Daily Evil: Cranky

I am a Creaky Cranky Crone with Crepitus this morning. I volunteered at the Swinging on the Sound dance weekend. I was not going to dance, because of my right shoulder. But, well, my feet were fine, so I did the basic. Then in the last class, there were more “follows” than “leads”. I thought, well, my left arm works. I jumped in, explaining that I couldn’t use the right arm. Switching from “follow” to “lead”, I have to reverse the foot work. The instructor did not know about my arm and scolded the class for some people not dancing in the closed position. That was me. Oh, well.

So I am not VERY cranky. I am really delighted that I got to dance and practiced the basic step for collegiate shag.

The woman in the picture is not a Creaky Cranky Crone. It is my grandmother Katherine White Burling, drawn from a photograph by my mother Helen Burling Ottaway. This is an 18 by 24 drawn with I think conte crayon. Apologies for the reflection, I am photographing through glass.

And here is a photograph from one of the collegiate shag classes, on Saturday. People of all genders danced both lead and follow. One person did the contest as an amateur follower and an advanced lead. Good for them!

containment in ceremony

This is for Taleweaver #147 – What brings you joy?

My minister talks about containment in ceremony.

That the ceremony can be a container for us to handle our worst selves and our best selves safely.

The Catholic mass is an example, particularly when it was in Latin. That it takes us through horror and suffering and death and then resurrection. This past weekend we performed the Mozart Requiem, from grief through joy.

My minister says that Western Civilization has lost the container for spirituality in the churches and instead holds the sacred in a love relationship. He says that the projection of one’s best self on the loved one can then flip into the projection of one’s worst, if we are not careful. We are attracted to people who have some of the aspects that we hide in our unconscious, so these are activated and projected. We magnify the talents and the beauty and wisdom of the love object. They are not real. True love is when we can slowly withdraw the projection and see the actual person who is there and then really love them.

I am taking a class where we are reading The Maiden Tsar. I am thinking of the chicken feet that Baba Yaga’s house stands on. We say that a person is chicken when they are afraid and won’t go forward, a coward. So Baba Yaga’s house on chicken feet: it is a house of fear, fear alive, terrifying. And what do we find in this most frightening place? We find that that our culture has most devalued: an old woman, not beautiful, not fertile. And she cares nothing for logic. In order to meet her challenge and not be destroyed, we must use our intuition, not our logic. No linear thinking, but a respect for magic and for humor.

I am thinking of the grandmother theory, that women have a dramatic menopause because they are the tribal memory. They have to survive the famine, raise the grandchildren, remember where there might be food, remember tricks and things forgotten. A useful man may remain fertile for the tribe, but a useful woman loses hers, because she is now a walking repository of knowledge. And western civilization has denigrated and ignored her: so she lives in the house with chicken feet.

My children are now adults but they do not have children yet. I am a practicing grandmother though. I am living alone for the first time in 28 years. I practice on other people’s children. A two year old loves my house: there is a stick dragon in the closet that roars if you press his throat. There are toys that he can’t take home. “That is mine. You may play with it while you are visiting.” I put a towel on the floor and get the espresso set out. I have never made espresso. He sits on the towel and pours water from the coffee pot until the cup overflows, the saucer overflows, the towel is soaked. He looks up at me, holding the coffee pot. “More?” I say. He hands it to me and I fill it with water again. His mother is surprised that he is wet from head to toe when she picks him up. By then the towel is cleared, the coffee set is drying, and he and I share a glance, our secrets safe. Until the next visit.

mother, maiden and crone

When Beth is dying in Little Women, she says that it is like the tide going out….. sometimes I miss my sister so much. I am trying to make sense of the third stage, the stage after mother. With my daughter in college, I am living alone for the first time in 28 years. And I don’t have my sister or my mother or my grandmother to accompany me.

I took the title from one of my sister’s essays: An early promotion to crone. Here: http://e2grundoon.blogspot.com/2007/08/early-promotion-to-crone.html

I want to discuss my sister’s essay with her …. I can’t, except in dreams.

mother, maiden and crone

small child in my heart
baby cuddled warm
safe and loved
small girl dancing
sing run shout

woman seen and heard
woman silenced dressed undressed
woman learning searching writing
woman held and loved
woman gravid bearing carrying
woman feeding raising nurturing

crone quiet watching
white haired dismissed old
unseen unknown ignored
laughing playing dancing
crone alone
sing run shout

music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JiP9WH0zN0Y

Thoughts on the update from ICD 9 to ICD 10

I would be very interested in a tune for this poem. 

This poem was rejected by JAMA, the Journal of the 
American Medical Association. Of course, the American 
Medical Association writes the codes. I do not look 
forward to going from the present 14,000 diagnosis 
codes to 42,000. I think it's just another way for 
insurance to delay and refuse to pay physicians. I 
think our country now has a business ethic of "screw 
anyone you can" and I don't like it. 

Thoughts on the update from ICD 9 to ICD 10

They say ICD 9
Just isn't so fine
Not enough codes to choose
To keep us fungking confused

They say ICD 9
Just isn't so fine
The rest of the world
Uses ICD 10, word

But they are liar liar liars
Pants on fire fire
Noses as long as telephone wires

They are liar liar liars
Fungk ICD 10
And let me tell you fungk them
Fungk starting over again

ICD 9 is now 34
Oh what a bore
They say it's too old
I'm older and gold

They say engage a team
Establish a plan
Get focused training
Learn that sh-t from the man

They say what does your practice
See and learn just those codes
Fungk ya'll but wise
I see everything that goes

I do family practice
I'm a rural doctor
The point of the codes
Is insurance don't pay, suckers

They say ICD 9
Just isn't so fine
The rest of the world
Uses ICD 10, word

But they are liars liars liars
Pants on fire fire
Noses as long as telephone wires

I know my ICD 9
Forwards and backwards, up and down
I can code pregnant
by four circus clowns

I can code pulmonary
embolus past
I can code gerbil inserted in the a--

ICD 10
is starting again
Code left or right or other
Those sh-ts would fungk your mother

ICD 10 is starting again
Code where it happened
Or insurance won't pay
Fungkers make my day

They say champion the change
I say channel the rage
Take a book from my page
Incinerate the fungking change

Fungk ICD 10
Fungk ICD 10
Fungk ICD 10
Fungk it again.

In preparation

I wrote this on 9/26/14 in the midst of much frustration and my lungs still hurting three and a half months after I got sick. I am off from taking care of patients, but still have to try to get my business covered and my patients taken care of. I think there is a component of my vocal cords not working because I am told that I am wrong and to shut up so often.

Favorite example is a Seattle Infectious Disease doctor that I called to ask for help with an infection in our town. He said, “You are a rural Family Practice Doctor. Why would I listen to you?”

I said, “I’m a girl too.” and hung up in frustration. That attitude will not win him any referrals from me. On my permanent stupid moron list, along with an amazing number of specialists. They are either respectful or they aren’t.

Currently I am on no alcohol at all, because I have to do a special diet before a 24 hour urine test. Means no caffeine either, ouch, headache.

In preparation

Today I will start drinking
even though it’s only 9:40
in the am

I will stretch two beers
through the long hours
as the alcohol
blocks the receptors
and numbs my aching heart
and lungs

and I will stay home alone
so that I won’t talk

to rest my voice

in preparation
for the next round
of talk

where I am told
in no uncertain terms
to sit down
and to shut up

Cucumber love

Cucumber love

They say they love you

And they do

Sort of

One day you find yourself
Wearing a construct
An exoskeleton
You can move
See out

You built it slowly over years
Because that’s what you were told to do
You wanted to be loved
It made you feel safe

There is praise
Or at least pressure to keep it on
You may not have known it was there
And slowly begin to feel
Who you really are
Awaken to the shell

One day you slip out

They are still saying how much they love you
To the empty construct

You watch bemused
For a while

You say “That isn’t me.”
“Of course it is,” they say

“I’m over here,” you say

Shock and outrage
“That’s not you!
You’ve changed, you’re depressed
Confused, manic, gone out of your mind!
Off the deep end!” 

You might even go back in
the construct for a little while

But now you’ve tasted freedom
You won’t be able to stand it for long
You will be out soon

Some people will see you as you really are

Some people will tell you they still love you
But as they say it to the construct
They act as if you’re still wearing it

They still think you love cucumbers
Though you ate that dish once to be polite
They hold the construct in their minds
Even after you’ve destroyed it
And behave the same as they ever did

As you walk away
You will wonder who they loved

first published on everything2 on June 9, 2009

Prayer for a dream

Prayer for a dream

Last night before I went to sleep, at 7 pm because I had had an exhausting trip to a lung specialist, I prayed for a dream.

I asked the Beloved to send a kind dream, a beautiful dream, a comforting dream to a friend. He says that he remembers all his dreams and they are all terrible. He has only told me one, a battle dream. He is protecting his teenage son in it.

So I woke with a vivid dream: I dream that I am at his house outside. His home is by the woods and I am in love with the forest. It has downed logs and deep loam and mushrooms and slugs and birds and small dark squirrels. I was the only woman in the dream and the only person. The others, including him, are shadows. I am digging in the duff quite happily, messing around, and listening. They were talking about cars and engines and repairs.

I am digging in the duff and keep finding things. Bits of metal, pieces of something. They are covered with rotting forest material that smells wonderful. One of the shadows holds a box out to me, about 8 by 8 inches square, to put the pieces in. I uncover one more. I lift it. It is a crown.

It is not a crown. It is a headband, but a hat too. I have a number of these headpieces. I like the ones with feathers sticking up, that make me look like a slightly deranged bird. People can’t follow conversations when the feathers move. It is fun to watch.

But this headband is metal and it has gems. I brush it off and the shadows stop talking and look. They move forward and then back away, leaving only my friend.

I have a moment of regret. We are now all sure that the other pieces have gems too. A robot? A statue? Made of metals. This is a puzzle and I am good at puzzles. But it is not mine. I will not put anything in the box.

His shadow looms over me and I look up. The sun is behind him, so all I see is a dark shape. I wake up as I hold out the headpiece. The pieces are his. I don’t know if he knew they were there. I was just playing in the loam. He will have to decide: more digging or to bury them again.

What would a sufi do?

I dreamed about a door all night last night.

First it was a door into a car. Over and over. I was not sure where the car was going, the driver wouldn’t listen to me, it was a race car. There weren’t any people that really had form in the dream.

The car was my friend Dave’s. A 1978 or a 1979. I don’t remember. He would care, I don’t. He has a racing harness instead of a regular seat belt in the driver’s seat. He can drive it like a race car, or close enough to fool me.

My daughter sat in the passenger seat and didn’t move when he drove. I sat in the back and went “eeeeeeee” and my right foot braked the whole time.

The last time I dreamed it there was just the door. A car door still. Lying in space, in the stars.

I woke up and thought about my say yes poems. And I thought, ok, Beloved, I don’t know where it’s going or what it will bring or who is driving but yes, I will go through that door.

And coming down the stairs I was thinking that I’ve been trying to communicate something to Dave but he doesn’t want to hear it. So I am not being a sufi. The sufis only taught the student who wanted to learn and who was ready. WWaSD? What would a sufi do? Stop butting my head against a wall.

I think that was the door.

I think of my consciousness at times as a table, and different parts of myself come to the table. There is the very small injured child, who gets healthier and healthier. She is healing. Somehow Dave has called up a sullen teenager who glares at everyone. The adult woman is annoyed and mutters “boys, toys and race cars.” The trickster sits and laughs. The doctor/psychiatrist is very interested in the whole thing and is mostly sitting back and watching.

Now perhaps a Sufi will come to the table. Or someone else. A fence is being built around my house. I envisioned a picnic table in the fence, on both sides, but it kept looking like Lucy’s psychiatric booth from Peanuts. I wanted to put up a sign: lemonade or the doctor is in, depending on my mood.

The fence is being built because someone stole our picnic table from the front yard while we were on vacation. I had bought it second hand and it was made of two by sixes. It was brutally heavy. I hope the theft weighs on them. Over 14 years we’ve also had a blue gazing ball stolen and two plastic pink flamingos. A bike was stolen from the back yard.

So now a fence. The picnic table/lemonade stand/psychiatric booth has morphed into a bench that goes through the fence, so that someone can sit on each side. And beside it in the fence is one of the little library boxes, for me to leave books and for others to trade or take them. It will have glass doors. We will have a pool on how soon they will be smashed. We are not cynical, are we?

Fences and doors. I think that I should put a sign in the yard, but perhaps I don’t need to. The new person at the table is the crone. I have gone through the door and I will think about doors all day. The crone introduces herself to the others at the table. The table gets more interesting every single day.