Posts Tagged With: Death of a Salesman

Day 869: Jerks

At my appointment yesterday morning, with Dr. Estes at the Cardiac Arrhythmia Center of Boston’s Tufts Medical Center,  it became obvious that today’s post should be called “Jerks.”

That’s NOT because I think Dr. Estes is a jerk — quite the contrary. Dr. Estes is the opposite of a jerk. (Am I a jerk for not knowing the right word for opposite-of-jerk? Would you be a jerk if you knew that word and didn’t share it here with the rest of us?)

No, I realized that today’s  post should be titled “Jerks” because:

  1. I could have felt like a jerk for jerking a little with anxiety over the weekend about how swollen my new pacemaker/ defibrillator was, after my implantation surgery two weeks ago.
  2.  Dr. Estes reassured me that my knee-jerk, worst-case fear — that the implantation site was infected — was not true.
  3. I wasn’t being a complete jerk asking to be seen by him yesterday, since the site really was quite swollen.
  4. The swelling is due to the increased jerking of my arm (as I am returning to normal movements), combined with my need to be on anticoagulants because the upper part of my heart is constantly jerking with atrial fibrillation.
  5. I can feel like a jerk if (a) I bother a doctor for no reason AND (b) I don’t bother a doctor when I need to, which doesn’t leave me a lot of room to feel non-jerky.
  6. When Dr. Estes asked me to assess my return to work  (full-time, starting just one week after the surgery), I replied, “Work is great, except for the jerks.”
  7. Dr. Estes jerked a little with suppressed laughter as he gave me this medical advice in response:  “Maybe when the jerks are giving you a hard time, you can …” and he mimed grabbing the shoulder location of an implanted device and jerking with cardiac distress.
  8. When I told Dr. Estes that — ever since the May 4th surgery — my heart beating can cause  a strong jerk in my rib cage, depending upon my position, he said, “Avoid those positions.”
  9. Dr. Estes didn’t jerk with surprise or treat me like a jerk  when I  reminded him about this old joke:

Patient: Doctor, it hurts when I do this.
Doctor: Then don’t do that. 

The whole time that Dr. Estes and I  were taking about jerks, I was thinking about this Gary Larson cartoon, which I told my friend Maxine about, two days ago: 


Do you see any jerks (who make life interesting, according to that Gary Larson cartoon) in the photos I jerkily took yesterday, after my morning appointment with Dr. Estes?


Actually, I am the one being the jerk in that last photo, calling out, “Hey, Jerks!” to the supremely non-jerky Jan and Arvetta at Starbucks, just to get a good “Jerk” photo for today’s post.

Any evidence of jerks in these photos, also from yesterday?


I have a question about those last two photos. Do you think my boyfriend Michael was a jerk for leaving me a yummy meal of bluefish to microwave for supper, because he was working last night helping his brother John?

The final three “Jerk” photos from yesterday show my son Aaron rehearsing his dramatic monologue for a play audition tonight:


Aaron (right) is playing Biff Loman to Oscar’s Willy Loman, and his reading got better after he used the method of saying out loud  to himself before the monologue, “Oscar’s a jerk!”

Speaking of Aaron’s audition, he’ll be performing a punk classic about a famous jerk:

“Psycho Killer” by Talking Heads is a great try-out song for Green Day’s musical, American Idiot, don’t you think?

I’d obviously be a jerk at this point if I didn’t thank Dr. Estes, Gary Larson, Maxine,  Jan, Arvetta, Aaron, Oscar, Michael, Arthur Miller (for the play Death of a Salesman), Talking Heads, and everybody else who helped me create this jerky post, today.*

* What a jerk! I forgot to thank YOU.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 60 Comments

Day 351: Escape

Here are some random thoughts about “escape.”

In my work as a therapist, I notice that people often need that concept of escape.  That is, it helps them to know that they are not stuck, or trapped, in their current situation.

One of the Opposing Truths* I discuss with people is:

  1. We are exactly where we are supposed to be, AND
  2. We want to get out!  NOW!!!!

Some time ago, I had a conversation with somebody about her work situation. She told me how she had decided work was not a good fit for her. She had decided she wanted to leave her place of employment, for lots of reasons, including:

  • She didn’t feel appreciated.
  • She didn’t like her manager.
  • She was consistently expected to do more, without additional pay.
  • The work was not  a good match for her talents.

Now I am very careful about confidentiality — that is, I am scrupulous about not revealing something here that could possibly identify somebody else to anybody who might read this blog. But I can tell you all these facts, because …. it matches hundreds of conversations I’ve had with people, regarding work.

With this particular person, the conversation turned to the concept of escape.  She felt stuck at work, because of:

  • Financial obligations.
  • Limited options elsewhere.
  • Fear of change (“What if I leave, and it gets worse?”)

We did talk about the concept of escape, though, even though that did not feel logically possible.

Before our discussion ended, that day, she told me what had been most helpful about it:

I feel better, just knowing that I COULD escape, if I chose to.

This may seem like a strange leap of mind, right now, but I’ve also seen how the thought of the ultimate escape — suicide — can bring relief to people.

Is that shocking?  I will attempt to explain my thoughts about this:

Thoughts about suicide (or as we call them in the therapy biz, Suicidal Ideation or SI) don’t necessarily lead to suicide. As I like to tell people, a thought is miles away from an action. Now, I’m not saying that Suicidal Thinking is Good.  Suicidal thoughts indicate pain, and (to quote “Death of A Salesman”), Attention Must Be Paid.

At the same time, I’ve seen people afraid to approach somebody else’s suicidal thoughts, for fear it will make them more likely to hurt or kill themselves.

It’s a complicated topic, but this is my point today:

It can help, a great deal, to know that escape is possible. Even if you are unlikely or unable to take that step, in the moment. Even if the escape has many down sides.

As a matter of fact, allowing for the possibility of escape — realizing that you are not trapped, that you have options to GET OUT! — might free up your mind to see other, more benign, positive, and advantageous options.

I need to end this post (even though I don’t want to escape from here, at all). And what’s missing, before I end?  A beautiful image.

Yesterday, at work, I contemplated escape, to here:






Where IS that place?  It’s a place I’ve never been:


Okay!  Time to turn my thoughts away from escape, and back to the present.

But that sure helped me, today.

Thanks to all who contributed to the creation of today’s post, to anybody who has thoughts about escaping, and to you, especially, for reading today


*  A term I just made up, which I like, so I am writing this note to myself about it, hoping that helps me remember it, not unlike the guy from “Memento.”**

** A movie I watched, again, last week, with my son and Michael, my bf.

*** I found this image here.

**** I found this image here.

***** I found this image here.

****** I found this image here.

******* I found this image here.

******** I found this image here.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , | 15 Comments

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