So my shrink makes a play to lower my antidepressants as if he’s ever been on them and knows what’s its like to be depressed-it’s depressing

So a couple years back I’m sitting across from my shrink and he tells me I should go down on my xanax. But he doesn’t say “I” should. He says “lets” instead.

“Let’s go down on this medication.” He says.

“Bad timing.” I say.

“How’s that?” he asks.

“Well, ‘we’ should not do that because my wife is pregnant, my porch is falling apart, I am more tired than ever, and it feels like the economy is collapsing. And did I mention we don’t have a savings yet for my wifes maternity leave she insists she will take? And my insurance deductible is seven grand. I have a lot on my plate. So let’s not do it.” I say.

I emphasize the word ‘let’s’ so hopefully he gets that I don’t like being talked to like a child, with the ‘let’s’ and ‘we’ when in fact it’s about ‘me’.

“We should think about it though.” He says.

“We don’t have to.” I say. “We are fine just as things are.”

“I just remembered” he says, “My billing person says she can’t get your insurance to pay for our last appointment.”

Ahh, the threat. The passive aggressive threat. No more meds until I pay up his bill. This was a power struggle. He didn’t need me to pay up that minute, but I questioned his authority and challenged his treatment plan – for “us”.

“Let’s call her, then.” I call his bluff.

Here’s what I say about medical billing people who work from their home computers. They are mostly retired old ladies who are in over their heads.
They are inexpensive (because they are in over their heads).

This is about my psychiatrist pulling a stunt about my past due account as I tell him I do not want to go down on my Xanax, a controlled substance. He is basically doing a combination of tough love meets don’t challenge me, but I am not in the mood for it.

Anyway, he nods, and sets his phone to speaker as he dials her number. It rings, no answer. Her voicemail kicks in. Very professional sounding.


My shrink leaves a message.

“Hey” my psychiatrist says. “I have Pete here and he wants to talk to you about the past due, give me a call, thanks.”

He hangs up, and a half a minute later his phone rings. It is her, Gramma Moses. That’s mean. Lets call her Whistler’s Mother. He puts her on speaker phone.

“So I have Pete here and he wants to talk to you about his account.” He says. Then he looks over at me and winks at me. I’m not sure why the hell he did that. Is he making a pass at me? What?

“Okay, I have his account on screen.” She says.

I hear what sounds like something tipping over, maybe a cup of coffee, maybe a glass of whiskey, followed by an “excuse me a minute” then a “Ok, I’m back-sorry. What’s your question Peter?”

“My question is how come you keep sending me statements, not necessarily on a regular basis(that is a dig at how inconsistent her statements are mailed – my shrink makes a facial expression of surprise, mission accomplished). They are different colors, and say I still owe money. First, what do the different colored paper colors mean – like I get blue one month, red the other month, and sometime white plain?”

I actually know what Gramma Walton is trying to accomplish. By having different colors, it is supposed to – a) get my attention to act on the past due balance, and – b) stop me from tossing it in the garbage with all the other past due notices I may get. I do neither.

“Well I show you still owe a balance from your last four appointments.” She says, not missing a beat and blowing off my question. “How would you like to pay today?”

“Can I give you my credit card number?” I ask.

I know she doesn’t take credit cards, and it makes me seem like I intend to pay. Remember, Old Yeller does not have a big operation.

“Well, no, I can’t do that.” She says, predictably.

I believe she is giving me the finger over the phone. I feel bad vibes coming from the phone speaker. I am sensitive to the negative vibrations of angry old women. I always have been.

You can’t convince me that when she gets home to her efficiency apartment, dressed in her floral moo-moo, watching television from her worn green sofa, she doesn’t yell and slap at her cat for sniffing out the noodle salad she is eating from a tupperware container (“No human food Josie, you rotten little cat!”).

Maybe she doesn’t own a cat, though.

Meanwhile, back in the present, my shrink is interested also; he moves forward in his chair and has his hands clasped.

“Well, you know insurance companies.” she says.

“Which insurance company are you speaking with?” I ask.

There is a shuffling of papers for a moment, then she says asks-“Medica?”

It isn’t.

“Actually” I say, ”It’s Blue Cross”

“Oh, has it changed?” she asks.

I feel like throwing her a lifeline and saying it has, but screw it. Nobody has ever thrown me a lifeline.

“Actually, no.” I say. “It’s the same one I gave you three years ago.”

Another pause. Then my soul comes back into my body.

“I tell you what,” I say, “I will pay cash for the current appointments starting today.”

She goes for it. When we hang up, I get what I was after all along.

“So” my shrink begins, “I’ll write your prescriptions for the Xanax and Paxil. Let’s just keep going the same way we are going.”

Mission accomplished.

So my seventeen month old Dylan and I have a breakthrough, I thought, but then we really didn’t so I was mad and disappointed

So my 17 month old Dylan and I are walking around inside of a mall where there’s a bookstore and a Starbucks.

We get to Starbucks. I am going to have a triple tall mocha, whole milk with whip. Dylan is in his little stroller, grabbing for the mugs that are on display.

I lean down and look at him, and pull his arms away from the mugs and move his stroller back a little. He gives me that shitty look again, but then he says:


I melt, so to speak. He knows me. For the first time in his midget life, he has called me “Dadda” to my face.

He gets who I am.

I am thrilled at this first validation. I’m the guy who’s going to teach him things, practice sports with him when he is older, teach him how to play video games learn things on the computer. I will help mold him to be a functioning, successful adult.

Then he says:


while looking at me, followed by:




Okay, so he doesn’t know me after all. Its infant jibberish. I’m also the guy who’s going to make him take out the garbage, shovel the sidewalk in the winter, mow the lawn, clean the bathroom with a toothbrush…I’m creating a list in my head as I get my drink and start downing it.


he says, looking at me and smiling. I give him a ‘Minnesota nice’ smile, kind of a passive aggressive thing we do in the Midwest. He’ll get used to it.

So my seventeen month old Dylan gave me the dirtiest meanest look in the world and I am scared

So I pick up my seventeen month old Dylan and we are walking around the house, as I search for the remote control that he probably threw somewhere, like into the cat’s water bowl like he did last time (Comcast told us we had to bring the old one in before they would exchange it). Anyway, I am wearing my glasses.

Dylan always grabs at them, and its hard while he does that to have to move my face around, try to dodge him, AND keep from dropping him. Today I feel he is old enough to start getting some messages about “No”.

I might have waited too long, but I have been too tired to enforce heavy discipline on him.

Anyway, he grabs the glasses, pulls them off, and throws them up against a bookshelf. They crash and then fall to the floor.

I put him down, put his arms forcefully to his side, and say “No,no, Dylan. No,no.”

He was standing there looking up at me, and then he gave me one of those mean looks, like –

“I’ll kick your ass someday, old man. I’ll not only throw your glasses, but I’ll knock your cane out from under you and push you down the stairs. You better keep your eyes peeled, because you are f**kin’ dead.”

Okay so maybe some of that dialogue I imagine is overblown. But the look he gave me, last time I got that look, I had told my wife Kristen she had a figure like a clock.

I meant hourglass.

“A big round clock?” she asked, giving me that look scowl.

“No, a curvy hourglass.” I said, realizing my mistake.”You know? Ga-ga-ga-zoing-zoing!” I made the motions curving my hands down simulating a Marilyn Monroe figure – out at the bosom, in at the waist, out at the hips. Like the redhead on the show Mad Men.

“Va-va-va-voom!” I said. “Hourglass. Not clock.”

It was too late. She kept giving me that look vicious scowl.

And now so did my seventeen month old Dylan.

I am toast.

So My Infant Son Dylan was not pleased at Charlie Sheens performance in Detroit

So Dylan, my little boy, and I, the older parent guy that I am, have a ritual on weekend mornings. I sit him in his high chair, strap him in so he doesn’t jump out (he has – ouch), and we watch You Tube videos on the family laptop (17 inch Dell monitor).

We usually go to the Teletubbies and other tunes (Roger Miller King of the Road – he likes that a lot!), but this morning I wanted to see the unauthorized uploads of the Detroit show. Sheen was terrible, and it proves my point that being a mad ranter is a hell of a lot different than actually standing in front of a crowd who has paid money to see you, and actually expect SOMETHING.

I mean, Paul McCartney COULD sit in a chair and ramble about the Beatles, take questions, whatever, but he is (Sir) Paul McCartney.

But Charlie Sheen is a has been who had a few good roles, got fired from a tv show and thought that it was enough for the crowd to watch two chicks make out on stage, then burn a shirt.

Good performers know how to put on a show. And they practice. So when Sheen thought he could just do a whole bunch of stupid CRRRRRAAAAAZZZZEEEEEEE antics up there I knew, and everyone (Comic or other performer) else knew as well the cardinal rule:

People do not want to be ASKED what they want to see. They paid so you could take them away from their lives for a little bit and have a good time.

I’ve seen plenty of Open Mics over the years, and it’s uncomfortable to watch the trainwrecks, although I do anyway.

So Dylan is watching Sheen talk while sitting in a chair, and he gets sick of it pretty fast. He throws his banana at the screen. I clean the screen off and throw away the banana muck using a paper towel.

In the short time I was away, he had taken every piece of his mandarin orange pieces and thrown them onto the screen. WHen I get back to where he sits, he is clasping his hands and unclasping them, saying “bye-bye”.

Sorry Charlie, but you looked funny with a giant piece of orange mandarin next to your face.

I had to get to the Beatles video “You’re Gonna Lose That Girl” from the movie Help.

And now three letters on the keyboard of the family laptop no longer work.

Which means that even an infant could tell the difference between talent and some loser ranting.

Keep your day job Charlie, the theatre takes a little bit more practice. Oops.

So then I get the official results of my sleep study – first of all, it officially costs $1,600 but I have a high deductible so it’s all my problem

So I am sitting in the office of the sleep doctor going over my test results. They had originally told me it would be about a week or two before the doctor would call, but I actually got a call the afternoon after I had taken the sleep study. The doctor indicated I should come in right away.

It’s that same guy that I annoyed and who annoyed me as well during our last visit.

“First of all, it is as I expected.” He said, holding a three or four page document in his hands, sharing it with me.

What was he expecting, I wondered.

“Okay.” I said.

“You are definitely a candidate for the CPAP.” He continued. “They turned off the lights at ten twenty eight point twenty four seconds and let you sleep unassisted by any device for three hours.”

“Right.” I say.

“During that time, you never got out of Stage two sleep. You were also in WASO for about twenty eight minutes of time during that period.”

“Right.” I say. “What is WASO?”

“Wake time after sleep onset.”

“Right.” I say. “What matters about that?”

“It just means you’re not asleep during that time. It means you’re awake. Some of that does naturally increase as you get older, you are what, forty nine?”

“Forty-seven.” I quickly correct him.

“It’s just that much less of sleep for you to sort of re-charge your batteries.”

“Okay.” I agree.

How could he get my age wrong? Didn’t he see the date of birth up on the upper right hand side of the sheet? For Christ sake I saw it and I was sitting across from him.

He was still talking. I tried to think of a jab I could hit him with. Maybe something about his recessive hairline.

“But really, the important thing is you never left stage two sleep, you never went into REM.” he says.

I almost make a joke about Losing My Religion (REM the band-won a grammy for it). This is the same guy, though, who didn’t get my accordion snoring drawers opening and shutting joke from before. So he probably wouldn’t get my REM joke, either.

It is possible that I am not as funny as I think, but this is just guerrilla comedy – comedy done on the fly to a captive impromptu audiences. Anyway my mind wanders further into the REM thing and I start thinking of the song “It’s the end of the world as we know it.”

I keep all this to myself. It is not worth trying it out on this guy. I hear enough crickets chirping in my life. Besides, he’s going bald.

“But here’s more data.” He keeps talking. On the sheet I see a bunch of measurements of numbers on the left side, and on the right side under the header LAB NORMAL RANGE I notice all of my numbers are either below normal (time in Stage four, for example) or above normal (Apnea and other respiratory disturbances for example). “You had one hundred and forty five obstructive apneac events during that three hours – or about one per minute.”

“That’s high isn’t it?” I ask.

“Yes. And they lasted an average of twenty seconds each.”

“That’s bad isn’t it?” I ask.

“It’s not good or bad, I don’t want you to take away – ok, it’s bad.” He says.


“The good news is there weren’t any spontaneous leg movements during this time.”

“That is good news.” I say. “How is that good news?”

“Well, it means you don’t have PLMD.”

“Well, that’s good, right?” I ask.

“Yeah.” he says.

“What’s PLMD?”

“Periodic Leg Movement Disorder.”

“Wow. What’s that?” I ask.

“It’s actually quite serious.” He says, “It’s also known as Restless Leg Disorder, and believe me, you wouldn’t want it. You feel a tingling and you feel as if pinpricks are penetrating your lower leg, and you feel the need to relieve yourself of the pain by moving and jerking your legs. It’s very uncomfortable.”

The hypochondriac that I am begins to feel pins prickling on my calves. I shudder and kick my legs, one of them knocking the front of one of his legs.

We both adjust our position.

“It not only causes you problems, but obviously, older people like yourself-“

That was kind of a dig. He remembered me correcting my age downward and I think he is pissed that I just kicked him.

“-older people like yourself have their leg movement symptoms increase, and you end up starting flailing around and kicking your bed partner, so it disrupts their sleep also.”

Okay, so I got the memo. It could be worse. Then he continued.

“So then ,the CPAP device was placed on you at about one thirty am. It was left on you until you woke up at six am. You were in REM for about two hours. Frankly, it’s probably the first time in a long time you’ve been in that much uninterrupted REM. You were in stage three sleep for about a half an hour. That’s good REM.”

“You know I really did feel refreshed after that sleep, truthfully, I felt wide awake when I hit the road to go to work. It was good REM.” I agreed.

“That doesn’t surprise me.” He said. “Zero obstructive apneas during the whole time. And look at your oxygen levels-without the mask on, you were at about sixty three percent saturation during some of the time, and after the mask was on you never when below a saturation level of eighty five percent. This definitely helped you.”

There were more numbers he went over with me, but you catch my drift.

So my mom is my age (49) when she gets diagnosed with ALS and has her first piece of medical equipment

Thirty years ago, my mom came home from the U of MN hospital equipped with a cane. So that was the first sign I saw that she was being medicalized.
She didn’t really talk to me for the first couple of days and she napped a lot, but one afternoon she did open up a little bit.
“So what did they tell you?” I asked, still not really having been given the full story yet on what she had.
“Well, the doctors said they finished with the tests and had the results and asked your dad to be there when they gave the results.” She said. “When they came into the room, I asked ‘What’s the prognosis?”
“What does that mean?” I asked.
“Didn’t you pay attention to Chad Everett on Medical Center?” she asked. “That was you in the beanbag chair watching it with me, right?”
“Yeah.” I said.
“He’d say “What’s the Prognosis?” to one of the X ray lab technicians when they were looking at an x-ray. Don’t you remember?”
“What does it mean?”
“It means what have I got and how long do I have?” she said. Then she continued.
 “They said I had Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.” She said.
“What’s that?” I asked. I had never heard of it.
During the course of her disease, David Niven got it, and died. There was a biography about his life, and my mom and dad bought it, to see what his symptoms were. My mom had seen him on Merv Griffin or Mike Douglas around the time she first found out about her disease, and she said he seemed out of it and drunk. Turns out his slurred speech was the early manifestations of his disease.
“It’s a type of muscular dystrophy where I lose strength in my muscles.”
“How long do you have it?” I asked.
“It lasts a while. But mostly about five years.” She said.
“Then what?” I asked.
She pulled a brochure off the coffee table in the living room where she was lying on the couch, above where I was on the floor, and she handed it to me.
“Read this. It does a better job than I can of saying what it is. I still don’t understand it.” She said.
I took the brochure.
“Go ahead. You can go and read it now if you want. It can answer every question. We were given this by the doctors. It’s for you and your brothers.”
I looked up at her. I had a bad feeling about what I would find in the brochure.
“Go read it” she said. “I’m going to take a short nap before your dad gets home from work.”
“What are we having for supper?” I asked.
“Pepper steak and rice.” She said. “From David Fong’s restaurant. I’m too tired to cook tonight.”

I laugh when I think of how ineffective pre marriage counseling is

So about fifteen years ago my fiance, now my wife, and I are in some pre-marriage counseling session that lasts all day down in the basement of some church. We sit in those folding metal cheap chairs that get pulled off the basement wall when needed. They are brown. We are among a few other couples who signed up for the counseling. Somebody recommended it for us to make sure we knew what we were getting into. I think it was my mother in law.
We are watching a film made in the 1970s about marriage. The narrator is this guy with sideburns, a thick tie, and bell bottom slacks. He is a cliche from his era.

He’s walking through some park, and he sits down on a big rock. He looks down to his shoes, then with the camera slowly zooming in on his face, he looks back up at the camera and gives us sage advice-

“Try to avoid using words like ‘never’ and ‘always’ in your marital interactions” he says.

I think – far out, man.

He continues-

 “…and by all means avoid sarcasm in your conflicts. Remember, you’re making a contract to love and to cherish your loved one for life, and you’re partnering for successful communications to avoid problems down the road .”

Flash forward 14 years. We’re cleaning the house. My wife finds a white notebook stashed in the back of her huge clothing closet with the words Contract For A Successful Marriage written on the front of it.
“What’s this?” she asks me, obviously not recognizing her own handwriting from that day.
“How should I know?” I say, “You always hoard stuff. You never throw anything away!”
Then I put an imaginary gun to my head and pretend to pull the trigger, while saying “Uh-Duh!”
So the counseling stuck.

My Eight year old wants to know about geopolitics at 6 in the morning on a SATURDAY

So I’m watching both of my sons last Saturday morning (they woke up at 5:30am, just like me…no time to myself now unless I wake up at 4am, whatever…) my eight year old (Jack) finishing up his spring break, my seventeen month old (Dylan) throwing and breaking everything he sees.

I’m sitting at my computer. My wife is sleeping upstairs. I know she is sleeping because I can hear her snoring.

I’ve had a Mountain Dew, a 5 hour energy drink, a Clariton D (I do have a cold, thanks Dylan) with the pseudo ephedrine in it (speed), and some herbal adrenal gland pills that evidently boost your energy (herbal speed).

“Dad?” my eight year old, Jack, asks.

“What?” I say, making a mental note to interrupt Jack when he gets older and is sitting in front of his computer, or phone or whatever they’ll have then.

“How come Obama is bombing Libya?” he asks.

I look up to face him, stopping the video of the guy who puts 2,747 toothpicks in his beard I am watching on You Tube.

“Um mm” I begin, “Because the leader in Libya is mean and is killing all of the people that live there, so then Obama is trying to kill him before he kills all of them.”

That was good enough for an eight year old, I guess.

“Oh, that’s why” Jack got it. “That’s a good reason.Why is their leader trying to kill them?”

“I dunno” I say, not ready to go all “60 Minutes” with him. “Because he’s mean and mad at them.”

” Why is he mad at them?”

“He just is.” I say, thinking – can I get back to my video, JACK?

“Is Obama mad at us?” he asks.

“Sometimes, probably.” I say.

“Is he gonna kill us?”


“Why won’t he kill us when he’s mad?”

“Because he’s not like that.” I say, hoping I’m right.

“What if he did?”

“What if he did-what?” I ask.

“What if he killed us?” he asks.

“Then we’d be dead.” I say.

Okay, so I stand up, slowly, because of my lower back problems, and start talking:

“Jack, there’s just some mean people out there who do mean things to other people. Like bullies.”

“Why do they do that?” he says.

“I don’t know.” I say, “Some people are born and just want to hurt people, other people are taught how to hurt other people. It doesn’t mean that we want to kill someone.”

“You told mom you could strangle her, once.”

From now on my wife and I need to go outside to the garage when we fight.

“Not really strangle. A fake strangle.” I say.

“Whats that?”

“Just a phrase.” I say. “Some people actually try to go out of their way to hurt–“


I get hit in the back of my head by something heavy, and it really hurts.

I turn around to see my seventeen month old Dylan clasping and unclasping his hands, looking at his bottle on the floor next to me (I just filled it with Nutramigen powder and water – I even waited for the water to get warm).

I turn back to see Jack laughing like crazy, his hands on his stomach, he’s almost crying.

I turn around and Dylan is now looking up at me, still clasping and unclasping his hands, saying “Bye – bye, dadda – Bye-bye.”

I look back to Jack, who is still laughing, and I make a mental note (another one) to make sure he rakes the whole lawn this spring and bags all the leaves.

“People just do mean things to other people sometimes, Jack, and its hard to know why.” I say.

I turn back around to see Dylan leaning over toward a heavy metallic little Hot Wheels truck. He’s going to grab it and throw it at me. I just know it.

I bust a move and grab it from him. He starts crying.

And I didn’t even call NATO.

Mission Accomplished.

I think too much sometimes and so does my son

My 8 year old boy thinks too much and it may drive him crazy.He plays the alphabet game in the car (finding the letters of the alphabet, in order, while we drive to the store or wherever) ,on street or storefront signs….I have had to take the long way home just so he can get the “Z” on a sign to a tobacco shop that sells “Zippo” lighters. It’s the only “Z” out there. I have driven around to check if there are any other  Z’s out there in our neighborhood and there are not. Whats so bad about that, you say? Well, if we don’t find the “Z” he throws an absolute fit like we’re ALL GONNA DIE IF WE DON’T GET THE Z.

People use paranoia as often as they use neurotic. But you see I am actually paranoid. And neurotic. Clinically diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I am currently as of this writing on an SSRI (serotonin uptake inhibitor) called Paxil, and I take xanax, a panic attack muffler, as needed, when anxiety (panic) strikes.

 I am also on Testosterone Gel, because evidently I have low “T” like this one commercial I see on tv talks about. On the commercial, there’s a guy who I guess would represent a guy with low “T”, and its not like you’d see him on the cover of Men’s Health magazine, if you get what I mean (Pillsbury dough boy).

I have passed out from fear, I have been so scared I have literally, and I do mean literally, run out of buildings for fear of passing out or dying, or of getting killed by something.

Literally – makes me want to tell you about this guy I used to work with.
He used a phrase all the time. He’d say stuff to try to be intelligent, and analytical, as if he were a thoughtful guy when he was just an idiot. But he’d say stuff like “for all intensive purposes” – intensive purposes – not intents and purposes. And he’d follow it up with “I’m literally jumping out of my skin here.”

He was literally jumping out of his skin.

There was this video on You Tube that showed a whale going after a seal and stripping the seal out of its skin to eat it. Now that is literally jumping out of your skin.

Without your skin, all your organs, muscles and bones would hang out. THAT is what happens when you literally jump out of your skin.
The nerve endings in your skin tell you how things feel when you touch them. If you touch something hot, the nerve endings in your skin respond right away: “Ouch! That’s hot!”
So not only are you gross when you literally jump out of your skin – you are susceptible to burning yourself, which makes it even worse because you look like a fried monster. If you burn yourself after you literally jump out of your skin, and start screaming because now you’ve realized how bad you look (remember, no pain, no nerve endings from the skin not being there – although maybe there is pain since the muscles area exposed, and they have nerve endings I think), you will scare people. Literally.
The third and bottom layer of the skin is called the subcutaneous (say: sub-kyoo-tay-nee-us) layer. It is made mostly of fat and helps your body stay warm and absorb shocks, like if you bang into something or fall down. This layer is where you’ll find the start of hair, too. Each hair on your body grows out of a tiny tube in the skin called a follicle. If this layer is gone, you have no hair.
So again – if you literally jump out of your skin, you become a macabre, gross, screaming (possibly burned) pile of hairless human stuff – then don’t blame people for being turned off to you.
Oh and the skin helps regulate your body’s temperature.

So needless to say, when you literally jump out of your skin you probably are going to die. Especially if it’s snowing out (you will freeze). Especially this past winter with what we have been through in the Midwest.

So when people say phrases like that without realizing what they are saying, I think about how their life would really be if that actually happened.

And I think I have insight as to why my son obsesses over things. Must be his mom.

At my age, ads don’t work on me. They never have. Never will. I could never be affected by them in any way. I ignore them. Always have. But I love the show “Mad Men”.

So I am behind a guy at the drive thru at McDonalds, waiting to order my salad with balsamic vinegar dressing on the side, you know, and of course I am in a hurry, and he yells into the speaker at the menu of the drive thru line “So whats on the Big Mac?” and all I can think of is “You mean to tell me you dont know the answer to that question? Its – two all beef patties special sauce cheese lettuce pickles onions on a sesame seed bun.” And on a side note, Advertising doesn’t work on me, man. I ignore it. BTW, I bought my 8 year old a happy meal so he could get a Shrek guy.