Friday, August 27, 2010


The top ten ways I know I’m feeling worse again:

10. I only want to eat ice cream or pancakes with butter
(a problem since I don’t eat sugar or wheat, though my friend Sita makes the most amazing flourless pancakes)
9. Have trouble being alone
8. Am physically exhausted
7. Am not sleeping well
6. Nothing seems interesting
5. Nothing feels possible
4. I can’t find one thing to write about
3. I cry while walking the dog
2. I actively wonder what it is that other people live for...

And the number one way... (you know the drill...)

The dark hole feels easily within arm’s reach once again.

I had a window, a little one sure, but a window nonetheless. Enough of one that I can tell the difference between then and now. Where things looked a little brighter, the dark hole farther away. In the past few days, it’s clouded up again.

Tomorrow I up the dosage on my medication…

I was reading this morning about Mother Teresa’s long and harrowing dark night. How she lived nearly half a century—fifty years—in a state of deep and abiding spiritual pain. It began with her work in Calcutta and lasted, except for a five-week break in 1959, until her death. In letter after letter to her superiors and confidants, she wrote of feeling no sense of God whatsoever; of the “dryness,” “darkness,” “loneliness,” “torture,” how the experience “felt like hell,” and how she, “doubted the existence of heaven and even of God.” She wrote that her smile was "a mask,” a “cloak that covers everything.” Of the many, many letters she wrote over the years, forty remain, and it is her words that tell her story in the book, Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, compiled and edited by Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk.

I have so many responses. Sadness. Surprise. Compassion. Resonance. Curiosity. But more than anything, I am blown away by her ability to be so honest, her fearlessness in putting her experience so simply, so eloquently, so permanently down on paper. In other letters, she nearly begs for all the letters to be destroyed, and most of them were, but enough remain that the picture is fully painted. Kept by those who knew her best because they knew that this was an integral part of who she was, and how she should be fully known and remembered.

And in a strange way (and maybe this is their thinking) I am inspired; stirred and encouraged to move ever deeper into my own experience. To look, seek, quest, wander, let go, dive in. As long as I’m here, why not make the most of it...? I will become a spelunker, I will don hard hat and carry a halogen lamp, I will bring ropes and picks, and I will climb, crawl, repel, dig, explore my way through this cavern that I find myself in. I will investigate the entire cave system; the emotional branch, the psychological branch, the chemical, the spiritual. I will endeavor to leave the resistance and drama behind, and walk, fueled by curiosity and wonder and as much objectivity as humanly possible. When I can, I will report from the scene with more simplicity and less flair, and with her as inspiration, with as much simple, gut-level candor as I am able to muster.

Though she and I had differing opinions over major things, I have long admired and felt humbled by Mother Teresa’s work. And now, more than ever. Not just because she suffered, but because she told the truth about her suffering. Again and again and again. In copious letters that filled more than one huge trunk she poured out her dark night, her soul.

"I am told God lives in me -- and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul"

Substitute any word for God and it is my experience. I am told that love lives in me… I am told that life lives in me… I am told that compassion lives in me... I am told that all things live in me... and yet...

I have been in a few caves. The big, commercial ones. Here are a couple of things I know: Only in complete darkness can light truly be seen and known; and, in those deep, dark, caverns is some of the most mysterious beauty nature has to offer.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Simple, But Not Always Easy

Yesterday morning I worked on my blog. I updated pictures, changed things around, and rewrote the “about me” blurb. It went from an embarrassingly wordy and pretentious I am this, I am that to the simple truth of the moment: I have no idea who I am, why I’m here, where I’m going.

When I wrote the words, I remembered being asked by a spiritual teacher years ago who I would be without my history and stories, and without all the labels I’ve always attached to myself. Who are you, he said, without everything that you’ve identified as “you” throughout your life? Incredible question, I knew. Completely mind boggling. Who am I apart from woman, mother, wife (now ex), teacher, writer, double Gemini, some number I've yet to nail down on the enneagram, wanna be photographer? Aside from dad’s favorite, mom’s scapegoat, middle child, and on and on?

I told him I had no idea. To which he quietly nodded his head in affirmation.

Back then it was merely a mental exercise. But now, recalling his question, the incredible, radical thought hits me that maybe the actual experience of not knowing is not such a bad thing. Ditto for the lostness/nothingness that I wrote about a couple of days ago. In fact, what if what I’m experiencing could actually be seen to be, in some way, good or beneficial or even a step in the right direction? What if being lost is actually a boon, what if no longer knowing who I am or where I’m going is one of the greatest gifts one could ever receive? Wow. It blows my mind how quickly perspective can change; how space can appear around an idea or concept once conditioning is examined; and how once this happens, pain, grief, and fear evaporate.

Thinking about this brings a picture to mind: My current teacher, Isaac, comes to town. We sit in a beautiful old craftsman-style hall in the center of Berkeley. It is chilly; the glare of the winter sun slips through the old windows and hits haphazardly around the room; the scent of newly opened lilies punctuates the air; chairs creak, throats are cleared. He and I sit facing each other, the appreciation that has grown over the years flowing like a calm sea between us. I begin speaking. I pour out my heart. I weep. I am lost, there is nothing but nothingness on the horizon. I no longer have a clue who I am or why I’m here. It is so painful, it is hard to bear, and on and on until words are finally spent. I reach for a tissue, catch the tears sliding silently over my cheeks, wait. He sits ever so patiently. Never breaking eye contact he shifts in his chair. He reaches for his tea and slurps noisily. He looks at me with such acceptance it melts something inside me. And he says, as sincerely as he knows how, the sparkle in his eye as warm as the sun, congratulations.

I know the scene by heart because we've been there.

Only this time, as we all collapse in laughter, by some fate or luck or amazing hit of grace, the resistance has vanished and in its place grows an ever expanding spaciousness.

Can suffering really be, as sages over time have insisted, simply a matter of thought?

And if so, how can something so simple, be so confoundedly, so life-wreckingly difficult?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Alison's Slow Down Project

A friend of mine has been immersed in a year-long “slow down project.” Stirred by the yearning for a simpler life, inspired by the Jewish tradition of Shabbat, from sundown Friday evening to sundown Saturday evening, she “turns back the clock.” During that time, no phones, computers, televisions, radios, iPods, electricity (save for one light in one room for reading and writing). No shopping, errands, restaurants. And no using transportation other than foot or bike. She has been writing about the experience (by hand during the twenty-four hours, then transcribed later onto her computer) in her blog, at

I’ve been inspired by Alison’s project. A whole day without technology. Even half a day would do me good. Hey, a couple of hours for that matter. Seriously. I don't like what I've seen reflected as I've followed her journey. I’m painfully aware of the hours that I waste online; surfing the web, listening to sports talk radio, playing sudoku, and now—after years of resistance and better judgment—facebook. Hours that are not only gone forever, but that create a kind of malaise. And worse, that keep me from direct and intimate contact with myself. There’s an addictive quality to it that I don’t even want to think about. The more I’m on the computer, the more I’m on the computer; and then the more I’m on the computer. I know that our lives reflect what we focus on, surround ourselves with, take in…

What if, instead of waking up and reaching for the laptop, I meditated or sat quietly. Ten, maybe fifteen minutes. A way to ground, center, commune with myself. Or maybe listen to some soothing music, read something inspirational, journal. Attend to my spirit. Prepare for the day ahead.

Some days I wake with good intention, other days it is miles away. And even when the intention is there, there is rarely follow through. Which begs the question, why is it that even when we know what is best for us, we are so often unable to do it? It’s a serious question that deserves serious inquiry.

Alison’s Slow Down Project is coming to an end, ironically, on September 11. Because of the significance of the date, she has decided to end with a day of lovingkindness meditation, and is inviting her friends, family and colleagues to join her, either in person, or over the distance. I’m pretty sure that I can’t spend hours meditating, but I could turn off the computer for the day. And it’s not even a whole day. Ten o’clock to four-thirty.

Sounds doable. Even for me.

Thanks Alison for your project, your inspiration, your writing, and for putting my own less-than-optimum habits so squarely in my face. I know it has been a year of reflection, and a rich opportunity, not just for you, but for those of us who have been along for the ride.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Lost... and found?

So, Dr. Fink, the shrink who makes you think, (thank you, Bo Seuss :) is actually kind of sweet. Today was my second appointment, and maybe because I wasn’t seeing her through quite such a gloomy fog, I found things to appreciate. Her quiet, almost shy manner, the way she walks, a little humped over, around her office, the look on her face when she asked me how I was doing. Her brightly colored outfit, along with the sweet, worn, matching mary-jane flats.

I’ve been on meds for two weeks now. Long enough, she says, to begin to feel some results, not long enough for the full effect. Meds. Drugs. Anti-depressants. Pharmaceuticals. Whatever, the little purple pill I take once a day to help my brain chemistry recover from what I see in hindsight was a near-total meltdown caused by complete overwhelm. Intense heat, unexpected financial and other life setbacks, feeling suddenly trapped, away from everything familiar, one thing after another going wrong with my new home, all hitting a system that was on pretty shaky ground to begin with, that was still working hard at recovering from such big life changes. And I am feeling a little better. One or two rungs up the ladder. I don’t know if it’s the meds, or making some decisions that help me feel less trapped. I also don’t know if the why really matters.

Several times lately I’ve found myself trying to describe the awful lost feeling that has been with me so much of the time. It’s like stumbling around in complete darkness, I say. It’s like everything you thought you knew is suddenly gone. It’s like being confronted with a huge void, a deep canyon of nothingness; like being dropped in a foreign country, or hurled into space, and left with not one familiar thing, no stone to step on, absolutely no clue as to destination. It’s like losing your way, I add, feeling the frustration of trying to articulate an experience, a feeling, that there seems simply no language for.

Two weeks ago a new friend sent me something that she said had really helped her in her own disabling dark night several years before. I opened the attachment, read “Three Steps to Finding Your Purpose,” and groaned audibly. Did she not get it? Did she not understand that the last thing I need right now is some new age bullshit? Some 32 page questionnaire that will magically transform my life. I’m depressed, for god’s sakes. Maybe I have the wrong idea about her…

As I closed the document, my eyes landed on the first question. Four simple words that were suddenly etched upon my being. “What do you love?” it asked. What do you love? What do I love? And suddenly, I knew that here was a point on a compass that could show me the way. What do you love? It rolled around in my mind, a juicy little morsel, a possibility. I knew this was not about family, not about people, but what I, in my heart of hearts love, what I am passionate about, what, as they say, turns me on.

The answer was as immediate as it was simple: I love taking pictures. Boom. A foothold. I love the feeling of the camera in my hand, love trying to capture the beauty I see. Boom. When I am taking pictures, I enter a world where nothing exists outside of what I am focused on, no mind, no fear, nothing but the moment. Boom. Boom, boom, boom, little explosions of light, and of knowing. Of possibility. How do you get found when lost? By following your heart. By finding what you love and letting it lead the way. Big, big Boom.

Over coffee a few days later my friend and I had a great laugh over my reaction to her email, then sat in quiet appreciation at how it changed things appreciably, and the holy awe at how life oftentimes works.

And that's another way that I can see I'm feeling a little clearer: Every so often, now and then, I get a glimpse of the magic...

Another interesting quote for the moment~

If you wish to rise, begin by descending. St. Augustine

Monday, August 16, 2010

Starting Over

In the last few days, it's hit me on a whole new level that with everything that’s happened, the journey is all about starting over. I've understood that and yet, I haven't quite gotten it until now. Every day for the last three or four days I’ve sat down to write about it and found the words just don’t want to come. I don’t know if it’s because there’s still resistance or if it’s just so jumbled in my mind that linear thoughts, sentences, and paragraphs seem impossible. Probably some combination of both.

For about the last six or eight months I’ve been aware of the urge to get rid of stuff. All the while packing for the move and then unpacking, there has been this big unease, this nagging, anxiety tinged feeling that I couldn’t quite understand. I only knew that it had to do with stuff, with things I’ve collected over the years, things I’ve bought that made me “happy,” things with sentimental value, things I filled our life and home with along the way. Christmas decorations I’ll never ever use again, shoes I haven’t worn in years, dishes and silverware enough for a crowd, and on and on. All brought with me—twice now—in the unconscious hope or yearning of maintaining some sort of what was; the misguided idea that surrounding myself with this stuff would somehow make it all easier.

I didn’t understand the uneasiness. How could I possibly get rid of the things that have meant so much to me? But this week I was slammed hard, hit upside the head actually, with the reality of it: The actual question being how can I possibly start anew encumbered with all the things from the past. Wow. As they say, the light bulb moment. Stunning in its simplicity, and blatantly symbolic. Let go of all that ties me to a life that is, very simply over. Pull up the anchor that holds me in place. Shed it all, like a snake sheds its skin.

It both breaks my heart all over again and also, as the raw truth of it sinks in, enthuses me.

And smack in the middle of all this seeing, came these words in my Daily Quote email:

“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.” ~Louis L’Amour

Okay then.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

It's Not a Car, It's a Lifestyle

Well, I am obviously behind. This is post 12 in 25 days. So much for 30/30... and yet, I have been writing much more regularly, and that was the point. Still, I'm going to try to step it up, to get to the thirty in under, say, 50 days, though I do know that I just don't seem able to do those little posts, you know, the I ate cherrios for breakfast before walking my dog kind of posts, with a lovely picture of a beautiful bowl with a mound of luscious cherrios in a lake of fresh milk, a few banana slices poised delicately atop, perhaps a blueberry or two, and all sitting on a sweet colorful place mat, with light from the nearby window hitting it all just perfectly. Nothing against those, mind you, just not my cup of tea, if you will. And trust me, I've tried doing that before, well, not with the cherrios, but the short this has been my day type of thing. I've tried again during these past 25 days, in an effort to post everyday, and it just doesn't work. Not for me, anyway. It's not what comes naturally or feels real, and if there's one thing this blog has done, maybe more than anything, is help me discover my own unique writing style and my own authentic writing voice. No small thing btw, as I've struggled mightily around this for years, often feeling more than a little discouraged and frustrated, more often than not wondering if it would ever happen.

That said, here are some pictures from my day yesterday :) My sister and I went with my realtor-turned-friend and his wife up and over the Sonora Pass and then off-road to Leavitt Lake, a small alpine jewel reachable only by serious four-wheel drive vehicles. Through the heady scent of the forest, up over 9,000 feet, with the Stanislaus River tumbling off to one side, and granite cliffs towering like skyscrapers above our heads, to the "road"--not--that would take us in to the lake. It was like the best ride at Disneyland; up and over rocks and into gullies, around huge boulders, through creeks, jostled like marionettes, thrown from one side of the car to the other, off the seats, then crashing back down, and all the while laughing our heads off, with the occasional involuntary scream to punctuate the experience. And the vistas along the way, well, just stunning. Yellow, red, purple, and white wildflowers everywhere, tiny unexpected falls in the clear, meandering creeks, deer, butterflies, and well, the lake itself. A beautiful emerald/teal color, surrounded by jagged mountain peaks spotted with tiny glaciers, the occasional group of coolly sculptured trees, and meadows full of mid-summer mountain blooms. All against the backdrop of a sky so serene, so pure, and light-filled, it seemed ethereal.

Mark insists the Jeep is not a car, it is a lifestyle. And I so get it. It embodies adventure. It is risky without being dangerous. It is intoxicating. The blood pumps, the senses are heightened, the cares forgotten. We were all--even when wondering how in the hell we were going to make it the next ten or twenty feet, even when freezing our you-know-whats off on the way back--we were, fully, incredibly alive.

It is part of what I long for; it is a lifestyle I'm pretty sure I could embrace; and not only that, I'm positive it's exactly what the doctor ordered.

Oh man, thank you so much, Mark and Charlene...

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Glimmer of Light?

Trying to go to sleep last night, listening to the hauntingly, actually achingly beautiful music of Hawaiian singer/songwriter Keola Beamer, I was thinking serious thoughts about my life situation. Over the past couple weeks I’ve spent considerable time not just thinking about it, but talking with family and friends who know me well, who know well my hopes and dreams as far as the life I’d like to lead, who understand the journey I’ve been on, and it’s pretty much been a consensus: what the hell are you waiting for… you know what you want, this obviously isn't it, go after it.

But, it took the HVAC man telling me that the reason my house isn’t cooling down is because my air conditioning unit is simply too small, plus how exorbitantly expensive it would be to run a bigger one, to get me over the hurdle. Right then, sitting in my hot living room with him, he pretty much disappeared from view while in my mind, I took the expressway through the disappointment, fear, and potential embarrassment, to arrive at my already known but couldn’t quite admit destination: the emphatic and unemotional knowing that I simply don’t want to live there. Period. It’s not even a question of can’t, but of want. Don’t want to live a place where two to three months a year it is flat out too hot to function.

And the heat is not nearly all of it. The thing is, I thought I knew what I wanted. I even thought that this move was going to help facilitate it. Except that I was wrong. The intentions were there… go somewhere I could afford to buy a house, be “secure,” use that house as my home base, and travel. When I first learned how hot it was up here, I thought, no problem, I’ll just go somewhere for the summer. The only problem is I didn’t foresee many things, including the expense, in terms of time, energy, and money, of owning an old and needy home on a totally un-landscaped quarter of an acre. Short-sighted probably, twenty-twenty hindsight and all.

I’m pretty sure that in my last post I wrote that now was not the time to be making any big, life-altering decisions. Yet here one is. Except that it didn’t feel at all like I made a decision. It just happened. No agonizing, no back and forth, no pro and con list. Or, maybe I should say, the truth revealed itself. And I was apparently ready to see it. And that day, that afternoon, I felt better than I had in weeks.

What that means, I don’t know. There are options that I’m exploring, all of which will require more upheaval. I trusted my intuition and it brought me here. Was it wrong? Was it all a big mistake? Who knows. Some people say there is no such thing as a mistake. For years I’ve bought into the idea. And maybe it is true. For all we can see is what we can see. The tip of the iceberg, really, and all the rest, the bulk and mass of it, why we're here, what we came to do, learn, experience, the people we came to meet, etc., etc., all lie safely concealed beneath the surface of our knowing.

Anyway, that’s all for now. Except here are a few pictures I took a couple of days ago down near Santa Cruz. So much beauty in the world…

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Church of Baseball

There’s so much I could write about today. I could write about what a miracle it is that people actually heal in our western medical model. How I’m not sure if it was because my shrink was old—or old school—that depressed me so in her presence; whether it was the polyester skirt and blouse, the nylon stockings, the fact that she didn’t even greet me before asking for my medical card. Perhaps the way she asked the list of diagnostic questions in a deadpan voice, rarely glancing up to look at me. Or, maybe it was when she pronounced that there is, and I quote, nothing that is not depressed about you (me) unquote that did me in. Of course I know I’m depressed. But there was something about the professional confirmation, or maybe it was the cold, analytical professional confirmation that made my eyes flood, then spill over once safely out of her office and walking to my car.

I could write about how ungodly hot and dry it is up here in Tuolumne County. How I had no clue when I signed on the dotted line that summers were insufferable, average high nineties, and not a hint of a breeze to be found. How I feel like a prisoner in my home, doors and windows closed against the heat, air conditioner that seems to work marginally at best. How there is little to do, unless I want to join the Sonora Glenn Beck Meetup Group, the Sonora Christian Writer’s Group, or the Calaveras Tea Party. I could write about missing the Bay Area with a vengeance, the variety of people to meet, places to go, things to do and see and experience. Friends. Family. Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, the cooling fog settling over the hills.

I could write about how confusing it is to like and enjoy a place one minute, then want desperately to flee it the next. How I haven’t a clue what came first, the chicken or the egg… am I depressed because of my circumstances, or do my circumstances look so bleak because I’m depressed. How I know that right now is not a time to be making any big, life-altering decisions; yet the grass seems infinitely greener just about anywhere else I can think of; yet every time I see my realtor I ask pointed and specific questions about selling or renting out my home; yet the mind continues its gyrations in effort to solve what may be, in this moment anyway, problems unsolvable.

My spiritual teacher always encourages us to find one thing—just one—to enjoy in any given moment. Not as resistance to whatever else might be going on, not to try to fix anything, but a suggestion to gently shift focus to something that can bring some pleasure in the now. It doesn’t have to be big, sweeping, mind-blowing. It can be as simple as a color, sight, or sound. It might be the birds that run up and down the big oak across the street, the wind chimes when the rare breeze hits them, the orange full moon peaking over the horizon, the way the afternoon sun hits the pure pink and surprisingly beautiful blossoms on the oleander. For me right now, it’s baseball. In fact, I don’t know what I would do without it; on average a two and a half hour a day respite from feeling crappy. The romanticism of the ballpark, the sound of bat and ball connecting, the roar of the crowd, and best of all, young, sexy, athletic dudes in uniform. Honestly, what’s not to like? On top of that, my team, the Giants, are actually playing great ball and winning this year, and that makes the experience all that much better.

As Annie Savoy said in one of my all-time favorite movies, "Bull Durham,"

I believe in the Church of Baseball. I've tried all the major religions, and most of the minor ones. I've worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I heard that, I gave Jesus a chance. But it just didn't work out between us… I've tried 'em all, I really have, and the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball.

What can I possibly add except amen, honey, amen.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Parallel Universe(s)

Sitting in a coffee shop at the corner of Divisadero and Fulton in San Francisco, traffic whizzing by, buildings outnumbering trees by some exponential amount, fog like thick, white cotton, pedestrians and bikers bundled up as though expecting snow, I feel like I’ve been dropped into some strange and foreign parallel universe (at the risk of being redundant… wouldn’t a parallel universe always be at least foreign, if not strange…?). And believe me, it’s sweet relief, in many ways, but especially after four straight weeks of the sunny, mid-nineties to triple-digit summer temperatures that are apparently the norm where I now live.

I’m going to go for the gusto here and say that one of the things I’ll be doing while in the Bay Area today, in fact, at one o’clock this afternoon, is see a shrink. (Somehow, I can’t quite bring myself to write the “P” word, which sounds so much more serious and threatening than the euphemism.) Someone named Dr. Fink (really??), who, in her hopefully infinite knowledge and wisdom, can evaluate me, and if necessary, give me the boost I might need to help me along this particularly precarious, high-wire version of the road I’m traversing at the moment.

It’s all about chronicling the trip, right? The peaks, valleys, deserts; the sweet and low down; the good, the bad, even the ugly…

I drove down early yesterday morning, picked up my youngest daughter at BART, and headed to the Santa Cruz area for the day. We wound our way south, through the tree-clad mountains, to Capitola, one of our favorite little places, where we sat watching the tourists, surfers, the ocean, before heading back up the coast on Highway 1, past Pigeon Pt. Lighthouse, through Half Moon Bay, over Devil’s Slide, and into the foggy city. I stayed the night at her really sweet little studio apartment near Alamo Square Park, where we shared her double bed, me hugging my side of the bed so as to intrude in her space as little as possible, lying awake, remembering how until she was probably eleven or so, she’d climb every morning into our big bed and snuggle as close to me as she could possibly get, arms and legs thrown haphazardly over my shoulders and hips, head nearly on top of mine, her need for physical nurturing, from the time she was a tiny infant, always so apparent.

Grown now, living on her own in the city, finishing up her degree at State, supporting herself by nanny-ing for three families, talking about where she might want to go to do her graduate work. My heart is heavy, and at the same time swells for her; I’m like a proud mother bear, yet at the same time, it’s like watching a foreign film, sans subtitles, this unfamiliar life unfolding on the screen before me, it’s own parallel universe in fact, me single and on my own, one kid in Washington State, the other eager to fly away, their own hopes and dreams fueling them. And truly, it’s what I want for them—to spread their own wings, find their own true paths and happiness, revel in their own aliveness—in fact, it’s not only my joy, it’s my job to nurture and nourish this in them—

I just didn’t know how much it might suck, how much acute pain it could cause. I didn’t know it would require a serious re-write of the script I had so unconsciously penned when they were young...

Someone told me years ago, when they were really little, long before I could begin to fathom them one day leaving, that with our kids it’s the greatest love we’ll ever know… and also the only love that by it’s very design is meant to be let go of. Ugh. Not that we ever, ever let go of the love, just of them. Though honestly, where one ends and other begins is so often lost on me… And the letting go sometimes feeling like my limbs being torn violently from my body.

Almost time to head across the bay to Berkeley, Mapquest directions in hand, and find the office of Dr. Fink, complete stranger, whose job it is to poke, pry, intrude, inquire into my current state of being, and decide if perhaps I might could use some help turning the lights back on...

Wish me luck ... whatever that might look like.