Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Handwriting on the Wall

Sundial in St. Augustine, Florida
"The hours pass by and
we must account for them."


"They (the hours) pass away
and (yet) are accounted for."


"The past vanishes but
is evident in our increasing age."


Garden Wall in Nassau, Bahamas
Gerry says: "I particularly like the razor wire punctum.
Kitti and I only frequent the toughest parts of town!"

Excellent Advice Bahamas Ministry of Health

Some Timely Graffiti in Medellin, Colombia

Larger Context

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Increasing Light

3 February Sunset, West Lafayette, Indiana

"What may not be expected in a country of eternal light?
. . .
Nothing contributes so much to tranquilize
the mind as a steady purpose --
a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye."

from Frankenstein
by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

11 February Sunset ~ Jacksonville, Florida

Monday, February 20, 2017

SSRIs & Walking Upright

Anonymous Cartoon

"Just as we know our walking to be
only a constantly prevented falling,
so is the life of our body only
a constantly prevented dying,
an ever - deferred death."

Arthur Schopenhauer
from The World as Will and Representation

quoted by David Shields in
The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead

Writing of some health issues (bad back, stuttering), Shields repeats his doctor's directive:
"I have to become my own authority and view my recovery as an existential journey. I reassure him that I do, I do. I see going to the drugstore to get toothpaste as an existential journey.

"And what existential journey hasn't been aided by chemistry? I've been in and out of speech therapy all my life, but nothing has mitigated my stuttering as effectively as taking 0.5mg of Alprazolam before giving a public reading. The ibuprofen, the muscle relaxants have certainly helped my back, but the antidepressant Paxil has been transformative. . .

"Paxil has apparently been used to treat chronic pain for more than a decade. For the past few years I've been taking one 10mg tablet of Paxil a day. I worry a little about becoming a grinning idiot, but I figure I already have the idiocy part down, and I'm so far over on the grouchy side of the continuum that a little grinning isn't going to kill me.

"Maybe it's all just the pure dumb rush of selective serotonin reuptake, but now, rather than endlessly rehearsing how my life might have been different, I tell myself how grateful I am for my life – with Laurie and Natalie and our relative health and happiness together. (Knock on lumbar.) I'm newly in love with Laurie – aware of her weaknesses and accepting of them, because I'm so blisteringly aware of my own.

"I like the humility and gravity and nakedness of this need, for – and this is apparently a lesson I can't re-learn too many times – we're just animals walking the earth for a brief time, a bare body housed in a mortal cage. . . .

"A while ago, I asked [the doctor] why I have a bad back. He explained that the ability to walk upright was a key evolutionary adaptation for mankind, but vertebrae that are aligned in the same direction as the force of gravity often become compressed, leading to pinched nerves and ruptured disks. Then he said, 'In your case, though: bad attitude.' He was joking, but I think I got it."
(9, 119 - 20, emphasis added)
What I definitely get is Shields' reference to the repeating mental tapes and the compulsive habit of re-writing history.

I was also reminded of an explanation that I came across a few years ago in Time or Newsweek at the dentist's office. I think I'm getting this right:
Talk / Cognitive Behavior Therapy
1. mutes logic (in the frontal cortex) -- e.g., turns off the repeating decimal "if only" tapes, otherwise known as "hey, let's rewrite the past" with focus on living in the present & turning off the tapes

2. raises emotion (in the limbic hippocampus) -- e.g., allows "ownership" of appropriate responses such as anger, disgust, etc., with focus on acknowledging suppressed feelings and feeling something instead of nothing

Medication (SSRI)
1. raises logic -- e.g., improves the "oh well" / "re - set" function

2. mutes emotion -- e.g., alleviates non-stop crying
It's still a struggle for me -- both understanding the concepts and applying them. But, just like Shields -- and Brian Andreas -- I'm going to keep trying.

Worrying about the SSRIs, I was reminded me of the mask in The Fantasticks. As El Gallo is taking Luisa out to see the world, The Mute hands her a mask to take along for the journey:
" . . . a paper mask of a blank face; a laughing - hollow mask; a stylish face that is frozen forever into unutterable joy. This mask is upon a little hand - stick -- so that when held in front of one's visage, it blocks out any little tell - tale traces of compassion or of horror. . . .

Luisa: That man -- look out; he's burning.
My God, he's on fire!"

El Gallo: Just put up your mask --
Then it's pretty.

Luisa: Oh yes, isn't he beautiful!
He's all sort of orange.
Red - orange.
That's one of my favorite colors! . . .
You look lovely! . . .

La, how gay. . .

That man -- they've hurt him!

El Gallo: Put up the mask.

Luisa: But he is wounded.

El Gallo: The Mask! The Mask!

Luisa: Oh, isn't that cute.
They're beating a man in a monkey suit.
It's a show. La, how jolly.
Don't stop; it's charming.
(105 - 08)

from The Fantasticks
Tom Jones & Harvey Schmidt
So, my concern was what if the Paxil (Celexa, Effexor, Lexapro, Wellbutrin) was like Luisa's mask, enabling you to put a good spin on a bad scene. Or could it be the opposite? As my friend Katy wisely pointed out, perhaps we also have a mask that makes everything seem worse than it really it is, and taking the SSRIs allows us to bring that mask away from our eyes and see things as they really are? Maybe that's it.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Breakup Playlist

Last summer my friend Charlotte asked a fun question
and encouraged everyone to join in with suggestions:

"What songs belong on the Ultimate Breakup Playlist?
Any genre. Angry is more fun, but weepy is acceptable."

Click to see all responses.

Here are mine:

Third Runner Up: Take A Bow ~ Madonna

Second Runner Up: Insensitive ~ Jann Arden

First Runner Up: Without You ~ My Fair Lady

My Winner: Love's Been A Little Bit Hard On Me ~ Juice Newton
"I'll see you around in a thousand years
Love's been a little bit hard on me . . ."

Good one from Gerry: Gordon is a Moron ~ Jilted John

Seasonal favorite from Robb: Hard Candy Christmas ~ Dolly Parton

One more golden oldie: If You Could Read My Mind ~ Gordon Lightfoot

But hopefully, with any luck . . .
you'll be makin' up, not breakin' up!
Gold candlesticks from the St. Francis De Sales
mega - rummage - sale ~ West Philly, 1993;
heart - shaped ornaments, a gift from my friend Celine,
around the same time.

Previous Playlists: Duets & Forever Young Again

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Grade School Valentines

Long live the grade school Valentines!

How did we learn about sending Valentines?

By giving one to every kid in our class, every year.

Kindergarten ~ Bruce & Kit
Eugene Field Elementary ~ Neosho, MO ~ Feb 1963

1st Grade ~ Bruce's Class
Eugene Field Elementary ~ Feb 1964

We grew up knowing that you could send Valentine's to any and everyone -- not just your "true love." So, of course, it's okay to receive a Valentine from your parents and vice versa. Penpals, cousins, neighbors, facebook folks, old friends, new friends, elders and youngster. Send away . . .

to your heart's content!

More Old Favorites

Valentine Are For Friends! & Double Double Valentine

Saturday, February 11, 2017

I Only Have Hearts For You

Thinking Ahead to Valentine's Day

As seen previously:
Feast of the Three Kings
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
The Days Were Long

As seen previously:
Take This Quiz!
Click here for funny conversation
with Professor Herman Wilson
about classroom note taking!

I was recently reminiscing with my nephew Jerrod about my one - day career as an existentialist cartoonist, when it suddenly occurred to me that I was selling myself short. In fact, my brilliant career had endured for not merely one, but three days! First of course was "Pandemonium ~ Paramecium ~ Paisly"; then "The Four Kings of Orientar," which I have posted and explicated a few times before; and lastly my "Hearts for You" Valentine. How could I have forgotten about it over the years?! Luckily, in sorting through yet another folder of buried treasures, there it was -- just in time for Valentine's Day!

Not to mention my short - lived
career as a scientific illustrator! ~ 1971

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Ironic Ramifications

"I'm happy . . .
yet I'm aware of the ironic ramifications
of my happiness."

Anne Taintor

Of course, you can also say the same thing
about being unhappy . . .
Storypeople ~ Brian Andreas

Another Old Favorite

[click on the picture to enlarge for easy reading]
~ finepix 2011 0203 ~

Monday, February 6, 2017

Aquarius: Sign & Season

Whether or not the Age of Aquarius has arrived,
the zodiacal month (January 20 to February 18) certainly has.
Some of my relatives were born under this sign,
but I'm not naming names:

Click to see more of these astrological funnies,
including my own sign ~ Gemini

And on my Fortnightly Blog:
Some mystical lyrics for the New Year:
"Aquarius: It's A Sign!"

Friday, February 3, 2017