From Alice's physician

Dear Fansleepy readers:

I was asked to update you re: the status of Alice Bradley's attack of Acute Blogging Criticism Excessive Sensitivity Syndrome. I don't want to bring up what caused her ABCESS for fear of her reading this and suffering a relapse. I will say only that it was a medley of comments, emails, and happened-upon message board conversations, and that, between you and me, my patient is a teeny bit of a drama queen. Anyhoo, Alice felt that her rehabilitation protocol might be of some use to her readers, and asked me to share it with you. As if I am being paid to type. (Please note: I am not.)

The goal of ABCESS therapy is to guide the sufferer back to a positive relationship with the World Wide Web. Because a certain someone over here would throw up whenever she saw a computer, we began by taking the babiest of baby steps. Still, every step forward is a step closer to health, or whatever.

First I encouraged the patient to follow her own instincts toward recovery. Alice suggested that brownies might give her an emotional boost, which I doubted, but on the other hand I love a good brownie, so why not try? Her first batch was from a mix, and after we ate about twelve of them and she was more agitated than ever, I suggested that perhaps baking from scratch would be more therapeutic and also boost her confidence in her creative process. And let's use the good chocolate, because otherwise, why bother? After baking that batch, she claimed not to feel any better at all. I suggested that I take the brownies home, as seeing her failed creative output might cause her symptoms to increase in severity. She agreed with this. (Score!)

Next I had her stumble upon myself and her husband trash-talking her. "Between me and you, I never thought she was all that," I told Scott, as Alice hid behind the kitchen door.

"I'm not really comfortable with this," said her enabling husband.

"Her writing leaves me cold. And nauseated. And she calls herself a mother? "

"Are you a real doctor?" asked Scott. "Who sent you, again?"

"Did you see that thing she wrote about her kid? Who names their kid Henry, anyway?"

"Actually that was my idea," said her husband, who seemed to be suffering some ABCESS himself. He wasn't going to cooperate with the program, I could see that. No matter: I could hear Alice snuffling into a kitchen towel. But not throwing up. Progress!

Today we moved on to my assuming the identity of the Other: the all-seeing, all-judging Critic who finds every part of her life unimpressive and, frankly, pathetic. When she woke in the morning, I was standing at her bedside, shouting epithets. I followed her around all morning, declaring her scrambled eggs "trite" and her coffee-making skills "rudimentary at best." I scribbled comments in the margins of her grocery list: "Get a life!" and "Loser!" This day was the most fun I'd had so far. When her husband went out to buy the groceries I sat in the corner of the room as she played with her son, and I booed at her.

As I was going over my critique of her newspaper reading ("soooo boring") and her clothing choices ("you just can't accept that your jeans look like crap on you"), I noticed that she was hauling my luggage onto the sidewalk. The patient, it seems, no longer needs her doctor, having made a full recovery. I thought I could see a grateful tear rolling down her cheek as she dragged me by the feet out the door. God, I'm good.