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Intervention

She knew where the conversation was going before he unfolded his hands and began to talk.  Call it a religious intervention, she had been here with various other people before.  Never with family, however.  This was different because it mattered.  He had waited until the beach house was quiet, the middle of a hot afternoon, midweek of their yearly family reunion.  She wasn’t sure how this strange, no people-coming-in-and-out time had presented itself, but here they were, sitting across the long table from each other, brother and sister, she two years older at 41.  She fingered the sea-shell edged placemat as he began his speech, clearing his throat for emphasis.

“We’re worried about you.  I don’t think this move is a good idea.  What is this place you’re going to anyway?  I don’t think it has anything to do with Jesus.”

She pictured him at home, huddled with his wife for weeks in the evenings, discussing her situation, her decision to move to a new state near a metaphysical center where she would teach.  She could see them touching and thumbing through their bibles, leaning their heads together in prayer and determining the best way to influence her irresponsible actions.

“How do you know it has nothing to do with Jesus?”

Frustration rippled like a wave across his jaw and up to his receding hairline.  His piercing blue eyes were hardly ever soft anymore, hard engineering work and his role as a provider and father worn heavy across his shoulders.  She remembered them giggling in their bunk beds as children, pulling their wool blankets away from the sheet creating lightening pops of static, him on the bottom bunk and her on the top, him doing his first and then her making her blanket crackle in response.  Their secret laughter would leave them breathless, giddy, as the night curved around their joy and closeness.  Looking at his face now, his mouth was humorless and annoyed.

“I looked it up on the internet and I saw enough to know that it isn’t about Jesus.”

She felt her insides wither and her cheeks burn hot, a mixture of shame, anger and aloneness.  Every time she came to this place with someone, it was the same split-earth feeling, leaving her standing on one edge, peering helplessly at the other across a huge, gaping gorge.  This time it was much worse, because it was Rob, her beloved brother.  Her heart thumped recklessly in her chest as she calculated what to say, knowing with a sludgy twist in her stomach that there was no way they would ever be the same again, no way they would be the siblings throwing football in the front yard until way past dark, the shadows cocooning them in an intimacy as they listened for the thudding breath of each other’s catch.

“Rob, why do you believe what you believe?”

She could tell this was an unexpected turn, for him, in the way the conversation, the intervention, was supposed to go.  His face shadowed and he glanced off towards the door, as if wanting an interruption or reinforcements.  Studying his expression, she recalled the day, seven years earlier, they had all gathered at the airport to send him off to war, his face unreadable, his new wife tearfully clinging to his arm until the very last moment.

“I believe because that’s what it says in the bible and the bible is the word of God.”

His shoulders squared on her now and she could feel his religious-dogma shield position itself between them.  A spring inside her released and catapulted into the divided space.  Somehow the moment of acknowledging the loss of their sameness had vaulted her into a place of dangerous confidence and boldness.

Her words tumbled heedlessly, “But how do you know it’s the word of God?”

He looked shocked, as if she had struck him and she sat serenely, waiting for his response, warmed with triumph.

“That’s blasphemy!”

He stood up, bumping the chair with his leg and leaned over the table, resting his hands in the middle for emphasis.

“That place is a cult and it isn’t about Jesus.”

Stones rolled in her stomach, edgy and rough, and waves of nausea rose sourly into her throat.

“I know this, Rob, whenever you’re ready to figure out why you believe what you believe and not what someone TELLS you to believe, then we’ll have this conversation.”

He sat down roughly, the chair back striking the wall as he collapsed into its squeaky, wicker seat.  He shifted his body, turning stiffly away from her, facing the expansive, beach-front window, the humid air clouding the view into a misty blur.  Her ears vibrated wildly from her buzzing thoughts.

Desperate now to get her point across, to liberate his frantic hold on what she saw as empty, narrow beliefs, she pushed on breathlessly, “I believe the bible was written by MEN and it’s not literal and we have MINDS of our own and we’re supposed to THINK for ourselves.  Until then, it’s only CRAP that someone’s told you to believe and it means NOTHING.”

Seeing that she had him wordless, she added, “Like marriage… it only means something if you’re willing to lay your relationship out on the table and look at what’s REALLY happening, not what you think is happening.  Only then can you really LOVE each other, only then is it real and not just playing at being married.”

As soon as she said this, she could feel the failure of her two marriages lying in a wilted, reproachful heap, making her words echo weak and defenseless.  He did not look at her but she could see that he was no longer available to her, had left the room in his thoughts several long moments ago, his face rigid and unyielding.  Hopelessness wafted up from the gap like a bitter smell, an acrid vapor.  They sat a moment in self-conscious silence.  Coldness crept up to her and sat stiffly across her chest.  He looked at her, dismay clearly revealed in his dimmed eyes.  She realized that she had not won, that there was no winning when togetherness, closeness is what she wanted most.  He was lost to her now, stuck and in his beliefs, disappointed at her stubborn rebellion.

He stood up to leave, sighing and patting his thighs with finality, standing stiffly and dejected.  “I guess this hasn’t done any good.  I just hope you know what you’re doing.”

The room deflated and the air felt tight and dense.

“I know what I’m doing, Rob.”

His back was to her now and she felt the sting of his dismissal as she watched him open the door onto the deck and close it behind him.  She remained seated at the table, clutched in grief and numbness, her fingers mindlessly picking at the edges of the placemat, pushing sticky crumbs back and forth across the embroidered calm sea and blue-gray sky.

My father’s secret life, the suit and tie accountant by day

On his tractor at night, the light pacing back and forth across the field.

The good father, doing his duty, dedicated to family,

My mom pushing his hands away from her hips, cooking dinner,

“Bob, stop…”

Sometimes he’d load us kids on the frame of the plow blade,

Clots of red clay, bubbling up potatoes.

His car accident,

Me, the five year old,

While he lay in a coma,

Deciding whether to live or die.

He lived and something in me died.

Forty years later, I remember.

Wondering on the mystery of

Believing you’re abandoned

Resulting in two failed marriages.

“Your husband is cheating on you”

My rebellion of religion

Yet crying when hymns are sung,

My resistance of tradition,

Hating the celebration of days

Because it’s the day

Preferring to celebrate for no reason,

Yet homemade biscuit-bottomed,strawberry shortcake

Will always mean Valentine’s Day

And German chocolate cake with oozy coconut-ladened icing

Will always mean dad’s birthday.

My dad cut trees and I would dance across the fallen trunks

Like a fancy gymnast.

He’d come home from hunting with rabbits stuffed in the front of his jacket.

He never cranked his tractor for the season

Until the yearly wren nest had finished its duty

Of chick hatching.

My dad in the box of pictures I found in the attic

Lovely pinups taped inside his locker,

He stands proudly in front of the girly display

In uniform, smiling at the camera.

His smile, a secret, unknown smile to me,

The same smile I see sometimes

On my 16 year old

Standing in front of the mirror,

Examining his arm muscle-swelling efforts

The raw splendor,

The unashamed smile of a 16 year old

Growing his body.

Matters

He isn’t just a hearse driver, you know,

But you see him the in the “shadow light”

The time of day when stillness melts over into life.

His back is charged with purpose

As he exits the black limo

And swings through the screen door.

Mama doesn’t care

That he never called her even once,

She only cares that he’s here

And he’s hungry,

And he gives her a smile

That cracks her heart.

It’s the yellow-night-time

When the crows aren’t even

Brave enough to be obnoxious and loud.

He wanders around the house

Touching things.

Her eyes water from the corners,

Self-consciously,

Remembering the tousled-headed toddler

With outstretched arms.

“It doesn’t matter,”

She wants to say,

But the words won’t rise,

Like heavy roads

That burble under the pond foam.

He’s not hearing anyway,

His eyes lost in black and white memories

And unopened presents

From birthdays he missed

While he battled life

With closed fists

And clenched heart.

Everything begins to unwind and unfetter,

The clock moans as darkness

Swarms the room

And the house

And the space between

Mother and son.

“It doesn’t matter,”

Her heart whispers,

But it does,

Lost in the dark;

Nothing.

Even that

Means it matters.

 

Okay, so I can’t stand it any more.  I know, I’m a pharmacist.  But that doesn’t mean that I believe everything that comes in a pill. If your doctor has prescribed a “statin” cholesterol lowering drug for you, please just say “NO.”  “Why?” you ask.  Because the whole premise of “high cholesterol”  and its relationship to cardiac health is not what it appears to be.  Cholesterol is produced by the body to heal tissue damage and to maintain cell membrane health.  If you lower cholesterol to some “magic number” then you negatively influence your body’s ability to heal.  All the research on cholesterol and health is based on data that shows people who have cardiac events have corresponding high cholesterol.  That is like saying that people who have an infection also have a fever so the fever must be causing the infection.  No, the fever is the body’s response to the infection.  Similarly, lowering cholesterol will not prevent cardiac events.  Cholesterol is elevated as a RESULT of cardiac events.  If you have  high cholesterol, then you have tissue damage to which cholesterol has been released as a response.  When you artificially lower cholesterol, you have now lowered your body’s ability to maintain healthy cell membranes, reduce cell oxidation and also set you up for multiple downstream effects including reduction of hormone production (cholesterol is a precursor of hormones), a serious, life-threatening condition called rhabdomyolysis, anemia, hepatic or renal failure and many other effects. The manufacturers of “statins” were able to receive approval for new drug applications because the efficacy of “statins” is based on how well they lower cholesterol.  And, of course, they do lower cholesterol.  What has been swept under the rug, however, is whether lowering cholesterol makes sense for decreasing cardiac events and whether lowering cholesterol actually decreases mortality and/or morbidity.  Too much commercial bias exists now to easily undo the propaganda of “statin” drugs.

See the following links discussing “statins”:

http://www.pharmacist.com/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Pharmacy_News&template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=24117 

 http://people.csail.mit.edu/seneff/why_statins_dont_really_work.html

In addition, check out the impressive member list of The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics

http://www.thincs.org/members.htm

Unfortunately, doctors are in a liability dilemma regarding the prescribing of “statins.”  Because of the “research-based latest guidelines,” a doctor would be considered negligent if they didn’t prescribe a “statin” when a patient’s cholesterol level is considered high.  But, luckily, you have a choice as a patient.  You can REFUSE to take the “statin” medication.  This essentially takes your doctor off the hook and also prevents you from having the many possible secondary issues from lowering your cholesterol.

            JUST SAY NO!!

Your good health depends on it!

The Point of Talking

Talking seems so easy, so effortless to many people, but to me it feels like quicksand, taking me down, suffocating, burying me alive.  I don’t remember ever liking to talk unless it’s a deep conversation, the kind that makes your heart throb with pain and empathy.  I like people’s stories, trials and tribulations, stories that mean they’ve questioned and doubted and tested themselves on some level.  Nothing bores me more than an untested person.  I don’t have any patience, especially for a person who professes to be knowledgeable but all the understanding comes from spoon-fed learning or cerebral ego-inflation.  I feel myself quiver on a soul level when a person shares an experience that has essentially plastered them against the wall of all they thought was true, like road kill of their belief system; I love those conversations, the lack of arrogance and invincibility is refreshing and enticing.  I want to talk to the person who wonders if there is a God, who despairs about tomorrow, who sees their child’s feet as the most precious thing that could possibly exist in the world.  I like talking to the person who knows that shadow is as real as the idea of physical reality and both have their designated corners and neither should be ignored.  I enjoy speaking to those who have encountered the worst in themselves, have seen their guilt and blame, anger and manipulation, phoniness and compassion and they can get up the next day and try to care about something in the world outside themselves.  I like someone who is “over themselves” and shares what is interesting and unique while admitting that all the threads of the world make up the fabric of who they are, not just their skin and the blood pumping through their veins.  I want to spend my life with those who see and act through the eyes of kindness and clarity, forgiveness and remorse.  All that “has been” or “will be” can be salvaged in the bath of grace.  I know because I come from the grace-balm and return to the warmth at regular intervals.  Grace is the ability to love what is normally unloveable.  I want to embrace the unloveable, in life, in myself, in others.  To me, this is the only point of talking, of connecting with others.

Green-less Eyes

The green is fading to black,

And she doesn’t feel anything

About losing the color

In her big eyes,

They don’t function well anyway,

And she sees

What she doesn’t want to see.

What agony to know

The underbelly of the underneath,

Everything is warm and desirous

And hidden.

The are secrets

That mothers knew

But never dared to speak of,

And the children learn

That running through the woods

Can get them killed

Or worse.

I wander in the grown-up world

Like a kid with an old encyclopedia

Turned to the section

“Reformed,”

Not understanding the words,

Like a deaf-mute to the old ways,

I try to use this

To forge a new way,

But there are plenty of lonely nights

And briar patches

To navigate,

And I get so tired.

But she is dying

Behind the green-less eyes,

And it’s my job

To save her.

Leave me alone,

And I will make it,

I’m sure of my skills

And courage.

I just hope I haven’t run out of

Time.

Honey Brewed Scampers

Image

She tags you “it”

And you squeal and reel in laughter.

It’s only better

When the fog lifts

Off the meadow

Like rising cream.

You aren’t elated

Because of the weather,

You’re inside the outside collar

Of all the choke chains

Of the world,

Big-world, global-chokings

That tie off your joy

Like a snuffer on a candle.

You revel in the chase

Of new delights,

Not old games with stubbed toes

And bent-up kick cans.

Even the best of us

Can explode at the thought

Of one more compression

On our spirit,

Like a flat-iron on our soul,

The squashing

Feels like dismembering our toes

From our dancing feet.

You aren’t lucky,

You are selected

For “good times”

By your own bidding.

You picked the merry path

When you tired of the storm clouds.

Believe in the fairy

With the dashing smile

And buzzing wings.

You never know

When light will turn to water,

Will turn to tears,

Will turn to sweet nectar

Dripping into your insides

Like honey brewing

In a hive.

“Yes,” we say, “Yes.”

“Yes,” I answer, “I’m alive.”

It’s good to be alive.

Let’s see what

Other skips and scampers

Are in my step.

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