ADJECTIVE: POWDERY, pulverulent, granular, mealy, floury, farinaceous, branny, furfuraceous, flocculent, dusty, sandy, sabulous, psammous; detrital, arenaceous, arenose, arenarious, gritty; efflorescent, impalpable; lentiginous, lepidote, sabuline; sporaceous, sporous.
"Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small;
Though with patience He stands waiting, with exactness grinds He all."
I’m assuming you all take most of what I write with a grain of salt. For example, when I write about my professional life it is almost always tongue in cheek. You can safely assume that I don’t listen to people whine for three years and you can also safely assume that, in general, I don’t think of the pain that people express as "whining." I know they are a lot like me in terms of suffering the human condition. I don’t make demands on the people I see; rather I try to help them figure out why they repeat patterns, why they are stuck and perhaps offer them a different way to frame things. I encourage them to be good consumers and even though they are coming under duress I suggest they take our work together for a test drive to see if it feels like a good fit. I refer them for further evaluation if it seems relevant. I offer a sliding fee scale and commit 25% of my work load to pro bono work which often includes home visits to young single moms on welfare who have no other access to therapy or mental health support. I love my work and do it well and respectfully and with both intelligence and common sense. (Okay, so I lack a certain humility.) So if it seems to you I’m being silly or flip, follow your instincts. If it seems I’m being sincere, consider that I probably am. You figure it out.
Chapter Two: You Don’t Need A Professional to Get Rid of the Gremlins in the Closet
I finished graduate school early and looked very young to boot. I wasn’t married and I didn’t have children. Understandably, my initial credibility wasn’t sky high when I first met someone referred to me for psychotherapy. I know I would have been skeptical if the tables were turned and rightly so.
So, after I had been in practice for about six months a pediatrician referred a mother and her four year old daughter to me because the child was refusing to go to bed at night because she was afraid of the "gremlins" under her bed and in the closet. The child had been seen by another therapist who had worked with her for six months in play therapy but without results. I tentatively (I was still tentative about everything) asked the mother what approach she had taken with Sarah at bedtime thus far. She said that they had a snack, a story, a cuddle and then she would tuck Sarah in and give her a kiss. Then the mom would get on her hands and knees and look under the bed and say in a stern voice," Gremlins! Get out from under Sarah’s bed!" and she would look in the closet and say, "Gremlins! Get out of Sarah’s closet!"
I was still a little slow on the uptake but I thought about this a long minute or two and then asked her why was she doing that? You all are smarter than I was back then so you know the moral to this story.
Since that time, decades ago, when I asked the mother if she thought there were gremlins under the bed and in the closet I’ve used that lesson in an awful lot of psychotherapy. The bottom line is, short of you being psychotic, you do not need a psychotherapist to exorcise demons that don’t exist.
Moving right along (I like that expression this week) the One with Her Finger up Her Nose is making ready to leave. We were sitting on the floor of her bedroom and packing up more of her childhood, sort of dividing things into stuff she wants to take, stuff she wants to save for her future and stuff that can just be dumped to Kiwanis. She’s taking her Leica microscope she insisted she needed when she was 12 and has put to good use ever since. This was a used professional scope a physician friend helped us obtain and it has an oil immersion lens. She and I took an adult ed class together last year called "Stalking the Wild Microscopic" or some such thing and we learned how to really use a microscope and looked at a million different things. Feathers. Bodily fluids. I really got into algae- these guys are like nature’s kaleidoscopes. She’s taking her blanket I knit her but packing away her "gramma baby quilt" for a child of her own. All the scuba gear is going including her wet suit which I always think makes her look incredibly beautiful. It is black with blue and gold racing stripes on it so she looks sort of like a tropical fish.
Her favorite books from very early childhood are being packed away: On the Day You Were Born, Patchwork Cat, Where the Wild Things Are, Noisy Nora and Good Dog, Carl. We found her Dr. Seuss book, All About Me. At six years of age she filled out every single space, including how many buttons were on all her clothes (367), how many windows in her house (56), how many steps from her door to the store (1291) and the color of her eyes. She wrote "grellow" and then colored them using green, yellow, brown and gold crayons. All precisely correct.
She’s pitching every Backstreet Boys CD she had, most of her clothes and Candy Land (yes!) but keeping her many chess, soccer, lacrosse, basketball and Academic Games trophies.(Let me brag a moment: This alien child took- you ready?- 1st place in the nation in Linquistics, the Academic Game that focuses on word structure and grammer). She found a beer bottle with mold in it in the back of her closet and nonchalantly handed it to me, saying, "this goes in the recycle bin." We found a picture of her when she was two sitting in the back of the neighbor’s bedroom closet with a whole litter of week old kittens in her lap and another picture of her, same age, standing on top of the park bench eating and holding a bag of stale popcorn as high as possible while about 60 ducks peck at the tips of her shoes. She has a look that says, "let them find their own popcorn."
We’re laughing a lot this week and then she’ll scoot out to shoot pool with friends or go running and I go fling myself on my bed and sob. The poor cat has been covered with snot for all of August.
Why am I packing up her room you ask? Why not just leave it be so when she comes home it’s all in place? Because I’m getting out my floor loom after 26 years, turning it into a weaving space and changing the locks to the house.
*it’s 330am. FG is away and I just woke up to let the cat in and thought: someone is going to think you’re changing the locks so T.D. can’t come home again. Alternate ending: Since she has waited a year to start and is going straight into an apartment she wants her familiar bookshelf and dresser with her. I will use the extra space to put up my floor loom again after 26 years. There will, of course, always be room for T.D. and, maybe someday, even more family in our home. You figure it out.*
What’s that word-pulverulence- got to do with anything? Not much. A grain of salt. How I feel in the greater scheme of things. How much it matters what anyone thinks of what I think right now, given my mood. Algae. Oh! And I thought a lot of the words used to define it were pretty cool, too.