"I have you and even if we never meet or ever see each other, we have left our thumbprints in the thick, moist clay of each other's lives. " - Hugh Elliott

"Existence is random. Has no pattern save what we imagine after staring at it for too long. No meaning save what we choose to impose." - Alan Moore

 

Wednesday April 29th, 2009

I've probably already told you this story before. If so, please bare with me.

When I was five, six, or seven, I found myself in my bed, blankets and stuffed animal held tight to my body, crying. My mom was crying too. That's what my dad did when he got mad, when he couldn't face the inevitability of his progressive blindness, he made other people cry. I'm a sensitive person so when my mom cried I cried. Trickle down economics of the heart.

I prayed, but I didn't pray for what you'd think. Sure, if I'd been the normal average Joe kid I would have prayed that my dad stop yelling at my mom or maybe that he'd get run over but that's not what I prayed for. I prayed for Wisdom.

And I've been kicking myself for it ever since.

Now that I'm a cranky old thirty-five I couldn't imagine having lived a life not always asking myself, "Why?" It doesn't matter what the subject is, how serious or silly, how important or unimportant, how big or small, I've looked at it, I've examined it, I've turned it over in the my hands, touched every surface and curve with my fingers, and come to understandings that for lack of a better term could be called "Wisdom".

And then I look at how so many others look at the universe and while I do not begrudge every individual for having their individual points of view it seems plain to me that most simply do not examine life with the same veracity, the same tenacity, the same constant desire to know the truth underlying the illusions. What so many call "thinking" is actually "feeling". Take a radio talk show, for instance, listen to them closely. I'm not suggestion a program biased towards one ideology or another, like the Sean Hannity show or something on Air America. Try this, tune into World Have Your Say on National Public Radio, a program dedicated to encouraging and listening to all points of view, a program that does not limit people's voice or seek out ideological banter. While you're listening get out a piece of paper and a pencil. At the top of the page list the topic for the day. Separate the rest of the page into two columns and title them "thinking" and "feeling". Next, for each person that calls in listen very closely to their opinion then look at the top of the page where you listed the subject of the program as well as consider the specific question they were asked then ask yourself the following:

1. Have they directly answered the question asked of them?
2. Have they repeated the same answer more than once?
3. If so, does the volume of their voice rise or the cadence of their voice speed up?
4. If they've challenged an alternate point of view do they engage in ad hominem attacks or any other type of logical fallacy?
5. Do they put a high value on their supportive facts while lowering the value, dismissing, or out-and-out ignoring contradictory facts?
6. Do they interrupt those with alternate points of view?

If you answered No to the first and Yes to the rest then put a mark in the "feeling" column. If Yes to the first and No to the rest then check "thinking". After the program completes tally up your results.

What are they?

I won't disparage you if what you end up is more "thinking" than "feeling", but I'd bet good money that what you'll end up with is three quarters or more in the "feeling" camp. If you don't come up with those results I have possibly two more questions which I'd like you to answer:

Did most people interviewed in the program express beliefs in alignment with your own?

If not,

Do you have a relatively strong belief that all people's thoughts, feelings, and opinions, should always be heard, considered, and validated (so much so that you rarely, if ever, interrupt others while they're talking or find yourself disagreeing with them, even in the privacy of your own mind)?

Consider it.

I bring this up because I feel alone in this world. I am not a Democrat or a Republican. I am not a Christian, Buddhist, or Atheist. I am not a capitalist or a socialist. I sometimes feel enormous sadness that I cannot espouse a critical view of Obama without it resulting in silence from a fan or adoration from a detractor. I feel frustrated if I note tendencies in Michael Moore's behavior that are clearly unethical without someone reading between the lines and assuming I dislike him (truth is I enjoy and own most of his "documentaries"). Perhaps the most difficult examples, in terms of having conversations about people, are those of Mother Theresa and the Dalai Lama; both are extraordinary people who lived extraordinary lives, yet both can also be seen (and accurately so) through the lens self serving behaviors and even psychological dysfunction. And then there are the subjects of politics, religion, going "green", and the like, and it seems unless I sign up for one club membership or the other I am met with perplexed stares as if to say, "Are you with us or aren't you?"

Don't get me wrong, many of my beliefs are of the "feeling" variety. There's nothing wrong with that. The difference is I know that my belief in a life after death is a "feeling" with inconsistent and usually unscientific support, I know that my belief in a woman's right to choose is based largely in the feeling that no one should be forced, by either a government or religion, to do something with their body that they do not wish to do, I know that my predilection towards liberalism stems from a feeling that God created all people "equal" and frankly it's my opinion as an empath that Conservatism, while necessary for a healthy, well oiled society, is largely based on the emotional desire to enforce an unwritten societal status quo, one that can be so extremely ignorant, at times, that average, well intended people will go as far as saying totally insane things like the world will literally end if we seek out the change and hope Obama espouses (oddly this is almost the reverse argument of global warming except without any scientific or sociological backing--and there's probably enough meat on that one to write an entire journal entry on it).

The only constant in the universe is change yet it scares the bejesus out of some people who react by trying to stop it. All I have to say to them is, "Good luck."

Do you agree or disagree with my point of view? Or do you see that it doesn't matter? Maybe the most important thing is not to come in with a hand shake of "Oh man, that's so right on," or an argument. The "point", I've found in my search for Wisdom, is to understand another's point of view fully, completely, and without any doubt, then and only then should one respond. Do you know what else I have discovered? Once understanding is attained agreements and/or arguments are rarely, if ever, necessary or even desired. Indeed, once we truly understand another person's opinion or feelings we're more likely than not to listen and respond in more thoughtful, intelligent, and "thinking" ways.

Try it. Try it and tell me what you think. The next time you find yourself in a conversation with a friend, someone you most likely agree with on many things, just listen to them. Don't reward them for sharing your obviously enlightened point of view, just listen, mirror, validate, and empathize with them. Then try the same thing with someone, possibly someone you don't exactly like or know well, who shares a view you vehemently disagree with. Listen, mirror, validate, and empathize. Stay away from judgment either for or against them.

I believe as you practice this you'll find you'll be more and more able to separate a person from their views and their behaviors. Eventually this practice will allow you to see people as they are, not as you believe them to be, and likewise you'll see everyone, people who would have once been "good" or "bad" in your mind, as more alike than unalike. People will just be and you'll start seeing, hearing, smelling, and touching upon observations you were never capable of before and you will say, "Well holy shit, why didn't I see that before? It was right there in front of my face!"

It is at this point you will also notice that how and who you choose to spend time with will change, but I won't go into that tonight.

Wisdom is the love of Truth. Truth is available to everyone everywhere and anytime. Practices such as the one outlined above are, in my humble opinion, absolutely necessary if we are in love with the Truth behind things. Don't get me wrong, it is not the only tool and certainly not the only Truth. Having read my recent journal entries you might even ask, "How can someone be so clearly distraught and depressed if they're in love with Truth and Wisdom?" Isn't that what we've come to know in this society of happy-go-lucky self-help gurus such as Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, and Doctor Phill? Doesn't Wisdom equate with happiness, joy, as well as material and social wealth? If I'm truly on to something shouldn't I have a book deal?

Remind me, where's that written in the rule book of life? I seem to have missed that one. I've also noticed that every self-help expert got where they are because they've experience struggles that rate a nine or ten on the one to ten scoring system of "bullshit none of us ever want to go through." Think about it, without a struggle to overcome none would come to a place where they can sit down and dedicate their insights to the page. The irony here is that worldly knowing is not something they learned from a book, it's something they learned by being immersed in life, by being buried in sorrow, by being so overwhelmed by struggles that have caused others to simply purchase the next train ticket to Eternity.

I remember volunteering for my first Oregon Public Broadcasting TV pledge drive years back when I overheard a woman talk about Doctor Phill and what a complete fake he was. She went to one of his talks, hoping for enlightenment, and instead saw him off stage react to someone in a negative and even critical fashion. How could someone so enlightened on stage be such a prick in "real" life?

Oh how could it be true unless he's a prick?

Doctor Phill, like you and I, is a human being. I know, hard to believe but it's true. He's not perfect (whatever the hell that means). When he gets on stage he takes on the roll of a teacher, doing his best to share his knowledge of life, the universe, and everything, with others. When he's off stage, out of the reach of cameras, he's more likely to feel more relaxed and show the same feelings that the rest of us experience on a daily basis. Yes, he has many of the tools needed to interact with others in a more positive way, but he's going to have shitty days and frankly, as a celebrity he's often going to have throngs of people demanding his attention, sometimes unfairly and without his consent, so it's no wonder that he sometimes gets a little pissy. Fame isn't everything it's made out to be.

Did I mention he's human?

To be fair I should also consider the example of Doctor Laura Schlessinger. Oh, "Doctor" Schellesinger. Oh, oh, oh. Well, let's simply say I have little respect for this woman. Most of her views are, in my view, dogmatic, narrow, and incredibly judgment filled. She lacks simple empathy, a trait you'd think all psychological professionals should engender, and generally doesn't listen to someone's story before jumping to quick fix solutions which typically include insults. Oh baby, there's nothing like calling in for support during a difficult, heart wrenching situation, only to be verbally bitch slapped; that's therapy for ya! Yet would it be correct for me to dismiss something she has to say simply because I think she's a…fuck, I can't say that on the internet without causing the entire infrastructure to melt…? Absolutely not. While I rarely listen to her, largely because as an empath I'm highly susceptible to people who radiate negativity like a red giant sun, when I do I'm able to hear what she has to say and even, at times, learn something new!

I digress, what was I saying? Oh yes, that it's a mistake to assume that Truth and Wisdom only reside in certain types of people. Our tendency is to either project these traits onto people who put on a happy face or those who's views conform with our own. Yet there's little evidence to demonstrate that Wisdom can be gained in such a filtered manner; indeed, what we end up doing is limiting our reality to a subset of views, observations, and opinions, sidestepping Wisdom and Knowledge for an artifically constructed universe. Surprisingly, to me at least, this is how humans have been doing things for tens of thousands of years. It seems to work well enough, but wouldn't it be refreshing to break out of that mold as a people, as a country, as a race, and start listening to everyone regardless of their opinion, social rank, popularity, fame, colour, gender, age, or any other superficial factor?

Think about it.

Anyway, I'm in love with the Truth, I always want to know the Truth, I'm always looking for the Truth, and I'm always hoping to discover new Truths. When I do it literally makes my day, more than eating a wonderful meal, more than having a good conversation with a friend, more than buying a new Jeep Wrangler with that new Jeep Wrangler smell. Maybe that's just how I've unintentionally wired my brain, but there's nothing so pleasing to me as adding one more piece of Truth to the entire picture of this amazing world I inhabit. Every time I do it makes my world just a little bit bigger and that, to me, is largely what life's all about.

The truth is also that knowledge doesn't always equate with happiness, joy, or even peace. Sure, I could spend my time meditating, I could mentally separate myself from my desires which, at least according to Buddhist theory, would result in less suffering and more enlightened thought, and I could put a superficial smile on my face and write the next New York Times best seller self help book: The Awe Factor. But I don't want to. I don't want to shrug my shoulders and accept that spending my nights alone is how I want to live my life. I don't want to put on a false smile and accept mediocre friendships with people who treat me in ways I find unacceptable or who rarely, if ever, compliment me. I don't want to forgive everyone who steps on my feet, especially when I tell them ahead of time what my boundaries are, especially when the apology doesn't include the personal responsibility I believe gives an apology real power (more on that perhaps another time). I don't want to pretend I like spending most of my time cleaning up after four cats, I don't want to act like a superman who's somehow able to live joyfully with Fibromyalsia, and I don't want to limit my writings to some arbitrary set of things because there are things that some people "feel" just shouldn't be talked or written about (the list includes feeling depressed or suicidal, surgical procedures having to do with one's ass, etc.). I don't want to say I'm okay living the life I have when the life I want is something that's been clearly defined in my mind for nearly two decades now. I simply do not wish to let those dreams go, especially when so many of them are things others do and even take for granted.

As I age I can't help but realize that eventually I'll need to let some of my dreams go. It's simply a function of aging that makes it so and wow, it is such a powerless realization to make, I can assure you. How bleak the heart becomes when such things are lain upon it.

I don't want to pretend I am something other than what I am. And I want that to be worth something substantial, something worth admiring, loving, and fighting for, to everyone I know and value, care for and love. I don't want to spend another decade of my life looking for another "life partner candidate", I don't want to open my heart up to new people only to have it trampled on, I don't want to go to work every day without ever hearing, "Thank you!", I don't want to never have an answer to, "What are you doing this weekend?", and I don't want to so frequently have the high point of my day being the writing of a journal entry that nobody, as far as I know, will ever read. I suffer between the dreams of my imagined future and the Truth of my current reality. And when it is most unbearable I look up at the heavens and I plea to the Great Pixie in the Sky, "Please give me Wisdom!"

I suppose I am lucky, after a fashion at least. Fifteen years ago I suffered from a debilitating Depression. I struggled with suicidal thoughts every single day for weeks, months, and even years on end. It's not exactly something I can easily explain nor will you, regardless of your level of empathy, be able to understand what the experience is like unless you have gone through it yourself (and if you have survived it I have nothing but the highest respect for your tenacity to live).

Back then I lived in a dilapidated house, a place now known to myself and others as "the Ferry House". The house was cold, there was little food in the refrigerator, and the back yard looked more like a weed paddock than any place one would want to spend time. I didn't have a job so relied on the kindness of others--indeed, because of my emotional instability I didn't even look for work knowing that I did not have the strength to get up every day, flip burgers every day, pretend I was happy every day when I was anything but. And yet looking back I've found an irony I was unfortunately unappreciative of at the time. What is that, you ask? It's simple: I was frequently surrounded by people. What a startling revelation to make, to look back and realize that while I didn't have the quality of connections I wanted with people, there were people in my life every day. For instance I always lived with two or three people. One of these people was frequently a romantic partner who I could connect with socially, emotionally, and physically, on a daily basis. Others that I connected with had wildly diverse personalities, allowing me to have a broad array of conversations and experiences. Yeah, I felt alone, yeah, I didn't feel like anyone loved me the way I "deserved" to be loved, but even on the worst day there was the possibility of connecting with another human being (outside of a work environment) even if that meant just eating lunch together or going for a walk through the park.

Would I have survived without that? I doubt it. So with these words I'd like to thank every person that was with me through this, the hardest time of my life.

Over the years I have been cognizant of one important factor or "key learning", if you would allow me that phrase: I was largely unhappy because I was not willing to allow other people to love me. For awhile I thought it was because I didn't know how to be loved but the Truth is I wasn't willing to allow love in. Why? An addiction to my darker feelings, feelings which I'd found were capable of garnering attention from sympathetic souls. Fear was also a large part of it, fear that if I let someone in I'd have to give up the way I felt, the identity I'd built around my Depression, and I'd have to get off my ass and really start living, I'd really have to commit myself to loving others, I'd have to jump in with both feet forward. Keeping up a barrier may seem contradictory to what I needed, but it created an escape route if you will, a means for continuing my personal story of who I was and my place in the world.

Dandy.

Finally, by allowing the love that was there in I'd have to give up this childish notion that if someone loved me they "should" treat me in a certain way according to certain rules and regulations I'd spent twenty years writing into the lining of my subconscious. To accept people's love for what it was I'd have to accept them for who they were and more importantly, I'd have to accept that even when they were showing me love and support I might still feel depressed, sad, or lonely. Think about that one for a moment: if I accepted the reality that I might still experience down days while at the same time receiving and accepting the love of others then I'd no longer be able to believe/hope that there was someone out there that could magically love me in such a way that I'd never feel sad or lonely or depressed again!

Talk about growing pain!!!

Tonight I sit here in my bedroom alone. The laptop is sitting on my small wood desk. The two monitors of my primary machine sit behind, a PBS documentary on Buffalo Bill playing on the right one. I think back on a time when I was suicidally Depressed, surrounded by people, and looking for Truth, and I see a foolish but suffering young soul who did not see what a blessing was at his fingertips. I scan the years since then and see all those times I lived alone, when I had no friends or companions, where my life consisted almost exclusively of eating, sleeping, studying, and school. I recognize a pattern, a nearly consistent cycle of living alone followed by living with someone followed by living alone, and it seems to me almost as if a Higher Power created these challenges for me to give me the strength I need today to weather this overwhelming loneliness. Sure, I'm not suicidally Depressed as I was back then, but this is different, arguably much harder. Back then so much of my pain was chosen, it was a subconscious means of maintaining my identity, garnering support, and about the only way I knew how to get another person's attention. Believe it or not there are no more games today. I get up, I eat, I go to work, I work my hardest, I come home, I find things to do, I eat, I do, and then I go to bed. Before I created a world of suffering for myself, fifteen years later I stear clear of thoughts, music, conversation, and anything else that might lead to senseless suffering. I pay attention to everything I eat. I get to bed at a decent time. I watch movies and read books that agree with me. And I engage in activities that should have positive outcomes. For example, this past weekend I was lucky enough to spend some time with my daughter. My body felt like a slug weighed down by a hundred pounds of iron ore yet I grabbed several packets of seeds then asked her if she'd like to go out and plant some flowers. "Sure," she responded in that way that's so endemic of teenagers, that way I've come to love as it demonstrates her openness to simply engaging in some type of constructive activity with me. We went out. We talked. I held the seeds in my outstretched left hand, she planted them in the soft brown earth with her right. They're just flowers, a little hope and beauty in my life, and while I recognize they cannot heal the suffering so deeply rooted in my heart they do represent the difference in my character, the desire to plant seeds instead of laying around the house watching Star Trek films for the 40th time.

It is a strange place, though, to be alive and yet in so much physical and emotional discomfort, pain, and fear. I don't want to feel the way I feel but it is what it is. I plant flowers and it doesn't seem to have any effect. Yet I plant flowers and it reminds me that I'm not in love with my suffering, as I was before. Weird though, scary even, that so many of the feelings I have just hit me while I'm thinking on other non-related, non-negative things. That's not what used to happen, that wasn't my life so long ago when I went out of my way to encourage a negative thought over and over and over again, negative thoughts that led to negative feelings, negative feelings that lead to physical pain, physical pain that caused me to make excuses for not living. I know I would not have survived something like today's struggles so long ago; I did not have the tools back then, the patience, the strength, the compassion, nor the Wisdom. No, even with the support of those around me I would not have made the trek.

Yet somehow, someway, for reasons that are unknown to me today, I am able to get up in the morning and get to work, I'm able to get home in the afternoon and engage in something productive. I don't get the why of it all, the meaning, or the point. All I feel I know at times is "it is what it is," or to quote Star Trek, "The air is the air, what can be done?"

You know, I do apologize for focusing so much lately on the subjectively "negative". That was "supposed" to be relegated to March's entries, not April. But I'm at where I'm at and I'm not going to apologize for it. I'm going to write about it--I just hope I'm able to do so in more creative and interesting ways, as I did a few days ago. And maybe, just maybe, I'm going to find meaning in it. And hopefully I'll give you some meaning and hope in the process. Wisdom and Truth, cut me open and dig out the pits and that's what you'll find, an insatiable thirst for Wisdom and Truth wherever it's to be found. Sure, I want to feel joy and roll with laughter some day, but that day is not today, that day will not be tomorrow, and that day may not even be for years to come...shit, I've lost so much over the past year and a half that I'm still dizzy from it all. Where's the vomit bag?

Oh bugger!

P.S. I just wanted to quickly say that my best friend's been encouraging me to get back into photography. I'm struggling with that, making a step forward here, two steps back there, but I hope, along with her reminders, to engage in more photographic endevours, especially on the weekends, and begin sharing them with you here sooner later now--well, not now, but you get my meaning--or do you? Okay, good. Uh, you got it right? Alright, uhm, okay, uh, yeah, I'm going to bed now. Goodnight.

Tuesday April 28th, 2009

Posted a journal entry late last night then fell into my bed exhausted.  Woke up this morning and decided to yank that entry.  Another benefit of writing is that because one spends more time perfecting the written word what gets published is closer to what one intends.  With video blogs that's not so true.  Fortunately, nobody probably watched the load of felgercarb I uploaded last night.  Will try again when I'm feeling more awakie and less headachie.

 

 

 

 

 

Monday April 27th, 2009

I must have broken the Guinness Book of World Records for number of times going to the loo withing a twenty four period of time. An entire bottle of Miralax mixed with 64 ounces of Gatorade has that effect. It was only through some miracle that I did not turn my bed into a sticky swamp last night. It was only by some miracle I did not say, "Fuck it," cancel the appointment then say, "Come what may."

As I lay there naked, for all intents and purposes, stairing at the ceiling, I found myself reviewing the past several months of my life while at the same time being overly aware of the fears passing like random cannon shots through my mind. Would the medication put me out as it was meant to? Or would I end up being one of so many people who find themselves in a completely paralyzed state but aware of everything being done to them? Or was I being rediculous? Was my only concern some discomfort or pain after the procedure? Or would there be an "after"? It may sound like paranoia on my part, but all too often people go in for simple procedures only to have a brain anuerism, a stroke, or a heart attack, and I didn't think it was past my "Lord and God" to throw another curve ball at me, make it so I'd spend the rest of my life writing here with my left foot.

And then it occurred to me: so the fuck what? Maybe I want to die. Maybe I'm tired of my life. Maybe I've had it up to here with loss after loss after loss. Maybe I've had it up to here with the chronic and unpredictable pain. Maybe I've had it up to here with my job, with my nearly non-existent social life, with my middle-aged sense that I've had my chance and won't be getting any other, with my debts, with my cats ripping up the carpets, with frequent heart burn, with, with, with... I staired up at the ceiling and recognized that I have become accustomed to wearing unattractive hospital gounds, laying on hospital beds and stairing up at those square white ceiling tiles. Wow. Could it be true? Could this be the only place I feel safe anymore? Is this the only place in the entire world where I feel I have worth, where my life matters? Is this the only place where I feel, for a short time at least, like I'm in good hands?

It's no wonder that so many socially isolated people become hypochondriacs.

It was a strange moment for me, to admit to myself that yes God, I'm ready to go, I've done all I can in this terrible world of suffering, broken hearts, and broken dreams. I have done all I can do. I have hoped all that I can hope. I have tried to live a good life, I have tried my hardest to do the right thing even when that has meant loosing everything, and I have tried to honor your wishes for my life. Please, take me into your arms and give me peace.

I am not a man of singular thoughts so it would be incorrect to say this was my only thought. In fact, I must have only spent a minute or two pondering this feeling of readiness to leave this life before I pulled an Aslynn, that is, I considered the alternate point of view: What are my reasons for living? So I searched and I searched and I searched. My parents who were waiting for me out in the lobby? Nah, they'd do just fine without me. My few friends? Sure, they'd miss me, but they had their own full lives in universes far, far away--hell, knowing just what a cluster-fuck my life has been this past year they might have a mix of sadness and joy, the latter for me finally going to a much better place. My work? Nope, they'd find a way to get along without me. My daughter? Oh, that came to my mind and I thought wow, I feel like the rare positive influence in her life and one she truly needs, but then I thought wouldn't my death, after she had grieved, give her a solid snapshot of someone to emulate, to admire, and who truly loved her? Plus, I love her so much I'd sign up for a guardian angel position, if it was open anyway. And what about all my interests? There's still so much about the world, history, art, everything, that I know nothing about, didn't I want to learn and know as I always had? Well, out of body, if the stories are accurate, I'd have infinite access to that universal record of everything, wouldn't I? What about my house projects, shouldn't I get those done yet? Haha, boulderdash! You might think it sad, you might think it cynical, you might even think it hurtful, but the only reason I could think of for living was that primordial fear: the fear of death. I didn't want die and it scared me to death that I was walking (or being wheeled into) a situation that had the potential to end my life. Unless you've been there it's pretty darn scary, one of the few times in one's life where you have absolutely no control and the price of a mistake is your life.

So I lay there thinking, "Don't die, don't die, you don't want to die." It may seem silly, but somewhere deep inside I believe that we can die when we're ready to go, that on a subconscious level we can tell our lower brain stems that we're ready to go. In my view that's why when one geriatric spouse dies the other soon follows; deep inside they don't want to live without their partner, their love, and so a part of them just gives up. I also believe that's a huge influence when undergoing any type of surgical procedure. Those of use that want to live are more likely to pull through when complications hit, those of us that don't, well, our brains just tell our bodies, "I don't really care so if something happens, don't worry about fighting this time around. Just hang up your coat and take the long sleep, old fellow."

They rolled me into the procedure room and one of the nurses joked about playing bumper cars with the beds. "You wouldn't like that, would you?" and I said, "No, not unless you put me under first." Music blared from speakers on the ceiling. The song: Jumping Jack Flash by The Rolling Stones. I've always believed God has a sense of humor as was heard in the lyrics, "Jumping Jack Flash is a gas, gas, gas!" The next song with a Simon and Garfungle ditty about a son being reunited with his mother. Sychronicity at it's best and I knew at that moment that there would be no complications. The oxygen tubes were placed in my nose, the heart monitor on the middle finger of my right hand, then I was asked to lay on my side. A circular piece of plastic was placed in my mouth, propping it open, and I suddenly found my allergies acting up and fearing I wouldn't be able to breath did my best two clear my nostrils, though the position wasn't condusive to it. Another nurse said, "Okay, I'm going to apply the first injection." I waited as she injected it into the IV, something I'd sadly become accustomed to being stuck in my right arm, and I observed the room for any difference. No, none so far. Then slowly, ever so slowly, I found it more and more difficult to focus on the medical equipment in front of me, the large flat screen monitor they'd be using to navigate my esophogus and intestines, the large black camera with the long black tube that would no doubt be stuck down my throat then up my ass. "Are you feeling any different?" the nurse asked and I said yes. I suppose I must have been awake for at least a minute more but I don't remember, the next thing I recalled was someone calling my name and telling me to get up and put my clothes on which I did without question. What just happened? Did they perform the procedure? Obviously they must have, otherwise I wouldn't be back at roomlette number 9 putting my clothes back on and finding my glasses right where I'd left them, in the curved blue "poop" tray. After being clothed I found that I felt better than I had all day, no pain, no discomfort either from either the procedure or the Fibromyalsia. One of the nurses came in and went over some paperwork with me, things I needed to keep my eye on after I left. Just in case. Just in case. I was then lead into another room where I met my doctor (I should mention here that they'd asked if I'd like my parents present and I said no; if it had been my girlfriend or wife the answer had been yes, but I just did not want to be in the same room with my mother if I had to learn bad news for the first time). He had four sheets in his hand, two for the endoscopy, the other two for the colonoscopy. We went over both, line by line, and examined the pictures. Amazingly (and almost shockingly) I do not have an ulcer, but I do have a fair amount of damage to my esophagial sphincter, the muscle responsible for keeping food in our stomachs. Had I been more lucid I would have said, "Yeah, yeah, tell me something I don't know!" We then looked at the pictures of my colon. Again, nothing wrong except a slight case of hemeroids, again, something I already knew. Thank the Gods insurance would cover the procedure, it would have been a nice piece of pocket change to learn that I have something I already knew I had.

I left the room with a prescription for the highest strength Prilosec and met my parents in the lobby where they'd patiently been waiting for four hours (though they had originally been told the procedure would only take two hours). I briefly summarized what the doctor diagnosed me with then we got in the elevator, went downstairs, left the building, and got in the car. Though still a bit fuzzy I was somehow about to guide my mother through the octupus to the right onramp. We drove to Haggens Grocery where I dropped off the prescription, then went home. Once home I got in touch with my daughter and told her we were ready for her to come visit. Within a half hour or so she arrived then we went out for dinner at Applebees. Not having eaten in two days I was wanted something especially scrummy so I ordered a yummy cheese soup followed by a 12 ounce steak covered in mushrooms and onions. Yum! (though to be quite honest I could have easily done a buffet, I WAS HUNGRY!). We then returned to the house. My daughter and I went out back to pick up leads (something I've agreed to pay her for, as long as it's her best work and clearly a high quality of work--and don't tell her but I hope this builds up a work ethic in her). She said goodbye to my parents, gave them hugs, told them she loved them (though I must admit there was a little bit of cajoling on my part--I believe this is necessary when teenagers forget to engage in the social behaviors that are necessary to remind others that we do care about them and them about us). Got her home, came back, and I've since been doing laundry, writing this, and burning a CD for my mother. I'll be getting in bed shortly (it's 12:10am now) in order to get up as near to 7:30 as possible so I can take my parents out to breakfast before they head out of town tomorrow; fortunately I will not be saying goodbye to them at home, a ritual which has lately ended up with me balling my eyes out (much harder to do this in public minutes before going before my coworkers).

While I do not know as the biopsies have yet to be completed, there's no present indication that I have esophageal or colon cancer. Honestly, I don't know what to do with that. Should I jump up and down for joy? "Yes," I will scream, "I'm going to live! I'm going to live!" Or instead have I fallen under the consideration that happiness and joy and hope are anethema to my daily experience, that I've been given a life sentence with a three bedroom cell with a kitchen, two and a half bathrooms, four cats, and an internet connection.

Lately I feel as if no matter which way things go I lose. I have never quite felt this quality of ironic experience before. I have lost my arms and legs (a.k.a. my hopes and dreams) and you expect me to climb THAT mountain?

Yea Gods!!!

Sunday April 26th, 2009

"Hello, this is customer service, can I have your last name and your customer service number?"

"Oh, uhm, I don't have a last name."

"You don't have a last name?"

"No, no, not really. I mean I realize it's unusual, but I just go by Aslynn."

"Aslynn?"

"Yes, Aslynn. And my customer number is--"

"Can you spell that for me?"

"What? Oh, my name. It's A as in Apple, S - L - Y - N - N."

"A - S - L - Y - N - N."

"And my customer number is 12345678."

"12345678?"

"Yeah, I know, weird isn't it?"

"Will you please hold while I look up your records?"

"No problem."

* Insert elevator music here *

"Mr. Aslynn?"

"It's just Aslynn."

"Just Aslynn?"

"Yes, I don't have a last name. You don't need to use the title."

"Okay Mr. Aslynn, what can I help you with today?"

"It's not...never mind. So I have a little bit of a unique situation so I hope you'll bear with me."

"That's where we're here for, Mr. Aslynn."

"Thanks. So like I was saying, it's not quite your normal situation and I'm not exactly sure what I should do but, well, that's what you're here for right?" …long pause… "So, yeah, a bit bizarre and I wouldn't be calling for your help but I've never felt…well…sorry, I'm not feeling so well tonight so I'm having a hard time getting this out."

"Why aren't you feeling well?"

"I have to undergo--well, I, uhm--I have a medical procedure tomorrow and I've been on a modified diet the last four days. Today I haven't been able to eat anything so I'm hungry as hell and on top of the liquid diet I've spent the evening downing a 32 ounce Gatorade blended with half a bottle of Miralax and among the expected effects I'm also feeling quite nauseous and--"

"I'm sorry sir, I'm afraid you've reached the wrong department, I'll be happy to transfer you to--"

"No, no, don't transfer me, I was just telling you why I don't feel well but I'm not calling for that."

"Are you sure, Mr. Aslynn. We do care about your health here and I would be happy to transfer you to our highly trained nurses line where they can help you with all manner of substance--"

"No, no, please, my doctor prescribed this little bathroom fest, I called for something else."

"Are you sure, sir?"

"Yes."

"Absolutely? We care about your health here, sir, so I will transfer you-"

"No, please, I've already been on the phone for thirty minutes and transferred five times, I can assure you, even if you're not the right person I don't care anymore, I just need someone to listen."

"I would be happy to listen, Mr. Aslynn, sir, we care about you."

"Yes, I know, that's what it says on your web site."

"Excuse me, sir?"

"That you care."

"Yes?"

"On your web site, it says that you care."

"Yes, Mr. Aslynn, sir, we truly care about you and will do everything we can to insure your complete satisfaction with our services sir. Would you like to complete a satisfaction survey? You would be automatically entered for a six night, eight day cruise of the Caribbean Islands for two! Would you hold while I bring up that screen, sir?"

"Please, I just need you to listen."

"Are you sure you would not like to complete the survey? It's free and you could take that special someone for an entire expense paid week to--"

"That's what I wanted to talk with you about."

"What is that?"

"You see, even if I won the contest I'd be going alone."

"No, sir, surely not, our records clearly show that you're happily in love."

"I love, yes, but not happily."

"Oh, I'm sorry sir, I assure you, that cannot be possible, my records clearly show--"

"Your records?"

"Yes sir, we have a very advanced networked computer database system here and I assure you it shows you are 35 five, you live in a beautiful three bedroom home in beautiful green Portland, Oregon, and you are in happily in love."

"I see. Well then, please update your records."

"I would be happy to, Mr. Aslynn. What would you like me to update?"

"The 'happily' part."

"Please wait a moment while I correct the information, Mr. Aslynn, and I would like to communicate our sincere apology for the mistake and would like to assure you we will do everything necessary to provide you the highest quality customer satisfaction today and in all your futures days as we truly desire your happiness and would like to serve you." …brief pause… "Ok, sir, I have updated your records to show that you are no longer happily in love."

"No, no, no! I'm in love I'm just not happy!"

"Oh, I'm sorry sir." …brief pause… "I have made a mistake and I will correct it and will do everything necessary to provide you the highest quality…"

"Excuse me!"

"Yes sir?"

"Look, I'm sorry I have to do this to you but it's getting fairly late…I'm not exactly sure what time it is there…"

"It's 2:39pm, sir."

"Okay, it's 2:30pm there, but it's nearly midnight here and I'm feeling a bit queasy and I really, really need to get to bed because I have to get back up around 7am to begin ingesting the super-duper-flow mix so I can be ready for the doctor at noon and God, I'm soooo looking forward to eating anything, a some Chinese food, a peanut butter sandwich, one bloody peanut for crying out loud!!!"
"Would you like me to transfer you to our internet grocery department, sir, it's quite the best--"

"No, no, I'm sorry, please, I do need to get off of here for the night. I really am not feeling well. I'm not sure how to get that across to you and I won't go into the specific roller coaster that's going on inside my intestines…I just need to talk with you when I'm a little less tired, more refreshed, you know? I'm just not in the best place to tell you how I'm feeling and why, I mean, I can't exactly get what I need from you if I don't tell you where I'm at or why I'm in love but why I'm not happy, not can I? And I can't exactly get your help if--" …extended pause… "Oh, I really need to run."

"You need to run, sir? Where are you running to?"

"Trust me, it was a bad pun and you don't want me to explain it."

"Yes sir, a pun sir, I get it." …brief pause… "Very funny!!!"

"Uh, yeah. So I do apologize. Can I get a tracking number or a reference number or whatever I need so I can call right back and start this conversation right where we left off?"

"Yes sir. Please hold a moment." …a moment passes… "Please hold a moment." …another moment passes… "Yes, Mr. Aslynn, please write this down, your case number is 8, 7, 6…"

"8, 7, 6…"

"Yes. 6, 5, 4…"

"6. 5. 4."

"3, then 2, then 1, sir."

"So that's 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1? The opposite of my member number?"

"Well Holy Kalkiavataram! You are correct, Mr. Aslynn! That is Divine Providence, surely a karmic sign that you were meant to call today and that all your dreams and wishes will come true!"

"Uh, yeah, sure, whatever you say."

"You do not believe in karma, Mr. Aslynn, sir?"

"Well yeah, I do, I just have a more nuanced view of karma and how we and it…look, I do apologize but I really do have to go and I thank you so much for trying to help me tonight. I have the number and I promise to call you back soon, okay?"

"Yes sir, I will happily anticipate your call and I or one of my associates will be more than happy to serve you with the highest quality competence in order to facilitate your immediate customer satisfaction. Thank you for calling and if I may say one last thing, Mr. Aslynn?"

"Yes, what is it?"

"Enjoy your run."

Friday April 24th, 2009

I am scared.

There I said it. There you bore witness to it.

Why am I scared?

I've lost so much over the last two years. I lost nearly everything as a father who put in six years of hard work only to see the beautiful young woman I consider my daughter once or twice a month, if I'm lucky. I've lost several friends and in all cases I did my damnest to treat them well, to show them respect, to support them, and to believe in them even when they treated me in the most detestable of ways. I've lost the sense of worth and respect I used to have at my job and have spent the last six months struggling to regain that successful stance, both in the eyes of my colleagues as well as my own. I've lost the belief that the last decade or so of my life has been one of personal evolution, that I've succeeded at overcoming so many of my shortcomings to become a more enlightened, loving, strong, and admirable person; worse, I've lost the belief that I did an honorable thing by helping raise a child that was not my own, that I made a difference, and that belief which I had held so dear has been replaced by the cynical notion that I did it merely because I was lonely. Most damaging of all I feel I have lost my sense of identity. Who is this Aslynn bloke? Who is he, what is he about, and who gives a flying fuck? I have never in my life been overwhelmed by a sense that not only do I not know who I am anymore and as an extension of that me falling off the face of the earth would barely cause anyone to bat an eye. I have lost the feeling that I am essential, I have stopped feeling than I am wanted, much less needed, and I have lost whatever place I struggled so hard to make for myself over the last nine years. Oh yeah, and I've lost my health.

What am I going to do about it?

Truthfully, I hate to think about it. By thinking about it I must admit that these fears often overwhelm me. I spend much of my time feeling numb, not so much out of choice but because I have some sense that if I allow myself to feel too much I will either end up in tears or I will run towards the closest place of privacy and comfort where I can hide from a treacherous world. Obviously this is not an acceptable long term solution, obviously I must find a way to live, to find myself again, to establish meaning in my life, yet I have never before encountered so many excruciatingly difficult and even nightmarish challenges all at once. I don't find myself with anyone to lean on, at least not unless I consider support over e-mail and IM (I feel it important to note that I value, appreciate, and love those few who have not seen distance of an impediment; while a phone or a computer doesn't have the same emotional impact of a hug they have been consistently loyal, warm, and supportive of me). I don't find myself with a realistic plan A besides the obvious one of "keep on plugging", and any attempts to come up with plan B, C, and D, cause me enormous stress and frustration. Maybe I'll get into photography, professionally speaking, do it on the side, earn a little extra money, encourage a sense of accomplishment and artistic purpose in my life-but then I think wow, that's sheer madness, it's going to take years of hard work and thousands of dollars in technical investments before I'd even do my first wedding and what's to say I can consistently find business (I sometimes wonder if I have a tat on my forehead reading, "Steer clear of the nutter!"). This intense emotional and spiritual tug-of-war is present with any idea I come up with. I should go back to school and get a teaching degree, I tell myself, then I think no, I'm going to be too old, and my body is probably just too worn down to deal with the stress of smart mouthed teenagers with sue happy parents. Then I think okay, I'll go back to school to be a counselor, then it happens, I ask myself if that's just going to be another of my monumental mistakes, will I just end up working with people who are, subconsciously speaking at least, in love with their difficulties, and will I end up frustrated and cynical? For every solution there is a contradictory argument. For every ray of hope, a storm cloud on the horizon. But I won't give up. I'll continue to look. I'll continue to tinker around. I'll continue to eat better and go to work and support my friends when they need me and to try, with what few chances I'm provided, to be a good father and by "good" I mean I will show her what it means to be strong, to do ones best, to live with integrity, honesty, honor, and the like (although I must admit even that is often hard as I sometimes wonder if my efforts are completely negated by the distant cacophony of her life). I'll continue to get more regular sleep, I will continue to open myself to doing things with anyone I meet, I'll continue to try and see the world as objectively as possible, even when I feel like it's gang raped me then left me out under the Hawthorne bridge to rot. What can I learn about people by how they have treated me? What can I learn about my boundaries? And what can I learn about my ability to make better choices, to be more consistently verbal in articulating my boundaries, what can I learn about interacting with others in a positive and proactive fashion that leads to win-wins instead of being overwhelmed by fear and pain when they go off on me.

So what will you do about it? What do you think you should do about it? Honestly, I couldn't tell you. First, I would not trade what I'm going through with anyone; I would not want you, whether you are friend or foe, to experience difficulties such as these. Therefore, if things are well for you, comparatively speaking at least…well, I also don't envy your position on the other side of the fence. To my beloved friends who are so far away, to you who were with me fifteen years ago when I acted like such a confused and self-centered asshole whenever I felt in the least bit slighted, I can only imagine the age old fears that echo within your hearts and souls. Once upon a time you could have just checked the room or walked across the hallway or across the road to check in on me. Am I doing okay? Do I need anything, even if it's just a hug? And most scary of all, am I about to slip off the edge and end it all? Wow, I have planted such deep seeds of fear in you and for that I will eternally be sorrowful, and so I recommit to my decade old pledge that I will never, no matter how hard things get, no matter how lonely I am or hopeless life seems, make the choice to take my life. Still, the subconscious mind is such a conditioned beast, even at times a bastard-son-of-a-bitch that keeps us prisoner. All I have to say about that is: fuck! (I mean, FFUUUUUCCCCCKKK!). Anyway, to you two friends who mean the world to me, to you who do me the honor of sometimes reading my journals then engaging in conversation with me over some of the things I have written about, thank you so much for your letters, your visits, infrequent though they are, your text messages, your instant messaging chat sessions, and most of all, your unconditional love. I don't think there's anything more you can do so never, and I repeat, never feel badly or that you can or should do more. You are perfect in your love, your friendship, your spirit, and your compassion. To those strangers who happen to stumble onto my site, I leave it up to you. Indeed, I write in hopes of connecting with you, of teaching you, of helping you feel a sense that whatever you're going through you aren't alone and there is hope (look at me, I can sometimes talk like the world is over but I still maintain the view that life is worth living); if I can do that in some way then I have achieved some little spark of goodness in this world and even more if you find ways to share that spark with others. And lastly to those who "know" me and haven't been in touch for some time for whatever reason, have courage, use your voice, and do what is thoughtful, honorable, and just; oh, and thinking about what I want, especially if you ask with a clear willingness to respond to it in a serious fashion, will most likely earn my respect, and maybe, hopefully, give me some hope that every relationship and friendship I've put energy and money into over the last 10 years hasn't been a complete disaster. And finally to my daughter: just keep in touch. I don't need you to be perfect. I love you no matter what. Yes, I expect you to do your best, yes, I expect you to treat others, especially adults, with respect and kindness, and yes, sometimes I'll be sad or disappointed with the choices you have made-but I will always love you, will always be here for you. I just want to know you're making an effort to stay in touch, to keep our relationship alive, to engage with each other in thoughtful conversations about all manner of subjects, serious and superficial. Let's talk about the newest rock group, let's talk about your grades, and let's make plans to go camping this summer. By keeping in touch, by making the time to engage with me, you show me that I am important to you and that is the most important emotional component of our relationship to me on a personal level. And so you know, while you have stumbled, sometimes greatly, in this area, I have forgiven you and seen you make a real effort lately and for that I will say I am both proud and thankful of your courage, your desire to make a difference, and your belief in us. There's not much in this world more precious than a relationship where both people "believe in it" in thought, word, and deed. And to Paris Hilton, my newest reader who has recently fallen madly in love with me, yes, I accept your offer for you to move in with me and become my sugar mamma.

That last bit was a joke, btw.

For better or worse I have chosen much of the situation I am in. Obviously the argument can be made that I choose every emotion and every action I take every day, but that's not what I'm talking about. And in all fairness, most of you probably have no clue what I'm talking about. I've alluded to it here and there but I haven't provided an explicit explanation. My reasons for this are too numerous to mention. For now, well, I think I'm going to walk away from my writing and take a ride in the jeep (with the sun rider top open, if I can figure it out, anyway). I will be back in two flicks of a whiskers tale...well, fast at least.

It's now 11:05pm and I'm back home. No, the ride wasn't that long but I did go out, put up the sun rider top, then found myself enjoying the ride so much I texted my daughter and asked if she'd like to join me for a bit. I picked her up near her apartment complex then we drove up Skyline. We talked for several hours about life, the universe, and everything. Three things came out of our time together, for me at least. First, I'm concerned about her. When I met her she was a troubled six year old with some fairly severe antisocial behaviors (hitting and kicking adults, for example). Over the six or so years we lived together I was able to help raise her in such a way that she didn't resort to antisocial behaviors as often. Her moods were more stable. She was able to succeed more often in school and with extracurricular activities. Then her mother moved and took her and bam, almost as if a light switch had been flipped she started to experience many of the same behaviors and struggles she had as a six year old-but this time with the added twist of being a 14 year old in a much more dangerous world. I won't go into details but will say I love her with all my heart and I'm sincerely worried about the direction her life is taking. This leads me to the second thing that came out of our time together, that is, I feel she and I have built a relationship on trust and honesty that allows us to discuss any subject, no matter how difficult, taboo, or what have you, and I really get the sense that she's really trying to engage with me and more importantly, listen to my advice. She is like any other teenager though, she tends to think she knows everything and that she knows what she's doing, but I think she sees more and more that I know what I'm talking about and that when push comes to shove my advice will help her lead a life more in line with her long term goals, ideals, and hopes. Last, I feel much better than I did earlier today. I wasn't on the verge of tears on my way home today but God so much was pent up inside of me (esp. after something that happened at work that really upset me) that I just wanted to get in the Jeep and cry my eyes out (that would have looked nice and manly, huh? Lol). The decision to get away from my writing and enjoy the sun and fresh air was a good choice on my part, but making the "what the hell" choice of asking her to come along for the ride really made the difference. I mean jeeze, do you know what it's like spending most of your time alone (alone = physically alone as well as being surrounded by co-workers, people on the street, basically others that one doesn't have an emotionally close relationship with)? It really sucks and it's easy to forget anyone gives a damn about you. So just a thanks to my daughter for making me feel like I mattered this evening.

Yea gods, do you know what? I sat down to write about being afraid lately and I forgot to mention what initiated this entry? Simple enough: This coming Monday I head down to the hospital where I will be put under then a small camera on a long robotic arm will be stuck down my throat and up my colon. The medical industry calls these a endoscopy and a colonoscopy, respectively. I call it getting one more thing shoved up my ass. All sarcasm aside, I'm scared shitless. I've never been scared of being put out before, but this time, with the fragility of my body this past year, I'm deathly afraid that I'm going to go to sleep and never wake up. Unrealistic? It happens. In fact, my kitchen table was once owned by a man who went under anesthesia for a completely unrelated operation when the medication caused him to have a stroke which left him, a man in his late forties or early fifties, in a relatively vegetative state for a few years after which he died a premature death. The way things have been going for me lately…well, I'm in the mindset of damn, maybe I'll lose the ability to use my arms next or the ability to remember anything for more than 5 minutes or maybe the only things I'll be able to remember are the memories of being hurt by people. So yeah, been under before but never been scared of it like I am now. I'm also pretty terrified of what they may find. Truth is, I've been having problems with heart burn, and sometimes acid reflux, for six or seven years now. My primary care physician at the time kept diagnosing me with allergies and I'd keep telling him it's not allergies, I've had allergies, I've been to allergy clinics, I KNOW allergies, but the fucker wouldn't listen! Eventually I went (on my own) to a specialist who confirmed that I had acid reflux. He told me things to do: no caffeine, no chocolate, no alcohol, liquid antacids during attacks, and raise the head of my bed so I'm sleeping at an angle. I've been following this advice for years whenever I start having an attack and am like a yo-yo, will have three or four bad days, get my diet on track, then have a few good weeks, then I'll have an attack, get back to a vigilant diet, and so on and so forth. Anyway, there have been times where it's been pretty bad and have had other problems which I won't go into hear and I've just done my best to use diet, sleep, ect. so I got myself back to feeling better again. It wasn't until I ended up in the ER after having an esophageal spasm that my doctor insisted I go in and see what's going on, just in case. At the very least I know I have one killer of an ulcer. It probably started six or seven years ago after moving in with my daughter's mother and for obvious reasons continued to fester during that time. Got enormously worse during 2008/2009 due to any number of factors, many described above. People, I'm one stressed out mother fucker and it sometimes amazes me I've survived as many things I have in this one arguably challenged life (even had a good friend say something similar to me lately, that she's amazed by my strength, tenacity, and willingness to get back up and fight even though it's clear I'm about ready to go black from fatigue, pain, and dizziness [That was my attempt at a boxing analogy! How did I do?]). So anyway, I've had my head in the ground, the proverbial ostrich, what I can't see isn't real, but now it's clear that I need to go in, see what's going on, check that it's nothing more than ulcers and GI bleeding. I'm scared of what they'll find and frankly have never wanted to cancel a medical diagnostic procedure before, not like I do now anyway. What makes the entire situation worse, from an emotional point of view at least, is the fact that I've got nobody in Portland to take me there then get me home and take care of me for a few hours while the drugs wear off. I remember sitting with my parents last time they were here and forcing the words out of my mouth, asking, "Would you mind being here that day and taking me?" which of course resulted in the question, "Where's your girlfriend?" I knew there was no around that arrow which slapped me dead center in the heart and I just wanted to cry-but wouldn't in front of them. The woman, the love of my life, the person I wanted to get married to, the woman I wanted to support in better and worse, and who's support I wanted in better or worse, and Monday is emphatically in the "worse" category. I don't know if I can correctly convey the pain I have that I have no one, absolutely no one that I'm close to, that I can ask to be there for me that day, to hold my hand, to comfort me, reassure me, and remind me that everything's going to be alright, they're there, they're holding my hand, they won't go anywhere just because things have become hard. But no, as with most of the rest of my life the two people with me are my parents and while I love them, isn't there anyone else I can have at my side, anyone that's not at least a hundred miles away? What a sad loneliness to be living in a city with over half a million people but living alone, going out to watch movies alone, going out to dinner alone, making love alone (c'mon, a moment of humor here, folks!), going on vacations alone, going to sleep alone, waking up alone, watching tv alone, cooking dinner alone…oh, you get the general picture. And while I'm sure there are very sociable people out there that would argue making connections with people absolutely easy, that anyone can do it, I'd like to point out a few things: first, the conditioning in our brains is highly different; it's not as easy for me to engage in dialog on the fly as it is for you. Second, due to this I often come across to many as a little weird and even reclusive. Next, you've years of practice that probably included being in families or groups of people who encouraged you to communicate in a friendly, useful manner. The point is, you got the practice when me, I spent my days on the playground walking the edges of the fence while crying because nobody wanted to play with me. Making friends is not as easy for all people as some would like to make it out to be. And lets be real, looks play a big part. A beautiful woman with full breasts, nice hips and legs, soft round butt, they, by default, tend to make many more friends than the non-stereotypically beautiful ones. And me, I've never had a face, no matter how I shave or what I wear or how I'm using my body language, been gawked at by a stranger. I think my face is average and gets lost in the forest of faces.

Man, was I rambling? Would you like to know why? A little pill called Ambien. It's now hard to write ideas that are longer than a sentence; finding the coherence between sentences in a paragraph seems nearly impossible to me right now. Oddly, I'm not exactly tired, just loosing the ability to use short term memory. My thoughts are a jumble and the words look magical as they pop out of existence onto the screen.

What was I trying to say with all that rambling? It was this: It is a terribly lonely thing to ask one's aging parents to drive 147 miles so I can go under the blade (okay, so they won't be cutting me, but you get the idea). It's a terribly lonely thing to not have a single person, a peer, who would take a day off from work to be there for you. It's a terribly lonely thing knowing that some day, when my parents aren't so well, if and when I head to the emergency room I'll be 100% on my own. I'm scared that one day I'll be one of those old folks you hear about on the news, they live by themselves, have a hard time getting out of bed much less making a meal. They are along 99% of a day except when someone drops off their food and they may talk for five minutes. Hopefully I'll have an internet connection, if my life does go in such a terrible direction I plan to write about it so you, those of you interested in the effects of long term loneliness on a person. I want to be the one person capable of someday summarizing it in feeling words that touch everyone, lonely or not, I would like to find the words that would convince us, as a culture, that it's not acceptable to leave anyone alone, that just as we have the right to food, a roof over our heads, as well as liberty and happiness, we also have the right to be included in communities.

But then what kind of community would accept a freak like me? What few have?

Anyway, I should get to bed soon. Before I go, though, I want to remind myself that I will soon be writing about loneliness and in particular why I sometimes make the choice to be alone-and how that FUCKING SUCKS ASSHOLES!

Thursday April 23rd, 2009

Did something rather unexpected...no, that's the wrong word...did something amazingy out of character...nope, that isn't accurate either...made a leap of faith...okay, there's some truth to that but it's still pretty vague.

So what did I do?

And what does it mean?

It might be more interesting to answer the second question first. What does my afternoon mean. What's the hidden symbology on this choice and how does it relate to my life?

1) Taking the top down takes knowledge, a bit of patience, and strong hands. Once rolled up you can experiene the joy of an open top. Wow, there's just no other way to drive! I'm like a dog, I love wind in my hair, wind brushing against my arms. Woah to those who do not understand.

2) The inside is pretty spartan, basic, functional, unlike other vehicles out there. The $$$ that went into building it went into the engine, drive train, suspension, etc., not silly little things like vanity mirrors.

3) If it begins raining with the top down you have two choices: a) get wet or b) pull over and put the top back. But who wants to get caught with their pants down? I want to plan ahead, make the modification before I'm forced to by forces outside my immediate control.

4) It tells you exactly what kind of gas milage you're getting, a perfect feedback mechanisms to teach me to drive in a more fuel positive fashion.

5) It can tow some pretty big things so I don't need to get help from others when I need to get something huge, like 8x4 planks of plywood.

6) Walking away, especially when the top is down, is a test of my trust. How safe will I feel leaving it completely open parked downtown on a busy Saturday? What does it mean that I want to find the courage to frequently do that, to just see it as a thing, a thing that can be damaged or stolen but then again, just a thing that can easily be replaced.

7) To step into this I had to five something else up, something I loved, had a deep emotional connection to, but it was also associated with too many sad things, too many losses in my life, too many things I would rather just throw in a big pile and set on fucking fire. WhhhhhaaaaaOOOOOOSSSHHHH!!! The parting was such sweet sorrow but it felt like it was time to move on.

8) If you don't get me you don't get me and God does it boggle me, me being someone who lays all my good and bad bits out there for anyone to examine in depth...and as they say, "You wouldn't understand, it's a Jee--I mean--Aslynn thing."

9) You know, I think I'm still a pretty damn amazing guy, a worthy catch for any women who opens their eyes and is willing to put aside their preconsceptions and judgements, no, I'm not perfect, but one thing I do know: this vehicle is not "practical" yet I am still worthy of love!

That's all I got for now. It's 1:10am and I'm pretty tired. The ambien's kicked in and I'm pretty loopy. Harder to type. Harder to concentrate on what I wrote in a clear and articulate fashion. My mind is hooked singularly on whatever word I happened to be typing (while at the same time I'm saying it in my head).

Oh, what did I do? I purchased a 2009 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara Edition. Georgous truck, nice ride, seats are much more comfortable for my back than the Volvo (I'm forced to sit up straight so can't ever sloud while driving, which was the problem with the Volvo and while for years I'd tried to find pillows to help but without success). Next sunny day I'm taking the top down and letting the wind in! And next sunny weekend I"m going to head somewhere and I'm going to drive through the sand or the river or I'm going to climb up the mountain, get out, then go on that hike. I'm going to start living even more cheaply in other respects, I'm going to find free things I can do on my own that will provide me at least the illusion of living a normal life. Anyway, I shouldn't get into that tonight. I'll do so on another day.

1:17AM. I need to get my butt in bed.

Bye

Monday April 20th, 2009

This weekend sucked and sometimes it is better to express something in the same manner as a teenager might than to attempt to obfuscate the subjective reality behind superfluous and flowery language as we, as adults, so often feel the need to do. I honestly don't know why it sucked or what factors lead to that suckiness, indeed, in some respects I felt like nothing more than a voyeur, watching my own life, making decisions, but overall feeling like I was watching a television program, not living.

I'm not sure why this weekend was any different than any other weekend. As has been the norm I spent the weekend alone. I slept in Saturday morning and got up early (at least for me) on Sunday morning. I ate regularly. I engaged in activities that would benefit my mind, body, and spirit. Examples include but are not limited to: picking up leaves and weeding the garden, reading several chapters of a book on Paint Shop Pro Photo X2, playing around with the beforementioned program, relaxing in the hammock, and doing the dishes. Typically, keeping busy, finding things to do around the house makes me feel that I've been productive and good to myself; this weekend I just felt empty.

Maybe lonely is the term. I felt lonely. I felt old. I remember yesterday afternoon, after attempting to create meaning through a number of activities, I just felt an overwhelming sense of loss. I missed my x-girlfriend, really really missed her, and it hit me just how much I gave up when I walked away from that relationship, and that it may have been my last chance to start a family. That may seem a negative attitude to champion, but the reality is I've only met someone I'd consider "marriage worthy" about once every thirty years. The first was my high school sweet heart and though we loved each other enormously the time wasn't right, especially for me with all the various psychological issues I had at the time. The second, a beautiful woman I met in, of all places, a psychology class at Lane Community College, became a roomate then my fiance; eventually, after much drama we did get married, but I wasn't quite mature enough and she realized she didn't want children so we decided that to keep our marriage vows we needed to say goodbye; though there was a period where there was too much pain for us to talk, we are now very good friends; I might even go as far as to say she is my best friend, someone who sincerely cares for me, listens without judgement, and offers advice when I need it. My recent girlfriend of two years, well, it wasn't perfect but I saw in her all the things I want in a life partner--except the ability to respect boundaries--but that's another subject for another journal entry.

So there I was just dying from this sense of loss. Nothing helped. Absolutely nothing. Finally said fuck it, and frankly sometimes that's exactly what you need to do, "Fuck it!" Said that, threw a documentary on the television, then laid down on the couch, closed my eyes, and let my mind and body do whatever it needed to do. Woke up marginally better, went upstairs, worked for a few hours, continue to struggle with this frustrating sense that my life has lost all meaning and continued to breath.

It's a strange place, this place that I'm in. Fifteen years ago, back when I was Depressed, my mental state was a direct response to my thought patterns. I was Depressed because I was constantly looking for reasons to be Depressed. I was Depressed because my perception of nearly any event was negative. Someone gave me a card meant to cheer me up, I'd project some nastiness on it to take me back down. It was a viscious cycle, a terrible way of being that didn't just affect my moods but also those around me. You might even say I "loved" the place I was in. I encouraged it through the music I consumed (Pink Floyd's The Wall), I rejoiced it through the things I wrote (poetry and short stories), and when I spoke to people I needed to convince them that the world was a terrible place, at least for me, and if they really cared about me they'd get their asses in there and make my life a better place. If you were to say I had a victim mentality you would be absolutely correct. I did not feel I had any control over my life. I didn't choose my parents or how they had treated me. I didn't feel I had much choice in regard to friendships, I wasn't popular, I had few friends and those I had were those few that would have anything to do with a dark-depressed weirdo such as me, oh man, I don't want to get into it, but I was convinced that besides getting myself a college degree I didn't have all that much control over anything.

I've come a long, long way in the last fifteen years and in particular I have come to believe that I am 100% responsible for any emotion I have. And I'll tell you something: that's not an easy belief to maintain. It's so easy to experience an external event, like someone you love calling you names, and pin the responsibility for our reaction on the other person. I mean, doesn't it make sense to assign fault with the person that is clearly responsible? Wow, could you imagine the change to our legal system if in it was written the assumption that every feeling is the complete responsibility of the person having the feeling?

What I'm trying to say is that I've come to a place where I accept responsibility for my emotions, even when it's objectively clear that my emotional state is a response to real world stimuli, even when those responses are perfectly normal in a healthy, well functioning human being. Okay, so yesterday it wasn't clear what I was responding to, the emotions I was feeling, loneliness, worthlessness, destitution, and on a few occassions an acute fear of death, but it was clear these emotions were my own, that I was the only person experiencing them, and that I was the only person with the ability to built upon them and lead them in the positive or negative direction. So, unlike so many years ago, I do not sit around looking for reasons to be upset. Can't tell you how hard that is, sometimes, though. Back then I'd established a pattern of thinking, an almost addictive mind-set, you might say, and it was a habit that took a lot of effort to change so much like breathing it had been. The trick, I've found, is to practice a lot of meditation on emptiness. More specifically, when I notice that I'm looking at something, whether that something be a physical something like a chair, or an intangible something such as an emotion, when I notice I've just attached an idea, positive or negative, to that something, I practice letting that go.

The more I do that the more clearly I see the universe for what it is.

At times it can be really frustrating, though. The benefits of letting go of my thoughts just don't seem to be there. Why the hell am I doing this? I wonder. What's the point? Wouldn't it be easier to look at the people who have hurt me and just become angry? Wouldn't it give my life more meaning if I spent my free time rationalizing all of my actions and why what I'm doing now is the "right" thing?

That's the easy way out, isn't it?

And so when the loneliness hits me, when I feel profoundly empty, like I've hit that age where it's all "downhill from here", and when I practice this art (and it truly is an art) of simply being, of accepting the emotions for what they really are without judgement, addition, or subtracting, when I do this I find myself in a substantially different place than I was fifteen years ago. I can't say I like the feelings I've experienced, but I am not trapped by them either. I can't say I'm not impatient with how they sometimes linger for hours instead of minutes. Wow, do you have any idea how much I would like to have a "normal" life with a "normal" mid-life crisis?

But then, what is "normal"?

I want so many of the normal things: a marriage, home, job, children, and the ability to buy an expensive toy here and there. But then I want so many seemingly abnormal things: the ability to love my enemies, the ability to see the world as it truly is not how I want to make it, and to be surrounded by people who are intelligent, strong willed, strong minded, and who will always challenge me to make more of myself. Oh, and I'm probably a bit abnormal in my desire to be able to take any emotion on, survive it, learn from it, and become a more beautiful person as a direct conscious result of it (as opposed to as an accidental by-product of it).

I'm not sure what I'm going on about. My thoughts, I suppose. There are so many. I wish I had the time and the ability to share them all. I wish I was able to articulate them not just clearly, but artistically, so that you are not only able to understand my meaning but so you are also pulled in by their words. I do not want to win your attention because you're in a similar frame of mind as I, no, I wish to be able to earn your attention whatever place you are in. That is a level of communication I have not yet mastered--and perhaps it is, I have wondered, impossible. What do you think? Do you believe it is possible to be able to communicate an idea to someone, to gain their interest, if they are not somehow on or close to the same wavelength? Is it possible to listen, I mean really listen and understand someone, without any level of empathizing? Is it possible for me to gain your respect if you have not been in a place somehow similar to mine?

Anyway, did I mention that this weekend sucked?

On a positive note this weekend I began transfering my online photo albums from The Temple to Picassa which is owned by Google. Previously it may have taken several minutes to load an entire photo album (especially if it was large and you were on dial-up) but now it's nearly instantaneous; also, instead of having to click on a photograph you're automatically provided a slide show; finally, instead of low res pictures you can view much more high quality versions. Only a few of the newer albums have been posted to the Vision page and more are pending, but I do hope you enjoy this much needed upgrade to The Temple.

Enjoy and goodnight,

Saturday April 18th, 2009

I thought art was dead to me. I have used various art programs thrughout the years but besides using the basic functionality, cropping, changing the size of a photograph, adjusting the brightness and contrast, or applying a pre-defined photo fix, I haven't taken the time to truly learn how to use one of these programs. Ironically you think I would have given I've used many of the big players including Paint Shop Pro and Adobe Photoshop, the latter of which has become synomymous with photo manipulation, and yet I've never asked myself the question, "What do this do and how do I use it to enhance my own art?"

As you may also know my creativity has been stiffled, especially in terms of drawing, since the seventh grade. Many would describe me as being creative, but in my humble opinion my adult creativity is highly stylized and formulaic; it's missing the essential ingredient of play that adds a spark of life to any artistic endevour no matter how big or small.

Recently I have somehow coerced myself into combining each, both a desire to learn the ins and outs of the software I'm using along with the creativity necessary to create products which are truly unlike anything I've created before. I'm not exactly sure why I've suddenly been able to achieve this long awaited outcome. Perhaps its due to the need to breath and healing in my life. Maybe its because I'm sans girlfriend again and I felt so stiffled by their regular judgements of everyone and everything (especially if it was more a part of my life) that I absolutely need something which encourages an air of lightness within me. And perhaps it's the fact that I'm sick of work, the long hours, the rare show of appreciation, the unrealistic expectations, and I don't see myself able or willing to sit behind a computer 40 (uhm, 60+) hours a week for the rest of my life; indeed, I've calculated that I get paid around $12 - $14 an hour, which quite frankly sucks (that doesn't, of course, take in benefits which I can't exactly ignore as they are nothing to be scoffed at, especially when you have and need health care). What was I saying, oh yes, my job, and so over the last few years I've been brainstorming about alternate avocations. Ideas and interests include becoming a high school teacher or a therapist, both of which I'm interested in, but how much additional schooling would be necessary and how much would that put me in debt (something I'm not terribly interested in going into again, especially at this age). And then it struck me, why not do photography on the side? I wouldn't have to give up my day job but I might be able to pull in a few hundred dollars here, a few hundred there, while exploring an aspect of myself that truly needs dusting.

And so there it is, now I have a reason to sit down and learn how to use these programs. Fortunately I also took a leap of faith, bought this electronic tablet which has made photo editing much easier (to those who would continue using a mouse I have nothing but pity). I still need to get my Nikon D100 cleaned but in the meantime there's no reason to delve back into what it's capable of (something I stopped doing a few years back when I became spoiled by autofocus-point-and-shoot--now it's back to manual operation only). Need to do some research into what legalities there are and no, I don't see this as something I could ever use to completely replace my day job, I do hope I can one day supliment it substantially.

This picture is one of my first play sessions with Corel Paint Shop Photo X2. Using the brushes is fairly straight forward and something I was familiar with. I've also had some experience pasting one photograph inside another (in this case my dad and neice have been cut into the streets of Joseph, Oregon). Shapes are easy to make and have never grabbed my interest (I'm not electric scrap booking) although I've never used morphing successfully as I have here (you may notice my neice is from the elven side of the family). I'll continue to play as I read a book I purchased on this particular piece of software and I hope to become adept at using advanced functionality, like raster and vector layers, within the next few weeks.

In the meantime I'm looking for a name for my photography business. It's not absolutely necessary, but pagans have known for thousands of years that a name gives something power; once I attach a name to this endevour that name will help guide and focus my work. Do you have any suggestions?


Wednesday April 14th, 2009

Not going to make a video blog tonight. Sorry folks, I only have so much energy and time; hell, even after feeling so sick I headed home for the afternoon I ended up having to work--granted, no manager directly asked me to work, but it's a forgone conclusion that not getting on it tonight would result in a great deal of pressure first thing in the morning.

A few months ago, back after my first ER visit, my doctor gave me the strict instruction not to work more than 8 hours a day. Since then I have maybe worked two 8 hour days a week (on a good week). Obviously, this hasn't exactly improved my health. My direct manager, to his credit, has been working with me in order to keep my work down and delegate it as needed, but this whole area is much more complicated than I could go into here. I will, however, summarize by saying that there are areas of life where the "trickle down" theory has plausibility and it is typically in those areas where those of us on bottom have the least control.

I know there are solutions. I know these are challenges which, if I have the right mindset, can be met and overcome. I know that if I'm in a good place I can do that and feel successful and incredibly proud of myself for doing so. And yet if I spend my time fighting fires, if a chunk of my life is spent surviving as opposed to living, at what point do I begin living, i.e. making the kind of contribution I studied at University to deliver?

I gotta tell ya, it's hard, it's very hard looking at all of this as a challenge, an opportunity to find creative solutions, to succeed and overcome adversity. I've been at this for some years now and in the last two years the work load and complexity and stress has easily quadrupled so I'm looking at it and I'm wondering if there's a light at the end of this tunnel. It's even harder because if I were married, if there were another bread winner in the house, I'd walk in to the Human Resources director first thing tomorrow morning and tell her I needed to take three or more months of long term disability. Yes, I'd still come in a couple of days a week, yes, I'd be available to work from home or to help over the phone or Instant Messenger, but I'm sorry, I need to take a significant leave of absence, I need to take care of my body, mind, and spirit. My God, I have never needed that so bad in my entire life! (Oh Sophie, if only there were sugar mommas for your average middle aged crackers like me! lol)

...and yet it seems the Great Pygmie in the Sky has put this challenge before me and I've either gotta survive it or fail...and I am utterly terrified what it will mean if I fail...

Every few weeks I purchase a Powerball ticket. A long shot for sure, but a spark of hope.

It's now 10:59pm. My back hurts. It's hurt all over the last several days in a very uncomfortable way. I need a back rub so bad I would pay for a professional rub down...but I'll need to wait until I get my federal tax return. I'm eating a bowl of strawberries, rasberries, and bananas with a light covering of Magic Shell which sadly is not so magic when used on something other than ice cream. I'm watching CNN.com and am amazed at some of the "experts" (or what I now lovingly refer to as "bobble heads") they choose to get advice from. On the other monitor, this journal entry. Behind it, one of my work machines moving along.

It's now 11:05pm. Nothing has changed except maybe I should get to bed soon. Midnight will come and go. The pain will come. I wonder if my life will be much different tomorrow at 11:05pm. I somehow doubt it.


Monday April 13th, 2009

My first work break generally consists of a short walk while I think about what I plan on writing about in my journal. It always begins with one question: what do I want to write about? This is usually followed by a number of additional questions. Why do I want to write about that? Will writing about that help me express myself in an artistic fashion? A therapeutic one? Will writing on this subject help you better understand me? Sometimes I'm quick to determine what the subject will be. Other times...not so much.

Today has been somewhere in between.

My first idea was spring. With all the green out, the new flowers pushing through the surface of the earth, and so on and so forth, I couldn't help think, "Spring is beautiful!" Unfortunately, I had nothing to add to that and didn't feel like forcing it.

I also thought about writing about how my body feels fluish today and how the pain killers have an odd effect on me when I have the flu. Specifically, I have the feeling of sore muscles and joints, but not so much that I can't function "normally". But maybe this is just one of my worse days? Maybe, I don't know. Either way, not a subject that called to me.

Or how about the song that was going through my head over and over this morning and the synchronicity behind it? The song was "Be Still My Beating Heart" sung by Sting when he was a member of The Police.

Restore my broken dreams
Shattered like a falling glass
I'm not ready to be broken just yet
A lesson once learned is so hard to forget

How was this synchronistic? Well, over the past month or so my psychic sense has gone through the roof. Someone's about to send me a text message and I know. Someone's going to get on Instant Messenger and send me a message, I know. Someone's going to e-mail me and I Know.

You must learn to stand your ground
It's not healthy to run at this pace
The blood runs so red to my face
I've been to every single book I know
To soothe the thoughts that plague me so

It's also extended to movies, music, and other forms of entertainment. For instance, Sunday afternoon I browsed quite randomly through Netflicks and found a movie called The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (or en Francais: Le Scaphandre et le Papillon). I've never seen the movie before. I'm not aware of anyone I know having seen the movie before. In fact, besides the movie cover proudly displaying "Winnder Best Picture of the Year" I knew nothing about the movie, all I knew was I wasn't in a mood to spend a lot of time browsing so I clicked on the film and ate lunch while watching it.

Stop before you start
Be still my beating heart

The film is, I believe, the true story of a man who's entire body became paralized except for his left eye. Not someone to give up, both he and his speech therapist worked to help him communicate by blinking his eye; I won't describe the strategy here, the movie was so good I'd simply suggest that you rent it. Anyway, long story short, the protagonists sense of being perfectly livid but locked inseparably from the external one is one I've been feeling for about a month now. Before you jump to conclusions I would just say no, I cannot truly empathize with someone who has such a debilitating illness, however what I can say is that the film accurately described how I been feeling for the last month or so: socially isolated, alone, and sometimes like I'm the only person that gets me (or cares to). Out of the hundreds of thousands of films I could have chosen what are the odds that I'd choose one that I could so easily empathize with?

Never to be wrong
Never to make promises that break

It is frustrating having a chronic illness that cannot be seen with the naked eye. The protagonist of the film did not experience this, simply seeing him immediately clued people in that he had some kind of a condition; very little attempted interaction would quickly uncover the true extent of his problems. On the flip-side, nobody can see my pain. Frankly, I think most people forget about it. Today, for instance, I didn't feel at all well at work, yet a quick glance in the restroom mirror reflected a perfectly normal looking me. Even those that know me well, who have seen the effects of the chronic pain upon me and my body, often behave as if it's just a minor complaint, something that'll go away if I just arrange myself on the couch correctly while cuddling. Like it or not it doesn't work that way. I sometimes wish I was missing a leg (knock on wood!) so people would immediately and more consistently demonstrate recognition, understanding, support, and compassion.

I sink like a stone that's been thrown in the ocean
My logic has drowned in a sea of emotion
Stop before you start
Be still my beating heart

While I don't need recognition, understanding, support, and compassion on a regular basis from those my life immediately touches it would be nice. Alas, out of site, out of mind, and so I simply go forth with my life, planning the next journal, planning lunch, planning the next ten builds, planning errands I'll run after work, planning dinner, planning to Instant Message with an old friend (who is at present my "best" friend), planning to respond to a few e-mails, planning to create tonight's Video Blog, planning to get to bed at a decent time...

To Hell with the pain.

Sunday April 12th, 2009

Oh boy, waking up lately has been a real struggle. I changed when I take one of my medications to around 6pm instead of taking it at the same time as the Ambien, and that's helped a little, but overall I've found my bed is sucking me into it. Maybe it's something about the Temperpedic mattress I haven't noticed until now; maybe it's that the new comforters are pushing and surrounding me tighter than in the past; probably it's a little bit of both. Regardless, I'm not exactly sure how I'll get my butt outa bed tomorrow morning for work. If it happens again or many "happens again" more times, etc., yiddly-yoda, blah-blah-blah--well, if it keeps up I may have to consider going off this medication; though it has helped my overall level of pain I believe it's making waking up in the morning nearly impossible, even with the alarm cranked to the loudest setting, even with two alarms going off, even when I have family visiting and knocking crazily on my door.

So a few things before I begin today's ramble.

1) For better or worse my last entry was miles and miles away from what I had wished it to be. There's so much more I wanted to write. In particular there was a meaning behind the picture and text I wrote out by hand on the new tablet/pad/thingy. What was that meaning? Honestly, I don't have the time or energy to go too deeply into it at present, however I would like to say it has something to do with an apology I received recently, one that was sincere, heart felt, and frankly, earned my respect. I promise to write about that another day as it deserves my attention.

2) I've been wanting to get up on Sunday's and attend the Unitarian church down in Hillsboro, but I've been enjoying sleep way too much. On the weekends I get up between 10am and 2pm, depending on how tired I am and when I got to bed the night before. Anyway, I've really had to be conscious about what I want to do with my time. The reason is, I'm just not feeling terribly great about myself and if left open I'd follow my blues, spend my time doing little else but eating, watching movies, and playing video games. That's not acceptable, though. I may feel blue but that does not necessarily imply I should act blue. Indeed, it is a mistake to always simply do as our emotions dictate, especially when those emotions are negative in content, especially when those emotions are effectively shovels which only help to dig a deeper and deeper hole for ourselves, one that becomes increasingly difficult to escape. And so I get up and immediately begin planning my day. Today it went something like this: Struggled out of bed; dressed; headed downstairs; did dishes; took pain meds; cleaned kitchen; cleaning entertainment room; video taped self on blog; cleaned cat litter; cleaned work bench in garage; started load of laundry; threw together and ate a taco salad; installed camcorder software on downstairs computer; so on and so forth. In a few minutes I'm going to get off this darn thing, get in the car, and head to the grocery store for more cat litter as well as a quick romp into Barnes and Noble to pick up Paint Shop Pro 9 for Dummies (yep, I'm a dumby!). Later I need to log into work, go through a few things that I committed to doing before Monday rolls around. Then bed. The point here is I'm flexibly but consciously planning my day in order to keep myself going, in order to be ready for those possible times when God throws more table scraps in my direction. The weirdest thing about all this is I'll walk through a room and see something that needs to be done, such as wiping down the kitchen counters, and typically when I've felt this blue I simply walk by without a second thought. This time, though, I've (mostly) responded to the observation by immediately taking care of whatever it is. I'd like to think that I've just evolved into one more healthy behavioral pattern--and yes, this is partially true--but mostly I think it's because I have never experienced such a sense of loss, depression, and pointlessness as I have this last year. There are times I can't quite believe what my life looks like anymore: two years ago I came home to a group of people I was close enough to to consider my "family", a year ago I was making plans to head into town to visit my girlfriend/best friend at least once a week. With the exceptions of the much needed visits from family and friends these last few weeks, I get home to nothing but the whining of four cats the want their food and want it now. I wake up alone. I spend my weekday in a small cube hidden behind three large monitors. I spend my weekends taking care of work around the house. In there somewhere I eat alone, I bathe alone, I read alone, I write alone, and I sleep alone, and there's no telling when this will change so...so gotta keep plugging, taking care of myself and by extension of that my house, my property, my pets. Anyway...

3) I need to run in a bit so I hope you'll forgive me if this entry is also very short and goes without editing.

The main reason I logged on to write today is to inform you that I'm going to begin keeping a Video Blog (is there another term for that? If so e-mail me at aslynn at greenpygmies dot com and let me know). I'm somewhat surprised that I purchased another camera to do this (my old one, an excellent Sony Mini-DV, served me well for a few years but met with a quick death by static electricity one day which, as you could imagine, annoyed me greatly!). Did I just write an incomplete sentence? Well, fuck-fuck-fuckity-fuck! What was I saying? Oh yeah, so I got a new camera, JVC HD with SD card memory only (no moving parts so less likely to be damaged on motorcycle trips!). I need to find my littlest tripod (oh, just found it in the video game controller box in my living room) then perform a miracle and find a good place to set it up in my bedroom, somewhere I will feel comfortable enough to do these Video Blogs, somewhere I can quickly upload them to U-Tube from (I'm actually surprised what with all the new technology they're not making camcorders with Wi-Fi internet capabilities for automatic uploads or simply blue tooth so they can be connected to cell phones, lap tops, and what have you, for easy and immediate upload to YouTube or wherever).

Anyway, if everything works correctly the video attached to today's journal entry will be something I recorded a few minutes ago. Nothing fancy, mind you. In fact, I remind myself of this old man that used to make videos of himself then put them on one of the Portland area public cable access channels. I don't know if he had a name for his program and frankly, most people would have thought him completely insane. For instance, he spent one afternoon going through the contents of his refrigerator and discussing--in depth, mind you--the history of every single food item. Where did he buy it? What restaurant did the left overs come from? Who did he eat out with? On first glance he seemed, as I said, like an absolute nut-ball--yet unlike many I'm not comfortable with the way I feel when I'm judging another human being out of hand or unfairly and I pay attention to that red flag. You know what I did? I watched his "show" whenever it came on and eventually a began to respect the fellow. I respected his courage. I respected his willingness to share his story without concern for what others would think. I respected his tenacity, his simplicity, his truthfulness. Here was a guy that didn't live behind a mask, one of the few people on this planet that don't, and he helped challenge me to judge less, accept more, and simply accept what others find joy and wonder in.

Imagine what it would be like if you could simply accept other people's joy and excitement over something that you have no joy or excitement for?

And so here is my first official Online Video Journal. What do you say? Do you enjoy it and learn from it? Or do you spit at it and stick up your middle finger in hatred or anger? Whatever the case I wish you well.

P.S.  I've moved the YouTube video of myself to a single page which will host all my video blogs for 2009.  Explanation pending...

Monday April 5th thru Saturday 11th 2009

Well Gosh darnit, I didn't write yesterday and I'd been on such a roll writing nearly every day lately. True, I could have, but it was 11:30pm when I headed to my room and when I considered the possibilities of writing or getting some shut eye I, like a complete idiot, choose sleep. I am of course kidding--about being like an idiot as I am of course a complete idiot. That is a jest as well.

ANYHOW!!!

The last few days of my life have been a bit--how should I put it--"surreal". Indeed, I don't expect to experience anything like the last three or four days for a very, very long time. That's not to suggest I'm complaining. I am not. But I think it would be bad form to be asking for a repeat; I don't exactly feel like I'm in God's favour so I must enjoy every bit of good luck with wanton abandon while it lasts (which most likely is until this coming Thursday morning).

(12 hour break)

It's 12:53pm on the 7th. I'm sitting in the waiting area of a Gastro Intestinal (GI) specialist. After my little visits to the ER last month my Primary Care Physician (PCP) wants to make sure I don't have anything going on downstairs that might be causing other, more worrisome, problems. They saying in this case is, "Better safe than sorry." Fortunately, due to substantial improvements in my diet I rarely have heart burn any more. Constipation, yes, but generally that's under control when I stick to a diet of mostly fruit and vegetables. Lunch yesterday consisted of strawberries and an Asian pear. Yes, I do indulge in a steak or something similar from time to time, but generally I'm sticking to what suits my body.

Back to last night...

Surreal is the word I would describe my life with lately. In the past two months I've gone to the ER twice, spent days on the couch and in bed barely able to do anything besides toss and turn in agony, I've received some pretty nasty letters from someone I love who I dedicated the rest of my life to, I've been in a few "show stopper" fights with my now x-girlfriend who I finally just said "enough is enough" after being broken up with for the billionth time. Two and a half weeks back my high school sweet heart, her husband, daughter, and son came to visit for a weekend, something that hasn't happened before and was much needed considering my physical, emotional, and spiritual health. My parents came to visit this past Friday, but only for a night, then my sister, brother-in-law, and their eleven year old twins, my awesome little nephew and niece, arrived at my home after dark this last Saturday. They've been with me since and won't be leaving until Thursday morning. And later today my daughter, who I miss enormously, will be coming to visit, maybe help the twins make dinner for us lazy grown ups!

I don't often have guests and love every opportunity to host family or friends, especially overnight, especially for more than one night. You might say I miss my youth, at least in the respect that sleep overs were the coolest thing in the world and I'd invite my best friend, whomever that was at the time, over on Friday to spend that night and Saturday at my place (usually to goof off and act crazy, you know how teenagers can be!). Likewise, my mother and father taught me the true meaning of hospitality. What is that? It's about opening your doors to people you love, welcoming them into your home without judgement or conditions, it's the act of saying, "Make yourself at home," and meaning it. "Mi casa Es Su Casa," as some might say. And when I welcome people into my home, when I open my front door and my heart to them, I absolutely mean it. As I told my sister, "Help yourself to anything in the kitchen." Sure, it gets expensive to feed an extra four mouths for as many days, but they return the favour by taking me to lunch and dinner and likewise, you can't put a cost on family that loves you unconditionally. So hell yeah, they can eat anything they want, yeah, it's fine that they've got a dog kennel in the living room with their big orangish gey hound, yeah, go ahead an play video games or watch a move or play on the deck or take the dog out back. And sure, nobody touches the motorcycle but me and my room is off limits to the kids, but other than that there's no reason to watch their every moment or to even feel like keeping them from getting bored. While being hospitibal does include planning meals and entertainment, it does not need to be like a scheduled noose around one's proverbial neck. Life should be lived in a flexible manner, plans can change, meals can change, and it all begins with a few simple questions that convey one's hospitality in clear, unambiguous words:

"Are you hungry?"

"Would you like to eat here or find someplace?"

"What do y'all feel like eating?"

"Do you want to watch a movie?"

"Would you like to walk the dog?"

"Do you want to go downtown to an arcade? I know a really awesome pin-ball arcade you'd just love!"

That's it, simple as rain, open your door, open your heart, and live in the moment. And that's exactly what I'm doing now. The gang dropped me off at the clinic where I'm fortunate to have brought the laptop (it's 25 minutes past my appointment--but I'm sure they'll call me as soon as I get into "the zone"). They're grabbing something to eat then we're heading downtown, maybe to OMSI (crap, I forgot my bloody phone again!), oh, and I want to check out a place that sells theatre seating (I need to get rid of one of my couches, it absolutely--oops, some gorgeous nurse just called me back and now I'm waiting again!). Anyway, yes, couches. Fortunately my in-laws, especially my brother-in-law, don't mind shopping. Hell, first place they went after arriving from Northern California (and by N CA I mean the Mount Shasta area, not San Fran--I mean Jesus, people, look at a map, that's Central CA!!!) was CostCo! And boy, does that guy love his gadgets. I'll bet if he had the kind of income I pull in he'd be buying the newest lap top, phone, camera, yadda-yadda, every six months! And I can certainly identify with that fascination with gadgets, I used to love them just as much, but back then I was so poor I'd have to save years before buying even the cheapest printer! Anyway, yeah, so I open my heart to them and what I recieve in return is priceless. Attention, love, hugs, laughs, stories, knowledge. You can't beat that.

Oh, and for those who know me I'm a bit of a recluse and value my privacy and having significant chunks of time alone so it might seem ironic or contradictory for me to want to share my home with others for a day or two or five but that's absolutely not the case. Hosting is not the same thing as babysitting. Yes, I plan to spend the significant portion of my time with whomever's visiting (indeed, I took today and tomorrow off just for that purpose) but it's also easy enough to go for a walk by myself or go in my bedroom for a bit, use the computer, chat with someone on IM. There's no rule written by some unseen hand that says a host must coddle or hand hold guests. Yes, I agree there are times where this is necessary: 1) when people arrive, 2) to arrange meals, 3) to take them places, 3) goodnights and 4) goodbyes. And that's another thing I learned growing up. We had plenty of guests, family, friends, visitors coming from Australia, church members, or whatever the case may be, and while we planned a fair amount of things, we also gave them as much space as they wanted to read or watch tv or enjoy some lemonade on the front lawn or head into town to shop. I learned to balance the active and passive aspects of hosting which, while not perfect, does have the end result of making guests feel at home.

And that's the way it should be!

As difficult as things have been I've been damn lucky that so many of the few people I have in my life that I can count on have come to visit within a month of each other at a point in time where I was pretty close to having a complete mental and physical breakdown, bad enough, in fact, that I'd need to walk into a clinic and say, "Look, I've about had it, would you mind putting me in a little rubber room for awhile? I need to get some excercise." The support and love I've received could not have come at a more appropriate time in a year which had become nothing but one physical challenge after one emotional challenge after one spiritual challenge. Maybe some Higher Being is looking after me after all.

Then again...knock on wood. I am pretty nervous that they'll leave this coming Thursday, I'll get back to work, the day will drag on, I'll get home and at first...

It's now Saturday. I haven't written in days. I've wanted to but either I haven't had time or I haven't felt up to it. I'd apologize but I barely feel in a positive to apologize. But I'll give you a brief rundown. I took Tuesday and Wednesday off from work to spend with my sister and her family. As you know I spent Thursday with them; I stopped writing while I was at the GI doctor then was picked up, went downtown to do some shopping, then came home, had dinner, yadda, yadda. Thursday they took their son to OSHU. I woke up, spent some time chatting with my neice about how she wanted to spend her day, then based on the fact that she'd never been to the Portland zoo we headed that direction and spent from noon to 5 at the zoo (pictures are up on the Visions page). Came home, waited for the rest to return, played video games with the kids, had dinner, watched Wall-e (my sister hadn't seen it and wanted to), stayed up to take care of a few things, then went to bed. Thursday morning I slept in late...I'm wondering if the new mix of medications is making it difficult if not impossible for me to hear my alarm--hell, I didn't even hear them get up, make noise, and even knock on my door until 9:30am or so. Shocked by the time I raced into my clothes, combed my hair, grabbed my things, and went downstairs. This was a moment I wasn't looking forward to. Time to say goodbyes. And unfortunatly it would have to be quick. One hug, two hugs, three hugs, and a handshake. Goodbyes all around. I watched as they got in their Toyota full cab pickup and pulled out of the driveway just before I did. I was headed to work but I would have much rather have gotten in their truck with them and headed down to California. What was I doing getting in my car and heading to a job that has become more of a challenge than a joy? What was I doing staying in Portland when lately I feel like there's nothing left for me here but a house that needs work and four cats who need their litter changed? What the fuck was I doing heading to work?

I went to work and it was like any other day, except that I spent a portion of that morning catching up on e-mail and such. As morning became noon became afternoon I found myself becoming emotional, moody. Okay, I'll confess, I spent half of the day fighting off tears. Yeap, a grown up 35 year old man spent the entire day going, "What the fuck?" I'd never missed family so much as I missed them that day. I'd never said goodbye then spent my day thinking about how I wouldn't see them when I got home, how I wanted nothing more than to be able to return to my house, see my nephew and neice smiling, chat with my sister, hob knob with my brother-in-law, enjoy a lovely dinner with them all, and say our goodnights. But there will be no more goodnights for us, at least not for many months or even a year, and this realization tore at my heart at it never has before.

That afternoon my x-wife sent me an instant message. She asked how I was doing and while I usually able to share my feelings honestly and fully this day I found I was barely able to send one small note before I realized I was on the verge of completely loosing my self control and I had to tell her I couldn't talk about it at the moment and why and wow, I'd just never in my life felt like that before, never felt like maybe the only choice I had left to me was to run like hell to the parking lot, get in my car, and just let it all out--it was either that or sit there and let my co-workers think I was a freak.

What would you have done if you were in my shoes?

So I did what any self respecting 30-something man would do, I fought the tears back and went back to work. And then when five o'something rolled around I grabbed my things, headed out to the parking lot, and immediately the first tear hit. Fortunately no one was close enough to see, even the few cars driving by. Grabbed the keys out of my pocket, slipped them into the car lock, and at the same moment, as if the car door weren't the only key being turned, I began to cry. I cried the entire way home. I cried when I came in the house and saw a clean living that was no longer being occupied by two eleven year old children. I cried when I got to the kitchen and realized I'd be eating alone that night. Later I went out and sat on the back deck and cried and I cried and I cried like I haven't cried in years. You see, I have a beautiful, large deck, and for nearly five days that desk was full of people and joy and conversations and now, besides me, it was empty, and I knew it would probably be empty for a very, very long time. The tears ran for hours and knowing it was necessary I allowed them to fall.

I sometimes wonder if it is a foolish thing for me to live in such a very large house. It is not a huge house, at least by some people's standards. The master bedroom is relatively small, at least for modern day bedrooms, and the two other bedrooms are hardly large enough for a bed and a few other things. The kitchen is large enough to make a decent sized dinner for a few, but not a large feast for many. The front lawn is small and the back is simply a deck and smattering of gardens needing a loving hand. Me? I'm just a single guy living in what sometimes seems to me a mansion, a home I had once hoped to share with a family, to build a family with.

But those dreams have been dashed. So many times over those dreams have been dashed.

And so I sit here and I do not know what to say to you tonight. I want to tell you of the joyous days I spent with my nephew and neice, two very beautiful children I have grown to love, respect, and admire, with all my heart. And I want to tell you about how a small misery in my life miraculously turned around and became something wonderful and beautiful. Shall I tell you that story and many others, how what seemed like a year of tragedy and challenge somehow turned around for nearly a week, for a brief flicker of time it seemed almost as if happiness and joy were just there for the taking. Then just as quickly I have found myself alone again. They're gone, back to California. When I want a connection with people I know value my I am left to e-mail and instant messenger.

I don't have much more to say at this late hour. I will share some of this last week with you sometime...or I will not. I cannot say which I will do. What I can tell you is that if I could have my way every week would be much as this past one. I would be surrounded by people I care for and who I love, people who care for and love me. It would not be perfect, mind you, and it was not, but it was good to know that when I am surrounded by a supportive environment there is usually a smile on my face and joy in my heart, all it takes is being part of something where I'm built up instead of torn down. It is that way with everyone, I think.

I also know this: I cannot ask anyone to love, care for, or build me up. Sure, I would like it, but I cannot expect it of you as surely as you can not expect it of me. What we must do, then, is begin with ourselves. So I will on suggest what you should do but talk about what I should do. I should smile at strangers. I should nod at people walking by. And to those whose names I know I should treat them as if I believe they have a special and unique place in this world.

Only by doing this may I one day expect it in return.

But damn, I do hate the fucking wait.

Saturday April 4th, 2009

My parents arrived at my home around 6:30pm last night. I greeted them, talked for a bit, then took a much needed shower. Went out to dinner at one of the local McMinniman's restaurants, ate a lamb hamburger, then came home and watched a few episodes of Band of Brothers, the only two episodes with the actor Jamie Bamber (a.k.a Apollo from Battlestar Galactica). Then went to bed. I'd hoped that they could stay the weekend but my dad has a previous engagement in Central Oregon so I got up, showered, then hugged them goodbye...wait...no, actually I sat down to read and sign some legal documentation from my mother giving me the right to make medical decisions for her if she were in a coma or another life threatening position. I signed the documents then hugged them goodbye.

And that's when I began crying.

I've never been a teary eyed person. Maybe once or twice a year, tops, but this year takes the cake. Since last November I've cried on an average of once a week. Sometimes, depending on the week, I cry more than that. For example, in the days leading and following my second trip to the ER I cried up to (and maybe even more than) a dozen times a day. Since then I just cry an average of a week, sometimes for obvious reasons, but usually for reasons no one would understand unless they spent a fair amount of time listening to what's going on with me--and even then I don't think most would understand.

As for today's episode, the second or third time it's happened, I'm now certain that this isn't some random occurrance. When they left I was overwhelmed by sorrow and one question came to my mind: what if I never see them again? And then it just hits me, the sense that I want to be 7 again, just starting first grade, in a world when the world made sense, where I had a home and felt safe in that home, where I went to school every day and was surrounded by people, a world where I was never lonely and never had to really worry about tomorrow. Sure, I was often upset because I wasn't popular and my best friends sometimes treated me like crap, but looking back I see just how "good" I had it, how "good" the world was, how "good" my body was and my family was and everything was.

And so I say goodbye, wave to them through the screen door, hold the tears back, close the door, click the deadbolt into place, and then I can't hold back anymore. Everything hits me like that proverbial freight train, my life where it's at, how it looks nothing like a "normal" life, how it's so far from the life I used to have, how...well...the tears just start coming, maybe five minutes, maybe ten, then I take a deep breath and am back to "normal" just plugging along with my so called life.

There's this really old Coke commercial, either from the 70's or 80's, where they sing about buying the world a Coke, to bring the world together in peace and harmony. For some reason the song went through my head this morning, over and over again, as I washed my hair this morning, and I suddenly found myself thrust into the past, in front of that behemouth of a tv sitting on the living room floor of the home I grew up in, sitting there on the floor on the orange shag carpet watching the commercial, intranced by the hope in this song. Sure, I knew, even back then, it was just a commercial for soda pop, but there really was hope in that commercial, a bunch of people of all races and colours and background standing together singing a song of community, of togetherness.

That was a dream worth living for.

When I was a kid I believed that the future of the human race, my future, would be a place where we'd all learn to live in peace and harmony. In fact, it didn't make sense to me that we, as a race, would want to live any other way. We'd already tried living in tribes, then in city states, then in countries, and we were still fighting, killing each other over the silliest of things. That's how World War I started. Some guy gets assassinated, that country gets pissed off at another country, the other country decides to get its friends involved, the pissed off country decides they need to do the same, and before you know it we're all kicking the shit out of each other on the borders of France and Germany. Twenty years later we decide we haven't had enough and repeat the same thing, but our technologies are better so the war is bigger, more deadly. The icing on the cake comes in the form of two nuclear warheads dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. Not wanting to be caught with their britches down Russia decides they need nukes as well and before you know it we spend the next 40 or so years scared shitless that we'll burn the entire planet to a pile of cinders. Why wouldn't we want something better for ourselves?

And so the wall comes down, we start getting rid of our nukes, we say a lot of hopeful things, and then we build smart bombs, find a bunch of other ways to kick the shit out of each other, and unofficially restart a holy war that's been going, on and off again, for about a thousand years. That's the macro-social level. On the smaller level some of us realize Coke isn't healthy, that there's an entire industry that's selling us crap that can, in extreme cases, lead to life threatening diseases such as Type II Diabetes...and so intead of harmony we end up with one group of people arguing with another group of people over stupid Coka Cola commercials.

You know what I think? There's nothing like enjoying a soda pop from time to time, but it's not healthy to have them as a regular part of ones diet. I think I am the only person responsible for what I choose to allow to go into this body whether it's a coke, a cigarette, or a bowl of blueberries. I'm responsible for educating myself, for listening to how my body reacts to certain things, and then and only then making whatever decisions that make sense to me...and then I live with those decisions and the consequences.

As for what you choose, I frankly don't give a shit as long as it doesn't directly cause harm to anyone else.

But that's not how we, as a race, choose. Instead, like Geff Bridges in the 80's film Starman said, "You're a primitive species." Do I disagree? We're still separating ourselves based on the colour of our skin. We continue to find reason to hate each other based on differences in belief. And we judge people over things as monumentally rediculous as the food we eat and the things we drink. Name a subject, any subject, and I'll bet I can find at least two people with differing feelings (and I use the word "feelings" intentionally here) who will find sufficient reason to judge each other's worth over it.

We are a primitive species.

Friday April 3rd, 2009

The weekend before last my right wrist began to become sore. This, I know, isn't Fibromyalsia as much as a normal response my body has from using computers too much. In particular, using a mouse for more than 10 hours a day several days in a row tends to result in a negative effect on my wrist. Another cause is riding my motorcycle too much, as when I'm on a 500+ mile motorcycle trip which, I might add, is a much more pleasurable way to come by a sore wrist. The solution to this problem is simple enough: medical tape. Wrapping my wrist twice over with medical tape imbilises it and allows it to do whatever it needs to. A few days letter and it's right as rain.

Problem: I could not find my medical tape. It wasn't at home in my drawers, it wasn't in the medicine cabinet, and it wasn't at work. I'd have to buy some more but every time I went to the grocery store or pharmacy I forgot. The pain worsened, I kept putting it off, then finally, last Tuesday, I bought some tape but forgot to put it on as soon as I got home. Spent that evening on the computer when I realized this, looked down at my wrist, and was shocked to see a huge lump on the back of my hand.

My thought? Damnit! Fuck! I mean Fuck!!!

I think most of us are pretty similar in that when we notice something peculiar and out of the ordinary with our body our first response is typically to blow it off as nothing. Who wants to see every mole, bump, or spot, as possibly skin cancer? Such a mind set can drive one mad so we take a mental note then expect whatever it is to heal. Me? I was initially freaked. Were my popping joints some early sign of cancer that's spread throughout my body? Is this now a physical sign of that cancer? The fears were there but I also considered the other possibility, that I had bruised my wrist at some point in the prior few days and it was only starting to flare up now. So the next day when I visited my primary care physician to discuss my pain management plan I didn't bring it up--maybe it was stupid, but I've been in so many times for so many things I don't want to be seen as a hypocondriac (and truth is in some respects I'm starting to feel like one especially as I attempt to determine what the causes of all the different symptoms I'm having are). So I decided not to bring it up, wait, and see if it went away.

It has not.

I e-mailed her last night and described the bump as clearly as I could. It dorsal to my hand and just a little above the wrist towards the inside of the hand. It's about 1/4 - 1/2 inch in diameter and is visibly quite obvious. It feels like a swollen lymph node but otherwise I experience no pain when I manipulate it. It's underneath the skin and seems to be attached to the top of the muscle in my hand.

I hit send then told myself not to focus on it anymore. I did what I needed to do. It wasn't going to go anywhere so I might as well get back to life. Still, I couldn't help but think the worst: cancer.

I woke up late this morning as I've been feeling quite tired lately. Slowly got myself dressed, turned on the computer, then logged into work. Went through my e-mail, Instant Messaged a coworker who was flipping out over something, then noticed my personal inbox had one of those automatic e-mails from my clinic notifying me that the doctor had sent me a message. Logged into the Providence web site and read her reply.

"Sounds like a ganglion cyst," she said. She asked me to Google pictures and sure enough that's exactly what it looked like (the following picture, care of Wikipedia, is the exact mirror image of my right hand: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ganglion-cyst.jpg [on a side-note, the hand in this picture looks startlingly like mine, in fact, at first I thought it was!!!]). I responded, let her know that yes indeed, that was exactly what I had, what next? Simple: Wait, see if it goes away (as they often do over time), but if not see a specialist who could use a syringe to remove the fluid inside the cyst. On a humorous note the layman's term for the condition is a Bible Bump; the name came from the fact that before modern medicine people used to slam the cyst with the largest book they owned and because most families didn't used to own any books, besides the Bible...well, you get the picture. Me? I don't think that violence is going to remedy the condition; indeed, bursting the cyst by slamming it with something will potentially, in my unprofessional opinion, potentially cause damage to the synovial sheeth and/or other functional parts of the wrist responsible for lubrication. Nope, I'm just going to have to wait this out.

So I decided to go one step further than tape this time, I bought a couple wrist braces until finding the right one. Here's a pic. Oh, and I should admit that I love wearing it, for some strange reason wearing things that hold me tight as it does makes me feel emotionally secure. Likewise, I think it looks damn cool, like some sort of Anime clothing--but since I'd get looks wearing that kind of Cosplay stuff I'll stick with something others won't do double takes or tease me over.

Oh, I apologize for the quality of these pictures. I can't quite figure out how to get my art pad to work correctly with old painting software (I use Paint Shop Pro 5 for most of my work since it's simple, straight forward, and does nearly everything I need it to). Damn, if I can't get these programs to work I'm going to need to get Adobe Photoshop (that's a decent chunk of change, will have to check out eBay for a used copy!).

Wait, wait, wait!

Didn't I say I wasn't going to write about anything negative after last month? Didn't I commit to staying away from subjects of stress, anxiety, sadness, and despair? Yes, I did. But I'm not writing to tell you how scared this has had me, how this is just one more physical problem I need to deal with on top of everything else (one more reason I wish my doctor was single so I could start dating her--sure would make things easier, lol). Ooops, I slipped...but that's beyond the point.

I'm sharing because how we choose to perceive something is everything. I could have decided to assume that the bump was the first visible sign of cancer, a concern and frequent anxiety I sometimes have in regard to what's going on with the rest of my body, yet I didn't. Instead I consciously choose to recognize that beyond contacting my doctor there wasn't anything I could do about it. Worry would have been superfluous, useless, and potentially devistating. The last may appear overly dramatic on the surface, but after loosing so many things in the past few months nearly anything can push me over the edge and this is particularly true of anything that might announce loosing something else or a new symptom or physical ailment.

Consciously choosing in this manner is much easier to describe on paper than to do in real life, but it is possible. We choose every one of our emotions, every single reaction we have to an exernal event. True, many of our reactions are instinctual and thus very difficult to impossible to change while others are the result of years or decades of psychological conditioning; like the cyst, there's not much one can do about these things besides note them, take what action is necessary or possible, then move on. Integrity is the act of choosing what we believe to be an automated, natural, or sensible reaction to external events. So practice taking responsibility for your own emotions in the day to day aspects of your own life, practice it with those little things that don't directly affect anyone, then when you're ready, take that same skill and apply it to your social life, that is, treat others well no matter how you feel, no matter if there is fear or love for the other in your heart. Imagine the strength you would have if you could do such a thing. Imagine the freedom.

As for the catalyst for this entry, I'll keep you up to date. Hopefully it'll go down in the next few weeks; gonna keep wearing the wrist brace to help. If it's not better by the end of April I'll be going to yet another specialist, fork out another wad of money, and cross my fingers. That's just the way some lives are.

Photo by Sophie Goss 2009

Thursday April 2nd, 2009

I can't tell where the sun is. Is it straight up? Is it up and to the right? On first glance it felt like morning, then on second, third, and forth, it appears this tree wants to throw its shadows in every direction, perhaps out of some strange beauty or perhaps out of a need to quietly show off. The building in the background, though, does not have qualms about the sun, getting the shadow exactly right, with military precisiveness.

The grass is green and well managed, though in an almost older style, the kind I'd expect around old forts that were rebuilt to show where Lewis and Clark had stayed for the winter. The darker brick building with the closed in windows seems closed off, a reaction to an attempt to become something new and functional instead of something old an noble, as the roud, taller building seems to be, something that will last forever, never to be boarded up.

Have you ever seen that movie The Village by M. Night Shyamalan? I half expect one of those red coated pig creatures run from behind one building to the other in a mad dash not to be seen. Be wary for you do not wish to be captured by one!

Afar a creek or river. It appears lonely to me. Or perhaps it is beautiful but it's a ways away past this sign attempting to control our lives, under the tree that cannot decide, between the buildings who are at odds with each other morning and night, way beyond and if I go there and back would I be the same when I got back?

Wednesday April 1st, 2009

April. A new month. The cold rain bites my skin, temping me towards the warm indoors where work awaits.

Oh, I'm kidding. April fools. Ha ha.

Actually, I've never been into the whole April Fools day thing and I've know very few people that are. Seems like the only time I remember people playing April Fool's jokes was in grade school, everyone would stream off the school buses with schemes ready in their minds and by the time lunch came around everyone had been fooled in some fashion at least once by their closest comrades. After lunch a few jokes might be played, but mostly by that time the excitement had worn of and everyone went back to their normal routines.

Today there have been no jokes.

I woke up at 8am, a little early by my standards as I needed to get the car into Les Schwab's to get the winter tires changed (yes, it's a day late, but in my defense I did take the car in yesterday at noon but they turned me down as they were full up for the day, something I've never before experienced!). Stopped by 7-11, had a delicious donut, then dropped the car off at Schwab's at 9am exactly when I'd asked a co-worker to meet me there for a pickup. Came to work. Took care of this issue, researched that issue, and in between I tinkered with my cell phone and figured out how to use it as a wireless modem for my lap: in other words, I now have high speed internet wherever I go (as long as I have cell phone connectivity)! This fangled technology is fracking amazing! So yeah, I'm pretty excited about that, now I just need to find more relaxing places far away from home that I can sit and write and e-mail and web browse, no longer will I be tied to the tethers of my home wi-fi network, no longer will I live with a brick tied to each angle, no longer will I suffer the dissapoints of life!

Okay, at least one of those last things was true.

That said, now that I can write and upload my journals anywhere I may begin to actually use my lunch breaks, sit back, and write, freeing up my evenings to do my interesting things like browse for porn (jk).

In order to keep myself from completely going into a funk I've been planning a few things to do every night. Common lists might include: dishes, cat litter, watch movie, do bills, work on certain home or personal projects, write an e-mail, or play a video game. Doesn't solve the problems my life is beset with, but it does keep me busy, moving, breathing. And tonight a co-worker (and potential friend) is coming over for a few hours; we're going to catch three or four episodes of Battlestar Galactica on my Freudianly sized television. Afterwards, going to pay a few bills, draw, then hit the sack.

I wish it were Friday.

This weekend the house is going to be full, so I'll need to clean before then. My parents are coming to visit on friday; they have some function to go to either Friday or Saturday. Saturday my sister and her family (hubby + the twins) will be coming and it sounds like they'll be staying for quite the stretch as they're taking their son to OHSU next week; like his grandfather, my father, he has the early signs of retinitus pigmentosa, a genetic disease carried on the X chromosome passsed down to him by his mother, who is immume, but which will cause him to slowly loose his eyesite over the course of his entire lifetime. Hell, if they're willing to drive all the way up from Weed, California to OHSU for their son that gives me a hope that it'll prove just as beficial when I go--which reminds me I need to call the joint specialist, now that I've been approved, and make an appointment! Will do that after 1pm as they're probably out to lunch at present.

Well, I don't have anything breathtakingly insightful to say today except I hope to some day write a book that changes the world (or at least is useful to a large number of people), I'm thinking of calling it something like: Eccletic Conformity - Celebrating Interpersonal Diversity via Standard Interfaces. Not quite the best ring to it? Guess I'll work on it.

Enjoy your lunch,