Monday, February 04, 2013

Glochid-Studded Co-Worker

Friday evening a week ago, C. and I went to We Be Sushi for dinner—I wanted to go to Santaneca—and what I thought was a mild conflict arose—one we’ve had before—but he seemed unusually perturbed and didn’t want to hang out after dinner, so we walked off toward our respective establishments, and I wasn’t unhappy about that. I figured he would be on the phone first thing the following morning, but I didn’t hear from him at all on Saturday, which was rather surprising.

Last Tuesday was my father’s 75th birthday! Happy birthday, Dad. I love you very much.

That evening I went to Howie’s (no sign of C.) and L. gave me a ride home in her gorgeous, recently acquired Audi. She claims she doesn’t feel thrilled every time she sees it, but I love that car. I totally feel better about myself as soon as I get in it.

Wednesday morning I was meditating away when it dawned on me that I had never started the timer. By then it was five or so minutes past time to stop. This is the first time this has happened in more than 20 years of meditating. Damn, damn estrogen, or lack thereof.

Thursday evening I went to see Jack for bodywork. Mid-session, his doorbell rang and I said it was fine if he wanted to go answer it. As soon as he was out of sight, his cat rushed into the room, hopped onto my stomach and settled in for a nap.

I’m starting to appreciate the funereal quiet of my new office. Some people literally whisper when they address each other, and when I tear open a new package of Wasa crackers, I’m very conscious of what seems like a tremendous racket. At first I found it creepy, but now I see the office as being a place of profound calm and order, and I like it. Very restful to the nerves.

On work mornings, I pass a flower shop with some darling little cacti displayed outside. Each one is in a wee red pot with white stars on it, and the cacti are green at the bottom with bright appendages at the top in red or pink. I’ve developed a particular fondness for a pink one and went in to buy it last week. I didn't know if there was a good spot for it in my apartment and figured it would probably die in my cube, so I put it on the windowsill between the cubes of Igby and her neighbor. I sent them an email saying I’d gladly move it if they didn’t like it, but after the neighbor arrived and saw it, she sent an email saying, “I love it! Good to have a little cactus working with us! Thanks a lot!”

Over the weekend, I called Tom’s mother, Ann, to see if she’d like to go to the Berkeley Repertory Theatre with me, and she said she had actually been thinking of asking me the same thing. She mentioned that maybe we could get season tickets next year, which I would love to do. I saw Tom soon thereafter and said, “I’m thinking of breaking up with C. and going out with your mother instead—would that make you feel weird?” Of course I was joking, but am delighted at the thought of going to see a play with Ann.

Saturday evening Tom and I had dinner at Sunflower. Then I started to watch Hurlyburly, but even despite Sean Penn and a youthful Kevin Spacey, found it so awful I had to stop it and instead watched the AIDS documentary We Were Here.

I’ve made a useful discovery about this body temperature business (damn you, estrogen), which is that anything that heats the system even a little will trigger a hot flash, and anything that cools the system even a little will trigger a cold flash. Or, said another way, the effects of even a seemingly minor temperature-related stimulus are disproportionate. For instance, when I get in bed at night and pull the covers to my chin, even though I don’t feel overwarm at all, a hot flash will occur in seconds, because having the covers on is warmer than not. Likewise, I have one every morning after arriving at work, because it’s warmer inside than outside. 

When I take a sip of warm tea or have a spoonful of warm soup, I have one, and can quickly cool off by sipping coldish water and fanning myself with a good old paper fan, but then will become chilled and stay that way for a while. The cold seems to last a lot longer than the heat. 

However, now that I’ve figured this out, I know to resist the temptation to drape my fleece jacket over my knees when the freeze sets in, because that could lead to yawing back and forth between temperature extremes all day, even more than is now occurring.

As for the mood swings, I haven’t discovered anything useful about them yet, beyond observing how very like being 16 again this is. It wasn’t fun then, and it isn’t fun now to lurch from teary misery to giddy euphoria and back again in moments. Actually, I don’t think there was much giddy euphoria then; maybe it was more teary misery and unrestrained rage. Anyway, since I can’t take estrogen or anything that has similar effects, I am taking working with this on as a practice. It helps a lot just to know it’s hormones and not to believe my thoughts, but it’s still kind of difficult.

Often lately I mentally sift through various pieces of advice from meditation teachers read or heard over the years, eventually arriving at this one, from Phillip Moffitt: “Sometimes you just have to wait it out.”

It’s also given me many opportunities to think about inevitable suffering versus the optional or self-inflicted variety. Some amount of suffering related to sickness, old age, death and constant change is unavoidable, though can also certainly be made worse. 

Then there’s the suffering that comes from grasping and greed, from aversion and ill will, from confusion—not seeing clearly, taking this to be that, thinking such-and-such thing will bring happiness when it never will. All of this suffering is more or less optional, depending on if we’re able to see what’s happening (not always easy) and make better choices (harder still). Yet, good to know that some brands of misery can potentially be avoided, and even good to know that the unavoidable misery isn’t due to a personal failing. Everyone has some.
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