Friday, March 28, 2008

How Not To Be

I've been watching, "What Not To Wear" while I work out on my exercise bike. It's mildly entertaining, but here's the show I'd really like to see: "How Not To Be."

Voice over: Welcome to, “How Not To Be!” On today’s show we have a woman who is disgruntled, whiny and indignant. The gift shop at her clinic won’t carry her book because she is an employee! Today’s hosts are Guatama Buddha and Jesus from Nazareth.

Jesus: We’ve been filming her for the past week. In this clip we see her in the gift shop talking to the managers.

Debra: Hi! Where’s my book? You don’t have my book here!

Manager: Soon, soon!

Debra: Wow—I can’t help but notice that you’ve got five other books from my publisher. One of them is even a book by a doctor at Harborview! And you didn’t order mine? It's about cancer! Patients love it! It will help them!

Manager: Soon, soon!

Buddha: Jesus!

Jesus: What?

Buddha: No, I just meant—well, she certainly is persistent. In this next clip we see her talking to her boss.

Boss: By the way, the rules are that they can’t sell your book in the gift shop because you’re an employee.

Debra: Criminy! It’s book about cancer, about this very place. In fact, it’s a great big valentine to this clinic. If they should ever make an exception, it should be for this book!

Boss: (shaking his head) Those are the rules.

Debra: You know, Boss, I know the chain-of-command and I understand that you are my direct supervisor, but you know what my dream scenario is? It would be that several administrators over you would call me in and say, “Debra, we love your book! And we’re so sorry we can’t carry it in the gift shop.”

Boss: I’m sorry.

Buddha: Well, cue the violins!

Jesus: (sarcastically) Yeah, wow, my heart is breaking.

Buddha: In our final clip, here she is complaining to one of her fellow chaplains.

Debra: So they said everyone wants the gift shop to sell their stuff: jewelry, cards, etc. If they did it for me, they'd have to do it for everyone.

Chaplain: But this book can help our patients! Do you think any of the administrators even read it?

Debra: I doubt it. I even gave one of them an advance copy, a bound galley and I didn’t hear a word. Well, you know, a prophet has no honor in her own country.

Jesus: Hey! That’s one of my lines! Funny how people seem to remember only the scripture that supports their position.

Buddha: Tell me about it! You should hear how people bring up “non-attachment” when they’re dumping someone.

Jesus: (laughing) I thought that was the only kind of file that Buddhists will e-mail—you know: non-attachments. Ha-ha-ha-ha! Get it?

Buddha: Jesus Christ!

Jesus: What?

Buddha: So let’s go find Debra and see if we can break up her Pity Party.

[Cut to Debra dozing on the couch while waiting for her husband to come home. There is a half-empty glass of wine on the coffee table.]

Jesus: I see the wine, but where’s the bread?

Debra: (waking up) Huh, wah? Oh, you guys!

Jesus and Buddha: Yes, dear, we’re here from “How Not To Be!”

Debra: Oh, man. Who nominated me?

Buddha: Your No Self.

Jesus: Your Inner Soul

Buddha: Your Spacious Awareness

Jesus: The Holy Spirit

Buddha: Pure Consciousness

Jesus: Seraphim and Chera-

Debra: (interrupting) Whatever. What’s the problem?

Jesus: What’s the problem? Well, first of all, how much wine have you had?

Debra: Just half a glass. I mean you know, “Drink some wine for thy stomach’s sake,” and all that.

Jesus: (to Buddha) See what I mean about scripture? (to Debra) I didn’t say that—that was that boozer Paul writing to Timothy. Anyway, let’s take a look at what’s hanging in your Anxiety Closet. Buddha?

Buddha: Oh, my God! So much of this went out in your twenties! Righteous indignation, self-pity, anger, unappreciated, arrogance, vengeful.

Debra: Wait--that’s not really vengeful. That’s wait-‘til-I-win-a-big-writing-prize-then-they’ll-want-my-book-in-their-stupid-gift-shop.

Jesus: Well, clearly Buddha you haven’t mentioned childish, juvenile and deluded! Listen, honey, it’s all gotta go!

Debra: What? Can’t I just keep righteous indignation?

Buddha and Jesus: No!

Buddha: Okay, we’re giving you five thousand years of sacred scripture to go through. And you’ve got to come back with things that replace all that crap in your Anxiety Closet.

Debra: (grumbling) Fine!

[Cut to Jesus and Buddha watching a video of Debra on their laptop.]

Buddha: (happily) Well, there she is reading about the Four Noble Truths.

Jesus: And yes, I see she has the Gospels open and next to that the Bhagavad Gita. But wait!

Buddha: Oh, Lord!

Jesus: Yes?

Buddha: She's reading her own book! We told her sacred scriptures!

Jesus: Do you think she believes her own book is a sacred?

Buddha: We’ll find out after this!

[Commercial break featuring the show "Project Fun Day" in which people compete to inject a little fun into the day of a down-trodden person. Hint: provide food, water, clothing and shelter first!]

Jesus: We’re back! Let’s bring Debra out and see what she’s found!

Debra: First of all I had to find compassion for myself because once I started thinking about it all I realized how unevolved I am and then I felt ashamed of myself.

Buddha: Yes, yes, compassion for yourself—very Buddhist.

Debra: And I saw that staying angry is getting me nowhere. In the Psalm 37 I read,

"The angry ones draw their swords, the angry ones aim their bows
To put down the poor and the weakened and to kill those who walk on the path of righteousness.
But their sword hits their own heart, their bows will be broken.
With his poverty, the righteous one is richer than all the angry ones in their abundance."

Jesus: (grinning and high fiveing her) Shut up! Love those Psalms.

Debra: Then I read about the Eight Wordly Conditions: Gain and loss, praise and blame, pleasure and pain, fame and disrepute and we’re all grasping after gain, praise, pleasure and fame 24/7.

Buddha: Yes, you go girl! Very important to understand.

Debra: Then I read: "To be angry is to let others' mistakes punish yourself. To forgive others is to be good to yourself.” So I’ve forgiven them and that's good for me!

Buddha: And we have to ask why you were reading your own book It's Not About The Hair.

Debra: In the introduction I do go on about being whiny and tragic and stuck. So I’m taking my own advice and letting go.

Jesus: So you’re letting go of this whole book-in-the-gift shop thing?

Debra: I’m letting go of my emotions around it all. The Bhagavad Gita reminds me that I’m entitled to my actions, but I have to let go of the fruit of my actions.

Jesus: Does that mean that you’re going to take action around this?

Debra: Stay tuned!

Buddha: Good God!

Jesus: Yes?


Anonymous said...

Oh Debra,

Much as I would love to write something long and (natually) witty about the tyranny of administrators (one of my all time favorite categories of rant),

it would raise my blood pressure,

and then a certain onc we know and love would hold my chemo on Monday,

and we just can't have that.

The book is good.

It helps people.

Except administrators, who are beyond our reach.

Go in peace,

Elizabeth, who doesn't know how to choose an "identity" from the options below)

Debra Jarvis said...


If it's any comfort: I don't know how to do that either! Thanks for responding and please don't get your BP up. Sending you love and light, Debra

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...and here I assumed the gift shop was just all sold out of them. I expected to see your book in there because I know how much it made me as a cancer patient laugh...and think...and reflect.

-- Melissa