Thought Crumbs

Posted on July 12, 2010

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Crumbs Of Thought

Letting you all in on a little not-so-secret. I started a blog recently, thought crumbs, that I’ve been keen on keeping on the D.L. until I got into the groove of writing it. I update every day, usually containing stream-of-consciousness spur-of-the-moment rants, brief notes on my personal life, as well as little blurbs and blips that I for whatever reason deem unsuitable for the main site. If you find yourself being one of my devoted (and surely daft) readers and can’t get enough… well, at the very least, there’ll always be a crumb of thought to check out at the end of each day.
Some highlights so far to give you an idea of the content on thought crumbs. Enjoy:

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Irony, Vindication, & Apathy



Receiving a text between the hours of one and seven AM is rarely a good thing. Don’t forget that as I did upon opening a text sent at 3:19 AM wherein some girl I know, some dumb girl whom I’d had enough of despite a prolonged history and whom I just wanted to leave me alone and whom a week prior I’d called “irritable and presumptuous” regarding her demands for comeuppance, apparently decided the best way to dispel the above claim was to probably-drunkenly call me a dick, insinuate that I’ll never finish college, and state her astonishment that I could ever call her such things.

Wonder why.

Her head so entrenched in her ass, I can’t find it in me to fault her for lacking the acuity needed to catch the basic irony in her text. I can’t fault, but I can definitely still deem stupid. Before I can do that though, that personal arch-nemesis within myself, one of them anyway, that one that calls itself my conscience steps forward and tells me to step back and observe the situation closer before acting. Good move, it turns out.

What goes through the vindictive minds of the Millennial collective when shit like this goes down? Variant Party A offends Party B who to maintain their ego, self-image, and the public persona projected on variable Party C (of which A is merely one variant) respond to the offense with what they perceive to be a retort on par as far as force of insult goes. Every once and awhile, their tirade presents a laughable walking contradiction that can easily be thrown back at them and increase the staying power of Party A’s insult. Bear in mind that this is unrelated to the justification, content, validity, or necessity of the insult itself. Armed with weaponized opportunity, it’s here that I can turn the tables and strike with an all-encompassing IN-YOUR-FACE moment, swear it in the bitch’s face, and bury her with words.

Once again, characteristic in my games of chicken, there’s hesitation. This time the internal tormentor at work behind scenes is a common neck-breather in my life and work. A deep-seated, at times unwarranted, suspicion and mistrust. That again. We meet again, old friend; old fiend, foe. One of my favorite alliterations when the subject is brought up is that of the “Perks Of Paranoia,” those being the moments in my life where, though bound to it by habit, cognition, and mindset, I am actually better off being paranoid than not. Thank heavens for people being made out of shit, otherwise paranoia would be Complete & Total Hell rather than just Hell’s waiting room. Paranoia hisses in my ear the idea that maybe the irony isn’t beyond her. Have I underestimated her? Does she know me well enough to have the forethought to take advantage of my quickness in highlighting the flaws Others’ thinking? Is she just waiting for me to point out the obvious irony only to use it against me and call me a hypocrite, indicting the very retribution that I had at berated her for? The hypothetical of her potentially cyclical/fallacious thinking aside, were this the case it would mean responding to the text message would be walking into a trap.

What, then, to do? My concentrating the dilemma into a succession of hypotheticals allowed me to see the situation from the P.O.V. that, objectively, Parties A, B, and C could be anyone, and inserting myself into the shoes of C rather than A, I can see how woefully insipid, trite, and meaningless the debate is, how the back-and-forth squabbling over a vague and informal medium only serves to devalue the time of all involved parties and to continue unwanted antagonism, with the A’s and B’s of the world so strong in their resolve to be Right that proving their convictions to themselves and to others is not only a goal, but a compulsion, dependence, need. Those of us who have born witness to the new order of communications can tell you all about how the spurt of digital consumption of emerging (mis)information ordered and condensed to fit ones needs makes us all an eon of know-it-all cynics in the grip of a culture where your self-worth is based on continuously balancing its reaffirmation of itself with its refutation of the self-worth of Others. This is accomplished usually through bickering, blame, and denial.

Still, this is a person I’ve known for three years now, and will my lack of response to this offense be perceived as weak, as stupid, as submissive? It’s reasonable to conclude by her own untimely response by that it was meant to provoke me or perhaps manipulate, but what measure is the most appropriate for dealing with it, assuming I want to come on top? That need to be king of the hill might be whats holding me, all of us, back. What in the world will be better by extending this spat any further, even if I do manage to prove myself the incontestable victor? Nothing. Both of us will have still lost a companion, she’ll still be a stupid bitch, and I’m still wasting my early evening ranting about a petty MTV-soap-opera disagreement and its connections to general disillusionment with the age we’re in. Suddenly, I understand that it’s all whatever and it’s like it never really mattered. The shit isn’t worth it for someone I made quite clear wasn’t worth it. For all of my generation’s purported features, our cynicism, sarcasm, love of irony and vindication, in the face of this decision it’s the parameter of apathy that allows me to drop the thought from my mind, maybe because it’s the quickest, least-painful solution or maybe to be a better or at least more mature person. Cynic-minded Net Gen eyes will scan this story and say maybe it’s because silence substituting an expected backlash is the best revenge. Maybe. W/E.

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Follow-up

Follow-up appointments with psychiatrists are how they get you. They’re how they keep tabs on you and how they keep taking your money. The appointment-after-appointment is, in the clinical sense, the doctor’s way of continuing outpatient treatment such that developments in patients’ lives relevant to the psychiatric process can be addressed and discussed in a one-on-one environment. In the cynical sense, it’s the doctor’s way of making sure whatever he or she put you three weeks ago hasn’t left you in absolute ruin so as to avoid a malpractice case. Bias notwithstanding, the follow-up appointment can at least be disposed to being a matter of time consumption.

Time wasn’t on my side today. I was fifteen minutes late to my two-o-clock with Dr. S. When I got there, their little, tan, stucco building with a mahogany lobby door so decorative I almost knocked the first time I went there just to make sure I was in the right place, I was greeted by the usual your-face-here female receptionist. I told her I was late but that I had an appointment, and she told me, politely as usual, that the doctor would see me shortly. At every scheduled appointment with Doc S I’ve been greeted by a different receptionist—always white, early-to-mid twenties, and soft-spoken, and I wonder if this is a preference held by the employers of this practice or an assumption as to the preferences of the patients. However you look at it, someone somewhere decided that this was a “pink-collar” necessity. Eye candy for disturbed eyes.

The smile he greeted me with is the same smile he greets everyone with. Dr. S’s office is kept chilly. It has blue carpet and blue walls, and maybe the point of that is to distract from other elements of his office because it’s all I ever remember, maybe because I’m always too focused on whatever speech I’ve prepared for his rote interrogation this time. He began.

“So… how are things?”

I told him things were good, better anyway, more so than usual, definitely a step-up from the last time we met. Or so it feels. I told him also about how I didn’t feel comfortable filling his recommended prescription for Lamictal because I didn’t ask him enough about his motivation, or rather intentions, or rather reasoning behind having prescribed to me a mood stabilizer, given how I find my mood to be unipolar enough as is. I told him I have been taking the Adderall, though in smaller quantities than prescribed, and that in general it has helped to improve my focus. I told him most of my time has just been spent, you know, adjusting to the new medication. I didn’t tell him I was high at the time he asked me this.

He responded with Something To The Effect Of: “Well, as for the Lamictal, I just see it as being sort of… the next step in things. I mean, it’s a completely new class of medication to you; you’ve tried all the alternatives: Prozac, Lexapro, Abilify, Risperdal, Geodon… this might be what you need.”

And I responded that I was scared about contraindications (a word I likely mumbled and mispronounced) with the medications in conjunction, and again that perhaps a mood stabilizer would not be ideal given my state of mind. And I restated my desire to be on as few medications as possible, if possible…

“Well, this is partly why I dislike the terminology of these drugs as misleading… classifying them as ‘mood stabilizers’ or ‘antidepressants’ masks what the chemical pathways instigated by the medication essentially do, and how they act has varying effects depending on the user and the presence of other medication… I wouldn’t worry, if I were you.”

Apparently the doctor thinks I have bigger problems than I think I do, and that the least of my worries is the least of my worries, or something to that extent. Unlike past psychiatrists I’ve seen, Dr. S has shown little inclination to diagnose me and that is largely the condition that keeps me returning. I frequently wonder if he knows this and, if he does, would that not nullify his “undiagnosis” a deliberate fraud? What bothers me with him is the same irk I have with all in the profession. That is to say the lack of transparency in sharing their notes with the patient who is the subject of each case—in the medical hierarchy, the patient is last in line to know what’s wrong with them, or rather what the doctor thinks is wrong with them, or rather what the doctor and his second and third opinions of the people underneath him think is wrong with them. The minds of everyone and anyone who has spent fifty minutes with a psychiatrist possess one consistent common thought: “What is he writing on that damn clipboard, and why can’t I see it?” Usually the answer yields unremarkable side-comments and (at worst) meaningless doodles, but with their fate unknown to them, patients’ concession of power over that fate to the psychiatrist is itself deranging. Were they not a head-case going in, going out they would be a crazy indeed. If consideration given to the thoughts/input/desires of the patient in the patient-doctor relationship is equal, then what does the doctor lose by sharing extra insight? Leverage, if only to remain one step ahead of the patient hence in authority and control over their outcome, which is why no such relationship could ever be a harmonious one. One could argue that it’s part of their job, and that is what accounts for the unfair distribution of what you could call “bargaining power.” By committing to see and consult a psychiatrist, you submit to them a great percentage of your personality, a great percentage often determined to be a concrete affliction, disorder, or syndrome where your characteristic traits and quirks become symptoms of your disease. Your dynamism and your disease become one; you a walking pestilence. Psychiatric professionals laud the quelling of stigmatization of their patients while the thought that designating a person’s conscious behavioral patterns (which can be altered by choice, however difficult) as a “disease” may cause that stigma in the first place ricochets right off them. It’s a rarity to find someone who, like Dr. S, claims to account for the diversity in human behavior while acknowledging the need for reconciliation of personal problems through medicinal and cognitive therapies—even rarer to find one who will tell it to you straight.

I think at this point in our game of conversational pong, I started to slip, maybe show a little weakness, my uncertainty bleeding through. I told him I was scared that it might change my personality, my essence, who I am. But like the Tao and all things pumping inside it, Dr. S told me that there is no essence, that who were are can’t be pinned to any singularity, our thoughts and actions forever in a shape-shifting figure-eight. He told me that with the shake of his head.

He told me “I wouldn’t worry about it, really.


So, any other questions?”

Not really.

“What else is new?”

I told him the majority of my time, little of which can be spared for anything else, was spent working, writing, art, and getting used to the medications. Told him about my sleep patterns messing up but then coming full circle which was a lie but I told him that anyway to avoid getting prescribed anything else. Told him I’d been exercising more (half-true; the less-honest half) and eating a more balanced diet (also half-true, though which half is true varies depending on what day you catch me on) and feeling better physically (etc…). Then he asked me about my goals. I had to think on point. I told him about the body of work (poetry, stories, essays) I’ve been transcribing, editing, and revising that may or may not come to completion anytime soon. Told him I wasn’t going to rush it. Also told him an immediate goal; signing up for financial aid. Will do it, soon. Really. And also, told him about Samantha and me, how we’re doing better, how my sex drive pretty much returned to normal (normal for me being aberrant, random) and that he needn’t worry. Other than that, I told him, that was about it.

“Anything else?”

Oh, the opera house is holding auditions for a production of Oklahoma! later this month. Might have to check that out. I squinted hard in thought, I told him that and that that was all I could think to say at that very moment, though I’d let him know how things turned out. Niceties and a new script exchanged, I was only in his office for ten, fifteen minutes before I was out. Deep sighs as usual, just glad that I got out without saying something to get myself institutionalized again. In matters such as these, coming out on top is no laughing matter.

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Accommodations

Pulled another all-nighter. It’s been this way a lot. Up at all hours, out on Adderall. In a zone, down off sleep deprivation. The Time for the Crime? An imminent eight hours in front of a computer pretending to process T.P.S. reports. That’s what I had to look forward to this morning. Me lugging my half-awake ass into work, acting my part as a well-mannered mannequin in accord with expectations. That’s what happens. I check in, log on, set up, get up and go to the restroom to take a leak. While washing my hands, I get a glimpse of my likeness. I’ve got these bulbous, gray eye-bags that make me resemble a heroin-addicted raccoon. Saying I feel “fatigued” understates the role played by occupational indifference and motivation shortages. Figure in everything at once and it’s crippling.

Equally impairing, my carpal tunnel decided to say hi today. Hurts like a bitch. Today’s other complaints stem from not having any gum to repel teeth-grinding as well as from the supplied first-aid kit’s lack of any kind of IcyHot, not even the generic knock-offs. That caps off my nuisances for this Wednesday.

Decided I’d have a little fun today trolling my co-workers.

Though few suggestions in Working for the Man, one of the bargain books I grabbed the other night, struck a chord with me, I was still influenced by it enough to want to stir up some mischief. After all, there are but two workdays left until the fiscal year ends and starting Friday budget cuts plus setbacks equals my hours knocked back to part-time. Win some, lose some. Lose investment capital, win time/dignity/sense-of-self-worth; trade-off would be fairer if time, dignity, and self-esteem weren’t so costly to maintain. C’est la vie.

The longer you work in an office, the more dirt you’ll dig up on those trapped alongside you. You learn the habits people have and don’t like to talk about. About that bottle they’ve got tucked safely in a desk drawer, those controlled medications that they seem to keep losing their prescription for, that lung candy they they can’t last fifteen minutes without. If not, at the very least you’ve got that guy who twitches and shivers if he doesn’t get his coffee fix. Every office has its share of addicts and every group has their own custom-fit drug, whether it’s a mind-fucking substance, destructive and/or repetitive urge, or vicious circle concealed as a coping mechanism.

Side-Note On The Order Of Things: Taboos against addiction, particularly drug-related, only exist when the object of addiction is vilified by the culture that creates it. Virtually anything can foster addictive behavioral patterns, but we penalize dependence only when it’s outside the boundaries of the Uncle-Sam-sanctioned, kid-tested/mother-approved determination of what makes things acceptable. It never has much to do with public health impact, despite what they’d have you think. Convinced that’s the case? Observe and wonder why there are never any caffeine or sugar busts, confiscation of fast food, porn warehouse raids, underground plastic surgery stings, or interventions for habitual Internet users. The whole freakin’ world is addicted in some way or another. Scapegoating one vice minimizes the stigma of another, and the scared elite in power have been exploiting this for decades.

It’s a transparent trend too. No way the supervising caste could miss the deluge of pill-popping, alcoholic, McDouble-loving underlings they keep in line—they just know drug-testing is a moot point since they’d end up firing half their staff. That what I’d guess, contrived as the notion may be. Can’t hold it against me. At the end of the day, everyone I know crawls back to their chosen guilty pleasure.

My plot? Take advantage of my co-workers’ individual crutches and use them to crush today’s Bitch List. Phase one is me doing something about the carpal tunnel. First, I hit up the cubicles most likely possessing painkillers. Two attempts is all it takes before Todd is spilling acetaminophen capsules in my hand. I ask Todd about the IcyHot but he doesn’t know where to look. I check with all the hypochondriacs in my section but no dice, so I give up. I ask Michelle if she has any gum even though I don’t think she does. She does, and is in her words “totally addicted to gum.” Called it. Totally did. My jaw appreciates the buffer, merci. Next stop, Phase Three: purge myself of lethargy. All I have to do here is approach my friend Bee before she goes to collect her breakfast of toast and Red Bull and get her to fetch me one too. She does. Turns out what I needed today was stimulant pills, an energy drink, and enough painkillers to put down a mule. Victory. Breakfast of Champions before Brunch of Chumps.

Today’s Lesson: One man’s addictions can become an others accommodations. Don’t forget.

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