Confessions of a POCA Wife

  • My name is Karen, and I’m a POCA Wife. There. I said it. If you had asked me 8 years ago whether I could ever see myself proclaiming this affiliation, I would have cut you in half with my laser glare. Back in the day when I used to ride shotgun with a huge fucking chip on my shoulder. . .
  • I walked into WCA in 2005 with my husband-love Andy Wegman. He had heard about WCA, and if I remember correctly, dragged me out to Portland wearing his heart on his sleeve, hoping against hope that what they (the infamous Lisa and Skip) said they did was actually true: treat lots of working class folks with acupuncture that they could afford, and could keep them coming back and getting better. So we get to Portland, rent a car, find this ‘hood and park in the WCA lot, walk in and meet Lisa and Skip. I’m not sure who I thought I was back then (all relaxed and coiffed hair, European shoes and shit), but I remember thinking “Huh, these folks don’t act terribly happy to see us.” In fact, I thought, I’m not sure there’s enough room in here for all the ‘chips-on-the-shoulders.’ Basically, it was sit down, shut up, get treated, and then ask questions. Andy probably had butterflies in his stomach. I for sure had spiders in my craw.
  • We both got treated multiple times over multiple days. I spent time hanging out in the waiting room with their awesome dog and various kids. I remember coloring with two brothers; one of whom told me that he wasn’t very good in school. Then my heart bled and we had this profound discussion over crayons about how no-one has the right to make the rules about what qualities are valuable or not. It was the WCA waiting room.
  • Things were very different in our world by the time we left WCA and Portland. Lisa and Skip were, to me, equally compelling and off-putting. They looked like they could give a fuck what we thought about their practice or their ideas about CA. They weren’t selling anything. But neither were they hiding it. What you see is what you get. I remember thinking how liberating it must be to work that way. To live that way. Looking closely at and sensing my beloved, it was clear that his experience of this trip had given him a kind of “soul salve.” My first personal indebtedness to the “leadership.” True dis: Lisa and Skip were no bullshit: they were delivering on what they preached, and they were completely generous and transparent with how to copy and employ their methods. Regardless of what I thought of them on a personal level (which was, or course, loaded with my own personal shit), I was deeply, deeply grateful to them for putting a spark in my beloved’s eye.
  • In those days, Andy as an acupuncturist was skilled, generous of heart and spirit, and completely hamstrung by his inability to deliver his goods to the folks who needed it most. It seemed to me that his day-to-day job in a private room setting was just, well, demoralizing him. I loved him and believed in him so much that I was willing to support anything he wanted to do to get his own community acupuncture practice going. When we laid it out in the beginning, we prepared ourselves for our finances to tank, and our lives to be thrown into turmoil with the uncertainty of how/if his practice would fly. Personally, I had until then indulged myself with many years of career/life drama including job switches, flitting here and there, etc. When Andy decided to open his CA clinic, I settled at home, and it became his turn to have a go.
  • In Andy’s case, his previous employer fully supported his clinic, and blessed his clients to follow him across town to Manchester Acupuncture Studio. They still maintain a wonderful working relationship, and continue to cross-refer clients to this day. Andy’s first clinic was funded on $5000 in supplies/and renos (a gift from his since-deceased cousin Elaine), used recliners, elbow grease, love, and it broke even in the first month. His first hire was Justine, just four months into the clinic opening. My baby was at times doubtful, but I never ever was.
  • Fast forward 8 years, 8 punk employees (five remaining), and two BD clinics later, and I am well and truly a POCA Wife. Because after all, this post is about me. I feel wisened, weathered and worn like my best old brogans. I have witnessed tens of thousands (100,274 to be exact as of 11am today) of acupuncture treatments, I have seen 8 acupuncturists train and work at MAS (and in three cases move on to start their own clinics) and countless others come through and visit. I have seen EVERYONE who has worked and still works at MAS be supported by the community model to transform and work on their own personal shit. I have seen my beloved blossom into the loyal, grateful, and still humble soldier/leader that he is (word – if Andy is not the treating acupuncturist for people at MAS, many of the patients have no idea who he even is). I have been motivated to delve deep into my OWN personal shit, and have since gratefully relinquished my place in the “rat race” as a result (funny, there went the ginormous chip on my shoulder . . .) We have seen our marriage/family union be tested and strengthened by our personal transformations, and supported by the sacred space of community. And with the vast numbers of clinic staff, patients, POCA members, and old-time CA folks, our true family has grown immense in size. I never imagined I could love, and be loved by so many people in one lifetime.
  • So, why am I writing this now? Because one of my best girls Cris just laid down the heavy with a challenge to stop “lurk-posting” and basically put up or shut up. And since it’s a righteous challenge, well alright. In all honesty, I’ve been meaning to do this for a long time, well since the most recent POCA Fest that I attended in Rhode Island which was heavily populated by POCA families. It was so, so, so beautiful. <>
  • I have submitted a request to the General Circle to initiate a POCA Family group on the forums. I’ll let you know how it goes.
  • In the meantime and ever after, I am sincerely offering to respond to anyone that messages me with questions about what it’s like to be a punk family supporter, especially during the rough and not so glamorous, or just plain fucking hard times of setting up, running and living with the business. BTW, if you’ve heard or read that people in this movement, whether perceived big or small, hide details of the hard times or hardships involved in having a CA life, that’s just a flat out lie. We are not the ones glamorizing or mocking-up our achievements. We are really, really, real – oftentimes painfully so. If we’ve already waded through some shit, perhaps we can save you a bit of the same trek. We are nothing if not transparent. All you have to do is ask.
  • We means “me.” I am, after all, a POCA Wife.
  • *Disclaimer* – Please forgive my use “shit” and “rat” in the pejorative in this essay. These words are employed for their “snap value” (I think I just made that up). In no way do I intend to slander rats or shit.
POCAGuestBlog
Author: POCAGuestBlog

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  1. I always love to hear your take on things, Karen, and your writing. Thanks for de-lurking! (And thanks to that Cris for nudging you.)

  2. Your description of WCA and SnL is hilarious and spot on. I’m glad you’re a POCA wife. Every now and then I still reminisce fondly on the meals we shared in your house when y’all hosted so many of us back when. Still feeling the love…

  3. I loved this post. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, and yeah, as a WCA punk, I had to laugh at your description of Skip and Lisa, too. !!!!!

    Having a supportive partner has made a world of difference to me, and it was great for me to hear your perspective on it all.

  4. Awesome post. Love it. And my daughter, a former rat “care-taker”, will be glad to know you are not slandering rats. Thanks for sharing. Keep it coming.

  5. Karen this is awesome! I told my POCA husband and he said, hmm, maybe I will have to check that forum out. Which is a vast improvement over “I’m not joining your cult.” He’s not a joiner in general, although he is very pro-CA and very encouraging when my energy flags, which it did quite a bit this winter, and what a great idea to have a forum to support the people without whom many of us would not be able to make the efforts necessary to start and/or to keep going. I love our co-op!