Shrinking Archives

January 30, 2008

A Global Mid-Life Crisis?

Last night on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, Dr. Nancy Snyderman reported on an interesting phenomenon: that no matter where you live in the world, it seems that your happiness takes a dip in mid-life. Apparently, if you make it through this downturn, your happiness then zooms up again to equal what it was in your younger years. A global mid-life crisis. Then, this morning, FOX News' Sheppard Smith reported on the same study. Apparently, in the U.S. this dip occurs for women in their mid-40s, while for men a little later, around 50. But, in general, this is, indeed, a global phenomenon.

It is a small world, after all.

Interesting that they could study this. It has seemed to me that in mid-life, there's a natural tendency to ask, "Is this all there is?" And, if you're dissatisfied with the answer, a drop in happiness ensues for several years, until you can figure it all out.

Tim and I experienced this (both in our 40s - he's always been rather precocious). It's why we did the "bus thing" in the first place. Like many people, until we reached our late 30s, we had gone through life feeling rather invincible. Not only was it inconceivable that something bad could ever happen to us, even our very mortality seemed suspect. When we hit our 40s, this changed, as our contemporaries experienced sudden, unexpected tragedies: A friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. A colleague died of a heart attack in his sleep. Both of us, for the first time, could feel creaks and aches in bones we hadn’t thought about since anatomy class. Over the years, as psychiatrists, we each had treated people in our practices who had looked forward to all they planned to do in retirement, but when the time came, were too ill to travel or too devastated by the death of a spouse to live out their dreams.

Those lessons started hitting home as we officially breached middle age. We knew we were fortunate in that we would always have jobs; neurosis is a growth industry, after all. We could afford to do the "bus thing" now and go back to work later.

Unfortunately, it seems Tim has taken this now scientific phenomenon as "proof" he should buy a Corvette. Since he just turned 50, he figures maybe the bus thing wasn't really his mid-life crisis after all, but if he gets the sports car of his dreams, he can forestall the Big Dip.

It was really pathetic to watch a grown man stare at the TV during Dr. Snyderman's story and plaintively whine, "Corvette... Corvette... Corvette... "

Even more pathetic when he's pining away for his new toy while inside his hugely powerful old one - a 40,000 bus.

January 31, 2008

This Bus Is Trying To Kill Me, Again

Alfred E. Newman has nothing on me.

Today, I had to venture out of the bus (I know you're shocked, but Tim wasn't home) to get something from the bay (since it relates to cat pee, I'll spare you the details).

Understand that when you open the bay doors, they don't just open, but sort of extend upward and swing out. Contrary to what you may think, in spite of my royal status, over the years I've opened them many times (three constitutes "many," right?) So, why I was unprepared for this, I have no idea. Anyway, the door smacked me in the mouth - hard. Hard enough to chip my front tooth. In my designer duds and fetching new grin, this Princess looks like Eva Gabor must have felt on Green Acres. (Oh, great. In addition to looking really weird, I've now totally dated myself. So, why not go for the gusto and debase myself even more? Fine. I'm such a vidiot, I can even tell you the name of little hamlet their farm was in. Ready? Hooterville. Yup.)

I found a dentist, the fabulous Dr. Gerber, to see me right away and he filed it. (He didn't even charge me. I guess he was star struck having royalty in his chair and all.) It's actually not so bad. I can say that now that it's after 5 pm. While I absolutely adhere to "it's always 5 o'clock somewhere," it's just a little harder to justify while we're on the west coast - although not today. (Today though, it's purely medicinal, of course.)

I'm such a klutz. I always have bruises all over my body I have no recollection of getting. With all my black and blue, I'm afraid people will think I'm a battered woman.

I'm not paranoid. Really. I'm not. It's just that, after so many disasters in this bus, so many times of nearly getting killed, not to mention terribly inconvenienced and potentially humiliated (the nudist RV park comes to mind), I really can't be blamed for feeling this rig has it in for me. Maybe it wants Tim all for it - or her - self. After what he said to me after surveying the damage (to his precious bus, not me), she can have him:

"You know, after you chipped your tooth, you didn't actually shut the cargo door. Instead, you forced the latch back down, so now it's bent. Next time make sure the cargo bay door is actually closed before you close the latch." As I've said before about my psychiatrist husband, "He gave at the office." His current retort to that brilliant observation?

"Well, this bus has over 200,000 miles on it, yet it's only when you interacted with them that anything's happened to the bay doors."

Like I said.

Today did remind me, however, of something a bit more compassionate Tim said to me on our trip (this, during a hike in Death Valley, when I became hysterical at the sight of a bug* so disgusting, I still don't know how it can stand itself): "I always say you should get out more, but maybe that's not such a good idea."

I'll drink to that!

*I had originally "mistyped" "bus" instead of "bug." Ya don't need to be a shrink to figure that one out.

February 10, 2008

The Big House

After Reno, we headed to Crescent City, CA so Tim could do some temporary work at the maximum security, Pelican Bay State Prison which houses some of California's most dangerous inmates.

My best friend from our residency in Tucson, Alene, was recently promoted to Chief of Psychiatry at Pelican Bay. She told me there is such a psychiatrist shortage (as there is all over the country, both in and out of prisons) that the state pays really, really well for temporary assignments. She said, "Doreen, you must come here and work for me!" I replied, "Alene, I don't care if you pay me a million dollars: I will never, ever work at Pelican Bay." Then, she told me what they do pay and I quickly responded, "Tim'll do it."

Tim, aka Project Nerd, Domestic Superhero, had been busy fixing up our house so we could sell it in a couple of years and live full time in the bus. A little extra cash would certainly help. Still, I didn't actually think he'd agree to this (and I'm sure, part of the draw was getting to live in the bus again), but he did and there we went.

Alene said she'd give us a shoe tour.

“Does it have a kitten heel?” I wanted to know. She explained that the SHU – or Secure Housing Unit – is where the most dangerous of the dangerous inmates are housed. The tour was fascinating. We not only got to go into "the hole" or solitary confinment, but even into an inmate's cell when he was in the yard.

The most bizarre part was the group therapy rooms. If you think about it, you certainly wouldn't want these violent offenders loose with each other in a room - or the therapist. Instead, they each stand in their own, individual telephone booth-like contraptions with bars and plexiglass over the front. They're then lined up in a semi-circle and that's how the therapist conducts the group.

Tim's position lasted about five weeks. Although he couldn't tell me too much about the specifics of his work, he did relate the time one of the inmates commented, "I'm really not a bad guy." At the look Tim gave him, the inmate responded, "Well... there was that one night."

Slash-Proof Tim

February 11, 2008

Psychiatry in Action

As a psychiatrist, I am possessed of keen powers of observation. For example, what do you notice about this guy walking on the beach in Crescent City?


I immediately noticed he’s a genius. What makes me so sure, you might ask. Look at him closely: In one hand, he has a chick-repellant, AKA metal detector. In the other, a super-duper mitigating agent, perhaps the most powerful chick-attractant of them all: kitten on leash.

Genius. Pure genius.

February 13, 2008

Beware Falling Moose

When Tim and I traveled the Seward Highway south of Anchorage (to get to the Kenai Peninsula) during our bus year, we were struck by the moose warning signs. It seemed to us shrinks a rather perverse twist on the notion of constructive criticism, since rather than merely warning, they also announced how many of the beasts had been hit on Alaskan roads thus far in the year.

Fortunately, we were also not struck by a moose, as this Alaska State Trooper nearly was when one fell off a cliff.

This was actually the only moose we saw on Kenai - a cow and her baby.

(And, speaking of moose, see my Feb 1 entry to win a poopin' moose - and a copy of QUEEN OF THE ROAD, of course.)

March 1, 2008

Rorschach Test

This is the famous rock. It was across the street from our campground in Morro Bay. Tell me what you see:


Here's a close up:


No right or wrong answers (this isn't a test, people!). Just a kinda you show me yours, I'll show you mine kinda thing.

May 5, 2008

April Winner and Shoes, The Musical

The April contest to win a galley copy of QUEEN OF THE ROAD (and moose poop) came out on April 1st, so I figured the theme should be A Royal Expose, in honor of April Fools' Day.You were charged to write about the "truth" behind Your Sovereign, Sir Tim, Our Bus, The Pets or really, whatever struck your fancy - anything at all in the QUEEN OF THE ROAD universe.

The theme seems to have been a stumper, but a ringer of sorts, WriterKat, came through. (Ringer because she's a writer with a fabulous writing blog to boot. She also works in the mental health field, but we won't hold that against her.)

Herewith, WriterKat's winning entry:

It wasn't what Judge Judy had in mind when she sentenced Dr. Queen and Dr. Queen to house arrest for the heinous unspeakable crime (think moose poop for cash ). But who is to say a bus is not a house. Chains strapped to their legs, the Drs. Queen peeled away from the courthouse ready for a new beginning. For sure they were kicked out of the Alaskan wild, but there's lots more adventures to be found on the open road than just that winter wonderland.

It's not to say being strapped down is all that fun, but bungie-jumping the Grand Canyon (they had to scale back up the cliffs since the chains had no bunge) wasn t exactly like the pain of digging holes in a field. (Don't go there: reminder, moose poop for cash). Certainly, it was more breathtaking than passing meds at the shrink joint (ignore the rumors, their meds are made from straight meds).

Halfway across Boonsville, they were at a loss for their next cash-crop. Fortunately, Dr. Mr. Queen excelled as the chain-footed driver, and Dr. Mrs. Queen chained herself to the computer, leaving us a year of memories in the Queenly novel, We Did It: A hypothetical Account of the Moose Poop Cash-Crop , [Editor's note: Change title ASAP to Queen of the Road: A True Tale of 47 States & NOT ALASKA, 22,000 Miles , 200 Shoes, 2 Cats, 1 Poodle, NO MOOSE, a husband and a House under Arrest that looks like a Bus. ]

Obvious why she won, no? (Although I'm not sure Tim will be pleased being called, "Dr. Queen." When my publisher first suggested the title, QUEEN OF THE ROAD, his only comment was, "People better not think that refers to me.")

And, please do head over to Robin Altman's (Kiddie Shrink extraordinaire - actually, I have no idea if she's a good shrink, but she's a hell of a funny broad) blog to see her response in our Shoe Off. I'd say she's thrown down the gauntlet with "Shoes, the Musical."

Now, I must retreat to the Royal dungeon to seek out my very best pairs of beauties, guarded all these years by the Imperial Dragon (hope he's not too pissed off).

May 29, 2008

Don't Let The Spark Die

The Nudist RV Park

Although I protested as long as I could, my husband and I did eventually hit the road in our bus with our two querulous cats, sixty-pound dog - and no agenda. So, another important thing we learned on our year-long adventure was: Don't let the spark die. It's crucial to keep challenging and stretching oneself. My pre-bus life had been so comfortable - too comfortable, in fact. It had become rote and routine. During our bus year, we actually became grateful not only for the adventures, but the disasters, as well (fire, flood, armed robbery, my developing a bus phobia and finding ourselves in a nudist RV park, to name just a few) because they helped rekindle that spark. We are afforded amazing opportunities in our country, and we all work very hard to achieve our goals, yet often we get there and feel like there’s something missing. If you're asking yourself, "Is this all there is?" Maybe you need to get on that bus - in whatever form it takes.

September 24, 2010

Making a Diagnosis Ain't Easy When You Gotta Pee

Some really strange stuff can happen when you're on a book tour.

Although I don't remember which talk show it was (probably not Oprah, I think I'd remember that - and be reminding you and myself of it constantly) like many of them, more than one show a day is filmed to be aired later. The show I was to be interviewed on was the last taping of the day, and I got to the green room just after the one before ended. The only person left was a woman who had been a guest on the previous show. I was too nervous and distracted to make conversation with her - I didn't even ask what her topic was. All I wanted to do was run into the adjoining bathroom to empty my pea-bladder one more time, and check my hair and makeup. She said she had to use the bathroom too, but took so long getting her stuff together, I really couldn't wait anymore (my taping time was imminent and well, you know), so I said, "I'll just be a second," and slipped in.

As soon as I locked myself in the bathroom, I heard the woman shout, "Bitch! C*nt! Whore!" Only, she wasn't usin' no asterisk, if you get my drift.

"WTF!" I thought (although I wasn't usin' no abbreviations, neither), "That woman's insane! She's going to kill me! I bet her show was on women axe murderers! Wait'll I get my hands on that damn publicist!" I know you're in awe of what a brilliant psychiatrist I am to possess such amazing deductive reasoning skills, but let me assure you, those kinds of snap assessments employing sound clinical judgement are simply all in a day's work.

I heard her curse some more and steeled myself. I had to get out of that green room so I could get on the show. Was I so intent on promoting my book that it was actually worth risking certain death (or, at the very least, a vast array of new prosthetic devices)?

What do you want from me?

I grabbed the only thing that wasn't nailed down (the metal toilet paper roll - clinical experience is one thing, but there's really no substitute for a sturdy, blunt object), opened the door, peeked out and quickly assessed the scene.

The woman was sitting calmly, albeit red-faced, in a chair. Using those same patented, finely honed assessment skills, I quickly determined she probably wasn't going to kill me after all. My superior clinical judgement was reinforced when she spoke.

"I'm so sorry. I was just here as a guest for the show on Tourette's."

And now, for your further amusement, one of the shows I did (in which I was not only asked about QUEEN OF THE ROAD - nudist RV park, armed robbery and all - but another weird book tour experience, this one involving killer crickets. Go figure):

November 1, 2010

Psychiatry In Action

For various reasons, I was thinking about our time in Crescent City on the bus. I meant to post today about Tim's latest foray into Project Nerd-dom, but I'm still recovering. So, I thought I'd just rerun this oldie (and I hope, goodie):

As a psychiatrist, I am possessed of keen powers of observation. For example, what do you notice about this guy walking on the beach in Crescent City?


I immediately noticed he’s a genius. What makes me so sure, you might ask. Look at him closely: In one hand, he has a chick-repellant, AKA metal detector. In the other, a super-duper mitigating agent, perhaps the most powerful chick-attractant of them all: kitten on leash.

Genius. Pure genius.

November 7, 2010

Kill Me!

After hanging up from a particularly vexing tech support phone call, I couldn't help exclaiming, "KILL ME!"

Tim, who was in the room next door, sang out, "Be right there!"

December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays!

I was talking to a lovely doc in Texas the other day, who mentioned he was going on vacation next week.

"What are you going to be doing?" I asked.

"Well, my idea of a vacation is lying around, not shaving and reading a good book." He replied.

Me too.

Happy Holidays!

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About Shrinking

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to What Do You Want From Me? by Doreen Orion in the Shrinking category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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