Inter generational anxiety

For years I kept a copy of National Geographic because it contained a fascinating article about the human brain and all the new things that the scientific community was learning at the time. It compared twins, one had schizophrenia and the other one didn’t. I wondered (and still do) why one twin would be “normal” why the other one suffered from that disease.

I had also read up on other mental illnesses. It turns out that many or most are genetic. If fact, I had also read about an anxiety gene. I wonder if anything has changed on the one.

I suffer from OCD and depression. I had always been a worrier and it took me years of hard work to get to where I am today. However, I am somewhat fragile and sometimes it feels like things could fall apart easily. One of my parents is like this but has never been diagnosed, but now a third generation is showing the symptoms. So does this anxiety gene exist? How are our brains different from those of people who do not suffer from anxiety? These are questions I hope to answer, even though I may have to wait for science to catch up to my queries.


Why Everything Reminds me of the Hunger Games

When I finished my doctoral dissertation about the Latin American Novel of the Dictatorship in 2007 I was hoping to eventually find another literary work that was a social criticism, but on a much more global scale. I found it rather unexpectedly in 2012 in a trilogy written for young adults. The Hunger Games was written by Suzanne Collins, the daughter of a Vietnam Veteran who was very knowledgeable about world history. I read up on Collins after reading her work and I wasn’t surprised to learn that about her father. The underground district 13 reminded me of the Cu Chi tunnels in Vietnam. There are so many references to history, Roman and Greek mythology and modern literature that even though the work is supposed to occur in the future, it reminds one of the past and present.

Supposedly Collins was channel surfing between a war documentary and a reality t.v. show when she got the idea for The Hunger Games. That is probably why the games themselves seem like an episode of Survivor, but with a very violent twist. Also referring to the Greek myth of the Minotaur, Katniss not only refers to the hero of that myth but also Spartacus from Roman history. Katniss’ last name, Everdene, also refers to a more modern heroine, Bathsheba Everdene in Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy, another strong female character.

The funny thing now is that when I reread a novel of the dictatorship, it reminds me of The Hunger Games, even though the work is futuristic, post apocalyptic and dystopian, it is also a novel of the dictatorship. The most important thing that I learned from reading the trilogy is that not everyone who goes to war wants to go to war. Sometimes they just have to. It’s inevitable and that is true for many novels of the dictatorship. The ending of the work is poignant and rings true for many of the novels of the dictatorship that I have read. It seems to say, “Life goes on, but you never forget.”

The Hunger Games criticizes modern society in so many ways. All you have to do is ask yourself, “Are we the capital?” If you are middle class or higher in a so-called first world country, then the answer is yes. The intricacies in which we unknowingly take advantage of other countries and their natural resources are astounding, while we really doing nothing meaningful to “level the playing field.” A live example of this was when I went to Peru in 2012. I was so excited by The Hunger Games I was telling everyone to read it. The man I spoke to in a book store in Lima said “Eso es cosa para los jovencitos” (for adolescents). When I explained why adults should read it, he said it wasn’t necessary because they already had lived it. Being a Latin Americanist, I realized he was talking about the years that Peru was ravaged by the Shining Path. Could a middle aged American who was born in this country and grew up here say the same thing? Within our country we have not experienced anything like it for a long time.

Grace & Frankie: about Marriage

I love Lily Tomlin. I also love Sam Waterston. Currently I am watching “Grace and Frankie” on Netflix which is produced by Tomlin and Jane Fonda. I guess I must regress and explain what this is all about. Sol (Waterston) and Robert (Martin Sheen) are law partners. They are married to Grace (Fonda) and Frankie (Tomlin) but have been secretly in love with each other for 20 years. They decide to divorce their wives and marry each other, now that gay marriage is legal. Of course, the two women are very upset with this news, thus the title of the work. Obviously, even though the two men are important characters, as are the couples’ grown children, the story focuses more on the two women, who I haven’t seen act together since “9 to 5.” That may be why I keep expecting Dolly Parton to walk through the door. Just kidding!

I’m not anti-gay. In fact the point I am making is quite the opposite. Frankie and Sol are like butter and cream. They seem to be made for each other and still hold each other in high esteem. However, Robert and Grace are more structured and cold people. My question is: will Robert and Sol’s relationship really last? Will Robert be too structured for Sol? Will Sol go back to Frankie? I don’t think so. I think the two men will even each other out, like most couples do.

A work in progress, but aren’t we all…

I was unemployed for a long time and of course, I was worried. I was told don’t worry and don’t dwell on your anger, just keep looking for a job, keep busy. So I did because it made me feel useful. But, in time, I had some welcome distractions. My Dad got very sick. I couldn’t be near him so I prayed for him. A friend’s dog died, so I prayed for her. An old classmate was stuck overseas in a war, so I prayed for him and his family. A Facebook friend’s friend was sick, I prayed for them. There was political upheaval in a far-off country because their neighbor to the east invaded. I prayed for them. I continued praying for anyone or anything that needed my prayers and found out that people were praying for me. I didn’t get everything I wanted but I did end up with a pretty good job….but I still haven’t stopped praying.

Lessons learned

I’ve been teaching for years but my career in academia isn’t going the way I would like it to go. However, I think some of the problem is that I don’t know what I want. I don’t want to be on a publishing treadmill and I don’t want to just teach. I’d really like to do something else temporarily, well at least once the semester ends. But I am wondering what I should do.

How do you decide? Maybe I should just start writing and writing and hope it leads to something.

The beginning

So at night before I go to bed I look out the window over the sea. In the distance, rocking on the waves, I usually see a boat or two. Some fishermen who decided to stay out in the bay instead of coming back to shore. Supposedly, some of them sleep better out there. The waves rock them to sleep. For me, the sound of the ocean lulls me to sleep and most beautiful is when the moon is full and casts it’s lights onto the ocean. I sit there, staring out the window, watching the moon and the boats rock gentle on the waves with the stars twinkling about them. After that I usually have not trouble falling asleep.

It is strange, living in this strange land and trying to adapt to the new world around me.  The people here are kind but there seems to be a pervasive sadness in this culture.

I chose my apartment because I wanted to be close to where he lived. It is a type of penthouse on top of a large yellow building. It is small however, and the ceilings are quite low. A very tall person would be uncomfortable here. Supposedly, this is the place where he was born.

He. My reason for being and for being here. Yet that is a bit dramatic. I chose to come here to find out more about him and to see the things he would have seen, yet in more modern times.

Yet, sometimes at night when I am writing I feel the presence of another being in this small apartment. Other times, it’s as if something takes ahold of me and I produce much writing yet I don’t remember any of it in the morning. I read what I supposedly wrote and it doesn’t seem like something I would write at all.

However, I refuse to delete any of it because it is far superior to anything I would write.

I have friends at the university but for the most part I live a rather solitary life, except for the neighbor’s cat who seems more attached to me than the neighbor.

A Time to a Forgive

Years ago I was studying Spanish in college and there was a very short story by Jorge Luis Borges in the textbook. It’s a strange story about Cain and Abel and I have used it several times while teaching. Basically, they meet years (or centuries) later and Abel had forgotten that Cain killed him. But Cain doesn’t forget, because he still feels remorse.
Yesterday I saw the movie “The Railway Man.” It is a similar story except the main character Lomax played by Colin Firth is a former P.O.W. Of the Japanese during WWII. He suffers from PTSD from being tortured.
I would rather not tell what happens in the film because I would rather that people actually see it, even though at times it is hard to watch. However, I learned a lot about history and the story is rather humbling in that someone forgives someone else against incredible odds.
The question is: do we decide to forgive or do we forgive when we no longer remember or care about the offense. Or like Lomax, do we forgive after we obtain another perspective.
I don’t remember how Siskel and Ebert rated the movies in the past but I would give this one a lot of thumbs up!
By the way, I promise to get back to The Hunger Games soon.