Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Book o' the Decade and Friday Frights

Playing in the background: The soft gurgle of the kitty fountain

As far as finding work goes, this week sux. I haven't heard nada from anybody except for the ever popular, "We haven't heard back from them yet," which is probably true but that doesn't make me any more fond of hearing it. If nobody hears from anybody, and if they then don't tell me they've heard from anybody because they haven't heard from anybody, does that mean I've heard everything or nothing? No, don't ask me to repeat that. I'm not sure I can.

While that was (not) going on, though, I read the book Madness by Marya Hornbacher. I'm already a big fan of Ms. Hornbacher's by virtue of Wasted, an almost-impossible-to-put-down true story of anorexia, bulimia, and the completely unglamorous things that they do to ordinary people and the people who love them. Marya's family is spookily similar to mine, and all the way through it I kept saying, "Hey, that's my dad! That's my mom! That's my grandfather! That's exactly the way they act!" What's even more spooky is that by growing up under this same basic formula, I became a compulsive overater. Now, that's by no means a good thing--survivable for a longer period of time, maybe, depending on the person--but it's obvious, at least to me, that I could have very easily become anorexic or bulimic instead. The coin just flipped the other way, that's all. Certainly I have a lot of the same weird eating behaviors Marya did. I eat peanut butter sandwiches in a certain way, and M&Ms have to be eaten according to color and in a certain order, for example. And who's to say anorexia, bulimia and compulsive overeating aren't all just symptoms of the same disease, rather than diseases themselves? Hmm.

Anyway, enter Madness, which picks up where Wasted left off. Ms. Hornbacher doesn't just have an eating disorder, she's also bipolar, and she's not just bipolar, she also has the most severe type. The eating disorder covered up the bipolar disorder for a while. Once it was "cured" (read, in remission) the bipolar disorder became screamingly obvious. Here's the paragraph that so cracked me up, partly because it really is funny but also because it sounds a lot like the way my brain works sometimes:

"For example, I have this dentist, right? And he works downtown. But every time I have to go, I have a total meltdown and usually cancel. I've canceled my last four appointments. And then there was that day where I had a bunch of errands to run, and I got scared, so on the way there, I called to cancel, because the meds were making me fall asleep, because I was giving up and going home. But then I felt I called the dentist to tell (him) I was coming after all. Then I went to get a manicure, but I fell asleep while she was painting my nails, so I called...the dentist to cancel again. But then by the time I went out to my car, I was feeling more awake, so I called...the fucking dentist to tell (him) I was definitely coming. But then on the way to the dentist I got scared of downtown and the parking garage, so I had to turn around and go home because by then I was totally insane. Because I'm a complete idiot and I freak out over nothing. I don't like downtown. I don't like parking garages. I can't deal with a fucking parking garage." (Page 250) When her shrink, to whom she's telling this story, suggests she just find another dentist that doesn't use a parking garage, "I stare at her, astonished. 'That's what a normal person would do,' she says calmly...'But there's no reason!' I shout. 'I should be able to deal with downtown and a stupid parking garage!' 'Why should you?' (asks the shrink.) I sit back in my chair, stunned..."

Anyway, check it out. It's amazing. And confidential to Ms. Hornbacher: You mentioned Buddhism. Can't possibly hurt. Buddha said once, "Don't trust your mind. It will lie to you." Uponst hearing this I was both horrified and relieved. Oh my God! You mean I don't have to believe myself when my brain tells me I'm stupid and ugly and a screwup? Oh my God! Wow! What a concept!!

Friday Frights: I saw a really bad horror movie this week, The Empty Acre. I was disappointed because the premise sounded so good. A young farm family has a field where nothing will grow. Animals who wander into it die. People who get too close to it mysteriously disappear. And it's getting bigger by the day...I know I've said this a million times, but here it is again: A CONCEPT IS NOT A STORY. A CONCEPT IS NOT A STORY. A CONCEPT IS NOT A STORY. (There. That always makes me feel better.) There was no story in this concept. Or if there was, it made no sense. Let me put it this way; when there's an alternative ending, and you watch it because the original ending makes no sense, and the alternative ending doesn't make any sense either, you are in trouble. The Empty Acre gets a MEH. That's one star of five. Avoid this one like, uh, an empty acre.

Okay, off to my open water swim lesson now. Cheers!

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