Thursday, December 31, 2009

Uno Mas

I could write an entire Thanksgiving list for the imaginary people living on the internet. [Maybe one day.] Near the top of that list would be Matthew Baldwin, aka Defective Yeti. He writes stuff like this and makes it just seem so natural.

Haircut 2.0

When I go into a deli, why can I not just order a turkey sandwich and get a g.d. turkey sandwich, instead of having to approve or deny each and every member of kingdom Plantae? NO ONE WANTS BUTTERNUT SQUASH ON A TURKEY SANDWICH DONT EVEN ASK!! I appreciate that they are trying to “make it my way” or whatever, but after the third time I have unconditionally delegated any and all turkey-sandwich-making authority to the guy behind the counter, it’s time for the questions to end. Call me crazy, but I presume that someone who makes sandwiches eight hours a day has a mental model of “turkey sandwich” that is closer to the Platonic ideal of Turkey Sandwich than I could ever fathom, and should therefore be Team Captain for this particular enterprise.

[Read the whole thing.]

Bringing the Funny

Another great blogger is [redacted]. You will actually howl out loud while reading this one.

That Time I Was in Asia: So You're Interested in Seeing a Thai Sex Show
.

So while in Thailand, Brooke and I decided that we should visit the Red Light District. I mean, it's famous; and famous for sex, no less. We love sex. It seemed like a natural fit. And though we were well aware of the all-too-seedy underbelly, we were assured by more than a few people that the current version of Patpong (the district's name) was a watered down version of its nefarious predecessor. I mean, the New York Times recommended going there in their 36 Hours in Bangkok article. The last time the New York Times recommended something "gritty and dangerous" it was a Michael Moore film. We felt pretty secure.

[Read the whole thing.]

One More in the Melancholy Vein

I swear, they won't always be this way. I'm trying to get these all out to you before the end of the year, for some arbitrary reason.

One of the best -- possibly THE best -- new blog of the year was Letters of Note, "a blog-based archive of fascinating correspondence, complete with scans and transcripts of the original missives." You should read it every day.

Bookmark this letter so you'll have it when you need it. It's a reply from Stephen Fry to a fan who wrote asking for advice while in the midst of a depression.


April 10, 2006

Dear Crystal,

I'm so sorry to hear that life is getting you down at the moment. Goodness knows, it can be so tough when nothing seems to fit and little seems to be fulfilling. I'm not sure there's any specific advice I can give that will help bring life back its savour. Although they mean well, it's sometimes quite galling to be reminded how much people love you when you don't love yourself that much.

I've found that it's of some help to think of one's moods and feelings about the world as being similar to weather:

Here are some obvious things about the weather:

It's real.
You can't change it by wishing it away.
If it's dark and rainy it really is dark and rainy and you can't alter it.
It might be dark and rainy for two weeks in a row.

BUT

It will be sunny one day.
It isn't under one's control as to when the sun comes out, but come out it will.
One day.

[More.]

Another Kind of Favorite

This letter to the London Review of Books was another favorite from this past year. It changed the way I thought about a lot of things. Because it's annoying to scroll down to it, I'm quoting the whole thing.

Keep me in!

The list of stories of unjust incarceration for insanity is long, as Susan Eilenberg suggests (LRB, 23 July). Does it still happen? Or have things gone in a completely different direction?

I have been in and out of NHS mental hospitals for more than forty years. The first, following a suicide attempt, was Bethlem Royal, the old Bedlam, by then moved to a huge semi-rural site near Beckenham. On arrival my first feeling was of immense relief; I was in a safe place and didn’t have to worry any more. One almost never saw a psychiatrist; ‘treatment’ consisted of tranquillisers that kept one calm and anti-depressants that did nothing at all; this was in the days before Prozac. But the nurses were friendly and spent all day with the patients, chatting, playing games (Scrabble with schizophrenics can be very entertaining), going for walks in the grounds, even cooking meals with us. The male wing had a full-size snooker table and the female a grand piano, though the eccentricities of women playing snooker and men the piano were tolerated. After the first week or two I could even go for unaccompanied walks in the grounds. It would have been a very nice place to stay if one weren’t mad.

The fact that discharge was never mentioned merely increased my feeling of safety; when after six months I felt ready to face the world again I had no idea how to arrange to be discharged and was a touch afraid that if I asked they might try to keep me in – ‘section’ me, as it’s called. So one day I just walked out. No one came after me.

Three or four years later I was in hospital again: this time at Broadgate, near Beverley in Yorkshire, a huge Victorian place with its own farm. Things were much the same as at Bethlem. Uniquely, I was privileged to see the chief consultant psychiatrist once a week, but that was because I played trumpet to his trombone at the Saturday dances. The nurses spent all day with the patients here too, the only difference – in retrospect an ominous one – being that they had to write brief daily reports on the patients. This duty was taken lightly; one report I saw said: ‘Patient rose at ten thirty and spent the rest of the day in a horizontal position.’ I came across a lot of people shuffling about the corridors who had been in the place many years: however they had come to be there, their only ‘madness’ now was that they were quite unfitted for life outside. Again, after six months I simply walked out.

Looking back, those two places did me a lot of good, in spite of the absence of real treatment. Merely being in a sheltered environment, protected from self-destruction for as long as I needed, was therapy enough. For many years I managed to avoid going into hospital, except for a year at the excellent, intensive, highly successful and soon closed down Paddington Day Hospital.

But about nine years ago I was close to suicide again and found myself being taken into another hospital. Things had changed. Now we had the policy of ‘care in the community’. All notion of protection, of asylum, had gone: a patient (or was it ‘client’?) information leaflet explained that one’s stay would be as brief as possible. Nurses no longer spent much time with patients: they were closeted together in an office filling in ‘care plans’, and could get quite cross if one knocked on the door to point out that a patient was smashing up the furniture or another patient. Usually, in fact, knocks on the door were ignored. True, we saw psychiatrists as often as once a week, but their concern was to see whether we were ready to be discharged. We lived in dread of being called before the psychiatrist: many, including myself, tried to seem madder than we were in the hope of delaying discharge. I managed to stay a month – twice as long as the ‘target’ period – before being ejected despite my vigorous protests.

I was soon back. Returning to the same hospital I expected the nurses to be surprised and disappointed to see me again; they batted not an eyelid. Soon I noticed familiar faces among the other patients; people who had been discharged during my earlier stay and who were back again. Nine years later I have lost count of how many times the NHS has ‘cured’ me of severe depression. Clearly the new policy is statistically – and that’s what counts – very successful. It must have cost them far more than one long stay, but they’ve had half a dozen cures instead of one.

At present, two kinds of people are admitted to NHS mental hospitals: those bonkers enough to be a social inconvenience and those depressed enough to be ready to do away with themselves. If one’s desperate enough to want to get in, the magic word ‘suicide’ whispered in a suitably shamefaced sepulchral tone will do the trick. But mad or sad, one will be out again in two weeks. And back again in another two.

Simon Darragh
Walmer, Kent

Monday, December 28, 2009

My Year-End List is Better Than Everyone Else's

Maybe you're at work fucking away the rest of the year until everybody gets back to work in January. That's what I'm doing, anyway. To facilitate your fucking away, I thought I would point you to some of my favorite writing from the year.

First: delight in Bonnie's stories of "The Worst Things I Ever Wore."

1980
Pants: Ugly, but Dry My mom was and is a big thrift-shopper, so these navy-blue bell-bottoms with colorful flowers embroidered on the bells were out of style by the time I wore them. Describing them now, they sound sort of cute, but here's the problem: another girl in my third grade class also had them. A girl known for wetting her pants. Those pants. [More here]

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

New Tunes

Hey, I know you're a big fan of Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You." Kinda goes without saying, right? Since you've heard it 5,723 times since Thanksgiving?

On the other hand ...

Hollister Hovey put up a 3-song EP she coordinated with some of her very talented friends. Holy cow, is it good. [Bonus for Cayce and Carl: a rousing version of "Nu skal vi ha glide."]

Also, Amazon has a bunch of free downloads.

In other news, I am still sick and it still blows.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Happy Holidays

Papi let me sleep in this morning. I woke to Becca's voice saying, "Cotton candy! And a stuffed unicorn!" The neighbor had been by with gifts.

Then we went on a little road trip. Four hours in the car with E&B squabbling endlessly. At one point they were obnoxious enough that I yelled, "if you say one more word I'm throwing your unicorn out the window!" [Never thought of that one, eh, Joan Crawford?]

Later I asked Papi how he stayed so calm on the trip. He said, "I imagined I was driving to an orphanage."

Monday, December 14, 2009

Really, Amazon?

After all these years we've been together, you're still recommending Michel Buble for me?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Wrong on So Many Levels


Wrong on So Many Levels, originally uploaded by houston mamacita.

Spotted at Toys 'R Us.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

There is still time for Etsy!

Or, "I'll take Overdue Posts for $1,000, Alex."

Actually, my posting is way down since Thanksgiving because I've been pretty busy with my "one for you, one for me" Christmas shopping. I've been terribly naughty this year, so I can't really count on Santa.

The very best place for this kind of shopping is etsy. Since I'm always happy to hear about other people's etsy favorites, here are a few of mine:

I've blogged about Shop Clementine before. I have a pair of her earrings that I adore. If this necklace found its way into your stocking, you would be quite delighted, no?

This year I decided that Becca can turn the dollhouse bookcase that Grandaddy built into her own dollhouse. [We'll make room for the books on a shelf in our room.] I got her some dollhouse furniture at Hobby Lobby, but I was excited to find these tiny wooden dolls on etsy. She'll get to decorate them to make her own little dollhouse family.

I want one of everything at WhiteEarth Studio. This piece would make a fine start. N.B. -- There's a gift with purchase through the end of the year. Just sayin'.


The Kitchen Madonna is back in the saddle. You could give someone this apron and a copy of the P-Dub cookbook.

If you know someone who appreciates the art of paper cutting, you should check out TamaraDesigns. This piece arrives framed; she also has several pieces available unframed that are quite affordable. [As in, $8 affordable.] The little framed letters would be great baby gifts, too.

Just FYI, these picks were in no way compensated. I've bought, with my own personal bottomless riches, items from all but the last seller, and I can recommend them without reservation.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

We are easily amused.

Papi: "Check this out: non-Newtonian fluid."
Me: "Huh?"
Papi: "Watch these dudes walk on water."



Me: "That's awesome." [Watch for a while until the dude sinks into the pool.]

Six other "Man-Made Substances That Laugh in the Face of Physics" here.

Friday, December 4, 2009

What mamacita is ...

Kiddo edition:

Reading

Watching

Drinking

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Too Cool for School


Check out this gallery at the Smithsonian online of artists' homemade Christmas cards. Makes me wish I had returned Man Ray's calls back in the day.

via VSL