Monday, March 27, 2006

How many of us can find our way? How many of us are over-influenced by what we hear, what we read, what our friends say?
How many of us can go without shopping, without flattering, without wanting?
How many times, can we simply do what calls us?
If we want to paint, or talk, or heal.. if we want to sing, or dance. If we want to simply be, and teach others to do so as well?
Our destinies are far simpler than our inflated fantasies make them out to be.
What more can it be,
we are here,
we are together.
How many thousands of years has it taken already,
for this limited tolerance
to take place?
Just that we are here.
Sometimes it is enough
just to be

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The lower middle-class health care experience: I was 16 before I ever saw a dentist. I was chewing on ice and bubble gum, and a tooth exploded. I'm on the second crown for that tooth, fortunately I actually have pretty good teeth. I've been told I should have had braces, but I was never sure that wasn't just a cosmetic thing designed to make orthodontists rich.
I hid a cat bite from my mom when I was about 4, and had to get pulled off a board when I stepped on a nail in it and got my foot impaled. This happened twice, I think. My parents always got so upset when I got hurt, and I never understood that it was about that basic empathy parents have for their kid. I always heard the part about the money it cost them, and thought that was where it hurt them most. I'm sure that wasn't true...
When I hurt my knee on a skiing trip with a boyfriend, one they didn't want me to go on, one that I begged for (rare for me) and took a bad fall on an over-ambitious run, I never told them. Later, when my knee hurt too much for me to keep playing soccer, I just quit. The pain would sometimes abate, but always lurked, should I get too much impact or turn the wrong way. When I started doing martial arts, I had to be very, very careful. When you have knees that don't kneel, Japanese martial arts become especially difficult.
I had to go and choose the thing I could not do.

After the whole Rolfing series twice, plus some wonderful advanced work, my body feels so good that the knee and the hip stick out like the proverbial "sore thumb" as they never did before in a background of constant pain and limitation.
I insisted that conservative treatment was not the answer, and the very nice military osteopath on post sent me to a German colleage, an orthopedic surgeon who is also an osteopath.
After a short interval of manipulation (woggle waggle, does that hurt? Ow!) he ordered a hip and a knee Xray.

Hey presto, I have a possible medial meniscus tear of the right knee, and hip dysplasia on the left side.
From what I've read, babies are supposed to be screened for dysplasia, and put in some kind of brace. Even with that, and surgery, if needed, they can develop osteoarthritis later. I also found that they most certainly get OA later, if they are undiagnosed. I was never diagnosed. I just walk a little funny, and tend to topple to the left if I am not paying attention, or am tired.
Even though I have complained about my hip all of my adult life, no one ever took an Xray, and if they did, they didn't say anything about the angles.
I have complained about the knee often as well, and been diagnosed with chondromalacia, patellofemoral syndrome, water on the knee, and jumper's or runner's knee. No one ever bothered to order an MRI.
Why? Is it because I don't fit the "profile" of ripped athlete in some modern popular sport? If I was playing soccer or softball, perhaps I would have been treated as an "athlete" and gotten more aggressive treatment.
I've never been exactly a couch potato, but I've never been naturally skinny. A person of normal metabolism and my activity level would probably be pretty skinny. Both my parents are diabetics, so I didn't exactly inherit a great metabolism. I don't eat sugar or much in the way of refined carbs any more, so I'm pretty lean (about 30% body fat) and I work out daily with cardio and/or weights(in addition to budo practice, walks, hiking, and a busy massage practice schedule). If I skip that, though, I go right up in a hurry.
Since when isn't the practice of martial arts an actual sport? If people don't understand something, does that mean it doesn't exist? If it can't be sponsored by Nike, does that mean it doesn't matter?
I'm not surprised about either diagnosis. As I have learned more as a Rolfer, I have had a pretty good idea of what is going on with my body. I'm happy to have some concrete answers. We tend to blame ourselves for our problems, especially with the dippy New Age influence of "how you think is what you are" which we carry to ridiculous extremes. Most times it's just an ordinary organic cause, not anything dramatic/traumatic at all.

I'm just finding myself sort of frustrated "after the fact" and wondering if, if I had really pushed, I could have gotten a decent diagnosis earlier. Yeah well.
Hindsight is often the art of seeing what an ass I have been.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Do you value your rights as an American? My ancestors came over here from Ireland and from Germany to escape totalitarian regimes (one still rules over Northern Ireland today, out of the frying pan into the fire, eh?).

Did you value Free Speech? Kiss it goodbye.. what's this about not being able to print that the President has broken the law? Are we setting up for dictatorship here? More, as people dare to print it.

Just for the statistics: I do not believe in God or a supreme being. I don't need an imaginary being to keep me straight. I learned Science in High School and the little college I could afford, and I do not think imaginary beings had anything to do with it. Any time you want to talk about God, insert the phrase "Pink Unicorn" instead of "god", and see if it still works for you. Then you know how rational beings feel, when you mention god.

This is the burden of sentience. We make the choice of who we are, and what we believe in , or what we refuse to be subjected to. The National Socialist Party of Germany, also known as the Nazis, were Christian.

You Democrats, who cowered while Feingold spoke the truth, Shame, Shame, Shame on you. You cowardly crooks. You might as well re-label yourselves Republicans and sell us down the river some more.

Neither party ever had my faith. I ask too many questions. I'm pro-gun and pro-choice, which puts me in a very odd corner. I don't really understand being pro-life and into the death penalty, BTW. Save babies and kill old people? Silent Running, anyone? I think it's illegal to be over 70 in California now, anyway. Too bad, Arnie, they don't want you at home any more.

Too few of our representatives have been pregnant, obviously. Too few have been faced with the life risk of delivering a child, much less one they maybe didn't want. It must be so easy, to be right all of the time. It is a luxury of the rich, a luxury of place and status, to have so much choice. Our representatives are so not representative of us any more, with guaranteed health care and retirement. Those who have it, want to keep it that way, and make the rest of the pious and well-meaning into Baby Machines. Hey, it was a woman's role in the Dark Ages. Why not go back?

I got this letter from the the very sold-out, deaf dumb and blind Senate Rep John Cornyn recently, in response to a form letter I sent his office from NOW. As you can imagine, the NOW (National Organization for Women) message has to do with personal choice and freedom above any imaginary religious right ideas about what they should do with their lives.
I had written to this public servant about the fact that women in America's military not having access to abortion in military medical clinics. Tri-care will not pay for a termination of pregnancy. Imagine a female soldier, wanting to go with her battle buddies, finding out there's been some kind of accident and she's pregnant. No sane woman would want to expose her fetus to the horrors of war, nor would she want to abandon her brothers and sisters in her unit. This is a something only the person at the center can decide on.
This is the message I sent to Mr Cornyn, whom I did not elect (I did not vote for him), who is not at all an accurate representative of my decisions for my country, who is an utter failure as a representative of what I, or others in the military community and society at large, wish for.

"I regret that my reply to your letter has been delayed. I strive to respond to each constituent in a timely fashion, but a technical error in an e-mail system used by the Senate prevented my reply from reaching you before today. The input that you and other Texans provide is valuable to me, and I appreciate the opportunity to respond without further delay."

Yeah, I guess you guys are pretty embarrassed about old Tom. *laughing* Did I mention that every absentee Texas resident (many of whom are military) much pre-register to vote by rigid standards, a month before the vote, and pre-registered. Try this from Germany. "Ask not what your country can do for you..." register me permanently to vote for one year and send me every ballot, thanks!! Yep, we got DeLay problems, all right.

"Thank you for contacting me to express your views on abortion for servicewomen overseas. I appreciate having the benefit of your comments on this important matter.I believe that all human life is a gift from God, "

You're mixing church and state again. Constitutional no-no. Religion is not a rational basis for morality. Our founding fathers were not religious, nor did they presume to legislate morality. At least 24% of the military population is at least "unchurched", and in many states, the number of people with no faith outnumber the fundamentalists by 10-20 percentage points.

Okay, maybe you missed out on the part where what a woman chooses to do with her body is none of your business. Then there is, again, did you miss my point? the Separation of Church and State issue.

Why should a small religious (fundamentalist) minority make decisions for others? This is no basis for legislation without the input or approval, much less the gross ignoring of DIS-approval by a large section of the poplulace?

"and I will continue to work within the law to see that all life is treated with the dignity and respect it deserves. "

While still supporting the death penalty? How can you do that and still stand up straight?
Wow. Does that mean that our taxes will go back to supporting education and advancement of all humans? How about those increases of Pell grants, state scholarships, and reduction of fees at state universities? How about health care?
Here in Germany, where we are deployed, the state pays for all necessary medical costs - not for us, for the Germans! . Retirement is guaranteed. Higher education (college) is taken for granted, if you pass the tests. In the US, the GI bill is increasingly the only pass for the poor, to college. Hey, W said there would be no Draft. Does taking away college education funding aside from entering the military constitute a silent one?

Is the legislation against abortion supposed to maybe create a bigger underclass of uneducated, easily controlled with religious pabulum breeders? Then there is the science education problem. No one with a decent education would buy Intelligent Design. I want some words with the Maker on this one.

Irreducible complexity is another way of saying "too dumb or lazy to figure it out". This is what we do best as humans, figure things out. To put stops on this is to deny our beautifully open and inquisitive nature.

With a decent background in science, you would know that, in the first three months of life, and most surely until the fetus is able to survive on its own outside the mother, there is no real consciousness, no pain, no real sentient existence. It's been proven in Britain. Funny how science has now gone back to Europe, in the face of burgeoning Dark Ages mentality in the US. My colleagues here in the health fields are celebrating.

How come I just feel ashamed of our primitive narrow-mindedness in response to some governing minority? I often wonder if the administration has been taking notes from the Taliban. Undermining education & options for the poor, increasing the power of religion while decreasing personal freedoms. Hey, steal my shoes and slap a black sheet over my head!

"I will oppose any legislation that would force the federal government to increase accessibility to abortion for any of our citizens, including our servicewomen.I appreciate having the opportunity to represent the interests of Texans in the United States Senate, and you may be certain that I will keep your views in mind as relevant legislation is considered. Thank you for taking the time to contact me.Sincerely,JOHN CORNYNUnited States Senator "

Um. Thanks. NOT! You do not represent my interest at all, any, whatsoever. I have no interest in the agenda of the Religious Right to bring us back to the Dark Ages of Femme Covert through the Reconstructionists and the Dominionists who are so in control of your Handlers and those of the Shrub, who should be impeached, not just censured.

The whole world is shocked and disappointed. We were living the dream, and now we are falling into some kind of conservative black hole. The time has come for the sleepers to awaken.

Over here in Europe, I am repeatedly having to explain that I was not asked, my vote was not counted, my opinion is not regarded. The other half of the tragedy is that they understand. All too well.

I have to give this answer because of YOU. I will do everything I can to point to the rotten bits, to publicize, to criticize, to enlighten and inform.

Congratulations. You have created an activist.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Time to have some fun: What is the truth about Mr W. Bush? He ain't from Texas, that's for sure. Then there's the drunk driving thing. Yeah, that happened. Any questions?

It's real, it's a matter of public record.

I don't have a problem with drinking, in fact I am baffled about why stupid things like marijuana are still illegal. It's an antiquated fundamental religious objection.
This violation of the Constitution where they get mixed up about separation of Church and State is a large part of the problem. Religious beliefs of the minority should not influence the choices of the majority.

I'll get to Roe V Wade later, when I'm good and mad.
Yes, I am just vaguely amused, at the moment.
You'll love me, when I'm angry. I hear I'm more beautiful. If you like Kali...

The driving part is inexcusable and unacceptable. Think about what it takes for a cop to actually CATCH you. Think about what it would take for a Bush to actually have a Record. This is pretty brave, for cops. Sorry guys, you are the best, but you do operated in a damn fool bureaucracy... I have a dear friend who's a cop in Austin, TX. I helped him get there. One of the best things I ever did. He's a real hero.

Now, think about his bud Cheney. The funniest thing this dude is ever gonna do is shoot an elderly crony at a canned hunt for quail (shooting tame, hand-raised birds out of cages, oh so macho) Cheney's not so slow on the bottle, either.
Dude, my Shibumi Bubba dad shot a guy in the rear hunting back in the 50s, and they are still fast friends. It's not a huge deal, in fact, in Texas, it's practically a marriage proposal. If only Cheney had had the cojones to be funny about it. His simpering statements to Fox were.. oh god... the equivalent of taking up interior decorating and a houseboy. Not that I object to homosexuality, either. I don't care. Better to love someone, than hate them. It would just be inconvenient for Cheney. Fortunately, his sister is more intelligent and open-minded.
At any rate it was funny as s^+t, and that's the only time Cheney is going to give anyone a good time. So we enjoyed it while we could.

For the record, I do like single malt, but as a lifetime asthmatic, I have no use for smoke of any kind in my lungs, nor do I care to lose my grip on reality (slippery though it may be) to any chemical, from codeine to Tylenol 3. I don't even like Benadryl. I also like to shoot. I was raised in Texas, remember? As in Actually Grew Up There and spent Summers in the Blistering Heat Instead of In the NE in Relative Cool Comfort (85 F)? Hell-Flocking-O!!!!

Rule Number 1: Know your weapon, love it and keep it clean
Rule Number 2: Never point your weapon at anything you do not intend to kill
Rule Number 3: It's just a tool. You don't have to be one.

I'll skip the lawyer jokes, since an old adopted brother of mine was a lawyer for Child Protective Services back there in Austin, and had a little girl he would have died innumerable times over for. I used to sit for her, when I stayed with them. I think they are both firefighters now. It's a much more visceral connection to helping people than the legal system, and I get that now. I am in a much more visceral connection with America's military now, for a maverick liberal on the rampage. It has been what I have seen here, that has set me off.

You can find a lot of interesting things on Google. Be sure to get the link that erases the cookies it keeps, though, because Google has sold out, and will provide anyone with information they ask for. Must be the deal they made with the Chinese. Totalitarianism appears to be contagious. Freedom of Speech, just Watch What You Say -- IceT was right.

Let's hope for some kind of blog free speech revolution:

What are the alternatives?

If you are into Jewish Carpenters, check this dude out.

I used to date his roommate's son.
As long as he hires Jim Hightower, I'll vote for him.

I've never voted in a primary, and I never will, until the damn nuisance things go away. What do I care for parties? What the hell have they done for me?

Taken my health care, taken my right to choose, taken my right to bear arms, taken my pension & social security, assisted in the robbery of untold pensions (air travel workers) at the benefit of fat cat already overpaid executive types who tend to congratulate themselves by giving themselves raises after ruining carefully nurtured futures of thousands of people who make them the money they depend on for their yacht payments.... forget that sh*t.

We can do better.

Is it really rational, or intelligent, to give up the bottle for an Imaginary Friend? What if I had a Giant Pink Tiger who was my Best Friend and told me what was Right For me to Do with My Life?
By the way, I am a graduate of four years of 12 step programs, and I did it without any higher power. The only higher power is my own purpose, my own discipline, and my own joy in life.
How is this different from "What would Jesus Do?"

Penn Jillette said it best: I especially agree about the jell-O and sex. But not necessarily together, without proper protection.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Notes on the experience of bodywork: I have been a massage therapist/bodyworker since about 2000.
I have always had the urge to lay hands on people, mostly in a constructive way. The man I married gave me the impetus to go to school and "go pro" and has diligently supported me in this journey.

So far, I've done the 500 hours of training in the US, gone for the bar (and made an extremely high pass on the National Therapeutic Board- though they have given me exactly ZERO support for recertification over here in Army Land, what's that 200 bucks worth, kids?) and done special trainings with the Pittsburgh Pain Institute (not as kinky as it sounds) and my mentor in Dr Henry Okizaki's Long Life Massage (Danzan-ryu jujutsu teaching) Tom Lang.

At the same time, I have maintained my attitude as a hardheaded skeptic who is willing to look for proof. I don't have anything to do with Reiki or Healing Touch, both of which have nothing to do with the hard sweat, tears and technique of realistic and focussed bodywork. I was of the school of "find a trigger point, kill it, and recalibrate the movement" before I found myself in possession of a copy of Anatomy Trains, used by my friend Carol Shifflet and the teacher at the Institute, Richard Finn.

As is my usual pattern, when I find something I like, test, and find useful, I backtrack to sources to see where it came from. I traced the author of Anatomy Trains, Tom Myers, to Rolfing. I remembered that my teachers at Lauterstein-Conway were at least connected with Zero Balancing (super light Rolfing- sorry guys, it's just ancestry) and many of the authors I read and respected, such as Deane Juhan, were trained in Rolfing.
If you are wondering what the heck Rolfing is, go here:

I took the Rolfing Spectrum course in Agatharied south of Munich, and found a home. It's so important, far from home, to find something like that. I have been in Munich almost every month since that time, to complete my training. I am am just now in the homestretch, looking at certification end of May. I'll post a few things which may give people an insight into what exactly Rolfing is, what it feels like and what happens.

FEB 24 2006

My courses in Munich are at this time being taught by a mad Bavarian. It's a grand tradition, see Neuschwanstein or Hohenschwangau and many of the ornate wastes of public funds (which now admittedly generate same) littering the Bavarian countryside. Many of the castles are of older Celtic origin, which may explain a strong streak of red hair and freckles in certain Bavarian areas.

The mad Bavarian has the typical Bavarian problem. He is tremendously, obsessively precise in his work, and yet he is also gregarious and funny and likes to tell stories. Teaching the class, he flicks through points of interest for us like a telepath reading a phone book. At the same time, he wants us to get things exactly right. O weyh, as my Oberpfalzer friends say. The madman is a compact fellow, with rather short arms, small expressive hands and surprisingly bright dark eyes under a closely shaven round pate.

"So anyway, here is Houston, and here are 10 places all over town you have to deliver pizza. These guys drink pepsi, this guy loves anchovies and onions, but don't get the guy on 62nd street anchovies OR onions or the Mob will slash all our tires again. Don't worry about the couple on the East side, they shot each other twice last year, just call 911 and leave the pizza on the stoop. Don't go in the yard on Blueberry unless the dog is tied up."
This is how the instructions we are getting feel. It's just bodywork, you know, but here we have these 10 damn things we have to get right and not get the anchovies or onions in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The mad Bavarian is like Santa, he gets all 10 deliveries right before a small child can peek up the chimney, meanwhile we are trying to remember whether it was beer or pepsi and is the mob going to slash our tires and where is that damn dog?

"It's just here, here, and do this, and let your sternum hang like a pendulum." Yeah, I'm supposed to remember that, and the flocking anchovies too? Basically, we are supposed to be perfect, and make other bodies perfect as well. Yeah. Right. And I'll be on the Olympic podium for the basketweaving gold. More like the basket CASE gold, by this time.

We get on the subject of ruptured disks and (perhaps because I was looking intent) the mad Bavarian waves me to a table and demonstrates some wonderful side-lying leg-waving thing I can barely remember because I was getting my legs waved, and then proceeds to have me hang my head off the table so he can juggle it. Or woggle it. Or something. Anyway I began to feel like some bizarre experiment with giraffes and cantaloupe, and then he had me turn face up. This was pretty prosaic, he was demonstrating this and that, then he pulled the marvellous trick of hitting that murderous spot in my back and kind of "pulling the nail out" of it. This was after grabbing the skirts of my brain, somehow, and tugging on them. If you've never had your brain tugged on, it's a little like pulling on your own fingernails. Not unpleasant, just peculiar.

Then he proceeded to expound on something else I don't remember because I wasn't taking notes. I wasn't allowed to move. I stayed supine, with his palm on my frontal bone, occasionally waggling my skull for emphasis. Then he would Do Something, and go back to sort of gesturing through his stories with one hand on my head. I began to feel like an idly dribbled basketball, with my head bouncing lightly into the padded massage table. If I tried to turn and look at a colleague, my head was immediately turned back into the straight position and he went back to whatever he was/wasn't doing. I was a bit bobbly when I finally got up and wandered around, but I'm clear as a bell now, despite a couple of cozy beers with colleagues.

Things were well all evening, but I woke with a migraine. This is miserable, especially after being free of them for about five years now. I took two aspirin and a Sudafed and hoped for the best. The pain only dulled, and my vision began to narrow and blur. I tugged the Bavarian's sleeve and asked him to check and be sure that he did what he had meant to do. He took time to see to his students for that session, and then waved me to a table.
Again, he checked my spine, checked my neck. He asked what happened to me (all bodyworkers ask that) and I can only reply that my life has been one big accident after another, so who knows. Another thorn came out of my spine, and my neck. My spinal column now feels like that of a rubber chicken's.

As a child I used to wake with a silent scream from nightmares of being skewered by a spear through the back. Even after years of good bodywork, I could still feel the hole from it, somehow, rags flapping around a cold dead hole.
When they first began to touch it, in Rolfing, I twitched every time and really had to control my reactions. It's very strange to me, today, to feel normal, to feel all of my back, no pain, stiffness, or even the deep itch which tended to plague my left thoracic area.

Then the head work began. He stuck his thumbs in my ears and began to manipulate the halves of my skull like a semi-sliced apple. This went on for some time, the problem seemed stubborn. Then he stepped away, and I heard the familiar sound of rubber gloves coming out of a box. Don't be scared, they don't taste that bad. Very strong pressure on my hard palate and frontal bone, then pressure around my upper jaw and frontal bone. Amazing, how much the skull moves. Amazing, that our brains function at all, after the battering we give them, physically and chemically.

The night after the first treatment, I wrote most of this story.
The night I came home after the second treatment, I started this blog.
I'd call that the end of several years of writer's block. I don't have anything else to blame it on. If I don't write, right now, I feel itchy and fussy. We'll see how it goes. Anyway, my ears are much cleaner except for the thumbprints.

Moral of the story: sometimes it's OK to let other people play with your head.
Footnote: all the best Rolfers are completely mad.

Web site of the day: