Wednesday, April 16, 2008


I loved my psychiatrist in Germany.  He was a tall, thin man with a long, white coat and short white hair.  The kind of glasses you push to the tip of your nose.  
In Germany you had to go and see a psychiatrist if you wanted your health insurance to pay for therapy.  I had an American therapist (Jewish to boot), but I had to go to this German psychiatrist quarterly to have him ask me the kind of questions I thought were once reserved for eye doctors: Better, worse or the same?
But usually he wouldn't get to those until the end of our 20-some-odd minute appointment.  Once my German became proficient enough, we talked art.  We talked politics.  He was a fan of Woody Allen movies (should this surprise for a shrink?) and wanted to know if Woody's voice in English sounded like his dubbing actor's voice.  (It doesn't).
During one of our conversations, I told him that I had started to realize a pattern: when spring started to spring, I started to get anxious.  My two major depressions both started late-spring.  Just when the flowers popped and the leaves popped and everything got that intense color of green they only get in spring.  Was this normal, I asked?  I mean, what time of year, generally speaking, do most people go nuts?  Spring.  Apparently.
I've always considered myself a sensitive person.  Most things I've ever found a talent at doing in my life have been an exploitation in some way of this sensitivity.  I'm a soft-shell gal who has to sometimes walk around with very heavy coats to keep from sucking up my environment too directly, too liberally.
So there are things that I have learned not to do.  I never watch the local news, no matter where I am.  Never.  My friends have to call me and tell me when school is closed for a snow day because otherwise I will have no clue.  
I won't go to movies where there is violence or suspense because it gets me spinning.  Whenever someone mentions Harry Potter my husband has to mention that we were reading it aloud to each other for a time but had to stop in the middle of book 3 because I started having nightmares.
Obviously, though, there are some things in life you can't control, you can't select out.  And for me, the highly, so sensitively cat-gut strung that I am, I cannot stop the earth's rotation.  I hibernate like it's nobody's business and then springtime comes and, even with all the devices in the world, I go anxious.  My energy goes furious.  Everything goes spinning faster, as though the little cuckoo inside the clock must come out every fifteen minutes instead of the hour.  Every hour is fifteen minutes and are we crazy yet?
Perhaps this is the way we humans are supposed to be after a long winter.  There's shit to get done, you know?  Though, life and weather not always cooperating, without the survival push, it is almost an autoimmune disease.  Fifteen minutes until the next pecking.  Anyone hungry for a little bird?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Creepy, Crawly, Crawdaddy?

Via an article in the NYTimes today, I found this amazing illustrated book-- The ABCs of Invertibrates.  It was illustrated by a mathematician who had a rare progressive brain disorder which, amongst other symptoms, manifested itself in a heightened artistic drive.  

Since I'm all excited about brain disorders in general (I think I nurse some myself), I of course find this fascinating.  Reminds me of a lot of the writing of Oliver Sacks who, by the way, is an avid collector of all sorts of weird stuff himself (and not just stories!)

Anyhow, go and browse these interesting and creepy illustrations.  Perhaps it will inspire you (or someone, anyone, please!) to do something about the doggerel rhyming texts.