101 in 1001 {II}: 039 visit an acupuncturist [completed 07.05.11]

i could tell you that there's a noble ladymag tradition of covering acupuncture, that western institutions are warming to it, or that our living near chinatown has piqued my curiosity about traditional medicine* - and all of those things are true - but let's be honest: acupuncture ended up on my list because needles amuse me and it looked fun. i found a groupon, and away i went.

the studio i chose was down in the financial district; 1 world trade climbed into the sky just down the street, and i reverse-commuted against a school of suits on their way north. downtown manhattan in the early evening is an abandoned reef: buildings folded in on themselves like concrete brain coral, grotty storefronts shuttered like barnacles. i like that it's been constructed and reconstructed for so long that it feels organic again. i also like how acupuncture appointments enable super-cheesy city-as-ecosphere analogies! wall street, you smell like fish.

as the studio's website explained, treatments take place in a single large room partitioned by screens (as opposed to in individual treatment rooms) in order to keep costs down.** on one hand, that means that i got to walk past people having all sorts of exciting treatments (gal covered with seaweed! guy wrapped in foil like a big old potato!) on the way to a zero-gravity table; on the other, i was desperately afraid of falling asleep and flashing the room (i was wearing a minidress, for i have a magical ability to dress impractically at all times). though i filled out an online questionnaire about my kidney qi and other energies of interest prior to my visit, the heartbreakingly lovely acupuncturist who arrived to spirit me to my table flustered me, and i agreed to chat about my reasons for visiting*** instead of just asking her to grab the chart the office had generated for me. which is fine, i guess, though walking someone through the details of my menstrual cycle in mixed company is something i can live without doing again. surprise the first: the literal needling was not only painless but virtually imperceptible. i noticed the first few in my feet and the one she planted between my eyes, but i had to sneak looks at myself after she'd left my life forces to redistribute themselves to figure out just what had gone down. surprise the second: the waiting. i assumed the puncturing itself was the main attraction, but it seems that one must lean back, absorb inoffensive world music, and stay just on this side of wakefulness for forty-five minutes or so to truly reap the benefits of the wee needles. so i did; mare's-tail clouds drifted between the buildings outside, a fidgety girl in electric-pink underwear rose and set like a satellite on the table across from me, and i contemplated my inner aspect. i imagined how pleasant it would be to watch snow fall past the window. i must have looked disappointed when my statuesque acupuncturist came to rouse me, for she offered to let me lounge a bit more while they closed the studio for the night. no no, needle-lady; all things in moderation.

did the conditions for which i presented myself - stress, omphaloskepsis, a tendency to wake up feeling as though i've been dropped from a great height the morning after i've run a long distance - resolve themselves? not really, though none of them afflicted me while i was on the table. i did feel a bit more centered as i rode the train back up to the lower east side, though i suppose that could have been because i was virtually alone. i will be back for another round of acupuncture; i forgot to cash in my groupon, for one thing, and for another it's terribly exciting to use qi in a non-scrabble context. onward and inward, team.

imaginary reading group discussion questions

01 have you ever had acupuncture? why or why not?

02 if you have, did it cure what ailed you?

03 did you know coral is extremely finicky? it's true: a guy i worked with at the san francisco SPCA had a massive saltwater aquarium that thwarted almost all of his vacation attempts (as he only had one coral-sitter capable of keeping things going in his absence).

04 do you call cirrus clouds mare's tails? joe mentioned the term the other night, and that when he was little he thought it was "mayor's tail" clouds, a la rich uncle pennybags's morning coat in monopoly.

*mostly the proximity to chinatown makes me want to buy a durian; don't they look like something a lakitu would throw?

**this sounds unforgivably cheap, but i actually found it endearing; they also had a pay-what-you-wish fee structure.

***because it seemed like the mellow thing to do? laid-back health care, you disconcert me.


esb said...

i went to 4 or 5 sessions years ago for headaches, but sadly they didn't do me any good.

Amanda said...

04 No, but I once dated a fellow who as a child thought that we all get older and older and more and more white-haired and stiff until we turn into statues.

kidchamp said...

he's not wrong.

Amid Privilege said...

Oddly I've never managed acupuncture. Where I live, the puncurists are named Ed Weiss, and went to Harvard.

Wabes said...

I do call them that, from time to time.  But my first word was also horse...