…life on the synaptic firing range

Location: Los Angeles, United States

Bent but unbroken Southern California native seeks understanding, companionship, and resonance along and off the beaten path. Teresa plays well with others and makes every effort to perform to her potential. Usually. *processed in a facility that processes nuts and nut products

Friday, February 03, 2006

not about me

Today I'd like to take a break from talking incessantly about myself—however much that's a blogger's prerogative—to tell you a story about a woman named, say, Pout.

On Pout's way to therapy Wednesday morning, which is the same day I have therapy, which is how I know her, she was very excited—grinning even. This despite the fact that she was listening to NPR, which was a lot more satisfying to listen to before W took office, back when there was occasionally good news to report. KCRW was also having a pledge drive, which made Pout's NPR experience extra-sucky. But she was still happy. Today she was going to tell her therapist about her new blog, an enterprise that represents a milestone to Pout as it marks her return to some form of creativity after a long depressive drought, and she expected her therapist to be proud. Pout likes making her therapist proud.

Pout plopped down on her—hmm, it's not a couch so much as it's…you know that office furniture that came into vogue in the '70s that sort of combined aesthetics of wood grain and upholstery, so you have sofa-like seating areas with individual seats separated by wood-frame demarcations?—sitting thing, which Pout has diss'ed before, asking her therapist, whom we'll call Rosarita, why she doesn't have a big swallowy couch like all the other therapists, with fluffy pillows to hold on to when the going gets rough. (To be fair, Pout's therapist, like mine, has no control over the office furniture provided as they are not in private practice.) The sitting thing is uncomfortable to Pout, with a ramrod-straight back and insufficient padding in the seat. Plus, since it's a "loveseat," there's this whole unused sitting area that gives the illusion of space but is basically dead to the solo sitter because spreading out would mean straddling the woody demarcation down the center, which would make the sitting thing doubly uncomfortable. Pout tried to change things up once by sitting on the other side of Rosarita, with her back to the window instead of facing it. Rosarita observed that no one had ever sat there before, and it seemed to freak her out just a little, but who is Pout to say Rosarita's discomfort was illegitimate? Pout's afraid of mail.

"Well, kiddo, how are things going?" Rosarita asked.

It's fine with Pout that Rosarita sometimes calls her kiddo; she's more than a generation Pout's senior, and she has beautiful silver hair that gives her a warm, and very, very wise, grandmotherly air. Plus, Rosarita's not at all condescending to Pout.

"Terrific," Pout enthused. "I feel satisfied, centered, hopeful, creative…all cylinders firing."

Rosarita smiled for real, with her eyes. "That's so wonderful," she said, leaning forward and crossing her hands over her tailored-skirted knees. "So, tell me what you're doing on a daily basis to keep it up."

That's the thing about therapy: When we're full of anxiety and fear about the past or the future, our therapists tell us to live in the moment. But when we tell them we're feeling effing fantastic, they want us to provide a prospectus for future wellness—nothing elaborate, a basic PowerPoint presentation suffices. Seems like a bit of a double standard, Pout and I agree, because it would be a hell of a lot easier for us to map out why our futures are doomed than how they will maintain their current sunshine-and-lollipops veneer.

"I started a blog!" Pout announced.

"Oh," Rosarita said, smiling, but with a vague uncertainty. Pout saw that her therapist was going to need some convincing that this was the best thing that's ever happened in their doctor-patient history.

"Blogging's great, because it provides me a low-stress place to write, and I'm posting almost every day. It's kind of a combination of microfiction, journaling, and…blather."

"Well, it's wonderful to hear that you're writing again," Rosarita said with more neutrality than Pout was looking for. "How does that feel?"

"I'm really enjoying it."

"Good, good," Rosarita said in her transitional tone. "I think the whole time I've been seeing you…how long has it been now—"

"Two years," Pout offered.

"Goodness, has it been two years already?"

"Yup," Pout said, thinking, truth be told, that the time hadn't really passed all that quickly.

"Pout, way back in the beginning of our therapy together I remember talking to you about writing a story, something about you but also not about you," Rosarita said gently. "Do you remember us talking about this?"

"Of course."

"I think it would really help you to write such a story, because I think the act of placing your thoughts and experiences in another character could be very freeing. You might start to see yourself more objectively through this character, and you may be able to relax these very rigid constructs of reality you impose on your world."

"Mm-hm," Pout nodded.

"Do you think that's something you might be willing to do?" Rosarita asked.

"I could give it a shot," Pout said.

At the end of their session, Rosarita stood and said, "Pout, I really shouldn't say this, but you're truly my favorite patient I've ever had in all my decades of practice."

"Aw, thanks, Rosarita," Pout said. "I think you're pretty special too."

On her way out, the rather androgynous but not unhandsome Pout gathered a handful of the dark chocolate Godiva truffles Kaiser Permanente offers in all their waiting rooms (except the obesity clinic) and proceeded to the parking lot. Scanning the lot, she briefly panicked that her car had been stolen, until she spied a tremendous red bow on the hood of a fully restored espresso-brown 1969 Karmann Ghia, retooled to operate entirely on solar energy. Attached to the bow was a tag saying: "Happy 100th therapy session, Pout. Here's a little something to celebrate your newfound conviction that you deserve nice things! Love—Kaiser"

"Awesome!" Pout shouted, mentally unlocking the car and sliding into its shiatsu-equipped driver's seat. The Ghia roared to life and asked where she'd like to go. "Um, New Zealand?" Pout answered hopefully. And with that they began their journey, Pout and her Ghia. On the way Pout heard on NPR that W had been impeached and convicted for his war crimes, which made her very happy, though she sent her psychic condolences to his family because, despite everything he had put her country through, she still believed summary execution was wrong. Nevertheless, such was the will of the new president, Pout's cat Scooter. As she continued hovering toward New Zealand, Pout couldn't help musing over what wonders and shortcomings a feline presidency might bring, but then she reclined a bit, selected the "vigorous" shiatsu cycle, and decided that there was nothing wrong with living in the moment.


Blogger sporksforall said...

You know, Pout sound pretty great, but she seems to have left behind her loyal partner "Foon" in her NZ trip. (A foon is a cross between a fork and a spoon, NOT to be confused with a spork, which is a cross between a spoon and a fork.)

2:38 PM  
Blogger treecup said...

o.k., so what I gathered from this is that you did something positive and your therapist was kind of an a-hole about it?

10:14 PM  
Blogger scout said...

Um, not an a-hole so much as I don't think she gets the idea of blogging as a creative outlet.

11:15 PM  
Blogger bryduck said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:29 PM  
Blogger bryduck said...

Pout's become a Kiwi, eh? S/he's going to have to learn to drink a lot, if my experience with Kiwis is any indication. If only the stuff about our deadly President came true . . .

12:29 PM  
Anonymous g_lou said...

This story rocks! The therapist telling Pout that she was the bestest patient ever was a nice foreshadowing of fantasyland... Pout _is_ the best patient ever, of course. But hearing that from a beloved therapist ranks right up there with feline presidents. Loved it, loved it.

1:59 PM  
Blogger WordsRock said...

A most excellent tale indeed.

6:30 PM  
Blogger WenWhit said...


12:57 PM  

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