by j-a

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April 2005



Why Bother?
an expatiation in internal conflict and distraction

the world remembered, vaguely

You only think you understand what I'm writing about.
But don't ask me to be honest with you, because I will.

Sometimes the ideas just will not flow smoothly and I have to struggle against myself even to get them out. Sometimes I'm afraid I just don't make much sense, although, always, it seems to me that I know exactly what it is I'm saying. It's just that the language I choose will not adequately reflect my thought; or else the thought is muddled and thus is quite adequately reflected. (Or else I am being intentionally obtuse, as a disguise; but that's another matter entirely.) Sometimes the material is so dense (i.e., tightly compacted--although the other definition of the term works well here too) that its interpretation is difficult at best. And sometimes I would rather not work so hard. Which of these is the case here is (also) a matter of interpretation. Maybe all of them. Maybe not. I do know, however, that I no longer want to try--in this case; maybe I'll want to try harder elsewhere. Maybe.

My mind's been wavering and wandering. I'm finding it difficult to focus, and only my single-minded attention to developing my gardens has been saving me from dissolving into the ether. My thoughts having been dispersing slowly and erratically one into another, instead of my typical more or less rational transitioning (in a distracted sort of way), resisting the physicality of a consensual world. For example:

People who appeal to a lack of common sense to explain others' apparently stupid behavior don't understand people so well as they want to think they do. Often, (some) people (such as bosses) will be so expert at giving incomplete and/or inadequate instructions, failing to make the purpose clear, that it becomes impossible to comply, even if that is what you intend to do. [Sometimes, perhaps more often than we think, this inadequate behavior is unconsciously intentional--on the part of either party.] Accusations may then follow that propose that the person attempting to follow instructions has no "common sense," when the real problem is one of projecting the inadequacy to impart effective instructions onto the person who would carry them out.

And while I'm on the subject (a lame attempt to be more transitive), could it be that your belief that I have no common sense is merely your perception that I really don't give shit.

Mass mentality sets aside the deviations we all experience but suppress in order to engage in the mindless superstitions and prejudices of "common sense."

We are all connected, intimately, but usually we don't know it. But if there were a process such as common sense, we would. The connection would be obvious.

a story idea

Surgeons learn how to attach brains removed from a dying person to a living host, in order to keep the brain alive until a body donor is found. This is based on a dream where a mad scientist spitefully attached a family of small people to the stomach of the son of a rich patron who crossed him. The son is an identical smaller version of the father, looking like a cross between Bill Gates and Walter Mitty. Connection? You bet. Worth the trouble? Probably not.

Why bother doing it, when it's not necessary? Activity (sometimes, more often than not) leads to accomplishment, which in turn creates a sense of (if only illusory) control, which in its own turn increases self-esteem. And anyway, you have to do something, otherwise you sink into depression and despair; you must have plans and goals that serve a vision, even if the ultimate purpose is transitory or even futile. Life, in this sense, is futile, when you cannot deceive yourself into believing in a non-scientific afterlife. But you must live this life anyway; so you must create your own purpose, or else your brain will rot.

disguises

I spend a lot of time considering the actions of other people. I look for people who reveal hints of innate affection that, though not overtly, demonstrate a sweetness they disguise--as opposed to the conventional motive toward the opposite, when people are attracted to overt displays of affection that, for whatever reason, are disguises in and of themselves. The awareness of deeper connection can be easily thwarted by pretending to it when you feel only a superficial sympathy. Ask a psychic. They know. People are so predictable.

The basic message (or plot device) of the new tv show "Medium" is that, although the psychic (or intuitive) process is a real and natural phenomenon, it is as unpredictable as most people are not and most often leads you in a direction different from the one you intend or expect. Ditto my hyper-sensitivity: I start out investigating why I'm being affected by certain apparently trivial circumstances and end up somewhere far off, having strayed on to what I consider far more important phenomena. The initial affect was real, but I misinterpreted its cause.

unreasonable productive attitude

I'm having all kinds of dreams that I feel like I should be investigating the meaning of, but all I want to do is get outside and work on the gardens. Last night I dreamed that I couldn't hold down a job. I went on an interview instead of going to the job that I had, which I hated, working for a circuit board manufacturer (not the one I had actually worked for, but a start-up spin-off--a recurrent dream place). I could never manage to get to work on time, and it was affecting my status as an employee, because I couldn't adjust my sleep schedule to the odd, irregular hours they wanted me to work. So, since I was going to be late anyway, I went on job interviews with db instead; but I never actually went to an interview. db checked out a few places for herself by asking at the guard gates of two companies across the road from each other if they had any positions available. One guard said outright that they weren't hiring; the other said he'd check, and came back a few minutes later to say no. Back at home, my mother (superego) is pissed at me because I'm not working. I try to explain to her how I'm feeling and how it is that I am unsuited for the jobs that I've had; but she doesn't want to hear it. But via sheer persistence, I manage to explain it to her so that she begins to understand. [I rationalize myself into believing, over and over again, every time I begin to waver, that I am (and have been) perfectly right to be (have been) the way I am.] She sympathizes, but she maintains her adamant expectation that I should be working. This "production" attitude is with me still, though I haven't worked as an employee in years. I expect myself to remain productive, like now, working in the garden. I am the victim of an early-programmed work ethic, though I have no real use for it now. (Work ethics, beyond their religious connotations, are socially functional to reduce indigence.) My current sleep schedule is from four a.m. until noon, and I can't seem to adjust it to a fully daylight schedule to get out into the garden earlier and at the same time get to all of the writing work that I would like to be getting done. When I sleep (or write), I feel guilty, thinking I should be getting the best out of the morning outside. I always look forward to raining days in the summer for this reason, so that I can work inside or sleep or daydream. This dream is telling me that I am being somewhat successful at communicating with myself (with my superego) re what I believe to be an unreasonable "productive" attitude; and my unconscious mind seems to be "understanding" my position, but it is not quite ready to give in to my counter-expectation that it should leave me the fuck alone. And maybe it never will. What would happen if a person ever succeeded in permanently disabling his superego? Would he dissolve into a puddle of ego/id? Is the superego the real structure of the personality? Or is it exactly as it appears to be, the nagging outsider that disapproves of nearly everything you do?

an entirely unconscious motive

I cut all but the lowest ten feet off the apple tree in the side yard. I'm going to trellis it at seven feet and prevent it from growing any higher, thus keeping all of the fruit within reach. And I've been digging holes in my yard in preparation for the many dwarf fruit trees and bushes I'm about to plant. So, curious, my neighbor comes over to see what I'm doing, because the trellis, he announces as he arrives, looks from across the street like I'm setting up some kind of a huge trap. I explain my extended garden plans to him.

Later, in bed, I worry that my apple trellis may be a crazy idea; or if it isn't, at least it may appear to be from my neighbors' point of view. Have I gone loony tunes? But wait until they see what this place looks like a few years from now. It may seem like I'm caught up in a whirlwind of manic activity as I move and remove dirt and wood and trees; but just wait. This is the problem with having a vision, if you choose not to communicate it so well, but set about to achieve it anyway--which is pretty much how I've chosen to live my life. But I'm wondering now when it was that I started worrying about what others thought of me. I never used to be that way--at all. Or maybe I did. Yes. But it was an entirely unconscious motive. The unconscious is the bane of human existence.

social failure

Get the sin out of your life before God makes it known.
Pat Robertson
Most people, when they act stupidly, or badly, do so unconsciously. Few people intend to do bad things. We're burdened by a process of repression and denial that permeates our psychologies.

Yet we all learn by living--maybe. (That is, some of us learn; others are incorrigible.) Life gently whispers to us early on; but as we age, it raises its voice until, if we don't get the message, it begins to shout.

Sooner or later, if we're doing something "wrong" (socially defined, so that its incorrectness may only be a relative affair), we're going to suffer social consequences in one way or another.

My "life" had been whispering to me throughout my childhood and adolescence. It said, "Be very, very careful. Don't allow yourself to get angry--like you want to." And for the most part, I listened.

But as an adult, I began to forget the message; and as I threw off the insecurity and lack of self-confidence that plagued me as a kid, I grew less cautious, and I began to make serious mistakes.

As the stress of work, physical maladies, and an inability to sleep regularly and sufficiently accumulated, the anger, long suppressed, would rise to the surface and make itself known, again and again.

Always, I immediately recovered. Once expressed, the anger subsided--because it had very little to do with the immediate situation anyway. I am totally forgiving of others' behavior, after the fact of it.

[Not that others are innocent pawns in the foibled life I've led. They were/are not at all responsible for my behavior. Yet they have problems of their own for which they must take responsibility.]

But where have I been? I'm experiencing all of these returned memories that I'd forgotten all about, stimulated by working in the gardens, but predicated upon my renewed consumption of coffee and beer.

I went into a body chemistry daze years ago when, for what I thought were health reasons, I stopped drinking them. But I didn't consider my mental health, which depended on this tame form of self-medication.

Gardening, like writing, is a lifestyle. I used to garden all the time. Can I manage two lifestyles? One is more than enough. You have to dedicate yourself to each. Meanwhile, I wait for responses that never come.

I send out e-mails and no one answers. I do other things. And then I (might) decide to act independently, without input, advice, and/or assistance--which will sometimes disconcert others, that I did not wait for them.

I tried. I waited. What more do you want? You're the ones who failed me. You set me up to act without you. This is a major theme in my life: I want people's help; I request it, it doesn't come; I act alone. They become upset.


survival of the unfit

During the day I know I'm right.
But doubt creeps into my mind at night.

Doubt, especially when it involves perhaps intuitive but maybe imagined perception of one's (self-)image gleaned via feedback and/or "paranoia," can always be countered with the argument that, no matter what people may think of you, they have flaws too, often as great your own; they can be every bit as stupid, ignorant, and/or crazy as you may be. No one has any real justification for criticism of others, and people become critical only in order to deflect attention away from their own shortcomings and self-doubt.

How do people expect me to act, but to be myself? Do they expect me to put on airs, to act like I'm someone different than I really am when I visit or encounter them? The way I act among close friends and relatives is the way I act at home. (If it weren't, they wouldn't be close--by definition.) This is who I am. This may get to the heart of the matter: the reason that they invite me over may be so that they may then later criticize me behind my back. Once again, I have acted the role of the whipping boy.

Don't invite me over, if you don't like the way I act/am.
It's not like I'm freeloading. I visit people only when invited.

But, it seems, they learn to begrudge me for (among other things) consuming the food that they so willingly provide.

And yet, over the years, I've given them plenty of things, done a lot of things for them, when I think of it, when it seems appropriate, or when I am inspired and motivated to fill a void I've noticed in their lives. (I don't buy or make gifts simply for the sake of it; there must be a need to be fulfilled.) [Here, I begin to create a list of things I have given to/done for people who have then subsequently begun to criticize me for...whatever. But I think: why should I feel that this list is necessary? What am I trying to justify? I give people things or do things for them, not out of a sense of obligation, but as a spontaneous gesture, because I think they might appreciate them. I will always do this; I do not want think of this as quid pro quo.]

One might get the idea, if one knows me well enough or has read enough of what I have written, that I'm talking about my brother and his wife here. And I am. But it's more than just them. This is a pattern in my life: people set me up and I stumble blindly into their (conscious or unconscious) machinations. But my brother of all people should (and his wife by extension; she should understand this--but she doesn't seem to) feel obligated to me: I helped him out for a long time during at a time in his life when he needed it, when he was having a problem with alcohol (with adaptation in general, which alcohol was a symptom of and an inadequate solution for). He still owes me a lot of money from that time, which every once in a while he'll mention, saying that one of these days he'll pay me back. So, maybe, it's this sense of unfulfilled obligation that he really resents, and he displaces it onto a different kind of resentment. But, to be fair, it's not him so much who resents me as it is his wife. But then, she resents him too, ostensibly for his alcoholism; but I suspect that it goes far deeper than that. She's becoming increasing bitter as she ages; but then, who isn't? Our society isn't kind to, nor even so much conscious of those who happen to be successful enough at life so as to have had the opportunity to age. Forget society; even nature doesn't do so well in this regard in this modern world. Survival of the fittest ain't what it used to be.

rambling along the road to recovery

As you know, the best way to solve a problem is to identify the core belief that causes the problem; then mock that belief until the people who hold it insist that you heard them wrong.
Dilbert Newsletter
To allow the money supply to slowly inflate and to raise wages and prices in order to compensate for the increases is a form of institutionalized age discrimination: old people on a fixed income must increasingly do without.

On the other hand, as people age and are increasingly unable to work, and especially as they have failed to provide during their working years for their later life, they prove themselves to be increasingly unfit to survive.

My lifestyle is partially determined by my perception of what is necessary to survive in a world that disregards me (as a reflexive action to my disregard of it). I perceive in life what I most fear within myself: my insecurity.

Two twelve-hour days of non-stop socializing wore me out.

My sister, in town for reasons other than to visit us, has been staying with my brother for the last two days, and I have been visiting them non-stop.

But now I'm back at home, recovering, trying to sort out the conflicts and repressions I've assimilated.

Through our interactions with others, we learn about them, which can be disturbing when we do not expect the knowledge; but more importantly, we learn about ourselves, which can be even more disturbing. When we interact with others daily, especially when that interaction is fairly intimate and/or intense, it can be a great source of knowledge, but also one of stress. Learning the truth about others and ourselves is stressful work. No wonder we spend a lot of time and effort lying to ourselves about what we are learning.

The confusion that results from (in particular, these) interactions of personalities disturbs me; or, to put it in more concrete terms: my family drives me crazy. Or maybe I mean that my craziness is provoked by my interactions with my family. Whatever. However I try to explain it, I don't know where to start, how to proceed, which idea to express first, second, third... It all runs together in my mind, memories of experiences flooding my brain like downstream water through a distant burst dam in the hills, the typical mix of muddy melancholy and flotsam regret, wishing I hadn't said things I'd said, even though they were hardly noticed and were taken as just so many words--and even then were hardly reprehensible, even to the most ardently self-righteous person. (Or maybe that's all just the way I'd like to think it goes.)

I used to like going over to my brother's house because his wife provides a lot of good food; but the message I've been getting lately is that they invite me over so that they have someone to ridicule and deride, mostly behind my back, of course. I read between the lines and interpret snide comments of my youngest nephew, obviously cued by him having overheard his parents' complaints, and I conclude that they criticize me for the way I willingly eat the food that they provide. And as a result, I realize that I no longer like going over there any more.

My brother may be (unconsciously, of course) subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) ridiculing me in order to convince me (and/or himself; or, more likely, to justify the ideas he feels he must retain about how unfairly he has been treated by me--or by life in general, which he tries to project onto me) of the justification of his memories and perceptions. This is nothing new; it's been going on for quite some time, probably since we were kids. He repeats his standard criticisms of me, things like his comments on common sense, couched in the guise of friendly banter. And despite the fact that I will, on almost every occasion, voice effective counter-arguments so that he will have no choice to conclude that I am right, yet, at some future point, he will present his opinions again. Several of these opinions are based on false memories that are themselves based on misinterpreted incidents from our childhood together, things like how I cheated him out of a quarter of a cent per paper when I subcontracted him with my newspaper route; or... I can't remember any more of the examples right now. And it doesn't matter anyway. It's not something I should be dwelling on; it's something I should be letting pass on by.

But I don't--not on this particular occasion, at least, when we're out on his front porch, the entire family and a few others besides, and once again the subject of the wild "onions" that are growing among the cultivated ornamental bulbs comes up. I maintain that they are not onions, but garlic, because wild garlic grows all over the place around my house, and I live only four miles away. I pull one up and bite into it, and I see that it is, in fact, an onion. It's layered like an onion, rather than organized in cloves, like my familiar wild garlic.

And so I say, "Oh. It is an onion."

And immediately my words are met with a barrage of derisive laughter. (The whole group has adopted my brother's attitude/behavior toward me.) I think that, when people admit that they are wrong, it is at least equally wrong to counter the admission with ridicule. The proper way for civilized and caring people to behave in this situation would be to act graciously, proffering praise for the willingness to admit the mistake.

When you ridicule and deride a person who admits that he or she is wrong, you do two things: 1) you condition the person toward the tendency not to admit to future mistakes (no wonder their family members are so adamant in their opinions); and 2) you shift the problem away from what the person was wrong about and onto your ungracious behavior. You are now the one with the problem. You have become an aggressor.

Before I discovered the plant to be an onion, as I was in the process of checking it out, my brother, in a derogatory manner, began calling me "the botanist." I'm becoming less and less tolerant of his attitude toward me. The way that his inferiority complex exhibits itself as a projected criticism against my supposed educated intelligence is getting old. I'm just about ready to adopt the belief that I no longer like him--which is the same thing as saying that I don't like myself. I'm very aware of my projections, so I don't like to complain, because I'm aware that my complaints can be turned around on me, even if I am the only one to formulate the awareness consciously. Attitudes are contagious, even when unexpressed.

But then, I feel like I cannot give up on my brother, because he's family, after all, blood kin--unlike his wife, whom I've already pretty much given up on, even as I also recognize myself in her when she stubbornly insists on being right, despite the obvious facts (a trait shared by my brother--and possibly by our whole family).

Anyway, in summary, what they're telling me by all of their various minor snipes and slights is, "Don't be yourself when you come over to visit us. You have to act differently because we don't accept you the way you are." Okay. Fine. Join the crowd. Now you're just like everyone else to me, so don't expect any of the former preferential treatment. I'm reacting bitterly to my recent extended visit with them, and I'm not sure why--except that it's been too much all at once and I am not yet recovered. All of this has come crashing down on me and overwhelmed me.

I've become disappointed (in Joyce--but in myself, really) at having been encouraged to establish a visiting and eating pattern, at allowing her to have convinced me to be myself in her presence, at having become too comfortable, and then at being criticized behind my back for my behavior. I feel like I no longer want to associate with her. It's not enough that she has to be sniping at Jim all the time. Now that I've become familiar enough to her, she feels comfortable positing some mild test snipes at me. If I allow it to continue, she'll escalate it. If she continues, without intending to, out of an inherent sense of self-defense, I'll start sniping back. And then, look out. Because I can be devastating in the unconsciously cruel way I go about my counterattack. So I'm going to have to stay away and guard myself better when I visit them, because I don't like myself very much when I'm unable to prevent myself from acting that way.

And I'm disappointed in Joyce for the way she tries to manipulate me into doing things, like helping the kids with their writing assignments. I don't at all mind helping the kids. I see it as an opportunity to teach them how to write. But Joyce doesn't want me to help them, she wants me to do the work for them--and for herself, because that's what she does for them, and when she doesn't feel like doing it, she'll call me and try to pass it off onto me. And the kids unconsciously get this message, because when I help them, they don't want to try to work to get the assignment done. They passively resist, as a ploy to get me to do it for them. But I'm not about to participate in that little game. It's one of the ways she tries to take advantage of me; but I see right through it and, as subtly as I can, I try to let her know that I do not approve of the way she does her kids' work for them--which may have been the reason that she has started revealing little hints that she disapproves of me, as unconscious retaliation.

As for sniping, my brother can be even worse in this regard because his sniping is far more subtle, at least when it's directed toward me. And so I feel disappointed in him too, in the way he is intolerant of who and what I am--even as I'm mellowing toward his alcoholism, as he too seems to be more accepting of himself, recognizing that, though he may drink, even to excess, he need not become upset about it when others [specifically, his wife--because she has a history that biases her against the problem, having grown up in a household where her father drank and burdened her mother and the rest of the family] nag at him [or worse], resulting in his backlash toward them. He has decided, I think, that he need not respond in kind, that he can take a more humorous and self-effacing approach, admit that he has a problem (a result of having attended AA meetings) and then go on drinking. In this way he can, maybe, avoid the anger that has gotten him into trouble--because alcoholics, though they may damage themselves physically, are not so much burdensome because they are alcoholics per se, but because of the bad behavior that they feel freer to exhibit when they are drinking. Functional alcoholics are gregarious people. Their problem is their own, and the alcohol may even enhance their sociability. So, my brother's sniping may have become subtler as he tries to eliminate or disguise it in order to be a better person and yet go on drinking. He does seem to be trying to become a more tolerant person. That would be nice.

Furthermore, despite his new-found self-esteem based on his improved behavior, my brother disappoints me in the way he [and my neighbor from across the street, who is just like my brother this way] talks about things in that incomplete way that he will, either because he's talking to quickly or because in his hasty shorthand he simply assumes you know everything he knows and so feels no need to be precise and thus leaves out critical details that would enable an adequate understanding of what he's trying to say, leading you to erroneous conclusions. I usually go along as if I understand exactly what people who do this sort of thing are talking about, and only discover later, after several similar conversations on the same subject, what they are really trying to say. But sometimes it irks me when they conclude that I am dense, or inattentive, when I demonstrate that I didn't get what they were really saying, despite my feigned agreement.

Disappointment, I decided about six months ago, is a proper way to feel toward people who...well...disappoint you. Instead of feeling angry, or hurt, or whatever, you can feel merely disappointed. This may be my own way of becoming subtler--and so all of this "criticism" of others, in this light, is simple projection on my part. As for "showing off" my intelligence, education, and "superiority," I suppose I do. But I do it unconsciously, all the while and for all practical purposes (unconsciously) perceiving myself as being inferior (low self-esteem). [It's a schizoid split: inferior/superior.] It is only fairly recently that I've become aware of this as I have attended to the feedback from others that I, in fact, possess a superior intellect/education. Therefore, they are to blame (although I am yet responsible) for my overbearing (I still don't see it as such; it's still a consciously modest, almost self-effacing trait) "show-off" attitude, because they fed it back to me, and always have, though for most of my life it's been an unconscious phenomenon--and another way that others set me up so that they can criticize me.

Backtracking a bit in order to (attempt to) be more complete: I spent a full day (the kids' hockey tournament and dinner) socializing, after which my sister said she'd call me the next day in the morning to see if I want to go with them when they tour the city, because I told her, when she asked if I wanted to go along, that I wasn't sure. But, although I didn't want to tell her, I'd pretty much made up my mind that night that I wouldn't go along, because I know the city as much as I want to and it would be pretty much a waste of time for me. The only reason I might go, I thought, was to spend some time with my sister; but I could do that at my brother's house when she returned that evening.

So when she called the next morning, I was not ready to go anywhere, and I hadn't had a good night's sleep and hoped to spend the rest of the morning and the afternoon moping around the house. But she talked me into going along by expressing disappointment when I told her that I didn't want to go. Ah, family and guilt. Marvelous manipulative devices.

The main focus of the tour was the new sports' stadiums for the Pirates and the Steelers. Bor---ing. Been there. Done that. When I was a teenager. I used to like sports a lot, both as a participant and as a fan, when I was a kid. But I grew up. Now, that's how I think of sports fans when I see them, as overgrown, immature kids, screaming for their favorite team and generally acting like unruly teenagers, like the fans at the kids' hockey game I attended the other day while waiting for my sister to arrive from Boston. Unnecessarily biased airheads who become argumentative over superficial matters--sort of like politicians. Contenion and conflict instead of harmony and communion. Sports promotes the wrong kind of social values, despite sociologists' claims to the contrary.

But, as it turned out, I didn't mind the trip so much, except I had a sense that I was overly taxing myself and needed more rest, and if I kept this up much longer, I was going to go into stress mode and suffer for it. And I was right, because after another extended day, I was wasted. I went back home late that night and, after seven hours of sleep and being up for a few hours, I slept four more. And now, I am caught back up, having exorcized (for the time being) the various demons that will be conjured up to inhabit me when I hang out for too long a time with my family.

moving on

The work I've done, determinative of and determined by that which I am (becoming), accumulates as an archaic record of where I have been and what I have experienced; but it is not (necessarily) who I am now. If you want to know who I am, don't look for me in my creations; as likely as not, I have moved on.

As we grow and change, we're faced with the inevitable crowd of friends and relatives who knew us when, and who expect us to be the way we have "always" been. A main force resisting personal growth is this expectation, the social pressure fed back from the people we know who want us to remain as (they think) we are. I make it a point, almost a religion, to continue growing while those I know seem quite content to remain frozen at the place they were when they decided that they had "matured" and became adults. I often don't see many of these people for months or even years at a time, and then, when I find myself face to face with them, it's obvious to me (and sometimes disconcerting to them) that I am a different person than they remember. I feel the pressure to revert back to someone I used to be in order to appease their static natures and maintain our now fictive friendships. Life moves on, at least for people who are intent upon personal growth. Everyone else gets left behind. I have to keep reminding myself that this is okay; I have to keep re-learning the lessons.

Lessons learned:

1) Don't "show off" (my educated intelligence--or, for that matter, anything else). And since showing off for me is essentially an unconscious process, this means "shut up"--a lesson I learned very early in life, but have to keep relearning as I become comfortable with what I am becoming and how I am relating to a world that is not so comfortable with me. Or, in other words, "don't get too comfortable." It's better that I "show off" to my own self, alone; it's to my "credit" not to take credit for my accomplishments, but to appreciate them within the privacy of my own self. Announcing them in public, even advertising them, is crass commercialism (of self; self-aggrandizement). If others advertise me, that's okay; it's even appreciated (in my self-effacing way, when I will always automatically feel embarrassed to the point of hiding my joy at having been noticed and noted).

2) Don't eat, or eat minimally, in public. I don't want this to be a lesson. I don't want to (have to) modify my behavior in this way. But maybe I should. Maybe I should adopt the pose of esthete physical detachment and reserve my eating binges for my private life. I might even incorporate my "fasting" phases (reduced consumption of foodstuff in order to re-achieve my ideal weight) into my public interface. It could work.

3) Generally, I feel that it's better for me to be alone, where transference, projection, etc. can't influence me [except via fantasy and, perhaps, psychic and/or intuitive mechanisms (which is maybe redundant)], and vice versa. However, if I am among enemies (whom I recognize as such; I suspect that I have many enemies that I am unaware of, who purport to be my friends), my denial, projection, and transference can (and often does) work to my advantage, unconsciously. (I notice retrospectively that this will often happen.) And this can even work among unrecognized enemies, although I'd have to be willing to be among people generally, an activity that this lesson seems to want to inhibit, because the transference(s), etc. of others' work on me, which always throw me off track for a while, until I learn to deal with them later, alone. It is said that you should surround yourself with people who positively support your beliefs and goals and avoid those who exude a negativity that can be detrimental to your purpose. Maybe I should do the opposite. Maybe I should keep my friends close and my enemies closer, not only so that I can keep an eye on what they're (all, friends and enemies both) up to, but so that my own unconscious machinations may influence them, negatively in the case of enemies, or surreptitiously positively in the case of true friends who, by definition, will benefit from my influence. And as for me being, in my own turn, influenced by them, I always turn it into a positive experience when it bothers me enough to go to all the trouble to analyze and interpret the unconscious content to reveal, not only their flaws and general unconscious psychology, but my own as well. And yet, it's a lot of work, when I am in an internal mode and not so willing to come home and work out all the kinks I experienced in my relations with others, when I would rather socially vegetate and pursue my own idiosyncratic way of life.

Social obligation and commitment disturb my sense of ongoing peace and persistent calm--and not only because it stirs deeply repressed anxieties in me, although that is a part of it. Usually these significant disturbances occur at two or three-month intervals, typically occasioned by holidays, so that I deal with them in stride and even sometimes welcome the change of affect. But this month, there have been two of them, and the first was two days long, (my sister's visit). The second is yet to come: I have jury duty at the end of the month; and although I look forward to it, because I appreciate the possibility of acting as a disruptive force within the fabric of the justice system, if I can muster a rationale to let someone I am sympathetic with, someone who is not-so-seriously guilty, get off on technicalities or jury nullification, still, social concerns have been all too much lately, and I would rather sink more deeply into my retreat for a while, tend my developing gardens, and pursue my useless fantasies. But the obligation is hanging out there, now less than a week away, and it has been haunting me, disallowing me from settling back into my asocial oblivion. I'm pretty much recovered from the first social obligation of the month--except for backtracking and documenting it in more detail and working out the kinks of psychology it revealed. And now I've got another one upcoming. But nature in its infinite wisdom has provided me with an opportunity in the form of the bad weather that has driven me out of my gardens and back inside to my computer where I can catch up on the analysis and interpretation and put (what's left of) my rational mind back in order. Puttering in the dirt of the gardens is a great way for me to short circuit the psyche's recursive spirals; but, even in the gardens, I can exhibit unnatural tendencies, such as when I become (overly) concerned with the development of self-sufficiency mechanics. [The OCD has to focus somewhere; better that it focus on gardening than on a society full of real people (who may or may not be rendered realistically within my own paranoid, obsessive mind).] But I can never seem to stay isolated when I feel like I most want to. (That's hyperbole, of course):

My brother called this afternoon and asked if I wanted more wood, because as a perq of his new job as head of maintenance at the nearby country club he has access to a dump where contractors deposit old, cut-up trees. I tell him that, sure, I'm always looking for good firewood. So he says he'll call me this weekend and we'll go over and pick up as much as I want.

Despite my feelings about the way he has derogated me, he's a good guy who looks out for me and has my basic interests at heart. I have a hard time faulting him for his unconscious psychology. But I don't have so hard a time faulting others for theirs. So watch out all of you people who are not blood relatives. Under chronically stressful conditions (which I hope for the expectantly long remainder of my life to avoid) I may go off on you, tell you exactly what I think, and unwittingly reveal all of the transferences that I've come across that place you in a most unfavorable light, despite the fact that I have promised myself that I will forever keep my damn mouth (but not my typing fingers) quiet. [I really need to go and get some more sleep now.]

unconventional needs

It's two a.m. and I'm wide-awake and can't sleep, and in two days I have jury duty and have to report early in the morning. I've been trying to adjust to a nighttime sleeping schedule, and I thought I had done it when I got up at 7:30 yesterday morning after seven and a half hours of sleep. But I guess my biorhythms aren't being fooled by the melatonin I've been taking. Every evening, late, despite the melatonin, though feeling tried from it, I've wanted to be up and getting things done--so that, whereas previously I've been kind of looking forward to jury duty, now I'm getting kind of pissed that I live in a society that demands activities of me that I am not capable of adequately responding to because I do not have an internal clock that's in sync with the rest of the "normal" world. Biorhythms are a terrible thing to waste. When I was working for a living, I felt this way most of the time, out-of-sync and pissed about the social forces that demanded my participation. It probably goes all the way back to childhood; in fact, I'm sure it does. This may be what the anger I feel in dreams is all about: anger is repressed hurt; and I'm hurt that the world will not take into account the unconventional needs I have. This has always been the case with me. I hate the world for disregarding me. I could say that I hate myself and project it away; but I refuse to accept that fact. I love the way I am--different; and so I can only hate the world.

confrontation

After obsessing about it for a week, the time finally came to report for jury duty, and... yes, I got picked again. As soon as the lawyers see the psychology degree and my work history as a production supervisor, they want me on their jury. The trial starts on Monday. But it's a civil case this time--an auto accident. So maybe it won't take too many days out of my far more important gardening schedule.

Actually, despite myself, I have to admit that I enjoy the jury duty experience. Not only do I get feedback on the social import that I (used to) have (re having a college degree, having worked at a relatively prestigious job, etc.), but also I actually find myself liking the social contact and the feeling that I am an integral part of the American justice system. I can't say that I've experienced this feeling of belongingness so much during my life, usually opting for feeling excluded and isolated, which ends up as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Not that I'm complaining; it's the way I would have it. But it's nice--or at least different--to be included. And, as a fringe benefit, there were a few babes there to expand my fantasy world around. But the socialization is taking its toll, and I'm beginning to feel a little bit stressed. I hope it isn't going to be a long trial. That'd be almost like going to a job every day again. I don't think I'd like that so much.

As soon as I got home, Joyce called, wanting to know about The DaVinci Code and "that other book that that guy wrote." (Angels and Demons). She was going to buy them retail, but I told her to look for them on ebay; and she got them for $4.99 and $2.79. And then, my guard worn down from a long day spent out among people, I ended up telling her that I would have lent her my copies, but I was afraid I wouldn't get them back, because she didn't return a copy of a Kenzaburo Oe novel that I'd lent to her a long time ago. She insisted that she'd returned it, but I insisted that she hadn't, an exchange that we repeated several times. Then she said she gave it to Jim to bring over to me, and he said he had done so, which I immediately recognized as a lie to cover-up the fact that she hadn't returned the book. Then she asked for the details of the book so that she could look and see if she still had it. I told her that she needn't bother, because I already bought another copy.

As we continued to talk, it started to bother me that I had mentioned the book at all. I didn't want to confront her in that way. But the matter was at hand, and maybe, despite the way I was feeling about it, it was the right thing to do, after all--especially since it didn't involve any hostile feelings that are typical of the increased affect that it takes to motivate me into a confrontation. It was something she needed to know, and my comment had an effect I didn't expect: all of a sudden, instead of speaking in her usual informational tones, as if I were her personal librarian, she began to talk to me in a more personal and engaging way, as if she were apologizing with her manner for not having returned the book; and she talked to me for a longer time than usual while she simultaneously checked out the books for sale on ebay.

A less pleasant confrontation took place the day before at the parking garage after I left the city-county building: we had received parking discount vouchers, but the attendant wasn't in the booth and instead a sign in the window informed us that we were to use the machine at the right to pay for our parking. I used it, only discovering after I had already started the process that there was no way for it to credit the vouchers. I had no choice but to finish the process; and as soon as I did, the attendant showed up. I explained to him what I had done, and he said that it was too late now. I said that wasn't fair, that the sign directed us to use the machine; but he wasn't giving in. I started to get pissed and felt like letting him have a good dose of verbal abuse; but I contained myself and instead allowed just enough of my anger to seep through as I said, "No. I'm not buying that. Who's your supervisor?" To my surprise, instead of him giving me a hard time, he said, "I'll go and call him."

The important thing was that, even before I began the confrontation, I questioned the wisdom of it. The guy was not the kind of young kid or ordinary marginal loser typical in this kind of job; he was an older Italian gentleman, about my age, as tall as I am, and a little bit beefier. I kind of didn't expect to prevail in my self-righteous complaint. But I decided to give it a try anyway. And that's the whole point: although it took only a second or two, I deliberated before I acted. It was not one of those automatic act-out-of-instinct episodes where my subconscious roiling mind spurts forth appropriate but more or less caustic remarks tailored to establish my dominance and achieve my purpose. It was less animated and more controlled than that; and that, possibly combined with the fact that I was, for a change, well-dressed and groomed and looking somewhat (self-)important, may have been the predominant factor in my success--that and the fact that I was right in the first place; but then again, I usually am right when I engage in confrontation--because when I am wrong, my subconscious usually causes me to slink away, escape the immediacy of the situation, and hide out somewhere until the storm passes.

The guy's supervisor told him to give me five dollars cash, which the guy did, and without any consternation as he "explained" that he was sorry, but he had to talk to his supervisor--which was not quite the truth, because I was the one who prompted him to do that. But I didn't care. Having prevailed, I felt sympathetic toward the guy. I said, Hey, that's all right." And holding up the five he just gave me, I said, "This is all the apology I need." What surprised me was the way that I totally dominated the situation. Typically, when I find myself in these kinds of confrontations, it's either an unfair advantage in my favor because the other person is a wimp, or it's a face-to-face showdown, neither side budging. It's nice to win one on an equal footing for a change, without having to resort to violence (which I haven't done since I was a kid) or the threat of it, which I still may rely on from time to time, though only via my appearance; I'm getting way to old and wise to be threatening to push people around, even psychologically. It's much nicer to be accepted for the educated, intelligent entity that I (like to think I) am.