N  a  p a  l  m     H  e  a  l  t  h     S  p  a  :     R  e  p  o  r  t     2  0  1  2






Three Hours in the Outer Mandala


I met a celestial dakini in the phlebotomy lab –

She drew my blood so sweetly, talking all the while about her aikido dojo; the woman sensei trained in Japan, Shinto practitioner, “traditional, yet open.”

Her skin was brilliant white, radiant eyes packed with warmth and ease. I wanted to follow her to the dojo and dance that ancient sacred dance of triangular turns and throws on the thick mat floor, then go for some soothing jasmine tea at the hot-tub place.


I met a wrathful deity, fierce little mamo, sparks shooting from her strawberry-blonde cropped mane. Wielding her glistening pen and notepad, starched white lab coat, stomping about the exam room in shiny black cowgirl boots.


“Let me tell you somethin’ missy! You don’t know nothin’ - Who do you think you are? I’m the doctor here! You got questions? Well, that’s too bad, I ain’t got time for these games of yours…you think I sit by the phone all day answering calls? Got things to do myself, so make it snappy!”


My head spun in a hypoglycemic haze, crumpled paper questions in my hand…this can’t be the first time we’ve met, I thought…


I met the four gatekeepers in succession:


In the east, on Crestview Avenue, Guardian of Services.

Receptionist with her silver earpiece and pearlescent travel mug.

You got insurance? You gonna pay today? Cash or credit?

Glassy stare at her computer screen, punching in my vital stats.

Take a number, she said. We’ll call you.


To the south, on Green Valley Road, Guardian of Victuals.

Waitress in her yellow barrettes and impossibly tight jeans, hipless, starving, serving golden waffles and fresh-poured orange juice to the Latino masses, hair done up and makeup thick like butter. She scribbled and smiled, tossing her coiffed tresses. So perky and repetitive. Would you like toast with your omelette? No thanks, I’m allergic to wheat. Well, how ‘bout white toast? Or rye? English muffin? We also have biscuits.

No thanks, I smiled.


In the west, on Freedom Boulevard, Guardian of Merchandise.

Cashier of the brand new Safeway. Footcare on aisle ten! She exclaimed, glancing at the product-location cheat sheet stashed in her scarlet apron pocket. She toyed with the plastic pen, chained to tiny signature desk. Oh, you’re buying those gel insoles? Our feet hurt so much after standing all day. Why, you’re only buying treats; chocolate and cognac! No cheese and crackers? No grapes? Nah, I said, life’s too short to eat all that healthy stuff. She poked as she spoke at her magical liquid screen with ruby red fingernails. Then forgot the well-worn refrain,

Paper or plastic?


Lastly, back to the north, the green road of Eureka Canyon, Guardian of Madness.

Through the orchards and roses and the crazy lady who’s lived forever at the crossroads by the sausage market, doing menial jobs and supervising the comings and goings of whatever yuppies, buddhists or bums happen along. Ringing her mouth’s bell, shouting mantras or expletives of whatever she’s invented, keeping bus-stop bench warm, tabs on everyone’s passage.