A Dim View of Acupuncture

My physician had recommended a practitioner to me.  I was a bit surprised when I called his office and an Asian woman yelled, YEAH into the phone.  I explained that Dr. Powell had referred me to Dr. Wu and I wanted to make an appointment. Another YEAH.  Startled but pressing on, I made the appointment for the next day.

I must have driven past the seedy strip mall three times before I realized the address I had been given had to be there.  I drove past a bong shop and a tattoo parlor before I stopped in front of the shop that bore the address.  CHINESE HERBS AND GIFTS.  In minute letters at the bottom was the word “acupuncture.”  

Though disheartened, I entered the shop.  YEAH?  There she was again.

Around me were shelves and shelves and cases and piles and heaps of the aforementioned herbs and gifts.

After filling out a form that basically asked Why Are You Here, (oh, and paying $15 cash) I was told the doctor was ready.  I was ushered back behind a screen into an area that called to mind the words, BACK ALLEY ABORTION, but I will be kinder and call it Dingy

The doctor was about 110, nearly deaf, and did not seem to recognize the name of the physician who had referred me. Seated at a desk with an empty chair beside it, he gestured me to sit. He asked me to stick out my tongue and listened to the pulses in both wrists for a very long time.

Then he led me to a cubicle with a table, told me to take off my blouse, and lie face down. Then he shut the plastic curtain that I’m sure was used in someone’s bathroom earlier that day. I followed his suggestions, and he came back in, inserted some needles and covered me with a bath towel. A bath towel. I began to sense a decorating theme.

He came back 15 minutes later, took out the needles and said “come back tomorrow.” I almost said “no fucking way” out loud as I dressed, and fled to the relative safety of my car.

I would needle doctor Powell for years about this.


I Had A Friend

I met her in 1980. I knew her for 40 years. Yet she was a woman who pulled a cartload of unknowable behind her all her life. I don’t think even she understood it.

She died wrapped in mystery, too. And if I followed every clue, tracked every step, spent every moment for the rest of my life, I would never know the answer.

Did she trip? Was she pushed? Was it a tragic accident that swept her away? Was it malice? Either way, there were no clues in the Florida sand.

She had retired there because her lungs could not bear Midwest winters. Ironically, the could not breathe long in Florida, either.

The painful mystery of her death cannot remove all the times we laughed until neither of us could draw breath.

She vacationed with my family. We owned some rental property. I saved her cat during a blizzard. She dug me out of debt. We loaned her money when she came up short. We exchanged Christmas and birthday gifts, and secrets. Lots of secrets.

But not that last, huge secret. I talked to her on Tuesday. She died on Wednesday night.

She fell face forward and died. She may have been pushed by a person. She was definitely pushed by a circumstance that we who loved her can never piece together.

She drew her first breath in Florida. And her last. We all know life isn’t fair. But this was a cheat too great to bear

Luck of the draw

There must be billions of gods in the universe. Maybe a thousand per planet.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about this, and here’s my opinion.

I think we got a C+ god.

You know him. Never studied. Missed tests. Didn’t care. Half-assed it most of the time. A Cliffs Notes guy.

We, as a result, are not even his best work. We try, sometimes. We fail a lot. And, as a result, we have wars over dirt, over oil, over space.

We scrap like kids in a schoolyard. Pull wings off butterflies. Drown sacks of kittens. Push buttons. Hit in soft, already bruised places.

Most of all, we pay homage to the C+ god. And it shows.



I am ashamed to be white. It was nothing I earned. Nothing I chose.
Nothing I deserved.
But I am white, so I can freely breathe
Black people did not choose even to be here.
They were stolen from home and packed in ships so tight they could hardly breathe.
They were bought and sold like dogs, and their families torn apart so they could hardly breathe.
They were hung from trees and lamposts until they could not breathe.
They were held on the ground by the knees of white men until they could not breathe.
Their only sin was the amount of pigment in their skin.
Now I am finding it hard to breathe.

-Linda M. Langer, May 29, 2020

No Farm for you!

It was the butt end of the dustbowl, and my newly married parents decided to try farming. Actually it was my father who longed to farm.

My mother gave it a try because she was in love.

It was doomed at the starting line.

My mother was a town girl. Raising banty chickens, the onery little bastards of the barnyard, did not warm one cockle of my mother’s heart. They attacked her legs when she left the house to pump water.

Her sister Lucille visited often, and the two of them devised an unlikely plan of defense involving a broom. When they went outside for water, the banty roosters attacked. Lucille screamed, dropped the broom, abandoned my mother and fled to the protection of the house.

There was other livestock. Pigs were mentioned. Maybe a milk cow or two.

My mom became pregnant with me on the farm. She longed even more for town, where there were double cousins abounding. The farm, if not in the middle of nowhere, was within a stone’s throw.

It wasn’t all bitter herbs and banty chickens. Sometimes my parents listened to the radio while cuddling side by side on the couch. Dad,in later years, said this activity was “very rheumatic.”

One day my mother, heavily pregnant, fell while my dad was out working, She was still on the floor when my dad came back to the house. That must have been terrifying for them, and gave my mom one more reason to hate the farm.

When the war began, the great doomed farm adventure ended. But even into old age, my dad tended an enormous garden. His tomatoes were legendary. And every month, an issue of The Farm Journal was delivered to the house.

I am absolutely positive my mom never read a word of it

Pain…haha..I laugh in your face!

let’s talk muscle spasms.  The kind that bring you to your knees, make you cry out, and tease you by letting you have a second of peace, only to strike you in the back like the death of a thousand cuts.

That’s pretty much where I have been since late yesterday afternoon.

We were

always intended to be four-footed creatures.  But somewhere one of us , wanting to show off, handed his beer to a buddy , said “watch this” and stood up on two legs.

That was the start of it all. My pain scale of 10 muscle spasms.



Last night, with my wonderful husband’s help, I staggered into an urgent care office.  After two vicodin, a pain injection, a muscle relaxant a steroid shot,

And two Ambien, I was still in around a 4 pain level.  I went to sleep.

Frankly, when I woke up this morning, I was surprised.  Not out of pain, just surprised I was still alive.

The doctor said it could take up to five days to resolve.  Well, I’m resolved to hang around to be there when it does.

Mother Nature holds grudges.