Nurse Taking Pulse --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis


        ALTHOUGH JANNET COULD NOT MEET GRACE IN PERSON, ON A REGULAR BASIS, THEY DO talk as often as possible during her current stay in Portland. Sometimes, Jannet will place a call to Grace’s mom to get permission to hang out with Grace at a coffee shop close to their home. Otherwise they do Skype often.

         In mid-September, Jannet’s cellphone vibrates and the screen goes blank misty white. The message that appears is from Tess, ‘Will meet you, Sara Jean, and Grace for lunch today.’ The screen returns to normal, a few seconds later. Jannet does not respond nor provide information, to Tess, on the restaurant location or the exact time because she knows that Tess will find her. It is a Saturday morning and Jannet quickly arranges the lunch at a restaurant in SE Portland. Grace has received permission from her Mom and she will walk to the restaurant. Jannet picks up Sara Jean in University Park and they carpool.

         Tess has arrived before everyone is present. Introductions are made and the four take a table outside on the restaurant’s patio. Everyone orders, including Tess which is a surprise for Jannet, and the conversation is ordinary, at the beginning. After an initial tenseness and cautiousness on the part of Sara Jean and Grace there is a gradual warming of the tableside ambiance. Tess has ordered water, which she can normally consume, and she orders a clear broth, which she appears to be able to comfortably consume as well. Grace has finished her initial food order and begins to consume Jannet’s second supplemental order of food.

          “I notice that you do not have a pulse. So, are you a human?” Grace is munching on a plate of tempura vegetables and simultaneously speaking.

          “I am blocking your scans. Shouldn’t you ask permission, first?” Tess guides her spoon with her elegant hand to her bowl of broth.

         “Yes, I guess you are right. Only you are Jannet’s cousin, so I thought that you would automatically have protected or private files labeled, in advance, which means that I could look at your public files. But you know, oddly enough when I scan you, all I can get is a whitish blank floating wall.” Grace smiles, speaks, and eats at the same time. And Tess hands over her left arm, to the teenager, to allow for Grace’s examination, at which time Grace returns an embarrassed and perplexed glance.

          Tess instructs the teen on how to take a pulse and informs her that the average pulse rate can range between 50 to 100 beats per minutes depending on gender, age, weight, and other factors. Grace places her forefinger and middle index finger below the palm, nearest to the thumb, and applies a little pressure on the wrist bone. “Your pulse is at 22. Are you asleep? Either that or you are in a coma?” Grace smiles because she is kidding around.

          “Obviously I am not asleep but merely in a light trance state. I tend to be in a trance state, all of the time. So, have I satisfied your curiosity? Do I indeed have a human body?” Tess continues while Grace searches on her iPad for information about human pulse rates.

          “Yes, I am convinced. And can I ask for your opinion on an important personal matter? I have asked Jannet and Sara Jean for an opinion but they both have declined.” Grace fends a face of disappointment that is directed towards Jannet and Sara Jean.

          “Yes, of course … the question?”

          “I am beginning my senior year in high school and scouting out university options for application submissions. My mother and father have strong opinions and strangely enough my two best adult friends, who are sitting at this table at this moment, have no opinions. What do you think, and shall I read off the list of schools to you?”

          “I am quite aware of your list and I have no opinion to offer.” Grace is surprised but she continues to listen. “However I can make available the opinions of your family.”

          “I guess I should assume that this is not my biological family, since I already know their opinions. Ok, I am listening.”

          “I will present the probabilities in terms of easy to understand percentages. Your biological parents’ top two choices rate a 65%, your own personal top two choices rate a 75%. And the top two choices of your higher self and your source family do rate in excess of 95%.”

          “And those choices are?”

          “They are located in British Columbia, Canada and in Seattle, Washington.”    

          “In every conceivable way, including financially, those places are out of reach for me. I think that I can only manage the local community college for the first two years and then a state university.” Grace concludes, she exudes a defeated expression.

            “According to your higher self, if you decide to apply to any of these educational institutes, in the recommended areas, then you will be supported in your efforts. There is the possibility for scholarships if you tackle the paperwork. They suggest that you at least consider it.” Grace has listened carefully to Tess’ missive and she goes silent.

            “Any messages for me?” Sara Jean has been very intrigued by the conversation between Grace and Tess.

            “Yes, your source family would like you to know that it supports your recent decisions to make fundamental changes to your life. However, might they be permitted to make additional recommendations?” Tess receives an enthusiastic nod from Sara Jean.

          “They recommend that you do not sublet Jannet’s apartment but instead to move into the area near the Washington High School commercial complex as soon as possible; this is a favorable area for you to reside in. Lease for now and later on, you might consider a purchase option. Also they are aware that you are still undecided about moving forward with one particular dating agency which is an elite matchmaking service. They suggest that you move forward immediately, that it will be worth the cost, and that you will be presented, very soon, with several viable options for a long-term compatible relationship.”

            Jannet could not control her astonishment. “And what about my apartment?”

           “Little cousin, you will likely make more than four return visits per year to Portland and in some instances, you will be accompanied by your European girlfriend. Mari Belen primarily is more interested in your commitment to her and she is less interested in how many visits you will make to Oregon. Although she definitely does not prefer extended or protracted periods of separation.”

           Sara Jean, Grace, and Jannet retreats to silence and deep thoughts while Tess continues to placidly consume her broth.

           Mari Belen and Jannet are engaged in a spontaneous Skype session. Mari Belen announces at the beginning that she only wanted to say a quick hello. It is late night in Portland and early morning in Madrid.  It is just before bedtime for Jannet and it is right after Mari Belen has risen from an overnight sleep. Jannet has a firm policy of not scanning Mari Belen, but is continually aware, on the fringe edges of the woman, of the public and private channels or folders of waiting data about her girlfriend, which she firmly ignores. This early morning, however, she asks about one channel in particular. “You have a channel, or a holographic folder, marked ‘secret space’ and while I would never pry, I am curious.”

            Mari Belen ponders as to how she wants to respond to Jannet’s query. “It is not in my nature to harbor any terrible or dark or malicious agendas; this is probably especially prudent in light of your capabilities. Although I know that in general you are a discreet and responsible person and that you try to respect the privacy rights of other people. Nevertheless, I do naturally have private thoughts, just as everyone else does. These hidden private thoughts and concerns are generally innocuous. But I will divulge one little harmless secret to you for now, and in that way I hope to have a little less guilt about hiding a ‘special secret’ from you. Anyway, when I was in Portland, I noticed that you always had on a radio music station in the background, while in the car or in your apartment. You seem to enjoy a variety of music but I found this particular music to be really interesting, it was the jazz station. We listen to lots of jazz in Europe but this station featured a wide and diverse variety. So, now I am a bit addicted to this particular jazz music format and now I do stream your Portland radio station quite often. It is also interesting to hear about the local news and the weather reports and so on. It gives me an impression of what your environment might be like as you go through your day.”

            “Glad you enjoy the music but that was a pretty mild confession as secrets go. So I think I am looking forward to hearing a really big confession, once I arrived back to Madrid.” Jannet concludes in a slightly joking manner; however, she is, in reality, staunchly respectful of Mari Belen’s mental/psychological privacy because obviously her European girlfriend has an inherent right to that privacy.          

          “Don’t worry, it is not a bad secret but a very good one.” Mari Belen provides a final assurance.

           Planning has concluded for the private events of the September Equinox week, which Sara Jean and Becka have coordinated, along with other volunteers; and the planning for the public events, as controlled by the Deckers and their associates is complete as well. One evening, during the midweek of September, Jannet and Sara Jean stop by the home of Becka and family for dinner and a PAG discussion. It is Thursday, September 11th and on Friday, September 12th there will be a PAG meeting. The September Equinox week begins on Monday the 15th and runs through to Sunday the 21st.

            Becka is brought up to date on the Deckers’ proposal and plans; and in general, Becka is nonplused. Her primary concern is for the continuation of the private side of the organization. She understands that the Deckers want the trademark and the goodwill recognition value of PAG brand, especially in light of the recent appearances of other organizations in several different locations around the country, all with different but similar organizational acronyms. The Deckers will also plan to propose the formal trademarking of the PAG name at the upcoming board meeting.

            The highlight of the dinner meeting, with Becka and family, is Becka’s brilliant proposal of a new name designation for the smaller private component of the PAG. “What do you think of PAG independent which would stand for our separate and autonomous Portland Alchemist Group? We could trademark it as well and still maintain a connection with the larger public side and foundation side of the Deckers, while operating more or less as a small private independent.” Becka’s proposal is greeted with strong positive response from Jannet and Sara Jean.

            The PAG meeting on Friday is an extremely lengthy affair. There is a record amount of attendees. It is held at an unused church rental facility which had served as a facility for the last round of public events for the PAG. There is a considerable amount of administrative activities to process. There is also a quick nomination and election process for one seat on the PAG board; a current board member is resigning before the end of his two-year term. Of the four candidates nominated, Jannet’s name is put forth but characteristically she declines the nomination. After the election one of first speakers during the public input segment of the meeting puts forth the idea that Jannet should conduct her own private event in a future solstice/equinox week. Again Jannet, a surprised Jannet, declines the proposal.

          Next, it is the Deckers’ presentation and proposals. Of course, during the Deckers’ presentation, Jannet and Sara Jean do demonstrate support for the ambitious plans by taking a seat in the ex-officio chairs during the presentation. Yet again it is solely Harri speaking and deftly responding to a few questions although Alex is standing next to her.

           Many members, who are present tonight, have directly or indirectly anticipated the Deckers’ proposals. However, it is Becka’s presentation, with Jannet and Sara Jean remaining in the ex-officio seating that has the greatest impact on the evening. While the Decker’s grand reorganization is no great surprise, Becka’s clear reiteration of the values and goals of private side of the PAG proves to be vastly reassuring to those membership individuals who want to maintain the private side of the organization. They are particularly impressed by the proposed PAG independent brand name and there is considerable positive feedback offered regarding the continued administrative acumen of Sara Jean; the praise is directed her planning, organization, and execution of the private events to date.

           At the end of the meeting, the PAG board, as expected approved by majority vote the reorganization plans of the Deckers and the simultaneous semi-autonomous status of the private side of the organization, this is along with an approval of the slight name change for the private side. The PAG now officially belongs to the Deckers, there will be a new creation process for the new board and two members of that new board will include individuals from the membership of the PAG independent. The PAG independent branch will additionally have a small advisory board but even so the PAG independent branch will effectively remain under the umbrella of the newly reformed PAG parent. There will be two trademarks that will be pursued, that is, one for the parent group and one for the private group. After the meeting, a large group of supporters of the newly created branch of PAG, the PAG independent, gather amiably and enthusiastically around Becka as Sara Jean and Jannet stand astride her.

           On the following Monday, the 15th, the PAG September 2014 Equinox week commences. The events for the public side of the organization and the private side of the organization proceeds with much polish and accomplishment. There will be one more week of events, the December Solstice week of 2014, before the officially mandated reorganization of PAG will occur, at the beginning of 2015.

           The last 9 or 10 days in Portland, Jannet spends as much time with close friends as possible. Her tutoring commitment has ended and she has mentioned to her chancellor acquaintance in the community college system that she will not be available for teaching any more, since she is moving abroad. Sara Jean and Jannet spends time together nearly every day. Jannet stays in frequent contact with Grace, in person or by Skype. And Jannet spend some amount of time at Becka’s and Mark’s house and a few evenings with Madelyn, Jocelyn, and Terri at music related events.

          Jannet has decided not to ship anything, only to have one carry-on and two large luggage bags, for baggage check-in, for the October 1st flight to Madrid. In addition, she is not subletting her apartment to Sara Jean. In fact, Sara Jean has pushed full steam ahead on leasing a condo and Sara Jean has also committed herself to the private exclusive dating agency with vigor.

           Grace insists on spending an entire day, Sunday September 28th, with Jannet in and around the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry complex on SE Water. Grace confirms that she has included a few colleges/universities from the Vancouver, BC area and the Seattle, WA area as part of her application list. This is a change because the teenager, and her parents, had originally envisioned a local community college for two years and then a transfer to one of the Oregon state colleges.

          Eventually the two friends find a slender green space, near the museum complex and adjacent to the river. Jannet and Grace spend time on the practice and re-practice of various empathic and synesthetic techniques, and they engage in several deep discussions on a variety of topics.

           Mysteriously, during a period of a few days before Jannet’s departure for Spain, Mari Belen has not responded to any invitations for Skype sessions. Instead she has sent lengthy e-mails. She cites that her work schedule has been monstrous and that she has been involved in a project with the family. However, she does explain that she is anxious for Jannet’s official resettlement to Madrid and she confirms again that she would not meet her at the airport.

          Jannet’s flight departs PDX very late on the night of October 1st, with a stopover in New York. Her second flight from New York will arrive very late on the night of October 2nd in Madrid, Spain. As per her usual flight routine Jannet flies coach nonstop between Portland and New York, and she flies business class nonstop between New York and Madrid.