Boston, snowed in, gray but calm, The Four Seasons, halftime, 14-14 Seattle Seahawks vs. The New England Patriots. The bar smells of truffle oil, everyone at the bar is from the west coast. When has the burger become studded w avocado, fried eggs, bacon, and truffle oil? Between the coaches Pete Caroll and Bill Belichick, there is so much to watch. Love them both to pieces. Such a Terrible game for the body and the player’s brain, but awesome in every way about courage, loss, glory and taking the blow for the team, a real guy’s guy game that even a meditative woman can enjoy once a year….crazy 2 weeks. Half time 14-14. Go Seattle, I mean Patriots, no, Seattle….errrrrrrrrrrr. Oh my God. 24-21, 2 minutes to go. Happy 7th birthday to this sweet little blog.
Increasingly, I’m seeing bizarre diseases. What are the effects of bizarre foods and medicines that we are giving to people? Conditions like systemic erythematous lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia are escalating in incidents and severity and they are getting even more bizarre than before.
A young man shows up, complaining of 3 years of disability due to generalized, diffuse, ill described pains that started after an ankle injury. After the simple surgery he started to have pain almost everywhere in his body, back, neck, hips, elbows, hands, knees, ankles, feet. He has had pain and discomfort in almost every joint and every muscle group in his body.
In fact he shows me a complicated drawing of a “gingerbread like” man that he drew, where everywhere in the body that hurts is marked by xxx’s, dashes, lines. I look at this bizarre drawing, and it is a slightly frightening moment because the drawing is bizarre and the figure looks like a voodoo doll.
He reports nervousness, insomnia, anxiety, anger issues, nightmares. He has a stuffy nose, nasal congestion, tremors. He lies on his couch almost everyday when he doesn’t have to work. He is 33 years old.
“All of this started after you broke your ankle?” I asked.
“Yeah, I guess so.” He said.
Having seen thousands of people, from White House Chief of Staff, to Victoria Secret models, from homeless people to hardcore addicts, I am strangely pulled to believe this person. And having being doing this for over 15 years, it’s less about technical details but more about intuition and experimentation, drawing outside the box, thinking a solution that works rather than what is dictated. In conversations like this, I sit deeply back in my chair with the arms hanging about, and I might eat a piece of candy. I might look out the window to look at the bird or the flower. There is something that tells me to believe him even just a little bit. No, he’s not totally making this up, I decide in my head. But no, he’s not telling me the full truth either.
CNN shows a special report on COSCO, the supermarket in America that sells everything in bulk. They show that Costco large cartons of ibuprofen containing 1000 pills. Who needs to take 1,000 ibuprofen pills for pain relief? Does anyone find this bizarre?
Why are we marketing supersize muffins, donuts, drinks, to fatten people in a multi-billion dollar industry. And then the fattened people develop diabetes and they come back to support the multi-billion dollar diabetes treatment industry? Almost every other person that you meet at the airport is overweight. Does anyone find this bizarre? People drive everywhere and we hire people to cook, clean, and shop for us. Then we go to the gym to have another adult to watch us to lift dumb bells and squat. Does anyone find this bizarre?
Someone once told me that whatever problem that a person has now – somewhere, sometime in human history someone else has had a similar problem.
All right. Let’s go to the Yellow Emperor’s Internal Cannon – the classic, landmark textbook written approximately 2000 years ago, written and used by Imperial Court Scholars and Physicians who were summoned to the Imperial Palaces treat the Yellow Emperor and his Imperial family, dating 200 CE.
We read about the 72 channels, the 300+ acpuncture points, and the integrated channels that run through the body, including the 12 Primary Channels, the 8 Extraordinary Vessels, and the 12 Divergent Channels. These have been described through the slow accretion of observation, recording and testing, over a largely unbroken period of over 20 centuries, surely one of the most remarkable recorded historical traditions in world medicine, known as Chinese Medicine.
Maybe it is hocus-pocus but maybe it’s under utilized. But in any event the textbook describes the conversations between the Yellow Emperor (Huang Ti) and his physician (Chi Po), hence it is a historical (actually legendary) account. The Emperor was portrayed as a true Renaissance man. He designed a cart based on the big dipper, designed a series of musical notes and instruments to play them on, but his great love was medicine, which is shown in the conversations he has with his physician, during which he asks about everything imaginable. One of the questions the Emperor asked was, “Why do we not live as long as 100 years old?”
And the answer that the Court Physician gave was fantastic.
So, I say to the young man, “So, what are we going to do?”
It seems to me like I get a lot of free gifts, but now I have proof.
A free $5 bill on the street
A free Canon printer/fax
Free computer mice
A free candy cane
A sizable refund from Geico Car Insurance
A free night of hotel
A free shuttle ride to the airport
Free ice cream
Free movies, free comedy shows
Free box of ripe strawberries weighing over 2 pounds
Free jar of flowers
Free coffee, free snacks, free lunches…free, free, free
Plus…all the people who make the mistake of undercharging me…like the young man who forgot to charge me for the expensive ceramic plant bowl and the lavender plant…
Today, I got a free gift from Amazon…it says
A gift from Jennie Johnson. Enjoy your gift.
Except, I don’t know who Jennie Johnson is.
(I’m going to call Amazon tomorrow. I bet they’ll say, “Oh sorry, it’s our packing mistake…but you can keep the gift”).
The gift is a Philips Dawn Simulator…a gentle alarm clock that simulates the moon at night and the sun in the morning. So figuratively I’ve gotten the sun and moon for free, brought closer to 2-3 inches the head of the bed.
What wonderful KARMA.
But the biggest gift for 2014 goes to an uneventful and remarkable diagnosis for a loved one in the family.
I am so grateful. For Palo Alto, this blessed place that I call Heaven on Earth for a transient time.
This moody flickering light really caught my eyes by surprise when I quickly passed by the hallway to do something – and the plate of peeled potatoes gave it a nice look too. In the Old Dutch masters paintings, by Vermeer, Rembrandt, Leyden, people from the Dutch and Flemish past ate herring, bread, carrots, potatoes, cream…and can we imagine that if they were to cook today it might look something like this?
Having just two pieces of furniture feels so clean. As if someone might say, “What is this, don’t you want furniture?” then I might say, “Don’t you like it?” Bare walls gives a museum quality look and the only piece of art work is a plate of potatoes!
Summertime, loss, I can’t believe that this is it. I don’t believe it happened, and I have to carry the secret to my grave. The fact that I have this big secret is a problem itself.
But I have standards, oh well, maybe this won some karma points, who knows, who knows?
On a happier note, when asking for turkey topping, the counter guy said, I’ll get a fresh one.
Three minutes later, he marched out with a 20 lb. turkey on a plate.
But I am very thirsty. My heart is still not sure what it should feel. I should be grateful that I’m not harmed. Walking head high is still possible. But there is a a tremendous amount of loss like this life is just a dream.
In my gut of guts, it is not over!
And I don’t care what anyone thinks I am going to speak my mind without any reservations directly because who is ever going to be this truthful about something delicate and brilliant?
Into the inner thoughts of people from 19 to 105. Through the ages, the changes, the challenges, and finally the humbleness. But I can’t decide what I’m seeing in old age is humbleness or defeat.
I live in temporary exile in a city running w 20 year olds, who don’t look at people (they just like ook at their phones), who are uniformly dressed in hipster skinny jeans and expensive but purposefully cheap-looking sneakers, who are going to the next sushi joint, or the next It Thing. In this city, men have become effeminate, and women have become masculine…Or maybe I’m just stuck in the Medieval Age known as someone who is middle aged.
Inside my office, there is a whole different world. I have seen is this, that starting from the age 60, there is more humility – starting by the way that they let you sit down first. They wait at the chair, they let you sit down, and then they take a seat. It’s beautiful. It’s courtly. It’s stylistic. They phone is never on. They take cues more instinctively. I have been working and hearing incredible stories, ranging from hand-to-hand combat with the Japanese, to the skipper who fell out of a boat into the ocean and was rescued and by a fellow naval officer who pulled him out of the water and onto the boat, to the paratroopers who jumped out of airplanes landing on the beach for the war. It is unreal and surreal and most of the time what I see and hear feel so much like a French movie. But today I met my match. A secret, a delightful secret.
We talked about all sorts of pains, ankle pain, foot pain, L shoulder pain, R thumb pain, knee pain, elbow pain, knee pain, foot pain…and I ordered enough x rays that would light up all of him but what can we do?
I need to measure your scars. And I need to look at your shoulders.
“Oh well, I might as well as undress,” as he took off his shirt, as the requests for measuring the next scar ascended from abdomen to the chest up to the shoulder. There were just too many scars to be checked.
As he undressed his shirt and the abdominal binder truss I was typing on the computer and didn’t pay attention. But what came off had to be put back on. We had to put everything back on. It was a comedic moment. He and I tried to put back on him the tress – a super body armor type of belt that went around his waist. Darn it. I pulled and pull ed to try to to close the truss. But I couldn’t get it back on. He pulled and pulled, to try to close the truss around his waist but his hands were shaking with arthritic hands. We were comical people at that moment of concentrating on nothing but putting the truss back on, and it was seen straight out of a French movie. I thought about calling for the nurse but I didn’t want to because I knew my friends would be able to this with no problem and I didn’t want to get help but more I importantly, given how much effort he was giving to the task I didn’t want to think that we would fail. It looked like we could do this. Like a tug of war, we finally put it back on, and it was…lopsided. But it would do. When he gets home his neighbor would help him put on the truss. His daughter wanted me to look inside his ear, because he had gotten water in it. He waved against it looking very annoyed, as if to say, “Don’t fuss.” He didn’t want his daughter to be in the room when we were talking.
I asked him, maybe out of the blue. So. What do you do everyday?
He said, “What can I do? Not much.” He was meticulously dressed, still with pride, w belt, with a pale shirt, with nice slacks, and a pair of moccasins. He had been a sheep and cattle rancher but he’s Basque with light complexions. He sat very straight. He looked more like a retired judge. “I’ll tell, you, it’s sad. I’m 90. It’s like I’m waiting to die. Not much there is I can do at this age, with this body, and with this dumb mind.” He looked at me as if I was the person giving him the death sentence or maybe even death itself. It made me feel responsible to lift that heaviness.
I said, “But…but, there’s got to be something…no?” He looked at me like I was not understanding him.
I couldn’t think of anything to say. But all of the sudden a good idea came. “Hey! WHAT ABOUT A ‘LADY FRIEND’?” I asked very, very tentatively.
He said, “I’d love to have a lady friend.”
His wife passed away 4 years ago, and now he’s by himself. I said, “You might find a nice young lady, someone who is still young at heart, like you?” He lit up like a boy. Such delight. Such spontaneous embarrassment in having a stranger talking about something so outrageous.
He said, “My friends tell me, Ben, you got a gardener, and you got a cleaning person. You got a daughter to bring you food everyday. All you need is a cook and a bed partner.”
I said, “Well, I couldn’t agree more with your friend. Maybe you will find a lady friend, I don’t see why not. There is nothing in your body that is stopping you from enjoying life a little.”
He asked me to keep him in mind if I come across any nice ‘young lady’ in her 80’s. I wish I had a rolodex of ladies in their 80’s. In that moment, he made me feel wonderful, hopeful, and just joyous about life. On the way out, I checked his ear like his daughter asked me, and when we were rolling the wheelchair out of the room, he said almost in a whisper, “Don’t forget!” I said, “Sir, would I forget something like this???” “But!” I raised a finger. If you beat me to it, will you drop me a note? It’s our open secret.”
Oh, silly me. What a romantic story. It makes me wonder what chances we have everyday. All our lives, we are told what to do, to live inside a box, not to make too much waves, living for other people and caring for their concerns, in his case, for his daughter’s concerns even though he is now 90. People in the tabloids seem to do what they want to do and create a new reality for them. In any event who says that our voice shouldn’t be the loudest voice?
Sunday morning 7:54AM – grocery shopping done for the week!
Amazon Fresh delivers whatever you want, fresh seafood, produce, bread, lomi-lomi sashimi salad, flowers…
Then magically on Sunday morning, the Amazon truck and the nice man appear and deliver the groceries to my door. He even refused a tip – “It’s not necessary, ma’am.”
We have some grocery stores in America that will fly any piece of fruit from anywhere in the world but pretend that it’s from humble soil from ma and pa’s down the road by putting a modest looking farm stand sign next to it on display. We can get blueberries at any time of the year but sometimes the blueberries have flown on airplanes from hundreds and thousands of miles.
Oh little blueberry, why must you travel thousands of miles, so I can eat you?
What is this perverse need to eat you now when you’re not in seasons and then later in the year, I will eat so many of you that I will be sick of you?
I’ve eaten a piece of fish that cost $26, and a slice of watermelon that cost $9 – because I didn’t read the price sticker. But with Amazon Fresh groceries are clearly listed as price per unit and price per weight. My grocery bill is much more reasonable. Sometimes we just want to go back to the way it was before, that is, to eat whatever comes out of the soil and eat simply, not with a lot of flavoring or preparation fanfare. Jada Smith once said, “I eat for nourishment, not for pleasure.” That is speaking from a place of freedom, discipline, and ultimately, reward.
Steve Jobs used to fast to achieve a sense of ecstasy….
Did you know that Steve Jobs is going to be on a stamp? Not that that has anything to do with Amazon Fresh or blueberries eating.
Cleaning out, downsizing, house cleaning..
For some things, it takes a long time for them to reveal their significance, meanings, lasting importance.
I found an email written by one 24 year old, counseling another 26 year olds, against the entire establishment.
Some people, they mean so little at the time, but in almost 20 years, the significance of what they they have had in your life is immense.
Who are these angels, who appear at opportune times. Who are these angels, that come and go. In 20 years later, as you look at their writings – you are looking at helpers from the universe.
My 24 year old friend who wrote these words, which ring truer now than ever, to me.
I told him, that the entire staff was wrong. Only my 24 year old friend believed me. My friend was the only person who supported me. Through that realization, I feel like crying now, thinking how incredible it was for a 24 yo to counsel a 26 yo in wisdom that goes beyond time.
“In other words, without strong indications, only the briefest trials w the lowest does can be responsibly indicated. Now, to be honest, I don’t know if he has delusions since I have not personally spoken w him. However, if in your judgment, he does not, then please voice this opine in the strongest possible terms.
I hope I am not horrifying you. I am glad that you feel that the attending is someone you can trust and respect. Please do trust your judgement, however, and be aware that these people are capable of making mistakes as well. Also be aware of the real potential for irreversible outcomes here.
I know the boards are coming up for you. Good luck w them. I know the boards are one hell of a lot of work. On the other hand, though, they are pretty much the only way that you can pull everything together for the wards.
Good luck with it.
Take care of yourself now”
“Come back to France with me.”
That’s what she said, within 10 minutes when we met.
I was so delighted by her spontaneity, my kindred soul. Boldness has magic and power, as Goethe said. But in my mind, I thought. Yes. Sure! I can just drop everything and fly on KLM and land in Charles De Gaulle, and go spend a merry 2 weeks in France. Oh, ride the train at Gare du Nord!
Eat croissant every morning! Go around Paris with a master photographer! Gare du Nord to London’s St. Pancreas – oh, a person could ride that ride over and over again and never get over the splendor of the grand train stations of Europe.
But work beckons. Instead, I said, “Corey. Come to San Francisco, for dinner. Can you? Will you?” as she and I crossed the small street, party hopping to go from the party at Gathering to the party at the Co-op…from one crowd to another.
It took me 2 hours to make it out of the beast of the city where I live for now. Finally making it on to I-5, towards SACRAMENTO, the key to my future, I saw nothing but corn-fields or miles and miles, where the speed limit was 70. The moon was so bright.
Until coming upon to this little town, called Willows. One main street. One little church.
Just one of those really endearing little towns in America that I love.
Christmas. Friends, neighbors, cousins, fans, family…
Meeting Corey again.
Her family…her mom…Mrs. Amaro…suddenly came out of no where, with such a sense of humor, offered a bed for the sojourner to stay for the night…”Corey told me you’re driving back, we have a bed for you?”
It is magic.
That someone would blog everyday, faithfully, for 7+years, and that her readers would read her writing and spirit everyday, thousands of readers everyday….
211 W Sycamore Street
Willows, CA, 95988
“And my Dear, we’re still good-bye ing.” Dean Martin’s voice, wow!
Still has about a week…to listen to Christmas music!