by j-a

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May 2006

Trying to Roll It All Up
into an Unraveling Ball

fixing things

I'm exiting the basement. Steve sees me and comes over. He's been drinking, as usual. I ask him how he's doing. He's having equipment problems, he says. He's mumbling something about how his fat fingers can't get into the tight spaces where a wire has come off of his lawnmower. He wants me to help him fix it. I don't get the message at first that he wants me to help him, because he's not being so direct. But eventually I understand. I have thin fingers, he says. And I'm good at doing mechanical things. I shrug, but he assures me that I am, he assumes, by what he sees me doing around the place. I recognize his bumbling use of flattery, but I cross the street anyway and see if I can help him out.

After a few trips back home to get a few tools, because his are in disarray in his truck bed, scattered among lawn care equipment and dead vegetation, and the particular ones I need can't be found, I fix his lawnmower, a loose shorting wire connection. He could have done it himself easily if he had not been drinking. He's in a helpless, poor-me mode, complaining of equipment, and his life in general. He asks me if I want to make a little bit of money by repairing his equipment, because the place he takes his equipment to charges $45/hr. After he makes several overtures of increasing clarity, I finally tell him I'll take a look at some of them. We go down into his backyard and dig through his junk pile that he keeps in a makeshift shed constructed from an old open trailer covered with clear plastic supported by rickety pieces of wood. He has at least fifteen old lawnmowers, none of them operable. As he pulls out several mowers, we talk about a lot of things, with him doing most the talking, as usual. (Not that I mind; in fact, I prefer it this way.)

He tells me about a guy he owes over a thousand dollars, someone who does something for him. Fixes his tools? Either he didn't exactly tell me or I missed it; it's easy to miss things he says, and even easier to miss the intended overt relevance to the conversation at hand, which he buries in among a plethora of irrelevant diversions and details (like the tools in his truck), and easier yet to miss the subtext he is unaware of, his denials and projections. The ultimate message that I derive/discern from his banter: he will not pay me after I fix his tools and will run up a debt with me until I stop doing it for him. I've been here before:

About five or six years ago my brother was working as an independent contractor for CVS, and they wanted him to travel around the state to install separate electrical lines dedicated to new computer printers they were connecting to the Internet. So I went with him to help him out; but mostly, although he'd never have admitted it, he wanted me to go with him because he didn't feel comfortable going on the road alone. Then, a couple of years later, he got a DUI, because he's always drinking and driving, and so I had to drive him around to jobs he had to do. And he owes me a lot of money from those times because he could never afford to pay me all of what he owed me, or so he said. Every time he got a check, he always felt it was more important to pay off someone else he owed instead of me; or maybe to buy some booze or something.

Anyway, the point is, he had to ask me to help him out because he owed all of his usual helpers who worked for him money and they wouldn't work for him until he paid them. He dug himself into a hole, but he's always acting as if others are digging the hole for him and trying to push him in. He could have paid me off easily by now by giving me ten dollars here and there when he had it; but he chose not to. I don't really care about the money so much, but I'm sorry I let him build up so much of a debt because it hurts him more than it hurts me because it makes him feel like he's irresponsible and has to be always defending himself, like when he'll occasionally apologize to me and say he'll have my money soon. He feels guilty, not only about owing me money, but about owing others too, and I doubt that he even realizes it because not only does he lie to others about how well he's doing in his business, but I think he lies to himself too.

While I'm talking with Steve, now back up on the street again, Diane and her (much younger) new boyfriend show up, out of nowhere; that is, we're engaged in conversation and don't see them pull up in their car, get out and, walk toward us until they're right there. They're coming to visit Steve and his wife. I've seldom been close to Diane when she's talking, so her squeaky voice that belies her Farah Fawcett appearance always takes me by surprise; and her short, quick, jerky body language seems far more pronounced up close. She won't look at me, ever, always looking away quickly before I look at her, as if she has some kind of sixth sense; but it's really just her finely tuned, speedy reaction time, perhaps honed by a chemical substance or two. (She's shapely, but very thin, which is rather attractive from a distance, but is almost painful to look at up close.) She flits around like a mosquito while her boyfriend talks to Steve. Her boyfriend has a calm, steady, friendly, accepting gaze.

They soon go inside, Diane lagging behind in her flitting, flighty way, looking back in several unusual double takes into the front seat of Steve's truck as she passes it before finally departing, giving me the impression that she's delaying going on for some reason. After she's gone, Steve tells me she just wrecked a car she had out on a 48-hour test drive and is currently in negotiations between insurance companies to see who's going to pay for it.

Steve continues on with his babble, telling me that a guy (the same guy as before?) wants to buy a half-share in his company. Steve tells him that they should get together and inventory his equipment first and settle on a price, but the guy doesn't show up for four appointments, but is still willing to buy into the business and offers him a huge sum of money with no knowledge of the equipment he's buying into. But Steve isn't sure he wants to get involved with having to work a lot of jobs that he's gotten via blind newspaper adverts, etc.

Possible subtext: Steve owes the guy a lot of money, and the guy will trade the debt for a half-interest in his business with, perhaps, an additional small amount of cash thrown in to sweeten the pot. The guy will then bear the cost of advertising and act as business manager to get the jobs that Steve will do. In other words, Steve will be the working partner and the guy will be the managing partner. For a guy in Steve's situation, it's the perfect solution. But he's wary because he understands that it will mean a whole lot of additional hard work, and at the direction of someone else. He wants the freedom from a management authority. Can't blame him for that; I understand perfectly. But it's exactly what he needs to prevent shooting himself in the foot:

A scenario laden with possible future consequences: As we're working on the first lawnmower (I'm working and he's puttering with tools and talking), he's complaining to me about how he's so overburdened with equipment problems, and his wife is complaining because he's out here working instead of being inside spending time with her. This is a slight change of script from earlier in my driveway when he first came over and embedded within his amorphous rambling language the message that, rather than his wife wanting him to spend time with her, that he would rather be spending the time with her. The change of attribution is probably closer to the truth. He's said these kinds of things to me before, apparently indicating that all is not going so well in his domestic life as his wife would like. He expresses her general dissatisfaction with him, and I think that the subtext of his words reveal a standard female discontent, one that eventuates in a trial separation that seldom becomes reconciled.

Flashback to early the same morning: Steve is getting ready to leave for work, loading tools, etc. onto his truck. His wife comes to the door several times in her boxer short-like shorty pajama bottoms and a T-shirt. As he leaves, she sees him off. Half an hour later, she's dressed and heading out herself, going shopping as it turns out, evidenced by her return with bags of groceries. She's being domestic. It's relatively easy to know what they were doing the previous night. This is typical domestic behavior, not only for this couple, but generally. It doesn't occur every time he leaves, only on some occasions. Get the message? Understand the code? He's setting himself up in a different way here, and doesn't have a clue. It is only my reticent, lessoned nature that prevents me from taking a devastating advantage of it. I don't need to be inserting myself into those kinds of domestic situations any more, despite how easy it is to do and how much practice I've had at it. Lesson learned.

I wouldn't mind doing small engine and tool repair for Steve. I've had this idea in mind for a long time to start doing this kind of work, for myself, fix all of my own mothballed tools, and especially the motorcycle. It's a long-standing plan that Steve has burrowed right into by providing me with the opportunity to start in that direction. But I'm going to have to be careful with him, because I know how it is that people manipulate others and lure them into their self-defeating psychologies. First, he owes me ten dollars, which he delays paying; then twenty, then fifty, and pretty soon I'm offering to buy half his business for the cost of the debt. It's puts me on the winning side of a relationship, but I don't want him to be beholden to me. I don't want a master/slave situation to develop--which, interestingly, is what he unconsciously, or maybe semi-consciously, is trying to develop in the other direction, as evidenced by the way he hires a worker here and there at slave wages to do the grass cutting and trimming while he comes home, has a beer or two, and then heads back out to the jobsite.

And I certainly don't want to get much closer to him than I already am, so that he ends up inviting me into his home, like he does all hangers-on who stumble or are lured into his life. He's tried that in the past, years ago, when I discerned that his awkward message seemed to be scripted by someone other than himself, as if he were being prompted to do so: "Look at that guy who lives across the street. He doesn't seem to have any friends. Why don't you invite him over sometime?" Maybe that never happened. Maybe it's my own lame fantasy. But I don't think so. I see the way she looks at me, and tries to talk to me, awkwardly, never knowing what to say, how she sometimes avoids my eyes and at other times can't seem to look away. I'd rather try to act to protect him from himself. But I can't; no one can. I can only refuse to become too intimately involved with his dysfunctional life. But if I don't act in that direction, someone else will. It's inevitable that he'll continue his script until someone or some incident upsets his life in a more permanent way than the simple breakage of tools.


A number of times when I've been talking to Steve, he's indicated that he'd better get going because he had a lot of work to do, but he kept hanging on babbling while I mostly listened, as usual, politely. It's occurring to me that he might think that people keep him from getting to his work by occupying him in conversation, when it is he who's doing the occupying.

Jeff Goldblum gets his face up close to Conan O'Brien during an interview and they stare at each other. It's uncomfortable to watch, but informative; but I'm not sure what it is I'm being informed of.

On "Medium" the other night, Molly Ringwald, playing a blind woman who is plagued by a guy who she says sneaks into her apartment at night and watches her sleep is dismissed by a detective, who asks her how she knows (because she's blind). She tells him to stand up and close his eyes, and she moves her face up close to his. That's her answer. She need say no more.

Joyce, on Easter when I visited, proved a point she was making, that she "feels" people at a distance, by moving close to me and forcing me either to look away or stare into her eyes. I look at her in glances, not because I don't want to look at her, but because I don't like the unconscious implications (or maybe they're conscious in her mind, which is even worse). [That's all I'm going to say about that incident--for now.]

A living room superimposed over the upper west parking lot of the Penn Hills Shopping Center: db stands near to me, wanting to be close (or I want to be close to her), but not daring to touch me. So I tell her that, as long as she's here (in my dream), she might as well sit down beside me. She sits, but the chair I'm sitting in is too narrow and she has to sit half on my lap, which is awkward, so she adjusts her position and sits fully in my lap instead. Instead of being in the parking lot, we are now at a party in a house in the same place. Cut to:

640: I'm talking to db from the driveway while she stands out in the street adjacent to the driveway next door. Paradoxically, from where we each stand, I shouldn't be able to see her; but I can, as if I'm actually standing above on the deck, which I am not. (This would be a good metaphor for psychic contact within dreams, if I actually believed in such things.) She sees a guy named Greg, someone we both know (but not in real life, unless it happens to be Greg S., who died last year from a drug overdose), and she starts talking to him, approaching him in his driveway. I'm not jealous, but I feel like I should be.

I put it all together, experiences, both waking and dreaming; or I try to. When life starts revealing itself more as discrete and separate incidents instead of as an ongoing continuum, I sit up and take notice, because I feel like something important is happening. It's probably not, it's probably more of an internal state than an external manifestation, but I can't help it; it seems so much more profound than the ordinary way that life will flow, when it does. Understanding, always, is essential for me. When I can't understand what's going on, when I begin to get confused, I start to pay closer attention, because something is trying to tell me something, I think. I go over and over the incidents in my mind, looking for links, for common threads, for anything that will tie them together. I'm trying to tie my life together, because sometimes I feel like it's unraveling. It's the doubt syndrome. I've got to keep a close check on myself, to make sure I'm not drifting off in the wrong direction:

in the blood

What do you do if you need a support group like AA, but you're an atheist and can't stomach the hypocrisy of the prayer thing? Do they have atheist AAs, or does that violate their basic purpose?

Does AA intentionally discriminate against atheists in this way, perhaps unconsciously, so that they might "prove" that atheists are, because they lack "spiritual" values, more likely to be alcoholics?

I'm interested in this issue, but I am not an alcoholic. No, really, I'm not. But isn't that what they all say? It's like men in prison claiming they're innocent. I've run across this basic Catch-22 before:

The only way to convince anyone you're not anything is to admit that you are but have been rehabilitated. Parole boards are notorious for demanding this behavior from "innocent" would-be parolees.

If, as it is claimed, all alcoholics deny that they are addicted and once you are an alcoholic you're always an alcoholic, then how can anyone who drinks make a valid claim to not being an alcoholic?

The definition, similar to the problem all innocent people behind bars who are up before a parole board have, creates an impossible situation for a person who drinks but is not addicted.

I drink one and rarely maybe two beers a day. But I know I'm not addicted because if I don't drink any beer for a week or two, I feel no withdrawal symptoms. Nada. I can stop drinking any time I want to.

I just don't want to. I like beer. I like the taste, and I like the way it makes me feel, the first one; but not the second, unless I drink it a very long time later in the day, eight or twelve hours later.

[I am, however, addicted to caffeine. I can stop drinking beer any time I want with no ill effects, but if I miss a single cup of coffee, I start to mope around; and if I go a day without it, I'm hopeless.]

I have between ten to fifteen bottles of booze in the basement, inherited from my mother when she died. I didn't want it, but my sister made me take it to prevent my brother from drinking it up.

Every once in a while, far less than once a year or so, I have a drink from one of the bottles. But I don't like the taste, and I don't like the way it makes me feel: It negatively affects my back problem.

My brother is an alcoholic, and my father was an alcoholic. I worry that it might be in my blood. I'm a lot like my father in a lot of ways; but, apparently, re booze, I am not like him at all. (I hope.)


Dad is living with me (recurrent). Evany shows up, dispossessed. She doesn't know what she's going to do since she's been kicked out of her house; but she's not asking for help, just stating her case. But Dad, of course, offers assistance and lets her stay at my place. She stores all of her belongings in the garage and spends the night and the whole next day here, meanwhile trying to arrange via her cell phone for a place to live. During that time she doesn't associate with me in any way, and although I'm attracted to her, I also make no move to associate with her, because, typically, that is not what I do. [This is exactly the relationship I experience with Diane, who happens to look a bit like Evany.] I get up on the third morning to discover that I'm alone. Dad has gone to work. (His car is gone.) There's a Federal Express van in the driveway and also one next door, and Evany is out in the driveway watching as the guy next door and Steve from across the street help her finish loading her things into these vans, which are borrowed by some friends of the guy next door from the company they work for. (In reality, these friends work for a rental outfit.) I feel sorry that she's leaving and I think I should have gotten to know her better. I hurry to get dressed in order to rush out and be available as she departs, not wanting her to go, but not intending to say anything to her, yet hoping she will act friendly toward me. But I don't get dressed in time, and so she instead comes inside. She says to me that she's glad that there are people like my father and Steve and the guy next door in the world. I say, "Yeah. They're gems." She says, "I don't know what I would have done without them." I do not respond, but instead just look at her, into her eyes, the entire time we're talking. I feel that she's being disingenuous, or lying to herself, because I know she would have been just fine without any help at all because that's the kind of person she is. Not getting the verbal response she wants, she says, "Some people don't do anything to help." I know what she means, but still I do not respond. My non-response, yet intimate eye contact, pisses her off. She asks, "Why didn't you help out?" I reply, "Some people, by their mere existence, obviate your need to act." She asks, "My need?" I say, "Your need. My need. Anybody's need." She says, "I'm not sure what that all means. I'm going to have to think about it for a while."

Evany blames me for not approaching her, which I recognize (semi-consciously in the dream) as a standard way that women come to feel about me, and also as a projection of mine; and, so, I inform her by my non-response that she's doing the same thing I am: She, by her mere existence (in control, though apparently helpless; that's the message she intends?), obviates the need for my help, by being an in-control person and by, without any effort on her part at all, eliciting the help of other admiring males; but more importantly, my father, and later the neighbors, obviate my need to act, because they are quick to help and, if I would have lent my presence and activity to the effort, all I would have been doing was duplicating and piling on attention, which in fact is what Evany wants from me in the first place, attention. I observed from the beginning of the dream that she didn't seem (to act as if she felt) distressed or disturbed or in any even small way desperate. I knew (from her real life) that she has lots of friends with homes who could have helped her out in the same way that "we" had; and I am kind of hurt that she doesn't recognize that, by staying at my place, where my father is a longstanding guest [Dad dwells in me; I've introjected him] who acts as if he owns the place, she receives my de facto help, because I could have disallowed it, and my father in the dream is an alter-ego.

[People, especially women, who (judging by their body language and their various non-verbal cues) act as if they want my attention, yet think I do not give it to them, are not paying close enough attention to me--which is what I am looking for. I am not just any other person, and if you intend to treat me thusly, I will not respond. You already have my attention, and if you do not know it, the failure is yours, not mine.]

A few years ago, in the middle of the night in the middle of the winter, while working at my computer, which is at the front of the house, I heard a racket outside. When I looked out, I saw a car stuck at the side of the road across the street, two wheels off the edge of the road, a woman inside hopeless spinning them and digging herself in deeper while scraping the frame of her car across the curb. I got quickly dressed and hurried outside to help. She rolled down her window and I could see right away that she was very fat, and so I concluded that she was one of those helpless, poor-me people who can't seem to do anything right in her life (which apparently turned out to be a fair and accurate pre-assessment of her personality). I began to coach her as to how rock the car back and forth to edge it out of the rut she was digging herself more deeply into.

Meanwhile, Steve's bedroom light goes on and I see him at the window. And, shortly, he's out there beside me, trying to help. The woman got out of the car and allowed me to try to get it free. Steve suggested I pull it farther onto the grass and drive it off farther down the road, which I did. The woman thanked Steve profusely and ignored me altogether. But who cares if she was an ungrateful and/or ignorant cunt anyway? Actually, I care, otherwise I wouldn't have written about it. It's a good example of the same motif expressed in this dream.

Of course, at its most basic level, this is dream about me interacting with myself, Evany being a symbol for an unconscious part of me. I'm the one who wants attention, like I wanted attention from the fat woman, but must have given off unconscious cues that I was to be ignored. But I usually get attention easily, without hardly ever trying, simply by being myself and existing within a social situation. People always want to help me, even (or especially) when I don't want it. And when I don't get it, but think that I deserve it, it bothers me. Evany is that part of me that thinks she should be catered to. But since I give off conflicting messages (approach me/stay away), people may choose which they will do, based upon their own psychological penchants. Unfortunately, the ones whose psychology tell them to approach me, the forward ones who tend to be more manipulative, are the ones I would rather stay away; and the ones who tend not to approach me are the ones I wish would.

growing (up)

Like Evany in the dream last night, I find myself wanting to blame others for issues that I feel are problems. In particular, right now, I find myself "blaming" Ed, my mechanic, for my car problem. His comment about the gas line has changed the way I think about him, tentatively at least, until I can determine if he has an ulterior motive and, if so, what it is. Does he not want to inspect the car any more? Does he think I might buy a new car from him? Does he harbor the typical peculative car repairman personality that I have been so far willing to overlook? Am I simply paranoid and extending my anxiety about the car onto him? Most probably the latter. My insecurity about my means of transportation is now tied to his "agenda," if there is one. Whereas before I had little concern in this regard, now I worry about it. Maybe I should have been worrying about it all along and Ed, really, has nothing to do with it; or maybe not, maybe it's all a tempest in a teapot. "I'm a little teapot..." I may need to grow up a bit here and get realistic, I think I should be thinking.

It's an idea I struggle with from time to time: growing (up). I don't want to do it. I want to grow, continually; but never "up." I want to continue to "advance" without finally ever actually arriving anywhere. In a very real way, having bought a house and "settled down" and settled in, a process that happened to me so very gradually and with me hanging onto so tentative a mindset about it that I never really noticed how I was fixing myself in place until it was all but too late, involved quite a bit of growing up; but in a very different way, it was at the same time a bold move against having to mature, because the house became my haven against "society." And although it's been years since I've worked at a job, when I did and despite my "loyalty" (having worked at each of my jobs for many years) and decided attitude of permanence (based upon my need not to have to go out on interviews, a process that I've always hated and feared), I always considered my employment tentative, always looking to be back at home where I could work for myself to actualize (some of) my more personal goals and fantasies. Working at a job, despite having over the years taken its toll on my psyche as I slowly learned to appreciate the social prestige my meager but increasingly responsible management positions bestowed on me, never really fit into my plans for what I thought I might eventually become:

"I don't belong here and I don't want to be here, so the best you're going to get out of me is the minimum amount possible for me to get by--if that. And by insisting that I do more work, you're not helping my state of mind any. You're not my boss. The best you can ever be is a trustee for my jailer."

This attitude/behavior is a throwback position to my teenage years (and probably my childhood--yes. Definitely). Although I struggled to maintain the policies, procedures, and expected employee attitudes of each company I worked for (well, maybe 'struggled' is not the right word, except for the last job I had), always in the back of my mind I felt toward each workplace as if it were a prison.

So my generalized uber-supervisor who exists only in my mind changes his approach: "Look," he says. "I don't want to be harsh with you. I just think that we've got to accept the inevitable here. We're not going anywhere, so we might as well make the best of it and convince them to go as easy as possible on us."

All of this is along the lines of recurrent dreams I used to have about being a prisoner of some vague totalitarian regime and required to comply with their strict rules and regulations that I continually resist, despite the fact if I would comply, my life would be, though perhaps not ideal, bearable, tolerable, and even in some ways, rather pleasant, especially when one of the rewards was a beautiful woman that I would be paired with or in some instances even married to.

But, unlike in real life, I would never comply. (Although employers call it, for the purposes of employee indoctrination, 'co-operation', compliance is the single most important necessary employee trait when you work in a job in America--and probably anywhere else; co-operation is something very different and is frowned upon, almost as a matter of policy because it implies that the management will change to accommodate employee beliefs and attitudes in a spirit of compromise--which is never the case in large corporations and seldom the case in even small mom-and-pop establishments.) In my dreams, resistance and outright defiance of authority is a major mode of behavior, still. [Later edit: I've just learned that Oppositional Defiant Disorder is one of the common disorders associated with Asperger's Syndrome.]

"I'm a free man and I haven't done anything wrong. I accept the fact that I have to be here, for now. But I don't have to like it and I'm certainly not going to 'cooperate'..." [although I will do my best to appear as if I am] "...and if you do, you're aiding and abetting." [Because my supervisors, though they may have felt more loyal than I to any particular regime (this is the main reason why people are accepted into management positions and promoted), be it within a dream or within real life, were just as much prisoners as I was.]

I search for this kind of defiance, mostly unconsciously, I believe, everywhere--but especially on the internet. But, probably accidentally, although I don't rule out an unconscious motive, most of the blogs I monitor for educational and entertainment purposes turn out to be written by affluent people whose lifestyle I might otherwise find mildly disgusting. Realizing this disconcerts me. But, unfortunately, good writing, for me, always seems to trump a rebellious nature; and (true) rebels tend to not write well--which is not good: the rebellion that we need, more than any other, is one that is well-grounded in education.

But education has its drawbacks as well as its advantages: at least in the West, it dictates a certain linear, logically-oriented mindset. And I, given my "disabled" (and, as well, socially defiant) nature, do not wish to be restricted in this conventional way. I want to ramble, to resist the education I've received that informs me how to write well. My basic nature, which I feel my writing should truly reflect, tells me to lump ideas together as they occur, without trying to manipulate them so that they make too much "sense." Add to that the fact that the ideas can at times become so prolific that it becomes all but impossible to deal with them:

When things start to back up, tasks having to and wanting to be done (I know the passive voice here is "wrong" and that it is I who is doing the needing and wanting, but it feels like it's the tasks existing outside of me that maintain the motive) until it seems to be in the process of becoming an impossible situation, I start to wind down toward doing nothing, overwhelmed by the magnitude of the work. On these occasions, I tend to turn my attention outward, toward the world:

An army helicopter is shot down in Afghanistan, and the government reports that there is no evidence that it was downed by enemy fire, that it was just a "tragic accident"; but unless I see significant and convincing evidence to the contrary, I automatically assume that anything this government says is a lie.

An outward orientation inevitably stirs up the subconsicous. [Freudian typo: Instead of typing 'stirs' as I'd intended, I typed 'stills'.] And increasing input places increasing demands upon it to produce response(s):

I love cheese

As if we have been doing things together for a long time (although this is the actual beginning of the dream), Eileen and I are in a strange house, in a bedroom that is the entirety of the house. We have come home from whatever it is we had been doing, and she lies down on the bed, and I start to make love to her. At first, she's happy about it, but shortly she becomes cool toward me. I try to keep her interested in me, but she seems to be worried about something. My mother comes into the room. We've hung a small blanket and a large towel over a cord stretched between the walls at the end of the bed to create a makeshift room divider (there is no imagery for us having done this in the dream, but I understand that we did this), but it's not very effective in giving us privacy, being more symbolic than literal. My mother putters around a kitchen area on the other side of the room. But it's not her presence that is making Eileen act distant toward me. Rather, I discover as I attend to her, it's what we, actually she, did before the dream started, which I perceive (within the dream as the first part of the dream that I never actually dreamed) as an imageless flashback: I planned out an intricate ambush of a known terrorist killer, and she lured the guy and killed him; but now she's feeling guilty about it and is getting more and more depressed. I try to convince her that what we did was right, that she did nothing wrong; but it doesn't have any effect on her mood.

When I awaken, I am left with the depression she felt in the dream. I understand how she, in real life, ambushed me, worked behind my back to set me up while acting like my friend to my face; and how she did this to others too, including her own husband.

Immediately, I don't know quite how, this memory conjures up my ideas about Christianity. I can't make the connection here, though I try: Eileen was not, I don't believe, a practicing Christian. At best, she was the typically conventional token one. But the connection feels both real and significant: I think that standard, mainstream Christianity is a weird, cultist collection of superstitions and social and political manipulations, so you can imagine what I think about "religions" like Scientology. At least Jesus didn't intend to start a new religion; he just had a new (not really) message. Hubbard's intent from the beginning was to found an organization, which makes his purpose and his "theology" suspect.

I want to follow up on this idea, search out the possible connections, and develop a thesis that I feel it implies. But I just don't have the motive or the mental energy (maybe they're the same thing) to do it. Instead I get out of bed, go out to the kitchen, make myself a cup of coffee, and think about how much I love cheese. I really, really love cheese. I love all kinds of cheeses. I could live on cheese and mayo sandwiches. A lot of the time I do. [I'm diverting my thoughts here away from the dream, because I don't want to think about the depressed feeling it put me into; or should I say, the depressed feeling it told me I was in? I'm afraid I'm going to get depressed again and stop accomplishing the little bit I'm getting done.]

a kind of fool

As I've written before in many places, anxiety motivates me when otherwise I might remain sedate and unproductive. I may not like it much, but it does have that positive aspect.

In any case, it's necessary to do a consequence analysis: What's the worst thing that could happen? The next? Make a list, in order of severity, of all the foreseeable effects.

If it's not in my immediate future, it probably isn't worth worrying about--except if it's a possibility so noxious that I must take the steps necessary to make certain it will not happen.

I'm thinking this while I'm out shopping, making notes on my mini-recorder, observing the big, wide world outside and the one inside that most often eclipses it. A woman in another car looks at me.

She's speeding down the highway with a cigarette in one hand, dragging at it continually, and her other hand holds a cell phone to her ear. I think she must be driving with her feet, and the thought makes me laugh.

And she looks at me as if I'm strange, talking into a tape recorder. People suck. Not everyone; but a lot of them. I guess I suck too, but that doesn't matter because I'm me. Society is a lot of bother.

Admiral Horatio Nelson frequently got seasick, and yet he persisted in his naval career. Substitute anxiety for nausea and that's what's it's like existing within society with Asperger's Syndrome.

Not everyone is like Nelson, courageous and determined enough to choose a profession he or she is physically unsuited for; but everyone must to some degree interact with society; and so must I.

Each accomplished detachment, as I achieve the next level, tends to decrease my degree of interaction. The worst consequences of not being able to get the car inspected:

  1. I will have to walk to the store with a backpack for groceries. [Maybe that's not so bad.]
  2. I will have to order everything else I need/want online.
  3. I will not be able to visit my brother's family on holidays.
    [Okay, so that may not be on the worst list either.]
  4. I will have to drive w/o an inspection and risk the fine.
    [What's the fine? How about for driving w/o insurance?]
The anxiety (in this particular case, at least) is based on the belief that I need a car; or, in more general terms, that I need all of the things I go out to buy. Do I? Not really. Most of them are luxuries, affluent addictions. I'm attached to this society so that most of the things I think I need to purchase are expendable. And, anyway, most of it is related in one way or another to my "art"; but art is variable, malleable: it can be done in lots of different ways.

Things change, and I spend a lot of time and energy in my attempts to preserve my status quo when I might be a lot better off flowing along more gracefully with the change. On the other hand, I look back and see things I've unwittingly and/or unintentionally left behind, mostly through disuse, possessions and attitudes that I should have hung onto while letting go the things I did hang onto, with a lot of effort. I've made a lot of bad decisions in my life, in this regard and in others.

When you focus yourself properly, change is often for the better. All of these things I think I need, after I am without them for a while, don't seem so important any more; and I end up wondering what the big deal was. I remember a few years back quitting drinking beer and coffee. For a while, I thought I couldn't do it; but I got over that. And then, years later, when I found half a case of forgotten beer in the basement, I marveled how much I'd "needed" it.

Now I'm back at that place again, but with the knowledge that I don't need the beer (although I like it; but I think that, maybe, I do need the coffee). What else can I do without? This is all just a part of my ongoing analysis of detachment. What do I really need, and want? What are the positive possible consequences of the car problem?

  1. I will become even further detached from mainstream society.
  2. Or maybe I will become more attached, becoming more reliant on others.
  3. I will further realize my ideal postmod, electronic hermitage (interacting via the computer/internet instead of directly).
  4. I will become even more eccentric, walking, riding bikes, etc.(heading toward my eventual ideal of a crazy old man).
I see old people, or "crazy" people, walking along the street with shopping bags in areas where, in our great suburban society, there are no sidewalks, taking their lives into their own hands, daring motorists who are driving with their feet to run them down, perhaps to put them out of their misery, and I think that I don't want to become one of them. If I have to resort to these activities [walking, riding a bike, motorcycle/car w/o inspection/insurance, etc.] because society doesn't provide adequate attention and/or care for its marginal citizens, forcing them to resort to all kinds of "suspect" activities in order to get by, I think I'm not going to be happy. But maybe that's not true; maybe I'll be happier, freer, more capable of thinking for myself. You create us so that you have an object for your misplaced derision; but maybe that is my role, after all. I've certainly played that kind of fool before.

sweating it out

The work was done with efficiency
but without hurry or excitement.
Philip K. Dick, "The Defenders"
Well, I tried to make it Sunday,
but I got so damned depressed
That I set my sights on Monday
and I got myself undressed.
America,"Sister Golden Hair"
Life is all about surviving, and everything else is gravy. I'm reading the Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant and coming to the conclusion that (my) life is (like) a war I fight, and this time now is one long battle.

But it's not only the natural forces of inclement, dreary weather that I'm fighting, but also society; each presses in on me as if it wants to see me dead or incapacitated. It's wants me out of action.

I should learn to think of my life as a war against the negative (as opposed to positive; yes, there are some positive) aspects of society, and each of my activities as a skirmish or battle in that war:

Feints, attacks, defenses, etc. all designed to gain a strategic and/or tactical advantage. I should learn to think of life in this way because it's how I live my life, for the most part, unconsciously.

My life has been a war, and now I'm retired and writing my memoirs, remembering my battles and campaigns, like General Grant, except that my memories, my battles, are with society and business.

When I get up in the morning (or afternoon, or evening, or late in the night) and don't (feel like I) have anything that I must do, it feels good; I can do what I want to do, or nothing at all, it's my choice.

But when I feel like I must do something, some imperative task or chore, I feel...conflicted: I'm under attack: I know what I should do: maintain my supply lines, preserve (what's left of) my integrity.

(My) life is a campaign I engage in: make sure I have enough food to eat, prevent the roof from leaking (too much), don't let the (for the most part unseen) enemy cut off my supplies, negate propaganda...

I stock up: water for the garden in the pool and in rain barrels, food bought cheaply and consumed during "siege" conditions; I make repairs and improvements when I'm able in anticipation of these trying times.

It's a weary metaphor. I am under attack, besieged in my lone citadel for most of my life: I'm trying to define and categorize my afflictions, half-heartedly, hoping to find motivation, or at least excuses:

Attacks, spells, afflictions, nagging disabilities... my spinal inflammation is flaring up, causing me some pain, not enough to incapacitate me, just an irritation I don't want to tolerate right at the moment;

as a result of it, I feel a bit feverish, not anywhere near as badly as when I was out working for a living and could find no relief anywhere, but had to go on working relentlessly, never really recovering;

I'm starting to get depressed, and I've been "anxious" for a while now, antsy and worrisome. It's a reaction to the Asperger's condition, I now know, but so what? Who cares? Just make it go away;

I'm starting to get paranoid, a condition I've avoided for so long now, years I think, although I may just be forgetting, because simple hiding out may be paranoia successfully repressed.

These are symptoms of chronic conditions that wax and wane; and when they "flare up," I must act to fight them off or at least learn how to "settle in" and minimize their damage until they pass once again.

Look. Here's the point: If you have to go running around like crazy knocking yourself out in order to survive, that's one thing; but if you do it because you want to, or because your boss makes you, well...

Life can be difficult, and there's nothing wrong with accepting a challenge once in a while that might improve your standard of living; but when you make the constant craziness your whole life, well...

I'm putting my ideas together piecemeal, a little bit day by day, because everything I'm doing these days I seem to be doing half-heartedly. But I'm really looking for excuses not to do any work at all.

When we get a big rain like we had yesterday, the tap water always ends up smelling like river water--which it is, but why can't they neutralize that odor like they do at other times? It makes me wonder.

This suggests a homily: You can take the water out of the river, but you can't take the river out of the water. I just made that up. I doubt that it's an old standard; but if it's not, it feels like it should be.

When you've made all your plans, or at least thoroughly envisioned all of the desired results and goals, then everything will be achieved as the time and motivation presents itself for achievement.

I have all these plans ready to be executed, but the weather and my soul (or whatever strange entity that part of my psychology is) is not cooperating. In other words, I just don't feel like doing anything.

It's raining and I'm huddled inside, still in my sweats at two in the afternoon, reading Grant's memoirs and forcing myself to believe that this preoccupation, too, is progress; and it is, but just.

I can do practically anything. I'm very creatively skilled in that way. Which makes it even worse when I decide that I don't want to. What a waste. I know exactly what needs to be done, but...

This was General Grant's strong point, getting things done, and in a timely manner. When he needed to act, he did. I could learn something here; but then again, he did have to wait sometimes.

It's natural to have to go through up and down and/or productive and stagnant periods; but it's also disconcerting. I get up in the early afternoon and I say, "Today's the day"; but it turns out not to be.

Last night I started three gallons of cider and six gallons of beer, and that felt like such an accomplishment. It's a shame when you spend your whole day reading and pretending that it's education.

It is, but how much education do I need if I never put it to any practical use? At least the guy in the song got dressed for a time. I'm still sitting in my sweats and it's now five in the afternoon.

[But this is not the same afternoon as before. This is a collection of notes written over the past six days, which indicates the persistent nature of the weather, both external and internal.]


I wait, and I wait, for the circumstances, for the motivation... And then it happens all at once! Patience, esp. when it comes to my own psychology, is a virtue, I guess.

Today, the sun came out for the first time in over a week. And I thought, Hey! Maybe this is the time to act, and despite the fact that the streets were wet, I went out and got a battery for the car.

And I also got ten pounds of sugar for the spearmint wine. Meanwhile I'd been harvesting and saving the spearmint and lemon balm in anticipation of its use. Tonight, I made three gallons.

But what am I going to do with three gallons of spearmint wine?! I've always got to go overboard with everything I do. I could easily make three gallons of wine each spring, but should I?

Maybe I should distill it down into liqueur. That's not a bad idea. It'd take up a lot less storage space. I'm going to have to research that and see how it's done. Meanwhile, life goes on.

The weather is moody, first raining, then briefly clearing with spots of sun, back and forth, aggravating my confusion. I hate it that I am so subject to its whims that interrupt my dilatory tactics. But when the sun breaks through the clouds, it reminds me of Oahu in the winter, a respite warming drying up the rain.

Last night I dreamed I was riding in a car with Alan, who morphed into Ed. We ended up at my grade school, which became a small college (recurrent from a long time ago). As we walked through the halls toward class, I complained to him that I am going to flunk out, that I don't even know where four of my five classes are, which rooms they are in, and in fact what they're subjects are. (The one I do know about is English Lit.) He's no help, although he sympathizes. He goes on to his class and I'm left to wander the halls. I come across a class that's meeting in a large "alcove" (as if it's a room without walls) off of one of the halls. I feel threatened because, apparently, broken into dyads, they're practicing some kind of personal interaction, as if it's how to speak in public in groups of two. I head off down the stairs.

What I was really complaining to Ed about, I realize when I awaken, was that I was lost. Awake, I find myself (re-)constructing my rational(ized) defenses: I'm doing (accomplishing) a lot of things; yesterday alone was quite "productive"; but was it? Basic maintenance, no real progress, except for the wine, and how much progress is that? I'll probably end up not drinking it; or if I do, that may be even worse.

Hanging out with Ed when I was in college was a particularly definitive "lost" time for me, because I was just drifting along, absorbing the environment, not caring to pursue any particular goal, existing, being happy and carefree (yet with the underlying anxiety always ready to spring forth when social conditions "warranted" it).

I don't really know where I'm going now--still. I make up reasons for my existence, because I'm not provided with them ready-made. Sometimes I think that maybe it'd be somewhat worthwhile to live in an oppressed environment, so that I might be "put-upon" and have to strive against the oppression, giving me a purpose for my life, albeit a negative one. I'm inherently, though passively, belligerent (anti-authoritarian) and when there is nothing to contend against, I tend to get lost. Oh well. This idea may fit in with an idea I had of compiling a developing list of evil incidents that I might contend against, to give a (more or less temporary) purpose to my life.

Sometimes I just feel so goddamned good about my life that I could just shit. Like right now. What's the problem anyway? Why can't life always be like it is right now?

The mild depression I've just exited was occasioned, I hypothesize, by the nasty, rainy weather. Now, the sun is out and I feel great. Even the news is sparking a reaction in me again: Bush's shadow government is increasingly being exposed, but rather than acting to dismantle it, as should be done in any freedom-loving country, the people, spurred on by the sycophantic media, are moving toward legitimizing it. But is this depressing me? Au contraire. Let the citizenry wallow in their ignorance. I don't care! We create our own destinies, not only by our personal lifestyle choices, but by our allegiances as well. You people voted for the prick. Now suffer for it, you ignorant swine. And you're so stupid, you don't even realize how you're suffering, scapegoating your problems onto inappropriate targets. I suppose, because I've written out these words, you'll blame me for the way things are. Ah, it's good to be back again.

Looking back, I see again how, when I am in a "depressed" state, it only affects me if I want to do things: I get these ideas in my head that I have to be accomplishing things, but my body sense is telling me to take it easy, let life flow on by, don't get too "driven"; so I experience conflict: to struggle and strive or to sit back and relax and let the world drift by. There's a middle road, of course that leads to doing things in a simple and carefree way without getting your panties in a bunch, but I never see that road because it's not much used and hidden beneath a lot of overgrowth.

Middle roads tend to disturb me in a subtle and often unrecognized way. It's not only that they represent the mainstream, although that would be enough. It has something to do with being bored, maybe. I vacillate between extremes, of accomplishment and lethargy, of reality and fantasy, of any number of dichotomies I might rationalize; and middle-of-the-road behavior, which may be the essence of affluence, only serves to remind me, I think, that I cannot be that way and share in the great American dream.

PBS is not so special

I guess there's a Slim Shady in all
of us. Fuck it. Let's all stand up.
eminem, "The Real Slim Shady"
An affluent, spoiled, middle-class American family lives for three months as a ranching family in the Old West. Then, blinded by their modern-day prejudices, they refuse to accept the conclusions of the experiment's evaluators, which indicated that the family's behaviors were less than ideal and in some cases even impracticable. The bitterness that the family exhibited toward the evaluators and their decisions verifies the judgement. I thought the evaluators were being rather kind and overly generous. I'd classify the family's participation as a total failure: if required for any significant length of time to live the kind of austere lives our pioneer ancestors had to live, they'd die of malnutrition, exposure, or disease.

This family represents everything that is disgusting about arrogant modern Americans who think their shit doesn't stink. As is typical of the American status quo, they claim to have "values" without realizing that the reason that the values they're claiming were forged out of necessity by the harsh pioneer life of our ancestors, enabling their survival. One of the daughters, early on in the series, says that she is different than other people because she was raised with values, not understanding the inherent elitist arrogance of her comment. People unlike her could never have "values" of course.

My brother thinks he's a middle-of-the-roader living a middle class life. And he is, but only by virtue of his wife's job as a nurse and the affluent household she maintains. He doesn't see how he depends on her for his middle class identity. But we all have blind spots, even me.

I can't believe the blind spot I've just uncovered: for years I've been irked by my brother's comments about my not having any common sense; yet I've never applied to him in this sense the basic axiom that I use when analyzing others' psychologies: people criticize in others what they don't like about themselves. This is exactly what my brother is doing when he criticizes me for not having common sense. I come to this conclusion after thinking about how I might respond to him if he ever again accuses me of having no common sense: How much common sense does a person have who allows himself to become addicted to alcohol or, once addicted, doesn't act to successfully break the addiction? He can't accept his own lack of common sense [I still don't accept the existence of "common sense," believing supposed examples of it to be prejudicial illusions, but only think about the concept as a self-defense against his attack--which says a lot about my own psychology] re alcohol [and many other things, like how to live peacefully with others, how to get along with his wife and maintain a successful marriage, etc.; but he can't attack me on these points, which indicates that there must be some at least small "truth" in what he claims about me re common sense, in its traditional definition, which contributes to why I claim not to believe in it, so that I can claim that the attack is unwarranted; but I've already provided a thorough defense of this elsewhere]. Of course, if I would confront him in this way, he'd disagree. His (prejudicial sense of) common sense was formed back at a time when it was somewhat acceptable to drink to excess and become addicted (although not so much commonly thought of as addiction) to alcohol. This is further evidence that my hypothesis that common sense is an illusion is correct.

Affluence (middle-of-the-roadedness) and common sense have a lot in common, since affluence in America (not true affluence, but that which many Americans like my brother seem to think it is, since people seem to tend to attribute their social status as being a little bit higher than it really is and almost always disregard their level of education when assigning themselves a place in the social hierarchy) is not so widespread as the people in Washington would want you to believe it is.

Everyone wants to think of themselves as better than they are, even the people who actually are better than average. And everyone wants to believe that they are right. But it's not enough to just say you're right; yet this is how many people expect people to deal with them; and when, often, they will not, but rather demand proof of what they maintain is the truth, they get upset that they are thus confronted, and arguments ensue. Many people, even highly educated people, hang onto their beliefs like they hang onto their illusions about their social status, refusing the validity of any input that might change their minds.

One common shortcut people use to "prove" their beliefs is to cite a supposedly authoritative reference that no one has access to, and then leave it at that, without a detailed explanation of the reference's information. If you do this, well, okay, you do it. I do it all the time myself. But it proves nothing, people who get sucked in by the tactic are naive fools, and people who win arguments in this way don't really win, but simply assert their incorrectness out of a need to win despite the facts.

This is my projection onto a person whom I suspect has just done this to me, although it's possible that her reference is correct and I am wrong. But I don't want to be wrong, and until it's proven that I am, until I can gain access to the costly reference, I maintain my dubiety. If I am wrong, I'll admit it and leave it at that, somewhat embarrassed, but life goes on. But I must go to great lengths to suspend my acceptance, because I've been burned too many times in the past in this regard, even (or maybe especially) by my own parents (which is the reason, I guess, for my overly cautious attitude).

Joyce, my brother's wife, tries to use this ploy with me all the time; but I just let it go by because I usually agree with her opinions and so it doesn't matter. Joyce, however, although she maintains her insistence in her own beliefs, generally accepts my opinions as informed, and so with her there is little problem in this regard. Not so with my brother, who will defer to me from time to time, but generally begrudges me my education and is quick to point it out in any number of ways as a supposed flaw in my personality.

As I'm brainstorming about this subject, divergencies emerges: it occurs to me that, while Joyce, or Jim, and/or one or another of their kids, are always calling me to "help" them do something (which usually means they want me to do it for them), they never seem to follow up on anything I ask them to do for me. I have lots of examples of this, such as when I asked them on a number of occasions to scan my Dad's art that they have hung in their home and e-mail it to me for the book I'm publishing; or when I've asked them to save their sixteen-ounce soda bottles so that I can use them to store homemade beer in; and then there was that time when I asked Jim to help me cut down a tree, and it took him four months and multiple requests before he managed to get himself over here to help me, even though he rarely works any more; and I've been asking him for years to help me install a new electrical service to replace my old fuse box with a breaker box.

I could understand (if not accept) this behavior if it was just limited to my brother, because most of it is probably caused by his alcoholism, and when he's not drinking, he's somewhat responsive; but the whole family acts this way. Maybe I should stop doing things for them, and then they can blame me and scapegoat their behavior by projecting it onto me.

People, in general, disturb me with their behavior. (I even disturb myself with my own.) This never used to be the case. It used to be that I accepted people, and life, for exactly what it is, and nothing more. Life happened to me, and occasionally, I happened to it. But over the years I've "advanced" myself to the point where I easily penetrate the fog of human behavior, and I don't like what I find. And valid sources of information (such as PBS; see how cleverly I've brought this divergent rambling full circle) only compound the problem by feeding me intelligence that I must deal with, when all I really want to do, like everyone else, is wallow within the narrow confines of my own beliefs. But I can't shut out intelligence. I never could, and so it has accumulated to a point of critical mass and awakened me to the deleterious effects of human interaction. I can disregard affluence, and thus shut it out; but I can't disregard intelligence. And often the two go hand-in-hand and it confuses me. The bourgeoisie are not so disreputable as their bad reputation pretends; and they are better educated. But then again, people are not as bourgeois as they might think they are. Many proletariats are bourgeois wannabees; and many proletariats are not so intelligent as they think they are either.

Affluence, I think, confuses people. (It certainly confuses me.) It causes people to think they are something they're not, and even that they have it when they don't. People see it on tv and assume that it's a part of their lives, when it's only a superficial identification. The elite have it set up that way. You can buy imitation anything, cheap products that look like the real thing, cheap food that tastes good (sort of). Even the poorest Americans can sometimes imagine that they live in luxury; and even the least educated can imagine that they've been raised with values that most others have not, when their actual values have little or nothing to do with anything real or practical, but are instead an expression of a faux-affluence that they try to hang onto because to admit otherwise would devastate their simple little minds. And PBS, despite much of its intelligent content, feeds this attitude, not in the least by its continual begging for funds to keep operating. It's all so dirty, I want to think; but maybe it's just me.


I should learn to appreciate people for what they are, not for the way they live, whether or not they embrace what I consider to be the superficialities of culture, but for the content of their minds, for their personalities; and especially, I should not judge people by what they look like, which at best is superficial and, worse, is prejudice to the point of bigotry. (We're all at least unconsciously prejudiced in one way or another, but we don't have to be bigoted. That's a choice we make, albeit also often an unconscious one. You can't get away from the fact that we all do the best we can.)

But, when I look more deeply into the minds of people, when I consider their personality, not to mention their deeper psychology, I never really like what I see there either. Inevitably, their flaws stand out and grate on me. For example, people with big mouths, you know the type, the arrogant and/or boisterous loud talkers who insist on dominating the air space for as far a distance around them as possible, who think that everyone everywhere is socially impoverished if they don't hear their voice every minute of the day and night--these people are compensating for their inferiority complex and the subsequent powerlessness they feel; they're expressing their inner child, because they never really grew up. Watch kids outside at play, when they think they are without adult supervision. They yell and scream and generally fail to monitor and moderate their volume level, which is fine when you're a kid; but when you grow up...

This, of course, is all one massive projection, because I don't much like my own flaws very much and am continually striving to overcome them, because I used my voice loudly when I was kid, and I have caught myself doing it as an adult also, when stress levels increased and I felt like things might be getting out of control. I can dominate a social situation with my voice, even without raising it. I learned to control my volume for the most part; but I never abandoned the option for establishing dominance in what I feel to be threatening situations. It's still very much with me, and I see it in others when they raise their voices, even when their voices sound pleasant enough. People do not raise their voices for no reason.

It might be easier on my psyche for me, I think, to consider people for the pleasant surface they cultivate and leave their deeper content uncovered because, in that way, I might develop some (insincere) friendships, as I will not be constantly on guard to avoid their machinations and quirky inner selves that they (friends and strangers alike) twist unconsciously around their environments.

But this is the way it is: people will be people, myself included. I have few friends any more because I'm too cautious. People I knew when I was young grew up, and I didn't, so much; and/or I grew up in a different way, so that they don't know me; and/or, perhaps, they didn't grow up so much as I did, after all. But mostly, it's because I've been burned too many times. I think this is probably my own damn fault; but I don't want to investigate too deeply how this works in me, in part because, like everything else in this world, I consider my personality to be a temporary manifestation. It's been with me all my life, but it will, like all else, one day pass away. So why bother trying to straighten it all out?

I'm looking for permanence in an impermanent world. When I accomplish something, I want it to have been accomplished forever. I don't like to have to do the same things over and over again. (And personality changes are almost always temporary, with the possible exceptions of the very similar instances of brain damage and religious conversion, both of which I hope to avoid.) Maintenance tasks bore me. So you'd think I'd appreciate the permanence of established routine; and I do in theory, although I seldom stick to one, except for the most basic personal necessities, because routine means repetition, which reveals the impermanent nature of the last time the tasks were done. When I do something, I want it to be done, forever.

Getting a job, especially, was something I wanted to have done only once, since interviewing was such an odious process for me. Once hired, I felt I should be hired forever; but employers don't work that way any more, and neither do employees, except for me. I was a totally loyal employee because I expected to have the job forever. But I never did. I settled in and expected loyalty in return. I never found it. The same is true for my relations with women. These are far less permanent times than in the past, and becoming less and less permanent as time goes on. And I seem to fit right in in this respect, despite my desire to the contrary. I am just one of many people who go through life with few attachments, symptoms of the fraying edges of the culture that is threatening to unravel.

I learned early on that, if you allow yourself to become emotionally attached to people, especially when the possibility exists that they might not be around for too much longer, then you set yourself up to be hurt. That lesson stuck with me through the rest of my life. Friends die, and some of them betray you. If you want to stay alive and safe, it's best to shut yourself off emotionally from the world. You're not here permanently, so don't get too attached to worldly things. Don't memorialize your life. Live it. I truly believe this. So why then do I write about my own life so much? I could make the argument that my journals are a kind of memorializing. But that's an entirely different kind of thing from what I see as our cultural insipidness re memorializing the dead. You'd think I'd appreciate this practice, since death is a permanent state of (non-)existence. But that's the problem: it doesn't exist. There is no permanence in death, only component body particles disintegrating.

Memorial Day is one of those holidays I don't celebrate. I refuse to glorify war, and as for the war dead, well, they were stupid enough, or naive enough, to allow themselves to be placed in harm's way, so it's their own damn stupid fault if they got killed or wounded.

It's a drastic opinion, I know; but that's the kind of guy I am. Besides, it's not just for the greater honor and glory of the dead and wounded that we celebrate the holiday anyway; we celebrate it mostly for our own damn sorry, pathetic little selves. We can't get over our losses, so we celebrate them.

We don't even want to get over them, that's the sad part. We want to remember the sadness of having lost people whom we loved. Some incorrigible part of each of us feels like it should, for whatever reason, probably pathological, perpetuate our personal misery.

It's similar to the way we hang onto our personal heritage, even, or especially, when it gets in the way of our advancement (which it will do). I think of heritage as something we are plagued with that we need to learn how to get over and transcend, sort of like growing up and maturing. But I tend to think of society and culture in the same way, so... Our culture is temporary, despite what we may wish. Everyone, but Americans especially, in one way or another belives that social practices are absolute--until they come face to face with those of another culture and are shocked into reality.

I try to avoid this American phenomenon as much as I can. I listen to the BBC on the internet. I try to acclimate myself to other cultures. I learn of simple differences, like in Europe, they "take" decisions, whereas in America, we "make" them. Our languages reflects the difference in the way we think across oceans. Old World v. New World thinking: reactive v. proactive, perhaps, although I suspect that that orientation is changing as America's culture spreads around the world: Western Europeans have learned the competition lesson well; now Eastern Europe and Asia are picking up the ball. Soon, we'll all be one. There is no permanence of culture. The huge machine of homogenization will eat us all up. Maybe then, as a ubiquitous monoculture, we'll become more permanent; but I doubt it.