Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Empathy, Jason Calacanis and Internet Asperger's Syndrome

Every once in awhile I'll get a g-talk message from A Mother in Israel. She'll say something like, "Shouldn't you be asleep?"

You have to love that.

She's up because she's 8 hours ahead. And she knows what time it is in Chicago.

So I was about to do that, go to sleep at a proper hour. The fish tank lights are off. Little One has moved on to his bedroom in the basement, computer science hieroglyphics map the dining room table. But FD, my main person, isn't home yet and it just feels weird going to sleep if I haven't seen him since morning.

Even though I have you.

He took the cream cheese with chives, I got the peanut-butter and marmalade. It's been a long day. We left an 8 inch square pan of pizza for him and some salad. This is a supportive relationship.

He had ten E.R. admissions, two patients, and a consult in the hospital while on call.

While all I have to think about is an initial visit with terror, persons badly in need of anger management. I get anger management treatment block sometimes, it happened today, just couldn't do it, not today, could not treat someone with anger, and it wasn't the obligatory tough guy clothes that threw me (leather is warm) or the attitude, we talk about it; or hands in his pockets or the mention of a particular gang. We talk about all of it. Lots of kids are in gangs, and many former convicts, people who have served time in the penitentiaries, did their time in gangs. It's nothing new.

But I had to send him to a better doctor. Then take a two hour nap.

So I'm waiting for FD to get home and can surely review for class tomorrow, because I teach on-line tomorrow night, and that would be the responsible thing to do, but. . .

Well, what would you do at 11:30 pm? You know what you would do. You would turn to your addiction, check email or read blogs or post, maybe check out Twitter, or Facebook, Digg or Flicker. You would socially network is what you would do. Who are you kidding?

So funny. I'm talking to a guy who just got his MBA and he's looking for a job. I tell him, "Well, you're the MBA, but isn't it true that
It isn't what you know; it's who you know?"
Still true.

So social networking can't be all bad. There have to be some realtime rewards, somewhere, someway, somehow. A little West Side Story music from the band. But people meet people, they fall in love, create communities. The gangs are few on the Internet. But tough. Boy, are they tough.

Only a week ago we talked about letters, these things we once wrote to people in ink. Some of us waxed nostalgic. Probably there were three of us who did that. But letter writing, unless it is resume writing, isn't really social networking. Social networks get people together, create communities of people who think alike.

We've talked about the danger of Group Think. (Read the Boy with the Funny Laugh, it's on the blog somewhere and has made rounds on the Internet).

Anyway, Group Think can turn violent. And web gang-banging, mental cruelty characteristic of certain people free to comment, is unfortunately something most of us have to fop off.

Cyber-bullying is, unfortunately, not so rare as we think. Social networks do turn violent. We have several examples of this, including Lori Drew, who created an alias on MySpace to develop a romantic relationship with 14-year-old Megan Meier.

MondoReb at Death by 1000 Paperclips really wanted me to write on this at the time, but I didn't have the stomach. I tried, but every time I thought of Ms. Drew, an adult, mentally beating on Megan, psychologically torturing her as her "love" I had to go and watch Seinfeld. The cyber-bullying resulted, as you may know, in Megan's suicide.

Abraham Biggs killed himself in front of a live Webcam audience on JustinTV as the audience cheered him on.

Josh Harris' social experiment, "We Live in Public," made him sick. His pod of people under 24/7 surveillance in New York drew vicious attacks, violent responses from a once loving community of fans.

A Korean woman, Choi Jin-sil, killed herself, too, from the pressure of rumors about her on the Internet. According to Jason McCabe Calacanis,
The bullying in Korea has become so intense that you're now required to use your Social Security Number to sign up for a social network. This lack of anonymity is one of the most enlightened things I've heard of from one of the most advanced--if not the most advanced--Internet communities in the world.
Who is Jason McCabe Calacanis? Jason is an entrepreneur who started with the Silicon Alley Reporter and the Digital Coast Reporter. He is a tireless socializer and nearly single-handedly drove much of the tech blog revolution we see today.

At one time his staff included the likes of Xeni Jardin, who would later become a journalist and blogger at Boing Boing, but Jason is Dow Jones stuff (which may mean nothing now for all I know). Besides developing businesses and consulting with digital companies, Jason also blogged quite a bit about his car. He drew criticism for that, having a nice car.

And he has dogs, too, something else people didn't like.

He co-founded Web Blogs, Inc, perhaps the whole concept that blogging could be a living potentially supported by advertising.

Isn't that our goal, friends? Let's talk. Did I ever tell you that I wrote to Kleenex and asked if they wanted to advertise here? I thought it appropriate. They were so nice. The Kleenex people appreciated the thought but basically said,
We actually don't need to advertise. We're Kleenex.
Oops. Off to Puffs.

Anyway, he's a genius, Jason McCabe Calacanis, and has been profiled in The New Yorker and Wired. He's a wonderful writer and psychologically sensitive. Now his focus is on Mahalo, a "human" search engine. He tells us that in the process of butting heads with too many angry people, traumatized (I'm thinking), he no longer blogs. In his retirement letter he tells us that he'll miss it, but most of all, he'll miss the comments.

But he sends email to his fans. Maybe you, too, can get on his list of thousands.

Mr. Calacanis is now ranting about Internet Asperger's Syndrome (IAS). You can read about this yourself, quite the discussion.

He's saying, basically, that as Internet addicts we're losing our empathy, a symptom of Asperger's. Our empathy is going to cr__, as some of my favorite first degrees might say, resulting in epidemic Asperger's. We're becoming robots, no longer able to get outside our obsessions with email, Facebook, blogging, statistics, whatever.

The more defensive among us might get upset with this piracy, an ex-blogger, a big shot entrepreneur using psycho-babble to describe the behavioral health of essentially healthy individuals, depending. And it is a real disrespect to sensitive people with Asperger's. You can read about Aspergers on my blog, check the sidebar. Remember Cho?

But not to repeat, Mr. Calacanis' understanding of Asperger's is that there is
a dual nature of Asperger's, . . .it makes the individual focused on very specific behaviors--obsessively so in many cases--while decreasing their capacity for basic empathy and communication. It's almost as if you trade off intensity in one area for common decency and communications in another area--not that the person has a choice.
I never saw it quite this way, but let's not split hairs. There's something in the brain that misses social cues, and there is obsessive behavior, but the directionality has never been established.

What is directionality?

It is, If. . .then.


To make an assumption about causality, one that is this grandiose, needs what we call substantive research. Evidenced based. Where's the beef here? I haven't read everything on Asperger's but have yet to see this established.

Personally, I think that one has nothing to do with the other. These are separate dynamics within one very complicated brain.

But what Mr. Calacanis is saying, really, is important and meritorious and I thank him for putting it all out there, so eloquently, so personally.

What he wants to say, I think, is that our social skills are ebbing. We're losing them.

Whereas once your mother would say, "Dear, telephone," and you would jump to get the phone (it had a cord, you had to do something outrageous, move to talk on it) now you're screaming,
"Not now! I'm busy!"
An old friend you haven't seen comes over to say hello and you're happy to see him. But there's that piece of you thinking,
D____! Why does he have to come over right now?! Why now?! I'm blogging!
Your spouse comes home, after a hard day at the hospital, and it is an effort to put it away, your computer, to look into his tired eyes and say, "Let's sit down and talk about it."

You want to know if I did, don't you. You want to know.

Sure I did.

But wait. We're not finished. Jason McCabe Calacanis has dubbed today Empathy Day. If you Twitter, you're supposed to say something nice about someone and add,


to the message.

Go for it. Even if Mr. Calacanis has a lot of chutzpah diagnosing people. That's worth marketing, empathy.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Why You Click on it and It's Not There

I had no idea this was going on.

Sometimes I'm writing a post and my pinky hits a button (maybe the return key, not sure) and the post publishes.

But I'm not ready to publish, so I curse, inevitably, and take it down right away, continue to edit. This can take several days, me editing. Maybe that's good, maybe it's bad. It is what it is.

But many of you who subscribe to the feed, who aren't getting it via email, think there's a post up when there isn't. You'll click on the link and see an old one. And the annoying part is that you don't get a second ping when I finally get the post up, the one that had disappeared.

If anybody has a solution, I'd like to hear it. And please don't tell me write off-line. There's something less exciting about that, and blogging, if nothing else is cheap thrills, right?

The post below this one "disappeared" last night.


Gaza and Israel

That's my nephew. He could be a movie star, seriously.

Except that this is not a poster for a movie. Here he represents the Israel Defense Force. He's a poster boy for the IDF.

You know this isn't a political blog. It's not even a religious blog. I like to think of it as a way to communicate with people, a method for you and for me, a way to help us think things through. Just a blog.

It isn't really a Jewish blog because the Israel Forum, an organization that hosts Jewish and Israeli blogs, rejected me years ago when I started blogging.

I thought, Hey, I'm Jewish! I should be streaming from the Israel Forum. That's where all the cool Jewish bloggers stream from!

But they wouldn't take me.

So all I could do was add a little subtext to my Technorati profile:
MFT's, or marital/family therapists don't talk so much as direct traffic in therapy. We make sure nobody gets hurt. Many of us do a lot of scribbling, which is hard to read, and some of us blog, if discretely. Did I mention the Jewish part?
So here's the Jewish part.

The last time I wrote anything remotely political (not counting my non-partisan posts about the inaugural) I was in Israel and had witnessed, first hand what it's like to be in a place under enemy fire, enemy fire originating a few scant miles away.

It's so close, this war, neighbor against neighbor. It's as if Chicago (Israel) is getting pounded regularly by rockets from gangs in Morton Grove (a bordering suburb, as close as Gaza is to Israel). And this has been going on for a couple of years, and all the mayor of Chicago can do is politely ask
"Would you mind terribly much not lobbing missiles into Millennium Park, please? Somebody could get hurt!?"
In February and March, 2008, I wrote a couple of posts about Israel and Gaza, terrorism and aggression.

The posts focus on the differences between passivity, assertiveness, and aggression. Therapists like me recommend assertiveness over aggression, but sometimes you have to speak the language of the person with whom you are communicating, kick it up a bit, show a little muscle, and you have to protect yourself, you people.

The post I wrote in March followed killings in schools in America. I suggested Americans use metal detectors and security guards at the entryways to public buildings, like they do in Israel.

Those posts aren't bad introductions to this latest war you've been hearing about in Gaza, the one the world believes the Israelis started and finished efficiently, but without cause. "It was insanity," I heard one Arab talking head proclaim on National Public Radio.

So was it? If you know me, I don't take words like "insanity" lightly.

Two of my nephews fought in this initiative (see, I'm using the softer word) and both came back in one piece.* The war was the first thing that most Israelis have agreed upon in a long, long time (get two Jews in a room, you have three opinions). This war had to happen. Despite what you might have heard on NPR, it was a well-planned, well-conceived, tactically executed war waiting to happen.

I'll admit that when it started, when my sister-in-law told me that her boys were called up for active duty, I worried. I didn't worry about them so much as I worried about every one of those young soldiers called into Gaza for duty. In Israel children are called to the army as teenagers. In Gaza they're playing with guns at four years old. Killing Jews is mother's milk.

So neurotic worrier that I am, I worried about all of the innocents, and all of the guilty, too, who would be killed. War is hell. There is no good war. Who has the right to kill?

And of course, I worried that the Israeli's live under the nuclear threat of Iran, a nation that funnels arms to Hamas terrorists in Gaza. Israel is a country bordered by, within walking distance of, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt. Being a worrier, I worried that the Arab world would use Israeli aggression, for face it, that is what it is, in Gaza as an excuse to decimate Israel, multiply that rocket fire to the south by Hamas, destroy the land and the people who made it the Land of Milk and Honey what it is today, fertile, civilized, beautiful. Jewish. It was not this way when Jews were in exile.

What was called Palestine was not fertile, civilized, beautiful. It was rocks and sand.

I worried they, our Arab neighbors, would return the Land of Israel to its pre-Jewish state, back to rocks and sand we go. This is the catastrophic thinker in me.

But do you know what happened? Nobody stepped in. None of the Arab nations joined Hamas against Israel. None of them joined in the fray. And do you want to know why?

This is my humble opinion, but I'm sure others have expressed it, as well.

The presidents and the prime ministers of all of the civilized countries in this hotbed, the Middle East, have been watching, observing as Hamas lobbed missiles into the south of Israel without consequence these last few years. This has been going on since Israeli's abandoned their homes and handed over this stretch of beach front property, this "land for peace" to the Palestinians.

Arab neighbors have watched these past few years and probably laughed, perhaps even scratched their heads, wondering, "What's wrong with the Jews? What kind of wimps are they!? Why are they taking it?"

Everyone knows that a nation has a right to self-defense, that as the only Jewish country in the world, Israel is alone when it comes to defending herself from enemy missile attacks. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that if a terrorist organization is lobbing missiles at your homeland, your army will probably have to take that group out at some point or another.

And that's what the Israeli's finally chose to do. They went after the terrorists within the infrastructure. And innocent people were killed in the process.

If Canadians harbored terrorists in churches, orphanages, and schools, thugs who lobbed missiles into Wisconsin, Minnesota, or Michigan, and talking, pleading, and negotiating didn't stop them, what would President Bush have done? What would President Obama do?

So blogging as a therapist I have to say that this war is a case of one country speaking the language of the other country. One aggressor to another. Sometimes rooting out terrorism is the only way to respond to terrorism.

As a woman who still wants to claim Israel as my country (although the flag flying in my window clearly shows stars and stripes), who believes that I should be living there, eventually will live there, who feels that all of the sons of Israel are my sons, it is incumbent upon me to thank them, all of the young men and women who served, who put themselves into danger, who manned tanks and fired guns to put an end to a conflict. We pray it is the end. At least for now.

You know, you can't sit around and wait for your Higher Power to do the work for you sometimes. It would be nice, it really would, if He or She would simply step up to the plate and make peace between nations. Ain't gonna' study war no more. But there is that expression, and perhaps it holds true as therapeutic dogma as much as it does in the political theater,
G-d helps those who help themselves.
If not now, when? Should a country wait until an enemy becomes even more powerful? Has even better, longer reaching weapons? Perhaps nuclear weapons?

Hopefully that's all for another eleven months, on this topic.


By the way, for much more about the war, a Jewish/Israeli point of view, read Ima on the Bimah, a Heveil Hevalim production
and for more on Post Traumatic Stress and the war that doesn't exist, read Shiloh Musings

Here's some of the text from a mother in Israel welcoming her son home. Ilene is a copywriter of newsletters, websites, brochures, project kits.

My Son Came Home

My son came home from Gaza just a few minutes ago. He came home as we had sent him
off, only more tired, worn and dirty. Thank you Hashem for bringing him home. To his
wife, his brothers and sisters and his loving brood of nieces and nephews. All of us have been waiting patiently these past three weeks to hold him in our arms.

. . .
I helped him toss his heavy bags into the trunk of the car. The heaviest among them being the one weighted down with foodstuffs that Israel's citizens sent to our soldiers. Tens of thousands of kilograms of food poured into the bases in the south. Cartons upon cartons of instant soups, nuts, pretzels, cookies and nosh of every kind. All sent by individuals, families, schools and businesses from throughout the country.

I pulled in front of his apartment, a few kilometers from my home, and as we descended the steps I heard him speak gently and lovingly with his wife at work, telling her how anxious he was to see her. He turned on the boiler and laughingly told me "I'm not getting out of this shower for the next hour."

The bags fell to the floor and he leaned against the kitchen counter to untie his boots swiftly flinging them aside and letting his bare feet rest on the tile floor. He was exhausted and I hesitated to start with the barrage of questions that had been streaming through my head every day, every hour for these past few weeks.

. . ."Ima" he said, "I'm tired now, but I have to tell you how extraordinary this nation is. The children who wrote to us, the people who sent their good wishes with their packages of food, the businesses that sent truckloads of goods. The soldiers I served with, each one caring deeply about the other one. Zahal who made sure that we were well trained and well equipped for our mission. But mostly. Mostly.

This was a war that was guided by the Hand of G'd. Everyday we felt His presence --
whether deciding to enter a building by smashing down the back wall rather than entering through the front door, only to discover that the front door had been booby trapped, or searching rooms in a house and uncovering a tunnel under a bed we had lifted where tens of Hamas terrorists were hiding in the hopes of kidnapping one of us, or dozens more stories."

I looked at this child's face and saw the extraordinary young man he had become. Filled with faith. Feeling a passion for those values that have held this nation together for thousands of years. And, his very presence. His very modesty. His deep felt pride at being part of this nation. All of this wrapped around my heart and left me humbled.

Humbled and grateful.

"And I will lift up my eyes unto the mountains, from where my strength will come."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Diary

Used to be a diary was a little book with a cheap key that you locked so nobody could read what you wrote.

I surfed the atmosphere this morning and read many of your posts about the inaugural (didn't always comment, sorry about that, but I was there!).

I guess as a therapist I'm thinking that anything that gives us hope is a good thing. And the President of the United States has so much power, so much power, despite our checks and balances, that having a new one in the White House, one who inspires hope and optimism, not fear, feels very good.

Emotions, you see, generalize. We do get some of our emotional stim, if not a lot of it from the social-political reality show of life.

The Story:

The kids came over for dinner because a huge cabbage in the refrigerator in the basement said to me, Either you fry me up or I am going to change from green to black, the change is beginning, as you can see, and you know, although black is beautiful, it is not going to be pretty.

I had some egg roll skins in the freezer and a little wild rice, and there is always food stuff somewhere to fry up in the wok.

So we were talking and Cham said, "It was overwhelming, yesterday. It was a good, good day."

It is time to interject here to tell you that I have people, people who worked incessantly for President Obama. I mean, people who lived to see him get elected, who worked for him, prayed for him, all but worshiped him, while I patiently listened and weighed the virtues of each candidate and what he or she had to say. Not that they didn't, but they made up their minds for change, not the stuff we give the guy who sits with a cup outside of Blockbuster, either.

And it's not easy being around enthusiastic, strong-willed people with strong opinions and obviously, ownership of the truth, the real dope of life, what's really going on.

It's hard, when you have a strong opinion (and I have many, so I know) not to think that your particular truth isn't the only truth. How could anyone else have a truth that is true, too, if mine is obviously true?

Truth is, there are many truths. Therapists will go so far as to say that a person's reality is that person's reality, end of story. Post-modern interpretation of seeing validates everyone's reality. And seeing reality, I'm pretty sure, is the way we see truth. The two become interchangeable. We believe what we see.

Being a post-modernist, accepting that there are multiple realities and that they are all true, if only to the people who have them, will gracefully get us through not only political and religious differences, but most of relationship conflict in life.

At dinner I remarked about the fact that so many people blogged about the Obama inaugural. My son said that it only makes sense. A blog is a diary for most people, for most young people, at least, and they want to look back at it in the future and say,
This is where I was at mentally/emotionally/physically at such and such a time in my life.
As obvious as it is, as true as this is for so many people who journal with a blog, those of us who are a little older can't even wrap our minds around the idea that what we write on the Web is actually permanent.

We click "publish" and the post disappears! It's out there!

If you're neurotic like me, you think, Maybe one day the Internet will go down and we'll never even see it again!

I guess that says something about me, but nothing we don't already know.

I have to stop right now. Yesterday I promised myself I'd get some work done, quit blogging for the week. It's okay not to look back and remember most of it.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A New Leader

We need them. Leaders.

Highlights of the inauguration:

Truckloads, busloads, trains full of people descending upon Washington. Two million Americans on the mall this morning. That's a lot of people.

The First Lady's dress. Her shoes. Perfect.

I loved Rick Warren's invocation. He said the Hebrew prayer, the Shma'h. The Lord our God, The Lord is One. What could be more wonderful.

And Arethra Franklin singing one of my favorite songs, and it wasn't Respect, although no doubt, Respect is a contender. She sang America. And for sure she wore the best hat I have EVER seen, a hat that not many women can pull off, but she did it spectacularly.
My country tis of thee, sweet land of liberty. Of thee I sing.
John Paul Stevens and the oath for the V.P., Joseph Biden, on the biggest Bible you ever want to see.

Air and Simple Gifts, a classical composition by John Williams, performed by Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Anthony McGill, and Gabriela Montere. It had to have been even more wonderful live.

Dianne Feinstein introducing Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States.

Barack giggling, for just a second, as he stands to take the oath of office.

Two million people shouting collective joy, waving Old Glory, the American flag, never looking better, either. The one above, the one you see hanging in my window, is tired.


The President reminding us that we are at war and that the economy has failed us, that we have failed the economy, our confidence, too, has declined.

On this day, we gather hope over fear, he tells us. The time has come to reaffirm our noble spirit:
All are equal, all are free, all have an equal chance to pursue their full measure of happiness
Our President, the Prozac of a struggling nation.

Elizabeth Alexander's poem, brimming with optimism.

Joseph E. Lowry's benediction: Will all those who love justice and mercy, say Amen.


George hugging Michelle a warm goodbye, they look like best friends; he and Barbara are about to board an olive green and white Marine helicopter.

Oe'r the land of the free. The home of the brave. The national anthem.

A good day to take a couple of hours to watch history, to be a part of it.

Please G-d, we're on the mend.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Planes, trains, boats and automobiles

I don't like to work you too hard, so just a warning, this is long. But I numbered the snapshots, so read a little, go back to work, and come back later. Okay?

You know I always like to show a little wing.

That’s Atlanta. I am a jet setter.

I had my first airplane ride at 16, a sweet sixteen present from my parents. In lieu of a party, I visited family, traveled on my own, and haven't looked back.

That's not entirely true. Flying scared me for quite awhile back there, after having the kids. Maybe it was some big plane crash or another that threw me. You couldn't get me on an airplane though, not for a couple of years when they were little.

But at some point I wanted to go to Israel, had to go for some reason or another, and had to go it alone. FD packed me some Zanax, but I didn't want to take it. The one time I did take Zanax I didn't sleep for an entire trans-Atlantic flight. The idea of taking it made me anxious.

There at the gate I'm pacing, nervously. But I see a revered teacher from my hood, a female version of a rabbi, obviously taking the same plane to Tel Aviv. She's a well-known speaker, teaches far and near, makes learning a privilege, a delight. My anxiety disappears.

Forever, somehow. Irrational.

I wish all of you the same with your neuroses.

So it's been okay, flying, for years, and I go into this Southern dip in a good mood, a good place. I'm seeing my kids, my parents. It's a big chunk of stimulation in a small chunk of time, and it is exciting.

Except nobody's warned me about certain airplanes, that there are big airplanes, and there are small airplanes, and you want to make sure, when you fly, to get one of the bigger ones.

We won’t obsess or complain, and I think,

Remember, this is meritorious and unbelievable, if you think about it, that one day you’re on the ground, and then. . . in the sky. So it's a small plane. So what?

A few snapshots of my trip.

1. My son picks me up, my granddaughter, all rosy-cheeked and smiles, almost three, is strapped tightly in her car seat behind me. She sings, "Hi Bubbie!"

We talk a minute and wouldn’t you know, my phone rings. “Excuse me, Sweetie.”

The call lasts a couple of minutes, I put away the phone, properly greet my son, the driver, look back and she’s out, sound asleep. Tough day at school.

2. It’s my brother on the phone. He thinks I’m in Miami visiting our parents. I do this every January, visit for my mother’s birthday, usually for a day or so, but to warm up, too.

My brother tells me that when I do get to Miami, for this is the plan, Miami is my next stop on the jet set tour, I’m going to be in for a rough ride. My father’s not doing very well. And we know our father, he's not a complainer, so he probably won't tell me what is wrong. His is a stoic guy from a real man's generation, which is fine.*

I reassure my brother that I'll be there soon and will be in touch with him. He should keep his cell phone handy.

But I have 22 hours, yet, in Atlanta.

3. I pull a multi-colored yoyo from my pocket and my granddaughter is duly impressed. She takes it from me and begins to swing it wildly in the kitchen.

I say, “Let’s take it outside.” She disappears and comes back wearing a shirt that matches the yoyo. Exactly.

We spend the next two hours running around in the front yard. The yards are hilly in Atlanta, so it's fun. At one point we come in because she's not wearing a jacket, which little children don't need, apparently, when the weather is in the fifty degree Fahrenheit range in Atlanta. Not according to her.

I heat her up some warm milk and honey and she and I sit down at the kitchen table and catch up on old times. Then we're back outside until the sun goes down.

4. The baby twins, her new brother and sister, are not speaking to me, but they do give me an occasional grin after they've eaten. They’re mainly into whatever it is that is just over my shoulder. They do appreciate a good jiggle or bounce, and I feel I'm getting exercise rearranging their equilibrium. They fall asleep just when we’re really getting to know one another.

5. The next morning I’m up early, no surprise and tiptoe around to find my computer. I’ve plugged it in somewhere. It’s dark and I don’t want to turn on the lights because to accommodate my visit, several people seem to have played musical beds and there’s a very large man on the sofa near my computer. I tiptoe past him, however. You have to do what you have to do.

6. I fall back asleep and am awakened by a knock on the door.
“Bubbie?! You said we could play!”

7. I get up and throw on a bathrobe, begin the search for coffee. Yesterday my hosts had a party, so there's a cardboard container of Starbucks. I decant some of it and reheat it in a microwave. When I'm finished I heat up the milk and honey for my granddaughter.

It's like the flight attendant tells you in that safety demonstration. First get on your own oxygen mask, then help the child next to you with hers. First make the coffee, then pour the milk and honey.

Milk and honey,
That's the one thing we've got
goes the song.

I tell her the story of a dream I had but never had, the one where the little girl rides a giraffe and her grandmother rides an elephant to the park. You know that one.

8. And in about an hour it’s off to the Marta, the train to the airport, because for me, taking a train to an airport is about as good as it gets.

9. Then on the plane, even better, pretzels. Life does not get any better, and you know this. I compliment the flight attendant for the touch. She asks if I want more water and I think, surely this is heaven. Two cups of water. My daughter-in-law's mother has packed me a bagel with a thick shmear of cream cheese. I quietly praise Judy for the sandwich and down two-thirds of it.

10. That's Fort Lauderdale.

11. But first, let's flash back three weeks. My father has declared that he will pick me up from the airport at Fort Lauderdale. He is 88 but has better vision than I, if not a better heart, and he's still driving. Two cataract surgeries later (they give you contact lenses) he can see.

Logically, I argue, "I'll rent a car for twenty dollars."

He insists, "If you can rent a car for twenty dollars, do it. But you can't."

But I do. I reserve a car for $20 a day. Meanwhile, he's called me to say, "Take a cab. I'm a little tired lately. I'll pay for your taxi."

So I rent the car and find out hat he's right. They say it will be twenty dollars but the fees in Florida more than double that per day.

But it's a cute car, isn't it? Even if it doesn't start every time.

12. My mother meets me in front of the high rise and we go inside to pay for parking. She tells me that my dad is depressed. "I don't know if he'll admit it," she says. "He's proud."

And I'm thinking, he doesn't have to say boo.

But I say, "Great! If that's all it is, we can fix it."

I don't remember if I've told you, but when I worked under the great psychiatrist Domeena Renshaw's supervision** she told us,
"If I have to have something wrong with me, let it be depression. We know we can fix depression 99% of the time. Just give us a chance."
Mom looks a bit doubtful.

We park the car and walk slowly back to the condo, wait at the elevator, cherishing our new moments together. She's been here since Thanksgiving, and although there are people all around, I know she's a little lonely, wants to go home.

13. Inside the apartment my father jumps up to greet me. We hug and I say, "What's up?"

"Well," he says, going right to the heart of the matter, "I think I'm not so good. I just don't feel right."

"Did you get to the cardiologist?"

"Yes, and my pacemaker is fine."

"And the CBC?"

"Fine." (pause) "I think it's depression." He looks up at me as if to say, Do you believe that?!?

"Tell me why you think it's depression."

He tells me his symptoms.

"Well, sounds like you're right; pretty common in your age group. But so not like you. Must feel weird, huh?"

Uh huh.

I suggest we call FD. Maybe it's his heart that's slowing things down, too. He's always a little winded.

"Maybe you're not breathing so well. The brain needs oxygen to feel good." He admits he is not.

He is suffering from something FD calls heart depression.

On the phone FD explains that this can happen, that maybe there's water that's not getting pumped out of my father's lungs so he's slowing down and that slowing thing is virtually depression.

Mom pulls out the long list of medicines and rattles them off to FD who also asks about things like swollen feet. And indeed, my father's feet are too large. They go over all of the medicines, make sure his potassium is protected, and fiddle with the Lasix.

Meanwhile, my father tells me he knows it's depression because it's been coming on awhile and he's reading things about depression in magazines. He's talking about real feelings, and that fog, that weight on the head that I am very familiar with, hear about probably every day of my life.

"Maybe we should call your doctor," I suggest, "see if you should be taking some medication for the depression, just a tiny bit." (I'm thinking my father will never go for this.)

"Sure. I think I need it. This feels bad."

I love it when people surprise me.

"It's all in the brain, depression," he tells me. "But it affects the body."

Did I know that?

We reach his doctor (a miracle) and my father is settled down medically, and Mom has prepared a snack. Then I'm off to take a walk on the beach. We all have our routines.


There's a vehicle I would not take if you paid me. There are sharks out there, and jelly fish.

I take my beach shoes and a sweatshirt in a plastic bag to change from my sneakers to my beach shoes at the beach. It's warm, so rather than wear the sweatshirt, I stuff it together with my sneakers and hide the bag unassumingly under a bench.

An hour later the shoes and the sweatshirt are gone. I get to be like the rabbi in that previous post. "Take my shoes, take my sweatshirt! They're yours!" I shout.

15. Back in the condo my father is humming.

"Did you know," he tells me, "that if you hum for 15 seconds, then count for 15 seconds, that you are alternating sides of the brain and you reset it, balance it out? You feel better."

Hadn't heard that one, I admit.

"It works!" he cries. "It doesn't last, but for awhile, it works! And it takes your mind off of the things you're thinking about."

"Sure. I believe it. It makes sense. I'm all for sensory distraction, Dad."

He looks at me funny, but nods, gets it.

"Do it a lot. And keep talking to Mom about the things that bother you. Negative thoughts are like pregnancy. Better out than in."

And he does, he keeps humming and talking. It's as if he's got a whole new perspective on life. He's a member of this sea of humanity that has suffered from depression, has to work to get out of their chairs, then can't get comfortable and pace, find loud noises unbearable, bad news impossible, even idle chatter screeching, annoying. He gets it, and he doesn't like it, but it's an awakening of sorts.

I'm only there for 48 hours and he seems to have picked up a bit. Out on the balcony, overlooking the ocean, I call my brother. "Please," I tell his voice mail. "You have to come and check up on them soon. I have to get back to work."

He calls me back, tells me he has already booked a short trip for next weekend. He had wanted to say hello, to get out of the cold, anyway. It's not as if visiting parents in Miami is some kind of terrible inconvenience. He's excited about it.

16. The next morning my father asks me what I want to do today. It's my only full day in Miami. No plans, I tell him. Point me in the right direction. Looks like we're all free.

"They say that for depression you should do what feels good. So the boys asked me if I wanted to go out with them. Would you mind? I think if I shop with you and your mother and go out for lunch, it will make me worse. Please don't be offended."

He's never said anything like this before, not in my life.

"Sure!" I say. "I need new shoes and didn't buy Mom a birthday present. We'll shop."

"Have fun."

And we do, we have a wonderful day. We're all pretty wiped out by dinnertime.

17. The next day, as I'm about to leave he says, "Maybe you should stay a little longer. It's awfully cold in Chicago."

"Believe me, I'd love to stay," I say honestly. "But I took off three and a half work days for this trip and I just have to get back. I have people scheduled this afternoon and teach this evening. And I miss FD and he's alone in the cold and these luxury vacations, well, they're expensive."

"Make sure," Dad says, "when you write about this, that you give her credit, that lady, the one who did the research on humming and counting. You could get sued if you claim it as yours."

Lawyers are my friends, I tell him, always always asking for records and depositions and such, but I say, "Sure, sure. I will. I'll give her credit.*** I already ripped the article out of the magazine, like you told me to do."

"You know, all my life I haven't had this, depression."

"Isn't that amazing, when you think about it?"

"It's just not me."

"Well," I say, "You don't want to get too used to it. Let's fight it. I'll call you every day."

"You don't have to do that," he says, brushing away my offer with his hand, as in, ridiculous.

"Then keep humming, counting."

And he does.

He tells me he's feeling better.


*You don't take away the umbrella until it stops raining in my world.

**Domeena founded the Loyola University Sexual Dysfunction Clinic in Maywood, Illinois

***He found the intervention in Kiplinger's Personal Finance, 2/2009, What You Need to Know about Financial Stress, Laura Cohn. Ms. Cohn recommends the following as well:

1.This too will pass.
2. Exercise
3. Don't watch the news
4. Curb your spending
5. Go outside and play

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Inauguration of Barack Obama

I have so much to tell you, but right now the only thing that could possibly be on my mind is. . . The Inauguration.

Okay, I lied. But still, there's nothing else on TV.

I wrote something about the inauguration at The Second Road, a guest post, and hope you don't mind going over there to read it.

It's going to take me awhile to process my vacation. And you know you want pictures. But they have to develop and these things take time.

I'll get to it, I promise.



P.S. You can get the full text of the WSJ article I discuss, Steven Waldman's Power of Prayer here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Coming Home

Law and Order, Special Victims, if you haven't seen it, is a weekly television drama about people who commit murders and sex crimes. When it's about incest, there's usually a big twist at the end.

Rape is featured in many of the episodes, sometimes stranger rape, sometimes acquaintance rape. Incest happens to be a type of acquaintance rape.

A blogger (Isle Dance) wrote and asked me to write about a situation that involves children and young adults who have sex with the friends of their parents, swingers. Some might call this a gray area for sex crimes since the "adult" in "young adult" technically implies informed consent.

Swinging, when it is with children, or perhaps even with young adults, can pose the threat of psychological problems we associate with sexual boundary violations.

When I read the email I wrote back:
"Sure, sure, remind me to write about this. Shoot me another email in March. Remind me if you don't see something on Everyone Needs Therapy by March."
But I was thinking,
Not now. Too depressing. Must we go here? It's so gray outside, the days are so gloomy and cold. Who needs more depressing posts?
I'm telling myself,
Go with something happy, TherapyDoc, something funny. Tell them you cried watching Mama Mia, because it made you miss your daughter, that the tissues are still on the sofa, whereas most people couldn't get past the first scene and nobody, nobody you know admits to having cried along with Merrill Streep.

And besides, if you take this one on, TherapyDoc, this topic, it's likely you'll end up ranting and moralizing, and there is enough of this on the web. The voice is boring. It is your job to educate, not to lecture, and you'll get
so much spam, especially if you use the word, swingers.
But anyway.

I won't wimp out entirely, although this isn't exactly what my blogging pal requested. We'll poke about a bit in this not-so-murky territory.

When incest (the ultimate sexual boundary violation) came to our attention in the mid-twentieth century,* authors of textbooks dubbed it pathognomic, something associated with very serious mental and behavioral psychopathology, the winner, hands down, of the gold, the silver, and brass Olympic medals for both the victim and the perpetrator.

The experts said: Keep them in therapy forever.

That we kept them in therapy for years speaks to the sensitivity we had about sex back then. Sex without boundaries or permission was considered a really bad thing, morally wrong, bad for people, pathogenic. It caused disorder. And that thinking generalized to other sex crimes, as well.

Then and now, mental health professionals think that boundary violations can hurt kids and adults, too, sometimes irreparably, to the degree that the human psyche does not always forget.

We may always grieve an unprotected invasion of personal space. It may affect the way we see ourselves, the world, and everyone in it. Every sexual crime is an invasion of personal head space, too, not just a body memory.

But we're a lot better at treating it now, thanks to war.

It so happens that even acquaintance rape, certainly stranger rape, can mess with your brain in the same way that combat messes with a soldier's brain. The diagnoses and treatment protocols can be the same, too.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the primary disorder associated with sexual crimes like rape and molestation, even secondary trauma, the witnessing of events that are ego-dystonic, that make us extremely uncomfortable.

But if it weren't for war, the psychological treatment of sex crimes against women and men, might still be enigmatic.

We know what we're doing now when we treat rape because governmental agencies (hospitals) have had to find ways to treat the flashbacks and nightmares suffered by war veterans. Thus the funding for research, and an explosion of knowledge about PTSD as it manifests in the twentieth century.

The better treatment interventions, cognitive behavioral therapy, relationship therapies, are working. We don't need to keep people in therapy forever anymore, although surely, for many, long-term therapy is a great idea. It is a lifeline purchased on the cheap at your local community mental health center.

It is fascinating that rape victims and combat veterans share the same syndrome, but makes sense. Life is a battle field. Nobody's in Kansas anymore.

The real difference between then and now is that now we hear so much more about sex in general from the media. We hear about normal sex and about criminal sex, and your bread and butter sexual boundary violations, some perpetrated by teachers and clergy. We hear about it in newspapers and magazines, and we catch it on cable, let's talk, although it's obvious you can absorb quite a bit of chatter, see every sort of video on the Web.
Your average media gulping adult or child, sees a pervasive treatment of sex, one that acknowledges sex as a normal, healthy part of loving relationships, and as a dangerous, sometimes perverted element to crime. Sex is in our face any way we shake it.

As they say in the marketing business,
It sells.
Always did. But because it is so pervasive, because we're inundated with it, it is only an issue, a problem, if: (a) you can't find it; (b) you need to learn how to do it; (c) your partner is too tired or not interested; (d) you or your parents feel it might be sinful,

(e) Or you, as a mature adult, think your sexuality needs enhancement, which can be purchased in pill form, a pill that will sustain an erection long past any need or desire, as advertized on television. Thank heavens we don't have to see that on those commercials.

And sex is a problem if (f) someone takes you by force, obviously, or

(g) someone takes advantage of someone else's age or gullibility.

Only this one can be an iffy call, a question of informed consent. It's iffy because kids have consumed the notion that sexual behavior is so much a normal part of life that they never need to ask or question whether it is appropriate. It's always okay, sex.** Didn't you know?

Uh, oh. This is a rant.

It is so normal that nobody pays much attention to what we might call iffy relations.

An under-aged person, a child of fifteen, perhaps, has sex with an older person, technically statutory rape, but our fifteen-year old wanted it. Shouldn't that be okay?

Or maybe it is a young adult, a person almost of age, who gets very stoned and doesn't object, seemingly wants it, then wakes up and thinks, "Uh, oh. What the hell did I do?"

Or does object, but the objection is over-ruled.

No means No in any State of the United. When a person of any age, in any relationship, says no and is overcome by someone who thinks that no is really yes, it's rape. Believe it or not.

But what about when you're of age and you say yes and you're high? Is it rape then?

Well, yes, if you weren't in a state of mind to give informed consent and wouldn't have said yes, were it not for the Ecstacy or whatever designer drug it was that you or someone else added to your evening.

Do you see how iffy things can get?

Which leads us to Winter Break, which is almost over. Winter break, summer break, spring break, these are peak therapy times. Kids come home and they don't look so good.

And it is often about trauma. We can thank federal initiatives. College coeds now know the definition of all kinds of rape because of federal funding. Educators, some of whom are peer counselors, some teachers, some social workers or rape victim advocates, are running workshops on campus.

And sometimes this education triggers memories of experiences past.

Research (I've read, mountains of it) suggests that if you were violated as a younger person, that you will be violated again as an older person. Something about self-esteem and unresolved issues.

So people like me see young people, mostly college students, during winter break, kids who are remembering the iffy times, those one-night stands, the stoned sex they thought they wanted at the time. Some have new content to add to old.

It's a therapy for post-traumatic stress.

You know, I could easily have waited to post this one, but winter break is almost over. If you think you need it, get some therapy on campus if you're heading back to school.

And if you want a few more stories on the subject, read my post on innocence lost at TheSecondRoad.

Or check out Mama Mia. There is a subplot about the unintended, if not traumatic, consequences of unbounded sexuality, normal sex as we're defining it in the twenty-first century.

I'm telling you. The movie's not that bad!


*When I say "our" attention, I mean that generation of mental health professionals.

**Yes, I am being sarcastic, or would you prefer, facetious.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Snow Birds

My parents left for Florida soon after Thanksgiving.

As I receive final instructions about the plants, Mom says, "Oh. And don't forget. Dad won a snow blower (a door prize? a raffle? grab bag? I still don't know!) and you should take it. It's in the garage. We won't be needing it in Miami."


"And whatever you do, don't lock yourself in the garage. It's very easy to do that, the door closes right behind you, and if it's locked, you'll get locked in and you can't open the outer door, you know, because your father has bolted it shut."

"Sounds like the voice of experience."

"I never did it. But it could happen."

"I know."

The place is locked up and better-armed than Fort Knox, and it's not as if there's anything to steal except the furniture. But you know how people from Eastern Europe in that generation can be about the fruits of their labor. Remind me to tell you a few sofa stories one day. Not now.

Anyway, I go to work on Friday morning and the snow kicks up while I'm listening to the woes of the universe, and by the time I leave the building there are a lovely three inches of powder all over the car. I'm thinking: Hmmm, I should go by and get that snow blower.

But the day is late and there are errands to run and I still have some calls to make, so this doesn't happen. On return to the homestead FD is in the kitchen cutting fruit for his friends, beating off a caller from the hospital who wants him to sign a death certificate. When he finally gets off the phone, I say,

"I guess I should have picked up that snow blower."

He objects. "It's big. You have to fuel it. We have nowhere to put the thing."

"What's wrong with the living room?" I cry. "We could use it to hang our wet coats."

He just shakes his head.

We're invited out for dinner, always a good thing, and FD and Little One walk ahead of me to the synagogue. The plan is that I'll skip that part, take my nap, and meet them in an hour for dinner. I'll bring the candy.

I wake up from the nap with a start, always do, and throw on layer after layer of outerwear, cold-weather phobe that I am: 2 sweaters, a ski vest with a hood, 2 hats, a pair of gloves under mittens, and (don't hate me) my thousand year old fur coat. Yes, it's true, several small animals died for this sin. But no animal rights activist has said anything to me so far.

Gimme your best shot.

Dinner is lovely, we're with friends that we haven't seen in ages, and the conversation is fairly intimate, no one's mentioned religion or politics or animals, not in a provocative way, at least. In a flash all the food is gone and we have to leave. FD is hosting a shiur, a class, at our home. He's attended this class for over thirty years, the men rotate hosting it, the same Sephardic* rabbi teaches it. Women can sit in if they want, but we're not terribly interested.

(Pretty amazing, isn't it, that any subject can stay interesting for over thirty years?)**

On our way home it is obvious that we are trudging through an added two inches of snow and the shovels aren't keeping up. FD has to drop by and pick up a friend and Little One has a better offer. So I march on ahead. The skies are dusting me with new flakes, the snow is sparkling in the streetlight, and I'm thinking it's a shame this is only a six block walk. I'm cozy and warm in all of these clothes and could walk forever.

The men must notice I'm happy because they catch up to me. FD is bragging about my having bought cross country skis last year, obviously something everyone should do, now that global warming has transformed Chicago into snowman heaven. He has resisted them, however, thinking he's superior because he downhill skis, and if anything, he'll get on an airplane and find a mountain with some snow.

But I know my boy and last week I spend a couple of hours and a couple of dollars, maybe $30 plus shipping, and buy him some cross country skis. Used, obviously, but Rossi's. Getting new 3-pin boots is more of a challenge, but these are available. He'll like it, for sure, if only he tries. Who wouldn't? On the safe side, I buy him a size that will work for Little One, too, just a little bigger.

The guys are reminiscing about huge snowfalls past, and we get home and brush off our coats in the front hall. My boots slip off really easily because of the plastic bags over my socks for added warmth to the toes.

"Class act, honey," FD murmurs, embarrassed. He's easily embarrassed.

"You may be cool," I say. "But I have to be warm."

The guys sit down at the table. FD wants me to try his guac. I'm not hungry, but okay. "Great, dear. Delish."

And I go to bed. And I sleep almost 10 hours without interruption, wake up from whatever movie was playing in my head in a panic. This is not me, sleeping so long. It must have been awfully quiet on the street last night. I look out the window. Wow.

There's another four inches of snow. At least another four, and it's still snowing. Some might have optimistically said, still drifting, but they would be wrong. You can't even tell there are steps up to the porch from my angle. It's one snowy incline. The cars are covered. Nothing's moving. I run downstairs, open the front door. Silence.

Eventually I begin to layer up to go to shul anyway, because it is what I do, and trudge through this powdery but wet blanket, liking it well enough. I don't hang around very long to socialize after the services. It's a new synagogue for me and I'm here because it's closer and the cold is wearing me down (and it's fun to try new synagogues). In Chicago you can attend as many synagogues as there are synagogues as long as you pay dues or give a decent contribution once in awhile.

I meet up with FD at home, for he still shleps out to our shul every week, as he should, and he brushes the snow off my hair. "Some storm!" he exclaims.

"I'm freezing," I reply. And I am.

We watch the snow from the window for a minute, shrugging our shoulders.

"Could've used that snow blower, right?" I tease.

"Nah. We're good. Two strong boys in this house. But. . ." He hesitates a second. "Is there any chance those skis might come today?"


*Sephardic refers to Spanish, really Turkish, Iraqi Iranian, or Moroccan, lineage that traces back, of course, Israel or Palestine, previously the name of the Jewish homeland prior to the birth of the State of Israel. Jews deported or murdered during the Spanish expulsion of 1492 are referred to Sephardim, as opposed to Ashkenazim, Eastern Europeans.

**Jewish studies are provocative, and because we tend to study in groups and nibble on all kinds of sweets and salty things while learning, fun. Before and after there is a great deal of news to share, new babies, who's sick, how they're doing, where are they, that sort of thing.

Friday, January 02, 2009

On Those Seven Things No One Tells You About Marriage

I go to log onto my Yahoo account this morning to see if any of my patients have any horror stories to tell me about New Years (such a lovely holiday).

And there it is, the pulp journalism article of the week, Dating 101: Seven Things No One Tells You About Marriage, by Ylonda Gault Caviness who writes for Redbook. The story is about the surprising, enlightening, and sometimes hard truths married folks all face -- and how they can teach us what love really means.

This makes me angry, and it makes no sense that I'm angry, and I don't like to be angry, although I'll go with the flow, see where it takes me, that feeling. But I'm not a ranter by nature, never about your writing, friends, or even Ylanda's, and won't rant, particularly, even if the toilet seat is left up, which it never is. It never is because some of us have mastered the traditional art of guilting family members. It might have been in mother's milk, so to speak.

Thanks, Ma.

You never need to get angry if you do this, guilt nicely, by the way, especially if you add a twist of assertiveness. Facts, the things you include in assertions, are scary and informative. Just the facts work! (Would you like to fall into the toilet in the middle of the night? I don't think so.)

It's all good stuff in this article, The Seven Things No One Tells You About Marriage, and most of it is true.

But only the other day, we were talking about a book that maybe I should write (everyone has their own opinion about the book I should write) and FD said, "Whatever you do, just make sure you have a number in the title. Like, The Five Intimacies. Or Three Tricks to a Better Life. Without the number, you can't sell a self-help book."

"News flash, darling. Issues are without number. And I don't write self-help books."

There's even a book somewhere out there about self-help books, and how bad they are for you. But I disagree. I like to think of them as conversation starters, like these articles can be, for these are really the conversations that matter. These are the conversations that turn men into women.

This piece at Yahoo is beautiful, if only because it is succinct, informative, right, and well-written (if a little too sweet for my coffee). Here are your Seven Things No One Tells You About Marriage.

1. You will look at the person lying next to you and wonder, Is this it? Forever?

2. You'll work harder than you ever imagined.

3. You will sometimes go to bed mad (and maybe even wake up madder).

4. Getting your way is usually not as important as finding a way to work together.

5. A great marriage doesn't mean no conflict; it simply means a couple keeps trying to get it right.

6. You'll realize that you can only change yourself.

7. As you face your fears and insecurities, you will find out what you're really made of.

You can use this list as a tool, something to use to talk about intimacy with friends and lovers. You want to know, truthfully, before you marry (if that is your intention), you want to know if at all possible, and sometimes it isn't, how the two of you will manage intimacy.

And we're not talking about sex here, for if you have intimacy, sex will follow. You want to know how you're going to keep it all alive once you've entered the black commitment hole. Face it, the only thing stopping people from commitment is fear itself, to quote FDR.

So talk about the Seven Things on dates, or even make it pillow talk. This is what you do on dates especially, right? Talk. Sure, you go to museums, too. I know, I know. And after awhile, talking about The Dark Knight (one day, we'll get to it) or whatever movie you think is fabulous or terrible, won't be enough.

You're dating, for example, thinking, Wow I LIKE this guy (girl), and think, Why not talk about The Seven Things? The conversation goes something like this.

Alvin: I can't wait to sleep with you.
Sylvia: Wait. I need to know something.
Alvin: What baby? Anything.
Sylvia: Are we ever going to have really, really bad arguments?
Alvin: Never, darling.
Sylvia: Are you sure? Because I sure don't ever want to go to bed with the guy I marry, angry.
Alvin: You won't. Not with me. You might be angry with your job, or your mother, but never will you be angry with me. (Pause) Wait. Did you say, marry?

Or it could go like this:

Alvin: I can't wait to sleep with you.
Sylvia: Wait. I need to know something.
Alvin: What baby? Anything.
Sylvia: Are we ever going to have really, really bad arguments?
Alvin: Never, darling.
Sylvia: Are you sure? Because I sure don't ever want to go to bed with the guy I marry, angry.
Alvin: You won't. Not with me. You might be angry with your job, or your mother, but never will you go to bed angry with me.

In which case, of course, marry the guy.

Okay, okay. You're correct in thinking that marry the guy based on just that is too simplistic, facetious, even tongue-in-cheek, and doesn't even address the point of the article. Ms. Gault Caviness is saying,essentially,
It's okay, this is the reality of the situation. Go ahead and marry the love of your life. Just know what you're getting into.
If you listened in on our previous discussions on premarital assessment, you know that you have to find out whose parents went to bed angry. That's the transgenerational stuff, and is a covert family precedent, permission, a rule.

And you have to know how the parents of your intended resolved problems, too, and how your future lover has learned to solve problems over time. And you want to know the history of mental illness in the family, and how the tribe managed that, and how many kids this person wants, if any, and what schools the kids are going to go to, and if they watch Monk, even like Monk, oh, the list goes on and on.

It's too long for a self-help book.



Another good piece of journalism, I would say great if I could see the data, review the research, but there's no time for that, and the point of the piece is worthwhile for now, important, even.

This one does make me angry.

NPR fills us in on what the U.S. Army is doing to employ veterans who want a career in the military. Like most things we hear about the army, about war, about combat, it isn’t pretty.

Many of the vets, having spent two years in Iraq, suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, i.e., they have flashbacks from combat, recurring nightmares, severe anxiety and depression, and the relationship problems attendant to these. These gentle men and women are now in jobs recruiting for the armed forces. Their job is to sell the army to young men and women. And this is very stressful, we hear. It is precisely the type of stress that therapists would suggest they run from, not walk.

Two recruits a month is all they have to find, and this may sound easy, but it’s not if you are an honest person, just can’t lie.

Here’s what I picture.

The recruiter is at a high school or hanging out at the union in front of a table at a college campus. A young man leafs through the literature then gets up his courage and asks,

Have you seen any action?

Vet: Uh, huh. I was in Iraq for two years.

Kid: Can you tell me what it’s really like?

And he does. Or it shows on his face. No sale.

I think that if what NPR, National Public Radio, tells us is true (that recruiting for the U.S. Army is, hands down the most stressful occupation in the United States,* worse than law enforcement, 17 suicides, 5 at the Houston Recruiters Battalion alone, since 2001) then this is not only irresponsible, that the army places vets in this job, but criminal.

There is a dissertation in here somewhere, just waiting to happen. Thanks NPR.


*That's the data I'd like to have a look at.