543. The repetition compulsion and insurance ads on t.v.

Image result for mc escher cyclical imagesRepetition compulsion is a psychological phenomenon in which a person repeats a traumatic event or its circumstances over and over again. This includes reenacting the event or putting oneself in situations where the event is likely to happen again. This “re-living” can also take the form of dreams in which memories and feelings of what happened are repeated, and even hallucination.

The term can also be used to cover the repetition of behaviour or life patterns more broadly: a “key component in Freud’s understanding of mental life, ‘repetition compulsion’…describes the pattern whereby people endlessly repeat patterns of behaviour which were difficult or distressing in earlier life”. [Thanks 2 Wikipedia]

Image result for daniel tiger gifYep, it’s a thing. Why would anyone over the age of five repeat and repeat the same scenario over and over again?  You know little kids love repetition. They will watch the same episode of Barney or Daniel Tiger endlessly. It’s soothing and helps them feel secure. Admit it, Round Bale, when you watch old Mr. Rogers Neighborhood reruns, you feel almost as good as with two shots of bourbon while listening to Stevie Ray Vaughn’s classic guitar shreds. You know you like it a lot and curl up in your safe place. Image result for cat curling up gif

To some degree I think it’s like adults turning the same key in the same lock and getting the same expected results– ah, security, mastery, control. Especially if you are hatlessly outside in sixty mile an hour winds howling at night with sandblasting snow showers and you need to pee on the other side of the locked door in front of you. The same old thing is pretty cool and glorious when it works, and you don’t have to feel pee freeze to your leg and sock and shoe outside a locked door. Older men have these repeating nightmares, just so you know, until they wake up and find relief.Image result for sleepy faced old man gif

Ah, but television commercials. Do they operate on the same terms?  I mean they are cute at first, alluring, captivating even. And we chuckle and maybe even enjoy a clever commercial a dozen times or two. But then the day comes when enough is enough. Okay, no more freakin’ Farmers Insurance commercials with the guy from MASH and the insurance Hall of Fame, looking into the car trunk on fire. Related imageThere needs to be some sort of algorithm that ends at “enough”.  To push beyond this limit is to enter the land of diminishing returns. You know what I’m saying, it’s the land where you need to bet twenty two dollars to “win” two dollars. Bad odds if you ask me.

Image result for speed dating images cartoonsSo, why would any adult not in prison continue to repeat and repeat a non adaptive behavior?  Like your sister who keeps dating losers, charismatic drunks who somehow remind you of your ne’er do well father. She’s not stupid, for crying out loud. She is a nurse with a graduate degree. She works tirelessly until a quarter to three a.m. Been married three times to Dachshund belly low pedigrees. What the Hell is her malady? Unconscious repetition compulsion keeps her chasing the same narrative, hoping to finally make it turn out right this time, and get the love she wants from a short-legged hound.Image result for dachshund pictures

Well, let’s see. Above my toilet is a Van Gogh print called “A Man Going to Pee in a Field.”Image result for van gogh painting of wall and gate

Van Gogh titled it in Latin, “Vir prudens non contra ventum mingit”, which translates in English, “A wise man does not urinate against the wind”. This title informs me that the direction of the wind is understood to be blowing right to left in a north easterly flow, the direction he is “going in”. (Hold your applause, please. I learned this in art history class 101, the unit on determining wind and water directions in paint.)

Van Gogh presents a calm presence over the functions below. After a few beers it is comforting to meet this man’s back again as he finds a safe and hygienic place to void his bladder. “To the left, to the left, everything you own in a box to the left”. The black metal gate opens to the three golden hay mounds at the end of a white crushed stone roadway.  Something special is captured in this painting, though what it is, I do not claim to know. What I do know is that faithfully for the last twenty something years, I have been reassured that letting go is okay as the peasant herald fades stage right and invites me to follow him. It is my safe place along the hedge line…Related image

And there is the subliminal association of Joni Mitchell lyrics,

Driving into town
With a dark cloud above you
Dial in the number
Who’s bound to love you
Oh honey you turn me on
I’m a radio
I’m a country station
I’m a little bit corny
I’m a wild wood flower
 Image result for key in lock gif
Repeat, repeat, repeat. Unlike the definition of insanity,whereby you repeat the same thing over and over while expecting different results, this sort of repetition produces something else—comfort, familiarity, control. The same old thing is expected and desirable. And one set of lyrics bleeds into another
So I bought me a ticket
I got on a plane to Spain
Went to a party down a red dirt road
There were lots of pretty people there
Reading Rolling Stone, reading Vogue
They said, “How long can you hang around?”
I said a week, maybe two
Just until my skin turns brown
Then I’m going home to California
California, I’m coming home
Oh will you take me as I am
Strung out on another man
California, I’m coming home

 

No, these old songs don’t irritate or insult me. I bathe in their warm waters not from rigid compulsion but out of a luxuriously free will. Nice happy bubbles effervesce in this psychic hot tub experience. Hot champagne foams all around my time tripping spirit.

Related image

But don’t take it from me; listen to Al Pacino plead my case for ever.

 

355.The Dinner Party; The Force Awakens

You know how it goes at this time of year. Festive festivities pop up like mushrooms after a warm rain, given the necessary fungi enriching  ingredients. We were invited by our hosts to their house on the hill, which hovers above the Falling Spring like (may I say it out loud?) a Death Star. It was the Croquet Bunch from post #303. plus two, but for me it had a Star Wars sort of feel to it. I sensed almost from the get go that a power struggle between the Force and the Empire was about to unfold in the guise of a Christmas dinner party gathering amid gargoylish repartee. Over the hills and faraway I thought I heard Led Zepellin warning me not to cross that fateful threshold. I disregarded my Jedi intuitions and crossed over.

Image result for han solo picturesHan Solo (i.e. Jerry) greeted us at the decorated door. “Welcome. Let me take your coats.”

“Let me get it off, Jerry!! You are neither my tailor nor my urologist. Let go!!”

“I was just trying to be a good host.”

“Then get a good wooden hanger, and stop groping my leather jacket so fetishistically. Gosh!!”

I sensed cosmic tension and made a mental note to stay vigilant against being sucker punched. Time has not been good to Han, I noted. He is shorter than I recall, which is forgivable, but also more talkative, which is not. Also, he was wearing bright orange shorty socks without boots, shoes, or even flip flops. His mood was suspiciously upbeat. I wondered if Jimmy Buffet style free flowing pharmaceuticals had been ingested recently, not out of paranoia but from an over abundance of Jedi caution. I wondered, and still do.

As the other guests arrived, Princess Leia met them and whisked them off to the living room with the formal Christmas tree. Nerdy pictures were taken all around the Death Star as the ladies exchanged presents and pleasantries while the males drank solar brewed beer on leather couches. Han/Jerry demonstrated his dog’s mind control abilities by letting Sadie Dogstar in and out 17 times in 20 minutes, each time rewarding Sadie with a dog biscuit for coming back in the Death Star. Had I been training her, I would have given her the biscuit to leave and locked the door, but it was clear that the dog had Jedi mind meld skills and was Jerry/Han’s puppet master.Toward the end of the demonstration Sadie’s belly was dragging across the threshold and she could not continue, so Jerry went in and out at her almost intelligible bark commands. It was the most impressive set of animal skills I’ve ever witnessed outside of Sea World and Shamu playing chess while blindfolded.

Before we knew it, an intergalactic dinner was served (actually we did it buffet style since the robots and storm troopers had the night off) in the formal dining room. The eight of us ate, and ate eight servings of splendid choice chicken in a perky pineapple sauce brought by Barriss Offee, aka Snarky SueBeeDOOBeeDoo, and an almost too perfect salad presented by Toryn Farr/ SoosannNITRAM, who had been planning a clonespiracy for later in the evening. Not even their husbands knew that these dishes had been dastardly prepared by their brides to weaken the Force’s forces. Truly, we ate in a cloud of ignorance.

Much later, 8 pm on Pluto Central, the Plus Two arrived. By then we had descended into candlelight, setting the stage for what was to come. I sensed the conflict about to begin. My arm hair rose and sizzled with static electricity. It was Zoltran Magyar and his CoCounsel, Nancee WOnton Kenobi. The napkins were thrown down like gauntlets on the tablecloth as Princess Leia served decaf coffee all around.40. Sabe15. Darth Maul

Dan/ 3CPA and his droidmate SoosannNITRAM began the blog interrogation, as if we all did not know this moment was inevitable. Sure, help the hostess wash up and then post-apron kitchen duty throw down the real gauntlet. “So, how is the blog going, Burrito?” Not a hint of entrapment in his voice.

Around the table of ten it went, affably at first. You would not know a coup d’état was in progress. Princess Leia mentioned the Indian restaurant/ belly dancing episode post that she had orchestrated on planet Nasturtium. Hot nervous laughs snorted through clenched teeth and flared nostrils of droids and wookies alike.  Markbaccaman seemed confused at all the flustering. He bellowed baritone yeti growls, possibly trying to warn me of an ambush. Too late. We continued on with way too much interest in my blog and coffee nation world, a utopian land of unemployed men condemned to clean their navels all day. It was suggested that my real job does not exist and my wife simply allows me to live out my harmless delusions, which, like my snoring, I am unaware of. The laughs and guffaws built into cosmic thunder as the poisoned entrée and salad digested out of sight, trickling into neural synapses left unguarded.

I shared the inner workings of the blogiverse, which most attendees did not know well, or pretended so. There was an unnatural focus on my alternate universe. I knew something was wrong. I mentioned how many hits I’d recorded from countries all over the world, and gave examples of my Brains and Potatoes post that brought a lot of Russian traffic. That’s when Snarky SueBEEDooBeeDoo struck like a cobra. “Can you tell how long they stayed on?” she asked in such a way that it implied folks scurried away from Burritospecial as fast as roaches from light.

 SoosannNITRAM’s circuit board overloaded on comic input data and she spewed 12 cubic feet of laughter gas, while Dan 3CPA schnoozled next to her with his belt light blinking and blaring ” AMBER, AMBER. INTRUDER, INTRUDER!!” They were uncontainable disgraces to droidhood.

Image result for star wars characters pictures I pondered my chances of escape from the Death Star. I wanted to save my wife Queen Latifahspanx, but the rest would have to be sacrificed. As my bride got up to use the ladies room on my cue, I turned to Zoltran, who was at my right hand side, and gave him a Jimi Hendrix Jedi handshake at full voltage. The blue arc of cobalt vapor coursed around that unholy assemblage, expanding them for a second and then each one imploded, sucking the glass inward from the Death Star’s picture window. Only Sadie Dogstar and my Queen survived alongside me. We left behind only an incomplete set of Star War plastic figures as we exited the Death Star.

 

218. Enter title here

It’s Easter Monday. I am home on a beautiful sunny day with my wife, grand daughter and two of my three daughters. My oldest left yesterday for NYC.  I’ve had a walk, a game of chess, a round of groundhog hunting, some voluntary yard work, coffee and meals, and time for this entry. Now that is a well balanced day. It’s been since Christmas that I had a scheduled day off. Wow, what a difference taking two makes. See, I also took Good Friday off. I can feel my neurotransmitters mating and producing more and more of themselves even as I type. I’d feel like some sort of mental frotteur except they are a part of my own body. So what does that make me? Highly sensitive, I guess. Yes, that’s it.

Yesterday my wife and two older daughters and I sat out on our deck in the sunshine. Grace and I played chess and chattered on as we do very dramatically with each move, jibberish from Seinfeld or song lyrics or who knows what; things like “Who’s your Daddy now? Boom!” “Oh, you wanna be like that? Baboom on yo’ momma!”  Meanwhile my daughter Erin and my wife sat quietly with big hats and sunglasses on reading on the bench seat across from us. That’s when I uttered, “Can you find the introverts in this picture?” My wife is making me read the book Quiet by Susan Cain. It’s all about the unbridled power and genius of bridled  introverts. Whoopee. I am a self-diagnosed ambivert, but I’d rather not talk about it right now. I hate being put in the middle of things.

I walked alone this morning. It was so quiet I swear that I heard the dew drying on the grass. I could hear individual bird wings as they flapped by. A lady at the park had two wiener dogs that would not fill half a five gallon bucket, but we don’t measure dogs by the gallon. [Could I get two gallons of wiener dogs? And a quart of Chihuahuas for my side?] We do measure liquids that way. My wife was getting her hair cut later in the day and bought some boutique special shampoo. I overheard her say it cost $33 per bottle, not gallon or quart. $33 per bottle. I’ve never bought a bottle of wine or liquor for that much money, but I suppose it has secret herbs and spices and precious metals all blended into the fine essence d’oro, which is 98% water. It does not matter. All is good. She’s beautiful and I’m happy. I learned a long time ago not to mention what things cost… not even wiener dogs, paired up in a bucket. Maybe they’re a thousand dollars to the right buyer. As my buddy Vince learned with his Great Dane, the initial purchase price is just the down payment on a dog. Same as an engagement ring in marriage.

The sun is setting. It’s cooling off. Rain is  expected tomorrow or Wednesday so the farmers are spreading manure lavishly on their big stinky fields. Big tanks of the stuff roll down my street drawn by young men in giant tractors, eating pizza bare handed out of the box. What a deal, to haul manure all day long. Like working for the government. I suppose it helps keep a guy single. If you are in deep poop to begin with, who needs to get married?

Gratitude vs. lassitude. Hmmmm. I get gratitude, thankfulness. Now lassitude is one of those dictionary.com tasks. I like definition # 2. “a condition of indolent indifference”. I think I’m feeling a mixture of the two states– grassitude, thankfully painless laziness.  Yeah, that works. Like having a staycation on a cruise ship in dry dock outside of Baltimore. It’s a good day, but I’m not going anywhere.  As the temperature sinks, the indifference stiffens a bit. A chill chases my indolence but not my gratitude. I may be experiencing “assitude”, which is a horse’s ass with an attitude.

My wife is already finding me part time jobs in my retirement, which is at least five years away. “You’ll be bored with the monotony,” she tells me. “You can’t wait to get rid of me,” I offer back. “True, but you can offset our health insurance costs while seeing the country.” She thinks I’m going to be a professional presenter.

“You can teach and tell stories. People like you.”

“One problem, dear.”

“What’s that?”

“I have no topic.”

“Think of one. You have five years.”

“But I am crippled by my ambivertism.”

“Shut up. Don’t give me your assitude.”

“Maybe that could be my topic: Ambiverted Assitudes in the Mental Health Setting.”

She’s a mind reader, I swear. She brought home the local newspaper for me. “Read the bank article.”

I began reading about the bank that holds most of my money. Seems they were just released from the state’s equivalent of the SEC’s watch list for shaky financial institutions, and I don’t mean that their tellers are part time belly dancers. No. If my bank were a person, it would not be allowed to fly. Sooooo, I just opened  a new business account with them because they did not charge me for that service, which the previous bank did, $20 per month for them to watch my money. I’m faced with this dilemma: pay money each month to my bank for no apparent reason, or stay with a bank that is being watched where I could lose all my money. Sheesh!  Neither offers interest or any special services, not even a gallon of free wiener dogs to start with.

This is why you shouldn’t take time off work. You find out all this stuff that you don’t really want to know. Frotteurs, ambiverts, overpriced shampoo, manure hauling, lassitude, and raw bank greed, which is redundant to manure hauling. If I’d just kept working I would not be all worried and worked up now. But the good news is that I can keep on working in my retirement, and if I’m lucky, right up to death.