(Dr. H’s real name has been changed to protect his identity. Any resemblance to a “Dr. K.” is unintentional and purely coincidental.)
Dr. H. was an important figure in my life for many years– so much so that to say he “was” important seems inaccurate. Our time together (most of the early aughts) may have ended long ago, but his contributions are STILL paying me valuable dividends on a daily basis.
(Note: That’s the first time I’ve ever typed, or written down in any form, the word “aughts.” Feels pretty great. Must do so more often.)
Dr. H. was (as the “Dr.” part would indicate) a medical doctor. He was also the facilitator of a therapy group I participated in for a few years. It was his job (once a week) to wrangle the five lost souls placed in his charge, kinda like a single dad trying to drive
his five kids safely cross-country to the Grand Canyon, only to push them all off the edge once they were there staring down into it. And on his walk back to the van, whistling, he’d absentmindedly toss back, “Hey good luck, kids!”
I like to think of group therapists as the Mr. Roarkes of psychiatry. The Ricardo Montalbans of relationship rescue. Or on a particularly BAD day? The Jerry Springers of all-hell’s-breaking-loose-for-50-minutes-once-a-week-ness.
Those weekly sessions really did have a “Fantasy Island” quality to them. Or maybe it was the other way around- maybe “Fantasy Island” had a group therapy quality to it. I was just too young and not yet therapized back then to recognize that subtext running through each episode:
Mr. Roarke would call a bunch of lost 1980s guest-stars onto his mysterious island once a week, and by the end of each episode, something in those guests would be healed, fixed, resolved. This was no Love Boat. This was a place where you worked your shit OUT! If Love Boat was the honeymoon phase, Fantasy Island was the “couples counseling” phase (so necessary in the post-dopamine period of any “new relationship rush.”
But that was TV, not life. It wasn’t even TV (far worse) — it was TV in the 80s. (It’s like we were all watching children’s theater when viewed from today’s “Breaking Bad”-savvy vantage point, am I right?) And once the 90s came we shifted from the comforting escapism of fantasy TV to the violent voyeurism of reality TV– Donahue, Springer, Povich, Montel Williams, Ricki Lake… (Ironic that it all got labeled “reality TV” when you consider how incredibly staged, “theatrical” and escapist it quickly became.)
It was easy to imagine Dr. H. fitting right in with the Sally Jesse Raphaels and Phil Donahues still relevant back then. For one thing he looked a lot like Phil Donahue. He was handsome– a thick head of salt & pepper hair topping a six foot three-inch frame– and though he didn’t lead our sessions wearing a Mr. Roarke style all-white suit with a black tie, he did rock that “expensive-suit-with-turtleneck-and-cowboy-boots” look in a way few men of his age could pull off. Add to all of that a dash of Warren Beatty eye-twinkle and you’ve got a perfect image of Dr. H.
I have no way of proving this, but he also seemed to be a faithful husband and a devoted father.
His wife (a beautiful, older woman) worked in the same practice, in a small office across from his, so I got to observe them quite a bit. I even had some sessions with her for a brief period when I’d decided I shouldn’t work with her husband anymore. She was a smart cookie who’d suck down a giant sized smoothie in every session I ever had with her. She had a no-nonsense “Yente” quality to her, which I liked a lot. And it was easy to see that where she and her husband were concerned, she ruled pretty-much everything. They still seemed very much in love with each other after decades of marriage, and devoted to their teenaged son. And since I was in my late 30s and hopelessly single, that dynamic appealed to me.
Dr. H. still pops up in my dreams every now and then- more so than most people I know. And I think it’s because he’s one of the few people who’s seen “Scary Mary.” (I can probably count on one hand the number of people who I’ve trusted enough to let them see that side of me. I’m normally so agreeable & diplomatic that I should’ve gone into friggin politics.) Back then, if anything other than my best qualities were revealed to those closest to me it was almost always in the form of “Weepy Mary.” She could be dark, sure, but not threatening to the other person. She hated herself, not YOU! Poor, sad, “Weepy Mary.” But when “Scary Mary” comes out, she can be, well… scary. And come out she did, thanks (in part) to Dr. H.
“Scary Mary” really let that guy have it. More than once. And he pushed back. It takes a LOT for me to expel my anger outward (onto others) rather than turn it inward (onto myself) in the form of depression, self-hatred, and low self-esteem. It’s just always felt EASIER and more expedient to choose the latter (and more instinctive, frankly).
But when faced with an adversary who throws a really powerful, accurate punch, I punch back. Because I don’t have time to think about it. And when I do punch back, it feels like such a relief. For this reason I tend to befriend people who have a “tell-it-like-it-is” quality. It gives me a vacation from my busy mind- a mind always racing to stay one step ahead of others, trying to figure out before THEY do what they are needing, or wanting, or hiding from me. When I’m with someone who has no filter, it’s more relaxing for me. If they’re pissed off at me? They’ll TELL ME! And that means I don’t have to do all of that work figuring it out.
I yelled and screamed at Dr. H. and he took it. I thrashed about. I’d start to take the easy way out by crying and he’d call bullshit. But he never said he couldn’t work with me anymore, or that I was out of line. He took it, and gave it right back if need be. He was INVESTED.
Maybe that explains the dividends.
Sometimes setting a Google Alert really does pay off. I have one set for “remembering dreams,” which is how I came across this article on Salon.com– one of the best I’ve read on the topic of dream science (particularly on the ability to recall them) in a long time! Believe it or not, they are few and far between. Oh, sure, there are tons of articles and websites out there devoted to the topic of dreaming; some even claiming to be scientific, but the majority turn out to be little more than a rehashing of those silly “dream dictionaries” I’d read as a kid. I’d be excited at first, running my index finger along the alphabetical listings until I got to the word “cow” or “rocket” or “vending machine” or whatever weirdness had been featured the night before, but even at a young age, the one-size-fits-all interpretations those books offered left me feeling not only disappointed, but duped. Conned. And conned-descended to.
So it’s encouraging to see more and more pscycholo-gists, neurolo- gists and researchers delving deeper and taking advantage of all the advances that brain imaging technology has brought about.
note: if the salon.com link above doesn’t work for you, copy and paste this url into your browser: http://www.salon.com/2015/05/03/why_cant_we_remember_dreams_the_neuroscience_of_ecstasy_and_sadness/
Big news! I am now a featured artist on Depop, a new and fun way to buy and sell your own items, all from your handy dandy smart phone. If you are interested in purchasing some of my art, Depop is the way to go! I have some new – and old – items up for sale on my new page and you can even find a me on their “Explore” section.
If you don’t have a Depop account, I highly suggest signing up! It’s a great way to buy and sell clothes, art, jewelry, etc. and it’s got a great layout very similar to Instagram. I’ve had a lot of fun trying it out the past couple weeks and encourage you to hop on board! Here are some items I am currently selling via Depop:
I found some old journals this morning and came across this entry from 2010. And I realized while flipping through these personal tree-rings of mine that there are SO MANY dreams I still haven’t catalogued, haven’t photographed- these journals go back to 1986!
I’m looking forward to putting them all in chronological order- all in one big bookcase- as sort of an altar- paying homage to all the trees who gave their lives so that my private-est, secret-est, sillyest and sacredest thoughts could be recorded somewhere outside of the fatty tissue between my ears. None of these journals (and their many dream drawings) would exist without those trees. The pages are MADE of trees. The bookcase is too!
And when looked at on the shelves, in order, all arranged back to back, squished in tightly together like wedding guests in a group shot, my journals really do start to resemble the rings of a giant oak tree. You can calculate the age of a tree by splitting it open & counting it’s rings. And scientists can even calculate how well (or how poorly) Mother Nature was treating a tree by examining the width of each ring- indicating how much it was able to grow each year.
One can calculate MY age by counting the number of journals on my shelf (but, thankfully NOT by splitting me open). On average, each journal represents about one month of my life. And since I started keeping a journal at the age of 18, do the math (I’m 47, by the way).
Oh what “word problem” fun!
If Mary is 18 years old, and fills a new journal every month until the age of 47, how many journals will she have? Show all work.
(I want so badly to do that thing where I put an asterisk there and write *See end of blog post for answer. And then at the bottom I type the answer upside down, but I don’t know how to do that.)
Okay, PENCILS DOWN!
The answer? 348 journals. (But I’ll have to confirm this later, when I can ship the rest of my old journals out here to LA from the storage warehouse in NJ where they currently reside.)
I know what you’re thinking:
Jersey? What exit?
Oh, reader… that was baaaaaad.
(If you liked reading this, please comment, share it, post it or tweet it! That makes me so happy you have no idea! My Twitter page is- http://twitter.com/birdsongdreams so please please please follow me there!
99 Cent Dreams
Luckily there’s a cure. It’s cheap (in fact, it’s FREE) and it never breaks! NEH. VER. Never-ever-evuh!
This is particularly great because it means you won’t have to buy one of those obnoxious two-year warranties the super-stores are so keen on offering us these days. (I love how it’s always put to the shopper in such a way as to make us feel LUCKY:)
Ma’am, before I take over two hundred dollars of your money (for this piece of shit printer), I’m going to extend to you an exciting opportunity: If you pay an extra sixty dollars, we’ll totally fix this piece of shit for you when it brakes, which you and I both know it will. Soon.
Would you like to do that today, Ma’am?
No, actually. Actually, no. No, I would not like to do that, Ma’am.
How ’bout this exciting opportunity instead…
How ’bout everybody starts making & selling stuff that’s built to LAST, instead of pretending like we’re being given this great deal where you not only sell me a piece of shit to begin with, but you offer me this exclusive “Anh-hanh!!!-you-just-bought-a-piece-of-shiii-iiit” fee.
How bout THAT?
There was a lot of talk in the last presidential election about turning America back into a country that MAKES things instead of just consuming things. I think that’s a swell idea. And you know what they say: Manufacturing starts at HOME.
(They don’t say that.)
But they SHOULD.
Our factories are between our ears. They are our imaginations. Not only can our imaginations serve as state-of-the-art factories and laboratories- they’re great, unexplored Egyptian tombs! Tombs that often go undetected for centuries. And these great, dark, dusty treasure chests are often hiding right under our bored, bunion-baring feet while we walk over their riches, complaining about how broke we are).
So the next time you or someone you know is bored- try MAKING something instead of buying something.
(Boy, that was, like… the BITCHIEST BIRDSONG DREAMBOOK BLOG POST EVUH!!!)
I love you though.
I’m totally not mad.
I’m gonna go see what’s on the QVC.
I don’t even know for sure if these gals were in my dreams last night or not, but they were what came out when I grabbed my pen (Papermate’s felt-tip Flair™ if you must know).
Maybe I just didn’t sleep long enough to remember my dreams. Went to bed at 1 AM and woke up at 4:30 AM and decided to just get on with it. I’m doing that thing old people do- when they start waking up at those ridiculous hours of the day that the public school system used to torture us with as kids.
Wait- an image from last night’s dreams just came to me this second, for real: A guy doing some sort of electrical work… Must write this down while it’s fresh out of the “right hemisphere oven.”
I think we can all agree that there isn’t a woman alive who doesn’t look the eeeeeensiest bit cuter in a silver spandex space-suit, or as I like to call it…
The Gallery Girls are many things:
- hot art models who pose for the lucky artists who get to sketch them
- a gallery where artists can exhibit their work
- a forum for drawing classes and workshops
- they’ll even show up at your swanky-dank party and stand around looking titillating for the right price
How is it possible that I hadn’t heard of them before now? Well, I am so new to this whole “art” thing that I haven’t been initiated into the fun stuff yet. I’m not part of any art “scene” (unless you consider sitting at home in my pyjamas, crouched over my big black desk while drawing whatever I dreamt las night a “scene”). So, like anything new, it’s exciting to learn (as I go) what’s out there in the art world– culturally, intellectually, and even socially. It takes a LOT (usually a paycheck) to get me to voluntarily leave the house, but this event has done just that.
My whole life I’ve dreamed of being an old-fashioned pin-up girl.
And though that hasn’t happened (YET!) this Gallery Girls event seems like the next best thing. I mean, if I can’t BE a pin-up girl? I’ll draw one. And apparently this is where one goes to do just that.
I think this is how it goes down: a bunch of artists sit around drawing the live models, but it’s these very models who sort of “curate” each event- picking a theme that will influence the poses, the costumes, etc.
I’ll report back after I attend the “International Space Exploration” event on April 12th. (Maybe that’ll force me to NOT be lame by claiming I’m too tired/busy/cranky to show up once the night arrives).
Pin-up girls are NEVER cranky.