Friday, May 04, 2007

Update on Surgery, dreaming of David Krumholtz, and St. John of the Cross--All in One Post!

Well, I was planning to continue my eye candy theme, since I realized I had left out a few deserving individuals, but blogger did not cooperate yesterday with images and I'm not in the mood to tangle with it again. So straight text it is for now.

For those of you who have followed my surgical adventure, I am almost ready to go back to work. Actually, I'm not. I'd rather not ever go back to work but Dear Husband insists this is necessary. I'm starting with half days next Wednesday.

On Tuesday the plastic surgeon removed my last two surgical drains. Yahoo. Now I can actually wear clothes. She also injected the first dose of saline. You may wonder how an expander works. Or not. Doesn't matter cause I'm going to tell you anyway. The surgeon placed this empty sack with a metal disk under some tissue in my right chest (or maybe it's muscle--sure feels like muscle). The metal disk is there so the surgeon can use a magnet to find where to inject the saline. Every few weeks I go back to be inflated a bit more. At some point some decisions will have to be made about when to put in the implant and what to do to make the other breast match. More surgery. Sooo Hollywood.

Right now, I look like hell. There are crosshatches across my right chest, which has a slight bulge to it. I've decided to call it Frankentit. I also have a very long scar along my abdomen, since the surgeon did attempt the tram flap. My midriff is numb as a result. I have to do exercises with my right arm, walking it up the wall, because the muscles along that side of my chest are very angry with me and would like to go on strike.

Now, this brings me to a dream I had about David Krumholtz (see previous post). Actually, this doesn't bring me to any such thing but I can't think of an elegant segue. This was a very pleasant dream. You can interpret "pleasant," I imagine. But oddly, when I awoke it wasn't with a fuzzy warm afterglow but a sit straight up in bed "What the hell was that about" feeling. I don't usually remember dreams. When I do they don't seem important. But this one I wrote down because it puzzled me. I came up with these two approaches: 1) the dream simply means I'm not getting enough action 2) the dream is about being the bride of Christ.

Number 1 is true of course, given the surgery. Even when you feel like hell for an extended period there still part of your erotic nature egging you on "Get a move on, girl, things are getting boooring."

But number 2. Now don't laugh at such a high falutin' interpretation of what seems to be the most straightforward of dreams. And really, doesn't it make a certain amount of sense that a nice Jewish boy would stand in for Christ? I'm not divulging the details, since they have meaning only to me (unless you really want me explicate the Indian print skirt with the mirrors that I'm wearing in the dream--and believe me, I can), but the themes were defense, risk, surrender. I've been thinking about surrender a lot. What exactly does it mean to surrender yourself to Christ? People talk about this so glibly. "I surrender myself to Christ." How? What does that look like? How does that play out? What does that feel like? Do you just start acting as if you know what it means? You do some good things that Christ did and take it from there? Pray and keep going?

Defense. I am a well-defended person. You probably would not guess that from just speaking with me. I'm very open and friendly. I can make you laugh. I love conversation. I can be remarkably frank. I'll tell you my secrets, even. At least some of them. But I will keep them if I have to. I even keep secrets from my therapists. Would I tell my current therapist about this dream, even if I find it significant? Doubtful. When I was in college, I began to cycle through the campus mental health care system. During summer I was pretty happy, still a bit shy but also a bit of a party girl. Then the pendulum swung the other way. I went into yet another intake session and answered the usual boring questions, answering them in ways I knew would get me into actual counseling. The therapist was about to dismiss me when she noticed something. I was wearing long sleeves, and she caught a glimpse of the recent gashes on my arm, something I had quite deliberately not mentioned. I didn't think it was any of her business. I'm not sure I've ever told the complete truth to any therapist. In general, I know what to say to keep things moving along the way they need to go--yes, I still need the antidepressants and the mood stabilizer, thanks so much, and yes they are making me feel ever so much better. I'm taking these steps to accomplish x, and I've found that by doing a, b has become so much easier. I deflect. I can generally charm.

My current therapist once suggested hypnotizing me and I could feel myself start to freeze up. I don't hypnotize. It's been tried. I constantly monitor. My brain starts to analyze frantically: the soothing voice, the fact that I'm supposed to be relaxing, that sound from the air conditioning vent, the fact that nothing is happening, what is that scent? lavender? Nothing is happening. I'm still right here. My mind is still right here. Is there anything in there I should be afraid of? I don't know. Probably not. I don't think there are buried childhood traumas or anything like that. I just don't want anyone penetrating my mind.

Risk. Given my defensiveness, you would think that risk would play a relatively small role in my life. Avoidance at all cost. But there's that pendulum, when it starts to swing the other way--I jump. Sometimes it's benign--I spend all summer rallying for an antinuclear group. I join the college choir (well, the ones who could actually sing probably did not find that benign). I move to New York and write poetry. I fly courier to England get a student work visa and stay there for three months. Then there are the darker impulses--quite a few drugs, recklessness of various kinds.

Surrender. When I was about to graduate college, I saw an exhibit by Bill Viola at MOMA in New York City. One of the installations was called St. John of the Cross, someone I knew nothing about. The installation was a small room with a desk, a pitcher, and a video monitor with a still image of beautiful mountains. The room was tiny; it was supposed to be the size of his prison cell. It was lit from inside. The small room was in a large, dark gallery, filled with the sound of wind blowing, and the image of mountains projected on one entire wall, a jerky image, hard to watch. When you were close to the small hut, you could hear a voice speaking poetry quietly in Spanish. When I could, I searched out a book of his poetry in translation.

There was this from Living Flame of Love:

O living flame of love
that tenderly wounds my soul
in its deepest center! Since
now you are not oppressive,
now consummate! if it be your will:
tear through the veil of this sweet encounter!

and this from Dark Night of the Soul:

7. When the breeze blew from the turret,
as I parted his hair,
it wounded my neck
with its gentle hand,
suspending all my senses.

8. I abandoned and forgot myself,
laying my face on my Beloved;
all things ceased; I went out from myself,
leaving my cares
forgotten among the lilies.

He's having sex with God, I thought. How'd he get away with writing this anyway? Oh, yeah, the "soul" is in "union"--it just sounds like sex, if you're profane. Better minds than mine have written about the erotic content of mystical writings, and the bride and bridegroom imagery, the Song of Songs and so on. No doubt reading it all would make my head hurt.

In my dream, I was a virgin, and he told me that if I spoke three words, I would be his betrothed, and that I should not speak them until I was sure.


  1. Wow, Alice...I've been going through some of your've been through a lot! You've also got some really interesting thoughts and questions on sprirituality

    I'll be back!

  2. Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting. I'm contemplating using the catechism (Luther's Small one), but will probably start with "What do you know?" and maybe take a look at the resurrection.

  3. Sex with God? Heck yeah! That was a theme in some Medieval theological writings. In fact that is what I will be working on in my thesis... At least partially. Read St. bernard of Clairvaux, and Anglea of Foligno for more such writings.

  4. mamas: thanks for dropping by. Hope you solve the discipling materials issue.

    carlos: and people think the medieval times were dull. Even more sexual options: men, women, and God! And satan, too, I guess, for the less discriminating. Those sound like heavy writers. Can you just underline the good bits and send them to me?

  5. LOL nope. The fun is in the reading. I mean if I gave you the good bits it would be like telling you the out come of a mystery novel after you read the first chapter. It would be like saying they lived happily ever after after the opening, once upon a time.

    They are not such hard readers. They are very easy. They are not trying to be academic but trying discribe lovingly their vision of God.... More like reading the juicey parts of someone's dairy.

  6. Now that was quite a post, bad Alice. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I too think a lot about the idea of surrender. And speaking of St. John of the Cross, I was planning an evening of contemplative prayer at my church...and intro of sorts. And one of the team members suggested putting on a CD of a man singing those lyrics. I was trying to get past the homo-erotic association. But couldn't. It was actually quite beautiful, but um, a little distracting for the audience! I want to experience God like that!

  7. BA,

    I used to feel sorry for straight men because I didn't think they could 'fall in love' with Jesus the same way that women or gay men can. I still think that the Catholics are so into Mary because it gives them a way to cope with the need to fall in love with God.

    The mystics are FULL of erotic images of their relationship with God. Heck, if you read my journal, you might think I was talking about a man I am in love with. Part of it is that the kind of surrender that God requires is most akin to the letting go that happens in a love affair. And part of it might be that we just don't have any language to describe the intensity except the language of erotic love. It's all we can come up with to speak of that level of love, vulnerability, surrender.

    This is a wonderful post.

    And continued prayers for your healing.

    As an aside, my aunt had similar surgery last spring and was here for a visit a week ago. I got to see her boobs. No frankentit any more. Beautifully matched. And much to her delight, perky. She is thrilled with her cleavage, LOL.

  8. Oh, and PS:

    I had a big crush on Ethan from Survivor Africa. (A nice Jewish boy from Boston.) I just kept thinking that this was probably what Jesus looked like....


  9. Some authors to look at in the preternatural mystery novels:

    Kim Harrison, Charlaine Harris, Tanya Huff (whose novels are now basis for Lifetime Channel show Blood Ties), Laurell K. Hamilton (the first 10 Anita Blake books were awesome, then they fizzled out), and Jim Butcher (whose Dresden Files series is now a TV show on Sci-Fi).

  10. Thanks for stopping by everyone. That's probably going to be it for self-revealing out-there posts for a while. Back to boring mundane posts while I fall asleep over the keyboard.

  11. I'd rather not think of sex when I think of God. Not because I think it's wrong, or anything. But I don't like sex very much. Try at all. But interesting and beautiful post nonetheless. (It's never too late for compliments, right?)