Monday, August 28, 2006

Small town, big city

I seem to have hit a nerve with Chris:

I'm one of those people who says they're going to do things and then doesn't do them. It makes me feel really awful, too...

The trouble is, when I say the things I do, I'm totally sincere at that moment. But my state at any given time is mostly independent of anything else going on in my life -- I live most moments as if nothing led up to them and nothing will lead out of them. I basically don't have the brain power to spare on thinking of things as causal chains all the time. So when I'm talking to you, that's all I'm doing. Nothing else.

With that disconnect, it's easy to say things I don't mean or plan to follow up on. At the time I'm totally open, honest, and sincere. But when I step back into the flow of my life, some things get washed away...

So the next time someone doesn't do something they said they would, maybe consider going a bit easier on them. Because they may have hurt themselves more than they did you.

The Dandy, however, understands what I mean.

I am invariably shocked by people who don't do what they say they are going to do. Despite decades of exposure to this kind of behavior, I still don't get it. If I'm talking about doing it, either I will actually do it, or the consideration of doing it will be the journey in itself, with its own important (and measurable) results.

First of all, Chris, I think you're being too hard on yourself. From my admittedly limited experience of you, I have observed that when you say you're going to show up, you show up. When you say you're going to write something up, you write it up--in an inexpressibly lovely way, no less. You obviously have little experience with the true Art Flake. Which is fortunate for you, and I do not recommend acquiring such experience.

But the thing I noticed about both Chris's and Dandy's comments was that you guys know yourselves. Do you have any idea how rare that is, to meet people who don't spend a great deal of mental energy lying, to themselves and other people, about what kind of person they are?

One of the things I loved about living in a very small expatriate community in Mexico was that it was impossible to avoid getting to know everybody around you. I had friends from at least eleven countries, ranging in age from three to seventy-two. In that sort of situation, you not only have a much greater range of perspectives on the world to apprehend, you learn what you can realistically expect of people. And then you can roll with the punches.

For example, if Herbert suddenly explodes in a red-faced, violent rage about some trivial and irrational thing, you will not get terribly upset about it, because everybody knows that Herbert has anger issues, which are quite probably biologically based, and thus more cause for compassion than fear or censure. If Gretchen goes around telling everyone in town that Serena is an irresponsible thief who trashed her house, everyone in town goes around reassuring Serena that they all know what Gretchen is like, and nobody believes her. And everyone knows that Sophia is a rotten mother, but that it's probably not her fault because she still hasn't dealt with her own childhood abuse issues, and Sophia hooks up with a guy who grew up with a psychotic mother, and thus is the perfect person to take on a shell-shocked wife and her already-damaged daughter. To each their own complimentary dysfunction.

What I learned from living in such a community was that 1) you can't change people and 2) they're all perfect in their imperfections, and manage to muddle along somehow. It was particularly instructive to realize how difficult it is to intervene in an obviously screwed-up situation. I saw, firsthand, some of the most mind-bogglingly bad parenting styles imaginable, and even though the parents in question were relative intimates of mine, there was very little that could be done about it. I could drop a few suggestions, and provide a little clandestine love toward the neglected brats in question, but mainly the parental wound-infliction was inevitable. You saw that this kid had her life's work cut out for her, getting over that--and that, more or less, this is true for all of us.

The difficulty I had, in moving to the big city after this, was that you don't have the luxury of being able to observe people at close quarters over a long period of time, before deciding whether to put any effort into a friendship. There are just too many of them. By and large, you have to go on instinct. Or at least, I went on instinct the first three years I lived here, with very terrible results. Now I'm stepping back and re-considering my method of forming friendships. And until I have a group of friends whom I know I can rely on, collaboration is out of the question.

One of the mistakes I've made, I think, is in using a project as a short-cut to getting to know people. That's what they tell you in all the 'self-help' literature--volunteer! Volunteer! But I think what that means is 'volunteer to do something you have no personal stake in.' Because when I volunteer to do something art-related, I'm investing far too much of myself, too quickly. And thus I am placing my career trajectory repeatedly in the hands of Art Flakes. Shudder.

So it's not really a question of anyone having to change. Chris, you go right on ahead talking big and doing whatever you do; I won't abuse you for it. It's merely a question of me taking the time to learn what I can expect of someone, who I can work with, and who I need to avoid.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Ye of Little Faith


Wow...Sounds great. Sort of unbelievable to think that you actually made it. Like all the obstacles and such that kept coming up ...let alone the human part of being a human being and all those issues.
Well...congrats. I really hope you have a great time. You sound like an 8 year old totally ready to "play house" with a vengeance .....GO!!!

Danny, you have not known me long enough.

This sort of thing happens to me all the time. On my occasional visits back to San Francisco, while living in Mexico, I'd run into acquaintances and tell them what I was up to. They'd say, "Wow, you SAID you were moving to Mexico, and then you actually DID it." Like this was something extraordinary.

How unfortunate, not to mention an evil omen for society in general, that so often it IS extraordinary when a person does exactly what they say they're going to do. So often, talk is just blather. People throw propositions into the currents around them, simply to test the response. It's why I've declared an indefinite moratorium on collaborative projects--repeatedly I'd get involved in something, meet with other 'collaborators,' go home and assiduously do exactly what I'd said I would, then turn up at the next meeting to find that everybody else had just been talking. And were perfectly prepared to talk some more, as long as this was all that was expected of them.

But enough of carping. It is nearly impossible to carp when you wake up here:

and the view out the window looks like this:

My darling sister knows me extremely well; she saved all the fun jobs for me. After I got the kitchen clean I was in a dilemma as to which room to attack first--the garden room, which I am converting to a painting studio, the Zen bedroom above (which I am keeping in its Zen state for now, although it requires an almost inhuman restraint on my part. I like simplicity in theory, and I am a big fan of desert camping for its mind-cleansing effects, but in practice my taste tends more toward the baroque) or the Library Loft.

After about half a day of chaotic multi-tasking, the Library Loft won out, because it was the biggest mess and had the most latent potential. It's about half done, now--I got most of the useless junk semi-sorted and stashed somewhere else, the bookshelves arranged, the desk set up with Internet connection, and a theme and some artwork decided upon. Then I took a break to blog. Sitting at a cute little desk in a cute little loft with this view at my right elbow, I feel an overwhelming compulsion to start writing a Stephen King novel, or something.

About this issue of Obstacles, though. Danny, you have got it all wrong. According to the World View of Serena, obstacles are not obstacles as such; they are clues.

You see, I see life as a combination mystery novel and five-dimensional jigsaw puzzle. It is not something I have control over, but something I can possibly influence, by the choices I make in response to it. Additionally, I choose to believe that there is some inner guiding harmony that links it all together. I could very well be wrong about this, but believing that it's all just some random chaos that is out to crush me produces immobility and despair, and thus is not productive.

So, my process in getting myself a month's working vacation in Maine went something like this:

Clue: Feeling of overwhelming Big City burnout.

Clue: Massage practice falling off in summer, due to client base feeling same Big City burnout.

Clue: Sister moving into rambling farmhouse in Maine, requiring help decorating such, and also some company.

Hypothesis: Perhaps spending the month of August in Maine is the way to go.

Clue: Car requires several repairs before long road trip.

Clue: Laptop hard drive crashes; flaky repair service in Queens does not repair it before August 1.

Clue: Potential subletters for August 1 are all shameless flakes; one of them unilaterally re-scheduled an appointment, without consulting me, because he had a job interview in Brooklyn the next day, and didn't want to come all the way out here twice. (And he wants to LIVE here?) Another hemmed and havered for two weeks, and finally called me July 30 and said "Is the apartment still available?" Another said she loved it and would probably take it and disappeared.

Clue: Best friend calls from Wisconsin and says she'll be in New York from August 1-9.

Clue: Sister going to Austin on business from August 1-7.

Hypothesis #2: Perhaps I should postpone my trip until after the first week of August.

Clue: Responsible-seeming person asks to sublet my apartment from August 17-September 18. She is a biochemical engineering Ph.D. student from Cleveland; her boss, a surgeon, informed her that these were the dates she was to look for a job in New York. We talk on the phone for 45 minutes, and she's a go.

Conclusion: Trip to Maine conclusively scheduled for August 17-September 18.

Results: Got to spend lovely week with best friend; got car and computer comfortably overhauled; had plenty of time to clean and organize apartment; have apartment expenses covered for month; get to spend time in Maine in absence of summer tourists.

In addition: Ph.D. student gets housing to suit her needs; friend of sister's, visiting first week in September, in desperate need of bodywork; other, perhaps unknowable, benefits may arise from this concatenation of circumstances. Who can tell? It's a mystery.

Do you see, Danny, how perceiving something as an 'obstacle' is an unnecessary value judgment which merely increases one's stress? Whereas if you take the attitude that any seemingly unwelcome information may be a vital clue as to the direction of the upcoming path, everything works out?

Beliefs, I maintain, are merely tools. You can choose to believe something, act as if it were true, and observe the results. If the results are uniformly chaotic, chances are high that your chosen belief is a crappy tool. If the results are increasingly harmonious, the more you let go your judgments and follow the clues--well, that works for me. Of course, working hypotheses are subject to modification any time they cease to be effective. This is just good science.

Additionally, I'd like to speak to this business of guidance. One of the reasons that it so annoys me when people talk about 'what they're going to do' merely to observe its effect on others, is that this, to me, is a back-asswards way of making decisions. You cannot trust a person who is not operating from his or her core. A person who depends upon the approval of others in order to determine a direction is both unreliable and unhappy. I regard my own inner certainties and inner aversions as the biggest, most non-negotiable clues of all; any external input may affect the peripheral choices I make, but they won't affect the overall direction.

Thus, when I know that I am miserable in the city and I need a friggin' vacation, I will find a way to take that vacation. It might have involved, worst-case, availing myself of the unconscionable amount of credit that foolish industries persist in throwing at me; it might have involved curtailing my trip; it might have involved a precipitously permanent departure from the city, if nothing else transpired. But there was never any real danger that I wouldn't do it.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Somebody has to go see this for me

My neighbor and giver-of-friendly-hugs-at-the-co-op, Miriam Eusebio, has directed a group of one-act plays that has gotten a great review. For three years I have been pestering Miriam to invite me to her plays, and now I can't go see this, because I am leaving town the day after tomorrow and have eight jillion things to accomplish.

So somebody please go see this and report back. From the review:
...This is admittedly not easy stuff to swallow, but "Faces…Voices" is moving precisely because it refuses to pity the victims, but instead admires them for their courage and fortitude in moving beyond potentially soul-destroying experiences — this small, out of the way show is well-worth seeking out.
Now that's the kind of thing that rocks. Living in the Bay Area for nine years, I am so over whining victim theatre--including screaming dancers, AIDS crisis rage plays, and spoken-word poets who sit on the stage in a fetal position and weep for ten minutes about the racists who done them wrong. Which is why I didn't put Miriam's play immediately on the calendar when she emailed me about it. But now I'm sorry I didn't. Rock on, M!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Garbage update

Yesterday I confronted the garbage lady and asked her to move her garbage somewhere else. I explained the situation with many graphic gestures--making mountains with my hands to indicate the garbage heaped up everywhere, holding my nose to communicate the bad smell, flapping and buzzing in imitation of the hordes of flies, covering my heart with my hand and looking sorrowful, to accompany the statement, "This is my home, and the garbage is ugly." I repeated these gestures several times, and she looked at me intently and said, "Get out." I thought my communications were successful, since she immediately started moving the garbage. When I went down this morning, the courtyard was clean as a whistle.

Then when I went down in the afternoon, their were more piles of sorted and bagged-up recycleables, stashed behind the garbage cans, attracting flies and looking hideous. I had a client arriving in twenty minutes. I lost my temper and piled every extraneous bag onto the curb with the rest of the garbage.

I hope this gets the message across; I hope our building is not issued a sanitation ticket for improperly-bagged recycleables; I hope I don't experience an instant karmic backlash. But I'm practicing communicating the notion that 'kind person' does not equal 'pushover.' Such is the metaphor for codependency--having a front yard full of someone else's garbage.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Science catches up

Well, not really.

I get a lot of clients who suffer from migraines. One of my instructors, an ex-Marine who was studying acupuncture, told us, "Ice on the feet. Ice on the feet for migraines." His theory was that sticking a migraine sufferer's feet in a bucket of ice water caused blood to rush down to warm them up, thus relieving vascular dilation in the head.

I've never actually tried it, but when my clients tell me they're starting a headache, I do go to their feet, with positive results. When I worked on Wall Street, the stupid chiropractor employing me spouted a lot of bile about massage therapists who worked on people's feet--"We're not podiatrists," he said. When the Russian girl came in, pale and terrified from the onset of one of her regular migraines, I went to her feet, anyway. After two minutes she said, "My headache is already gone."

Now the New York Times has this to say about migraines:
Though long believed to be primary vascular headaches, the result of constriction then expansion of blood vessels in the head, migraines are now recognized to stem from neural changes in the brain and the release of neuroinflammatory peptides that in turn constrict blood vessels. The headache often begins before these vessels dilate. The inflammatory peptides sensitize nerve fibers that then respond to innocuous stimuli, like blood vessel pulses, causing the pain of migraine.

...More common causes include stress (positive or negative), weather changes, estrogen withdrawal, fatigue and sleep disturbances (hence, perhaps, the association with alcohol, which can disrupt sleep), as well as overuse of over-the-counter pain medications.
In other words, they're psychosomatic.

"Psychosomatic" is a terribly misunderstood word. It does not mean "It's all in your head;" it just means it starts in your head. The mind is an astonishing thing; our thoughts quite literally affect our bodies. Thoughts stimulate the release of chemicals, like hormones and neurotransmitters, which then do their dirty work and lay us low.

The vast majority of the bodywork I do is intuitive, simple, and empirical. I don't give a name to what I'm doing; I just try things out and observe the results. What I have observed, in my clients with migraines, is that many of them don't seem to be grounded. They don't count on the earth to hold them up; they feel responsible for keeping everything in orbit. They also tend to be fond of generating ideas--they're intuitive, imaginative, and ambitious.

When I put my hands on someone, I can sometimes sense when their thoughts are running riot, just by feeling a subtle sort of buzzing sensation in my fingers when I'm touching their heads. I've tested this out by working on close friends who are ready and willing to give me feedback; once I was working on a friend who was in crisis, and her head would not stop buzzing. I put my hands on the soles of her feet, and 'grounded.' When I went back to her head, the buzzing seemed to have calmed down, and I finished the session in the usual way.

Later, without my asking, she volunteered the information: "When you touched my feet, I felt a sucking sensation, and I stopped obsessing and felt peaceful."

I had another regular client who suffered from frequent migraines; otherwise, he said, he was fine. The first time I worked on him, I discovered a massive keloid scar on his ankle. I asked him about it; "oh, yeah, I tore off my Achilles," he said. Seemingly he'd sort of forgotten. "So, it's no wonder you don't want to feel your feet," I told him. When I work on him regularly, his migraines seem to cease; when I don't, they come back. He doesn't seem to notice the connection until I ask him about it, though.

Oftentimes it's the simplest notions which screw us up. The idea that "the earth is holding us up" would seem to be a no-brainer, but it's shocking how many people do not believe this, on a subconscious level. I once worked on a woman who got up at 5 AM to run six miles, every day; then she did Buddhist chanting for two hours. She was one of the most psychologically messed-up people I've ever known. When I started on her, her body was knotted so bizarrely that she didn't have a muscle configuration that I recognized; I wondered if she was, in fact, an alien. I told her, "Sophia, the ground is holding you up."

She replied, "REALLY?" in a tone of genuine, non-sarcastic incredulity. She honestly did not believe it was true.

Recently I read an interview in the Sun with Marion Woodman, who says,

"All my life God has spoken to me through illness. My pattern is to go along and have a marvelous time until all of a sudden I'm pulled down by some malady. That's where the real psychological gravity is for me. Throughout my career I've seen people have similar experiences; not paying attention to their bodies and getting sick, sometimes even dying prematurely, or, at the very least, not living their lives as fully as they want. I've found that talk therapy is not the best way to help these people. In many instances, it is of little help at all. I decided early on that the body must somehow be involved in one's psychological healing, because the body can hold onto memories and images that are otherwise inaccessible. You can't get to them simply by talking about them."
I suspect this may be particularly true with highly intelligent people; they can use their minds to very effectively avoid dealing with problems, by rationalizing them away. Their bodies are the ones screaming at them, "That's all very well, but I'm going to COLLAPSE now, until you pay attention to what I have to tell you."

The body can be ridiculously, embarrassingly literal. People get migraines, in part, because they're thinking too much.

When I first became a bodyworker, I thought it could be a sneaky way to heal people without them realizing what I was doing. I thought I could just go in there, alter their energy patterns, and make them all better without ever having to directly confront them about their self-destructive habits and ideas. I know better now; I know that this delusion of mine is called 'co-dependency,' and that people have to take responsibility for their own healing, or they'll never get anywhere.

Now I don't try to 'heal' anything at all, and I'm a lot more blunt about confronting people with their shit. I tell them, "I can work on your neck from now until the cows come home, but it won't get better until you start telling the truth." They don't get as annoyed as I used to think they might; and I don't blame them if they don't get better as fast as I think they could. It works for all of us.


The copy of Photoshop that I had burned to a back-up disk a year and a half ago appears to have tranferred Photoshop functionality to my new hard drive, quietly and without complaint. As proof, here is the pumpkin I carved, the Halloween before last.

I rock.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Beer and Skyscrapers

Just got this email, and thought I'd pass the message along:

As you may or may not know, Brooklyn Brewery owner Steve Hindy is a supporter of developer Bruce Ratner's infamous 22-acre Atlantic Yards project (the NBA arena plus 16 skyscrapers). A few months ago, the Brooklyn institution known as Freddy's stopped serving all Brooklyn Brewery products as a small but defiant stand against those who support this blatant display of greed and ethical and moral bankruptcy. (Yes, you too, Mr. Markowitz.) So, why not join 'em in boycotting Hindy's beers? It's not going to drive them out of business, but dontcha think it could be a bit of a PR predicament if Brooklyn stopped drinking Brooklyn?

Actually, I stopped drinking Brooklyn awhile back, ever since I heard that they use unfiltered Brooklyn tapwater to make it. I could be wrong about this, but somehow it just didn't taste the same after that. Sierra Nevada, Red Hook ESB, Magic Hat, Sixpoint, Sam Adams, and Guinness are all better beers. So yeah, boycott Brooklyn.

The Ratner plan really chaps my hide. I moved to Brooklyn to get away from chain malls and identical glass cubicles. Sidewalks, old brownstones, and quirky local businesses are a priceless resource; you can find a Marshall's anywhere. Yes, Old Navy provides jobs for the locals--minimum wage, dead-end, cookie-cutter jobs that hold people in a stable state of bland ignorance. Work at Old Navy, spend your paycheck at Old Navy, go home, repeat till you die. What a life.


Painterdog gave me a link to an outstanding article by Jonathan Lethem, detailing some of the overwhelming objections to Frank Gehry's drawings for the Ratner project. The prose itself is a delight to read:

Any chance you want to take a harder look at your plans? When unveiling the latest, you explained the appearance of the spearhead tower, which you've named "Miss Brooklyn" (spurring the inevitable quip, We'll miss it, all right). You explained: "When we were studying Brooklyn, we happened upon a wedding, a real Brooklyn wedding. And we decided that 'Miss Brooklyn' was a bride. She's a bride with her flowing bridal veil—I really overdid it. If you had seen the bride, you would—I fell in love with her." Pardon me, but bleeechh. I don't know whether many great buildings have been founded on notions at once so metaphorically impoverished and so slickly patronizing. But somehow I doubt that any have.

August in New York

is not the time for artists. Artists do not exist in New York in August. Perhaps this is why my hard drive decided to go belly up, just in time for August.

However, I am please to report that, 1) I have a new hard drive (if not any of the information off the old hard drive, including and 2) I've found a subletter! I will be LEAVING this horrible city for ONE WHOLE MONTH! I will be in Maine from August 17 through September 18, and perhaps this will re-charge my art batteries.

Because I just can't get interested in art, at the moment. Email art newsletters keep arriving in my mailbox, and I keep deleting them unread. I have not yet re-bookmarked any art blogs on my new browser. My studio is in 'clean-out' mode. I look at my own paintings, and it's like I'm looking at a foreign country.

There is a lovely old black woman who goes through the garbage on our block. I don't know what country she's from, because I can't understand what she says, but she's not from here. She has an incandescent smile, and works very hard at her occupation of going through people's trash. So I smile at her, and say hello, and am careful to give her my bottles and my old clothes.

And now she has set up camp in our front yard, and is bringing all the garbage here, and going through it so that the bottles are always clinking, and leaving it in huge stinking piles bagged up everywhere. I more than suspect she's doing this because I was nice to her, and she felt that my yard was a safe place to sort her garbage. Now I have to go down and tell her to take it all away.

It's also like--I started getting hang-up phone calls from a 'restricted' number. I usually don't pick up the phone when the caller ID shows 'restricted,' because 98% of the time it is a telemarketer. But one day I whimsically decided to answer. It turned out to be some freak from the East Village who calls himself Tommy D. He said he'd gotten my number from someone who'd seen my open studio in October (I suspect I know who this was...Jim, you and I are going to have a little talk) and wanted me to be in an art exhibit. A one-day art exhibit in a community center in the East Village, on a Monday, in August. He wanted as many artists as possible; skits, body-painting, music, the works. He wanted to eventually do this once a month. But the guy at the community center was concerned about nail holes in the walls.

Oh, God.

I actually made an appointment to meet with him and see the space. Then I took note of the rock-like feeling in the pit of my stomach, and failed to show up for the appointment. He called both my phones and left hang-ups until I picked up. I explained to him that this wasn't the sort of project I was interested in, at the moment, and wished him luck.

There was a time, there were many times, when I did show up for the appointments. I would show up on the grounds of 'meeting new people,' 'getting involved,' 'getting exposure,' 'having fun.' And it was fun, many times.

But I have discovered over the years that when I put any energy at all into a project done by someone who demonstrates their flakiness, lack of professionalism and impracticality from the first second I meet them, I get drained. I end up doing far more than my fair share of the work, because I'm the only person who sees what really needs to be done. I don't meet the kinds of people who can either become real friends, or who can genuinely help my career, because those kinds of people give flakes a very wide berth. I can't afford another throw-away project, not even for one weekend in August when I have absolutely nothing else going on. I am far better off going to the beach.

And then, to top it off, I got a call from a regular client. One of the clients who claimed to experience a 'miracle' relief from knee pain after I worked on him. He's been complaining about the fact that his massage therapist of fifteen years has started cancelling on him a lot. She's getting older, she's having health problems, she has no insurance. So he's been coming to me quite often, and this has been keeping me in groceries.

Anyway, this client wanted to know if I could do a 'combination' massage. "Combination?" I asked. "Combination of what? I do what I do. I don't do anything else."

"Combination of therapeutic and....sensual," he said. "My other massage therapist does it."

I mean to say, hello? This guy knows me. Last week we chatted about the client who not only sort of creeped me out because he wanted his stomach rubbed for twenty minutes, but bounced a check on me and hasn't yet made good. He got all indignant and protective on my behalf. He's shown an interest in my art, claims to think I'm gifted, and obviously thinks I'm a miracle worker. He also repeatedly claims to think I look twenty-five, which makes my week.

And he just freakin' asked me to prostitute myself.

I told him, politely, that he needed to check the 'escort' ads at the back of the Village Voice, that I don't do that sort of thing, and that there will be no discussing it again. He said, "Okay, I'll get that taken care of," and came in for a regular session yesterday. I thought about refusing to see him again, but he hasn't actually misbehaved. I did tell him that he needs to get a girlfriend; I told him that was his prescription.

Because when you think about it, if this guy has been going to the same massage therapist twice a week for fifteen years, and getting jacked off every time, that's a relationship. A severely screwed-up relationship, but a relationship nevertheless. Except that now that she's getting old and sick and can't reliable jack him off every week, he's shopping around for a new one with no sense of responsibility to her. No wonder he has got intractable knots that move around like snakes and never go away, even when he comes in for two-hour sessions twice a week. He's trying to pay someone to make his issues go away, and not genuinely connecting with anyone, especially not himself.

This, to me, is empirical evidence for why Biblical law prohibits prostitution. It's not a 'victimless' crime; it damages the souls of both persons involved in the transaction. It turns one of our most potent motivations for seeking intimacy and connection into a disengaged economic exchange. It flushes precious life energy down the sink. And now, at the end, we have two old, lonely, sick people wandering around looking for some other source of help, instead of caring for and supporting one another.

The whole thing gave me some serious pause as to what I'm doing with all this, and where the line is, and if I'm really helping people by doing healing work on them, or just perpetuating something negative. As in, where is the line between 'attachment' as a hindrance, and 'connection' as a positive thing? Is it a good thing that I maintain a certain detachment from my clients, that most of them don't become personal friends, or am I contributing to the general soullessness and alienation of our culture? And what is the difference, really, between rubbing someone's feet and jerking them off? Is it just an arbitrary cultural taboo, or is there some greater significance to it?

Actually, I know the answers to these questions, or at least I thought I did. But every now and then you have to reconsider them.