On the Bus in Edinburgh

I'm on the bus to Edinburgh and there's a European girl who has giggled the entire time. I just want to tell the guy shes with, "just go f*ck her in the bathroom and put us all out of our misery."
Dude must have some patter.

I'm a big jerk

But nothing like a severely disabled kid to ruin a perfectly-good lunch.


Yesterday, I walked to the library and returned some books and checked out some books. I got a copy of Junky by Burroughs. I know I've read that book a couple times. I took it off the shelf and started reading it and thought, "I just can't put this book down when I pick it up." So, last night, I turned off the computer and read Junky in bed for an hour. What a good read. He's got so many characters that I can't keep them straight. I remember reading it when I was seeing Dylan--the junkie. I wonder whatever happened to him. I'll bet I could find him on facebook if I really wanted. Delightful Facebook. Is there anything it can't do.
I wasn't featured in an interview, but they did show a clip of me running around the track the other day. I forwarded the link to everyone but no one could watch it because they're not in the Bronx. Which makes no sense because mom could see it. Perhaps aol's got some special deal.

I tried to run at the track today but there was still pesky ice on the track so I ran around the track. There was a kid out there in an orange t-shirt and shorts. He looked in his teens. He didn't have a hat or gloves or anything on and he was just wandering around the track. Not on it, but around the perimeter fence. I kept thinking and thinking if I should say something. I even went up the driveway to the Police station up there but no one was about. Every single car and truck they had was idling, though. WTF is up with that? Made me want to write a letter to the mayor or the Police Commissioner. I got a great way to keep soaring costs down: stop idling all the fucking Fords in the entire city for hours!

Whatever. Let it go. I can't fight every battle. I know I'm happy and content when my idle mind goes to television shows. That means that nothing's going on. I'm like Homer Simpson with a toy monkey clanging cymbals in his head. How pleasant is that?

What else? Going to meet Cindy at Milon at 6:30 pm. Perhaps I'll go into the city early for a couple hours and do some shopping at K-Mart. I should get some plastic jars to hold things like rice. I suppose I should get some more traps and the like. We've caught so many mice but there are so many in the walls. Where do they come from and why do they like to congregate there?

Getting a lot of feedback but no work so far from all the Katies. I think I should finish up there today. Who knows who the next name is. I'm thinking Aimee or something. It's got to be something I have no record of sending a lot of emails to. I don't want to do a lot of checking. I want to do all the Aimees at once so I don't have to see if I've already sent them emails. That's a pain in the ass.

I'm hungry. I was hungry yesterday. I think I ate too many carbs. I was close to binge behavior. I need to eat more fat and protein. I know it's silly, but it's true. Binging is one of the worst things to do and so far I've avoided it. There have been a couple times where I've wanted to emotionally eat. And I have.

God, help me let go of the messages that drive me into the crazies

God, help me let go of the messages that drive me into the crazies

It was 14 degrees this morning but I went for my run anyway. Everything was so frozen I didn't need boots. There wasn't much ice on the concrete track so that was nice; there also weren't many people out. There was a football league out. There's always someone standing around somewhere. Most of the time it's the park staff standing around shooting their mouths off. I pass them several times. By my count they stand around for fifteen, twenty minutes to half an hour. Just doing nothing. What the hell are they waiting for? The football players I almost wanted to shout at them: "Start playing already! You're wasting precious time." The kids doing field day in the summer also annoy me. Once, they lined the kids up on the track and I passed them about four or five times. They didn't have the kids doing anything; just standing in lines. At least fifteen to twenty minutes. So it goes.
I have a lot of cooking to do today. I have to do a vegetable stir fry. I have to do chicken Parmesan. All this cooking for myself. I can freeze stuff. It makes good little meals. My oatmeal this morning was just right in goldilocks parlance. Just right. I added the correct amount of salt (a lot) and a little more water than usual so it was soupier. I also found a box of Splenda and added a packet of that (calories 0). Because it's not recognized by the body as food! Ha! Michael Pollan would spin in his grave if he were dead. But he's not dead.

Yesterday afternoon, I went down to Chinatown and got my hair cut at the place I've been going to for the last year, I guess. Yep. Time flies. No, actually I think I got it cut at the last place. She did a good job, but she was always busy every successive time I went in there. I went around the corner to the place I go to now--on Forsythe. They've got a vibrating chair and finish every haircut with a great back and neck massage. Totally worth the $13. Cheap! A real experience.

After that, I wandered up to Delancy and over to Ludlow. Everything's changed and I can't remember what was there before. I made a point not to walk by my old building. Just don't want to see it. The Motor City bar is still there and looks the same. A lot of new bars and restaurants and clothing stores. I walked up Avenue A. What a boring street compared to below Houston. I used to love Avenue A. So it goes.

It was soooooo cold. I walked over to Second and was still very early for the dinner party at Nomad. I stopped into the Starlight Diner and sat at the counter and had a cup of decaf. They left me alone. After I paid I used the bathroom. Hey, you gotta pay in life. I paid for my time and my trip to the bathroom.

Had a good time at Nomad. Our table wasn't filled with big talkers but somehow a conversation was had.The food was great. I had the veggie burger which was a black-bean paste in the shape of a burger. It was very good. I didn't eat the bun or the fries. I knew they were coming but I avoided them.

It was cold out last night so at about four in the morning, I had to get up and put another blanket on. Brrrr! Cold. Now I really have to go to the bathroom!

Edie Falco's Aha! Moment - Oprah.com


She never wanted kids—until a milestone birthday and a bout with cancer made her rethink her priorities.

I never really wanted kids. I didn't not want them, but motherhood just wasn't something that pulled at me. My friends started having children after college, while I was pursuing this crazy acting career and living hand to mouth. Plus, all my boyfriends were artists struggling to make a living. Having kids didn't make any sense—why would I take on more of a financial burden when I couldn't even afford a dog?

As I got older and had more serious relationships, the topic of children would sometimes come up. But it was always the man's suggestion, and I'd think, "Well, if kids are what he wants, and if that's what you're supposed to do at this point, maybe I should…" Still, none of those relationships lasted.

Then something happened that I hadn't anticipated: I started going on dates and thinking, "Is this the guy who's going to give me kids?" The idea of motherhood began to take on its own life inside me.

I turned 40 in July 2003, and that September I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had eight months of treatment, and in the spring of 2004, when I was given a clean bill of health, I had one of those moments of clarity where all questions and debates just fall away. The direction was clear: I didn't have to wait for the right man, or to be more ready, or to have more money or a bigger apartment. It was time for me to start a family on my own.

I immediately called a New Jersey adoption agency. (I could have given birth through IVF—I was healthy enough after my cancer treatment—but I wasn't interested.) I started filling out the four million pages of paperwork, which normally would have been daunting enough to keep me from following through. This time, though, I sat there and took it one tedious page at a time.

Within a year, I found myself in a room, waiting. I can remember it like it was five seconds ago. A social worker handed me a teensy baby—my son, Anderson—and my parents and I just lost it. He was so beautiful. Last year, I got my daughter, Macy; she's a dream.

Being a single mother was the right thing for me. But I have a tremendous amount of help from my friends. They're in love with my kids, and my kids are in love with them. We're joined in a sort of bizarre communal arrangement: When I go to work or to an event, my kids are with these friends, and we spend evenings, weekends, and holidays with them, too. It's the closest thing to a family I've had since I was a child.

I haven't given up on having a relationship with a man. It's just not the priority it used to be, and I don't feel "less than" without it. My idea of happiness is different now from what it used to be. It's not the jumping-up-and-down kind; it's a contentedness. The overriding feeling is gratitude, and once you have that it builds on itself and creates this whole giant tower that you can't escape—and you're even more grateful. I am in awe of the way things have turned out. Maybe life isn't supposed to be crappy; maybe the good times are where we're supposed to live.

As told to Suzan Colón

MDMA / Ecstasy psychotherapy sessions with women who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder

Ecstasy approved for medical study

picture of Dr Michael Mithoefer
Dr Michael Mithoefer
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A South Carolina psychiatrist said Wednesday he will immediately start recruiting patients after winning approval to conduct the first study testing MDMA -- better known as ecstasy -- as a therapeutic tool. Dr. Michael Mithoefer plans to conduct psychotherapy sessions with 20 women who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder due to sexual assaults or other violence, and who haven't been helped by other treatment. Twelve of the women will receive MDMA prior to the sessions while eight will be given a placebo.
The Food and Drug Administration approved Mithoefer's protocol in 2001, but it took another two years to find an institutional review board willing to sanction the study, which is a required step when dealing with human research subjects.
Mithoefer's research required approval from the Drug Enforcement Administration because MDMA is a Schedule I drug. It's grouped with drugs like heroin, cocaine and LSD, all considered to have no medical use.
Bill Grant, a spokesman for the DEA, said the final approval came Tuesday night.
Mithoefer says he works with post-traumatic stress disorder patients all the time and he's excited about the possibility of finding a better treatment for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who suffer from the sometimes debilitating disorder.
"We owe it to them," he said. "It would be irresponsible for the medical community not to investigate something like this."
At the same time, he warns that using MDMA in an uncontrolled setting can be very dangerous.
"It's really important for people to realize the fact that we have permission to do this study and we can do it safely in this setting," he said.
Also, the fact that he's received permission for the study, he said, "does not mean that you can use ecstasy safely and anywhere."
MDMA was first invented in 1912 but largely ignored until young people made it a recreational drug starting in the late 1970s. Psychiatrists quickly became aware of its unusual properties, and several dozen experimented by giving MDMA to patients -- including people suffering post-traumatic stress disorder -- and others with intense anxiety after receiving diagnoses of terminal cancer.
One of those patients from the early 1980s is an artist now living in the western United States, who spoke with CNN. She did not want her name used.
After being raped and beaten at age 17, the woman suffered severe panic attacks for eight years, leading to three hospitalizations before being treated with MDMA. Before those sessions, she said her trauma was misdiagnosed as schizophrenia, severe depression and bipolar disorder.
"MDMA allowed me, for the first time, to sit with the details of the event, and separate them from what was happening in the present," she told CNN. "I was able to relax my body. I was able to say, 'this is not happening to you right now.' "
Suicidal at the time, she said the treatment may have saved her life.
"There might have been another way, but the way that I see it is that I probably would have died," she said.
"When someone is traumatized, walls form around trauma -- like a scar -- and it's hard to get someone to open up and talk about it," explains Dr. Julie Holland of New York University, author of "Ecstasy: A Complete Guide."
"What's unique about MDMA is that it's actually stimulating but decreases anxiety," Holland told CNN. "It could help people feel calm and comfortable enough to explore painful things that are hard to talk about."
"A good analogy is that it would give psychiatry something akin to anesthesia during therapy," she said. "And unlike anesthesia, your memory is completely intact, but even enhanced. You remember the trauma very clearly, but are comfortable enough to talk about it."
"Because it anesthetizes the patient to some extent," Holland said, "you can get to that malignant core in one or two sessions instead of three or four years."
But Dr. Scott Lillienfeld, a psychiatrist at Emory University who has studied post-traumatic stress disorder, said that hypothesis is "at the least, muddled."
Lillienfeld said effective treatment actually requires the patient to face their trauma head-on. "If you're calm, you're not getting at the root of the problem," said Lillienfeld.
He also said Mithoefer's study has methodological problems.
"There's no real placebo," he said. "Everyone will know who's on the drugs. What I wonder is, instead of a placebo, why aren't they giving a drug that mimics the physical effects?"
Mithoefer said all participants will have to undergo psychiatric screening and a physical exam to ensure they don't have any physical risk factors. Ecstasy, a strong stimulant, is thought to be particularly dangerous to people with high blood pressure. It also has been known to cause dangerous overheating in people who take it and then exercise or dance for a long period of time.
Patients in this clinical trial will be given the drug only one or two times. They will be under a doctor's supervision for the entire time they are under the drug's influence.
Mithoefer said he hopes to begin the actual therapy sessions next month.

Helping Keep a City Clean, and Maybe Safer - NYTimes.com

January 18, 2009

Helping Keep a City Clean, and Maybe Safer

ROSEVILLE, Calif. — Gary Garcia probably knows the early-morning rhythms of the streets here in this city just north of Sacramento better than anyone besides his fellow garbage truck drivers. Anything that breaks the morning pattern is obvious to them, which makes it easy for the garbage collectors to perform an added job — eyes for the police.
"See, here's an odd vehicle here," Mr. Garcia said, gesturing toward a red Ford sedan parked by itself, far from the nearest house, on a street where every other vehicle sat neatly in a driveway. He drove by slowly, peering down into the car but seeing nothing on the seats. "It's an odd place to be parked."
It is a low-tech approach to surveillance, relying not on satellite cameras, space-age radiation detection devices or even neighborhood Webcams. In more and more towns, drivers and garbage collectors are helping the police keep up with what is happening on the streets.
Some of the nation's biggest waste collection companies, including Waste Management and Republic Services, have been participating in the program for several years, allowing police departments to train their workers on what to look for.
The program is now operating in 96 municipalities nationwide, including Londonderry, N.H.; Salt Lake City; Denver; and Fort Worth. "The program has really, I would say, caught fire in the last couple of years," said Zachary T. Lowe, a former F.B.I. agent who was an early proponent of the program as vice president and chief security officer at Waste Management. "We have not advertised it."
The company's "Waste Watch" program suggested the idea to officials of Roseville, whose garbage collectors are municipal employees. Local police officers trained the drivers, who are not paid extra for participating, last summer.
Most mornings, Mr. Garcia says, are loud — as his big truck rumbles to the curb, and its mechanical arm picks up, empties and repositions 90-pound plastic trash bins — and predictable. Once in a while, though, he spots something that seems out of place — that red car near Bill Santucci Park, for example, or on another day a man walking aimlessly at 7 a.m. in a neighborhood that rarely has foot traffic.
About once a month, Mr. Garcia says, he sees something unusual enough to merit a call to a special police number.
Police officers say they appreciate the drivers' tips, especially as budgets shrink. Over the last two years in Roseville, the police department has left 10 positions unfilled. Having the garbage trucks on patrol may not take the place of a police car, but it helps.
"It's a huge benefit for us," said Lt. Michael Doane, watch commander for the Roseville police. "Obviously we're not increasing law enforcement staff right now, because of budget issues."
Lieutenant Doane recalled a tip from a driver who had spotted a man walking down a street, peering into parked cars. "We went out and investigated, and sure enough the person had done some auto burglaries," he said.
Apparently the man never noticed the passing garbage truck, Lieutenant Doane added. "Everybody is used to seeing garbage trucks and public street workers and electric meter readers out every day," he said. "Nobody pays any attention to them."
Drivers are told not to intervene when they see something suspicious, said Aric Henschen, general manager for Republic Services in Aurora, Ill. They are asked instead to "make sure you get a license plate number, try to get as much physical information as you can."
Drivers' tips have led to drug-trafficking arrests, Mr. Henschen said, and to the discovery of a corpse in a home that had gone so long without having any trash that a driver grew suspicious.
Toby August, a senior driver in Roseville, said he often reported people he suspected of being drunken drivers. "Three guys got in a Jeep, all with beers, the driver talking on a cellphone," he said. "I called that one in."
Riding high in the cab of a garbage truck, it is impossible not to notice things. Signs of family life are evident in trash: a birth is announced by a crib's big cardboard box, the aging of children shown in the abandonment of a kiddie pool. Garbage collectors are also informal, hands-on economists, Mr. Garcia said, explaining that when times are good, everyone produces more garbage and that the absence of trash is often a sign of a foreclosed home.
"You can tell how well a particular restaurant is doing from the amount of trash," he said.
Having a recognized, official reason to notice and analyze is a source of pride, Mr. Garcia said, something that helps make up for the obscene gestures and angry honks from impatient drivers trying to pass his truck.
"They have no idea what we do," he said.