Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fodder for Bears, or This Week So Far.

Wednesday night:

Wow, it's been a week to remember, and to not remember, and it's only Wednesday. (Or Thursday, depending on when I publish this entry.)

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is suffering from Bipolar II depression?

Rule #1 of public relations? Everyone who's either addicted to something and receiving treatment, or is in the psych ward for something, or has a total mental breakdown like JJJR did is suffering from "exhaustion." If I had a nickel for every public figure or famous person who's been hospitalized for "exhaustion," I'd be a zillionaire. Having heard conflicting reports as to *why* he first went to a treatment center in Tucson that specializes in dual-diagnosis (substance abuse and mental disorders concurrently) has me guesstimating that he was, in fact, abusing some substance of some kind. Ain't nothing, JJJR. Lots of us have self-medicated. Now he's convalescing at the Mayo Clinic. A veritable bed of luxury on taxpayer paid-leave. How utterly nice that he gets to recover in a cushy hospital setting where I do hope they're medicating and counseling him. I certainly feel his pain, but still think the guy's kind of a pussy.

ABC News, who can't spell "Seroquel" in an article, and mistook "hypermania" and "hypomania," speculated today as to whether or not JJJR's bariatric weight loss surgery was the CAUSE of his depression. That's not how mood disorders operate, folks. Consider first that the patient is either  a) genetically pre-disposed to a mood disorder, b) symptoms can present out of nowhere, but most often in late teenage or the early 20's and c) the surgery which JJJR had more than a number of years ago wouldn't be blamed for his present-day depression.

Sure, the Bipolar II could've been latent in his brain & an outside stressor caused him to become symptomatic, but just as my hysterectomy didn't "cause" my depressive episode, JJJR's political woes within the crooked IL Democratic party (of which I'm a card carrier, FYI) and whatever the hell is going on his The Blago-proposed sale of Obama's former Senate seat and how he could get in trouble for being part of that? I don't know.Something, somewhere was triggered. Bottom line? Buckle up, Buttercup. Bipolar's one HELL of a wild ride. Also, be glad I'm not your therapist, because I'd flat out call you a douchebag to your face and would have trouble grinding my teeth in seething distaste for you while dispensing helpful cognitive advice.

We don't call them "nervous breakdowns" anymore, but whatever happened to JJJR had him call his womanizing Daddy, who said he really sounded awful. Prayers go out to you, brother, but once you're stable, do us all a favor and stop behaving like such a dickwad. The only caveat of the whole shenanigans is that it's put Bipolar Disorder into the mainstream news, and on people's minds, so that could work in our favor in terms of a greater level of acceptance and tolerance, which I champion, as you all know.

But JJJR? Grow a pair of fucking balls. Every bipolar patient has bouts of major depression, some more severe and long-term than others, but the toughest of us learn to ride them out, adjust our meds, and don't flee to 2 states to relax and rewind to functionality. The vast majority of bipolar patients either suffer in silence or go through hoop after hoop to even stabilize. As for right now, and I say this suffering from the same disorder, that all the secrecy surrounding JJR's condition, the bullshit claims and the trip to a substance abuse SPA, was a little over-the-top but money talks, you're a VIP, and further proof of your douchery is in consideration of Sir Elton John, who did his alcohol/drug rehab and mental rehabilitation quietly at Lutheran General Hospital in my town, Park Ridge, about 25 years ago. It wasn't a spa, it wasn't exotic, it didn't kowtow to his celebrity and he survived intact despite the fact the town was all a'buzz that he was there.

Best psychology-related headline of the week so far, other than JJJR's proclamation? 

That a psychologist in Portsmouth, NH was arrested for running a prostitution ring. I found this incredibly funny and falls under the umbrella of "Why didn't I think of that?" They're revoking his license. D'ya think? I don't know what's better...if your psychologist is a pimp or if your pimp is secretly a psychologist. In any event, this was all sortsa awesome. Dr. Alexander Morino? Yeah, you're kind of fucked.

"What? My bad." Would YOU go to a psychologist who looked like a homeless man? I might be tattooed and pierced, but I shave, goddamnit.

Separately, no wonder those Happy Meal apples that I eat taste like bleach. Preservatives, my fellow friends. Now featuring listeria! :) Which causes Happy Meal-eating youngsters to be full of glee, for now their junk food can be just plain junk food.Good, more fries, til they get recalled as well for deadly bacteria. 

Only the most bizarre news story of the day? Via Mother Jones? 

"No, Menstruating Women Do Not Cause Bear Attacks." The more I study science, the more research statistics and empirical data fascinate me. I'm beyond curious as to how the researchers in this particular project recruited their study subjects. Best line in the study report?
"The NPS paper gleaned its conclusions from separate studies performed on grizzly bears, black bears and polar bears. For grizzly bears, hundreds of attacks on humans were analyzed, finding no link between menstruation and the attacks. Such a link was also debunked regarding black bears, after a 1991 study recorded the responses of 26 free-ranging black bears to used tampons collected from 26 different women. Not a single instance of a black bear being attracted to the tampons was observed." 
Like, how'd they get volunteers to surrender their dirty tampons? How on EARTH did they randomly sample BEARS in the first place? "26 free-ranging black bears." "Hey, bear! Scoot over here and sniff this tampon!" 

And the article makes no mention as to whether or not women who wear pads suffer the same fate. A friend on Facebook asked me if the same statistic would be true if a menstruating woman is confronted with a shark attack? I answered that by saying that the research ad tag line should read: "Women of childbearing age who are currently menstruating for research study to ascertain what might happen if you were in a shark pit WITH a bear." Put some serious research money into THAT, motherfuckers. This particular study on bears' attraction (or lack thereof) to menstruating women was funded by the National Park Service, or whatever they're called. So once again, your tax dollars put to excellent use. (Not so much.)

Biggest thrills of the week so far?

Well, my brother gave me back my vintage Rogers acoustic drum kit which Steve grossly underestimates the value thereof. We managed to haul it somehow in my mom's Ford Taurus and I went to church today to begin dismantling the electronic kit and say buh-bye to it. Surprisingly, there were only like 10 cords to unplug, I removed all the head pads and folded up the tri-fold frame and that was about the extent of effort it took. Luke and I hauled it down to the church basement into that secret room to which my key will not work, so I asked around and got one. My Dynasonic snare, stand, splash cymbal and boom were all in there, so lugged them up. Luke and I worked to take the electronic kit down to the basement which, at the end of the day, I could care less about "borrowing. The Rogers is now officially mine, and sounds fucking awesome. 

The sanctuary was empty and echo-ey, and I began to play the kit. Luke was like, "Mom? Do you realize how LOUD that IS?" I took into account the church was empty and I was echoing everywhere. I asked Steven (Drozd, not my brother) what I should do to dampen the sound. He said moon gels (little rubber rectangular tabs that stick to the drum heads) don't work as well as the tried-and-true drummer solution that he said "has worked for 1,000's of drummers since the 1970's" and was a trick he employed since he was 10 and played with his dad's polka band at the local VFW. He suggested I fold up a piece of paper towel, tape it to the edge of the drum head so I don't hit it, and tune the drums really low, all of which will definitely reduce the booming noise of the kit. I told him I was just glad I would be able to hear myself PERIOD, which I couldn't with the electronic kit. 

Being the snarky bitch I am sometimes, I texted a picture of the Rogers kit set up and sent it to my former guitarist, who was the "brains" (??) behind getting the electronic kit in the first place. His return text was nice about it, though he said it was too bad, because the electronic kit could make so many different sounds and kit styles, and that he knew I never took a liking to the kit, but played it because I had no choice in the matter. The New Sheriff in town sided with me on this one, not the church, and his word is the final word, that trumps any board's decision, or congregational complaints about the volume of my acoustic kit. It's what Pastor, the guitarist and I decided. Happy drummer? Happier band.

The church wants to get a drum shield, which, when you play behind one, causes all the noise of the drums to bounce back into your head while you're playing, which generally sucks. That's why we're trying the paper towel trick. I told Steven I'd rather have sound bouncing back at me than not be able to hear anything I'm playing, as was the case with the electronic drums. In any event, Steven thought it was (via pictures) a really beautiful kit, which it is, and that I should never get rid of it (which I never intend to). Solid maple Rogers mid-1970's kit with a Dynasonic snare. In the picture below, the kit pre-set up. I didn't have the cymbals raised, and you can't see the floor tom, but it's bitchin'. 

Luke taking it for a spin:

Huge thrill this week:

Three days ago, I passed the sobriety marker and getiting-your-shit together litmus test of 6 consecutive sober months..., so as a milestone, my sponsor kindly gave me her very own 6 month coin (think they're either made of plastic or something now).  Jenny will celebrate 21 YEARS of sobriety this year. I've got 3.0999 years and 6 months under my belt. That says something.  This is a picture of my coin, which was a generous and heart-felt gift from sponsor to sponsee ,who are friends to boot:

Certainly Biggest Thrill of the Week?

Going for a ride on the back of my brother's Honda crotch rocket motorcycle. I can totally understand why he got it, because it totally rocks to be on it. He took Luke for a spin around the block at 20mph, no helmets. When it was my turn, I hopped on and put my arms around my brother, who kept insisting I was squeezing him too hard, but I was trying not to fall off, especially during the turns in the road.  There's nothing on the back of the bike to put your hands on to hold on--you have to hold onto the driver for dear life "Just sway in the direction we're turning in," Steve said. We went on a more open road and went 40mph, which felt like 80. I could easily see myself turning into an adrenaline junkie like my brother if that bike were at my house. (Yes, Steve normally wears his helmet.) But I swear, riding on the bike was more thrilling a rush than I've ever received from any drug or other substance. In other words, it fucking ruled.

I don't know which rocked more...her 2 adrenaline junkie kids taking off on the motorcycle, or hearing my mom screaming "No! No! No! at the top of her lungs as we pulled away.

Thursday morning:

Ok, I'm feeling less frantic now. My Oakton psychology professor got her letter of recommendation into Adler, and Guy Friend finished his letter and submitted it last night. I don't know what Oakton prof said, but Guy Friend's letter was oozing and gooey with praise. He really outdid himself and now I understand what took him so long. Scientists aren't writers. He agonized over getting it perfected, and it was perfect. Given how much I fucked up at my job with Balderdash & Verities, Guy Friend was remarkably kind, eloquent and positive and I love him for it.  And Kate's husband, Tim, my old Russian prof, is still planning to do a letter, which would give me 4 in total. The Complete Annie package is coming together nicely, my undergrad grades notwithstanding, but we've been over that ad nauseum. 

My Adler School admissions counselor called Tuesday to catch up, and said everything looked good so far, and that he was just waiting on those letters of recommendation to move me to the next phase of applying quickly. He said there's still some time left to get me in for Fall of 2012. I won't know the outcome of the financial aid package until I get accepted to the school, which Guy Friend said Adler would be foolish not to have me on board. Not having seen the Oakton professor's letter, I don't know if she told Adler what a fucktard I am taking standardized tests (Adler said they don't do those often--it's all paper writing, BIG YAY!) and I can only hope she said things that get me accepted, not rejected. 

*UPDATE!* The Adler School said my application is completed, the next step being a personal interview. I asked if the interview is a bad thing, and he said it's a very good thing, actually, because I have moved into the next phase of applying and the "train "is moving along at a fast pace. The Admissions folks have already reviewed my total application. While anxiety-filled, I think if I can manage interviews with the docs at Balderdash & Verities trying to sell myself and land a job before I was medicated for bipolar and loony, I will do even better with Adler. My counselor at Adler said I was a "quality candidate on paper" and they want to meet me in person.The interview is scheduled for Monday at 11am. I'll dress meekly and appropriately and not swear at them.

In the interim, I was asked to submit an impromptu writing sample based on one of 3 random questions related to pop culture. It could be no more than 500 words long and was timed to one hour. It had to be completed by 2pm tomorrow or I wouldn't be granted my admission interview. I think it was an attempt for the Adler School to gauge my ability to write on-the-spot. I wasn't arrogant towards my admissions counselor, but was sort of laughing under my breath. 1) Me answering a complex question with only 500 words is close to impossible. 2) It'll take me 10 minutes to write and 45 minutes to edit coherently. 3) I have a fucking degree in writing. I did a MS Word count of my blurb above about Jesse Jackson Jr, which took maybe 5-10 minutes to write and even THAT clocked in at 572 words.

The question I chose was, "Choose any character from any film and explain why they are psychologically interesting."

First, I toyed with Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina," since I relate to her struggles of unrequited love for Count Vronsky, drug use, being trapped with the wrong man, only to throw her fucking ass in front of a train and kill herself. But she's more of a literary character than a film character.

Next, I thought of Charlie Brown. Every therapist I've EVER had has compared me to Charlie Brown. I guess I can't dispute the analogies, as I can be a fatalist who thinks the whole world's conspiring against her, awakens every day with a sense of pending doom and has a bitchy friend who perpetually robs Charlie of the ball he so desperately wants to successfully kick.  If you've read my work for any length of time, or know me personally, I think you could get the correlation.  But he's not a film character either.

When in doubt, my credo is always to run with what you know best. My favorite film of all-time is "Rosemary's Baby." Say what you want about the questionable morals and ethics of director Roman Polanski and his personal history. Next to Woody Allen, he's my favorite film director. Plus, I am reasonably sure absolutely no one else would pick the character of "Guy Woodhouse," the husband in the film, who, for the purposes of professional success, financial gain and fame, sacrifices his entire moral compass, sense of humanity, and conscience to a satanic cult to whom he's drugged into coercion his young wife, who is then impregnated by the spawn of the devil, a baby Guy promises to the satanic cult. Coyly conspiring with the cult that seems to be intertwined with literally almost everyone the couple comes to know, Guy distances Rosemary from her friends and loved ones, carries out witchcrafty plans in order for anyone who might be onto his nefarious plot to suddenly die, and transforms from a modestly successful actor and loving husband into an utter soulless, narcissistic sociopath who's empire is built on sand that will eventually melt away, but who won a major part in a dramatic Broadway production. Naturally, he reminds me of Christopher. Totally.

That aspect of "Guy," as a character, is what psychologically drew me in. As I said in my essay today, Guy wasn't naive. He wasn't stupid. He knew everything he was bargaining and at what cost and he did it anyway. 

The lure of the passion of earthly gain at whatever lose your conscience and abandon your humanity for yourself--people, that's what drives people like the Ted Bundys and John Wayne Gacys of the world. You don't have to be a famously pathological serial murderer in order to have no soul and build your earthly empire, with the notion that your money and power will get you everything. They just emitted their horrors more sensationally, more publicly, more deathly than my ex-boyfriend, but otherwise, in all honesty, Chris isn't really very different than any other narcissistic sociopath. 

Chris didn't make it into the 500 word essay, thank God, and it would've veered me off-course. But I think I explained "Guy" pretty damn well. 

Bummer of the week?

I went to run errands with Luke on Weds and noticed my car key--my only copy of my car key--was missing off of my key ring. I couldn't imagine where it was, though I looked everywhere. Finally, I checked near the car in the alley. Secured with a locking black twist tie, with a loop run through the ley hole, was my car key, attached to the driver's side door handle. 

Someone who knows me or knows it's a Chrysler key, or found it near the car, was benevolent enough to see to it that I got it back safely. Why don't I have a spare key? They're about $100 and have to be programmed at the dealer. You can't just go get a copy of it made. I am SO fortunate it was found. I'll have to ask around the neighbors who the wonderful soul was, who saved my ass.

I am hoping and praying it all works out w/school next week. Leaving it up to the Lord on this one. Or a genie.

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