Some people are more fitted to society than others. This may sound like a simple truth, but it's usually an unspoken one. Liberals don't want to believe it, or at least they don't want to accept it as a fact of nature that cannot be changed; and conservatives don't want it to be so well known, because it ruffles a lot of feathers to state the obvious when so many people adamantly refuse to acknowledge it.
Conservatives recognize their own "superior" position (however come by, though they will always tell you they attained or retain it by their own merit) and are determined to hang onto it, by law if necessary. They make it their political credo; and the easiest way to remain established is to flock with birds who have as much to lose as they do should society try to renege on its implicit promise to protect the wealthy.
Well-off liberals are the renegers. They want to upset the applecart. Yet, whether they are rich or destitute, liberals want the lower social ranks to benefit beyond their social capability. (Given free rein, the more socially adept will always triumph. Fortunately for the less socially apt, not so much freedom as we might suspect has reigned throughout history and some upward migration has occurred.)
I'm using the categories of conservative and liberal here very liberally; not in so fixed a manner, but in relativistic terms. For example, when I was young, my mother was a liberal (compared to others of her ilk); but, compared to me, she was quite conservative. Society overall stacks up that way, from liberal to conservative, each stratum being generally more conservative than the one below it.
There are glaring exceptions, of course. The more specifically you zoom in on any given segment, the more exceptions you will find. The most obvious exceptions are characterized by pig-headed ignorance: Staunch low-class conservatives support rich elitist political leaders, unaware that by doing so they bite themselves in the ass. Maybe they feel superior by fantasizing that they feed at the same trough.
How do I fit into this quintessential scheme? It seems to me that I don't. This, of course, is not true; but that's the way it seems. I understand the psycho-biological imperative and am not stupid enough to disagree with it. What it is is what it is. However, like most people, I am not content to remain held down, no matter how psycho-biologically compromised I may be. I have an inherent right to strive to better myself.
I (have) want(ed) to fight for my place in society, the higher the better. At the same time, I have wanted to lie back and, not accept, but not care about such earthly matters as social rank, status, and recompense for services rendered. (The not caring is a symptom of my compromised psycho-biology--by which I mean, I guess, my genetics.) I (have) want(ed), like most people, to have a better life handed to me.
This is not an idle dream; but it is a difficult reality. I know that, if I would (have) work(ed) very, very hard all my life, I would be farther along than I am now; or else I'd be dead, of a heart attack or another disease caused by chronic stress, or by the hand of someone I pissed off, because, under stress, I am not so nice a guy as I appear to be when I am relaxed and carefree. (Again, much like most people.)
And yet...I feel like I deserve more than I have earned and been given, I feel like I have earned more than I have been given, I feel like I've been cheated out of my fair share, that the psycho-biological cards have been stacked against me, that God (or nature) favors bio-organisms that are not so nice or intelligent or caring as I am, that society does not reward the best, but only the shrewdest and most Machiavellian.
And I am not inclined to believe that I will be rewarded in an afterlife for my forbearance (against a desire to overtly rebel). My handicap does not extend so far as to convince me to believe in superstitions. So, however this life goes, this is it. So I'm looking to make the best of it by trying to convince others that there is a better way for us to live, that our culture is not the be-all and end-all of existence. (I hope.)
In another evolutionary iteration, responding to different environmental stimuli, human organisms might have developed a society that insisted that everyone be totally integrated at approximately the same level, that no one be left out, that our broken citizens be fixed, despite the cost, that our dregs be utilized for more than fodder or slave labor, that...hmmm. Maybe this is an idle dream.
[Conditions could shift suddenly away from what we now consider the standard (e.g., via global warming or environmental pollution.) We might end up living in a Terminator nightmare scenario where what is currently our "ideal" citizen (upwardly mobile yuppie-type) becomes a far less functional type and our new prototype for survival rises up out of, say, an "autistic" personality that is better adapted to hiding away.]
They used to call the idle dream communism, or socialism when they wanted to make it sound more appealing; but it didn't work, not because it wasn't a noble enough ideal, but because humans didn't evolve that way. But keep in mind: We're still evolving. Let's hope that we get to where I want us to be before the robots do. (Actually, I could care less. I'm not going to be around to see it.) Can I get a witness?
Speaking of idle dreams, I have this recurrent dream where I walk up my street and, as I near the end, I notice that my house isn't there. It causes a brief minor panic in me until I "reconstruct" the house; because I cannot be without one. But the result of the reconstruction is never my real house. It's always different in some way, more exotic perhaps, or older, or larger--sometimes quite extensive, with a lot of extra rooms; always more "pleasing" to me, though in perhaps an unmanageable kind of way; too difficult to clean and maintain perhaps and so unkempt and sort of "wild."
And, when I have these missing-house dreams, often the four houses beyond mine on my side of the street are missing too. I could be keying in on the past in this case, because often the house next door, farther from the end of the street than mine, a newer house that was built after mine (all of them were), is missing too. Or the dreams could be purely psychological in nature. Or both.
These dreams seem to occur around the times I have other recurring dreams about walking up the hill into a different neighborhood than the one that is up there, into a more posh area, with new and/or elaborate homes, well kept lawns, and amiable, though exclusive surroundings. Then, feeling out-of-place, I walk back down the hill and notice that, as I do, the area returns to normal. I have this same "recurrent" dream about hills in other neighborhoods (Wilkinsburg above Swissvale Ave., the hill above Wilkinsburg adjacent to 1728, the hill in Wilkins Township above lower Rodi Rd., etc.)
It occurs to me, as I'm awakening from an instance of both of these recurrent dreams, that the "anxiety" (worry, feelings of dread, etc.) that I often feel when I awaken from dreams is that which I felt when I was young. I never fully realized this before, although it seems obvious to me now. I was far more (unconsciously) anxious as a kid. It dominated my whole being in a way that it now does not. And yet, it didn't--at times when I was among close friends and insulated from the society that caused me difficulties; although, at times, with friends, I'd feel it when we had to interface with others and, especially, when I was the one who had to do the interfacing. But, left alone with only close friends, I was fine. The insecurity of not having close friends nearby is the same as that of not having a home or familiar nearby "neighborhood" (despite the appeal of the novelty of difference). That is, these seem to be symbols of a state of (repressed) anxiety.
I still today experience this social "discomfort," though far less so than when I was young. Society in its more ordinary manifestations doesn't seem to bother me any more, probably because I have internalized much of what used to be strange to me and made the world and its people more familiar. It's only when it threatens to impact my internal and isolated enclave operations that it disturbs my equilibrium, when it threatens to intrude. I can go out into the world and co-exist, even interface in everyday ways, without feeling any affect at all; or sometimes actually feeling good about it. I don't remember being able to do that so easily when I was young. Then, society always felt threatening, when I was forced to confront it, when I wasn't off somewhere else inside my head and only pretending to participate.
Inside my head, back in my younger days, was the same as inside my house is now. I've long understood that my home is a metaphor for my mind. Both areas are my safety zone. So, when I dream about my house having disappeared, I am left without security--which is certainly the way I've been feeling lately. And, especially this morning, as it's raining and all the snow on the roof is melting and old repaired leaks have re-opened over the winter and seem to be proliferating. I'm definitely going to have to do some extensive repairs this spring to stem the tide.
I can see how, if I were a different person(ality), my generalized social anxiety disorder could take an entirely different form, most easily, for example, panic disorder, if I would "allow" (it would be an unconscious decision) myself to be physically affected by the disturbance that I feel. As it is, when I feel the anxiety, I can, with a great deal of positive conscious attention, transform it into excitement, which I interpret physically as a sort of "tingling" sensation in my stomach. It is too much trouble for me to maintain this "excited" state and I will quickly deteriorate into anxiety again when my attention is diverted. But I can feel how that excited stomach state, if I were of a different set of mind, could become nausea; and how other conditions could become a rapid heartbeat, etc. So it seems to me that anxiety may well be in fact just one disorder that is interpretable in many different ways by people of different mindsets and/or physiologies. It is, most probably, the normal fear response run amok, attaching itself inappropriately via conditioning, etc. to otherwise unaffected behaviors.
When I tell people about my anxiety "problem," they tend to think that it's a serious condition; and, in a way, it is. But, in a different way, it is not, but is merely who I am; this is how I recognize myself, this is me. It is so tied up with the Asperger's that it establishes my identity. It's a genetic (pre)disposition. If a "cure" were found, I'm not too sure I would take it, because it would mean becoming someone I am not. (Of course, becoming someone else, I would still be who I am. So, thus reasoning, I might submit to the procedure--if it were offered cheaply enough.) "Assessment of the effects on functioning may be difficult, however, in people who have adjusted their lifestyles to their social anxiety and consequently do not feel that this anxiety interferes significantly with their lives."1 This is me, exactly. This is my baseline condition. Anxiety spikes when I am confronted with the anticipation of certain social interactions; so I avoid them as much as possible and, because I have worked myself into a "social" situation where I need not any more interact so much, my life is just fine with me.
Here's a snapshot of me, constructed from quotes from the above quoted book:
...excessive and persistent fear of social situations and avoidance of these situations...I also identify with some of the descriptions of unconscious symptoms; that is, I am not aware at the time of the interaction that these conditions are in effect, but I can later come to believe that they had been/are:
...not all patients with social anxiety disorder resort to avoidance. Some may endure social situations with a lot of anxiety or distress." [This was me when I "had" to go out into society, in school, at various jobs, in extended family situations. In these cases, I sucked it up and dealt with it. But, now, I don't have to, most of the time.]
"The onset of generalized social anxiety disorder...dates back to patients' adolescence or childhood. Patients typically say that they have always been shy and anxious in social situations."
"A genetic link [Asperger's] seems to be stronger for generalized social anxiety disorder" [than for the non-generalized form].
"One of the hallmarks of the fear of performance-type situations is the absence of any problems when patients perform alone or in front of one or only a few persons whom they know well and trust. This suggests that the fear of performance-type situations is generally less about performance itself and more about the performance being watched and judged by others."
"...those who avoid public-speaking situations persistently or endure them with inordinate anxiety and distress and are impaired or significantly distressed because of this fear and its consequences...qualify for the diagnosis of social anxiety disorder."
"...patients with these fears are concerned about any situation in which they are expected to communicate with others... [including] simple interactions, such as asking a passerby for directions [which I had a big problem with when young, but have grown out of], as well as more complex interactions, like socializing at a party." [Which I still "fear"--and defend myself against by excluding the fear from consciousness while remaining mostly noncommunicative].
"Some fears of interactional situations pertain predominantly to certain people and certain situations. This is particularly the case with those situations in which patients are expected to demonstrate some assertiveness...The corresponding avoidance may be distressing, because it prevents patients from 'having things done' or from showing their 'true personality.' The fear may be in stark contrast to patients' relative calm in 'ordinary' social situations in which their insecurity and lack of assertiveness are hidden beneath a well-learned use of social convention. [In fact, this is exactly what Aspie's are advised to do, learn "social skills," by which is meant "social conventions."]
"Unlike social anxiety disorder, neither stage fright nor shyness are associated with impairment in functioning, and this is the fundamental difference between social anxiety disorder and these two forms of "normal" social anxiety."
"Shyness and social anxiety disorder have numerous similarities in terms of their physical, anxiety-related symptoms..., cognitive distortions, and behavioral responses to distressing social situations. The differences between shyness and generalized social anxiety disorder are believed to pertain mainly to intensity, frequency, and/or duration of these variables." [The keywords here, for me, are "cognitive distortions" and "behavioral responses": sometimes, after I've gotten caught up in a bout of extended anxiety, I realize that I might have been characterizing the behaviors of others toward me as overly attentive and/or critical, when they were merely "normal"; and then I realize that my own reactive behaviors were unwarranted, or if not necessarily unwarranted, then unnecessarily escapist, or even harsh, as a breakaway reaction against the "shyness" that I had been unwittingly caught up in.]
"...patients may feel that they lack the skill of initiating, maintaining, or terminating conversations, that they are "clumsy" when meeting new people, or that they do not know how to talk over the telephone with someone whom they have never met before."
"Patients with social anxiety disorder are more likely to exhibit the following personality traits: insecurity, lack of self-confidence, low self-esteem, extreme sensitivity to criticism, feelings of inferiority, unassertiveness, shyness, and tendency toward social withdrawal. Dependent on how prominent and pervasive these personality traits are, a diagnosis of avoidant personality disorder may be warranted. ... The current consensus is that there are few significant differences between APD and GSAD, with the former condition being considered more severe."
ETC. (still reading; add'l quotes to be added here--or maybe not.)
"...patients with social anxiety disorder prefer anonymity and would do anything not to be noticed and not to be the center of attention."Reviewing these lists, I notice that some of the behaviors that I'm conscious of in the interactional moment are ones that used to be unconscious. I can see how, as time goes on, I become more conscious in the moment. While becoming increasingly conscious of one's "disorder" may be a good thing generally, I can't help but think that I was a happier person when I lived my life as a teenager and young adult oblivious to all of this. I wonder who I might be right now had I never attended college and majored in psychology and started myself out on my path of continuing self-education:
"Very broadly, patients with social anxiety disorder are afraid of negative evaluation by others; this is usually considered to be the core feature of social anxiety disorder."
"The structure of the fear of interactional situations may be more complex, although the same personality characteristics--feelings of insecurity, low self-esteem, and poor self-confidence--may underlie its various manifestations"
"...the underlying fears in interactional situations may have to do with patients' lack of assertiveness...such [as] talking to people in authority, expression of disagreement [thus am I passive-aggressive], and returning purchased goods because they are defective."
"The 'demoralization hypothesis" is often used to explain the relationship between social anxiety disorder and depression. That is, because of the chronic and relentless course of social anxiety disorder, patients feel less and less able to 'cope with life,' become helpless and hopeless and thus prone to develop depression. But, there may also be a genetic link between social anxiety disorder and depression..." [such as Asperger's]
"Generalized social anxiety disorder bears a similarity with the construct of atypical depression, as they both share heightened interpersonal sensitivity and, in particular, hypersensitivity to criticism and rejection." [Such as I now feel re my sister's "implied" doubt that I have Asperger's Syndrome.]
"When their perfectionist tendencies are particularly strong and when they exhibit marked preoccupation with issues of control and rigid attitudes as to what is socially desirable, expected, and allowed, ...patients may have a co-occurring obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. Others are more passive, as they are extremely afraid of being rejected or abandoned and have an excessive need to please others, are reluctant to express their own opinion or any disagreement...thus exhibiting features of dependent personality disorder." Oddly enough, I exhibit both of these to some degree, but neither in any significant way; that is, I see these tendencies in myself, but they are not so dominant. And yet they define some aspects of my unconscious self and explain some of my (especially past) behavior. [Hoarding, echoing people's opinions, passive-aggressive behavior, etc.]
ETC. (still reading; add'l quotes to be added here--or maybe not.)
Awake, I further recognize that, at the beginning of the dream, I had been sent to this area to work as a kind of disguised reprimand meant to belittle me and make me feel ashamed and taken down a peg or two; nevertheless, I was expected to treat the ridiculous and secretly ridiculing task seriously, as were the few others who were also involved--including my immediate supervisor, who joined the effort later in the dream, after having been one of the unseen orchestrating managers, and who at the time I worked for her was considered to be "in" (when management had decided, unknown to me, that I was not), but who later, after I was gone, fell out of favor (as did many employees, eventually, in that company; turnover was relatively high, as was the use of temporary employees).
This is how I felt, mostly unconsciously, at that time (as made conscious by the dream): depreciated, derogated, disparaged; in fact, this is how I've felt all my life re my relations within society, this is a life pattern, a way I've always felt, mostly unconsciously. Before I fell asleep, I'd been reading about some symptoms/effects of social anxiety disorder (insecurity, lack of self-confidence, low self-esteem, extreme sensitivity to criticism, feelings of inferiority, unassertiveness, shyness, and tendency toward social withdrawal), and I struggled (though not fully realizing it as a struggle) to understand how I experienced those symptoms, not really wanting to believe that all of them were applicable to me. [I easily understood how insecurity, (over)sensitivity, unassertiveness, shyness, and withdrawal applied; but I struggled with self-confidence, self-esteem and inferiority.]
So my dream conjured up a situation that demonstrated, affectively, how I had (and still do, though I still don't feel them consciously) felt these ways all along. In my past, I see how, in the same way that I now struggle with those last three symptoms, I had struggled at various times to understand how the others applied. Very early on, I never understood that I was shy, and when anyone would point that out to me, I struggled with myself to rationalize how I was not. Because, in certain specific, comfortable, social situations, I was not at all shy; in fact I was pretty much the opposite. Ditto, the other traits. There were times when I was not withdrawn. There were times when I was assertive, and secure. But, gradually, I recognized how these problems affected me.
So now, by analogy, rationally, I conclude, especially after having experienced the feelings first-hand in the dream relating them directly to the conditions in my last workplace and, awakening, continuing to feel them and tracing the feelings back to my past, that, yes, I am this way; and it's only a matter of time before I can accept and allow the repressed symptoms full rein to my conscious self, where I can work with them to resolve their control over me, thereby not having to invest the energy that I do in maintaining their opposites (compensation) so that I might accomplish what I do despite them. (Even the traits that I fully now recognize will use up lots of energy in negation and/or compensation in order to make their opposites functional.) [The quotes in the previous entry regarding these symptoms have been added in retrospect.]
Anxiety, and its genetic cause, has interferred with my performance in every job I've ever had. In my jobs, I didn't catch the verbal cues that indicated that I was "sub-performing"; and my last boss never made anything very clear and always beat around the bush when talking; yet he assumed that he got his message across, and maybe he did, with NTs; but not with me. I didn't catch the "hints" that my jobs were in jeopardy. I only see them now in deep retrospect. In this way, I was prejudiced against: My difability requires that such things be specifically spelled out for me.
In my jobs, especially in the last one, I did what I did, not because I wanted to do it; most often I didn't want to and didn't even believe in it. I did what I did because I was told to do it, because it was (often newly) established policy. And other supervisors who were told, for the most part, did not do it, for whatever reason (because they disagreed, because they didn't know how, because it was too hard, etc.). But, because what I was told do was unpopular among the workers and the policies came back to haunt the company, I was the one who was blamed for what was done. Thus, I became the scapegoat. A more politic (i.e., "sociable") person would have found ways to negate managements' requests, which in fact is what the other supervisors did when they did not comply, and why they did not suffer the consequences that I did.
It's true that I did not (know how to) protect myself. (Actually, I did know how, I had forced myself to learn it and went to great lengths to apply the learning that others took for granted and applied automatically; but it all became too difficult. I struggled for years watching my back, and then just gave up when the stress became too chronic and I could no longer summon the energy necessary to sustain the illusion of "normality.") And it's true that I stuck my neck out very far trying to comply with upper management's desires. And it's true that I was not all that skilled at interpersonal relations in the first place and less able to detect movement against me in the second place (Asperger's). But these are the ingredients that feed into scapegoating. This is how I was prejudiced against. My difability (unknown to even myself back then) was not considered and I was acted against to appease the prejudicial masses. I was led to believe (via excellent performance reviews) that I was doing a great job, when all the while the prejudice against me was building until it reached its critical mass; and then I was gone.
But, old news. Except that it can still happen, in other arenas, not so much any more, perhaps, in that I no longer associate so much with society; but there is always that potential. The past is never really the past until you learn how to stop obsessing over it in the present. If I knew back then what I know now, I would document all incidents where prejudicial attitudes toward me affected my job performance and, prior to that, I would explain my difability to management, in writing, so that they would have the opportunity to approach me in a more literal and highly specific way, especially re complaints about my performance (not that they would have done that, being the prejudicial and pecuniary assholes that they were; but in this way I could have covered my ass). I would even go so far as to take notes during meetings, even impromptu ones in lunchrooms, hallways, etc. I've long recognized note taking as a necessary coping mechanism; but I've always felt that I've had to hide it from public view and play catch-up when I was alone. But, with management aware of my "condition," I would be free to engage in this kind of "non-sociable" enterprise. In this way I could negate the typical evasiveness (of professional management as well as of the general public) that more socially sophisticated people recognize and act upon intuitively.
The fact that I do not appear to be autistic, that Asperger's is a high-functioning form of autism in the first place, and that my condition is mediated by my lifelong, mostly unconscious desire to appear as normal as possible, goes a long way toward disguising my "problem." I doubt that, had I been examined by a professional early on, I could even have gotten an accurate diagnosis, in light of the fact that I myself would have provided much distortion as a result of my penchant for appearing to be perfectly normal (not to mention the fact that, back then, no one knew anything about Asperger's Syndrome anyway). It has only been via my dogged attempt for "self-knowledge" that I managed to stumble across the information and allow myself the revelation.
And it is only by my extensive reading of others' experiences that I recognize that I am not "afflicted" with an illness, but rather merely possess a different kind of a mentality; and that even the anxiety and depression is not so much an illness as a reaction to the inability of society to understand and incorporate people like me into its main stream, because I am not similar enough to the people that it considers normal, because I deviate just a little too far from the ideal standard, and because I have "chosen" (unconsciously) to keep all of that a secret, especially from myself. It's a tough orientation to maintain a perspective on, and I have to work on it constantly to maintain focus; and I don't, and so I must return often to the same theme, the same material, in the hope that one day the proper persepctive will take a permanent hold. This is the way it is, and probably the way it will always be:
Progress has been painstakingly slow these past few months--well, painstaking isn't the right word, since I haven't really been trying very hard, because progress can be had without hard work, and that is my ideal.
But not trying very hard and living an easy, carefree life are not necessarily the same thing. I've been preoccupied and pensive almost continually since last fall; and it doesn't seem to be easing up.
I want my carefree life back, where I can choose to do stupid little obsessive activities like exhaustively collecting quotes I come across or even merely unproductively fantasizing for hours on end.
But I can't happily manage that while things like the pending Verizon service connection is out there in the future, unsettled, when they won't call me to make arrangements, for whatever incompetent reason.
The winter has been one long series of things like this, demotivating me, so that all I do is wait, and then, weeks later, wish I had acted earlier, when action by others, which I thought was pending, wasn't.
I spend a lot of time hovering poised between ennui and motivated action, waiting, for whatever, for something, anything, to spur me on, while I struggle to avoid sinking down into the abyss.
And, all the while, life stares me in the face, daring me to act; but I've become gunshy and have learned to fear its often devastating recoil. Yet it constantly shoots ideas at me, often too loudly.
When incidents (or cascades) of over-stimulation bug me, I find myself, of course, turning off or down the offending devices, such as the radio, the tv, lights, the sun (closing the drapes), etc.
But when I'm out in society and feel thus plagued, I cannot deploy this tactic; so I tend to withdraw. This may be as much of a cause of my isolation as more psychological reasons are. I don't know.
I no longer stim in the ways I did when I was young, I've sort of grown out of it; but it occurs to me that stimming may be a way that we have of blocking external over-stimulation via self-stimming.
Maybe this theory has already been proposed; but I've never seen it anywhere. And I've been looking. Meanwhile, I try to absorb as much input as I can, risking overload (or rerouting it into output).
To this end, and motivated by a book by Calvin Trillin that I read recently, I've begun to write doggerel, naively hoping to stumble my way into a professional position (because it's so easy for me to do):
Opposites AttractEliot, of all people, is corrupt. There is no hope.
The corrupt conservative businessmen are joyous, though.
They love to see the self-righteous reformers eating crow.
Laissez-faire capitalists are dancing their happy jigs.
And closet pigs are dusting off forgotten leaves of figs.
Me? Yeah, I'm disappointed; but I guess I should have known.
Reformers oft get caught up into that which they bemoan.
An age-old story: Repressions out in deceitful ways.
Preachers rail at evil practices; "straight" men hassle gays.
Political CorrectnessGeraldine Ferraro. How dare she speak the truth?
Strategists enlist regulars to stir the fat.
"Tell her to say this, and then we'll say that."
It's not a lie, but it's designed to cause distain.
No better refrain than unresolved pain.
But you can't say anything you want to. It's crude.
Even simple truth can be misconstrued.
Geraldine, unwitting party pawn, is now gone,
like the concrete coachman on the front lawn.
Eye For An EyePalestinians fire rockets at the Jews.
And, before you start e-mailing me those all complaints about meter, etc., consider this from one I received a while ago:
"Your poems are amateurish. They don't scan."
And my response:
"Depends on what you mean by scan. Rhythm beats internal like marching to a different drum. I, myself, prefer syllabic meter to the humdrum conventions of professional literary pretense."
This kind of boring crap, day to day, preoccupies me until something happens to stir me out of my doldrums and propel me into the big wide disturbing world of social intercourse:
I think about this exchange after I hang up. Did Joyce say something about him needing a haircut, and he countered with the fact that he didn't have any money, and then maybe he tried to borrow it from her, and she of course refused, because he owes her $2500 for the truck he bought recently when his old one broke down and she told him that he will pay her back? It's a possibility. Even if their exchange didn't go exactly this way, it's typical of their relationship.
I begin to clean the house in anticipation of his visit, because I don't really want to be thought of as a slob (even though I am) and, anyway, I've been planning to do it for a long time and this is a good motivation. I move back out onto the front porch the large tomato containers that I moved inside last fall to keep the remaining fruit from freezing. And I move out the potted cherry and "strawberry" (dogwood) trees, which I never should have moved inside in the first place. I sweep the floors in the dining room and entryway. I move everything that doesn't belong in the house (mostly gardening stuff) to the basement. The place is starting to look pretty good.
A few hours later, my brother calls back. He tells me that I'm uninvited over for Easter. Not understanding, thinking he might have said or meant 'invited', I ask "Uninvited?" He says, "Yeah" and explains that he told Joyce that he wasn't going to be home for Easter and Joyce told him that I would be over, that I had a standing invitation and would show up, which is why he called me back, to tell me not to show up. I play along, even though I'm starting to get a little bit pissed off, suddenly realizing what's going on: He and Joyce are fighting over me.
Apparently, he'd told Joyce what he now tells me, that, instead of staying at home for Easter dinner, he'd stop at the store and pick up a pork roast and bring it over to my house and we'd cook it and spend Easter here. In short, he's using (the phone call to) me in a move in an ongoing battle with his wife. And, as usual, he presumes that I'm not doing anything on Easter and am available. He invites himself over (not that he'll come), disregarding any ideas or opinions I might have. Of course, I realize, he's not serious, about coming over. He may think he's serious, but his battle with his wife is determining his decisions, and not what he actually prefers to do.
Then, that night I have a dream: Jim is living with me and he's starting to determine how the household will be run. At first, I'm happy with the living arrangements; but slowly I begin to resent his intrusion. I awaken with the idea that, just maybe, he might be thinking about asking to move in with me, because if he actually would move out (which he won't, although it just might come down to Joyce kicking him out, and he's just stupid enough, in that circumstance, to comply, thereby giving up any residential right he might have--traditional men are stupid in this way), where would he go? He has no independent resources and he has no real business left to support himself with. I doubt very much if he could even afford the cheapest room in the worst fleabag hotel.
And, anyway, even if I would allow him to move in here, where would he sleep? On the floor? I don't even have a couch any more. (I converted the living room into an art studio.) And, in the winter, I heat only the very small bedroom, which has just enough room for a single bed. And no amount of promising on his part would convince me that he would pay for heating the rest of the house (or anything else), because, even if he were serious (which he probably would be), he wouldn't pay, even if he did have the money. I base this decision on his past performance; he's owed me a lot of money for nearly ten years.
Of course, the next day, he never shows up for his haircut; nor does he call. And, even though I'm happy that I got motivated to clean the house, I'm pissed that I allowed him to do it to me again, to cause me to upset my schedule, force myself to (try to) alter my sleeping schedule with melatonin (it didn't work so well and I got very little sleep), disrupt a productive period of work that I just recently managed to reestablish [after months of unproductive ennui].
Again I conclude, fuck the both of them. I'm sick of their childish shit. And I just might tell them that the next time we're together (if we ever again are) and they start one of their bickering campaigns. And, although I may agree with Joyce that she is more of a victim of him than he is of her, maybe I'll make sure to tell her that no one can fight with anyone who doesn't fight back, that both of them do not support the other in a way that married people should, and, if it should come down to it, that Jim is my brother and I have no intention of taking her side over his if that's what it should come to and that, by her (and him) setting up the contingencies so that I have to choose between them (such as who I will spend time with on Easter), I will not choose her and leave him hanging, no matter who I think is right or wrong.
Yeah, he never showed up, nor did he call; which is typical of him. And he's always late on those few occasions when he does show up. But he's my brother, goddamit (although he is rather heavy).
That afternoon, having had too little sleep, I crash and spend many, many hours luxuriating in dream after dream:
I'm at the corner of Sandy Creek and Verona Rds., making my way "home" (to 6023). But I can't make it (somehow, the hill up Verona Rd. is impeding me), and it's late at night; so I crawl into a bed set up on the corner lot across Coal Hollow Rd. from Hippo's. A woman standing on the corner is in a similar "lost" situation, so (without words) I invite her to share the bed. She cuddles up next to me and we spend the night in the warm bed; and in the morning, she's gone, departing just as I awaken. Cut to:
I walk "home," which is a concrete block basement (which is the whole house; no upstairs) that is sort of like my present house, but sort of where my mother's house was in the old neighborhood off Verona Rd. db is there with me, along with unknown others. But the place is haunted and the lights keep flickering and threatening to let the ghosts in. (They can get in when it's dark.) We feel safe as a group, but only when the lights are on. (When the lights go out, we can't see each other.) There is an adjacent apartment and the neighbors open the door through the concrete block wall and join us, because the more of us there are, the safer we feel. But, finally, the lights go off and the ghosts get in and permeate the atmosphere, causing fear and trepidation. Semi-lucidly, I am aware that "ghosts'" are outside my bedroom window and it's starting to get dark outside. Cut to:
A college. I'm in a huge lunch room with Jerry Seinfeld and George Costanza. We're sitting at a table with a lot of other students. (Sitting at a nearby table is Jodine Costanzo, a local news reporter. But she doesn't figure into the dream's plot. Just a side image.) A number of co-eds sitting nearby are interested in me; but I'm ignoring them. One of them asks me if I'm interested in her. I turn to her, look her directly in the eyes, and say, bluntly, "No." She tries to act stoically; but it's obvious that she's hurt. After a few minutes, after she has put up a good front and allowed enough time to go by so that it appears that this is not the reason for leaving, she leaves. A girl sitting across the table says something about me being so cruel. I ask her if she thought it would have been less cruel of me to say yes when I didn't mean it. She walks around the table and sits next to me. She intends to pick up where the other girl left off. I try to continue to ignore her, but she won't allow it. She will not, I realize, be hurt in the way that the other girl was. (Actually, I was interested in both girls, but was stonewalling them in my usual way.) Up to this point, I've been cool; but when I get up to go to class, I realize that I'm wearing black polyester dress pants that are too short and a t-shirt that is so short that it exposes a small part of my torso; in other words, I look like a dork. I go to my locker to find a change of clothes, but the locker is empty. I want to put some of the too many things I'm carrying into it, but I don't have a lock. Cut to:
I'm in an art class. All of the other students are busily working on their projects, but I can't get motivated to work on anything. I don't know what to do. The large desk is strewn with newspapers, magazines, and lots of scrap material. I start to page through one of the magazines for ideas and I come across a lot of pictures that I like, so I cut them out and begin to assemble them into a collage, and I also incorporate some of the scrap materials and newsprint into it. A girl sitting at the desk next to me abandons her project to come over and watch me work. She says something like, "What you're doing is magic." I make a few hand gestures and scenes from my past appear like small luminescent spheres that hover above the desk. I choose several of them and lay them down onto the art board and they flatten out onto it and become part of the collage. Other students come over to watch and pretty soon the whole class is crowded around my desk watching me work my "magic." The teacher, who was out of the room, returns and asks what's going on. I tell him, "I'm piecing it together." He asks, "What is it?" I reply, "My life."
I awaken feeling highly satisfied and, though I want to get up, I also want to retain the feeling, so I force myself to fall back into sleep while reviewing the dreams over and over and memorizing keywords to make sure I remember them:
I'm at Rita's house painting a t-shirt while, at the same time (two simultaneous dream threads), I'm at work mixing inks for the t-shirt I'm painting. I start out with a small rectangle on the shirt, intending for it to be the basis for an intricate design; but I never get beyond that point because two things keep interfering with my progress: 1) No one knows I'm in the house (in an upstairs bedroom, where I'm not supposed to be) and I keep hearing the voices of the inhabitants downstairs that sound as if they're coming up and will discover me; 2) The ink I'm mixing at work is a painstaking task as I try to zero in on the exact color and miss it, first in one direction, then another, adding too much of this or that color each time, and, until I get the color exactly right, I can't progress to the t-shirt project.
I half-awaken again, feeling like several days have passed. I begin to feel guilty that I've been asleep for days and life is passing me by. I worry that I should be doing something, that I've forgotten to do something important, that I've missed an appointment. I worry that my phone is off the hook. (A few days ago, I walked by the phone and heard it buzzing like it does when it hasn't been hung up properly, and when I lifted the receiver and I hung it up again, I noticed that the button that the receiver presses down to disconnect it was gummed up with a thick layer of dust and gunk and wasn't being fully depressed.) I think that maybe people have been trying to call me, but can't get a hold of me. I worry that, maybe, there's an emergency situation, that maybe my brother has acted precipitously and created a catastrophe. I worry myself back into sleep, again reviewing all of the dreams, hoping to remember them.
I'm at the Penn Hills Shopping Center with Mom, in the lower lot outside Vanity Fair, getting ready to go away to college at Penn State, Carlyle campus (I don't even know if there is such a place). I'm obviously "handicapped" by Asperger's and going to enroll in a "rehabilitation education" program so that I can use the benefit of my experience to teach others how to deal with the disability. In a sense, I'm older, not the typical college age, but closer to my current age and going back to school, but at a lower level (branch college) than I had been at previously; and, in another sense, I am the typical college age, and, although I already have a degree (hard earned), I need an additional one that is "more appropriate" for me (knowing what I know now?) There is some difficulty/reticence re the preparations (packing the car, getting into it, etc.) Meanwhile, and/or as a result of (my frustrations and/or disconcern with) the difficulties, I walk down to Giant Eagle. Inside the store and as I'm leaving, I'm wearing only a kind of apron that covers my front, but not my back. My bare ass is expose and, as I return toward the car in the upper lot, I begin to feel exposed and embarrassed as the wind and the motion of my walking tosses the apron around, threatening to fully expose me. Cut to:
I'm with db on Wildwood Ave. in Verona. We go to a motorcycle repair shop to see about getting two bikes (175cc. & 125 cc.) fixed and running. We have them loaded into a new subcompact Ranchero-type vehicle. The guy, a kid really, wants to keep costs as low as possible by using used parts he scavenges to kluge the repairs together, rather than buying new parts, which is okay with me. I approve wholeheartedly. He asks me if I want him to use parts from the 125cc. to repair the 175. But db wants the 125 repaired, so I tell him no. When we go out to get into the truck, which db has moved off the street into the lot, we can't find it.
When I finally awaken and can sleep no more, I sit up in bed, groggy to the max, and try, unsuccessfully, to determine how long I slept. I forget what time I fell asleep. It's eight o'clock and I think that maybe I slept all night, more than twelve hours. Days pass by in my head. I'm half-dreaming again, in a kind of meditative state. I wonder if all of that crap about my brother was a dream. With a great deal of trouble, not really wanting to move, I reach for my voice recorder and reconstruct my dreams so that I won't forget them. The feeling of lost time persists off and on for several days, and I think, I am becoming my dreams. Or my dreams are becoming me. Actually, both are true. I'm not sure what this means.
My life has meaning, I know. But how is it discernible from or (lost) amid the multiple minutia of fragmentary input. Sometimes I think that meaning is derivable from this input (content), and sometimes I think that it exists a priori (form). But why not some combination of the two? Which would make the problem even more complex.
I feel like I'm starting to fragment. I am, always, fragmented; but now I feel like it, very consciously, and more so with every day that passes. I am so unfocused. Ideas and previously planned but unexecuted projects come at me from all directions. I can't process them into intelligible mental content; and I can't seem to let them go.
In any case, (my) meaning, maybe, lies among the input and is expressed in the output; or I impose it onto the output, using the input as a medium, like a radio signal heterodynes a sine wave that it uses as a traveler. It all makes sense somehow; but you have to have a good receiver to separate out the traveler from the content.
But, even properly interpreted, it's so difficult to understand how events that are so public determine even my parochial meaning, let alone my very private inner existence, where meaning seems to have no currency. [I know, I'm certain, this is a problem of being stuck between two worlds, a public one and a universal core of existence.
But I don't want to go there. I should abandon all perception and retreat via meditation farther into the essence of pure existence; but I'm too fixed and rigid right now, too up-in-the-air waiting for several specific social events to happen. This would be, I think, the perfect time to meditate; but I'm stuck at an events level]:
And what about the "cover-up" of that house explosion in Plum, PA? (Only five miles away from where I live.) We haven't heard anything about the follow-up investigation, other than all that "speculation" about it being a gas leak. I'm starting to think that my original suspicions were correct, that debris from the satellite that the government shot down was responsible. (Early claims of airborne debris disappeared from later news reports.) I mean, why was the NTSB at the site? They're the ones who investigate airplane crashes! What's that all about?
Any disaster story you hear must always have an attributable cause. That doesn't mean the cause is true. It just might be a convenient excuse. People dumping drugs down the drain? Sounds reasonable at first; but the more I think about it, the more I suspect it. How much of any given drug would have to be dropped into the sewage system to produce a detectable amount? Seems to me it would have to be a pretty large amount. I mean, there's a whole lot of water out there; and it's always flowing. And how many people throw drugs away?
I wouldn't do it. I'd hang onto them; or, if I really wanted to get rid of them, I'd throw them in the garbage. Why go to the trouble of flushing them? Yeah, the more I think about it, the more it sounds fishy to me. And it's exactly the kind of thing the "government" would tell you if they were in fact drugging the water supply, perhaps as a preliminary experiment to see if anyone would notice, like they did with not responding to the Katrina disaster to see if people had as yet become inured to population displacement.
Because they do have very definite plans in place for moving large masses of the population, just in case. It's been documented. And they do have the places ready to move people to "the camps." And they do have scenarios written to be implemented in case satellites crash (to blame the effects on natural causes such as meteorites, etc.?) Are natural gas explosions included among those contingencies? I'd be surprised if they weren't. The whole point is, you just don't know. And it's proven that we can't trust the government.
And, especially, we can't trust the media:
And what about the stock market? Every time, literally every time, Bernanke speaks publicly, to the media, to congress, to whomever, the market drops. If the Fed is really as interested in bolstering the economy as they claim to be, they'll forget about all of their bailout and economic stimulus plans and just tell Bernanke to shut the fuck up.
And then there's the education system:
I don't want to be a part of the system that generates reports like these. But I am a part of it; and, despite my very sincere and dedicated attempts to opt out, I know that it's impossible. Maybe in the past people could manage that to a great degree. But there are no Waldens any more. Well, I guess there are. But not for the likes of me. Now, you have to be either rich or crazy. But I suppose people of his day thought Thoreau was crazy; and I suppose my peeps think I am too. But I'm so lame compared to the great hermits of their day. I rely on capitalist enterprise to keep me in relative luxury at minimal expense; and I rely on it to "entertain" me with its endless drivel. Is that, then, whence my meaning cometh? Have I opted into a system that I would opt out of? Have they, in fact, sneaked into my brain and hopelessly corrupted it? Can one even be separated at all from one's society? It's a conspiracy for sure, and I'm one of the conspirators; and my own worst enemy.
If I, despite my penchant for setting myself apart from others and wanting to be so damned independent, am after all an integral part of society, so that my basic conflict makes me my own worst enemy, then I am doomed to remain perpetually in orbit around this dastardly world I've always loved and hated so much.
Scott Adams theorizes here that a universal law of attraction exists and is expressed not only as gravity, magnetism, and many other physical processes but as human [physical and psychological] attraction as well, including but not limited to psycho-sexual attraction; and beauty is the attraction's handmaiden.
I formulated a theory like this more than ten years ago. It had something to do with how mutual (human) attraction is like gravity and we orbit around each other, and if we get too close, we crash and burn or else must pull away to a safer distance, the intimacy of closeness being too overwhelming, threatening our ego barriers and causing us to question our sanity.
I myself, I recall, was in favor of this type of ego dissolution. It's an experience I crave. But any woman I've ever hooked up with has found intimacy (with me) too fearful, because, by intimacy, they meant, not true intimacy, but some other more sentimental experience that they have learned to substitute for it, being the shallow (typical) people that they were.
Intimacy, at its most profound level, at the level where attraction reaches its "critical mass" (sorry for the mixed metaphor), is a scary thing. But it's an experience I find "attractive." I want to get out of my head, out of my ego, out of my body even. I want to know what it's like to be someone else, or even to be unencumbered by physical reality.
And the best way to accomplish this, I've found, is via mutual identity, where two (or more) people merge into one continuous being. This is true intimacy, which is not that wishy-washy wussiness that people who live under the illusion that they are separate beings believe intimacy to be, some kind of "niceness" where lovers laugh and touch and talk.
But gravity, according to some postmodern cosmologists (if that is not a contradiction in terms), is not a force at all (i.e., cosmic masses do not attract), but rather is a fabric. And space and time are not two separate perceptions in the way we humans want to think of and experience them; rather, it is one continuous process that incorporates gravity into its fabric.
So, my theory of the attractive nature of humans being like unto that of all other matter needs to be updated to accommodate the fabric theory of spacetime: We do not attract each other so much as we bend toward one another, circling if we get close enough and crashing into each other if we get too close. It's a finely drawn line, as is the perception of gravity itself.
It's all, of course, a matter of perception: classical physics v. quantum mechanics, human v. cosmic nature, reality v. illusion, one v. many worlds (cf., the Many Worlds theory of cosmology)--because there could very well be at least as many worlds as there are people, each of us being (in) our own little (or big) world.
I am (in) the best of all "worlds" (by definition): I am intelligent, even to the point of being an eggheaded genius; I am a rogue male outlaw biker type; I am a wise hippie guru. I've intentionally successfully incorporated these identities into one more or less homogeneous whole. This is my current "appeal," I (want to) think.
But the appeal existed long before my effective implementation of this personality (constructed atop the conditioning), although I have admired and always wanted to emulate this type; so maybe it's been playing into the appeal all along, unconsciously, people recognizing in me the things I didn't yet know I was:
I am this "mystery" that people don't quite understand, and want to; and yet there is that (more than a bit of) fear I have that people unconsciously will introject, so that only the bravest and/or least affected approach me. My withdrawn and defiant "personality" is a test of their bravado, which some few will easily pass, thereby testing back:
I hear commotion out in the street and look out the window to see what's going on. Macho-type guys, both new (dream) neighbors and visitors, are "interacting," moving muscle cars and trucks around, playing pick-up sports games, contending with each other in both friendly and threatening ways. I resolve to stay inside, to stay out of their way.
This is my most basic orientation: The world is populated by boisterous macho assholes (which I am one of, in a mostly unconscious state, not at all aware of my own nature much of the time; thus I project my internal conflict onto the world) and I hide away from it in order to avoid them (and I end up recurrently dreaming of them instead).
In a sequel to the previous dream, which I had the previous night, I wait until the street is empty, then I go out to get my mail and meet M at the mailbox. We begin a conversation (recurrent), which goes something like this, although with very few words spoken and most of the "interaction"/"dialogue" intuited, sort of a non-conversation conversation:
Hi, how are you?
Good, how are you? [Our typical exchange.]
Awkward pause as we each get our mail.
As she turns to depart, she glances at me and, seeing me look at her, she smiles, but in a kind of embarrassed fashion. I want to say something about the way she reacts, but I don't.
What? she asks.
I thought you were going to say something.
No. Nothing. Just...
I was just wondering why, when you see me, like up at the bank machine the other day, you go out of your way to say hello to me, but when you see me in the neighborhood, you seem like you're afraid to.
I say hello.
Yeah, but you always seem, I don't know, shy or something.
I have her total attention, our eyes locked.
She doesn't respond.
You say hi in this squeaky little voice. But at the shopping center, you shout hello right out, to attract my attention. It's like you're two different people, one who's brash and forward and the other who's skittish and afraid.
She still doesn't say anything, but she doesn't look away. The noncommittal expression on her face can be interpreted, judging by the way she is locked onto me, as either extremely interested or adamantly defiant, totally intimate or scared shitless. Finally, she manages to say, How do you do that?
Do what? I know exactly what she means, but I play dumb.
I don't know. Like, are you psychic or something?
Why? What do you mean?
I feel like you know me exactly, like...'cause...
...that's exactly the way I feel.
Just like you said.
Brash and afraid.
Yeah. I feel like you get inside my head, when you look at me.
Oh, yeah? Cool.
How do you do that?
Oh, I don't know. It's easy, I guess.
You know. Tell me how to do it. I wanna be psychic.
I laugh. It's not psychic, really. It's...like...
She stares intently at me [as if intuiting what I think;
i.e., we're not speaking in the dream, but communing.]
...you just have to learn how to pay attention.
Okay. I'll tell you, but first I have to explain something, because I don't want you to think I'm, like, a weirdo. I have this quote from the Bible, but I don't want you to think I'm some kind of religious nut or anything, because I'm not. I don't believe in religion. [I'm starting to awaken here, dreaming lucidly and semi-consciously constructing a "logical" argument.] But there's a lot of good psychology in the Bible. Actually, this quote isn't from the Bible, but it should be. It's from the gospel of Thomas that they found in 1947 in the Dead Sea scrolls. Thomas wrote that Jesus said something like, See what's in front of your face and that which you do not understand will be revealed.
This entire time we have not broken away from each other's gaze. Now I feel like she's afraid to look away, for fear of not seeing what's in front of her.
Oh, she says. I get it. You're the one who's brash and shy.
I smile. I hadn't considered that, but she's right.
Yeah, and so are you.
She smiles too. She gets it.
We don't say anything, we just keep smiling.
Finally, she says, Okay, I guess I got to go. And she starts to turn away, but she still doesn't break eye contact. She stops and turns back toward me and says, But I don't want to.
But I have to go.
But...I feel like...I should...like...I don't know. Stay with you, I guess. Or go with you. Or take you with me.
I nod, but say nothing, only smile.
But I can't. You know?
Isn't that sad?
I shake my head.
Another quote: To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.
Oh. Yeah. Okay. I get it. She turns to leave.
I awaken, which is the act of her leaving. It's three a.m. I get up and walk out to the front of the house and look out the window to the house across the street. Her bedroom is some sixty feet away. She's lying there right now, so close, yet so far. Right there. We never realize, during the course of an ordinary day in our ordinary state of mind, how really close we (all) are.
I spend a lot of time thinking about how I might bridge the gap between myself and other people in this way; and yet I understand, when I think about it in the proper state of mind, that there really is no gap to bridge. The gap is an illusion created by our conditioning (and accentuated by our genetic predispositions). The world is composed of a whole lot of tiny pieces, some of which are our very psyches that we try to bring together, mostly without success. I thought I'd conquered my difficulty with my separation from an illusory world, but I guess not. I guess I'll have to start all over again.
It's way past time to re-assert my life principles, in light of the recent dispirited period I've been through and the recent attitudes I've been waking up to out of dreams, where I doubt that my life has any meaning, apart from the accidental, day-to-day mini-motivations that I happen across during my mental wanderings. Maybe, in fact, that's all that life is, accidental mentation, and the treasured "principles" we live by are mere rationalizations; but it's nevertheless somewhat comforting to know that you act like you do for reasons other than mere chance and that, though the reasons may be superfluous conceptualizations garnered after the fact by a brain that creates its "meaning" from the actions that the body it's attached to engages in by assuming that, if "it" (the brain-body amalgam) is doing it, then it must be what it "believes," the beliefs are still the theoretical overriding functions that (somewhat) determine future action (so long as one is not forced by circumstance or threat to act against their principles--which in the longer run is an activity mode that tends to change opinions and beliefs when that brain "decides" un- or semi-consciously that, since its body is acting the way it is, "its" beliefs must be these new ones and not those old ones, the former "principles").
So, being one of the predominantly unconscious beings that we are, how can I ever hope to (re-)establish my principles consciously? And yet, I see people do it every day; albeit they're probably doing it primarily unconsciously and erroneously believing that they're applying their illusory powers of consciousness to create their own system of belief (actually unconsciously). Nevertheless, I'm going to re-establish my principles consciously; because, even if I'm not really doing it consciously and it has already been determined unconsciously ahead of time, still, I am doing it, a part of me somehow somewhere is coming to these conclusions:
So let's get with it dude. Pull your head out of the sand (or ass) and act. Don't let them do it to you, convince you that you're less (sociable) than they are, just because their opinions of you are based on prejudice and false bravado. Don't let them drive you back inside when you would rather be out. Don't angst. Don't panic.
Actually, I don't ever panic, even during the worst of the anxiety attacks; and I have a theory as to why that is: I don't have panic attacks because I must remain in control, no matter what; if I would lose control (in fact, I have, a few times in my life, and I did not like it one single bit), it would be to lash out at others (which is what happened on those few occasions), in order to disallow the anxiety to affect me internally (consciously, that is; unconsciously, however, is another matter; to wit, my heart rhythm problems, the consciously unfelt panic expressing itself thusly. It's a theory. But, if it's not consciously felt, can it be said to affect me? Can it even be said to be felt at all? Is unconscious feeling an oxymoron? In a therapeutic sense, I guess a case can be made for it; but, if you don't feel it, what difference does it make? If you are a functional human being, that is.)
Psychological activity below the level of awareness is disturbing. (I like that sentence; it says more than it appears to on the surface.) We repress what we do for very good reasons, some of which are functional. We don't like conflict, so we choose to pretend that it doesn't exist, at least within our own minds. But I don't, so much, repress conflict, it seems. I feel like I am continually conflicted. What I do instead is allow it to confront me while I stonewall it; and, at the earliest opportunity, I slip quietly away. Almost always any more, this has to do with family. I've pretty much weeded out all other conflict from my life.
By not repressing conflict, I avoid anxiety, when I am in the middle of a social interaction. (Afterwards, and always long before, if I am negatively anticipating an event, is another matter.) Nevertheless, conflict will confuse me, the more of it I have to put up with. I tend not to take sides in a conflict for this reason; I'm never exactly sure who is right and I hesitate to commit. (I hate commitment in any case.) This strategy (if an innate response can be called strategic; I tend to think of strategy as consciously intentional) will upset people from time to time. People in conflict (with each other or within themselves) in my presence want me to be(come) involved. People just love to drag others into their pathologies. When this happens, I will, at least in a precursory manner and always only when requested, try to communicate what I think the problem is; but if there is even the least bit of resistance, I demure and retreat as soon as I am able.
Because you can't help people who won't at least try to help themselves. And if they do try, but are incapable or incompetent, then you're not really "helping" them, you're doing what they need you to do instead of them doing it for themselves, which is fine, if that's what you want to do; but let's not pretend it's something else by calling it "help." And if they can help themselves, then they don't need your help and are just using you. That leaves a very narrow window: Some very few people need help to learn how to improve their abilities so that they can learn to help themselves. This is what true help is: education. Anything else is just sterile custody.
My brother can't be helped, because he doesn't want it. And, especially, he doesn't want to help himself. I went over to his house yesterday for Easter dinner, after days of intercessional phone calls by my sister, after Joyce called her mid-week complaining of how badly Jim was treating her, accusing her of cheating on him, cursing and swearing at her, and at one point even spitting on her. This all happened the Sunday before Easter, either before or after he called me and told me he was moving out. My sister called me to see what I knew about it, and then she called Jim, and then me again, back and forth.
Between her calls and numerous emails, she managed, I guess, to "talk some sense" into him. He had, she said, been starting to talk to Joyce again after a week of silence between them; but I suspect that his real communication with her took place only after my sister's phone calls. In any case, on Easter, Jim was his more circumspect and tamer self, on his best behavior. And I felt like I was being tolerated, because it was the proper thing for him to do. It was better than me having to tolerate their fighting, but I can't get over the preceding week, how I was, once again, used by them in their ongoing battle.
As a result of my "difability," I had interpreted my brother's Palm Sunday intent literally, instead of as a move in the battle he was engaged in with his wife. When I take him seriously, I always later regret it; but I never learn. Yet, if I would learn, and fail to take him seriously when he might one day be, that could be bad; though probably not, but more likely would result in estrangement. But so be it; because I get more fed up with his antics every time he has one of his episodes and, one of these times, I'm going to ignore him, having finally learned my lesson. Such is education.
This is what last summer was all about: I'd finally had enough and, after he'd cried wolf so many times, when he really actually needed my help, I "let him down." He'll never understand how that was his fault, I suspect. And I'll probably never try to point it out to him, mostly because it wouldn't do any good anyway. He has no capacity, in any case, to understand how my literal interpretations, my failure to grasp in the moment the subtle social details of how his antics attempt to involve others (i.e., me) in his "negotiations" with his wife, inhibit his desired goals, let alone his own self-understanding.
I can't get over the way he uses me in this respect. (This has nothing to do with him per se; I can never get over how anyone uses me in this respect--or in any respect.) I know it's the social way, I know it's how society operates; but I don't care. It pisses me off. Society is as intransigent as its individuals are. The helpless remain helpless, conservative society remains adamant in its refusal to try to help them while liberal society remains ineffective; and I, in my difability, remain locked into literally interpreting it all. It suggests to me that I'm not autistic alone, the whole world is.
People try to drag you into their pathologies not so much because misery loves company as because they're looking for confirmation of their beliefs; in other words, they want strokes. They're really not all that interested in your opinions, and they're more than likely not interested in hearing any information that might better illuminate the problem they're having, they're just looking for someone to tell them they are right and whatever they're in conflict with is wrong (which in the case of internal conflict is their unconscious self; which is almost always in fact right). It's all, really, about manipulation. They will try to make you feel ashamed or guilty or whatever to get you to agree with them and will get angry at you or upset with you if you do not (although they may not ever show it).
I've gone through a lot of friends in my life but have always let them drift away, mostly because they were just too much trouble for me to deal with, they required too much maintenance and used up too much of my time, which kind of disturbed me when I thought about how I never required any of their time for anything but companionship. If I would run into any of them today, I very much doubt if any of them would greet me by telling me that they really missed me. They probably (unless they had changed a whole lot, which people, generally, do not), after a relatively short period of re-acquaintance, start right in again with their manipulative behavior.
I'd say that this pattern of being manipulated says as much about my own psychology as it does about others; I'd say that it calls into question my choice of friends, except that I never consciously chose any of my friends. My friends have always been chosen situationally or else they chose me. Or maybe I have an unconscious program running that causes me to need to make friends of needy people who require attention and/or someone to manipulate. I attribute this, these days, to the Asperger's.
I've been somewhat naive in this regard throughout my life and still catch myself occasionally falling into this caustic trap. Yet still, as much as individual people will disturb me, in the final analysis, after I've managed to extract myself out of others' mental clutches, gotten myself off alone again, and examined my experiences with them in private, I find that I don't so much mind them. I hate the forces that drive them to act the way they do; but the individual people, especially when encountered one on one, are okay. I can usually deal with them, when they're not in groups (and when I don't have to deal with them too often).
I really hate society, but not the people who comprise it. Individuals, most of them, especially when I meet them in person and interact with them, are just okay. And some few of them are great. But the ways in which they (attempt to) interact with me (I've become a bit of an expert at spotting and avoiding their manipulation and chicanery, at least after the fact, yet in time enough to avoid being taken advantage of) and the ways they interact with each other that affect me in one way or another (gossip, prejudgment, prejudicial exclusion, etc.) disgust me. And it's always how they act as types and not as individuals, that disturbs me.
I withdraw into isolation in order to be free of over-stimulation, just another symptom of my difability. (I'm sure I've already written of this before, I just don't know where.) I'm afraid that soon I'm going to succumb to the disease of and be accused of the sin of longevity. People who outlive their (social) "usefulness" face this fate. At best, we are tolerated, kept alive in a marginal social condition until we have the decency to unburden society with our deaths. But I have no intention of accommodating "them" in this way.
Last night I had one of my recurrent dreams, the one where I work at a job in a non-existent circuit shop but am late for work and can't find any clean clothes to wear. I sort through piles of dirty clothes laying on the floor in my room at 6023. I've only worked at this place for two days, it's already 8:20 and my starting time is 7:00. I want to call off, but that's not appropriate behavior on your third day of work. When I awaken, I remember that I have to wash my work pants before I go out to work in the yard.
Society places a burden on me that I do not at all appreciate. Time constraints, especially, are difficult for me to handle, mostly due to my decreased ability to maintain a "regular" sleep/awake cycle. This is not, I don't think, related to Asperger's, but is another "problem" altogether; in fact, I don't see it as a problem at all, except that I am occasionally (though, in the past, often) required to be somewhere during "sociable" hours and must forcibly adjust my sleep schedule to comply. (I really hate that word, comply.)
On Easter, when I went over to visit my brother, I was sleep deprived because I didn't manage to adjust ahead of time. To do it right, I usually have to take at least three or four days, and I had only one day's notice (although I should have known that my brother's problem would be resolved, I should have guessed that the phantoms that haunt him would dissolve away.) It pisses me off that I often enough find myself in this situation: I want to live my life according to my own (sleep revolving) nature. But "they" won't allow it.
So I ended up spending Easter out-of-sorts and returned home unable to re-establish the disrupted schedule that I had only recently managed to re-establish the previous week after my brother had disrupted it then with his "difficulties," when I had only recently earlier re-established it after it had been disrupted by my own difficulties. It's okay when my difficulties disrupt my production; that's who I am, and I know how to live with me. But when "society" (other people) are disrupting, I have a hard time handling it.
Life is difficult in this regard: We have to learn how to deal with the time we have; and, especially, the time we don't have that interferes with our plans and goals. But life limits time as much as time limits life. Time is meaningless without life. For example, educated people, even scientists who should know better, want to know what existed before the big bang. Time began at the big bang; there is no before it. In the same way, for an individual life, there is no before (or after). We are each a universe unto ourselves. (Thus, the whole world is autistic.)
But before, while, after, etc. are crude measures of time. The human brain often desires more precision; and society, in order to enable interaction and especially production, desires even more. I fight this perception, in order to be free. I have all the time in the world (when society will not insist upon disrupting my infinitely planned-out schedule). Eternity is. This is, now, the eternity you wait for when you deceive yourself into believing that, when you die, eternity awaits you. Then, it's too late; but you will never know it. Instead, we should all know it now. Come abide with me.
I hate society because it will not do this, but prefers, instead, to couch its "spirituality" in religious rhetoric and goes about its daily (political and economic) business as if it's a separate phenomenon. Human interaction is a magnificent mechanism for the expression of true spirituality (communion), but society wastes it, instead, on Machiavellian efforts to bring people into line so that, either, they'll vote "correctly" or they'll more willing give up their money. This is a function of time: It makes us think we don't have enough, so we spend it trying to make money instead; as if that will buy us more time. Instead, I design my plans and goals to buy me time (because I can never do anything I want to do all at once; but the strategy always backfires, as the plans and goals pile up.
Stage 1: Investigative Stage: Investigate subject matter of the decision.
Stage 2: Decision-Making Stage: Decide that the decision is a good decision.
Stage 3: Implementation Stage: Move forward with the plan.
Stage 4: Reevaluation Stage: See if the plan is working and if the underlying premise holds.
Stage 5: Stubbornness Stage: Ignore negative information and stubbornly forge ahead refusing to accept my mistake.
Stage 6: Worrying Stage: Begin losing sleep and face continued stress and worry that I am getting in too deep.
Stage 7: Epiphany Stage: Finally decide, "Screw it, I messed up, I don't need this headache".
Stage 8: Unwinding Stage: Get rid of the problem as fast and efficiently as possible. Take the losses.
Stage 9: Moving On Stage: "Whew, I am glad I made that decision, what a relief."
As for the specific stock market problem I'm currently experiencing (aren't we all?), I'm tempted to chuck it all and get out; but that would mean taking a 25% loss. And I know that, eventually, the market will turn and I'll be at more of a break-even level. As it is, I'm working off of a 4% dividend return across my portfolio. Not bad. In that sense, I can wait it out. As long as none of the companies I'm vested in goes bankrupt, I'm okay. But I've been worried about three of them, RAD, LVLT, and AYR. (AYR is a good company, but Fortress owns a huge chunk of it and is threatening to dump it; and the crashing credit market will affect it big time.) I can live with this, I can wait this out. But, today, I've read a few things that put BAC into doubt. I cannot live with a Bank of America bankruptcy. It's half of the core of my portfolio. (Fortunately, the other half is Altria and Con Ed.)
So, I guess I'll continue to wait it out. All or nothing. And if part of it survives (which is highly likely; at least part of it will survive), then so much the better. And I can always use any profits to average down other positions.
...how is it that we are continually gulled by these post-facto pseudo-prognosticators, these false sages, past-posting us and calling it prescience?
However, be it clairvoyant vision, or be it that fantasy of greatness grown from our own egoism...how can we say, and how is one to parse that which may have been delusion but which was borne out by subsequent events?
Meanwhile, faced with the doubtful situation of the sixth stage that seems right now to be predominating not only the stock market but my whole life, I could really use a big metaphorical hug. Actually, I've never liked being hugged (because my mother rejected me when I was a baby in my crib). But that's the old story that I still imagine keeps explaining in my life. But, in light of more recent self-discoveries, that old story is probably not so true; a fear of or distaste for being hugged is a symptom of autism. My life is like a large box containing smaller boxes of old picture puzzles that had been put together and taken apart so many times (we used to do this a lot on cold winter nights huddled in the living room when I was a kid) that the boxes were falling apart and a lot of the puzzle pieces had fallen out and intermixed and I'd been having such a hard time separating them out that I finally gave up and dumped all the pieces into the big box and threw away all the smaller deteriorating boxes with the finished pictures on them and now I want to put the puzzles together again but I don't remember what they looked like and all the pieces are all mixed together. I've got to start straightening out the theories and settle on just one or two of them to explain myself; or give it up altogether. But I know I'll never do that. Because this is the sixth stage. So...
I'm putting my life together piece by piece. One might think this is a good thing, except that I've been doing this exact same thing all my life. I recognize that putting my (online) journal together piece by piece (pastiche-style) has been a metaphor for how I live my life, which is only natural, given the fact that I execute the operation in exactly the same way that I execute my life.
But I kind of wish this weren't the case, I kind of wish that my life didn't need to be put together in the first place that it was together a priori. But there's no sense in crying over not spilled but never even opened milk. This is the way I am, this is the way I was born, this is who I am. And it's a me that does not need fixing, there is no "cure" for what I am because it's not a disease.
This is the fallacy that all of those would-be good parents engage in when they desperately search for ways to affect the "psychology" of their autistic syndrome children in order to attempt to eventually tranform them into properly functioning neurotypical adults, when it is, instead, society that needs to change, to adapt its rigid definition of normality to accommodate difference.
But why engage in a futile effort to change what is not changeable (human nature), why scream into a storm that rages decibels beyond a capacity to be heard? Society is as genetically programmed as are our feeble little brains (in fact, because of them). We may over the long run establish a politically correct agenda for our "care," but we'll never change basic human nature:
I'm looking for a job, and having a hard time finding one, mostly because I'm too reserved and afraid to engage people. So my father takes me down to the place where he works. He's arranged for people to interview me. I feel a bit apprehensive at the prospect, but at the same time, as we enter the huge factory complex through the main gate, guarded by uniformed men who know my father personally and greet him in a friendly way, I feel a bit privileged. We go to an employment office where a woman clerk directs us to other departments that are hiring. And, when we go there, I am interviewed at a counter (near a river, which later becomes a huge lake, as if we are in Chicago instead of Swissvale, PA) by a burly guy who treats me respectfully (probably because my father is standing off in the distance waiting). He seems ready to hire me if I really want the job (he's more of a union rep that a company officer), but when he asks me if I have any problem working "out on the water" (on a boat way out on the lake, far from shore), I have to tell him that I do; and when he asks me if I have any problem working "in" the water (meaning close to shore), I tell him, no, but I'm not a very strong swimmer. We both realize that I will not be right for the jobs he has available. The same thing happens (un-imaged) at another interview. Then we go off to a sort of a lunch area where we sit and peripherally observe men at a food bar on their breaks. My sister (who is not my real sister, but Constance Zimmer) has joined us and some of the men are hitting on her in a friendly, half-serious way. But their attentions are beginning to escalate into something more serious and she realizes that she is going to have to do something before my father feels obligated to intervene and cause a scene, so she crosses over to them and begins to take them on, half flirting with them and half putting them down, orchestrating a show for everyone until they all realize that their advances have been nullified by her superior powers of social interaction. She returns to us, as friends of the men ridicule them for their ineffectiveness. My father says something to me re how I should be more like her (he doesn't do this so much in words as with his attitude toward me), meaning I should engage people and challenge them so that I am more socially integrated. I indicate that I am not that kind of person, to which he replies that I should be. (At the interview with the union guy, I did engage him, though not in my sister's banter-like, gamesmanship way, but via a one-on-one, almost intimate connection that communicated to each of us without words that I was not fit for the kind of job he was offering; we each understood this without any necessity for stating it aloud.) My father thinks, and I know it, that I am better than he is due to the more "psychological" (i.e., less physical) way that I understand and engage society. We "say" this to each other with only looks back and forth between us. Then he says that he guesses that I think that I am better than he is. I reply (in simpler terms than I describe it here, and almost without words) that, when he prejudges me according to his own more limited (physical) standards, when he expects me to engage in his buddy-buddy badinage in which I refuse to participate, then, yes, I do think I'm better than he is, because I refuse to take his bait and lower myself to his level. Of course, he misunderstand and feels offended, so I try to explain further (again in terms too simple for him to know what I am talking about, but which, if I explained them in this "intellectual" way I'm recording them here, he would have no hope of understanding) how prejudicial his attitude toward me is, how he recognizes only one way to be, how his neurotypical mindset makes it impossible for him to understand how my "difference" and, especially, my ability to see both my own as well as his perspective, makes my viewpoint more sophisticated. But, of course, he doesn't understand and is left only with the ideas that I think that I am better than he is and that I am a disappointment to him.
It's interesting that my brother feels exactly this same way toward me. This same dynamic is at work between us. My dad was, I now realize, a bit disappointed in me, because I was not the strapping he-man he was when he was my age. He was far more friendly toward and supportive of my brother's (more physical) efforts and even coached his baseball teams, which I have often in the past thought that, if he had done that for me, I would have developed my sports' skills a lot faster, because I would have made the teams that I did not, because my father would have been a coach (which may or may not have been the reason that my brother made the teams; and, interestingly, he never did develop his skills any further than I did. But, to be fair, Dad did not coach those teams because he favored my brother over me, but because my brother and the kids next door were of the same age and the kids' father was my dad's drinking buddy, so that the years-long coaching project was their longstanding mutual social event).
As it was, I was fairly skilled at sports, but I needed practice, which I never got much of. But that's all water under the bridge and not so important, given my now more evolved view of the Neanderthal nature of sports in general and, especially, the pecuniary nature of corporate sports in our postmodern society. I moved beyond sports a very long time ago. At least that's one area of life where I can clearly see that I've made some progress. But the area where I still have much progress to make is my residual perception that I was as disappointed in my dad later on as he was in me earlier. Ever since my teen years I was embarrassed by his crude, non-intellectual manner, especially when he tried to ingratiate himself to me in the only way he knew how, in his gregarious, overly approaching way.
I'm still not sorry I behaved so distantly toward him, and I feel that I should be; but maybe not. After all, it was not all that different from the way I behaved toward most people. But I can't help but wish that I had grown up fathered by a differ sort of man, one who recognized my intellectual nature and appealed to it, rather than to the baser instincts that I feared and social graces that I lacked. But that's all just another piece in the puzzle of why I am like I am; and a small piece at that.