What’s top of my mind: Scheduling. I need to schedule several things: my next weekend to Michigan, a dentist appointment, and an appointment with The Good Doctor. This is not as easy at is sounds, for it means calls and coordination of work, Someone, and what is available. Work appreciates ~ 3 months in advance notice, as I get booked so quickly; when I schedule time off the administrative staff has to call patients and reschedule patients – some of them have been waiting for months to see me. If I were less Midwestern and more of an a-hole I would be so sensitive or care about how my taking time off upsets others. I tend to NOT take time off for self-care as it causes troubles (and ire) in others. All the same I need to get my choppers cleaned and my blood work done and Brothers #2-4 need to know when I am coming in.


Where I’ve been: The new breakfast place. There is a new eatery in the nearby mall for breakfast and lunch, ‘new’ that it’s been open for a while but we’ve not gone to it given covid19. It has ample seating outdoors and we wore our maskies so we felt OK to try it. Someone is not a big breakfast eater while I find eating out for breakfast iw a real treat. We deemed it a good experience: the place had lots of oh-so-healthy and creative dishes, not just the usual breakfast diner stuff. We will return – someday. Trouble is, eating outside at this time of year is a hot and humid endeavor. We will wait until things cool down a bit, which means mid-October.


Where I’m going: Pier 1 Imports – or something like it. I like burning candles, much to the chagrin of Someone and The Bosses, who are forever worried I am going to burn down home and office. I usually get my candles at Pier 1 Imports, but I think they are no more, so I will have to go elsewhere. Maybe Joanne’s has some. I would like some sky blue candles, apropos for the month of August. I will shop alone, as Someone dislikes going into candle/soap shops as the perfume of the products gives him instant headaches and nausea.


What I’m watching: Overly Sarcastic Productions. This YouTube series remains my favorite. They do cartoon summaries and lectures on history, mythology, and movie tropes. “Red” does the myths/tropes and “Blue” does the history/philosophy lectures. Here’s an example:


What I’m reading: The same books: The last of the Mohicans and The mystery of the screaming clock. I am allowing myself to be distracted too much by YouTube videos at night time. I’ve recently read almost any amount of ‘blue light’ at night is detrimental to one’s sleep and we should lay off all screens after 8PM. I’d sleep better if I put down the phone and read under amber light. Indeed, a chapter written by Mr. Cooper puts me to sleep swifter than anything.


What I’m listening to: “Hadestown“. The story of Mr. and Mrs. Euripides continually gets a makeover; every generation seems to get the version it deserves. “Hadestown” is the latest version. More fascinating to me is the continuous makeover of Hades and Persephone. Their story has evolved (returned?) to that of a staid couple on equal terms kicking butt and doing well as couple. I am wildly curious to see what Hadestown does with the two of them. Overly Sarcastic Productions does a sensational job on the topic.


What I’m eating: Blueberries and Peaches. Both are ‘in season’. When one enters visits Uncle Albertsons one is immediately confronted with tables piled with these two delectable delicacies, high as Fafner’s hoard. I should buy a bunch of blueberries and freeze them for hard and bleak times like February. I eat the peaches as they are. I have one after dinner for Small Chocolate Cone. They taste like summer.


Who I’m paying attention to: The ceiling. The plastic white cover for the fluorescent light in the laundry room as come unhinged so it is hanging down off one side at a 45-degree angle. We need to haul in the extension ladder before it falls like the sword of Damocles. The ceiling fan in the office we dare not turn on as it wobbles so as if it is trying to come off its hinges and sails away like a helicopter. I went up on a ladder to hold an inspection and I can safely say I now know no more about ceiling fans than before. At La Casa de Spo, the usual approach to house problems is to ignore it and go without, but these two matters require action lest we have our heads crushed like soft boiled eggs.

Speaking of eggs……


What I’m planning: Soft boiled eggs. Norman P (the dear!) is sending me from the faraway kingdom of Nova Scotia a set of egg cups and Traveling Penguin (the dear!) sent me a soft boiled egg crusher. This jentacular pair comes together like The Wonder Twins to activate a most fabulous breakfast. While I wait for Post Canada to do their duty, I will do some research in the cookbooks on how to make soft-boiled eggs, proper ones no rubbish types. This isn’t as easy as it looks. A minute too early or too much could ruin the effect. I suspect I will need practice before I figure out how to do it right. It will be jolly good fun dropping the steel ball down onto the eggs. It will feel like the finale of my favorite opera “Dialogues of the Carmelites”.


What’s making me smile: Viking helmets. What is it about these stupid non-historical chapeaus that makes me smile so? Every time I see some in a cartoon or comedy sketch they make me smile. I have two of my own: one for every day wear, and the other ‘more fancy’ for Board meetings and get-together at Heorot Johnsons II. When ever I am taking myself or the world too seriously (oh what a good blog entry idea!) I don a Viking hat and I immediately cheer up.

I recently heard a podcast on why we should talk to strangers. We’ve grown away from this long time past time, especially in The States, where “stranger danger’ has us all paranoid about strangers talking to us on the grounds they are psycho-killer kidnappers or wanting to convert us to Mormonism or  worse.  Covid19 added the fear of contagion. Now we won’t even come close or make eye-contact with each other. 

My late Mother had no such concerns or wasn’t even aware this was a problem. As kids we were fascinated and a bit appalled she would enter a group of strangers with a little smile, as if entering a parlor in which everyone had been waiting for her. Whether line at the grocery store or sitting next to someone on a bus she would start conversing with anyone within earshot who felt like talking.  What I need to remember (other than the embarrassment) was she was never seen as a weirdo. Not once did she receive stone silence. People like talking. If the duration of the voyage was long enough by the end of the ride she got more information out of them than any good news interviewer ever could.

Despite vowing never to become like my mother, I developed her knack for talking to strangers.* I started consciously stifling this back in the 80s with ‘stranger danger’ and ‘the satanic panic’ movements.**  I don’t talk to strangers anymore anywhere, not even to say hello or good morning. While walking the dog I fear if I said something to a woman she would immediately become anxious thinking me a creep and sensibly not respond. Salutations to the men-folk used to be OK and reciprocated too but now they too think a male stranger saying hi is suspect I am cruising them.

Curiously, if anyone says hello to me, I always light up and respond likewise and the gates are open. How many of us are waiting for the other to make the first move, lest we be seen as someone bad?

The podcast said people are more afraid than not wanting to converse. People want –  and need -to talk to each other. How else are we going to form that ever-important ‘social network” or at least get our neurotransmitters and hormones going that make healthy and feel good? You need only follow some simple rules to get things going.***

There are many reasons why we have all gone into our private Idahos, surrounded by only a few folks just like us. One of reasons is we’ve grown wary and out of practice talking to each other. Yet how many times have we heard the start of solutions is talking? That every relationship we have/had started with talking with a stranger?

This month I will try to let out my Mother’s gab this month, and see how it goes. No doubt I will experience rejection – this is the chief fear of why we don’t talk in the first place – but not as much as I fear I will happen. Talking to strangers will do me and them good. And some of it may fatefully become more than a simple exchange of pleasantries that happens when standing in line.

Spo-fans: how comfortable are you talking to strangers? How comfortable are you for strangers to initiate talking to you? Does it matter depending on the gender of the persons involved? I am curious to know.

 

*Turning into your parents is the primal scream of youth through the eons. 

**Both turn out to be rubbish. Nowadays I hear tell children are being told again to talk to strangers.In those terrible times when they become lost or actually abducted they were so indoctrinated not to talk to strangers they would not ask for help. 

*** You have to somehow acknowledge you are breaking the taboo of keeping mum. Then you should ask something specific and why you are conversing.  An example: “Oh I know shouldn’t be talking to strangers but I noticed your shoes, where did you get them? I am looking for something like them”.

August blue shirt with ‘Jerold Bear’ to match

Today is 1 August, Lammas Day, the first day of the pagan season of autumn. I see August/September/October as a trilogy, counting down to Hallowe’en, my favorite. August is associated with the color blue, blue as the sky. In commemoration of the day I put outside in front of the house my turquoise-colored rock. Someone asked me to take in the orange one from July, for the two rocks together, orange and blue, looked like a Flintstones-version of Howards Johnsons. He’s no fun; he falls right over. 

It is also my maternal grandfather’s birthday; on 1 August I always have a dry martini in his memory, for it was his favorite. At the moment a dry martini does not sound at all appealing, but by day’s end I plan to have one. 

One of my recent ‘good morning’ memes was photo of an egg in an egg cup. This led to a fancy of getting one. Norm (the dear!) has heaps. I picked out a set and now it’s on its way. I watched The Tube of Yous some videos on how-to-make-a-perfect-soft-boiled-egg. In one of them, a strange metallic ball-bearing device was used to make a perfect circle cap upon the top of the egg. It has the amazing name of Eierschalensollbruchstellenverursacher.* 

You place it on top of the egg and drop the ball like New Years Eve and lo! cap off!

I wrote Mr. Bezo this morning to send me one without fail and charge it please, thank you very much. I added to the amazon request a bag of jelly babies, which I plan to eat with relish when Someone and I watch Dr. Who. 

Speaking of things in the post, Debra (the dear!) sent me a splendid little cookbook for my Bundt cake. Not only does it have recipes for cakes, but also for gelatin-based salads and main course items. Last night at the dinner table I read out loud some of the recipes to Someone for possible future use.  He was open to most of the cakes but was along the adage sooner he’d eat rats at Tewkesbury than chopped vegetables suspended in an amalgam of mayo and Jello. I will stick with the cakes until he can be swayed to reason. 

My ‘flour of the month’ club as I call it recently sent me a lovely bag of rye flour, oraganic ancient grains, ground by 3rd-generation Amish farmers (all vegetarians) at 3AM by the light of a full moon and kind to trees and dolphin safe.  This is unfortunate timing as Someone and I have delayed our follow-up appointments with our physicians to better our diet and our waistlines in August. We did badly in July and must atone for our negligence. I think I will still make some bread on the rationale I haven’t made a successful loaf yet and I am damned determined to have one. If a success I may wrap it and put it in the freezer, out of sight and thought, for September. 

*Eierschalle: egg shell; sollbruchstellen: set breaking point ; Verursacher: Someone/thing that causes something to happen.  Get it right !

Dog walks commence like clockwork every morning at five. The time is constantm but the light varies depending on the season. Yesterday morning we walked in the nautical twilight of a morning sunrise. It is near Lammas Day; for the next six months our morning duties will be done in the dark.

Harper still perks up for her walks and it is good to see and a relief on my part. She has slowed down – ‘in her dotage’ as Someone calls it – and when she sleeps it is so deep it looks like death. She wakes for walks though, and doesn’t turn them down. We walk slower now; she is not pulling me down the path in a gummy excitement to get somewhere as fast as possible. It is good to see her still curious at all the sniffs and such.

Lately we’ve become fixed in a certain walk which consists of going out the door and hard to port to at the end of the block and hard to port again, to start a sort of clock-wise rectangular path through the gully wash to the east of our street. There there are more interesting things to see and smell, and more privacy to poop (and no front yards to soil) The waste station is near the entrance of the trail; it would be better if we went counter-clockwise so by the time she’s done her business the rubbish-bin is right there. I’ve tried to steer her this way but she prefers the clockwise approach. At our age I am no longer interested in training Dog to obey Master; she can lead me.

I’ve read through centuries the co-existence the Man and Dog has caused us to mind-melt some to pick up on each other’s emotional states. We’ve intertwined to the point we can perceive each other’s affects. I believe this. Someone tends to be excited when he joins us on a walk ; Harper picks up this and becomes excited herself. Our walks (sans Someone) are quiet more mundane matters, which are low-key and not too interactive. She’s sniffs the world and I am on my cellphone sending “Good Morning” memes. I should stop looking at the phone and be more with Harper, while I have the time.

A new ritual has arisen: normally when we approach home I toss the black bag over the tall locked gate to the back yard for later tending, and we head to the front door. Someone has asked me not to do this, but open the damn gate and put the bag directly into the trashcan. Fair enough. This means unleashing Harper, telling her to stay on the sidewalk while I walk around the bush to unlock the back gate, go inside etc. Sometimes she follows me, but mostly she waits in the driveway looking impatient as if eager to get inside as soon as possible, which is quite probable. After each morning walk we head to the kitchen for fresh water, a scoop of Kibbles, and the obligatory post-walk treat. Stopping to unload the waste bag stalls this a minute and it is enough to evoke sad and upset looks.

I try giving Harper a power-point lecture on the time -saving advantages of doing our morning routes counter-clockwise to drop off poop along the way so as not to delay going home to treats, but she sleeps through these seminars. Dogs are no interested in time management. It’s a dog’s life to sleep and sniff and poop and eat meaty treats. I can think of no better arrangement.

Yesterday after work I drove into town to see for the last time Kat, my future-ex-wife and bartender at our favorite watering hole. Since 2014 she has been behind the bar providing drinks, videos, and jokes and banter to use and all the boys. She did a fine job; she put the happy in happy hour. She was loved by many; normally on a Thursday night only a handful show up for showtunes, but in “Kat’s last call” the place was packed. It was like a Tom Sawyer funeral. Ironically, so many people showed up to wish her well I could not get my usual stool at the bar; I had to stand in the back. I also didn’t feel comfortable among so many folks many not wearing masks. I decided not to stay so I gave Kat a card and a quick less than I cared for good-bye (for she was quite busy) and I left. And that was that. I will probably not see her again.

Have you ever you departed from someone, saying a euphemistic ‘see you later” knowing full well you will never see them again? I felt like that last night. Ironically she has been an integral part of my life for years, yet only in a specific circumstance and relationship dynamic. Someone and I have never seen her in any other place or role. Now that that role is done it is hard imagining us seeing her in some other circumstances.

In my life I’ve had countless number of friends based on circumstances or setting; once these situations are done, the friendships dissolve. I call these sort of friends a “Gerry”. When I lived in Chicago in the early 90s, I had a chum named Gerald. Every September he would call me or vice versa to invite the other to go apple picking. I don’t remember if we did much else; indeed I have the memory we saw each other only once a year, in that context. He was around; I would run into him at the bars at times, but we didn’t see each other otherwise, I guess neither one of us felt inclined to deepen this friendship. It was enjoyable but defined by one activity. When that activity stopped, so did the friendship. In my life there are countless examples of this sort of arrangement.

I cannot determine if ‘Gerry friends’ are OK or a sign of shallowness. Kat was a bartender; her job was to serve drinks which she did with fantastic flair and banter. She is a good person; it is no wonder everyone loved her and there were so many out last night to say thank you. I wondered though how many may actually keep in contact with her. Are they more at ease than I knowing that relationship is done?

Throughout my life there has always been a childish part of me that doesn’t want to lose anyone I have ever cared for. This is funny when I consider the vast majority of people I have cared for are gone. Even in blog-land this is so. When I look back to who my blogger buddies and commenters were a decade ago nearly all of these are gone too.

Mind ! If I really miss Kat, I can reach out via Facebook and ask if she would like to get-together sometime somehow but I don’t think this will happen. It will feel awkward, like asking your dentist out for drinks. I need to come to grips with the axiom relationships are ephemeral and “Gerry’ friends are the norm, and not a sign of fault.

As the Countess De Lave says: ‘Well, with my way, your marriage may not last until death, but it’s fun while it hangs together!”

I raise a Manhattan (no rubbish type) to Kat’s future and well-being.

Ha ! Now that I have people’s attention and The Board of Directors etc. is out of town today, looting ships, I dare to sneak in one more ‘Poetry” entry, before they return and connect the dots and nix this sort of stuff. Spo

Here are three of my favorite poems; I share them with my patients who wonder about keeping things ‘status quo’ or daring to change their lives, scary as that is to do. Spo


George Gray: by Edgar Lee Masters

(Spo-note: this is recited by a dead man in a cemetery about his tombstone)


I have studied many times
The marble which was chiseled for me —
A boat with a furled sail at rest in a harbor.
In truth it pictures not my destination
But my life.
For love was offered me and I shrank from its disillusionment;
Sorrow knocked at my door, but I was afraid;
Ambition called to me, but I dreaded the chances.
Yet all the while I hungered for meaning in my life.
And now I know that we must lift the sail
And catch the winds of destiny
Wherever they drive the boat.
To put meaning in one’s life may end in madness,
But life without meaning is the torture
Of restlessness and vague desire —
It is a boat longing for the sea and yet afraid.

Mary Oliver – The Journey

(Spo-note: my favorite line of this poem is “It was already late”. Often I hear from patients they feel they are too old, or set in their ways to changes, or the ‘sunk cost notion’ gets in the way.)


One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voice behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life that you could save.

Ithaka BY C. P. CAVAFY TRANSLATED BY EDMUND KEELEY

(Spo-note: This is in reference to Odysseus, the man who spent twenty years trying to get home to his island kingdom of Ithaka)


As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbors you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn’t have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

Wanda the Witch who washes wiry wigs on Wednesday

What’s top of my mind: Nothing. My hummingbird brain seems quite fitful these days, unable to settle on one thing that rises to be ‘top of my mind’. This happens a lot lately. If you asked me what’s top of my mind right this moment, that would be the reported number of dropped pills Someone says is behind the vanity in the master bathroom. This needs tidy-up.

Where I’ve been:  Nowhere. Since last week’s WWW I haven’t traveled any or been anywhere interesting. I tried going to FedEx and UPS on Sunday to mail a shirt but both were closed. I was surprised at this. In this day and age with everything seemingly open 24/7 these shops are closed. Finding time in the work week to go is difficult; might as well go to the USPS. Normally one to go to Santa Fe at this time of the year, I will miss this annual event.

Where I’m going: “Kat’s last call“. Oh the pain. Kat, my future-ex-wife has announced she is leaving the bartending scene to focus on her printing job. Bar patrons are howling like an orchestra of scorched cats, glad for her endeavors but sorrowful at her departure. Tomorrow is “Kat’s last call” at Kobalt. The number of people coming may be in the hundreds. I will sorely miss her. I may write more on this sometime.

What I’m watching: “Addressing the stigma around mental health conditions for physicians”. Tonight the local branch of the APA is doing a webinar to address physicians with depression. It is sponsored by the Arizona Medical Board which I find ironic if not bordering on ill. Doctors don’t disclose they are suffering from anxiety/depression, as to do so jeopardizes their license to practice. Rather than seeking help, they end up killing themselves. The AMB and their ilk routinely asks doctors in their renewal applications about sign/symptoms and treatment for mental illness. I am keen to hear what the AMB and the APA say on this matter. The audience should resemble an orchestra of scorched cats. I wonder what the AMB will say, and will they be believed if they assure things are OK. I doubt it.

What I’m reading:  “Last of the Mohicans“. I am enjoying this novel; it is not as difficult as Mr. Cooper’s other novels to slog through his lexicon. I am keen to see a move version of this novel, as the book is quite dated. The Native Americans, although described as noble and virtuous are also called ‘savages’ and ‘the redskins”). The dialogue borders on melodrama cheeziness.

What I’m listening to:  AMA Covid-19 update. Here it is The AMA has a podcast on the latest Covid-19 updates, including ‘delta’ news and latest recommendations. This podcast is more sane and trustworthy than other my other news sources on the subject. I’ve kept my masks on all this time and it looks like my prudence was the right thing to do – and I plan on keeping them on. I will also get a booster vaccine when it is certain this is a good thing to do.

What I’m eating: Pharm rep lunches. They’re back! The bosses said it was OK for them to return. I was surprised by this decision. I sense they did this as the staff at both offices get fed some this way. It didn’t take long for the reps to fill up my dance card with lunches; they are eager to get back to face-to-face presentations after a year’s hiatus. I am doing a better job at smiling and nodding rather than pouncing on the questionable statements.

Who I’m paying attention to:  The delta variety of covid-19. Oh the pain. I’ve studied all the plagues of mankind and it’s the same story: as soon as the bug de jour starts dying down people drop their guard and lo! there is a return, which is harder for thems in charge to get folks to do what’s right as they don’t want to return to what was needed for a bunch of (usual reasons). I bet you a sixpence we will see a return of staying home/isolation etc. because we f-cked up and weren’t wise – again.

What I’m planning:  A weekend dinner. If I am to cook every recipe in the accordion file and cookbooks I better get a move-on. I try every weekend now to make something new/adventuresome. There is not lack of recipes to choose from. I have a unopened cannister of ‘five-spice’ I bought for something that I never got around to making and now I don’t remember what it was. Working backwards, I will try to find which recipe asks for five-spice and act accordingly – unless some Spo-fan has a to-die-for recipe involving said ingredient. Suggestions are welcome.

What’s making me smile:  Nothing. I’m sad to report this week nothing is making me smile. 😦 This isn’t correlated to any specific matter; there isn’t anything particularly bad going on. Perhaps this is influenced by the knowledge Hair Furor was in town last weekend, preaching his B.S-etitudes to his myrmidons who sucked up everything like idol worshipers before their golden calf. I shouldn’t be surprised by this, but it still clouds my moods readily.

I am in one of those dry spells when I cannot think of anything to write upon. Happily I have half-finished (and half-baked) entries to finish and put up during xeric times. Here’s one of them. I stopped writing it when it became even too silly for my tastes. Spo.

Coming soon is 1 August, which is something called Lammas Day or Lughnasad, which in the Pagan calendar is the first day of autumn. It is also the first day of the fiscal year here at Spo-reflections, when The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections invites me and others to Heorot Johnsons II for the annual board meeting and yearly evaluation. Never once has it fallen flat. The board meeting is followed by a potluck, picnic games, and usually the burning of a public building. I usually bring a desert; this year I am bringing a Bundt cake. I bring two sets of clothing. I dress up nice for my annual review and then I change into outdoor casual wear with a good set of treaders to get away as quickly as possible when the party games begin to get boisterous.

The agenda starts with a blood-oath to appease the gods and the Norns and the editors and any other deities that happened to drop by that day. Then there is the annual election; the eight board members vote who will be editor-in-chief for the upcoming year. Bjorn has won this most-covered task for so many years in a row he makes Elizabeth II look like a newcomer. Occasionally his continuous re-election is ‘questioned’ and the resulting dialogues end in bloodshed and the meeting is adjourned with no new editor elected and Bjorn just continues on business as usual.

This year there will there will be a review of the Spo-categories: which ones to discard and which ones to continue, along with a few modest proposals (both mine and theirs) for new ones. After all, there is nothing like a new tunic to brighten up your day, is there. If I do my homework ahead of time (and spike the mead with benzodiazepines), I usually can get them to try a few new ideas and hold onto a few they think are stinkers.

On the whole, they dislike “Walking the dog” but even they admit it brings in the most traffic, so it is likely to stay. “Poetry’ and “Home life” they see as blogging poison and sooner they’d eat rats at Tewkesbury than see another one. As for possible new categories, they sent ahead of time some of their proposals for me to ponder:

Rolling down grass hills

The role of stoicism vs. existentialism in 21st century living.

Shouting

Torture

Uther Tortures

Very nasty Tortures

Yelling

Zoo (sorry, they couldn’t think of anything else)

In the past twelve months Spo-reflections has seen a rise in Spo-fans of the female persuasion. They and I are pleased as Punch to see such. They have added to my various titles “Chicken-magnet”* TBDHSR thinks I should write more on what might they find more interesting, whatever the hell that is/means. They have suggested I consult they various goddess archetypes who bop in and out of my pumpkin on ‘getting more in touch with my inner-goddess”. I think I am quite in touch with my inner-goddess thank you and I don’t need more. Perhaps I should post more photos of men doing manly tasks, which should please Spo-fans of both sexes.**

I have a hunch despite the pending fracas and fighting things at Spo-reflections will remain more-or-less the same as I am happy as it is. I will get a nice picnic meal out of it and I should be a shoe-in to win the thee-legged race given. I will probably forgo burning down public buildings this year to go straight home to hopefully write something more substantial than this rubbish entry.

*Norse-folks have troubles with English idioms.

**They did their research; they know who drops by.

A Spo-fan sent me some time ago a request to write whether or not I think women make better counselors. I won’t immediate go the real answer of ‘it depends’ as that’s no fun and it defeats the purpose of the question. So here it goes…….

Yes, overall I think women do make better counselors than men. Here’s why:

Papa Freud made many mistakes, some of them howlers, but he wasn’t wrong about longing for Mother. He made his theory into one of sexual longing; Jung dismissed this as too narrow and he expanded it to the Archetype of Mother. We all have an integral longing for Mother, or the mother figure. I remember a movie in which a director’s movie shot goes horribly wrong; he says out loud: “Somebody call my mother and get her on the phone to tell me it wasn’t my fault”. Mother (at least the Mother Archetype) are known for her nurturing, caring qualities.

Putting aside the psychobabble, I think women are better at listening and letting things ‘be’ rather than rolling up their sleeves and going into a what needs to be done mode. Women are better than men at voicing themselves and putting words to their feelings; it remains a longtime debate if this is ‘nature’ or societal training of the sexes. When a patient asks me for ‘someone to talk to” both sexes prefer talking to a woman. At some level they know a woman is more likely to hear them.

Another reason lady-therapists have an advantage is the majority of folks who seek counseling are women. In the end what makes a patient-counselor alliance work is something called ‘goodness of click’ which (alas) you don’t know until you meet each other, but to get the patient in the door she wants to feel comfortable right away. Women are more comfortable with each other when it comes to talking about their problems.

Also, the reason a lot of women enter counseling is dealing with matters (past and present) with trauma and hurt by the men. It is hard for someone with trauma to open up to a male therapist, as at some level they are re-experiencing same trauma. Many therapists who are female have trauma histories of their own, which makes the female patients feel more at ease knowing this (provided the counselor confides such, which is a choice).

Let’s look at the men-folk in comparison:

A man brave enough to ‘get help’ and who is suspicious of the counseling process (given all the clichés), this sort of patient is a different cup of tea. He may feel more comfortable with a woman, as opening up to another man is so anathema to his upbringing and training. This is too bad, as he could use a safe/affirming experience with another man for doing just that.

Talking to the men-folk sometimes requires an consciously-used different lexicon. Men have been told/nagged sometimes all their lives to ‘get in touch with their feelings’ and use words they either don’t have or scared to use. Rather than asking ‘how did that make you feel?” I might say “how did you experience that?” On the other hand, men sometimes like psychotherapy to resemble gym sessions with a personal trainer, where they are told in concrete terms what to do/try. Later, when an alliance is built, I can use with the men words that women use on an ordinary day.

One other element: people are so embedded with the cliché of psychiatrists looking (and sounding) like Freud, they are more comfortable with men for head shrinking. There is some archetype energy of “Wise Old Man’ here. Where I work the majority of the therapists are women and I am big-butch-all knowing/powerful-male-doctor. hohoho

In the end Bugs Bunny-like someone comes in my door for the first time I quickly size up their issues and transference emotions to figure out ‘what role(s) to take’ and what words/affect to use.

In the end, being a good listener trumps all, including the gender of the doctor/therapist/patient.

Spo-fans: do you prefer a doctor or therapist of a certain sex?

*This is called ‘transference’ and it happens in all therapist/patient alliances. A good shrink knows this and is on guard for such. Indeed, sometimes I mention to a female patient with trauma issues it may be better to have a male therapist, not only to get ‘more out earlier’, but have a nurturing/supportive encounter with a man, sometimes for the first time, and heal from such. This sounds nice but is often declined for the desire to have a ‘safe woman environment’ and this is quite reasonable.

**Sometimes I will consciously display ‘gayness’ for the female patients come in with PTSD issues. At some level they register I am not going to hurt them as is often their history. On the other hand I am still a man dammit, and I must be always very careful on guard not to ‘mansplain’. The unconscious is always there…….

I looked up the ‘dog days of summer’ to remember when the are are, and found out they are now, which doesn’t surprise me. Mid/late July through mid-late August always seemed to me a quiet, hot, slow-moving time. It actually rained here in Phoenix, and a strong downpour it was, causing gummy-panic in drivers who operated similar to Southerners in a two-inch snow fall. Overnight all the ocotillos put out green leaves so for a little while things look lush.

Someone works all day today, so I have a day of solitude. I used to prescribe such to patients: a day of alone-time with quiet. This was once considered an excellent tonic. Nowadays, youngsters find this concept horrible – a day with no music? no cellphones? no texting? shudder. Older types long for such, but find it nearly impossible to find ‘quiet down time’, more’s the pity. Today I plan on making a bundt cake, and ironing the shirts and such. We have a pile to rival Fafner’s hoard. This is hardly a thing of interest to blog upon but I am looking forward to it. The definition of introversion is easy: “where do you go to recharge?”. If the answer is ‘into myself, quietly, at home’ then you are an introvert.

I’ve become the patron of the arts. More specific, I am supporting several artistes via Patreon.com. Some of my favorite podcasts do what they do as a labor of love; I like to support quality work. Amazingly, all of them send me personal thanks and sometimes gifts for my contributions. A donation of 20$ seems a genuine bargain to keep these guys afloat. At the end of this I list the links to some of my favorites; perhaps you would like them too.

As a treat I bought me a basket of blueberries. This is the ultimate summer eating, along with corn on the cob and watermelon. I plan to have some every night this week. I will have so much antioxidants in me I can feel my arteries soften at the mention.

I think later today I will make a few phone calls to folks I haven’t heard from in ages. Funny how this once-upon-a-time mundane matter is now looked upon as intruding onto another’s time. One can almost here the other end wondering if there is something the matter that I am calling. “Did I catch you at a bad time?” I always ask upon identifying myself.

Speaking of calling people, I should call Father too. I brought back to Arizona with me one if his T-shirts, a long sleeve flannel shirt, and a brown washcloth. I also have Brother #3’s phone charger cord. Neither of them seem anxious for me to pop them in the post ASAP, so I will hold onto them until my next jaunt east, which should be early October to see the fall colours.

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