by j-a

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August 2008



Be The Change


a whole lot more

I've theorized (or fantasized) for a long time that dreams might function as psychological ("spiritual") interactive meta-mechanisms between people; but, apart from my massless particle theory (neutrino-like particles passing through the brain/psyche of one person and picking up a "spin" a la the spin of quarks and then passing through the brain of another person and "impressing" that spin onto that person's brain/psyche), which is somewhat fantastic and requires a great stretch of both science and occult theory to believe, I've never before considered how this mechanism might function. Now it occurs to me how it might:

A dream takes a person to a specific (mental, though perhaps also physical) place where it "meets" and interacts with other people. The place where these dreamers (and perhaps other entities) meet might be one and the same or they might be separate places that are "mapped" onto each other and connected in some mysterious (as yet undiscovered) way. And the people themselves can be mapped onto each other in order to benefit the "comprehension" of each specific dreamer. In other words, two different dreamers could appear as one person to a specific dreamer; and/or meta-aspects/essences of individuals could also be mapped into this complexity of personality that appears as one single person in a dream. [This is all in addition to "normal" dream theory, which delineates dreams as expression of an individual psyche only. That function is also at work here, utilizing the same imagery and interactions as the more 'advanced" theory.]

So, we have a multiplex of people/places all mapped into multiple sets of imagery (one for each dreamer; or, in some cases, such as when I will dream in multiple threads, several threads for at least one of the dreamers). Where this interaction takes place is unknown (of course). It could be a physical mechanism that is actually located in space; or it could be a free-floating, ethereal "place" that is formed by the intersection of "thought-waves" (dream-waves) that are broadcast and intersect. I like both fantasies, but my dream experience seems to favor the former; but that may just be an earth-grounded bias of mine.

I'm on Rodi Road, about halfway up to the shopping center (I walked up there yesterday, which seems to have influenced the content here), which is also the inside of an upscale business building, yet reminiscent of a low-scale place I used to work, and also inside a large apartment building at the place where I am along the roadside. I'm working at a desk that is against and facing a wall, lined up with others in a long corridor-like room (which is the roadway, where the desks sit off to the side of it where houses, apartments, stores, and office buildings would be) and separated every two or three desks by a partial wall that suggests cubicles (or separate buildings), except that the walls extend to the ceiling, which, paradoxically, there is none, it being a roadway. I appear (to myself) to be a mid-level (or even low-level) employee in a prestigious company, just one of many employees who work at the desks in the many rooms along the road/corridor. (It turns out later that I am of a somewhat higher level, but this is my current appraisal of my work situation.) I'm working on a highly complex piece of written work, trying to map it out (in words, but as if it's sort of drawing-like, which is the way I imagine a lot of my writing until it takes word form, as if graphic lines connect thoughts together and proceed from one to the next like a logic menu, though so complicated and intermixed, lines running everywhere trying to map associations, that it's hardly logical, except perhaps in such a complex way that it is beyond human understanding and I'm only catching its most superficial levels); but, once I manage to get it into work form, a more linear type of "logical" sequencing (characterized by ellipses, tangents, parentheses, brackets, etc.; or, more broadly, my writing style) prevails. Despite attempts at interruptions by various staff, I'm applying myself in a highly focused and dedicated way to the work and I manage to get down to the very last word, which is a place in the middle of the paper I'm working on (corresponding to the place I'm at, off to the side of the road/corridor), a single word that sums up the essence of the work and of my state of mind, which characterizes the piece. But I can't come up with the right word I need (the one that will transform the spatial map into a completed essay-like, word-following-word paper); and, since I'm no longer applying mental effort to the word flow, but instead mulling over the nature of the concept in a meditation-like way, the minor ruckus that is going on around me begins to disturb me and I am distracted from the paper. It seems that (I realize at this time, though as if I have known of it for a while but only am just now attending to it) Amanda has become enamored of me, which I choose to believe, even as I know better, is a result of her high opinion of my writing skills and the work that I produce; in fact, she is falling in love with me and is doting on me, a set of behaviors that I notice but choose to ignore and attribute to the work at hand. She has, over a period of time (days? weeks?) moved closer and closer to my modest work station, finally taking up residence at the desk next to mine, and without any official permission to do this. Meanwhile, Linda, whom I know from a previous job, has recently been hired and has quickly become jealous of Amanda's attentions toward me; and, since she has been hired into a position of some authority, she has taken upon herself the duty to put Amanda back in her place. But Amanda, despite her "social" handicap, is no slouch when it comes to office politics and the scene that has been developing and surrounding me has been the two of them posturing themselves for the inevitable showdown. I become fully aware of the ruckus as Linda fires Amanda; and Steve (an old boss, one of the more intelligent and competent ones) walks by and tacitly supports Linda's decision while mentioning to me that the "issue" (apparently we publish a well-regarded literary magazine, of which, I realize, I am the editor--and Steve is the corporate CEO) is due at the publishers on Thursday night, to be printed on Friday; and we are, I know, far more than Steve, who is hardly concerned with the day-to-day operations, way behind schedule and will be required to spend many long hours into the night catching up. Despite my official responsibility, I really don't care, because, except for the final word that I have to find, my contribution to the issue is completed. And, anyway, if Amanda is to be sacked, I make it clear to Steve (without words, in the same tacit style that he uses) that I will no longer be working for the company either and will not be around till Friday to see the issue completed. But before this tactic plays itself out, my disinvolved manner has not taken sides, as I appreciate Linda every bit as much as I appreciate Amanda. I recognize that their "fight" over me has nothing at all to do with anything remotely concerning the work we're all doing (as it has apparently been played up, mostly by Linda yet with Amanda's complicity, since it would not look good at all for either of them to have this overtly turn into a relationship issue). It is very much a personal matter. My attitude, unstated but felt and known by all concerned, is that if the two of them wish to adore me and fawn over me, that's their business; not that I don't like it, but I have other things to do and do not intend to be concerned. Steve has no choice but to un-fire Amanda. Linda, who is irate at first, calms down when I turn my attention to her and assure her that it's going to be all right, that she will suffer no lack of my attention as a result of the incident.

Awake, I recognize the overlapping imagery of people and places: Rodi Road, the office, and the old work place overlaid with a more exotic atmosphere of place that I do not at all recognize; Amanda, I had no doubt, was herself throughout the dream, but upon awakening I realize that she didn't look like herself at all (she is not in any way conventionally attractive, even per my own peculiar tastes), but like a buxom (which she also is in "real" life, so abundantly that it is almost painful to watch her as she walks) woman who is not overweight in any real sense (unlike in "real" life), only slightly stocky, yet well-distributed and packaged so as to make her quite attractive; and Linda is not so much herself as she is like Rita. I try to focus on the "intersection" (for lack of a better word) of the "influences" (for the same lack) that (I want to say) "heterodyne" (but I know that isn't quite correct) to create the dream experience; but I can't make any more of a theory out of it than I already have above. I'm going to have to think about this a whole lot more. I try to do it after awakening out of the dream, but I fall back into sleep instead:

I'm in a strange city, New York-ish, but cleaner; Miami-ish, but in a cooler clime, though farther south than north. I'm with Luis Guzman, out rummaging (illegally) through buildings that we climb into through windows that we jimmy open with experienced finesse. We're not looking for anything specific and not actually intending to rob any particular place; but we're not above that sort of thing if the opportunity should arise. The detail of the corridors and alleyways, which are both outside and inside the buildings, sometimes at the same time, is fascinating to me, even within the dream. The streets outside beyond the buildings are pleasant and welcoming. I am enthralled with it all, especially with the fact that Luis would consider me to be his partner in crime. I feel honored to be going along with him and value his friendship and camaraderie.

Awake again, I feel like I want to accomplish something; in fact, everything: I want to work on all of my projects, all at once, and I feel that, because I do not, I am heading toward being a total failure. I know I have to check this attitude, but I don't want to check it at the expense of accomplishment because, if I manage (which I know I can do) to eliminate my pending perception of failure, I wil also kill off much of my motivation; because dissatisfaction with myself and/or the world keeps me productive.

But it's okay for me to fuck off if I want to. I'm retired. I've got to break the "demanding nature" (super-ego?) that's imbedded in me. This brings up the idea, once again, of levels of existence:

Three levels of "must do" within the range of my behavior:

  1. The law. Do it or else (if you get caught) suffer consequences.
  2. Social mores. My compromise with society, to be amenable.
  3. My own rigid, often overbearing expectation.
The first two of these levels I can do little or nothing about. But of this third one, which happens to be the one that most often causes me problems, I should be more self-forgiving; and I am, after a while, after I struggle for too long trying to conform to my difficult personal standards before I say, "Fuck it" and give up for a while my high-minded projects and goals and lie back and fuck off instead.

Okay. I'll obey your goddam laws, at least the ones that will get me into a whole lot of trouble if I get caught violating them. And I'll cut my grass and trim my hedges out front where my property interfaces with the social world. But, goddammit, I'm not going to bust my ass trying to make my house and gardens the picture perfect example of an alternative lifestyle. I'll get back to that later, when I feel like doing it. This is the problem with me getting all "productive": Success makes me want to do more and more until I am slave driving myself into the existence of a non-person.

I got distracted/derailed big time from my writing purpose last January when the computer problems hit. Then, because the computer repair took so long and spring fever (desire to grow my own food) hit, instead of getting back to writing, I all but abandoned it. (The novels are always the first to get left behind.) And I had a lot of house repairs to do, which took me farther afield; and it always wants to be, with me, an either/or situation.

On the other side of the coin, when I am writing, I rationalize that, if I do nothing else but write (or alternatively paint; in general, expressively create) while my house deteriorates around me and my world goes all to hell before my very eyes, that's okay; because I'm fulfilling my purpose, I'm doing what I want to do, and the rest of this worrisome crap is all but irrelevant. If I absolutely must, some day in the far future, I'll get another house or find another place to live (more efficiently, and/or more detached; a monastery, perhaps; or a cave in the mountains). And, if I get desperate enough, I'll get another world. I have a feeling that it might be easier than I imagine, going off the deep end, conjuring up a fantasy universe that corresponds more readily to my internal needs. And that would take care of the place to live, padded cells being what they are. But, meanwhile, I will have achieved what it is that I'm supposed to be doing, that which makes me feel "right" and accomplished. And a leaking roof or fallen gutter can even be motivating in that it can drive me to write, out of that sense that, when I'm writing, it just doesn't matter, but if I'm not, then I "should" be repairing the goddam house before it falls apart.

But writing is far more than that for me. Writing is what I do as I take the time to "heal" after the ordeals I experience at the "hands" (people) of social interaction; in fact, writing is the primary therapy that I use to aid the healing process. By healing, I mean, primarily stress reduction, analysis of content (that I pick up transferentially from others and apply to my own self; or not, but rather work out the logic for that which I would, if I ever got the opportunity, which I never seem to, transfer back to the people I got it from, for their own benefit), and mental stabilization (which is actually a different way of saying the same thing as the first two processes). I do this all via dumping it all out in writing and then re-writing/re-organizing it while creating associations based on what I've learned previously from the study of psychology and life.

The process of going out into society (I mean socializing, as opposed to simply going out shopping or whatever, although that latter kind of interaction can have "social" consequences when it happens to involve more than a mere cursory interaction with people) is the same activity (though, now, far less intense) as going out to work at a job, when I used to have to do that. (I never really wanted to do it, but it had to be done.) It's not what I do while I'm out, not the activity, but the interaction (which is also activity, but I'm separating outings into two different kinds of activity here) that causes the stress; and, of course, the anticipation of the interaction before it happens, which is the real stressor, the interaction itself usually going relatively smoothly, although the ramped up energy requirements cause further stress that remains unnoticed until I return home.

The whole point here is that, when I feel stressed (for whatever reason, whether it is from having been "out" or from the consequences of considering my own and/or others' psychologies in the interim after I have returned home), I tend to put off activity that I "should" be doing in order to deal (via writing) with the "problem" that is presented. If I do not "work" in this way, the "pressure" (stress) continues to build until I will finally diffuse it (via writing it all out). So that becomes my first priority (which I disguise as the "production" of "creative writing") and, when that is done, then I am free to move on to other things. Although that is never done, really; but it's motive is used up on a daily basis, sometimes early on enough to allow me to get other, less important, more mundane, more worldly or more personally interesting tasks (plans and goals) done, if I have enough energy left to do them.

And one set of those tasks is the condition of my house. So, if it is falling down around me and I am writing "productively", that's okay; but if I am not, if I am "wasting" my time in some other way, then that's not okay, and I worry about it. The idea that my house can fall down around me (which is really a metaphor for everything in my life other than writing that I do not get around to doing) is my way of establishing priorities in my life. And writing is the first priority. It may not always look like what I'm writing about is of the nature described above, but most often it actually is, though often it is disguised (often by my unconscious mind) metaphorically or symbolically. And, I theorize, when it looks most like it is irrelevant to the above purpose, that's when it is most apropos.

And now I want to get back to it and forego the gardening crap; except that I can't, I have too much gardening maintenance to do. So my best compromise, I guess, is a life of balance between the two. Balance is always a most difficult ordeal for me; I always want to focus in on one thing only, otherwise I become distracted into the multiplicity of being (who I am).

I'm a citizen of the Universe, and I'm going to lie back and start acting like it for a while. This is my planet I'm living on here. And if any of you don't like it, that's too goddam bad. And, if I don't like it, that's too goddam bad too. I'm going on holiday. I'm tired of both the world and my own mind.

vindication

At Paris the great aim of all is to hide that they are laughing at you; but you are always nothing.
Stendhal, The Red and the Black
Every moment is precious. (Oh, do I sound like a namby-pamby liberal old lady now, or what?) We let moments pass as if they mean nothing, because we have so many of them and so always assume that there will always be many more; but they become more precious the older we get. I should take the time on a regular basis to appreciate the moment, especially when I'm tired and don't feel like doing anything else, yet feeling like I should. This would be the perfect time to "just sit" and meditate, not upon my lofty preferences, but upon the everyday existence of life, being in the moment, as a precious gift that will one day be taken away forever. Get it while you can.

If I would pray, I say something like, "Dear God, Did I promise you something? Remember, back when I was in all that pain and (imagined) trouble besides and worried how it was all going to come out. I know I made you a promise, but I can't remember the details, and I'd like to honor my commitment, because you did answer my prayer; either that or I was just being paranoid again and things were not so bad as I was making them out to be. No matter. I'm sure that, whatever it was that I promised, I really wanted to do anyway and just needed the motivation. So if you would please let me know what it was, in a kind and gentle way (none of that revisiting old problems and troubles to wake me up, please) I would be eternally grateful and will do my best to do whatever I said it was that I would do." But I don't pray, so I would never say anything like that. Rather than pray, I tend to think instead. And, the more I think, the more my thoughts begin to race. They go everywhere and, inevitably, they get to examining my past:

Quite a few years ago, a guy who lives down the street canvassed the neighborhood with his son, returning the stem valve caps that his son stole from the car tires and making his kid apologize for having stolen them. When he explained what the kids (his son and friends) did, I said, in my typical forgiving manner of the time, something like "Oh, that's okay." [Kids back then could do no wrong as far as I was concerned, their antics were forgivable as mere growing pains and rites of passage, especially since I felt that they were members of the same oppressed minority that I was. (It took me an abnormally long time to "grow up.")]

The guy immediately responded to my forgiveness tersely, saying, "No, it's not okay," and, although I'm sure he meant that it was not okay for his kid to be running around the neighborhood stealing stem valve caps, the way he said it, directed at me, being a comment meant to be corrective of my supposedly mistaken belief, shut me up in that way that anyone back in those days who challenged me could do, since I was far, far more passive-aggressive back then, with a very heavy emphasis on the passivity.

Today, though still passive-aggressive in a lot of ways, I would retaliate against the guy's dictatorial attitude that he was the one who was to determine what was okay by me and what was not. I would say, "Look, buddy. You may feel that you must correct your kid for what he did, and you may believe that he was wrong in doing it, but I'll be the one to determine what my opinion about the matter is; and, when I say that it's okay, you will respect my right to determine my own beliefs." And I would refuse to take the four stem valve caps from the brown paper bag the guy carried with him; because it is unacceptable to me that someone would steal from me, but if I willingly give to them what they stole, then it is no longer thievery.

That is the kind of person I want to be. Not this other asshole I turned into later who must vindictively stonewall every person who ever slighted me in the least little bit and hold out unyieldingly until rectification is achieved. I want to be better than that; but I have to admit that I am not. The world has taken its toll, and I intend to take mine too. Now, I intend to make long and comprehensive lists of all of the wrongs I have suffered at the hands of "society," all of the prejudice encountered, all of the revenge I want to take, all of the so-called justice I want to see done. (Revenge and justice are the same thing, really; don't let anyone tell you any differently.) I want retribution; and I intend to get it, eventually--if only via watching my condemners suffer and/or die (of natural causes or otherwise, I don't care; their deaths and my survival will be my vindication); or if only via the written word (my lists, published), which, done correctly, can be a powerful tool:

A general message to a few select people in my past: You exhibited a distinct, patterned, and continued prejudice against me. I know that you don't understand how, I know it was your unconscious behavior, and I fully expect you to deny it. I also know that you want me to tell you the how and why of what it is about me that "provokes" your bias against me; but I'm not going to do that, because I don't want you to know. I don't want you to develop any kind of rationale or rationalization for why you can continue to treat me as you have or in a different, more subtly prejudiced way. And, in any case, you don't deserve to know. It's none of your goddam business, you mean that little to me now.

Besides, if you will take the time to consider how it is that you have acted badly and irresponsibly toward me, research the problem with more than a casual interest, initially not knowing the nature of the problem will perhaps allow you a more open-minded approach; because to investigate an issue that you admit to knowing nothing about is to short-circuit (at least temporarily) the filters you apply to input. I hope that you actually do this; because it is your only salvation, you narrow-minded assholes.

I've known quite a number of people who I thought were my friends, enough to have made me wonder if it isn't something about me that "causes" this kind of behavior toward me--which it is, I have subsequently discovered; but prejudice is prejudice, no matter what you are, and everyone is responsible for his or her own behavior. I didn't, for example, condone it back in the fifties and sixties when white-owned businesses favored white job applicants (and employees) over blacks; and I don't condone it today when black-owned businesses favor black job applicants and employees over whites. (i.e., I don't favor affirmative action, because backlash is backlash and the pendulum will keep swinging back and forth until someone grabs hold of it and stops it). You can call it what you want and justify it in any way you so choose, but prejudice is prejudice.

And, despite how much I favor Jewish culture (being a very small part Jewish myself), I have always been bothered by the fact that Jews are such a clannish race of people. If you ever wonder why people have been prejudiced against the Jews (not that there's anything right with that), all you have to do is consider how clannish, segregated, nepotistic behavior provokes a negative response. Prejudice is prejudice, and it usually works both ways, with the prejudiced-against being prejudiced against the prejudgers. Which came first, the prejudgers or the prejudged? Neither. They develop and evolve together. Break the cycle. Stop prejudging and stop provoking prejudgment by your exclusionary behavior. You can't have one without the other. If you consider yourself a part of a cultural heritage and that affiliation is more important to you than your status as a member of the human race, then you are a part of the heritage problem that we have as an ancient species, you are responsible for all of the corruption and violence that occurs worldwide; because that's where it all untimately leads. Stop it!

And then there's the other side of that dirty little coin: We frequently hear about a mass murderer or some other sociopath being described as a "loner." But what does that mean, really? It's true that sociopaths are often loners; the two classes somewhat overlap. But how many egregious crimes do ordinarily sociable people perpetrate? A lot, I think; probably a majority. Being a loner has little to nothing to do with committing crimes. In fact, I suspect, pretty much the opposite is true. Most loners are loners because they want to distance themselves from you ("sociable") people.

I never knew that I was so affected by life, and by people. (Actually, pretty much only by people; (my own) life and the world, the parts of it that were distant (and it all was, more or less distant, in that I distanced myself from it), was okay by me, even preferable (to close contact with people--except for close friends, whom, it turned out, were not so good friends as I thought they were. I acted so cool, so stoic, so unaffected, and I (sort of) assumed that I really was the way I acted (naturally, a la Bem). I sort of knew that I was not, I sort of knew how affected I was; but, in my attempt to convince others otherwise, I kind of convinced myself also. In order to remain convinced, I distanced myself from people, so that I could (seem to) remain unaffected. But, in distancing myself, I invite prejudice against me. I don't want to know that this is true, and I've been fighting this perception for a while now.

Nevertheless, no matter how much I "provoke" it, prejudice is prejudice. Until I discovered in one way or another that people ridiculed me behind my back, I never understood how people prejudged me. I discover this (always) too late to do anything about it except to note its having happened and add it to the mental list I keep in the event that the future will present an opportunity for an actionable response; and, until then, I wait. One way or another, I will either prevail or I will die. But not right now. Now I have other things to attend to:

I have to go to the bank to cash a bond because, through inattention and poor planning, I've worked myself into a minor cash flow problem, since my next CD doesn't mature until late November. So I'm walking up to the shopping center, the second time in four days after a long spell of seclusion, finally getting out and about again. The last time I walked to the shopping center was Sunday, so I couldn't cash the bond then. And Monday I didn't feel like walking. And Tuesday it rained.

Anyway, I'm walking along the road and I look out ahead of me and I see Luis. I call him Luis because he looks (a little bit) like Luis Guzman: short, stalky, square body; black-haired; dark, swarthy complexion; stern, furrowed face. I used to see him all the time when I was out walking, either heading in the same direction as me or going the opposite way. Obviously, for whatever reason, he's a walker too. We never acknowledge each other, but I feel we have a camaraderie: fellow walkers.

So, he's coming down the road in heavy traffic--on a bike! Zip and he's past me. First impression: It's an old, one-speed bicycle. But it's a bicycle. Instantly, my spirits soar. I've never seen anyone, any adult at least, riding anywhere around here, even in the neighborhoods, let alone on a busy two-lane highway. Well, I think, if Luis can do it, so can I! I've been hesitating riding my bike up to the shopping center, for several reason, one of which is that I know I'm not (yet) in good enough shape to manage the largest hill (the back way) or the long steady gradual climb (via the two-lane). (Coming back home downhill will be easy. I can zip right along like Luis.) [I've also been having problems with how I will appear to people whom I will encounter, being an adult out on a bike where no other adults ever ride one.]

That phase of my life, the doubt about the bike, is over. Luis is my inspiration. I'm going to do it! One of these days. Soon. I remember as I'm walking the rest of the distance to the shopping center that Gandhi said we should be the change we want to see in the world. Luis is that change. He beat me to it, but that's okay. This is how it works: One person does it (Luis), and another person (me) sees him doing it and says, "Hey, I could do that too." Maybe it's a new idea or maybe he's been thinking about doing it for a long time but never had the balls or the gumption until he saw the example. Pretty soon, all kinds of people are doing it. The change has happened.

And, in any case, the time is right, gas prices being what they are and economic pressure building by leaps and bounds. Prejudice against walkers and bikers will soon enough wane as gas prices rise out of sight. Today, biking on the highway. Tomorrow, bike path! [And, one day soon, yard work.]

going manual

Just as I'm finishing trimming the front hedges, the hedge trimmers stopped working. First, though, they slowed down, as if the power had dropped off. But finally, they quit altogether. I finished the little bit of hedge left uncut with the weed whacker and by hand with pruning shears, raked up the trimmings, and sat down on the porch with the appropriate tools and dismantled the trimmers to see what the problem was. (Much ado about star headed bolts that would not loosen by conventional tool method; but I worked that out.) After cleaning out all the debris and plugging them back in while still dismantled, they worked. Yay! But when I put them back together, they worked for a few seconds, and then conked out again. I re-dismantled them, went and got the multi-meter, and traced the circuitry: Switch okay. Power all the way to the motor. Shit. Intermittent break across the motor. No sense even trying to repair that.

The next morning, after a six-hour sleep, I awaken with the idea in my head that I never checked the continuity of the circuit back from the motor to the plug. If there was an intermittent break there, that might cause the symptom. But, no matter. The problem, really, is a different one. The thing that upset me (mildly; I've been in a good mood lately) was the fact that the trimmer is only three years old. There's no way I should have to go out and buy a new hedge trimmer or even repair this one, after only three years. I'm fed up with cheaply manufactured crap that breaks down after only a minimum of usage. My last hedge trimmer lasted twenty-five years! Same brand, same model. When I took the new one apart, I saw right away how much more cheaply it was made than the old one (I took the old one apart only three years ago when it failed; in fact, I still have it, for spare parts, if necessary): plastic instead of metal in a lot of places, thinner wires, feeble casing parts.

Fuck corporations. I'm going back to hand tools wherever and whenever possible. (I can repair and even manufacture hand tools far more easily than machinery.) I've already downgraded from gasoline-powered lawnmower to electric weed-whacker (thanks to my ever-growing forest of foliaged vegetation that has reduced my yard to minimal lawn area). As each power tool breaks, I analyze the circumstances and opt for simplicity whenever possible--in every area of my life. If I can do away with the corporate crap, I will. The corporate drive for profits at the expense of quality is ruining this country, and the world.

I'm going to look for a pair of hand hedge trimmers. I figure that it can't take all that much longer to cut the hedges by hand, given the amount of time that it takes me with the electric ones, especially considering the extension cord situation. They really don't save all that much time; and the extra effort is good exercise. After the trimmers failed, I went and got the hand scythe and experimented on the back hedges that haven't been cut all year. I had a bit of difficulty with it, but after I took it inside and sharpened it, no problem. This also fits in with the idea I had this past spring to either let the hedges grow to full height or cut them down to a minimal, merely ornamental level. I've already partially implemented this plan in the back: The hedges between the back yards on the north are now ten feet high and provide a privacy that I wish I had had all along. Yeah, fuck the corporations. I'm going manual. I don't care any more what people think.

I've got to get crazy again. I'm tired of worrying about what people think of me. How did I become so concerned? I look at "crazy" people and feel an affinity for them that I never feel for ordinary folk. I hide my own "craziness" inside, afraid to let it out. Radical fringe groups excite my sensibilities. I've always been this way, but never really cared that anyone knows it until the second half (thus far) of my life. I think I'm afraid that someone in authority will come along and arrest me for being weird. In fact, I know I am. This was never a concern in my youth--until I grew up enough to realize that it could very well happen, that I was not so privileged as I felt I was. And, despite the fact that I've seriously cleaned up my act, I still feel the way that I came to feel when I awoke to the true danger that society held out there for me.

But, despite my pronounced feeling that I'm just being sensible, this is no way to live, being afraid to express yourself (in social interaction; I'm certainly not afraid to express myself in written words; and I should be, considering what the Patriot Act people are up to these days). I've got to get out there and let myself do what I feel (and know) to be right, despite what others may think.

I've got to abandon the conventional mindset (about myself) that I've descended into, where I'm always judging my thought and overt behavior by ordinary social standards. It's good to have an accurate perspective as to how you appear to be in the eyes of ordinary people; but it's not so good to restrict your behavior because you fear that you will be seen as "different"; especially when you are. I've got to give in to the spirit of my "alternate" personality/lifestyle, embody the ideals, values, and behaviors of my role models, embrace my anti-government, anti-corporation rhetoric in the public arena, say (at least within my own mind) to whomever questions my behavior or gives me a sideways, disapproving glance, "Yeah, I'm a weirdo, and I'm right; and you, with your conventional, ass-kissing, shepherd-following, monocultural, corporation adaptation ways are way wrong, and falling behind as well. Catch up, assholes."

Yeah, I've got to start doing what I want to do, with abandon; and, if you think in any way badly of me for it, then fuck you too. I'm not the weirdo here, you are, you brainwashed automatons. It's a new world, and I'm leading the way into it, and you're dragging me down. But, no more. You may think I'm crazy, and at times I may act the part; but I'm really quite sane (from a legal point of view), I know exactly what I'm doing, even emulating some of my role models' behavior (which I appreciated long before they became the icons they are today): the anti-authoritarianism of Hunter Thompson, the laid-back lan of Willie Nelson, the automotive-class appearance of Billy Gibbons, the egocentric self-confidence of Gene Simmons, the characterizations of Robert Duvall, etc.

Actually, I've been acting differently for a long while now (well, actually, I've been doing it all my life), more or less semi-surreptitiously; that is, I don't care so much if people find out how I act differently from them, but neither do I advertise it. But society seems, lately, to be (unwittingly) encouraging me away from its conventional ways by the way it increasingly restricts the money flow (toward me, directing it toward the rich; thanks a lot, George Bush). I try to economize in every way possible, and one of the ways is by eating more cheaply:

Bread prices have gotten ridiculous. I'm now paying for white crap bread what I used to pay only two years ago for good bread; and the good bread costs what top of the line real bread cost back then. So, in my ongoing effort to keep costs under control and further economize, I've begun to make chapatis (pronounced cha-patties, for you diehard Americans; recipe below) to fold or roll my (cheap) protein up in instead of using bread to make sandwiches. I've been wanting to do this for a long time now, ever since my divorce (my ex used to make these), but I never quite got around to it; and there's nothing like saving money to motivate you to do something you really want to do anyway.

I can get a loaf of good 1 lb. bread for $1.69 at Aldi's (which is a real bargain considering what other stores charge for it now); and a 5 lb. bag of white flour costs $1.59 (another ridiculous increase; a year ago, I bought the same flour for $.59). True, it's white flour, and I hate to be eating this crap; but maybe, after the experimentation period is over, I'll switch to a more expensive mix. I can make a single chapati with 1/4 c. flour. Assuming that flour and bread costs the same in the above amounts, that's at least a fivefold savings. The logic:

I can make a 1 lb. loaf of bread with 3 c. flour. 5 lbs. flour makes 5 loaves. Therefore, since a loaf of break and 5 lbs. of flour cost approximately the same, the cost of making my own bread (ignoring the yeast, since in the final equation, no yeast will be used for chapatis) is five times less than store bought bread. There are 12 slices of bread per one pound loaf. 1 lb. of flour makes 12 chapatis. Therefore, I can make the same number of chapatis as I can slices of bread (and save on the cost of yeast).

Furthermore, to make a "sandwich," it takes only one chapati, where it would take two slices of bread. Double the savings to tenfold; but subtract the minimal (but increasing; don't get me started on that one) cost of electricity and frying oil and the extra time it takes (which is a negligible concern right now, because I'd waste it in some other way anyway), and you have a great bargain. And, as an additional incentive, I'm cutting my bread carbs in half, proportionally doubling my protein to carb ratio. Good deal. (I wonder if I can make chapatis out of soy protein. Hmm. I'll have to try that.) [Later note: I tried buckwheat flour: no good; the finished product was too thin and it ripped.]

This is how my life has been going for nearly twelve years now, reducing costs via increasing efficiency of usage of resources: saving rainwater for the garden; walking instead of driving; heating my house in the zone I'm working in with small electric heaters instead of the central natural gas furnace; etc.; and now, eating chapatis instead of store-bought bread. The recipe for one chapatis:

1/4 c. flour
pinch of salt (optional, esp. if sandwich contents are salty)
1/4 c. water
Blend flour and water with fork to an even consistency.
It should be thin and soupy.
Put a small amount of oil in 6 in. skillet.

Option 1: Do not preheat the oil. This produces a nicer looking, but slightly greasier chapati.

Option 2: Preheat oil. It cooks faster and absorbs less oil, but tends to be of less even (smooth) texture.

Cook only long enough to prevent burning, about one to two minutes per side. If it's not cooked enough, it will trap a thin layer of soft, damp flour inside the two outer skins. Actually, I like this texture as much as I like the alternative. It has a soft mouth-feel, sort of like fresh bread; but I can understand how some people might consider this disgusting, since it is actually uncooked flour and water. It has none of that taste, though, since it's overwhelmed by the cooked flour and oil.

Alternatively, you can cook it too long and scorch it. Don't walk away from it while it's cooking. There's a narrow margin for error, a mere matter of seconds, between browned and burnt. But, again, I also don't mind this. I can see why people would object; but I like well-done and even slightly burnt food. Any way you cook it, overdone, underdone, or cooked just right, it folds nicely around whatever it is you're going to put in it, much like a soft tortilla (which is actually what it is, but made with flour instead of corn meal) or a hard one if you over cook it, although, even hard, there's enough oil in it that, while it's still warm, it folds nicely around the contents.

I'm writing this after having just eaten two of these delectable morsels and drinking a homemade beer. Now, I thinks it's time for a well deserved nap.

gaps of text

I'm in a classroom (recurrent), which has something to do with being in the army (also recurrent), working on an assignment with a classroom full of students while a professor/officer sits off in the distance awaiting its completion. I'm sitting next to a girl, a corporal (I'm a private), who is my girlfriend (also recurrent). We're supposed to be working separately, but in fact I'm doing her work too while she sits daydreaming. (I'm also doing a third person's work, which I'm kind of intentionally ignoring, figuring that however it comes out is just okay because it's not so important as my work and that of my girlfriend.) The assignment is taking the form of a paper of about ten pages. The first several pages were written hastily and are the ones I'm ignoring. The middle pages are the bulk of the work and are meant to be turned in as those of my girlfriend. The final pages are my own. I struggle trying to make sense out of the words (typical dream non-comprehension of written text). Whole sections of words disappear from the page, leaving huge blank spaces/gaps of language. [Yesterday, my word processor started acting up: Sections of text near the bottom of each page would disappear. At first, I thought I was losing material, but when I highlighted the words, I found they were still there. Once I ran the cursor over the words, they reappeared and all was okay until I went to the next page. This is the same thing that the text was doing in the dream, except that] I couldn't make the words reappear and had to guess at what they were as I rewrote the pages into two separate documents (ignoring the initial third), one for me and one for my girlfriend. As I did this, I began to resent that at least half of my work was not going to be recognized as my own "scholarship"; and I began to worry that anyone who read this stuff was not going to be very impressed with it since the gaps in it made it mostly unintelligible. I understood what it meant (in the context of the dream, but not really), but no one else would. I (presumably) knew what the missing material was, I understood my ultimate purpose, which was not made clear by the "excised" text. I kept half-waking up, disturbed by the missing text, and falling back into sleep, intent upon making it clearer; but each time, every fifteen minutes or so, I was unable to do so. Finally, I give up and combine the paper back into one integral whole, writing transitions between the sections, and composing a conclusion that, although it all started out to be a kind of "scientific" paper with the conclusion being the last step of the experimental method, ends up being more of a "literary" one, which is what my conclusion is all about, explaining how literature is more significant (to me) than science. [I'm not so sure that this is true in real life; although maybe this is what my unconscious is trying to tell me.] I also explain in the conclusion that this paper is three times as long as it's supposed to be because it represents the work of the three of us (a lie).

I awaken with an intense desire to get to work, a feeling that I've been missing in my life for a long time now. A week or so ago, during a rainy period when I (felt that) I had nothing to do, in between long naps of three to four hours that I was taking instead of sleeping through the night, I began to clean the kitchen to occupy my ennui-ridden time. I began slowly at first, putting away a thing or two, piece by piece, washing down a countertop here or there, etc. And after an hour or so I had completely reorganized the room, including carrying all of the beer-making equipment and supplies down into the basement where it belonged.

This is what I do, a lot: I decide to engage myself in a project, I get out, piece by piece as I need it, all of the equipment and supplies I will use, and, inevitably, I either run into a problem that stops my progress or else I reach a stage that requires waiting, either until I go out and buy something I need (or order it over the internet) or because I reach a point where waiting is required (such as, when making beer, you have to wait until the fermentation is done). Meanwhile, the "normal" thing to do, the thing that most people would do, is put away all of the equipment and supplies; but that seems like such a waste of effort to me: Put it all away, get it all back out, put it all away again...especially when a lot of the waiting is not so much like beer-making as it is of a problem/missing materials nature, which, once they are set aside, are all but abandoned again until the next time I get motivated in a particular direction, which can end up being months or even years later, even if, having put the needed purchases on a shopping list and having gone out and gotten them, there is no longer any need to continue the delay and, theoretically, I could pick right up where I left off. But, instead, the new materials are staged with the remnants of the project to await further motivation.

So I end up with all kinds of projects lying all over the place, and my house, as my sister put it when she visited last April, is filled with "junk." She said this "tactfully"--well, not really. Now that I think of it, she said it in a kind of an underhanded way by blaming it on my brother. She said that Jim had said to her once, a while ago, that my house is filled with a lot of junk, to which I replied that I don't have any more junk than he does, I just have a much smaller house. But I knew what she meant, what she was driving at, and I didn't feel like playing the "justify yourself" game at the time, so I let the subject drop, which, now that I think about it, is exactly like letting projects I'm working on drop; it's the same symptom, expressed in two different ways, one physically, the other (non-) verbally.

What I would have explained, had I been so inclined [and I should be inclined; this is the main problem, I think: If I would only go out of my way to justify myself to others instead of merely justifying myself to myself (this is what I'm doing right now), I'd be far more easily understood; or at least less easily misunderstood], is that my life, as represented by working areas in my home, is a work in progress, each area being a staged project waiting for its completion. I would outline my overall plan for how my home will look when all of these projects are completed, and the explainee would be greatly impressed (I imagine). But, like I fail to explain my overall "personality," figuring it's nobody's business but mine, I don't, most of the time, go to the trouble of explaining what I'm up to behavior-wise. These are the missing gaps of "text" in my dream. I often don't communicate what's going on inside my brain.

I want to email my sister and say, "You should see my house now since I've cleaned it up." But I won't, because I haven't cleaned it all up; and, by the time I get around to other areas, the kitchen will be disorganized and dirty once again. It's an endless task. And besides, why do I want to justify myself to my sister? If I would feel the need to justify myself, it would be to her, the living embodiment of my mother; but why do I have to justify myself at all, even to myself? I thought I'd gotten beyond this aspect of my life of symptoms. I thought I'd made peace with my cluttered lifestyle, if not earlier, then when I decided that I would not reorganize my entire house to bring it into compliance with some kind of minimal social standard before my sister arrive for her visit. This is what I used to do, so that people would not think "less" of me for the way I lived. It's not actually all that bad; but, of course, it depends on whose standards you're using to (pre-)judge it. Mine are rather low, if not in theory, then in practice.

But I guess I'm not beyond worrying about all this, I guess it's still an issue with me. I have not yet accepted the fact that the clutter/focus symptom of the syndrome is a way that I must be. I have this idea that, one day, I will establish a permanently organized (if not clean) household. This has to do with my (Asperger's) desire to stabilize my environment and keep it from changing. (I despise uncontrolled change.) One day I will finish all my household projects and establish my vision for my home? And then I will never allow it to change again? I don't think so.

more perfect people

Sometimes a person isn't ready for college at 18. Sometimes a child starts speaking at 4 or 6 or even 12. When I was 12, I had the reasoning skills of an average 18 year old, but at 18, I did not have (at least not consistently) the social skills or oral communicative ability of even an average 12 year old. Since I've learned about autism, I've realized this has been the perfectly normal course of my development. Since I've gotten older, I've come to understand that there are infinite options for a life, not just the few cookie cutter designs that seem sometimes to be on offer. There will be consequences, of course, but I can write my own plan, define success or failure on my terms.
This is exactly how I developed, intellectually advanced, but socially retarded. And, until I learned about my difability, I never understood why I couldn't adequately learn how to interact socially with the excellence with which I could master intellectual matters. I tried very hard, applying my education and training in psychology to my own self, to try to become a "sociable" person; but all I could ever manage was a pretense to it, which often passed, but never succeeded in advancing me into the ranks of the rich and famous--a fantasy I often entertained. Social skills (schmoozing, networking, a highly gregarious personality, etc.) are far more important in career success than knowledge, talent, or performance.

I faced continual prejudice at the hands of what is considered "polite" society; and I didn't even, earlier on, know it, nor did the people who prejudged me. (I keep wanting to write about other things, but my mind keeps wanting to return to the idea of prejudicial behavior). Prejudice is a difficult phenomenon to realize when it, and the accompanying stereotyping, is not adequately socially defined. For example, when Elmore Leonard has his characters refer to a moneylender as a Shylock in Get Shorty, is that bigotry? Is it prejudice? Neither. It's simple stereotyping for dramatic effect. Was Shakespeare a bigot? Because he does the same thing in A Merchant of Venice. In fact, Leonard obviously and intentionally invokes Shakespeare's character with his use of the word. It's a tribute to the playwright.

Some people might believe Shakespeare's characterization to be prejudicial simply because audiences are maybe a bit more sophisticated today about prejudice than they were back in Shakespeare's time. Though most of us might not be able to articulate exactly what's wrong with a play or movie that contains highly stereotypical characters, many of us intuitively understand that their presence degrades the quality of the work. And yet a certain amount of stereotyping is essential in order to make a performance resonate generally across a wide range of viewers who, nevertheless, have seen it all before and easily recognize the types, so that a certain level of sophistication is required to write generalized character types that are not so superficial as to raise our suspicions about quality.

The same situation exists with the use of other words that are considered taboo in "polite" society. For example, if we wish to remain pc, we will not refer to anyone, let alone a mentally handicapped person, as a "retard," or even merely "retarded". Yes, in a certain sense, when the usage is meant to be derogatory, even if only accidentally or coincidentally (as opposed to socially conditioned, which was Shakespeare's flaw in his choice of Shylock), this is a "bad" word. But does that mean that we are not supposed to use it at all? Because this is what I'm being told, and not only about certain obvious words like "nigger" or "faggot". We are, I'm told, not to use the words at all because their mere mention might offend someone. But anything I say, however mundane, might offend someone. (I myself am often offended by mundanity.)

Anyone who feels offended by the proper referential use of suspect words are stupid little shits who need to get an education. When used properly, such as how I used them above, in a referential manner, any word can be used with impunity, at least among educated and tolerant people. (I've often wondered why the word "Nazi" hasn't fallen into this same category. True, to call someone a Nazi might be highly offensive, but to someone who is actually a Nazi, it could very well be a compliment. On the other hand, if people are offended when you call them Nazis, just maybe they doth protest too much.)

Furthermore, asking someone, even sarcastically, "Are you retarded?" is neither improper, prejudicial, nor patently offensive (although, when you come right down to it, offense is in the eye of the beholder), because that is the proper use of the word, which in this sense means, "Was the development of your mental capacity at some point in your past thwarted or held back in a way that you have not yet overcome or compensated for?" In this same sense, I could never understand why it is thought to be objectionable or insulting to label people with low IQs as "retarded". It is certainly a more accurate word than "special".

If I were mentally challenged (and at the same time capable of understanding), I would think that word "special" was an insult, since it plays on the meaning in a way so as to intend to deceive me, to make me think that I am something I am not, to aggrandize me in an almost flattering, pandering way by inaccurately coloring my condition and situation in life, all for the mere purpose of making me feel good. (I value truth far more highly than I do feeling good. Tell me the truth, goddammit. Don't spare me. I wouldn't spare you.) We don't do "retarded" (for whatever reason) people any favor by hiding the truth of their condition from them and pretending to them that they are just like we (more perfect people) are. Self-worth can be instilled in a person without lying to them. But maybe we don't feel so competent as we might want to think we are in this regard.

I have experienced an overlap between stereotyping and prejudice directly in every job I've ever held. Often, especially earlier on in my work career, it had a positive effect that waned as I aged. (Ageism is a prejudice based on stereotyping, which is also a way in which the two different practices overlap.) I could have chosen to disclose to my employer my difficulties (which, back when I was working at jobs, I had no labels or known cause for) and risk being deemed unfit to perform jobs functions, or I could keep my symptoms as secret as possible and act as "normal" as I possibly could manage, hoping that no one would notice for a long, long time, thereby establishing longevity that would make it more difficult for companies to get rid of me. (This was, at the time, at best, a semi-conscious distinction, more of an instinct than awareness.)

Though I didn't see it too clearly at the time, I acted, when my guard was not up, somewhat oddly (still do). But, without knowing exactly how I was "different", co-workers seemed to nevertheless sense it; and a sense of difference itself is often enough to evoke prejudicial reactions, when people will come up with all kinds of stereotyping "hypotheses" in their attempt to classify you so that they can know how to act toward you; because it seems that most people cannot accept others who are different (to whatever degree, depending on the level of each individual person's prejudicial propensity) and must go out of their way to find reasons for why they don't like you. So, then, are you being prejudiced against, or stereotyped; that is, is the prejudice based on your real qualities or on manufactured ones? It doesn't matter. Prejudice is prejudice.

As a further consideration of (my own) prejudice, last night (this morning, after a long night of waiting on downloads of an audio book to finish; dial-up can be so painstaking, but the price is right), I watched reruns of yesterdays Q&A on CSPAN. Ben Stein was the guest. I've always liked Ben Stein; but, like those of George Bush, his political views have always bothered me. But, listening to him in greater depth than I usually do (or care to) on the financial talk shows, I realize that he is not so dyed-in-the-wool conservative as I thought he was.

But what impressed me more was a number of correspondences between the two of us: we are nearly the same age (I feel like he should be a lot older than I am--or, rather, I feel a lot younger than he looks); he supports Ralph Nader for president (now who would have thought that); his favorite dog was a German short-haired pointer and he has since owned several of them, but none of them replaced his favorite in his heart; he supports efforts to alleviate the suffering of our poor and marginalized citizens.

In excerpts from an old interview, he calls himself a compassionate conservative, a label that he still seems to feel comfortable with. I sometimes call myself a left libertarian, a label that I am sometimes not so comfortable with. Both are self-contradictory labels that attempt to bridge the gap between the reactionary politics of traditional conservatism and the wasteful and libertine antics of rampant liberalism, that would take the best of both sides and leave the worst.

Before I saw this interview, I liked Ben a lot as an actor and a person, but I didn't care much for his political opinions. Now I think I'm going to have to pay a whole lot more attention to what old Ben says. He doesn't toe any party line; and that's a good trait in my book. He's a true individual. I admire him even more than before. Can you say "Bueller? Bueller?"

devo

While I was online yesterday, I almost bought a set of hand hedge trimmers online for $21.49 (tax free), to be delivered with no shipping charge to the local Ace Hardware in the shopping center; because I must get the hedges trimmed before they get out of control and it ends up taking forever to cut them by hand. But I held off, thinking I should check out the hardware store in person first, not so much to see if I could get them cheaper, I figured I couldn't, but to see if they had them in stock so that I can have them immediately instead of waiting a week or so and allowing that much more hedge growth to accumulate. So I walked up to the store and they had them, the exact same set that I decided to buy online, and for only $17.11, including tax.

So I come home, eat, drink a beer, and go out and cut the north hedge--in less than ten minutes. All right! Great arm exercise too. That's one rung down the electric ladder for a man, one quantum leap for mankind. Be the change.

And, oh, yeah, I almost forgot. Early yesterday, while I was waiting on a few large downloads before going to sleep, I washed my hair--with baking soda That's one more rung down the postmodern cosmetics (shampoo) ladder too. It seems that, as I get more and more into it, this devolution (detachment) progresses faster and faster. The baking soda worked pretty good too. No compromise here. My hair and scalp are nice and clean. It was a bit messy though. I splashed the stuff all over the bathroom. I guess I'll have to develop a proper method.

At Ace hardware, I noticed that the girl at the checkout was checking me out, but every time she caught my eye, I looked away. I wasn't paying any attention at the time, or I may have forced myself to mantain eye contact with her. But all I really wanted to do was get on back home, so attracting the attention of young ladies who I probably wouldn't get anywhere with anyway wasn't a high priority.

I have this (bad?) habit, more like a predilection (actually, it's congenital), of not looking at people when I talk to them. Usually, it is actually just a habit and I would look if I would only remember to; but sometimes, when I am with people I do not know well or when I am speaking about something that I consider to be personal (whether it actually is or not), I realize later that I was not looking at the person, but rather looking away or, more likely, down. I tune this behavior out of consciousness and only realize later that I was doing it. It's as if my visual field goes blank (though not even that; it's as if there is no visual field to go blank) and I operate on a kind of intuitive or psychic level, not not-seeing, but seeing as a kind of internal event. The closest behavior I can compare it to is "imagining," though that hardly qualifies it any better; it's like I imagine that I'm actually operating in a real, visual world, which has all of the components of the actual world except for sight, the "sight" being provided by a kind of intuitive imagination in my mind, yet not recognized by me in the moment, but only later, as being anything different than "normal".

When I enter this "alternate" state when I'm talking to a woman, she might (depending on who she is, how outspoken, or spontaneous, or liberated she is, or how well she knows me) point out the fact that, to her, I'm checking her out. I'm not; I'm tuning her out--not verbally, nor mentally (usually), but visually. It's an Aspie symptom.

When I try to explain this to women who will call me on it, when they accuse me of looking at their breasts instead of into their eyes (this is some more of that verbal behavior that people, women in this case, learn from tv shows and/or movies), they don't believe me [one of the more minor ways that women have been prejudiced against me, not believing what I tell them about how I am (difabled) when they choose instead to believe what their conditioning and/or culture tells them to believe]; because they, both at the same time, want to think that men will check them out (it strokes their egos) and want to act affronted by this behavior (as per their tv conditioning). It's a power move: Embarrass the guy and get a step up on him. Don't get me wrong, I'm not above checking women out; but I'm very good at not getting caught doing it when I'm actually doing it instead of just tuning out.

A good defense against getting caught, however, is to readily and fully admit to the behavior (even when, such as in my case, it's not really true and I see nothing of what I am supposed to be looking at), continue to look, and even ask them if they might want to show you more. Who knows? They just might comply.

Talking to women is (for me anyway) a lot like performing music. You have to develop a kind of "sync". If you ever played or sang in a band or choir, you know how it feels to perform in sync. It can be an intimate experience (for those who do not block that sort of thing in all but the most special of circumstances); and, when it was, for me (which was frequently), a special circumstance, I didn't know how to feel about it. Back during the times when I was performing, I hardly knew how to feel about intimacy in general, let alone during those times when it was a more sociable experience that didn't involve a one-on-one, more personal interaction.

I did know, but I always felt that others, especially women, and very especially a single woman who expected me to act in a normally social way (that is, according to social norms of dating, typical male-female interaction, etc.) didn't appreciate our togetherness apart from the sexual implications of it, a kind of social role reversal of the "You only love me for my body" complaint. This is hard to explain, and not only because it is expected in conventional society that the male act sexually while the woman demurs.

I've always wanted to develop special female friendships while leaving the sexual stuff for women with whom I would do only just that. (There's a name for this, but I choose not to consider this here, because that's not how I felt, that's not what I'm talking about--I hope. But, repression being what it is, who knows?) I wanted (and still sort of do want) "intimacy" to be a purely psychological state (not necessarily limited to one woman, although I could do that too, when no one else was around) free of physical limitations. But women never understood how I felt about this and always wondered at my reticence to engage them physically.

However, after I began to give up this "ideal" and engage them, that is, after I gave up the generalized psychology, which I abandoned as a compromise to society in favor of dedicating myself to one woman exclusively, I discovered that the rhetoric that women used to satisfy their sub-dominant socio-sexual role (the "You only love me for my body" defensive posture coupled with the "Women are innately more intimate and non-egocentric than men" routine) was all a bunch of lies they told to themselves; because my desire (or need) to surrender my ego in service to intimacy would always far exceed that of every woman I ever dedicated myself to, so that they inevitably complained that I "smothered" them (or they used some other phraseology that meant just that kind of ego-threat they felt).

I see (and to a large extent live in, when I myself don't feel threatened--by the kinds of manipulation that people will engage in when they discover that I have unwittingly gone ahead and left myself defenseless) a kind of ideal world where ego melts away and intimacy reigns (reins?) free. I'd gotten myself into trouble often when I was young by falling in with the wrong crowd and adopting their ways without thinking, because they were my friends (I thought), because I put up no defensive posture against their misleading ways. And lest you think that I jumped the rails here and switched topics, it's the same thing, really, the (sexual) love of a woman and the (platonic) "love" of same-sex companionship, the difference being that the sexual attraction/desire is missing (or repressed) in the latter.

Musical performance was a part of the non-posturing I attempted to do early on, until I began to realize that I, maybe, didn't experience the experience in the same way that others did. It's a strange schizoid state of existence I'm trying to describe here: On one hand, I existed in an idealized world where I communed with people (mostly below the level of awareness); and, on the other hand, I existed apart from them, closed off; both, at the same time. And when I began to come to an awareness of these mutually existent states, I also began to grow increasingly self-conscious. I realized that I was "out there" in a way that others, maybe weren't; and, a la the schizoid reaction, that maybe they were, at least some of them, far more conscious than I was of what was going on. I stopped performing, having become too (self-) conscious, too overly sensitive to the "intimate" interaction that was necessary between musicians in order to perform "in sync."

This was a musical phenomenon, but it had its sexual undertones, for me at least: I wondered (in a kind of semi-conscious way) without knowing and without feeling any sexuality in this situation myself, if others experienced the situations sexually; that is, I suspected that they might be "turned on" by the music(al interaction) in a way that I was not, and that, by my participation, I was sending a sexual signal that I didn't intend, neither consciously nor unconsciously, I'm certain, because this is exactly the same situation I described above re being with women and wanting a psychological rather than a physical relationship.

I still wonder, and far more consciously now, how much sexuality people (whether consciously or not) put into their (various types of) relationships (musical, personal, professional, etc.)--including the sexual ones. I think that maybe some people put very little into them while others repress most of it and (re)act unconsciously; or put in none at all. And there's no accurate way (that I have yet discovered) to distinguish between who is operating consciously and who is oblivious to the nature of whatever particular relationship I happen to be examining. It's all so-o-o-o complex, it's all so-o-o-o overwhelming, that I feel it's better to stay far away from it all--until I can get a better handle on it; or else, until I can find someone who intuitively understands what it is that I am doing when I am acting "intimately" within a relationship, or outside of one.

meltdowns?

My best ideas (like those previous ones) always seem to come just before an anxiety attack. It seems like I begin by thinking more profoundly and then sink into a place where I should not go, where profundity dwells beyond my depths. I look for it and it leads me elsewhere, into the chaos of the threat of the foreign personality of interaction. Maybe this isn't really true. Maybe it's only certain types of thoughts. I don't know. I do know that I begun to get desperate and will search down any path if it promises even the slimmest glimmer of insight when these episodes hit me.

This is so, so, so stupid. Social anxiety makes no sense at all.

First of all, what's the worst that could happen? Nothing. It's true that, in a lot of cases, there could be consequences. But not in this one. There is no downside here of any kind. Worst case: Hang up the phone. Telephone anxiety is especially stupid. People at a distance cannot harm me, and I'll remain at a distance, withdrawn and isolated.

Second, I'll feel so much better after having made the call.

Third, it's true that anxiety is frozen excitement. This is definitely excitement. I can feel it. Conclusion: I don't like excitement any more than I like anxiety. Excitement is the essence of change, and I don't do change very well.

Fourth: I know that this is a secondary symptom, a developmental residue disorder of Asperger's. And, knowing this, it makes me want to say, "Fuck it. This is the way I am. So why even fight it, why not give in to it, cower, and hide away even more?" The answer is obvious: If I do, I become a victim of the world (society), in cases like these, when the bureaucracy/assholedness of the system conspires against me (unconsciously; I'm not paranoid--in this case, and maybe, by this logic, not in any). "Normal" people deal with these kinds of difficulties every day. It's an ordinary part of living in a complex society.

[Not that that's any justification for the way that society oppresses a large segment of the population. The current system of government in the U.S. is forced on me. I do not wish to be governed by these people, neither Republican nor Democrat (but especially Republican); therefore, I am oppressed, by definition: Oppression is a system (of government, culture, whatever) imposed upon a population; I am a population (of one; though probably more, since, probably, lots of people will agree with me); therefore, I am oppressed. This is decidedly not my government. I did not choose it and I choose not to participate in it. Yet it is my birthright, afforded me by natural law, to live in the place where I was born and raised.]

Fifth, the pissed off defense: I get so angry when "they" make a mistake or even merely arrange situations so that I have to confront my anxiety to contact them to resolve whatever the situation is. This suggests a defense against social anxiety: Get pissed off and allow the anger to override the anxiety, and then tone it down a few notches into righteous indignation so that it doesn't offend anyone and cause them to sabotage your efforts at resolution. This will only work when you are right and someone else is wrong, unless you happen to contact a social representative who is manipulatable, which is highly unlikely; and to take advantage of that kind of situation is not a very nice thing to do, although I am not above doing it, rationalizing that I may take any advantage I get in my dealings with the uberklasse (thusly making obvious that my complaints are projections).

(My) anxiety is caused by change that involves:
1. the unexpected expenditure of money
2. having to interface with people
3. the threat (even if only imagined) of incarceration
4. (the threat of) illness (and/or death)

A possible tactic for dealing with anxiety: a "crazy" attitude
1. "I'm crazy."
2. "I'm different."
3. "I'm difabled."
4. You have a problem with me? I don't care. I have a problem with you too. So what?"

Judging by episodes that people I read about with Asperger's/autism have, I conclude that my "pinches" are the same thing as the "meltdowns" I read about, although mine are far more "contained" and "managed" as I hold them within and prevent myself from acting out--except during those times under extreme stress when I unwittingly can't avoid it and they come pouring out to wreck vengeance upon those who wrong me (or stand in for those in my past who wronged me, a la object relations). Sudden insight: The Avenging Angel Syndrome is an autistic symptom, an outburst, a "meltdown"! How obvious. Why have I never seen that before?

I think that the anxiety I feel is not so much a matter of the standard interpretation as it is a physiological state derived directly from my genetic condition, a conditioned response to the difficulties I have re (unconsciously) feeling rejected by society and so not wanting to feel additional rejection by venturing back out into it. In fact, I'm wondering if all anxiety is of this nature. But maybe not, since, long before I understood the nature of my difability, I discovered that I had been rejected by my mother early on. But that experience was probably inevitable, sooner or later. We all, or most of us at least, in one way or another (feel we) are rejected (separated) as we grow up into independent beings. It just happened that I felt it very early on, based upon my mother's early actions. On the other hand, maybe there was something about me (my genetically predetermined aut-self) that "provoked" my mother's response. Which came first, the rejection or the anxiety? And the usual response to that query pattern: neither; they both developed together.

I seem to become more autistic (wanting to be separated and alone) under stress. Autistics have low tolerance for stress and thus become more easily agitated. But, unlike with "normal" people (do normal people even have meltdowns? Is having a meltdown a definition of abnormality?), meltdowns are not little games that we use to get attention or our own way. That's what NTs want to believe they are, but it's just not true. Rather, they're responses to change or the threat of change, especially when it's enforced.

And we become "worn down" by the constant pressure of having to interact on a continual basis. Eventually, if we do not get a significant break, we can explode. Usually, I don't; but then usually I take significant breaks, whether people like it or not. If I have to spend a whole lot of continuous time interacting with people, it takes its toll. That's the problem; sleep is the remedy.

voices

As I'm awakening out of a long sleep, I hear the voice from nowhere say, "How long have you lived here?" I'm always amazed when I hear the voice. You'd think it'd be scary to hear voices, eh? But I know it's not anyone real; that is, I think it isn't. I know the theory, that it's a hypnagogic experience. But you never know. It could be some kind of contact.

I'm kind of afraid, though, to encourage the phenomenon, lest I end up on an overpass somewhere picking off people with a rifle and scope and then end up in some interrogation room with a some ignorant, sweaty cop asking me why I did it, and me telling him that I was only listening to the voice inside my head. I don't need that kind of trouble in my life.

Still, it'd be nice to have some kind of authority I felt I could listen to, someone (or something) to give me good advice. As it is now, I get only my own--although a voice inside my head would be my own too, wouldn't it? Sometimes the voices are male. But I wouldn't like a male authority. This one was a female voice. That'd be the best.

A "professional" psychologist informs me that narcissists and aggressive personalities are less evolved because they look out for themselves and tend to disconsider others, which I interpret to mean that they are not social beings. She doesn't have a clue that I am an Aspie and is being, generally, a nasty little bitch in her polite little way.

She's so passive-aggressive and I wonder what she'd say if I called her on it; but I don't. I guess that makes me better than her, since, though she may have other ideas about it, she is definitely not my therapist. I'd never go to a therapist who made it a point to call herself a "professional", not to mention one who implies that I'm a narcissist.

This lady is convinced that she's absolutely right about everything, even stuff outside of her "professional" domain; politics, for example. And she can't be right about everything because I disagree with her a lot of the time, and I'm always right about everything. Anyway, there's a fine line between bona fides and blind professional conditioning.

Actually, now that I think about it, sometimes that line is not so fine. Anyway, she says that empathy is an advanced trait that selfish people lack, that empathetic people receive feedback that better enables the maintenance of their social position, but that too much other-awareness can cause anxiety about social interaction.

And, as if the message isn't clear enough (indirectly referring to my own psychology), she says that depressive people can think too much about future consequences, resulting in obsessive behavior, except when the ennui can cause us to give up on unreasonable goals. She's trying to convince me that I'm too tied into my plans and goals.

That's because I, prattling on, unwittingly (as I am wont to do in enthusiastic moments) told her about my many projects that often go stale after my motivation toward them wanes. Back on the subject of evolution, she talks to me as if I have never even heard of the theory, or as if I'm a theologian who needs to be converted, or a kid:

Evolution favors people who reevaluate goals, weed out the impractical ones, and avoid uncontrolled optimism. It's interesting that she found me to be optimistic; I don't. Maybe, I think later, my depressive-like behavior (an Asperger's resultant) is nothing more than an evolved adaptive response to goals that are not so attainable.

She thinks, based on the few things I've told her about myself, that she knows me. Good thing I didn't tell her about the voices. Even better thing that she never found out that I was secretly taping her with my tiny voice recorder. Overall, I found her to be pedantic and overbearing. But she was rather pleasant in bed, so maybe I'll call her again.

I wondered at the fact that she seemed not to have a clue as to my autistic nature. But I guess we all have blind spots and/or gaps in our education and "professional" training. It certainly couldn't be that she was being delicate and trying to spare me, since she didn't seem to do that in any other way. Still, though, she was, if obviously, tactful.

She seemed most officious, however, on the subject of welfare, revealing a strong conservative bent. She's Mary Matalin to my James Carvel. She sees no reason at all for any kind of welfare. Actually, neither do it, but I don't like welfare, but I'll take it, if it it's offered. I'm not stupid. But I'd prefer that you reconstruct society so as to accommodate everyone.

All people, regardless of intelligence, talent, or (dis)ability, should have a productive place in society, supported by government programs if necessary--not providing handouts, but paying wage for services rendered. People who feel that they earn their living are better citizens; societies that do not provide this deserve what they get.

People should feel that they contribute without fear of prejudice or loss of work because they don't conform to the narrow definition of what constitutes a "good" worker. We all need work that we can do that will provide us with an income we can live on, work that takes our differences into account. Social welfare programs do not provide this.

I believe in the reconstruction of society to provide everyone with the means of support they need to live productive lives, which means, if necessary, thorough and exhaustive medical care and rehabilitation. Give money to no one. Provide good food (three adequate meals a day) and safe (benignly but effectively policed) housing.

I stood in line in a store the other day behind two women who were together, interacting. The first woman had a cart full of food. The second woman had a gallon of orange juice and two cartons of cigarettes. The first woman gave the second woman fifty dollars and the second woman gave the first woman fifty dollars worth of food stamps.

You aren't allowed to buy cigarettes with food stamps, but that doesn't mean that people don't do it. This incident convinces me that people use food stamps and government money to buy alcohol and drugs. Welfare is a drug and alcohol maintenance program, bribes to those who might otherwise (or nevertheless) commit crimes to get what they need.

I didn't tell this little story to my psychologist friend. She already has enough of a prejudice against the welfare state and the people who take advantage of it. I say I'm against welfare; but I'm not, really. I'm against welfare abuse. And people, being human, will abuse it if you give them money. Give them hope instead. Give them jobs.

Yeah, I hear voices, not the usual kind you think of when you think of schizophrenics, but the superego kind that tells me that society needs help when it acts in the misinformed and/or corrupt and pandering ways that it often does. There's a voice inside me that is continually saying, "This is all so wrong. Do something. But what? Write.

And so, I do. Or else, maybe, small step by small step, move toward a different kind of life. I do that too: Yesterday, I tested my newly constructed cardboard solar oven prototype: 178 degrees in less than an hour around two p.m., before the sun went behind the clouds (or, rather, before the Earth rotated the trees in front of the sun), when the temperature quickly dropped back to the baseline (box alone without the reflecting mirror) of 144 degrees. And this test was done with a very dirty mirror.

Next step: Clean the mirror and cook a stew, which I did today:

Solar Oven Experiment #2:

1/3 lb. ground turkey
1 can peas
1 can corn
5 sm. onions, chopped
1 T. vinegar
1 t. salt
1 t. garlic powder
pepper
1/2 c. rice
water to fill (baked bean) crock

11:50a 80
11:55a 130
12:20p 181
12:50p 195
1:15p 198
2:00p 182
3:00p 160

Next step: build a wooden version with better insulation between the walls and a better fitting glass tray top.
Future Steps: Be the change.