Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fractal Action

I started a post entitled "Bipolar 101," and there were so many, many vibrant metaphors that became increasingly more apt and enlightening the more I considered them...
Be very glad I did not post that. It was a long post, a manifesto if you will. Downshifting continues.


To avoid getting lost in words, here is a photo summary.

Order, peace, efficiency.

Depressive Episode. Go the #$&% away.

Manic Episode>



Okay, now back to the entertainment portion of our broadcast.

Primary comment: Wheeeeerrreee's Lucy!? Find the beagle in this photo.

Secondary comment: How can three people generate that much laundry?

Friday, March 20, 2009


So, back after a bit of a sabbatical. I check out (of my life) once in a while, usually in conjunction with a change in one of my dosages. This month's sojourn has been an obsessive interest in 1st century BC near east politics and the finer points of the end of the Hasmonean dynasty in Israel, and the rise of the Herodians, pursuing the Messianic story in terms of the wars of succession. Imagine my delight when I discovered that the entire text of Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews (c. 90 AD) and Dio Cassius' Roman histories, all 88 books, or a least the extant fragments (c.220 AD) online!
So much fun! Who wouldn't want to spend 10 hours a day reading this stuff!

manic episode....
Its a sign that the meds do help, that I have not embarked on learning Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, Persian, Arabic, and Latin,
right. this. minute...
because who can do primary research on this otherwise, right? Even though Dad volunteered his Greek textbooks, when he heard how excited I was about this stuff.
I thought about it.
In some ways, the internet is a blessing, because it provides enough sublimation that someone in my state of mind doesn't buy plane tickets, hire an archeological crew and hop the next flight to Lebanon. On the other hand, it allows someone in my state of mind to have 24 hour access to things that perhaps would be better left unread by someone in my state of mind.
Tigrrrl is cranky because I haven't been paying her much attention, and The Him is cranky because I haven't been very diligent about her schoolwork for the past two weeks, and I'm not doing the dishes or cooking dinner very often, and I'm not paying him much attention either, and I'm getting cranky because they're cranky, and because I'm deeply resentful that they just don't get it, can they not stop interrupting me every three to six hours? That if I wanted to say, eat, or sleep, I would? Could someone else not cook dinner this...year?
So I'm taking a break.
Let me share a few happy moments that emerged amid the wreckage of history.

Effervescent moment#1:
Tigrrrrl turned 11 on Friday (the 13th. No lie). We held a party on Saturday for several friends. The theme: Fairies.

My neighbor Robin does beyoooootiful delicious cakes, so we collaborated and created this magnificent fairy-themed testament to the baking arts:

And guess what : I MADE THAT DRAGON!
(I bought the little fairy figures, however. There are limits.)

Effervescent moment #2:

I left poor benighted Hyrcanus in the hands of Herod and Antigonus, and betook myself to the grocery store, where I discovered that Spring is verily upon us. Heralded by my favorite explosion of seasonal color. No, not daffodils, nor azaleas -- though their blooming has always seemed to me akin to fireworks, explosions on an herbal time-scale. To be my favorite, the harbinger of spring must of course be edible.

The Peeps have hatched, encamped on grocery shelves soon to advance rank upon rank into our homes, our Easter baskets, and our mouths. There are more colors of Peeps every year. I love Peeps. The delicate crunch of the sugar coating, the sweet, yielding marshmallow goodness. But I love also the personality of Peeps, although it is an iconic, a collective personality. There are no individuals, only The Peep. The shape, the posture, the hint of facial features, combine to imply resigned humor, tinged with irony or perhaps vague irritation.
"Bring it," they seem to say. And they wink knowingly.

When I saw them I became happy. I ran over to the shelves where the legions were arrayed and said, "peeeeps!" in a very tiny, happy, high-pitched voice. And then I got embarrassed, and wondered if anyone was looking at me.

I gathered my ration and slunk away, wondering. That little exclamation had been compelling and irrepressible. I couldn't not say it. I wanted to say it some more: "peeps! peeeeeps! peeeeps!"

It was the Peep Imperative.

I was familiar with this compulsion in a different form. The Him and I have for quite a while been aware of the Moo Imperative, that compulsion to bellow "mooOOOOOOOoo" at every cow I see. (Usually when I'm in a mooooooving car. I can't see them from planes, for which my fellow passengers no doubt thank their blessed stars). The Meow Imperative? Well, more accurately the Urgent Meow. Not quite a compulsion. There is no Woof Imperative that I'm aware of, which is a good thing since I have so many dogs. Its possible that I woof a lot, but I'm likely to just view it as conversation, so its hard to tell.
No, that's disingenuous; I do woof quite a lot, and it is conversation.

I guess all these imperatives, manic or otherwise, are a little odd, but they seem harmless. Other than making me a bit furtive at the grocery store, they don't seem to impede my living, in fact they're pleasurable. Like greeting friends.

Back to Josephus and Cassius Dio.

Shut up. I've already started dinner, and the dryer is running.


Monday, March 2, 2009

Excuses, Excuses

Recently, less than three weeks ago because I am a Luddite at heart - fine, a Luddite who blogs, I get your point -- I jumped into the social internetworking pool and signed up with Facebook. It's one of those pastimes that can easily become addictive if one is very, very bad at creating structure for one's life and managing one's time effectively. Not naming any names.
Now that the initial high is passing, and the frenetic exploration of applications and miscellaneous side doodles (Dogbook, anyone?), I have time to reflect on some of the things I've ingested.

This isn't mine. It belongs to Wikipedia, or whoever.

One meme I particularly enjoyed was the 100 Books List -- don't Gooogle it right now, it'll keep. I have yet to find the original context of the list, ascribed to the BBC ("The BBC thinks you haven't read more than 6 of these..." ). The list is popularly interpreted as something like "The 100 Greatest Works of Literature, Which, if You Have Not Yet Read, You Must Begin to Do So Immediately Lest Your Brain Decompose and Dribble Out of Your Ear Like Oatmeal, You Colonial Imbeciles."

It seems pretty arbitrary to me, with The Five People You Meet in Heaven right in there with War and Peace and the Complete Works of Shakespeare. Some of them are new, and while pleasant and thought-provoking, will not qualify as Great Works for another century or so. I did note that all of the books have been made into movies (I think), or in the case of the newer titles, have movie versions in the works, so I'm guessing that the original context was something innocuous like "have you read these, or did you see the movie?"
Now, I certainly believe the BBC would shake its manicured finger at us for not doing our homework, but I hesitate to ascribe to the Beeb anything more sinister than the lecture we all received from our high school English teachers about how the movie is DIFFERENT THAN THE BOOK and there will be questions on the test that will tell me if you've ACTUALLY READ THE BOOK, and the same goes for CLIFFS NOTES ...
We know that our teachers hated us, but do you think that this is why? Because we reduced them to begging? They gave us finely wrought gems, immaculate pearls, and yes, oh yes, we were swine.

All of this aside, at first I was very pleased with this list, and with myself, and gloated just a teeny little bit because I had read many of the books on the list, and got to put many little x-es in the left hand column. MANY books. Did I say many?
No, I really shouldn't. Well, okay, more than 50. I wont say how many, but it was approximately 83.75%
On the surface of course I was -- well, not falsely modest, but casual, so as not to appear to be gloating.
Then I realized how shallow and needy I am, my little Gollum mind.
Now I'm realizing how pathetic it is to blog about this, an opportunity to casually mention how many MANY little x-es I marked, and then to be clever and amusingly self-deprecating, and then falsely earnest about how its not really important in the grand scheme of things, to foster the impression that I'm a good person who will do better in the future, which excuses the gloating.

Shut up.

The 100 Books meme got stirred into the Bucket List meme in my mind, and I began to resent both of them for the same reason: not my list, monkey-boy, as Lord John Whorfin would say.
The books on the List that I haven't read yet are probably going to remain unread, with the exception of The Kite Runner and maybe His Dark Materials. Some of the books I have read I didn't like, some I hated, many bored me to tears but I slogged through because I'd be tested on it or I just wanted to say I'd done it, some I love so much I've reread them dozens of times.
Hey, blog fodder! I'll make a Bucket Book List! Post it and compare with friends! Kicky!
Here's the part that disturbs me: when I sat down to attempt a Bucket Book List for myself, I couldn't think of any.
Over the course of a day I was able to come up with several possibles, but each one resulted in, "Not really." Simone de Beauvoir, The Faerie Queen (I did try it), Gravity's Rainbow, all meh.
Today I thought of Virginia Woolf, whom I've somehow bypassed, and she went on the list, but that's it so far.
I've lost my appetite for books.
This is an appalling discovery for a book person, akin to realizing that one has lost the sense of touch, or the desire for sex or chocolate.
"Are you feeling well?" I asked me anxiously, "I told you not to go out in that sleigh with Bezukhov."

Perhaps I am merely grown wise with the passage of years, I thought, I know what I like, I don't waste my time.

Waste? Reading is a waste of time?

"Do you think that you've read all the good books? You're not that well read," I said to me with a sneer. "Getting lazy?"

No, and yes. Not lazy, precisely, or not just lazy. I still read, but things like short stories, and my Dad's poetry, and blogs, and trashy novels that I can blow through in a couple of hours.
I can't blame it on my kid, she's ten. I was still reading when she was a toddler, why not now that she doesn't need my undivided attention?
I can't blame it on work, because I'm home, and though there's a lot of work to do, I often blow it off for worse reasons than reading a good book.
I could blame it on psych meds, but I'm better and more focused now than I ever have been, and the reading ennui predates the drugs.
These days even thinking about reading a whole book makes me feel tired. I'm impatient with fiction, and no longer have the attention span to comprehend plot. I do still read some history and biography, maybe because the plot is pretty narrowly defined.
Is that it? That's the best I can do? What's going on here?

Yes, I do blame the Russians.