365. Epoxy My Brain Shut

Quite unintentionally it’s been good to be me lately in my marriage. Naturally I think history simply caught up to me; the wave I’ve been ahead of has finally crashed behind me and my prophesies are seen as epochal truths. Of course, this is delusional thinking.  Put simply, my wife recently told me one Saturday morn, “I really like how you have been behaving lately. I wish you could always be like this.”

Such comments are simultaneously both a compliment and a complaint. They contain two parts. Part one is the limited compliment, specific praise for something recent. Part two is the ubiquitous complaint, the history lesson that says you usually, no make that almost always, suck. Days like these are comparable to balmy summer days in Antarctica, serving only to confuse the penguins, seals and walruses who live upside down on the underbelly of the planet. Those poor critters are so confused that they dare not venture north, where it’s warmer.

Well, like a penguin in Miami I did not know what to do with such a statement. I asked for some clarification, hoping I would not ruin this un-Cialis moment. Indisputable examples were given. I pondered further. Finally, since my brain chemistry was under discussion or debate, I leaned back against the stove and made a suggestion. “Honey, here’s what I’m gonna do. Since you like my present mood so much and we’re both pretty sure it will soon fall into a computer screen or television abyss, I am going to epoxy my brain chemistry in place right here in this sweet spot of marital bliss. I can put an epoxy-filled syringe in each ear and squeeze until my brain hardens in place. Then I will be your joy boy forevermore.”

Seasoning her egg sandwich, “Oh, I wish.”

“I’m sure. We’ve been married 36 years now, right?  known one another 41 years, or twice as long as we did not know one another. Which is hard to say. I would not want to translate that sentence into another language, say Moroccan. More coffee?”

“Yes. I don’t care about translations. I just want to understand the original so stop the obscure references. It’s nice to be close to you. I feel complete and secure.”

“Oh, I do too. So often we have stress for one reason or another that just derails us.”

“Usually, by which I mean always, it’s you. I am very stable.”

“Yes, but so is concrete.”

“Are you comparing me to a building product?”

“No! I’m, I’m just saying that you are so much more than stable, you know, sexy and smart and … like, uh, stable is just where you start, baby. Just the foundation of the Honey Pot Nation.”

“No! You’re going to ruin it again! You are so impatient!”

“I’ve never been in-patient.”

“And the puns. They are intolerable.”

“I know. I can’t help it. Aren’t you going to eat the yolk?”

“No, egg yolks are gross. Are you going to eat it?”

“Gulp. Mmmmm. That’s your problem, baby girl. You just don’t get my yolks.”

“Uhhhhhh. Must you?”

“Hey, I did not go bait and switch on you. I was like this when we met in 1974. In fact, I was wearing this same Grateful Dead tee shirt without the holes. Listen:  If I epoxy my brain shut now, are you prepared for bad yolks forevermore?”

“No. Let’s think this through. There has to be something else that preserves a mood.”

“Formaldehyde. Radon. Volcanic ash. Death…”

“NO! Stop. Whose death, yours or mine?”

“Does it matter?  It was yust a yolk, my yittle chickadee.”

“What is in your head that makes you so weird? Is it a fungal infection that got into your synapses?

“Possibly. I contracted athlete’s brain in junior high from the gym showers. Mushrooms grew in the dark stall farthest from the frosted windows. That’s where Jody Riccio…”

“Stop!!! You see? This is why I want to hire a hit man. You start with a loving statement from me and then you go down bunny trails that lead to squirrel tracks that lead to mole holes that lead to ant farms that lead to termite tunnels on other planets!!!”

“Honey, honey. Sweet honey bee. You are surely exaggerating my exaggerations exponentially, even intergalactically. I will not lean here and be compared to insect life on any planet. I have standards.”

“Really?”

“Sometimes you must admit I’ve had a standard, at least once. I have stood beneath a bell curve at least once.”

“Standard deviation.”

“Well, you have to have a standard to have a deviation, right? I am an outlier. You gotta sin to be saved. Sister, come forward and accept God’s Holy Spirit on your tortured soul!!!”

“You got the liar part right. Can we focus here?”

“Did you know that Focus means Botox in Japanese. And now I see why. If you get shot up with enough Botox, your face will stay focused for eternity, sort of like the Joker after his weird mouth mishap.”

“I could not endure your happy face forever. It gets scary after a couple of seconds. Stop it! I hate your Jack Nicholson impression. He is so ugly.”

“So the answer is not Botox. How about laser surgery?”

“For what?”

“I read an article in AARP that lasers can melt your wrinkles together and make you look twenty years younger.”

“I knew you twenty years ago. I don’t want that again.”

“I could get my lips done so they are in a forever super model pout. How about this?”

“Don’t make that face. Now you look like Jack Nicholson imitating Angelina Jolie. It’s too freakin’ freaky.”

“Well, in other news, are you going to yoga tonight?”

“Are you?”

“I’m a go.”

“What?”

“No, I changed my mind.”

“What?”

“Nah, I’m a stay.”

“I’m putting on these lime green ear muffs now. I can’t hear you.”

“What’dya say?”

“I said, ‘I can’t hear you.”

“Do you still want me to stay like this?

“What?” Reaching for the epoxy syringe.

“I said, ‘Do you still want me to stay this way?'”

“How about we epoxy your mouth shut?”

“mmmmhmmm aaahummm eeyyoooo”

“Yes, this is lovely. Now Immastay. No, Immago. Immatalk. Youashutup. Yeah, nice.”

“mmmmnnnnoooo  aaaahhhhmmmmm puuuhhhhmmmm arrrrgggg.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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345. Robbing Reality

Rawcuss Thursday to you, Blogwallowers. As you know by heart, Thursdays begin with Coffee Nation Summit, and today was no exception, nor was it particularly exceptional.  Joel was busily typing a business e-mail as the scavenging coffee crows began to roost around him like fresh roadkill. Me first. Some discussion ensued about his eulogy, which I told him earlier I had cut and pasted to personalize it for his funeral.

Groggily, “I thought you said obituary.”

“Certainly not, my august friend. Well, December friend now. I don’t pretend to know the cause or time of death. That work belongs to the crooning coroner around the corner. The newspaper will publish your obit at no charge under a picture your family will provide. They have little choice. However, I prudently wrote your eulogy before it was needed. (silky soft salesman voice) Think of it as a reverse mortgage plan that frees you to enjoy life now on your terms, knowing that an essential final need has been taken care of, so that your loved ones don’t have to face that awkward question: ‘Whazzznext?”

“Do I have to pay you now?” he inquired with hesitance in his voice.

“Of course. I don’t want to trouble your bereaved survivors with pecuniary matters when you can relieve them of that burden by paying me now.”

“Hmmmph.” Joel knew this game of verbal dodge ball was over. There was only one of him and twenty six of me, and my team had the balls.

“Well I suppose, um, I could, uh… well, look who’s here!”

Rob joined us in his sleepwalking fugue state of new fatherhood, a defenseless uncaffeinated putty puppy. He vainly attempted to make sanity chicken salad out of insane chicken poop. We weren’t havin’ none of it, nosirree!!

Steve needed to do real business with Joel and proceeded to spell his name, “Steve with a V dot com.”

Rob, “Why do some folks spell Steven with ph? What’s with that?”

“At one thyme that was how Jewish Stevens distinguished themselves from Christian Stephens. They made a Vulcan V like Spock did. It was sign language for ‘I’m Jewish Steve.'”

“Really? I never knew that.”

“You still don’t. I am encouraging you to google it and find out for yourself, Rob. Man up.”

“Oh man, why not just trust you? Wait, that’s stupid, but I don’t have time to research it. You make things hard on no thinking Thursdays.”

“It’s tough love, Rob. You’ll need to tone up as your baby boy grows. Consider this DAD CAMP for wusses.”

Next Doug shared family drama with the group as well as several well timed puns. “Joel, estate planning is a dying business.”

Steve gave us a glimpse at managing elderly parents and his obsession with Christmas lights. He’s the kind of guy who will find the bad bulb and replace it, no matter the time or cost. He and Doug shared esoteric bits of insider information on Christmas light repair [and changing diapers. “You never fan the naked baby or it will pee on you.”]

“They’re $3.98 for 150 feet at Lowe’s, for God’s sake. Just buy a new string.”

Doug continued the Christmas light repair lecture as sleep deprived Rob fought for consciousness. “You’re killin’ me. Just go to Lowe’s and get a set!!”

“See when the bulb filament burns out, there’s this connecting wire that burns out with it and then runs the current around the burned out bulb, so that the other bulbs glow just a little brighter since 110 watts are being divided by fewer bulbs. And this will go on until a tipping point where nothing will light up no matter what.”

“Christmas light Armageddon.”

“Go to Lowe’s and get two sets!! I’ll buy them. For the love of the Baby Jesus in the Manger, Stop with the lights stories!!”

“Look, Rob. You don’t have to be cranky with us. We didn’t get jiggy with your wife forty one weeks ago. That was you, Buddy. Look at me and mind meld along!”

I placed two empty 12 ounce coffee cups with white lids over my eyes like Mr. Magoo spectacles. “Listen, Blister Butt. And repeat after me,

For we need a little Christmas
Right this very minute
Candles in the window
Carols at the spinet…. Everybody sing it…”

“That’s not doing it for me, Supreme Commander. I need real eye contact.”

I moved the cups down to bouncing breast level and gave him the next verse,

” Yes, we need a little Christmas
Right this very minute
It hasn’t snowed a single flurry
But Santa, dear, we’re in a hurry”

“That is truly disturbing. Why not put that in the blog?”

“Okay.”

“I never read it. Why don’t you put me in it and then I’ll read that post, but you have to tell the truth.”

“Done.”

“I used to read it and then I’d feel like I wasted good productive time, so I’d rush off to do something I could feel good about, something with purpose to assuage my guilt.”

“Hey, I take that as high praise. You see, I am providing a much needed service that propels others to lead more upright, productive lives. After wandering in the black hole of Burritospecial, sojourners rush headlong toward sanity and meaning. They go out and lead lives of consequence. It’s just reverse psychology, Rob. The more unglued I am, the more you want to get your poop in a pile and glue yourself into top shape. You feel angrily invigorated to conquer your deficiencies.”

“That is truly brilliant.”

“Yup, like Christmas lights at Steve’s with a V. Or Doug with a potent pun.”

“No, no, no. I need a latte to go for my wife. I’ll see you next week, fully slept up and caffeinated.”

“Good, one day, my son, you will be a real man. And always remember,

  1. don’t fan the baby.”
  2. V is for Jewish Steve.
  3. We all need a little Christmas.”

“Got it.”

 

 

185. Hemorrhaging quarts of vitalabrations

Being and doing are often at war with one another.  Doers do stuff. They leave footprints and fingerprints all over their worlds, all over history. They conceive and achieve, leaving museums and inventions and books and stuff behind their existence. Be’ers, as opposed to beers, might do things also, but primarily they are being human beings. The difference is about consciousness, a topic that my old timers group has been massaging lately. We are all nearly retired and/or fully retired therapists with over a century of clinical experience among us. We are mostly be’ers now, I think, getting around stiffly in our gaits, but there is a lot of wisdom in these arthritic roosters. Six guys in my living room; average age is 60. That totals 360 years of life experience huddled around one coffee table. Awesome but no more than a single rose or a snail’s spiraling shell.

By default and training, our Western minds focus on doing. Git’er done, boys! Our justice system, our mental health system, our political system hang on the concept of responsibility for behavior or doing.  Jurists try to figure out the just response to criminal actions/doings. Then they assign a commensurate punishment or other corrective treatment/doing. Guilt means you did it.  But how responsible is a free will? Is there even such a thing as a free will? How mitigating are the circumstances of one’s life? Likewise mental health clinicians want a checklist that removes doubt and ambiguity. They want a clean diagnosis to rule in while ruling out the rest.  Politicians want someone to blame other than themselves. Consequently we are all left raking the fine sand at Futile Beach. I don’t even know what that means, but it sounds poetic and dramatic. “Look! It’s Jay Gatsby raking the sand while gazing across the sound at Daisy Buchanan’s dock light. That is tragedy fit for a postcard.”

Image result for single dock light across the water pictures

We roosters don’t rush to conclusions or judgments so much as we amble around mysteries, dilemmas and paradoxes. We share our being. Sometimes that’s a daunting task, to simply reframe our quandaries or admit our limits instead of reaching for the crown of ‘smartest guy in the room’. Today we chatted about being transcendent, losing one’s self to find oneself. It’s a Christian concept and a Buddhist concept as well. The record of Western consciousness has been one of illuminating the unconscious, exposing and dethroning myths and symbols. Science usurped the throne of authority a long time ago in the West, but it can’t eliminate non-science issues. Science is limited by itself because it denies what it cannot prove conclusively. Shining a bright light on matter does not explain what remains unseen… Sometimes we see by not  looking; the thing comes to us when we stop stalking it.

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Terms like “stillness” arise. Joe speaks eloquently about the dilemma of words’ insufficiency to capture the truths of being. Ed recalls Masses Joe celebrated for the daft and delirious at the Restoration Center.  “It was still God meeting his people, though some were psychotic and others drooling. It was more than verbal communication.”  Joe retorts, “You liked it because there wasn’t a collection, Eddy.”  Friends laugh soothingly. Greg aligns and extends the narrative while condensing it. We nod, believing that we’re following what we believe they are saying about filters and clarity, six points on the same star. We don’t problem solve necessarily, but we don’t  dramatize either. Our task is about becoming more conscious with others and then floating on that consciousness like a beach ball. As Westerners we tend to think of consciousness as a river we float upon; there’s a source and a course and a final mouth. Westerners can’t seem to leave the concrete sequence of beginning, middle, and end. I believe Eastern mystics conceive of an ocean of unconsciousness with no destination. No illusions. Nothing and everything in that moment and place. Somehow embracing unconsciousness seems irresponsible to us highly responsible folks, even though we are speaking deeply about invisible, unprovable issues. Someone has to remain the designated driver, right?  But we persist and two hours evaporate as we feel full. But full of what?  Stillness, wonder, connection, reverence, spirit, curiosity. The coffee table might as well be an open fire in the dark woods. We sit around it that way, feeling and pondering the center of the star.

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The deeper you go into mankind’s cave of consciousness, the more you start to feel like Alice in Wonderland, pondering every word and concept being articulated. How can I simply be without knowing at the same moment that all else has ceased, turning out the lights of consciousness when the last idea has left? Where does that disembodied hand go once the light switch is flicked off? Oh causation and consequence, thou dost plague me!  Okay, where did that Elizabethan dwarf come from? Trippy. The next thing you know, talking cats and rabbits will appear. Just flow. Breathe. Be air, oxygen passing into my own blood stream, pumping through the arterial highway system that keeps my brain alive. Consciousness orders itself to cease. Float on nothingness. The only idea left is the unpunctuated void. Swirl past the graffiti, carvings, the pictographs, the cave paintings, back to the mere smudges of inhabitation. Say yes to the no, hold the purpose less ness. Be less.  Be no-ness. Just air vibrating after the guitar chord struck a moment ago over there. All vitalabrations.

Image result for acoustic guitar pictures