Susan's Blog

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Down the Rabbit Hole

I’ve been thinking a lot about the spin we put on things to feel better about them. I don’t do this often enough; I frequently torment myself with just how bad something was over and over again. Why do I want to make myself miserable? But I can’t help it. My mind gets stuck in certain tracks. Therapy and other tools have helped over the years — I won’t pretend I don’t have OCD — but still, obsessing and getting bogged down rather than spinning is part of my personality. Love me, love my bog.
Ned and Dad are better at spinning. In my last post, I mentioned how Ned spins the whole waiting-in-line irritant, where people do not move up to just the right distance behind the next person. What is the correct distance? Dane Cook has a funny bit about this, where he talks about a guy who was hedging, neither in one line or the other at Wal-Mart. I think the correct distance is something cultural; I actually studied this at Penn as part of my Communication degree. This study is called Proxemics, I kid you not. The right distance is totally ethnocentric. Yet I would expect that cars from Massachusetts and Connecticut would know that one whole car length is too long a distance! Ned spins his annoyance by saying, “What does it matter? It doesn’t get us in any sooner!” Ad nauseum.

Dad spins many, many things. Dad is totally Qui Gon Gin about everything. As I have no doubt mentioned, 69-year-old Dad is a total jock who must get a lot of hard exercise daily or he will be miserable. He loves to ride his bike, and here on the Cape the bike paths are wonderful. Dad mentioned the other day a phenomenon called, “Bike Path Farn,” which is only something you will understand if you are well-versed in the book, Watership Down by Richard Adams. Our family life and lore is suffused with stories, language, and characters from Watership Down. This book is not a child’s animal story; it is a fantastic read with fleshed-out characters, most of whom happen to be rabbits, a basic rabbit language and glossary, and a riveting adventure of how the rabbits go to find a safer place to live.

The rabbits’ lives are rife with danger. They are called the creatures with a thousand enemies. Much of what they think about and do is about identifying or escaping danger. Many of us can relate, I’m sure. “Farn” is the daze a rabbit gets in when staring at something, usually something dangerous, but also mesmerizing. The headlights of a hurududu (moving vehicle) can give a rabbit farn, and cause him to be killed.

Bike-path farn is what Dad came up with to spin his irritation with the families who gather in the middle of the bike-path, oblivious to all others, because they are so caught up in their vacation moment and enjoyment of each other, that they create a danger to themselves or other unsuspecting, fast-moving bikers. Dad’s ability to pin something annoying into a pleasurable, funny context (anything from Watership Down) helps him get on with his ride and his life. And it makes us all laugh next time we happen upon some annoying clusters of other vacationers.

How do you spin your life’s torments?


Recently I had a Discovery Toys party. I ended up with six guests and naturally made way too much bruschetta. I also had an extra bottle of Blue Nun and a ton of cheese and crackers left over. That night I had the hardest time sleeping because I kept going over and over the details of my party and kept torturing myself wondering if my friends felt any kind of satisfaction being here. Why do I do this to myself? It was over and done and there I was in my bed just brooding and stewing. So, uh, yeah…I don’t spin enough either.

— added by mrs. gilb on Thursday, August 17, 2006 at 10:04 pm

Tharn (not farn) is an old English country word used from where I live to the Somerset area to describe any animal that is transfixed by a threat. Think ‘rabbits caught in headlights’.

— added by Kev on Friday, August 18, 2006 at 1:19 am

Humour is always helpful. If I can twist something unpleasant into something funny – it helps tremendously. And I try to look at the big picture – if unpleasant thing A hadn’t happened, would we have arrived at very good thing B?

For instance – we chose to keep Kyle in a private Kindergarten to minimize transition. When things went badly there, we moved him into the public school – where he was very, very behind. He’s repeating kindergarten this year – because of the delay? because he’s Asperger’s? who knows. But I reassure myself that if he had started the year off with all the other kids, he wouldn’t have landed with the teacher that he did – and she made a world of difference to him and to the family. We was where he was *supposed* to be.

There are things I can’t let go, and when I catch myself in that rut I give myself a mental kick and force the brain elsewhere – working on some creative type project usually helps :o)

— added by Jen on Friday, August 18, 2006 at 8:34 am

I deal with issues introvertly (is that a word). I become quiet and prefer to analyze the situation, outcome and could I have done anything differently to alter the outcome.

I don’t talk to myself….at least I don’t think that I do.

— added by Martini on Friday, August 18, 2006 at 8:45 am

I think Kev was correct. I remember the word being “tharn” as well. Hm…I wonder if he’s an editor as well?

Regardless…I liked the post about “spin.” It is an issue that comes up in our house daily. My wife (and her whole family) seem to thrive on putting a negative spin on everything, and usually discuss what DIDN’T go right during the day rather than any sunny moments that took place.

This may be a Southern thing.

My father, who is also a 35th-generation Charlestonian sometimes puts the “bad” in front of the good, while my mom (good Italian/Russian-Jew that she is) is always quick to talk about the cool or groovy things that occurred during her day.

My wife speaks with her ‘rents on a daily, and often hourly basis, and I always try to interject (perhaps rudely, but hey!) a “positive spin” on daily life in our little Autistic universe. I just don’t find the negative to be all that compelling, plus it paints an unrealistically “bad” picture of how our lives are.

Of course, part of her negativity is just a cry out to her parents to understand how tough life is…but she was this way before we even married. Her parents do know, as do mine, just how tough day-to-day life can be. (You do too, I’m sure.)

So, I guess spin and perspective can go either direction, and really just represent two side of the coin.

That being said…when the shabizzle really hits the fanizzle, I simply say, “This too shall pass.”

And take a deep, deep breath.

PS: My dad is 72, and still has the energy of a far younger man. While he doesn’t bike like your dad, he works on his 1929 Model A (does body work), fixes big stuff at the house, and does a LOT of yard work. Amazing. I’m joining the gym after I get back from Cali.

PSS: If my dad is older than your dad, but I’m younger than you, doesn’t that make me older than you? He he he…

— added by Anton on Friday, August 18, 2006 at 4:04 pm

I guess my one of my spins is that autism makes a ton of things easier.

— added by mrs. gilb on Saturday, August 19, 2006 at 3:10 am

The word in Watership Down is “tharn”.

(I’ve read it one too many times, apparently!)

It’s a useful word – if I meet someone familiar with WD I can use it, and it’s the shortest way I can think of to describe it. 🙂

— added by Julia on Saturday, August 19, 2006 at 9:47 pm

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