Sunday, August 30, 2009


Yesterday I left my house for the first time, after two days of being stuck indoors. It was fabulously good to be out, feeling the wind, hearing the whisperings of leaves, watching white, puffy clouds chase each other across a jubilantly blue sky.

I walked to the library. I discovered along the way that they had moved the library a fair ways further from my home than usual. But I like a challenge, so I picked up my heavy legs and took step after step until I was finally there. Then I sat on the floor in the stacks. I took it as an opportunity to browse the lower shelves, which I would normally ignore, as I rested.

The first time I was sick with this virus, I spent the whole time, when I wasn't fever-stoned, feeling worried about all the things I wasn't getting done. This time I have simply given myself over to the process. If I miss work, I miss work. If I can't get to Babyland, they'll have to make do without me.

Yes, this is the same virus that got me three weeks ago. I'm what Ken calls "re-sick". I was doing great. Had achieved what I felt was a full recovery. But then I had a stressful day, didn't sleep well, and woke up with a sore throat. The sore throat stressed me out more, and disturbed my sleep for the next two nights. I got worn down. And before I knew it, BAM. All the exact same symptoms that I had three weeks ago had me pinned down once again.

My step-dad, who had the same virus, isn't surprised. He says that he's had three relapses so far, over six weeks. Nice. The good news is that each is less severe than the last. And I am recuperating faster than the last time. The bad news is that this troublemaking bug will probably be hanging out in my body for a few more weeks to come. I'm going to have to seriously limit my activities for the entire month of September. *sigh*

Meanwhile I am trying, and mainly succeeding, in being Zen about the whole experience. If I have to slow down, why not enjoy it? For example, when the aches and shivers of a fever woke me up at 4:00 am a few days ago, instead of huddling in the dark and feeling sorry for myself, I tried to make the best of things.

First of all I got up and did some yoga stretches, because no matter how sick I am yoga always calms me down and reduces my symptoms for a while. Then I settled on my bed with an honest, inspiring book. At 4:15 am, the automatic sprinklers popped up on the little patch of lawn outside my window. The shush of water falling on grass in an otherwise silent condo complex. Eventually my eyes started to droop and I fell back into a restful sleep.

I can't take any fever-reducing medications because of how cruelly they shred my stomach, so I just have to ride the ups and downs as they come.

Today I'm skipping church, because I was scheduled for Babyland duty and I didn't want to be responsible for giving swine flu to the infants. Ken will be home soon. I'll drag my heavy limbs into the car, and we'll go out somewhere nice for lunch so I can get out of the house for a little bit. How I'll do with getting in to work tomorrow is anyone's guess. But I'll take it as it comes.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Shoplifting and Angry at the Church

I should have known that I was getting sick. I haven't been myself since the weekend. On Sunday I accidentally shoplifted this set of MonKeys key covers. Shoplifting is not something I make a habit of doing.

I was super-tired, but trying to push through it to enjoy a normal day out with Ken. Just before 5 pm we were wandering around in a store. I had the pack of key covers in my hand, with every intention of paying for it. Then Ken said "We'd better go. It looks like they're closing." In a daze, I wandered out of the store with him.

A few steps out onto the sidewalk, I realized I had something in my hand.

"Hey!" I said. "I'm stealing these!"

Of course I ran back into the store and paid for them.

Anyway, long story short, after that I had a scratchy throat for three days and now I've got a fever. Blah.


I've been thinking about more disagreements I have with my church. These ones have to do with music.

Last time my group played during the service, we tried to amp it up. The congregation seemed to be having a bad-energy day. I could see most of them slumped in the pews like dead fish. We put everything we had into bringing the good spirit into that auditorium.

Later, a fellow who leads one of the other musical teams came up to the three singers.

"Be careful," he told us. "You were almost dancing. You know, like doo-wop backup singers. You'll get raked over the coals for that."

I stared at him and blinked, completely taken aback. Yes, we had been moving in time to the music. So what? We weren't being immodest. That's part of musicianship. If you "dance it up" a little it keeps you on the beat. Is the board of directors so uptight that they can't handle us swaying our shoulders?

Our church has an incredibly old and stuffy board of directors. There is one 30-something black man who speaks for the younger demographic. He ends up in a lot of disagreements. The rest of the board is all elderly white people.

I have heard stories of another music group that ended up disbanding because they received so much criticism from the board. The drums were too loud. The songs were too new. This is church, not a rock concert. Etc.

I hadn't expected such criticisms to be leveled at my group. Not that we don't rock it out a little here and there. But more to the point: the church has trouble finding enough musicians to play at all of its services. My group's leader was invited to get involved in the music program because the pastors were rather desperate to fill some gaps in the schedule. On one hand, I love being involved in the music. It's a labour of love. On the other hand, it's a lot of work. They asked us for help. Do they think they can be that picky and restrictive?

The more I think about it, the angrier I get. This is not Footlose. In this day and age, even Pentecostal churches are embracing dance as a form of worship. Only last month, we heard a sermon describing how, according to scripture, King David was so overcome with joy and love for God that he tore off all his clothes and danced around like a maniac in his underwear. The pastor was all "we should be more like King David!" Hello, are you people even listening to yourselves?

Not only that, but Ken, who is involved with the production side of our music, working the sound board and setting up electrical equipment, has been running into roadblocks as he attempts to improve the technical situation. One pastor in particular is resisting the idea of spending money to upgrade the old and broken equipment that limits our sound. Ken has offered to take responsibility for raising money for the cause, but that doesn't help.

On one hand we hear that we have to provide great music, because that's often what will draw visitors back to the church for return visits. On the other hand, the pastor warns us that it must not be a performance. One man with a guitar singing heartfelt hymns is as good or better than a whole musical team with a fancy electrical set-up.

Which makes me ask: why am I bothering? Every month I spend around 3 hours at home listening to our tracks so that I can learn the songs. I spend at least 2 hours creating, editing, and printing lyrics sheets. We spend 8 hours in rehearsals. Then there are other peripheral activities that take up time and effort. All in all, I devote a lot to this group. It would be just as good or better to have one guy with a guitar? Then maybe I'd rather do something else with my time. Especially if my "dancing" is offending the congregation.

Honestly, all these politics bug the heck out of me. Lucky for them that I still feel a lot of love for most of the people there, or I'd have left in a huff already. We'll see. There may come a confrontation at some point. If the board continues with their habits, they should be prepared for the church to die when they die, because they're not changing with the times. That would be a shame.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Island vs. The Spa

Toronto Island has long been one of my favourite retreats. It’s basically a large park surrounded by lake Ontario, walkable from end to end in around an hour, and from edge to edge in 15 minutes at the widest part. It’s got beautiful beaches; wide lawns with big willow trees; and a little amusement park where you can ride a miniature steam train or drive a two-person boat that looks like a swan in a little pond. All in all, very charming. Also, it’s usually considerably cooler on the Island than in the city, which is a big draw in the summer.

What could be better than the Island? A massage at a fancy spa, perhaps? I wasn’t expecting this to be the case. I had a gift card to cash in, from my wedding, otherwise I never would have booked a treatment at the Stillwater Spa at the Park Hyatt hotel in Yorkville. The prices are outrageous. And for what? Last time I got a gift certificate to a snooty spa, I hated the whole experience. The girl who did my manicure was obnoxious. The “hot stone massage” was a total bust. Lying on top of hot stones is not much more enjoyable than lying on top of cold stones. Therefore, I had low expectations of my spa experience.

Imagine for a moment that you’re me.

It’s the weekend before last. You’ve been cooped up sick for two weeks. You finally have enough energy to walk more than one block. Where to go to refresh your senses? The Island of course! It’s hot and sticky in the city. The cool Island breezes will be a treat.

You reach the ferry docks. Surprisingly, it’s just as warm here right by the lake as it was at home. No matter – that will all change as soon as you get over to your own personal paradise. You squash onto a crowded ferry boat. A girl’s Barbie backpack is pushing into you from the left, while your upper arm is stuck up against some stranger’s sweaty arm to your right. But you’ll be there in a few minutes, and everything will be OK.

You reach the Island. It’s freaking hot and sticky as ever. There are too many people here. You line up for the bathroom, which takes forever, because half the stalls are out of service. There is no usable toilet paper in those stalls, because it’s all in horrible, wet mounds on the floor. The floor, come to notice it, is one huge puddle. Women in open sandals pick their way through the swamp on tip-toe. There is no soap in the dispensers. Water from the sinks overflows onto the countertops, and drips onto the tops of your feet, soaking into your socks.

The sun is too bright. The sense of fresh, open space has been destroyed by crowds and humidity. You’re still too tired to walk far, so there’s no chance of escaping to the less populated areas of the Island, away from the amusement park. You take a quick tour of the grounds. All the animals in the little zoo are napping or grouchy from the heat. Finally you give up and go back to the mainland.

It’s the next weekend. Time for your spa treatment. You make your way to the check-in desk with anxiety. Being naked in a new, strange place isn’t high on your list of comfortable experiences.

You are provided with a fluffy, white bathrobe, a pair of black flip-flops, and a locker in an immaculate change room. The entire facility, for that matter, is spotless. There are staff in white uniforms whose only job it is to clean and tidy up constantly.

Once you are changed, you take a seat in the “Tea Lounge” where there are complimentary refreshments available. Other clients in fluffy bathrobes and slippers help themselves to lemon water and biscotti.

A massage therapist shows you into a room lined entirely with tiles. You lie face-up on a padded table. The lights are turned down low. The masseuse does origami with towels to protect your modesty. She slathers your neck and shoulders with lotion that has the consistency of buttercream icing. This lotion smells indescribably good, as though someone custom-crafted an aromatherapy formula to please you personally by reading your mind.

The treatment proceeds with much kneading of flesh, the application of vapour rub, and steaming hot towels. At a certain point you are asked to turn facedown. A clarifying mask is applied to your back, and then layers upon layers of hot towels. You find yourself believing that steaming hot towels are the answer to all the world’s problems. There is no one to disagree with this opinion so you adopt it as your new religion.

Just when you thought that life couldn’t get any more decadent, the now-cooling towels are lifted away and replaced by a lovely, hot shower. A seven-headed shower attachment is above you, and rivers of muscle-melting water wash you from neck to toe. It’s like being in bed sleeping, and having a wonderful shower all at the same time!

Just when you feel your toes beginning to prune, the water is turned off. The masseuse does some tricks, like pulling a tablecloth out from under a fully set table without disturbing the wineglasses, to cover you with sheet-sized dry, fluffy towels and remove the sopping wet cloths that were protecting your bathing suit areas.

She tells you to take your time, and leaves the room. When you go to get up, you find your muscles are so loose and floppy that you can barely stand.

So, you see my point. The spa wins hands down.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Dodging Danger: A Big Storm and Teenagers

It was a crazy night. It started with the storm.

I was in my naturopath’s office when the first rumbles of thunder became distinguishable from the traffic outside. We were sitting in his consulting room. A door stood open to his acupuncture treatment room, where there’s a skylight and a big picture window. The lightening flickers coming in through the door were so constant and regular it looked like there was a big TV in there, left on and tuned to static.

The wind outside picked up. Rain lashed against the windows. The rolling and crashing of thunder was almost constant. And yet, we were nowhere near the centre of the storm.

By the time our session was over, the storm was receding. The rain was still coming down in sheets, and it was twilight-dark outside much too early, but the worst I suffered from that storm was soaked feet as I ran to the subway.

Others were not so lucky.

I found a seat on a subway train among other damp and dripping folks. At the very next stop, a man around my age took the seat next to me. He was talking to himself.

“Six… dozen… chicken wings,” he said, jiggling his left leg nervously.

He murmured some inaudible comments, and then suddenly, with a big flourish, he whipped open the plastic bag he was carrying and pulled out a hairbrush. His hair was wet and messy from the storm.

He brought the brush up, and over his shoulder. He tapped himself on the back with it several times, between his shoulder blades. He threw it in the air and caught it, twice, with great concentration. That done, he dove back into his plastic bag and put the hairbrush away. He leaned back in his seat.

“Strong and powerful,” he said. “Strong and powerful PUNCH! PEANUT PUNCH!”

At this point I was having a very hard time keeping a straight face.

“Nutritious food,” he mused. “Sweet potatoes. Okra. Ackee.” Mumble mumble. He got off at the same stop as me. I walked slowly to fall far behind him. He paced off energetically, presumably in search of something to eat for his dinner. Six dozen chicken wings, perhaps?

I got myself dinner at a food court, and got back on the subway to go home. There were some girls who looked to be around 15 years old, standing in a little clump, talking loudly amongst themselves. Skinny jeans, hoodies, big gold bangles, neon pink and neon green nail polish.
Two stops later, another bunch of girls got on the train. I still can’t figure out if the two groups were loud, obnoxious friends trying to freak out all the other passengers, or if they genuinely would have liked to tear each others’ eyes out with their manicured fingernails. But the verbal bust-up that went on for the next five minutes had me ready to push the “Emergency Stop Get Help We Are In Danger Eeeeeeeeeee!” security strip over my seat. They were yelling and screaming at each other, calling each other every possible disgusting name, and making violent threats.

Finally one of the groups got off. There was some banging on the train windows before we pulled away to safety, but whew! No one’s eyes were gouged.

I got off at a transfer point, only to be almost destroyed by a team of adolescent boys who were running for the train like a stampede of charging rhinos. I threw myself up against a wall and felt the sleeve of the closest boy’s T-shirt brush my upper arm as he raced past. I would have been knocked flat on my back I hadn’t jumped out of the way.

Anyway, I finally made it home all in one piece, and found my home all in one piece, at the end of the evening. My roof was not ripped off. I was not struck by lightening or flying debris. I wasn’t attacked by a crazy man or evil teenaged girls. Nor was I squashed by teenaged boys, or even a subway train.

I’m feeling lucky!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I'm a moderately confrontational person. At work, as a manager, I have to confront people now and then. I don't look forward to it, but if it has to be done I'll pull up my socks and do it. One of my bosses likes to know that I can "be a bulldog" when he needs me to. So, GRRRRRR!

With friends and family I'm a lot more likely to avoid uncomfortable issues. I hate fighting. It's such a painful, raw process. And when I'm not in a position of authority, I'm vulnerable.

Fighting with Ken is the worst of all. I usually don't talk about our conflicts on my blog. A) It wouldn't be fair to him because you'd only be getting my side of the story and B) he reads this blog so he'd know if I were whining to the world at large. I like that he reads here. It keeps me honest and accountable. His rule is that I can write anything about him that's true. I think that's more than fair.

We fight around once every couple of weeks. I think that's probably normal. Do you fight with your significant other, those of you who have them, more or less than that?

Ken and I have a co-dependent relationship. Full on, in your face, we are totally wrapped up in each other to the point where sometimes we drive each other crazy. Each of us finds it impossible to pull back to an emotional distance that would allow us not to worry about what the other one is feeling.

For my part, if Ken is upset, I'm upset. I can pretend to be Even Steven, going about my business, but if he's stressed out, I can't keep my head on straight for long. I'm worrying about him, suffering with him, feeling his feelings, and generally freaking out. I can't "be strong" for him in a reliable way if he's upset for more than a couple of hours. Intellectually I realize that this is screwed up, and I should be able to do better, but even my stubborn will isn't enough to make that happen. I fall into the same hole every time, even when I can see it coming.

Ken has his own way of being entwined with me. He's great at staying strong and comforting when I'm down. In fact, he never fails to rise to the occasion when I need someone to cling to. He's good at taking care of people; he's done it all his life. He has his own soft spots that make him sensitive. No matter what I may feel is true, I've re-worded the sentences numerous times but I still don't feel I have the right to expose Ken by listing the specifics.

Let's just say when we fight, it's awful. We don't enjoy making playful , witty jabs at each other. Neither of us gets a high from being self-righteous or sadistic. It's pure misery.

Usually it ends with Ken saying he can't take anymore. He puts his shoes on and goes for a long walk. This is an improvement from the days when he used to get into his car and drive like a maniac to blow off steam. At least I know that he'll probably come home safe from his walk, and that he won't go far.

It's also an improvement that I let him go. I used to go wild when he headed for the door, overcome by my terror of abandonment. It's been enough years, and enough fights, that I know it's best for him to go get some fresh air, and space. I've learned to trust that he'll come back.

And usually by the time he comes back, we've both calmed down. A little time and distance, even 3/4 of an hour, can work magic. And in the worst case scenario, if he goes to bed angry, he'll wake up as cheerful and fresh the next morning as if the fight never happened. I've never known him to hold onto a conflict overnight.

I'm different. If I go to bed sulking, I wake up sulking. I come from a long line (on my mother's side) of champion grudge-holders. Ken is more the type to explode in the moment, and then when it's over, it's over.

My father (who reads this blog: Hi Father!) says that it's actually good for couples to fight on a regular basis. It allows accumulated tensions from the relationship to be blown off, so they don't pile up too high. In the long run it's healthier for the relationship.

How do you fight?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Theology vs. Big Puffy Hearts

I have been asked by friends and family to explain my church. What does it mean to be Baptist? What does my church believe? Why did I choose it?

Here is a dictionary definition of "Baptist". Basically all it means in any reliable way is: a Christian who belongs to an organized church that believes in the power of voluntary baptism as a means of confirming or affirming one's faith. (This is as opposed to other denominations that baptize infants, who obviously don't have a choice in the matter.)

Other than that, it's a free-for-all. There is no centralized authority of The Baptist Church, like the Catholic Pope, so individual churches can more or less make up their own doctrines. This has resulted in a huge range of Baptist churches, from the southern U.S., where they tend to be very fundamentalist and conservative, to the northern parts of the continent where you will find Baptists who are actively questioning the attitude of Christianity towards those of the homosexual persuasion.

What does my church believe? Oddly enough, it's sometimes hard to tell. My church contains a very wide variety of congregants, from the elderly white folks who've been there since the days when God Himself was young, to young immigrants from every corner of the world, who are struggling to learn English and have incredibly cute little kids (some of whom I chum around with in Babyland).

Everyone is always on their best behaviour on Sunday mornings, but if you get someone on their own, and if they find out that you're like-minded, they'll let down their guard and you'll find out what they're really all about. This young man listens to hip-hop music that contains Foul Language. That older lady believes she can communicate with her loved ones who have passed on. Then of course you find some that are exactly the same outside of church as in. They never swear and they only listen to Christian Inspirational music (which mainly seems to be in the genre of New Country). Hey, to each his or her own.

Even the pastors aren't exactly the same. The older one is dreamy and mild. The younger one is shouty and likes to do a bit of pulpit-thumping during his sermons.

The first day I went to that church was the same day the Gay Pride parade was taking place downtown. Ken and I agreed if there was any gay-bashing talk in the service we would get right up and walk out. There was none. The festivities were very delicately not mentioned at all. So, we stayed.

I felt from the very beginning that we were meant to go to this particular church. I can't quantify it. It felt homey and right. The congregation there is peopled with genuine sweethearts. They really pull together and love one another, as much as is possible for fallible humans.

The church seems to have a need for our particular talents. I fell right into my nursery shifts, and couldn't be happier doing it. Same goes for participating in the band. Ken has been working the sound system, which he happens to have been trained for in college. He was able to step in and take over when another volunteer retired. Who else would do these things if not us? We both feel called to do this work at the church. We're pretty sure it's a God Thing. It's always best to say Yes to God.

However, the theology of our church is not exactly in line with what I personally believe. Since that first day, the younger pastor has come out with a few statements in opposition to gay marriage. Additionally, there were two sermons within the past month warning of the dangers of consulting psychics and mediums. If I'm even somewhat psychic (although I don't read palms for a living), what does that say about me? I'm a tool of the devil?

Both pastors are aware that Ken and I have experiences that go beyond the usual five senses. We told them that right at the get-go, when we were all getting to know each other. How does that work with their vigorously enthusiastic warnings against the Dark Side?

Getting back to the issue of gay marriage: I promised a lesbian woman I know, when I became a Christian, that I would never become a homo-hater. And I stand by that promise. I could explain the beliefs which underlie that in detail, but I don't want to bore my readers to death. Suffice it to say that a) I don't believe that every word in the Bible was written directly as if by God's own hand and b) I believe the message of love that J.C. brought to the earth is the underlying point of what it does (or should) mean to be a Christian, and therefore anything in the Bible that doesn't focus on replacing hate or indifference with love is really beside the point.

What if the younger pastor knew this? Would he want to kick me out of the church?

According to my own theology, it's OK for me to be there because I'm there for love. I love the people, and I love God and I'm there to show it. How much does it matter that we differ on these points, and others?

I'm putting money into the collection plate. It's not going toward a fund to buy guns to shoot gay people, but it is paying the salary of the homophobic pastor. Who incidentally is otherwise a very pleasant and caring man. He thinks he's doing the right thing.

Sometimes I think maybe I'm there because it gives me a chance to effect change from within. I won't change anyone's opinion if I only ever hang out with people who agree with me. Maybe the time will come to stand up and speak out, and maybe I'll have the courage to do so. God has plans for me, and I'm there being prepared.

Sometimes I think maybe I'm there because I've always been prone to zip up my lips and agree with people just to keep the peace. Maybe it's like when I was living at my parents' house and I shut up and stayed in my room until I was 23 instead of mouthing off or moving out because I was comfortable, scared, safe, and lazy.

Sometimes I think maybe I'm there because love is the only thing that matters. That I'll never find a church that agrees with me 100% on every point. That the point is to get together with people; real, fallible, flawed people; and to love them, my brothers and sisters, with all of my heart and soul.

After all, He did say "Love your enemies". Are they my enemies? Does it matter?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


The hoodie's days are numbered. It's the way of fashion: once a trend peaks, once everyone is wearing it, it's bound to go out of style within a couple of years. I won't miss the hoodie.

Yes, I have a few hoodies, I must admit. They're still in pretty good shape. I have:
  • A pink, cable-knit, Tommy Hilfiger zip-front cardigan. It was a birthday gift many a year ago. It's getting worn out, but I still get compliments on it.
  • An olive green, fitted, fleece pullover with 3/4 length sleeves and no pockets.
  • A couple of short-sleeved, zip-front, cotton hoodies. One is robin's egg blue with a pattern of little blue flowers. The other is white with big blue and orange, Hawaiian-style flowers.

I do like how they look. I tolerate hoodies in my wardrobe because the drape of fabric as it falls back from the neckline over the shoulders can be very flattering.

On the other hand, if the fabric is too thick or the hood is too small, the hood can bunch up at the back of one's neck, creating an undesirable hunchback effect. The worst-case scenario is when hoodies are layered, under or over other jackets, or even with other hoodies. The padding effect can spoil even the best posture, and makes a normal neck look stunted.

The other problem I have is with the zipper of zip-front hoodies. The second one bends over at all, the zipper is compressed into a series of bulging curves. If the hoodie is longer than midriff-length, you only have to sit down to get this unflattering effect. I am a big fan of button-front cardigans for this reason. Or pullovers, if you prefer.

What's your take on the hoodie?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Still Freaking Sick

This virus is a really nasty piece of work.

Ken and my step-dad both had it before me. They both say it was around two weeks before they felt well enough to get back to some semblance of their regular routines. Step-dad states he's still only 95% well. Ken is at 90%.

I've been sick for one week now. Chances are I'm only halfway done, based on the precedents.

I do feel a little better than I did. The low fever I was running for the first three days seems to be pretty much gone. But I still have very little energy, and my chest aches, boo hoo. At least my head is clear.

It was almost easier having the fever. I could zone out and stare at the TV all day, slipping in and out of naps. (I'm lucky that I still have cable for another two weeks.) When my brain started getting back to normal, the stir-crazy kicked in. I started thinking about work and everything that must be piling up there. So on Friday, I decided to go in for a couple of hours.

Ken was going to give me a ride. But he was still sleeping by the time I was ready to go. A combination of optimism and obstinacy prompted me to take my usual walk to work. It's only a few blocks. On a normal day I can get there in 15 minutes at a fast pace. I was feeling so cooped up. I really like my walks.

Halfway to work, I realized I'd made a big mistake. My heart was labouring and I felt the beginnings of faintness. I looked for a place to sit down, but I was on Yonge St. The sidewalk was dirty and I was wearing nice, beige trousers. I slowed to a shuffle and willed myself to keep going.

A cab pulled up and dropped off a passenger when I was three blocks from work. I should have hailed it and taken a ride the rest of the way, given the driver a really big tip. But I couldn't bring myself to give in. Surely I could make it.

I did make it, but I was completely drained. It took half an hour for me to fully catch my breath, and for the nasty squeezing sensations in my chest to settle down. Yes, I did do some work since I was there. I kept my office door closed and stayed well away from other humans, to prevent sharing my disease.

A few hours later I called Ken to come and pick me up. I was done. At home, once I was lying down, the aches came back, the fever came back... I had stupidly overdone it. So I cancelled all my plans for the weekend. Next week if I go in to work, I'll start with half days. And I won't be walking anywhere for a while.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Experiments

Wretched virus. I've been down for the count since last Sunday with some kind of flu. It could be worse. I don't have a sore throat or tummy troubles. For the first three days I was in and out of a low fever. Yesterday afternoon I felt so much better I set my alarm to go in to work this morning. It was not to be. I'm too weak. I had to go back to bed. I'm getting sick of being sick. But like I said, it could be worse.

I don't like being off my schedule for so long. I'm an achiever. I get satisfaction from my weekdays based on how much I got done. Sitting on my butt for this long makes me anxious. What can I do about it? Sit on my butt some more and wait. :-p

For now, I'm going to tell you two stories. They explain how I finally concluded, to my satisfaction, that I really do pick up on other peoples' feelings with a sixth sense, not the regular five.

I'm a scientific woman. In high school I was that geek that got A+ on all my math, chemistry, physics, and computer science courses. I have a mystical side, but I'm not one to completely throw rationality and logic out the window. Even if I can't document these experiments so that others can duplicate them, at least I proved something to myself.

The first experience happened when I was taking a night course in intuition. I can't remember most of what we did in the course. It was pretty dippy stuff, some of it. The reason I signed up was that it was a pre-requisite for a "professional" two-year part-time program in psychotherapy at the same school. The school was New Age. Some of the things they taught had merit, and, in my opinion, other things were way out to lunch. However, it was the best school I could find at the time, so I tried to get what I could out of it.

On the last night of the course, we did this exercise. Half the class put on blindfolds and sat across from empty chairs, placed in a circle. The other half of the class walked around the outside of the circle until they received a signal from the teacher, at which time they sat down across from whomever they were closest to, musical chairs style. The sighted person gave one hand to the blindfolded person to hold. The blindfolded one had to talk for some time, maybe five or ten minutes, about whatever impressions they got from that hand.

I didn't know anyone in the class very well. When it came my turn to be blindfolded, I didn't even know if the hand I held was that of a male or female. One of the restrictions was that the sighted person was not to utter a sound during the experiment or give any type of feedback. I had no clue who was sitting across from me.

I started to ramble. It's very weird to talk to an unknown person for a long time about whatever pictures form inside one's head. I felt like I must sound crazy or stupid. I started describing a house that I saw, a very specific house. It was not in the city. It was in the country, near a lake. I saw that the main living room and kitchen did not have flat ceilings, but opened to the underside of a peaked wooden roof, like that of a log cabin. The kitchen had sliding glass doors at the back, opening onto a wooden deck, which faced a thickly wooded forest. I described a dog, and some other aspects of the house. I described activities I saw the occupant of the home doing, like jogging and embroidery. At one point the hand I held began shaking noticeably. I had no idea what that signified.

Finally we took our blindfolds off. I was sitting across from a 30-ish woman with her long hair pulled back in a braid. She told me that I'd just described her home as well as if I'd been there, including her dog and her hobbies. She said the only thing that was slightly off is that she doesn't do embroidery - she knits. The reason her hand started shaking was that she couldn't help but laugh with surprise at how clearly I'd seen her life.

I suppose she could have been lying, but she seemed genuine to me. I was pretty freaked out by that experience. I was convinced that I'd really tapped into something.

The second experience was at the same school, in the actual psychology course. We were learning techniques to use with clients to get to their hidden emotions. The technique being demonstrated that day was the use of non-verbal vocalization.

One student volunteered to be the subject, and the teacher played the therapist. They started talking about a certain topic, and when they were well into it the teacher invited the student to express her feelings vocally in a non-verbal way. The student, naturally feeling self-conscious, made a few odd noises, and then started to laugh at herself.

The teacher encouraged her to continue. She made a few more noises, and this cracked her up even more. The teacher also started to smile. The rest of the students, myself included, were seated nearby on a couple of old sofas in the corner of the room. My classmates had started giggling.

Meanwhile, out of the blue, I began to feel sad. I had felt fine when we all came back from lunch, and could not explain to myself why I had a sudden urge to curl up into a ball and hug myself.

The experiment escalated. The student up front kept sounding louder and laughing more. My classmates on the sofas laughed until they were holding their stomachs. The teacher was laughing. The student at the front laughed until she could hardly stand up straight.

I felt like I was going to burst out in tears at any moment. I thought I might have to leave the room. I distinctly remember asking myself what was wrong with me. I thought it was just another manifestation of my messed-up craziness that I couldn't join in with my classmates for an innocent laugh. I felt stupid and left out.

But then, just when I was on the verge of actually letting tears pour down my cheeks, something shifted in the room. The student at the front suddenly broke down. Her laughter turned to weeping; great wrenching sobs from the gut. This was the subconscious emotion that the teacher had meant to uncover. And I had been feeling her repressed feelings, until she finally let them out.

As soon as she broke down, all the sadness lifted off me in one wonderful, relieving wave. I felt completely fine again, instantly. Everyone else in the room calmed down, stopped laughing, and put suitably sympathetic expressions on their faces. Meanwhile, I was trying to absorb the meaning of what had just happened. It was moment of realization that I'll never forget. I can't imagine a more clear demonstration of the process. I was lucky to have been present at that class, so that I could finally understand the process of my own intuition.

I never did finish that psychotherapy course. This was years before I discovered any type of protection from all the unfelt feelings floating around in the ether, so I was a sitting duck. In that course a lot of touchy subjects came up, but there wasn't time for every student in the classroom to express their emotions regarding how the subjects of addiction, or sexual abuse, or violence, had touched their own lives. Sitting in that classroom was very difficult for me, because there was so much Other Peoples' Stuff swimming around just below the surface. I even developed physical aches and pains which I believe were as a result of all the emotional pain I was being exposed to.

I attended most of the classes, but declined to do the next step: 100 hours of case studies. I didn't think it would be good for my health to continue.

So there you go. Those are the best proofs I can offer of the truth of my abilities, for what it's worth. And I don't think there's anything wrong with asking for proof of some sort. There's way too much wishful thinking in the New Age movement. It'd be easy to get lost in a world of daydreams. I don't intend to do so.