by j-a

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December 2008



I've written of this so many times before, but I never exhaust its motive: I need to develop a format that incorporates my "brilliant" pieces as they are, without stitching them together (which takes a lot of time and effort and I want it to be done all but automatically). [And/or I need to develop a format that allows me to say what I need/want to say in the briefest prose possible while remaining grammatical (or maybe quasi-grammatical, in a style similar Kathe Koja in her earlier, more adult-oriented novels).] Yet the format should present the pieces in a more or less "logical" (or maybe I mean literary) way, so that the overriding work doesn't appear to be so much of a "collection"--although, maybe that's exactly what I need, given my recent penchant for looking at my life as a wide-ranging collection of collections.

My collections:
homemade wines & beer
yeast strains (for above)
herbs (grown or collected)
wood (for burning or building)
preserved food (canned or frozen)
art (my own)

my house and its contents (possessions)
writing (ideas, journals, stories, books)
gardens (plants, indoor and outdoor)
daily records (don't ask)

Some of these collections are merely displacement or compensatory activity that enables a feeling of (self-)control, but some of them are "real," in the sense that they allow a real control over the local environment (that is, the house and gardens) or over finances (monthly financial report, daily schedule--as far as it is used, not to maintain a feeling of control, but to pay bills on time and thus avoid late fees, etc.); but even the more token activities can be functionally "real" to the extent that they work to avoid or reduce the occurrence of certain "disabled" states, such as confusion, distraction and loss of focus, anxiety, etc. In this sense, all of the collections may be functional.

One of the more functional hobbies I regularly engage in is the brewing of beer. I've been feeling lately that I should be advancing in this pursuit toward all-grain brewing, mostly because all of the support that online equipment and ingredient suppliers provide is designed to influence homebrewers in that direction--because then they can sell them more stuff.

But I've just decided, after struggling with the issue over the past several weeks, that I intend to remain a partial boil extract brewer, because:

So I'm going to continue extract brewing. That's the plan, or lack of it. And, although my plans do sometimes have an uncanny way of coming true when I manage to relegate them to unconscious realms (which maybe is what is happening here, unbeknownst to me), they also have a way of putting themselves on hold (which maybe also is what's happening here). [It does make a kind of sense, if only to me.]

best laid plans

Dave Kujan: Man, you're a fucking slob.

Jeff Rabin: Yeah. It's got its own system though. It all makes sense when you look at it right. You just have to step back from it, you know? You want to see a real horror show, you should see my garage.

The Usual Suspects
I was going to use this winter's seclusion to catch up on processing all my backlogged journals and then finish one or two novels and make some headway on a few others; but despite a good several weeks' start, so far, no real progress. Something else came up (something always does): I started brewing (and winemaking) again. Brew stocks have gotten extremely low and I don't want to go back to drinking crappy commercial American beer; and, besides, I have over two pounds of homegrown hops in the freezer I want to use up.

This is the way it always goes: I start out on a project, I pursue it diligently for a week or so, and then I get sidetracked onto something else and pursue it diligently for a week or so, and then... This might be a good work method if I had only a few major projects; but I have, probably, several hundred of them, and the odds of getting back to one that I've started on fairly recently, given my random nature, are low.

My "main" project, the one I've been focusing on (mentally, but not so much physically) for several years now is getting my house back into some kind of reasonable order, finding places to store projects' materials out of sight and making the place look, if not conventional, then at least not like a disaster area. I have this ideal vision for the place that I know will work; but it requires just that--work; and every other project I side-step onto feeds into this main vision, in that they are all pieces of the organizational whole. But they would, I believe, go a whole lot more easily if I would achieve and maintain a basic overall organizational discipline first.

I awoke out of a long afternoon nap, out of a dream about biking along Rodi Rd., with an odd and profound feeling that deep and fundamental unconscious changes were taking place. I start to think again about how my plans have this way of coming true all on their own, like how I managed to retire very early in life, like I planned to do when I was twenty, after working at several jobs I hated and concluding that all jobs would be just like those, which could have been a self-fulfilling prophecy, but I prefer to think of it as an accurate assessment.

During the ensuing hectic, overworked and overwrought work years, I forgot all about that retirement plan I made, and I would not have attempted to execute it even if I had remembered; but life in the form of specific representatives of a prejudicial society had its own ideas, which maybe had been mine as well all along, projected and sowing the seeds of what, had I noticed what was happening, I would have thought of as my own destruction. Self-fulfilling prophecy? Probably. But in this case, it was a wise one. I would not have consciously retired because I never felt that I accumulated enough money to do so; but my unconscious mind knew otherwise.

I was fired from my last job (without good cause, though with tracks covered quite legally) and I decided after much internal turmoil mitigated by my unconscious mind's good counsel that, to protect my mental as well as physical health, retirement was my best option. As it turned out, I did have enough money after all, given that I cut back my "social" life severely, which was no burden at all; in fact, it was a blessing, as was my having been fired--a blessing in disguise. All praise to You, oh Great and Glorious Unconscious.

And here's another, though of slightly lesser significance, example of unconscious planning:

If you've got an ARM increase pending, you've got to take action now. You can't wait and hope for the best, thinking you'll ride out the financial crisis. Is your job security and/or personal savings that good? If you're a typical American, probably not. So act, asshole, before it's too late. This is what you should do, while you still have time:

1) Start looking for a new, cheap house. There are lots of bargains up for sale right now. You don't have to actually buy the house--yet; just start looking. If you find a great deal, you can make its purchase contingent upon the sale of your existing home.

2) Put your house up for sale immediately. Make its sale also contingent upon your finding a new house. I know it's a tough market for sellers, but you never know. You just might run into an ex-corporate executive with a hidden nest-egg of ill-gotten gains who's looking to downscale by move into a more modest abode.

3) If a move presents itself, take it, with a fixed rate mortgage. Who knows? You might even make some money on the deal, what with desperate people looking to get out of difficult current obligations.

Do it now! While there's still time. Because this mess isn't going to resolve itself any time soon. If you find yourself in a vulnerable situation, take action! Don't sit around and hope that things will sort themselves out, because it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

This is what I would do, if I had a mortgage, and if I were not already in the cheapest house available. [In other words, I took this advice years ago; which only proves that, if you have an ARM, I am so much smarter than you; unless you're rich, of course. In that case, smart doesn't count; unless it causes you to lose it all. I hope it does. That kind of negative karma applied to assholes makes me happy, as you will see farther on if you will but continue reading.]

my way

I don't have a whole lot of social obligations left; but those few that remain are as disruptive as social obligations ever were for me. I have my own way of doing things, and when I'm left to my own way of doing them, my life flows smoothly; but when I have to interrupt my (anti-)routine to honor a social obligation, it can be days or weeks or even months before I get back to my own way of doing things. It's difficult for me to understand why I just can't get right back to my own way of doing things after the event is over.

Being out in society disturbs my equilibrium, by introjecting (or transferring, a la psychoanalytic theory) content into my head that creates dissonance that must in one way or another be resolved before I can move on. The obvious solution to this "problem" [according to the mindset of the typical neuro-typical (I don't think that's redundant)] is to just ignore the foreign content and get back to "work"; and that might very well work for neuro-typicals, but it doesn't work that way for me, I'm not built that way.

When I return from out there (i.e., society, not that other out there that's a far more entertaining place to...well, never mind; let's not go there today, I'm too tired), I'm disoriented, to say the least. It's a kind of empty feeling that might, by someone who has been indoctrinated into a traditional mindset (which requires neuro-typical brain wiring), be described as "loneliness" at suddenly being without people whom you've just spent a lot of intense time with and now are suddenly missing.

But that's not it, for me. (The metric just might contain some very small tinge of this motive, but if it does it's so overwhelmed by other affect as to render it insignificant--or am I repressing here? No matter.) More likely it's something more akin to having spent so much energy relating, outputting ideas that have remained for so long locked inside, negotiating the traffic of other-generated ideas that get in the way of my own, etc. that I am drained--exhausted, and so must "recharge" a while.

So, anyway, today, I've set aside obsessing over my projects (with which I've been making great progress lately) in order to get ready to go out tomorrow to "celebrate" Christmas at my brother's house. Already I feel the disruption: I don't want to stop working, I don't want to disrupt my cogent productivity in favor of mere socializing. But I must. I have to bathe and wash my hair and get out clean clothes and etc. And I don't want to. But I'm going to do it anyway--because I am still, after all, a social being, more or less.

And tomorrow I'll overeat (a defense against the would-be intimacy of social interaction) and the next day I'll recuperate as I wish I hadn't eaten so much, and I'll lay around and watch shit-tv and want to get back to my "productive" routine, but won't. And maybe that'll last only a few days; or maybe not. But why? Maybe it's because I can't handle more than two foci at a time, and even that may be one (or two) too many. Overload. So, in order to at least feel like I'm not a wastrel, I'll write about it. Maybe.

Meanwhile, I'm going to write instead about my favorite (or least favorite, depending on the way I look at it) topic:

hit list

He lets the last Hungarian go. He waits until his wife and kids are in the ground and then he goes after the rest of the mob. He kills their kids. He kills their wives. He kills their parents and their parents' friends. He burns down the houses they live in and the stores they work in. He kills people that owe them money. And like that he was gone. Underground. Nobody has ever seen him since. He becomes a myth, a spook story that criminals tell their kids at night. "Rat on your pop, and Keyser Soze will get you." And no one ever really believes.
Kevin Spacey, The Usual Suspects
And I'll watch while you're lowered into your death bed.
And I'll stand over your grave till I'm sure that you're dead.
Bob Dylan, "Masters of War"
The day they lay you away, what I'll do on your grave won't pass for flowers.
Harry Morgan, The Shootist
I hate Republicans, especially of the neo-con variety, who threaten my modest way of life by proposing to "privatize" (a code word for eliminate) social security and cut back Medicare, two programs I have paid for all my life and look forward to relying on sooner than I would like. Radical Republicans are the scourges of the common man.

This government (by which I mean far more than this administration) is responsible for the economic practices that cause the price of staples to rise (on a continual basis, as a matter of planned, gradual inflation in order to benefit business and the elite at the expense of common-class consumers). And the recent escalation of the price of staples beyond the usual slow upward change, which is the result of allowing unscrupulous, greedy, and/or illegal activity to predominate among business enterprise, is unforgivable. I would call this governmental incompetence if it were not seen among the ruling elite as, though not planned, nevertheless an acceptable outcome. Sure, they pretend that they're concerned, in order to maintain their positions by making it look like they're doing something about the "problem"; but their solutions are not working to their stated purposes and serve only to further enrich the elitists while the poor or lesser citizens continue to suffer the consequences.

So I propose that we create a "hit list" to target those officials responsible, not only for this current "crisis," but for all past and future fiascos as well. Now, before all you agents and the super-human crew go out and round up everyone including me and take us to the factory for waterboarding or strapping on of the heart-attack machine, let me explain that by "hit list" I do not mean that I intend for me or anyone else to be targeting anyone for assassination. I mean that these people will be put on watch (I guess I should, rather, call it a "watch list") until they recant their neo-con position, repent of their wrong-doing, and begin to work to undo the damage they have done. Otherwise, we're going to follow their activities and report on them until the end of their lives, whereupon we will dance on their graves.

I intend to take great delight in the misfortunes of each and every neo-tyrant who, in his or her far more subtle and sophisticated way than the typical tyrant of yore, pretends to care for common people while nefariously and surreptitiously acting against them. I intend to celebrate their downturns and call to the attention of everyone I can how they deserve exactly what they will get. And, if they end up never getting it, still, one day, they will be dead; and then my eulogy will not celebrate their life, but rather the happy occasion of their demise. This country and this world will turn around, the politics of capitalism will end, and fairly soon, and its replacement, whatever it will be, will be a step forward in the march toward justice, by which I mean, not only a fair and honorable system of government for the people, but revenge against those, living and dead, who have thus far prevented it. It's as inevitable as Keyser Soze's vengeance; but without the violence.