Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Britney Does Matter

I’m so bad.

Our local Fox station just started carrying the TMZ tabloid show.

I am hooked.

Normally, I don’t give a damn about celebrity status and all that is happening in their world. Their profession is built around a world that does not really exist and their personal lives seem to be caught up in that fake life. Why should I care?

But then there is Britney.

My first date with a guy was with Britney Queers.

Rumor tells me he’s no longer a guy.

But Britney is still Britney. At least kind of.

For the sake of Britney as a person, I’m worried. Concerned. Scared.

Those who know me know I’m not one to make one of the impassioned, tearful “Brit Boy” or whatever his name is video pleas to spare Britney. I’ve never been a big fan as evidenced by the fact that I had to look up the correct spelling for “Britney” when I started writing. She is (was) an exciting performer though her voice was largely manipulated, but she never reached a status of anything more than novelty with me.

And then there was the MTV debacle.

Professionally I have a background in mental health – I’ve been a counselor.

When I finally saw “the performance” the clarity that Britney’s problems go far beyond bad-girl behavior or substance-induced missteps. Britney’s eyes speak volumes more than Nora Desmond could ever hope. I know I don’t know enough to make even an educated guess as to what is exactly wrong with her, but I do know enough to know there is something wrong with here at a deep emotional level.

Sadly, we have a hard time addressing mental illness. The tabloids and entertainment television shows thrive on the mental illness of so many celebrities. Public policy, the health care system, and cultural norms do not treat mental health with the same urgency as physical health, and make it ok for emotional issues to stay the butt of public humor.

Admittedly, mental illness can be hard to understand. Something shielded behind the fortress of the skull and hidden within the folds of the brain can be hard to grasp. It’s not a broken bone protruding from the skin or a cancerous tumor sucking out the life of the healthy body. Mental illness cannot be cut out and held in one’s hand, but it is no less real than that tumor.

Britney’s partying and bad behavior mask so much of what is going on, but if you look in her eyes, there is so much more than the influence of the substance of the day. Look at Britney’s eyes from her early videos – clearly there was no “A” student in there (that’s a McAfee Daniel story sometime), but there was a live person inside. Lately the look has been different.

It saddens me that the prospect of Britney getting the help she needs anytime soon remains unlikely. She will continue to be fodder for jokes and sarcastic headlines. Mental illness will continue to be acceptably funny, and mental health will continue to be largely ignored.

I Still Remember...

I have not forgotten about being here - but so much creative energy has been directed at work, that I have not had much to write about here. Despite the long hours and extreme expectations, I am loving my new job - and am especially excited about the directions it will be taking in the coming years. I'm excited about the possibilities involved with it so much so that it has made me completely rethink where I plan to go with my career.

And to think, 17 years ago, I only thought I would be a classroom teacher for 40 years.... I still sometimes long for those days and cannot let myself get away from remembering that the classroom is still the heart of education, but I'm developing a set of skills and body of knowledge that will let me impact many of those classrooms across the nation. It keeps me up until midnight and gets me up at four in the morning.

And yes, I'm happy about that.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Misplaced Directions

Whenever I’m stressed, I find myself taking more hot bubble baths in the evening. I’ve actually been known to take two in an evening. Because I’m generally a hyper person, it can be difficult for me to sit there until the water has even begun to cool. With long days at work and all the stress, I’ve been taking quite a few baths lately and set a rule for myself to stay in the tub until all the bubbles are gone.

When I get anxious to get out, I am forced to sit very still to speed up the bubbles going away. Long ago I learned the more I splashed around, the more bubbles there would be (along with beans eaten – but I grew out of that kind of bubble bath years ago!). This forced relaxation has done wonders for my ability to actually seek and enjoy some meditative calm.

If my brain is racing, so is my body.

The bubble rule is teaching me not to think.

It was working splendidly tonight until I caught a line in bold print on the bubble bath bottle.

Directly above it are directions for using the bubble bath:

Directions: Remove cap and generously pour into the tub directly under running water while the tub is filling. Swish the bubbles around with your hand to further increase the fragrant foam and sensory experience.

Fair enough.

But am I supposed to pour the cap into the tub? Generously? Shouldn’t I be pouring the bubble solution into the tub?

And swishing the bubbles with your hand – at that point in the bath, was the last thing I wanted to do. I have discovered over time that despite the “Sugared Vanilla” name, it is neither sweet nor very much vanilla. It just makes bubbles for a short time.

That’s the real key. I could buy a certain brand to take me away, but I want to show up the next day without looking too much like a prune.

This brand is a cheap brand from a major big-box discount store. The bubbles last such a short time, I was convinced they were contaminated with lead and thus were too heavy to stand up to air pressure very long, but no – the bottle says “Made in USA.” At least I won’t die from lead poisoning. Tampering from some more nefarious substance by a disgruntled employee probably, but lead no.

Despite the poorly written directions (a hint that it did come from the USA – have you seen the literacy rate in Arkansas?), I was most disturbed by the line that came afterwards:


Yes – in bold and all caps.

I had purchased some Adult Only bubble bath at a store known for censoring the music and magazines it sells.

Sam is rolling over in his grave.

Does he have any idea what his store is promoting? Adult bathing!?!

Surely this is tabloid fodder. Clean, nice-smelling adults appear in the south!

And why are they keeping it away from adolescents? Are they afraid what they may do under the bubbles? I guess bubbles lead to premarital solo sex (masturbation for those of you who followed the big-box store link over).

What about the children? Do they think some child is going to disappear under the bubbles and never be seen again? If the parent is that incapable of watching his/her own child, I don’t think the warning is going to do any good and maybe they should have been practicing solo sex all along. If not, the Darwin Awards are there for a reason.