MUSINGLY By Karen D'Or

Writing Portfolio, Travel Stories & Other Diversions

Tag: change

acupuncture

Pins and Needles

acupunctureI cannot recall a new year starting off this bleak. Outside the weather is often sunny, and unseasonably warm, but inside my emotional climate is wretchedly stormy and fogged in — even as February has come and gone, marred by hurtful words and sudden distancing.

I have been quietly frantic for weeks, unable to get beyond sleep deprivation and anguish. Some kind of indistinct, pristine, and static image of my marriage (now starting year number 18) has dissipated into the storm. I feel lost, and my overactive brain is congested and confused.

In the midst of great personal pain, I discover acupuncture, and although it has not yet cured my sleeplessness, dry eyes and parched skin, the regular treatments are moving something around.

The discovery of a local community acupuncture clinic is helping me to get out of my head, somehow anchoring my saddened self back down into solid muscles. I can run to this clinic to feel again the warm flow of lifeblood, and an appreciation of my body’s solidity and strength.

The tiny needles are pumping my blood, churning some chi, and sometimes leaving invisible pinprick bruises that I later examine in the mirror.

Although the acupuncture is helping me to heal, I see these tiny dots as vestiges of my love’s harsh and scornful glances— looks that have lately punctured my spirit and turned me into a needy, dejected shell of my true self. At home, we are both pushing the limits of closeness and distance and I am surfing some very frightening waves of anger and love, fearing the worst in the middle of the night.

Seeking relief, I find our local community acupuncture clinic and make an appointment for the next day.

The clinic sits in a flat-roofed commercial building near the shopping mall adjacent to one of those dungeon-dragony retail outfits whose windows blocked by stacks of dusty boxes covered with rather bloodthirsty and jarring Gothic images.

Once I enter the acupuncture clinic, it appears the antithesis of its Goth neighbor — a place people come to relax and heal. It is noticeably warm inside, the music is soft and new-agey and—behind a bamboo screen— ten large plush reclining chairs face each other in a circle. According to the map in the bathroom, there are hundreds of community acupuncture clinics across the country. It is a modest clean spot with a sliding scale payment system; it seems to work because instead of high-rent, fancy private offices, the practice takes place in the common room.

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SF Giants Game

Giant Women

SF Giants Game

Summer Day at ATT Park

This summer, the World Champion San Francisco Giants struggle to make contact — the mercurial, tiny white balls fly just inches beyond the reach of their shiny bats and handsome gloves. The players’ awkward near-misses along with straining strike-outs are so hard to watch; each painful blunder seems made in slow motion. How difficult it must be to flounder as a team after the miraculous wins of just last fall? And for Bay Area baseball fans, who are perhaps over-educated and have paid too much for tickets, the 2013 season is disheartening.

So, as the players take their All-Star break, I offer tribute to a few of the Giant women in my life: women who love the game, adore these ball stars, and are making the world a better place.

Mimi

I often go to games with my dear stepdaughter, Mimi, a loyal and knowledgeable Giants fan who often teases me when I miss a play, forget a name or follow the wrong Hector Sanchez on Twitter. Mimi teaches critical living skills to students with moderate-to-severe disabilities at a very large high school, on the east side of the Bay. Some of her students are autistic, one has cerebral palsy, and most suffer from cognitive impairment. Mimi tells me that none of them will graduate with a traditional high school diploma. So each school day she teaches them the things I take for granted: cooking, counting change or elementary grade reading comprehension.

Linda

I met Linda early in 2008 and she helped inspire me to volunteer for Obama’s campaign. I went from California to Texas, where I campaigned for four days with Linda and her crew of young San Franciscans. With her warm wit, great organizing skills, and unfailing energy, she motivated me to knock on doors all around Corpus Christi. Over the years I campaigned with many others, but it was never quite as magical as those early days with Linda as our volunteer leader. Later, she became a policy analyst for a statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition, and now she is Policy Director for Young Invincibles, a new national non-profit that ensures 18- to 34 year-olds perspectives are heard wherever decisions about their collective futures are being made. Linda and I do not see each other much, but we recently shared a winning game  — and campaign memories ­— sitting high up in a boisterous ballpark, the vast green field below us on a warm June day.

Robyn

My daughter, Robyn, relocated to New Orleans two years ago. In Riverbend’s dive-y bars, she now watches Giants games surrounded by Louisiana-folk who have no major league team, and often cheer for the Atlanta Braves. Who can stand the Braves’ horrible, faux-chanting sound, a singsong irritant that bounces around my living room until I want to throw something at the TV? I digress. Robyn has found her home in the Big Easy, with an energetic group of caring new friends, she has created life that includes half-marathons with Mimosa rest-stops, walks to the Sno-Ball shop, and rides into the Quarter on the green streetcar line. With her resilience and creativity, she teaches in the Orleans Parish schools, guiding young  students to read, write and love education.

As Robyn struggled with career changes earlier this year, I wrote her a support poem. Now I offer it to all those who may be struggling —and particularly to the San Francisco Giants:

Giants Prayer

Pray for the calm savvy of Bruce Bochy.

Pray for the steady skillfulness of Matt Cain.

Pray for the youthful vigor of Buster Posey.

Pray for the exuberant joy of Pablo Sandoval.

Pray for the humble accuracy of Marco Scutaro.

Pray for the high altitude of Brandon Belt.

Pray for the sexy showmanship of Angel Pagan.

Pray for the clear vision of Gregor Blanco.

Pray for the hustle and goofiness of Hunter Pence.

Pray for the pure magician-ship of Sergio Romo.

Pray that as you “play ball” with your inner team you find the grit and guts to come back after defeat. Together, you’re giant.

Karen D’Or, July 2013 

 

 

sazerac cocktail

Transformation NOLA-style

Renowned writers have long explored the decadence and idiosyncrasy of the Big Easy. I won’t try to compete with decades of great prose and poetry, but will offer my list of personal transformations since falling in love with the city New Orleans. Here are ten ways that the Crescent City changed the life of this native northern Californian:

 

1.  Appreciation of Jazz and its history. I may not understand it, but I like Jazz — especially if brass and young people are involved. 

 

2. Now prominent in my living room bar is a bottle of artisan-distilled Rye whiskey. My rye love started with the Sazerac Cocktail. If you have not experienced a Sazerac, get thee to New Orleans!

 

sazerac cocktail

sazerac cocktail

 

3. I am  now staunchly spoiled when it comes to wait-staff hospitality, and am exceedingly impatient with what I now call “California-style indifference” in any restaurant.

 

4. Consider myself a foodie. Thanks to an extroverted couple from San Diego— who were also lost waiting for a streetcar at Riverwalk, we discovered a sampling of New Orleans favorites— like Casamento’s and August— on our first visit. Now I am a shameless food follower and have even been called a great ambassador by local chowhounds.

 

5. Addicted to accumulating airline and hotel miles and points. Since my darling daughter now lives in New Orleans, I have a great excuse to travel. Deep discounts and free nights make it much more fun. 

 

6. Cocktails.  Thanks to a hint from the locals,  I don’t even look at a food menu until I’ve ordered a cocktail!

 

7. Sundresses. I think they are a must in the summer, but the sundress becomes more appealing for a middle-aged women when a charming young man, walking an Uptown neighborhood street, says: “That dress is perfect for today!”

 

8. Da Track. The thought of spending Thanksgiving day at the horse races would have upset my life balance before NOLA. Da Track is a New Orleans tradition:  a spicy mix of old timers and young hipsters coming together in their best hats and finery on Thanksgiving afternoon. Looks like I will be there for 2013, too.

 

9. Hurricane alerts. My daughter may be composed during storm warnings, but her worried mother is on Twitter, Hurricane watch, Weather Channel and the NOAA website at any inkling of Gulf storms.

 

10.  Joie de vivre. I enjoy the pleasures in life more passionately knowing that in our vast nation there is a place as magical and unique as the City of New Orleans.

 

To my new friends in New Orleans, to my dear daughter who may never leave, and to all the friends I hope to meet on my journeys, I share some BB King:

 

“I don’t care if you’re young or old

Get together, let the good times roll.”

  

Karen D’Or

July 2013

 

Six-Year-Old-Karen

Gray Matter

“People will treat you differently,” said my hairstylist, Robert.

I’m face-up in a tortuous salon chair, my neck vulnerable like I’m lying upside down in a guillotine. Robert is a hair color artist and a tolerant man, so I’m shocked and feeling defensive. I’ve decided to stop dying my hair.

It was a visceral decision after watching Emmylou Harris sing on a warm July night. Wondering if I’m the only one with this gut reaction, I size up the trendy brewery’s crowd. Truly, I can’t take my eyes off of Emmylou for long— she’s a 66-year-old alt-country goddess who brings me to tears with her otherworldly, twang-tinged voice. There are plenty of gray hairs in the crowd, though none match hers.

Emmylou Harris

Emmylou Harris

Her hair is long, full, lightning-colored, and fitting for a stunning music icon. She’s dressed in a short black tunic, maroon cowgirl boots, strumming a very large acoustic guitar. My hair won’t ever look like Emmylou’s, but the vision is too tempting — right then and there, I decide no more color, no more highlights, nor more lowlights. Done.

I realize the source is somewhat suspect, but a 2008 Clairol® study says that 75 percent of American women dye their hair, and 88 percent of them feel their hair impacts their confidence. Of course it impacts confidence. We’ve got How to Not Look Old author Charla Krupp —a young, blond style expert — saying things like, ‘Go gray at your own risk…Going gray is step one of letting yourself go.” She goes on, in a Today Style interview[1], “Women cannot afford to go gray in this economy.”

I’ve been coloring my hair for nearly three decades.  Since entering the business world in my twenties, I’ve shopped stylists trying to find that perfect blond color: the match for my six-year-old shiny, streaky, out-in-the-sun all day hair.

Six-Year-Old-Karen

Six-Year-Old-Karen

I’ve done box color, bargain salons, and upscale salons, with a spectrum of results. For the three years before the Emmylou epiphany, Robert got it just right. He is a master. And so it was understandable that Robert doubted I would stick with my pledge to unblond.  He was not the only one. My best friend thought I would look like a raccoon, or maybe it was a skunk. My husband was supportive, but when he and I were courting even he colored his hair! My daughter saw me, after six months, and she called the look “ombre.”

I haven’t colored for almost a year. There have been some awkward, too-short haircuts, as Robert impatiently axed the old color. I struggle with the texture, trying to tame wirier, un-dyed hair. The transition went by quickly: now the salon women offer compliments when I walk in, and tell me that gray is the newest color for Hollywood starlets. Robert, once skeptical, is now proud.

Of course, I miss Blond Karen. Her hair was often very big. She was a sexy cocktail with a smart shot back, although sometimes she hid her true talents behind that hair.  Now, I have these silver-grey-blond-mercury colored strands. Thinner, harder to handle, I love my true color.

If people are treating me differently, I cannot tell. In fact, the only person whose behavior has changed radically is Robert. He doesn’t even spend half the time he used to with me.

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