Saturday, September 11, 2004

Dancing the 12 step. Hypochondria Rant. Weapons of choice.

Mood = Contemplative Drunk

Music = NIN – Broken

Weapon of Choice.

Think “Drug of Choice”. There is no’s just what works for you. Or not. The Dell laptop (on permanent loan from ADP) just doesn’t fit the hands. It doesn’t ride the holster as it should. It is a tool, but it ain’t no weapon. You want a weapon? Go here: Select the one at the bottom of the technology curve, the AlphaSmart 3000. You’re a geek, so read the specs. But let me share this little selling point right up front: 700 hours on three AA batteries. Do the math, buckwheat. An hour a day comes out to 2 years. I purchased this puppy over 2 years ago and I’m still using the batteries that came with it. The first time I kept right on typing while the bozo across the aisle cursed his laptop and laid it to rest for lack of juice (Southwest flight from Salt Lake to Phoenix), it all became worth the price of admission. Get it with the carry case and other options (except infrared). Trust me.

Hypochondria Rant

So the oldest daughter (hereinafter called Mindy) has completed her first full week of school. But not before she and her mother , Kat, managed to suck me into the vortex of hypochondria. But before we tell that story, I need to brag.

Can you say “Four Year Full Ride Scholarship?” Can you say “Out of High School a year early?” Or how about “National Honor Society”? Yup…that’s Mindy. Not only that, she’s a redhead. Walk in fear, ye denizens of Cedar City. The scary part is that Mindy’s younger sister, Squirt, is even smarter (skipped 6th grade last year).

So Kat flies to Arizona to visit her beloved. But not before Mindy tells her she has a sore throat. By the time the two women have tossed this ailment back and forth between their fevered imaginations, it has managed to grow into some sort of growth from a horror movie that will require surgery somewhat akin to a tonsillectomy to remove. I am not making this up. After getting off the airplane, Kat started making phone calls from Arizona to get the doctors in line on this. By the time my Friday at the Orifice was over, I was scheduled to take Mindy in to the local Ear, Nose and Throat specialist. But only if we could make it in before he left his office for the Labor Day weekend. In talking to Kat about this, she mentioned trying to find a flight home to be with her little girl. I bristled. Can’t I handle it? Can I not take a day or two off work if needed? Is my hand broken that I cannot sign the papers to get her into the hospital? Is my mind so enfeebled that I can’t carry out any of a number of course of action? Am I not a man? As I am saying this to Kat (but more politely than in this rant) I am remembering Kat carefully explaining to me how to finish making out the check for the trip to the doctor, which she would do herself en-toto, except that she doesn’t know how much the co pay will be. I am thinking to myself, “Since when have I forgotten how to make out a check?”

So…against all odds, we made it in time to see the doctor. It took the doc all but 10 seconds to let the air out of the surgery fantasy. Whatever it was, it was purely topical. Even as this was being determined, I could imagine Kat’s disappointment at not being rushed back home to handle the emergency. I laughed inside. We were given a prescription for a throat culture and shooed off to the local hospital lab. Two days later the verdict came in as Haemophilus influenzae Beta Lactamase. I looked it up on the internet: Type B Influenza. My little girl picked up a mild flu bug. By the time we found this out, she was feeling much better, proving the old maxim that underlies my own attitude toward illness: If you ignore it, it will go away. Even when I had my little brush with West Nile Virus last summer, this maxim held [mostly] true. It also worked earlier this summer when I messed up my foot (I may have even broken it).

Oh yeah…and the lab test found something else: Mixed respiratory flora. I read this and thought to myself, “Well thank god it was flora instead of fauna.”

Dancing the Neo-Pagan 12 step.

It started a few months ago when I [finally] made it to meeting with a little discussion group called The Art of Seeking. It was dismal, but I knew this may have been an anomaly - one bad meeting following on the heels of a string of good ones. I intended to give it another try, but got too busy with other things. Then I saw a notice at the local Goth Coffee Shop that the next meeting would be there the next night. So I showed up and attended. Not bad. Then I found that in the same time slot on other Sundays the Coffee Goddess held her own meetings, more Psychological in nature. So when the next Sunday night rolled around, I was there.

I should have run away. As soon as Liz (The Coffee Goddess) announced she was waiting for a few folk from the local Narcotics Anonymous group to show up, I should have run. But instead, I stayed while silently chanting to myself, “I hope it isn’t Lin…I hope it isn’t Lin…”. (Lin is one of the old hands from the long defunct Pagan Utah Cooperative, an NA member, and at one time the bane of my existence. The last thing I needed at this tender time of my life was to have Lin try to get her hooks into me.) It wasn’t Lin. It was another woman who actually was a nice addition to the meeting. I can’t remember her name, but she is about my age and arrived in Utah from So Cal by way of Tennessee. Alas, a fat chick. The Wombat is wary of fat chicks, because he is polite to them (as to all persons) and they mistake it for a deeper interest. It can’t help but get ugly from there. I repeat: The Wombat doesn’t do Fat Chicks.

The topic of the meeting was: “Do you do too much for other people? Should you stop?” For me the answer was No. After further prying into my life I was tasked with no longer being mean to Mutt by not answering or returning his calls. This may be easier than it sounds. I think Mutt finally got the hints (how obvious did I have to get?) and will not call again for a LONG time. Also, there was nothing in the edict of the Coffee Goddess about me picking up the phone and initiating a conversation.

All was going well. The Wombat only made a few missteps, and covered for them quickly. But this wasn’t really what I was expecting. I was after a discussion on a theoretical plane. Instead, this was Liz being Mother Hen for her brood of psychonauts and attempting to actually make us change our lives (small changes, but still change). In spite of this little surprise I was still cool with the meeting. Then came time to wrap it up and go home. We were all invited to repeat The 12 Step Prayer. “God grant me...”.

This was too much. Little red flags popped up over the hills and vales of my psyche. No one dictates spiritual terms to The Disposable Wombat. No one tells The Wombat to pray, let alone WHAT to pray.

Having learned in the past not to succumb to knee-jerk reactions, I went home and thought about it for awhile. Perhaps I wasn’t listening closely enough when I was invited to the meeting. Maybe I allowed Lorraine’s style and intent to set false expectations. Maybe I think too much about stuff like this. But I did go over the meeting and realized that Liz may have been modeling it after 12 step meetings she had attended. The topic of the meeting was targeted at two invitees who had specific issues with doing too much for other people, probably starting out as an effort to gain acceptance then devolving into falling victim to one or more psychic vampires.

I won’t be at the meeting tonight because I am picking up Kat at the airport. Next week I’ll try to make it. The week after that is Art of Seeking (which is heading back to Lorraine’s place). Week after that is at Kate’s place.

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