Saturday, August 27, 2016

There's Waldo

When you have a mental illness, it feels like your life path becomes limited. As a social misfit with perceived special abilities your career options narrow down to (1) member of the X-Men; or (2) loner shut-in who freelances as a speech writer for Donald Trump.

Natasha Tracey addresses this dichotomy in her article Do the Mentally Ill Have to Be Extraordinary to Be Accepted?

Otherworldly brilliance, extraordinary talent, and creative genius are buffers that soften the Stigma of what it means to have a mental illness. And while some research has shown a correlation between mental illness and certain characteristics attributed to high functioning achievement, the underlying message remains that mental illness is something a person must compensate for. You can't have a mental illness, you're not a rocket scientist. Nice try, Mr. Poe, no one else hears the ravens, back to your padded cell.  


Image result for game where you remove bones and it buzzedImagine everyone was held to the same standard. Suddenly the days of innocent errors such as bad moods, awkward conversations, and social faux pas became redflags of a pending psychological meltdownse. This analysis would be generously provided by friends and family—but only those with the medical training of Hasbro—and don't forget to dilute the Stigma of mental illness with astonishing acts of brilliance so that it's tolerable to the masses. Like checking the clorine level of a public pool.

So get started on becoming the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western art.






And for the truly remarkable, just how do you explain that you've yet to complete a 4th marathon?



What what

That's when I find comfort in the "Where's Waldo" book series. We've hunted for this stripped joker since 1987 having no idea who he is or even his last name. We don't know what he's up to, or why he's always so lost, but he coasts contently past giants, gladiators, mermaids, on the beach when he likes, dropping his shit all over the place for someone else to find. Now if that isn't the actions of mental illness, I don't know what is. Waldo could easily be on the lam, owe someone money, or be a poorly dressed, disoriented, serial killer, but there's remained a strange satisfaction in finding him for over a quarter century.


The power, and maybe even origin, of Stigma is that we like finding what we're looking for. It organizes chaotic issues and feelings. So if we can embrace this sketchy wanderer without judgment or prejudice, maybe Stigma can be reprogramed by stripping away the expectations and suspicions and simply viewing everyone as harmless but lost travelers who are just trying to find their way home.








Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Everything I Know Is Ridiculous - Olympics Edition

5) The longest unbeaten Olympic Reocord is held by Bob Beamon for his long jump during the 1968 Mexico City Summer Olympics with a jump measuring in at a staggering 27 ft. 4 in.

4) From 1912 to 1948, the Olympics awarded medals to sculptors, architects, writers and musicians. I'm sure mine is in the mail, but whatever.
3) In 1996, the Summer Olympics were held in Atlanta Georgia. The Women's Gymnastics Team, dubbed the Magnificent Seven, won the Gold over the Russians in the team competition, a victory highlighted by the now famous vault of Kerri Strug.


2) In 1992, despite battling a torn hamstring, Derek Redmond was able to complete a complete lap in the 400 metre with the aid of his father who'd broken through dozens of guards and onlookers to help him finish the race. he received a standing ovation as he crossed the finish line.


1) In 1980 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid, New York, a group of rag tag American hockey players made up of amateurs and collegiate players rallied to win Gold over the power house Russians (who play the villains in nine out of ten Olympic movies). Team USA eked out a slim 4-3 lead which they clung to for the final 10 minutes. In the final minute, Sportscaster Al Michaels, who was calling the game on ABC, who delivered his famous call:



"11 seconds, you've got 10 seconds, the countdown going on right now! Morrow, up to Silk. Five seconds left in the game. Do you believe in miracles?! YES!!!"

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Everything I Know Is Ridiculous - Part III

5) Convinced you're a charming people person? Think again. Forbes identifies 13 traits of likeability which include listening, genuineness, and interest in others. Absent these qualities, you may in fact just be an asshole.

4) Or you really are a funny guy.


3) Camels are weird.
2) It's estimated only 2% of the world's population has green eyes, making them as rare as heterochromia iridis (having two different color eyes).
1) I went on a wonderful date last night. I've got a great feeling about this guy, Keyser Söze 
he might be the one.



Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Everything I Know Is Ridiculous - Part II

5) 20% of Mensa members are left-handed while only 7% to 15% of the general population is. Mensa requires a score in the 98% on certain IQ tests resulting in an approximate IQ of 140.
4) I can only assume the richest families in the world have mo problems.




3) The Dyatlov Pass incident is an eerie event that occurred on February 2, 1959 when nine highly experienced hikers died in the Ural mountains. The following investigation yielded more questions than answersIt was discovered the hikers had frantically cut through their tent racing into the night barefoot or partially clothed.


All were found with 
bizarre injuries, such as broken bones, a severely fractured skull, and one hiker was missing her tongue and eyes. The inquest could only determine the causes of death as the result of an "unknown compelling force".
2) The most popular Monopoly game piece by far is dapper Top Hat. Look the part, be the part. The back story on the remaining pieces is about as exciting as the
Iron.
1) At 20601 Bohemian Avenue, Monte Rio, California the all male, highly classified, and slightly homoecrotic Bohemian Club hosts an encampment each year. Attendees include the worlds most prominent heavy hitters from business executives to U.S. presidents. The club motto is "Weaving Spiders Come Not Here". So sorry Ralph, you have to stay home.


Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Presidents Day, Independence Day, Inauguration Day, et al

When I woke up this Memorial Day morning I thought about two things: why did my neighbors set their alarms damnit, its a holiday and my little brother.

He's an Intel Specialist for the Army and holds one the highest level of security clearance. Not a true top-tier secret squirrel, but enough so that what he does is simply referred to as "work" and this post required five drafts before it was approved for publication.

At 6 feet tall, 225 pounds, he has the type of presence you get from a heavily-narrated Morgan Freeman movie. Animals are oddly drawn to him. When he left for basic training, my parents dog lapsed into a three month long depression and gained 10 pounds.

Civic duty and service are the sort bureaucratic buzz words he'd never use to describe what he does. Silly and redundant compared to the experiences he's shared. The fellow solider who joined the Army after his entire family was killed during an uprising in Syria, to the 12 hour shift he took sitting with a solider suffering from PTSD to ensure he didn't comimit suicide, to the Drill Sergeant who jumped on top of a live grenade that was mis-thrown during a training exercise (the grenade, 1 of about 100 used that day, was a dud).

It culminates into a combination of worry and respect. I worry that some right-wing fruitcake, like that moronic harpy Trump, will finagle his way into office and his inane ramblings will keep the U.S. locked in combat for years to come.

But I respect what my brother, and all the servicemen and women, absent motive or political agenda, are willing to give.

Graves at Arlington on Memorial Day.JPG

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Sharks and Sheep

Ever since college where we learned fundamental life skills like living away from home, choosing a non-Liberal Arts major, and how to shotgun a beer, I'd resigned myself to the notion that the English major's lot in life was to see the nuance and beauty in an otherwise mechanical, left-brained world, and not perhaps drive economic trends, truly understand what a hedge fund is, or say things like: "Divide my assets between my 401k and my Roth IRA," or "We don't need to find a different ATM. My balance is high enough to cover the foreign ATM fee."

And I was okay with that. Truly fine with the notion that what I lacked in capital, I made up for in my ability to shotgun a beer. Certain that society needed both sharks and sheep. Career-driven capitalist every bit as much as hippy humanitarians. The "Type-A" predators with their smart, aggressive life and career decisions, and those of us content to bumble through job and relationship choices with all the calculating ruthlessness of a nurse shark



But then the universe, who'd always been up for shotgunning a beer with me, handed this sheep a series of personal, professional, and medical misfortune.   

Anyone who's experienced any type of adversity wants to feel there's a deeper meaning behind it all. Like a Super Mario Brothers game where of course it's hard to get through the Mushroom Kingdom but you can take pride in your collection of coins, Fire Flowers, and ultimately saving Princess Toadstool.    

But sometimes it seems like the empathy, altruism, and social awareness I've accumulated from my hardships have the real world worth of Fire Flowers. And, at times, that can be difficult to reconcile. Like a t-shirt that reads, "I've Been To Hell And All I Got Was This Stupid T-Shirt".

But unlike sharks, that's when sheep [who are very deep thinkers, no citation] remember that there's significance in both our failures and our triumphs. How are we certain? There has to be.  

“If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning" ~C.S. Lewis
    

Friday, May 13, 2016

Everything I Know Is Ridiculous - Friday the 13th Edition

5) Alfred Hitchcock, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, and Nate Silver are among the celebrities born on a Friday the 13th
4) The origin of triskaidekaphobia or fear of Friday the 13th is actually unknown. But some research suggests that because the number 12 is considered a perfect number or number of completeness, number 13 simply seems super lame by comparison. 
3) Tupac Shakur died on Friday, September 13, 1996.
2) There are some seriously spooky events that have occurred on a Friday the 13th. 
1)
 Image result for friday the 13gth funny

Monday, May 9, 2016

Everything I Know Is Ridiculous - Part I


5) There's a Wikipedia page containing a fairly comprehensive list of practical jokes, pranks, gags, and shenanigans. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to pick up some verbal agreement forms for work. 
4) There is an alarming amount of information availble for becoming a successful RPS (Rock, Paper, Scissors) player.
3) UFO enthusiast argue that proof of Ancient Aliens is clear from the many portrayals of flying crafts and discs in prehistoric paintings. It may seem difficult to make a factual claim of extraterrestrial existence based on its portrayal in heavily religious works, but elephants were discovered because they appeared in all those pictures of unicorns.
"You know, sometimes it feels like I don't actually exist."  
2) An eidetic or photographic memory is a vivid visual recollection with limited exposure. Neither have been scientifically proven, attributed instead to use of mnemonic devices, even obsessive compulsive disorder, however many notable people, including Nikola Tesla, have claimed to possess an eidetic memory.  
1) Now go home and get your fucking shinebox.




Saturday, April 9, 2016

Blue Unicorns

It took awhile for my parents to come to terms with to my diagnosis of bipolar disorder. For reasons we may never understand, my mother had a markedly easier time accepting the diagnosis than my father. 

But the other day, my dad told me he thinks he's finally understanding it. "I mean," he explained, "if you see blue unicorns running up and down Connecticut Avenue, who cares? Maybe I see red unicorns. The point is, we all have our unicorns."

"Well Dad, mine are actually pink."

"Well, I think they're actually white, aren't they?"

"Well, they actually don't exist so I guess there's no reason to argue about the color, but I see your point, and it actually means a lot."

"Just remember Peanut, we all have our unicorns."

Any situation that can prompt my  father, with his PhD in atomic physics to discuss blue unicorns with me simply because he's trying to better understand what I'm experiencing, makes me feel like if we look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling we'll find that unicorns actually are all around.




Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Great and Powerful Oz

How do you explain anxiety to someone who has never experienced it? Anxiety lives in a bar at last call. And while he's always had a few too many, he's full of advice

"Aren't you a little old for the bar scene? That's what Carol said at least."

"Everyone here is more successful than you. We were all talking about it."

"Listen, I'm just going to say it that boyfriend of yours, he's cheating on you."

"You can drive home. Taking a cab means you're a pussy."

"That guy seems alright, just go home with him. Your friends think it's weird you're not already married yet."

Both anxiety and drunks are belligerent loudmouths who rely on a reality that's entirely fictional. Since both are immune to logic and reason, combating anxiety is a process that some struggle with their entire lives.


And while we'd never allow a drunk to drive our children to school, manage our stock investments, or even choose a paint color for us, it takes years of therapy and self-reflection to realize that a drunk's and anxiety's perceptions are equally distorted. They both owe their sloppy success to a combination of illusion, confusion, and control.

Anxiety treatment programs have begun to shift their f
ocus fr
om attempting to eliminate every possible anxiety trigger tand instead concentrate on an internal shift one's locus of control. Building a foundation of empowerment, self-esteem, and positive thinking can be accomplished through journaling, healthy habits, or civil service.

This makes it easier to understand Dorthy's epiphany at the end of The Wizard of Oz. After experiencing an esteem enhancing journey (which did involve killing someone, but we'll put a pin in that) she was able to see that The Great and Powerful Oz was not this all powerful omnipotent being, but rather a shadowy shut-in with a Mutchkin fetish, possessing all the wizardry skills of a rent-by-the-hour birthday party magician.



Friday, March 18, 2016

Multiple Sclerosis and Me: 5 Things I've learned about MS - Part III

5) MS Clusters are the perceived high number of MS cases in a specific time period or area. Clusters could provide clues to environmental or genetic triggers of the disease, however, to date cluster studies have not produced clear evidence for causative or triggering factors.
4) This year's World MS Day is May 25, 2016. The theme will be "Independance."  

3) A lumbar puncture, also called a spinal tap, is used to diagnose all types of MS. Although the procedure sounds alarming, it's completely painless, which makes my screaming entirely unnecessary. But it felt good to do. 
2) I tell ya MS is getting on my last nerve. 



1) Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is not affiliated with MS-13. So don't bother asking your doctor about it.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Multiple Sclerosis and Me: 5 Things I've learned about MS - Part II

5) The diagnosis process is like being on an episode of House



4) When my MS diagnosis emerged on the coattails of my bipolar dianosis, doctors used humor (e.g. "Well someone drew the genetics short straw!") to help me understand this new condition. 
3) Famous people with MS include: Jamie-Lynn Sigler and Jack Osbourne. Couldn't we have gotten someone on the A-List?
2) MS loves the ladies, affecting more women than men by a whopping 2:1 ratio.  However, disease severity is worse in men.
1) MS affects coordination and balance which can result in stumbling or falling. But the doctor says it's okay as long as my falling is hilarious.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Multiple Sclerosis and Me: 5 Things I've learned about MS

My family contains some of DCs finest armchair physicians. Until recently, bipolar was simply a condition I had made up to embarrass my family and make the neighbors uncomfortable. 

5) It turns out, there's a strong correlation between bipolar and Multiple Sclerosis. These two unexpected BFFs follow similar patterns of flare-ups and remissions, each magnifying the symptoms of the other culminating into what's medically known as "an arrest".
4) Multiple Sclerosis symptoms include pain, headache, dizziness, tremors, and bowel problems.



3) Multiple Sclerosis offers a sampling of four meet-your-maker options; which is very generous considering my bookie only gave me two. 
  • Relapsing-Remitting – clearly defined attacks lasting from days to weeks, with full recovery or with some remaining neurological symptoms and deficits upon recovery. Periods between relapses are stable and absent of disease progression. This is by far the most common form of the disease.
  • Secondary-Progressive – begins initially with a relapsing-remitting course that becomes consistently progressive and includes occasional relapses and minor remission. Deficits are accumulated without recovery between attacks.
  • Primary-Progressive – progression of level of disability from the onset without any distinct relapses of remissions. Temporary, minor improvements may be experienced.
  • Progressive-Relapsing – clear progression in disability level from the onset, but also clear acute relapses that may or may not include memory.
2) Can't stand the suspense of just how and when you'll join sweet oblivionBy exercising your Right to Die, an option most people select after working with an attorney. I trust that, when the time comes, my POA will lead me onto Brahmaloka, the fourth level of Tibetiam Heaven, without incident.
1) Medical Science has skyrocketed over the past two decades with many advances in the treatment and maintenance of MS. Even if all else fails, God Willing, I'll still be able to go out with a pair of giant knockers.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving and Me: 5 Things I've Learned Before November 26th

1) Snoopy has appeared as a giant balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade more times than any other character in history, a whopping 38 times. Bet you feel guilty about how often you walk your dog.



2) An attra
ctive charismatic turkey named named Tom One received this year's Presidential Turkey Pardon. The charges from which Tom One was pardoned aren't shared with the general public, but I suspect they involve to the large quantities of snood he was caught distributing. Luckily he was a non-violent offender.



3) 
Since 1934, the Detroit Lions have "played" a game every Thanksgiving.


4) What does your favorite Thanksgiving food say about you?
5) This is Ralph the Thanksgiving Turkey. He was delicious.





Monday, November 16, 2015

From Paris With Love

I went to the emergency room this Saturday night. The doctor diagnosed me with the worst case of buzz kill he'd ever seen.



Exactly one and a half drinks into the night, and six weeks before the Paris Marathon three friends and I had been training for, I felt an overwhelming need to introduce my face to the floor of a local hookah establishment. It was a potential Code WGW (White Girl Wasted) and within minutes an ambulance arrived.

Many of you have probably heard assorted tales of interactions between athletes and medical personnel. When I'd imaged these stories they were always lighthearted in nature....

EMT: "I can't get a pulse over here!"
Patient: "Gotcha! I'm a distance runner, you see. My naturally low pulse rate is hilariously confusing."
EMT: "You rascal!"
Patient: "Now put that gurney away, drinks 
are on me!"

The reality of it wasn't nearly so charming. T
urns out, unless you're about to step onto an Olympic podium, doctors are hesitant to believe that it's exercise and not, say, opium causing your reduced pulse rate. And oh by the way all their machines are pre-set to beep if it drops below 50 so don't expect to get any sleep during your seven-hour wait.  

So me and my little brother 
 who deserves a very special shout-out here, for not only soldiering through a seven-hour ER wait, and being the first to call 911 following my face plant in the bar, but for also finding a way to put the other patrons at ease as I was hoisted onto a gurney in the middle of their shrimp tempura roll by joking, "She always finds a way to get out of paying the tab, am I right folks? This guy knows."  passed the time by Googling the potential diseases I could be dying from.

When I was fina
lly discharged it was at 4:30am, against medical advice, and with the discovery of an inverted T-wave on my EKG. What actually happened is still kinda a question mark.

But don't feel too bad for me, it just meant that my trip to Paris included a lot more cheese and wine and a lot less running 26.2 miles, which is, apparently, how most normal people travel overseas. It was the most beautiful, humbling, amazing trip I've ever taken. It's how I'll always remember Paris, except for the parts when we had too much wine.

"This is the way of peace: Overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love." ~Peace Pilgrim




Sunday, October 4, 2015

Boring Work Days and Me: 5 Things I've Learned Before 5:00pm - #WorldAnimalDay

1) More than a third of Major League baseball pitchers are left-handers, about three times the average among the general population. But why? Science How Stuff Works rules out witchcraft so I've exhausted my theories. Instead it's explained with a lot of scientific and technical mumbo jumbo with frankly still sound a lot like witchcraft to me.
2) Gaslighting is a form of mental abuse in which false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own me
mory, perception, and sanity.
3) The duck-billed platypus a semi aquatic egg-laying mammal indigenous to eastern Australia, including Tasmania. It is the only egg-laying mammal known to man and some of its more cuddly features include venous foot spurs and double cone eyes which it uses to see into your soul. But this terrifying creature can do more than simply be a crime against nature: "We have a case for you detective!" 




4) The rock band AC/DC's name is a tribute to the rivalry between Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison

5) James Jesus Angleton, the left handed counterintelligence chief at the CIA from 1954 to 1975, suffered from crippling paranoia. 



But he like, these other unheeded paranoiacs, turned out to be right in the end. Read more and you'll see, you'll all see.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Southpaw

Approximately 13% of the world's population are southpaws. We don't talk about in front of strangers but my own father leans to the left. We'll never know the true percent of lefties because many were forced to change handedness during childhood by teachers, parents, or the Aryan Society for Right Handed World Domination (you didn't hear it from me).
bart-at-blackboard.jpg
    
While historically, we enjoy shunning and/or ridiculing minorities, according to Chris McManus this tiny percentage has produced an above-average quota of high achievers. The magnitude of famous lefties is truly outstanding considering there's no explanation for why people are left handed.


 
But if you've ever suspected you're an underground leftie or just need more research in order to infiltrate this fascinating group, visit The Left Handers Club  


Monday, July 27, 2015

If The Shoe Fits

Walt Disney is renowned for many things. His kingdom of animated wonders, a legacy of creative genius, the way he'd put on the Mickey Mouse suit and insist on being called “The Commodore”... But one thing he can never take credit for is a realistic representation of his Disney Princesses.

And despite recent efforts to portray more modern and diverse heroines, the Disney Princess line-up still largely resembles Thursday night at a Tallahassee strip club.



If you were a Disney princess which one would you be?

Criticism that Disney heroines represent an exaggerated and unrealistic physical standard of beauty is well deserved considering these films are designed for an audience of 5 to 10 year olds. Who exactly are the pouting lips, doe eyes, and heaving bosoms designed to appeal to?



I like to think I'll raise my children in the sort of open-minded, accepting household where we appreciated all bodies like pow, animated and otherwise. But it does it over simplify women's role in society and representation throughout history to believe that heavier, plainer Disney Princesses are some magic bullet that liberates us from years of patriarchal oppression?

It's a difficult issue to address when you're up against an intimidating group of Disney Princesses all in hot pursuit of their Happily Ever After (all all who strangely resemble the Mean Girls from my High School).



I'm genuinely glad to see Disney's outdated stereotypes modernized, but I'd hate to see one set of restrictive standards replaced by another. I don't think our ultimate end game is necessary some elaborately constructed Disney role model giving their stamp of approval on wearing glasses, liking books, or playing sports. Instead we should foster a society in which young women can be their own role models.   

Cinderella herself said it best: