Sunday, September 11, 2016


We were joking around, and at the turn of a word FD remarked, "That might have come out of ________'s mouth." And at the same time we sighed and said. "I miss him." 

It's been a rough summer, still it went by too quickly anyway. A child has surgery, a young man's disease wins the fight. Friends, family, the people we see in our offices all have troubles. We're just here, riding the wave.
Disrupted, Mind Over Mood, SweetBitter

The upside is that I read a few books, almost read others; watched a lot of baseball (Go Cubs Go); lots of lighter side TV, nothing dark or deep, no Thrones. We can talk about books and teev later. Because, you know, it's 9-11.

1.   9-11

The day always gives us pause, or should. We should be taking a moment and reflecting, just a little, on the blue sky that day, the loss, the devastation, the heroes.

The stories are told about heroes, sometimes a fire fighter, sometimes an everyday Joe. We read about these people, or knew them, hear about them on talk radio, young men going up and down stairs, shepherding people to safety, carrying others on their backs, starting over. Not making it outside themselves.

It makes me wonder: Would I have done that? If given the choice, either escape or go back into the flames to help people, what would I have done?

It shames me, even though my rational self fights that feeling, And what makes you think you could lift someone, carry anyone to safety? 

Probably couldn't. Yet is shames me to think that panic would make the choice for me. I'd have stopped breathing, or slowed to a dizzying state. Then recovered just enough, hustled, found my way down, followed the heroes to safety, terrified. Then, finally out of harm's way, the decision to leave would have been regrettable. Totally regrettable.

Fifteen years. It has changed our way of life, probably forever. We take airplanes but stand in long lines, our bags are checked by TSA. This isn't the America some of us loved our whole lives.
Texas Eagle

not clouds
But it is America, and there are choices. FD and I make an annual summer pilgrimage to St. Louis, visit his family and take in a Cubs-Cards game at Busche Stadium.
fields of grain or corn

He's from around there, and I'm from Chicago, so we obviously have very different baseball loyalties. Until last year it's been a slam dunk as to which team had the right to call itself the better team. But now the Cubs are Wonder Boys (I think of them as children, boys), and it is a very good bet that they will win Monday night's game against the Cardinals.

We'll be there. Look for us.

And oh, we took Amtrak. A train.

Two and a half feet of legroom, no crowds. We have two seats each, can spread out. This train has no wifi, but my phone seems to be doing the job and there are electric plugs. (Remember those?)  I can get up and stretch, stand on one foot if I want. The scenery, oh, the fields of gold, the burnt orange baby pumpkins, the tall green corn. Much more here than clouds.

But mainly, no lines, no waiting for the vacation to begin.

2.  Summer Vacation

One of the lessons I learned from my brother's death at a young age:
When you see an opportunity to live, take it. 
On the other hand, it hasn't made me less phobic in certain situations. Like mountain climbing, bungee jumping, or jumping out of airplanes.

So the story goes that we raided the cookie jar and flew south to babysit our southern grandchildren. Their parents deserved a break, needed to get out of town, wanted to attend a wedding and a bar mitzvah in New York. We're in a position to do this, leave the weather Chicagoans wait for all winter, mid-70's, low-80's, to bathe in Atlanta's hot-humid atmospheric conditions, lows-in the- 90's.

And don't forget the rain.

And yet: I'll go back again when it cools off in early November, attend a conference, the Council for Social Work Education's annual meeting. I'd have gone to Costa Rica, Jamaica, the South Pole, anywhere for this conference. But we'll have a do-over to ATL.

What I learned, what made this time so memorable, had to do with one of my fears, acrophobia. 
A fear of heights.

Face Your Fear:
Acrophobia: an extreme and irrational fear of heights, not related to vertigo, an inner ear problem that makes you think you're moving when you are not.
Not the same as aviophobia, by the way, the fear of flying. Don't have that.

But as long as we're talking, the odds of crashing on American, United, Delta, Southwest, etc., are pretty slim:
The phobias tend to generalize, mush together. An elevator takes us to the top of a building and triggers claustrophobia in one person, acrophobia in another, agoraphobia in another, and all three in someone else. We can treat these disorders with medication and CBT, maybe meditation, thought charts, flooding and desensitization.

It stands to reason that if someone is the type to look up the statistics of death-by-airplane, then for sure she would look up the statistics of death-by-ziplining, before agreeing to take a spouse and 3 small grandchildren across the forest in the Southern Appalachian mountains.
Ziplining, not for the feint of heart

On a zipline.

The fellas working at the State Park assured us that the zipline could hold a school bus, and altogether we didn't weigh anywhere near the weight of a school bus, so being rational people, we assumed this to be an excellent way to face the Buddha, conquer my fear of heights. That and be heroes, in this very small way, to our grandchildren. Mainly, by taking them.

It is, in a word, terrifying. They kept saying, Don't look down, but what is the point of this, being up in the treetops, swinging like Tarzan and Jane, if you don't look down and enjoy the view? And so, we engaged in a desensitization therapy, the kind you don't generally read about in the books.

The only problem with this intervention is that there is really no turning back. Once you're strapped to the line, you don't have anyplace else to go. (Or so they said). It is a do or die thing. And honestly, I loved it.

Turns out that it is good not to have Googled the odds of death, or even injury, by zip-lining before saying yes to the kids. A 2015 study found fatalities on the rise. But these are primarily due to backyard kit set-ups  drinking beer, probably, while doing the installation.

Six deaths in 2015.
The annual injury rate for all zip lines climbed from almost 8 per 1 million U.S. residents in 2009 to nearly 12 per 1 million in 2012. Causes included falls, collisions and slamming into objects at the end of the course. Injuries were most common in children and teens.
So I don't know. I guess I wouldn't encourage this as the best way to get over acrophobia, although it certainly works.

But those glass elevators at the nicer hotels do, too.

3.  TV, Books, the Movies 

New to me, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and Rachel Bloom had me at West CovinaCrazy Ex is longer than most sitcoms, might even be a full hour, which made it even better, and actors break into song, ala the musicals of old. Does she suffer mental illness, our new favorite lawyer who leaves partnership at a top firm to move across the country (West Covina, California) to stalk her ex-boyfriend?  I don't know, have only watched a few shows so far. But she's very, very funny.

I caught up with old seasons of Mom, am now ready for Allison Janney to hit bottom again this coming season. Right, have to blog about those 12-Step meetings. Will get to it.

Saw only one movie, Finding Dory, which nobody spoiled for me, so I'll not write about it, will return the favor.
Finding Dory--topical

I don't know where to begin with books, considered writing about Mind Over Mood in this post, but it will take too long. It's going to have to be a whole post. The authors have found a way to put all cognitive behavioral therapy tenets into one little feel-better flow chart and shared it in this work book. So wait for me on that. Or just buy the book.

Meanwhile, we have Disrupted, which for the life of me, when I mention it, always comes out Disturbed.

Disrupted, by Dan Lyons.

At the age of fifty, Dan Lyon lost his job writing for Newsweek, a print magazine. Newsweek is in jeopardy, online news has cripple sales, and the magazine wants to replace older, more expensive writers with younger, cheaper staff. Esteemed in the industry, Dan is hired by a funded tech company, HubSpot, perhaps as a PR stunt.

He is a fish out of water, the oldest employee in the shop, and can't relate to the jargon, the values, and the cult atmosphere. Millennials pledge robotic loyalty to the founders and the company which is not turning an actual profit, and never may.

But here at HubSpot, kids are hired right out of college with the lure of stock options. They drink the Kool Aid that they will become rich one day, and that they are amazing, that the company is amazing, that the industry is amazing, a word used as often as a pronoun in a normal conversation. The minions are herded onto the sales floor as telemarketers. Their product is software, quite probably, second-rate software, if that. It is the type of software that businesses buy to spam the rest of us, garbage email. Open it, there will be follow up spam. Click on the company link, be hounded for life to buy amazing products you don't and never will need, products that aren't even very good.

The incentive for this tedious, demanding sales job? The company is flush with perks, those exercise and yoga classes, a plethora of food and candy, not from vending machines, but in dedicated rooms, walls of candy. Parties that begin early on weeknights, last until the next day, the kinds of parties that overflow with alcohol, employees sneaking off with one another to empty rooms. Make work fun so people love to come to work in the morning, gladly working their you-know-whats off, remaining loyal, until they are fired on a whim, lose their coveted stock options. Bye bye.

Millions, billions of dollars are to be made, we learn, but the money goes into the hands of the very, very few.

Do we hear about it in therapy? You bet we do.

Dan, by the way, is now a writer for the television show Silicon Valley. The disruption probably turned out to be a good thing for him.