by j-a

[main menu] [thoughthistory menu]

October 2007

Mental Disorder

someone else

A lot of the time I'm someone else. It's a natural way for me to be. The way I am, my "real" self, is an amalgam of other people. In fact, if I had to define myself, apart from others who comprise me, I'm not sure I could do it. Maybe there's no one there at all. I guess, though, I'd be that historical self that I know of that is quite extensive and involves many of those other people I am, at least those who've been with me the longest. Though they are not really me in the historical sense that I was a real physical person, yet they are fundamental to all of my psychological make-up and, as such, are part of my reality. If I were to confine my self (definition) to physical history only, I would be such a small part of whom I really have accumulated.

I'm in a classroom and Roger (an ex-boss) is my teacher and I have assignments that have to be done, which I'm behind on because I missed the last class (classes earlier in the week are hard for me to get to), and it's likely that I will have a difficult time completing the most recent assignment by the next class either, because of other work that I have to do for other classes taught by other professors whom I like a whole lot more. Fade to:

I'm the president (at the intersection of Third St. and Poketa, as if it were the White House, gardens being offices and hedges and fences their walls), initialing, as a part of a morning ritual, all of the necessary paperwork that needs to be approved, not knowing exactly what I'm approving however because this is my first day as president, substituting for the real one without anyone knowing it (a la the movie Dave). I begin to question what it is I'm approving, a behavior that senior staff is uncomfortable with. They think I should be merely relying on the people who present the forms to me for the accuracy and appropriateness of the content; but I want to know what it is that I'm signing and I begin to delve more deeply into it. One particular branch of the administration, a financial functionary, is headed by Samuel L. Jackson, an arrogant guy who resents being questioned about the paperwork. I notice that he hasn't signed the cover form attached to the packet of papers, and I point this out to him. First version: He gets angry and we have a shouting match, which I cut short by dismissing him by walking away. I discuss with my top aide (Chief of Staff?), Rip Torn, about having him removed, but he reminds me of the major role that Jackson played in my campaign and I realize that I owe him a lot. Later, Jackson comes to apologize, knowing he was wrong for shouting at the president. I am gracious and tell him to think nothing of it, that I appreciate the fact that he feels free to express himself and not be intimidated around me. Second version: I explain to him how, when I sign a form, I can't know what it is that I'm signing and have to rely on the people who present the material to me; and he understands and assures me that his department is accurate. I tell him that I'm certain that it is, but that's not the point. I explain that when I initial a paper, although I'm taking responsibility for its content, I look at it to see who it is who's sending it to me, because, when I initial it, I'm not really approving the content so much as I'm affirming my trust in the person who presented the material to me for approval; so I always look to see who it is who has approved the material ahead of me so that, when I initial it, I can affirm that trust; but if no one approved it before me, then I would not be affirming it, but taking full responsibility for content that I really know little about; and if I initialed it in that case, I would be affirming trust in no one. I hand him the paper and the pen I'm holding. He pauses and then signs it where he should have in the first place. Then I take the paper, initial it, give it to an aide, and say, "Thank you, Sam. You're doing a good job. Keep up the good work." And I tap him on the shoulder and depart.

Samuel Jackson is, of course, that arrogant part of me that I want, not only consciously, but also with my unconscious passive-aggressive behavior, to deny; and so I make him a non-ego character in my dream. I'm angry that my subconscious self wants my ego to take responsiblity for the "work" that it is responsible for. And I'm a substitute president, a fake, someone who merely approves in a token manner work that others have done. This is about the relations between the conscious and unconscious aspects of my make-up. (Of course; aren't all dreams?) The two versions of the dream are the two primary ways that I approach (my life within) the world: Initially, I'm angry that "the world" wants to make me comply; then, longer term, after the shock of change or threatened change has worn off, I "explain" (to myself) how things are as they "must" be and how I am going to go about coping.

Dreams are another way that I am someone else. People, even people I don't know, strangers, especially movie actors, populate my dreams; and, often, I act the role of those others (especially the actors); that is, my dream ego is not me, but someone else. [Interesting that I act out the roles of actors; throws a whole lot more complexity into the mix.]

This "problem" of not being myself can be particularly troublesome when I (overly) empathize with others to the point where I start to lose my self-volition. I often attribute this to others' manipulations; but it's really my own (unconscious) self (-defeating behavior):

who I am

All my life, after I expressed a desire not to participate, I've allowed people to talk me into things. They would keep after me, often literally nagging me and/or begging me, etc. until they "wore me down" and I gave in, not so much because they convinced me to do what they wanted me to do as because I just wanted them to stop bugging me and giving in was a way I had of shutting down their pressure.

I guess, back in my youth and young adulthood, you could have called me "weak-willed," and in a sense it would be true; but in another sense it was (is) a symptom of the Asperger's: I felt incapable of relating in as direct a way as was necessary to assert myself, it took too much energy, it took too much out of me, to remain engaged as long as was necessary to deny intensely demanding people.

Later, after I extricated myself from the immediate "social" situation, as likely as not I would fail to follow up on any promises I made [this failure to commit is markedly distinguised from my dedicated compliance when I made (and still make) the commitments "willingly," even though I might later regret having made them while in a state of enthusiasm when, later, when the time came to "perform," that state had deteriorated into one of withdrawal and/or ennui]; or, if I absolutely had to meet my commitments, when engaged in the typical kinds of social situations in which I'd promised to participate, eventually my (social, although it wasn't always seen in that way) competence would fall short of expectations (sometimes I would exert myself to the utmost to make sure, for a while, that this did not happen, thus putting myself under extreme acute and chronic stress), the promisees would express disappointment in my "performance" and I would be dismissed, which was just fine with me, I was happy to be out of it. Possibly I un- or semi-consciously "knew" ahead of time that I would "fail," which was the reason for not wanting to participate in the first place. People would sometimes comment on how well I took my dismissal, perhaps because they felt badly about having to dismiss me; but little did they know it was just as likely to be a secret cause for celebration.

Now, looking back, I think (fantasize), "If you hadn't been such a goddamned demanding, persistent, dominating, and/or manipulative asshole in the first place, you wouldn't have had to have gone through the hassle of putting up with me and dismissing me; so it was your incompetence, not mine, that caused you all the problems. Instant karma. Now, I put up a stronger defense in such situations. Over (great lengths of) time and many trials I learned how to resist and/or put people off with an unwelcoming attitude when they began to pressure me, even to head off pressure and even approach altogether, when I saw it coming, and even before I saw it coming, as a matter of social non-interaction. It is far more difficult now for people to get a commitment from me (cf., the situation with my brother); but I'm sometimes, still, occasionally, caught off guard.

Lesson: confrontation of "problems" (hypes, cons, deceptions, manipulations, etc.) v. a personal "correction" of the "problem" via acceptance and a resolve not to let it happen again, without ever confronting the people who created it in the first place, leaving them in the dark about their roles in it and about my own decision to dis-involve them in my life. In other words, stonewall the muthafuckas and/or make up excuses for why I will no longer participate in (what I see as) their folly, and decide that I will never again allow them to do it to me.

It's better that I do not confront and try to express my viewpoints and opinions (saving them all for the writing) on why I act the way I do (counter to what others expect of me and would influence, cajole, or manipulate me into doing), because, not only will I have great difficulty explaining and probably do an inadequate job of it anyway, but more importantly because it's none of their goddam business in the first place (okay, so maybe it is, in many cases, if it impacts their lives; but...) why I think and act the way I do. It's this last point that is particularly cogent to me, because it fits so well into my Asperger's psychology: If I shut up and keep my own counsel, keep my rationale to myself, I am better off, I think. In this way, people can think of me the way they want to (which they are likely to do anyway), and I can preserve my (self-perceived) dignity by not having tried in vain to convince them of my (sense of) correctness.

The counter to this argument is, of course, the fact that, when you try to explain yourself, not only do you counteract the tendency of people to think badly of you and check bad opinions of you, but in acting to counteract them, you tend to raise your own self-esteem as well. But...oh, well. Whataya gonna do? It's all too much, all this running around trying to counter-influence the influence. In the end, I go on being my own Asperger's self. It's inevitable; it's who I am.

thoughts like clouds, drifting

All sense of organization and logical progression of ideas seem to have abandoned me. More than usual, I'm drifting, through a world where nothing seems to want to yield to any personal sense of control. I resort to the news to fragment my conscious existence into my own personal mind bytes:

AT&T Threatens to Disconnect Subscribers Who Criticize the Company
AT&T has rolled out new Terms of Service for its DSL service that attempts to give AT&T the right to disconnect its own customers who criticize the company on blogs or in other online settings.
Ken Fisher, ars technica
wtf? We may have free speech in public settings (don't count on it); but in the privacy of their own corporate domains, they can restrict us to whatever degree they so desire. This is why it's critical that we establish a bill of internet rights and wrest our public utilities back from the hands of the corporations. Support corporate dismantlement.

Boeing Worker Says He Was Fired for Talking to Newspaper Boeing fired at least one employee for having a conversation with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer about an investigative report revealing that Boeing had failed to prove that it could protect its computer systems against manipulation, theft and fraud.
Andrea James, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Where's your company loyalty, people? Don't you know it just not right, let alone prudent, to bite (blow the whistle on) the hand that feeds you? Oh, wait, you do believe that it's right to address the incompetence that could result in the release of customers' personal information to potential criminals? Too bad. Corporations' right to protect themselves supersedes the public good. (But not the same re private citizens' rights.)

Deseret News Editor's Speech Raises Questions A newspaper editor will attend a meeting where Vice President Dick Cheney is speaking -- but has promised not to write about it. Readers should be alarmed that he would shift his loyalties from them to powerful government insiders.
Glen Warchol, Salt Lake Tribune
What's Cheney afraid of? That people (without an exclusive venue) will find out what he really thinks? Like we don't already know? But the real problem here is that there are editors and reporters who will surrender their public to postmodern Spiro Agnews.

But the news is not so satisfying. Often it cajoles me into a false sense of superiority, but not today. So I turn my thoughts to more personal (past) matters, which are hardly any more satisfying; but at least they might have some (semiconscious) therapeutic value:

When they leave, they think, "That'll fix him. He'll be so sorry." But it doesn't--fix me. Because I'm not really broken, am I? I just go on, after a while, as if...

I've always been alone, really. Whether they are here or not. And I forget them fast enough. They think they made me suffer. And they did, when they lived here.

But they're gone, like a dream, soon enough forgotten. Maybe I am broken; but, if so, I'm not fixable. I write out my dreams in order not to forget them, because...

No! I'm not going to do this today, I'm not going to second quess my past. Not today. Instead, I think I'll think about art, which is more of an ongoing process:

The organization and staging of "work" areas are (the preliminaries of) art, so that the work areas become (a kind of) art in and of themselves:

so that, when I feel like doing art, I can just go and do it;
so that my identity as an artist is thereby established.

Capturing experience and freezing it in the moment, or not, but allowing it to "flow" as "living art" (a la music, dance, etc.) is what art is all about. The house art is more of a fixed product, although it does evolve through the wear and tear and accumulation of the daily living process and so requires some maintenance. The garden art, though, is much more of a slow flow that is controlled via cultivation and pruning, a more or less daily attention to developing form.

For example, in order to keep my "macro-bonsai" dwarf apple tree in the side yard in its best "artistic" shape, I have to trim it back three or four times during the growing season. [A dwarf apple grows to about fifteen or twenty feet. I keep mine cut back to just over six feet (to the top of my reach) and espaliered out along five laterals of six branches each--although I'm going to cut off one of those laterals to have better access to the "see-ment pond."] The tree looks real nice cropped at the top and spread out laterally, sort of like a potted bonsai that escaped into the real, non-miniature world.

This same logic, trimming to contain the growth, applies to all of my outdoor vegetation--in theory. It would all work out perfectly if only I would do a little bit of trimming each day and not let it get so far out ahead of me. I must keep pruning on a continual basis, working my way around the yards, repetitively re-creating the same approximate forms over and over again, each iteration with minor variations.

I want to do this same kind of thing with painting also, develop a kind of repetitive art; but as of yet I haven't managed to find the time, in part because I have to keep pruning my shrubbery instead; but in larger part because I have to keep pruning the shrubbery inside my head, which will grow wild into verbosity of written art that becomes like brambles, near to impossible to get through without a lot of time and trouble and minor psychic damage like unto scrapes and scratches, which itself is not unlike my personal, non-artistic life, which I also use to feed my art:

I'm sorry that my brother has to be the way he is, angry with himself and blaming others, especially me, for it. (That is, it's mostly me that I'm sorry for. I'm sure he doesn't blame me especially. I'm sure I just happen to be a convenient target.)

But I have to be the way I am too. And, currently, that way is to not feel "put upon." (I decided this a long while ago, but I've always made exceptions for him, being family; but no more.)

I will no longer be "used" in this way, even despite the way I feel that wants to say, "Oh, go ahead and let him do it to you, what's the difference anyway?"

Well, the difference is that I'm getting older and need, more and more, to decrease stress, especially physical stress. (He wanted me to do strenuous physical work for him.)

But even if it were not also a physical matter, I think I would still no longer allow him to use me the way he has. I require, I've decided, a certain amount of respect from him, and he doesn't give it to me when he acts the way he does toward me.

I pay attention now, more closely than ever before, to what happens around me (I used to be, increasingly going back into my past, more or less oblivious), and I focus (or maybe I mean de-focus) on events that are external to me, but that affect me more than I would like them to. (When I was young, they probably affected me just as much, but unconsciously, as I refused to let them through, pretending, even to myself, that I was too cool to care.) I pay attention to family matters in ways I never did before; and I pay attention to the world:

I've been watching this for a while now, and I notice that a lot of you "complainers" are college students and young adults, and primarily of a liberal persuasion, it would seem. So, what I want to know is, when are all you young "rebels" going to rise up and do your thing? Like we oldsters did when we were young? We're too old now. We can't take the blows any more. We have only words left in our arsenals. Our days have passed. We are relying on you of the younger generations to counteract this neo-conservative (as opposed to true and somewhat more valid conservative) crap. We did our thing way back when. We protested Vietnam, Nixon, et al. We risked damage and even death at Chicago, Kent State, etc. Now it's your turn.

So, what's the matter with you? Are you too affluent and fat now? Too complacent? Too conservative? Too Republican? If you really cared about what's happening in your country, what's happening to your civil rights, what's going on in the corridors of power, you'd be out in the streets right now. The only conclusion I can come to is that you just don't give a damn. Rock on, you brainwashed automatons, content to spout explicatives in college rags. Get out in the streets and reassert the public's right to dissent openly and dangerously. Bring this government to its knees. It's a lot easier than you think it is. (If you're waiting for the Democrats to do it, forget it. It ain't gonna happen. Later edit: Well, it appears that I may be wrong here, given the results of the '08 elections. But let's wait a little bit longer to see where this Fourth Turning "movement" goes, whether it results in real change or whether it gets appropriated by the corporate machine in the same way that the Second Turning did.)

little therapies

Uh-oh, I started dreaming of Babylon as I walked back down the stairs to my apartment. It was very important that I not dream of Babylon just as I was starting to get some things worked out. If I got started on Babylon whole hours would pass without my knowing it.

I could sit down in my apartment and suddenly it would be midnight and I would have lost the edge on getting my life back together again...

When ever I was trying to get something done and Babylon started coming upon me I'd try to focus on anything that could keep it away. It was always very hard because I really like to dream of Babylon and I have a beautiful girlfriend there. This is a hard thing to admit but I like her better than real girls. I've always wanted to meet a girl that interested me as much as my friend in Babylon.

I don't know.
Maybe some day.
Maybe never.

Richard Brautigan, Dreaming of Babylon
I really want to be writing right now. But I have yard work to get done. Piss. I hate yard work. And I've been putting it off for so long now, telling myself that I'll get to it before winter sets in, put the yards and gardens right, all neat and organized and put away for the winter, that the amount of work that must be done is rather significant and no amount of imagining that it is a "living art" can make me see it as anything but drudgery. Babylon is reasserting itself, having been repressed for so damn long; and I really want to start dreaming again.

And I want to write concise books with short, terse chapters based on those dreams [like Brautigan's Babylon--again, another book to which my reaction is, "Whaaa...? I must have missed something." Either the story/plot is very sloppily done or there are obscure parallels between the main storyline and the Babylon fantasy that elude me]; or perhaps based on my quirky sense of reality [like Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America]. But, instead, after spending an entire day doing neither writing nor yard work, in fact, doing my very best to avoid doing anything at all, I rouse myself and go outside to do some celestial observations. I manage to catch the faintest glimpse of the Andromeda galaxy with the 30X binoculars before clouds drift over and end my viewing. (It's seldom worth taking the time to set up the 100X scope. It takes too long to locate objects and it's too difficult to keep them in view. I need one of those object-finding computer drives.) It's always a little bit of a surprise to see the galaxy up there overhead, so big and yet so invisible to the unaided eye.

Back inside, I consider writing again; but I don't (except for the few notes I make upon which this material is based). Instead, I consider copyright: Thomas Jefferson's proposal of a three year limit on copyright was a compromise with others who wanted a far longer period; Jefferson wanted none. This is evidence of his complete confidence in himself, in his ability to generate new material and not feel that he need to live off of his past ideas (or else it's his recognition that he already had it made and need not generate income via the written word, that he was the product of a social situation that informed him, automatically, unconsciously, that an industrious landowner need not worry about where his next meal would come from--although that too is an expression of his self-confidence.

That's what it's all about, isn't it? Self-confidence? It's something I've always had a lot of, in a doubtful kind of way. I mean, within my own mind, I'm the most confident person in the world. I can do anything, given enough time to figure out how it can be done. But, socially, my confidence falls apart; not that I, out among people, feel like I can't then do it (whatever), but that I don't have confidence in my ability to interact--even though, when I do interact, I usually do just fine. It's not the actual doing that's the problem, but the pre-perception of it that keeps me from wanting to accomplish things in the public arena. But in my private arena, I do just fine.

Doing something, especially if it's something that's a step in a plan toward a goal or in some way verifies my identity, or anything, really, of any significance that I can latch onto and derive some small sense of accomplishment from, satisfies me, but only for a short while, keeps the wolf of anxiety away from the door of my mind. This feeling usually lasts for twelve hours at most, but more typically seven or eight. Then the generalized and barely conscious angst starts to creep in again and very slowly increases until I again do something else significant.

The lesson is obvious: keep doing significant things. But easier said than done. Not only does motivation wane, but significant accomplishment must be characterized by "results" (that's why they call it accomplishment) and much of what I do meets obstacles that have the opposite effect and, so, frustrated, I retreat into divergent activities and/or fantasy. But if I could manage to do one significant thing per day, I theorize I could permanently keep the anxiety at bay.

For days now I've been (unintentionally, of course) looking for excuses for anxiety to escalate. Two days ago, while I was out in the side yard cutting down a hedge that I'd let get way overgrown (I hadn't cut it at all yet this year), the trimmers jammed on a large branch and I couldn't get them unjammed. Not being very much into the work anyway, I gave it up and went back inside, taking the trimmers with me, figuring I might try to unjam them later on.

But the work stoppage began to weigh on me. How will I ever get the minimal amount of hedge trimming that I manage to do done without the electric trimmers? There's no way I can do it all by hand. The yard work can become such a burden when I'm not motivated by my garden vision to do it. How will I ever keep up with it all when I've refocused my motivation onto other projects? I start to become dejected and a little bit anxious.

But then, sitting and watching tv, I managed to unjam the trimmers; and, so, the anxiety melts away and all is okay with the world. And at least I recognized this time that it was coming, same as this morning when, after having spent yesterday afternoon harvesting the second batch of Cascade hops this season, I began to "wonder" what I was going to do with all of those hops, over a pound of them, far more than I could ever use for making beer. And that's only one bine, the most productive one. What will happen if the ten other bines start producing as much as the Cascade does? It would be such a waste to let all of the hops cones rot on the bines.

I've been thinking this way (anxiously) because I spent a relatively painful night last night in fitful sleep (the weather has just changed from summer hot to autumn chilly, which change always negatively affects my back) and awoke to "wonder" if I should stop drinking my daily beer, that maybe I'm making the problem worse by consuming alcohol, small amount though it may be. (Hints of paranoia intermixed with the worry.) Winter is not far off and, then, huddled within, the cocoon phase of my life effected, I can forget about the outside world of plants and animals and people and such and concentrate on other kinds of anxieties instead, ones that I can better translate into a creative art--maybe.

Recent studies have shown that exercise relieves depression and anxiety. Duh! I don' nee' no steeking studies. I already knew that. I concluded it a while ago, when I was walking up to the shopping center and comparing how I felt during times when I didn't walk for many months. But it's always nice to have one's beliefs confirmed "scientifically."

A single day passes--not even that eight hours and some sleep--and, finally, I've noticed a big change in motivation accompanying the change in weather and temperature drop. Coincidence? I don't think so. Whatever, I'm not questioning the gift. I'm moving right along, executing plans that have been stewing for a long, long time. It took a long time to get here this year, but autumn has finally arrived.

Looking back, I see that it had actually started several days ago when I was unable to get more than five or six hours of sleep per day, even in two separate daily sleep sessions, and yet I didn't feel so run-down and unable to do things; in fact, on several occasions when I thought I might be tired, I went to take a nap, only to get right back up and go and accomplish great feats of maintenance drudgery.

But only today has that change manifested itself in conscious mental pleasure. I've been practicing my remedy for frustrated attempts at goal accomplishment: When you run into a snag, try a different goal instead. I've been jumping around to all kinds of projects, making some progress on each. Whenever I work in this way, sooner or later I run into enough snags that I get too frustrated and quit working altogether and go and fuck off, which often takes a mindset into the beginnings of a depressive episode where I sit around and do nothing, maybe for weeks at a time.

In order to (try to) headoff these episodes, I now have four "therapies" (that I know of; it's logical to assume that, since I've used three of these for a long time without recognizing them as therapies, there are more as yet unrecognized and undefined):

  1. Writing, of course
  2. Walking (exercise in general). I should have recognized this a long, long time ago, because I've done it all my life to relieve barely bearable social and personal situations. I used to "walk it off" by going on long stints through cities and neighborhoods during breaks.
  3. Organizing. I should have recognized this too. Not only do I relieve negative affective states of mind by establishing a sense of control by (overly) organizing my environment, but I made a good living doing just that, establishing production and quality systems that speeded up the work flow, improved efficiency, and reduced defects.
  4. "Construction": making things (e.g., practical or art projects)

  5. Should I add vitamins and supplements as a fifth therapy?
Short of an out-and-out organizing/therapeutic effort, I will/can occasionally act in brief therapeutic bursts: organize one small thing; write out one small idea; process one journal entry or idea into creative work; wash my face or one part of my body (clean feeling). The affective boost that these "little therapies" afford don't last so long, not nearly so long as the day's worth I get from a "significant accomplishment" such as walking up to the store or writing out a large section of a pastiche, etc.; but they do break up a developing malaise that might escalate into an episode of depression or anxiety.

I need to get this incorporated into my daily mindset, a la Scott Adams' "sit back and watch" proposal: When things go bad, either personally or news-wise, watch with disinterested interest as it all unfolds. And I'll add my own codicil to that: If you happen to have an active interest (anxiety), act to eliminate or minimize it, so that your viewing pleasure may not be compromised. Yeah, I can say that now, now that the burden has been lifted. It's a whole other ball game when you're back there in the middle of it. What a difference a single day can make.

waiting for god (or someone like him)

I'm becoming taken with several ideas I've come across lately. The first is Richard Brautigan's title principle in Dreaming of Babylon. I recognized this as soon as I read of it: It's my fantasy life. I continually fight a battle with myself between choosing with a dedicated effort to remain in the physical present or allowing myself to ease into one of my multiple fantasy worlds, which could end up "wasting" hours and even days. But my fantasies are becoming stale. I need to re-energize them with new stories and plots and repopulate them with new characters. Meanwhile, dreams suffice:

I'm "following" Thelma. [There's some question now if it's really her or someone else; but in any case, she's a bit younger than the real Thelma is, and a bit less "jaundiced" or "brown" (I recognize a type of woman--and maybe man too; I never bothered to look--who appears to be a bit "off-color" in the sense that she is not so "fair," but rather "mauve" or "taupe," though not in the literal purplish sense, but metaphorically. This is a difficult aspect of a woman to describe, possibly because it's not so much a physical trait as a psychological one, although a certain subtle physical "skin cast" may clue me to it--and consequently it may be that I am reading into that physical appearance and deriving unwarranted psychological conclusions; but, if so, it doesn't matter, because I'm not considering the woman here for her own self so much as I'm concerned with my own perception of her.)] She's walking along the roadway on Center Road out past the county park road that goes up to the ski lift. I've been following her for a long time, days, perhaps weeks, all over the place. [She, could be a combination of Thelma and Marsha, in which case, "following" could mean observing; i.e., following the course of their lives.] As we walk along, I realize that I'm not the only one who's following her. An older guy (who's not really older than I am now, but I interpret him within the dream in that way, feeling myself to be younger than I am; thus, he is me, the older aspect of myself, and my literal image is myself as a more "naive" variation) is also following us, behind me at about the same distance as I am from her. [Thus, although in the dream I recognize that he is following the woman, it may be that he is really following me; i.e., he's an unconscious aspect of my self that is keeping a check on me, maybe, it just now occurs to me, to make sure I don't do anything untoward or stupid--like maybe becoming involved with the woman. This is the current me riding herd over (my memories and interpretations of) myself when I was younger.] We walk a long way (suggesting that this is more observation than it is stalking, in that distance can be interpreted as time), finally ending up in an unknown neighborhood where this woman lives, where, by this time, the "older" man and I have recognized each other as having a mutual purpose (following the woman) and have joined forces. We sit together in a car on the street in front of her house, as if we are independent private investigators who have joined forces. As we talk, eventually we get to the point of who he is. I know he looks familiar, but I can't quite place him. Finally he reveals that his name is Jim K___. All at once I am enlightened. (Not really; it will require me to awaken before I really understand.) He's a guy who used to work with my mother and, in fact, he used to "love" her or lust after her, or something. (Not really; that was a different guy--although, who knows? He did move into a new house that was built less than half a mile away from where we used to live. Coincidence? But it seems like I'm conflating two men here into one idea: how men felt toward my mother; because there was that other man my mother worked with who was enamoured of her and wanted her to leave my father for him, disappeared for a long while, and then showed up again immediately after my father died; but my mom wanted nothing to do with him. represents my mother. Hmm. She does resemble her a bit. And so then, Marsha? Double hmm. This is probably true because) suddenly I recognize the area as being the neighborhood where my mother lived. The guy and I discuss our mutual preoccupation [uh-oh, getting dangerously close to an Oedipal thing here] as [cut to an amusement park-like area, unknown, but suggesting Schenley park on the hill above Carnegie-Mellon U.] we walk along, the surveillance now seemingly forgotten, when I notice than one of two girls has been standing nearby staring at me. I both appreciate her attention and feel uncomfortable with it. [A turn-around of the surveillance theme? Certainly a turn-around of "stalking."] The girl, a young, college-age woman, apparently wants to get to know me, but I'm not sure if I want to become involved with her (although I can't imagine now why I wouldn't, especially under these circumstances where she's taking the lead). And the girl with her is apparently interested in JK. Although I make a lame effort to avoid the girl's attention, soon the four of us are walking along together. We're at the top of a kind of playground slide (without the slide part) (don't know how we got there) and we can't seem to get down because the steps are tilted at an extreme angle, as if they curl and twist down beneath the platform we stand on. (There is no real sense of danger because, although the platform is high enough to present a problem getting down, it is not so high that we couldn't, if desperate enough, jump to the ground.) The girl starts to descend the steps, but immediately comes back up, complaining that she can't manage them. I try to go down, with the same result. (It's like being in an Escher drawing in that you have to twist around into a different frame of reference.) I try again to descend with a new understanding of how I can manage it, by changing my frame of reference to re-orient myself with the ground and, when I get there, I explain to those on the platform how to get down. JK does so, but the girls can't seem to manage it; but I discover a second set of steps at the other side of the platform that are straight and they are able to descend. As we continue to walk along together, I feel like I have a choice as to which of the two girls I will hook up with, the blond one (who is talking to JK and is not the one who had been staring at me) or the darker one, who looks a bit punk and/or Goth, though in a more conservative, mainstream way. She has short black hair, a sullen-ish face, and is thin and petite. She talks of her fiance, though more to her friend than to me, although it's obvious that I am meant to overhear. She seems, without coming right out and asking for it, that she is soliciting my advice, but I understand her motivation at a deeper level. In a kind of "split dream" scenario, where each segment of the split both precedes and follows the other, we first meet her fiance and another guy on a long sloping hillside field with frolicking people. He's a tall, square-jawed, handsome man of the Lyle Waggoner or Rupert Everett variety with straight teeth and posture and an easy-going disposition, a "perfect" man (which is how the girl earlier described him, when she said she didn't understand why she felt conflicted and in doubt about wanting to marry him). The guy talks about some superficial subjects (as if he's not such a profound character, although one could hardly determine that from this kind of a precursory meeting--except via intuition), directing his comments mostly to his friend, a short, squirrelly, Steve Buscemi kind of guy with a large hooked nose and no chin (his behavior and general appearance suggesting Ratso Rizzo); but it's as if the fiance, like the girl earlier had, is directing his comments to someone else, but really talking to me as I overhear what he says. Back to the other part of the split dream mechanism, where, both before and after our meeting with the men, I explain to the girl, who seems to be seeking my advice, though not overtly, about what she might be up to: I ask her how much "psychology" she knows. Not very much, she replies. Has she ever heard of Eric Berne? No. The book Games People Play? No. (I find it amazing that she wouldn't have at least mentioned the song.) In the briefest way, I tell her that I think she's playing a game called "Let's you and him fight," where she orchestrates getting two men together who are both interested in her in order to see if they will fight over her attentions. The only problem with doing this, I say, is that, although I am interested in her, I was not the one who tried to gain you're attention. You were the one who tried to gain mine, which reveals the fact that your game is not serious, but rather a kind of test, where, after the fight, you will choose which of us you want; and, although you will not be in any better position to choose than you were before the fight, at least you will verify that your fiance will fight for you (and thereby defend her, a la human instinctual programming). I awaken before the girl can respond.

A second idea that I'm toying with is the development of a "practical" belief in God, or someone like him, turning my "problems" over to him and letting him take care of them. This is an extension of my "waiting" philosophy, where I'm merely personalizing it, putting an entity in where previously only a blank waiting mode would have been. (An actual god of one sort or another isn't absolutely necessary for my purpose here; any advanced entity will serve, angels, the unconscious mind, whatever.)

I've just made a deal with "God." If It cures (and I mean cures and not merely provides temporary relief of) my chronic back problem, I'll convert to whatever religion seems most "logical" (unless It dictates that religion too) and acclaim Its magnificent power and glory, miracles being exactly what they are, and not some mere form of wonderful, though quite human and/or natural phenomena.

And just to make sure I'm not affecting the outcome in a negative way, I expect without reservation to be completely cured. (If the expectation alone does the trick, then so be it; but I will not renege on my promise to praise whatever God I choose or is chosen for me.)

I have other deals too that are not so profound and will not necessarily afford any god any claim it might deserve, but I'll save them for later. I'm starting to get bored with this whole idea, so I can imagine how anyone who might still be reading this must feel.

a coincidence of ideas

One short nap, one short dream, and my whole attitude turns around: Something is going on. I don't know what it is, but I can feel it. Rita has come to visit [recurrent] and we, along with Chuck S. (I haven't even thought of him in so, so many years) take a nap, sharing my small bed. Rita is in the middle between us. As we sleep, I have a wet dream. (Not in fact, but within the dream context.) When we awaken (within the dream) I ask Rita if she knew that I was asleep while she, with her hand beneath me (I was sleeping on my stomach) brought me to orgasm. She doesn't answer me. I ask her if she had an orgasm. She says, No. Well, I say, I'll have to make it up to you, and I start to, but she intimates (implies it in some way without actually coming out and saying it, as if I intuit or discern it in some way) that she, the previous night, before coming here to visit me, had unprotected sex with a guy of questionable sexual health. I back off, but without appearing to, so that she'll not notice; and she doesn't, because that's the way our relationship went a lot of the time. But, the point is, in some way, I'm helping her out by her coming to visit me (as if the dream is a psychic visitation from her), not via the sex, which we never finish, but by the (dream) attention I pay to her. Attention is what it's all about, I conclude. [Hypothesis: Recurrent dreams are familiar psychic places that can serve either as departure points into the "unknown" or templates upon which that unknown may be mapped; in other words, although they may be coincidental, in that the psychic (i.e., of-the-psyche and/or psi) situation occurs when circumstances so arrange themselves at the most propitious times (and places?) dreams of others may be appeals for attention, either as mere wish fulfillment or as an unconscious mechanism operating when the opportunity occurs.] And then I think that, rather than me helping Rita out by dreaming of her, maybe she is here for my benefit? It's probably a mutual affair. And Chuck too. What was that all about if not some kind of unconscious correlation? I don't know.

And then there are the coincidences, which have started up again full force. They seem to come in sets of two or three. I'll think of something or someone and then they'll show up in a different context or appear on tv. I've watched this phenomenon wax and wane throughout my life. Just coincidence?

Just because you don't understand a phenomenon, perhaps because it has no explainable scientific basis, doesn't mean it's by definition superstition. The problem with admitting the possibility of non-scientific phenomena to the panoply of the possible is that it's so easy for superstition to sneak into the mix, especially given the very easily deceivable nature of the human mind.

My mind is racing now, a complete turn around of affect. The ideas won't stop coming, inhibiting me from getting anything significant accomplished as I stop physical activity in order to write them out:

more of the same (it's all the same to me)

I'm trapped in a spiral (don't know whether it's up or down) of episodic proportions: Ideation is breaking up and I don't want to try (as I usually do when I'm in creative mode) to transition it back together into an artificial unity that only seems (to me, if no one else) to be facile.

Lately, I've been pondering the idea that all (my) art is artifice. Wouldn't it be better, I wonder, if ideas were simply expressed without being couched within a fictive (whether or not of actual fiction) format? But this is the way we are expected to be, conventionally.

It's the same way across the board, whether in art or in life (as if that were ever a valid dichotomy). Because artists, whether they are paid or not for the work they produce, when it comes to the formats they use, might as well have a day job; the attitude toward them is the same: Either curl your tail between your legs and submit to the authority of "public" opinion or lose your job (your art) for telling what you believe to be the truth.

For example (it's a bad example, but it's all I got right now), eminent geneticist James Watson recently said, "All our social policies are based on the fact that their [blacks'] intelligence is the same as ours -- whereas all the testing says not really." Certainly a controversial remark; but a vague one, if you strip away the filters that society uses to pre-judge its people along racial lines. I can understand the remark in at least three different ways: It could mean that blacks are superior to whites (but I doubt that it does); or it could mean that blacks are inferior; or it could simply mean exactly what it says, that the testing that has been done does not support the conclusion that blacks and whites are equal in intelligence. I'd be surprised if they were, given the inequities among peoples.

Of course, Watson being a geneticist, the implication of him making the statement is that blacks are genetically inferior, another non-logical conclusion to be gleaned from his statement. Maybe he is saying exactly that. I don't know. The news reports I've read, as usual, do not give enough information. Watson himself said:

I am mortified about what has happened. I can certainly understand why people, reading those words, have reacted in the ways they have.

To all those who have drawn the inference from my words that Africa, as a continent, is somehow genetically inferior, I can only apologize unreservedly.

That is not what I meant. More importantly from my point of view, there is no scientific basis for such a belief.

Maybe that's his real opinion or maybe he's just backtracking and saving his own ass (job). The real problem here may be neither Watson nor his detractors, but the news media, which is in a sad state and getting worse every year.

But let's assume that Watson is saying that blacks are genetically inferior. So what? What about free speech? He must be censored because he holds bigoted opinions? Well, of course. Duh. We can't let important and influential people go running around expressing their true opinions. What if people started to believe them? That'd threaten the entire fabric of a society we've worked so hard to 'create' (read 'brainwash').

I'm totally anti-bigotry, but I'm also totally pro-free speech. It may create a lot of cognitive dissonance in me, but I believe that people should be allowed to say any fucked-up thing they want to say. A free society is one that guarantees our right to speak our minds without censure. In fact, our government is supposed to guarantee it (although it doesn't). But corporations have no such requirement. They may do whatever fucked-up censoring they deem necessary to protect their bottom line. [Fuckupedness breeds fuckupedness. Support corporate dismantlement.]

Update: Finally, a news report with a little bit more "detail." Of course, it had to come from Europe, it just couldn't be an American news source:

James Watson, the man who along with Francis Crick won the Nobel Prize for discovering the double-helix structure of DNA, is facing backlash in Britain after claiming that black people are genetically less intelligent than whites.

In an interview with The Sunday Times to promote his new book "Avoid Boring People: Lessons from a Life in Science," the 79-year-old geneticist said he was pessimistic about efforts to raise the standard of living in Africa.

"All our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours - whereas all the testing says not really," Watson told the newspaper. He recognized that the prevailing belief was that all human groups are equal, but that "people who have to deal with black employees find this not true."

But, what if what he's saying is true, and people don't want to hear it out of a desire to remain either politically correct or to maintain a false Pollyanna attitude about race differences?

However, the article goes on to say:

He told the interviewer, a former student of his, that he had recently inaugurated a DNA learning center near Harlem and would like to have more minority researchers at his lab - and "just accepted a black girl" but "there's no one to recruit."

Okay, so maybe he is a bit bigoted. Still, he has a right to be an asshole if that's what he wants to be.

As a result of his comments, the British Science Museum has cancelled the geneticist's scheduled speech.

"We know that eminent scientists can sometimes say things that cause controversy and the Science Museum does not shy away from debating controversial topics," the spokesman told the BBC. "However, we feel Dr. Watson has gone beyond the point of acceptable debate and we are as a result cancelling his talk."

In other words, they're saying, "We don't like what we know you're going to say, so we're not going to let you say it. We don't want to hear views that differ from the ones we hold so dear." If Watson's ideas are a lot of crap, then listening to them should have no effect on informed auditors. The fact that they are capable of inflaming the issue points as much to critics' states of mind as it does to Watson's. When you feel compelled to censor people, who is it that you're really trying to censor? Denial and projection is a predominant mental disorder.

give and take

My own (form of) mental disorder is affected (caused?) by my physical condition. My back problem (and its associated symptoms: eye and skin inflammations, etc.) are (probably) caused by an immune system reaction to some sort of intestinal bacteria (that's my most up-to-date hypothesis, based upon online research), which in turn is caused by some as yet unidentified (by me) congenital condition (or else causation is an erroneous conclusion and it's all a collection of symptoms of the same syndrome; including the Asperger's. I like that idea the best: It's so "unified"; but I have no evidence at all of its validity). Anyway, in order to prevent further problems and, possibly to effect a cure, either the bacteria itself must be counteracted or else the immune system must be brought under some kind of control.

This entire idea of "illness" or "disease is so foreign to my mentality. I (want to) see myself as never having been ill, except for the occasional common cold or flu. I don't even think of my occasional irregular heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation, corrected and experienced now as rare minor heart palpitations) as an illness, but merely s an inconvenience.

I remember, a while ago, before my mother died, I was talking to her about my anxiety, especially as it occurred in childhood, and she made an offhanded remark that increasingly bothered me the more I thought about it. She said, "You always were a sickly child." I never would have thought that this was true; and I still don't quite believe it. I was a "weak" kid, physically; which is maybe what she meant, or misinterpreted. But I worked hard, physically and mentally, to counteract my physical condition. I played sports, and I was fairly good, although what I now know as Asperger's prevented me from asserting myself as much as I would have needed to become great. All I really needed was some determination in the face of competition (and society); because, when it came to facing down opponents (or facing up to social situations), I most often (unconsciously) reneged (a symptom also expressed via passive aggressiveness).

And I (also mostly unconsciously) developed my mental "prowess" by creating a "bad boy" persona that defied any physical limitations I couldn't ever imagine I was burdened with. So, when my mother told me I was sickly, I didn't want to believe it and so disregarded it. But now I see that she had probably intuited my psychological state but attributed it more to my physical one. I dropped the subject with her (because I didn't want to deal with it), but I see now how my dedicated determination to be "like" others directed, not only my physical activities, but my mental ones as well. I became who I wanted to be, in order that I not see myself as the "weaker" person that I unconsciously disliked.

All of this is via explaining my "mental disorder," which is more of a mental/physical disorder that defies separation into its component parts; that is, I am, not a physical or mental being, but a whole self, (more or less) integrated and indivisible, so much so that I hesitate to reveal this kind of "therapy" for fear that it will cause people to think of me as having been a (more) sickly child (than I actually was) and as now being a sickly adult. I want to be (seen as) the robust, highly socially competent intellectual ex-hippie/biker dude that I've managed throughout my life to successfully convince people I am. I am that guy; but I am other people too, and some of them are somewhat "sickly," though they do not want to be.

It takes a great deal of self-assurance to allow others to see your flaws. Especially when you understand how many people, some intentionally, but most unconsciously, will use them against you, if only for their own aggrandizement, not intending to be vindictive, not caring for you one way or the other, but thinking only of themselves. Revealing yourself in this way is not so much an act of faith and hope (and an unreasonable plea for charity) as it is, perhaps, naive stupidity or incorrigible Pollyanna-ism. But it can be a profound case of self-assurance, when you believe that you can weather and overcome the nastiness that people will throw your way, or disregard it altogether. You may have become so certain of your identity that you understand that even your flaws are an honorable part of your existence, and those who would take advantage of or diminish you for knowledge of them are mean and dispirited people who call into question their own worthiness by their base actions and opinions.

Yet I nevertheless (this is one of my flaws, I think) want to be (seen as) the kind of person who can "take care" of himself, in every sense of that phrase. I have so much wanted to think that I don't need any help, with anything, that I have constructed a life that demonstrates exactly that. And I believe it to be the true state of my existence. And yet...I don't believe that it should be a necessary condition of the human animal. I worship independence, but I theorize a different kind of human social being (and the fact that this different existence does not exist ubiquitously causes me to despise society):

Everyone should be taken care of, to the degree that they cannot take care of themselves. This is the Christian ethic. No one should want for any physical or psychological necessity. But, since this is not the case, and since I often have problems with accepting compromise and seeing life the way it really is, I adopt the opposite point of view: If everyone should be taken care of, but few people actually are, then no one should be; i.e., everyone should take care of themselves. Either/or. And since, if you add to that explanation, that everyone should take care of "their own" (which means, perhaps, family and friends), you degrade your argument just enough to allow it to begin to roll downhill toward the inevitable difficulties of deciding who is "your own" and what kind of activities you are justified in using to protect them (e.g., can you pass laws that protect people who are like you while excluding people who are not like you? And isn't everyone at some point like you in some way?), the logical conclusion you must reach is that everyone should be taken care of. Therefore, logically, when conservatives take the position that we (Americans) should not officially via government intervention help the helpless, in order to maintain their conservative position without degradation, they must restrict government intervention by disallowing public action to help anyone.

This is, of course, not the either/or situation that I've painted it as. It's rather a matter of practical politics, with each side striving to establish and maintain their absolute ideal and the mean being a compromise created by the imperfect process of policy and legislation, a give and take, you on this side get to help some people, but not all of them, and on this other side, you can't refuse to help everyone who can't help themselves. (It's funny that conservatives seem to have no problem with further helping those who can help themselves. But, as I've indicated, it's an imperfect process, and humans are imperfect beings, alas.)

If we were not imperfect, then we would have less problems with welfare; because, it seems to me that the biggest problem is not one of ideals, but of implementation--or, more correctly, of those bureaucrats and politicians who are doing the implementing: Who will get benefits and who will not? Who will make those choices? And by what rules created by what people of what political persuasion? Injustices thereby abound. Better to have one policy that dictates whether we take care of everyone or no one, I want to think, than to try to decide the worth of each individual life and allow millions of "unworthies" to fall through the cracks of our more perfect union (and our less perfect world).

Going abroard, one group of people that we should definitely be helping, but (due to world politics) do not, is the Kurds. I support the Kurds and an independent Kurdistan. But I have to admit that I believe that Turkey has a right to defend its borders against the PKK, even to the point of conducting raids inside Iraq to weed out the terrorists who violate its borders. Yeah, the Turks are jerks who have a long history of assholedness and deserve what they get at the hands of those who have been historically violated. It's their karma. But, still, they have the right to protect themselves within the context of present circumstances.

I have to draw the Israeli-Palestinian comparison: It's cognitive dissonance at best to support the Kurds and not the Palestinians, which is a position that "right-thinking" hawks in America seem to want to take (or would want to if not for the strategic military advantage that Turkey affords the U.S.) Either you are justified in defending your borders or you are not. Whatever your history, whatever conditions your ancestors have left you with, your present day position must be, first and foremost, to defend yourself. Then you can begin negotiations with those who have grievances against your past (and present) activities.

It's interesting that the Democratic congress, by announcing its intention to declare the WWI era Armenian deaths genocide, is responsible for the most recent escalation that the Turks are in the process of initiating. The Turks are, in effect, saying, "If you do this, there will be repercussions," an idle threat, considering that its either falling on deaf ears or is exactly what the Democratic congress wants. If King George's War escalates because of what the Turks do and, especially, if the U.S. loses the Turkish supply routes, George will have a harder time of it in Iraq and the Dems will strengthen their election position.

"Tell them to stop talking."

All of this fine "theorizing" that Ive been engaged in for at least several days now is derailed when a major episode of anxiety hits me full blown and all at once as I return home from a walk to the shopping center. (The physical stress of exercise combined with too little sleep may have contributed.) I looked at the answering machine to see if there were any messages and wham, an intuition pops right into my head, as if out of nowhere (the same kind of experience, the "mechanics" and "feeling," that I felt when I intuited that I would have a problem getting my car inspected, only more so; i.e., more anxiety, since the imagined, paranoid consequences are far worse):

The message I got a few weeks ago could have been from a government official and not a disguised ploy of some telemarketer trying to sell me something (as I had then assumed). Oh no! They're out to get me for that stupid mistake I made! They're going to prosecute me and send me to jail! I'm screwed! My entire life outlook changes in the blink of an eye from a carefree wanderer through life to a mental case in the pinch of a severe anxiety attack.

Situational anxiety, a problem of Asperger's syndrome, develops and builds gradually when I can't/don't want to confront the social situations that I must resolve and prefer to and often choose to hide away from them instead. I recognize ahead of time my reduced ability to perform socially and the peaked anxiety I experience when I must do so; and so I shy away, which serves to reduce the anxiety and sometimes, if the escape seems like it might work, even eliminate it.

But when anxiety hits me full-force, out-of-the-blue, it's probably systemic, or has a heavy systemic component that is only precipitated by the situation (in a conscious way, although when I look back I can often find hints and even consciously entertained ideas, and even documented remarks about it that indicate that small twinges of anxiety had been occurring all along. But they occur also without a subsequent peak of paranoia, so it's hard to know if there will be a future escalation in any particular case. So, looking back is not much more than predicting future occurrences after they happen.

Is this the worst it's ever been? Or do I feel this same way every time? I can't remember. It's pretty bad, though. And the worst, maybe, for a long, long time re potential consequences. Definitely situational (but probably both types of) anxiety.

Sometimes, when I'm physically ill, as with the flu, for example, I feel like huddling up in bed and merely and barely existing, waiting it out. This is what I feel like now, mentally; and I'm not ever sure I've felt like this before. And I doubt that it will go away by waiting.

But I'm going to try it. I'm going back to bed. Since I only got four hours sleep, I'm going to go and hide again, and maybe the world will go away, just for a while longer. And maybe some great catastrophe will occur and derail the freight train barreling toward me as I sit stalled here on the tracks.

I suggest to myself, as I fall into sleep, that I will come up with a solution to my current pinch. Actually, it's more in the form of a "Poor me, oh, please, help" prayer, not so much to God (although I'll take what I can get) as to my greater self (which may yet be a god).

I awaken out of a dream with all of the earlier affect abated:

I'm riding up Poketa Rd. on my motorcycle when I see up ahead just before the intersection at Rockcliff that the road is torn up and under repair. Cars are backed up and can't get by, but I can just squeeze by on the brim along the mailboxes on the wrong side of the road. About halfway past the obstruction I come up beside a young girl of about eighteen. She talks to me and flirts with me. Before I leave, I kiss her, gently and sweetly. I get by the obstruction and head up Rockcliff, but in front of 6023 I realize that Mom is dead and no longer lives here. So, with reluctance, I head back down the street. I meet the girl again at the back of her house on the low road. I ask her if she wants to go with me and she says yes. She goes into her house to get a few things. When she returns, her mother, who looks much like her daughter except that she's older and taller, doesn't want to allow her to go, but she knows she can't stop her. Her mother tries to flirt with me to convince me to stay with her in order to save her daughter from me, but her ploy doesn't work. We ride down to the intersection and when I stop, the girl seems changed, her enthusiasm having waned. She looks scared. I ask her if she's changed her mind and she shakes her head, indicating no. But neither does she seem so keen on leaving home any more. I kiss her cheeks and eyes gently to comfort her and then I take her back home and stay with both her and her mother. I awaken completely relieved of the anxiety (for a while--for several hours). Obviously, the obstruction in the dream was the experience that prompted the anxiety attack. And the girl? I don't know. My own animatic, comforting response, I guess.

That same morning, I awoke out of a previous dream with the anxiety still abounding:

I and friends or sibling-like people travel around in a car in a kind of directionless way until we decide for some reason that we have to go "down to the river"--which runs along parallel to the parkway from Monroeville to downtown, but deep down in the valley so that we have to go down the parkway and through Swissvale to get to it. (At that point, the river would be the Mon, but it doesn't run toward Monroeville, but turns into the hills before it gets there, unlike in this dream.) We're supposed to get there in time to witness something, which, although we know what it is in the dream, I can't quite define its nature. As soon as we get there, we see the high hillside about a mile east of where we are standing start to collapse; and in fact this is what we're supposed to see. I have to hurry and get my video camera focused on it in order to capture the scene. Cut to:

South upstairs bedroom at 6023, which is also an unknown warehouse-like concrete block-like room. I'm with a girl, who, it seems, although I never noticed her, was with us in the car earlier. We get into bed to have sex. [She looks like the Goth girl behind the counter in the opening sequence of Jimmy Kimmel Live when they introduce the guest band.] She's totally cool, covered all over with brightly colored tats. She has a hard time settling down and actually is flying, or sort of floating, around the room, but as if it's the most natural thing for her to do, so that I think nothing of the behavior. But then she manages to settle down and crawl on top of me and, although we're having sex and never disconnect, still it's as if each time she pushes up, she flies up to the ceiling and back down onto me. It takes a long time trying to bring her to orgasm and I begin to worry that if she were on the bottom, I might more easily accomplish the task; so I start to explain to her why, because of my back, I can't be on top, when she says, "Why are you talking?" I get the idea, pretty much from the way I feel (i.e., in an "unfeeling" kind of way) that all she wants to do is feel the relief of an orgasm without any emotional attachment. So I continue to talk to her, reasoning that if I do she'll become attracted to me and feel something more than just relief. But she complains, in a kind of non-complaining, more or less silent way, that I'm talking. But I persist and pretty soon she's feeling uncomfortable and increasingly unable to reach orgasm without releasing her affection toward me. At some point in our lovemaking another couple enters the room. It seems theyve been "assigned" this room, as our roommates. They're young adults and do not seem put off by the fact that we are naked and in the midst of sex. They sit on the adjacent bed and, although the guy pretends to a blas attitude, the girl begins to watch with interest. Soon they're both watching and making comments. My girl says, "Tell them to stop talking." I say, "Stop talking," not to them specifically, but just aloud in general. My girl becomes increasingly agitated as she nears orgasm and realizes that she can no longer achieve release without affection. Her whole orientation to life has been disturbed. Previously, she was just a sex machine. Now, she's starting to discover something she realizes she's been missing. The other girl says to her, "Tell him." The guy says, "Tell him what?" My girl says, "They're still talking." She is near to tears and indicates that she doesn't want this to happen. The other girl repeats, "Tell him." Suddenly, my girl screams, "No!" as she orgasms, and then she starts to cry. And she keeps pumping up and down, more vigorously, and she orgasms a number of times. I start to count them, but I lose count. Each time she orgasms, she becomes even more distressed. The other girl whispers, "Tell him." My girl says, "I can't." So the girl says, "She loves you." I say, "I know," and the other guy says, "Oh."

The collapse of the hillside in the first part of the dream is the anxiety (or the situation that prompted it? or the future consequences of that situation, intuited?) and the video camera documentation is this journal entry.1

accomplishment is accomplishment

Now, instead of moping or breezing through my life, I'm doing anything I come across, just to keep my mind occupied and off of the phone message. I walk through the house and work on staged projects that I've been ignoring, some of them for years. Ordinarily, I like projects that wait for me to be motivated to work on them, that sit there patiently with their so-far-gathered-together components in place putting in their time until I manage to get around to them; I hate projects that demand my attention, insisting that they be done, or else. It's all about energy management. There's only so much energy to be expended at any given moment on any given day, and going beyond that limit is dipping into the energy reservoir and debiting the system, which is the beginning of the long downward spiral into chronic stress and depleted cortisol reserves.

The intuitive wisdom of knowing when to engage a task or project, when to let it wait, and when to persist or leave off in frustration when the work is painstakingly slow and difficult is an easy experience made hard by wanting to "get it done." Tasks and projects get done easily when they are engaged in the course of events, when their time has come. There is a time to do everything, and when a project's time has not yet come, you can beat your head against the wall all you want and get nowhere. Working on a project when it is not the time to do it is counterproductive, especially when there are other things that you can more easily do (because their time has come). Finding which task or project is at its ripest time is the essence of intuitive wisdom. Often, it's a matter of trial and error, cycling briefly through a number of activities until you hit upon the one that "flows."

More importantly, when do you not do something, even when you want to do it, and even when it seems to be the time to do it, when it's more important that you refrain and take it easy and protect your health and mental well-being? This is a consideration that "old" people engage in that youngsters ridicule, feeling it is totally unnecessary, because they have all the energy in the world and then some and can afford to waste it doing frustrating tasks and still play around at games as well. Oldsters don't play so much, not because they wouldn't enjoy it so much as because it uses up a lot of valuable energy. When you get to be a certain age (probably defined as much mentally as by years) you have a choice to make. It's nice if you feel you can afford to choose play over work; but some of us cannot, and others of us choose not to because we are plagued by plans and goals that we want to see accomplished before we are no longer able to accomplish them--for whatever reason.

But, I say that's ordinarily how I like my life to go; but when anxiety is peaked, though it's an unpleasant experience, yet it has its up side: the problem of not having enough energy is significantly reduced. It takes its toll in this regard, when I will often not get enough sleep during these more stressful periods; but I do tend to get a whole lot more done, with a whole lot less downtime. I don't get it done with so much real interest or motivation, but accomplishment is accomplishment, however it is achieved.

And I seem to be a whole lot more willing during these times to document tangential thoughts provoked by any random event or idea I come across. Typically, I am far more begrudging of actually writing ideas down and they get lost, when later I will remember that, earlier, I had something "important" to document, but was not so motivated to do it and so forgot exactly what it was, something to do with...oh, I don't know, I can't remember. Instead, during more stressful times, when I am "up," I write it down:

A study of former high-school American Football players has found that more than a third said they had had sexual relations with other men.

In his study of homosexuality among sportsmen in the US, sociologist Dr Eric Anderson found that 19 in a sample of 47 had taken part in acts intended to sexually arouse other men, ranging from kissing to mutual masturbation and oral sex.

[Well, surprise, surprise, surprise.]

"These finding differ from previous research on North American men who have sex with men, in several ways. First, previous research describes heterosexual men in heterogeneous group sex as men symbolically engaging in sexual practices with other men. However, I find informants actually engage in sexual activity with other men. But this does not mean that they are gay."

[Well, of course not.]
[Not that there's anything wrong with that.]

Whenever I see any of these super-macho "he-man" types, I automatically assume that he's a closeted or repressed homosexual. I know that this is a hit or miss call; but I can't help myself. They just look too damn compensated to me.

But it makes me sort of wonder, projection being what it is. I don't think... But, never mind. I compensate, I know. I'm sure of it. But I seldom think about how I go about it. Mostly, I think, I try my best to make myself appear to No one, ever, has accused me of being stupid, not even women during typical arguments involving the (often disguised) issues of intimacy. People automatically assume that I'm a genius. (I'm not, by strict numerical definition.) If only they all knew how the inner process I engage in operates. The disorder they find there could change their decision drastically.

There was something else I wanted to document, but now, dealing with that last item instead, I forgot it. I do this all the time, start out writing with two or more things in mind, choose to write out the least important one first because I think it will be the shortest, and then forget the rest. Oh, well. Guess it'll have to wait till next month then.

Oh. Wait. I remember. (Though it would have been better that I continued to forget; because, with the memory, the anxiety returns, whereas without it, I was feeling just fine.) I've always been this way (anxiety-ridden. I used to feel this way all the time. It's just that I've been spoiled over the last few years. Now, in this peak, I feel compelled to want to say "Oh, woe. What's going to happen to me?" Paranoia spikes and reminds me of when I was a kid and fearful all the time. Regression abounds.

The problem escalated when I started working full time until it got to a point where I learned to tolerate it by disregarding its effects and relegating it to an all but unconscious state of existence, where it worked behind the scenes to subvert my best intentions and finally bring me down and, additionally, put me in the hospital (though not exactly in that order). And then I "retired," early, and it took me about three years to recover. All that while I gradually began to feel okay again most of the time, after long years of being under the constant stress that was slowly breaking me down. Now, after this most recent "incident," I'm back where I started out when I was young. And all because of a stupid miscalculation? Let me get past this, please, and I'll never "sin" again. I promise I'll put my life, if not my mind, in order. Amen.

Click on footnote number to return to that respective point in the text.
1. I will discover several months later, after much prolonged inner turmoil as to the exact nature of why "they" are trying to "get" me, that I misinterpreted the phone message, that it was not about what I thought it was about, but was meant for my brother, who must have given the lawyer who called me my phone number to prevent him from calling his home. Now I'm wondering what kind of trouble he's gotten himself into this time. Examining my own reaction, I discover that my censors totally blocked out the fact that the phone message was directed to Jim. Systemically (neurochemically?), I was primed for any event to set me off, and I finally managed to find one that did.