[Shortly after I moved to Los Angeles from San Francisco in 2002, I struggled with bouts of depression that eventually propelled me on a search for a therapist who would solve all my problems. I thought it would be amusing to trace my journey into and out of therapy by re-posting three previous blog entries—the first, written on the Fourth of July, attempts to communicate my post-move malaise; the second recounts my first therapy consultation; and the third takes a look at the bittersweet end. I'm in a much better place nowadays.]
July 4, 2003
Shall we sit back today and contemplate our independence? Shall we do this by throwing the Kelly Clarkson album on the CD player and put the "Miss Independent" track on repeat? Shall we go even further and say that Ms. Clarkson actually represents independence? Shall we venture out into the Southern California heat and transport ourselves to a movie theater and attend a showing of From Justin to Kelly and sit in the back row in order to ensure that we'll catch a glimpse of high school seniors giving each other head in the dark during the "boring parts?" Shall we stick the Clay Aiken single in a small battery-filled boom box and blast "Bridge Over Troubled Water" in some public square while lip-syncing the whole song and trying to convince perplexed strangers that it is actually we who are singing? Shall we rejoice over the news that there's going to be a second American Idol movie starring Clay and Rueben Studdard, and shall we pray that it's not called From Rueben to Clay? It's a frightening thought, even though it may push the boundaries of what's culturally acceptable or what's considered "in good taste." All this is a ruse, because I have not told you that since returning from my recent trip to San Francisco, I have been struck with a profound sadness. I can produce a laundry list of cheap and melodramatic reasons why this is so, but I can also produce an equally lengthy list of valid and heartbreaking reasons. I can also write an essay about how a significant portion of this sadness comes from sources that are unknown to me. I cannot and must not go into detail at this time. And you must not mention any of this to me, making me regret this journal entry. I'm still trying to sort things out, alone, thank you—hanging out at the bookstore and seeking out depression-busting self-help books and surfing the Internet for experienced psychotherapists. So I buy things. Shopping as therapy. Anything as therapy except therapy. Shopping is more fun. Shall we go shopping? Shall we head to our nearest Target store and shoplift the Justin Guarini album, because we would never spend any amount on money on that man? Shall we saunter up to the snack bar and demand a bag of popcorn, because Target has the best popcorn in the known universe? Shall we go home and pop disc two of the Rent soundtrack in the stereo that we bought during one of our shopping sprees and skip to the second to last track?
There's only us
There's only this
Or life is yours to miss
No other road
No other way
No day but today
This Is a Good Sign
July 11, 2003
I had my first free consultation with a therapist, who I tracked down via a Google search. (I typed "give me lots of drugs to stop me from being crazy" in the search box.) His initials are J.C., which, incidentally, are the same initials that Jesus Christ had. So I figure this is a good sign. This man will be my savior. I will refer to him from now on as Dr. J.
Dr. J is friendly and mild-mannered, whose practice is out in the Park LaBrea area of Los Angeles. He took me to a cozy room, where there were four different chairs.
DR. J: Take a seat.
PRINCE: Which one?
DR. J: Whatever makes you comfortable.
PRINCE: Is this a test?
DR. J: No. I just want you to be comfortable.
PRINCE: 'Cuz if this is a test, I don't wanna choose the wrong chair.
I swear, I think it was a test, though he never admitted to it. I definitely did not choose the chair that looked like it belonged to him. I mean, what would that say about me if I took his chair, especially since it was obvious that it was his chair?
After some getting-to-know-each-other, I told him, "I'm not big into that whole active-listening thing. I don't want you to repeat what I say, and ask me how I feel about it."
DR. J: Let me see if I understand this correctly. You don't like therapists who simply parrot their clients. Do you feel that this is an accurate representation of what you just said?
Okay, that wasn't really his response, but that would've been really fucking funny, huh? What he really said was something that was akin to agreeing with me and assuring me that using active-listening techniques wasn't really how he works.
In other news, thanks to Scott Heim for forwarding me this actual news story from the London tabloid, The Sun. It's about a girl at a carnival who won a Hulk doll that was more...complete...than she had expected. The English have all the fun.
Speaking of the English, I've been re-watching the Jeeves & Wooster BBC series on DVD. How funny are Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry? Really fucking funny. This show is so clever and delightfully mischievous. Rica Anderson holds a place in her heart for this series as well, and if she doesn't return my phone calls soon, I will be forced to leave repeated messages in the voice of a drunk Nick Nolte. But, really, is there any other kind of Nick Nolte?
Indefinite Therapeutic Hiatus
October 16, 2003
I told my therapist today that I wanted to go on a temporary, indefinite therapeutic hiatus for two reasons: I'd like to replenish funds (therapy ain't cheap) and I'm in a better place than when I started therapy three months ago (I'm making fun of people in wheelchairs less often). My therapist agreed we made progress and said his door was always open—for more long-term sessions or even for occasional one- or two-session "tune ups." And then we had passionate sex.
This evening I swung by Thai Town and picked up a CD by some Thai pop singer named Mos, who looked very hip, and a VCD (video compact disc) of a Thai horror movie called 999-9999. If you dial that number after midnight, a Satanic voice grants you a wish. But then, later on, you die a horrible death—you know, getting impaled on flagpoles, getting chopped up by metal blades in car washes, etc. It's kind of like The Ring meets Final Destination meets hip, attractive Thai teenagers. I saw the first half of the film so far, and it's really cheesy and derivative but also self-aware, occasionally funny, and sometimes visually clever. Anyway, this is all an attempt to get me more fluent in Thai. I grew up speaking it in my family, but I completely stopped when I moved out of the house a dozen years ago. I'm trying to get it back. I know the best way is just to watch Thai soap operas, but I can't quite psych myself up for that yet. So it's horror movies for now. Oh, yeah, and the lead actor, Chulachak Chakrabongse, is totally hot. From what I can tell from obsessive Internet research, he's not been in any other movies. I think he's actually better known as a singer. Oh, the joys and pleasures of sticky rice crushes! Sticky rice, sticky rice, all hail sticky rice! (FYI: Sticky Rice=Asian-on-Asian Love.)
By the way, I was kidding about sex with my therapist, in case you were wondering.
(We just made out—that's all.)