Friday, June 03, 2016

Giant Hole

A couple of days after I got home from Ypsi, my walking friend and I took a stroll and had lunch at Ananda Fuara, where we split a cheese and spinach enchilada and had a bowl of the delicious pureed mushroom soup we had once before.

The next day I saw High-Rise, which was involving but grisly. The actor Luke Evans reminded me somewhat of F. in appearance. A worker at the theater summed it up by saying, “I’m glad I saw it, but I wouldn’t want to see it again.” Agree. A couple of days later, I volunteered at the soup kitchen, and on Friday, I saw A Bigger Splash, starring Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes and Dakota Johnson. That evening, Karen V. and I had dinner. She had suggested an El Salvadorean place on Mission St., but the only thing at that address now is a giant hole in the ground. It’s where a building burned two or three times in the past year, killing one person, right next door to a new building full of expensive condos. In the Mission, there has been much talk of arson lately, regarding this site and others. While I was waiting for Karen, a couple came along looking for the same address. I recommended Esperpento to them, and when Karen and I arrived there ourselves, we saw the couple there. After dinner, she and I took a walk on Valencia St.


I told her my worries about juggling clinical pastoral education and my relationship with F., but she said if I need to adjust my boundaries, I will adjust my boundaries, and if the time comes to end the relationship, I will know that. You got this,” she assured me, which was quite comforting.

Last Sunday, Ann, Tom and I had lunch at Imm Thai Street Food in Berkeley—I had spicy eggplant with tofu—and then we saw a vigorous production of Treasure Island at Berkeley Rep.

A few days ago, I saw the very inventive movie Alice Through the Looking Glass, which I enjoyed. That evening, I went to Howie’s, but instead of getting there early enough to set up the chairs, which I’ve been doing for years, I only went in time to greet people at the door, and when meditation began, I came home to get ready for bed. Every two days this week, I’m going to sleep 30 minutes earlier, in preparation for starting CPE next week. My walking friend reported that Howie, not realizing I had gone, said a lot of nice things about me to the group before he started his talk. “He revered you,” said my friend.

I finished Chernow’s splendid biography of Alexander Hamilton the other day, and, of the tasks on my long-standing to-do list that can be done now, I’ve done all but two, including shredding six or seven pieces of paper I’d been meaning to get to for a couple of years. The final two tasks are to try CatHead’s BBQ on Folsom St. and to make a will.

I sent a note to the spiritual care director at Laguna Honda, who supervised my volunteer work there, telling him what I’m up to and thanking him for providing a reference for me to TWMC (Truly Wonderful Medical Center, where I’ll start CPE this fall, depending on how things go this summer), if indeed he did. I got a nice note back saying he did give me a reference, that it sounds like I’m on a solid path, and that he thinks I will make a very good chaplain.

Next week will be orientation, during which we will spend time at all four of VFMC’s San Francisco campuses. I know one of them has bike parking because that’s where my own doctor is. I rode over to another this week to check out the bike parking, which I’d been told was on the lowest level of the garage. I went down a level, and then down another level, and just as I was starting to think I’d better find another option—I don’t really want to be by myself in the bowels of a parking garage—I saw the bike cage, which is just inside a second entrance to the garage; the garage is built on a hill. You need a badge to get into the bike cage, so I stopped by the office of my supervisor (I will call her Samantha) and the very kind and helpful administrative assistant (to be known here as Rebecca) and confirmed that the badge I’m going to get should open the bike cage. Samantha said we should be getting our badges on Monday.

Yesterday I volunteered at the soup kitchen and was exhausted when I got home. If four hours a week of service feels like it’s killing me, I wonder how 40 hours, plus one overnight a week, will be. I talked to Carol Joy on the phone yesterday and she reminded me that the beginning of anything is always the hardest part (except for romantic relationships, I guess, since at the beginning, all personnel are on their best behavior). I fully expect this summer to be extremely difficult. I expect to be tired and crabby and for half my self-care activities to fall by the wayside. I expect to dislike my supervisor (and also the patients), to feel that I’m the last person on earth who should try to be a hospital chaplain, and for my relationship with F. to collapse.

Therefore, if anything goes well at all, if there is one rewarding encounter with a patient, one hearty laugh, one day when I feel rested and happy, I will count the whole thing as a big success. And if I end up continuing in the fall, the very challenging first unit of CPE will already be behind me.
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