Game ball

Warning: this post contains some time out words.

How do I process the game you played?

I am the subject of the game.

Or the victim.

Or no, I refuse. It is your game. I was not playing. I am the honey badger, metabolism so fast that I have to run from one meal to the next or else I will starve. I eat whatever I can find: cobras, bees, anything. I eat or I die.

You have tethered a honey badger to oxygen by playing a game.

I am the football and you have been kicking me, throwing me, catching me, slamming me to the ground as hard as you can in the end zone.

And now that I am worn and damaged and torn, you’ll toss me away, not even notice me, and find a new ball.

You will need a new football. To play with.

I don’t envy that person.

The truth is, it will be one of you. The group will rest on their laurels, oh, we nearly killed her, wasn’t it great? We showed her. She is so stupid, took her what, 21 years to fucking figure it out? And she thinks she’s so smart.

I was looking for food because I am always hungry. The food insecurity goes back to infancy. Maybe to the womb: my mother says she was not to gain weight and spent the entire pregnancy longing for a gigantic ice cream Sunday. Think of being in a womb, attacked by antibodies to tuberculosis, and starving all the time. Might be a little bit worried when birth happens. Fuck, I am going through a tunnel, what horrors await me here? But maybe there will be more food.

Maybe someone will love me. Maybe there will be someone for me to love. And feed. We can give each other food.

My advice to you is don’t be the ball. I was the ball for 21 years. I was so hungry the whole time, for food and for love, that I kind of noticed but dismissed it as unimportant. Food and love were more important. Work and my patients were more important. You don’t matter and your games are trivial.

It will be the weakest one who will be the ball. You worry that you are the one. You should worry. You had better look strong right away. Post some horror. Write something really tough. Don’t show anyone any niggling doubts. Um, the ball is wearing oxygen. I am feeling a little bad about this. Are you feeling bad about this? The ball isn’t just crazy, it’s hurt. Actually crazy is an illness too: I know that you discriminate and think that cancer is a legitimate illness and that mania isn’t, but you are assholes. No, you’re too small and pathetic to be an asshole. You are a one celled animal that is clinging to a hair on an asshole and you get shat on daily. And you know, deep deep in your tiny shrunken heart, that you deserve it.

I am so glad I am not you.

I am tethered to oxygen. But I am healing. I don’t think you can. You are locked in your small sick pathetic triangulation competition and pretending that it’s a game that it’s ok that you are just playing.


Meanwhile, the oxygen is portable.

I have food and I have love and I have work to do that lifts me on wings. I will go too near the sun and light on fire and fall burning, but that’s ok. I’ve done it before. The ocean heals me, always. It is so much fun to fly!

This is in memory of my mother, my father and my sister. I miss all three and I love them and they love me. Today is the day my mother died. The longer we live, the more days are days when someone that we love died. But they are still here. They are in the rocks and the sky and the trees and the coffee cup. They are not in sugary donuts or foods that cause heart attacks. But they are all around us, cradle us, still love us. Joy to you and the memories of your loved ones who have gone on. Blessings.


Blogging from A to Z, my theme is happy things.

Three happy things with C:

My daughter was home from college this weekend. Something came up about dealing with feeling tired or stressed. “I get cuddles when I feel that way, ” she says. I looked at her. “I’m not sure my office manager would go for that,” I say. “Oh,” says my daughter, “True. That might be sexual harassment.” “It would be a bit weird on a job description, wouldn’t it?” “Yes.”

At any rate, cuddles, appropriate cuddles, are certainly a happy thing for both me and my daughter. She is in college and has a great group of housemates and friends.

Second happy C word: cry.

How can crying be happy? The capacity to cry, I am grateful for that. I am grateful that I can feel love, feel vulnerable, feel loss, feel. How can we love without mourning and how can we mourn without crying? And tears release our grief. The worst grief for me is when I need to cry and feel locked, that I can’t cry, that it hurts so much the tears won’t come. I cry over patients, even expected deaths at 104. And I am glad that I am able to cry.

Third C word: croon.

I am not thinking of the “crooners”. I am thinking about lullabies and the poem Moon Song, by Mildred Plew Meigs:

Zoon, zoon, cuddle and croon–
Over the crinkling sea,
The moon man flings him a silvered net
Fashioned of moonbeams three.

The rest is here:

I am thinking of mothers and fathers crooning to babies as they slide into sleep….

The photograph is at 9000 feet up on Mauna Kea last week, the moon as night is falling.




small child

my small child was locked under rock for years

she came out shy reluctant distrustful

you are special, the first adult in whom
she recognized another small child
locked in and called you
out to play

and we played hard

now she stomps her foot at me
“He does not play fair! He won’t come to my house!
He makes all the rules! He doesn’t listen!”

yes, bear, I know

time to go home, small child
you have had your first playmate
since you were locked away
but he is still locked in a dungeon
of monsters and zombies
you unlocked him for a little while
just a tiny bit

but he has decided not to play
he is locked down

come, small child

she is in my arms, head on my shoulder
sucking her thumb, crying
until she is too tired
and falls asleep

she will always love you, you know

anything, to have someone to play with
she let you make all the rules
for a long time

but now she wants
someone who will play fair
and share the rules
and love her back




It's hard to let go of you
and stay present

I don't know why
The Beloved set me this task
I argue and struggle
a fly in Her web
But I hold still when She bites me
Paralyzed by love

You connect me to Beloved
that's what I want
Like a spring
Like a stream
Like a geyser
Like a tsunami
Like an ocean
I am lost in the depths

It's ok really
I am used to pain
I am used to the air hurting like knives
When I draw breath

Oh Beloved
The sky is crying hard with hail
while I write this

It's hard to let go of you
and stay present

Luckily I have so much to cry about
That you can't tell which tears
are about you

If you have to cry, do it on the boyfriend who wants you to be angry instead of sad

I used to have a temper that could be set off really really easily.

I had a boyfriend right out of college that said that I didn’t get angry “right”. He had a PhD and I was a mere done with undergraduate person, so what did I know? I went into counseling for a year.

Finally I said to him, “The counselor and I have tried presenting anger to you in every possible form and none of it is acceptable. So now she says you need to come to counseling too.”

His response: “What I want is for you to never get angry at me again.”

Mine: “You are dreaming.”

And so he broke up with me. Immediately. And said I was an ogre when I was angry.

I went back to counseling and was depressed for a year. Then I cheered up, met a boyfriend and went to medical school. I worked on my temper, remembering the ogre comment. I did not want to be an ogre. My boyfriend became my husband and he really liked my dark side and my silly side.

My sister was the person who could set me off angry the most easily. She and I fought like pitbulls, like honey badgers. Once we were in Colorado with my husband, her first husband and my parents. The two husbands had an imitation pretend fight acting as me and my sister. They were vicious. It was horribly embarassing and also funny, because they nailed us both.

In residency in Portland, I had a breakthrough. My sister was divorced from the first husband by then, and with the no meat, no dairy, really pain in the butt boyfriend. We were having a big party, lots of people, grilling salmon and cooking in a group. My sister walked in.

“Oh.” I said, “You didn’t RSVP.”

She fired up instantly. “What? Why does that matter? Do you want me to leave?”

I did not fire up. I held my breath and then said, “No. But if you are here with No Meat No Milk, I didn’t make any food for him, because I did not know you were coming. There is lots of food. You are both welcome to stay, but he will have to figure out his own food.” Then I held my breath again.

There was a long pause. My sister had her breath drawn in and held. She looked like she was going to explode. But I had answered quietly. She really had nothing to explode at.

“We will stay then,” she said, grudgingly. And there was No Meat No Milk. I was pretty happy when she ditched him. But I was also happy that I had not exploded back at her.

That was when I really got control of my temper. Not that I never lost it again, but I was no longer an ogre. I could hold it with my sister. My husband could set me off, but when I stepped back and started recording what he said and my responses, I could hold it there too.

After we divorced, I had one boyfriend who moved in. I had joked to a friend that my family had a lot of enablers and enablees, but that the latter lived longer. I said if I had to be one or the other, the latter seemed better for longevity.

And that boyfriend showed up immediately. I had just been “strongly encouraged” by my employer local hospital to open my own private practice. That is, I was not seeing patients. I was writing a business plan. I met him in a bar, salsa dancing. He said I was cute and I said, “No, I’m prickly.” I swear, it was that sentence and my dancing that attracted him. I always grin like a fool when I’m dancing. I love it. It lights me up.

Anyhow, I got mad at him exactly twice before he moved in. Boy did he come down on me for getting mad and punished me very thoroughly. By now you are wondering why I let him move in and frankly I was too. But my intuition was running the show and I just let it.

Well, he had kissed me like crazy at the start of the relationship. He stopped kissing me, almost as he moved in. He had insomnia. He’d fixed up one of the two upstairs bedrooms. He started sleeping with me less and less and sleeping in the other room, on cushions.

I would wake, worry. I started moving too. I moved to the guest room. I moved to the couch. Once I was out of the theoretically shared bed, I could go back to sleep. He protested that I shouldn’t move. Why not? I was getting insomnia from worrying about him leaving more and more.

He said we’d need couples counseling eventually. I said, ok, and scheduled it. He said, “I didn’t mean now!” I said, “Well, seemed like we might as well get it out of the way.”

He told the counselor I needed to either cut my sister off or do what she said, but instead, I was present and disobeidient. My sister had metastatic breast cancer and we came from an alcohol addiction family. Can you say complicated relationship?

I explained to the counselor that I thought many patients with cancer end up in a “cancer bubble”. Everyone tries to do what they say because they have cancer. This isolates them and does damage to the relationship. I was trying to stay present and real. That is, I did not obey. I was getting pressure from other people to obey, because my sister would complain about me. Whatever.

The counselor thought I was reasonable. I brought up the sleep issues. The boyfriend cancelled the counseling, saying that he needed a break.

At six months living together, he was saying that he might need to go back to the city to work. Two hours away. And I still was not doing what he wanted re my sister.

Counseling again. Again my behavior to my sister was examined. Same story. I turned to him. “I hear you saying you may need to return to the city for work. I hear you saying you may need to move there. What I don’t hear you saying is darling, we will get through a long distance relationship. Are you breaking up with me and not telling me?”

Long silence.

The counselor said, “You need to answer her.”

He finally said, “I wasn’t going to tell you until after I moved.”

I cried. We left. I kept crying.

He said, “You are angry and you are going to throw me out on the street.”

“No!” I said, “I am sad! You move out when you are ready! We will remain friends!”

So then I cried buckets. I cried on him, buckets. I cried every time I saw him, I cried daily, I cried about him, about my sister, about alcoholism, about the hospital getting rid of me. I cried about everything. I cried on him daily.

For six months. He kept saying “You are angry. You are throwing me out.” But I didn’t. I just cried more.

He moved out on the weekend I returned from seeing my sister in hospice for the last time. Her birthday was March 23. I saw her last on March 22. My birthday was March 28. She died March 29. He moved out on the 26th and 27th. I was not mad, I just cried and cried and cried.

I think that he was looking for an angry girlfriend. He thought he’d found her when I said I was prickly. He would have been the enabler and I would have been the angry dysfunctional enablee. It turns out that I was not really interested in being an enablee. Now I want a healthy relationship.

So that is my recommendation. If you have to cry, do it on the boyfriend who wants you to be angry instead of sad.