Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Great Spirit

I'm missing my buddy ABear in a way that's making me eat as much chocolate as I can find.
There are only three more Hershey's Nuggets in the canister on my mother's kitchen counter which was full a few days ago.  Yesterday, when it turned out that he would be coming to New York in three weeks instead of three months - and that his dad was taking care of the air fare instead of me - I was so excited that I felt like dancing a jig.

The trouble is that once I said he was a hard-nosed skeptic on the blog and proceeded to deliver a rebuttal to any argument I could imagine him making, I felt isolated and alienated from him.  In real life, he was at the movies with his dad and brother, then he was asleep.

It's a safe bet that he and I are going to go around and around about this spirituality vs science thing - especially since I've had an idea percolating in my head about how his political beliefs depend as much on intuition and deduction as my own airy fairy way of looking at the world.  The idea is still percolating, but it occurs to me that since any example of a functioning communist society, or socialist economy, has been so rapidly undermined by neighboring capitalist countries who made deals behind closed doors with revolutionary leaders (if I've got the stories right) that there's no empirical evidence or data that proves Socialism and/or Communism is best for humans.  There is a basic premise, and then there's Marx, of course, but really, the whole idea only works if you're the kind of person who believes that a functioning, sustainable community depends on people caring about and taking care of each other and the planet. Using the format of a Logic proof, wanting to put human needs over individual greed would be the Given.   Given:  Human needs are more important to a sustainable community than accumulating individual wealth.  It's unlikely that Dick Cheney would sign off on that Given anymore than the French Aristocrats or the Romanoffs would have accepted that premise without a sharp blade on their necks.

Let me say here that I've never read Das Kapital, and I'm not going to.  I haven't read the Bible yet, and I'm not going to read that either.  I'm going to read something by Tom Robbins, most likely - or maybe the book by Barbara Kinsolver that my sister got me for Christmas.  I am willing to accept, however, that Marx was right because both Woody and ABear say so and I respect their opinions and because I've discovered that all the educational theorists who have influenced my practice were Marxists.  Ergo:  I'm like a Marxist once removed.  Even still, I'm not reading the book even though I do enjoy this little video Pinko showed me:

One day, I might settle on a name for that man. Sometimes he's ABear and sometimes he's Pinko. It just depends on the context. Sometimes he's Brad, but that's about as often as I'm Patricia. Mostly I'm Tricia or PENolan, depending on the context. But whether we're talking about Tricia and ABear, or Pinko and PENolan - either way, we're talking about two opinionated, mouthy individuals who will tenaciously argue a point they consider fundamental. I'm not so sure about Brad and Patricia. Apparently, they're well behaved which could explain why we both only use those names on official documents like drivers licenses.

While we've been with our respective families of origin, we have naturally ran into each other on Facebook since that's where we met to begin with and we've both been hanging out in the suburbs without much to do.  That's where I noticed that he'd challenged and pooh-poohed an article a friend posted in a way that I considered insulting not only to the friend who posted it but also to another friend who has cooked a delicious dinner for him with her very own hands and served him copious amounts of red wine.  From the way that thread went, as well as from a comment the friend who cooks made in a different one - it looks to me like the witches are fixing to gang up on Pinko.  Here's a link to the article:  Scientists finally show thoughts can cause specific molecular changes (TunedBody)

Whatever with genetics, thoughts, scientists and empirical data.  I don't care about any of that shit.  I care about Pinko.

When we are so attached to our ideas that it seems like those ideas are our essential identity, that's Ego in operation, working very hard to keep us isolated from each other so we don't experience love through a human connection.  I am not my ideas or my problems or even a body, for that matter.  I am Spirit.  Call it energy or any other vocabulary word that feels comfortable - the point is that each of us is consciousness, and we connect to each other via that consciousness.  Hippy Dippy Airy Fairy New Agers like me believe in Unity Consciousness which means that we are all part of one universal consciousness.

Since there's no way any living human can say for sure what happens when we die, all anyone can really do is listen to various stories and decide which one is his/her favorite.  Personally, I like the idea that our energy is released from our bodies and is absorbed back into the universe - we go back to The Force from which we came just like Obi-Wan Kinobe.

It's just as likely, however, that when you're dead you're dead.  Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.  The point is that we all make choices about what we like to believe - some people are simply more aware of making a choice, that's all.  

So I choose to be Airy Fairy and Pinko chooses to be a skeptic who requires empirical data.  He really does think I'd be better off as a skeptic too, in exactly the same way he believes I'll be better off once I get to the doctor to get checked for Sleep Apnea.  If my disruptive snoring and the accompanying gurgles are causing my high blood pressure, and there's a remedy - of course I'll be better off by going to the doctor about it.  I'm not so sure Pinko would be better off as an Airy Fairy, though.  He's pretty comfortable like he is.  In a way, he kind of reminds me of Woody and A Hippie's Despair.

A Hippy's Despair is a condition in which someone who was passionately idealistic back in the 60's - like Woody Konopak, for example, who came back from Vietnam and joined the peace movement, tossing tear gas grenades back at the cops during demonstrations, etc - looks around at the world today and knows in his/her bones that almost every single one of their accomplishments have been buried under the pile of shit trickling down on everyone since Ronald Reagan took office.  Worse, s/he will be dead long before there's an improvement in the world - unless some dramatic crisis leads to an immediate, global shift in policies and procedures.  As Woody often says, "Ain't going to happen."  So that once idealistic, passionate activist for peace, social and economic justice and sustainability sits on a threadbare armchair, not doing much of anything besides bitching to high heaven, and maybe drinking, going through the motions of daily life until s/he can finally die.

Hippy's Despair is bleak, and a lot of people suffer from it.  Bouts of it are particularly prevalent after elections when every channel on the TV is filled with pundits spewing shit, Left, Right and Center - and all of that shit is propaganda.

I suspect that Pinko's skepticism is similar in that he used to be all into an organization called Avatar, and before that he was involved in something that was kind of like EST redux.  He says he got a lot of benefit from them both until the hard sell started and the whole Avatar thing became a pyramid scheme much like Spiritual Amway.  So the individuals who were leading him down a satisfying spiritual path turned into money grubbing charlatans before his very eyes. You can see how he'd become a skeptic.  And when you factor in the bible thumpers from his high school in Dallas who came to the hospital after he'd had a major, ICU kind of accident to rope him into their club - it's easy to see how he'd be demanding substantiated proof for all kinds of fantastic claims.

Oh well.  What's done is done, and really, no matter how Pinko got to be the thinker he is today, when I look at him, all I see is the spirit inside the man.  He's got a great big, sensitive, loyal, gentle spirit - bigger than any I've ever let come this close. I'll be glad when we're in the same bed again, not talking about anything.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Quantum Shift, A Thing of Beauty and a New Adventure

Some months ago, Gwendolyn Holden Barry sent my mother a Quantum Shift mister because I thought it would facilitate the sale of her house.  This opinion was based on the fact that every time Mudgie (short for Curmudgeon) and my dad, whom we call "Spot," invariably engaged in some level of hostilities any time they had to clean up and clear out so an agent could show the place.  Mudgie likes the house to be clean enough so that a doctor could perform surgery in any room if necessary, and it's pressure on everyone involved even though she's right about most everything associated with real estate transactions.  The hostility is typically compounded by the fact that neither one of my parents can hear worth shit anymore, and they each expect and anticipate criticism from the other.  Ergo:  anytime one of them says something, the other is automatically defensive, assuming anyone ever heard anything at all.  Once they start shouting simply so they can hear each other, they both get agitated.  Losing your hearing is pretty fucking annoying.

It was my considered opinion that all this hostility gave a negative charge to the atmosphere in the house, much like thunder lingers after a storm has passed, and that if they'd just take a moment to spritz some Quantum Shift about the place on their way out the door, and thought happy thoughts just like Peter Pan told the Darlings when he was showing them how to fly, then the atmosphere would be more pleasant and the house would sell.  I explained all this to my mother when I ordered the mister and told her that I was never setting foot in that house again in order to underline the emotional intention.

As it happened, after sitting on the market for years, she got a few offers - and even though most of them were bullshit since that's how entitled douchebags operate these days, one was fully acceptable.  They wound up closing on that house and moving into a new one all in the first couple of weeks of December, so we just had Christmas holidays in my parents' new home in the Houston suburbs.  This neighborhood is far better than the old one because there are no oil company executives and if there are any teabaggers, they don't broadcast their views via stupid bumper stickers.

Now, I don't think Gwendolyn Holden Barry is making magic potions in her little workshop at Daughters of Isis in Florida, but I do think that emotions have an electrical charge that affects our bodies and our environments.  My brother-in-law the physicist says so and he's been working with this stuff for decades, or at least, he says that the electrical charges in the cells of our bodies cause chemical breakdowns that lead to diseases like cancer and emotions do alter our biological chemistry.

For people who might consider the conversation of PhD physicists to be anecdotal evidence, and therefore tantamount to bullshit, the physical impact of emotional energy has been demonstrated by Dr. Masaru Emoto in his experiments with water:

Now, some people dismiss Dr. Emoto's work as pseudoscience and even declare that his experiments are a hoax.  These hard-nosed skeptics criticize his methods but don't say he's a faker like a notorious faith healer in a traveling carnival on the prairie.  I wouldn't mention anything about his detractors except that Pinko is one of those hard-nosed skeptics who smell charlatans at every turn. 

I don't deny that there are plenty of charlatans looking to make a quick buck in this world, but I do think that when information is offered without a price attached, there's no reason to automatically reject it simply because it doesn't fit in with the structure of reality as defined by old school academics and other mainstream authorities.  Universities and other institutions haven't explored a lot of topics because they're busy scrambling to grab as much grant money as they can find from organizations and corporations that are looking to profit from the studies.  The Koch brothers finance plenty of Climate Science projects, for example.  Further, opinionated people - whether they are supply side economists, Talmudic scholars or legislators interpreting history and/or the Constituion - often pick and choose evidence to support their personal bias - so from where I sit, the skeptic's position may be just as tenuous as the position they are dismissing as bullshit.

But all that is really beside the point.  The point is that Gwendolyn isn't making magic potions - she's making tools that help people connect with their unconscious feelings in order to clarify and focus their conscious thinking and intentions.  And no matter how you look at it, Mudgie finally sold her house after she spritzed the citrus blend in Gwendolyn's mister instead of throwing some slice and bake chocolate chip cookies into the oven like so many real estate agents recommend.  Actually, Mudgie had some ceramic thing that you could heat up so the house smelled like peach pie which was kind of cool, but she'd blown off that stuff over the last couple of years.  Most likely the house smelled like cleansers.

I'm enjoying the quiet upstairs in my parents' new house.  It was fun to have the whole family together for a few days working puzzles and eating entirely too much homemade candy, but I need to rest.  In three weeks, I'm heading out to Reno to meet Pinko's parents.  This new development resulted from a conversation Pinko had with his dad about his plan to go back to driving in order to save up some money to move to New York in late March.  His dad surprised him by saying that Pinko should get himself to New York right away and said he'd arrange for the air fare.  His dad has lots of accumulated miles, so he's covered my round trip to Reno as well as Pinko's one way ticket to New York City.  We booked the flights today.

In the past, Pinko and his dad butted heads so thoroughly that they both dug in their heels and didn't talk much for some years.  It sounds to me like they both like to be right and have a stubborn streak - but if it's one thing I learned over the years it's that my parents may not have been who I wanted them to be when I was a kid, but they are 100% the kind of parents I need now.  It looks like the same is true in Pinko's family.

Pinko had to move home when he'd exhausted his savings after an extended period of unemployment like so many people have during this "Great Recession," but if that hardship resulted in a comfortable, supportive family relationship, it's a Thing of Beauty (#075-101 h/t Jennifer Morrison at realia).

I have a few more days of rest here with my own parents, then I have to hit the ground running when I get back to the city.  Once the surgery is behind me, I've got to lose 5 pounds, find a hand-me-down dresser for Pinko and get to the nail salon for mani/pedi and an eyebrow wax.  I may get a lip wax just to be safe.  Pinko and I are fixing to set out on an adventure together, and it wouldn't do to have random facial hair.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Longest Night

The other night, after a delicious candlelit solstice dinner, Pinko and I found ourselves in a conflict that lasted 'til six in the morning. Since it was the longest night of the year, it didn't last until dawn, but still, midnight 'til six is long time to remain in a heated discussion.

It all started over chakras, of all things, but really the argument centered on the same issue I was concerned about months ago, the one about how his way of determining what's right for him is the only valid way for anyone to determine what's right for them too.  More specifically, we should all be skeptical atheists because there's no way to prove the existence of God, or anything metaphysical at all, using Logic, Reason and Empirical data.  It is incumbent upon the person making an assertion to prove that assertion is true logically, using concrete, measurable data to support his/her view or else that view is, in a word, bullshit.

Let me say, first, that I don't think there are little glowing spheres spinning at various points along my spine.  I would love it if I were made of cotton candy and rainbows instead of blood, guts, digested food in slimy intestines, churning in miscellaneous acids that occasionally emit toxic fumes.

I'd also like to mention that a few nights before this altercation, Pinko and I were on the subway coming home from a Burner Happy Hour and he stood up and said, "Excuse me ladies and gentlemen," just like a panhandler and announced to anyone who paid attention, "I love this woman."  He did it on the express, and he did it on the local too.  I can't remember what all he included in his announcements, but it was nice.  It was, in fact, one of those romantic moments you see in movies, but rarely experience in real life.

Alcohol was involved in both the altercation and the announcement, but I'm not sure whether it had anything to do with either one of them.  I can say that the conversation the other night only got heated after we'd decided to open a second bottle of wine.  For sure, each one of us would maintain our respective positions whether we were fully sober, tripping balls or soaked in a barrel of bourbon.

Honestly, I understand that militant atheists like Pinko, and Woody and my good internet buddy Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein have a legitimate grievance about people who use their religion as a reason to control the government, start wars, oppress women and anyone else they can boss around.  Lots of people like to believe that all they stuff they've accumulated proves God likes them best.  I would suggest that those people have been so steeped in consumerism as perpetrated by capitalism that they can't differentiate between money and God - and that's how the first ruling class used priests and shamans to keep all the resources for themselves.  It's also how kings and priests wage war, killing as many innocent bystanders as necessary in order to secure all the resources for themselves.  Oligarchs do that shit.  Or maybe it's Plutocrats.  I always get those two confused.  Hegemony, too.

Whatever.  Theologians, Philosophers, Anthropologists, Scientists and drunks in bars have been arguing about the nature of God and Man for centuries.  Pinko and I were not arguing over the nature of God and Man.  Pinko was trying to convert me to his way of thinking because he believes I'd be better off.  I would respectfully suggest that anyone who tries to convert an individual who incorporates metaphysics into her personal cosmology to a world view that requires peer reviewed data to define Reality is just as intellectually arrogant as missionary who tries to convince perfectly happy indigenous people to buy into a capitalistic God.

If I were using any of my personal beliefs to wage war, like nearly every ruler in the recorded history or the western world, or to bamboozle a bunch of suckers into handing over wads of cash like I was Tammy Faye Bakker, there would be every reason to advocate for another point of view.  That's why people have been saying Religion and/or The Church is full of shit throughout the millennia.

Lots of people feel more emotionally secure in a reality that is purely defined by science - even though every few years Science makes new discoveries that alter the nature of that reality.  It's much easier to walk on a floor with a stable foundation, and lots of people need a concrete foundation.  It's all good.

The trouble with insisting that peer reviewed data is the only valid form of information is that the same capitalists that use people like commodities to wage endless war and ecocide are funding most of the scientific research.  A random billionaire may finance research on topics that interest him/her personally - kind of like Walt Disney was into cryogenics.  Even Copernicus had patrons.  So does Neil deGrasse Tyson.  Ergo:  the data that establishes known reality only goes as far as the funding can take it.

Pinko concedes that there is more to the universe than scientists have proven so far.  He just thinks that anyone who believes in metaphysics is just as stoopid as the rube buying snake oil from some traveling charlatan in the wild west.  I took issue at being included in that bunch of rubes, particularly by someone who looks me in the eye and says I'm the smartest woman he's ever known.

I didn't get angry and shout about that, however.  My knee jerk reaction to patriarchal imposition is just as strong as Woody Konopak's knee jerk reaction to Catholicism.  Ergo:  When someone says my thinking is "irrational," I come out with my howitzers blazing.

Pinko was absolutely right when he said that I lay all kinds of hostility toward the patriarchy on him that he doesn't deserve simply because he's a man, and that anything he has to say to me is not a result of patriarchal privilege even though he's a man who justifies his position using the same vocabulary and narrow intellectual framework as generations of academics, priests and various power brokers of the patriarchy have used before him.

He's had to defend himself against those guys too - although Pinko's focus is on politics and economics, which is what he knows about.  Pinko and I crossed swords for hours unnecessarily because of my knee jerk reaction to patriarchal imposition.  It would have been much easier just to tell him he was being an asshole and to quit trying to convert me to Empiricism.  It's not like I'm trying to convert him to Unity Consciousness.  Hell, I'm not trying to convert anyone to anything - I'm just trying to figure out a way to walk through the world without giving into suicidal despair every time I look at the headlines.  Most likely, that's all he's doing too.

Maybe at the end of the day, that's all any of us can ever do - concoct some sort of story that reconciles all the contradictions and injustice in the world in a way that makes us feel like we have a reason for being.  That reason for being can be especially tricky for existentialists since we believe, on a fundamental level, that there is no reason.  Even if there is no reason for being, however, we still exist.  It simply becomes incumbent on each of us to make our own meaning and find our own purpose.

On the longest night of the year, the world can be lonely and scary - especially when you're at odds with someone you love.  The thing is that the person you love is not a collection of ideas or even an assortment of chemical components.   Each person has an essential spirit that makes him/her who he is. Some of us think we're isolated in physical bodies; others believe there's universal consciousness - a spark of divinity that connects us all.

Why bother to deconstruct and define that spark when you can celebrate the connection?  I'm happy to say that by the time the sun had risen after that longest night, Pinko and I are celebrating that connection.

Blessed Be.

Fire in the Night

Back in October, before ABear aka Pinko got here, I mentioned that my chakras seemed to be in better alignment since I spent a week with him at Burning Man (On Clearing Chakras and Taking the Edge Off Empire, Stonerdate 10.12.13).   At the time, I was impressed because it looked like the power of Pinko's mojo had entered my body at the root chakra, traveled up a line roughly corresponding with my spine, and made it through the heart chakra successfully to the throat.  As a result, the energy that used to detour at my heart so completely that it blasted my left shoulder into rubble squeezed through the throat chakra and disturbed my back left molar to the point where it had to be removed.

That's kundalini rising, for you.  Granted, I have only a cursory knowledge of Yoga, but I maintain that having amazing, connected sex is just as beneficial when it comes to aligning chakras as going to yoga class all the time.  Yoga has other mind-body-spirit benefits, for sure, and I'm willing to wager that amazing, connected sex has other benefits as well.  However, all these years, I've been striving to align my chakras and thereby increase my sense of inner peace and feeling of oneness with the universe via a powerful hard-on.

In fact, some years ago, I believe it was in 2006, in that fateful story that finally sent Buzz Kill stomping down Central Park West home to his mother, I said I was longing for an erection that could realign my chakras.

Research based evidence suggests that after seven years of searching, I have found that erection.  Before I went to Burning Man to meet Pinko (aka ABear), I had successfully cleared most of the blocks in my heart chakra on my own.   The Encounter with ABear at Burning Man opened the heart completely so that the Chi, or mojo if you prefer, is now able to reach the throat chakra with such vigor that one of my parathyroids has become enlarged.  It will be removed in January.

As it happens, I had a parathyroid removed back in 2000.  When the doctors were trying to diagnose the mystery of my leg, which turned out to be morpheme schleroderma, blood tests uncovered a bonus disorder in my parathyroid.  A year or two later, the dishwasher spontaneously combusted which turned out to be the event that led to the end of my marriage.

Actually, a short in some circuit of our GE dishwasher caused the fire - which is why Buzz Kill was able to successfully sue GE to recoup all the money we spent out of our own pocket to fix the apartment since Buzz Kill had allowed the contents insurance to lapse.  The insurance situation had become another example of the marital dysfunction.  I should have paid it myself and told him I'd overdrawn the bank account, but instead I bitched about him never paying it, and he never paid it.  Ergo: we were uninsured during the fire.  It worked out all right, though, because his wealthy sister loaned us the money to cover all the expenses associated with the fire, which included four months in a hotel.  And as much as Buzz Kill hated paying insurance bills, he enjoyed the adversarial process of litigation.

Part of that process involved an inspection of our apartment by GE insurance adjusters and lawyers.  I wasn't present at the inspection because Buzz Kill wanted me to wait in the basement laundry room of our building while they were there to prevent me from saying something thoughtless that could undermine our claim.  I complied, and held it against him.   The damage to the apartment was fully repaired, and we managed to charge off several nice upgrades to GE.  The marriage never recovered.  It had been fucked up in a few fundamental ways from the beginning, though.

Whatever.  The point is that all that shit contributed to blocking energy from my heart.

Carolyn Myss compares healing to spiritual alchemy which is how we turn our emotional lead into spiritual gold.  Looking at the chakra chart, we can clearly see how Chi was going up the line from the first chaka at the root, hit the lead in the 4th chakra at the heart and deflected at a 45 degree angle going out of my shoulder.  Notably, it's the left shoulder - just as it was the left molar and now one of the parathyroids on the left.  Politically inclined individuals can make what they like of that pull to the Left and Pinko's outspoken advocacy for communism, socialism and most things Chomsky.

Meanwhile, the Chi that has been entering my system through the seventh chakra in the top of my head would have been trapped up there.  Some would have squeezed through, naturally, but it's easy to see how there's not a complete mind-body connection when Chi from the universe is stuck in your head and Chi from the earth is churning in your gut.  The thing about the throat chakra is that the challenge is not about freeing your voice - it's about releasing your stubborn commitment to your own will, or insisting that everything goes according to a rigid Plan A conceived by the ego.

I abandoned Plan A with regard to relationships last spring.  By the summer, I was finding my way to Pinko at Burning Man.  Cosmic Mojo must have started percolating in my throat chakra while I was there because the blood work that revealed a new round of hyperparathyroidism was done before Pinko got here in late October.  So we can conclude that the mojo currently circulating in my system will help clear the cobwebs in my third eye, which is how some people think of the sixth chakra.

As interesting and exciting as it is to connect with the universal force of natural creation is, at the moment, I'm more interested in simply being with Pinko/ABear.  On Christmas Day, he's going back to Reno for several weeks.  The concept is that he'll tend to business so he can move here permanently in March, and he'll be driving a taxi during all those weeks because Burning Man doesn't pay for itself.  It's fun and exciting to speculate on what Pinko and I will cook up next year, but it's 252 whole days before the Man burns again.

It's pretty cool that a fire propelled me out of a stifling, oppressive marriage onto a trajectory leading to the giant celebration of ritual art and play - the human spirit - at Burning Man where fires burn everywhere for days and days.  Finding Pinko at Burning Man has propelled us both on a new trajectory leading straight into the Unknown.

You could even look at Chi as a fire too, so that the fire of creation is circulating inside every one of us.  We can access and enjoy that fire any time, and there's no day but today anyway.  Past is gone; the future doesn't even exist, except from a quantum perspective where all moments and possibilities exist simultaneously.  That quantum stuff is confusing and I don't care about theoretical physics right now.  Right now, it's time to celebrating Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year.  ABear and I will be  lighting all the candles we can find, bringing light into the darkness and setting the stage for a little ritualized play of our own.

That's really our table, with candles in the evergreens, and Ganesha over there on the windowsill next to a pitcher filled with dried lavender.  ABear made a mix
My favorite song starts at about 1:18.  It's Sarah McLachlan singing "Silence" without a bunch of electrodance enhancement.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Intimacy and the Apocalypse

All this domestic bliss has not been without incident.
Once the pleasantries of the first couple of weeks were behind us, and the Thanksgiving holiday completely on top of us, we encountered some relational friction.  The conflict really didn't have anything to do with the holiday itself, unless you factor in the resentment that built inside me as I stood all alone scrubbing sink after sink full of dishes, glasses, pots and pans while Velvet played video games.  Those little annoyances go with the holiday territory in America and only contributed to the relational friction because my agitation level was elevated.

The factors underlying the relational friction are largely characterological.  As someone who has been institutionalized for suicidal depression, I'm accustomed to the men in my life blaming me as the source of every fight, problem, challenge, hostility and general unpleasantness because I am, as they say in the trade, the Identified Patient.  I maintain that my neurosis, if you will, has simply been identified.  Theirs, on the other hand, runs rampant.  Their own issues cause all kinds of trouble, but when I react or object, the man is typically happy to point his finger directly at me, the known mental patient, as the root of the problem.

I freely admit that I can react badly sometimes and that I can be vicious when I'm hurt and angry. The good news is that I'm rarely passive-aggressive because I'm so actively hostile.  However, I am only hostile as a result of being angry and hurt in the first place.  Unless I'm hurt and angry, I'm my usual cheerful, goofy, dopey, affectionate self.  I also understand that no man purposefully antagonizes me because there's no logical reason to turn an affectionate, accepting female into a raging Medusa, but as I pointed out to ABear once the conflict was resolved, it really doesn't matter whose head trip you're stuck in.  Once the head trip kicks in, we're stuck in it together until we find a way out.

Most likely, it was inevitable that we'd wind up on the Road To Beaumont (Stonerdate 01.16.12) and that other abuse issues would be activated in the process - most specifically all that date rape stuff (A Quantum Heap, Stonerdate 09.25.12).  It's possible that I may not have been triggered as hard when the trigger hit if I hadn't been keeping certain feelings to myself over Thanksgiving weekend because Velvet and Cupcake were there.

It's difficult to make sense out of another person's behavior when you don't have all the background, so in many ways, ABear was simply minding his own business and was totally bewildered to find himself in the middle of a shit storm.  Nevertheless, part of minding his own business included a remarkably bad sense of timing when delivering devastating critiques of my behavior.  For example, we were at a Burner Happy Hour when he was compelled to tell me that I should pay more attention to others when I've had a couple of drinks and am telling a story since their eyes glaze over.

It's true that I get chatty when I'm excited, and it's true that when I'm excited I get wrapped up in  the moment and forget to breathe - but there's no reason to assume that a listener has lost attention simply because I've bored him/her into a coma.  Those eyes could be glazed because of the four scotches they just downed, or because they have to pee.  You never know what is in another person's head.  So even though I was devastated in the moment - because honestly I can't remember anyone ever telling me I was boring, and it cut to the quick - I could see how ABear might be concerned that my behavior would reflect poorly on him.  We're seen as a couple at these functions, after all, and he's trying to make contacts for a DJ job in the city.  That's a scary proposition for an older person who has been out of the business for a decade or more.  After a day or two, I figured it was also possible that ABear was worried about causing people's eyes to glaze over his own self, so he may have simply been projecting his own fears.  We all do that sometimes.

It's just that when we were able to talk about the situation, briefly since Velvet was on his way over and I had to get a turkey in the oven, he stuck to his assessment and maintained that I talk too much in certain social situations.

I  probably do, but the whole thing reminded me of the time The Narcissist said I was stupid when we were in Austin and I'd forgotten that I'd left the weed in the ice chest it got soaking wet.   I objected to being called stupid, and The Narcissist said, "Well, wasn't it stupid?"  The Narcissist was a complete and total asshole whereas ABear is just a regular guy - but either way, they both felt their criticism of me was absolutely justified.  ABear went on to explain that I'd certainly want him to tell me if there were toilet paper on my shoe or spinach in my teeth.  He felt like he was helping me.

Maybe he was.  The  point isn't really whether or not I occasionally bore people into a coma when I'm excited and drinking.  The point is that he and I hadn't had a chance to talk through this situation when we found ourselves in a trickier spot later in the weekend.  That tricky spot was sexual, naturally, and even though it was a trigger for me, in the greater scheme of things, the whole thing was simply a matter of learning how we each communicate and where our boundaries are.  Once that trigger is hit, though, the resulting head trip follows a predictable spiral into dysfunctional territory.  This time down that spiral, I was in the process of concluding that I was too damaged to be in a successful relationship.  Fortunately, I recognized that was bullshit before the process was complete.

When we finally had the opportunity to talk at length, ABear and I both were wondering if I'd put up roadblocks to intimacy.  I  probably did, but it was certainly unconscious - just as his criticisms were probably unconscious, too.  We didn't talk much about his view of himself in this episode.  I suspect that's because once there's a real fight, ABear absorbs information and retreats into himself.  He seems to suffer in silence, whereas I am never silent about anything even when I don't have any clear answers.

It's all good because we successfully cleared an obstacle, but it was a tense couple of days.  We set aside that tension for the night when we went to that surprise party with dancing and a million balloons.  Or at least I set it aside - ABear may not have realized there was a shit storm brewing at the time.  It doesn't matter now.  What matters are the wishes we made as the balloons floated up into the clouds because in that instant, our intentions were clear.  Once your intention is clear, the path toward reaching that intention can present itself.   For me, that opening myself to receive love and to allow the trust I already felt to develop freely.

ABear said something about letting the balloons loose on Facebook, and of course we were reprimanded by a very well-intentioned individual for compromising the environment and endangering wildlife.  Guilty as charged, but when I was contemplating my careless, self-centered actions, it occurred to me that if those balloons turned out to be the debris that somehow triggers a global environmental collapse - I was down with that.  The world has been teetering on the edge of the apocalypse for who knows how long, and if two lovers with a balloon bouquet turn out to be the final  straw on the camel's back, I'm proud to participate.  The goddess Kali illustrates how destruction clears the way for new growth.  It's all part of that divine feminine energy, I guess, and so am I.
Blessed Be.


Monday, December 9, 2013

Oxytocin, Workers' Rights and Peppermint Tea

I'm still unclear about the meaning of the phrase, "In Love."

I know what it means in the movies, and of course I remember what all the girls meant when we were talking about boys back in High School.  Most likely I'm stumbling over the whole Forever idea since I would have told anyone who asked that I was 100% in love with Buzz Kill, and we see how things turned out there.  I may have been "in love" with The Man from San Antone, but I doubt it.  That whole relationship had to do with friendship and emotional security which was great since we both needed at the time - but by the commonly accepted definition, there was nothing romantic about it.  I was fully "in love" with Bradley back in college - not to be confused with Pinko's real name which, as it happens, is Bradley.  Either way, I was immersed in a deep tragic romance with Bradley that very likely stemmed from having my first orgasm when I was with him.  If I'd have known about Oxytocin and the attachment process at the time, I would have dismissed science in favor of Romance and True Love. 

Time and experience has shown that oxytocin played a role in my attachments to a fool or two during the Ashley Madison Experiment, specifically Double Wide and The Narcissist, and I never once imagined I was "in love" with either one of them.  Actually, even if I were "in love" with anybody during those first few years after my divorce, I was fully convinced that there was no such thing as being "in love."  Attachment was something I could understand because of my work with very young children as well as my reading and research on psychotherapy, and that a person like me, who has always been open to attachments, would feel all lovey dovey when I had a tank full of oxytocin made perfect sense.

There are more scientific articles detailing the relationship between Oxytocin and human attachment, but this old one from The Economist is still my favorite: I Get a Kick Out of You (2004).  I believe Helen Fisher was one of the scientists who performed the original research on prairie voles.  She is one of the authors of this paper published in The Journal of Comparative Neurology, Romantic Love: An fMRI Study of a Neural Mechanism for Mate Choice (2005).

All this reflection on the topic of being "in love," could indicate that I'm tap dancing around accepting the idea that Pinko the Bear and I are, in fact, in love.  We're full of Oxytocin, that's for sure.  We've also established a comfortable domesticity that resembles two old people sitting at the kitchen table reading different sections of the newspaper - except that we're on either side of the dining room at our respective desks looking at computers.  He just told me that Pussy Riot is going to be released according to one of their husbands, and a minute ago he read me a Marxist joke that began, "Your mama's so classless . . ."

Last week, he found his way to a rally downtown near city hall supporting a living wage for service workers.  The focus was on fast food workers, but really, all workers should earn a living wage.  In this system, anyway. In a different system, workers would own the businesses cooperatively - but that's another topic.  I'm just excited that ABear, aka Pinko the Bear, landed in the Village Voice five weeks after he landed at LaGuardia.  That's him with the glasses and goatee, holding the Workers sign.

When he got to Foley Square last week, he met a group of activists from the NYC Light Brigade. They are affiliated with the Overpass Light Brigade that formed during the Wisconsin uprising to "shine the light" on social justice issues by spelling out their message in lights.

It's a sensible way to make your point after dark, and the visually striking displays make great photos. Anyway, I think it's cool that he's finding his way.  New York City can be overwhelming even when you've lived here a while, and he just got here.  He spent several hours on a Breaking Bad marathon, and now he's watching Sons of Anarchy - mostly in the middle of the night.  He's always been a night person, and as much as I enjoy piling up on the sofa with him, I have to be in my classroom with a smile on my face at 8:30 in the morning.

Since my apartment is only on the third floor, watching TV in the living room can feel like you're in the middle of the street, with ambulances and jack hammers and all kinds of music drifting up from the cars stopped at the traffic light outside my window.  Even though it's pretty quiet at night, being in the city is quite an adjustment.

We've been adjusting quite nicely, however.  We went to a screening of Is the Man Who is Tall Happy?: An animated conversation with Noam Chomsky, in a documentary festival, and Noam Chomksy himself was there.

We went to a panel discussion at Columbia that featured the founders of Burning Man, too.

Our best night so far may have been a surprise party one of my best buddies from work arranged for her fiancé's birthday at a lovely apartment on Central Park West near The Dakota.  Apparently this gay  couple with a rent stabilized apartment rents their place out regularly for private parties.  This one was fancy with a DJ and aspiring actors dressed in black passing hot hors d'oeuvres.  There were dozens and dozens of black, white, and silver balloons floating in every room, so our hostess gave us a bunch to take when we left.  We walked over to Strawberry Field, made a wish and let the sail up into the night.  I know that letting a bunch of helium balloons loose is littering and bad for wildlife and stuff, but it was classically romantic.

Then again, walking through the rain to the Metropolitan Museum on Friday after my CT scan was pretty nice too.  The Met is open late on weekend nights so we could hang out and find the graffiti some imperialists left in the Temple of Dendur,

and discover this odd sculpture in the Japanese gallery of a taxidermied deer covered in magnifying spheres:

The best part is that we have nearly as much fun when he meets me after work for a walk to the grocery store as we do on date nights.
It's all very pleasant and cozy, with peppermint tea and everything.