Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pogo and other addictions

I was wondering the other night if all of the so-called addictions -- alcoholism, drug addiction, compulsive debting, gambling, and all the rest -- aren't often or always simply the hypomanic phase of Bipolar II. Bipolar II is a mild form of Bipolar disorder, what used to be called manic-depressive. In Bipolar II, the depression and anxiety are severe, but the mania is a little milder, what is called hypomania. It's characterized by things like obsessiveness with new interests, overspending, and hypersexuality. Maybe that's why people who are addicted to one thing will often become addicted to another.

All depressed women know how to play Solitaire, I told my husband the other day. I don't even know who taught me. Probably another depressed woman in my family. I'm an old hand at it. For about ten months, I've been playing games at a site called Pogo, which is what they call a "casual gaming site." Apparently these are very popular with women, as opposed to those online roleplaying dungeon whatevers that boys seem to like. Pogo has things like card games and word games and puzzles; also, casino games. You win and lose tokens, which can be exchanged for sweepstakes entries. It costs nothing to play, but for something like $25 a year, you can use the site ad-free.

I have a handful of games I like to play, mostly puzzles and word games, and I play them every day in the same order, with various rules for how long or how many times play each. I played the casino games for a while but got kind of bored with them. (I've actually gone to real casinos a handful of times and only played slots, but at times felt a little too into it.)

Like all of my other strange little obsessions and habits, it seems to calm and relax me.

I actually got a small publicity job, trying to get a book blurb through one of my few remaining good contacts on behalf of the good former boss who hired me (as opposed to the bad one who fired me). I had to write an e-mail, basically, and will get a bonus if we get a blurb. It was nice to be asked, and I still seem to have my chops.

Lately, I see some of the smarter people I've known turning up as experts on TV shows and in documentaries. Recently, I was watching an old American Experience about John Dillinger, and one of the experts was Professor Claire Bond Potter, whom I knew as a graduate student in history when I worked at the NYU history department. Today, I watched a show about Folkways Record and the talking head was someone from summer camp, Richard Carlin, who wrote a book about the label and is a music editor and writer. I'm not an expert on much, but I'm awfully opinionated.

My jewelry-making stuff is still packed away, and I miss working with it. I'm subscribed to a beading magazine now, and I feel like some of the styles and trends are passing me by, though I'm rarely slavish about jewelry fashions. I just like trying new things.

One night recently, I watched a couple of those fascinating new shows about hoarders. The next day, I watched a show about "pickers" -- antiquers who travel around looking for old houses and barns where they can pick through "junk" to try to find treasures. The pickers visited some collectors who seemed to me to be just a whisper away from being hoarders. And are the pickers perhaps future hoarders? They almost seemed to have that hoarder mentality: "Oh, someone will want this sometime." "This could be used for something." "This is good stuff." At times, the only difference between some of the collectors and the hoarders is that the collectors had all nice stuff and they was often some sense to the arrangement, but their homes were almost as cluttered and dysfunctional/non-functional as the hoarders'.

My Dad and Mary came to town last week and took us out to lunch at the Second Avenue Deli, in lieu of Passover. It was a rare treat -- for them because they're actually good and generally don't eat this stuff, and for us because most of our local delis are not quite as good. It was actually kind of fun and informal, and about as good as deli gets. And probably a month's worth of sodium for the whole hypertensive crew. But good tongue, corned beef and pastrami are worth it, once in a while.

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