What To Do with Faux Beatles Fans

You know the type. Many were introduced to Beatles’ music by the film Across the Universe. There’s nothing wrong with that, by itself, but, when paired with the presentation of oneself as the biggest Beatles’ fan ever, the equation changes — to one that calls for action.

The action to take? Challenge them to a trivia game.

My favorite such game is “name that tune.” It’s even fun to provide hints, especially if others who know The Beatles are present. The best one yet was challenging someone to name “this song by the Beatle named Mick Jagger,” and then playing “Sympathy for the Devil.”

If you’re in the mood to hear it right now, here you go:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkXIYgsvO0c

As it turned out, this person hadn’t yet heard the Beatles album which contains this Rolling Stones song.

There Are No Stupid Questions?

“The Beatles? Wasn’t that Paul McCartney’s old group?” (high school, ~1983)

“Plutonium? Isn’t that the stuff the planet Pluto is made of?” (in Chemistry class)

“Is the planet Mercury made of the element mercury?” (in Chemistry class)

“Is this Algebra Two or Algebra Eleven?” (to a colleague)

“Do you ever get cysts on your ovaries?” (to me)

“Did you get a haircut?” (innumerable times)


There are, of course, many other examples. Feel free to leave your favorites in a comment.

¿Es usted normal?

It took some time for me to figure out that things are seriously screwed up. One of the early indicators involved this question, and the reaction to my answer to it, which was asked to me in Spanish class, 7th grade.

The exercise was simple. A list of adjectives appeared in the textbook, and we were going down the row, with the teacher asking each student, in turn, “Are you [adjective]?” in Spanish, and then the student answering, also in Spanish. Previous students had declared whether they were or were not tall, funny, popular, etc. It didn’t take long to figure out the pattern, and that I would soon be asked, yes or no, if the word “normal” described me.

I didn’t have any trouble with the question itself — the answer seemed quite self-evident — but I did want my translation to be ready. And so, it was.

My turn. “¿Roberto, es usted normal?

My instantaneous reply:  “No, yo no soy normal.”

I wasn’t particularly paying attention to the other students up until this point, but this changed quickly, amidst the hysterical laughter which ensued, with things like “You aren’t normal?” being shrieked, with glee, above the general hilarity. Another such comment I remember: “Well, what are you, then?”

I knew damn well I wasn’t like any of them, nor did I want to be. The drive to fit in, be one with the crowd, conform — however you want to put it — has always been missing from my personality. What’s more, I’m delighted that it is. I’m not a slave to the opinions of others. I’m not normal now, any more than I was in 7th grade.

To me, “normal” implies the following:  typical, ordinary, average, and boring.  If I had nothing different about me — no “abnormal” traits — then what would be the point of my existence in the first place?

I was genuinely surprised by this in the 7th grade. It doesn’t surprise me any more when things like this happen, having had decades to get used to the “normality police,” who seem to be everywhere. This experience, way back in the 7th grade, was eye-opening for me.

So, over 30 years later:  no, yo no soy normal. Nor will I ever be. What’s more, I still don’t understand why anyone else, then or now, would want to apply the word “normal” to themselves. This is a mystery I doubt I will ever solve, for I do not even come close to understanding it.

Xanax for Dinner

“Xanax for Dinner,” or XfD, is a state you do not want to experience. I did experienced it, about six months ago.

To get XfD, a few things must happen. First, you must have access to Xanax. I have a prescription for it, having Panic Disorder and PTSD, both.

Next, you have to have the intensity level of your anxiety raised to a new high level for you. In my case, it was a still-ongoing labor struggle that did the trick. I was so uptight and furious that I was running on adrenaline, could not eat (simply seeing food created nausea), and could only keep down the Xanax I am prescribed. I was therefore having Xanax for dinner, literally, every night — for most of a week.

This is a self-limiting condition. Stay in this state too long, and something will give — perhaps your life, although that obviously didn’t happen in my case. Also, if you’re reading this, and thinking there’s anything at all fun about the XfD condition, then you probably don’t need Xanax at all. It wasn’t fun; I’m just glad to have survived it. Recovering from this state was not easy, nor pleasant.

No one should ever be put in a situation where all they can have for dinner is Xanax. Workplaces should not place added stress on employees who already have anxiety disorders.

Another problem, though, is the stigma which still persists on the subject of mental illness. I only know of one way to do anything about this unjustified stigma, and that is by those of us with such struggles to be more open about them. It’s a long-term strategy, to be sure, and not without risk, but it is the only one I have at this time.

Places I Have Been

I’ve been to each of these states & provinces.

placesihavebeen (1)

D.C., also, although you probably can’t see that.

I really need to get off this continent soon. I’ve been on this one for nearly 45 years, or even longer if time spent in utero counts.

The Pain Is Gone (but not without cost)

Every day for almost 25 years, my vertebrae from mid-neck to torso have been jammed together, by a fall I had at age 20. It hurt like hell, at times, or it just hurt, but it never, ever stopped completely, until all of this happened.

Eyes closed, I attacked the pain as if it were an inanimate thing, laying backward on the corner of the mattress with the one point of contact being a bit above the spot between my shoulder blades, centered horizontally West-East, while facing North. It moved to the left. I followed, pursuing it — and then we shifted to it and me stretching myself in opposite directions, then with the forces in the same direction again, then the reverse again, with this cycle repeated many times.

Pain, my enemy, then made a rapid jump to an entirely new quadrant. The focus line of movement, in reaction, shifted at my center of mass. I rotated by a right angle counter-clockwise, and was now facing West with my hands on a line South-North, lined up with my shoulders. I pointed my fingers up-down and stretched that way as well, and had therefore identified three mutually perpendicular directions, in each case coming up with some way to reverse the direction of force (having my arms both curled tightly in front of my face and beyond, in the second case, and then touching my toes and holding them for the reversal of up-down.

At that point, I stood straight up. I was shocked. I still am. This hasn’t worn off, as I write this. As long as I stand straight up — but only then — the pain is gone.

Gone.  And that damned thing had me going to doctors and chiropractors for years.  Gone, just like that.  I had no idea this would result from my spontaneous and protracted, intense exercise session, but it did.

If I slouch in any way, though, I get immediate and intense pain, which quickly trained me to stand and sit up straight. I don’t know, yet, how or if sleep will work, and haven’t tested the perfectly horizontal. If I want anything more casual than full attention, I have to tolerate pain for as long as the deviation persists, pain with intensity proportional to the deviation.

I’ve created my own Skinner Box, although I didn’t realize that was what I was doing. I can lie in it, but I wonder if I can sleep in it?

I don’t recommend trying this yourself, unless you first consult with, and obtain the approval of, a physician. Further updates as events warrant.