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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Other · #1849364
Phoenix Jones continues to wrestle with issues from the morning...
It was noon.  The Hardback Cafe was empty except for the lone figure in the back of the coffee shop.  Adele played in the background.  Adele always played in the background at that coffee shop.  Phoenix Jones sat there, book and clipboard in front of him, waiting for his Earl Grey tea to cool and wondering what to do first.  He knew he should read his assignment for his graduate class in psychotherapy, but he was bothered by too many things to focus on that right away.  He took the lid off of his paper cup full of tea and fished out the teabags one by one with the two little red straws that came with the drink.  Three teabags lay steaming in the white plastic lid as he slid the cup farther away to avoid spilling it while it cooled.

He asked himself what was bothering him?  One thing that had been under Phoenix's skin for a couple of days was a rant that his friend went on about the military.  He knew he should not take it personally, but he was a Vet.  He was part of that military.  She had made the comment that what soldiers do in the military is brainless and said, "And you want to go back!" with thick contempt.  Phoenix took out his yellow legal pad and began writing a rebuttal.  He first said that she could be as angry with him as she liked, but there was a sense of commeraderie in the military that she would never know and that soldiers were not brainless or stupid.  As a matter of fact, he continued, they were smart.  They did not live very long if they were not smart.  He commented next that he did not fit in out here and that there was no mission, no structure, no achievement hierarchy in the civilian world.  The orders he followed may not have been the best, but they were on a mission and they completed that mission.  Phoenix's next thought was that we would not be a country for his friend to freely say these things in if it were not for the soldiers, but he was sidetracked by his cellphone signalling that he had a text.  It was the very friend he was writing the rebuttal to.  She was at work.  The text said that she thought she was coming down with the cold that Phoenix had just gotten over.  He immediately offered to take her some Airborne.  She declined, saying she had some, but thanked him anyway.  Phoenix sat quietly at his table, looking at what he had written.  Was it worth being angry at her for?  Her opinion was her opinion.  He realized that she had not meant it personally to hurt him, but that she thought war was stupid and killing was terrible.  Phoenix agreed with those things.  Having gotten the problem off of his chest by writing it down, he folded the paper in half and tore it into small pieces.  It was not something to be personally offended by.  If she pursued it in the future, he would simply state his position and move on.  The anger was not worth it.  His tea was finally cool enough to sip, and he did so before getting his book out to read his assignment.

The book Phoenix was reading was on motivational interviewing, a humanistic theory of psychotherapy originally developed by Carl Rogers.  Compared to the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) book by Steven Hayes that he had just finished, this was light reading.  Phoenix was committed thus far to psychodynamic psychotherapy, however.  Psychodynamics was a functional version of what Freud came up with in psychotherapeutic theory, mixed with object relations, attachment theory, and self-psychology after Anna Freud added to Sigmund Freud's ideas.  Psychodynamics simply made sense to Phoenix.  There was a definite resounding note with it that connected Phoenix to his therapy with his doctor.  Nevertheless, he had to learn other theories, which was helpful in that it strengthened Phoenix's understanding of what these various therapists believed and the approaches they took with their patients.  Phoenix had had many various types of therapy, none of which worked with the exception of the therapy that his doctor worked on with him.  Phoenix's psychotherapy professor preached incessantly against eclecticism - taking from various theories to treat a patient.  Most of the graduate students in Phoenix's class did not see the problem with eclecticism, nor did they understand the distinctions between theory and technique.  Various techniques were fine, but your framework had better be solid and consistent.  That was the point that the professor was trying to make.  Phoenix understood that.  Phoenix understood a lot of things.  Psychology came naturally to him and was never what he could call "difficult" to grasp.  There were things he did not agree with, but it was not for lack of understanding the concept.

Phoenix turned his attention to the dreaded thesis topic.  He had one that he thought would be very good, but his friend - the same one who was against war - had shot it down as irrelevant and small-minded the same night she had ranted about the military.  Phoenix had kept his notes on it, though.  He had not torn them up.  Was he afraid to present the idea to a professor?  Of course he was, especially after the reaction his friend had.  He had asked her for the truth and she had given it to him.  She did not understand much about psychology either, though.  Phoenix stuffed the notes back into his clipboard, deciding not to deal with them right then.

He finished his tea, stuffed the teabags, lid, and torn yellow paper into the empty cup, and threw it away.  Gathering his things, Phoenix threw on his coat and left the coffee shop.  He drove home and parallel parked in front of his apartment, pleased that his parking spot was still open.  He lived a block and a half from a large high school, a block from a historical building that frequently held large events, and a block and a half from a funeral home.  Parking near his house was never easy to find.  Parking within a block was difficult most of the time.  Phoenix's spouse was ready to go for a drive and get something for lunch.  Phoenix was ready for some food.  Maybe that would improve his mood some.  It was worth a try.
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