November 23, 2010

West Meets East, Smiling Politely

(This column first appeared in the Good Times Weekly on November 18th, and can be found on their website here.)

As I prepare myself physically and mentally for an impending minor surgical procedure (nothing life-threatening, nothing to increase or decrease specific body parts, nothing I couldn’t discuss over cocktails in polite society), I look back at my journey to this point, the helpful advice received from friends and strangers, and the research into all of the options available to me.  Then I smile and thank someone’s god for western medicine.

Does it have to be this bad?

Before you get your yoga pants in a knot, allow me to continue.

I collect medical practitioners like kitchen appliances, and count among my handiest helpers chiropractors, acupuncturists, osteopaths and Rolfers, alongside Ear, Nose and Throat and Orthopedic doctors. I’ve had psychic readings from afar and visited gastroenterologists…for within. But my sigh of relief at western medicine stems from memories of my first brush with eastern medicine, a day I like to refer to as The Day My Black Heart Stood Still.

It happened some time ago, I can’t remember how long, but in memory it coincides with my being issued a Volvo station wagon, seven pair of flip flops, and a re-usable water bottle, representing the unofficial trifecta of Santa Cruz ideology: practicality, comfort and hydration, which places it around the time I moved here. Well-meaning friends were coercing me to try acupuncture. I suffered from chronic and annoying conditions that weren’t remedied by x-rays, prescription medication or repeated shrieking accusations that my doctor was clearly missing the obvious signs of early onset death. One can only argue with hippies and the persistently helpful for so long, so I gave in, made an appointment and within days found myself lying in wait in a vaguely Salv-Asian Army decorated room. (Oh, don’t write me a letter. Spend the time doing something constructive.)

Sweating through the thoughts that danced in my head as I prepared for that first experience with eastern medicine probably cured me of more ills than anything to follow. My mind raced from hopeful to fearful, from joy to shame, acceptance to panic. Maybe this would work! What if she could see into my black heart? Finally, someone who asked real questions! Could she tell I was lying about everything? If I fix this thing called qi, I’ll be okay! Holy crap, I’m going to drop through this floor straight to hell once her eastern-trained hands/eyes/spirit see into the abyss of my western-soaked soul! And mostly - Aha! That’s what that word is - Qi!

Knowing I had to play it cool and loose with this wise woman, I let her close the door all the way behind her, sit down and get the following five words out, “Hello, Kim. My name is…” before I blurted out, “Will you be able to see into my cold black heart, or will you be able to work around that?” I smiled after my verbal avalanche to relay my willingness to be labeled both “Pure Evil” as well as “Healed.” I wrung my hands and twisted my feet together, awaiting her judgment.

She laughed in such a relaxed, knowing manner that I was certain hundreds of people had asked her this before. Hundreds of other “little sh*ts,” as my aunt always called me, had trumpeted this warning, this confession, this apology and cry for help. This made me feel better. Until she answered, “No, I can’t see anything. You’re the first person who’s ever said that! That’s really funny!”

So of course we both laughed. Because of course I had been kidding. Of course. And she poked me with needles and rubbed my temples with lavender, and played lonely Native American panpipe music and I fell asleep.

When she was done with me, I did feel better, inside and out, and I continue to see her. And I still tell her funny jokes, like “Can you feel where I’m going to yell at my elderly parents later today?” And we laugh. And she keeps my secrets, and pokes me with needles. And she pretends, I assume like all good eastern medicine practitioners, that the true nature of her patient is not Death Race 2000 on pause. Right?

Maybe my secret is that I actually don’t have a black heart, or a cold dead soul, and maybe I should stop paying so many doctors to find what isn’t there. And the relief of western medicine? Well, aside from a hangover here and there, existential angst hasn’t played a role while getting my blood pressure taken. Perhaps I’m missing an opportunity?

(Kim Luke – 110 over 70 – was recently cupped for the first time and had a grand time explaining the hickies.

November 21, 2010

A Quick Quiz: Which Bowling Pin Are You?

Like everything else in life that can be reduced to simple comparisons, "Which Bowling Pin Are You" will accurately portray your character and, most likely, your future successes and failures.

1 = You are vulnerable, and frequently feel singled out. Some might say you are paranoid, convinced everyone is out to get you.

2 or 3 = You are a leader, and others will follow your path.  You’re often the target of attacks, but you have a good frame of reference.

5, 8 or 9 = You follow the pack and tend to go along with others’ decisions, often teetering at the last minute for dramatic effect.  Always in the shadow, you sometimes hold your ground for no apparent reason, just to be stubborn.

4 or 6 = You are wild cards, the life of the party, or the party pooper, and nobody can call you predictable.  Go with the flow?  Maybe.  Stand out like a sore thumb?  Maybe.  Only you can decide.

7 or 10 = You are loners and tend to not play well with others.   Ornery and obstinate, or fragile and weepy, nobody likes your instability and you know it.  The chip on your shoulder is a mile wide.  

November 13, 2010

Modified Sudden Death? Pass the Cheesecake!

The football clock, akin to the atomic clock.
As 2010 moves to its inevitable wrap-up, and I look back over the news stories, discoveries and revelations made over the past twelve months, I can’t be alone in naming the #1 most important policy change for humankind: the NFL Modified Sudden Death ruling.  (Wait! For those of you who just considered this piece “out of my comfort zone,” please continue – this has huge ramifications for anyone still breathing.)

November 11, 2010

Reading Babies: the 8th Sign of the Apocalypse

Here’s a fantastic new product I’ve seen advertised on the television, and can’t help but wonder how things are going for the beneficiaries of this amazing educational tool as they move through their lives. Why did it take so very long to realize that, indeed – Your Baby Can Read!?

Imagine the benefits of having a reading baby. No more pesky bedtime stories, no more hiding the poisonous cleaning supplies, no more boycotting foods containing dangerous allergens – that baby can take on a lot more responsibility now! But that’s not all!

November 9, 2010

The Gym and I

Statistic show that the average American will spend 67% of her lifetime income on fees related to exercising; 71% of her waking hours planning to go to the gym; 3% going to the gym; and roughly 52% of her free evening hours justifying not being at the gym*. I am an Average American and hope to address these statistics in a calm and  organized manner, perhaps shedding light on these astounding numbers through the finely focused lens of my own opinion.

(yes, food stain on skirt)
I’ll tell you right now why I don’t like going to the gym. Closed captioning. That’s the reason. When I’m on the treadmill or the stationary bike or the Stairmaster, I, like many of my exercising comrades, like to have that “at home on the couch watching television” experience. But at the gym I am forced to watch tv without the benefit of sound, and am expected to read the closed captioning. However, I am near-sighted. I am so nearsighted that this feat of literacy is not possible. Blur blur blur [music notes]. Blur blur blur [laughter]. This is no way to watch Ellen or CNN, and certainly not an effective way to soak up sports highlights. That is the reason I don’t like going to the gym. Closed captioning.

Also the clothes. The reason I don’t like going to the gym is the clothes. Apparently, according to experts, the appropriate fashions for a workout are stretchy, tight fitting and revealing.  I have read that the benefits include ease of movement and ability to monitor proper body alignment. This runs counter to my motivations for going to the gym in the first place – an unyielding desire to hide my body from sight under baggy, loose-fitting clothing. So, the reason I don’t like going to the gym is closed captioning and the clothing.

November 5, 2010

I Halloweened...Did You?

After making such a stink about being sexy on Halloween, I really had ranted myself into a corner, and had to do something both scary AND unattractive. So please enjoy this late greeting from Zombie Grandma, everyone's new favorite holiday spokeswoman. Move over, Santa! (p.s. I am available for parades and children's parties. Swearing included free!)