Arthritis, Arcade Fire, Authority, Alchemy

(Originally written on 5 October 2016).

Those four things don’t seem connected: don’t worry. They are.

About 5 weeks ago, my knee buckled and hyper-extended, loudly cracked, and set off a moment of blinding pain. I slowed my breathing, then slowly stood up and realized that I could still walk. I put on a brace, and I went to bed. I told myself that was the end of it.

The next morning, after a fitful night of sleep, I realized I needed a doctor. My knees have given me trouble since I was 15, but this was worse than ever, so I saw my ortho and he gave me a steroid shot and a script for physical therapy.

I’ve done PT off and on for 2 years since my back first gave me trouble post-hysterectomy. I know the drill. I don’t usually mind going, except that in January, I had a very bad experience at PT where I was asked by a therapist I normally didn’t work with to do an exercise for my ankle that triggered immediate significant pain in my back, and then my knee locked, and I left the facility hunched over, told that I had no script for them to assess or help those areas and that it would correct itself.

It didn’t. I ended up seeing a chiropractor for over 20 visits since then to get rid of the initial pain and maintain some stability of an ongoing spine misalignment.

Because of that experience, I thought about going to a different facility now for PT than the one I went to before, except there was familiarity with this place, so I decided to ask for the therapist I had really liked, with whom I felt “safe”. I walked in to find a man behind the counter who seemed to be out of his element. I asked for Jessica, and he said she no longer worked there. I was crestfallen. I was about to say “well then, I’ll go somewhere else, thank you.” But the young man was very friendly and seemed eager to help me when he smiled and said, “I am Jinesh. I will be your physical therapist.” My mind raced. I thought, “he’s not Jessica. But he’s also not the therapist who didn’t listen to me. I haven’t worked with a male physical therapist in 20 years. Maybe this is the right decision.”

So I stayed. He explained that he was new and their receptionist was out, but he found the documents I needed and set up my assessment. He shook my hand—twice, I think—he gave me his card—he said he’d see me at my appointment.

A few days later, I arrived, and he did his assessment, but despite my good initial impression of him, I was on high alert. I didn’t realize it then (but did about a week later) that I was looking for him to make a mistake. I am a reformed feminist. When I was married, my feminism was apparent at work and in my writing, but not in my personal life or self-identification. So I put a lot of effort into becoming fully feminist in the years after my divorce, and as a result, I am very aware of patriarchal language and attitudes, and I make decisions about people based on gendered rhetoric or behavior.

If a man wears his feminism on his sleeve—like my chiropractor does—I immediately trust him. It’s the way I am about most women. If a woman is clearly self-empowered and strong and resilient, we get along famously. If she is compassionate on top of that, accomplished, goal-oriented, we get along even better.

But anyone else? Well, I am not rude or anything, but I tend to pull back because I find it hard to connect with the person. If the person strikes me as anti-feminist, I become wary and distance myself.

So I scrutinized this physiotherapist—his language, his manner, his knowledge. I don’t know if he knew I was doing it or not. I remember thinking mostly that I was impressed that he used the word “inculcate” in a sentence. That’s not a word you hear every day, and the context was that he didn’t like to read much (when he heard I was a literature prof) but that maybe I’d “inculcate in him a desire to read.” So he scored big points for that, so much so that I repeated that sentence to a friend when asked, “how is your therapist?”

I think the only thing that rattled me about him was that he seemed very anti-tests. Very anti-MRI. I could not for the life of me understand why we would not want one before starting rehab, but he assured me (and I researched this later and found it to be true) that even if I had a torn meniscus that the rehab was the same as what he’d be doing with me. I was wary about this but I listened.

As the days went on, I did what he asked, but there came a point where he had me do an exercise that immediately hurt my back. So he had me do it slower. No matter. But I did them anyway. Later I tried some at home and just gave up.

When I returned to therapy, I told him the difficulty, and it didn’t matter, he had me do the exercises anyway. I felt myself getting hurt and angry all at once. My frustration grew; I suddenly realized that I was on the edge of bursting into tears or punching someone, and I chose to burst into tears.

Crying isn’t something I do frequently. Months can pass where I do not shed a tear over anything (and yet I can hear certain songs and always cry, or read certain lines and tear up). I could feel that I had a choice here, that I could hold the tears back, but I decided that I was simply tired of holding the tears in (maybe not just here, but in my life, in general). So I lost it.

I told him about the other experience. He was calm and quiet and compassionate. But I left there that day a mix of anguish and venom, and by the next time I came in, I was ready to quit the place and start over elsewhere.

I didn’t even want to talk to him. I told a different therapist of my issues with him and said I needed to go somewhere else. She said she’d tell him and I wouldn’t have to talk to him.

But then suddenly there he was, asking to talk to me alone. We went into a room and he said, “Tell me everything that is going on with you.” So I told him of the pain and problems with both knee and back. Then he said, “Now tell me everything that is going on in your mind. I want to hear what you are thinking right now.”

And I said, “I am thinking that I don’t trust you. I am thinking that I need to cut my losses and go elsewhere.”

Honestly I have never said anything remotely like that to any medical practitioner in my life. I was a little stunned that I was able to be so direct.

He did not bat an eye. He said that he understood. Then he said that if he could take away the bad experience I’d had before, he would, but he could not, and we had to start somewhere. He said that he would change my therapy and asked if I would please give him another chance. I said I’d do my exercises that day and take the weekend to consider what to do.

At some point he said that he thought there was more going on here than just the injury. I agreed. We talked a bit about pain science (a term new to me, but I’ve had lots of experience with mind-body illness), the way that a place can have associations that prime your nerves to overreact, the way that your body has pain memories, the way that the nerves can react even before you get injured.

I was a bit taken aback by how much he “got” me with barely knowing me. But then he said something that bothered me. He said that it was good that I’d had the “outburst” because it gave us a chance to talk about these things. Right away my mind went to “grrrr a man is accusing me of being overly emotional and reactive when I was literally in pain and afraid of more pain HE IS BEING SEXIST”. (In retrospect, though, what word could a man possibly use to describe what had happened that would NOT sound sexist to me? “Outburst” was certainly better than “meltdown”. Perhaps I was being overly sensitive…)

Yet he also said something that triggered one of those reactions where you hear something you don’t want to hear because it’s true: he said, “I am worried that maybe the same thing will happen elsewhere with a different therapist, and then you will just be running from your fear instead of staying here and facing it.”

Wasn’t that exactly what I said a week prior in the lecture I nearly backed out of for the Biggs Museum of American Art, that I’d called “Where the Wild Things Roam: Ageless Fear and Empowerment in Maurice Sendak’s Works”? Yeah. That hit me really hard. Basically, my words to that audience are hollow if I don’t stay here and face this.

So I told him I’d put a lot of thought into it that weekend. We did our therapy for the day, and he said he wanted me to reflect that weekend on everything.

To that end, I tried 3 different divination methods. With each, I asked for feedback to the following question: “Should I stay at this facility and work with Jinesh?”

Method 1: Pendulum Swing:

Answer: A Strong Yes.

Method 2: Spirit Cats card deck, shuffled:

Answer: “The Road Less Traveled”, which said I needed to open my mind to a new person, a new way of looking at life…and it ended with the phrase, “If you always go right, experiment with going left.”

Hmm. That was pretty interesting.

Method 3: The I Ching:

Answer: Perseverance, Hard Work, which expanded to mean that I was about to embark on a journey where I would have great difficulty, ups and downs, definite setbacks, but to stay the course and work hard and be diligent, to persevere, to not stray from the chosen path, to seek the advice of an authority who could be my guide. It even said that I would face pain and frustration, but that if I remained true in my purpose and did not act with extreme measures but took the middle way, that I would achieve great success and usher in a new way of life.

Well now. That was persuasive evidence. Then, I remembered just a few days prior, when I’d been getting a tattoo and a young woman came in to receive a tattoo gift from her father. Her father had told the artist that she liked elephants and had had a lot of obstacles in her life. So the artist very proudly displayed his rendition of a hamsa symbol mixed with Ganesh, the Hindu god which is the remover of obstacles. She had no idea who Ganesh was, but she got that tattoo when I was getting mine.

It occurred to me that not only was Jinesh appropriate for my situation, but that my physical therapist was from India and was probably Hindu himself. Of all the tattoos I could have seen someone else get, wasn’t this, too, a sign?

So I went in Monday with renewed purpose. I gave him my decision. I would stay. He was visibly pleased and I started therapy with renewed vigor.

By the next few visits, I told him that I was out of that earlier mindset, that now I was fully decided to do this approach, that I didn’t care about the test, that I was ready to work, and things progressed well….for about 2 weeks.

Then I hit a bump in the road.

He assured me the setback was normal and even expected, and I just dialed it all back to the beginning and began again, and he was right, a few days later I was feeling better again.

Then I hit a sinkhole.

It started with a day or two of problems which morphed into 8 days straight of problems. By the 8th day, I’d had another episode of terrible knee cracking and instant awful pain, and I went in very upset, saying that’s it, something is VERY WRONG IN THERE, I need an MRI NOW, why is everyone fighting me on this, WHY, I WANT MY LIFE BACK, I AM NEVER HAPPY, ALL I DO IS WORK AND DEAL WITH THIS, I HATE IT, WAH WAH WAH.

He said what he always says, that setbacks are to be expected. But at this point I was really sick of it all and said this is 8 days; it’s not a setback. Something is WRONG.

He didn’t disagree about the MRI, and I saw my doctor briefly and have scheduled an appointment and we will see what happens there.

But this whole slew of events led me to reflect on my relationship to physical therapy and, in particular, to the things under the surface that have nothing to do with my knee but which probably have a significant impact on everything.

The fact is that I don’t trust most men.

If a woman were telling me that I could heal all of this without surgery and just hard work, I would probably not question her. But Jinesh is a man, and I don’t trust most men, even if they are kind and compassionate in nature. In fact, sometimes kind and compassionate men have the power to scare me, too, because I’ve known men who once held those qualities who changed subtly or drastically.

I’ve been so ready to be angry at him from day one because I WANT to cut and run. I WANT to leave and find a woman therapist. Women don’t scare me. Men do. I’m so ready for men to betray me in some way. This is a learned behavior. Not innate.

My first experience with not being able to trust a man was the doctor who ordered 3 tests when I had right upper quadrant abdominal pain who then told me all my tests were negative, only to tell me during a physical 3 months later that my ultrasound report said that I needed a gallbladder removal asap. His jaw dropped when he realized he’d never told me. He admitted he missed it on the report. You know, how can you expect to not miss it when you take 2 min. if that with your patient and never actually listen to her? So I had to have surgery immediately after that, and I felt terribly betrayed. Here I’d walked around for months convinced (because he told me so) that the pain was all in my head when it was very, very real. I listened to my body and it was right. But he told me it was wrong.

Since then I have judged all male doctors by whether I feel that they are listening or being thorough or not. Most don’t seem to listen, and as a result, I’ve gravitated to female doctors and felt my needs were met.

But that experience was formative.

In addition, there is my ex-husband, who betrayed me so famously several years ago (see my essays “This Has Been a Long Time Coming” and “My Known Point in the Darkness” for my 2-sided reaction to that series of events). Part of his betrayal included telling me I was paranoid and imagining things when I was actually quite accurate. My gut instinct was 100% right where he was concerned. But I spent a lot of time chastising myself (after he did it) for doubting him, and that self-blame ended up burning me.

That experience was also formative.

To survive that emotional abuse and the fallout of my whole life being forever altered, I’ve had to become very guarded, very tough, very strong, yet very wary. I am always on high alert when things are off, and when I am ill or injured, I am triggered to feel vulnerable, and a part of me still years for someone to care for me. But I know there is no one to do so, so, being on my own, I have to muster a lot of courage to protect myself.

This is why periodically, Jinesh hears me spout off things like “How am I going to get my groceries? How am I going to go to work? How can I live like this and do what I have to do to take care of myself and my cats and my house?”

This is why he also heard me say when I had my meltdown, “I am alone. There is no one to do things for me. You can’t hurt me worse than I am already hurt.”

Focus in on those four words: “You can’t hurt me.”

There is a world contained in those words. On one hand, it means “you aren’t allowed to hurt me”—it’s empowering and strong and tough. But it also carries with it the connotation of someone covering her face/body with her arms and hiding behind them. It’s the words of someone who was so beaten down in her past by someone whom she trusted and she’s saying just stop hurting me I can’t take anymore.

The fact is that in working with Jinesh, I’m finding myself fluctuating between those two women. When things go well, I’m New Susan, very tough and strong and positive. When things are not going well, I’m Old Susan, very vulnerable and scared and catastrophizing.

Jinesh has seen both sides, yet he remains steadfast and stays the course, always. He still maintains that knowing MRI results isn’t going to make a difference in that teaching me to exercise through the pain and worry—safely—is the key to better health.

I asked him the other day if he’d ever injured his knees. He said yes and told me of a very bad injury from a bike accident. I said, “Oh, well, then you obviously had surgery to correct that and that’s why you are telling me to avoid surgery as long as possible.” And he said what I never expected. He said , “No, that’s just it, I had a professor and teacher who said not to have surgery, to commit to PT and heal myself.” He admitted to having a lot of help because he was in physiotherapy school, but he said it took months and was very hard but he committed to healing himself, and he did.

I’ve heard of so many 18 year old college students who routinely have had knee surgeries to correct the very things that he healed himself, and I was seriously impressed, and then I realized, he had the right mentor. This is why his mantra is all about PT and self-healing and not surgery.

I had the right mentors when it came to academics, and therefore, I’m very good at learning from books if I like the subject.

But I had the wrong mentors in regards to the body—my whole life—until now.

All the way back in 2nd grade, I was identified as having mild scoliosis. It was a traumatizing experience to find this out, because we were pulled out of class and asked in the nurses’ office to undress to our underpants in front of all the girls in our class and bend over while a male doctor felt our backs and labeled us. I STILL remember exactly what that felt like, how ashamed I felt, being undressed in front of all those girls, then pulled aside and told I needed “special” gym class.

I was 6 years old. How can a 6 year old process this?

But my parents agreed, and I had to leave my homeroom every day to do exercises with the gym teacher one on one. The threat was that if I didn’t correct my scoliosis, I’d be forced to wear one of those hideous back braces that you wear on the outside of your clothing. The kind with the neck brace included. The kind that I knew would make kids laugh at me and bully me.

How can a 6 year old process this?

So this began my belief that my body was a cage (to quote Arcade Fire). It kept me from everything other kids did. I had a bad back. I had a curved spine. I had to have special gym. I was the very last kid picked for sports teams my whole life.

Ok, no matter, then, just become better at other stuff, like schoolwork. Like English class. Problem solved.

But it didn’t solve the problem. It just meant that over time, my lack of physicality got worse. By 10th grade, my right knee started to swell, and I saw an orthopedist, who said I was going to need a semester out of gym class to rehab. GLADLY. I sat in the library and I researched articles and wrote papers on phys ed topics. But it wasn’t like anyone took me through rehab or exercises or anything. I just had the permission now to sit more in marching band, the only physical activity I ever did.

I grew up hating sports. I didn’t even watch them. Still don’t. You know, I’m good at a lot of things, I don’t have to be good at EVERYTHING.

Except that my body is breaking down. The cage is getting rusty. It’s just degenerative arthritis, likely, something in my genes already. I can’t really fight that. But how to go on with one’s life if one’s knees are just ceasing to work?

So the day I saw my ortho 5 weeks ago, I went in and said, “let’s just get me 2 new knees.” I expected him to say that I was young for that, that I’d need another set of replacements in 20 years. But I had an answer: “right, and how do we know I’ll even live that long? I’d rather have some quality of life now, thank you very much.” He agreed this was a real factor, but he still said “get some PT first before we proceed any further.”

As I’ve worked with Jinesh, those same thoughts have resurfaced frequently, the same feeling of giving up, just replace my body parts, etc. They are born from that feeling that I can’t face the constant struggle of trying to self-heal, so why not just give in and get some surgery already.

But I think that ultimately, Jinesh is right. The fact is that even if they find something wrong that can be surgically repaired with a high success rate, that I would STILL need to deal with learning how to rehab for the first time in my life, to face the ups and downs of a body that sometimes makes me feel trapped in place, to learn not to panic, to catastrophize, and to instead not run but face it.

I’ve faced a world of suck in the past 6 plus years: a husband who turned very suddenly emotionally abusive who abandoned me and our cats and home and marriage; 7 cats who died from old age or illnesses, 5 of which I had to make the decision to euthanize, 4 of which I held while they died; a house that started to have problems for the first time only when I was alone; a yard and trees on an acre that never stops growing wild; a job that carries increasing responsibility and high numbers of students since I have to work beyond my contract to make ends meet; a mother and father who are facing age-related health issues, whose conversations with me revolve only and always around our declining health and little else; having had one terminally ill cat to care for after another who needs extra attention, pills or treatment on schedule, that I have to be aware of as I plan my schedule; a complete shift in my friend network as I’ve lost friends and needed to make new ones; my own declining health due mainly to joint problems and arthritis; the added stress of writing/editing 2 books and several articles, several of which were peer-reviewed.

Having dealt with all of this has made me a very strong person. And that’s why I hate the person I become sometimes in therapy. I become weak. Weakness isn’t always a bad thing, but I hate that Jinesh has seen me in that state so often. It’s like therapy is the place where the side of me I don’t like has a real chance of coming out when in my normal life, it rarely does, and if it does, it does so almost always in the comfort of my own home, away from everyone but maybe my mom whom I might call if I hit a rough patch.

This is why PT is a sort of referendum on not just my knee or back but on who I am as a person. It’s the place where I just happened to hit the very therapist who probably had the most power to make me confront something I don’t like confronting.

He makes me confront my vulnerability.

I like to pretend it doesn’t exist. Most of the time I can make that happen. But here, it’s coming out, with pretty regular and even predictable frequency.

I worked myself up again to nearly leaving PT the other day on the grounds that I had given it 5 weeks and I was so far set back again. Oh, I assured him that I’d continue my exercises at home; I’m sold on the benefits. But why keep making myself drive over there? Why keep taking that time out of my schedule if I still had significant problems?

And to his credit, he still remained steadfast and supportive. He said he wanted the person back who I had been a week or so prior. I wanted to scream “you can’t get her back she’s hurt again.” I held it in, I leaked some tears and looked away.

He worked on his laptop a bit across the room and suddenly he said, “Susan, you’re thinking too much. Stop thinking about it. You’re ok. Just breathe.”

And that almost made me cry again because HE GETS ME. I can’t even get over how he gets me. And it drives me nuts that he gets me.

I have made so much effort to make a wall between everyone else and my vulnerability, particularly men and my vulnerability, because I am so afraid that if anyone gets me to lower my guard that he or she will obtain the power to destroy me. I know it’s ludicrous but it doesn’t matter. It’s simply my reaction to what I went through.

I have to be pushy about medical tests because I can’t trust that every doctor is paying attention always.

I have to be protective about feeling vulnerable because I gave 100% access to a man who ripped my heart and my mind and my life to shreds without a second thought.

I’m sure that people might think why are you making such a big deal here, this is just your physical therapist, he has no agenda but to help you get better, he can’t destroy you. And of course, no, he can’t. I think he genuinely likes his job and wants to be good at what he does, which includes healing people. He doesn’t have it in for me or anyone else. THAT would be ludicrous.

It’s more of what he represents, I suppose. He represents me learning how to stay true to myself and my gut instinct while also not running away from that which frightens me. That is a very tough line for me to walk. I think my biggest concern about the possibility of my ever being in a relationship again is that I am afraid that I could not stay true to myself if I were with another person. I don’t want anyone taking from me that which I am deep inside; I don’t want someone to try to make me be someone I’m not just to please him; I don’t want to be with a man who isn’t a feminist, who doesn’t agree that relationships should be egalitarian. I fear that few available men around here fit that profile.

I think what Jinesh is doing—even though I doubt he knows it—is he’s giving me a sort of testing ground to learn how I can honor my instinct while also learning to listen to someone who has something to offer me even if what he says is something I resist. The trick is learning whether I resist because of irrational fear or rational fear, because of an unfair association where I’m labeling him as patriarchal or uncaring ultimately because he’s a man (which is a reverse form of  sexism if none of that is there), or because there is a legitimate ground for self-protection. This is very tricky water to navigate for me.

It’s especially difficult because of my two minds, my Old Susan vs. New Susan mind. Those are often in conflict, and you would think that it’s always Old Susan who wants to bolt and New Susan who wants to stay, but it’s not always the case. Sometimes that paradigm is reversed.

My feelings about Jinesh as my therapist change with the day but were summed up well when I was joking with another patient (in front of him) yesterday. She said that he was a really nice guy, and I said I agreed, but I said, “yeah but he’s also a tyrant,” to which they both laughed. He seemed incredulous. “A tyrant?” But I said, “well yeah, making me do stuff I don’t want to do.”

Then I felt bad for saying that, so as I walked away, I said to the other patient, I’ll say this for him: “he’s a tyrant, but he also calms me down. If I could just take him everywhere with me, I’d be calm all the time.”

Ah….there’s the rub. I walked out of there struck by the fact that for two weeks in a row, it was precisely when I had not been into therapy for 4 days straight (my schedule is Mon and Wed.) that that was when my knee pain would increase by the day. The longer I am not around him, the more worried I get, the more my symptoms occur.

Somehow I went from fearing him to needing him. Talk about frightening. I guess one of the Susan’s let the gate to the fortress open.

Of course this isn’t what he wants, I’m sure. I’m sure he wants his patients to be self-sufficient. But sometimes we do need a guide, and he’s the right one.

After I started to have health issues over the years and needed tests and such, my then-husband was no help, though at the time, I thought he offered the best help. I thought so because he would routinely tell me to NOT go to a doctor or get a test if I was stressed over it. He just wanted me to stop stressing out. He’d listen to me vent and then say “Just don’t do it, then.” I listened to him because he let me escape. He offered me the key to my escape and pushed me out the door.

This did me no good.

I’ve learned to be self-sufficient in most ways as I’ve been alone, and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, but my last big hurdle has been my approach to physical health, because this is a lifetime of neglect and fear and worry we’re talking about here. It’s too daunting for words and easiest to ignore.

The definition of alchemy is “a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation, or combination”, and I guess I’ve always had a belief in only certain types of alchemy. Sure, I can turn a skein of yarn into a shawl, a collection of plants into an herb garden, or a series of disconnected words into a story. That’s all so easy. But when it comes to my physical body, I have never felt I held any real power to fix what is broken. Lacking the belief in alchemy–thinking of it as a type of magic out of my reach–I give up, always, before I start.

But it turns out that Jinesh is the best mentor I could have had, because he does not give me an escape hatch—ever. He makes me face the monsters. But he does it with compassion and intelligence and guidance. He lets me have my say and listens but also says “let’s try.” And when I’m sitting there with tears welling up, from across the room, he notices, and he says, “Susan, you’re thinking about it. Don’t think about it. Just breathe.”

I don’t know how he does it, how he can see me so clearly and know how to help. But he’s the one, the right mentor, the one who I get to learn from, and hopefully he learns something from working with a patient like me, too.

Back in the beginning of the whole process, he was teaching another patient to do the monster walk, and when he showed her how, he put his hands up and made a monster noise. It was pretty funny. Then he told her well, you don’t have to do that part. But I keep thinking about it. It’s another sign, I think. It’s the same damn movement that you see in Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, the curled hands raised up, the scary face, the growl. The same body language I pointed out on the slide when I stood in front of that audience telling them how to face their own monsters—a skill that many of us don’t learn in childhood, that perpetuates and grows even more fierce when we are adults.

The other day, he told me that his goal for me was for me to be able to do a lunge. I was in shock. Me? With my problems? A lunge? But he seemed confident that I could get there.

No one ever expressed that level of confidence my physical body. Not the gym teacher who threatened me with public ridicule, not the countless boys who never chose me to be on their team, not my first doctor at 15 who just took me out of gym class, not my ex-husband who told me repeatedly to ignore everything and give up, give in.

I have wanted to say to him, I wish you could see me at work, in my “other” life outside of physical therapy, I am freaking Beyonce-fierce.

But given his confidence in me even when I lack it in myself, maybe he knows that about me already.

And if—no, WHEN—it comes time to do the monster walk, I’m going to join him in Sendak’s posture, growling “rawrrrrr” no matter who is watching.


Writer’s Note: I wrote this essay a year ago and never posted it. Soon after I wrote it, I found out that I had loose cartilage in my knee and had surgery to correct it. I gave up PT because I thought that surgery solved everything. Now it is a year later–to the day–I have re-injured the same knee–and I was sitting here contemplating which therapist to go to later today because I felt like I needed to “do something different this time” and found this essay on my computer. Needless to say my own damn words are haunting me right now. Sometimes we not only refuse to take others’ good advice, but neglect to take our own. As I looked at the date I originally wrote this essay, I KNEW it was going to be one year from today. If that’s not the universe shouting at you to pay attention to a pattern you’ve not broken–a lesson you’ve not learned–I don’t know what is.

PS. That tattoo artist who did the hamsa/Ganesh tattoo? Reader, I hired him 🙂 He did my first full color piece, a Minoan papyrus fresco, last month.


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