Nine Perfect Strangers: We Could All Use a Bit of Tranquillum

Musical Selection: Blue Magic|Sideshow

Or could we?

Photo by Hudon Hintze via Unsplash

The world in which we live is crumbling — bursting at its seams. I can only speak for myself, but I know I am not alone in feeling this . . . in feeling the dark pain that lingers without relent. I believe it is common for human beings to want to flee the bad parts of life — to shut ourselves up and lock ourselves out of the realness of the world when it weighs heavily on our shoulders.

Shouldn’t we want relief? Shouldn’t we strive for it? And with our world spinning and crashing the way it has for decades, do you ever wonder when will it all end?

I saw the trailer for Nine Perfect Strangers multiple times and told myself after The Handmaid’s Tale, I couldn’t take another dramatic/dystopian/climactic series. But, with each view of the trailer, my curiosity had been heightened. I adore Melissa McCarthy and have always had a slight crush on Nicole Kidman, so I told myself, “It’ll either be really good or really bad. What do you have to lose?”

Shouldn’t we want relief? Shouldn’t we strive for it?


The Pull of the Series.

Before I knew it, I’d launched myself into the first episode (Random Acts of Mayhem) and had watched the next three without stopping. And now, having watched the fifth one (Sweet Surrender), I want more.

Based on The New York Times best-selling book by author Liane Moriarty, “Nine Perfect Strangers” takes place at a boutique health-and-wellness resort that promises healing and transformation as nine stressed city dwellers try to get on a path to a better way of living. Watching over them during this 10-day retreat is the resort’s director, Masha, a woman on a mission to reinvigorate their tired minds and bodies. However, these nine “perfect” strangers have no idea what is about to hit them.

Having read the above synopsis, wouldn’t you want to dive right in as well? Nine Perfect Strangers, for me, started off strong from the very beginning. I had been pulled into these characters’ lives — it made me seek what they sought — to learn what they were drawn to learn. I could not pull my eyes away from each instance as every character plays a major part. Each one of them has his or her own share of chaotic behavior to lend to the series.

With everything that had been pummeling them, drowning them, beating them senseless, Tranquillum House was — is supposed to be their escape. It is supposed to be their leap into peace.

With every episode, I found myself pulled into the strength and presence of Nicole Kidman’s character, Masha. Does she have a God complex or is she truly trying to help the souls she claims to want to save? What’s the bigger picture? What is her ultimate goal?

I see a bit of myself in Regina Hall’s character, Carmel. Two people had hurt me to almost the point of being broken, yet I was not married to either of the two. But, I need to “dissociate myself” from each of them. I need to find peace with being single again. I had it a few years ago, but for some reason, it has fled the scene — no calls, no letters . . . nothing.

I also see myself in Tiffany Boone’s character, Delilah (Dee). I am struggling to save my sanity in a world designed for me to lose it. I have watched someone I love cling to another, yet knew I did not have it in me to give them what they needed. And throughout that time, I still had to wear the mask in public — be professional, carry on with life — act like shit really did not hit the fan.

Tranquillum House was — is supposed to be their escape. It is supposed to be their leap into peace.

The perfectly handsome yet misleading Yao, played by Manny Jacinto, had me burning with intense anger in certain scenes and I became an even bigger fan of Delilah. His intelligence, love of nature, charm, and calm demeanor are all captivating qualities, but his demons aren’t subdued for long. They are revealed and they stir up havoc.


What is Going to Happen?

Everyone in Nine Perfect Strangers has lost something or some things, whether they are physical or emotional — they all share the presence of loss. Tranquillum House, the savior space, headed by Masha and her helpers, reeled them in and is taking them on the most unpredictable ride of their lives.

From casual lies to micro-dosing the nine with psychedelics to playing on their emotions for personal gain or perhaps understanding of herself, Masha is a character you’re going to either love or hate. And I am still on the fence about where I stand with her. Maybe love. Maybe hate. I think the next episode will break the ambivalence for me.

Has Masha found her calling in life — trying to fix the lives of others while purposely ignoring her own trauma, her own impending demise? She coordinated an intact (on the outside) house of healing, yet everyone seems to be breaking down.


Tranquillum — not for me, maybe . . .

At first glance, Tranquillum House seems like one I would pay thousands of dollars for which to retreat, but after pulling back its layers — maybe, just maybe, I better stick to writing and therapy. The foundation and walls probably aren’t the source of my skepticism — I’m certain it is the actions that go on behind those walls. Would I even survive it? Would you?

The sixth episode airs on Hulu on Wednesday, September 08, 2021, and I intend to be watching everything as it unfolds.


YouTube

Originally published in my new publication, soliloque, via Medium.

I’m a Bit on Edge, but She Doesn’t Care

Working from home isn’t supposed to be painful, too. Is it?

Jernee Timid, my little monster. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt
Jernee Timid, my little monster. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

For those of you who have followed me through some recent transitions, you know I changed positions last November. I shifted from working in an imaging facility to schedule patients for their imaging services and invasive procedures instead. The change came with a “Get Out of Hell Free Card” and I happily jumped at the opportunity to be safe at home while still working for an organization that has consumed my life for over three years.

At my previous job, I began as a Patient Access Specialist, assisting patients during their check-in process and showing them to various departments within our facility. My job also included accepting their payments and explaining their estimate printout to them for their services.

And then, there was COVID-19 . . .

And our world changed. We had to prepare ourselves for what was quickly shaping up to be a royal pain in the ass. Our facility needed screeners for Coronavirus COVID-19 symptoms. And since I was my team’s Patient Experience Innovator, I felt obligated to volunteer for this task.

We started off with four screeners. Soon after dealing with a few irate patients and the possibility of contracting the virus, we dwindled down to two. Because of the influx of patients we began seeing for chest X-rays and chest CT scans, it was obvious we needed all Patient Access Specialists at the front desk to assist with the check-in process, but a screener had to remain. That screener was me.

The job . . . was a mind-numbing, heart-crushing, soul-deadening position, but it had to be done. And I am glad my time doing that — screening people in the depths of a deadly virus for the actual symptoms of that virus, is over. But the pain of it all has followed me to the safety of my home.

Although I have no physical contact with any of the patients with who I communicate, I am still there with them. I feel their pain. I try to understand their concerns and their worries. With the Delta variant of this virus scooping up the lives of many, answering the phone to schedule patients for hundreds of imaging scans and invasive procedures is becoming a full-feature film, completely immersed in the lives of others.

Many of the conversations I have with patients now include the following phrases or some variation of them: “I’m sorry, but I have to cancel my appointment. I’ve got COVID,” “Hey! I have to reschedule to a later date. My husband tested positive for the virus,” “I can’t make my appointment. My child’s school sent them home,” or “I’m sorry . . . I’m going to have to bury my mother soon, and I can’t think about anything else right now. I need to cancel.”

And this is my daily interaction — speaking with the sufferers or suffering and my heart is about to explode!

I am often told by my patients who I schedule I make their scheduling experience easier — lighter. I’m easy to talk to and efficient and thorough. My supervisors commend me as their voicemails pile up from little snippets of recorded calls from these interactions. This is all fine and well, but . . . I thought I would feel differently at home.

I don’t.


Keeping watch: Jernee Timid Loadholt. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

These are the times in which I am glad I am not completely alone. Many of you know of how I have spoken about and still speak about the healing powers of my little Chorkie, Jernee. She has truly been a godsend. I can feel myself cracking — breaking away slightly, but I can take one look at this being in between calls, and something in me settles, sits back, and realigns itself.

The tears stop flowing. The pain slowly subsides. Life feels fresher — freer again, if only momentarily. Those few moments are necessary throughout my workdays.

What do you say to someone who is going to bury their mother amid a raging virus? How do you comfort a worried parent who has to take time off work to quarantine with and care for her child? How do you comfort a wife who will now be her husband’s caretaker as he wades himself through the various symptoms his immunocompromised body will endure? What do you tell a mother/grandmother whose adult daughter had to be rushed by an ambulance because she couldn’t breathe on her own?

Hundreds of scenarios pass by my ears. Hundreds of people hurting, worried, scared, and counting down the days before death slips them a calling card. All of this . . . and then, Jernee. And then, Jernee. And then, Jernee . . . again and again.

And I have to tell you, I am a bit on edge. She must know this. She sees this. And she doesn’t care. The only thing she knows to do is approach me with love.

And right now, during these dog days of living, I need that love — her love. Right now, I am grateful it exists. She’s not judging me for breaking down. She’s not telling me to be stronger. She is simply being here for me.

Working from home isn’t sheltering me from any pain. It only keeps me safe. And really, is that enough?

I hear of stories from my team members who are still at the facilities, still trying to make caring for patients work and people have gotten beyond rude. I am told patients hurl objects at the Patient Access Specialists or screeners who ask them the COVID-19 screening questions. It gets worse when someone questions if they’re going to follow up with their second dose of the vaccine (really, if you knew how many people actually only received one dose and are simply avoiding the second dose, you’d raise an eyebrow, maybe two).

Is this living? Are we living? When did it ever become acceptable for healthcare workers to be abused based on someone’s fucked up sense of “freedoms” and “rights”? I seriously want to know. Do any of you have the answers?

I sit at home, stare off into space in between calls or I say a prayer or two or three, and I look to Jernee to get me through each day. As time plows on, I hope this is enough.

I hope it is. I really hope it is.


Musical Selection: Michael Jackson, The Lady in my Life

Originally published in Age of Empathy via Medium.

a loss of hope

A Tricube

loss of hope
almost there
pain is deep

alive now
I am blessed
no illness

thousands die
on each day
no savior


*I first learned about Tricubes from David at The Skeptic’s Kaddish. It’s a lovely form and I am glad I stumbled across it. This is my first one I am sharing via WordPress.

Tricube rules:

  • Each line contains three syllables.
  • Each stanza contains three lines.
  • Each poem contains three stanzas.

What Am I Supposed to Feel? NaPoWriMo#28

Some of the plants in my best friend’s plant therapy room. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

What Am I Supposed To Feel?

I feel nothing.
I’m supposed to feel
something . . .
Something is supposed to
hit me, shake me,
break me into
some semblance of
acceptance — 
isn’t it?

But
there’s nothing there.
I want to be happy.
I want to feel relieved.
I want to celebrate like
the majority of this
world but I know
this is far from over.
The damage is done
and really, how do
we undo it?

Where can we start?
What needs to take place?
So many movements.
So many lives lost
and this one victory
tap-dances on our hearts
and it feels . . . 
other-worldly — as if
the programming of its
occurrence hasn’t reached
the highest ratings and
we’re still waiting for
the go-ahead to
breathe.

I still have unearthed
breaths tucked in from
unjustified killings
stabbing me in
my gut — I can’t find
an endpoint.
There is no safe
zone.

And people laugh
and clap their hands
loudly and join along
in the grand hoopla
of it all while I
shelter-in-place with my
damaged spirit.

Tell me, what am I
supposed to feel?
I carry this verdict
with me, bury it in
my faulty vision, blink
away the madness of it
all, then settle on
the unclear view.

“It’s a start,” someone
says and I can’t help
but hear my trapped voice
rebut, “It’s your start.
I’m finished.”


Justice delayed is justice denied. — William E. Gladstone


Originally published on Medium.