On Babies, Breathing, and Pad Thai

A Two-fer. One blog old, one blog new….yet still connected in the quantum universe by One son and One slightly crazy father

The Older One:   Remembering to Breathe and Hold Babies by Cliff Mazer, Ph.D. (April,2010)

My youngest son Benjamin recently accused me, a single father of three young men, of not acting “serious” enough for a Clinical Psychologist. He said I make a “joke” out of everything except Auschwitz. He’s probably right. He said I should “act more professional”, which I assume means stroking my beard thoughtfully and portraying a more solemn and professional demeanor. Here’s what I DIDN’T tell him but wrote this morning after he left to go back to college following Spring break:

Dear Ben,  Do you really want to know why I joke around and make light of myself, the world and practically everything else? I think its honestly because I feel so much hurt and pain for a world in perpetual conflict rather than in love with life. To survive and NOT lose our minds we often have to purposely not think about all the injustice, the unimaginable cruelty, the children who are starving, the wars, the needless bloodshed, the grief of parents who have lost children to accidents, illness, drug addiction, etc., the unmistakable greed and inhumanity, and especially all the fighting over anything and everything…….over diamonds, over land, over designer jeans, oil rights, human rights, and now the right to quality health care.

I witness (practically on a daily basis) humans arguing over ideas and inventions, personal property, intellectual property, sex, child custody, money, politics, furniture…over being right and god forbid, never being wrong.

The conflict is an endless existential cacophony that would keep any sane person awake all nite and haunted all day until they, like most other people, find some way to harden their hearts and stifle their tears……..a waterfall of human tears that God watches in stunned silence………Some drink too much, or we scheme about how to get rich or buy real estate with no money down….We get excited about Thighmasters and Stairmasters and the Masters Golf Tournament and Ginsu Knife Sets with a Lifetime Warranty. We plan social events and throw elegant dinner parties. We join political parties…..and then argue even more. We create religious myths to explain the wretched silence like Deism and Theism and Atheism and fervently believe in a multiplicity of angry gods and benevolent saints. We analyze and theorize upon the nature of the Universe and pore over mathematical proofs and quantum models to try and make sense of it all, but also just to help us all not go totally bonkers that we understand so little and dont have all that much time to figure it out.

In the meantime, we(I) worry and obsess about our thyroids, adenoids, and hemorrhoids and we take our blood pressure and temperature to make sure we are still “normal”. We create new mental disorders to diagnose and then manufacture expensive psychotropic medicines to treat them and their alarming side effects. We conduct shaky scientific studies to warrant their use and often overuse. Even tho millions of people, including ourselves and our own kids take these medicines every day, a lot of them dont work much better than placebo sugar pills.

Ben, my son, my youngest son the Pre-Med student genius (I had to throw that in). NONE of that really matters as much as simple human kindness and stopping for a second to take a deep breath …to gain clarity and to REMEMBER to care for one another…including all the people we havent even met and who arent in our cellphone, buddy list, Facebook Timeline or Contact file at work. Maybe that’s why so many individuals are profoundly moved by the birth of a new baby and want to hold a soft little newborn and smell its baby fresh head and hair…Because, in that long, sweet, fragrant smell and touch Ben, we sense the RENEWAL of something real and uncomplicated like human love and caring and we get a chance to experience the absolute primacy of something pure, innocent, and yet untouched by the madness. It is something so holy and miraculous that it literally makes us come to our “senses” and remember our true humanity.

Finally Ben, I am so proud of you. Keep up the good work at college and remember to breath.  Love, Dad

P.S. Also, dont forget I wouldn’t mind having a grandchild someday (not yet) so that I can remember (for the fourth time) the single sweetest moment of my life…you and your brothers birth.
Cliff Mazer, Ph.D., Atlanta, 404-932-7193, Clinical Psychologist and Pirate Fanatic

One New: Reviewing Augusta/Disgusta (May 2012)

I realize this is not politically correct but….I just spent two days in Augusta, Georgia to get my Med School bound son settled into his temporary summer “dorm” room. Could a city/town and campus be any more disgusta? We looked around for interesting, good, non-chain food establishments. Nada. We attempted to overcome the biases and prejudices we’ve heard about a crumbling downtown and dilapidated housing with outdated plumbing, leaky water fixtures and about zero “green” architecture, restaurants, public works or cultural initiatives. We doubted the place could literally stink to high holy hell like others have reported (see Urban Dictionary under Disgusta/Augusta). Unfortunately, it all appears to be true.

To be fair, some people were nice and friendly, others appeared to be in a strange “Children of the Corn” like mental fog with glazed eyes and fixed stares. There were a lot of cop cars around and security guards intermingled with poverty and suburban blight. I could swear the Pad Thai I had at a Thai-Chinese lunch place had not one ingredient that resembled either the Pad or the Thai. We retreated to known entities including the Mellow Mushroom on Broad Street for dinner, and while the pizza looked familiar, we all got food poisoning later that night. Let’s at least give the town an A for consistency. How about a new Reality TV show where someone like Alton Brown from the Food Network teams up with someone from the US Department of Energy Conservation and Public Works/Redevelopment and they publicly humiliate the politicians and planners of Augusta for allowing a historic town with a Savannah-Charleston like potential to become something ugly and yucky and sterile and depressing? Hey, I know, they could hold such an event at the band shell at the highly touted “Riverwalk” area in front of the Augusta Mariott, which honestly is not a bad looking place, but appears to be mostly a minor diversion for wealthy businessman, drug reps, and confused tourists. Not to be extra picky but we watched the tail end of a Memorial Day Concert at the band shell and 1) they were missing half the requisite instruments in their orchestra and posted a desperate flyer for musicians and 2) the crowd was sparse, elderly and looked, dressed and acted like the non-Jewish middle class citizens of St. Louis….circa 1964. Music Man would have been more appropriate. What does this town do when the Masters is not in town and how do they justify a goy golf fest like that in the midst of rampant decay and economic collapse? Maybe I’m being all Atlanta snooty, but I’m just sayin’….”Ya Got Trouble”…trouble in river city.

About captaincliff

Psychologist by day, insomniac Pirate blogger by night, this Child of God likes to share sarcastic social commentary as well as topsy-turvy observations about life, love and the pursuit of zaniness, a functional form of insanity in an increasingly insane world
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