Off we go. Some of us.
And since you can't always rely upon your therapist, and many people don't even have a therapist, and considering that holiday anxiety starts before Thanksgiving (for some at Halloween), and that we spend the week after Thanksgiving processing Thanksgiving, consider reading Elizabeth Bernstein on Dysfunctional Family Bingo. Amy Johnson, a doc in Detroit made up the game.
You play it with the people you would never have friended on Facebook if they hadn't been first or second degrees.
My grandson, age ten, has the window in Row 16 to my right. He's taking his first trip to the South to visit his cousins. A well-mannered young man in his thirties has the aisle.
The one who just hit double digits is playing Shark Attack on his Ipod. He's tilting the device in four different directions, probably at least five times a second. A tilt. The shark will not eat tonight.
|Shark Attack With Fewer Calories|
He's deftly steering a bicyclist down a mountain, then across a desert, trying to avoid that predictable ending, the crash.
The whole experience, being in the middle of this energy makes me feel old.
(2) On Feeling Old
My mother says that if you're past fifty and you don't hurt somewhere, you're probably dead.
It's a decade birthday for me and it has been wonderful-- best presents in years, the best cards. But it still feels sad. You look back and you wonder. . . look back. . . wonder. Mostly look back.
My brother texts me:
Happy Birthday! All birthdays are good birthdays.
Your Much Younger Brother
|Spider Solitaire on the Computer, too|
I can't talk about the kids and their gaming, not when my Spider addiction in full-throttle. I hate that I choose Solitaire before bed lately over reading real books.
I hate this volunteering to dumb down.
But it always works, numbs me.
But having it on my phone, I can see, something has to give. I'm using during the day! And denial has set in, is telling me that writing about it, the jones will go away.
Most likely, nah. So what is next?! Do I need to join a support group? Perhaps create one? Now there's something to add to my Psychology Today therapist profile.
I could open the meeting, start with:
Hi. I'm therapydoc and I have a problem with electronics, mainly my phone. (pause)
I have texted while driving.Anyone running such a group should emphasize these four dynamics:
(a) Empathy for those who are not addicted to electronics. These people are often insulted when we take calls in the middle of a conversation. They are deservedly hyper-sensitive, assume we think them less interesting, less intelligent, less important than an incoming text, an email, or whatever it is that is beeping or blinking in our pocket.
(b) The draw is precisely this, attention. Needing and seeking attention, applause. The ego is starving, craves the love, the beep, the ring. We're social animals, fairly helpless when it comes to wanting to be noticed.
(c) It is important to let go of enablers, friends who are like us, who don't bat an eye at what some would consider egregiously poor social etiquette. Enablers are forgiving, more than happy to see another addict imbibe. You feel better about yourself, a person who also can't resist staring at an electronic device over looking into someone's eyes. You are in good company.
It's like, I'm drinking in the middle of the day, you should too!
(d) Finally, if you must answer the phone, try, "I'll call you back later, I'm pretty tied up right now, can't talk."Tied up? Living, is what we used to call it.
(4) The Naked Eye
We're at the Georgia Aquarium, an amazing museum, and if you know me you know that nothing makes me happier than a salt water fish tank with a couple of healthy fish swimming around. It totally takes me in and there's nothing electronic about it, unless we're talking electric eels or filtration systems.
But I have an electronic device with me, my phone, so I'm snapping pictures constantly, want to bring home my memories.
In other words, I'm at the aquarium thinking about a screen-saver.
|Jelly Fish, therapydoc|
|Salt water fish Screen-Saver|
|Sea Dragons, therapydoc|
(5) Putting Kids to Sleep
There are so many wonderful things about life, and grandchildren are at the top of the list. When you visit them you relish them, life itself. Blessings, you think. You get into a seriously grateful mode.
My oldest granddaughter seems to really like me, and when it is bedtime, I get the honors. She insists that I tell her a story, sing her a song (my pick!) and say the bedtime prayers. There is perhaps nothing more delicious than this.
So we're in her bed and she's under the covers and I'm on top of the covers, but we are eye to eye. Hers are so large it is nothing short of intimidating. We have a discussion about teeth and brushing. The song, the story, the ritual is over, and she's supposed to go to sleep now.
She grabs me around the neck, hugs me tight. "Don't go. Don't go now and don't go back to Chicago tomorrow. Stay one more day. Miss your flight."
This is an old routine. She's been doing it for years. She's not yet seven, so not too many years. But she's good.
My job is to tell her I'll stay a little longer, and she's content with that. She's very tired. She did walk that entire museum and her little legs worked double time.
As her eyes close, mine are looking for my phone. I see it on her desk and get up to grab it. She sees me, pounces. "You said you would stay!"
I did, indeed.
So I stay. And it occurs to me that in this special moment, a once in four months moment at best, a big part of me just wants to check my phone.
This is not living in the moment. It is not living rich at all.
When we're about to leave for the airport, the carry-on bags are packed, much lighter now. She is hugging her cousin. "Don't go! Stay another day!" A true drama queen. He smiles a little smile, doesn't quite know what to say. He's only 10, looks to me for advice.
"He'll Skype with you!" I cry. "We'll all try to be better at that, call and video-chat once a week."
In a couple of years they'll be saying, "See you on Facebook!"
We can only hope nobody needs a 12 Step program.
An Oh By the Way Post Script: When Facebook took off, Ther Apy Doc had a page. But it got scary (you know I'm not very tough, have those home-invader thoughts, hate conflict, bullying, etc. ). My thinking, being terrified-- this will somehow come to no good. So down it goes.
But a few years (a few years!) later, it appears I have toughened up and the page is back up! TherapyDoc is still anonymous, too, despite the Facebook bias that if you can't identify yourself, if you're not man enough to tell the world who you are, then you probably don't belong in most clubs.
An admitted voyeur, one who loves looking into people's lives, this feels authentic. Therapists have that interest in the way people live, the way they think. And their faces, their clothes, too.
In Chicago when it starts to get cold, you look for friends. Most of them are hibernating. It takes very little coaxing to get them to go out for dinner with you. When they do, you feel you out-ate them since everyone is on a diet. Still, it is a great way to hear about the best sales.
So another way to find friends and not have to face the cold, would be Facebook. Nothing better than a good regression. Do you remember being very young and asking someone, "Will you be my friend?" It took guts!
This could be a lot of fun.
Or it could be I'll have to take it down again.
Seems a good way to get book and movie recommendations.
Or show off pictures from an aquarium.
New name: TherapyDoc Doc (Doc is a last name, apparently). Here's a movie of a few jelly fish. My grandson took it with my Iphone..