Thursday, February 28, 2013

Big Bang Flash Mob

Just in case you need a little cheering up today (I did), here's the cast of Big Bang Theory participating in a Flash Mob.  Hope it makes you smile.  Bazinga!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

C is for Clara: A Gorey Day

"C is for Clara who wasted away."  What time is it?  Its Xanax Time! No, seriously, a Panic Attack that lasts two plus hours must be respected for the Beast it is, and, then, treated with the proper ammunition.  Hence, Xanax Time.  Everything seems frightening, right now.  My Job.  My Heart.  My Attachments. Its all dangerous.  Probably will lead to another Crippling Breakdown.  My hands are shaking and I am so cold.  I need reassurance, and, at the moment, no one is available.  "C is for Clara who wasted away."

Friday, February 15, 2013

Hurricanes and Acts of Kindness

"If it were not for that, not for the effect of kind words, kind looks, kind letters...I should be inclined to think our life a practical jest in the worst possible spirit." (Robert Louis Stevenson)  As a Crisis 101 Expert allow me to assure you that when Hurricane Screw-You rips through your Life leaving Debris and Fracture in its Wake, those are the Moments when you will remember who stopped to look after you (and if you don't then you've never experienced real trauma).  Because lets face it.  Most People don't, Care that is.  Its not their fault.  You (and me) are not Special or Important to them.  These Random Strangers have their own Special People to Care about (hopefully), and we do not factor into their Caring Realm.  Might suck, but there it is.  However, take heart, because while we all face some storms alone, there are times, when Somebody steps in, brushes some of the debris out of your hair, and remind you things might just be alright.  That happened for me this week.  It meant so much, and made Someone who is already Special to me even more dear.  Because, I think, ultimately what we need isn't for somebody to step in God-like and halt the Storm.  No we just need a hand in darkness to remind us we're not alone.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Failure and Valentine's Day

Who am I?  Right or wrong, so much of our personal identities hang on our careers.  Mine has been wrecked.  And I wonder...will people see me differently?  Its a shallow question, I know.  But suddenly, I feel vulnerable in a whole new way.  What will this change  How long are the arms of failure?  What aspects of my life will it touch?  Certainly job prospects but what about love interest?  I dunno.  I hope not.  I can't be sure.  I've never been here before.  My brother keeps assuring me it doesn't matter.  No one cares.  And no, I've never picked my friends or lovers based upon degree.  But I've got a lot of shortcomings, Guys.  I am Bipolar I, on a shitload of meds, and now I'm a failure.  Having a hard time making my peace with that one.  Everything is falling apart, and its Valentine's Day, and I'm all alone.  Can I call game now?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Everything Falls Down

Even the Sturdiest Structures fall down.  Need an example?  Sure you do!  When Yours Truly was a Small, my Grandparents owned an Old, Blue Porch Swing. Now, despite the Swing's chipping paint, to my Naive Eyes my Grandpa's Porch Swing was Unbreakable.  You see, I never noticed the rust wearing away at the metal.  Never paid attention to the splinters my Grandmother complained about. In my smallish opinion, I was never safer than when I was sitting with my Grandfather, sipping sweet iced tea, and swinging away in the front yard.  Until I turned three that is.  That was the day I learned everything falls down.  

Picture it.  Me, my Grandpa, iced tea, just swinging away, relaxing in the shade, and, then, just as I tucked my chubby legs underneath the swing, the structure collapsed with me pinned underneath.  Now, despite the fact that was nearly thirty years ago, I still remember the gashes that fall left in my legs.  In fact, the combined weight of my grandfather and the swing caused such nasty bruises that I began drawing looks from the good citizens of my hometown so my mother dressed me in pants, rather than shorts, all that summer to avoid the glares.  And from then on my Grandmother would tell me: "Never tuck your legs under the swing.  Its not safe."  And, I didn't.  Lesson learned.  Everything falls down.  So what's my point?  Well, sometimes, I put too much significance on holidays or weekends or my birthday or when a stop light turns yellow.  You name it, I can make it into a sign of Impending Doom.  And Valentine's Day is coming.  I celebrated last year's V-Day with my first trip to the psychiatrist.  Everything falls down, Guys.  And rational or not, I'm scared.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Awesomeness of Brothers

"A brother is a friend given by Nature." (Jean Baptiste Legouve)  Sometimes, Yours Truly needs talked off the Ledge.  The Stars Align (or they do in my Head) and I am sure my World is coming to an end.  A Full Blown Panic Attack sets in.  I am hyperventilating.  And in this state, its difficult to talk me down.  Like Sylvia Plath,

"In a rabbit-fear, I may hurl myself under the wheels of the car because the lights terrify me, and under the dark blind death of wheels I will be safe.  I am very tired, very banal, very confused.  I do not know who I am tonight.  I wanted to walk until I dropped and no complete the inevitable circle of coming home."

Try talking me out of that one! Thus, while I love my Friends dearly, they lack the skill necessary to pull me, kicking and screaming, out from under the wheels of my car and, then, calm my wild "rabbit-fear."   Take tonight, for instance, I picked up the phone in tears and called my Brother.   All kidding aside, Guys, I was hyperventilating.  It was bad.  Woe to me.  But, as always, he's calm.  Assures me nothing is wrong.  Nothing is about to fall apart.  Valentines Day is not the Universe's way of signaling Impending Doom.  (Who knew?)  Soon, I am laughing.  "Yes," I say, "You're right.  Its not that bad  I can make it home....thank you.  Can I talk to you later?"  "Yes," is his ever present reply.  I feel better.  It will be okay and I can talk to my brother later tonight. So to all the awesome Brothers out there, you deserve your own holiday.  And to mine, thank you yet again.  "A brother is a friend given by Nature."

The Five Stages of Red Ink

As a Doctoral Candidate allow me to assure you that receiving Feedback from one's Advisor is often an Unpleasant Experience, to say the least.  Below I have converted the Five Stages of Grief into the Five Stages of Red Ink.  

1.) Denial:  What criticism?  Pretend nothing happened.  Slap on a Stupid Grin, Say your Dissertation is Awesome, and keep assuring yourself your Advisor thinks so, too.  He's just too stubborn to admit it.  Now, Kids, this step works best if you can find Friends who will begrudgingly listen to you drone on and on about how how true all of this is.  Because, remember, Jung defines fanaticism as an overzealous reaction to insecure beliefs.  Denial takes a lot of commitment, Folks.

2.) Anger: Throw a Fucking Hissy Fit and Tell Your Advisor to go to Hell.  And, while you're at it, knock a couple things off his desk for Good Measure.  Then, promptly, withdraw from Grad School before you are kicked out.  When asked about why you left, respond: "It just wasn't the right career path for me."  

3.) Bargaining: Attempt to debate these so called "Necessary Changes" with Your Advisor.  Remind him of each and every single piece of criticism he's given you in the past that has lead to the creation of the brilliant piece of work you hold in your hands now riddled with Red Ink.  He will not remember any of them, but in a desperate attempt to salvage your pride (and sanity) dig the Hole/your Grave even deeper by returning to Stage Two.  As You Walk out of the Office, turn around and say: You're the Meanest Advisor EVER.

4.) Depression: Sit in a dark room and cry.  You wanna cry you, Cry Baby.  Let me see you Cry.  As my mother always said, Laugh and the World Laughs with you.  Cry and you Cry ALONE.  On a more positive note, this option is only detrimental to one's self unless, of course, you cry in front of Colleagues.  In which case, I suggest pretending a Loved One has passed, rather than admitting you just buried your Hopes and Dreams of a Successful Career.

5.) Acceptance: Wash the Red Ink Stains off your Hands, mumble a few Curse Words, and begin the rewriting process while reminding yourself that someday you no longer suffer as you do now.  We will find Eternal Bliss in a Tenure Track Job.

Monday, February 4, 2013

You Forgave and I Won't Forget

And I'll kneel down
Wait for now
And I'll kneel down 
Know my ground

And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you

So break my step
And relent
You forgave and I won't forget

Waiting has never been one of my suits.  No, seriously, Guys, whether in love, friendship, work, or recreation, Yours Truly tends to skip the logical steps that lead to her desires.  My rationale is somewhat skewed.  Why have coffee if we could go to Comic Con?  Tomorrow I will be the Greatest Historian Who Ever Lived.  Yeah, it doesn't make sense.  I know.  Although, I guess that's part of being both Bipolar I and OCD.  Don't get wrong here.  Those disorders are not an excuse to be unrealistic in life and love.  No, it simply means I have to work a little harder to be balanced.  Make room for input from others.  Try to stay calm.  Remember that waiting isn't always a bad thing.  Because here's my fear, I suppose: What if I wait (hope and let my heart trust in someone) and in the interim everything falls apart?  What if I'm blindsided?  In hopes of avoiding that awful outcome, I run toward a conclusion because I am sure, in the end, everything will fall apart.  Its a self fulfilling prophecy.  Rather than give things time to grow, I race ahead and prove it would never have worked.  But you know what?  This past year, I've seen the people I love most forgive a lot of crazy shit.  Stream of consciousness emails.  Hysterics. Inappropriate behavior. (Oh nothing to wild.  Don't get your shorts in bunch)  They stuck around anyway.  And so this time, despite, my negative mental scripts and fear of being devastated again, "I will kneel down and wait for now...You forgave and I won't forget."

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Vampires, Jane Eyre, and the Germs of Love

"Absolutely, sir!  Oh, you need not be jealous!  I wanted to tease you a little to make you less sad: I thought anger would be better than grief.  But if you wish me to love you, could you but see how much I DO love you, you would be proud and content.  All my heart is yours, sir: it belongs to you; and with you it remain, were fate to exile rest of me from your presence for ever." ~Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

If the previous quote doesn't move you just a little, you, my Friend, are dead inside.  No, really, you are Vampir.  Get a coffin and throw yourself in!  Alright.  alright.  Maybe, just maybe, I am a little prejudiced when it comes to Jane Eyre.  But, in my defense, how can you not love Jane?  She's such a mess.  Its a comfort.  You see, when I was a kid, and, even now, my cousin, Ginger, was the yen to my yang, flirtatious and flippant to my introverted and scared.  When Ginger wanted a man, she teased, pretended she felt little, and played games.  When I fall for a man, like Jane I do so by accident: "I had not intended to love him; the reader knows I had wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the germs of love there detected; and now, at the first renewed view of him, they spontaneously revived, great and strong! He made me love him without looking at me!" I mean what's a lady to do when she overtaken by the Germs of Love?   Well, if you're a Jennifer or a Jane first you hide, then you deny, and finally, you blurt out everything all at once and start cry.  When Jane believes her Mr. Rochester in love with another woman, she tells him straight up:

"Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless?  You think wrong!-I have as much soul as you,-and full as much heart!  And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it has hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you."

No quote comforts me more than this one.  She's just yelling at him now.  This man made her love him without looking at her.  Now, he's obviously with this wealthy chick.  And what's does our heartbroken Gal do?  Flirt and stay in the game Ginger-style?  Nope.  Jane is quite clear.  She has no desire to leave her Mr. Rochester, and since she's on her way out, she won't go without saying so.  Aw, Jane, a woman after my own heart.  I promise I have said "Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless?  You think wrong!"  Now, trust me Ladies this draws some looks and, usually, shocks the socks off the man in question.  But I've never been coy.  And subtly freaks me out.  My confession is more like something ripped from me then freely given.  Maybe what I love most about Jane Eyre is that, for awhile, the reader is lead to believe that Jane and her Mr. Rochester won't ever get together, but in the end, they do.  And its wonderful.  I'm a sucker for a happy ending...maybe because I'm hoping for one myself.  So, if you're suffering from the Germs of Love, take heart, the middle of a story always looks more dour than the end.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Being Bipolar with a Kitchen Knife

The following conversation is an example of the kind of mental dilemmas I have on a regular basis.  Yours Truly is not what one might call rational, Folks.  But that's to be expected.  When you are bipolar (And your therapist says: We want to see you as LONG as you are a grad. student here) your logic often leaves something to be desired.  If you need proof, read on.

Jennifer and the Kitchen Knife

Me: Maggie, I have a kitchen knife in my a knitting bag.

Maggie: Put it back in the kitchen.

Me: <Explaining the story without being asked to do so> Well, you see, I took said knife into my bedroom to cut a piece of thread, because I couldn't find my scissors, and then I thought...maybe I should leave it in there for intruders.  And once I thought that, I worried that removing the knife from the knitting bag and placing it back in the kitchen might be a mistake on my part.  What if the intruders come and I'm in bed rather than in the kitchen?

Maggie: You are not psychic or receiving special messages from the Universe.  Put the knife back in the kitchen.  And stop using the word intruders.

Me: Okay, that's a relief.  It was dilemma, I tell you.

The Silver Linings Playbook

“She looks sad. She looks angry. She looks different from everyone else I know—she cannot put on that happy face others wear when they know they are being watched. She doesn’t put on a face for me, which makes me trust her somehow.” 

“Life is random and fucked-up and arbitrary, until you find someone who can make sense of it all for you— if only temporarily.” 
“The only way to beat my crazy was by doing something even crazier. Thank you. I love you. I knew it from the moment I saw you. I'm sorry it took me so long to catch up.” 
Life is random and fucked-up and arbitrary, Matthew Quick tells us in The Silver Linings Playbook, a story about Tiffany and Pat, one a depressive patient the other bipolar.  In Quick's novel, Nikki, Pat's ex-wife, cheats on him, hits over the head with a cd player, and then divorces him.  Yet poor Pat, who suffers from mental illness and memory loss (obviously), still loves his wife and is waiting for their "apart time" to end.  Tiffany's, on the other hand, is reeling from her husband death which she handles by sleeping with everyone in her office.  The narrative centers around how these two fucked-up people learn to cope with their losses and find solace in each other.  Now, in my opinion, what makes this particular book so beautiful is Quick's attention to the inner workings of his character's minds.  For example, we spend much of our time reading Pat's inner dialogue.  His confusion at Tiffany's attention.  Her hurt and growing attachment to him.  Both are struggling to move past pain.  And because Silver Linings is something of a feel good novel, eventually these characters do work through some of their issues (nobody's perfect), and Tiffany and Pat come together in their own screwed-up way.  And, you know, I think that might be what love is.  Looking past the baggage, and seeing someone you care about whether that person is up or down.  The person you stop putting on that happy face for.  The one you let see the real you, tears, anger, and all. Maybe instead of asking ourselves "who seems perfect?" before entering a relationship or "who won't we let down?", we should ask: "who do you want to sit in the emergency room with?"  Because, Kids, life isn't a romance novel.  Just doesn't play out that way.  Don't get me wrong, I think maybe we are given a few chances at some happiness now and again.  But even those are confusing.  We rarely fall for one another at the same time.  We will let each other down.  Its part of being human.  But who do you care about anyway.  And even if you know, remember, somebody is always "catching up" to the other's feelings.  And, Gawd, but taking that leap is scary, especially if you're a Tiffany, whose feelings are stronger at the beginning then the other person's.  But “Let me tell ya. You gotta pay attention to signs. When life reaches out with a moment like this it's a sin if you don't reach back... I'm telling you.” 

Cat Stevens, Hamster Stranglers, and Crazy Bitches

You can do what you want
The opportunity's on
And if you can find a new way
You can do it today
You can make it all true
And you can make it undo
You see ah ah ah
It easy ah ah ah
~Cat Stevens

Confession: I love Cat Stevens, almost as much as I love Billy Joel.  I...just...can' myself.  Its that good for me.  Who doesn't Love "Wild World"?  What? Its just me?  That can't possibly be.  Sing it with me now.

Now that I lost everything to you
You say you wanna start something new
And its breakin' my heart you're leavin'
Baby, I'm grievin'
But if you want to leave, take good care
I hope you have a lot of nice things to wear
But then a lot of nice things turn out out there.

<Wailing now>

Oh, baby, baby, it's a wild world
It's hard to get by just upon a smile
Oh, baby, baby, it's wild world
I'll always remember you like child, girl

Wasn't that awesome?  (If your answer was no, then get the hell off my blog.  We have obviously have denominational differences) Although, I will admit one point of confusion when it comes to "Wild World."  What is wrong with this Psycho Chick?  This Nice Dude is singing you this awesome song and you're just walking out?  You think you can do better?!  Well, you can't, Bitch!  No one likes you! Gawd, I hate that imaginary woman.  Anyway, I kinda forgot where I was going with this...  Oh, yeah, I love Cat Stevens.  He makes me want to wear flowers in my hair, throw around peace signs, and sing about love and trees and the beauty of life (even though life generally sucks).  Listen, I think, in recent years, the Music Industry has lost talent.  Because between the Brittany Spears, Justin Biebers, and Emos, today's music is kinda of a downer.  Which is great if you want to commit and double homicide or strangle your hamster.  But once you do those things, there's no goin' back, Guys.  You are officially a Hamster Strangler.  Can't live that down.  That being the case, maybe, we should all just relax, listen to a little more Cat Stevens, and remember "we can do what we want.  The opportunities on."