by j-a

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March 2007

Confessions of the Turtledog

bad-mouthing bitch

When I first became aware that I was depressive, which has to be, what?, over twenty years now, I was surprised, startled even; but it was not a life-altering revelation. I went on pretty much as I had been, a bit wiser, a bit more enlightened, a bit more self-understanding, yet pretty much the same; because, without actually realizing it, I valued the depressive moods. They were my time-outs, the way I coped with the stress that the social world kept me constantly under. Off on my own, hidden in my bedroom, reading and fantasizing, or out in the fields and forests, I became a different person, alone but not lonely, separated from the definitions that informed me that I was supposed to be a certain way, a specific kind of more or less standardized citizen. While others strove to achieve pre-defined social goals, I pursued my own anti-agenda, hardly knowing that it was a defensive posture, but hardly caring that it was when I discovered the true nature of my independent existence.

I have lots of ideas about myself that are inaccurate yet "true." By this I mean that, although I may have misinterpreted the causation of my psychological constructs, the feeling I have of them, my sense of them, tends to be most of the time immediate and existential. I usually don't have to think about my own condition like I have to think about that of others and the world. The problem comes when I have to consider the interaction between myself and these other entities; and, then, perceptions of problems begin to escalate and grind me to a halt, and throw me into doubt, and lead me toward despair, and force me to consider my own self and how I am somehow responsible for the condition of the world, or at least my role in it. I, alone, am fine. The world, separate, is also fine with me. But when the two end up in the same room and are forced to communicate, look out.

All of this is by way of introduction to a perception I had the other day of seeing myself in someone else, and not liking the (self-) image very much:

There's a big difference between disagreeing with someone's beliefs and opinions and personally attacking them for believing and opining them. (But people can be incredibly ignorant sometimes.) In the first case, you simply disagree; in the second, you're an asshole.

This is what Rosie O'Donnell did to Elisabeth Hasselbeck on "The View" the other day, attacked her personally for her ignorant beliefs. This is why, no matter how much I may agree with her (and I do, often), Rosie is an asshole. There's a difference between belief and existence.

We each have a right to be ourselves, even Rosie The Asshole. But, if we're going to be the way we are, we must suffer the consequences. And we do. Rosie was wrong. But then, so am I, for labeling her in the way I do for her transgressions. Just another projection.

Although I never seldom express my (self-) vindictive personally (I'm quite passive-aggressive and so tend to keep it confined to the personal absence of the written word), yet I am no different in essence than any other asshole; I keep it all at a distance, but I do keep it.

But...just because I'm no better than Rosie (or any asshole), doesn't make her (or anyone else) right when they attack people for the ignorance of their beliefs and opinions. There is a certain social standard of propriety and ambiance that we must achieve.

Look at this: me, a proponent of sociability! Actually, (like Rosie, apparently) I don't mind being (labeled) an asshole, though I usually keep it well repressed. I'm such a phony in a way that Rosie is not. Except in writing, of course, which is my milieu.

literal separation

This same self/other distinction [if that is what it is, if it is not one of those illusions that deceive us (me) into believing that we are each separate entities] applies to wider phenomena than individuals. Nowhere is it more contentious than in religion. Never do we feel we are so "right" as when it comes to our religious (or "spiritual") beliefs; and never are we, in fact, so wrong. A communion of saints seldom is. Because we couch our beliefs within the meta-belief that our own selves are different from others, we fail to recognize the similarity of our denials and projections. We each have the same instinctual propensity for religious belief, though some of us do not call our beliefs "religious" or even spiritual; some of us are, for example, "scientists" or "atheists" or...whatever--who still yet utilize their personal capacity for myth-making, though in a far more subtle way. Some of us rely on direct appeals to gods, angels, saints, spirits, etc.; and some of us, the "disbelievers," appeal to our very human nature, not understanding that we act toward that nature as if it were a god (which, in a way, it is):

Asking God to help you, in whatever way you may think that help may come, is at best redundant. "God" works via people. Whatever "miracles" or natural arrangements It may cause are effected via people. You might say that, in this sense, we people are "God's" emissaries here on Earth. Therefore, when you ask God for help, you're really asking yourself (your unconscious mind, perhaps; human society, perhaps) for guidance, or for confidence, or even for intercession--to prevent you from being who and what you presently are, because the situations we find ourselves in are almost always of our own creation. And we achieve what we do, whether it is "God's" idea or our own, by our own means; or, by extension, with the help of others to whom we appeal who are as human as we ourselves are. With all of this in mind, what we do becomes highly significant in terms of "God's" purpose here on Earth--because it is our own human purpose, after all.

But many of us are not capable of this kind of extended understanding of the collective nature of the human mind. And those of us who for whatever reason (lack of a good liberal arts education, limited capacity for reasoning and logical analysis, brain damage) must comprehend life literally cannot appreciate the distinction between reality and symbol. And this is where we fail to communicate. For example: Although some Christians cannot understand the concept, literal (fundamentalist) interpretations of the Bible are idol worship. Some zealots actually worship The Book itself; and the idol there is obvious. But those who worship The Word are a lot more unconsciously devious: the ideas that the words represent [the preponderance of them rendered symbolically or metaphorically--all of them, if you ascribe to a certain essence of symbology--nuances that seem for the most part to elude the steel-trap minds of Fundamentalists] are the essence of all writing, and of even merely thought; but the words themselves are (literally) idols (i.e., symbols).

In dreams, or at least in my dreams, "words" serve a different function. Rather than "objectifying" and idolizing them, my dreaming psyche deals with them in a more global manner, failing--not even trying--to pin them down, allowing them instead to "breathe," to exist freely, almost as living entities:

combo 640/6023: db(?) and I are gardening in raised beds near the house. She's pulling up plants as if they're weeds. [I can feel the difference between the two classifications, and as I explain it, I don't actually use words to do so. It's more like non-word thought transference, a kind of pre-image construct I have that is intuited by her.] I "tell" her they're vegetables that haven't yet grown to full size and when they do, they'll yield lots of edible items. [This is another example of the inaccuracy of dream words: in my mind, I mean beans or bean-like things; and I would report that I say this to her; but I actually don't, but only understand it.] I take the uprooted plants, planning to re-root them somewhere; but I can't find a place to put them because all of the garden plots are either planted or I have plans to plant them with something else. [I don't know why I couldn't have put them right back where they came from.] Simultaneously with the above, or occurring at the same time both before and after it so that there are two dream stories seeming to be running side by side and/or consecutively both before and after each other: in the extended back yard [recurrent dream mode, an area that doesn't exist in reality, but extends back up the hill into the woods, as if the woods behind both houses were removed of underbrush and the trees thinned out to allow fairly cleared ground area and yet provide a full canopy]. I find a large turtle up near the top of the extended area. I'm wary, as I near it, because I think that it will withdraw into its shell. I approach carefully. But it doesn't withdraw, but acts friendly, like a dog would. It looks thirsty, so I ask it, like I would ask a dog, if it wants water; and like a dog conditioned to keywords (although I never actually use any spoken words; it knows what I mean without me making any literal sound), it acts (as) excited (as a turtle can get), as if it knows what I'm saying. It follows me down to the porch where, while I look for a bowl to put water in, my neighbors hose it down with the garden hose. I can't find any bowls in the kitchen or in my bedroom that don't have holes in them. All the bowls I find will not hold water. [Obviously, the turtle is me. I can't provide an essential nutrient for this turtle aspect of my self. Neighbors provide a small amount, enough to cool me down, but the turtle can't drink from the hose: I can't be sustained by the methods that society offers.] My mother warns me not to use her good china, which are the only bowls in the place that will hold water. This feels just about right; her (unconsciously imparted, unspoken) "strictures" (as opposed to her "positive-thinking" verbalizations) limited me when I was young. I was always afraid to act socially, perhaps not so much as a function of my basic nature as because I feared to disappoint my mother. Another turtle trait: I am slow to act. I wait, dwell on ideas and plans, and act, if at all, only after much deliberation. Yet I am eager and friendly, despite my shell.

The self/other distinction is of the same quality as the distinction we make between words, when we act (mentally) to create constructs that divide (our perceptions of) the world into "knowable" (contrastable) schemata. It is only in our (more modern) minds that these distinctions exist, and our reptilian (dreaming) brains render, instead, the "perceptions" less rigidly. And, lest we forget (as we are wont to do, the nature of dreams being what they are), when we dream, all of the characters, locales, etc. are really aspects of our own selves, and not some external reality, which is another realm altogether:

a great job

I love to walk through the marketplace and see all the things I can live without.
I like to make lists of plans and goals, to see before me all of the things I do not have to do. True, unlike Homer, I want to do them. Or maybe Homer meant that he did want the things he saw, but thought that their pursuit was futile or unnecessary. In any case, true emergencies are few and far between and most of the things we think we must do, like most of the things Homer saw in the marketplace, are more a matter of convenience and comfort (or fear of social sanction) than of necessity.

For example, when it rains, I always want to think my leaking roof and basement is an emergency; but it's not. The water dries up, eventually, and the damage is already far beyond incidental maintenance and further damage isn't going to make it any more expensive to repair; and it would be so costly to fix anyway that a new house would be a better investment. Every time I patch the roof, if it holds at all for even a few months, it always needs patching every new spring anyway. And all I have to do in the basement is make sure that I catch the overflow from the diversion trough in times of excessive rain.

Instead of doing these kinds emergency repairs and tasks that I want to think are so important, I like to reserve my "up" time (which is what it takes for me to do anything at all these days) for truly more important tasks, like writing, art, investing, etc. Writing, in particular, is probably the most important thing I do, maybe. Until now.

I don't want to be, exclusively, a writer; but I am. I can't help it. I have many other things that I want to do, plans and goals that are at least as important that I set aside in order to write, it's a compromise I made with myself a long time ago. But now I'm beginning (again) to question it. I say (write) this in light of the fact that I've been spending so much time investing money in the stock market lately that, not only have I had very little time and even much less left-over motivation for anything else, but I've been working at it daily from about five or six in the morning until five or six at night (with appropriate midday breaks for various maintenance functions like hauling wood and tending the fire and getting and dealing with the mail and e-mail, etc.) that I could consider it a full time job. Because, if I am going to do this right (and, since it involves my own money, it's a sure bet I'm going to), it's going to require a full-time effort. But, given this job-like dedication, how am I ever going to achieve any of the other things I want to accomplish, each of which in its turn, if I am to do it right, requires a full-time effort?

This is not a new problem that arises with my newfound financial motivation. [Goal: become a millionaire. It's do-able since I'm almost halfway there already. Then I won't have to worry about what I see but don't feel I should buy in the marketplace]. This is the same difficulty I've been plagued with all my life (and not only when I was working at a job full-time, which only compounded the problem), because I am at least four different people all competing for the time and resources this one bodymind commands:

And when I say full-time, I mean that, in each of the endeavors above, I could devote standard eight to ten hour work days five or six days a week (although during mania times I always extend that out to twenty-five or twenty-six hours a day, seven or eight days a week, which compensates for the depressive times) with the remaining time devoted to various other pursuits that I don't consider worthy enough to devote my "full" time to: music practicum, reading, movies, fantasy--well, maybe I could make fantasy a full-time occupation, if I could find someone to pay me to do it. Wouldn't that be a great job? In a skewed way, that's what writing is; but my style and content are not conventional enough to actually make living doing it.

I gave up on the stock market years ago because I didn't like the way brokers tried to resist what I wanted to do and steer me instead to participate in their agendas. Combine that with the difficulties I had dealing with people in general and business people in particular, a result of both my own peculiar psychology and the typical manipulative behavior that always seems so much more pronounced in the business world, and it all became so noxious to me that, even before I gave up on business and "retired," I gave up on stock market investment. But now, with internet trading and highly discounted fees, I'm back. I should have re-started this long ago. I've missed a few productive years.

Anyway, as I've said, I'm pretty much doing this full time now; and I don't so much like that this is the case. It has its positive side, in that doing stock investing every day forces me into a diurnal sleep pattern. Unfortunately, it commands the time I used to dedicate to writing. And I really want to write. [It's Saturday right now and I'm catching up on notes made during the week; and I hate writing this way. I like to stay caught up.] But if I'm going to risk my money in unsecured investments, you know where I'm going to be putting my most productive time. And there seems to be so little of that lately, what with the reduced caffeine intake and all.


The free market can’t do its thing if there isn’t a market... The modern “conservative” fallacy is that free markets means lack of government regulation. That isn’t even close to what it means — what it means is a market with many actors, relatively transparent information, and no one actor or group with pricing power, whether through collusion or monopoly.
The business of stock trading, and of business economics in general, produces a lot of people who think they know a lot more than they really do. I generally disagree with the "experts" whenever I hear them speaking about issues that have two or more sides. I figure that if two experts disagree, then at least one or the other of them is not so much of an expert. In fact, in my mind, in order for anyone to be a true expert in any given area, s/he'd have to agree with nearly every other expert in that area. (Crackpots may be excluded from this equation.) Expertise implies correctness. Without correctness, how much of an expert can you be?

Therefore, the fact that we have general disagreement among experts in business theory suggests that the experts are far fewer than supposed. (Many, if not most, of these "experts" base their opinions, not on sound scientific principles, but on biased socio-political ones.) Contrast this kind of business expertise with accounting. I doubt very much that accountants disagree over any of the principles of their profession, which is fairly well-delineated--other than, perhaps, whether or not they are going to bend or break the law to favor their clients; but that's not an accounting matter, but a legal one, and no one expects accounts to be legal experts (although maybe we should). All of this is my long way of getting around to the idea of competition and its relationship to democracy:

(Ture) business competition (as opposed to the postmod corporate kind) is the best form of consumer protection, but monopoly is the best means of increasing wealth--which is why rich business people don't really like competition, despite what they may claim. They favor a laizzez-faire brand of capitalism so that they can strive to sqelch the competition and "corner the market." Larry Kudlow, a supposed expert in business economics (or whatever) espouses his enthusiastic, laissez-faire "philosophy" on CNBC as if he knows what he's talking about. Although he is "right," he has only half the truth (like almost everyone else). Society needs both free-markets and the regulations that keep them free (i.e., truly competitve), kept in balance by current conditions. If markets are allowed to freewheel without any oversight and restriction, unscrupulous people will rip off naive consumers (and anyone else they can). Maybe people like Kudlow feel okay about this, but I don't; and neither do people with a conscience. [Laissez-faire business people would all be classified as sociopaths if they weren't so mainstream, if our corporate-bound society didn't have this inherent sociopathic tendency to begin with and so then praise sociopaths like Trump and his ilk.] Society needs balance. If the laissez people got their way, we "little people" would be wallowing in misery like serfs in a feudal system. And they have been getting their way, by and large, for a while now (which causes some to claim that this is a latter day feudal system).

But our system is (theoretically) setup to mediate extremity. Democracy is a wonderful mechanism. It never quite levels the playing field, but it removes some of the more difficult mountainous terrain and quicksand bogs from time to time. Balance is the key. It's the principle upon which the country was founded: checks and balances. Princes like Kudlow would do away with this essential social mechanism. They are the men who would be kings, their only obstacles being each other. Cutthroat competition. Okay. Let them go at it. But restrict the arena. Don't let the gladiators out of their cages except to fight it out on the trading floors, which are kept in control by well-regarded and educated regulators. Democracy requires that we allow everyone to participate, even economically, on the same playing field. Okay, enough. Too many extended and mixed metaphors clashing into each other.

I don't believe in unbridled cut-throat competition; but I'm not too sure I believe so much in liberal democracy either. On one hand, I want to say that (some) people need to be protected by government regulation. On the other hand, I want to say that anarchy should rein supreme and everyone should get what s/he can, despite the consequences. That's the ultimate conclusion of Kudlow's laissez faire capitalism. I'd like to see old Larry competing in a Mad Max world. I'd like to see him try and live without the stock market regulators and the government overseers. I'd like to see him try to protect himself. It's all fine and good if the regulators protect him and his interests; but when politicians try to pass laws that protect the poor, the uneducated, and the naive...well...that's a different story. Kudlow is just another self-interested elitist who sees only his own side.

You have to keep in mind, when you read these kinds of pieces I write, that I am nobody; just some mental asshole who regurgitates beliefs and opinions that he's unwittingly ingested and determined to be nutritious enough not to want to have enter his bloodstream in full force--because...wait a minute: once again the metaphor is getting away from me; it's reversing itself like the beliefs and opinions that I've...

The whole point is that I know what I'm talking about; but how could you possibly hope to without understanding my peculiar mindset, which I don't expect anyone to penetrate. So...e-mail me if you think I'm wrong about anything--because I probably am and you're probably right. Meanwhile, you should know that I've just put on a new pair of socks. Why should you know this? Let me tell you:

A very long time ago, someone somewhere, probably as a birthday or Christmas gift, gave me a pair of those black, nearly knee-high, stretch socks, the kind I would never have been caught dead wearing (for the same reason that mothers worry if their kids are wearing clean underwear), the kind that old men wear to relieve their leg pain by keeping veins and whatnot from popping out.

I found these socks when I was cleaning out the back closet the other day, and since I have all of these old white sports socks that are perfectly good except that they've lost all of their elasticity and will no longer stay up, and since my feet are always cold in the winter and I usually end up wearing two pairs of socks anyway, I thought I'd wear these as the second pair, to keep the first pair up.

And since the elastic is wearing out on the bottom of the legs of most of my otherwise perfectly good sweat pants and cold air blows up my legs, I pulled those nearly knee-high oversocks up over the sweats. Now I'm perfectly foot and leg warm, and I'm quite happy about it. Never mind that I look like a WWI soldier in puttees or a turn of the last century street urchin in short pants and high socks.

Also, when I was back in the closet, I found an old black beret that, when I was in college and shaved my head into a top-knot, I used to wear to disguise (some of) my weirdness when out at prejudicial social events. And, when I wear it now, I realize how much warmer my head is. So here I am in beret and pegged pants. Of course, this is strictly housewear; I would never dare go outside looking like this.

But one thing is for sure: as I stand here in front of the mirror, I can unequivocally state that I am now officially an "old man." No self-respecting youth, young adult, or middle-ager would ever dare allow himself even to take the chance of accidentally being seen looking like this, not even by his own self. I understand now why old people look the way they do: they just don't give a shit any more. I'm just one step away...

Along these same (old age) lines, I get really pissed off sometimes when I have to put on my glasses to see more accurately what I'm trying to do, especially when I don't have them with me and have to go find them. This is another way that age creeps up on you. It's so frustrating to have either to work in a substandard way or else stop what you're doing, even for a few seconds, to put on glasses. This diversion shouldn't be necessary, I want to think.

Even when I'm doing ordinary everyday tasks that do not require accuracy of sight, things I can almost do with my eyes closed, things that I often do without thinking at all, my mind off somewhere else, when minutes later I awaken to myself and don't even remember doing them, I understand that I had to struggle a bit more than I should have because I was not wearing my glasses. [Working without glasses is sort of like trying to read that last sentence.] I hate it that I have to be this way.

my tao

But there is one thing I can still do very well with my eyes closed: I and a buddy (whom I do not know in reality) are off somewhere doing something (details forgotten) and when we return to our car, he's dragging a heavy laundry bag and struggling and I'm not paying any attention to the difficulties he's having; but when I finally notice, as we near the car, I grab a hold of the bag and help him drag it. It's far heavier than it could be if it were filled only with laundry, and both of us together could barely have lifted it. I open the trunk and realize that we had gone off and left Slim in the trunk of the car on a super-hot day, intending to return immediately; but we got sidetracked and took a whole lot longer than we'd expected. Now the dog is dead. I am overcome with grief. I say, in a soft, plaintiff whine, something like, "Oh my God, we've left Slim in the trunk and now he's dead." The dog has been dead long enough to be starting to get stiff. I feel him, wishing I hadn't done this, vaguely praying that he would somehow come back to life; which is exactly what he does: slowly, barely perceptibly, he moves. I become ecstatic. "He's alive," I scream," crying. I am so grateful and become maniacally happy. The dog is barely moving, but I know he'll be all right.

The dog is me. I've locked myself inside a small and dangerous place, but now my greater self has opened it up and I'm starting to come back to life. This could be the winter mode receding, or it could be a longer period of time from which I'm recovering. I'm not sure which. And the plants that I or others have been uprooting in other dreams? That seems to be the opposite motive. I can't figure out the symbolism. Which is it? Am I positively opening up to the world? Or am I going too far and negatively disturbing essential functions that I've spent a lifetime establishing? No reason that it can't be both, I guess. No one has ever accused me of being conflict-free.

This "locked in" theme is a continuation of the turtle dream from the other day. I made notes for the turtle dream, but I didn't write it out until after I wrote out this one. So I suspect that the strong emotive aspect of this dream was a way of calling my attention to the theme that I let pass by unnoticed earlier. The turtle in that other dream acted like a dog, which in this dream, because I forgot about it, died, presumably of dehydration and/or heat stroke. The turtle, I thought, looked thirsty. I am "thirsty"; but for what? Knowledge? I don't think so. I have far more knowledge than I know what to do with. Social companionship? Maybe. It seems to fit, but I don't know. It doesn't feel quite right. It's not essential to the turtle's nature as I see it in my dream to be sociable; and yet it is sociable. And this is me all over: when I'm with people, I feel and act sociably--most of the time, when I don't feel threatened, when people take care not to resort to their nasty little manipulative agendas that I'm so prone to at least unconsciously pick up on and feel threatened by, when I'm not stressed out and feel like I just want to hide away and get some sleep or recuperative relief; otherwise, well-rested and stress-free, I'm an amiable, if often somewhat taciturn, person. I'm a turtle/dog combination; and people who neglect my needs (to be free of authoritarian and/or duplicitous manipulation) lock me (or force me to lock myself) inside my shell/trunk.

I awaken out of this dream and, groggy, feel around for the "remote," because I fell asleep with the lights on and I want to turn them off and I don't want to get up to do it. I have what I call my "universal remote" that I use in my bedroom. I originally made it to turn the b/w tv on and off from the bed when the old color set died and I was waiting for a tv sale. That old b/w set didn't have a remote, so I attached a piece of Velcro to the off-on/volume knob and another piece to the end of a three-quarter inch thick dowel rod so that I could twist the knob with the dowel without having to get up.

But, soon enough, I discovered other uses for the dowel. With it, I could reach the switch to the overhead light and, after a bit of practice, with a short, sharp, well-directed stroke, I could turn the light off. And I could open and shut the envelope door to the adjacent bathroom (in order to conserve precious space heater heat) by inserting the dowel into the recessed pull-hole and pushing or pulling.

Before I discovered these uses for the dowel, I had been using it as a massage cane for my neck when it would knot up and cause headaches and backaches. I roll it up and down over the muscles, causing as much pain as I can stand, working the tense tissue beneath it until, if no permanent relief is achieved, still, by comparison, the pain when I stop is less than the movement the dowel produced. And, sometimes, the pain is actually reduced.

Then, when I got a new color tv and cancelled the cable, I began to use the dowel to adjust the antenna, and to better facilitate this, I added two cup hooks to the end of the dowel to grab hold of the antenna and pull/push it back/forth. So. This is what I call my universal remote, Flintstone style. Tomorrow maybe I'll write about how I don't have to replace the brakes on my car any more.

survival ideas redux

Suddenly I find myself wanting to go into full survival mode, and I don't know why. I haven't been in this mode for quite some time now, although I can see how my past in this area still informs my present, such as when I experience a motive, daily, to maximize the practical usage of my growing areas and manifest my "gardens vision"; and I'm not really in this mode now, although inklings of it seem to be persisting. But...

If absolutely necessary, I could, perhaps, survive without relying on the modern social network for food, energy, etc. It wouldn't be a very comfortable life, it wouldn't be at all pretty; but I think that I could do it, at least far better than most other people could. I still have the rabbit cages, all set up in the shed and ready to re-populate. I can readily trap groundhogs, rabbits, and other small animals that threaten my crops. I know that, if necessary, I could outwit and kill that family of seven deer that amble through the back woods late in the evening. I seem to have no problem at all trapping birds that threaten my berries (although there is the chance danger of Avian flu, West Nile, etc., if I would ever have to resort to actually eating them). I've been saving seeds and re-planting the same crops (rotationally) for years now. But the strongest point in my favor is my longstanding and continually growing knowledge of edible wild plants. So, I believe, I could survive in the event of a national disaster that threatened the distribution of essential supplies.

But there is no reason at all to go that all that bother when postmodern culture makes it so easy to live off the fat of the land Americans? There is not even any reason to imagine going to all that trouble, let alone to make plans and gain a practical education in that direction, which is how I spent a great deal of my time when I was young. But, instead of putting any of that learning to use, without planning it at all, I became an expert at living on practically nothing within an affluent culture. (The same unconscious motive; different expression.) Affluence enables people who cannot afford the lifestyle, if they know how to go about taking advantage of the trickle down, which most lower class Americans do not care to do, thinking they deserve the same standard of living as their more affluent counterparts. (Wake up, people. They're not really your counterparts.)

I started out intending to write a long piece about surviving in the wilderness, with the idea of maybe turning it into a novel. But writing to a purpose bores me to death. I hate writing out the details of a planned outline or plot, as much as I love creating the outlines and plots in the first place in my head. (The plots are spontaneous fantasy; but writing them out is hard work.) When I write, I want the content to come out however it comes out, from an idea, rambling, associating, seeing where it will go as it goes along, in the moment, without a storyline except that which might suggest itself as I progress, out of the present content being generated, and perhaps according to a perceived plot (or not), but only just so, as the plot functions as a mere guideline to be deviated from as the characters and/or coincidental material (that I come across in my daily experience) lead the way. But sometimes even that freewheeling method is too much, when my thoughts wander off to other possible projects and lose themselves among the forest of ideas. A metaphor: seeds = ideas: both germinate; planned activity = soil and water. But it's getting to be too much already. The mere thought of trying to create even a plot outline is...I don't even have the energy to finish that last sentence.

I've been feeling so rundown lately, plagued by (relatively short, when compared with illnesses like the flu) periods of fever-like "illness" ("inflammation" caused by "going too far" ?? ) But a short (or longer) rest seems to help a lot, at least for a little while; otherwise, I end up not only feeling physically bad, but feeling bad about accomplishing very little also as I resist taking the much needed break. Lying around and sleeping until I recover, if only for a few hours, can be refreshing. The problem is an immune reaction, I suspect. I'm going to have to research that. I seem to remember reading about some link between ankylosing spondylitis and an immune response that causes feverish symptoms. I'm going into survival mode, I guess, because I've been unconsciously recognizing that all is not quite right beneath the surface and that my desire to maintain my status quo existence has been trumping that awareness. But, now, aware, I've decided to take some time off and hide away in bed and read and sleep and fantasize.

the stress, and how to get it

When I begin to break down and lose my (sense of control over my) daily routine (I often lose the routine itself, though usually I seem to retain my sense of it by briefly re-establishing it each morning--or afternoon), I start to try to tie up all of the lose ends of my (at least writing) life by gathering together the bits and threads of it that seem to be scattering and unweaving and roll them all up into a neat little multi-composite ball:

I can write, do art, even garden or merely go out walking, all while I'm doing online investing. I do these things piecemeal, a bit at a time, in an ongoing movement of random wanderings, acting as I come across tasks needing to be done or ideas needing to be documented. I list out, for example, mistakes I've made in my life, misjudgments, etc., along with their degree of severity and consequences (e.g., thinking in college that I could not go to class, that I could learn the material on my own and just take the tests). I want to make long lists of experiences and insights and study them, looking for patterns (e.g., I do that same anti-authoritarian college kind of thing all the time in a vain search for "independence"; there are multiple examples of it throughout my life, how I almost manage to get myself in trouble, but usually pull myself back and out of it just in time). But I know (by now) that I'll never follow up on this list motive and that my life will go on as haphazardly as it has always been, with only short though perhaps significant intervals of focused organization to slow the relentless march of entropy.

Prompted by a comment in a recent "Raines" episode where Goldblum said something like, "You're deeply damaged and yet you go right on doing your job; me, I fell right down the rabbit hole," I think, yeah, I feel down that rabbit hole too, along time ago; and i hav eyet to find my way out, nmostly because I don't want to. I've been thinking about what I do every day to get by, ever since a related concept used on a different tv show. (Television influences me too much, I think.) I begin to think about what it is that I do to get through a day: at (unfocused) times like these, when I manage only to just cope (I may be being a little bit overly dramatic here, I'm not sure), I feel as if I'm every bit as compromised as people who have been through traumatic experiences, as if I were a 9-11 survivor, for example; or as if I'd had bad Vietnam experiences (I did, but they were very peripheral, not in-country, and were all but unrelated to the war, except that I was in the army.) When you're like I am, everything can be a potential "traumatic" experience that provokes an incidence of PTSS.

The syndrome is, for me, a more general affair, a way of life, a jump from one unsettling incident or anxiety to another, often with intervening periods of peace, but sometimes back-to-back with no relief. It's the Asperger's thing, I know now, and although that helps in retrospect, it doesn't do much for me in the midst of an episode. Specific traumatic experiences that people have serve me as symbols of my travail, when I can imagine that those kinds of things could have happened to me to make me feel the way I sometimes do. We are not so much different, PTS victims and myself: the details are different and the effect in my case is not so much long-term acute as life-long chronic; but the overall debility can be as profound, when I am not able to get a good overview of it and must operate in stress mode. Fortunately, over the past ten or so years, I've been able to withdraw to enough of a degree to maintain that overview; and it has helped a lot. But there are still times when stress predominates, even as there is no reason that it should. There are still times when, absent real stressors in my life, I make them up. It's a physiology thing, I theorize. If my body chemistry tells me I am stressed, I look around and find the worst thing to be stressed about. So, I'll probably never be as completely free (of stress) as I want to be.

If I knew how to manage the (internal) stress, if I could maintain myself on an even keel while out in society, I imagine I could be a social activist. Often I find myself wanting to pursue this ideal dream. I see how wrong things are and I want to right them, and I know how to do it, I know how to make people listen to me; on the other hand, I see how fucked up people are and I despair: Why bother? People deserve what they get, all of the fucked up things in the world. We could be in such better shape, as a planet, as a species, if only we weren't in so goddammed incorrigible. I know that's the debility talking, putting me off trying to do anything about anything, for fear of precipiating a stress flare-up.

abilities and disabilities

I've been someone else for so long now I'm not sure I know who I really am. I dreamed I told this to friends, who said they don't know either. "I'm such a phoney," I said; but they didn't believe me, because... How can you be anything or anyone but what you are? But you put up so many false fronts, even without knowing it. You fool even your own self, when you try to become...whatever. Self-improvement is an oxymoron: if you actually improve, or even if you only change, you become a different self. Unless, of course, the "improvement" is a dispelling of illusion. But that's a tough assignment that is only ever partially completed. We never, like we want, graduate to become some different person, we never even release most of the potential we have locked inside. It's hard enough just to manage our day to day existence, let alone navigate the difficulties inherent in the idea of self-actualization. As if you can actualize yourself in a way other than how you already are. When I am different people, overloaded, not knowing which, yet... I am only always just my own damn self, disguised. I am a walking, talking, acting contradiction.

I want to believe that I don't have a disability. I have abilities, lots of them. It's true that I have a major area of weakness; but don't we all? But we compensate for our weaknesses via the things we do well; and I do a lot of things well. But there's one thing I know for sure: Even though I (also) am a flawed person (aren't we all?) with lots of faults, I'm still better than most of you crazy and/or warped assholes out there. (A tendency toward arrogance is one of my faults.)

I'm creating a work of art out of my self--actually, a number of them; but the one I'm concerned with here is the one I saw in the mirror today as I walked by: (I have to say it) I am so cool. I've created a persona that is awesomely magnificent--in an outlaw biker kind of way. I've known for a long time that it was not too much more than a veneer; but it seems (a la George Washington's premise that you pretend to what you are until it becomes a habit) that, apart from my full awareness, the persona has taken hold and become what I am--or at least sunk in to a deep enough level to fool myself as well as others. (We are all not so much the personas we develop as we want to think we are; deep inside we secretly harbor our opposites, everything we unconsciously hate about ourselves and so feel compelled to complain about in others.)

[In this sense, I am very much like George W. Bush: I was definitely not a spoiled child, my mother would never have allowed it; but I do spoil myself, all the more so the older I get. And I tend not to tolerate (or bother with) people who will not, in some sense, spoil me. (I'm looking for a kind of mother I never had?) I put up a good front by pretending and even aspiring to detachment. But I spoil myself in subtle, unseen ways. It's just that my standards in many areas are so low that typical people who know me don't notice this, because, being Americans, they're all more spoiled than I am. But that may just be another projection, just like my criticisms of Bush are.

Bush might have been a better president if he'd had an opposition congress (or at least an opposition party) from the beginning of his first term, one that refused to spoil him the way both political parties have. Now that he does have real political opposition, he seems to be rising to the occasion and demonstrating some (very little bit of) character. (Running around stubbornly insisting upon getting your own way by stonewalling people and refusing to diplomatically negotiate is not the character that the apologists and the sheeple mistake it for). With his own party in charge, Bush has had the freedom to develop a sycophantic phalanx that catered to his little rich boy mentality.

We are often tested by the situations we find ourselves in. Bush, being a fundamentalist (or so he claims), should understand this: His "God" is testing him and has found him wanting; It placed him in a situation where, in order to succeed, he had to overcome his major flaw, having grown up as and carried into his adulthood his role as a spoiled brat, so that his circumstances played right into that weakness; and so far he has been true to his own flawed self and failed the test. This is the history of his life, and he has not yet learned how to overcome it.]

My persona is not really me; but, then again, it is. It's a work-in-progress. I've done this same thing, more or less, all of my life, morphing my image into the one that I become so pleased with, all the while actually becoming the image as it sinks into my depths; but I have never before done it so effectively as this time around. Usually, most of my creations remain inside my head as I maintain a distant disconnect with the world, not wanting it to know who and what I "really" am. Never before have I so thoroughly externalized the image I've been secretly creating via secret training, imagination, and fantasy.

I'm like George Bush in that I refuse the reality of what I am and construct a new one for myself. But time is catching up with me and ravaging this hardcore bodymind I've been developing. I doubt very much that I could defend myself now in the way that I've trained for and imagined I could have if ever the opportunity had occurred. (I've been the perfect manifestation of the martial arts premise that you train in self-defense, not so that you can fight, but so that you do not have to fight.)

But, on the other hand, maybe I just might be more mentally capable than I've ever been and can derail any physical threats with a rapier wit and clever distracting ploys. I don't know that this is so true, and I feel like I should make a detailed study of the psychology of these kinds of tactics; and maybe I will. Meanwhile, I will continue to (try to) delude myself that I am a better person than George Bush because…well, I don't know why. Just because I feel like he is so damn wrong, I guess. Which must mean that, in my own way, so am I.


I dreamed a dream I can't remember and awoke with that feeling I get, too often to be comfortable ignoring, that I am wrong, that whatever I'm doing, the way I'm living my life, it's the wrong way. I want to think that this is just lack of self-confidence and low self-esteem; but I suspect that there's more to it than that. But I don't know what it would be. It used to be that whenever I felt this way, I would set about to do a lot of organizing of...whatever; the house, some project I was working on, any collection--I used to be a big collector. (I still am, but now I call it by its real name, "hoarding"; and the things I collect are of a more practical value that when I was younger.) Now, instead of organizing, I just write, if that. Writing is the way I organize and control my life now, almost exclusively. Writing and planning (which is a form of writing).

But, as I've indicated, planning is not accomplishment; and neither is organizing, which is, at best, re-doing what you've already done or put off doing when you first accomplished what it is you're organizing. The only time I ever really get anything significant or substantial accomplished is when I wander around (in the proper productive mood--or mode--of course) doing anything I come across that needs doing; but, then, I lose my focus, wandering--and this, I think, is why I'm able to accomplish so much, because I've temporarily escaped the trap that is my own planning mind. I never accomplish anything via planning; and, yet...the plans act subconsciously to achieve themselves, when I get out of my own way.

I go back to sleep: I'm in a strange driveway, which is sort of like the one at 6023, but not quite. Dianne is with me. We see a turtle, which is moping along, barely active; and, later, I notice that it's turned on its back and seems to be suffering from dehydration. I spray it with a hose, which dispenses water like a plant spray bottle--not nearly enough to be effective, providing only the slightest relief. We see a kitten in the driveway lapping up dirty water from a small pool of it on the driveway. I think, or say to Dianne, that it must be suffering from dehydration too. We give both animals water, although there is no imagery for this. There is much more to this dream that I can't remember, including something in the backyard with Mom.

Awake, I realize that I am the turtle, and that I'm suffering from some "privation." [I'm struck by the assonance of privation and dehydration.] I understand that, as they present themselves to me, I "deal with" "problems" by planning/writing, doing the minimum of physical work to stem the tide of deteriorization, etc. And then I go back to my hermetic life. The only time I depart from this strategy is when I engage in "marathon" projects; otherwise, it's bit-by-bit, step-by-step (from written procedures) token activity. I plan so as to assure myself that I will not be wrong, that I will do things correctly; but I seldom do the things I plan. Oh, eventually, I might get to them; but there are so many more plans than time energy to do them. You nmight say that I move like a turtle.

[Edit: I will not remember until much later, when I edit my journal material and rewrite it into this pastiche, that I'd had the previous turtle dreams. While I was writing this section, I had forgotten all about them. Obviously, my repressive ability was working full force.]