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Spirit, by Rachel Kobin (Delaware County/Main Line Workshop)

Spirit. It should be such a good word, a meaningful word, a word evocative of real feelings and a connection to the universe outside our selves. After six months of unemployment though, I associate it with The Oprah Winfrey Show. Not that I've watched it much. Who could tolerate all that? Well, apparently millions of Americans. The Spirit section is a five-minute segment at the end of the show. It comes after the meat of the program, which these days seems to consist pretty exclusively of that Dr. Feelgood, Dr. Get-your-head-straight, Dr. Straighten-your-hair, organize your bookshelf, alphabetize your CD's, forgive your mother, bond with your father, find your long lost twin, have more sex with your husband, stay attracted to your wife, fix your finances, make the perfect fat-free soufflé, and finally, the doctor who tells you how to find the doctor who helps you manage the doctors you now have in your life once you’ve followed Oprah's advice. You know, the psychiatrist for the medication that gives you enough peace of mind to see the therapist who helps you forgive your mom and bond with dad, the lawyer who specializes in finding the doctor who knows where your long- lost twin is, the professional house-organizer who will drive you a little nuts as you notice that he makes repetitive little scurrying motions, has a twitch and washes his hands so often that the sock-drawer reorganization project takes all morning. Gently, you recommend that this individual see your psychiatrist so that you can leave the sock drawer behind to make it to your appointment with the sex therapist on time. She recommends that you wear lingerie under your clothes at all times, under all circumstances. Not the classy kind, the trashy kind that rides up your butt and pokes at your breasts, so you can't forget it's there. This is supposed to keep you turned on at all times so that you can follow her next piece of advice which is, no matter what, even if it is the shortest, most perfunctory exchange of bodily fluids, to have sex with each other every single day no matter what. It will, as she says, "Keep the juices flowing." Another favorite phrase of hers, "Use it or lose it!" Not so with the credit advisor who insists, "Don't use it, lose it." Cut them up, ceremonially wearing lingerie if you want to combine processes, but keep one card frozen in a block of ice so that you have to thaw it before possibly using it again. Of course, you might quickly realize the inherent flaw in your plan, use the microwave to melt the ice, and with the money budgeted for lingerie buy two tickets for a Caribbean vacation where the only specialist is the guy mixing drinks at the Tikki bar.