These have not been easy days, these past few. I don’t mean to say they’ve been bad days, just not easy ones. I wrote a few days ago, naming names, because the burden of having protected the worst offenses had finally gotten to be too much to bear. I expected fallout; I’m not a stupid man. I had a good idea of the caliber and tack of the responses, because those I named are as predictable as a cold day in a San Francisco July: I’ve reactivated a stalker, got Sam targeted by his “friends” for what I got off my chest, received oblique threats, gotten “anonymous” comments which only corroborated the cowardice I outlined, and just a little while ago, another comment…a classic “we all know what you really meant” mind-reader (Hi, Bob!)
It’s not easy to engage the shitters (hey, I read Christine, too), but sometimes ya gotta.
It’s also not easy to live a day where one is exposed to the past, the present, the future (or at least a hoped-for future), the quixotic, the exotic, the East and West, honor, faith, confidence, the implicit.
But such is a day in the Bay Area and the consequences of blogging.
I went to the Korean Herb Doctor today. She’s very Catholic—but the good kind of Catholic, not the ones who point fingers and aim put-downs, and quite progressive for a sixty-something who is culturally a Korean female.
She likes me a lot. She tells me I’m special as she feeds me after every treatment. Today I arrived a bit late, and there were two Korean Sisters (as in, Catholic nuns) sitting there in the waiting area at a table eating Jook soup and kimchee and thumbing through Korean-language fashion magazines.
I should say at this point that I have a special fondness for Catholic nuns. Probably because I didn’t go to Catholic school, but staying in the positive, growing up a Catholic—and an altar boy and Lector and Rectory office keeper and occasional back-filling sexton—I had nothing but glowing examples of Sisters showing kindness, decency, humility and dedication others not because those people needed help, but because it was the example of God’s/Christ’s love that was their charge. Oh, how I miss those days of leading by the example of meekly following.
But I digress. Back to my day.
Koreans aren’t big on names, which is an oddly effective and charming alternative to the name-first labelling system of interaction we westerners have. Not that Catholic Sisters are self-name-droppers, in favor of honorifics (i.e., addressing one as “Sister” is plenty), but there’s a warmth that wafts in when a wall of labels/names is absent. I sat down at the same table, finding neither women’s fashion nor inscrutable bubbles-and-lines Korean language text particularly interesting, and the Doctor put a bowl of almond Jook in front of me, along with a side dish of home-made kimchee (the Doctor’s kimchee is made without sugar and with lots of garlic…words cannot describe how spectacularly beautiful the taste is).
The meeker-looking of the two Sisters spoke first: you know what is Jook?
No, I replied, but if the Doctor made it, I’ll like it.
There’s something guileless about a mouth full of wide square teeth forming a smile that erases that which would keep any of us feeling too alone. It had its effect on me.
Through the smile, the Sister said, “It’s almond paste and rice—”
“—it’s good for you! Very healthy!” chimed in the Doctor, as she placed the kimchee on the table next to me.
“I believe you,” I snapped back. “In all things.”
Score! I made her blush!
Later, while I was face-down on the table with Fire Jars on my neck and acupuncture needles in my scalp and down the middle of my back, she talked to me about Holy People and the movie, The Host. I haven’t seen it, but it surprised me that she would enjoy a ‘scary’ movie.
The sun was warm today; the drive up 880 was pleasant (I have this habit of taking a different routes to and from a destination). Actually, I take 880 home because then I get to see San Francisco from the Bay Bridge, and seeing San Francisco always boosts my mood.
I also got myself to Flax and bought a set of sketching pencils, kneaded eraser and sharpener, a sketchpad, a set of watercolor paints, brushes and a tablet of watercolor paper.
This all may sound like throwing darts at a wall and seeing what sticks, but sometimes a bit of randomness goes a long way in restoring spiritual health.
Avoidance never restores anything, people. Avoidance lets fear—in all its forms—win the day.
And this day? This day belonged to me.