…into an ongoing nightmare of the ones who control you.

It’s a hard day when you have to repeatedly ask yourself how much of the thoughts inside your head are yours, and how much of the face inside the mirror is you, and how much of the voice you hear speaking to the faces that are responding to your gestures and tics are faces that know who the real you is.

It’s a strange day when you go through the entire day without having had any of this happen inside your head.

You wake up and ignore the mirror. You would just waste time staring in disbelief. You grab something to keep you focused. A box full of old National Geographics that your uncle gave you will do. You read about feats of engineering from the fifties and marvel at things you had no idea man was capable of doing. Where you live, a feat of engineering is learning how to program the DVR.

You read about men traveling to Africa and France. You once went to Disney World when you had a family. You are terrified of leaving the radius of your apartment, the office, the grocery store. Everything and everyone is a menace, and it’s bad enough having to leave your apartment.

You once had a dog, but you forgot to feed him. Same with the cat and plants and fish, and so you don’t have anything or anyone, except the television and these National Geographics. There were some People magazines thrown in–probably your Aunt’s, but you took to enjoying yourself to them too much and decided they had to go.

You are certain that some kind of evil being has traded places with you, and is successfully living in your real body with a beautiful wife out in California. You know that he and his family DO take trips to places like Africa and France, and have lots of friends. These are the people you write about, and you also work on your plan to save your money and go out to California to get your life back. Sometimes you write a letter to your Senator or the President about your situation, but you are pretty sure they are friends with the evil being who traded places with you.

That’s the thing–so many of these people you pass on the street look at you with semi-recognition, mixed with either contempt or condescension. Surely, they are all in on it as well.

You spent eight months in the throes of whiskey. It was a prison you don’t miss. Your constitution just can’t take it, and you were mostly sick and even more paranoid the next day. The only chemicals you take are muscle relaxers you purchase from the kid three floors down.

You love baseball and America, but you are pretty sure the real America has died and gone away.

…from a few dreams to help you remember how to love.

It’s easy to forget how to love others, how to put on a mask of kindness while your insides become more rotten. You can start to see yourself as being someone who doesn’t need the sentimental pap of religion and the popular culture songs about love. Others don’t seem to be expressing love much, so why should you?

The next thing you know, you are thinking about how grand it would be to have the world all to yourself.

Then, you have a dream where you’ve come under the spell of a much more dominant personality. He is some kind of Godfather type of person, and he shoots up a man sitting across from you (who looks like your old band teacher), after you divulge some secrets to the man. “We don’t want outsiders knowing our plans,” says this mobster guy, “Now tell me, are you going to be busy this summer, I have some work for you to do.”

Then, you have a dream where you’ve left your little dog Buffy out in your childhood dog Bruno’s pen. It is thundering heavily and getting ready to storm real bad. She is curled up in the doghouse scare, and you realize you’ve been too busy and selfish with your own little world to take the time to comfort her.

You wake up realizing just how much you’d started to forget how to love. Love is hard, like staying erect against gravity. Eventually you will be worn down for persisting with it. But, the alternative should be rather unthinkable. Hate is easy–it grows stronger when you take the easy way out every day, lashing out at motorists and snapping at people when you don’t eat. The next thing you know, you can’t name a single soul on the planet who isn’t deserving of some kind of punishment for doing or saying something you deem to be offensive.

It probably helped, too, that you watched some random reality show full of people lost in their fantasy worlds, having completely gone into escapist mode.

When you get busy trying to make your brain smart and avoid the awful distracting playground that is the outside world, don’t forget to smooth things out by letting love flow deeply and cyclically through you. And of course, don’t try to own Love as if it were some kind of perfume you could bottle up to increase its potency and release at will.

…struggling to write your epic historical manifesto.

You are someone who doesn’t stop to examine anything inside your head too closely. You have a will to work until the day you die. You don’t brag about the things you do, and don’t think too hard about why things worked or didn’t. You hate people who think too much, and you hate people who think too little. You do your best to get along with your neighbors, but you don’t much like any of them. They are all a bunch of sloppy, careless creatures who have forgotten how to be men. You don’t see much difference between a light-in-the-loafers Broadway actor playing a cowboy or soldier, and these men who worship John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, and like to talk about guns. One of them, Matt, was actually in the Army, but he didn’t make it out of Boot Camp. The others were small-town skirt chasers from the time they were in High School until the time they were in their twenties when they married their first wives. All three of them are working on their third marriages, but then again, so are you.

The first woman you married was someone you met in a hospital in Saigon, and she left you for a professor, opting for California over southern Missouri. The second woman was someone you already flirted with at the meat packing plant, and she got a better paying job than you near Kansas City. You re-enterd the military as you neared 40, and commanded a platoon in the first Gulf War. Then, the second woman left a few years after you returned home. She settled down with an old boy she fell in love with while you were away.

You love small towns, not for the people, but for the quiet and the space, where nobody minds your business and you can go out on the boat all day, and work in your woodshop and smoke your cigars. You hang out with these fellows twice a month, playing poker with them, because you know that men who become total hermits get robbed and beaten to death. These fellows beg for you to tell them war stories, and with enough whiskey, you oblige them.

Your children hate you, and they don’t ever come down to the place. One boy got his legs blown off in Iraq, and blames you and W for sending him over there. The other boy is gay and thinks you hate him for it, but you couldn’t give a damn. The one girl child, from the second marriage, is fiercely certain that the man her mother left you for is her real father. He drives a Humvee to a bank and works all day to foreclose on people’s homes. She loves him, because he flirts with her and unashamedly tells her how sexy she looks. You don’t understand young people. Hell, you understood all the hateful baby boomer brats you came home to in the seventies better than these nasally eels.

You are working on a history of the Second World War. It’s all about your daddy, and the men that grew up with him, fought and died with him, and came back home to build a beautiful America together. You are pretty certain that somewhere between all of the technology that was invented by the Allied forces and Hitler, plus all the psychadelic drugs that came into the hands of kids slightly younger than you, and all the terrible television and bad music of that era–you are certain that an alternate reality was introduced sometime around 1964.

In 1964, in your reality, Johnson won the election, but you’re pretty sure there is a world where Goldwater won. In the alternate universe, you went to Vietnam and came home a hero, having wiped it clean of Communism, setting up the entire country to become like Japan or South Korea. The US remained a clean, clear-headed country as it raced into space. Without the extended time in Vietnam dragging down the budget, and without all of the baby boomer youth turning completely dysfunctional, the country developed computing technologies faster, and had Moon and Martian colonies going by 1989.

Almost 100% of the country owned a television set by 1964. This would have been the perfect time for any sinister agents lurking in the government to begin the process of brainwashing the population. Just look at the amazing feats of mechanical and electrical engineering that were taking place up until then. Everyone thinks the turning point came with the death of Kennedy, but you know that is a false flag. You suspect that a disenchanted cabal of scientists perfected time travel technology, and arrived in 1963 to make deals with men like Johnson. LBJ could have his legacy as being the President when a man landed on the moon, and leave the office having signed into law various civil rights acts and other public works of note. Since that time, every ambitious old man or woman who finds themselves on the cusp of potentially becoming President gets pulled in to taking the oath.

This time travelling cabal came from the future that was meant to be your birthright–you were meant to come home a war hero and go on to climb up the ladders of office yourself. Instead, you saw a country torn apart by young people in the throes of the poisons being unleashed upon them, both chemically and psychologically. The old guard of an Eisenhower conservative vs. an FDR liberal was re-engineered to be highly artificial and toxic. The cabal’s goal is the ultimate disintegration of the country into chaos, and they are quite happy to create divisions when and where they can and play them against each other. They loved helping foster the rise of the women’s liberation movement, because the introduction of the pill and Roe v. Wade drove a wedge into the people of this great nation that never needed to be there in the first place. They let women think they were emancipated, and rising up to positions of equal pay, only to then begin a campaign starting around 1995 to teach young girls to be these imbeciles who love being as girly as a girl from 1958, but full of “sexual freedom” to disrupt the natural order of things.

You have no idea how to tell this story properly, because it offends everyone on both the Left and Right.

You sometimes feel pity, sometimes feel contempt, for the men who you join for cards every couple of weeks. On one hand, you wish somehow they would just wake up and see how their minds have been shaped and warped by the time travelling cabal. But, at the same time, you understand that because the efforts to destroy this country, this world are so pervasive at every level of society, you know that it’s almost entirely impossible for a man to regain his sanity and wake up to this reality that isn’t as it should be.

…wishing that your mind worked like a spreadsheet.

You want your mind to neatly hold data like a spreadsheet or database. Easily retrievable packets that can be called up based on any number of keywords to deliver the right memory or piece of knowledge for the occasion. But, you also want your mind to have unlimited freedom, to be able to imagine whatever it likes with impunity, as long as you don’t try to trot all of it out into the real world. But, you also want discipline and clarity for your mind, so that it doesn’t wander off into madness and perversion, and so that it doesn’t become fixated on stupid television shows.

But, you also want to remain creative and bright, and full of all the youthful energy that you think makes you so wonderful.

Your mind tries to get out of second gear, after years of abusing it with mundane office work, bad American pop culture and alcohol. It remembers things like trigonometry and tries to train you to listen to your voice better, to match the pitch of the people singing on the radio. It devises new business ideas.

Your mind wants to take with it all the training you gave it, and not be dependent upon your body to remember the training. You have to learn to keep your mind still and focused, or nothing will get better. You have to become a healer to yourself before you can heal others.

Healing is the keyword here. Love, Truth and Beauty cannot be used, because you don’t know how to use them properly. You have to learn about healing, and now is a good time to do it, now that you are old enough to see the difference in healing that happens when you hurt yourself at 40, than when you hurt yourself at 20 or even 30. Your body needs to be trained by your mind to understand the youthful art of healing, so that it can be conditioned not to listen to its genes and programmed cells. In order for you to reprogram your body, you have to start with your mind.

How many hateful, vengeful, angry thoughts did you have today? More than you dare to or care to remember.

…and the culture shock is finally seeping into you.

Good job. Way to pretend you don’t actually live here for an entire year. But, you live here now. So, why don’t you embrace the rustic life?

You never really fell in love with the cosmopolitan life, anyway.

Good Lord. Do you fit in anywhere? People of all stripes rub you the wrong way.

You read some article about SXSW, and you think to yourself, “wow, everything I hated about that burgeoning hipster asshole culture is now the only thing about that scene. The twentysomething startup nerd talking about content or collaboration–WTF? Their startups look like their outfits and their music…if you make it into their echo chamber, you might get the nuance of how they are different, but they all look the same to me.”

You go to the “downtown” area of this hayseed village you now live in. Oh no. You thought people like this no longer existed. No, you thought they never existed. You are too far removed from your original hayseed village to remember if the bumpkins were like this back in Missouri.

You never could quite bring yourself to fall in love with the academic life, either. The Head of your English Department was some uppity asshole that snipped at you for wanting to be more creative about how you got your creative writing degree. Everyone loved him. Talk about people living in a bubble. Academics seemed to have an attractive lifestyle–collect handouts from the University and government to ponder the universe in whatever fashion struck their fancy. Put up with a few classes full of dullards and petty departmental politics, and you have a free ride to live outside of that world of grinding work.

But you were sick of being taken care of by Mommy and Daddy. They had paid for your entire adventure of four years inside the bubble, and you were sick of Daddy treating you like you were still eight years old. You had this naive idea that you’d be happier if the money you brought home was directly tied to the hours of productivity you amassed during the day. Input work in, output money. Simple. None of this need to write requests for loans and grants and produce papers and arguments and theses for why the money being poured into you was worth it. Just demonstrate it every single day, and your boss is happy, you are happy.

Of course, this is a straitjacket safety blanket of its own kind. You met people who were making careers out of carefully knowing how to work the corporate system, how to demonstrate on a daily basis they were doing just enough of the right kind of fluffy, spreadsheet-and-powerpoint-filled busy work to keep from getting fired, and happily see the 1-3% raise each year. Safe, comfortable, happy.

What nobody understands in all these OWS/Tea Party arguments about personal responsibility vs. gov’t is the simple fact that each and every one of us has somehow come to accept a little too much of a safety blanket in return for not having to be especially concerned about how we will pay for any cost of living expenses. We are all very much lacking in wanting to take any sort of personal initiative to do anything.

Why should we? If we play our cards right and accept some limitations to our freedoms, there is enough money flowing through the system to keep each and every one of us living in decent shelter with electricity and running water, mostly safe from crime, wearing clothes from a new yearly wardrobe, eating whatever we want to fill our carts up with at the grocery store, and getting a car, television set and mobile phone for each person over the age of 16.

“If you don’t like the way things are here, you can leave.”

The truth of it is, you probably wouldn’t like the way things are, anywhere. People, once they form a tribe of more than two that isn’t a standard family unit, develop bizarre rules and norms for what is acceptable and what is not. Someone once proudly bragged to you that in the US, there are no rules and customs. But ours are more subtle. The rules of engagement are unwritten–there is no book of codes you can learn and then go successfully interface with the tribes of the USA. You can play the stranger/foreigner card a little bit in most places if it is clear that you are just passing through, but see what looks you’ll get in one of these hayseed villages if it becomes evident that you’re there to stay and educate their children.

They can see it in your eyes that you voted twice for Obama, and that you support gay marriage, and that you think Obamacare is the best thing to happen to America since FDR’s New Deal. You can try to mimic their mannerisms, align yourself with their eye movements, speech patterns and pace, etc. You would fool a few of them in shops where you are just making a purchase and getting out. But, nobody is the least bit fooled when they see you trying to cram a new lawn mower in to the trunk of your Honda Civic.

The thing you seem to hate the most about the tribes of America is how people seem to have unquestioningly accepted that they are the way they are, reality is the way it is, nothing can be changed–change is for children and politicians, for the rest of us, we see no need to grow or question why we came to accept a bit of knowledge that we embraced as absolute Truth. This can be said for all these tribes, whose members want some kind of safety in numbers.

You once thought perhaps that deep down, we are all the same, and way up on the surface, we could all find a common ground and a way to get along. But, living among these tribes of men and women who carry a complete contempt for the outside world and most things intellectual, you wonder if this is not the case at all. So, what tribe will you belong to? Or, will you be just like your father, and your mother’s father–hermits who pretty much disagree with everyone and want to be left alone?

If I want something badly enough, I get it done.

If I want something badly enough, I get it done.
If I am not getting something done, it could be that I didn’t want it badly enough, but contrary to popular belief, that may not be the primary reason for not getting it done.

It could be that with many areas of my life where growth is being inhibited, I am comfortable in a “still learning/still growing” phase, and have taken to identifying with it.

Take math knowledge, for instance. Since I got the D in PreCalc in college, I’ve longed to be able to use more math to develop my understanding of the universe. I’ve bought and checked out lots of PreCalc and intro to Calc books at the library–books for laypeople to understand Newton and Leibniz, etc. And, I’ve developed a vague and general concept of what Calculus is. But, I still have trouble understanding how to make the mental leap from regular Algebra, grasping exactly what makes it different, deriving some sense of how it could be used beyond the simple falling body or acceleration problems everyone starts with.

I think, to some degree, I am mentally stuck in my College Freshman year, unable to proceed without the blessing of some teacher that says “yes, you have finally passed the threshold from Algebra to Calculus, and you know what it is.”

I am incapable of giving myself permission to advance to the next phase of understanding Math, out of fear that I would:
– end up being proven a phony or fraud — how do I get to a place where I know I can successfully demonstrate with confidence what I know?
– find myself among some kind of “elite cabal” who has gained access to this secret knowledge. I can continue to identify myself with the masses, most of whom made it as far in Math as I did.
– become a person I no longer recognize. I am no longer able to use the excuse, “Still learning, please be patient” — I have to come to terms with the fact that I have grown past this phase, for better or for worse.

I still don’t think I’m quite getting to the heart of the matter. To address the first one, I need only think back to my early years of web design/development. It took me about four years from the time I began studying HTML/CSS in earnest to be in a place where I could with confidence say I was a professional, and not a “still learning on the job” kind of person. And then, it was another four-five years before I felt like I could take anything and turn it into a valid HTML page. I quite frankly still don’t know much about it, and have to consult Google on a regular basis to remember how to do things.

But, I did reach a point where I felt comfortable telling people what I did without worrying about someone proving me to be a phony.

The “elite cabal” thing is a little trickier. I’ve long since outgrown the need to sympathize with the masses who don’t get math. I can see that it is simply something any person of average intelligence can learn and get a degree in–if you do the problems, you develop the muscle-like memory to rapidly re-create in your mind how to solve just about anything that once took days of pain to figure out. Again, I’ve developed this kind of understanding from HTML–I’ve developed strategies and ways to look at blocks of code more abstractly to quickly build pages from scratch. As for the true heart of the “elite cabal” thing, I have a love/hate relationship with being on the other side of the door to “secret knowledge.” Of course, Math isn’t really such a thing–anyone with a public library card can receive at least a Bachelor’s level’s worth of Math from books and online access. I think this one revolves around the safety and comfort felt in knowing that I am the passive child learner safely on the other side of the dividing wall of the class, and the adult knowledge expert is that farther from me in this imaginary distance. It has more to do with longing to remain a child, and it may be the most crippling issue of them all.

Which kind of ties to the third bullet item, I think.

So, trying to break this all down:
Remaining the ignorant, “ever learning” sort provides a safe haven from outside attacks. Of course, this is all happening at a very deep level inside me, as the things I have pursued professionally, like Web Development and Marketing, have constantly been critiqued and sharpened based on less-than-receptive audiences.

So, whether I wanted to have it happen or not, my “lazy, safe” choice of being the “web guy” eventually brought me a similar degree of muscle-memory ability to rapidly work with abstract information, and gave me half a life’s worth of developing my ability to meet and deal with criticism–especially people who are eager to expose every weakness or knowledge gap in my area of claimed expertise. Since I don’t have any sort of degree in web development, I’ve had to contend with more than my share of rejection from people who simply can’t believe I could have learned what I do know on the job.

This needs to be explored further.

Learned pattern of behavior, where I was still “stuck” even when I started at C — Age 34.

Responding to charismatic/masculine male personalities (or, likely almost all male personalities):
1. Childlike reaction, react as if you are my daddy-sycophant, smiley, kind of gay.
2. Adolescent reaction, react as if I need to rebel against you, my daddy.
3. Young adult reaction, be a “bro”, even when it seems inappropriate for my age and/or his
4. Fully mature adult reaction, give measured responses of deference, shut down/throw up walls if he is being condescending/disrespectful.

Learned patterns of behavior to elicit maternal responses from females should also be explored. These are more complicated, because my relationship with my mother was more powerful, connected–I simply spent more time with her growing up. Naturally, there is a tendency to see Mom in every single woman, including ones that had the potential for dating/marriage. Being unable to reconcile much of this past emotional conflict and stunted development, I likely went about my single adult years with very poor strategies around dating.

Trying hard to fight learned patterns of behavior every single day. In fact, sometimes it seems like 90% of who I am and what I do consists of bad habits started at an earlier point in life. That anything consisting of identity and ability to accomplish something comes more out of a notion I created in my head, false or not, and the people I surround myself with to help perpetuate the notion.

As an adult, it’s easier to remember when the bad habit started, and it’s also harder to accept when it’s time to change–the widely held myth that our identities are completely fixed by God and/or genetics now pervades our culture in such a way that adults especially are hopelessly stuck in the mode or way of being that they fixed around the time they turned 30.

Quite frankly, and just between me and my journal, I do not believe that being gay is something that has to be one’s ultimate identity–if there is such a thing as an ultimate identity at all. I believe that the combination of genetic and environmental factors certainly contribute to making components of an individual’s identity “fixed’ in ways that cannot be moved, but I think that we are put here into the life we are, the body we are, the time and place that we are, to learn from the biological resources we’ve been provided with. I believe that we all have spirits that existed prior to this life, and will continue to afterward. I am about 80% against the notion of YOLO. I don’t think that’s correct at all. Maybe I’m wrong and reincarnation is all a false notion cooked up by humans and perpetrated by demons to prevent us from accepting who we are.

But, I’ve observed the process of change of my own identity, even in these last five years–because I was completely unhappy and unaccepting with who I was in the face of others. I have never felt any attraction to any man, that I can recall, really, but at the same time, I have always found myself acting flighty and effeminate around strong male personalities. Of course, having gone through college without a girlfriend, everyone (my parents included) probably had written me off as being gay. And, I think in slightly different circumstances, I probably would have accepted that as a viable path, and successfully altered my sexual orientation accordingly. At the end of the day, it really is quite possible to sexualize anything or anyone, and if you meet someone who is especially attracted to YOU, and treating you with adoration, you are probably more open and willing in those dark hours of desperate loneliness to take on a relationship different than any one that you’ve ever dreamed up for yourself.

Fortunately, for my sake, I haven’t really had many women OR men who appeared to be that attracted to me–not much beyond flirty eyes, anyway. Flirty eyes and those quickly fade after the first date or even the first conversation. Then, of course, there are all the flirty eyes that have come my way when a woman clearly is just trying to get something from me at work. Those hardly count.

Fortunately, for my sake, I’ve always had a strong ability to keep myself amused by myself—I have those moments of severe loneliness flare up occasionally, but they are generally met with contempt. Like Bukowski said, there are far worse things than being alone. Being stuck in smothering relationships and relationships with psychotic/sociopathic individuals, for example. Being roped in to a million unwanted obligations from having made the effort to be part of some social group.

Of course, I could be seriously wrong about all manner of reality. It is quite possible that all of the crap that has floated around on the surface for so many years was just the detritus of the toxic environment I was born into–trying to explain my environment of family members at 180 degree odds with each other: Mom/Dad on religion, parents/older brothers on life outlooks (and the adoption just never taking like a bad graft). Mom’s past history of abuse by her stepfathers and subsequent manic foray into Egelical religions. Dad hiding in the den with booze and books from the moment he came home from work until bedtime, and then staying up to watch all the television shows we couldn’t–but all the other kids at school were talking about. Dad chasing R out of the house with a gun, and R hitting mom. Both R and R pretty much disowning my parents and R caring less and less to communicate with me or Dad each passing year.

It certainly didn’t help that by the time we started to have a few calm years as a biological family, I kept feeling the need to be a rock n’ roll rebel because I still looked up to R a lot. It didn’t help that mom got cancer, R got AIDS and completely disowned Dad, mom almost died of cancer, then SMACK–H died in a car wreck…and eight years later Mom dies shortly after R writes a letter pretty much accusing Dad of having stolen him and R from their biological parents.

Trying to explain all this to someone is usually met with “oh, you poor thing, you didn’t get to watch all the shows the other kids did. Boo-hoo.” But, the point is, all of it contributed to me having a stunted growth as an individual, as the individual I knew myself to be under all the craziness my kid self was trying to become as a result of his environment.

I don’t want to dwell on it, but I do want it to be crystallized into some kind of packet of–okay, when I’m faced with situation X and I find myself behaving like C, but want to behave like A, what is stopping me–what is getting in the way? Is it because I have some kind of undiagnosed Asperger’s? Is it because deep down, I really am a woman, and all this manstuff is just me trying to survive in the world in a way that I think wouldn’t shame my parents? I think the answer to both is “no”. Culturally speaking, there are plenty of perfectly heterosexual men who come from, say Eastern Europe, and find our macho bullshit American male to be quite at odds with who they know themselves to be.

Simply put, my CULTURAL upbringing was different enough, though run in parallel to a mainstream one, that I inevitably ended up being a product that has a hopelessly outsider perspective on the American people around me–no matter what their bent or stripe is in terms of religion, politics, sexual orientation, etc.

Really, the above question could become a general equation that I ask myself at all times, whether it is when trying to improve my relations to others socially, or trying to increase the amount of time that I study at night:

I want to do X and be A, BUT I am doing Z and being C — what steps do I need to take to get from: Z -> X and C -> A?

COPY over to new…

I want to do X and be A

I want to do X and be A, BUT I am doing Z and being C — what steps do I need to take to get from: Z -> X and C -> A?

What are contributing factors to each of these variables?
X,A: alertness, coffee, Maca, freedom from distractions, clearheadedness, sense of purpose/necessity/importance
Z,C:stress, mental and environmental distractions, beer, post-work blahs, tiredness, sense of immortality of self (I have unlimited time left, this can wait until next year)

So, how do I increase X,A in a healthy, sustaining way each evening after work, while reducing Z,C, with the complete understanding that some responsibilities that create Z,C have to remain in place?

I need to change old habits as much as possible. For example, reading math books and not doing the problems, studying in bed instead of at a desk, kneejerk reaction to look at news fluff, reaching for a beer instead of meditating or taking a power nap to clear my head.

More fundamentally, I think I need to be able to immediately recognize when a bad, crippling mental thought pattern is coming on, and derive new, healthy habit strategies to avoid it…