Snapshots with No Flash

Rummaging through my parents' basement-- my son salvaged this bag.

I grabbed a thousand of these.

They're not all otters, but there are many Lenox Annual Woodland Issues-- the kind of stuff I'll probably have to sell at a yard sale this summer. It's that or create an e-commerce store for plates.

Plates Used to Be Us
? Plates Was Us?

The Peanuts Mother's Day Plates are going to be a big hit, I can just tell. They're selling for a whopping $9.99 on Replacements., LTD. My mother, always the realist, asks, "Why would anyone want a Peanuts plate from 1972? 1973? 1974?"

"If they don't sell," I say, "I'll start using them. I mean eat on them. I like the expression on Snoopy's face."


One of my kids says to me, "You're really not so into blogging anymore!" But I feel it's not true. I am into it, even wrote a few things, just haven't posted.

"Why not?" -- the question of the day.

Don't know.

Next day we're celebrating my nephew's engagement at my mother's. It's really a day-after-the-party visit, very informal. We all happened to show up at Mom's around the same time to see how she's doing. The engagement is only a day old, so the wedding's on our minds, as is the sheer exhilaration of the proposal, the ring, it's marvelous. I want to be excited, and am, but feel I'm not showing it, push a little to do that. That's wha' cha' do, you know.

The kids are going through some of the junk in the basement, things of my fathers that he would have wanted them to have, golf balls, tools. FD finds a foot massage machine that doesn't work, takes it home to fix it.

Later in the evening I tell him how nice this is, that he has fixed the switch, that the thing works, how proud my father would have been that he even bothered. Maybe it will help my mother's neuropathy.

"The remarkable thing?" he exclaims. "Is that I did it in record time, didn't waste all night on it."

Uh huh.


I'm downtown today at the corner of Michigan and Randolph, watching the people buzz by, note how many tourists we have, maps sticking out of pockets, interesting cameras, big lenses. It's really cold, although the sun is so bright that most Chicagoans aren't dressed for it. A young couple with two kids, probably 5 and 4 are ahead of me at the stoplight. She's holding hands with the little girl, he's holding onto the little boy. She calls to her son, concerned:

"Honey, are you okay? Are you cold?"

The little guy's dad (it's clear this is his dad) sweeps him into his arms and holds him tightly, all I see now is his head on daddy's shoulder, peering down at me.

I kvell. (rhymes with gel, means melt, just how quickly he's in his father's arms. But the kid's not smiling and I think, "He's sick, somehow, not cold." And that felt bad.


I'm driving home, think about an exchange I heard at work, a common power struggle, the kind of thing any couple's therapist has heard a thousand times.

It's an argument over something that's making both of them very anxious. He wants to solve the problem his way, but his way makes her worse. She says to him,

Do it for me. Can't you just once, do it for me?

"Sure, I can just do it. But it feels like you're cutting off one of my . . . That's what it feels like."

That line, or any other line that refers to a guy's masculinity, usually ends the argument. Most women don't want to castrate their spouses. So the job of the therapist, obviously, is to play devil's advocate, say, maybe,
Did you really want them all for yourself?

A friend listens to me describe some of the latest drama going on in my life. She tells me, slow down, play with your fish. Watch more TV.

I'm ashamed to tell her that I haven't got the patience for teev lately, haven't watched in months. I don't recognize the names of the movies in the theater, either.

And my fish? It's a miracle they're even alive, I haven't attended to them in so long. Usually I change water every two weeks.

I know I have to do it, take a couple of hours, get out the siphon, the salt, begin to stir up an instant ocean, and do this Sunday night.

They look a lot happier, that's all I can say. Now if I could only remember to feed them :)



Cat said…
This reads like snapshots of your day and I like that.

Glad the fish are happier.
tuesday@11 said…
Gosh, TD who helps you with your depression?
TechnoBabe said…
Maybe you will get in the habit of not watching TV and quit it forever. I so recommend it. Takes so much pressure off and also give time for so much else.
Jack said…
You should check out eBay and see if anyone is selling those plates there. You might find a market for them that you were unaware of. Could be a worth a few bucks or not.

But it is a quick search so...
Anonymous said…
Haven't been by in a while and I just wanted to say Hi! I really like this post of random things throughout your day.
"Did you really want them all to yourself?" I love that! And you getting all sentimental over the foot massager, and FD wanting you to notice how fast he did it. Guys will be guys.

Take care TD, know you are in my thoughts even though I don't around that much lately.
(finals starting next week)
porcini66 said…
I know I have to do it, take a couple of hours, get out the siphon, the salt, begin to stir up an instant ocean, and do this Sunday night.

Yup. Ya do. No way out but through. Be gentle with yourself. It takes time.
therapydoc said…
Gosh, on the reread I DO sound depressed. But it's normal, I think, considering a loss.

In answer to who helps me, well, that old Beatles song, you know, says it all. What would you do if I sang out of tune? . . . I get by with a little help from my friends.

Which would include all of you, of course, thanks for asking.

This morning, after I posted this, I told FD about it, that there was a "sensitive" joke about parts of the body and the joke has inspired me to write a book for couples, not that I'll ever get to it, but it would be nice, a therapy-lite book, lite because it's easy to lose your sense of humor when you're arguing. But your therapist usually can find the humor (some of us, at least).

Anyway, I'd write that, mainly, because the book, When Your Therapist Gets Depressed has certainly been written.

And who wants to read about depression?! (Actually, lots of people).
Syd said…
I hope that you will continue to post these snapshots. They reveal a lot about life. Nice plates, especially the otter one.
Tzipporah said…
I totally get it.

We just lost Bad Cohen's dad over the weekend, making them all orphans (in their 30s). The little kids keep bringing the happy back into the room, amid all the grieving.

It helps that they (and the cats) are pretty noisy about wanting to be fed regularly.

Also - your line about sharing his parts - brilliant. :)
Diane said…
Doc, just wanted to tell you that I love your blog. Great writing style. Was also funny when I found out in the midst of reading that you too are a frum yid.

I hope you are comforted in your loss.
Kerro said…
Sending good thoughts to you, and your fish.
Anonymous said…
Go to and look for your plates, the prices that they are selling for will blow you away...that's where I look up most of my collectibles. I'm still going thru mom and dad's stuff, did a little bit today. Found the
"other" Christmas card that they starting exchanging with dad's sister and her husband in 1948, they exchanged the same card for 60 years til mother got sick. So many memories come to mind, some happy and of course the sadness that they are gone. Hope you are doing fine. Like hearing about Chicago since my fine husband was born and raised there.
Judy (the anonymous orfink)
Lily said…
I love the random thoughts in this post to go with the random basement stuff! I absolutely LOVE the Snoopy plate! If you find a Garfield one in there I will buy it from you! I collect Garfield :)

And the bag of cards? Whoa dang.
The Blue Morpho said…
"Did you really want them all for yourself?" What an excellent line. Funny, but puts things in perspective. How much of ourselves do we cling to, when it only makes us happy when it's shared? And I agree about ditching TV. Haven't watched more than a baseball game in 7 years.
Shannon River said…
OMG! I collect otter stuff, is there any possible way I could buy that plate (and any other otter plates) from you? This is a real inquiry. Please email so we can talk.

theshannonriver at gmail dot com
Isle Dance said…
P.S. TherapyDoc, I have an unrelated question for you...

Is there an ethical way for me to suggest or support another in seeking really good individual therapy?

(I'm participating in a project that places me in situations where people in pain are reaching out, not knowing what to do. Of course, I do not have those answers, but a good therapist would. So I feel like the right thing to do would be to find an appropriate phrase that I could respond with....yet I worry that might be considered rude...even though I think it's necessary.)
Jannie Funster said…
Why would they have that kid out in the cold if he were sick? He must've just been cold.

Instant ocean, that image, a gallon of water, and 14 slices of bread could well sustain me for the next two weeks.

Why did I think you were in NYNY?

1974. I was 10.

Im so glad I'm not 10 now!!!

Jannie Funster said…
Oh! For upcoming wedding... I have a suggestion for the bride, in a song I wrote, currently posted on my site. In video. Latest post. It may make you smile. Perchance even illicit (elicit?) yes -- elicit! (I think?) mild or stronger guffaws.

tuesday@11 said…
Hi TD, I am still praying for you. Hope you cleaned your fish tank and remembered to feed them. I was wondering about a comment in your bearvement blog about you wondering if you were empathetic enough with someone who was having great difficulty over a loss. After the loss of your father, have you thought about ways that you could help others dealing with heartbreaking loss? If so, could you share your thoughts? Do you think any ideas you have would be helpful to you as you grieve? My therapist who was so helpful with relationships sucked at grief. I told her point blank that she sucked in that department. Her take on grieving is it is something you do alone because it is your heart that is breaking. Nearly two years ago my best friend was diagnosed, operated on and died from brain cancer at the age of 49. I was the one who took her to the ER to be diagnosed. I had been visiting her as I had moved 200 miles away. I stayed until she came out of surgery then returned home. I was coming back to see her in a week. Before she went into surgery she begged me to return sooner if I felt a pulling in my spirit as that would be her praying for me to come back. There was no phone allowed in her room so we had no communication for that week. After a few days I felt that pulling and her husband said to wait the week out as he felt she had too much comapany. Twice I asked permission from the family to come sooner and both times I was told to wait. A week later as I traveled my cell rang. My friend was gone. I did not keep my promise to her. How does one live with that?
therapydoc said…
Tuesday, so sorry. We do what we can, but one thing we can't do is control something like this.

I think if you look on the sidebar you'll find quite a few posts on grieving. Any therapist who hasn't got a grip on this topic is missing out. And you don't have to lose someone to be good at it.

That extra empathy you get when you have personally lost someone, is just that, extra empathy. Any amount of empathy helps, and all good therapists are empaths, and certainly family grieving, grief groups, talking with a sympathetic soul-- a tonic.