsbo, Washington discussion their prenup. I am presuming after having this discussion they don't have any reasonable reason to get married other than shared health insurance.

My now 13-year-old Saturn reaches a speed of one to thirty-five in ten minutes. This was most excellent as we climbed up toe jam hill. She is small which was beneficial as we hit roads narrow enough to risk running head on into another vehicle. The south shore of the island is not stable and given the massive slides on Whidbey Island this week, I was getting more scared. Mounds of dirt on a Saturn will not save one's life. Without a long straw for air and a rescue team with an immediate response, I knew it was going to be bad.

Sue grew up in Queens. She knows how to remain calm. I have never mastered the art of calm. Islanders are a very laid back group of people. It must be the negative ions in the moist air. A nice woman with a dog the size of a minature horse gave us directions back to downtown Winslow. We arrived quite alive and well. I don't blame Sue for suggesting she drive next time. Worse, I had forgotten to bring the lovely book listing all the wonderful walks on the island.

If anyone has a spare GPS just collecting dust out there, please do send it to me. Not only do I need it in my vehicle, I need it on my body. I get lost all the time. Then again, is one ever lost? Perhaps one is always where one needs to be. Nah, that's some new age crap I just wrote. Oftentimes we are just plain lost, lost and lost. -AW

Sunday, September 30, 2012

"America" by Alicia Ostriker


Do you remember our earnestness our sincerity
In first grade when we learned to sing America

The Beautiful along with The Star Spangled Banner
And say the Pledge of Allegiance to America

We put our hands over our first-grade hearts
We felt proud to be part of America

I said One Nation Invisible until corrected
Maybe I was right about America

School days school days dear old Golden Rule days
When we learned how to behave in America

what to wear how to smoke how to despise our parents
Who didn't understand America

Only later discovering this land is two lands
One triumphant bully one hopeful America

Sometimes I still put my hand tenderly on my heart
Somehow or the other still carried away by Amercia

-Alicia Ostriker  The Atlantic