Lent trap

Just the other night I thought I had an epiphany. These happen from time to time. I’m going about my day, minding my own business, when BAM! WRITING IDEA!  Hurriedly I grab the nearest computer, notepad, envelope or napkin, and scrawl what I am convinced will be The Book of My Generation. (or The Essay or The Joke.) Sometimes these ideas stick around (let’s not talk about pursuing them. that’s another story.) But I also find that my in-the-moment strokes of genius can grow a little less shiny with time.


I want a muffin.

(Think Nicolas Cage in Adaptation…spitting thoughts into his handheld recorder only to deflate in defeat as he listens to them minutes later.) This particular stroke of nongenius came as I was thinking about the last week of life without twitter. I gave it up for Lent, you see, and it’s been a week yesterday. Already I can notice a difference in my state of mind. I’m not tempted to peek at twitter during work because I can’t. My desktop is less cluttered with all those interesting articles I want to find time to read. Of course I miss twitter, too. More than once I’ve felt impotent with pithy one-liners, having nary a place to publish them. And I miss the daily dose of news from friends and gurus alike.

But really? An essay series on my life without 140 characters? Hoping to glean some sort of meaning about life or communication bla bla bla. I guess it’s not the worst idea I’ve ever had, but it just feels a little…pointless.

Dear internet: i miss the internet. love, me writing on the internet.

Tina Fey Vogue

i want some cheesy blasters

I should (and do) have more interesting things to write about. Take last night (please?), I took myself to Borders with a coupon and a giftcard, and had one of those delicious, meandering bookstore trips with no deadline or agenda. Such a small thing can also be so soul-filling. And what’s more, at the end of it I’ve done something REAL. I’ve spent real time in a real place, interacting with real objects and real people. My whole self (not just my eyes and clicking fingers) interact with new ideas. I come away with real swag (Tina Fey’s Vogue cover and 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, to be exact).

It’s not like it has to be either-or, of course. This twitter fast will be good for me, I think, in teaching me how to set boundaries. But if I had to choose, I’d choose what’s real. No question.

Brain Science. Fiction?

Stumbled upon this article, “Head Case: Can Psychiatry be a Science?” in the New Yorker that I can’t even begin to sink my teeth into.

In it Louis Menand (check this guy’s bio, btw.) evaluates two new books, Gary Greenberg’s Manufacturing Depression and Irving Kirsch’s The Emperor’s New Drugs. Both books question the culture of psychopharmacology (spell that 5 times fast) in modern America, and Menand delves into the complexity of how we define depression in the first place. (When does grief become unhealthy? How much sadness is okay? How do different cultures define happiness and normalcy? Do antidepressants work? Is therapy a better treatment? Or meaningful relationships? Exercise?)

I’m reminded of Freakonomics, which i just finished this month. The authors assert that we can’t always trust experts, because experts have the advantage as information keepers. Here pharmaceutical companies play the expert role when it comes to mental health. They’re here to help…if you’re here to pay. They have a treatment…therefore your condition is treatable.

Bottom line: it’s complicated. Science doesn’t give us isn’t one magic answer (or one pill) that makes everything okay. Menand asserts that it may not even be science’s job to answer these questions.

Here’s some nuggets to think about:

As a branch of medicine, depression seems to be a mess. Business, however, is extremely good.

Science, particularly medical science, is not a skyscraper made of Lucite. It is a field strewn with black boxes.

Mental disorders sit at the intersection of three distinct fields. They are biological conditions, since they correspond to changes in the body. They are also psychological conditions, since they are experienced cognitively and emotionally—they are part of our conscious life. And they have moral significance, since they involve us in matters such as personal agency and responsibility, social norms and values, and character, and these all vary as cultures vary.

Hm…see, it’s a lot to chew on…I think I need to go take a walk. And that might just be the best thing I could do.