Friday, February 27, 2009

How to Save a Life- Part Two


Terrorists from Pakistan attacked institutions, innocent people, in Mumbai last November; a group of about sixty armed Muslims (please read comments, no disrespect here to the entire family of Muslims), ready to die to make a statement, responsible for at least eighty deaths, more than 250 injured.

Not that I want to dwell on suicide and death, it is not the winter upper you're looking for. But we need to build a little on that last post, How to Save a Life.

I don't know if you noticed, but that one bled values. Not that that's bad, having values, in fact, the National Association of Social Workers has a code of ethics that uses the word repeatedly, values, and the American Psychological Association's code implies them, standards, beneficience, fidelity and responsibility. The American Psychiatric Association piggy backs on the American Medical Association, and you know doctors tend to be death-avoidant.

We're talking about saving lives, here, on this blog, in a society in which suicide is endemic, becoming more and more prevalent. And that salve, hope, although presidential rhetoric aspires to make it so, (thanks Star Trek, Next Generation), is sorely lacking. It's missing from among the poor, and the rich, as well.

Lost millions, to many something new, is lost identity. Lost jobs, lost identity. At least a piece of identity, self, is lost. Hard to stay hopeful, so confused, rudderless. For many hard-working people, the tagline might be, I am my money. If I'm doing well, I'm well. If I'm not, I'm not.

Tear money away, for the first time, from the identity of an income-earning adult, and you have an uncharted psyche. It's like being sixteen again. Who am I?

And that's fine, in fact we can all appreciate a make-over, it could do us all a world of good to redefine ourselves, reassess who we are and what we should be. Can be. But if other plates aren't twirling well, if the marriage has gone south, and the kids are using drugs, if your mother's been diagnosed with something you can't pronounce, and your dog just bit the neighbor, then not having money can be the stress that tips you over. Bring out the Puffs* about now, for sure.

I made a bad joke yesterday, forgive me, please, but I meant it, sort of, really wondered. Upon hearing that Japan is officially in a recession, I asked FD, "Does this mean that hari kari will go up in that country?"

Bad taste, he said with his eyes. And he's right. But I'm really worried about this trend, in general, the value on life disappearing in society. Life is less meaningful for so many when times are tough, and we are in an international recession. And our safety, our physical security is not even an assumption anymore, hasn't been, some say, since September 11, 2001, the day that terrorists declared war on the West, The Enemy, and smashed flying machines into buildings in New York City and Washington D.C.

The West is the enemy for terrorist suicidists (my new word of the year, people who encourage others or believe in the benefit of suicide, the right to take one's life, although maybe euthanasia applies). Those who see Western values as evil focus on our lack of modesty and promiscuity, as if these are only Western phenomena. We don't redistribute wealth as perhaps a communist society might. Or a king. A king? Or perhaps a benevolent dictator. (Someone stop this rant)

I don't know about you, but the other day a young man came to my door asking for money for Save the Children, an international cause. I get solicited quite regularly and give what I can. From the look of the pages of names on his clipboard, am apparently not alone.

Until recently, it is true, The West represented affluence, good health, the good life. And America, especially, is a country that defines itself with wonderful things, but these things include individual rights, freedoms, and a system of government that has functioned relatively well for over two centuries. The system shows signs of wear, but it is running better than ever.

The greatest country in the world, we used to say when I was a child, and if you listened to President Obama's speech on Wednesday night, still believe.

We will all cut back. We'll get by.
Someone said to me this week, "I can stay in denial for just so long, and then. . . reality sets in."

And I had to respond, "You can grieve what you've lost, that's fine. But it's what you have that matters."

If we define ourselves by our affluence, what are we? And if a nation defines itself this way, as some, apparently believe is true of America, and affluence disappears, then happiness does, as well.

But any mental health professional will tell you that mental health depends upon much more than money. We can't obsess on this. And America's future, in particular should be bright, has to be, because this country is not about affluence, it is about opportunity.

And we have enviable, unbelievably enviable rights.

These rights make us happy, too. Suicide isn't included as one of them, but freedoms of speech and religion, the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we take these for granted. They're in the "have" list.

The terrorist approach to Western ideals seems to be: Destroy people who express themselves (the entertainment industry, especially); destroy yourself if necessary to destroy others; nuke America, if at all possible, and by all means, while you're at it, destroy that Zionist state, too. I think the idea is that if some people have to be poor, others have to suffer. A good society suffers together.

Not so different from holding a friend's hand, as we discussed in the How to Save a Life post, or is it? Oh yes, it's much different.

Those of you who saw Slum Dog Millionaire saw hundreds of poor people in the streets of India, barefoot, hungry, wet from the rain, homeless. And yet India is not a hotbed of terrorism, indeed the country suffered a hit in Mumbai. Osama bin Laudin has not got a grip on India or its people, probably because there is meaning in life in that country. Meaning and a search for harmony that is not about having money or being angry if you don't have it. India is about survival and peace, although we surely see the underbelly in the movie. But there's not a readiness, a willingness, a value for blowing oneself up, murdering others to make a point.

Or have I missed something?

It is hard to understand how a culture could glorify suicide, how any child's life, anyone's life, could be distilled down to something that a society is willing to sacrifice to make a political statement. Last week the human sacrifices that delivered suicide bombs in Iraq were all women, not women who were depressed, who couldn't take it anymore so they killed themselves, but women who wanted to be remembered for their deeds, for the glorious deed of killing themselves. They wanted the glory of dying for their values, and valued dying.

All I can think is, desperate or brain-washed or both. Mentally ill? I haven't given the status exam. My guess is that the night before, before a person commits this atrocity, murdering innocent people, murdering oneself, there is a going away party.

A different suicide altogether. How did that song go?
Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend. Somewhere in the bitterness. If I had stayed up with you all night. . .Maybe I'd know. . How to save a life.
Something like that. Every life is invaluable; our worth, incalculable. Where there is life there is hope. Even now, when denial is hard to hold onto.

therapydoc

*Puffs is a Proctor and Gamble product. As soon as they pay me (this is America) I'll put a link to the P & G website right there!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Fashion: Spring 2009



That's Michelle on the cover of Vogue. The caption:
THE FIRST LADY THE WORLD'S BEEN WAITING FOR. Can't wait to read the story.

Well, the country may be a mess, the world staggering in recession, but let me tell you. The spring clothes in Vogue! OMG! We haven't seen a more beautiful collection in a decade, maybe several decades.

The fabrics, the lines, simply indescribable. It's the March 2009 issue, so if you're not skin-phobic*, take a peak. Leaf through it. Lovely.

I informed FD about the spring fashions, told him that this is really exciting, it really is, and although it's unlikely anyone can really afford to buy anything, and many of the models (meaning the clothes) this year show a ton of skin, our lives will be immeasurably better, very soon, just knowing that there are beautiful duds in the world in which people who are privileged still spend money.

#4 Son walks into the kitchen during my soliloquy.

"What shows a ton of skin?"

therapydoc

*Many cultures really frown upon semi-nudity and exposure of the skin outside of the bedroom. I'm not making a comment here one way or another, just warning that if you have these more modest sensitivities, Vogue is not for you. I blush, seriously, what can I say.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Bonnie the Ape and More





My number four son said to me the other day, “You could just write about songs, nothing else, and would never have to worry about material.” He likes that song, How to Save a Life and keeps trying to give me a Cold Play song, I Used to Rule the World. He's succeeded. But. . .

I never have to worry about material. It’s everywhere.

If I did, I would start with You May Be Right, I May Be Crazy. . .the Billy Joel song, a feel- good, accepting song about mental disarray. I just wish I knew what that word, crazy, means. We tend to frown upon it, this word.

Which brings up House.

If all we did around here was scour media for material, we'd have to credit Hugh Laurie, who plays the irrascible Dr. House for destigmatizing depression, especially. He might say,
"I'm angry and depressed, and the most cynical person on television, not an easy job. So screw you if you even think about taking that away from me."
Hugh Laurie is doing a one-man show to depathologize and destigmatize mental disorders, which is a very cool thing. His I’m depressed and I don’t give a d___ is loveable, and millions love him, which is why I've been telling people to tell people about their depression. They love us more for it.

To a point. I personally hate the show, btw, but love a man and his grumpiness. Take me as I am: the dark side.

We could just focus on AOL or Yahoo news, of course, real personalities who get into trouble. My kid in Hollywood (finger on the pulse) asks me, "Are you writing about Rhianna and Chris Brown?" Not today, Bubbalah. Maybe one day. All I know is that Chris released a statement to the press after allegedly pounding Rhianna, telling us that he's talking to his minister and his parents, hoping to get help and guidance from them.

Don't go to therapy, Chris, whatever you do. This is my first sarcastic comment, maybe since 2006, so don't spleen me, people, it had to come out, and it is not snarky. I'm saying it for his own good.

Another way to find material for the blog would be to listen to National Public Radio. Yesterday NPR ran a story on green toys, cheap and environmentally safe. We're all buying cheaper things for children now that we're broke, something we tend to encourage anyway around here, you know, especially around the holidays.

Kids need you, basically, not toys.

But cheaper toys include winder toys, those little plastic jobs with turn-keys that you wind up to make the bunny hop, the chipmonk bang the cymbals. The older ones in metal are more imaginative. Before taking down my birthday post (too many identifiers) I confessed that I love these things. Now I read there's an association between loving winder toys and schizophrenia. But I heard about it on the Internet, and you know you can't believe what you read out here.

So that was a good story, the NPR winder toy story.

And today we have Bonnie the Ape, who wants to whistle, therefore she whistles. If you don’t know how to whistle, I am suggesting this as a treatment intervention.

Whistling is something my older brother taught me before I could speak. It is a feel good thing. It just is.

Learn how to whistle. Bonnie taught herself, fyi.

National Public Radio has feel bad stories, too, but after that last post on How to Save a Life, I just can’t go there. And we're not through with that one, you know. There is a Part Two to How to Save a Life, and for more on duo-diagnosis and saving lives, you can read my post on The Second Road. I talk about you yapping away on my voicemail.

Maybe next week we'll do Part Two. But I've also promised a favorite clergyman something on ego, and there's the polar bear post. I just don't know.

therapydoc

Monday, February 16, 2009

How to Save a Life


Caveat: This may make you feel bad. If you know someone who killed himself, or herself, and you feel badly about your part in it somehow, get therapy. Or talk to someone about it. You matter, too, and despite what you might think after reading what I write below, you probably couldn't have helped that person, probably could not have saved a life. It's one of those things, best to take yourself off the hook.

One night last week FD said to me, "We should make a shiva call tonight."

Someone who sits shiva has lost a parent, sibling, or child, a member of the  family of origin. From burial to "getting up" from shiva, friends have a week to stop by and sit together with the mourners, console. Or they can call on the phone, if the mourners are out of town. My parents call it a condolence call.

I felt badly for not being on board, but it had been a long day. I just didn't want to sit anymore, not with anyone. I wanted to eat some dinner, make a few calls, work on taxes, try walking a little on the treadmill, see if I could ride a bit on the stationary bike. I told FD I had a break the next day and intended to visit our friend then, maybe do some shopping afterward. Did he want to come along then, skip tonight?

Call me before you leave, he said.

So I did, and he went along. We visited someone who had lost his father, a dear man in his eighties. Our friend talked about his mother, alone now and missing her spouse, what that must be like, missing him for what will be the rest of her life. To her, this man in his eighties died prematurely.

Sad but a relatively easy shiva call, as shiva calls go. No one lives forever, children should outlive their parents. There's a certain order that makes life just a little easier to take, sometimes.

After the visit we grocery-shopped and had some lunch. I dropped FD off at his office and started back towards mine.

Then I heard the song. I'd heard this song maybe three or four times before, and each time would think, Catchy, but what's he's saying? Is the refrain really, how to save a life? Is this song about suicide? It sounds like the lead singer is blaming himself, this mournful, plaintive voice in the band, the one full of regret.

But honestly, all due respect, words run together for me and I don't want to think this. I'm on my way to work thinking, how to save a God knows what, flashing on that first patient and  wondering where am I going with this woman. Is my treatment plan on target? One false move. . . No room for mistakes.

I’m an aquarist and have had a bad fish week, lost three, one to an attempted homicide. The bat fish didn't make it through the mauling. A trigger mistook him for a leaf, perhaps. The clowns died of broken hearts, in sympathy, no idea. They just couldn't smile anymore.

But these are people.

I get to the office early and log onto YouTube, because there's really nothing to worry about with that first patient and I know this, truly the job is in hand, the work's been done. We're in middle phase, putting together a few pieces, not resuscitating anything, anyone.

And there it is, the music video, obviously a hit, a clear winner, it pops right up. Many others boast videos "with lyrics." So apparently I am not the only one who didn't get them on the radio. Once you know the words, like everything else, meanings are clear as rain.

Where have I been? Why haven't my kids told me about this? Don't they know I need this stuff? It's like oxygen for me, a song like this. I print out the lyrics, then watch the video maybe five times, mesmerized.

Fray, the band, won't let me embed it on my blog, so readers must find it themselves or follow a link.  With their permission, here are the lyrics.
How To Save A Life:
Step one you say we need to talk
He walks you say sit down it's just a talk
He smiles politely back at you
You stare politely right on through
Some sort of window to your right
As he goes left and you stay right
Between the lines of fear and blame
You begin to wonder why you came

CHORUS:
Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend
Somewhere along in the bitterness
And I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to save a life

Let him know that you know best
Cause after all you do know best
Try to slip past his defense
Without granting innocence
Lay down a list of what is wrong
The things you've told him all along
And pray to God he hears you
And pray to God he hears you

CHORUS:
Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend
Somewhere along in the bitterness
And I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to save a life

As he begins to raise his voice
You lower yours and grant him one last choice
Drive until you lose the road
Or break with the ones you've followed
He will do one of two things
He will admit to everything
Or he'll say he's just not the same
And you'll begin to wonder why you came

CHORUS:
Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend
Somewhere along in the bitterness
And I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to save a life

CHORUS:
Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend
Somewhere along in the bitterness
And I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to save a life
How to save a life
How to save a life

CHORUS:
Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend
Somewhere along in the bitterness
And I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to save a life

CHORUS:
Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend
Somewhere along in the bitterness
And I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to
Save a life

A critical thinker would watch the video and say, so emotionally manipulative. These are actors, hired to look sad, to draw attention to a problem affecting youth today, but there is no way that any of them would really want to die, would voluntarily take their lives.

But the truth could be otherwise. Although these are actors, they are representative. There is an ennui that affects young people, like old people, a psychic pain that affects the leaders of tomorrow, and I see them in my office and we talk and talk and talk, and there was a time, when I was young, that I would be on the phone all night with them. I knew so little back then.

More aggressive, I haven't done that in a long time. Not only are youth at risk, of course. Anyone who has lost everything, which is easy to do, is at risk—middle-aged men and women who have no savings, no jobs, fathers, mothers, grandfathers, grandmothers, the old and the young have angst, suicidal wishes. We know them.

Along comes one, distressed, withdrawn, glassy-eyed, a friend of any age, who has changed. And let's say you have this chance, somehow, to stay, to help this friend through one night in particular, one awful night. It is a horrible position, to have to do that, to make that choice. And with grown men, it's not as if anyone is asking you to stay and hold hands, not usually.

Maybe you know. He’s not going home to anyone. He’s isolated. In a book you are reading you learn that isolated people are at higher risk. It is sometimes easier if there are friends, family around. Living with someone is better than living alone; the support is built in, not that this always helps. People can be in the next room and not be there, not be very much help at all. They may even be a part of the problem.

Thus as a real friend, you have to stay to save a life, as Fray tells us. You may have to call someone else, explain why you'll be late, maybe why you'll be out all night. Mention that you might need some assistance, too.

But you have to stay, and you might have to stay up all night.

You never want to be in charge of someone's life, it's not a great position, it's not usually what we sign up for when we say, I'll be your friend. But sometimes, by staying, we make it a little easier for a friend in trouble to hold on. Stay just a little longer, until you have a chance to bring in bigger shoulders.

It can be hard hanging in there with someone who is seemingly smiling politely back at you. (Lyrics like these strike a familiar chord. We've seen this smile). You can't politely look right on through, go your own way. To be trite, you may not pass this way again.

Between the lines of fear and blame. You begin to wonder why you came.

Except you shouldn’t wonder, because your fear is nothing compared to his, and no one, really, is to blame. Depression happens and is obviously the domain of the therapists, the professionals—doctors. We have the tools. Sometimes all we need, however, is some unknown actor to play a quiet understudy role, to be a stand in for a few hours, keep our patient alive, watch him and don’t let him let that impulsive, senseless act happen. Get through the night and then find help, the bigger guns, to fight your friend's depression. Tell someone, a parent, a primary care doctor. A cop.

Anyone can sense a death wish, you know, feel that Spidey sense tingling. It is a scary feeling, sensing a death wish, because we have no control, none over the actions of others. Intimate information, insider knowledge direct from the mouths of our suicidal friends will haunt us if the act is consummated.

Like isolation, seeing self-destructive behavior is insider information. If a friend has been hurting himself, or has been hurting for a long time, drinking and drugging without any thoughts about tomorrow, then the direction of his mood won't spontaneously lift, the negativity won't fly away, not without medical intervention. That is when we have to seek help, can’t wait around for tomorrow. It is too dangerous a cocktail, negative thoughts mixed with accessibility, the accessibility of drugs, alcohol, bullets, ropes, blades. We can't walk away the truth of our violent world. We have what to fear, old Yiddish expression.

So scary, and we’re so powerless, You wonder why you came. So you go.

When we don’t, when we reach out, they punish us. This is how they make us feel, depressed people, like we're useless and powerless, like we can't help them. Why bother? This is how they feel, useless and powerless, failures, better off dead, not worth bothering about. It is called projection, and a sensitive friend feels what is in the heart of another, this feeling that there may be, truly, nothing that can be done.

Such a trap, and so wrong! Over-rated, powerlessness, hopelessness. Push help, find those friendly cost-effective social service people at the local mental health agency, the professionals. They’ll think of something. That is the rational way of seeing despair. The social scientists can't treat everything, not every time, but God knows, they can treat depression, and more often than not, win the battle.

Someone has to stay rational, unafraid, and above all, hopeful. You, the friend, perhaps the lover, sister, brother, parent, spouse, are elected. Maybe it won't work, maybe you will lose this person in the end, but you don't really know that, do you? So you can't run away, that's for sure, hoping that in the morning your friend will be okay.

You can't stay right if he turns left. This is the projected abandonment he is hoping for, you validating his worthlessness with your leave-taking. Don't fall for these words, I'm okay, go home. Be sure someone else is on call. Or stay.

This is not to say a person should be manipulated to stay by suicide threats designed to control the relationship. This is entirely different, a typically borderline personality modus operandi, and it is not an easy call to make. One in five with this disorder do kill themselves. But threats are threats, and as such need to be taken to a higher court. There is a fine line between dependency and despondency, but sensing you are walking that line, it is best to get out of the helper/rescue role.

It is too big for you. It is too big for most of us. That is why such people are so lonely.

Oh, so much to say. Why did I start?

Because so many people, after a suicide, say, I knew.

I tell people to talk openly about it, about this idea that most of us have had, at least once in our lives, that life is too tough, that we wouldn't mind finishing it. And they should discuss meaning, why choosing life is the better alternative, because there is meaning. It is our job to find it.

Having the discussion doesn’t make it your job to find meaning for your friend, the one who wants to die. It is the job of professionals. But you can play with it. It is a wonderful, rich, very intimate conversation we're talking about, and as such can be therapeutic. Therapists have no corner on these conversations. We do tell people that a suicide is permission to the generations to come that it is okay to throw their lives away. And if you do happen to help a friend find meaning, if together you find that elusive raison d’etre, within the throes of discussing depression, you are amazing, both of you are, and should consider this profession.

Oh, but we aren’t finished. In the process of this philosophical discussion, should your friend mention a suicide plan, then this is a heads up, don't take it lightly. There is real risk. Your friend is capable, armed, can exact a suicide. Now is the time to phone for help. More drama now, less later.

You can and should call parents, if there are any, and they are around. Real friends know how to find them, aren't afraid of these people, the ones who birthed a suicidal buddy, who brought a suicidal friend into the world. It is possible that these people hold the key to something very elemental to your friend's survival.

If there are no relatives nearby, then you may be the closest relative right now. You don’t want to lose him, but he can be such a burden, sometimes we give up. If it were our child with a fever, we wouldn’t give up. This is a child with a fever.

Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend. Somewhere along in the bitterness.

Whose bitterness? Suicide is an angry act, a vitriolic act. At some point there's energy, enough to make it so, that decision, the one that spells relief. It takes a lot of psychic energy. The decision to do it can be invigorating. So we watch people when they say they're feeling better, watch them more closely. We're thinking, the energy is available, the time is now. He's going to go left. There's so much energy in the bitterness and anger. Toxic stuff.

Let him know that you know best. Cause after all you do know best
All you know is there’s something really wrong here. Even we, the professionals, the ones who know, don't give advice. We listen. We teach from experience and we do it gently, if we do it at all. All we know is we find death repulsive. Our friend does not.

When your Spidey sense says, You're not getting through, this person is going to try it again, it is time to call for reinforcements. I've had kids never see me again because I forced a hospitalization.

Enough. It is a blogger’s prerogative to ramble on, but you get the idea. You know the symptoms to look out for, the loss of interest in the usual pleasurable activities, not caring about school or work, not caring about hygiene, expressing hopelessness and helplessness, giving away possessions, revealing a suicide plan.

You don't want to be an armchair therapist, here, not a self-appointed therapist, certainly don’t want to beat on someone's short-comings, not ever. Like Fray warns us in the song, we don't tell a person what he doesn't want to hear.

Our unconditional love and support? It might feel good, but it might not, won’t necessarily save anyone’s life and doesn't take the place of professional help. It is all we have to offer, however, when someone won’t get help. The real kicker is that people can fool the healthcare professionals. As soon as they’re released, they overdose or shoot a bullet through their heads.

When they have had help and given up, it is the worst. We have to reinforce that therapists are a dime a dozen. Try another.

Meanwhile, scheduling is impossible, and there are no appointments and your friend is taking his feelings into his own hands, dosing out his own medicine, not caring if it helps or not. And you're there and you can tell, he's too drugged up, or he's drinking too much, that this isn't good.

So you call 911.

And there, you've saved a life.

You don't have to wonder about any of it, you don't have to wonder why you came, why you stayed. The un-timeliness is what we're talking about, the premature death, the one we want to avoid, no different in its importance than the one we talked about earlier, the octogenarian who still died prematurely, at least according to his wife.

We want to save a life at any age. That's why we stay. We—you—are a part of it.

therapydoc

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Feb 2009 Back A' Cha

Yet another effort to thank those who link over to me. I always forget someone, no, maybe a few, so if that's you, please let me know if you want to be added to the list.

Rather than be snarky, we're using your own words to describe your blogs, for the most part.

Except for Retriever. This is one crazy post on teaching Sunday school. Not the Sunday school I remember, that's for sure. And another about being laid off, way back when, before it was fashionable.

Pink Hollyhock is always looking at the alternatives.

White Trash Academic :
White Trash Academic
Virginia, United States
Subversive punk from white trash 'hood glancing up the ivory tower and asking, "Is this all I get for years of schooling and student loan debt?"

Subversive is such a great word.

Try Digital Doorway, who hosts Change of Shift, a nursing blog. This is how digital describes himself: A digital venue for creative expression, nursing adventures, reflections on healthcare, thoughtful reverie, thoughtless repose, and other flotsam and jetsam. See, everyone's a poet.

Midwife with a Knife (sounds so scary) has been in San Diego for a conference. Did you ever stop to think: What if all conferences were in San Diego or Hawaii, maybe?
I didn't think so. And what do they call a guy who is a midwife?
Here's how she defines herself: The life and times of a young old-fashioned obstetrician. This isn't a medical blog, per se, but more about me and my life (which, admittedly, are mostly medical), but if you need medical advice, please see an actual doctor in person. Any resemblence of anything in this blog to actual patients is entirely coincidental.

It always is, has to be.

Healthbolt.net posted a video on sex and science, it doesn't get much better. Mary Roach wrote a book about sex research: Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex.
So Healthbot is gutsy.

Esser Agaroth is Hebrew for two cents, maybe My Two Cents would be the English equivalent.

The Social Work Blog Prep Test
isn't really a test. The tag line is: Help getting through the social work exam prep gauntlet. Whatever it takes, people. You won't get nearly enough of that here.

My pal, Ilana Davita is showing off photography on her blog, always worth the trip.

And NEVER FORGET The Second Road! I completely forgot to tell you about my last couple of posts over there, too, which is really ashame, because they weren't half bad!

One on the FOURTH STEP, in particular, but we're going to be going over that stuff, soon, so you should know something about it.

Leora over there at HP is a multi-media artist, also a rewarding visit.

Crackers and Juice is all about recovery from child abuse, simply maddening.

And The New Social Worker Online Blogmakes some of us old ones a little nostalgic for just the word, new. The New Social Worker is the quarterly magazine for social work students and recent graduates, focusing on social work careers for those new to the profession. This blog is a companion to the free online magazine at http://www.socialworker.com.

A Mother In Israel, news from around the Jewish blogosphere (but you know, you don't have to be Jewish, just mho.)

Ways to Survive Life, no pretenses, says what it is.

Expanding Life blogs on family matters.

My friend at Mori Therapy, making life better, making better lives, has a great tag line, don't you think? She posted on eating disorders, mentioned my theory on naps.

And Author Mom with Dogs is getting scraps awards. How cool is this?

Magen writes random thoughts about random things, which is a great use of a blogger's keyboard, if you ask me.

Whereas Nashbabe has random but deliberate ruminations, and isn't feeling so good, so stop by and cheer her up.

A true super brain, Neuroanthropology makes me feel a little light, but that's good, isn't it? Expand the brain over there.

Therapy Worksheets gives you a little something for the money: Psychotherapy worksheets of all kinds--depression, anxiety, anger management, stress reduction, self-esteem, groups, individuals, couples, adults, teens, children, CBT, DBT, ACT, PTSD, OCD, BPD...and more. It's amazing, check it out.

Literature Should Mean Something in Your Life is precisely that. Things and people are disappearing. Go find them.

My friend Syd, at I'm just F.I.N.E.-- is all about recovery in Al-Anon:
Telling what it's like to work on recovering from the affects of alcoholism

And Angela is STILL The Amazing Adventure.

Isle Dance, The Rebbetzin's Husband, and again, if I forgot you, please write and let me know.

Until next time,

That's it for now!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ingrid Michaelson Versus Steve Harvey

How much work does a person have to do in a relationship, anyway?

Ingrid Michaelson tells her guy, "Take me the way I am."

Whereas Steve Harvey and Frank Sinatra say, "If you want to keep me, better dress yourself up a little, darling."



Ingrid gets top billing, because she won a Grammy. And I like her view on relationships better.



Jessica Teller's photography can be found at Wers.org.

I had no idea that I could have skipped the whole school thing and still called myself a relationship expert. Everyone is doing it now, and frankly, if I had known this, well, it would have saved me a lot of tuition and headache.

Steve Harvey, radio show host and stand-up comic is on a run, won't stop with that. He's come out as a relationship expert and has a book to prove it. Microphone in hand, ready-made readership, perhaps he has a leg up as an authority.

I sure hope the book is meant to be funny.

It's so ironic. Only a week ago my doctoral students got the lecture on the reasons we in the academic community prefer the scientific method to other ways of knowing.

You probably are familiar with the scientific method. To pare it down: you (a) have a theory; (b) develop a hypothesis; (c) establish a logical research design to test the hypothesis; (d) test it; (e) interpret your findings.

It can seem tedious; research can take years from light bulb to publication, but at the end we have observable findings and a replicable experiment, empirical, evidence-based research. Scientific.

Other ways of knowing include common sense (Steve Harvey), tradition (religion), the media (newspapers, magazines, television, the Internet), and authority-- someone who calls himself an authority.

Authority is the tricky one. People say they have authority, meaning they have grounds for what they say, perhaps inside knowledge, an inside track. But often they don't have any grounds at all.

And you know that joke. FD tells it every time the coffee's not so great:

bad coffee = grounds for divorce.

Not apropos to anything, but I like it.

Almost anyone can be an authority. Journalists, for example, and staff at the Wall Street Journal afford authority to informants. A not-to-be-named source is
Someone close to the matter.
Now there's an authority.

I tell my students,
"You can only hope, basically, that your professors are authorities, that the things they say have some validity, are empirically grounded. By virtue of their positions, that should be the case.

But you have to be skeptical about everything you learn, because there are new studies published every day in every area of the social sciences.

So how are you, the lowly student, to know if the people handing out your grades are staying current?

Maybe, for all you know, they are making things up!"
kal ve'chomer, Steve Harvey.* If a professor can make things up, how much more likely is it that the Steve Harveys of the world, or the Dr. Phils and the therapydocs, even, make stuff up, too?

This is the real problem with common sense. Common though it may be, it still needs to be tested if you're going to call it scientific. (Much of what you get here at Everyone Needs Therapy has not been tested, either, I'm so sorry to have to tell you this. But some of it is. A lot of it is. No idea the percentages, sorry.)

By the way, I don't usually say this to my students, kal ve'chomer , which rhymes with doll-v'-go-mare, unless it slips out. The phrase is Hebrew for the following Talmudic rule of logic:
If an argument applies here, in an obvious case, then in cases that are even more obvious, it applies also. All the more so. For sure. Correct me if I'm wrong, if there are any logical Talmudists in the house.
(See, people think religion is not scientific, and they're right, probably most require that leap of faith, but if you need a logical argument for something, find a Talmudist. Trust me on this one. You can trust me, another great line,)

So basically I'm telling students, and you, my friends, to stay skeptical and do your own research. Use Google Scholar, if nothing else is available. You can google it.

This is what I like about teaching research. I don't need to keep learning. My job is to inspire them to learn, my students. They should keep reading, not me, and should read the research with a strong twist of skepticism. (The best way to do that is to check the methodology in those studies. Methodology tells you everything.)

This is a great sideline, by the way, teaching research, although I am considering becoming a radio show host.

But back to media.

Media is another one of those ways of knowing. We think it an unscientific way of knowing, but it is still a way. Certainly, in this doc's opinion, there is quite a bit of good stuff on the Teev, everyone's communal way of knowing. We sit with our families or friends, if we're lucky enough, and learn from shows like Nature, Nova, the Weather Channel,the History Channel, Turner Movie Classics, Friends (just seeing if you're paying attention) -- shows that drip with validity.

So we do learn from media. It's not so bad after all.

And I'll bet Steve Harvey's book, a combination of common sense and media pazazz, isn't half bad, even if Sal Minuchin and Jay Haley** won't be retiring their numbers any time soon. At least we hope not.

And the people who wrote He's Just Not That into You, Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo (Simon & Schuster, 2004), without a PhD between them, have something to teach us, too, even if the book is not empirically-based. (No spoilers in the comments, please, most of us haven't read the book or seen the movie, although you can bet it is the numero uno destination for our next chick flick night out.

And for sure,you remember Dr. Laura from her radio days, the older Jewish woman spleening about family values. Dr. Laura actually has some training in family therapy, although it's unlikely she could explain the difference between a Cronbach alpha and a t-test (PLEASE FORGIVE ME, DR. L, I'M A HUGE FAN, HONEST, JUST TRYING TO MAKE A POINT ABOUT YOUR USUAL MEDIA EXPERT), and her command of the DSM IV might be a little light. But that could be a good thing, we have so many pejorative labels floating about as it is.

I'll tell you the truth. Without our media gurus we wouldn't have anything to talk about at dinner.

I do get a little worried, however, when I hear some of the tripe served up on shows like Oprah, who should know better than to sponsor a show on hormone replacement therapies, for example. I worry that people believe what they hear because they believe in Oprah. If she hosts it is must be true, so they ingest things that might be dangerous, all because an authority clapped her hands.

This makes me uncomfortable. And it feels unethical, the way the media can lead us astray.

But back to Steve Harvey, talk show host/relationship expert.

Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg reviews Steve's book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment in the Wall Street Journal (February 7, 2009). A title like that alone deserves a review.

What it all comes down to, according to Mr. Trachtenberg, is that women can improve their relationships with men if they would only try to understand men better. Being a man, Mr. Harvey can speak for all men, obviously, and all women. He says:

"One of the biggest misconceptions that a woman has is that a man has to accept her the way she is. No, we don't. I don't know who told you that," he says in an interview.

He's speaking directly, you should know, to Ingrid Michaelson, who writes the song, Take Me the Way I Am. Mr. Harvey continues, and this is the best part:

"We like the bright and shiny. If you stop wearing the makeup, stop putting on nail polish, stop wearing high heels, you'll lose us."

Pass the pie, please, the one with the whipped cream.

A patient tells me, "You have to see this show, Mad Men. It's about the fifties, and how a woman's worth and primary purpose was to serve her man, her husband, literally."

Yeah, I know. I lived it, baby. From pouring the water at dinner, to serving them fruit cocktail for dessert, then clearing the table.

Maybe some of you are old enough to remember this song. Frank Sinatra is the crooner. Wives and Lovers. (1964) Pre-feminist era.



(B. Bacharach, H. David)

[Recorded June 12, 1964, Los Angeles]

Pretty marvelous, huh? Let's find another pie for Frank. You would think Old Blue Eyes and Steve Harvey were soul mates.

It still blows me away, that song. And it's catchy.

Does this mean, that Steve Harvey has climbed into bed with Frank Sinatra? I understand it, almost, in a bygone era, this sexism of the forties and fifties, a couple of short-lived decades in which women could stay home, men could go out and hunt. But now?

Especially now? Post-feminism?

Is Harvey saying, in the year 2009, that a woman who has worked a 12 hour day, who returns from a hard day at the office, the store, or worse, has been home parenting children, alone, making a home, should not takes off her nylons? They're so comfortable, after all.

Should she not throw on a pair of sweats, scrub the make-up off her face? Should she make dinner wearing heels? Shake the martinis rather than roll out a yoga mat? And if she's not hot enough, he'll be off to find someone bright and shiny?

In that case, as Mel Brooks said about the Indians, excuse me, Native Americans, in Blazing Saddles, Lazzan gain, (Yiddish, rhymes with doesn't rain). Let him go. Who needs him?

Or does it mean that he fully intends to stay bright and shiny for his woman? I do love a guy in a crisp shirt and a tie, let me tell you, the right tie, and it's a wonderful feeling of joy, art. But this is a condition? I should insist on the tie?
Hi dear, don't you dare take off that tie! Like, ever! I need the bright and shiny. Take off the tie, dear, and I'm out of here. Oh and by the way. I don't like the loafer look, very pedestrian, so if you don't mind, get yourself some Pradas and keep 'em on until I say, take them off.
Now that's more balanced, don't you think?

Better to get our messages, from today's rock stars, pop stars, American idols. Ingrid Michaelson would surely tell Mr. Harvey where to find his hat. Objectify ol' Ingrid, and she will tell you exactly what she thinks of you. Listen to this.

Take me the way I am



Adorable,our counterpoint relationship expert and spokesperson for 2009. I'm voting for her.

But really. Ingrid. Let's talk. Sometimes it's nice to compromise. Move in a little closer. Find a middle ground for the fun of it, to stretch the relationship, change just a little.

The way I am? Why would I always want to be the way I am? It will get boring if I live long enough. I can try out something different whenever I want. Even someone else's suggestions.

Oh! And mazal tov on that Grammie! It's so hard to resist the You go, Girl thing. Got it from the media.

therapydoc

*(kal ve'chomer rhymes with doll-v'-go-mare, Hebrew for. . .if it applies here, all the more it should apply there).

**Salvador Minuchin and Jay Haley are the Fathers of Family Therapy


Lyrics to Wives and Lovers

Hey, little girl, comb your hair, fix your make-up, soon he will open the door,

Don't think because there's a ring on your finger, you needn't try any more.
For wives should always be lovers too,
Run to his arms the moment that he comes home to you.
I'm warning you,
Day after day, there are girls at the office and the men will always be men,
Don't stand him up, with your hair still in curlers, you may not see him again.
Wives should always be lovers too,
Run to his arms the moment he comes home to you.
He's almost here, hey, little girl, better wear something pretty,
Something you wear to go to the city,
Dim all the lights, pour the wine, start the music, time to get ready for love.
Time to get ready for love, yes it's time to get ready for love,
It's time to get ready, kick your shoes off, baby....,
Take Me the Way I Am Ingrid blogs, by the way.

Written by Ingrid Michaelson

If you were falling, then I would catch you
You need a light, I'd find a match

Cuz I love the way you say good morning
And you take me the way I am

If you are chilly, here take my sweater
Your head is aching; I'll make it better

Cuz I love the way you call me baby
And you take me the way I am

I'd buy you Rogaine when you start losing all your hair
Sew on patches to all you tear

Cuz I love you more than I could ever promise
And you take me the way I am
You take me the way I am
You take me the way I am

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Never Write When

My son nonchalantly asks me, "Uh, can I ask? Is your post today long? Or short?"

I know he's not in the mood to read much. "Depends on your perspective. On a second read, not having looked at it since publishing late last night, I thought every word of it too long. Maybe it's better now." A sensitive man, he caught my regret.

"Everyone's entitled to a bad post occasionally, ya' know."

Nah. And not a long bad post, for sure not.

So it's a lesson, don't write when you're sick. Not if you care what people will think about your post. It's probably no big deal for most of us, and we let the words tumble out into the blogsphere. But some of us should watch this compulsion, resist the need to blog, certainly shouldn't do it NPO, (Latin: nil per os ) nothing by mouth. Fasting affects the brain, not in a good way, necessarily. It's so embarrassing.

Seems to me I learned somewhere that master Japanese fine artists, the ones who use ink so beautifully, deliberately, purposefully-- they only work about an hour a day, the best hour of the day.

A lot of us do the opposite. We write while at home sick with something or when we're exhausted, anything but at our best. We love to write about our aches and pains, too. After all, we're sharing our feelings with friends. And we want to be honest with one another, to be real.

But let's talk.

Probably we're going to kvetch about every day stuff, a typical virus, maybe a bruise. The bruise sounds interesting, actually. But the everyday malady is usually the kind of ailment that FD, under pressure will designate as follows:

Question: "WHAT IS THIS, DOC?"
FD: You have an SDV.

Huh?

FD: Yes, an SDV. Some D___ Virus.

They are too numerous to name, to count, and why bother? The treatment is usually the same, basically, and usually isn't about gobbling antibiotics.

Wait, isn't this a mental health blog? What can I say? I live with a doctor. Years and years of listening to phone calls, all day, all night.

don't eat much when you're sick, maybe nothing if it's in the gut or heading that direction;

drink fluids if your nose is running;

don't drink, ANYTHING;

suck on a Popsicle if your throat hurts, maybe,

call me tomorrow and come in.

no, don't go to work. see ME.
subtext: at MY convenience, not yours.

Otherwise you're the one neglecting you.

We're supposed to check in with the doc when in doubt, mainly because no one else wants to hear about it. No one else really cares. Except maybe the tissue and drug companies.

Wait a minute! That's not true, not fair, either. Some people care, probably not as many as we'd like to think, but some people care. It is about you when you're sick.

As the joke goes, and I'm sure I'm butchering it. A lawyer asks his friend the doctor how work is going *and the doctor says,

'Tanks G-d for the flu.'
No, it's not funny, but it is, in its way. Depends on your perspective.

Maybe it's just that while we're in it, while in the center of it, our sniffles, our cough, our stomach flu, what else, it is so consuming, such a mark on our humanity. It can feel life threatening it's so intense, and we don't understand it, the physiology, so we write about it, our own little way of working through the disease. But bottom line, to everyone else, it's not so interesting.

Some of us who write about our everyday kvetches , who come to our senses later, will yank posts right off the blog. The truth is that I really like the bloggers who write about disorder and disease, generally I like all bloggers unless their content makes me sick. Our average community writer is so lovable is the truth.

It's funny that to me, some of the the really interesting ones are about disorder and disease that I'm not likely to catch, the safe ones. Maybe this makes me a wimp or a neurotic or both. But I would bet I'm not alone not wanting to hear about allergies and backs so much, nagging reminders of the human condition. Not that I don't worry about everyone who has allergies and bad backs. It's no fun.

In the winter (seems like spring, summer and fall, too, these days) with all the junk floating around in the air, a person just wants to stay home, honestly. We used to be confused about the OCD types, (you can read about OCD here, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), people like Howard Hughes, who wouldn't touch a doorknob for fear of germs, who got agorophobic like this. Now we know Howard was ahead of his time.

When you're truly sick, the only trips to the grocery worth making are for tissues, jello and meds. And you can't carry out Chinese, you know, not if the doc says you're NPO, nothing by mouth. That's you, your new identity, those first four hours at the very least, with most things that affect the gut.

This is the long way of saying that you'll be glad to know (still about me, here, still spreading the joy) that the only way you'll get me to write about nausea or a common virus, from now on, no promises, is if Puffs sponsors this blog.

In which case. . .well, what can I say. . .seriously. TELL ME ABOUT IT! LET'S TALK ABOUT YOUR COLD! BRING IT ON! I care, I really do! And so does everyone else! We're going to talk about this, blog about this until we have cured the common cold, and we'll buy stock while we're at it, in tissues, only certain ones, obviously.

All joking aside, to be honest, maybe it's not the worst thing in the world, to kvetch about the little aches and pains. We keep saying that blogging is therapeutic.

The best we can do is do what our doctors tells us to do, not take aspirin (hard on the stomach), do call them when they're working, not sleeping, for non-emergencies, try not to spread it around, and read about the latest home remedies on the web. But ask your doctor, maybe, before you try them.

FD recommends chicken soup for just about everything, you should know.**

To your health,

therapydoc

*You know times are tough, have been for medical docs for twenty years, you have to have compassion, here.

**Vegetarians have to take it slow, if at all with chicken soup. You've lost those digestive enzymes, probably, depending upon how long it's been since you had a good steak.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

When Your Work (Voice) Gets in the Way



I used to think that musicians had it made, meaning that their lives were enviable. Face it. You have a talent. You use it. And everyone loves you. But now, having watched A Star is Born, and The Great Caruso, I can see it's nothing like that.

Home with the flu, deciding if I should write to Puffs and offer them space here on the blog, I had a lot of time to watch television. I got lucky and caught a movie I never saw before, even though my father used to rave about it, The Great Caruso. Total fiction. But still. We can learn from this.

Grand Tenori.com lends us the pic of Enrico Caruso above. Thank you.


Most people my son's age aren't terribly familiar with the great tenors. This kid will soon be 20, so we can't call him Little anymore. When his older brothers were little I made them listen to Pavoratti on their way to school. But somehow the youngest missed this phase. I think cassettes went out the window and CDs were too expensive at the time.

Now, Bruce Springsteen, my son knows. I mean, Bruce Springsteen brought down the house on Super Bowl Sunday and the physicist-engineer-computer-scientist-still-undecided was at a party, so he must have watched and listened as thousands cheered on. I didn't really feel Bruce sang to me. The commercials, on the other hand. . .

Yesterday, at work, about 4 pm, two more patients to go before the finish, I started to feel sick.
What do you do if you're a therapist in this situation? Just say, "Ya' know, I feel sick. You're less important than me?" No. You don't. You rely on hope is what you do, and the work goes on.

I get through it and pick up FD who doesn't even have to say, "Go to bed. Rest up. I'll take care of dinner."

I mumble something about left-overs and stumble upstairs to get out of my clothes, close my eyes, listen to right-brain lectures on Ted.com, make a couple of calls and want to sleep, but really feel too sick to do that.

Eventually, if you don't eat or drink anything in these situations, your biology takes care of you.

I must have slept, because I wake up and FD is lying next to me. "I'm cold," he says. "It's nice that you have a fever."

See, life is good. I force myself out of bed and amble downstairs to heat up some hot water with lemon juice and honey, something my father swears is good for you on a good day and my mother patronizes. I drink it very slowly watching Turner Classic Movies.

Mickey (Woody Allen) is drooling over Holly, one of Hannah's sisters in Hannah and Her Sisters (1986). If we were to take the movie apart for ethics, we would call it an abuse of power, the way he seduces Dianne Wiest, although she is a willing partner to the seduction, one of many in the film, although I came in on the second half. Mickey works as a television producer, she's a starving writer. It's an easy win for the Mic.

Oh, why not go on, I'll never return here. Perhaps the best part of the movie is Mickey telling over his suicidal wish to Holly, and how he almost shoots himself but misses. He wanders out of his apartment after this near suicidal act and roams around aimlessly, finally finding a theater. He's watching a Marx Bros. movie in a theater. He's watching Duck Soup and there is nothing funnier, as you may know, than Duck Soup.

Mickey can't help but laugh and enjoy himself. The Marx Bros. make life worthwhile. If there will be Marx Bros and the like, why would he ever want to miss out on that? Seems silly.

Another day.

On to Caruso. Much better!

The Great Caruso called my name the very next day. Two in the afternoon, watching television, what could be more decadent. Showered, changed pajamas,, canceled patients and never looked back.

Wikipedia tells us this operatic musical of Enrico Caruso's life is highly fictionalized. And if Wiki says it's fictionalized, probably none of the movie is true. Nevertheless, Mario Lanza stars as Caruso and some say that no one else could have conveyed the warmth and grace of the opera star, the richness of his personality, his nuances, generosity, and kindness quite like this.

And if you're looking for natural beauty in a movie, Ann Blyth plays Caruso's wife, Dorothy Benjamin. He meets her when she is a teenager. Doro is in love with the great tenor at first note; he marries her when she is in her mid-twenties. The socialite marriage made headlines, attracted congratulations from the likes of President Woodrow Wilson.

See, everyone loves tenors! And sopranos, too. And baritones. What is Bruce Springsteen, anyway? A baritone, I think.

Several opera stars make cameo appearances in this wonderful film, one that serves as a nice introduction to opera, by the way, rich in performance and designed to grab at the heartstrings. Caruso dies at the end, either from his addiction to ether, or a mysterious throat disease, we never know which, but it is premature, his death, the only thing true about his Hollywood ending.

Richard Hageman, Carl Benton Reid, Eduard Franz and Ludwig Donath appear in the film along with stars from the Metropolitan Opera, notably the soprano Dorothy Kirsten and Jarmila Novotna, Blanche Thebom, Teresa Celli, Nicola Moscona, Giuseppe Valdengo, Lucine Amara and Marina Koshetz.

It is a veritable tour of the Met.

Caruso, a poor son of a peasant family in Italy, an Adult Child of an Alcoholic (ACOA) rises to international stardom. Here in the USA it pains him that big donors to the Met want him to pander to rich people, to play to the Diamond Horseshoe. The Diamond Horseshoe, high society season ticket holders, I imagine, are the patrons with seats near the orchestra.

Caruso is told to keep his fists out of his pockets on stage, lest he offend them, the patrons of opera. This isn't classy, fists in pockets. He tells his socialite father-in-law-to-be that he will not play to the Diamond Horseshoe, that he will sing to the galleries, to the seats far away, way up in the balconies, for these people paid to see him, too. And there are more of them.

Everything about Caruso is charming, even his routine before each performance, although this is not a professional recommendation: a pinch of snuff in each nostril for mental acuity; a shot of whiskey to "relax the throat", and a glass of water to wash it down. You never see him drink anywhere else in the film, thus his alcohol use is wonderfully moderate. This in the day before beta-blockers.

He's a smash, of course. Every time he sings a note, we swoon. Well, some of us.

When he leaves the opera house, well-wishers outside on the street greet him as he is about to hop into the convertible with his valet and his driver. They beg, "Mr. Caruso! Sing something for us! We couldn't afford seats." And he sings for them. You could cry, seriously.

As you may know, if you have been reading this blog, my significant other is a musician, too. He made me cry on our first date (sure, an exaggeration, but Bach on the piano, when most people only know Heart and Soul, you would, too). So when Doro Benjamin tells Enrico that she fell in love with him the first time she heard The Voice, I could relate. It is the reason, tell your children, to practice.

She is discouraged from it, advised against the marriage. The life of a musician is a life on the run, they all tell her. He's never home. It is never about you. His performances come first.
His work comes first.

And his are charitable performances. How can a woman object to that? You'll like this. His voice is auctioned off at the Met for the Liberty Loan Home Fund. I suppose we need one now, too, a Liberty Home Fund.

Enrico tells Doro,
A man thinks he has a voice. The truth is, the voice has the man. The voice has to be somewhere, the man follows.
I imagine Mrs. Springsteen has the same problem.

He did Born in the USA, right? It's likely that for every dollar Caruso performed for charity, Mr. Springsteen gives a thousand.

Perhaps the loveliest scene in this movie is near the end, when Caruso and Doro have a baby. He is informed while in concert, on stage. Someone in the wings whispers loudly, "It's a girl!"

He then whispers to the sound man, the little guy in that hole under the stage, "I have a girl! It's a girl!" Then the sound man wriggles out of the hole and whispers it to someone in the orchestra. Each musician whispers it into the ear of the next, "It's a girl!"

Then the gentlemen and ladies of the Diamond Horseshoe get the news, too, and pass it around, all are thrilled with the news, whisper it to the next person. The news floats through the opera house, all the way up to the highest galleries, and at the end of the opera the place is wild, everyone on their feet shouting,

VIVA PAPA CARUSO!

Oh, it's good to see that kind of love, you know, on a sick day.

therapydoc