25 March 2011

Litmus Test

So there I am, barely 25, at the hospital. Waiting to see if they're going to admit me to the mental ward overnight. But I don't know that yet. All I know is it's damn near 4:30 AM and I need coffee. So I deposit 50 cents into the machine and press "coffee, regular." (As a side note, never ever order chicken soup from one of those things. It tastes like I imagine the Gowanus Canal must taste, though I've never tested this hypothesis.)

Rumblings from within. Vending machine crane-arm noises. Suspense: the little light goes on. It thinks. I wait.

Creamer squirts out of the nozzle onto the grate. Eight ounces of tepid coffee follows. The cup clatters down, useless, onto the mess. The door opens.

I'm blinking at it. This is not quite what I ordered. Well, it is, but not in the order I ordered it. So I dig out 50 more cents and try again.

Creamer squirts out of the nozzle. Eight ounces of coffee descend in a putrid, infuriating stream. The cup comes down on top of it. Empty.


I'm on the verge of tears. Instead, I kick the vending machine. Say some choice words my longshoreman grandfather taught me.

Resident comes by, all arrogance and flapping scrubs. Scrounges in his pocket, comes up with 50 cents, presses "coffee, regular" just as I open my mouth to say something by way of warning.

But then his cup comes down, creamer squirts into it, and eight ounces of beautiful, perfect, glorious coffee flow into the mix. The door opens. The resident retrieves his coffee, lifts it to me in a half-hearted "cheers" greeting, and flaps away down the hall, innocently slurping at the caffeinated ambrosia being denied to me.

I blink after him. What the hell?

I realise I have 50 cents left. I decide to go for it.

Coffee. Regular. Goddamn it.

The creamer squirts into the empty slot. Eight ounces of coffee blast into space. I consider trying to stick my tongue under the nozzle, but decide I would either get stuck and the resident would have to come extract me, or I'd definitely get sent to the mental ward.

Not to mention the goddamned empty cup would hit me in the head when it was done.

22 March 2011

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

No, really.

I told you there was more to the story. Here's some of it, to date (more here and here):

It was December 2007, and I’d just received word in the mail that my husband’s divorce from me was finalized. I don’t remember if that’s what prompted me to finally call Dr. Lauren's office after two months of waffling, but as luck would have it, my first appointment fell on the morning of the winter solstice. Lauren and I had been knitting friends for several months before I randomly mentioned that I needed to find a new chiropractor, and she looked up over the top of her needles and said, "I'm a chiropractor." Whoa. Really? Awesome.

Since my heart and consciousness were more or less encased in a block of ice two years thick, I have no idea what Lauren said that afternoon that convinced me I should stay for the solstice fire, but it must have been good because there I was. I remember clutching a piece of paper with my now-ex-husband’s name on it, muttering over and over, “I don’t think I can do this,” as Wendy unclenched my fingers one at a time and helped me drop it into the fire.

That spring I decided I wanted to go back to school (again) for my PhD, something I’d once promised myself not to do until my husband got the bachelor’s degree he’d always wanted. Lauren convinced me to take off my wedding rings. I stopped seeing my therapist of twelve years. I made a New Year’s resolution to look for joy wherever I might be able to find it.

In February 2009 I signed up for Reiki I as a birthday present to myself and followed up with Reiki II several months later. I also built up quite a collection of rejection letters from PhD programs during this time, and decided to start with a second master’s degree.

December 2010 I arrived at the solstice fire on my third “anniversary,” having just handed in the final paper needed to graduate from that program, at the end of an autumn that involved horrifying take-home exams, more PhD applications, the murder of a student I’d previously taught, a marathon finish time I never thought I’d achieve, and the recurrence and treatment of a back injury that is simultaneously teaching me to ask for help and re-forging what had been a rocky relationship with my mom since moving back to Three Feathers.

2011 has brought a string of very strange Mondays filled with all sorts of news. I've been accepted into a PhD program, fully funded (!), and just this afternoon learned that I will soon be signing a lease on the apartment of my dreams. Although I never for a moment dreamed it would be in Pennsylvania.

Oh, and I’ve also found true love—right in my own skin.