by j-a

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February 2010

The Crazy (Old Man) Experiment

I dream I awaken from the dream I'm in the process of beginning and wondering why my grandfather's estate has not yet been settled. It's been way over three years since my Aunt died and the estate went into escrow. And then I sleep on, to dream the dream I dreamed I awoke from: I'm wandering through my grandfather's old house, for a long time. All of the rooms are empty of furniture and have recently been painted, all the same near-white color. I look down into the basement and see signs, like "categories", on the wall, indicating where things are stored, as if they're bricked in behind the wall's surface; but they seem horror film foreboding and, although I want to know what they mean, I don't go down there. I go back into the living room, which turns out to be instead the old dining room from when I was a kid, since converted into a second first-floor bedroom for my uncle when the second floor was converted into a separate apartment. But it turns out that the room I entered is actually not that bedroom but the living room, where, despite the fact that the last time I was in it, a few minutes earlier, it was empty, this time it has a sofa bed, opened, with my uncle lying in it, half-asleep, appearing to be in a groggy, half-conscious state. He looks extremely old and frail. I talk to him, trying to awaken him, because he doesn't look like he's in such good shape. He begins to speak, but his sentence trails off into nonsense words. I ask him something else, testing him, to see if he'll repeat the verbal behavior or if he was just waking up out of a dream. He does the same thing, each time I speak to him. I act as if I know what he's saying and continue trying to converse with him. He seems to think that he is being perfectly communicative. I finally say goodbye, intent upon calling someone to come and help him, and I try to think which of the many cousins it is who's close to him and has been taking care of him. I leave via the kitchen door and exit onto an unfamiliar landscape. In order to get back out to the front street where I've parked my car, I have to descend down into a tunnel that is like a subway entrance. The steps are littered with dead bugs and the dead bodies of small rodents. It's a disgusting area, reeking of death and corruption. It goes down about twenty feet then turns one-eighty and ascends, paradoxically back up the same set of stairs, but as if they are different, as if they are subway steps on the other side of a street, and I come out in a completely different place, a kind of abandoned schoolyard. My uncle is there, much recovered, much younger, bare-chested and in pajama bottoms and looking like Ralph Fiennes character in Schindler's List. As I pass by him, intent upon getting to my car and getting the hell out of this place, I encounter a swarm of mosquitoes. As I swat at them, I ask my uncle how he can tolerate standing among them. Amid the gibberish of his words, I manage to glean his idea that they don't bother him.

I awaken, this time for real, feeling like I, not my uncle, am the old man in the dream. I am becoming a crazy old man. I live alone, like he did. I even look a little bit like him--and a whole lot like my mother's father, the only difference being the way I look somewhat like my dad. I have a picture of my grandfather as a young man of about twenty-five, just married, seated, with his young wife standing at his side. He looks exactly like I did at that age. But I am significantly different re our social settings: he was the family patriarch, father of twelve children; I am childless. Yet he was a standoffish, stonewalling sort of man, same as I am.

I don't know why this all seems important to me. I don't see it in any way as my heritage. It's a completely foreign mentality; but maybe I'm in denial about something here. Maybe I'm repressing something significant, maybe something having to do with old age. I am not old yet. Maybe that statement, in and of itself, is denial.

"You're in denial."
"No I'm not!"
One day, hopefully much later than sooner, I will be old.
"No I won't."
So far I've managed to hold it off, by believing myself young.
I have always been young for my age, refusing to grow up.
I finally decided that I was an adult not all that long ago.
Some people decide it early on, some even before twenty.
I still don't want to be the adult I am. It means being social.
I am a social being now, I know; but I really don't want to be.

We're cleaning out the old workplace, as if in preparation to move, removing art that has been hanging on the walls (mine and others, though, as I look for it, none of mine is left). Joan is there, near her press. R is directing the operation and being generally obnoxious in his cloying, mawkish way. This seems to mean that I am winding up this dream theme and putting it to rest, putting whatever this means behind me; or else that's what I want it to mean but it doesn't.

I'm (like) an artist with an unbelievably cluttered studio, so bad that you don't even want to walk into it, who yet manages to produce incredibly beautiful works of art: My house is my studio, which supports me in my art, which is writing (which I export to the web), beer brewing and winemaking (which I occasionally allow others to taste, though not at my cluttered home, but elsewhere), the occasional painting (which I always feel that I never do enough of), and my gardens (which are never as well maintained as I want them to be and incorporate the same cluttered theme as the house, being form and content melded into a perfect unity, which is a fiction, because all rational thought is created via comparison and contrast, the mind dividing itself off into categories in its futile attempt to represent a world that is not that way at all, but actually continuous in its sub-nuclear essence, below the level of human awareness, where real truth lies.

People's thought makes their lives into disjointed collections of disparate content seeming continuous by physical passage through spacetime as they ignore the distracting nature of minds that unintermittedly interrupt both attention to the physical world and the ongoing essence of the thought process.

A standard narrative plot (Hollywood via Aristotle) glosses over this basic human condition (if it considers it at all) in favor of the physical manifestations, because filmmakers erroneously believe that film art requires action sequences that "show, don't tell"; thus, they create artifice instead of art.

Modern novelists borrow(ed) this method, and who can blame them? They want(ed) a fair share of the huge profits being made in the film industry. In other words, they sold out; or, rather, the publishing industry did. It makes little sense to write books if no one is going to publish them, unless...

I (want to) depict the whole person, as s/he is: First and foremost, people think. It's what they do, it's the very essence of what it means to be human; even Neanderthal athletes who are most famous for their physical prowess think. And it's not enough to say that the thought can be expressed in dialogue.

Most thought occurs below the level of vocalization; and that's not even considering what goes on unconsciously. How do we communicate this very basic human condition more directly so that people get a truer picture of their own disconsidered nature? We do it by creating novels and films more accurately.

This is what I try to do: I want to show the vast realm of inner nature that is being ignored by our mainstream culture, a realm far larger than the outer, physical one, a realm that doesn't yield itself so well to the linear process of the standard narrative form. You want action? Go play tennis.

Okay, so I sold out, a long time ago; but not artistically (yet). I know how to make money. At one time, I worked for a living, at an actual job, for what I now consider to have been a pittance. Now, my compromise is not so great. My hourly rate is $300/hr. I'll lower that down to $100 for cases I want to take. I'll further lower it to whatever it is you can afford if you can demonstrate need and prove to me that I am not being taken advantage of. My hourly labor rate is $40/hr, also adjustable for need, down to $10. But, if you are in desperate need of any kind of help, just ask. I often make myself available for limited periods of time if I can manage to see myself as being a benefit to mankind. Just don't try to take any kind of advantage of me. I will not abide being taken advantage of. It's kind of a tenet of my (non-) religion, which is universal:

If I proclaim in Arabic that there is no god but God, does that make me a heretic in the mind of a Christian? If it does, then the Christian becomes a heretic himself, projected; because, in any case, there is no god but God. If it doesn't, then the Christian implies that Islamic dogma is as valid as his own; which makes all religion irrelevant. I understand that this is not a logical or cogent argument. But it doesn't have to be. The basis of theology is faith. If you compare or contrast religions, you always lose. Spirituality is not rational. Religion often is. Amen.

Kevin Spacey, The Usual Suspects
I'm sending out my sincerest apologies to all the people I've left hanging over the past year or so; and to those in the more distant past as well. (You know who you are.) I've been kind of lost lately, and I don't really know right now if I've yet been found. (I'm not lost to myself; I know exactly where I am.) Anyway, here I am now. But please don't mistake this note for a stated intention that I will not do this same thing again (and again). It's a part of my incorrigible nature.

The new tv series Life on Mars appeals to my sense of displacement. [It seems that I may abandon friends, but not tv shows; rather, they abandon me.] It plays right into my favorite fantasy of time travel. But it has a primary flaw: It assumes that present-day cops are not like the 1973 character that Harvey Keitel plays. Give me a break. This is worse than revisionist history; this is revisionist current events. Sort of like neo-cons spinning contra-conspiracy theories, trying to convince citizens that what they're up to is all aboveboard and straightforward. The greatest trick the government ever pulled was convincing citizens that conspiracy theories aren't true.

Taking the lead from this spin, I'm considering my own disappearing act: The greatest trick the writer formerly known as jai ever pulled was convincing his friends that he disappeared again. I didn't. I've always been right here. The trick is to turn my attention away. When I don't pay attention, what I'm disattending disappears. I could promise not to do it again, but it'd be an idle promise. I will. See, the problem is that I don't need society as much as all you others seem to. That's the way we autistes are. Occasionally, I'll feel the need for social contact (which is more like a want, actually), but, likely as not, the feeling will pass before I act on it. And it's not like I'm sorry about it. I'm happy being alone.

Nevertheless, I don't "wander off" intentionally. It just happens. I get involved in something or other, something different, and then I look back and noticed that several weeks have passed. Or months. Or years. Transitions happen frequently, sometimes intentionally planned, but often almost without me realizing it. Sometimes I set aside a project (or a person), intending to get right back to it (or hrm), only to discover s/he has drifted away after having been disconsidered for so long. I'm always amazed that this has happened. Sometimes I intend to do something or other about it, contact someone, follow up, but never manage it, distracted in other directions.

I've thought about creating a list of "excuses" for where I've been and what I've been doing, such as "I was working as an undercover informant and operative for the FBI", half-joking items designed to put off further prying, such as "I'm sorry, but I'm not allowed to tell anyone about it." The excuses should be written out and practiced so that, as outrageous as they might sound, the basic underlying premise is one that leaves a lot of doubt. But, I think, why go to all that trouble? What difference does it make anyway? And why would I even want to obfuscate the fact that autistic symptoms are the real "culprit"?

My mind has been distracted lately and my thought process programmed by all of the cop shows on tv. They're all I seem to watch any more. The reason that there are so many cop shows is because we live in a criminal society. Every goddam station you turn on has a goddam cop show. Turn on the tv any time of day or night and you're almost guaranteed to find a cop show somewhere. We're obsessed with crime.

The society has become, essentially, non-functional. We divide ourselves into two groups, law-abiding citizens (which means people who support the law enforcement community, even when it is corrupt) and all of those other people that the big cop gang is chasing after and trying to incarcerate.

The biggest gang has made itself obvious recently here in this city: Three undercover detectives beat the crap out of a black teenager a few weeks ago as he was walking in the late evening to his grandmother's house. This happens all the time, I'm sure, but in this case the kid turned out to be a model citizen: high school scholar, upstanding, up-and-coming kid (not that beating the crap out of a gangsta would have been any more acceptable).

The cops tried to fog their crime with claims that the kid was acting suspiciously and that what they thought was a gun turned out to be a bottle of Mountain Dew. (The kid claimed he had no Mountain Dew. I'm wondering if this might be a new form of product placement.)

I don't care how much of a criminal a person is, there is no reason at all for a cop to beat him in this way, very especially when there are three cops and only one "suspect". The kid's face was swollen beyond recognition and he had to be hospitalized due to injuries sustained when the cops kicked him when he was on the ground.

Animals like these cops do not belong on the force. At best, even if the kid had turned out to be a hardened criminal, this would have been nothing more than gang justice, the cops being the gang-in-charge (which is what they are).

Cops like this need to be weeded out. Our police need to be taught, in as harsh a manner as possible (which means that they lose their jobs and face criminal charges), that their behavior must be, not acceptable, but perfect. It's time for the Neanderthals to disappear from the ranks of our police. Just having these kinds of people on the force is a form of police brutality, because these people are brutes.

Yes, we have a crime problem in this city. And here's one small reason (among many) why: The Pittsburgh police actually have a graffiti squad. Give me a fucking break. I'll bet if you put all that spare time you seem to have into trying to catch some real criminals, you might actually reduce the crime rate. But that's not a very good idea, is it? That would suggest to us that we didn't need so many of you violence-prone assholes to ride herd over a growing population that recognizes you for what you are: the biggest, baddest gang on the block.

I avoid going into the East End neighborhoods, for good reason. I don't want to encounter the gangs that "protect" the streets there. Likewise, I avoid going anywhere that cops predominate [except, when I'm in the "right" mood, to "taunt" them with my presence, as a witness, when I know I'm perfectly right and legal in doing so], because I don't want to encounter the assholes who see me as "different" and thus fair game for their bullying, or worse, violent, tactics.

Oh, yeah, they'll do it, some significant portion of them, if they think they can get away with it; because that's what they are, it's what they live for, it's why they became cops in the first place, so that they could "legally" do what they would have done anyway, it's the same reason that some kids join the army (the ones who do it intentionally, and not out of stupidity), for the opportunity to, one day, in some far off corner of the world, kill someone, legally.

Violence is violence; and violent assholes get it wherever they can. And it's not enough any more (it never was, really) to just be careful and stay away from them. We need to be smarter than they are, but we also need to negate their social mandate. Stop the war. And stop police brutality. Prosecute bad cops and put them where they belong, in jail with the rest of the criminals. They're all the same, the violent assholes. Let's start treating them the same.

I'm completely fed up with the dominant, domineering, Big Brother mentality that is maintained by the "authorities" to keep us all "in line". And it all gets worse and worse as technology advances and their ability to spy on what we're "up to" increases. But if they can spy on me, then I can spy on them; and I can spy on other people too. The only thing that gives them the right to surveil the streets electronically is the fact that they say they have the right. And they want to deny me the same right? I don't think so. I'll look at anyone I want to who is out in the public domain; and I'll take pictures too.

I have a web cam set up in my front window and watch the street activity while I'm working on my computer. The other day, I saw a cop car drive up the street. I went to the front window and observed what they were up to as the cops got out of their car, walked up to a house, and knocked on the door. No one was home, so it was a false alarm; but who knows what might happen in such cases? This is why I should start carrying around a video camera like the people who catch cops in the act of brutalizing citizens. What we need to develop is a large cadre of citizen observers.

A new form of protest: Turnouts. People show up in a large group at a public event or outside a private meeting. No protest signs. No vociferous chanting of herd mentality clichés. Mere presence, to let the "authorities" know that they're being watched and that there are people who disagree with what they're up to. The group assembles, quietly and peacefully, stands for half-an-hour in silence, and then disperses. If any police action is taken against them before time has expired, they disperse immediately and reform at a pre-chosen alternate location.

The implicit message is, always: We do not condone this (action, decision, whatever) and we're watching you to see how you will rectify this situation. The larger the group, the better. The more silent, the better. There is no louder voice than silence. Shouting and protestation water down the message and reduce its effectiveness.

This culture is pissing me off (that is, far more so than ever before). The violence, which I have always decried, has become nearly unbearable. Maybe it's way past time for me to move into the desert; and, since that doesn't seem like it's going to happen any time soon, it's time for the desert to move into me: 1) no more tv; 2) my property is a "natural law" preserve, a separate nation-state; 3) what else? It's all still in the fantasy stage at this point; but my fantasies have a good record for coming true. Meanwhile, I'll keep protesting against the insanity that politicians, especially conservatives (but mainstream liberals as well) want to characterize as normality.

Conservatives, even as they whine about increased taxes and spending, want massive spending bills for law enforcement, to put more cops on the street, to boost the protection against the anti-elitist elements of society that might rise up and overthrow the sorry asses in power if they find a viable opportunity. For the same reason, conservatives don't want massive programs designed to educate the poor, not only because the poor will then be more capable of rising up to compete with them for the more advanced jobs and social resources, but also because, with an education, the recalcitrant poor will be better able to compete for the illegal and quasi-legal money that the rich now have a lock-hold on.

Now, don't get your panties in a bunch just yet. I'm not saying that I believe that this would be case; I believe that it would not be, that the criminal poor, by virtue of an excellent education, would tend to abandon any criminal aspirations in favor of more responsible social participation. But the rich elitists don't believe that! And they act on that erroneous belief by resisting governmental programs that would educate the poor, all the while justifying their influence by claiming that the poor are poor for a very good reason: because they're incompetent at attaining wealth; which is true to a lesser extent than the fact that the elite keep them in "their place" via preventing them from not getting an adequate education and blocking them from social opportunities.

It's not about reducing spending or government interference in the lives of citizens; that's just the excuse they use. It's all about protecting their affluent position in society, so that they can continue to lord over the masses. Wake up, people. It's time to spill the tea again. No, I'm not one of your tea party members. I might be if you weren't so goddam mixed up about who you are. Are you Republicans or not? Make up your goddam minds. Start this third party already and get it over with.

Let's get some communication going here. Let's talk about it. Let's exchange ideas. Let's figure out a way to negate the bellicose and repressive elements of our society so that we can all enjoy the freedom and prosperity that our elitist overlords overly enjoy. But let's be careful how we do it. There's a time and place for everything, and one time and place for talking is defintely not while you're driving:

Pennsylvania airheads be forewarned. The state is about to pass a no texting or talking on cell phone while driving law. It's about time. I have a suggestion for a mnemonic for the new law: DWV.1 [Hey! Wait a minute. Are they talking about me?]

I'm starting to think (starting to get paranoid) that, with all of this compaining that I've been doing, people are going to start getting unhappy with me and begin condemning me again. (I avoid condemnation, or use to, by remaining aloof or incognito, which I haven't been doing too much of in recent years. Maybe I'm getting a little bit too careless.). In any case, a message to people who criticize me, for whatever reason: Fuck you. What makes you think I give a fuck what you think about me?

Actually, I do care, which is why it bothers me so much; because I have no intention of altering my beliefs and opinions to accommodate people who criticize me for them. And I really don't want to go back to my hiding away days. I want to remain out among the crowd. But will I be able to withstand the visibility as the social pressure begins to increase again? I wonder. Maybe the violent prone assholes will start to hunt me down again; and I'm no longer the kid I used to be who trained himself in martial arts to withstand their threats. And I don't even want to be that guy any more. I never really liked the physicality of it and only practiced it in order to feel safer in the kinds of confrontational situations I seemed to be prone to becoming involved in. Now I'd rather be just another face in a crowd of protesters instead of standing out in front. The body politic is more my thing these days. (Yeah. Believe that and I'll tell you another one.)

It's all just a matter of autistic symptoms, really. It always has been. I don't do myself any favors by remaining taciturn or out-and-out non-communicative within social groups. The behavior allows others to classify me and prejudge me, whether correctly or not. I don't communicate very well in group efforts (which is why I feel the need to write). It's not, as some autistics claim it is for them, a matter of language being intermittently (or seldom) available; although sometimes it is slow in coming, it's always available to me, if people would be patient with me, and not press me, and not talk over me or interrupt me when I am slow to respond. It's more a matter of choice with me: I choose (but do I really?) not to use it very often when I am out in society, mostly due to social anxiety.

Because, when I do, when I have, it has gone wrong, enough times that it has made a (conditioned) impression on me. I don't notice this too often when it's happening (most often I see it in distant retrospect), but apparently it happens a lot. When I speak, I say things that people don't appreciate, for whatever reason, usually because I failed in the moment to grasp some social convention and so violated it or interjected off-topic comments into a conversation. Under these circumstances, it's easy to understand why I might have grown increasingly reticent to speak over the years. It's easy to see why I might feel anxious when out among people I don't know so well.

I prefer, then, my own little internal or sequestered world, where I can engage in repetitive behaviors such as musical fantasy, scheduling my time and activity with my "magic boxes", maintaining my daily summaries and journal, etc.; and where I can exclusively control the volume and frequency of the various media that insist themselves on you when you are out among (loud) people.

People and their noises distract me and cause me to lose focus. As it is, I have difficulty maintaining it, which prompts me in the "defensive" need to enforce a strict focus of attention by excluding distracting sights, sounds, etc. and dealing exhaustively with only one subject at a time; and avoiding clumsiness resulting from removal of focus from the immediately environment to wherever (another person, project, issue, or off inside my head) and thus dropping or knocking over something, or mis-stepping, or whatever.

And along with the lack of focus comes the problem of switching or initiating projects and tasks: Once I'm focused on a subject or project, I want to keep it going (because I know inherently, that once I let it go, it could be a very long time before I get back to it again). And I have problems beginning projects, even small tasks, often putting them off for days or weeks (or even months or years).

I handle these kind of problems quite well as far as my own little world goes; but interfacing with society is a different matter altogether. Things like paying bills on time and maintaining community standards of home organization, etc. are difficult behaviors for me. It takes a great deal of energy and discipline for me to remain in compliance in this regard. One way that I have managed this in the past (though with problems of its own) is via my own particular form of echolalia: I mimicked social behavior, a fact that I have never been comfortable with when it became conscious. My echoing behavior was not so much directly or immediately with words, like many auties, but took two more obscure forms so that I didn't recognize it as such for a long time:

1) I reflect back to people their own beliefs and attitudes, which sometimes, when it is not so obvious to them, will ingratiate me with them and/or cause them to see me as intelligent, sociable, likeable, etc.; but when it is obvious, they may see me as sycophantic, fawning, or approval-seeking (which is maybe what I unconsciously was) and they would criticize me behind my back for my behavior; 2) like many normal people, I adopted social customs; but unlike normal people, I didn't do it because I wanted to or felt it was the thing to do, but because I saw it as a way to stay out of trouble; and I would do otherwise if I thought I could get away with it; and yet I used my token adherence as a means of convincing sociable people that I fit in when, really, I did not.

All of this (and a lot more besides), taken together, as I became more and more aware of it, weighed on me and drove me increasingly into seclusion, where I existed among a cadre of imaginary friends and, especially, within fantasies and dreams:

The second floor of an old, very large, wood frame warehouse-type building: I'm on a kind of tour of this place, which turns out to be an orientation tour for new "employees", although it seems that we are more like captives than voluntary workers. The place is filled with "semi-divided" rooms, all kitchen and bathroom related, the kind of displays you find in large department stores like Home Depot or Lowes, except that these semi-rooms are functional. Our job, it is explained, is to rotate around the place, cleaning each room, one after the other, paying particular attention to the porcelain and fixtures. Furthermore, should the big boss show up, which he may do as often as once a week, we are to conduct him on a tour similar to the one we're on now, explaining to him how we keep the place spotless for him. I don't like this "job" at all and resolve to leave at the first opportunity, although I'm aware that, should I make my intent too obvious, I will be reprimanded and even punished in some as yet unknown way.

I awaken to the obvious meaning of the dream: I've been trying, over the last few weeks, to clean my house. When I say "clean", what I really mean is organize (according to some semblance and/or approximation of social standards); I very seldom get as far as actually cleaning it any more. I rotate around the house, area after area, briefly putting things away or ordering them in their temporary (projects) places. And, in the kitchen, I actually even (literally) clean, because it's more critical to my health and survival; and I do it far more often than the standard rotation through the rest of the house. The kitchen is second only to my bedroom in orderly importance to me; and, sometimes, when I'm in the cooking and/or preserving mood, it's more important.

I get up and go out into the kitchen for a second cup of coffee, and while it's heating in the microwave, I decide to go to the front door to get a better look at the two feet of snow that God or nature has "blessed" us with overnight. I open the door and the second thing I notice (the first was the abnormally high snow piled up on the deck worrying me as to how much weight that deck can take) was that the lowest, southern branch of the pine tree in the right front yard had broken off under the weight of the snow and was laying with its heaviest part on the top of my hedge and with its former upper reaches hung across my neighbor's telephone line. Fortunately, no one has lived in the house next door for nearly two years now.

I knew that I was going to have to go out and cut the branch in half and try to dislodge it from the line before it broke it. I had to do this once before, a number of years ago, and I didn't look forward to it because I knew how much of a hassle it had been back then. Fortunately, I knew I didn't have to do it right away because no one was about to come driving up the snow-piled street for a day or two; although the owner of that house does have a Jeep. I got my coffee and went back to bed.

But, like the snow piled up on the deck and tree branches, the broken, hanging branch weighed on my mind until, a few hours later, I got heavily dressed, dug out my old firemen's boots that unfold for thigh-high protection, and, after semi-shoveling off the north half of the front steps, with some difficulty, I waded back to the shed to get the chain saw, cursing myself for not having put it away in the basement last fall. Then I waded out through the side yard snow and cut the branch in half, out as far as I could reach over the hedge, though not far enough to allow the branch to tip one way or the other off of the wire. It just hung there in mid-air, supported by the flimsiness of a single strand of telephone cable, a disaster waiting for a high wind to come along.

I had no choice but to wade out the driveway, into the street, and into the neighbor's driveway to try to dislodge it. I tried several times to push and pull at it to tip it over toward the neighbor's yard; but it wouldn't go, hung up in either direction by small side branches. So, with a lot of difficulty, I climbed the neighbor's side steps that lead to the back of their house and I pulled the branch in that direction, and it came down readily, with all of the snow it contained falling right on top of me. I dragged it out to the narrow swatch of snow-piled lawn in front of my front hedges and I hurried back inside before any of my neighbors decided to venture out to survey my handiwork. I didn't want anyone to comment or even notice, if they already hadn't from the warmth of their homes, that the phone line's safety harness had let go and the line was now hanging from its electrical connection only.

This same thing had happened the last time, when I removed a similar branch while the guy who lived there was not home, and I quickly got a ladder and lifted the line back up and re-hung it on the bent nail where it had been suspended. That nail, this time, and probably the last time too, I can't remember, had swiveled in its hole so that the bend no longer pointed upward, but sideways, which was what allowed the line to drop off of it. But the last time we didn't have two feet of snow. There's no way I'm getting a ladder out and putting that line back in place now. I'll do it when the snow melts.

While I was out in the street, I waded to the mailbox and got yesterday's mail, which I unfortunately had forgotten about yesterday until the snow was too deep to bother with it. It came after I'd gotten back home from a foray out into the bigbad world to buy enough groceries to last me over the next few weeks, until the weather turns somewhat reasonable again. I mean, what kind of a cosmic joke is this bullshit anyway? Two feet of snow? And I was complaining last month when we got a mere one-foot snowfall. I remember 1950, barely. I remember it mostly from the black and white photos my dad took: My sister and I, bundled up in what were then called "snow suits", with mufflers wrapped across our faces, looking like fat little snow mummies, are standing in front of a snow bank that was over our heads just off the back porch. I remember jumping into the snow in the back yard and wading through it as it collapsed down onto and engulfed me. It seemed normal then. I didn't realize at the time that it was a rare event. I figured it'd happen again every few years or so. It didn't.

Now, a few houses down the street, kids are jumping into the snow, acting in the same way that we did back in '50. I want to go and do it with them; but I'm too old. Not that I couldn't do it, but it just wouldn't look right, would it? I just did as much as I'm about to do, wading through the stuff for the specific purpose of repairing snow damage. I'm an adult now. Too bad. My back hurts from the sudden, unexpected work. I hate being old. I especially hate the fact that, although my body tells me otherwise, my mind tells me I'm still fifteen. I go back inside and watch for the kids to wander up the street so that I can yell out at them, "You goddam kids get off my snow."

The snow is a minor disaster. A big pain in the ass, but not quite a big enough disaster to satisfy a certain perversity of my basic nature. I love disasters. Not my little personal disasters, where I overly react in a paranoid manner to any small social change, slight, or even non-existent threat. I hate those little episodes. But I love true disasters, or potential disasters, that happen or threaten to happen to other people. My whole life is geared toward catastrophes. I'm prepared. My development has been disaster-oriented. I can heat my house for quite a while without gas or electricity. I can survive without having to buy food for at least several weeks. (The stuff I have set aside may not be so appetizing, but it's edible.) And I have lots and lots of books and candles to while away the hours until you get your lame society back on its feet again. So don't come boo-hooing to me when you can't get your gas guzzling SUV out of your driveway, because I don't care. I can wait for the snow to melt. I can walk up to the store or wherever if I have to. I'm not a fat pig who can barely waddle to the mailbox every day. Put out that goddam cigarette and do a few exercises, you obese waste of a human life.

Next morning, 10 a.m., temperature at 8 degrees F. (I will learn later that the temperature went down to 2 degrees last night), I awaken and go out into the kitchen to make coffee. The sink faucets are frozen. The heat tape wrapped around the pipes beneath the sink does not reach up far enough to keep the faucets themselves, being immediately adjacent to the small kitchen window and inadequately insulated outside wall, from freezing up. So I turn on the small space heater I keep beneath the sink in the winter specifically for occasions such as this, I get some water from the bathroom to make some coffee, and I return to the heated bedroom to begin my day's work, resolving to return to the kitchen in a few minutes to shut off the heater and flow the water again.

But, for some odd reason, my work goes exceptionally well and some five hours later I hear a dull thud. I almost disregard it, but something deep inside my mind tells me to go and check it out, and even before I'm out of the bedroom, I remember: "Oh my God! I never shut off the space heater!" As I exit the bedroom, I hear white noise, which I assume is the heater's fan; and it is, in part. But when I turn the heater off, the noise persists, coming from some indeterminable location, but definitely recognizable as water flow. Shit! Shit and double shit! Triple shit! I've created a catastrophe with my inattention. Moth-er-fuck-er! I quickly get my coat and rush toward the door. Water is spraying somewhere, probably in the basement, from a burst pipe caused by my having boiled water in the lines. I am such an asshole! Now I'm going to have to live without water and probably have to call a plumber, because I'm not about to be doing plumbing in this weather in a cold basement.

But as soon as I exit the house, I hear a loud hiss coming from the side yard, and I look back to see the outdoor faucet spraying water onto the house and creating a cascading ice sculpture down its side. This is a great relief. I don't have to shut off the house water. That faucet has a separate valve. I hurry to the basement, shut off the water to the faucet, and check for additional leaks. There are none. And then, even though I don't really believe in a personal god, I thank It for having mitigated my stupidity. Either something well beyond my own self is looking out for me or else I am an extremely lucky man today. Probably the latter; but you never know.

I go back upstairs and, despite myself, I start to think again about my brother, but I force myself to generalize my thoughts to all people; because I resolved at the beginning of the month not to continue to preoccupy myself with his petty, self-inflicted problems, a belated New Year's resolution.

You (people in general) may get away with a lot of crap, for years and years maybe; but sooner or later, you're going say something, some little word or phrase that seems insignificant, and it's going to initiate a chain reaction in my brain, sparking ideas and memories stored away, awaiting this moment of their revival, to be collated into a better understanding of what is going on in my otherwise more chaotic world-mind. In other words, sooner or later, I'm going to see through the brain-shit you spit out of your mouth in the form of words, and I'm going to decode the crap you allow to pass for social banter and uncover the pathology beneath it. This is what I do, this is the way I work. It takes a whole lot of time, but, eventually, I learn the truth about who and what you people are, truth that, not only you don't know, but that you don't ever want to know and will vehemently deny should I ever have the audacity to reveal it.

And, you know what? I've been struggling so goddam hard for months and months now, trying to be so good, trying to be so productive, meeting difficulties head on; and for what?

I go outside and shovel snow, back aching, getting a little bit worse each day as I clear another two or three feet of driveway, more snow piling up on it each additional day.

There's almost three feet of the stuff now; and, as I'm shoveling, I'm thinking, "It's a good thing I don't believe in God, because if I did, I'd be really pissed at him right now. What an asshole."

So, back inside, sitting in bed, nursing my nagging back pain, I begin to wonder why I'm working so hard, why I'm not adopting my more usual attitude of waiting, until better times.

Because these times right now suck. Three feet of snow?! Three feet? Fuck you, nature! Fuck you, world! I'm going to do whatever I want, because you don't care. Not about me.

February is settling into the depths of me, when only two days ago I entertained the naive idea that I might have avoided it this year. But then, I think that same thing every year at this time.

Later, I begin to formulate a plan for a screen play story/plot: A guy decides, based upon how the world is treating him, that he has to kill God. He initially concludes (after plotting to kill, first, weather reporters, which he decides is a waste of time, they may misreport the weather, but they don't create it, and anyway his anger is directed at far more than the weather, which is merely the superficial provoking factor) that certain public officials are most responsible, so he sets out to do them in; but he fairly quickly decides that he is incapable of it, because they are too well protected and it's not really their fault anyway, they're just slightly bigger cogs in the system's machine; and he can't get angry at anyone else, not even himself; so, after his mental state during all of this plotting increasingly deteriorates and he enters and passes through various delusional states, fugues, etc., he decides that the only choice he has is to seek out and kill God, because He is ultimately responsible. So, in order to find him, he has to let go of any semblance of sanity he has left.

I feel like I should be angry at someone; but I don't know who.
If I believed in God, I'd be pissed off at Him. But I don't.
And I know no one else is responsible for this cold mess.
If I allow myself to get angry, it'd just be big projection.
Or not even that, but merely unwarranted; repression of hurt.
Because snow and cold does hurt me; it's a big pain in the ass.
The best relief from this pain is dreaming in a warm bedroom:

1) Rita naked in a strange room with large "panels" and windows that are well draped. Sex. After a long while, I satisfy her again and again, and she says she loves me. I tell her she only feels that way because I made her come, that women are so "addicted" in that way to their physical existence, and so fickle when that satisfaction is missing. It's interesting that, throughout this long, single-purposed dream, there were no interruptions, none of the usual doors drifting open, unable of remaining closed or locked, no electronic devices coming on spontaneously, no backlighting lights needing to be turned off. The huge windows remained tightly closed and well curtained. Unusual.

2) Hoover hillside (w/o roadway): it's summer, but a girl throws a snowball at me, but she doesn't know I'm there, walking through the underbrush, hidden from her sight. I catch the snowball and throw it back at her. She laughs when she sees me, surprised and entertained that I reacted as quickly as I did, and she apologizes, saying she didn't mean to throw it at me, she didn't know I was there. A guy, a bit farther up the hill, shouts to her, "Who are you talking to?" We walk up to him. He's washing a small sports car, a green-blue Peugeot. She answers him, saying, "Just some guy I met in the woods." He looks at me suspiciously, saying, "Some guy you met in the woods?" I understand his jealousy and act to diffuse it by commenting on the car. I say, "This is a '59, isn't it?" He nods, cautious. I say, "I used to have one of these." (Even though I know, even within the dream, that I had a '59 Simca). I say, "It's a beautiful car." I win him over with my praise and my gregarious nature. Awake, I realize that this is similar to a scene between Al Pacino and Marthe Keller in Bobby Deerfield.

3) I go from the bedroom into the bathroom. Water is running in the toilet and it takes a long time for me to get it to stop. Then it starts running in the sink. Same difficulty. I go out into the kitchen. I glance out the side window and see that there is no snow, so I realize that this is a dream. I understand that I can do anything without consequence, but still I hesitate, as if I will violate some social taboos anyway. I go to the front window. The house across the street has large windows and the inside is easily revealed (recurrent). I look for Emily. She shows up occasionally. Once, she closes the drapes; but she immediately opens them again. I check to see if I'm backlit, making sure that she can't see me watching her. I'm not. But things keep distracting me: electronic devices turn on spontaneously: tvs, radios, old record players; I turn them off, but they don't respond and play too loudly. I try to unplug them, but see that they're all hardwired into the plugs. I desperately rip out the wiring because I can't stand the noise; but, still, they don't shut off (recurrent). Two teen girls, twins, come to the door. They're selling something. I tell them I don't want any. I want to get rid of them so that I can get back to watching Emily. They're persistent. I consider seducing them, but they're not that cute, they're a bit chubby and big-boned, with typical affluent American, pale, pasty complexions. Besides, I think they probably wouldn't go for it anyway, they seem to be Christians (and what they're "selling" may be Christianity) and might become offended and try to get me for harassment and/or statutory rape. I insist that they go away, and they do, with one of them saying as she leaves that they're going to charge my credit card anyway for the visit. I follow them out as they walk over to the next house, yelling at them that they better not charge my card. But I'm too pissed off and start to sputter and spout like an angry jerk. I say something about getting them fired if they persist in trying to charge me. One of them says something like it doesn't matter if they're fired, that getting fired doesn't mean anything any more. A small, wiry guy who is their supervisor, as he is tending to, pruning, etc., bushes along the fence line (where my hedges should be) corrects her, saying it means a lot, that she has to protect her employment record. I echo the same thing. As I walk back toward the house, I notice that my hedges on the other side of the small front yard are not hedges at all, but large compact bushes about six feet high that are bearing huge dark purple fruits (akin to huckleberries, but much, much larger, like large grapes). I know it's too late in the season for these to be fruiting and I marvel that they are. In fact, I know that, in reality, outside the dream, all of this outside area is covered with two feet of snow. I feel bad that I've been continually interrupted from watching Emily, wasting the lucid dream and, while I was dealing with these people, she left the house and drove away in her car.

I awaken regretting the lost opportunity I had in the lucid dream. Instead of directing it, I let it direct me. I resolve in future lucid dreams to 1) go over and talk to Emily; 2) have her come over to me and talk to me; 3) go anywhere I want and do anything I want; 4) exclude people and their negative influences from dreams in the same way I exclude them from my waking life, by refusing the admittance of their negativity/intrusion (after I've analyzed the transference); but I can't analyze the transference within the dream, but then I don't do it in waking life either until I am alone; therefore, exclude them from the dream and then analyze the attempted influence after awakening.

It's bad enough that I have to tolerate negative people in waking life, I should have to tolerate them also in my dreams? Not if I can help it. Negative people have bugged me all my life. I've had to put up a constant defense against them.

During my life, I've been called a spaz, a nerd, a dork, and numerous other names. At the time those labels were applied to me, they were not in any way complimentary in the way some of them might now be; times change.

Some of those labels I don't mind at all, and some of those few I didn't even mind back in the day when I was called them. Some of them were not even, in fact, accurate and were just a way idiots and bullies had of denying my superiority.

The whole point is I never let name-calling bother me. And I taught myself karate and other self-defense techniques to make sure that my disregard would not enable an escalation of the discrimination into more physical forms of abuse.

And the physical training had the side-effect of changing my appearance early on, so that I began to look if not actually be cool, so that my dorkiness became an inner trait that I somewhat easily hid from all but the people closest to me.

So, instead of being targeted head-on, people would snipe at me behind my back, and usually for different reasons, labeling me not so much in the former way but as an intellectual or a genius, but not meant in a flattering way.

Responding in any way to bad labels, however historically charged they may be, is to give those labels currency. People who use them do so in order to bait people into responding. They get off on seeing their victims act out in anger.

For example, when blacks get offended and object when some white assholes call them 'nigger', they play right into the nasty little game that the assholes are playing. My mother taught me when I was very young, "Sticks and stones..."

If your genetics have blessed you with a more darkly colored skin and you take offense at my usage of the word 'nigger' in this piece, then you just don't get it; and you will always be the victim, the second-class citizen, until you do.

And, if you think that, because your skin is dark, you have suffered from discrimination and prejudice in a way that I have not, then you're as blind as the asshole white-trash bigots who disregard your particular manifestation of humanity.

Catch up, brothers and sisters. You're being left behind. If you take offense at being called 'nigger', then you are one. Can't you see how, as much as the white trash society is classifying you as less than equal, you are also classifying yourself?

Thanks to my genetic predisposition, I never responded to any label applied to me, but went on my merry way for the most part oblivious; which saved me the embarrassment of intended ridicule and would-be social censure.

This is the solution to all discrimination: act as if it doesn't exist. Work behind the scenes, if that is what you want to do, to attempt to eliminate discrimination in society, but act as if it doesn't exist. That act then feeds back to make it true.

Someone somewhere (probably on some tv show I now forget, or maybe it was on the internet) was ridiculing someone for having to wear adult diapers. And I thought at the time that that's just about as crude as you can get.

If you ridicule someone because for wearing adult diapers (or for anything really), you're actually ridiculing yourself (all ridicule is self-ridicule; in order to understand the more general concept, you have to understand the specific example):

Why do we, any of us, wear any kind of underwear at all? It's an additional layer of protection. If we didn't wear underwear, then the way that our underwear looks just before we washed it would be the way that our outer clothing looked instead, and the chance of the stains and odors that characterize the condition of our underwear seeping through to the outside of our exposed clothing would be all that much greater.

So, adult diapers differ from ordinary underwear only in degree, not in essence. Thus, when we ridicule someone for having to wear adult diapers, we ridicule ourselves to some (smaller) degree for wearing ordinary underwear. They leak more than we do; but we do also leak. In this same way, when we criticize anyone for anything, we criticize ourselves; because we are all, in one way or another, essentially human.

[I don't like this new title-less formatting method that I've lovingly labeled "The Crazy (Old Man) Experiment". I'm finding it too time-consuming trying to write smooth, cogent transitions. Next month, I'm going back to the old sectioned format.]

Formatting has been a big concern with me ever since I started writing formally. [Well, duh! That's kind of obvious. I should have been clued in by the root word 'form'.] For example, when I first started writing and came across the formatting convention that dictated that periods and commas belong inside quotation marks, I always felt that it looked odd and unnatural, and I never wanted to format my sentences in that way.

But, gradually, I got used to seeing it, so that, now I think that punctuation placed outside the quotation marks looks odd, even though I believe that that alternate formatting, the way the British do it, is correct; and our American way is in fact the alternate format.

(We started doing it in colonial times to prevent periods and commas from getting chipped off the lead type. But the British must have used that same kind of type, so why didn't they have that same problem? Or maybe they did and just lived with it, perhaps because type in America was harder to come by. I wish Ben Franklin were still around to ask. )

Writing (formally) is the way I deal (within myself, and coincidentally within society, if anyone should ever happen to read this crap) with negative people (including politicians and corporate assholes who disguise their negativity in positive terms via spin; they really are the most negative assholes of all). Negative people bug me, but I can get all the justice and revenge I can handle via the written word, turning injustice into creative fiction and revealing to the world what assholes people are. [Notice how I cleverly wove together those two disparate subjects, negative people and writing.] But, usually, I concentrate on revealing mostly my own assholedness instead, almost always recognizing the fact of my projection.

My ability to see myself in others' foible (actually, it's probably the other way around, but no matter) is most obvious to me in dreams, where the two systems, inner and outer, come together and intermix, causing me to wonder why I am, after all, so much like that other, outer, world:

I'm in a large auditorium, very large, almost like an indoor stadium (recurrent), listening to Obama speaking. At times, the place is filled to capacity and, at other times, it's nearly empty, as people file in and out, eventually leaving only me and one other guy, whom Obama, having come down into the audience to be nearer to the smaller group, nevertheless addresses us in his previous formal speech delivery tone. [Obama is on C-SPAN as I sleep.] This is not, however a simple thinning out of the audience because, at times, the audience also gets larger again until, at one point, a whole section of seats is filled (in an otherwise nearly empty auditorium) with people who appear to be some kind of religious right contingent, yet who support the president. Near the end, though, when O is speaking only to me and this other guy, I'm bored and want to leave, but feel it would be ignorant; and then the other guy, a semi-hippie type (obviously an alter-ego, the part of me that wants to leave), departs, and I am alone with O, who yet still addresses me in a formal manner. Cut to:

Downtown: I'm walking through an area of town that doesn't exist (recurrent area) but is adjacent to the Second Ave. area across an area of empty lots (also non-existent and recurrent). I'm wearing a short sleeve print shirt (like I used to wear all the time when I was younger), which is slightly too light for the weather, which is warm, but just, so that I feel the slightest chill and worry that I should have worn a jacket. A threat of rain is in the air. I am also otherwise unprepared: I have no money, no wallet (no identity), no car nor means of getting back home (and, if I would have thought about it, I'm not even sure I'd know where my home is). Walking out of this area and into one along Grant St. (which is sort of also Forbes by the jail), I see a small purse with a pair of glasses atop it laying up against a wall at a bus stop. I look around to see if anyone is nearby who belongs to it. No one. I pick it up, figuring I'll return it to the owner if I can find her and if I don't pick it up, someone else might who will not try to return it. But now I'm stuck carrying a purse with no way to hide it. I put the small straps over my shoulder and carry it tucked tightly up under my arm, but it is still obvious. I look around as I walk for someplace to buy a more masculine type of bag to conceal it in (I want to conceal my feminine identity?); but I realize I have no money. I look inside the purse and find a large quantity of quarters, which I remove and put in my pocket, figuring I'll use them to buy a bag and pay the purse owner back when I get back home and get some money. I also find a silver dollar, but I leave it in the purse, figuring it's a treasured keepsake. I walk across town to the Penn Ave. and 10th St. area, to a (non-existent, but recurrent) place where I find an outside display of larger duffel-like sports bags for sale in a stairwell, hung along the wall at the side of the stairs. But all the bags are too awkward-looking and seem like they'd be out of place carrying them through town. I'm looking for something more compact and briefcase-like; but I can't find anything. I also see some very small bags that I like a lot and they're only five dollars, but the purse wouldn't fit in them. All the while that I was looking for a place to find bags to buy, I was also looking in the trash cans I passed for a discarded plastic or paper bag I can use. I finally find an old small lunch type paper bag that I put the purse into and I carry it like I'm brown-bagging it. Now I feel freer to explore the inside of the purse since it's disguised inside the brown bag. I find a small diary-like binder with a bit of personal information. The owner's name is Elizabeth Shannon, but there is no contact info, only personal entries that I don't actually read, thinking I'll read them later when I have more time. [I never actually manage to read dream writing, even when I try; the sense of it eludes me, which is always a big disappointment.]

Awake, two ideas impress themselves on me at once, which I hurry to document for fear of losing them:

1) I conclude that the purse is a symbol of a woman's identity and, furthermore, that I'm always trying to sneak a look into the identity of some woman I know but am not on speaking terms with, gleaning clues from her passing presence, trying to figure out who she is. It's a form of one-way intimacy that I would have be two-way if only we didn't have to carry on long, drawn-out conversations, which I'm not very good at, except occasionally in certain spontaneous moments, and yet even then, always, awkward moments occur that break the spontaneity and mood. Better, I always think, that we get to know each other in brief moments of passing interaction that build up slowly over time, perhaps by being mutually occupied in a work or project environment; or, better yet, that we commune psychically, with few words necessary. It's an idle fantasy. It never works out that way. But I always want to think that it actually does, but below the level of awareness, unconsciously, which is her motivating factor for wanting to hook-up with me; and maybe it's true, and maybe it's not.

2) If I would have thought of it, I would have told Obama, when we were finally one-on-one: We elected you to create a change of government, because we wanted something significantly different. Stop killing people! [Because he has escalated the Afghan war, intent upon displacing the Taliban from M_____ [The name of the town currently escapes me]; but, collateral damage aside, he's killing people. This makes his behavior unChristian, which makes him not a good Christian, because Jesus was unequivocal in his instruction to turn the other cheek. Thou shalt not kill, even to prevent killing.]

I imagine that I confront Obama.

(Pay attention! This is a message to the president. Somebody who has a direct line should get it to him):

I imagine he listens patiently to my message, and then he says:
"It's a violent world. What do you expect me to do?"
"I expect you, sir, to turn the other cheek", I say.
"That's a fine ideal, but it's not of this world."

"You want me to be a part of this world? Look at this world. Look at what you're doing? You're fucking killing people. You're murdering people, even innocent people by collateral damage, which you rationalize with rules of war. Wars and corruption. I don't want any part of that world. I expected something different from you when you were elected. I guess I was misled once again."

Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.

I know that's really not fair, I know that, on many fronts, he's trying. But, at best, he's ineffective so far. It's a hard effort, to stand up to the bigots who disguise their agenda as patriots and themselves as Republicans and split the conservatives into factions. Where's the next William F. Buckley, Jr.? Whence cometh the deliverance?

It's the harshness of the winter that's causing this harsh attitude in me. In the summer, I have long lists of goals and projects that I work on in marathon sessions or piecemeal. Every single day, I'm in and out of the house, getting things done. But, in the fall, I increasingly spend more time indoors; nothing odd about that behavior, of course. But, in winter, each new day sees less and less accomplished. Early on, I still maintain the lists, I still get a few things done.

But, as the winter wears on, the lists get longer and longer as items fail to get checked off until, finally, in the depths, if I manage to schedule and resolve to do just one thing (like I have resolved tomorrow to go out and get a new battery for the car), it feels like a great accomplishment. One thing done, one small thing, one token chore, and I'm back in my warm bedroom feeling satisfied to wait out the rest of the day and night "wasting" time (not really, that's a social definition; in fact, this is the high point of my writing productivity) in whatever way I will choose to do it.

Winter is restricting in this way: in the summer, I persist at doing what needs to be done, even if it's a task that is giving me a particularly hard time; in the winter, I say fuck it, it's too difficult, I'm going back to bed. Winter narrows down until almost nothing happens but the waiting for the spring. Fuck the world, it's a harsh prick anyway, and I'm not going to have anything more to do with it than that which is absolutely necessary, and that in my own good time.

Which, of course, always involves dreaming; but this time I don't remember:

Something. I awaken a bit confused. It's not the usual affect, as if something is changing or has just changed; but not, but is still the same. I try to make sense of it as I go and get my first cup of coffee. I guess, I think, it is the same thing after all. A mix of anxiety and depression:

It seems, for example, to work this way (I've described this before, but it's like a revelation nonetheless): I feel a bit of anxiety because my car battery is dying and discharges when I haven't used the car in a while, due, I'm guessing, to all the battery-draining electronics it has, always on.

(Security alarm, etc., which can't be disabled, even though I keep the car in a garage.) But I'm also experiencing a bit of depression, which I counter (my typical defense) by adopting an I-don't-care attitude. I've never before considered how the two affects collude:

The I-don't-care defense works very well for me, except when "society" tells me that I must do something and the anxiety kicks in, whereupon a conflict is stirred up: Go out and get it done v. stay at home, hide out, and engage in the usual non-involved (non-)activities.

Combine that conflict with being tired from lack of sleep, in part caused by awakening after only a few hours with the idea that things must be done, and I'm left with a stasis that wants (or more like needs, but not quite; same dichotomy as the conflict) to break out of itself.

The anxiety/depression is not exactly one or the other; it's both, at the same time--like the want/need dichotomy; in fact, not like, but the same damn thing: the want is the stay at home depression defense and the need is the social anxiety. And they both operate at the same time.

They push/pull at me as if from a single point and not in counterpoint. When I try to analyze it (them), they break apart into two forces; but that's only in theory; in fact, they are one. When one of them, e.g., the anxiety, is inoperant, the other defends me adequately.

As long as I "don't care", I'm fine. And when the depression "lifts", I can easily deal with anxiety by facing up to it and proactively taking on society via making plans and executing them, using all of my learned behaviors to counteract my genetic propensity (the real problem).

The two affects are (conditioned?) reactions against my genetic deficiency, which I counteract, when I can, when I can find the motivation, by reading and writing:

I harnessed four horses to a light trap, took Charmian along, and drove for three months and a half over the wildest mountain parts of California and Oregon. Each morning I did my regular day's work of writing fiction. That completed, I drove on through the middle of the day and the afternoon to the next stop. But the irregularity of occurrence of stopping-places, coupled with widely varying road conditions, made it necessary to plan, the day before, each day's drive and my work. I must know when I was to start driving in order to start writing in time to finish my day's output. Thus, on occasion, when the drive was to be long, I would be up and at my writing by five in the morning. On easier driving days I might not start writing till nine o'clock.
Jack London, John Barleycorn
I do this same thing, except that I don't actually go anywhere.
At home, I awaken out of sleep feeling motivated to write.
Dreaming is my exclusive form of traveling these days.
It's a nice fantasy, though; traveling as an excuse to write.
D.H. Lawrence did it. Lots of writers did; and they still do.
I'd do it too, except that circumstances now prevent it.
Maybe after I formally retire and have a steady income.
But, perhaps not so with others, I require no motivation.
I have more than enough material to write out my whole life.
In fact, going somewhere might just produce an overload.

Yesterday, for unrelated reasons, I sat out in the cold house at the desktop computer and wrote while I surfed the web (on the slow dial-up connection that I must continually wait on); and, as I wrote, Annie Dillard came to mind. Every day, she would go out to her distant, unheated shed and write her little self-indulgent "nature" books, balancing out her penchant for including her own self in the nature of her writing (I'm guessing) with her stoic resistance against the colder, though natural ambiance of her writing environment. I feel the same way when I exist inside my unheated home, when I do not retreat into my heated bedroom six months of the year. My home feels more like a vacation cabin to me, and I am on permanent retreat, a crazy old man ensconced in the middle of suburbia, like a hermit in Manhattan hanging onto his sanity by a thread because his mountains have transformed themselves into the skyscrapers they have always been and his cave is an abandoned subway station where he goes to do most of his hanging on.

Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way.
The time is gone. The song is over.
Thought I'd something more to say.
Pink Floyd, "Time"
When I'm on a roll (like I am now), for days or weeks at a time, writing usually, or creating art, nothing else matters and I tend to let things, and worries, slide. But sooner or later I'm going to run up against a situation that I must deal with, which pisses me off, even if it's something I really want to do; or, if not, even if it's something completely benign and causes not one bit of anxiety, but especially if it does and requires me to interact with people when I don't want to.

Everyone must protect themselves against the wiles of the world and its less than friendly people; otherwise, they suffer losses, and they can even die. Frigid cold and snowstorms, nasty little games that people play, affect especially people like me, who, due to our genetics, are overly sensitive to such situations; physically, because we tend to take less preparatory care (although we can, being more consciously aware, make a bigger point of doing so and better plan ahead); but, especially, socially, because that's our more serious area of deficiency and misunderstanding, what it takes to survive and prosper when a cold community schemes. The world and its people can go fuck themselves for all I care. (They do. They don't just do it to me and my kind. I'm not paranoid, most of the time.) I can play cold too. I have introjected the world and its people. I have become what they are. They have done their works quite well with me. I protect myself. I've learned an adequate self-defense. You might think I am not such a valid person because I behave this way; but, then, you are not me, or you would know.

The snow is two feet high, and still rising like a slow tide, each day coming in waves, an inch at a time, two, three, the street blocked, plows incapable of navigating the treacherous frozen earth-bound water. Driveway blocked, thoroughfares unwalkable, even if one dares to trudge the thigh-high slog to get out to them, walking along them is dangerous traffic, and beside them the continued slog is impossible. I've had to plan ahead to guarantee my daily meal would be available, for weeks and months to come, whatever came my way, however much it froze and snowed.

Last month, before the week long snow storm, when Kim wanted me to go down to the VA with Royce, that was because (apparently, I am in the process of discovering, as the clues continue to filter in via phone and psychic messenger; i.e., intuition) the VA was requesting that someone from the family come with him, and Kim didn't feel compelled to go herself. They probably wanted her to go with him and she, in her typical manner, was trying to push that responsibility off on me. I didn't go, therefore she had to.

This is in the same vein as all of the other times she has tried to drag me into their relationship, thereby, when I complied, abetting the problem and further enabling Royce, not only in his alcoholism, but in his social blunder of marriage as well.

I could accept my brother when he was generally standoffish, always with a chip on his shoulder, feeling put down, not really by anyone else's behavior (which is what he always feels; certainly not by my own, because I always went to great lengths to defer to him and make absolutely certain not to disrespect him in any way), but by his own interpretation of how others act "superior" to him, based upon the fact of his own inferior feelings. It was okay when he would talk to me about casual, lightweight subjects of his own choosing, sports or politics usually, never broaching any serious issues relating to (our) interpersonal relations.

Then, several months ago (before the freeze set in), when he started to get serious, looking for advice and help, feeling desperate and deciding that he had to get sincere about changing his life, although I wasn't all that comfortable talking with him about it, I set aside my own peculiarities and adopted an adult role that I'm never very comfortable with and I did all I could to help him, even though the stress it created in me was very difficult for me to deal with. (I felt like I was back working at a job again.)

But, when he backslid, yet continued to pursue what he must have thought of as our newfound sibling relationship, but without the previous sincerity, having abandoned it in favor of becoming comfortable again within his domestic situation, and especially when he subsequently got increasingly maudlin, reminding me of how Dad used to act when he was drinking, thinking he was being so "intimate" when he was acting merely obnoxious, I decided that that was enough. I disliked my father when he got like that and I avoided him whenever I could, because that same set of behaviors began to leak over into his non-alcoholic existence, so that the only reason I ended up ever speaking to him at all was to please my mother. Well, my mother is gone now, and I don't need an overly sentimental father replacement crying on my shoulder and thanking me to excess for the mere fact that I would listen to his whining and not get mad at him for it. I don't need to be thanked, thank you, I need to be shown that my attention is not futile. I hate having to perform the same tasks over and over again. Advancement is.

So, after thinkng this all out, again, and deciding, again, that everything I've done so far re this issue has been right and proper, I have another one of those anger-at-my-mother dreams. I hate these dreams. I have to find out what they really mean: I come home to 6023. No one is around. I decide to look upstairs for people since I seem determined to find someone. As I turn the corner into the dining room (going in the opposite direction from the stairs, I don't know why), I literally run into my cousin, the cute one, who is surprised, but happy to see me; and I her. But I'm determined to get upstairs. At the front door, I look out at the driveway. There are at least six cars parked there and on the street in front of the house, and there would be one more in the garage. I wonder where my car is (a new shiny black sporty subcompact that I've just bought) and I think that maybe, because it's brand new, they put it in the garage; but then I think that "they" are not that thoughtful. I find my mom upstairs in the south bedroom. She's with a teen girl I don't know. They're either packing or unpacking boxes, after the fashion of Christmas decorations. I ask her where my car is, but she doesn't want to answer me. I press her on the issue until she finally says that she loaned it to Neve. "Neve!" I shout. "Neve Campbell. You let Neve Campbell drive it!" My mother continues what she's doing, disregarding me. I ask when she's coming back. My mother doesn't answer so the girl answers for her. "She said she might be late." I ask who she's with. The girl says, "Darius." I scream, "You let Neve Campbell take my car and go out with Darius!" I can tell by the way the girl looks at me that she cares for me and is concerned; but my mother acts obliviously. I'm disturbed by the fact that Neve is a careless driver and that Darius is a big distraction for her; when she's with him, she is twice as careless. I storm out of the room. I go downstairs to my mother's room, looking for her purse, thinking I will take my spare key off her key ring so that she can't allow anyone else to borrow my car. [It doesn't occur to me that the key would not be on her key ring because Neve has it.] But when I find her keys, I realize that I can take her car; and I think I can teach her a lesson because I can stay away all night so that, in the morning, when she has to go to work, she won't be able to get there. [I don't realize that she could just take my car when Neve returns it.] But her car is blocked in and I have to spend a lot of time rounding up relatives to get them to move their cars. Finally, I drive away, resolving never to return, heading toward an apartment I have (a recurrent dream apartment that I once rented in a dream a long time ago, on a road in one of the housing plans near to both Deborah Jane Court and the back road up to the Sears shopping center (two separate locations fused into one), an apartment that I never lived in even though I rented it, so that I worried in subsequent dreams about wasting the money). Since no one at home knows I rent this place, I can live there and be free of their interference in my life.

It doesn't occur to me until I awaken that I'm trading my brand new car for my mother's far older one. It does now occur to me that maybe the new car is my younger self and my mom's car is my older self. And the anger? I'm not sure. It could be repressed hurt that I feel at the hands of my family in general and my mother specifically, at the way they have always disregarded my feelings, decisions, and life choices, probably because I've always been so strong-headed and self-determined so that they felt they would make no headway with me in any case, but that's my present-day analytical self talking, not my young, unaccepted, disregarded, disrespected outlaw personality.

I think that my brother focuses on this former personality (which in many ways is still with me) when he sees me as unattainable (which is also a projection of his, of course). He has concluded, I believe, that I think I am so much better than he is, in large part because he semi-consciously recognizes how he compares poorly with me as a result of how he has screwed up his own life so badly, but also in part from the get-go, due to his basic inferiority complex. (He's the youngest child of three.) I have always until very recently tolerated what I feel is his less-than-brotherly attitude toward me. But recent events have poisoned my own attitude. It's been a long time coming, but the whirlwind has finally been reaped, I fear. Last month, I outlined that imperfect storm.

In all of her books (or at least some of them; I don't think I've yet read them all, and I'm not sure it's even in all the ones I have read), Kathe Koja includes what might be called a "punch line" at the end, a device, typically a quote that epitomizes exactly the central point and that, had it been included as an epigram at the beginning, wouldn't have been anywhere near as poignant. The best of these in my opinion was at the end of her first book, The Cipher. I've just finished reading a recent book of hers, Kissing the Bee, which also ends with her benchmark technique; and, as will often occur in my life, it just so happens that this bee book perfectly epitomizes my own recently learned lesson, my "break" with my brother. Koja's thesis is the pain of severing a relationship that has worn thin due to personality change and is long past due severing; it must be done, it's the right thing to do, and yet it's incredibly sad, in my case here, to the point of extreme melancholia.

...a bee's sting directly on the lips is what first brought poetry into the world of humans. The pain she inflicts, says this myth, is equal to the worth of the wisdom she inspires. This is called "kissing the bee."

Click on footnote number to return to that respective point in the text.
1. Driving While Verbose