Very Exciting Stuff from NCBI


Very, very, very exciting stuff.

My fantasy: someday they can use electrical tech to non-invasively and non-chemically treat depression.

Sharing Lucy’s Simple Pleasures

On Tuesday November 24, 2015, the 51st anniversary of Donald Johanson’s discovery of Australopithecus afarensis (“Lucy”) at the Afar Triangle of Ethiopia, my  Lucy, the First Human trailers on YouTube got a total of five hours of airtime. That means my Lucy came up in searches and someone probably shared her. That is a real thrill.



Still, THE BLUE LADY, Storyboard Two: Elizabeth

 I have hated Thanksgiving Day with a flaming passion since I was an elementary schooler. I associate it with being in a dark strange house with damp, stale air where all the windows are shut tight and you get yelled at by your mother if you don’t sit still – which is hard because you’re wearing Sunday clothes and shoes that are probably already too small. Oh, I forgot the inevitable migraine from eating food that I probably already was allergic to.  

The only Thanksgiving Day that I was ever able to shake off the memory of that misery and enjoy the day was in 1981, the year that my little sister and I made Thanksgiving dinner for ourselves on an unseasonably frigid day (6 degrees fahrenheit/14.444 degrees celsius) in my minimalist, furniture-less railroad car apartment in Hoboken NJ with a 6-pound turkey (the first I ever roasted), my sister’s violin, “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and “Animal Farm.” That Thanksgiving Day made up for all the nightmare Thanksgiving Days that happened before it. Sometimes since that day, remembering it has gotten me through my inevitable Thanksgiving Day descent into darkness, claustrophobia and despair. 

My husband and I will be alone today. We are having Havarti lambburgers on giant portobellos as buns with spinach béchamel as dressing. And (likely while I’m shooting) I will be thinking about Amaranta, probably the same age that I am now, changing the position of her chair on the veranda every day in order to follow the sun. 

Sylviatoyindustries, wishing you minimal PTSD

Fragment: Girl Up

64f7b-sylviatoyindustries2btyftb2b7When I was five years old, a middle-aged family friend grabbed me from behind and stuck his hands down my pants. I didn’t like it. I especially didn’t like being grabbed from behind.

That first molestation apparently was just a test. Mr. Anglin did it again on another occasion and asked me to swear not to tell. I said no, “My mother won’t let me swear.” He thought that was funny at first and asked me again and again. And I refused. He let me go. That was the end of it.

I have remembered and described the situation a number of times since I finally told my parents about it when I was 18.  And then, last night, I remembered the look of fear on his face every time we were at his place after that. I remembered that cowardly look of fear while watching the movie Experiment in Terror, in which a man terrorizes a woman bank teller (whom he first grabs from behind) into stealing $100K from the bank where she works. And then I flashed back to the over 6 foot tall man who, approaching me from behind on Sixth Avenue in New York, tried to get under my umbrella. I was furious – not scared – furious; and I  closed the umbrella  even though it was pouring – so violently that I broke it – and I turned to confront him and say, “Do you want me to get a cop?” He kicked me and shoved me and I marched right past him saying “Okay, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.” He looked really freaked out and took off across the street in front of rush hour traffic.

I know that the bad guy in the movie would have just had to kill someone like me, who would never give in – who would rather die than give in – and find another teller. I know I’ve been lucky, not just careful, assertive and smart. But a look of fear of you, a 5 year-old, on a grown man’s face is really heady stuff that teaches you that you don’t have to let men push you around.

So, I never have.


I’m Not A Victim – Are You?


We are fortunate in the USA that our 20th century civil rights movement cemented dialectics of diversity into our culture. It’s a great resource. I cannot imagine that the same is not also true in India, South Africa and to a certain extent, Australia.


Long story short, there is almost nothing for which I have more scorn than a coward. And when he told me that his father and his father’s father also were cowards, and that in spite of/because of being a coward, his grandfather lived to the age of 99 until he was hit by a truck somewhere in New Jersey.

I have had to be too brave to be able to understand/empathize with cowardice – so, the engagement was off. I have no regrets (neither does he); and in fact, I’m glad to have had that moment to remember and eventually put into enough perspective to appreciate that, yes, cowardice is a very effective survival mechanism if a man is still walking about at the age of 99 and might have lived who knows how much longer if not for that truck.

One thing is sure (and my ex-fiancé) made sure that the distinction was made: Grandpa was a coward but he was not a victim until he met that truck.

There is absolutely nothing I despise more, have more scorn for, than a person who sees him/herself as a victim; and who goes about the world that way – truck of doom or no truck of doom. If you have seen my profile picture and are surprised that I would say that because I am a black woman in America (or probably just about anywhere, for that matter); well, we are not in the same room and you should count your lucky stars that we are not.

I am not not-a-victim because I’m intelligent, smart, pretty, not-that-dark-anyway. I am not a victim because it is my choice not to be. I could not look myself in the eye if I saw a victim looking back at me. And I would despise myself.

Long ago, a very stupid (and probably drunk, probably also self-victimizing) young white man tried to convince me that I am a victim simply by virtue of being a black woman. In other words, drunk and stupid as he was, he tried to convince me that I was less than him. 

The moral of that story is that being a victim is a state of mind – nobody can go inside your head and make you one. You have a choice whether or not to self-victimize. 

Vigil for twilight


Still, THE BLUE LADY, First Storyboard

I am awake at nearly 02:00 and hoping to stay awake in order to avoid having another anxiety dream like the one that woke me up half an hour ago. I woke up with the same migraine that seemed to be trying rule my life all day yesterday. It’s so interesting how humans personify pain and unpleasant emotion.

I have been having a lot of anxiety dreams for the past few weeks – ever since I became aware of the change in light near sunset. It happens every year (and for as long as I can remember) that as soon as I become aware of twilight happening before 18:00, anxiety sets in.

My seasonal anxiety disorder makes me cringe every year for several weeks, beginning at some point before Thanksgiving as if doom is about to swoop down like a cloud of murk and death and smother me.

I used to believe this feeling was some sort of PTSD, i.e., a forgotten memory of something horrible thing that happened in November. But having annually combed my memories for decades, often while in psychotherapy, I think that if this dread does arise from a memory, it is not my memory.

I believe my dread is cellular neurochemistry – a fragment of instinct inherited from some cave dwelling ancestor whose baby died at first frost or whose family starved because the men never returned from hunting one day.

I believe that I have anxiety in autumn because awareness of the change in light triggers my body to do that. I am hypervigilant. I suddenly break out in hives for no reason while doing housework. I hoard.

I don’t think there’s anything I can do about my seasonal anxiety except wait for it to be over and hold vigil for twilight at 18:00 on January 31st.

Improvisation Rehearsal for VOICE, Episode 4: The First Known Space Travel of a Psychotic Voice

This improvisation is based on my first experience of a labile state in the presence of my psychotherapist. Grateful to her, Ms. Gail Awesome, who would be proud of me for having achieved the perspective to be able do an improvisation like this without actually becoming labile in the process. I am also grateful to my acting teacher, Luis Oropeza, whose spirit I felt frowning at me yesterday and telling me I could go deeper.

I am back in rehearsal for this scene today – costumed, just in case any of it’s any good. Episode 4 will be released on March 1st.