Friday, June 12, 2009

It's Friday!

And I'm beat. We had a thunderstorm roll through last night, which upset Barney the not so brave Beagle. Took us a while to calm him down and even after that I had a little bit of difficulty in falling back asleep. So today I'm dragging. No biggie, considering that the doctor is taking the day off, as is Drink Man, so I'm alone with no work. Annoying Coworker is busy with his appointments, so he's leaving me alone as well - thanks be to God!

All of which leaves me to blog and find things to do. Not that I'm complaining. It's just an odd occurance around here to have absolutely nothing to do. Really it's just a matter of looking busy and entertaining myself. Oh, it might help to remember that these are your tax dollars at work!

Last night, long before the storm started, One Ring and I went to the Opry Mills mall to walk and get out of the house. One Ring's studies keep her cooped up quite a bit, and sometimes her cabin fever spreads over to me, even though I work outside of the house and am sometimes tired when I get home. Anyway, Opry Mills has a Disney outlet store and I needed to replace a coffee mug that had broken, so off we went.

Even though the store had a Pirates of the Caribbean mug, I elected to go with a mug bearing the grinning face of the Cheshire Cat. So why did I go with that character and not keep to the whole pirate theme?

Well, throughout my life, especially in my post-graduate school days, there have been times when I related very strongly to certain characters in literature. Coincidently, most of these have been appropriated and reimaged by Disney over the years, but all started out as independent works, with one or two exceptions.

When I was dating One Ring, Eeyore the chronically depressed donkey was my main image. I was attempting to cope with my yet to be diagnosed bipolar disorder, and found myself swinging from brief periods of hypomania to long spells of depression. Not fun at all. To alleviate some of the stress, I took to doing imitations of Eeyore whenever people would ask me how I was doing. "Still got my tail ..." was one that I still use on occasion. Of course, Disney later revamped his character when they went through the "smiling Eeyore" phase, painting a goofy grin as he gazed at butterflies, flowers, and what-have-you. I referred to these images as "Eeyore on Prozac," with disdain and felt I had the right to since by this period I was pretty heavily medicated myself. Absolutely hated them. Fortunately, Eeyore seems to have returned to his gloomy visaged self. Unfortunately, Disney has apparently decided that all Eeyore products must be marketed towards women. So I have been unable to buy Eeyore stuff, as I look lousy in lavender. I did have a ton of Eeyore stuffed animals, statues, pins, and even have an Eeyore letter style winter coat that I wear on occasion. And when I proposed to One Ring over ten years ago, I did so by tying the engagement ring around the neck of a small figurine of the depressed donkey. I thought it appropriate at the time.

The next character I really connected with came during a quasi gothic phase that I continue to slip in and out of. That would be Jack Skellington. Why Jack? I think Jack fit in with my feelings of inauthenticity while I worked in the church. In the movie Nightmare before Christmas, Jack is hating his role as the Pumpkin King, and really wants to take a turn at bringing joy to people's lives rather than scaring them half to death. When I was working in the church, I felt I was unable to express my interests and be the person who I really was because of the beliefs of those around me. As one minister friend of mine who is continuing to fight the same issue said, "I'm tired of being a projection screen for everyone else's beliefs." In other words, I got tired of people thinking I agreed with whatever they held to be true religiously or even politically. Of course, whereas Jack came to terms with who he was and returned to being the leader of Halloween Town, I came to terms with who I was and decided to leave the church and move on to a more authentic life.

Which brings us to today. While I could spend time on the whole pirate thing that I have going, I will instead refer you to something I wrote at the beginning of last month and leave it at that. Pirates, of course, are a group of people, not a single character, so they wouldn't qualify for this discussion anyway. So let's just keep going to the character that currently fits my mood and outlook.

Suprisingly, the character is from Alice in Wonderland. Yes, it's a children's book, just like the 100 Acre Woods adventures from which Eeyore sprang. And, if you want to say that The Nightmare Before Christmas is a children's movie, I won't argue either. But children's stories tend to contain archetypes, I've found, elements that lend themselves well to being symbolic for deep meaning and relavance. Which is why when I read Alice in Wonderland, saw one of the adaptations, and met the Cheshire Cat, I knew we had a lot in common. Especially now that I work in the mental health field. Take this exchange between Alice and the Cat:

Alice felt that this could not be denied, so she tried another question. `What sort of people live about here?'

`In that direction,' the Cat said, waving its right paw round, `lives a Hatter: and in that direction,' waving the other paw, `lives a March Hare. Visit either you like: they're both mad.'

`But I don't want to go among mad people,' Alice remarked.

`Oh, you can't help that,' said the Cat: `we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad.'

`How do you know I'm mad?' said Alice.

`You must be,' said the Cat, `or you wouldn't have come here.'

When I first started working at this hospital, my then-supervisor remarked, "The thing you need to remember is that this is primarily a mental hospital, so the question you need to keep asking yourself is not, 'Is this person crazy?' rather, it's, 'What kind of crazy is this guy?'"

It wasn't long before I discovered he was talking about the staff just as much as he was referring to the patients! Not only was there the usual odd behavior by patients who are suffering from psychotic issues, schizophrenia, and the like, but sometimes members of the staff seem gripped by a sort of Folie a Deux, which brings about some very odd events indeed. Not that it's all bad, or any of it's bad, it's just different, and the Cheshire Cat's statement that "We're all mad here" rings true.

Plus, as I've gone through the last ten years, I've come to terms with my own mental illness, minor though it may be compared to others. After having friends and family (and sometimes coworkers and strangers) half-seriously tell me that I'm crazy, I'm finally okay with it. Yeah, I may be weird. I have weird interests and weird hobbies and weird friends and my life is occasionly insane. But that's okay. In fact, I like it this way. And this is probably the first time in a very long time where I can say that. So I can really relate to a character who essentially says, "You know what? This is all nuts. The world is crazy. We're all quite mad here. Deal with it."

And that, people, is why I didn't buy a pirate themed coffee mug and instead went with the Cheshire Cat. And you probably didn't even care! : )

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