That's a picture from yesterday when we were playing vacation in my old room. Owen packed a suitcase with plenty of toys and he and Gibson and I made the long journey through the house to the old bedroom. "Let's pretend this Dog Island," he told me when we arrived. "We can live here forever."
"Okay," I said. "But where we will get our food?"
"I packed plenty of vegetables," he said, as if that was that. Enough vegetables for forever in a red Samsonite suitcase I got as a graduation present from high school. Along with various stuffed animals and two wooden reindeer that are put together from pieces which for some reason have taken up permanent residence in the Glen Den.
He put the reindeer up in different corners of the room and he hung a magnetic puzzle thing up on a closet door handle and he tucked a spider monkey in the Pack-n-Play with my old Zippy.
"They are friends," he said.
Gibson and I sat on the bed and observed all of this. Buster joined us for a few moments, which you can see above. Somehow, sometimes, he can still jump up onto the bed. Not that I encourage such foolishness but it made for a sweet picture. We pretended to all go to sleep for seconds at a time. Owen would go around and turn off all the lights and make sure I took my glasses off and that we were all covered up.
Within the blink of an eye after we'd settled, he'd pop up and say, "Good morning!" and turn on the lights and come and put my glasses back on me.
"I being very careful," he would say. And he was.
We played that for a good long time and we also played cards. I am learning how to adapt different games to keep him interested. For some reason, the child wins every game and I am not kidding. No cheating, just luck. The boy has good luck. While we play games, Gibson tries on hats from the antique suitcase I have in the dining room. More antique even than my old graduation one. He tries on the hats and he tries to snatch the cards and he plugs in the twinkle lights and it's a fancy dance, keeping one happy and the other engaged.
So that was some of what I did yesterday and today it is cold. I mean, I hate to really call it cold but I assure you that for us, it is bitter. The heater is not keeping up with it very well and it's only fifty-nine degrees in the house but I won't die.
There was a football game last night which I am glad was finally played and is over. It was FSU vs Auburn in some bowl game or something (seriously, I do not know) and it was played in Pasadena and that's all anyone has been talking about in town for months now. The Tallahassee Democrat, our local paper, has literally been garnet and gold for so long that I can't begin to understand what more they could find to write about a game that hadn't even been played yet. Not that I read any of it.
Still, one can't help but be aware of such goings-on. Mr. Moon, who went to Auburn and who has lived in Tallahassee for almost as long as I have, which is forty years now, was so torn. He decided he wasn't going to "be" for anyone. He watched the game down in Orlando and when I went to bed, FSU was losing but when I got the paper this morning, the headlines (of course) said something about FSU being the champs so I guess they pulled it out.
At least that's over.
I told you all of that so that I can feel timely and shit.
I told you that because I'm rambling and it's so cold outside. I just went out to let the chickens out and they are all alive and acting as if nothing whatsoever is amiss, crooning and pecking happily at the corn I scattered for them. Chickens are hardy creatures. I'm not sure what I'm doing today. I am again at one of those places where I want to get rid of crap, I want to make my living space a bit more serene but I don't even know where to begin. Yesterday Owen told me that I had too much stuff and that I should throw some of it away.
"I know," I sighed. "What do you think I should throw away?"
He thought about it. "I don't know," he said. A lot of my crap is pretty interesting to look at, truthfully.
"How about I throw away some of these toys around here?" I asked him. There are toys all over my house and paints and crayons and paper and coloring books and tricycles and dolls and stuffed animals as well as kid books stacked everywhere, not that Owen will let me read to him. And games of course. My house looks like a daycare center. A cluttered daycare center with an insane director.
"No," he said, as if I had wounded him with my getting-rid-of-toys suggestion. And then he gave me a look.
He asked me later on in the day if I would play Candy Land with him and I refused. "Why don't you take Candy Land home and your daddy can play it with you?" I said.
"Can I have it forever?"
"You bet!" I said.
So there is that. I got rid of Candy Land.
A few days ago a commenter (Regine Franck) sent me to a link about the editor of the Atlantic Magazine, Scott Stossel, who has written a book on anxiety. The title of his book is My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind. The link sent me to an article about the author and the book and then last night I heard an interview with him on Fresh Air. This morning I've done a little more searching and found another excellent article in the Atlantic here.
Reading the articles, listening to the interview, I am struck by the similarities in my own (admittedly self-diagnosed) anxiety disorder to Mr. Stossel's although he suffers and has suffered far more than I ever will. So many of the same landmarks. And he discusses the disorder in a historical and scientific sense as well as within the own framework of his own life which has been an incredibly high-functioning life. He has taken every pharmaceutical remedy known to science, he has been in every sort of therapy for the disorder. None of it has worked very well and that is disheartening. But, he has learned to live with it, has learned to operate within the parameters of what could be a paralyzing situation. And now he has written a book on the subject.
But here's what really freaks me out- the comments on the article I linked. So many of them are in the vein of "Oh yeah, I had anxiety. I gave up gluten and caffeine and now I'm fine." There are also numerous suggestions that he just needs to get over himself. "Man up," is how one commenter put it.
Other suggestions include specific amino acids, yoga, Al-Anon, numerous sorts of therapies and of course, Jesus.
I am appalled for Mr. Stossel. Absolutely appalled. The man barely made it through the seventh grade without being institutionalized. And here he is now, a husband, a father, an author, the editor of a very highly-regarded magazine, doing book tours which require him to face and overcome many of his deepest phobias and fears, an obviously incredibly intelligent man who has researched the subject of anxiety to an exhaustive degree, who would probably do anything to rid himself of this life-long horror, being told to "man up"? To give up caffeine and gluten?
Well, the brain is far more complex than we understand and what works for one sufferer of a disorder, a disease, may do nothing at all for another. And if there is one thing I myself have learned in my own taste of this suffering, it is to be compassionate towards others who may suffer what I do or something entirely different and perhaps even incomprehensible to me (fear of cheese? really? it's a thing). To not disrespect their feelings, their problems, their trials and their tribulations.
My journey is not your journey although they may be similar.
And some days my journey is across the house with supplies packed in a red suitcase and some days my journey is simply to survive the minutes of a day with acceptance and hope that the next day will be better. Or the one after that.
I'm sorry this has been so rambly. This is just the way my mind is working today in this quiet house with the cold barely staying at bay, the anxiety somewhat the same.