Thursday, December 22, 2016

Ramblings from the couch

There I sat on the living room sofa, staring into space. I looked at the Christmas greenery on the mantle. It was slightly asymmetrical—why hadn’t I noticed that before?—but I didn’t get up to fix it. I was glued to the sofa for an hour, or 45 minutes, whichever came first. I had set the kitchen timer just to make sure I didn’t underestimate my time spent sitting. Waiting.

You see, my doctor had prescribed for me a very low dose of some kind of prescription medication for my slightly underactive thyroid. The instructions from the pharmacy said to wait one hour after taking the medication before eating. The instructions enclosed with the medication said to wait 45 minutes. These things are important. Why can’t they agree on what could be a matter of life or death?

I dutifully took the medication and sat on the couch. The instructions did not say to take the medication and unload the dishwasher or do a load of laundry or check my email. They simply said WAIT. I used to work for a foundation associated with the pharmaceutical industry, and specifically worked on a project involving medication noncompliance in the elderly population. I knew the dangers of noncompliance. I took the medication, sat on the couch, and waited while I thought about what I was going to eat when my sentence was complete.

The phone rang. Luckily, I had it on the coffee table in front of me so I didn’t have to get up off the sofa. Caller ID read SACRAMENTO, CA. I know no one in Sacramento so I didn’t answer. And I wasn’t sure if taking a call would make me noncompliant. Rarely do I get a call from someone I know—usually it says UNAVAILABLE or OXACHACHACHOBEE, FL. I realized that I could find things to be grateful for while sitting on the sofa, my stomach screaming for food. I’m grateful, incredibly grateful, for Caller ID. Whoever invented it should be given a Nobel Peace Prize. (I just hope it wasn’t Verizon. Verizon has been a thorn in my side for lo these many years.) In the winter I’m grateful for central heat and in the summer I regularly thank the Lord for Mr. Carrier, the inventor of central air conditioning.
Phone communication in general is a miracle. When I grew up (you know I walked to school in the snow with no shoes) we had a party line in our house. We shared the line with all our neighbors. You could pick up the phone and hear Mrs. Fowler complaining to Mrs. Wiggins about how Mr. Fowler came home smelling of liquor again. Everyone knew everyone else’s business. Now Russian cyber-spies are doing that for us. And soon people will have communication devices permanently implanted in their ears and they won’t ever have to actually dial a phone. Thought waves will connect one person’s ear device with another person’s ear device.

Soon enough the kitchen buzzer sounded and I got up off the sofa. I forgot what I was going to do so I went back and sat on the sofa a little longer.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The beetle

This bizarre image keeps coming back to me. I see a large beetle attached to my left leg. It’s a lobster-like creature, fiercely biting and holding on to me. I am unable to escape its grip. Its body is shiny black and it has iridescent red eyes, its gaze emptiness. It’s the beetle seen under a microscope, with pincers and a powerful jaw, hairy barbed protuberances all over its body. Except it’s not microscopic—it’s over three feet long. Sometimes it’s just attached to my leg but at times it creeps up the left side of my chest, grabs my heart, and wraps its claws around my neck.

know it is unforgiveness.
I pray to the Lord to remove it from me because I am powerless, unable to do it on my own. Surely God, who can raise people from the dead, can remove a beetle from my leg, can remove the bitterness from my heart. Jesus pulls it off gently, stops it when it tries to regain its grasp, and puts it into the sea. He continues to walk beside me, on my left side, to protect me.

It has been there so long I wonder what I’ll do without it. Who will I be? How will I act when I can walk freely? There’s this unsettling sense that I will miss it, miss the pain, the excuse for not living in freedom.