by j-a

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Feb, 2003


Jim calls this morning, after I'm up and awake and ready to go, to tell me that the roads are too bad. I said, "They don't look too bad to me." But he said he'd call me later or tomorrow. I've got a feeling... But, never mind.

Joyce called this evening around nine. She wanted to know if I'd come over tomorrow and help Danny with an outline for his paper, since she had to work and didn't have the time to do it, because Danny had been sick the last three days, running a temperature of 102. She asked what time I'd be over, so I told her to check with Jim, because he said that we might be going out to do some work tomorrow. She called back a few minutes later saying that Jim didn't care, whatever time I wanted to come over. Meanwhile, in the interim between calls, I began to get the idea that I was being used, not only to help Danny with his paper because Joyce couldn't get it together enough to do it herself (which is what she does and has always done, for all the kids) [she thinks she's helping the kids out by doing their school work for them, thus getting them better grades than they otherwise would have gotten (maybe), but in fact, she's doing them a disservice, which they will learn soon enough when they get out into the world and don't have a mother to do their "reports" for them and they don't know how to do them themselves. In other words, she's short-circuiting their education process, not the least of which is learning how to be self-sufficient], but to actually end up doing the paper myself--that is, I got the distinct idea that she wanted me to do the paper instead of her, because Danny was sick and couldn't do it. In other words, I was having a hard time separating her excuses out: Danny's sick, so he can't do his homework; Joyce has to work, so she can't do his homework for him; when the reality is probably that Joyce simply postponed the work long enough that she had to rope someone else into doing it.


Went over and helped Danny with his outline. I wasn't going to go, because Joyce called and said Danny wanted to do it by himself. But Jim called and asked me where I was, and I told him that Joyce called and canceled, which he knew nothing of. So he asked Danny if he could do it by himself, and he said he could, but Jim doubted it.

I was so happy when I got the call from Joyce, because I was tired and wanted to go to bed. And I was so disappointment when Jim called. I told him to have Danny try it and see if he could do it, and I'd check it later. He said okay, and he'd call me back. He called back about an hour later and said that Danny thought he could do it, but tried it and decided that he could not. So I went over and together we worked it out. Pretty simple really, but he is kind of young to be writing logical outlines and creating dichotomous categories. I wonder if his teacher has ever read Piaget.

Jim said I should meet him out at the house we were working on tomorrow at nine to finish up out there. And he has another job that he has to get drywall for, so I'm going to help him load it and carry it inside. I think I'll go shopping first, on the way to the place, so that that'll be out of the way for the week.


All of my life I've been insecure re my ability to survive, let alone prosper in this world. Mostly, especially earlier on, this had been unconscious. But, intuitively, I recognized that I needed to develop and maintain a complex series of hedges to shield me from the harsh reality that could at any moment bring about failure. In my teen years I spent a lot of time in the woods learning how to survive off the land, just in case. I learned how to hunt, build a fire with sticks, make simple tools and weapons, build emergency shelters, and essentially construct a crude, but comfortable lifestyle from items found in nature.

Later, when I finally decided that I had to work at a job, for a living, I began to develop skills that made me a success, all based on constructing hedges. As a production employee, I was always two or three steps ahead of what was expected of me, a fact that I kept hidden from management so that, if any setback occured, I could resort to the padding I had established and remain caught up. This padding was built into the procedures I developed and used, apart from coworkers who couldn't understand why I would go to such elaborate lengths when simpler methods would be easier. And their simpler minds never grasped the reason that I more often succeeded when they failed.

I carried on the same practices as a supervisor, more systematically, since I had gained control of the production processes and to a certain extent over the purse strings. I padded everything. Consequently, I was able to maintain an effective schedule, even when other departments that supplied me couldn't maintain theirs. (I got ahead in other areas so that when the late work came, I could shift resources and double and triple up.) I maintained obsolete equipment to handle workload peaks and developed flexible work schedules among key employees to make better use of unskilled temporary help. In short, I hedged my way to success, all born out of a deep-seated insecurity: I feared failing, because I might lose my job, which meant a loss of income, which meant a possible loss of life. (Perhaps not immediately; perhaps even not in reality, since some kind of social service would surely be available if I were about to starve or freeze--but maybe not, given the fact that I am loathe to ever ask for help).

And at home, I felt the same way. (This is the whole point of this explanation.) I never felt like I had enough savings. I always felt as if I needed more money in the bank to back me up, just in case. Always, I budgeted my expenses, minimum and maximum, far ahead, to see how far I could go without working if an emergency struck. And sure enough, eventually, it did. (A self-fulfilling prophecy? Or a keen, long-term intuition? Or both?) Now if I am careful, I have enough to live on, and my net worth keeps on growing, despite the fact that I do not now work. But the point is, throughout this whole life of saving and hedging, I have never felt I wanted kids, and now I can see why. They would have taxed my resources to the point where I would have been unable to hedge and save, which would have meant that I would have had to keep on working, under the extremes of stress that I experienced, the more so the harder I worked to "get ahead." I was intuitive enough to understand this early on.

I see how my brother struggles with the stress of having a family, how he has come to rely on his wife's more profuse income, and how he hates it (whether he knows it or not). I see how I could not tolerate being in that kind of situation, not that I would mind, if I still had a wife, that she would earn a larger income than I, far from it; but that I would feel that I didn't have a personal hedge against the future, all of my money being tied up in the maintenance and welfare of the family. (Maybe this is why my brother has set up his financial situation so that his wife's income maintains the house while his income is his own. Maybe he has the same security issues as I do. It sounds like a good deal, but the only problem with it is that he has no extra money.)

I can see now how, if I had had enough money to begin with, if I had had a steady income of over a hundred thousand a year for ten or twelve years, I could have come to the conclusion that I might be able to afford kids, and my opinion about having them could have changed. But that never happened, because I did not have the kind of personality that warrants that kind of income. It's as simple as that. High-income jobs go to gregarious people who go out of their way to charm people and who handle their security issues far more subliminally than I ever could have.


Stayed up all day yesterday and throughout the evening so that I'd sleep all night, but then I only slept for two hours. I should have taken melatonin, but I was afraid I'd be too tired in the morning. Daydreamed (about The Patriot) from two until five a.m. when I got up and took a shower. Jim called at eight-thirty to tell me that he'd meet me at ten-thirty instead of nine because he "had to be somewhere." I'm beginning to get suspicious about that excuse (but it's okay; I was in the middle of writing and didn't want to interrupt it anyway).

Actually, I'm beginning to get suspicious about a lot of things. When I met him at ten-thirty, he told me that he'd been out to Home Depot (I didn't think he'd meant today, but maybe he did, now that I think of it) and when he came out of the store, he discovered that someone had run into the tailgate of his pickup and now it can't be opened. He told me this in reference to the glider and cabinet that we had to load into his truck. But I wondered. Did someone hit him, or did he, having been drinking, back into someone or something?

He mentioned that after we did our next job, he'd have some money for me. He said it in a way that made me think he might be short on cash. I asked "Didn't they pay you yet" (for the last job we did), because it sounded like he was saying that they hadn't. He said they paid him "some of it," which again sounded suspicious to me. It popped into my mind that he may have had to say that because he probably paid Jimmie and Jay already, and since I'd been at his house helping Danny with an outline for a paper for school when Jim wasn't there, he may have suspected that I'd asked them about it (which I hadn't). Then he went on to make a remark that seemed to reek of excuse: he said that the guy we were working for was on vacation, and he made some sarcastic comment about the rich bastard being able to afford to go to Florida in the winter. It sounded way too convenient to me. If he'd gotten a part of the money, why wouldn't he get all of it? The job was finished.

After we loaded the truck and drove back to his house, while we were carrying the glider to the porch, I thought I smelled booze on his breath, disguised by a very strong odor of breath mints. I could attribute the odor to breath mints, but they would have to be very alcohol-like mints.

Next, we dropped off the rest of the stuff at my house and drove out to get drywall and transport it to the house we are going to work on, and we arranged to meet at this house at nine on Wednesday morning. I wonder how many times he'll cancel that job before we finally end up doing it? Typically, it takes two or three cancellations before the job gets done.

Back at home, I begin to think about these interactions:

I think, does he think I am (and others are) stupid? Does he think that people don't know he's an alcoholic? Does he think that people don't know when he's been drinking? It's kind of an insult to have to listen to his excuses, that he thinks that I'm so obtuse that I can be so easily misled.

But then I think that his perception and judgment is distorted and he doesn't really know that it's so obvious. And anyway, although some of the examples and incidents I perceive may be symptoms of an alcoholic state, others may not be. Once the initial perception is established that he is an unreformed alcoholic, it's easy enough to attribute all errant behavior to that state, and to disregard the "normal" foibles that are simple character or personality quirks. In other words, it's easy enough to stereotype him and act in a prejudicial manner toward him.

It occurs to me that he may cancel and postpone work so often because he's hung over. I wonder why I never made this connection before. How obvious. I remember that the last time he was on a binge, just before we were working out of town for CVS, he couldn't sleep and complained about sitting up all night watching tv. He never said it, but I made the connection then that he would sit up and drink and then, finally, near morning, be drunk enough to nod off. He may be doing this same thing now, unable to work because he's too tired, or drunk. It may not be true, and there may be legitimate things he has to do, go out to other jobs to give estimates, etc. But the suspicion will always be there, and at least some of the time, it may be true.

I think, "He doesn't treat me very well, does he?" He takes advantage of my good nature, family status, and lack of need for money to postpone paying me. (He's owed me for one job for two years and another for six months.) He couldn't get anyone else to help him with his work and treat them in this way. They'd disregard his excuses and quit when he didn't pay them for a while. I may be the only person he can get to help him with jobs that he can't do by himself. But I guess this is okay, as long as he eventually pays me. This can be my way of helping him out, by allowing delayed payment, since I can't rationalize working for him for free [since he's making money on the jobs and this isn't a situation where he requires my assistance on a family-type matter] or letting him get away with not paying me what he owes me, because I feel like I should expect him to meet his obligations and act responsibly and honorably, so that he will resist sinking any lower into depravity (if that is what he's really doing).

On the other hand, by not insisting that he pay me in a timely manner, by working with him under conditions under which he could not get anyone else to work, I may already be contributing negatively. But I have to draw a balance, I guess. More generally, as I see it, this is the basic difference between the Left and the Right: the Right insists that each person act responsibly and pull his or her own weight, without requiring subsidization; the Left believes that people need help from time to time, that everyone is weak in some way and needs to be supported. But that leads to a whole other topic that I don't feel like dealing with right now.

In the evening, I go down to the basement (actually, it's one in the morning, after I've slept for four hours) and I rearrange the garage to accommodate the new cabinet. I didn't plan to do this. I'd only intended to go out and get the mail and check the oil in the car, but once I began and things progressed easily, I finished the project, moving my motorcycle sideways to a place halfway between the front of the car and the shelving at the back of the garage, and moving the cabinet into the spot against the wall where the bike had been. In order to accomplish this I had to temporarily move a number a large items around. But now, everything is back in place and I return back upstairs. I'm glad that's done. I didn't want that cabinet undoing my recently organized basement.

The administration isn't fooling me for a second. You get your most dovish cabinet member to oppose the war policy early on. Then, when you need the support and the votes, you have him do a huey and begin to support the policy because there appears to him to be no other rational alternative. Think about it. Would anyone who opposed an administration policy so directly have lasted in office this long unless the opposition was sanctioned? Well, maybe, I guess, if he were Colin Powell and you didn't want to alienate the black community.


Every once in a while, living out of sync, I have to catch up, readjust, especially when I am living out in the "real" world for a while. Today, I got up late in the afternoon, spent a few hours on the computer, then went to bed early, took a large dose of melatonin, and went to bed. So this (I'm writing this tomorrow) has been a nothing kind of day.


Yep. He did it again. My brother postponed this morning's work start, pushing it back by one hour. That's good though. I'm kind of hungry and want to fix myself a big, all protein breakfast.

We put up drywall on the ceiling of a garage (dryceiling?) for four hours. Working over your head for four hours is exhausting. Then Jim tells me he'll have the money he owes me for the house job now that this guy has given him a check.

"What was that?" he asks. "Eight hours?"

I said "I thought you were splitting the profits with me on that."

He says "No." Then he mentions that it was really only six hours. I knew that. But I figured he owed me eight hours anyway, because he paid Jimmie and Jay at least that much for the six they worked, and he had me calling for Dumpster prices and arranging to have one delivered and picked up, which took a good hour or more of phone time. So I'm not complaining, I think it's fair compensation. But he did lead me to believe that we were going partners on the "house" deal, because he talked about it when we were on vacation in Virginia. So, I feel hurt, because I have the feeling of being cheated, not out of money, but out of a partnership deal that was in the offing. And the sad thing is I don't think that he reneged on that deal because he changed his mind about it, I think he did it because of money. He's short and he sees a way to minimize his payouts by paying me an hourly wage instead of splitting profits. And that's okay, but just. It puts me in the position of thinking of working with him in the way I used to, before all this "junk business" came up, i.e., it's just another thing to do to help him out and pick up a little bit of cash, nothing more.

This is a further extension of the "suspicions" theme that I wrote of previously. What are his motives here? Am I in the process of an escalating series of manipulations? Will I more and more be taken advantage of? Thus far, everything is just okay. But I've got to keep a close eye on how he acts toward me to assure that there is no escalation in this direction, and when and how much he pays me is a big part of this. If the number of jobs for which I am owed money continues to increase, along with the length of time that passes before I am paid, and/or if he doesn't soon pay me for jobs worked years ago, then I'm going to have to take a firm stance and tell him I can't work with any longer, despite how much I enjoy doing it. I can't let him get away with what any other person who worked for him would never let him do, i.e., not paying me.

And there are diversities of operations,
but it is the same God which worketh all in all.


For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom;
to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;


To another the working of miracles; to another
prophecy; to another the discernment of spirits;

1 Cor. 12
Paranoia's just reality on a finer scale.
Ray Fiennes, Strange Days

An imagined conversation:

"Don't you think eight hours is fair?"
"Yeah. It's fair. I just thought you meant something else."
"You must have misunderstood me."

Maybe I misunderstood him.
Or maybe he had meant something else.
Or maybe I'm interpreting his unconscious motivation.
Maybe I attribute it to consciousness in him.
Or maybe I'm just paranoid.
Should I not have said anything to him?
Should I have kept quiet?
I don't know. Why not?
It's an opinion I had, an interpretation.
But maybe it's something he didn't know, about himself, or me.
I have this feeling that I am wrong, that I got it all wrong.
But I don't think so. The feeling could be my pathology.
I (have) suffer(ed) from an introversion, afraid to speak up.
This time, feeling an unfairness, I spoke without hesitation.
This could mean that I am progressing, growing, healing.
But now that old affect rises up again, causing doubt.
And doubt begins to escalate into worry, the syndrome.
Anxiety is next, and eventually, fear and paranoia.
So, yes, this is paranoia, not as a cause, but as an effect.

The result of having dared to have spoken, to have asserted my right to be myself, is a syndrome that causes me to withdraw, on the chance that I have expressed an opinion that someone else will have to disagree with, to defend himself against an implicit charge I make, that I am attributing something to him that he does not see, that he denies, and that therefore he believes that I am wrong, when I do not believe that I am.

This is transference and countertransference. I perceive a motive in him that I act on so that he can deny it, so that I may then feel his (and my own) paranoia. It's all come to the foreground: I feel the affect that he (and I) repress, that we deal with each other in a disingenuous way, which I act to negate by daring to speak up, making the matter conscious. I break the rules.

Now, having acted, I must face up to the consequences, which are that the agenda (ours) is out in the open. We want to act together, but we dare not state it outright. But I have stated it, but negatively. Or, rather, questioned his negativity, in effect.

But that doesn't negate the fact that he is not to be trusted, and also, maybe neither am I, through association. I know that he does not trust me, his own foible projected.

This is too intense and I want to shut it down, to hide away from it, to withdraw, to keep reality at bay. Psychic material is too intense, when I pretend that I am so resilient and dedicated in my search for reality and then, when I suddenly find myself face to face with it, retreat in fear.

[Way too little sleep over several days could be causing this too. Which comes first, the paranoia that causes me to awaken short of a full night's sleep with a racing mind, or an inability to sleep that when extended causes me to become paranoid with a racing mind.]

I cannot retreat, but neither should I wish to advance, but rather I should remain, where I am, acting and accepting the behavior of others according to my principles and beliefs. If I am going to interact with people, I must be accepting of them. If I can't, I should refrain from interaction--which is no problem for me, really, in most cases, and which I do when I stonewall them.

Yet accepting people the way they are does not mean you have to bend to their will. In other words, You can accept people for what they are and stay far enough away from them psychologically (which is what stonewalling is) to be safe. Stay as far away as necessary to prevent being victimized.

I think I see victimization coming, or I see the potential for it.
I understand that the suspicions that I harbor could be paranoia.
But that doesn't mean that the suspicions are not true.

{I have a theory of weakness that I've been informally developing for a while now, trying to get it into words, but without much success. It has to do with how we must resist giving in to our "pain" and so "suffer" in the face of it in order to gain insight into our problems and/or achieve remedial effects, e.g., via dieting, breaking of addictions, etc. I myself see how I am addicted to sugar and, if I allowed myself, I could easily gain twenty pounds in as many days. [When I got out of the army, I weighed 205. Today I weigh 180.] I understand, that is, I feel that the "addiction" is a weakness I (have) give(n) into in order to reduce some kind of mental pain or psychological disturbance that I am not quite able to access.

This same mechanism works in almost everyone. [I suppose there are a few people around who are completely mentally healthy, but not very many.] Everyone has mental disturbances that are the product of painful childhood adaptations that have been (for most people) successfully negotiated, repressed, and fixed in the personality, which expresses these repressions in various ways: eating disorders, alcoholism, fetishism, inability to arrive at appointments on time, inability to submit to legitimate authority, etc. (The list is endless.) We can either give in to these "weaknesses" or we can resist them and feel the "pain" (which can become physical, as, for example, when someone becomes addicted to alcohol or drugs and then must fight not only the original pain, but withdrawal symptoms as well).

In allowing ourselves to feel the pain instead of giving in to the weakness that we engage in to escape from it, that is, in suffering from it, we face up to the difficulty we are having, and eventually, if we do this often enough, we begin to see into ourselves and discover what it is we hide from, which allows us to continue growing, healing the hurt that we repressed and blocked ourselves off from. This suffering is particularly important in cases of physical addiction because, even if no insight into the real problem exists, if we resist the addiction long enough, if we allow ourselves to experience the withdraw pain (which is a derivative of the mental pain), we eventually eliminate the physical dependency and break the addiction.}

Jim can go for long periods of time without drinking. On vacation in Virginia, he had no opportunity to drink, but without his "painkiller" (killing mental pain, perhaps more than physical: our dad, by comparison, used alcohol to kill his physical pain, i.e., severe rheumatoid arthritis, although possibly he also used it to kill psychological pain also) he becomes irritable and complains of physical pain, usually in his back, although since he's broken his arm, he will complain of pain in his hand; both pains real enough, I'm certain, but nonetheless readily used as excuses to drink.

Frequently when we're working together, he'll complain about being sick, and I'm sure he's legitimately sick some of the time, because it seems like someone is always sick in that family every time I'm over there. I'm always worrying about how I'm going to be picking up their germs. After I'm over there on holidays, I end up having to take large doses of vitamin C and gargling with Listerine three or four times a day to keep from having a scratchy feeling in my nose or throat turn into a cold. [Maybe I'm turning into a Howard Hughes.] But at least some of the time, I suspect that Jim is using his complaints about being sick as a cover-up for being hung-over or in withdrawal because he hasn't had anything to drink in several days, maybe trying to be good and see if he can go without drinking.

I saw first-hand how this affects his relationship with Joyce when we were in Virginia. When Jim complained of back pain on two separate nights and had to lay out flat on his back on the floor for a long time and then finally go to bed early, Joyce was very sympathetic and concerned for him, as she frequently is when he complains of pain. She "nurses" him by pressing on his back and massaging it and by generally catering to him. She does this if he will give in to the pain and complain about it, if he will allow it to overwhelm him and not suffer in silence, or kill it with alcohol.

But if he does kill his pain with alcohol, she complains about his drinking and gets mad at him and shuts him out, refusing to deal kindly with him in any way [a typical feminine ploy when a woman will not get her way; the spoiled brat syndrome; pouting, stonewalling, etc.] [My stonewalling is not a ploy of this type, because I do not pout--although I have been known in my past to do this, and was then exhibiting this syndrome, maybe. But I stonewall now, as I have done mostly in my past, in order to avoid becoming affected by another's debility in the present moment via transference, although I will later, in private, entertain it, mostly because I cannot avoid the affect and must purge myself of it via insight analysis)]. This is how I theorize that Joyce manipulates Jim and keeps him locked into his pain: by rewarding him when he hurts and punishing him (or negatively reinforcing him) when he has relieved his pain (with alcohol). [To be fair, Jim manipulates Joyce too, especially when he gets mad at her and unfairly criticizes her for benign and ordinary things she does.]

If Jim would try to permanently remedy the situation, as for example with therapy, I think Joyce would resist it. Thus, when she told me that Jim quit going to his group therapy because she wouldn't go with him because she had to work, I suspect that she may conveniently have had to work. I mean, after all, they could have gone to the next session. Why didn't they? She says that Jim quit going. But weren't they both going? If she really wanted him to go, I think she could have motivated him to go to the next session, in that kind and caring way in which she'll treat him when she feels like it. So I conclude that she had a lot to do with him breaking off his rehab. My theory: he felt uncomfortable going to the sessions and he wanted her to go with him, and she felt uncomfortable too, because there was a real chance here that he could actually end up being rehabilitated and she would have to then face up to the fact that she was no longer a victim of alcoholism and that her script was a convenient way for her to express her childhood pain.


Awake and unable to sleep, again, after only four hours. My body wants to remain asleep, still primed with melatonin, but my mind is wide awake and attempting, successfully, to purge the substance.

Finally decided to get up. Checked my sales page on my publisher's website. I sold another book (on Jan 10th). It always gives me a thrill to see a sale, probably because I see so few of them any more.

Jim shows up at the job today saying he's sick and has been up all night. After we work for a while, he begins to act a bit irritable and tells me to put up some small pieces of drywall while he begins to do some mortaring. When I run into problems and ask him how I should do a certain thing, he tells me to figure it out. He's a bit short with me and seems irritable. Since he never acts this way toward me (though he frequently acts this way toward his family), I attribute it to the fact that he's sick.

Yesterday, when we were putting up a full 4 x 8 piece of drywall on the ceiling and he had it on his back on the ladder while I positioned the 2x4 tee beneath it, with difficulty, he yelled at me, but I didn't take any offence, because I knew the motivation. He was struggling to bear the weight of the drywall, desperately holding out and feeling like he was going to drop it. I understood.

I try to be understanding today too. When he told me to put up the drywall myself, and I cut it and decided that it was too big to put in as one piece and asked him for his opinion about how to position it, he got pissed at me, thinking I ruined the last large sheet. He said "You mean you cut that last big piece and it won't fit." I corrected his misperception, but this does not bode well for our future working relationship, I think.

I'm beginning to wonder if he's going to start deteriorating in his attitude and behavior toward me. If so, I'll have to make a decision as to whether I want to continue working with him. I've had bosses who treated me this way, relegating some task or other to me without adequate instructions, then returning to criticize me for the poor way (they felt) I did it. I always deferred to them, thinking that I needed to put up with their abuse in order to keep my job.

I no longer have to feel that way, not about anyone, not even when they hold authority over me, such as with policemen. Everyone will treat me in the same respectful way that I treat them, and unless they threaten to physically abuse me, I will not take any more of their shit, not even if I work for them, and not even if they are family members.

When I spend too much time with even my brother, I start to suffer the ill effects of stress and transference. Add to that the lack of sleep I've been experiencing and the break from the routine-ization of my life (a strategy I use to combat the effects of stress) and the result is the escalating anxiety/sensitization syndrome. Despite the fact that Jim is family, like everyone else, sooner or later, he makes me "sick"--meaning both fed up and physically ill. [I tend to mimic others mental and physical states, ala the film Resurrection, as I begin to introject others' psychologies.] I got a scratchy feeling in my throat again. Got to start taking vitamin C and gargling with Listerine. Every time I go out and work with Jim, I start feeling this way, from being out in the cold and exposed to his (and others') germs, I guess. Someone in that family always seems to have a cold or the flu.


I've been struggling to maintain a positive, or at least a neutral opinion of my brother. I guess I'm coming to the conclusion that there's nothing I can do for Jim [and Joyce, but she's pretty much irrelevant to me], that he's going to live his life the way he's going to live it, and all anyone can do, at best, is accept him for what he is and wait for the next "event." Meanwhile, I struggle with that acceptance, trying to understand what he's going through and not judge him too harshly when he does things I think are stupid or mistaken. Still, though, I'm having a difficult time with my suspicions and seem to want to attribute everything he does to his alcoholism.


The scratchy throat I have has dropped toward my chest, the germs multiplying faster that I can kill them off with Listerine and white blood cells. This is the first time I've been sick in well over three years and before that it was another three or four. I haven't been periodically ill since I quit working at a daily job. Dammit. And I have to go to work on Monday morning in the cold. I despise commitment.

I used to say that we should never believe anything the government tells us. If the government tells us one thing, believe the opposite. Then I modified that stance to a more considered one: Don't believe the opposite either. The government may be telling the truth so that we'll think they're lying and believe the opposite. Now I add the media and polls to that qualification. If you want to know the truth, the best you can hope for is to glean it from among the hype and spin or experience a Word of Knowledge.


And this is the first time I've had the flu in over eight years. It must be the flu. No nausea, but fever and body aches. Definitely more than a cold.


Jim calls this morning and cancelled work, which saves me the trouble of having to call him. No way I can work, or even move. I am the epitome of misery.


It just goes on and on without relenting. Maybe I've been the victim of a terrorist bio-attack. I better stop joking. This is a serious matter. I'm close to pneumonia here. Ever since I had pneumonia about twenty years ago, I've been keenly aware of how colds descend toward the lungs and can, if I'm not very careful, settle in.


I'm just too worn out to write any more.


I have all these tasks, projects, goals, etc. lined up, each waiting for something to carry them forward a few more steps; usually a piece of critical information or equipment that I'm looking for or don't yet know exists, or the motivation to get back to work after I've found it.


Well, winter certainly has settled into me now and taken deep root. I've completely lost an entire week, bedridden with the flu. The evil "world" has finally broken through and gotten into me. And I thought I'd been isolated before this past week. For the first four days I was sick, I was in bed 23 hours a day with the tv on for company, which I mostly ignored. I slept well over twelve hours a day in three to four hour shifts with a nap of one-half to one hour in between. It's not that I wanted to sleep, it's just that it relieved the misery--somewhat. I kept awakening every half-hour or so to experience burning nostrils and a scratchy, raspy throat, relieved only by coughing that made it subsequently worse. All I did for four days was to sleep, half-heartedly watch tv, get up for a few minutes here and there, not wanting to actually do anything at all, not even eat. I have no appetite at all, except that I feel the hunger pains and want to quiet them. Thank God for chipped ham and mayo on white bread. I get up to eat, feed the fish, turn on the computer once a day to get my e-mail, and go back to bed. I certainly didn't go outside to get the mail. (Finally got out there Wednesday evening).

I think about the good old days when people died of illnesses like this. George Washington is said to have died of a cold. This is the danger that people face as they age. I've got to be careful. This is as much my own fault as it is the evil world of germs. I hadn't been getting enough sleep and had allowed myself to become a bit rundown (I guess; but I didn't feel tired. I was probably in a manic state that I wasn't attending to). But maybe I'd have gotten sick anyway, having been out in the cold and enclosed in that garage with Jim coughing germs all over the place. Maybe there is something to be said for the Howard Hughes syndrome after all.


All I do is dream, and then forget about the dreams as soon as I awaken. But here's one that I managed to preserve in consciousness: In an old workplace, but not. (more like my high school): Rita/Barry has ordered (instructed) that the building be burned down (as if the inside of the building is outside of it, that is we look at the outside of it from afar, yet from inside the building) by "concentrating" on the double metal safety doors, which then burst into flame. But I think that this is wrong, and I set about to counteract the instructions before the fire spreads. I hurry over to the building and shout into it to two guys who are setting fires inside, and I catch them just in time to prevent them from setting the fires. [I feel guilty about not using my time at work for work purposes, and I don't even work there any more! = I'm guilty about not being productive in my own personal life? Probably. But I'm sick. But maybe I'm no longer as sick as I want to pretend to be so that I can lie around and vegetate.]


It seems like such a waste that we grow in experience and wisdom as we age, and then, before we know it, we're dead, and someone else has to start over again and relearn everything to take our places. I know that this mechanism of species development enables adaptation by allowing newer organisms that may have a better insight into the changing world situation to replace aging ones that may be too entrenched in their ways to adapt, and I know that as a species we are capable of transmitting (a certain percentage of) our knowledge over generations, but it still seems like such a loss of knowledge and experience that was a long time in development. It's a personal point of view, irrelevant on the species level. But then, I'm a person, not a species.


As I watched the weather reports on the local news this morning I thought how great it must be to grow up as a kid here...The minute we get even an inch or two of snow the entire city shuts down and everyone freaks out...When I was a kid in St. Louis it took at least a foot of snow to close school...
Dominic Bellone, Hardball Newsletter (2/28/03)
One or two feet of snow and they declare an "emergency." What a bunch of pampered wimps we've become. I know they do this so that they can cash in on federal funds, but look at the net effect. They water down the word 'emergency' like they water down what might otherwise be important words, like 'alert' or breaking news' so that when we hear these words, they do not really alert us to possible dangers, all they do is cause us think (subconsciously, of course) "Oh, it's the news channels plying us with more of their hype." It takes a lot, any more, to break through our blase attitude. Even the threat of war is taken somewhat casually, media event that it will become, just another news-channels long-term mini-series. Even terror threats are just so much media hype any more. How quickly we forget. But that's the administration's fault, for using the threat (and the proposed war) as a means to manipulate public opinion.

I don't need people. I need society in general, as everyone does. But I don't seem to need specific people. I rely on the affluence of this postmod consumer culture to trickle down to me, so that I don't have to work so hard as others seem to need to, so that I may live austerely and survive while others drive themselves toward an early death from overwork and stress.

I'm perfectly able to live without specific people in my life. This may be a fault, but it can be a comfort. I get fed up with how others can't seem to live independently, especially when they try to use me as an object of their whining dependency. I don't do this, and I expect that it not be done to me.


I no longer want to be a writer, but I am a writer.
I want to be other things now, like I've wanted
to be, everything I've ever wanted, to become,
which I am still learning, how to be, who I am.

I have a purpose that I often overlook: I'm continually learning.
When I become dejected and can see no meaning in my life,
I forget about this purpose, even as it works its unseen magic.
If only I could keep it well in mind, I'd never get depressed.
[Or is that the other way around? I get depressed, and then...]

Forced myself to go out today to get some much needed shopping done. It's been so-o-o-o cold [and snowing besides--about eighteen inches total], that, on the heels of having been very sick, I haven't been wanting to do anything at all. (I lost my fighting edge and now can't get it back.) I wanted to go out yesterday, which was the first nice day in quite a while, but I couldn't make myself do it. Too little sleep and too tired by the time morning came. But this morning, after a long, much-needed shower, I felt somewhat better. And so I went. Things progressed nicely in the outside world--not so great as I would like, but marginally okay. I got everything I wanted to get, and then some.

When I got back home, I saw that I'd gotten a phone call, the first in many days (I guess the state's anti-telemarketers list is working.) The message was from Jim. He said he'd call back. (I called him back later, at two o'clock, but Jimmie said he wasn't home, so I told him to tell him to call me.)

After I put the groceries away, I settled into bed with an eight-ounce Hershey's semi-sweet chocolate bar and ate half of it, and then I took a nap. Jim returned my call, awakening me two hours later, asking me if I wanted to work tomorrow. I don't really, but I told him I would. We're going out to finish up that house that we began two weeks ago before the flu took us both out of commission.

I had to force myself to get out of bed to answer the phone, because the answering machine is in the dining room and I've been keeping the bedroom door closed because I've been using an electric space heater in the bedroom and keeping the overall house temp down below sixty-five. It's much more efficient that way since I made this year's LIHEAP credit payable to my electric company because I couldn't convince my gas company to transfer the credit from their generation division to their transmission division. Bureaucracy. They can do it, they've done it, accidentally, on several occasions, and when I asked them why, they couldn't come up with an answer.

So I find it easier to keep the heat low and move a space heater between the bedroom and the office. And to that end, I bought a heavy duty forty foot extension cord at Target so that I don't have to keep unplugging and plugging it in, and so that I don't have to worry about burning my house down, because I was breaking circuits a lot and finally blew out a ten foot extension cord because it was heating up at a splice I'd made in it for some reason I can't remember years ago. It finally sparked into oblivion under my foot when I'd stepped on the splice while walking through the kitchen, leaving a two-inch scorch mark on the kitchen tile and causing my heart to miss several beats.

I replaced the cord with a make shift extension made from the rest of the extension with the splice cut out wired into a boxed electrical outlet, but it was a pain in the ass carrying the box along with the heater between the office and the bedroom. It always got caught up on something if I dragged it, and picking it up and gathering up the cord was a bother. So now I have an ordinary heavy-duty extension and all is easy again, and efficiently warm.

After the phone call, I went back to bed and slept for four more hours. I really needed it. I haven't been sleeping well, only about five or six hours a day, which was, I'm sure, a contributing factor in my getting sick in the first place. Now, it's ten o'clock at night and I'm wide-awake. I'm going to have to try to force myself to get a few hours more sleep before morning in order to be somewhat rested to go to work. But I'm feeling good now, better than I've felt in quite a while, and I'm theorizing that it's because of the poor man's Prozac, the chocolate. I should eat more of it in the winter, but I'm always hesitant to add the calories to my diet. But in this case, I considered it a treat for having lost weight and kept it off over the past two weeks. I've been maintaining 180 pounds.

We're caught in this trap of thinking that we have to be continually advancing. Our national consciousness doesn't allow for backsliding and a time for withdrawal and reflection, yet that is half of the essence of life. We live half a life, which usually we label as business. Take the stock market for example. It has to be continually rising, and when it doesn't, we feel we are failing. But a continually rising market is a sign of false prosperity. It contains an implicit threat: the more it continues to rise, the more it will later decline. Sure, we can strive for improvement, but it should be a slow and steady ascent, not the manic, rapid, rags-to-riches or bust that we seem to want to think is the American way. That way only results in a roller coaster ride. When we act sensibly and take somewhat less that the maximum profits that any given market will provide us, when we protect ourselves against the inevitable catastrophe by investing ourselves and our money in sound and secure enterprises and institutions and leave the speculation for the fools, then we can weather the bad times that they create that result in their demise.

Jim called this morning to tell me we wouldn't work today because it was supposed to snow, which was good because I didn't want to work anyway.

Jim called this morning. The roads were bad and it was supposed to snow two to four inches, but he said he'd drop the key off anyway, because he was going to try to make it out to Home Depot, because he had to get things done, but then he added that he wasn't going to push so hard that he wrecks his truck on icy roads. (Looking back, I can take this waffling as a symptom of...but let's be fair.)

I work at the computer all morning, trying to decipher an editor that I'm thinking about using to learn assembly language. Jim never shows up or calls, which is okay with me. I still don't want to go out to work. I'm thinking that I'm being roped into a situation here: this is not unlike when I worked for employers and they cannily roped me into an attitude of loyalty and dedication that I would later come to regret, except that they did it with the judicious application of money as a reward, and although Jim does something similar with the promise of money (he still hasn't paid me for the last four jobs), I am pulled and held into this situation more by family loyalty. But that is only going to go so far.

He does take advantage of my laid-back nature, but it's beginning to wear thin. I know he doesn't have the money, but I also know that he doesn't have it because he doesn't know how to manage his business properly. I want to help him out, and I actually like the work, but... How far into debt to me does he have to go before I put a stop to it? And when I do, do I ever get my back pay? Probably not. And if I don't, do I hold it against him? Probably. But do I break off connection with him like my dad did with my uncle, for the rest of their lives? I hope not. I'm trying in every way I know how to avoid that script.

This afternoon, as I'm winding up my computer work, I begin to have doubts. I think that maybe Jim meant that I was supposed to go directly over to the job site. He said yesterday that he'd drop the key off. But did he repeat that this morning on the phone, or did he just say that he was going to try to make it out to Home Depot and then go to the job and I was supposed to go over to the job later and join him? I assumed, when he said I could go over later, that he meant when the roads were clear. But maybe he didn't. But he never said that he cancelled the other job he had that he was going to do today while he left me at the one we had been doing. We've had this kind of miscommunication in the past, a number of times. He doesn't explain himself well, he isn't very clear sometimes, especially when he's been drinking. (I'm not accusing him of this, understand. But the symptoms...) Or, did I not listen so well? I sometimes tend to tune him out, assuming I know what he's saying. I do this as a matter of having been trained by his less than clear approach. He isn't being clear, so I disregard his confusion and substitute my own sense of clarity, which may not be at all what he means.

No call from Jim last night or this morning, so I can't determine whether the "fault" is his or mine. And that's the way transference works, if it is his fault, if, in fact, he was not clear in his communications.

Jim may feel guilty for having failed to follow up on his intent to drop off the key. He may be too embarrassed to call and figure that he'll let some time go by. My feeling that maybe I got it wrong may be that transference.

It occurs to me that I try to get transference to work in my favor by assuming that others will respond to my transference to them (my countertransference?) and pick up on my feelings--and act on them.

But they seldom do, maybe because they are not so sensitive as I am, or maybe because they are, but choose not to act--much in the same way that I won't when I pick up on someone who is trying to "manipulate" me.

It all gets so difficult to sort out. It's a lot easier to stick with your own POV and assume that you are always right. There's a lot to be said for narcissism when it comes to mental health. You can be too sensitive.

I've been spending all of my time learning assembly language programming and watching tapes, leaving minimal time for working on my journals and no time at all for working on my website. I have an idea that I want to radically revise it, but I don't know how just yet. I want to simplify it, and to remove all of the sophomoric nonsense that it's collected over the years. But it's too big a task and I want to do other things too that take up too much time. Maybe I'll just remove the dates on the intro page to make it less obviously that it's not been worked on for a while.

A wall-beating-mit-dem-kopf kind of day. It must be a cosmic mode we're stuck in here. Nothing seems to be going right. I feel so confused. I bought a pack of 25 CD-RWs to finish backing up my system, but I can't get them to consistently boot, and when I do manage it and get them formatted, sometimes they won't take data, and even, if I keep persisting, they mysteriously cause the system to reboot. What's going on? Nothing seems to want to work. I'm going to bed and watching tv until I fall asleep. When things will not go the way you want them to in the areas you are working, you've got to look around to find other areas where things will work out better--after a good night's sleep.


On a Clear Day You Can See the Refineries

Jim called early this afternoon. I'd just fallen asleep, so I ignored the call, which I never do when I know it's him calling. I'm starting to get as much fed up with him as I am with everyone else. He plans to do things and as likely as not he doesn't follow up, which is no way to run a business. But it's his business. But I don't have to encourage the behavior by being readily available for him to help him bail himself out. But usually, I am. He called three more times today before I answered. He wants me to work with him on Saturday and Sunday to finish up the Job we started so many weeks ago, before the bouts of flu and snow and ice. I really don't want to work, but I'm getting too sedate and depressive, so I guess it'll be good for me. Got to get myself up for it. I slept for three hours this afternoon, breaking my recently established daylight schedule, so I guess I'll take some melatonin tonight to reestablish it.

Chris Matthews said this morning on Imus that the talk show business is a lot of people espousing their beliefs and "gut feelings" and then, after the fact, intellectualizing about them, trying to establish rational arguments for what are essentially gut reactions. Well, of course. That's what all opinion is. No one sits down and "figures out" what's logical and then forms their beliefs on that basis. Well, maybe a few philosophers and cosmologists, but we all know how egg-headed they are. I thought that this had all been settled thirty or forty years ago with Bem's theory of how beliefs are formed. (Keep reading to see a very brief explanation of this theory.)

And last night on The O'Reilly Factor, Tom Smothers, in response to Bill's obviously "superior" logic, stood up and started yoyo-ing, while stating that he didn't really care about the logic or the facts, he just liked any anti-authoritarian position. O'Reilly stated triumphantly that he guessed he won that argument--and he did, if winning an argument consists of being logically correct. But there are other ways to be correct. Tommy knows, ala Chris Matthews' "gut feeling," that he's right, but it's way too much trouble for him to intellectualize his position in the way that the professional talk show pundits do. (You could see him struggling with his attempt to express himself before the yoyo incident. It was almost painful to watch. As a comedy device, his difficulty works, but when he's serious, it becomes difficult for his audience.) But physical satire is an argument too (the yo-yo had the O'Reilly Factor logo on it). And on that level, at least to my way of thinking, Tommy won, hands down.

The whole point here is, it's the gut feeling that's important, not the intellectualization. Bem said (I'm doing a lot of paraphrasing, both here and above) that we perceive our beliefs from our (mental as well as physical) behavior, and not, as we often assume, the other way around. That is, we don't build our beliefs from the ground up by logical construction, but rather we look at what we are, our selves and our experiences, and we (subconsciously) think "Well, this is the way I am, so this is what I must believe." In other words, we rationalize our beliefs based upon our gut feelings.

I have the same problem as Tom Smothers, maybe not to the same degree, but I struggle to justify what I believe, often failing to express my beliefs in a coherent and logical way (in the moment; I do better in writing, thus...), all the while hating the process. I'm always trying to incorporate others' logic for my own use. But it's an arduous and continual task, and hardly worth the trouble. It's much easier just to know I'm right when, for example, I say that I'm against "the war" (the one to come, in Iraq) and against war in general, than it is to convince people why I'm against it and why they should be against it too. I hate polemics. I'd rather just have my own beliefs and allow others to have theirs and leave it at that. If Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz want to blow the hell out of everything and destroy the only planet we have, well, fuck it. Let them. I'm not going to live all that much longer anyway. But they're wrong. I just know it.

On the O'Reilly Factor, Matthews also said that of course the dispute with Iraq is about oil. It's not about the weapons that Iraq may or may not have. That's only an excuse. It's about self-interest. If a country like Zimbabwe had these same problems as Iraq, we wouldn't care at all. Zimbabwe doesn't have any oil. We're not dependent on them like we're dependent on the Mideast. Iraq is the kingpin (and the weakest link) in the Mideast problem. By taking them out, we pin Iran between Iraq and Afghanistan and begin a process of the introduction of "democracy" [my sarcastic quotes, not Chris'] into the Mideast, converting Islamic countries into a western style of life and making them our "friends." [Again, my quotes.] It's all about oil, and anyone who tells you differently is missing the whole point.

I've been wonderiong for a while now if Bill O'Reilly is that same Bill O'Reilly who was my roommate for a semester at Saint Vincent College. He's the same age as I am, and he said on one of his programs that he's a Catholic, and he sort of looks like the guy I knew. (It's hard to tell, really, after all those years.) I've thought about e-mailing him and asking him, and maybe I will one day. But what difference does it make, really? We're different people now, I'm sure. At least I am. And I don't want to be the kind of guy who goes around saying "Yeah. I was Bill O'Reilly's roommate in college," which I would do if I knew for sure. (Hell, I'm kind of doing that right now, and I'm not sure.) I got enough ego trips going for me already that I'm trying to deconstruct.