Friday, November 30, 2007

The Sales Rep

You know them. They're young, well-dressed, good-looking and carry boxy brief cases with samples. They're the drug reps.

Truth be known, FD has brought home an odd assortment of perks from drug reps. Mostly pens. The best, bar none, is one that advertizes a drug for erectile dysfunction. You got it. It folds up conveniently, and slowly rises on command.

Although the major newspapers have exposed drug companies for buying physicians (they pop for expensive vacations to Cozumel), none have offered us anything like that. It's a shame, too, because I could have used a vacation to Cozumel. I don't think I'm destined to ever go there.

Ever so often a pharmaceutical company will bring in lunch to FD's office, or pop for an expensive dinner in a restaurant, but he sits through the presentations. He only goes if he thinks the drug has some merit, and he's only invited me along one time. The drug was for sleeplessness, so it wasn't totally out of line. I had a great time.

It's the attention, the kindly admiration that they lavish on physicians that I think of when when I think of drug reps. I've had the good fortune of treating a few in my day, and they've been truly personable, hard-working people (no, we can't generalize, now, can we, but maybe we can). They're funny and focus upon the sale. Drug companies have plenty of money; the reps are well-trained in their craft.

So imagine my surprise when a team of three young, beautiful sales-type persons knocked on the door to my new office. I don't prescribe, you know, not being an MD. But I love visitors, and luck had it that I wasn't with a patient. Unfortunately I'd kicked off my shoes and had papers all over the place, so I shouted, Hold 'on, I'll be just a minute, found the shoes, checked my hair in the mirror and opened the door.

"Well, what can I do for YOU!" I exclaimed, thinking they were drug reps, of course. I'm telling you. One more gorgeous than the next, all different ethnic shades.

"We're from Quill and we'd like to show you our product line, we're offering 20% off. . ."

"Hold on! I've got a patient in ten minutes. But do you have INK?" I had just run out five minutes before, and there's never a good time to run out of ink. I write. I bill. I bill. I write. It all takes ink.

Well, of course they had ink. We went through the numbers and the number of cartridges I'd need, and I thought I had a good deal, six cartridges for under fifty dollars. "Great," I say. They wanted me to confirm the sale on the phone. "But I can't complete this thing right now. Someone's waiting for me, and I don't keep patients waiting."

"No problem, doctor. We'll visit someone else and come back in an hour."

I tell them there's no guarantee they're going to catch me in the 3 second break I usually have between patients, but the leader of the pack tells me for sure they'll pull this off. No worries. I'll have my ink, maybe in 24 hours.

That's what I wanted, of course. I wanted to get to work the next day and see a package with ink cartridges from Quill. But I had another four patients and it was already one o'clock. At 2:30 the lead sales rep caught me as I stepped into the waiting room to fetch my next patient.

"Doc, Let me just show you the order and we can call it in. It'll take 2 minutes."

I shrug. "No way. I don't have the 2 minutes right now. You'll have to wait another 45."

"Just look at the order. Let's make sure it's right."

The order is just under $100.00. "This is twice what I thought it would be."

She tells me what I ordered and how much, and I say, "Well, at Office Max I buy a 2-pack for $25.00, one color, one black."

"Oh, you wanted the 2-pack! Why didn't you say so! They're half the price."

So that's what I want. Write it up and come back.

This goes on and on. We came in under $50.00, but we had to add another $5 worth of merchandize to qualify for free shipping. I say, "Post-Its," pointing them out in the catalogue. Of course, I had pointed to the ad for 6 dozen packages of Post-Its. Now my bill is $2000. No, no, no. One little package, okay? Okay. Did I want the free cookies? What do I look like? Someone who says no to free cookies? Are they kosher? We don't know. Who makes them? Famous something. Oh, I think they are. YES. Bring me cookies.

Every break in the action I'm dealing with this. Finally, at 4:45, my last patient of the day is late. I can finish the deal on the phone. I'm thinking, this is insane. Why am I doing this? How hard would it be to go to Office Max. I'm saving no money, really, oh, maybe a few dollars, but was it worth it to be shopping in the middle of a busy office day?

Sure it was. To be fawned over by kids who are going to make money on their sale, who are going to go home and say, WE GOT ANOTHER ACCOUNT! Such a no-brainer. I love this job.
Today it's ink, tomorrow paper, before I blink I'll be buying a new sofa.

And that wouldn't be such a bad idea, either.


P.S. I had the ink by 10:00 a.m. the following day.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

It's His Mother

There I was, minding my own business, picking at the broccoli quiche at a bridal shower, when from across the table I heard an old friend of mine shout to me,

"Hey, Doc! What should a woman do if a guy tells her something that turns her off in the first five minutes of a first date, something really scary?"

"Like what," I ask, "Like he's got a gun? Pass the nuts."

He had told her that he had mother issues, that his mother had screwed him up.
"And you don't find that interesting? Why is that scary?"
For me this is confusing. Most of my conversations start with, My mother screwed me up. In my defense, this time I did not crack, Come on, the guy's Jewish, right?

Contrary to popular belief, Jews do not have a corner on mother stories.

And truth be told, I can certainly see why a person would hesitate getting involved with someone who divulges a personal issue before his first diet coke.

She might have had good reasons to want to run before ordering her sushi, reasons like:

thinking he should have cleared up his issues by the ripe old age of forty, either by watching Oprah, going to therapy, or successfully banishing negative memories to the recesses of his mind, hoping never to have to deal with them. Like the rest of us.

thinking the polite thing for him to do would be to ask her about her issues, perhaps not talk much about himself at all

thinking he could have showed his mother more respect than to diss her in the first five minutes of a date

So I buttered a roll, gave her the benefit of the doubt, and was about to explain the facts of life, when she challenged me further.
"Well wouldn't you see problems with a mother as a red flag?"
What's with the flags? Are all issues red flags? Is everyone a potential serial rapist? Does this mean he'll be obsessed with navel lint? How's one to know? Must there be a tragic flaw? Things are culturally synchronous (I know they are with her dates), you share the same values and yiddish nuances. You can work the rest out.

But I wipe my mouth and say,
"Why look for reasons not to like this guy? You only had one date. Anyway, isn't it INTERESTING that his mother screwed him up? Do you think there's someone out there who ISN'T screwed up? I'll bet he's been in therapy."
I'm thinking therapy is a good thing, see.

But I'd rather not get into any of this, not over salad, not across a table, and I've just been asked to emcee the shower (n = 70) and to introduce the next speaker, and I'm not a hundred percent sure I know her name.
"Well, yeah, he's been in therapy," she says, frowning and shaking her head from
side to side, as in, therapy's a bad thing.
More than a sigh, not quite a groan. A sroan.
"Don't you want to know what happened to him in his childhood?"
Blank look and decent enough pause.
"Not sure."
I'm a patient person. This is my friend, after all, and I love her and I want her happy. So I decide to wait before introducing the speaker, to postpone the opening of the presents.

"Would you really rather talk politics and religion on a first date? Do you really care? Everyone has something going on upstairs. I'd want to define that something, maybe talk about the person who's had the most tremendous influence upon his psyche, behavior, relationships, attitudes, and habits. Don't you want to know about those kinds of things? Here's a guy who wants to talk about this stuff. Geshmacht. Delicious. And the quiche isn't bad, either."

She tells me she still can't see past the red flags.

I suggest she try to weed out violent tendencies, substance dependency and abuse. But rather than use the filtering method for dating she might consider something else, something much less popular yet very sophisticated. She needs to look for something other than flags.

"What?! What do I need to look for?!"

The wonderful.

You need to look for the wonderful.

The point of dating is projecting into the future, seeing what it is that you'll see twenty, forty, perhaps even sixty years from now. You're looking for things that will make you smile, that will make you happy. There's something truly wonderful in everyone, and your job, should you choose to accept it, is to find it. If you decide to spend the rest of your life with this person, you'll want to absorb, love, enjoy and build on the wonderful. It's the wonderful that you need.

"The wonderful," she repeats.

"The wonderful."

Way too simple, is it?

Pass the dressing.

copyright 2007,


Monday, November 26, 2007

The you in how are you

Someone asked me to elaborate on how one goes about developing self. I'm loathe to do a self-help, how-to post since there are so many ways to answer this and any other question and the ways vary depending upon age and at least a dozen other variables. But I'm thinking that one possible approach to the problem is derech ha'gav.

Oh, you're sick of Hebrew/Yiddish expressions? But they're more poetic and more to the point, and you know it's true.

So derech ha'gav (Hebrew) means the way to the left . Or it can mean in an unusual way or an alternative path to get to where you want to go. Sometimes it's the long way.

How DOES one go about developing self, TherapyDoc?

Well, derech ha'gav, let's discuss (a) people asking How are you? and (b) people answering Fine.

Let's skip (a) and go directly to (b) Fine. It's quicker. Plus, this being an easy class (everyone gets an "A") we can postpone How to ask Invasive Questions and Asking Socially Appropriate Questions and Knowing What questions to Ask When, of Whom, and about What, until next semester.

(By the way, should I be giving mid-terms? I had that recurring dream last night about forgetting to attend a history class senior year, undergrad, and getting an incomplete or a failure and wondering if indeed I had graduated.)

But back to you.

FINE is not a good answer. Even though it's the popular answer, it's not a good answer.

Say you're at an event, maybe a religious reception, or a wedding, a holiday party. We just knocked off Thanksgiving and more cool holidays are coming right up! No, I can't wait either. And someone comes up to you and says, How are you?

I think that most* people automatically say, Fine.

It would be nice to hear, however, something more along the following lines, something with a few more words tagged on, words that hit on the dimensions of self. No one really wants to hear a pathetic, FINE. What we're dying for is . . .

Well, emotionally, I'm up and down, you know, all over the map, I'm feeling insane half the time.

And financially things are a wreck, we're barely making ends meet, and who
knows how Little Joey's going to go to college.

Health-wise I'm struggling, but it seems the rest of the family is in a good place, so okay, at least that's good, on the other hand, ya' never know when the other shoe is gonna' drop, do you?

Spiritually I'm totally disconnected and hate myself for not even trying, let alone caring, on the other hand, I still go through the motions, so maybe I'm not such a worm after all.

Relationship-wise there's nothing. Nothing is going on. I have no time for
my friends. Forget old friends to whom I haven't spoken in years. Maybe 20 years.

The stress at work is eating away at me. I'm just not hitting the mark. I come home and can barely talk at the end of the day. Laundry's not happening. I eat potato chips.

But my pottery class, my creativity is going well, even though I broke something that I'd been working on for three months, for sure it's a gam zu*. And even though that broke, my banana cake was a hit on Thanksgiving, and I think I've finally got the knack of wild rice.

I hit the ball too hard and now I have tennis elbow, and there's no way I can exercise, and since it was my only sport, I now get zilch recreation and since that was the only thing that made me happy I'm pretty grouchy all the time and am gaining weight, of course.

Thank G-d. By you?

Okay, so it's an old joke, but all of those things are self-defining. When someone asks, HOW ARE YOU they're saying, not demanding, but subtly suggesting, TALK ABOUT YOU.

Crazy as it sounds, we often think How are you is a direct question about our happiness. But it isn't, and our answers shouldn't be limited to some sort of declaration of emotional health. Some relationships, it's true, are founded on these intimacies. We talk about our troubles with certain people, bask in issues. Some people like to talk about their feelings.

But not everyone does, and its a diss to the human condition to think that all we are is the way we feel. Emotion is just an interpretation of our body sensations, that's all. Sure, it can be overwhelming and they feel like they take over and can. Sometimes we're conscious of nothing but our sadness, anxiety, guilt, resentment, anger, umbrage. We feel diagnosable, and we might very well be.

But you have to keep that in it's place, too, the idea that I am my disorder. I alluded to this in the post on Borderline Disorder. We're usually more ordered than not.

Managing and staying conscious of the rest of one's identity and focusing upon others is the job when in an emotionally tight spot.

And no question, for some of us, being in a social situation means being in an emotionally tight spot.

So. When you're mingling and talking to people next month at holiday parties, or even at work, tasting the cookies and fruit cakes, snacking on celery and dip, consider embellishing your answers. My guess is that you've got a lot more self than you think.

And when in doubt you can always skip to another social skill and say, Pass the guac (the cookies, the lasagne), would you please? It's really good, don't you think? What do you think is in there? I taste oregano, or is that cilantro? And there's a hint of peppermint in that chocolate chip cookie, for sure try that.

Everyone loves to talk food. Talking about what we like to eat, cook, taste, prepare, or carry out is another dimension of self, lest we forget. Like we could.

copyright 2007, therapydoc

* No, I have no research to support this contention.
* gam zu (rhymes with Tom Zoo) means this, too, and refers to this, too, is good, and deserves an entire post which no promises I really will write one day. My patients hear this from me often, gam zu, and most don't graduate therapy until they start saying it back.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Kid with the Funny Laugh

This is a reprint from August 29, 2007. I wrote it a few years ago for a patient (16), stayed up pretty late to do it, too. (It helped, so it was worth the work. See, there are different kinds of therapy, you know). Then I published it here, still writing under my name, and took it down when I went anonymous, but can't remember why.
Someone recently asked about it, so here you are.

In retrospect it's a little dark. But being on the receiving end of any kind of violence isn't exactly light, is it? Feel free to copy and use it, but I've got a copyright, for those of you kids who still like stealing things off the Internet.


by therapydoc

Once there was a boy who attended a Catholic school. It could have been a Lutheran school or a Christian school or a Mormon school. It doesn’t matter.

It was the kind of school where the kids pretty much follow the rules, and if they don’t follow the rules they try very, very hard not to get caught.

There aren’t any gangs in his school and you can count on one hand the number of kids who use drugs or even drink very much alcohol.

This was an average boy except that he had a terrible laugh and he was a little on the uncoordinated side. For as long as he could remember, almost all of the boys in his class made fun of these things and just about everything else they could think of.

Maybe there’s at least one scapegoat in every class, but it didn’t help the boy to know that. He had a few friends, but he felt really bad that all of the other boys didn’t like him.

It was an all-boys school and they were already at the age, seventeen, where they should have known better. Knowing they didn’t like him made him nervous which made him laugh nervously to disguise his feelings. That made him an even greater target for their jokes.

One day he could take it no longer and he blurted out, “Would it make you all happy if I killed myself?” The boys were surprised at first, and they took a long time before one of them shot back, “Go for it, do what you gotta’ do.”

That depressed him even more. But at least he had made them think. And for a whole week, whenever they picked on him he would reply, “Would it make you happy if I killed myself?”

Soon they thought of funny come-backs and they could laugh again at his expense.

By the weekend he was even more depressed. He thought to himself, “Why bother with these idiots? I’m a good kid, and they’re jerks. I certainly wouldn’t kill myself over them! They’ve tortured me all my life, practically. I shouldn’t care about what they think about me. They’ll go to hell in the end.” And he went ahead and entertained himself on his own like he always did.

Thinking about his classmates, who happened to be good kids in the eyes of their parents and teachers, by the way, did have an effect upon him.

It made him very, very angry. The more he thought about them, the more he wanted them to disappear.

The next day, when one of the kids called him clutz and all the other guys laughed, he snapped back, “Maybe it would make me happy if I came to school with a gun and killed everyone of you—you, and you, and you.” He said each "you" very slowly.

The boys were taken aback but then one of them said, “Sure, like you could even handle a gun, you weakling.”

But he kept repeating it every time they said something mean, which was often enough that day.

“Maybe it would make me happy if I came to school with a gun and killed everyone of you. It’s been done before. Hmm… now there’s an idea. Take you out, one by one, bullet by bullet.”

Well, one of the boys told the principal.

It didn’t seem likely, but maybe the boy could pull a Columbine, who knew?

The principal was very concerned and pulled the boy out of class. He called his parents and told them that their son wouldn’t be let back into school without a note from a doctor saying that he wasn’t dangerous.

This was something new. The boy hadn’t anticipated therapy, but he didn’t mind going. He wasn’t afraid of it at all, looked forward to it, in fact.

He couldn’t tell the doctor all the details because he believed it to be a sin to talk badly about others, but the doctor got the general idea.

“You need,” said the doctor, “assertiveness training.”

Then he went ahead and explained what that was. Apparently there are three types of responses to confrontation. One can be passive, assertive, or aggressive.

When someone budges in front of you in line at the movies, for example, the doctor explained, you can either be: 1) passive, which is to say absolutely nothing, or 2) assertive, which is to tell it like it is, “Excuse me, but the end of the line is actually back there,” or 3) aggressive, which is to hit him or swear, as in, “You blankety blank get your blankety blank to the back of the blankety blank line, blankety blank*@!#”

The boy thought about it and said to the doctor, “I could be assertive but it wouldn’t work. The guys in school actually don’t even swear. They’re just mean.”

The doctor explained that there are many levels of verbal and physical aggression, but being mean, using mean words, is aggression no doubt. “Words hit as hard as a fist,” he said. "I read that on a bus somewhere."

“Why do they do this?” shouted the boy. “Why? Why do they all gang up on me?”

The doctor explained that it only takes a couple of leaders to be mean for the rest of the group to join in. Not that it’s fun for everybody, not everybody enjoys bullying, but rather than risk getting picked on by certain leaders, the weaker boys conform.

By conforming they feel protected, like they’re a part of a club. These are children, after all, and they need to fit in and be liked. So if that means picking on someone for no good reason, that’s the way it is.

The doctor called it Group Think when people don’t think for themselves. Some may realize it’s not nice, but they don’t want to go against the popular kids and jeopardize their own popularity.

And they surely don’t want to become the class scapegoat.

Group think is exactly what makes street gangs work. Weaker kids join stronger kids for protection. Even gang rape is just a bunch of guys hanging out and being criminal together to prove to each other that they’re bigger and stronger than their victim.

Same principles operate when an entire class bullies one kid. They’re bigger and stronger and feel better about themselves for being on top. Wow, we sure showed him, strut strut.

The boy still didn’t get it. He didn’t need to put anyone else down to feel good about himself. All he had to do to feel good was get good grades or watch TV. Why couldn’t they just live their own lives and leave him alone?

The doctor explained that kids who are violent—either verbally or physically—are sometimes copying their parents or older siblings.

If kids are allowed to fight at home, or if they witness fighting in the home, they think it’s what people do. If they watch their parents fight, then they might be afraid there’ll be a divorce. In those cases, the "leader" is often a jealous child, jealous of other kids who seem to have happy families.

For some people there’s no better way to feel better when they’re down than to make someone else miserable. That's just the way it is.

Sometimes bullies are unhappy with themselves because they aren’t good enough students or because their parents demand too much. The most common cause for teenage suicide, the doctor told the boy, is parental pressure about grades, feeling sure that you’ll never make it in life because you can’t do well enough in school.

The doctor, in the end, had the boy come back three days in a row, just to be absolutely sure that he was, indeed, not violent.

The boy didn’t mind at all and welcomed the vacation from school.

School could have been a good place for him, if it weren’t for his class. He was smart enough and had a nice way about him. He wasn’t mean to anyone, not ever, in fact he helped people out when they needed him. Teachers liked him very much.

He focused on the positives in his life and thought to himself that in six months his classmates would all graduate and go off to college, probably marry (not invite him!) and have kids.

At some point a classroom bully would be mean to his wife or maybe their kids, and at some point a woman would say, “That’s it, I’m out of here. I'm taking the kids and going. Bye bye.”

Or maybe the kids who teased him would turn out to be nice, after all, would grow up and feel guilty, even, for having made fun of him as teenagers. That was a satisfying thought, almost as good as becoming rich and laughing at them when they came to his company to apply for jobs.

After that third day away he returned to class.

Surprisingly, no one made fun of him. No one even talked to him, except for one of the nice boys in the class, a boy who had never made fun of him to begin with.

The rest of the class seemed to keep a distance. One of his teachers told him that while he had been away a team of experts had come to the school to discuss violence and what is called “peer rejection.” The kids had a violence prevention workshop.

Just when the boy thought he was spared, one of the kids came up to him and whispered, “Laugh, dude, I love it when girls laugh.”

The boy mustered up his courage and leaned forward so that his face was very close to his classmate’s face and said, “One day you’ll learn to think for yourself. Until you do, you’re just a little boy.”

He walked away as his classmate mimicked him and teased him behind his back.

Another classmate came up to him and said, “Did you really plan on getting a gun and killing everybody?”

“Why?” asked the boy. “Does it really make a difference? Are you going to be nice to me one way or another?”

“Just wanted to know, is all.”

“Oh, man. There's no way I'll ever tell. You’ll never know. The kids in this school don’t deserve to know. They can all think what they want.”

therapydoc, copyright, 2004

Monday, November 19, 2007

Interrupting the Binge--The Nap

Tis the season to eat like crazy. I understand that starting October 31, eating season begins. Most of humankind gains a few to a thousand pounds by January 2. In the northern climes it's Fatten Up to Melt the Snow. Beyond Blue tells us not to be so hard on ourselves, leaves off saying, remember, if you screw up (over-eat) tomorrow's another day.

I think it's time for me to introduce the One Minute at a Time concept. Although it seems to me that One Minute at a Time should be in every addicts lexicon (it is in MY office), it's One Day at a Time that is far more popular, probably because it works. *

One Day at a Time probably works because the western mind thinks in terms of the Day, the 24-hour cycle of a day. The eastern mind thinks of the Moment. I suppose that growing up in the sixtie's (Be Here Now) has had more of a profound effect upon me than I care to admit. But being ruled by a 24-hour clock seems such a slave mentality.

Taking things a minute at a time means not having to wait until tomorrow to start over. You can start anywhere, anytime, about anything. Say you're about to grab that cookie (drink, smoke, powder). You sit down cross-legged and focus on your mantra and voila! No more craving.

Joke right? Indeed. Joke. Who do you know who does that? Who do I know who does that? The best of the 12-steppers will tell you to call your sponsor or to pray (I guess sitting cross-legged and meditating is like praying). Or read your affirmations (thoughts that make sobriety worthwhile). Or go to a meeting, even a board meeting, I suppose. Call a friend.

Those unaffiliated with 12-steps will do retail therapy. A couple of months ago I was thrown for a loop about something and my daughter-in-law, the one in California, grabbed me by the elbow and said, We're going to Marshall's. You'll feel better, Ma.

And I did. Like having a built-in sponsor.

But we were talking about stopping the binge, and one day at a time, not coping with an immediate crisis. Still, retail therapy fit in this post right there, didn't it?

To me this is about changing the way your brain is "feeling." If it's in a place that it hates and it's been wired to go for some kind of substance to self-correct, then we're directed to the source of satisfaction: the cookie jar or the liquor cabinet or in our case, Marshall's.

Nieman's (needless mark-ups around here) would okay, too. The job is to change your sensorium, the way you feel. Showers are good, and someone told me that merely letting hot water stream over your hands while washing dishes is awesome. And it is.

Thus exercise works, too, does it not? Ask a jogger.

But let's say we're not so ambitious, and our knees hurt, and face it, who wants to go running.

Let us consider the nap. The NAP is perhaps the most under-rated, yet effective way to stop a binge, and it need not be a cat nap (short) or a sexual nap (preferably long). It can just be a NAP. And you can reach for the sack in a minute, seriously, crawl right under that afghan and close those baby blues, refresh your rhodopsin and reboot your head. And it costs NOTHING.

Americans hate naps. They do, they really do. No siestas here, baby. So dysfunctional, sleeping when you could be doing something eminently productive. Oh yes, and let's make sure we drink so much coffee that a nap is impossible. Remind me to rant on this one day.

Yet it is calorie-free, the nap, and so delicious. It is a Shut down and Restart the ol' computer.

Start over as soon as you begin to lose it, if you ask me. It's another form of Be Here Now, but more like, Be Asleep Here Now.

(You're right, I just want those yoga gurus on the Internet to love this blog).

Let's not go with "tomorrow's another day."


copyright 2007, therapydoc

* I shouldn't have to say it, but this is all (almost all) tongue in cheek and should not substitute for real treatment for a substance abuse disorder which is fairly complicated and includes a myriad of interventions, and you're right, yes, I should post on them, and okay, no promises, I will in the coming months.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Cell Phone

This is one of those, I get by with a little help from my friends posts. Like the geese.

It was disconcerting, and I'm not a person easily disconcerted.

On N0vember 16, Blogger posted an email on this blog that I wrote to the Blogger team to get started with GoBlogger (sufficiently confused yet?)

GoBlogger is an interface that allows you to post to your blog from your cell phone, theoretically, using e-mail. There's a November 16 post, titled NEW BLOG, that makes no sense, and I had no idea it would get posted to ENT.
But I'm too terrified to delete it.

All I wanted to do was post your comments from my cell phone. That's all I asked. The phone is somehow supposed to know how to do that, somehow, perhaps, by secret messaging or technological telepathy with GoBlogger, but things aren't working out.

I can get the Treo 750 (a Palm) to do most tricks. Except I haven't been able to publish to Blogger OR get Palm to send me my $250 dollars in promised rebates. (What were the chances of that, anyway? Perhaps I should have told ATT that I blog).

Don't believe the rebate part if you sign up with them. They either lie, or make the float really float. It's been floating for months now.

Anyway, if any of you know how to do this, publish comments to a Blogger blog from a Treo, please share the wealth. I'm going to need to do that during jury duty this week. Yes, you heard correctly, jury duty.

When called for civic duty, yours truly jumps at the opportunity. Which is why YOU get an adamant NO, if you ask me to write you a note to get you out of yours. Just go. If you're psychotically ill, they'll get it. You won't get called for a panel.

Onto Thanksgiving. What, you're dreading the holiday and your therapist is taking off work the week of Thanksgiving? Tell it to the judge.

I'm hoping there will be time tomorrow to write something appropos while hanging around, doing nothing, waiting for them to tell me I'm not the droid they're looking for. Would you want me on YOUR jury? I think not.

Anyway, much obliged to anyone who can help me with my cell phone-blogger problem.

And a happy Thanksgiving to all if I don't post about your depression before that,

Oh, and if I don't post about Thanksgiving, just find a showing of last Saturday night's (November 17) Midnight Special. Maybe it's on itunes or youtube or something. There are some really good songs that will get you in the mood to deal with family and not feel that excruciating desire for Xanax.

wish me luck,


Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Postal Service

I know it's lame, considering all of the half-written drafts about deep stuff that I've not touched in ages that should be edited and posted for your pop psych fix of the day. I've even got a really good one that I wrote last night when I got home from a bridal shower.

I shouldn't burden you with this.

But about a month and a half ago I helped with someone else's bridal shower. I wouldn't say helped, but I volunteered to help. (I'm from a relatively large family, something's always happening).

I couldn't go, rarely can. But I said I'd send a check to help cover the cost, and as soon as the woman in charge called and left me the amount, I whipped out my check book.

Truth told, it took me a couple of days to get it into a mailbox. But only a couple of days, or so I thought.

A week or so later I got a call, one of those awful calls that are so hard to make.

TherapyDoc? Uh, did you ever get around to mailing out that

No problem. Yeah! I sent it!

Okay, good, then don't worry about it.
Then a week and a half later, another call. Same thing.

Hate to bother you, but did you send that check? I still haven't got it.

You're joking, I say. How is that possible? I'll bring you a new check, personally. The postal service in Chicago is terrible!

Oh, she says. It's terrible in Morton Grove (a burb), too.
Well that explains it.

Just drop it off at Bobbie's, she says. I'll be seeing her this week.
(Bobbie lives a lot closer to me than she does)


And I did. I dropped off a new check at my cousin's. But I squirmed. I was so embarrassed. For sure, I thought, I'm going to find that stupid check when I go through those piles of papers on my desk. It'll be stuck with some bill I haven't paid.

But. . .I JUST got another call! The original check, arrived! The original check! It was postmarked October 18, 2007. Today is November 15, last I checked.

We don't live in Alaska.

This kind of thing can drive a person who suffers from a little anxiety insane. You know how it goes. You say to yourself, DID I mail that check? And if I didn't, what ELSE didn't I mail? And if I did mail it, and the postal service stashed it in a corner on the floor at the Kedzie Station, what ELSE is stashed in a corner on the floor at the Kedzie Station?

But the weird thing is that I sent a bill to a lawfirm last Friday--I'm not making this up. Friday, November 9 it was in the mail. Pick up wasn't supposed to happen until 5:00 pm that day. Monday, November 11, would be a legal holiday. I expected the bill for my services to arrive no earlier than Wednesday the following week.

I'd see my money some day if it didn't get lost in the snow in December.

But I got a check. I got a CHECK in the mail the very next day, November 10.

How's that happen? It had to have been delivered on Friday night or early Saturday morning, processed and mailed immediately, then DELIVERED on SATURDAY!

From now on, this is the only mailbox I'll ever use. We'll call it my lucky mailbox. It's on Lincoln and Catalpa, someplace around there. Feel free to try it.

It could be that there are people who really do work over there at the US Postal Service.

And miracles never cease.

FD, you should know, upon hearing the story suggested that I take a better systems approach. It's your handwriting, he said. Could be.


new blog

I'd like to try this. I have a treo 750 and a blog on blogger that
won't let me publish comments from my phone now



Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Being Great and the Self in Self-esteem

A gadol ha'dor, meaning a great man in his generation and a brilliant scholar, caught in a slow elevator was asked to divulge what he considered his greatest defect. He didn't have to think very hard. "Gaivah," he said. "I have to work on this every single day, all of the time."

It is possible that I am translating it incorrectly, but I'm pretty sure that the Hebrew word indicates conceit, which means too much certainty, too much self. It means not enough acknowledgment of others or sensitivity to the depth, length and breadth of the unknown.

A truly conceited person is sure of himself, and in those moments of conscious surety there's pride, too, even a little awe, self-love. And it shows.

And then it passes, probably. For someone like the gadol ha'dor, the feeling passes with a twinge of shame, when he's conscious, aware of his feeling. Our rabbi is clear. "I have to work on this every single day, all of the time."

I'm sure you've heard the expression about someone, He's high on himself or full of himself. That seems to be a measure of self-esteem. It's dysfunctional self-esteem, of course, even if it's full or high. A person like this might think that he's great, but even if others are quick to acknowledge his greatness in something, they don't think he's great. His egocentricity might come at the expense of attention or sensitivity to others.

So being great isn't about self-esteem, it's not about the process of valuing yourself or comparing yourself to others vis-a-vis traits and skills. It's about who you are.

There is a school of self psychology. In my day they were called Kohutians, which always made me think of Martians, but I liked it and still push a modified version on patients. Kohutians would have people, usually children, draw pictures of themselves.

If they drew no arms or hands, for example, then that would indicate that they lacked the sense of power or autonomy needed to do things. Perhaps others did everything for them. So add those appendages, please. Become whole.

Ultimately the idea of self-psychology (to me) is that if you develop more of you, then there will be more of you to like. I would take it a step farther and say that yes, if you like you, too (have self-esteem), then you'll be a cheerier individual and others will like you more, as long as you don't like yourself too much.

Take a look at a continuum of self . I have no idea what the Kohutians would think of it. Feel free to Google this topic and find better continuums.
I think that people we think of as GREAT have plenty of self. They're certainly not all self, however. They're not narcissistic. We don't think of narcissistic people as great. In narcissism, everything, everything, everything is about that person. It grandfathers in conceit.

Great people, on the other hand, have long biographies about how they interact with and care for others. Their biographies, by definition, are written by other people. Great people are not into autobiography.

Great people, indeed, make interesting subjects for biography because their self-esteem sometimes waivers and their decision making isn't always perfect. They're not always sure of themselves. And we like that. We want psychological depth in our historical fiction. Chaotic family life, irrational decision-making-- that's the stuff of humanity. We want to shout at the hero, No, no, no! Don't marry her! or Don't buy that stock! Run, don't miss that plane!

Like our heroes, when we make mistakes our self-esteem tends to plummet for awhile, which can be a good thing. It builds character. It gives us something to work on. See, even the rabbi needed something to work on.

o just because a person does great things, and qualifies for greatness, does not mean that he or she has an inexhaustible supply of self-esteem.

Let's look at TherapyDoc's Continuum of Self-esteem. If there is a similar one in a book somewhere, you'll have to trust me, I didn't steal it. This one comes from my personal ever-evolving tool-box of poorly drawn continuum.So what does it mean? Shtickel means just a little, and rhymes with pickle, for starts.

If we compare the two graphs, I think you'll see that there might very well be an association between having a fair amount or even plenty of self-esteem and having a large dollop of self.

Self-esteem surely depends upon all kinds of variables, and self might be the greatest one.

A hypothesis for your doctoral thesis could be:

The more self, meaning the better defined the person, the greater the number of skills, the greater number of socially desirable characteristics (like a propensity to do good deeds), the more sensitivity to others, the more knowledge and experience, the more prepared one is to wage combat against the forces of evil (the greater the Jedi), the more that one can identify and say, That's Good, That's a Good Piece of Me, the more self-esteem.

You operationalize it.* Divide it into several hypotheses, for starts.

I'm thinking that having self empowers. Having self enables one to manipulate his or her environment and thereby confront, perhaps even change some of the eco-systemic variables that contribute to low-self-esteem.

Self is the ultimate force of empowerment. People who have it are better able to help themselves. And they wear hats. (just seeing if you're awake)

You'll want to quantify self-esteem, of course. Lucky for all of us there are many instruments on line that you can download. They really measure social confidence and assertiveness. When you score low on these variables it's assumed that your self-esteem needs tweaking.

It seems to me that the psych pundits (they're all pretty good) hardly ever say self. They refer to self-esteem. To have that you have to love yourself. See the good in you. Far be it from me to argue.

But that's really hard to do, build self-esteem, because it depends upon so many things. Life's full of hard knocks, and our perceptions of the words and actions of others, our emotional reactivity, our aptitudes and attitudes about lacking aptitudes, such things are colored by those hard knocks, not to mention that most undeniably confounding variable of all, genetics.

Genetics surely plays into this, but let's not go there now. Let's stick with the socio-environmental stuff we understand. It is said, however, that evolution is all about adaptive change, so perhaps we humans are not doomed, genetics or not, assuming we keep watching Oprah and reading blogs.

Anyway, people who have self-esteem probably heard messages from others growing up such as: You've got unlimited potential!

People who don't have self-esteem may have heard the opposite: You are nothing! You're a loser!

Then there's the case of no parental involvement, hearing nothing at all. It's no mystery that low self-esteem is associated with child abuse and neglect. One's experience past and present, one's hopes and dreams, blanketed by the the fear of an unpredictable, unfathomable future, all impact self-esteem.

Go change that self-esteem. Do it in Ten Days! (a workbook promise)

The task is so huge that I'm pretty sure I've hardly used the two words together in a post before. Well maybe once or twice in those confidence/social skill posts, where I tell you to be like Nike,

Just Do It.

I'm not kidding, though. The subject of self-esteem overwhelms me. Which is why we'll do it in two posts. I'm going to let another blogger help us out, and I'll add and subtract when I revisit this one day soon (no promises).

But Beyond Blue wrote a lovely post about self-esteem that theoretically should raise hers. Doing things well, like putting out a good post on the Internet helps people feel good about themselves. Why else are we blogging, anyway?

For today let's just say that self and self-esteem are sisters. They play in the same sandbox.

And I'd like to think that the rabbi, the gadol hador, the leader of his generation was a gadol (a great man) not because he played with sand, but because he learned from the wisdom of the sages who said, many, many, many years ago,
If I am not for myself, who am I? And if I am only for myself, then what am I?

copyright 2007, therapydoc

*operationalize means find a way to measure concepts

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Hoo-du ya love, Substances, and The Bake Sale

Last we talked I had finished off my chocolate chip cookie, rinsed out a Men Against Rape coffee mug, and headed upstairs to get dressed.

Oh, you don't remember any of that? Well, you're in the right place.

I might have left out the part about the coffee mug and rape, but the rest is there. Anyway, a patient looked me square in the eye the other day and said, Ya' know, Doc, that there are times that I just HAVE to bake. When I get like that nothing else quite works for me.

Now, I know that this is a very well-put-together person, and she was talking about a coping strategy that works for her. When she says, I just HAVE to bake, it's not to fill a physical void, not like the sweet tooth that drives this therapy doc to the Kitchen Aide (I've burned out two).

Anyway, baking is a coping strategy, something that can work for people when they need a lift or when nothing else makes as much sense. It just feels right, and for many of us brings back primordial memories, perhaps even collective memories if you're a Jungian.

So whether you're up and manic, anxious, rootless, simply flying around, or perhaps down and dreary, baking can help.

But if you have no patience you might not be the man (woman) for the job. For example, if it's going to take more than a half an hour, then I'm a little reluctant to get started. There's no way I'd miss The Office on a Thursday night, for example, if I thought that might mean burning a batch.

Except for now the writers are on strike.

They should bake!

I know a rabbi who says that once cookies have cooled down completely they're hardly worth eating anymore. He's not entirely wrong, and you all know this intuitively. Fresh from the oven is much better than fresh from the bag or the box, be it Matt's or President's Choice (the Decadent Chocolate Chip), Archway, Famous Amos, or whatever the personal fave.

I know there are amazing gourmet cookies out there. But are they kosher?

Let's reiterate. If they're cold, forget it.

This COULD be a metaphor in life.

Just one more thing about cookies, then we can move onto the finer substances of life. Baking is much more than a coping strategy in life, much more even than a life skill. Baking your own cookies is not just about making people envy your applied chemistry finesse.

Baking cookies symbolizes independence, the very opposite of substance abuse, I might add, in case you're new here.

Once you don't need your mother or spouse (or some other baking type person) to bake for you, you have attained a type of psychological independence. When Little One started baking in my house (I have to bake, Mom, there is no food in this house, I HAVE TO EAT SOMETHING!) he also started talking back. He was, wouldn't you know, so much better at this baking thing than me (I know, you're shocked).

But I felt that once he started baking that I really had no right to argue back with him about anything anymore. It was terrible when he got too cool and stopped. But we know he has the skill and can start up again at any time. It's like riding a bike. Once you can bake you never look back!

We haven't even discussed the social advantages to this coping strategy, how others will invite you over, secretly HOPING you'll bake something for them.

So on that note, let's get started with this week's Carnival of All Substances, The Bake Sale.

EDITOR'S NOTE: If you sent me posts with pictures that display naked parts of anatomy that I found offensive, you didn't get linked in this carnival. Sorry, friends. My standards are very high.

But as long as I have your attention, I really feel that everyone should see what can be carved into sand, although this has nothing to do with substances except for the fact that it's likely the artists perhaps indulge occasionally (I don't know that for a fact, of course) See sand sculpture at Death by 1000 Papercuts. (I feel I have to tell you not try that at home, the paper cut thing). Art should be, can be the ultimate sober coping strategy.

On with the Carnival of All Substances. But since my standards are getting a little high, there's little to go and see!

You can, however, read a more or less painless post about recovery. Head over to Self-HelpZone and read about internal versus external motivators to stop using.

Although frankly, I think making sand castles might be easier.

Apparently not everyone wants to give in to their chocolate chip cookie jones. Some people see them as dangerous and fattening. One such blogger sent me a link to discuss the latest rage in weight loss over the counter (over the Internet) substances.

I'm not linking over there because it seems that our blogger is also selling the drug, which is derived from plant life in South Africa.

I'm not recommending hoodia gordonii, okay? I'm just opening it up for discussion and am watching this very closely. It's a little scary to me when a drug takes away appetite. Does that mean it's likely to depress a person, too? And isn't it likely that it's addictive?

ResearchHoodiaInfo tells us that there is simply no way that South Africa can export the amount of plant life necessary to fill the appetites of Americans screaming for hoodia gordonii to lose weight. THAT means that it's very likely that the hoodia you think you're taking is NOT hoodia, but is something fake and perhaps not healthy.

In other words, you don't know what it is you're really ingesting. Wonderful. That to me is an indication (if you're ingesting mystery pill) that you have a potential substance abuse problem going on.

A good appetite is a good thing, friends. Call me conservative. Go ahead. Be a little over-weight, don't mess with your body chemistry.

For the record, the active ingredient in hoodia goronii is a steroidal glycoside, P-57. That's what suppresses the appetite. FD tells me that the history of medication for diet suppression is replete with bad ideas that ultimately cause harm to people. This one, hoodia, should not be considered a natural dietary supplement. It is, make no mistake about it, a drug, even if it comes from a plant.

You know that pot comes from a plant, too.

The late Anna Nicole Smith claimed to have lost 69# in 8 months by using TrimSpa which contained hoodia. There's a mixed endorsement for you. But I hear that she died of a broken heart. A son had died, she suffered post-partum depression, and she took every drug in the medicine cabinet. There were many enablers in that case, we know, and I feel for her family. It's tragic.

Now for more of what we're looking for. Go to Pajama Mommy who worked in her uncle's rehab. That's the kind of recovery stuff yours truly prefers.

And that's all we've got.

Straight talk? I left out all of the submissions that had nothing what-so-ever to do with substance use and abuse.

This carnival is supposed to be about recovery from substance abuse/dependency and an occasional nosh. And you know that I endorse Overeaters Anonymous 100%.

The real question is, IS there such a thing as abusing a chocolate chip cookie? Could it be that even if you try to abuse a chocolate chip cookie that it has no real feelings and won't care?

These are questions we can discuss next month, assuming I keep up this nonsense, and that's becoming a very big assumption. Let's not and say we did.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Wearing Other People's Clothes

Like this?

I like this one better.I really love the jacket in stone. The whole idea of the color "stone" is very wonderful. If I were to pick out a new rock for Blue's tank, I'd go with it.

Settle back, I feel like talking. I learned something new the other day.
I think I mentioned that it's getting a little chilly in Chicago.
And I feel it in my chest and in my arms and in my toes and then FD will come to bed late, hoping he's going to warm up, and his hands and toes are freezing and well, all I can say is that

we're not acclimated. It's like this every November. It takes us awhile, in fact, to acclimate since really, we're not the kind of people who ever say, Wow, this cold air! How refreshing!

It's not refreshing; it's just cold.

When it gets like this (and it's not even really cold, cold, it's only in the 40's-50's), I've learned to wear lots of layers; and if I'm going out, I try to put enough of them on so that I'm almost working up a sweat just breathing. And I hate it.

I just want to give my better endowed friends big warm hugs to steal the heat off of them.

This is where it gets tricky, you see. My friends are always telling me that they want to lose weight and I say, Yeah, yeah, but inside I wish they'd quit with the self-dissatisfaction. I love them just the way they are, and none of them are over-weight, really. Yet I know they mean it when they say that they're not happy with extra poundage (which I never see), so I say, Sure, sure you want to lose weight. It's okay, I get it; go for it. Diet. Exercise, whatev. Get skinny.

But you'll be cold.

So Saturday I was alone in the morning, FD had already left for shul (he goes to an early synagogue service) and I was in my sweats reading the Wall Street Journal. The article that grabbed me had to do with "older" women buying clothes that aren't dowdy, yet they're not too youthful looking, either.

The price tag on the Premise Gayle Lillie Jacket (Quotations, Bloomingdales) is a little out of budget for me; too many out-standing college loans from education-at-what-price, the United States Department of Education Direct Loans waits for no man, let's not talk about it, and income taxes that make a grown-woman weep.

Yet I looked at that stone jacket and thought, Man, that would look good on me, NO question. And folded up the newspaper, finished my chocolate chip cookie, and headed up to the bedroom to find something to wear to shul.

I settled on a great looking long fall suit that is surely 15 years old. Or more.

But on my walk to the synagogue I thought about how cool it is that the people who go to services with me really don't give anyone a critical once-over and judge. It's not that kind of crowd. Not that they're retro or wearing jeans. But on really cold winter days, and we're not even there yet, I've been able to get away with flannel pajamas under my skirt and even when they pop out of the boots, nobody's said so much as Boo.

'course, you could say they're polite, and that would be true.

Anyway, I put on that trusty suit that fit me like a glove, added a heavy bell-sleeved cable sweater under the jacket and a pair of tights. Brown wide-towed Mudd loafers (what, you thought I'd wear heels?) Checked the mirror and searched for something to break the wind.

This is Chicago, okay?

Still it's that funny time of year that my mother calls "transitional" , when nothing really feels quite right, weather-wise. And I don't get into a car to beat whatever weather the Old Mighty determines should suit us just fine on the Sabbath. So I have to be prepared.

And wouldn't you know it, not one of my full-length coats in the front-hall closet matched my suit. I held out hope for the basement cedar closet where the warmer outer-wear parks for warmer months. Sure enough, Empath Daught's old tan-suede Wilson jacket, really heavy and warm but beat up comfortably, said, Hello.

In a flash I was out the door, feeling no pain, admiring the world. The leaves are turning and all the colors are warm and mellow. You have to love Chicago in November, even if it's cold. You sort of forgive the city the cold. Chicago can't help it. Someday our property values will sky-rocket as people in southern climes swelter and curse.

Oh global warming is a myth, never mind.

Generally I go to the synagogue so late that I'm only there for about an hour, maybe an hour and a half. The socialization after the services (cake, chips, soda, or booze) is a weekly attraction. I rarely eat or drink (that's so personal, you know?) but I like to watch other people do that and I like catching up with them on their family news.

That morning, as we hovered over gefilte fish, crackers, and cake, a friend and I compared air fares overseas. In our crowd kids are encouraged to actually marry and live in Israel, so visiting the Holy Land in the winter is one of those things people my age do to see family. It's rare anyone goes to Hawaii, or Japan, unless it's for business. But we go to Israel and we talk prices with one another, hoping to find a cheaper fare.

Apparently there's an Airbus A380 that seats 500 people and flies to Paris (Air France). I think I'll wait awhile, let them test that one out.

I looked around the room and really none of the women had on anything that looked anywhere near as chic as the Quotations stuff at Bloomies touted by WSJ. Even the mens' suits didn't seem particularly sharp. This made me happy. I can't explain it. But these are my people and we're awfully laid back in Chi-town. Some of us.

So I left for home. And on my way I wondered why I liked wearing Empath Daught's old jacket so much. I mean really, it's pretty beat up, and the color's an orangey-tan, NOT my color at all. It makes no sense. And I flashed on another jacket, my brother's (O'B'S- he should be at peace by now). He had a black leather jacket that he wore only months before he passed away.

Me, being a teenager at that time, and not a young one at the cusp of 18, grabbed that jacket the week after the funeral. For me it had to have been too long to be a jacket, really, and it was too short to be considered a coat. He wore it in the autumn, around this time of year. He was well over six feet tall, and I'm well under.

I didn't wear it often because I was self-conscious about it and it swam on me, but we had a dog and I had to walk the dog (I LIKED walking the dog), so I wore it when I took the dog out in the late night hours. And occasionally, I think, I wore it to school.

Nobody raised an eyebrow. This was the sixties.

In another year I was off to college and when I returned for Thanksgiving break I looked for the jacket (and a few other things) but it was gone. I might have asked my mom, Did you give it away?! But I'm sure I didn't push it. I think I might have actually said, I wanted that, and poor mom couldn't really respond. Perhaps she hadn't heard.

But how do you respond when you lose your twenty year old kid and the next in line is upset about a jacket?

Ah, it's getting a little maudlin in here, a little warm, isn't it? So basically, all I wanted to say is that humans hang onto humans in many ways. Wearing one another's clothes, obviously, is just one way of feeling, sensing the other person.

When Empath Daught was a kid, she and her friends swapped clothing like crazy. I never knew WHAT she'd be wearing or WHERE she got some of the things she wore to school. That's how some adolescent girls connect with one another, and how others increase their wardrobes.

How your therapy doc got stuck there, in adolescence, so many years ago, I'll never know.

Well, perhaps maybe I do.


Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Gift of Speech

Some people do seem more talented than others. They get more of a portion, so to speak.

And speaking of speech, I was thinking. . .

We probably got the gift just so people could sing.
Can't you hear the angels arguing about this?

Scene One:
The Old Mighty is deciding how he'll design the personalities of humankind. A couple of angels are trying to talk Him out of it:

The Old Mighty: I say they get to talk. I'll give them speech, even inflections.

Angel A: Big mistake. They'll just gossip and complain.

Angel B: And hurt one another's feelings!

The Old Mighty: Well, perhaps they can learn to not do that. This way they'll also be able to help one another. Humans will need a lot of help!

Angel A: Then let them point with their index fingers! They can gesticulate and flail their arms, jut out their chins. Don't let them talk!

Angel B: Well, maybe you should just teach them the alphabet and give them writing utensils. They can write whatever it is that they want to say. A is right. Whatever you do, Gee-Dee, don't let them talk.

Angel A: They'll never shut-up, once you get them started.

The Old Mighty: No, I disagree with both of you. From where I stand, they have to be able to praise Me. If they don't have someone to praise, then they'll think it's all about THEM!

Angel B: I know humans. They have no trouble whatsoever praising themselves. They're very narcissistic, too, meaning they get really mad when other people DON'T praise THEM. You'll be lucky if they praise You once a day.

Angel A: That's right. They could care less about talking to You.

The Old Mighty: I can make them talk to Me. You know there are no atheists in foxholes.

Angel B: But they'll curse you, too.

The Old Mighty: G-d forbid!

Angel A: And slander others on blogs!

Angel B: Anything's possible.

The Old Mighty: That would be bad. Yet. . .This gives them the opportunity to sell themselves and their good ideas. They can give speeches, politic. They can argue with me. I won't mind. I can handle it.

Angel A: But again, Old, they might lie. They might use that right to speech inappropriately.

Angel B: And some would lord themselves over others only because they CAN.

Angel A: And make promises they won't keep.
You can do that with words!

Angel B: And once they invent television, the few will entertain the many. The privileged.

Angel A: And those who become true talking heads will bore the many.

Angel B: But that will help them sleep.

The Old Mighty: You make very good points.

Angel A: EXCELLENT points.

Angel B: Mine were really good.

Angel A: Look who's really good.

The Old Mighty: But think of it this way. They'll also be able to defend themselves when someone accuses them wrongly. That's important, speaking up.

Angel A: Yes, assertiveness. I read about it on TherapyDoc's blog.

The Old Mighty: And they can defend others, too, the poor, the defenseless, the down-trodden, others to whom I've bequested less than a portion of eloquence.

Angel B: Nicely put, Gee-Dee, but no one will want to become a public defender. They'll make much less.

The Old Mighty: But so what! I can reward them later!

Angel A: By the same token they might also use the gift of speech to fool one another, cheat and con one another,
exploit one another.

The Old Mighty: Now that would be bad.

Angel B: You know humans can't control themselves. You've seen that movie,
Defending Your Life. How do you expect them to control their mouths! They can't control ANYTHING.

The Old Mighty: Shsh! What if I give them the aptitude to sing?

Angel B: Now THAT would be a good coping strategy.

Angel A: What? Sing like us? They could never do it. Not well. It takes years of training and everyone thinks they're good. I can't imagine the noise.

The Old Mighty: It could get a little cacophonous, true.

Angel B: But some of them might sing so well, that it would be worth it.

Angel A: And people can pick and choose what they want to hear on YouTube anyway. As long as humans think they have an audience they're okay.

Angel B: And it's possible they'll think up some new tunes.

Angel A: True. They're a ditty lot according to the blueprint.

The Old Mighty: And I could give them accompaniment. A piano, for example. Conga drums. Maracas.

Angel B: Salsa! You could teach them salsa dancing!

The Old Mighty: That seals it. I have to see them dance. They get song, dance, AND the power of speech.

Angel A: I sure hope they use it wisely.

The Old Mighty: Me, too.

copyright 2007, therapydoc

Saturday, November 03, 2007


No, no, I can't stop.

You were hoping I'd get away from classical music, weren't you? But I need only a couple of more posts so that I can add a Music is Good category to my sidebar.

That way Kelly Clarkson, Katrina and the Hurricanes, Scarlatti, Respighi, and maybe B.B. King can all hang out together here at ENT. Oh, had they blogged, the things they'd have said!

Anyway, on my way to work the other day I heard a rocking Brahms Violin Concerto in D on WFMT and said to myself,

Surely there's something racy to report on Brahms.

For example, wasn't he the guy who wrote the lullaby? Indeed he was. And he's still popular!

I like this version of the lullaby the best:
And even in Las Vegas they understand that without the lullaby, nobody would ever get to sleep!

Lullaby and good night, with roses bedight
With lilies o'er spread is baby's wee bed
Lay thee down now and rest, may thy slumber be blessed
Lay thee down now and rest, may thy slumber be blessed

Lullaby and good night, thy mother's delight
Bright angels beside my darling abide
They will guard thee at rest, thou shalt wake on my breast
They will guard thee at rest, thou shalt wake on my breast
Further verses from various sources may be added to lengthen the lullaby:
Sleepyhead, close your eyes, mother's right here beside you.
I'll protect you from harm, you will wake in my arms.
Guardian angels are near, so sleep on, with no fear.
Guardian angels are near, so sleep on, with no fear.
Lullaby, and sleep tight, hush! My darling is sleeping,
On his sheets white as cream, with his head full of dreams.
When the sky's bright with dawn, he will wake in the morning
When noontide warms the world, he will frolic in the sun.
These days the kids would probably prefer to hear it this way:

So I've decided that it's time for a revival of the lullaby.

I thought of a kid with bi-polar disorder (not my diagnosis, I inherited the case) who couldn't sleep at night without listening to CDs. This was before Ipods. Her father didn't like that she couldn't go to sleep without music, and I had to convince him it was a good thing, listening to music, much better than raising her medication.

That case worked out just fine. But I feel that in our hyper-caffeinated world, it really is time to revive the lullaby.

So send in your suggestions.
But not this one, okay?
Rock a 'bye baby, in the tree top
When the wind blows the cradle will rock
When the bough breaks the cradle will fall
And down will come baby cradle and all.
Who thought it up? Very dark, if you ask me.

I looked it up and both author and copyright are unknown. The rest of the lyrics are a little more positive, however,
Rock-a-bye, baby,
Your cradle is green,
Father's a King
And Mother's a queen.
Sister’s a Lady
And wears a gold ring,
Brother's a drummer
And plays for the king.

Rock-a-bye baby,
Way up on high,
Never mind baby,
Mother is 'nigh
Up to the ceiling,
Down to the ground,
Rock-a-bye baby,
Up hill and down.
Actually, I have no idea WHAT that means.

But before we end this post, just a little background on Johannes Brahms. His musical family struggled financially, and since he showed early talent, Brahms supplemented the family income by playing piano in restaurants, theaters, and piano bars. Some of the bars doubled as brothels. I think of the Wild West.

For awhile Brahms played the cello, but his teacher ran off with his instrument.

He apparently had a hugely affectionate relationship with Clara Schumann, wife of the acclaimed composer Robert Schumann. When I mentioned that to FD, he said (flailing his arms excitedly)
EVERYONE adored Clara Schumann. They WANTED her!

So you see, classical musicians were people too, and they played real songs. Brahms wrote some truly beautiful ones.

I don't think you have to be Type A to know what I mean.


Friday, November 02, 2007

The Casual Relationship and Code

We've talked about code, haven't we?

Only usually when I tell people about code, I'm telling a committed couple to talk in code so that they're not overtly saying something crude and off-putting like, I'm really kind of frisky so if you don't mind, would you please take off all of your clothes right now?

For some people that might be sexy, but not if one of those people has two X chromosomes.

Thus I've suggested that the person with the Y chromosome use an overture that is more mysterious and romantic, such as, I have something for you and I want to show it to you. Come with me to the bedroom.

(If both individuals have Y chromosomes then adjust accordingly.)

But that, too, might be a little too obvious, I want to show you something. Perhaps, Let's take a nap is better. No matter what the time of day.

I thought I knew most code, but recently I learned a new one and thought to myself, Wow. I'd better tell my readers about this. What if they don't know? It's the
casual relationship
This is code for sexual relationship. Whenever two people are up for it they have a casual relationship. They think this way: We're both adults. We know our bodies. We're not ready for commitment. So every week or so, we hook up.

Which is fine unless the definition is applied at what might feel like the end of the relationship, not the beginning.

Oh. In the beginning . . .

It was romantic, it was hot and heavy. Calls every day. Vacations together. Long talks into the night about philosophy, life, children, work, relationships, and childhood pranks.

Then six months later she (usually it's a she, unless this is a double Y couple) notices a certain distance, lack of interest, and surely there's less time spent together, fewer calls, no momentum. She mentions it to him and he says, No, nothing wrong! This is great. There's no problem, dear. We're good.

But it does feel emotionally distant. He forgets to take her to his grandmother's birthday party, even though he'd mentioned it once before. In the beginning it was, Oh, man! I can't wait for you to meet my parents! They're going to love you! And they do, they do love her. They send her affectionate thank you notes for little gifts she's dropped by at family barbecues, holidays. She feels IN. She thinks, THIS IS IT.

Until that distance sets in. It often happens following an argument, when she has spoken her mind, become possessive or worse, angry. Anger, I think I've told you, is a huge turn-off. It's the least sexy emotion, unless you're sick and sociopathic (as in, you like rape). Women tolerate anger in general, I feel, much more than men, but not necessarily. It's a turn-off for both genders.

Once the distance sets in, once the phone calls become fewer and farther between, she'll want to discuss it and she'll bring it up for serious consideration until she has an answer. He'll evade her, protest that Nothing is Wrong. But he has a chance to think about how to approach this, and he discusses his dilemma with others. He knows she's not happy. But he's okay.

Finally, finally, finally, someone tells him about the NEW CODE. Neither has really heard it used this way before. But it's perfect. It's wonderful. It'll work, at least for him, and he knows it.

He eventually has the opportunity to give the speech with a hint of self-righteousness saying,
Honey. This always was a casual relationship. I never said I'd marry you. I'm not a commitment kind of guy. I've been honest with you from the start (and this is often true, except his actions led her on). Ours is a wonderful, honest, sincerely great relationship. You're an adult. I'm an adult. We're single. We like the way we feel when we're together. We have a great time. We have GREAT sex. But we're good when we're not together, too, we don't crowd one another, we're not dependent upon one another. There's nothing WRONG. It's called a casual relationship. That's what this is. Didn't you know?
Didn't you know?

I call it gas-lighting.

Casual. It's a casual relationship. Maybe we go out and have fun, take off our clothes, make at least one of us vulnerable, waste months of our lives. But it's casual.

I don't know about you. But I read casual as code for something else. And why anyone would want that type of relationship is simply beyond me.


Thursday, November 01, 2007


No, NaBloPoMo is not Hebrew.

It's bad when a conspiracy sabotages our sincere efforts at getting things done. Here I was, minding my own business, only posting to my blog a couple of times a week, promising myself, blee neder, (Hebrew for no promises) that I would concentrate on things that either made me a better person, the world a better place, made money, or preferably all three, not blogging

when I read about this at Citizen of the Month.

Thanks a lot, pal.

Some people talk obsessions, then there are those of us who live them. The brain is a marvelous thing.

NaBloPoMo or November Means You're a Slave to Your Blog Month (or some such thing) is a promotion courtesy of seriously bitten bloggers brain-washed by Russians to undermine our marriages and dent our incomes. The plot is to force us to post EVERY SINGLE DAY in NOVEMBER or we're simply not in the club.

(kidding, kidding, kidding about the Russian thing)

Don't they know about Shabbas? Don't they understand days of rest? Or is that day of rest?

We have been commanded to give Him/Her who created our Blogosphere and stuff that is not of the Blogosphere due respect. We do this by ceasing work as did He/She (the Old Mighty, if you've read old posts) after finishing the creation of a green environment. So to give due, we are supposed to stop working before sundown every Friday night.

I'm sure most religions have some sort of sabbath. So I speak for us all.

And blogging is considered work. This forces those of us who take the resting commandment seriously to have to spin out two blog posts on Friday and then publish one of those lame offerings on Saturday night, after the Sabbath day has passed. And will that even count?

That's a reference to the Jewish sabbath. You can change Friday night to Friday or Sunday morning or whichever day you keep.

Anway, this double blogging the day before the Sabbath, for some of us on Friday, just to be able to post on Saturday night, is obviously a remez, a hint, to the mahn, the stuff the Jewish People ate in the desert.

Quick history lesson here. There was a dramatic escape, a critical event for Jews and Egyptians alike, when the Jews escaped slavery and the Egyptians drowned at sea in the chase. This culminated in forty years of nomadic life for the Jewish People who simply could not stop kvetching about the heat and no running water, and the food, well.

Moses, our reluctant, humble leader, had initially convinced the Egyptian pharoah that he had best let us go, that we weren't destined for slavery. Moses himself had to be coerced into the job, he was not a natural politician.

Anyway, there we were, in the desert, hungry and thirsty, complaining like crazy, so the Old Mighty, tired or our complaining delivered the mahn as dew. It tasted like whatever we wanted it to taste like, so I'm quite sure mine was generally of the cheesecake variety, and had some very dark chocolate laced in there somehow.

And wouldn't you know, the Old Mighty (my grandfather's name for the Him/Her) delivered a double portion of mahn on Fridays so that the Jewish People didn't have to cook on Saturdays.

Oh, life was easy then, if a little hot and dry.

But we like it hot. Already the chill in the Chicago air is getting a little scary. But our leaves, my friends, are amazing, and if you don't get seasonal changes where you live you don't know what you're missing and should probably visit us in the fall. And it's just beginning. So I'll be out riding my bike whenever I can.

And if I'm supposed to post a post a day for NaBloPoMo, then don't expect me to edit much or be too serious.

There's only so much thinking, writing, and reading a person can do.