Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Anemia

A couple of months ago, when things were tight and I was not at all flush, I signed up for an emailing of clinical trials. I know it is not the noblest of professions, but I only responded to the ones which did not actually require you to take undocumented, untested medication. In any case, one came up and I went in for a routine blood test. They were doing phoresis, which is a process in which they take blood from one side of the body, remove the white blood cells and return in to the other side of the body. The entire process takes about two hours and by the time you are finished, your body has regenerated about 90% of what was taken out. How cool is that?

Anyway, I came in for my routine health screening and blood test. Took about an hour and they said they’d call me with the results. A couple days later, they called and said that I hadn’t cleared the study. Now I had told them when I went in that I had just finished with my monthly visitor so I was worried that might affect the results. Sorry to over share, but what the heck, it’s my blog! Anyway, they invited me to come back in for another go ‘round which I did at a more conducive time.

Two days passed and I got a call from the nurse who had been working with me. It seems my results had come back lower than before. “Should I be worried?” “Probably not,” was the answer but she would actually like me to follow up with my family doctor. Wow, this was a surprising turn of events. I also was in a bind because I didn’t have a family doctor anymore. Mine had retired and I had never found a suitable replacement.

So I went to the clinic and underwent a series of invasive and humbling tests and retests. Yes, I was Anemic. Officially. And somewhat significantly. Our next task was to find the root cause. “Have you been losing weight?”

“Well, yes, but it’s been intentional.”

“Then it must be your diet is off. Have you experienced any fatigue or exhaustion?”

“Well, maybe but I’ve been under a lot of pressure and I lost my Mom last year…”

“Then you must not be getting enough rest.”

So I left the clinic somewhat bewildered with a prescription for iron pills and feeling a little beaten up. How is it everything was my fault?

But something still bothered me. The diet thing. Now I am a somewhat vegetarian. I eat limited meat and no red meat, but as an athletic person who does not eat red meat, I am VERY careful about what I do eat and I just didn’t think I could have made such a mistake. So I started doing a bit of research on the internet-something I never do and do not recommend because self-diagnosis from the internet just leads to madness. But I did it anyway. And I made an interesting discovery. There are two common forms of Anemia: iron-deficient Anemia and less common but still prevalent, B-12 deficient Anemia. I looked at the symptoms of B-12 deficient Anemia: Weakness. Check! Fatigue. Check! Lightheadedness. Yup! A pale appearance. Always! Loss of appetite with weight loss, rapid heartbeat or chest pain, shortness of breath upon exertion. Check, check and double check, and all these things I had been told were due to stress, age and mourning. It’s funny because I had been feeling tired lately and everyone just kept saying that it was stress. And I had been feeling run down and headachy and everyone just said it was age. But no one considered there might actually be something wrong with me. And I had never considered the possibility that I could feel better. I just accepted this is how I shall feel now that I am getting older.

Here’s the interesting thing about B-12 deficient Anemia; everything else can be fine; you can be getting all the nutrients you need, you can load yourself up with iron, but without that one key ingredient, your body can’t process it.
It is not unlike our relationships. You get complacent and you just accept that things are the way they are. You don’t ask if it could feel better. And even though you started out with all the nutrients of a healthy partnership, if you are short one key ingredient, nothing else works. It doesn’t matter if you have passion and love and compassion and history if you are missing something essential. And I’m sure the essential ingredient is different for everyone; maybe it is trust or fidelity or humor or empathy. But if it is not there and that deficit goes unnoticed and unrecognized, nothing else will work, even when you give off the appearance of perfect health.

Perhaps it is time to give our lovers a metaphorical shot in the arm, but first we better figure out what they and we are missing. Don’t accept a first diagnosis, dig a little deeper and find the root cause. We must be our own advocates in love, as in life!

And maybe for we single married girls, we need to acknowledge that the essential ingredient might just be us. The whole us, not just the pieces we’ve cobbled together but one whole and complete person who doesn’t need a better half, just an equal; just a catalyst to process all those essential ingredients that are already there. To feel better, to ask for more, to realize that feeling bad isn’t the natural aging process.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Exercise in Humiliation

So I am jumping around the timeline once again. Please forgive me. I am going back to my trip, my cruise. Tonight I shall talk about the most embarrassing night of my life onboard. The night I truly put myself on the map. The night I became, “that girl who…” It started out like any other night…on a cruise…in the Mediterranean. Ok, it started out like any other night for me. I went to dinner and then a show and then headed out to go dancing in the little nightclub where incidentally, almost no one would dance but I didn’t care. They were having an 80’s night with free shots for right answers and I was on a role. First one, yes!!! Oh, I know this one too! So I run up on stage, offer my answer and back up a step, right into the speaker which I promptly fall backwards over, though I did demurely manage to keep my dress from flying completely up over my head. “Do you need medical attention?” the host queries into the mic. “No thank you,” comes my shaky reply. “Do you need medical attention?” he asks again. “No, I’m good,” my slightly more strained answer. “Do you need medical attention?” Ok, what is with this guy? “No, nothing, thank you.” I was waiting for him to say Ovaltine? I start to walk away and he says, “wait, don’t you want your shot?” Great, like I don’t look like the drunk girl already.

So I take the shot but my leg is throbbing and I’m so shaky that the thing just dribbles down the sides of my mouth. I take as high brow a swipe with my forearm as I can muster and feebly leave the stage. Walk, it off girl. Nobody noticed the girl in the black and white polka dot dress just take a dive bomb on the stage, you’re good! So I leave to regroup and come back about 20 minutes later. Still in the same dress, but less sticky faced after a little trip…ok, bad choice of words…to the restroom.

I’m dancing, having a grand ol’ time when this young man, and I mean young, read looks about 15, comes up to me. “I’m Clayton, wanna dance?” I, uh, sure, why not. It’s just a dance. And he has to be at least 18 or he wouldn’t be in here. Though 18 seems many years ago… “I don’t really know how to dance. Mostly, I Mosh.” Really, what have I gotten myself into? Anyway, he sort of runs off and I’m dancing when his MOTHER comes up to me.

“He has been watching you all night and was so nervous.” Oh, my g*d, I am in hell. And his sister comes over. I just wanted to dance, I swear. So I just keep moving and make my way off the floor and to the DJ’s station. I’m in the midst of making a request when I hear this gruff voice behind me. “I’m sorry,” I respond.

“I said, I’ll buy you a drink if you go sit with my nephew.” Ok, seriously, am I being punked? I turn to see this much older gentleman and he gestures to a table across the room where two men and a woman, about my age, maybe a little older are seated. Sigh. What the hell, free drink, and I’m here for experiences, right?

“Amaretto sour,” I shoot back at him and stride across the floor to the waiting lynch mob. “Hi, which one of you is the nephew? I think I’ve got a drink coming because of you.” They laugh. Amazing. They tell me it is a trick of their crazy, cranky uncle. We get chatting and I’m actually having a really nice time. Until, “where have we seen you?”

“I’m the girl who fell over the speaker.”

“Ah, yes. Wait, were you at the tequila tasting yesterday?”

“Yes.”

“We bought the margarita for the table…that you drank. Alone.”

Awesome.

Sex and Intimacy

So, the time has come to take a good hard look at the world of sex and intimacy in my life. I am being…challenged by a friend of mine who thinks that perhaps I have never considered my own needs in the bedroom before. First of all, I have recently been told that I give off perhaps the aire of a…dirty ho, I believe was the phraseology. Which is so ironic because I am probably far closer to such a description now than I was at the time it was given. I don’t really think I am now, either, but I am definitely in a different league than before the big breakup. When I was together with my husband and Mr. Darcy, although I did have an “out of the ordinary” relationship, I still stuck to a very clear moral code. I did not stray physically or mentally. I never fantasized about anyone else, nor did I ever pretend I was with one rather than the other. But I was very open-minded in the confines of the relationship and had very little I wouldn’t at least try. I also was never comfortable with the word FUCK. It always seemed so mean, and was only used in anger. And sex was something I did not share except out of love. Ironic, huh? It is not a well known fact but before the end of my relationship with Mr. Darcy, I had had only two lovers in my life. I had been somewhat intimate with other people early on, but Mr. Darcy was my first, my husband was my second and there was no other. And I loved them both deeply so casual sex was not part of my vocabulary. I had rather romantic notions about the whole thing.

My numbers have…shifted up a bit in the last few months and I have attempted exploration out of the realm of true love. Though love still exists, it is the love that exists between two friends. But I spent so much time not being touched by not one, but two men in my life, and for a while I simply accepted that this is now how things are. This is what happens in long relationships, the passion fades, the complacency sets in. I never even questioned it. What does that say about me, my paradigms, my role models? My parents were married nearly 40 years, many of those quite happy but always tempestuous. Perhaps we are always slaves to our visions of what has come before us. What if we simply walked away from those preconceptions? Is it even possible? If so, what else may exist beyond the realm of expectation?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Oh! Naturale *

So one of the things you should know about my show is that I spent it in a nude skin-tight unitard. I was happy to do it, because I kind of always saw the character as a nude character in my mind. But nudity in a show can be tricky. If it is done right, it just becomes another costume. If it is done wrong, it becomes a distraction. And if it is done for shock value, it becomes another character. But in this case, it might have been distracting and had not been approved by the venue. So, nude unitard. But the thing is, because this was a festival, we had little time to load in and load out, and because it was so skin-tight, I couldn’t wear anything under it. So I would come to the show in costume, to avoid any of the awkwardness that changing might have created.

Now, the comedy comes into play when you realize that there is no parking at the venue. There was parking in the neighborhood, about 4-6 blocks from the theatre, so I would spend each night walking to and from my car, seemingly naked, to catcalls such as “where’s the party”, “is the circus in town?” and “is that girl neked?” I started carrying postcards for the show and just handing them out. I mean, what better advertising?

The greater comedy is that on my way to the final performance, I was rear-ended. I know, it doesn’t sound that funny. But it was a low speed accident. However, I still had to get out and inspect my car…in my costume. I just kept praying, “please let there be no damage”, not just because of the money and inconvenience, but more because I just didn’t want to stand there and wait for a police officer. Only me. When did my life become a parody of my life?

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Serendipity *

People always tell you things happen for a reason and I have a great deal of trouble with this concept, but even more with disputing it. So I have been involved with a show that has been an immense catharsis for me. The entire experience was an exercise in serendipity. Firstly, I met the playwright at a Qi Gong workshop. If you don’t know what that is, it’s ok. It isn’t important to the plot other than to know that it is an internal art form dedicated to helping healing and putting one on the right path. Ok, maybe it is important to the plot. Anyway, we were introduced by one of our mutual instructors who thankfully uses his Machiavellian skills only for good.

To continue, I started a dialogue with the playwright at the first workshop, and we found out we had quite a bit to talk about, let’s just say. I gave her my blog URL that night, I think. We continued talking and she sent me the script which was so close to my heart that I knew I needed to be a part of the project in some way. Around the same time, I got an email from another director friend of mine who said that this wonderful new playwright had just lost her director and my friend wasn’t available and wanted to know if I could direct. Same playwright. Ok, this has now come at me from several directions, I would be unwise to tick off the universe and ignore it.

So I called the playwright up and found out not only had she lost her director but also her venue. Yikes! But this show has to happen! I knew it. She knew it. The lighting designer knew it. So we just said we would make it happen. I told her, I will direct if you need it, act if you prefer it, or carry a spear if required. I have always been someone who ran on faith. Decide to do it, announce you shall do it, and then figure out how. It always seems the means you will find or they will find you if you just ask.

I should probably mention that the show was about a woman in a stagnant marriage, not good, not bad, who is a frustrated writer living an existence dictated by her social setting and upbringing and entirely unsatisfactory. So much so, that she has created an alter-ego for herself, who both protects and challengers her. This was ultimately to be my role though I did not know it at the time. I called it a love triangle between two people.

Well she got another director and a new venue and I came in for a read-thru which turned out to be audition which turned into a read-thru. It was all a very non-traditional process but that was ok, because we were doing important work; we just didn’t know what or why, but we knew it was important.

The shows were uneven, the audiences good and the reviews, excellent. I received better press than I ever have and a potential offer to bring the show back and develop it in a different venue. But more than anything, I gained a small group of women who have a similar understanding of what it is like to be in this situation because this cast came with an understanding that comes only from experience, though we spent little time talking about our own. And as much as my blog seems to resonate with readers, this show resonated with audiences, whether it was the frustration, the stagnation, motherhood, fidelity, duty-there was something that touched the lives of each person sitting there in the dark, sparking debates and conversations that spilled over into coffee houses and onto websites. Ripples. I knew it. I am not in a unique experience. I’m just in company too polite to talk about it. D*mn! Enough with the silence already, people. Clearly, as the saying goes, “we need to talk.”

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mr. Darcy Fini *

So I think the time has finally come to update you on all that has transpired with Mr. Darcy. I have a little distance from it so it is not so raw as it was. I foolishly tried to believe I could jump from a relationship to a friendship with nothing in between. I knew this to be a fallacy even before I agreed yet there was hope. I saw HE was capable of it; why shouldn’t I be? Ah, but there’s the rub. He did transition. He took his time, and was well into the acceptance stage before he even broached the subject of ending it with me and dating someone else. I was still in bargaining, which made for a perfectly dreadful transition from bargaining a relationship to bargaining a friendship. I did it for a while; I made it stick and I went through the motions as though I was really happy about it but inside, I was dying. And worse than that, I was lying to myself, the one person I had promised to be better to. So one day, it hit me…this isn’t working.

It came on not like a torrent but like a gentle shower which just continued and increased until one day, I looked down and my feet were buried in the mire which had grown around them as I stood unawares, sinking in the mud. I don’t even remember the circumstances that made me do it. I just remember one day, while on IM, I asked this question. “Does your family know that we have broken up?”

“Well, they have never really known our status but they know things have changed and that we are committed to being friends.”

And it struck me like a tangible blow. All this time, I have felt so guilty that I made him feel like my dirty little secret. But I was his. His family, his friends, his coworkers and acquaintances, even his new girlfriend; to all of them I was just some enigmatic, undefined presence on the periphery of his life. I was a secret. I was always going to be, even had I been single and free to love him completely. In ten years, he had never defined me as a part of his life to anyone else in it. How do you miss something so obvious for so long?

So I told him I didn’t want to be friends anymore. I didn’t want to talk on the phone every day, and IM and look forward to emails. I needed some distance because I couldn’t have him so continue to be so important to me anymore. I broke off our friendship…on IM. Cowardly, I know and yet, a necessary act. And as strong as I was capable of being; a quick and violent kill.

It would be easy to say that I felt strong and energized and like some conquering goddess, but of course we all know that would be bullsh*t. I cried. I stopped sleeping. And I forced myself to play music to fill the void left by the absence of a phone call. And for days after I tried not to want him to be the first person I said good morning to and the last one I said good night to. I tried not to want him to be the one I wanted to share my happiness and my sadness with. And yet, I was still happier than I have been because I was calm. OK, not happy, that’s not it. Relieved. Sad…but calm. Heading toward ACCEPTANCE.

Now if this were a movie, this would be the end. But it’s not. Nothing in life is ever so neatly wrapped and packaged as it is in the movies. So, one day I sent a message to Mr. Darcy and he called me. And we fought about boundaries and the fact that he thought I meant I needed a break for a week and I kind of meant forever-at least for the time being.

And then there was my show. I asked, if he was coming to at least give me a heads up. Which he did, but of course, he sat in the front row.


And then there was the matter of his birthday which I labored over trying to decide if I should ignore it or send a card or call. In the end, I sent a text which just said happy birthday and he returned it with one which just said thanks. Things do get easier.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Barriers *

Oh, I have so much going on in my head right now I do not even know where to start. So much has been happening at lightning speed that I don’t seem to even be able to process everything. This week, my father had a birthday, which means my mother did as well, as they share the same birthday. It wasn’t bad until my sister called, completely bereft and utterly inconsolable. I am in the difficult position of now being the matriarch of the family; a dubious title and one I am ill-prepared to handle. But it is what it is. So I spent about 40 minutes talking her off the ledge.

It got me thinking about barriers; those we build, those that are imposed upon us, those which exist only to be overcome. I have spent a lifetime putting obstacles in my path, just to make extra work for myself. I think perhaps this is a very common thread of humanity. It’s funny being on this side, watching my sister creating drama for the sake of suffering it. Boy, is that a familiar song. Why do we do this? What drives us to be the masters of our own destruction? Perhaps it is the fear of loss and failure. It is easier to know that you haven’t failed so much as torpedoed your own happiness because at least then it was by your hand and your choice and not the end result of a horrible rejection. I see this in my own professional as well as personal life. I think I am like the hare, eager to begin, able to compete and quick to the finish, but upon sight of the finish line, I stop, just short of the success because to achieve it is just a little too scary. Time to close my eyes and cross that line; time to break a few barriers of my own.

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