Why I’m Running The Peachtree

Why I Am Running The Peachtree 2017
By Metty Pellicer

I have been trying to get into this race for the last 17 years. I even took a membership at the Atlanta Track Club, in order to get a heads up on the registration. After being rejected every time I applied, I gave up. I found substitutes. In October 2002, I participated in the final Avon 3-Day Walk for Breast Cancer, before the Susan G. Komen Foundation took it over. With my friends, I threw a Mad Hatter’s themed 60th birthday party, and held an auction that raised $8413, to support my 60-mile walk fundraising effort. For my 70th birthday, I walked the Camino Santiago de Compostela, an 800-km ancient pilgrimage route from St Jean Pied-de-Port in France to Santiago, in Galicia, Spain. In between those two walks in ten years, two life-changing events happened. My husband died in 2004 and I retired from 35 years of medical practice in 2008. I was feeling somewhat unmoored. Looking for direction, I thought achieving spirituality in my life would settle me. I knew I could not participate in organized religion. I was born in the Philippines and baptized Catholic, but I had not observed the faith since adolescence. It had no relevance for me. I went on a Buddhist retreat at the Zen Monastery in Tassajara. It was very exhilarating intellectually, but I could not embrace it fully. Surely, it was possible to achieve spirituality without subscribing to any religion? I decided to answer my question by walking the Camino alone, to achieve the solitude needed for meditation. I was not sure if I achieved my goal of spirituality, but I emerged from the Camino with a clear head and renewed vigor to pursue interests that I did not have time to enjoy before. And perhaps its benefit still reverberates.

Three years after the Camino I developed Parkinson’s disease. It started with barely perceptible tremors on the left hand, then I noticed I have lost agility, in dancing the salsa and boogie, and then the cha-cha. My voice changed and I could not reach the high notes of Memories, from Cats, and Don’t Cry For Me Argentina, from Evita. I started to drop things and stumbled on platform heels. I lost my golf swing and driving distance, and my speed and endurance in tennis. My friends noticed I was not as lively, and wondered if I was depressed. A year later, the diagnosis became incontrovertible. I had the hallmarks of the disease; tremors, postural rigidity, bradykinesia, incoordination. The other signs, of masked facies and monotone speech, altered my characteristic expressiveness. But it had not altered my internal sense of myself, and I did not feel any different from how I was when healthy. My self-diagnosis was confirmed last year and I started taking medication which had improved my neuromuscular functioning immensely.

I was thinking of marking my 75th birthday. I am an inexhaustible traveler. I had been to all seven continents, had crossed seven seas, and at last count, I visited about 100 countries, and five times as many cities. I had been to most states except, NB, OR, VT, NH, KS. I was thinking of buying a 45-day AMTRAK Pass and crisscross the country by rail, to celebrate. When I saw a FB post by Megan, an elite runner and daughter of a friend, about early registration for the Peachtree, I clicked on the link immediately to register. I was shocked that I got in. I still couldn’t believe it, but now I have the perfect event to mark my 75th! And Parkinson’s, be damned!
BTW, I may still do the rail tour. That would be a piece of cake after the Peachtree.

Best wishes,
Metty
“If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him!”-Zen

Meet Book Author Metty Pellicer


Http://ithinkiammiman.blogspot.com
Sent from my iPad

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I Dreamt of Monarchs

I Dreamt of Monarchs
By Metty Pellicer

I was with a friend. I think it was Patti. Weird. She was a social worker who was an independent contractor at CORE, when I was in private practice and had three offices and was at the peak of earnings from my profession. I think it was her, she was petite and slender, and had small facial features, she wore her hair in a pixie. She rewrote the lyrics to My Girl for my 50th birthday party and the guests sang it to me, before I cut my cake, Here are the lines, sung to the tune of My Girl,

She’s got Prozac, on a cloudy day
She’s got Zoloft, to chase the blues away
I guess you say
What can make us feel this way?
Metty, Metty, Metty—Talking ’bout Metty

She’s got so much money from winning Mah Jong
She’s got a busy schedule with people all day long
I guess you say
What can make us feel this way?
Metty, Metty, Metty—Talking ’bout Metty

She don’t need a Rolls Royce, she’s got a Jag
She’ll drive top down in the rain, but it’s no drag
I guess you say
What can make us feel this way?
Metty, Metty, Metty—Talking ’bout Metty

Metty’s fifty, but you’ll never know
Reformed Superwoman, who stays on the go
I guess you say
What can make us feel this way?
Metty, Metty, Metty—Talking ’bout Metty

Anyway, I wondered if that was the connection, why I dreamt of Patti too, because she wrote Metty and she was at my milestone birthday, and the monarchs connection? Because they have a remarkable journey of survival every season. With millions flying thousands of miles across North America from Canada in the fall, to hibernate in Mexico in the winter. Around this time of the year between late February and March, they start flying out of the fir forests of Michoacán to go north for the summer. During their long flight, there would be several generations of monarchs born to replace those that died. Monarchs live only a few days, except a special group of them called the Methuselah generation. Somehow they live through this journey and survive until the butterflies reach their wintering habitat in Mexico. There they give life to the next generation of golden winged monarchs so their species survive for eternity.

So, Patti and I were in this building, felt like it was a castle, and I entered a room which was like a huge closet, like I was looking for something then a lone monarch alighted on my finger and then I heard a magnified sound of a million fluttering wings behind me, and when I turned around I saw a black swarm of butterflies coming into the room and there was no opening for them to pass through. I rushed to open a window. I opened to a beautiful sunny, cloudless, blue sky day and looked below. I was high up in the castle and the people below were all excited to see the monarchs settle onto every plant, over the circular flower beds, over the bushes, the trees, blanketing them with fluttering black and gold colors. I pointed to Patti towards the butterflies still in the air,

“Look, see how the sun is caught on their wings, and look how it reflects the light like stars twinkling!”

But Patti was not interested. I looked down again, and the people were beating the plants and bushes to make the butterflies active, so they can see how beautiful they were when they were in the air, and I shouted from above,

“No, stop, don’t do that! Let them drink and feed on the nectar, and rest. They have a long journey ahead.”

But they did not hear me. Before I turned away from the window, I saw a young man I knew, but could not identify. But I sensed he was the groundskeeper. He stepped in the middle of a circular flower bed with a tall fir in the center. He just stepped towards the fir and run his hands squeezing all the moisture it held in its tiny needles, and shook the droplets on the butterflies, I thought he was helping to hydrate them.

Then I saw myself with Patti in this enormous empty room and we were walking towards what felt like a box car, like a toy, and we climbed over and drove it around the room. Simultaneously, I was telling Patti, my experience of seeing the monarchs in their winter place in Rosario, last month, February 17, and what an adventure it was just getting there, and how I was early for their spring migration, which was happening now. She cut my story by telling her own, which had nothing to do with butterflies. I was annoyed and woke up with the dream still fresh in my memory to write about it. It was Thursday, March 16, 8:37 am.

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Carnaval in Mazatlan

Carnival in Mazatlan
By Metty Pellicer

I might as well check out this carnaval, while I am nearby in Los Mochis, I tell myself after finding out about it while researching my trip to the Barrancas del Cobre. It is said to be the biggest in Mexico, and the third largest in the world, celebrated on the week before Lent, from Wednesday until Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras. I’ve been to New Orleans, and the huge spectacle of the Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro, so I have to check this out.

Unlike Rio which has become an extravaganza for the tourists and super expensive, beyond the affordability of ordinary cariocas, this one in Mazatlan feels authentic and beguiling in its homespun flavor. It remains a festival for the people and by the people, and it is a town party held on the thirteen-mile malecon, with the grand first parade on Sunday and the second on Mardi Gras, starting at the historic center and disbanding at the Zona Dorada. The floats are elaborate, and takes five hours to travel along the malecon, which is lined with revelers all the way. Also,the malecon is decorated by giant papier-mâché figures, of clowns, dragons, and monsters. Free live bands play every night from several stages at the Olas Altas and everyone dances with anybody on the malecon. The party is free but there is a check point where men are frisked for weapons and women’s bags inspected. Police is visible and the crowd is happy but well behaved. Children are up late shooting glow toys in the air. Whole families including abuelas and babies are in attendance, and eating street food dispensed from push trolleys. Meanwhile young men and women come to the party bringing their supply of Tecate beer kept cold in styrofoam containers. A few are costumed but I suspect they are tourists who have a preconceived notion of how to dress for a carnaval. Those in the know, the natives, come as they are but they do party, dancing and singing with the bands and having a terrific time. None of the near naked exhibitionist as in Rio or New Orleans.

There are several queens selected competitively and I went to the crowning of the Queen of the Carnaval, at the stadium. The sports venue is transformed into a theater where a spectacular crowning pageant is presented. It is over the top, with elaborate costumes, dance numbers with aerial and contortionist choreography, and props with the carnival theme of dragones and alebrijes, the latter the Oaxacan fantasy monsters. The queen enters in a magnificent chariot and later borne high above the stage where she sits on her throne with the runner ups in attendance at her side like ladies in waiting. There are fireworks and drum riffs announcing her entrance, so poundingly dramatic and impressive. The crowning honors is done by a high government official, the city mayor?, I forget. There is an intermission after the crowning, then Gloria Trevi, the Mexican Madonna, opens her concert in the second half of the show, with a rousing Gloria and everyone gets on its feet dancing and singing. She has an ignominious past for real, did time in jail, but is forgiven by her fans and remains popular. Madonna’s real life is boring by comparison. Great show, very energetic, like a Beyoncé or Tina Turner. Great audience. The young women beauty queens are very unassuming and super nice. I barge in on their photo shoot and they gladly pose with me for my souvenir picture.

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The Canyon Dwellers

The Canyon Dwellers
By Metty Pellicer

My friends from Oaxaca had told me that the barrancas del cobre, the copper canyons of Mexico was something amazing and to ride its train El Chepe, was an incredible adventure. Since I was getting on in years for roughing it while traveling to uncharted territories I decided to google for prepared tours. Camp David seems fun to take so I signed up. Communicating with David was easy by email and so I arrived at his camp after a flight from Mexico City to Los Mochis and a forty-five minute taxi ride from the airport to Ahome. I was the only guest, so I received personal attention from David himself, who had been in the area since he was a young man hunting ducks and doves with his father. He told me he has a dove field and had just seen off a group of hunters who shot over 2000 birds and there were still more the next day. These birds breed prolifically and by no means are an endangered species. I was totally fascinated by this information for I have hosted these mourning doves for five mating seasons in my balcony at Atlantic Station in Atlanta. A pair had commandeered the basket of my carved wood Ifugao woman, standing guard of my balcony, for its nest and emancipated at least eight pairs of fledglings every six-eight weeks, every spring for five years. The mother and father mourning doves occupied their nest and took turns sitting on a pair of eggs for two weeks. The mama bird, I knew because she was bigger, sat during the day and fed at night. They’d reverse roles at dawn and dusk until little dovelings cracked open the shell. They emerged wet and bony and hungry for food. The papa and mama bird again took turns by changing shifts at dawn and dusk, to feed their babies, regurgitated food that they gathered while on their shift. I awoke to their melancholic calls at dawn and would surreptitiously observe their tender exchange rituals. At dusk I awaited the return of papa bird to take his place in the nest. But I had to clean after their mess after each hatching so I could regain use of my balcony, and I had gotten tired of it. I was on a mission to drive them away. They were difficult to get rid of. No matter what I did, cleared their nest, threw every twig away, covered the basket, I even bought a fierce-looking owl with glowing eyes, to deter them, on the advice of Facebook friends, but no dice. They just built another nest on an adjoining wall planter under the vigilant eye of the plastic owl who was supposed to scare them off, $25 worth of useless deterrent that I had acquired with some difficulty from a Pike nursery outside of the perimeter, the only store carrying it for miles around. So much for advice you get from social media. But one spring they did not come, and I felt sad. I wondered if they were shot in these hunting tours that Dave told me about. Anyway, they’re gone now, and I wished I never drove them away.

But back to the canyons. They are contiguous with the Grand Canyon, but bigger and deeper, a series of six canyons formed by six great rivers coming down from the Occidental Sierra and converging into the Rio Fuerte and emptying into the Baja California gulf. One spur connects with the Rio Grand in Texas.

After a hearty dinner of smoked falling-off-the-bone pork ribs barbecue, and catching up with emails, I had an early bed time to get ready before dawn to board the El Chepe.

http://www.mexonline.com/chihuahua/coppercanyon-train.htm

And the train delivered on a beautiful experience of the canyons. From my window seat, I saw the dawn come to light in oranges, peaches and gold, then it yielded a countryside of abundance planted to corn, tomatoes, beans, chilies, of cows and goats grazing, then as the train approached the foothills a landscape of cactus and thorn bushes. After the first tunnel it entered canyon country and opened into the great river Rio Fuerte and forests of fir, pines and hollies. After eight hours I got off at Bahuichivo/Cerocahui, my first stop, and my driver/guide was there to meet me. The day was warm and sunny and with perfectly clear blue skies. There was snow on the mountain and wind the past two days, and knocked off utility lines. At my lodge, the Paraiso del Oso, where Yogi bear’s profile was etched on the mountainside, watching the valley below, there was no electricity, cellular reception or internet. I took advantage of daylight and my guide took me through the fir forest, still blanketed in snow, to the spectacular high point where the Urique canyon was in full splendor before my eyes. Below, in the valley, at the bottom of the canyon, was the village of Urique, home of the Tarahumaras, the indigenous canyon dwellers.

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/11/tarahumara-people/gorney-text

During Holy Week, its Semana Santa festival attracts visitors from all over, and you couldn’t get a seat on the train or room at the inn, unless you plan way ahead. I had the lodge and the view of the canyon to myself, on the week before Lent. At night I listened to Renee Fleming’s song to the moon and looked up to the pitch black sky, awashed with millions of twinkling stars, the brightest and clearest I had seen them ever. I had dinner by a globed glass oil lamp, accompanied by a wonderful vino tinto from the bodega of Hotel Mision, while Debussy played on my iPod. I went to bed warmed by a wood-fired stove and slept like I had no care in the world.

El Chepe was two hours behind schedule for the two-hour trip from Bahuichivo to Posada Barrancas. No big deal. It happens and everyone was in good mood and chatted, took pictures, or drank the scene, or bathed in the sunlight.

A big crowd got off at the Barrancas stop, and there was chaos for a moment while the group was sorted out to their respective buses and hotels. I was with a group from Mexico City, of three young women who were there for four days of trekking. We had a very late lunch at our lodging, the fabulous Hotel Mansion Tarahumara, where Maria was deluged with multiple check-ins simultaneously and sending off tour groups for the afternoon.

I opted to check in first at my casita #211. On the highest point of the property, at the rim of the copper canyon, it can be reached by a slow fifteen-minute winding walk uphill or by climbing more than 200 steps, where at over 2000 meters above sea level, I had to stop very often to catch my breath. But all that huffing and puffing was quickly forgotten. Before my eyes, was the copper canyon in all its magnificence. And to top it all I was there to catch the light spectacular of oranges, gold, yellows and faint lilac at dusk, bursting in the sky at the horizon. When the light dimmed, the sky sparkled with the twinkle of distant stars. With my left over half bottle of tinto, I drank to this overwhelming grandeur that only nature can deliver. Dinner with guitar music drew the curtain to this intoxicating day.

After a hearty buffet next morning, I joined my new friends for a tour of the canyons recreation park where they purchased brief thrills zip lining across the canyon, bungee jumping, and riding the gondola. There are many activities at the park to suit one’s thrill capacity. Then off to Divisadero we went to indulge in shopping at the open market where the Tarahumaras offer their beautiful woven baskets and colorful textiles, within view of Urique canyons. I found marijuana laced liniments to cure muscle aches and relax aching joints. All good things must end. I had to return on the El Chepe in the afternoon for Los Mochis to catch my flight back home the next day. But not before enjoying the color display at dusk, of red orange, gold and deep purple across the cactus and thorn valley of the Sinaloa desert. A memorable image to last until reality hits again.

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An Adventure Fit For Monarchs

An Adventure Fit For Monarchs
By Metty Pellicer

I forgot how I became fascinated by these fluttering creatures, the monarch butterflies, enough that it was in my bucket list of travel destinations. Perhaps it was from a casual remark of a friend who planted butterfly attracting bushes in her garden, to lure them from their flight, on their way south in the fall, to hibernate in Mexico in the winter. Their life cycle is an improbable saga of birth death, rebirth and immortality.

Monarch Butterflies in Mexico

Likewise my efforts to visit them was a mini-saga too, as far as adventure travel goes.

To visit the monarchs from Mexico City, I got up at dawn, took a taxi from my hotel to the bus station at Observatorio/Poniente, boarded a two-hour direct inter-city bus to Zitacuaro, then transferred to a local bus to Ocampo, forty-five minutes. Another transfer, to a minivan, for a winding hour drive on mountainous terrain to Rosario. The minivan dropped me off by the tour buses. The driver told me I would have to walk the rest of the way as public vehicles were not allowed up there. I started walking with a local elderly woman, who was bringing her handicrafts to sell to the tourists by the entrance gate. She said it would be a twenty-five minute walk uphill. After five minutes I was out of breath. She saw I was having difficulty so she flagged down a passing car, and we hitch hiked the rest of the way. The car owner was a local man who had his young children in the backseat. He refused any payment but allowed his children to accept the loose change I offered. At the park entrance ticket booth, it would be another forty-five minute climb to the mountain, over 3,000 meters above sea level. I decided to rent a horse, a fortuitous judgment, as I was huffing and puffing even riding it, over narrow, dusty, deep-rutted trails on the precipice, where a misstep might mean falling over the cliff. Did I tell you I have never been on a horse, ever? It was hunkering low with the horse, and white-knuckles on the bridle all the way. I kept on telling my guide, “Despacio por favor.” Finally, at the sanctuary, I dismounted, to walk the trails to where the butterflies were hibernating among the firs. It was cool, balmy, and the sun light filtered through the trees warming the butterflies to activity whenever the cloud cover lifted, and they fluttered fleetingly overhead, thousands of them, but we were roped off at a distance and could not take a close photo, but you could see them in spectacular numbers, painting the air with glittering golden twinkles, then suddenly they’re not there, and you realize a cloud cover hid the sun. And it was that way, and as the day got warmer, more awakened from their sleep and hunted for nectar. The forest was exuberant with small tubular flowers growing in clusters, pink, purples, oranges, reds. They grow, where the sun penetrates through the firs to light the forest floor, where you’ll also find tiny rivulets flowing for the butterflies to drink from. It is a magical place.

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The Alernative Psychoanalysis of Donald J. Trump

THE ALTERNATIVE PSYCHOANALYSIS OF DONALD J. TRUMP
by Metty Pellicer

This is a spoof and in no way should be taken as a clinical document. It is an alternative clinical record, based on public information gleaned from the news and Wikipedia. The subject did not have any input into this analysis, his inner thoughts and feelings are pure fiction. This is to entertain, and for me, a cathartic from all the craziness.

Day 2

Good morning! How are you today Mr. Trump? Please be seated.

I am feeling great! Have you heard the news. Everybody is paying attention now. I’ve been signing executive orders and they could not keep up with me. I’ll always be one step ahead of the game. My people will love me. With the stroke of a pen, I have fulfilled my promise to the American people. I have dismantled Obamacare, opened up the Keystone XL pipeline, and those Indians better stop their chanting because the Dakota pipeline will be built. As well the border wall will be built and Mexico will pay for it!

As we were discussing yesterday, it seems important to follow rules or order in things, like accomplishment followed by applause or approval, this time, promises made, promises kept.

Isn’t that basic teaching you learn as a child, Doctor?

I’m hearing that you manage your actions by observing rules defined by authority, that was taught to you as a child.

Everybody learns these things as a child from their parents. I learned everything from my father, I am who I am because of my father.

Hmm, would you be more comfortable if you used the chaise? You can rest and close your eyes as we talk.

Hah, I heard about that psychoanalysis couch, are you now going to hypnotize me? I dare you, you can’t!

The couch is for your comfort, an option you can choose, and hypnosis is a collaborative effort, it is not useful unless one voluntarily participated.

Well, I’m comfortable enough sitting.

And I can offer water, just ask.

OK, I’m fine, thanks.

Alright, now that little housekeeping is out of the way, let’s get back to work. I understood that your father was the authority in your childhood who taught you the rules that you apply to manage your actions today.

Yeah, everybody has parents and learns from them first.

It seems though that some children incorporate their parent’s teachings better than others. You said earlier that you learned everything from your father.

That’s true. I am who I am because of my father. I followed in his footsteps. My brother Freddy, he was eight years older than me, so sad, he went another way, and my father tried to help him, I tried to help him, but,….

Hmm, go on.

He was a great guy, a handsome person. He was the life of the party. He was a fantastic guy, but he got stuck on alcohol,

(long pause)

Yes, go on.

We were close as thieves. I looked up to him. Everybody loved him. He did what he wanted and had fun. He made friends easily, my father did not like some of the friends he hung out with. He even made friends with the renters who were scumbags and would not pay their rents unless you threaten them with eviction. He would not collect from them, and I ended up doing it or else both of us would be in trouble with dad. He’d go off flying airplanes with his buddies, and did daredevil tricks that could have killed him. He also liked deep sea fishing, which could have caught him in a storm. He was a free spirit. When he went college I missed him, his drinking became a problem then and that’s when dad and I became close. He gave up on Freddy when he refused to learn the business and instead became a pilot, and he did not like the airline stewardess he married. When dad died he disinherited Freddy’s children. I didn’t understand why Freddy would not want to be in business with the family, he was a fantastic guy, dad would have given him everything, in the end he died of alcoholism. I was 35 when he died, he was 43, so young, so sad. He could not take the pressure I guess, he was weak, didn’t have a killer instinct to succeed. He was a loser. But one thing he told me that made an impact, he told me not to drink, “Never, never drink!” And that’s why I never touched the stuff, or cigarettes, or drugs. They are nasty, disgusting.

Hmm, it’s a complicated relationship it seems and which you determined was pivotal in making a life changing decision. Our time is up. We will continue tomorrow. Goodbye.

Summary:

A critical session where psychodynamics of his personality development are exposed but divorced from feeling content and from awareness of how they inform his present behavior. His affect is detached, as if he is talking about someone else. He has an as if quality in his demeanor, like someone who is acting or performing on a stage, therefore his focus is not on content but on the effect of his performance on the audience. He is completely without insight, and well defended by externalizations and reaction formations. He has a thick wall of defenses to be penetrated but also crucial in his functioning. Attack the wall prematurely and he will retreat with building thicker and more rigid defenses, and he will exaggerate all behavior defense mechanisms, or attacked at a weak spot, the wall could crack and he could decompensate, into alcoholism or addiction, depression, delusional psychosis with bizarre paranoia and grandiosity. His psychoanalysis will need to proceed cautiously to avoid triggering his flight response.

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THE ALTERNATIVE PSYCHOANALYSIS OF DONALD J. TRUMP

THE ALTERNATIVE PSYCHOANALYSIS OF DONALD J. TRUMP
by Metty Pellicer
This is a spoof and in no way should be taken as a clinical document. It is an alternative clinical record, based on public information gleaned from the news and Wikipedia. The subject did not have any input into this analysis, his inner thoughts and feelings are pure fiction. This is to entertain, and for me, a cathartic from all the craziness.

Day 1

Good morning, I’m Dr. Vargas. Please sit down. I understand you are here not of your own accord but at the request of your family, your wife and children.

You bet, I am a very busy man, you are aware I am the President of the United States.

Of course Mr. Trump.

I don’t need this, seeing a shrink is for losers, for cry babies, I am the most powerful man in the universe.

It is unacceptable to be viewed a loser?

Losers are weak, sad creatures, they crumble at the least pressure. They don’t try hard enough, give up easily, they don’t amount to anything.

You seem to feel very strongly about them.

They make me mad Doctor, weak people make me mad, so mad, I want to shake them and shout at them, “stand up and fight!”

You want them to be strong, like you?

I have to be strong, and fight my way through, the world is full of opportunists who will trap you when you’re not watching. You must not show any weakness or fear, you must always show your strength or else they will pounce on you.

It is a very dangerous world for you, and you seem all alone to fight it.

Yeah, everyone is out there to get me Doctor. Did you read about all the protests out there? What do all these women do all day? Did they vote? I heard the crowd was over 500,000 at Washington DC and close to 3M nationwide, so why did Hillary lose if all these women were marching for her? Because they’re all losers. And the media, so sad, they are reduced to spreading fake news in order to get me, telling that my inauguration crowd was smaller than Obama’s, when in fact I saw all those people spilling over the National Mall, as far as the eye can see. The attendance at my inauguration is the biggest ever, period.

It seems that you are feeling you are being denied due recognition for your accomplishment?

You bet, I won and I should get my reward!

I’m hearing that it is important that there should be order or rules to govern these things, like winning should be followed by applause, approval, celebration, and it is difficult to reconcile what you are being told that the crowd was smaller and instead of applause there was protest. It is incongruous, it does not follow the rules, so there must be something wrong, since there’s nothing wrong with you, you clearly won, then it must be those who are not behaving in the expected fashion?

Yeah, something like that, and I’ve got to make it right.

Hmm, and you seem to feel compelled to make it right?

Well, something terrible will happen if I don’t make it right.

Hmm, that seems an awful responsibility. What if you can’t make it right?

I don’t know, I just thought of my brother Frank, I don’t know.

OK, hold that thought, our time is up. I’ll see you tomorrow, same time. Good bye.

Summary:

A 70-year-old white, male with a confident demeanor, spontaneous, with underlying anger and unrecognized fear, avoiding feelings of helplessness, dependency, with strongman behavior, and pursuit of accomplishment, with rigid concepts of rewards and punishment, approval seeking behavior to confirm self worth and value of accomplishment, hinting at guilt with failure to set something right, with perhaps tragic consequences.

Noted absence of curiosity about another, and his ease in talking about himself.
Explore relationship with brother Frank.

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TAKE NO PRISONERS

TAKE NO PRISONERS

When I interviewed for admission to the College of Medicine in the University of the Philippines in 1962, the Secretary of the College, who was my interviewer, asked me,

“Why are you wasting a slot in the College when it can be filled by a young man, unlike you?You will just get married and then stay home and not practice.”

Before I could come up with an answer, he commented further,

“Why don’t you work in a bank or become a stewardess, there you will meet rising and successful young men and you could get married and stay home to raise your family.”

Back then, I was nineteen and I didn’t know what hit me. I felt a cold shiver, my mind went blank, my heart leapt into my throat, I couldn’t breathe. I was confused. Was that a compliment? In those days women who worked as bank tellers or airline stewardesses, were beautiful and alluring mixed Spanish mestizas, who were sought after in marriage by accomplished or rich and famous young men. Or, was I denied admission? And my life passed before my eyes in a few seconds as over and done with. I was overcome with fear but managed a trite response,

“Oh no sir, I assure you, I’m committed to practice medicine and serve humanity!”

I got in. Years later, I learned that women with higher GPA’s were denied admission in favor of men with lower achievements. Out of approximately 800 applicants to the College, only a little over 100 were accepted, and only a third of women got in. And when finally I could understand that what happened to me was gender discrimination, I became livid. That was a defining moment that influenced my attitude about how I was treated as an individual. I developed a keen alertness to how gender discrimination was practiced in subtle ways which made it difficult to confront.

At the hospital men and women staff consistently made comments about my appearance, in admiring ways,

“My how pretty you look,”
“That color looks good on you.”
“What lovely shoes (or any item on my person), where do you shop?”

And the older staff members would refer to me as Sugar, Sweetie, Honey or Dear, and would chat me up and take my time with stories of their grandchildren or special recipes.

These were on the surface compliments or endearing attitudes but unprofessional. My male colleagues were always addressed as Doctor, and not routinely given attention for their appearance. Their time was respected, not intruded upon by chats about recipes or shopping. Women especially were the ones guilty of trivializing my professional status in this manner. It seemed men and women alike saw me as a woman first before they saw me as a doctor. Patients would refer to me as Miss or Mrs as I examined them as their doctor, and in clinic settings where I supervised male nurse practitioners, it was assumed I was the nurse. When patients take up too much time asking questions about my treatment recommendations, I realized it was not for their information but to test my knowledge and competence. A few patients were beyond any assumptions, and had asked for male doctors directly.

I was one of twelve doctors, and the only woman, chosen by the hospital for a 4-day Outward-bound morale building and corporate bonding program, held in the wilderness of North Carolina’s Grandfather Mountain. The activities were familiar adventures in my Philippine childhood, where I swung from mango trees, climbed coconut trees, swam in the ocean, dove for treasures in sunken Japanese ships, and drew lines in the sand to settle juvenile disputes. So falling with a safety harness from forty feet and walking a beam at twenty feet, mountain hiking and rowing white water rapids, were familiar to me.

This exercise did not fulfill the corporate morale building aimed by the hospital for me, but it opened my eyes to how I viewed gender attitudes.

I was a victim of my own gender prejudice.

On the first day, the hospital medical director assumed leadership by organizing camp jobs and assignments. I was conscious about not being relegated to setting up camp, cooking, and cleaning duties. Later on I realized that I took two of the most difficult tasks in the program, which none of the men vied for.
Hiking to our destination in the mountain with only a compass (no smart phones with GPS in the early 80’s) to guide us in the wilderness, and
Captain our raft down the class ll-lll white water rapids of the Nantahala river on our last day.

When the group returned, the effusiveness and awe I received bewildered and bothered me. Everyone, men and women, from management to orderlies, were just so tickled and proud of me that I made it. I guess I was expected to fail, being a woman, whereas it was assumed the men would make it. Interestingly, one man withdrew after day one, without comment, as participation was voluntary. I did not feel free to withdraw, I did not feel free to decline the responsibilities assigned to me, I did not feel free to ask for privacy and endured sleeping in a common tent with the men and doing my grooming and hygiene tasks before them, I did not feel free to chose the easy task considered woman’s work, the cleaning, cooking, and serving, I did not feel free to ask for adjustment of the backpack weight I carried as I weighed half of the men but carried the same burden as they did.

I volunteered for tasks I truly did not want but to avoid being assigned “women’s work”. I executed them well but I felt under pressure and was fearful of failing. I had been prejudiced about gender roles and I made choices with that paradigm informing my decisions. When I was a girl and free of this gender paradigm, I chose activities because I liked them, or it was fun, or because I wanted to challenge my ability. I enjoyed the full experience with exhilaration and freedom of adventure. There was no pressure because I chose freely and there was no role expectation as to how I should perform. If I were climbing a coconut tree and fell, I didn’t judge myself failing. From each fall, I learned how to climb a coconut tree consistently. A fall was an opportunity to learn. Choosing based on gender paradigm is stressful. If one chose the expected role activity it limits one’s possibilities, if one chose the opposite, it is limiting as well. Men and women perpetuate gender prejudice, many are unaware of it.

As I said, when I realized that I was a traumatized victim of gender prejudice in that admission interview, I was livid. I wanted to turn around my position of victim to empowered survivor. I meticulously planned a confrontation at the homecoming celebration of the College of Medicine on our class ’67 Silver Jubilee. I envisioned a contrite acknowledgement of the wrong I experienced and a personal apology. Alas, thunder was stolen from me when I learned he was dead. I decided I will make a cause of this and wrote about it in our alumni journal. The response I got was totally unexpected. The then president of our Alumni Society chided me for bringing up the subject and maligning the College and the dead Professor’s reputation and demanded my apology. Several women alumni came forward that they experienced the same thing, but that was in the past, why was I bringing it up? They reminded me that those men were products of their time and their behavior was in keeping with the cultural norms. It was therefore to be accepted, they implied, when women were treated this way, besides, you got in, and you are a doctor, what are you complaining about?

I was confused, bothered and bewildered. I felt guilty. Was I wrong? Then again, I became livid. What about me? Does experiencing a near death experience, when your entire life flashes in milliseconds before your eyes and you despair about a hopeless future, because someone who holds power over you decides what you should become because you are woman, count for something? For dashing my dream was like a death sentence to me then. Does that count for some understanding and acknowledgment too, some apology?

I am no longer livid about that incident. I grew up since of course, and learned to recognize the many faces of gender discrimination. I have channeled my passion to exposing its many guises so no man or woman would remain a prisoner of its paradigm.

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Why Go To Cuba?

image image image image image image image image image image image image imageWhy Go to Cuba?
Havana, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Sancti Spiritu, Santa Clara, Pinar del Rio
January 29- February 5, 2012

Havana in low light, especially at dawn, beguiles like a beautiful apparition, with her silhouette framed by a pink and orange sky and her face reflected in the shimmer of the breaking surf of the Malecon. But alas, the sun rises, and she’s exposed in broad daylight. Her bones are broken, her sinews anemic, her skin is peeling and scarred with deep cuts and discolored blemishes, and her body is draped in the plebeian fashion of the hoi polloi. She tries hard to please. Some parts of her have been restored and there you can imagine that she was once elegant and beautiful. She moved with the infectious rhythms of the salsa and bolero. She was desired by the mighty and the powerful, and the unscrupulous. Yes, she had an ignominious past, and it still informs her behavior today.

On my second day I was tapping my feet to a rumba and this young man asked me to dance. Soon he was hustling me, said he’s 26 years old and how old am I? So I told him I’m 36 (I was 70 years old) and he nodded his approval, and intensified his lobbying for my company. These jineteros and jineteras are everywhere. They offer to take you in their taxi, to the best restaurants, to the shows, to your hotel bed and to have sex with you. But there’s no prostitution in Cuba, that’s the official line. If you hit it off, they’ll ask you to buy them presents, tell you their grandmother or child is sick and ask you for money, and then if you have lots of money, they’ll marry you.

Life in Cuba, as they say, es no facil. The minimum wage is around $20/month, and though they get food ration coupons, it’s not enough and they have to buy other necessities from the CUC (convertible Cuban peso) stores. I CUC is $0.87. The local peso is worthless (1 Peso=$0. 24) and Cubans only use it to pay their water and electric bills. The black market thrives but can only serve you if you have CUC currency. Goods are smuggled from Ecuador, Haiti, the Dominican Republic. There are spies to report these illegal activities, but life is hard for everyone, so this is not enforced rigorously, but of course with some favors exchanged. In the past 3 months, there were monumental changes. Whereas Cubans cannot buy and sell property in the past, can only swap them, now they can with limitations, like they can only own 2 houses, one in the city and the other in the coast or the mountain. They can also now borrow money from the bank. How Cubans with $20 monthly wages can do this is mind boggling, but there’s money coming from somewhere. Obama had eased money remittances to relatives in Cuba and also opened unlimited travel for US relatives. As limited family entrepreneurship is now allowed, mostly to serve the tourist industry, Paladars (restaurants) and Casa Particulares ( B & B) are opening up. At first they were extremely regulated, because they should not compete with government run establishments. They were limited in the number of tables, limited menu, and can only employ family members. But things are changing at dizzying speed for Cubans though at a snail’s pace from our perspective.

Tourism is now a major industry since the Soviet collapse in the early 90’s, and Cuba was thrown into economic hardship. The revolution must keep it’s paternalistic promise and was forced to adopt capitalistic practices to feed the people. Tips are expected everywhere, you quickly get the impression that the economy runs on tips. You can’t use the toilets without dropping your spare change in the collection plate, or you won’t have toilet paper and soap, and you must straddle it, because they are without seats or lids. As much as excellent universal health care is touted, water is unsafe unless boiled, so you must buy bottled water. Food safety can be suspect, as 6 of us went down with GI upsets, including me, and one had required IV infusion. One soon becomes wary of people’s friendliness, as a tip is expected for every small helpful gesture. I was chatting with a young mother admiring her 2 small children, and she wasted no time in asking me for my hotel toiletries after I check out. I was asked to pony up 5 CUC (!) to get my photo in a vintage car. Disembarking from the steam train in the touristy former sugar plantation of Iznaca, we were overwhelmed by swarms of women importuning us for soaps, lotions, and other gifts. Tourists who don’t understand poverty are guilty of shaping this behavior, they make beggars of poor people, and rob them of their dignity.

As much as I fell in love with the dashing rebel Che Guevarra, and Fidel in his own way has charm, their revolution had gone on for too long, and though it might be hard for Cuba to have an Arab spring, as they are very limited in their cyber connectedness, it won’t be long before an upheaval takes place. The revolution ironically, made education a priority benefit for the people, and now these educated young men and women are looking to test their wings in the big world, and Cuba is too small and narrow now. There are underground bloggers taking root and spreading their message in cyberspace.They are finding a way, despite crackdowns and being roughed up by government goons. What do you do with doctors and lawyers, multi-linguists, historians and artists and engineers forced to work in tourism as guides, bartenders, waiters, as it is the sector where one can earn serious money through tips? Soon they will get ideas and will want to test them. Just you wait.

It’s dusk and the the gentle breeze is soothing, the musicians (for tips) are playing a bolero. I’ll light up my Cohiba and sip and savor my 15-year old Santiago in the gardens of my legendary hotel overlooking the crashing surf and the Malecon, now filling up with Cubans strolling after a day of labor in perhaps a dead end occupation. Would I return? Nah!

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On My Way To Seoul via Doha

On My Way to Seoul via Doha
June 26-28, 2016

I was confused with dates, which I attributed solely to my lackadaisical approach to this trip. The first was my Atlanta departure which caused me to miss a very fun unbirthday party. I thought I was leaving on the 27th but it was the 26th, the date of the unbirthday event with my YaYa girlfriends. The confusion was my mistaking the arrival date in Doha which was the 27th, since the 14-hour flight crossed the international date line. Then I didn’t pay attention to my lay-over in Doha, which was ten hours! Which meant I’d be arriving on the 28th instead of the 27th in Seoul which caused me to forfeit my prepaid hotel room, since it was booked because my niece who I was staying with would not be arriving from Beijing until evening of 27th, which if I paid attention to my itinerary I needed not book in the first place. I am definitely losing my game here. Perhaps my adventure traveling days are over and I should now confine myself to familiar vacation holidays in Europe or river cruises.

And Qatar airlines was a disappointment, after a hyped up expectation as the best airline in the Middle East. First, it was not a value deal after all, now that I’ve paid attention to my booking. I noticed that my ticket price was not $800 but $1400 after taxes and fees, which was closer to the Delta price I declined to book, which would have given me elite platinum service and better itinerary, which would have avoided all the arrival date miscalculation. Second the flight leg to Doha on the month of Ramadan carried Muslim families with young children who screamed most of the 14-hr flight and the mothers couldn’t soothe them. Though the flight was half- empty check -in was delayed because of all the strollers and single traveling mothers who needed help with their babies and paraphernalia. The passengers were covered women who were inhibited in socializing and thankfully I sat across the aisle with a friendly Iranian woman who was returning from a visit with her son who was in college at Clemson. The mid-eastern men were in  traditional abaya and who put up their sandaled feet on chairs and who did not use underarm deodorants. The food was mediocre and since I ordered low lactose diet, was very bland. The check in desk personnel however, were very professional and efficient, and sounded Africans in their elegant English accent, the airline attendants were Korean and young and smiling and sociable.

So to while away the ten hours, I thought I’d book a city tour to check out Doha, but the line was too long at the tour desk and I was exhausted and hungry so I gave up. I’m now lounging at Doha Hamad International airport in the family lounge stretched on reclining chairs, and enjoying fast free wifi. The airport is huge with enormous designer mall space, high end restaurants and lounges and fast food court . Few were eating because it was Ramadan and fasting was observed until sundown. I felt guilty eating in public. Too bad, unlike Amsterdam’s Schiphol there was no casino and no alcohol which made waiting seem longer. But it was interesting to watch and identify the destinations of various passengers from their hijabs or abayas. There were black burqa covered women flying to Riyadh and their white hassocked men topped with red-checked head gear, the brown Egyptian abaya, the sari-clad women from India, and their tunic-costumed men over loose pants, the colorful flowered long missionary dresses and covered head of petite Indonesian or Malaysian women, the figure-hugging knitted tunic over leggings on jeweled platform heels of a fashionista with sultry makeup and wisps of golden hair peeking out of her scarfed head, defying and observing the hijab simultaneously, the chador or coat tunic over pants, the more or less generic look with scarf covered head and neck. There were few European looking women connecting their flights in this airport. Thankfully, the 10-hour vigil finally ended and boarding was announced, but I was next in line to a tall Korean man who reeked of stale garlic and kimchee, that I had to move away in order to breathe.

So I think I’ve aired my dirty laundry list of complaints and shaken off the bad karma and Lara, my Seoul host had texted me and we’re ready for fun adventure. No worries, Seoul is waiting for me tomorrow!

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