Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pissing Off the Irish: Certainly No Potato Famine.

I had a paper to write today, due at 5:00 pm. I submitted it at 4:53 pm. A life-span development interview summary of an adolescent/young adult.  Luckily, I had a highly intelligent, verbose, eloquent interview subject. 

Yet I was highly distracted today. After I took Luke to school, I landed face-down back into bed until 11:00, er, somewhere around that time.

Delayed mostly because I watched this like 10 times, and my belly hurts from laughing, and then I had to share it, and then I wiped tears out of my eyes. Because this is just like the best thing, ever.

Only after I shared it with Pastor Dave did I realize that saying "Holy...anything" is probably breaking the 2nd Commandment of not taking the Lord's name in vain. Whoops!

I probably would've also submitted my paper sooner had I not been sidetracked AND hungry. 
I don't think I've ever had mashed potatoes with onion in them, but yum, and verily, Sir Paul McCartney of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, one does NOT use margarine in one's mashed potatoes.  He's vegetarian, not vegan, so why not use some serious BUTTER. What the hell?

Why yes, I DO prefer a handbag that I can also eat. You're looking at me weirdly?

One thing in common among all my liberal friends in Oklahoma? They have wicked senses of humor. As, evidently, do their sarcastic Democratic State Senators, like Constance Johnson. She wanted to amend Republican-proposed Bill SB 1433, which would've given FEMALE EGGS the right to life in a "personhood" amendment, declaring them human beings. Realizing this was utter and complete nonsense, Sen. Johnson just wanted to have a little fun. (She withdrew her bill to amend the silly amendment, fully copping that she was being totally sarcastic.) And to think, here I sit, with all these freakin' unborn people inside my ovaries, with no hope of ever escaping and living their free lives, left to least I *think* I still ovulate....I assume so...but no tubes, no uterus, no cervix...yep, y'all disintegrate. Sorry. 

"If a sperm is wasted, God gets quite irate...." --Monty Python, "Every Sperm is Sacred"
Brilliant. I love "The Meaning of Life." 

Shouldn't Guy Friend have more kids than he had if he's Irish and Catholic? I haven't talked to him in quite a while, but if he's a true Irish Catholic, shouldn't he have 12 kids instead of 3? Does that mean, since he didn't really do his part to fully propagate as per the Irish Catholic bylaws, he'll spend extra time in purgatory? If so, sorry, luv.

I got my ass whooped by a bunch of Irish Catholics from Ireland yesterday....IN GAELIC, no less. This Irish fella on Facebook, I don't even know how I know him, whether it's through the Lips or if he's in sobriety, whoever the fuck he is...posted this picture of Jesus talking to Mary, and said (in English) that if you said 10 novenas to the Virgin Mary, all of your prayers will be answered. Well, come on, if it was THAT goddamn simple, why didn't somebody like clue my Lutheran/Hindu/Buddhist ass in a long time ago?  I know what a novena is. I know the Hail Mary by heart. Half of my family is Catholic. But I'll be dipped if I'm going to be outdone by a guy named Biff O'Rourke in a foreign language.

I simply explained why Lutherans don't pray to Mary to intercede to God on our behalf. So they yelled at me in Gaelic. Not knowing what they were crabbing about, I said, "The same goes for the saints too!!!" which riled them up more, then I told one (who answered me in English) that I had SANSKRIT, by which time they were assuredly choking themselves with their rosaries, because the body is God's temple and you shan't mar it with ink....and Holy Lord Almighty, were they p.o.'d. In Gaelic, anyway. The only Irish Catholic who loves me anymore is Kate.

And you want to piss off the Irish even MORE? Imply that their ham is British. This commercial was BANNED in Britain, *not* because it features substantial male and female nudity. Yes, nudity while eating ham. (It's the ham eating that's what's REALLY offensive, not the nudity!) But Richmond Ham asserts being Britain's whatever-best-natural-super-ham. But it's made in Ireland. My Welsh friend explained to me, not long ago, that the Irish/Irish get really testy when you try to lump them together with the Northern Irish. Of this, I was not aware. I'm from Illinois. It's a fairly big deal with them over there. To me, it's splitting hairs, like getting my knickers in a twist because when the shit comes down, half of my POLISH ancestors were actually from PRUSSIA With Love.

Here's the commercial, quick, hide your wee ones!

My final distracting moment was stumbling upon a video of George, Paul & Ringo having some tea in '94 in one of the "Anthology" extra features video clips. They were talking about the decline of Elvis Presley. Paul met Elvis once, Ringo couldn't remember how many times he'd seen or met him, but George regaled a story of meeting The King at Madison Square Garden towards the end of Elvis' life and seeing this god-like figure, looking actually really, sort of pathetic. George wished he could've encouraged Elvis to throw on a pair of jeans, get his guitar and do "That's Alright, Mama," instead (and he imitates him) of shit like "My Way"  in a white jumpsuit with gold buckles all over it. George said Elvis "was great when he was great. A good 3 minutes, not a time-waster. 

I best get crackin' on my 10 novenas that I pass statistics, for which Guy Friend urged me to pray the last time I heard from him. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Why The Offbeat Drummer is Pro-Real-Life.

*Note to Victims of Gunshots!*

Maybe we should pass legislation that bars doctors from removing bullets from victims of gun shots, since the gun shot wound was "God's will."  Or wait. Maybe your appendix burst, jettisoning poisonous bacteria which coursed through your veins, from which we should withhold antibiotics, since the burst appendix was God's will and well, pal, it's your time to go. The further down the food chain you go, the more ridiculous the examples become, but it can all be chucked

If you break everything down, and want to get semantic, it's sort of ALL God's will, isn't it? Assuming, of course, God's in charge and "everything happens for a reason....blah blah blah."

Er, it's Eve's fault, since she was tempted to bite the forbidden fruit, and then gave it to her guy friend (*not husband*) Adam, who set the pace for the rest of the universe, and literally, all hell broke loose and that's why we're all sick and violent and flawed and gross and sinful and psychotic, hence the need for a Savior.

(I've found, in general, that I'm more inclined to side on this particular political/moral conundrum with people who aren't fundamentalist or conservative Christians, BUT!)

Personally, I've had 2 people whose opinions I respect and whom I love insist that had the man who raped me (chronically, repeatedly) impregnated me, and mind you these were both men who said, "While not the most ideal circumstances, it's still murder. You'd murder your own baby?", that I absolutely should not have ever even considered having an abortion. Because it was God's will and God loves little babies...a lot. ("It's not the baby's fault! The baby is innocent!" Well, no, the baby's not innocent, if you subscribe to the Christian credo, actually. Original sin'll getcha every time, hence the need for Holy Baptism.) No, actually, rape isn't the most "ideal of circumstances," which is an understatement. Being forced to have anal or oral sex against one's will during the course of recovery from cervical surgery is also not the most "ideal of circumstances." Yet it happened.

What I do thank God for is the fact that I was infertile the years during which I was raped, and consequently, did not get pregnant. As I've told everyone who's challenged me regarding this matter, who are in the know, I would've aborted, because that would've been my choice and I would choose not to press forward with birthing a Fetus Generated By a Heinous Crime. The thought of being forever tied to a menacing, narcissistic, violent sociopath--a man who duct taped my mouth shut and my wrists together and took a knife to me, knowing I had history as a cutter to begin with, via a child? I don't think so. And that's MY choice. Fortunately, it was a choice I never had to make.  (And spare me the agony of your wonderful "You could always just put the baby up for adoption!" platform.)

The Republican party wishes to strip women of the right to choose what to do in the circumstance of an unplanned pregnancy, flat out. I am deeply grateful and indebted to Planned Parenthood for giving me the opportunity to have access to contraceptives before I was ready to become a mother and will fight for their sustenance, for they provide a number of worthwhile services to women, birth control aside. Overturn Roe v Wade and welcome back the deaths of countless women who resigned themselves to unsanitary, back-alley rogue abortions. I defended the pro-choice movement on a Facebook page called "Let's find 1,000,000 People Who Are Against Abortion." Ain't no shock to me that to date, they've only amassed less than 200,000 supporters. Why? Because sane people understand free will and support the right to choose!

But what's just reprehensible is that certain radicals within the conservative stream are particularly picky when it comes to women who are victims of rape, utterly negating the subject of assault, putting rape victims on the totally unfair defensive, which is something around which I just can't wrap my remaining ovaries.

It's really, fucking easy for both men and women to side with God's will against abortion, citing it as "murder," to the ridiculous point of criminal punishment on the part of the woman who chooses to either prevent or terminate an eminent disaster in her life, separate from the long-lasting, vicious psychological damage that is the result of rape. The raped woman who chooses abortion is a murderer, but the rapist who perpetuates the crime in the first place? Radical conservatives are saying, "Well, it couldn't possibly have been THAT bad," or "It's not that I'm pro-rape or anything..." But by merely proposing that a woman should be stripped of choice just as she was stripped of dignity and sanity, you are effectively making a case for being "pro-rape;" in which case, you can go to hell.

I would like such ignoramuses to be trapped underneath an almost 300 lb, 6'3" man who's choking you and violating your privates for even 5 minutes, much less 3 years. I would like them to have a kitchen utensil used for scrubbing pots and pans shoved into an orifice inside their body while the perpetrator "didn't hear" your desperate cries to stop, only to be urinated upon later. THEN come talk to me about MY choice as a woman to do whatever I goddamn well please with what's left of MY body.

Mourdock wants a Senate seat in Indiana, and presently has the endorsement from the Romney/Ryan Asshole Machine. Have we not learned anything from the Todd Akin "bad sperm" uber-gaffe? Radical conservatives? I don't want you anywhere near my vagina. (It's mockingly frightening that my rapist used to work for Bain & Company,  FYI.)

And if I don't want you anywhere near my body, I sure as hell don't want you governing me from Washington, DC.

Vote on November 6th. But not for someone with such outlandishly despicable mores. If you dislike the Democratic party, which is personally who The Offbeat Drummer champions, vote for an independent. Write somebody in. Nominate your next-door neighbor. ANYBODY but Romney/Ryan and their hoodlum gaggle. I don't care to what creed you subscribe, if any at all.

Pro-rape. Never thought I'd hear those words together, but they seem to be the GOP's rally call. God's will. Yeah. Almost. I like what Stephen Colbert had to say last night regarding this political SNAFU:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Richard Mourdock's Rape Comment
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Girls on Film.

While I admittedly haven't seen much of director Paul Thomas Anderson's recent work, two films of his (back to back) are pinnacles of my late 20's...."Boogie Nights" and "Magnolia." (Along with whatever film he was creating in my sleep...)

"Boogie Nights," Craig and I saw in the theater, even though it was scandalous and porn-ish. Then I had it on VHS. It was during my being in temporary disability from working at R.S. Owens, and I would literally play the film over and over again and get tanked on narcotics day in and day out. Movie-stealing scene?  (At the time relatively unknown character actor) Alfred Molina's portrayal of an eccentric LA guy whom the main male characters of the film attempt to rob to get money fueled by their coke addictions. To this day, I don't know why the scene stands out to me so vividly from the film:

Anderson's 1999 "Magnolia?" I own it on DVD (as I do "Boogie Nights") but haven't watched it since I saw it, again with Craig, in the theater. In going through my CD's recently, I found the soundtrack, which has the film ticket stub inside the jewel case. Why? Because it was during "Magnolia" that I went into labor with Luke when Craig and I saw the 12:30 showing on January 16, 2000. I was very uncomfortable and fidgety, having contractions, but damnit, was determined to get through that 3 1/2 hour film because I knew it would be the last time I'd get out and do anything minus the anchor of a child for quite some time. The soundtrack, by Aimee Mann, was something I'd listen to in Luke's nursery when I was trying to get him to go to sleep. With the exception of including Tom Cruise, whom I loathe, into the movie, it was a great series of vignettes about people grappling with not being very lovable. Anderson's direction of this clip, which is how it's presented in the film, blows me away. This is Aimee Mann's "Wise Up."

And another fine one..."Save Me."

It's unusual that a film director will actually take charge of dreams and direct them. Early this morning, Paul Thomas Anderson was doing just that, except it wasn't a movie, it was my life in my late 20's. But I suppose if I had my choice of dream directors, PTA would be high on the list, as would Roman Polanski.  He's a helluva film maker. Even better and perhaps more apt? Woody Allen.

In my dream, Anderson had a script we were all supposed to be following. My mom, my Aunt Pat, and my first cousins Pam and Sue all came barreling into my old apartment on Summerdale in Chicago that Craig and I shared from the time we married in 1996 until we moved to Park Ridge in 2001, when Luke was about a year and a half old. My family was freaking out about how filthy my apartment was (and it never really was), with Craig holding Luke and me scrambling to get garbage picked up, before my older brother appeared, my family held me down, and Steve poured gasoline from a can down my throat, which I tried to spit out but couldn't, and I was fearful that I was going to be set on fire.


I asked Anderson why actor John Goodman wasn't in the film playing the bartender. "He's too old and he drinks too much," PTA said, as we mutually looked over and saw Goodman drinking straight up whiskey. (Whether or not Goodman has an alcohol problem in real life, I am not aware.)


Yep. The recurring, oft-starring, gorgeous elderly actor Sam Waterston, who has played my Knox history professor in my dreams more times than I can count, though in this dream, he was my therapist. Breaking away from my whole family, still spitting out gasoline, Waterston presented me with his credentials as a Navy veteran (in real life he was a Yale man) and I physically shook him by the lapels of his blazer and told him to buy me a one-way ticket to Brazil so I could get away from everyone.

In retrospect, I think the catalyst for Waterston appearing as the therapist stemmed from yesterday's Ethics issue (I got an A on my midterm, thank you very much. How could I not? I was wearing my Bruce Lee t-shirt.) of how unethical it is for therapists and clients to forge a romantic or sexual relationship. Sam and I didn't have an inappropriate relationship in the dream, (unfortunately) though in class yesterday, I had to role play with a classmate in a scene where the female client has come to the male therapist for guidance regarding her mistrust of men whom she perceives are all using her, only to have her seedy therapist announce in session how attractive he thought she was. After pouring her heart out for weeks about her love life, the therapist takes advantage of her vulnerability, and the client suggests she find a new therapist, much to the interested male therapist's chagrin, as he attempts to coerce her into working things out as client/therapist, before they decide they're mutually really attracted to one another and their whole interpersonal therapeutic dynamic goes down the toilet. I asked my professor if issues like this actually, really come up in therapeutic relationships and she insisted that they very often do, after which you cite your professional ethics and abandon your budding lust.

I couldn't handle Sam Waterston being my therapist. He's TOO attractive, smart and, while trustworthy on the surface, I'd have a hard time broaching sensitive issues with him, because his gorgeousness would be too distracting.

After begging Waterston for the plane ticket via Anderson's scripted direction, my cell phone started blinging with texts and woke me up this morning.


Why Brazil? I have no idea, as it wasn't a Terry Gilliam (Monty Python)-directed dream. What would I do there? Beats me. Do I have a desire to visit Brazil? Not particularly. Would I eventually totally put the moves on Sam Waterston if he was my therapist? Oh, for God's sake, what a ridiculous question. Of COURSE I would.

I asked my Ethics professor if the American Medical Association operates from such an ethics-code-based, stone-set of rules and regulations similar to that which counselors/psychologists are bound. She uttered a resounding "No, not at've got doctors dating nurses, doctors romancing the office workers, doctors and patients dating..," at which point I completely shut my mouth and didn't elaborate as to why I was asking that question. The AMA is allowed to operate largely with individual doctors deciding what's ethical and unethical, while therapists are strictly bound to uphold the American Counseling Association's 2005 Code of Ethics and not deviate without devastating consequence and the threat of license-stripping.

And who needs that bullshit?

God really fucked us up by giving us the unconscious. Honestly. Like the subconscious isn't difficult enough with which to grapple, we humans are tortured mentally by visual and auditory stimuli that, while completely out of our control, guide our slumber.  That which is supposed to invigorate and regenerate us gets muddied by feelings and urges we tirelessly suppress in our daily real-life interactions.

The vividness of the dreamscape is particularly unwelcome for people who have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, as I do, and it's during those dreams when all of that latent fear and distrust are manifested. Those dreams come and go in waves, often precipitated by a trigger of some kind, affecting any one of the senses. It's very easy for the layperson (or counselor even) to tell the person with PTSD to "forget about it," but how is that possible when the unconscious prompts the activation of torture endured that is part of the long-past?
All I know is that I wake up scared, freaked out, icky, shamed, and seeking comfort, which goes largely unresolved in my own life, so the only people I really talk about it with are my 2 kindred spirit friends who also have PTSD. All I'll say is that most of us have "anxiety dreams," which are normal. PTSD-rich anxiety dreams feature anxiety + fear + shit you lived through, and are like 10 times worse.

Then there are other dreams that are pleasant, or happy, or warm and wonderful, intimate, or even goofy...while asleep, they are sheer joy. Yet when I wake up, a gaping hole called "reality" slaps me back and those hugs and kisses I imagined didn't happen. Those elusive accolades or compliments were never uttered. That success was never achieved. That person I love so much is still dead. Or, like the picture above, the conversation played out in my head turned 360 degrees and went in a totally different direction than I anticipated or desired.

So, no. Despite my unconscious, Sam Waterston isn't my therapist and I'm not packing for Brazil. The upside? No, my brother didn't choke me with gasoline. On a scale of 1-10, I'd give the freakout factor of the Paul Thomas Anderson mental film-loop about a 7. Or one thumb up and one thumb down, if I'm going to Siskel & Ebert it like a proper critic.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mania Seems to be Creeping In...And Thanks for the Nastygram This Morning, Guy!

This is my 500th blog post on this site. 500 rat-a-tat-tats. 

I'm celebrating by entering into a hypomanic episode and it's almost 3am and I haven't been to bed yet. I'm not even really drowsy, though I took my massive cocktail of medications at 8pm. Luckily, I don't have to be up at any certain point tomorrow.

I have a crippling phobia about insomnia. It started about 3 years ago. I had one spell when I was newly working at my job, and I hadn't slept in 36 hours straight. I managed to get myself to my family doctor, who Rx'd me Estazolam, a benzodiazepine. That worked. It's an off-brand use, but it's also used to curb my generalized anxiety disorder, so I take 1mg up to 3 times a day and 2mg at bedtime. It's been working well since I started taking it, not requiring harder sleeping pills like Ambien or Restoril.

While I slept until 9:30 this morning, which is very unusual for me, what's more unusual is the fact that I'm still wide awake. I hate tossing and turning, because my mind is racing. My heart is racing. Why should I lie there and torture myself if I can't sleep?

Perhaps my body is saying "Um, we really didn't need ALL that sleep you were getting during your depressive here, let's keep you awake half the night instead. Literally, the last few weeks I'd succumbed to 4 or 5 hour naps during the day when I was home from school. It was insane.  While I don't necessarily feel like I could conquer the world at this juncture, once the mania really hits, damn, at least I'll get my homework done and my exam for Monday studied for. Unfortunately, I'll probably forget most of what I studied and you know me and multiple-choice tests. Ack.

I was having the freakiest nap dreams, too. Totally weird shit about pretty much everybody. It's worthy of mention, which Luke noted the other day, that the video of my ex-boyfriend that's on YouTube, of him blah-blah-blahing about marketing strategies still has 0 likes, 3 dislikes, and the comment I posted (under my own name) which said that he was a sociopathic, chronic domestic abuser was still on the video. That's good, because I was having scary dreams about HIM again.

Thank God my yoga DVD is on its way, the one Steven recommended, that he's been using for 5 years straight. He said it totally changed his life. He's so lean and trim and muscular now, damn, he looks terrific. Apparently, I am to try the spine series first, according to him, so that's what I'll do.

If I'm rapid cycling, fine. I'll have probably a good week's worth of mania before I crash or stabilize, whichever happens first. I hope it's the latter. If I'm ultradian cycling (mood swings every few hours), I could very well be boppin' around getting all kinds of things done and in the middle of the fury, declare myself a total loser, lie down on my bed and spend the next 5 hours unconscious. We'll have to see how "later today" goes.

The Offbeat Drummer is going to try to lie down and get cozy to sleep.

Sunday, 11:00 am:

Maybe not manic, but definitely disjointed. Out of sorts.

Kate had been up til all hours painting, so we texted back and forth for a while. Mostly about why I wasn't asleep.

I went to bed at 4am and I think I fell asleep pretty quickly. Awakened at the not-unreasonable hour of 10:30, whereupon my mom came into my room to make sure I was still alive. So I got 6 hours of sleep. Why must the world assume I am dead when I sleep late?

Woke up to a very brief nastygram from Guy Friend, who no doubt was churching it up this morning, as John Lennon's "How Do You Sleep?" was, in bitter irony, the first song that shuffled in iTunes this morning. Essentially, in 2 sentences, he said he'd try to get through my emails later today, some of which directed him to certain recent blog entries, as he hadn't checked his email in a week and out of his 127 emails, he did notice a few bearing my name, after which he told me I should "go to church and pray I pass statistics."  I replied with "You're all heart" and told him about my sleep issue and why *I* wasn't going to church this morning. Then I, in very few words, described the utter irony of "How Do You Sleep?" playing within the context of his nastygram. I told him my favorite line is, "The sound you make is Muzak to my ears." I doubt he's familiar with the song. But should he visit this entry, oh my, Guy, this one's for you:

Saturday, October 20, 2012

I Just Had a Quickie...


Not *that* kind of quickie.

Don't I wish?

A worse drought than the farmers  had this summer, I tell ya. Does everyone assume just because I'm 40 and had most of my reproductive parts removed makes me any *less* randy, especially the length of time it's been since I....


I was out smoking and had a strange observation. My dad's parents slept in separate bedrooms. My mom's parents had the same room, but each had a twin bed. That made me pause. I thought, "If that was the case, how on earth did I end up here in the world in the first place?"

My mom's answer? "I had a double bed."

She's got me on that one.

This is one of the image stickers on my car that was vandalized last week. At first, my mom asked me who that "weird looking guy with the orange hair" was. "It's George Harrison, Ma." At present, I'm considering temporarily dyeing the tips of my hair spikes purple for some reason, speaking of hair color .All! This! Gray! creeping its way onto the top of my mop. But this? This George? It was a vintage sticker that I don't know I'll find a new one.


Am I the only one who thinks these non-electric kitchen appliances look more like the set up of a gynecologist's exam room rather than a kitchen?

Everyone online cracks jokes about Chuck Norris. Probably because he's such a poser fighter and greedy infomercial whore with no Eastern philosophical recollection. Who taught him all of his martial art moves and about spirituality? Who was his kung fu teacher? Yep. And they'd star together in the actor/philosopher's film, "The Way of the Dragon."

Best part? Bruce Lee ripping off a copious amount of Norris' disgustingly littering chest hair and blowing it off his hand so he can kick some more ass. One of my favorite martial arts film fight scenes (my favorite being the room of mirrors in Bruce Lee's "Enter the Dragon.")??? No, when it comes to Bruce Lee, my martial arts HERO, you don't fuck around. You don't even entertain the idea of fucking with a derogatory meme, because you literally can't say one bad thing about this late, extraordinary man, both physically and spiritually.

Haven't heard from Guy Friend in a week, and even that was an all-too-brief email. I still think he's mad at me about something I did that gravely disappointed him, or he's still upset about the besiege he received in one of my recent blogs, mostly at the hands of Kate and Best Male Friend. Kate understood. I tried to keep the peace, but felt stuck in between, because I love them and I love him. Meh, maybe he's just super busy, which is my usual excuse for why I don't hear from him. I missed the "I don't care about you" memo, if such a thing existed. It's feasible it's some kind of parental obligation combined with or versus some work-related reasoning as to why he's extinct, but I did point him towards a couple of blogs that I felt he really needed to read, which to my knowledge, I don't think he has yet.

I miss talking to and seeing Guy.  I receive more emails and texts from Barack Obama, Barbra Streisand, Bruce Springsteen, Bill Clinton, Robert Redford, all soliciting another $3 for Obama's grassroots campaign, than I receive from Guy Friend. Thus far, I've handed over $6 to the DNC as support. But what do they do once you one-click your donation because the campaign has your credit card on file?

THEY ASK FOR $5 MORE. Love ya, Obama, will cast my vote, but this grassroot is in deep dehydration. Sure, you don't whore out for corporate and huge public entities in order to secure millions upon the millions you yourself have like Romney, but still. I really just can't give any more. I hope they understand.

Had to start the application process for next semester Community Service Practicum at school. We had to list 7 potential organizations for whom we wanted to utilize our talents and contributions. I chose the following:

  • MaineStay: A progam based right here in my own township which caters to the lowest and lower socioeconomic demographics of what's otherwise a very affluent, high-tax area of the suburbs just directly across the street from the actual City of Chicago.
  • The Illinois Council on Problem Gambling: I understand addictions and compulsions better than just about anybody. I'll bet you $20 they pick me as their intern, lol.
  • A rape victim advocacy agency...see the running theme here? Again, a cause and a base that is true to my rich life experience and where I think I might do the most beneficial practicum.
  • Gilda's Club: A sort of St Jude or Ronald McDonald housing and care facility for those suffering from cancer and their loved ones. Founded by actor Gene Wilder, in memory of his late wife, Gilda Radner, who I'm going to guess absolutely none of the 35-under crowd at my school will even recognize her name, much less the tireless work Wilder put into forming the foundation. 
  • The Center for Disability and Elder Law: I dunno, I think I picked this one because I spent the last 3 years taking care of the elderly at the medical practice and understand a lot of their personal and emotional issues. 
  • The Young Chicago Authors: an internship where you spearhead and organize an annual literary reading and giant Chicago poetry slam. I think that'd be a lot of fun, too. I'd love to help younger people with developing their creative minds/interest in writing.
  • The Computer TV Network: grant writing. That's about as much of them as I remember, but it had to do with writing savvy, technical savvy and the ability to work independently. 
School makes every attempt to secure us an internship at one of our 7 choices, which I shouldn't think would be *that* difficult, as we are a very small school (only 900-odd students, including PsyD candidates who are doing their clinical, not community service practicums.) I did read the description of almost all of the programs offered, and felt these were the most suitable, before I had to write nearly 5,000 words as to why I should be offered an internship in the form of an extensive Q&A, and submit my curriculum vitae. 

Wish me luck at the internship lottery! Especially the Gambling Council!

Ah, at least I don't have a little one running around looking for something every time he needs something in order to avoid going to bed. I haven't *had* to read to him a book since he was 3 years old, because as I've said before, he, like I, could read independently at age 3.  He finished "The Little Prince" at around age 5, around which time we transitioned his "nursery" into a Little Prince themed moon and stars theme. He had these awesome glow-in-the-dark stickers on the ceiling of his room that Craig put in constellation patterns. 

Still, the adaptation of this satirical children's book cracked me the fuck up, chiefly because of the audio interpretation by Samuel L. Jackson, which should be a comforting thought to the man who penned the book. NONE of us could get our kids to bed at a reasonable hour when they were little (I still can't today) It's a book called "Go the Fuck to Sleep." Enjoy the narration. It's a crackup. 

Luke had "Goodnight Moon" memorized when he was 2 and we'd read that every night, and he'd recite it with his bottle as either Craig or I (or sometimes my mother or grandmother) would rock him to sleep. Luke was the type of toddler who literally had to be dead ass rocked to sleep and only after he was asleep could even entertain the idea of putting him in his crib. Trust me, putting a like 30-40 lb toddler into a crib takes the strength of 1,000 men. Then soon thereafter, like it says in the book, the kid's out of his toddler bed or crib or bed and asking you for fucking something when you're just trying to chill after having managed your child the whole day. Either that, or "Dad, it's your time to take over for the night...."

On that note, have to hit the books tomorrow for the Ethics midterm on Monday. Jealous of how many of my Knox friends are hanging out in Galesburg this weekend. My 20th reunion will be in 2014, even though I didn't receive my degree officially until January, 1995. The Class of '94 will always be my class. My community. Have a fun and safe weekend, Siwash!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Am I Just Paranoid, or Am I Stoned?

I took the day off yesterday. A mental health day. It'd been a shitty week at school overall, and I didn't have anywhere PRESSING I needed to go (though today I really do need to pick up my restless leg syndrome pills....), so it was a Polish-bath (wash the essentials, spike up the clean hair), stay in jammies sort of day.

Luke stopped by after school to pick up some stuff for the weekend at Craig's, and asked me if I was sick. "No, just tired," I told him. He chiefly wanted to change shoes at the mail, he recently received his new pair of custom-made Converse All-Stars. They're wildly crazy and unique, like Luke, they have 5 tongues, uh, unlike Luke, and the tongues are all in different prints, and the shoes say "WaLrus" on the backs of the heels, the "L" being capitalized for "Luke." He'd wanted these shoes since last Christmas, and I finally had the spare resources with which to buy them. Luke's very happy with the way they turned out. He joins Mom and Dad in all having custom-made Converses. Note: They ain't cheap and he's vehement about keeping them in pristine shape. For being such a shoe SLOB, he's treating these shoes by actually CLEANING them after he gets home from school. (Hello, Mom trait!)

Once he left, though, it was back to the barely-awake malaise of the day. Had a wonderful conversation with Kate about her uber-interesting entanglements and vivid anecdotes. Let's face it...compared to some people, despite all the drama played out via my blog, I think, sometimes, that I live a very, very boring life. Kate would disagree. She knows. She understands where I am coming from...she's a chick. I posted the picture below to my Facebook, and several women "liked" it. Then a man chimed in and commented, "Know what?" My point, exactly, dumbshit.


It's widely known that Green Day front man, 40-year old Billie Joe Armstrong, went into rehab recently for substance abuse an un-publicized origin, though the singer/guitarist received a DUI in 2003. While the band has an upcoming tour starting in November to promote their first-in-a-trilogy set, "Uno", "Dos," "Tres," it's unlikely the band will begin performing on schedule. The bassist asserts it's "killing everyone in the band." It's speculated Armstrong will remain in rehab into the new year. That's some pretty heavy shit if you spend like 90 days in rehab. (I spent a week and a half in detox.)

I'm no novice to addiction within the musician community, including myself. I applaud the Green Day leader to at least acknowledge that he needed help, and is getting it. He might not subscribe to the 12 steps, as most musician/punky souls I know (some famous, some infamous), but whatever it takes him to get and stay clean and sober, I wish him all the luck in the world. I try to remind my own (BMF) alcoholic/former addict friend not to freak out on those occasions when he's started drinking again, having done a rehab stint 2 years ago himself. It's not THAT big a deal. He usually feels really bad about it and thus bad about himself, and he's self-aware enough to know that the first drink is one drink too many. 8 out of 10 alcoholics or addicts will relapse after treatment. That's fact, not conjecture. It happens to the best of us.

I'm reminded of another Billy, Joel in this case, who sang in "The Stranger":
"Don't be afraid to try again. Everyone goes south every now and then. You've done it. Why can't someone else? You should know by now. You've been there yourself." 

Addicts are a unique brand of personalities. We're compulsive, irrational, wildly seek adventure (or at least calm amid a storm) without mindfully pondering the consequences thereof. 80% of us have slipped out of sobriety and gone back to drugs, alcohol or both. It's the rule, not the exception. Addiction is a chronic, fatal brain disease. Getting angry with us and harboring disdain or shame for when we slip up and revert to our favorite, nasty coping mechanism, serves no one.

But I digress.

After reading a story online about a fight a couple got into over one of the men listening to too much Alanis Morissette, the one man beating the other with a broken plate, I stumbled upon this video. Alanis recently appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live, singing a VERY different spin on one of Green Day's classics, "Basket Case," one of our punky anthems from the 90's.

This stripped-down version gave me chills. It's what I want the whole world to listen to when it comes to being mentally disturbed (and addicted, frankly).  Alanis did a beautiful, thoughtful, loving job, which you must check out.

(No, I'm still not over Alanis' "Ironic," in which absolutely nothing was ironic; it wasn't even coincidental. It was just all kind of a big bummer. *That* song would have me slamming broken plates in my partner's face if I had to hear it more than once or twice in 15 years That's a separate argument over semantics.)

Clearly at his rock bottom, Armstrong raged during a performance last month when the teleprompter indicated he only had 1 minute left to wrap up the band's set at this music festival. Ironically, when Billie Joe had his utter and complete breakdown, it was in the middle of playing "Basket Case," when the singer just Totally. Fucking. Lost. It. Now THIS is punk IN ACTION. And I can't say I blame him. This is how I feel, frankly, most of the time. I just don't have guitars to smash at my disposal, but BOY do I wish I DID.

To see the original, rollicking Green Day version (and keep in mind, my son's seen Green Day live and I haven't! And I'm deeply jealous!), see below. A totally different vibe and visually, not *unlike* what it looks like, from my experience, being in psych ward when you're tanked on medications. I'd not noticed what they did to colorize everyone's eyes in this video before, but it's totally cool. 

As everyone involved in my mental health has concurred, making any major life changes during such a stressful period for me is unreasonable and ill-advised. Cigarettes: They don't kill everyone!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"No One Speaks Like This." Maybe Not Where You Come From, Buckaroo.

I'm a junkie in recovery. But if given the opportunity, I'd take all the pills, in quantities of 360 per bottle, and manage to wrangle 5 refills out of 3 different doctors and shop them out to a dozen different pharmacies and pay cash, on a day like I had today, anyway. (On second thought, I'd probably skip the sports pill, because sports are boring, and I have zero desire to master one only to die 10 years later. Fitness.

Don't y'all tempt me. Now, not only do I have Keith Richards' autobiography from which to gather practical life coping mechanisms, but also that of Pete Townshend, whose life has been as colorful as Richards' but like 1,000 times brainier. The tattoo on Saturday satiated MORE THAN enough of any semblance of a cutting impetus I may or may not have been harboring as of late and, as I said before, the depth of the cold needle sensation and requisite total numbness was eerily reminiscent of self-injury. Except it looks totally badass and for the sake of art and philosophy. Guy Friend's comment? "A small symbol on your ankle it's not." (Yes, I did tell him he's starting to talk like Yoda.) No, that it's not. If there's one thing I'm not, just like Richards and Townshend, it's a pussy. (PS, yes, that's real blood on Townshend's hand. Windmilling gone awry, after show in Oakland, early 80's.)

(Speaking of cutting, it was implied today that Gestalt therapy (German: "wholeness" or "complete form") would be one effective way to treat NSSI. That's only like the stupidest, most impractical, failure-securing approach to the habit of non-suicidal self-injury, coming from someone who, as you all know...anyway, nothing spells S-U-C-C-E-S-S like--honestly--this is a technique--talking to an empty chair and pretending to lecture yourself from an authoritative figure point-of-view. Role playing with yourself from an assertive position is an ace way to segue from using steak knives to actual razor blades, once you've managed to make yourself feel even shittier, and like you don't get that combative load of crap from actual OTHER people you REALLY talk to. I can say this, being partly German, having deflowered a young German man when I was much younger, that there's nothing Germans like more than authoritatively screaming in harsh accents. Even "I love you" in German sounds hostile.) 

Throughout the weeks that have passed in my first semester in graduate school, I have felt confident (but not arrogant) about my academic performance. I recognize areas which need improvement, pat myself on the back for jobs well done, and, while stressed, depressive and out-of-sorts, consequently sleeping every spare moment possible, I have proudly managed my ginormous course load (statistics be damned) without yet visiting Whichever Official But Multiculturally Neutral Office at School Generates Accommodations for the Drug and Alcohol Brain-Damaged, Usually Functioning Mentally Ill Students Who Are Learning Disabled But Hate Labels. 

Methinks, however, that a meeting with Those Compassionate Folks Who Don't Want Me to Sue the School Under Any Circumstances Because No One Realizes I'm Apparently Mentally Incapacitated  At Times should be penciled into my agenda.

Watch the first 3:50 of this segment from (where I get all of the rest of *my* wisdom) "The Brady Bunch."

Mike Brady's observation: "Exact words are"

Bullshit, it wasn't.

Anyone who's read the breadth of my work, whether it's this blog, my poetry, my Russian Lit papers from Knox, the book I wrote about the Muppets in 2nd grade, or fuck, even my 140-character Tweets, I believe, would all attest in vehement opposition to the notion that my writing is...


Composed and published in the exact manner by which the professor posted an online, exemplary sample psychological case analysis, it was.  Addressed all required areas, it did. I wasn't alone with a sharp chip on my shoulder in the classroom this morning as our papers were returned, littered in itty-bitty red ink, snarling under my breath at the measly, unacceptable point value of 75/100.

The old adage seems to be true: "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach." My theories professor used to be a counselor. She couldn't hack it. So she became a professor. Einstein failed to get into college a number of times and was chastised for being very anti-authoritarian. Lennon was continuously wrist-slapped by his teachers for not staying on-task and was brushed off as having no practical future. I'm reminded of Sir John Gurdon, who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine. His biology teacher had this to say about him when he was in school:

Per the assignment of choosing any one of the many psychological theories we've studied thus far and righteously extended, it was, in very short terms, the case of a strange 42-year old loner who never got laid and thought his un-affectionate, deceased mother was a "martyr." Barring my layperson's, not therapist's, honest opinion that instead of psychotherapy, what the guy really needed was to get drunk and spend a night in a brothel, I chose Freudian psychodynamics. (Keep that thought in the back of your mind. I was free to choose ANY of the theories we have studied on which to base my case analysis.)

Was my theoretical paper graded by a teaching assistant without a background in English? Oh Christ, yes.

My sentence, verbatim: "In employing Freudian psychodynamics, the therapist would benefit from exploring free association." 

The TA's remark, my sentence scratched out? "While technically correct, no one speaks like this." 


No one speaks like this? I speak this way. In this fashion. Routinely. (It's a shame this is electronic, because you're missing the extremely snippy intonation of my voice.) I tend to verbalize in said manner particularly harshly when I'm trying to make an intellectual point and berate those to whom I'm speaking. (Put more simply? When I'm pissed off, sometimes it's really fucking obvious because I'll colloquially utilize vile expletives in the middle of what could otherwise be considered well-crafted prose, e.g. right now.)

Admittedly, I'll grant the instructors at the school and the elementary-reading-level TA this much: I need work/help on properly citing academic papers per the American Psychological Association's guidelines. I never said I didn't. I'll get help with that. It's embedded in my MS Word program to assist me. I'll visit the "writing center." I'll look it up online. I'll squeeze it in next time. Scout's honor.


Had the professor explicitly told us the theory paper had to be APA-cited, I would've documented it as such and gone back to my meatballs in the middle of the night. She incorrectly assumed that since she mentioned it in the syllabus (which half of us negated), we'd cite it that way. The exemplary sample given to us as a guide, with which I styled my paper, was, evidently, totally WRONG, for which I had 10 points deducted, as some of my cohorts did as well.

This is where Mr. Brady's looming warning and Greg's valid point are equally well-taken. Had Mr. Brady clarified that he meant that Greg was not to drive, period, end of story, Greg wouldn't have driven his friend's car to get tickets to the rock concert. Mr. Brady's contention is that Greg deliberately disobeyed him on a technicality, when Greg did no such thing. Exact words are indeed hard by which to live, but they make things a crap ton clearer.

The TA took issue with my use of the word "schema" by circling it over and over again and warning me that it's "not psychodynamic. Be careful!" when I properly used it as a noun, and while it's often associated with cognitive behavioral therapy, and while it should've been obvious by page four of the paper that I was psychoanalyzing and not using CBT, it's just a freakin' noun that means "a structured framework." I deemed the client "rotund" instead of "fat" or "overweight." I LIKE WORDS. GET OVER IT.

Perhaps left out of the scientific and clinical world is the history of this one guy, Roget. Roget liked words. A lot.  In fact, he was such a linguistic pioneer that, as Webster developed  the advent of the modern American English DICTIONARY, Roget forged a tool more useful, practical, sacred and magical to a writer than any other....the THESAURUS.

At present, I have two paperback thesauruses. I've used one of them once in 18 years, with which to write a poem.  I have access to online thesauruses, which I'll utilize from time to time if I'm really stumped for the right word. But where's the biggest one stored? Despite my brain damage? In my big, psychotic, bipolar, non-stop creative brain. (PS, my 12-year old son has the same gift, minus the psychosis.)

In my summary, wrapping up my rationale as to why I approached the freaky guy's case study from a Freudian perspective, the TA, after I wrote that IN MY EDUCATED OPINION it was a classically Freudian workup, said, "Actually, it's not. The example given is a contemporary example. In classical Freudian analysis, the therapist/analyst wouldn't say much, if anything." That's his or her opinion. It's of no consequence to the grade I was given. I was provided a selection of theoretical approaches to this case, and I chose the one that, in MY opinion, suited the client, even though y'all know I think Freud was whacked and did way too much coke. (If it's a "contemporary example," why is the client not using internet porn and still subscribing to magazines in the first place? Not that I'm endorsing either...)

You want a different spin, a likened contemporary example? Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho." My mother, in fact, jokingly asked me if Anthony Perkins played the client in the movie version.

Throw me a middle-aged male virgin with a major Mommy martyr complex, who got no love from Dad, who whacks off to "men's magazines," (yes, I spared the professor/TA my vulgarity and said "frequently masturbates"), isolates himself, likes to work alone, sleeps too late, has been suicidal and is afraid of barking puppies? That was the case I was given with which to work, from which, if given enough creative time, I'm sure I could spin into a helluva creepy movie script. Alas, it'll shelve with the rest of my unpublished work, as friends keep pestering me to find an agent.

I'll just keep looking down at my tattoo which says "mindfulness" on it and try to remember that everyone operates on his/her own level, and that we've all come to this psychological program with different backgrounds. Mine happens to be rooted in English-Writing.  I'm a woman of extremes. I either charge through the day running dialogues through my head about how idiotic the rest of the world is compared to my brilliance, or I'm crippled with anxiety and low self-esteem because it's me who's the local idiot. Mornings which awaken me at 5am when I'm sloping down, only to be confronted by snide commentary like what I was handed today send me mentally running for the hills.


Barack totally rocked it last night, but I feel compelled to say that what this campaign is lacking, quite honestly, is a good, old-fashioned sex scandal. By default, it'd have to be Obama, since he's cute and the last nail in the Romney coffin was his blast against single parents last night which came randomly during a discussion about assault weaponry out on the streets. So it's all my fault, Mitt? Tell you what. My son's arsenal of toy guns and ammo pack enough power (and rounds) to blow holes through the wad of $100 bills you money clip to your pompous dick for protection.  Anyway, I got this email from Bill Clinton today, speaking of sex scandals:

I wonder if Michelle knows how terrific President Obama was last night. Bill's been there. You do the math, kiddos.


My car represents my personality via stickers on the back (nothing too obnoxious). Some douchebag vandalized it. I don't know if it was in the train parking garage, or where I park my car at home, but if I were to ever find out who did it, I'd bust his/her/their skull WITH my Sanskrit tattooed arm.

My 2 Hindu OM stickers were "X"'d out, my AA sticker slit through, my anarchy symbol sliced with a huge cross (of all things) through the middle (hello, doofus, anarchy is a sociopolitical stance, not a religion), and my favorite, the George Harrison 1967 acid psychedelic painting sticker slit about 15 times, though none of it was ripped off, and you can't really tell unless you feel it. Fortunately, I had spare OM's. What's perhaps the oddest thing about it all, though? My Irish Trinity sticker was left intact, as was my Coyne/Drozd 2012 Presidential campaign sticker. A disgruntled Catholic Flaming Lips fan, perhaps?  I actually only know one of the aforementioned personality types myself, and I don't think he'd ever do such a thing. It was probably the squatting drug dealer down the walkway who finally got evicted after I lodged a HUGE complaint with the Cook County Sheriff, and told them that if my father could personally bodyguard former Sheriff Richard Elrod when he was a Sheriff's police officer, and was willing to take a bullet for the Sheriff in the 80's, the least they could do for me would be to make my neighborhood a little safer.

I'm just glad the school week's over. I have my last midterm on Monday (which was postponed), in Ethics and Law, and plenty of work to do for Therapy class, during which, I believe, all 8 of us fell asleep at different junctures watching a video on couples counseling. And that's our favorite class! But turning off the lights and cozying up with a video for a bunch of overworked grad students? We just weren't full of bubbles and butterflies this week.

In the midst of all this academic nonsense, I had to write a letter to the Illinois Tollway arguing my position that my IPASS for the tollway isn't out of money, and that I was refusing to pay the $215 in fines they believe I've incurred. They emailed me that my balance was "low," not "depleted" or "rejected." Once again, exact words....I owned up to perhaps the $20 in tolls they think I owe them, but I flat out made my case against paying a single $20 fine for each supposed infraction. Yes, in my letter, as a matter of fact, I told them they were all insane. And for that, as with most of my writing, I refuse to apologize.

Too flowery. Yeah, fuck you.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

On "Airbrushing" Sin: "Contemporary Faith" Takes Psychology Back 50 Years.

Fresh ink yesterday. In weighing my male companion options, or lack thereof, I informed Luke that he would be accompanying me to The Tattoo Factory yesterday afternoon. (The neighborhood's not nearly as scary during the day, and much easier to park/navigate, with Luke as my wingman.) The studio nearly empty, and with a big sign on the door saying "No One Under 18 Allowed," I waltzed in with my 12-year old anyway. They're SO nice at the Factory that they let Luke sit on a stool right beside me as I got the tattoo, which took a good hour or so. It's a cliche, an overused term, but my son actually DID throw up a little in his mouth when he was watching the whizzing needle interject permanent ink into my skin. (I think, at that point, he turned up his iPod to avoid the noise. And he was a little pale and green.)  Luke thought this was a total impulse decision, when in actuality, I'd been thoughtfully planning Tattoo Two ever since I got my OM and cross in March.

I have a dictionary of sacred Sanskrit words, largely Hindu and Buddhist-based. For my tattoo, I decided on the word "Smriti," which is defined as the following:
"From the verb root smri ("to remember"). Translated as "memory," and "mindfulness." In the Yoga Sutras (Chapter 1, verse 20) Patanjali lists smriti, or mindfulness, as one of the five essential elements of the yogin's successful journey to self awareness."  
"The others are sraddha (faith or trust), virya (vitality or energy), samadhi (contemplation/integration) and prajna (wisdom/knowledge)." (Sacred Sanskrit Words, p 188)
Mindfulness and the concept of self-awareness in the changing of bad or negative schemas into healthy and positive schemas, whether that's by meditation, prayer, therapy, open's all one of the cornerstones of cognitive behavioral therapy, one of the many psychological theories I am studying in grad school and certainly, having been a CBT patient for several years, it has always meant something to me personally. And I certainly wasn't going to get a tattoo of Carl Jung's head. My son might call me crazy for "becoming a weird old tattooed lady" later in my life, but I have zero doubt that I'd ever regret any of my tattoos.

It's a little bigger and bolder than I originally anticipated, but no less awesome. It hurt a LOT more than the first tattoo, because it was deeper and far more detailed. The physical pain of this particular tattoo wasn't unlike the cold-blooded rush I'd feel when I would deliberately cut myself. It stings. Badly. I reached my hand out for Luke's but he was too busy not trying to throw up to be of much moral support. It's the thought that counts.


Every week, my church (part of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod) publishes a leaflet in the church bulletin called "Contemporary Faith." It's typically some societal hot-button issue like politics, or abortion, or the average Christian's defense against non-believers and saving them from the pits of hell. As per usual, I tend to disagree with whatever their weekly diatribe might be. Why was this week's literature any different?

It attacked, small-mindedly, and Pastor Dave agreed, the subject of "secular psychology." My profession. It's called "Airbrushing Sin." Effectively, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod regressed the taboo or stigma of mental health or mental illness back about 50 years. (Believe it or not, Pastor said that there are other synods within the Lutheran church more conservative than ours, who'd have long ago kicked my orthopraxic ass out the door for what I believe and practice. But Dave said, "We won't do that. We love you." Furthermore, it wasn't *me* who was checking the microphones by saying "OM" into them over and over again, Pastor...)

When I first read the leaflet, I was highly agitated and brought it up with my guitarist, Jake, who's VERY Biblically driven and reverent towards God and the church. Barring any sort of concept of the purpose and value of psychological counseling, which isn't his fault, he said something like, "Can't you just tell the patient what the Bible says they should do? Or remind them about Jesus?"

In a word, NO. I can't. Why not, you ask? Because unless I declare myself , further in my career, as being a Christian-based clinical practitioner, my religious views have absolutely no place in the therapy room. It's irresponsible and unethical practice. If a client has an emergent issue of faith, or wants to discuss something about his/her religion, the most honest thing I can do, if I'm not a Christian counselor, is to refer them out to someone who is well-versed in applying Biblical principles to the foundation of counseling. I can exhibit an understanding of and compassion towards a client of ANY faith, but I cannot, again, ethically, impose my personal religious views on my clients.

As my Psychotherapy professor was telling us, she is a practicing Christian herself, unashamedly, and has had clients who've asked her to pray with them. She can't. She politely tells the client that if he/she wants to pray, she will quietly listen but will not participate. That's sound practice, regardless if she is a Christian or a non-Christian.

In "Airbrushing Sin," the reading Lutheran is no-doubt frightened and erroneously considered to be a committing a sin by statements like this:
"One of the more subtle yet growing threats that often goes unnoticed and, for many, becomes an alternative to Christianity is secular psychology...Our concern however is that it be Christian counseling, growing of a Biblical understanding of human beings: everyone is plagued by sin and its consequences; everyone needs to know Jesus as Savior from sin; everyone must know what forgiveness is and how it relates to self-understanding and self-esteem."

Further, the faith leaflet proceeds to literally provoke or incite fear of doing something wrong into the average Lutheran, by implying that  mental illness and defect is really just plain "sin. " Specifically noted were "neuroses, compulsive behaviors and character disorders." While the paragraph below doesn't overtly imply anything, it explicitly says that the need for Christian psychologists outweighs that of those of us who look upon our profession a a science. That being said, the whole reason I went into psychology was because I felt it was my calling from God,  to help others facing the same sicknesses from which I suffer. Psychological counseling is a science as much as it a spiritual tool, as counselors help clients navigate the vast conundrums in their lives in the most effective way possible.
"The methods of psychology, of analysis and counseling, can be used properly and acceptably in the hands of understanding Christians who are well versed in the Bible and especially if they know the fundamental biblical teachings of sin and grace. We need to train more Christian psychologists and social workers (as well as pastors and teachers) who know who we are and what God through Jesus Christ has done, so that we do not airbrush sin but confront it and cope with it." 
In talking it over with Pastor Dave, I did understand that the viewpoint (about which I agreed) was very narrow-minded and poorly executed as "advice" for the contemporary Christian. Hey, chickie babies, if you want to see a Christian-based counselor or pastoral counselor, by all means, see one. If you want someone with whom you can spend your therapy time debating God and Satan and Heaven and hell, it's your time and money. Just don't walk into my office and expect, though I will acknowledge your faith and God and Jesus and all, and expect me to impose my personal value system upon you, regardless of how strongly I feel about Christ.

I am a member of the American Counseling Association. They composed a code of ethics in 2005 by which ALL practicing counselors, both students and the degreed, MUST follow, ethically and legally. It's sound practicality. Below are just a few snippets of the American Counseling Association 2005 code of ethics by which I MUST abide:
A.4.b. Personal Values
Counselors are aware of their own
values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors
and avoid imposing values that are inconsistent with counseling
goals. Counselors respect the diversity
of clients, trainees, and research participants.

B.1.a. Multicultural/Diversity
Counselors maintain awareness and
sensitivity regarding cultural meanings
of confidentiality and privacy.
Counselors respect differing views
toward disclosure of information.
Counselors hold ongoing discussions
with clients as to how, when, and
with whom information is to be

C.5. Nondiscrimination
Counselors do not condone or engage
in discrimination based on age, culture,
disability, ethnicity, race, religion/
spirituality, gender, gender identity,
sexual orientation, marital status/
partnership, language preference, socioeconomic status, or any basis proscribed
by law. Counselors do not discriminate
against clients, students, employees,
supervisees, or research participants
in a manner that has a negative
impact on these persons.
So there you have it. "Secular psychology" isn't a vehicle used by Satan in order to usher away Christians from their respective faiths. To use such a glib term as "airbrushing" mental illness as being the product of sin. What a gross insult. If my client comes in and asks me, "Why do I have schizophrenia?" I'm most certainly *not* going to tell him/her it was because Adam and Eve irretrievably screwed things up in paradise, thereby condemning all future generations to original sin. If, in the context of that therapy, the client draws on his/her faith, I can expound through self-disclosure up until a certain point, or have empathy towards that individual's struggle, but I just can't call a client out as being a "sinner" and passing that off as being the origin of a mental disease diagnosis.
While I am a member of a division of the ACA on Spiritual, Ethical and Religious Values in Counseling, as well as a member of the divisions of Creativity in Counseling and Addiction and Defender Counselors, when creating my curriculum vitae last week, my advisor urged me to remove such affiliations from my CV. I still don't understand why or how that relates to my "employability" for next semester's Community Service Practium, when I think it shows that I'm a well-rounded student counselor. But I suppose it goes back to the separation of ethics in responsible practicing in counseling and the threat of imposing my personal values up on those whom I work with or treat in the future.

But for the Lutheran church to reduce mental illness as a sin? That's utter lunacy. The old guy in the congregation who slipped in a puddle of water and broke his hip didn't break his hip because he's a sinner. I see no clear dichotomy between treating mental or brain diseases any differently than repairing a broken bone. Neuroses, character disorders (which I guess you could lump bipolar into) and OCD's are all as much medical conditions as they are mental illnesses.

It's such a huge leap backwards for the stigma of mental healthcare that any less-than-"mindful" Christian could read and, if in therapy, begin to question whether or not the therapist was making a sin-endorsing proclamation in his/her therapy treatment. It could be the catalyst for any number of theoretical disagreements, introduces an element of distrust between the counselor and the client, and lays out an agenda in which the client becomes a "victim" in need of "saving," if one is inclined to believe what's total crap that sin is the origin of illness. Yes, illness sucks in any form. But one of God's many blessings has been the development of scientists (medical and mental) who can diagnose, treat and care for sick people. Practicing medicine or psychology is referred to as being in a "helping profession," I guess a lot like a minister, but with a totally different bent.

Ethics are tricky. Someone I know sees a social worker as her therapist. (Don't even get me started--social workers' jobs are to reintegrate the less fortunate or socially/mentally inept into becoming productive members of society, not to perform long-term psychotherapy. They're not licensed psychological counselors. Good Lord.) This social worker tends to impose her own personal judgments and theories (both mental and physical) onto her clients. From what I understand, she is the Queen of Countertransference. She went so far as to reduce the client's ear ringing, depression and other medical problems as being sourced by an overgrowth of candida yeast in the client's GI tract. A) She has no business imposing medical advice in order to reconcile mental illness or the symptoms thereof. B) Let's say something goes horribly awry in the client's body and, God forbid, she gets really ill as a result of following the social worker's "candida removing advice." What's that social working looking at in that scenario? A BIG, FAT, HUGE MALPRACTICE SUIT.  "But my social worker told me to..." sets a stage for an ethical and legal bitchslap towards that social worker that could result in the removal of her licensure.

The same can be said of "secular" psychologists. If my client comes to me with aspirations to quit smoking, and my advice, though well-intended, ultimately lands my client with a case of lung cancer? That can be construed as being MY fault. I think the mere moniker of "secular psychologists" gives us a bad rap in the first place. There is and never will be anything wrong with employing the science of psychology into counseling practice. As a clinician, I will be respectful and understanding about my clients' faiths. I am well-versed in not only Christianity, but also several other world religions, all of which I respect and wouldn't deliberately deny those believers in an attempt to convert them to Christianity. That's not for what they're paying me an hourly rate. The counselor is an ideally unbiased party who has nothing emotionally vested in the client's life other than to teach them practical skills to change maladaptive behaviors, to comfort, to being a sounding board, to dissect conflict and NOT TO JUDGE.

As we were taught on the first day of Psychotherapy Skills class, our job is to "listen with our hearts." That's certainly true. With the ACA code of ethics in the backs of our minds, we have to maintain neutrality and act in the manner best serving of the client, who was brave enough to come to you for help in the FIRST place, while employing empathy, compassion and a listening ear, capable of reflecting back to the client thought-provoking and behavior-altering suggestions and assistance.

Shame on this article's author for implying the equation of mental illness with that of sin. Unless I have a strong rapport with that client, we've established a relationship and THEN this client chooses to employ his/her religious beliefs into our counseling environment, I cannot and will not impart my personal values onto my clients. Therapy isn't a Benny Hinn faith-healing spectacle. It's a dialog between a couple of people (or a family) who've come to you because the therapist has specific training and expertise/competency with which to help heal the wounds of the mind and soul which cannot be remedied by medications alone.